Venue: North Charleston Coliseum, Charleston, SC
We opened with a package highlighting Joe as champ, clips of him destroying people and his changes to how contenders are chosen. Then Hook hyping his record and challenging Joe.
Short, clear, effective.
They showed both guys arriving at the venue. Excellent job making this seem a ‘thing’. Crowd were hyped about it too.
Ian Riccaboni replacing Schiavone – ‘on assignment’ – on comms. Gotta keep that Italian-name quota up.
Christian Cage vs Dustin Rhodes (TNT Title)
Backstory: Cage made fun of Dustin’s dead dad and said he could never live up to that level; Rhodes said he’d wanted the TNT Title since day one
Crowd chanting for Dustin as he he hit the ring. Excalibur really put over what a horrible person Cage is. More of that.
Aubrey showed the belt, which got almost zero reaction, and we were away. Cage immediately using the ropes to stall. And again. Crowd solidly behind Rhodes. Lockup, the bigger Rhodes forcing Cage around the ring, the heel again used the ropes to force a break.
Back to it, Cage feigned another lockup then took a cheap shot before they headed outside where Rhodes turned the tables, beating the champ round ringside. Tonight’s ep is sponsored by Suicide Squad btw so all the aprons and etc…
Rhodes flung Cage to the steps then flung him back inside, Cage covering up in the corner as Rhodes landed ten. Cage tried to head upstairs after a gut shot but was cutoff, Cage snapped his head against the post, Rhodes landing outside, Cage taking flight in pursuit – some combo of a frog/body splash.
Ads. Seems they’re settling in for a long one.
Back to Rhodes fighting out of a chinlock but missing a cross body. Cage though took too long upstairs and missed a diving headbutt, both down mid-ring. To their knees, palms and rights, to their feet, Cage took a Manhattan drop, big boot, bulldog, two with the first pin of the match.
Rhodes catapulted Cage to the buckle, then prepped Shattered Dreams. Which got a huuuge pop. Cage got a boot up to block, Aubrey wasn’t the least bit bothered about the attempted low blow. Rhodes hit back via code red for two.
Rhodes avoided a Cage right from the outside, ‘tried’ a tope (he ran so slowly as to make it obvious he wasn’t hitting) and Cage nailed him as he stuck his head through the ropes. Then hit a frogsplash for two. Then went to grab his belt, Aubrey was dumb for like ten seconds so missed Rhodes pinning Cage in a cradle. And Nick Wayne tilting the pin to leave Cage on top, he got a two count as Aubrey turned back around.
Rhodes beat Cage across the ring, bulldog coming out of the corner, he hit Shattered Dreams when Wayne’s distraction backfired, crossrhodes, Cage out at the last.
Wayne then distracted Rhodes who followed him outside where he hit the youth with a destroyer. Both the ref and the babyface are morons is the tale here. Cage sent a returning Rhodes into an exposed buckle, hit a spear, Killswitch, he’ll probs kickout. Yep.
Hey d’you think he’ll win now?
Cage tried a second Killswitch, hit it, win. Enough with kicking out of finishers in nothing tv matches.
This is why I said it seemed they’re ‘settling in’. The last thing AEW needs is a long opener between two middle-aged ex-WWE guys. Especially ones who never made it to the top there. That’s twenty minutes’ tv time could’ve been used to push young talent.
Winner: Christian Cage
We positively rushed backstage to Swerve with Renee.
He’s going to be watching the main event and he’s ‘laser focused’ on the title. He said he’s the most dangerous man going after the most coveted prize in the industry. Renee said Page was another interested party. Swerve said he has eyes everywhere and Page is ‘impeccable’, listing his past wins over Omega, Mox and all his recent wins.
He thinks Page could beat the heavens themselves brought down from above. ‘But he couldn’t beat me’. ‘Whose house?’ The crowd and Strickland answered.
Started a little slowly but came around. I always like Strickland’s composure.
They showed highlights of the street fight from BotB. Including Sammy missing a massive dive after Will Hobbs interfered.
Renee with Jericho backstage. He said the Callis Fam. stole the tag titles from them and led to Sammy being injured. He listed possible methods of revenge, he’s ‘going to seek and destroy your ass’.
Matt Sydal (I wasn’t even sure who he was till they said his name) came in and cut a really weird promo about Jericho needing to get back in the ring. As if he’d said he wasn’t going to.
Jericho vs Sydal will be on Rampage. Aka we can’t put Jericho in front of a live audience since we still haven’t addressed the situation.
Penta & Komander vs Orange Cassidy & Trent
Backstory: Per Excalibur – there was supposed to be a Lucha Bros vs Best Friends match (erm when? Fenix and Chuck have been gone a while) and this is the substitute
Rey was well enough to accompany his bro and countryman. Hopefully he’s back soon. Luh me some Rey.
Cassidy and Penta set it off to dueling chants of ‘Zero Miedo/Freshly squeezed’. Again it’s not a big audience but those who’ve come are enthusiastic.
Penta did his catchphrase, Cassidy tried for the pockets and Penta blasted him with leg kicks, each hit armdrags till Cassidy avoided one, seeking a tornado ddt, Penta blocked it, set him down, Orange went for the pockets, Penta sent him outside, Trent in to block a dive, Komander too – dive to Penta, caught off the top by Trent into a half and half, Trent sent Cassidy back in for the pin on Komander. Count of two.
Ads. That was bloody rapid.
The Americans were beating up on Komander as we came back, he sent Orange outside, Trent too via headscissors, Orange back in to block the tag, Komander kicked his way free, making the crawl, Penta in, slingblade, a second, thrust kick for Trent, Komander wiped out Trent with a dive while Penta hit Made in Penta on Cassidy for a near fall.
Tag to Komander, Trent crotched him, Cassidy hit a tornado ddt to Penta, tag to Trent, he and Komander left in the ring, stiff forearms from the newly aggressive Beretta. Komander tried to hit back, slipped out of a powerbomb, seatbelt-ish pin for two, another cradle for the same, Trent nailed a big chop, Penta a gamengiri from the apron then used his partner’s back for a destroyer, Komander rope-walk shooting star, Orange just saved the pin.
Penta sent out by Orange, Komander nailed a thrust kick, to the top, Trent down, avoiding a phoenix splash, big knee strike, Penta in via thrust kick, Orange switched out to hit Beach Break to Penta, Punch to Komander, Strong Zero as Trent bagged the win.
This was really good. As usual, I hate how they book Penta and Komander seems to be locked into the same rung – over, good match, loss.
Winner: Orange Cassidy and Trent
The Undisputed Kingdom’s music hit as the winners were celebrating and Roderick Strong and the Kingdom came out. Strong said he’d come to tell Cassidy something ‘to his face’ then proceeded not to. Instead, he demanded Cassidy take his glasses off, getting annoyed when Cassidy ignored him.
Strong put him over as a fighting champ but implied he’d ducked him here. He wondered if Cassidy had ‘nothing left in the tank’. He said the title belonged to him while getting the ‘WHAT’ treatment and STFU chants from the crowd.
Cassidy said he’d shut Strong up for them and that they could wrestle right now. Strong said no he had to wait till Revolution. Cause he wants Cassidy ‘to live with that fact’ for the next six weeks. Knowing everyday that he’s just keeping ‘my title warm for me’.
Whenever the UK don’t have Cole with them, they seem less than nothing, a barely lower-card comedy act absolutely no-one cares about.
Six weeks is an awful lot of Roderick Strong talking.
Absolutely racing away again before the announcers could put that over, Renee was with Adam Page. He said no-one had cared for the AEW belt like he did when he had it and now that he had his sights set on it again he vowed to put his name on it and keep it there ‘as long as I can’.
She repeated Swerve’s words that Page can’t beat him. Page said he seems to stay on Swerve’s mind and that it doesn’t matter anyway because Swerve’s not the champ and that’s who he needs to beat.
He said that whoever wins the belt tonight, ‘god help them’.
His intense, almost-psychotic eyes here seemed to imply he is indeed headed heel. The Bucks-like moustache is also a clue.
I’d much prefer he stayed face for the mo’. AEW’s biggest weakness is popular main-event babyfaces, and with just a little heating up, Page can be one again.
Mark Briscoe came out on the anniversary of his brother’s death. He got a nice response as usual and the crowd were respectfully silent as they listened. He talked about his brother losing his life in that car accident. And his niece had been told she’d never walk again, ‘HOWEVER…’
She walked out to a huge cheer along with her sister. That’s incredible man. Beautiful. They all hugged as we cut to a Jay/Briscoe Bros package. I think the same one from the tribute show last year. Very well done.
Renee/Bucks sitdown. Nick interrupted to insist they be called ‘Nicholas and Matthew Jackson’ since they’re EVP’s and are taking things more seriously. Renee started talking about rumors and Matt ranted about rumors and asked what she’d do to protect her reputation or that of her children.
Then talked about losing relationships with coworkers, friends and your reputation going out the window. Over rumors. But that he’d do it all again if it meant AEW existed. He said she was ‘welcome’ for her paycheck.
Matt said they’d started AEW with the slogan ‘change the world’. For a while they were doing that but lost their way and toxicity slipped into the locker room. They started to lean on yesterday’s ‘self-serving, superficial, cancerous superstars’.
Though insisted Sting isn’t any of those things: he’s a model employee, he’s great. He hopes people talk about them one day like they do about Sting. But unfortunately it’s time to say goodbye to Sting and ‘anybody like Sting’.
She asked if that was an official call out. Nick pulled his phone out and talked about pulling strings, they left as Matt called Renee ‘sweetheart’ and said they had a meeting to get to.
This was really, really strange. They made a million totally insider references which no doubt went over most fans’ heads since I barely kept up. I think the idea was to play into all the online criticism and real-life issues they’d had with Punk and etc but it was far too abstract and needed way more time than they had if they were going to go into all that.
It seemed more like a reply to a Wade Keller commentary than a promo explaining why they want to face Sting in his last ever match at a pay-per-view.
That said, the new characters are fairly entertaining. But this needs bringing round to the point and fast. I’ve also heard it said that this would be much more interesting if the Bucks were heel champs with some heat as Sting went for ‘one last title’. And it’s hard to disagree with that sentiment.
Bullet Club Gold vs Mogul Embassy (ROH Trios Titles)
Backstory: Some convoluted nonsense where Nana said BCG had been talking about them or something
So I’d remembered there was another title match on this show. But couldn’t recall between whom or for which belt(s). Ring of Honor, ladies and gentlemen.
BCG have a banger of a new theme.
Jay and Leona got going, the latter’s power too much for the Kiwi as he was taken to the heels’(?) corner and hit with knees. Kaun in, White blocked a boot, dragon screw, tag to Colten who stomped down Kaun in their corner then tagged his brother. Austin missed badly with a corner splash then hit Road Dogg jabs and a right until Cage nailed a thrust kick, uppercut, gamengiri in the corner, German out.
Gunn got his feet up on both Gates but took an elbow drop from Leona.
Ads. The show is back to the very worst of rush, rush, rush no time for anything to sink in.
Colten hot tag as we returned, he sent the heels packing outside, splash to Cage in the corner, full nelson slam to Kaun for two. Very nice hot tag. Leona though wiped him out with a pounce as the heels looked for a triple-team powerbomb. Into a Kaun air raid crash. You know when a pin’s not getting the job done tonight; it’s every time Taz insists the match is over.
They all fought outside, White sent Cage to the ringpost, Kaun and Colten left inside. Colten countered the pedigree, White in – stinging chops, a flurry of em, avoiding a charge in the corner, uranage, Cage returned to nail a lariat, took 3:10 to Yuma, Kaun sent the Gunns outside with a dropkick, White nearly got Bladeunner, Nana grabbed his boot, White just kicked out of a lungblower.
Nana into the ring with a belt, Anthony Bowens snatched it away, White fought off the pedigree, Bladerunner, win.
Crowd were behind BGC here, White in particular. That title change seems absolutely out of nowhere though. Guessing we’re headed for a unification match for those two trios titles. Can’t see how this benefits anyone otherwise.
The Acclaimed posed atop the ramp offering a scissor. Before we could see what happened we raced away again.
This was just a mess of stuff. Not a mess in a bad way but not necessarily in a good either.
Winner: Bullet Club Gold
Cole and Wardlow backstage. Cole said Wardlow would be unbeatable with the UK’s help. He’ll run over opponents until there’s nothing left but the title, which’ll be the property of the Undisputed Kingdom. ‘Ain’t that right big man?’.
‘Boom,’ snarled Wardlow.
Vinny Mac might’ve been onto something.
Anna Jay vs Deonna Purazzo (Toni Storm on comms)
Smart to keep Deonna on tv and winning before a new audience. But the ‘Virtuosa’ character needs explaining to said new audience. What is a virtuosa? Especially since her theme and mannerisms are heelish.
Toni came out with Luther and Mariah May and danced weirdly. And thought Riccaboni was Schiavone and looked a lot better ie thinner. And continued calling Deonna ‘Donna Palazzo’.
Purazzo started by out-executing Jay at every turn then got a rollup for two. Jay got a magistral for the same, Deonna began working the arm with wrenches, down to the mat for a stomp, Jay got the ropes, begging off then kicking Purazzo away.
And snapping her neck across the top rope. Storm said she’d once had ‘Virtuosa’ but wouldn’t say ‘how’ she got it or ‘who she got it from’.
Storm cracked up the announcers during the break by asking ‘who’s this Ian?’.
Back to Deonna hit a flurry including a Russian legsweep into a cradle, Anna countered, Deonna kicked out and hit a big boot. Anna hit a backstabber, they missed a lot showing Toni feeding Riccaboni sweets.
Anna went for Queenslayer, Purazzo countered into the cross armbreaker, Jay got the ropes. Exchange of forearms, Jay tried a lariat and Deonna hooked Venus de Milo out of absolutely nowhere. Immediate tap.
Toni was now stroking Riccaboni’s hair. This wasn’t as good as the match with Velvet. Partly because it just wasn’t as good; partly because they made it more about showing Storm.
Renee joined Deonna in the ring. She wondered what’d got into Toni. They ‘used to be like sisters.’ It’s clear Storm’s changed but ‘so have I’. She was friends with Deonna Purazzo but has never met the best technical women’s wrestler in the world, the Virtuosa.
Storm was furious about this, climbing onto Luther’s shoulders and calling her a ‘tanned hag’. She threatened to ‘sock you right in the box’ (I’m almost certain she said ‘box’) then did her chin, tits, shoe line before throwing the shoe. Deonna threw it back. Storm was yelling ‘how dare you’ and calling her toast and rambling about the shoe still as she left up the ramp still on Luther’s shoulders.
This was weird. I’d liked the build so far but this was back to being all about the silliness.
Winner: Deonna Purazzo
Private Party vs Top Flight
Darius/Isiah to start, the former fighting out of a headlock, smooth takeover from Isiah countered back into a hammerlock on the mat, they ran through the Collision card so I missed stuff up to them kipping up simultaneously. Both tagged out, all four to the middle, they dapped, crowd very quiet for this so far.
Dante headlock on Quen, armdrag takeover, Quen rolling through looking for an ankle lock, to their feet, reset. Quen tagged Isiah in after the latter hit a gamengiri from the apron, PP sent TF packing to bring the break.
Strangely mat-based thus far. Quen’s wearing a tee and didn’t do a lot so maybe not in ring shape?
Continuing as we returned – Darius with Isiah pinned to the mat in a hold. Isiah got boots up to both TF, Dante prevented the tag but was sent outside, Quen in, series of dives – four in total, from one side to another on both opponents.
Dante sent back in, Quen to the top, 450 for barely two.
Dante hit a leaping knee, tag out, slick double teaming from TF, thrust kick and out-to-in flatliner for two as Isiah saved the pin. He sent Dante outside but took a Darius elbow and really nice somersault Pele kick, a knee strike from Dante to Quen followed, Isiah sent Dante to the corner and PP hit Gin and Juice, Darius back in as Quen used the ropes to leverage a pin on him.
Not all that smooth and not one iota as spectacular as you might have expected. Crowd enjoyed chanting ‘shots’ but were quiet during the match.
And to synopsize PP’s behaviour – Isiah gave a clothing item to a smiling child during their entrance, they humped the air at various stages, played the babyfaces during the match (cutoff and etc), cheated to win, then went and chanted ‘shots’ with front row fans.
Winner: Private Party
Sting and Darby package highlighting their record mixed with one of those weird videos Darby does every so often, ending with Sting saying ‘It’s showtime’. Far too long into the show for these two to appear after being in the show-closing angle last week. Especially for a totally generic package.
The way Excalibur talked he made it seem like we still didn’t know the duo’s Revolution opponents.
We went to the final ad break. There are only about ten minutes or so left anyway.
Samoa Joe vs Hook (AEW Title)
Backstory: Hook challenged Joe due to his winning record
Hook got a fairly good pop which skewed young. The older dudes were chanting for the champ. Before he even came out. And they could be heard chanting ‘Joe’s gonna kill you’ as the youngster was being announced.
I don’t mind this being a tv match but don’t think it’s worthy of main eventing. Hook has not been made to feel at that level.
He rushed Joe at the bell after being stoical during intros. Joe sent him outside and snapped off a chop; Hook hit back with a leaping shot off the barricade but was bundled back inside where he took a big running elbow. Crowd chanting for the champ again as he stood over the downed youngster, hauling him up, snapping jabs, to the corner, Hook hauled up once more for another chop, charging elbow, turn-around enziguri, Joe asked if ‘you understand yet?’. Then snapmared the youngster over, big chop, kick to the chest, elbow drop, pin, Hook out at two.
Hook tried a T-bone, Joe’s elbows said ‘no’, Hook landed an open palm into a takedown, sending the champ outside, leaping punch off the apron, thinking suplex onto the announce desk. Joe blocked it and absolutely murdered Hook via uranage against the desk. Then swaggered around as the ref checked on the challenger.
Before again asking ‘Do you understand yet?’. Hook flipped him off and received a powerbomb against the apron, the doc out quickly to check on his crumpled body as Joe watched on from inside the ring. Ref’s count at seven as Hook reached his feet, nine as he shoved the doc away and ran back inside, right into a snap powerslam. Kickout at two.
Onto the shoulders, DVD, out again at two. Joe now a little frustrated. Muscle Buster time, dead center, Hook kicked out at/before one and came alive with lariats, body shots, T-bone, Joe down, up into Redrum, Joe quickly shook it off, switching round into the Kokina, Hook fading on the mat for a long time, his arm dropped thrice as the champ retained.
HATED that kickout of the Muscle Buster. Excalibur said Joe wouldn’t have expected to work this hard to retain. Did we watch the same match? I also think I’m numb to youngster goes close in losing effort after five years of it rarely leading anywhere. Darby Allin the (Cody Rhodes-assisted) exception.
Hook asked if it was all Joe had so Joe went back in to kill him with another Muscle Buster. This was supposedly a heel move but y’know, talk shit, get smacked. Hook again talked crap as Joe was about to leave. This time the Hangman prevented further damage, beelining to the ring.
Maybe he ain’t going heel then.
Swerve was there watching with Nana from somewhere in the crowd as Page helped Hook to his feet. The crowd were chanting loudly about whose house it was. Swerve has a pair of black eyes which makes him look very strange. He held up two fingers to Page (as in two wins, not flipping him off), then left through the crowd.
Page helped Hook up then stared at Swerve leaving. It’s going to be very hard for any babyface who has to face Swerve. Just one among many reasons why they need to make him a clear good guy.
Winner: Samoa Joe
A middling show. Nothing horrible; nothing memorable either.
- Claudio Castagnoli & Bryan Danielson vs Eddie Kingston & Ortiz
- Daniel Garcia vs Buddy Matthews
- Moxley returns
- Great job immediately hyping the main event (though they didn’t mention it once after)
- Cass/Trent vs Penta/Komander
- Obvious finishes
- Cheap ‘title matches’
- We were back to a lot of the awful booking shortcuts that typified the company pre-tournament – dumb refs, dumb interference
- The start of the build to Bucks vs Sting and Darby was neither clear or good, nor did they even properly show what happened last week or even ask Sting and Darby about being interrupted (though there is still time to get that back on track)
Appreciate you reading. Have a good week.