Venue: Enmarket Arena, Savannah, GA
A suited and booted Samoa Joe hit the ring to kick things off. The announcers put over he and Hook after last week. The champ took a mic, crowd chanting his name. He introduced himself as the world champ and repeated what he said a couple weeks back about title shots being earned not given.
That’s why all these wrestlers tonight are going to compete for a shot at his gold. But he said its an ‘opportunity to have the worst night of your life’. He’ll do them like he did Hook – ‘beat you unmerciful, strangle you unconcscious…’
Hook’s music interrupted and the youngster hit the ring, mic in hand, hoody up. A dueling ‘Hook/Joe’ chant briefly played. Hook said ‘You won, I lost’, shook Joe’s hand but finished with ‘I don’t know where, I don’t know when but I will see you again.’
Joe said ‘I bet you will’ then demanded security get ‘the unworthy’ out of his ring. He stepped outside, Hook massacred four security guards with suplexes and a Redrum. It’s certainly better than nothing; we will see how (and if) the follow up continues.
They ran through the card. It sounds very quiet here tonight. Joe joined on comms to watch Hangman/Penta. He asked who raised an animal like Hook. Taz was diplomatic.
Hangman Page vs Penta
Excalibur said wins and losses have always been important here in AEW. With a straight face too. Joe said he didn’t want non-excellence around excellence as they put over the return of the rankings announced on Collision.
Duelling chant from the crowd, which is clearly very small. Penta did his ‘zero miedo’ pie face, Page told him to listen, yelled ‘Cowboy Shit’ and pie faced him back.
Aggressive grapple, quick break in the ropes for Penta. Back to it, Page getting the break in the corner, Penta landed a cheap chop and Page roared out of the corner, chop battle, rights from Page, Penta hit back via thrust kick, zero miedo, paying for it as Page hit a big boot, Penta no-sold to hit a pair of slingblades.
Zero miedo again, again paying for it – caught out of a springboard into a fallaway, kip up, running shooting star for an early near fall. Chops in the corner, stomps to follow, Penta slumped, Page running bootwash before eyeing the champ after hitting one of his moves.
Penta avoided a corner charge, hit a bottom rope springboard legdrop (honestly looks less damaging than just a normal legdrop). Big open hand in the corner, Joe loved it, Page hit back, they took turns throwing e/o into the corner and teeing off.
Page blocked a backstabber, Penta a deadeye, exchange of lariats and thrust kicks until simultaneous lariats left both down. Joe said both being laid out was easily his favorite part so far.
Ads. Lacking a little ‘oomph’, atmosphere doesn’t help, there are just so few folks here.
Back to Penta being sent to the apron, booted off, Page missed a vault and took a tope con hiro. Before being flung back in, Penta again stopping to pose before heading upstairs, missing a stomp; caught into a DVD for a second near fall (that’s three times already a babyface stopping to pose has cost him).
Page lariats in the corner, ten punches and a bite a la Moxley. The announcers discussed him being more vicious, Penta hit back with a pair of thrust kicks and a DVD variation for two. Before targeting the arm, preparing the breaker, Page powered out, hit a Liger Bomb, Penta again out at two.
Now brawling on the apron, chops vs strikes, the Mexican preparing a fear factor, Page countered thinking deadeye, Penta took a boot back into the ring and blocked a Buckshot into Made In Penta for an ultra-close near fall. The look of disbelief on Joe’s face at Page kicking out was phenomenal. The announcers implied he was scared of Hangman.
Penta tried to vault into fear factor on the apron, Page this time succeeded in countering into deadeye, a first Buckshot was ducked, Page continued momentum to hit a basic lariat then headed back to the apron to land the match-winning Buckshot.
I find it hard to get into matches when there’s so little atmosphere. Some very nice spots and sequences.
Page pointed at Joe and yelled ‘I am taking that from you’. Joe disagreed. Decent job building Joe/Page.
Winner: Hangman Page
Renee backstage with Orange Cassidy. She asked about Roderick Strong’s challenge. He said ‘Okay, I will wrestle you for my championship on March 3rd’. He vowed to keep wrestling in the meantime and said he’d asked Tony Khan to put some of his friends, enemies and friends/enemies on Rampage or something.
Cassidy said he had to go cause Trent was wrestling Wardlow. ‘D’you see Wardlow? He’s big.’ ‘Lotta meat,’ agreed Renee.
Can’t say it improved my interest in that match. Nor does whatever the other thing is sound exciting. Again very quiet except for a few laughs at the end.
The Bucks were arriving in suits and sunglasses and were handed a rundown.
Alex Marvez (can never remember that dude’s name) ran up on them asking about last week’s promo. They again asked to be called Matthew and Nicholas then said morale was up and they’d sorted a lot of backstage issues including catering. Then said they just wanted to see a good show.
They bumped into Top Flight then accused them of only just showing up and threatened to fine them next time, acting kinda jokey but also superior. The ‘bit’ was that they only just got here but were accusing others of doing the same.
Still interested in the characters; still not convinced by the direction. Especially if that’s it for tonight. This Sting match needs heating up like right now.
Wardlow vs Trent
The whole UK came out with the big man. He immediately began smashing Trent around the ring, looking for the powerbomb after two moves. Trent hooked a small package for two.
Trent aimed a couple dropkicks through the ropes after sending Wardlow out there. The big man was only slightly bothered by these and nailed a vaulting Trent with a forearm at ringside.
Wardlow tried his super lame lean-back punch and took another dropkick outside, sort of blocked a tope, Trent bouncing off to the floor. Trent grabbed a chair and apparently Rick Knox needs a test since arguing with the UK precluded him hearing a shot to the back.
Trent threw him in and hit a tornado ddt, tried and hit a piledriver, Wardlow kicked out. Then caught a dive into a powerslam, hit a rising knee then the Last Ride to win.
Genuinely don’t know if having more of a back and forth with a lower card guy is better than squashing a jobber for Wardlow. Meanwhile, next time you want us to take Trent seriously as a title contender, Exhibit A.
Wardlow was going to continue the beating, Rocky Romero, Chuck and Cassidy hit the ring, the UK managed to coax Wardlow into leaving. Trent shoved the others away when they tried to help.
Cole needs to be cutting a promo every week. He’s the only thing remotely main event about that group.
They pushed the six-man cage match for Collision and Bryan Danielson vs Yuji Nagata. I guess they’re looking to hook a particular segment of the audience away from the Rumble.
Adam Copeland package discussing why he started the Cope Open – to prove he’s better than Cage. He said he gets goosebumps thinking about facing Suzuki and said it’d be a fight. He said he could sum it up in three words ‘Grit your teeth’.
Renee called Deonna Purazzo out to the stage for her face to face with Toni Storm. It genuinely sounds like there are ten people cheering whenever someone comes out. Like if you knew someone at the show you could pick out their individual cheers.
Storm came with her crew. The screen was split into color/black & white. Storm said Purazzo was recently body shamed which is ridiculous because there’s so much more to shame about her. They used to be friends but that doesn’t mean Purazzo can use it to get a title shot.
She said Deonna might be the best technical wrestler but said if she steps into the ring with her she’ll twist her lips so hard ‘you’ll need an epidural’ (I’m fairly sure that’s what she said).
Deonna said this was insane and that she came to AEW for titles not friendships. She has no problem earning a shot and ‘winning arm by arm’. But she doesn’t want to wrestle this ‘delusional sham’ (which drew boos), she wants the Storm that lived on dojo floors and came to America and stayed at Purazzo’s house. And that version is the one she wants to beat.
She begged Storm to dig down and find that version. She showed that they had matching tattoos on their ankles. Storm yelled that Deonna could ‘take her tattoo and blow it right out of your bumhole!’.
Deonna threw her shoe and tried to take Storm down by the arm, Mariah helped and they fled, Deonna nailed Luther with a boot.
Not advocating twenty-minute promos but a matching tattoo seems a very personal thing that should be explained in more detail over a longer period. With some more emotion and context. Especially since there’s so long till the ppv. That aside, it was pretty effective. I like that someone who used to know Toni would call her out on her BS.
Back to Mox backstage. He said he and the BCC have won a lot of matches and titles. So many he can’t count. But had zero victory parties. There’s always a bigger challenge around the corner and that’s what it takes to be the best, to be elite. A lot of people come here and don’t know what that means. They think it’s a party but the party’s over.
He’ll weed out anyone who thinks that way and give his blood to provide the fans with the best wrestling show in the world. Which he’s doing Friday.
Great delivery; unless this is heading somewhere in particular longer term, it was generic in content, like Saturday.
Taya Valkyrie and Johny TV. They ‘reintroduced’ themselves. Taya said she wasn’t happy at Deonna trying to jump the queue, so challenged her to a match next week. Very nice promo, Taya oozes confidence and charisma.
If we must have ROH, where the hell’s the Party Peacock?
Swerve Strickland vs Jeff Hardy
Excalibur lied about this being a ‘very, very’ tough test for Swerve. Announcer credibility is important. It seems like the Hardys are turning heel based on what the announcers were saying. As with too many guys in AEW, the crowd had not read that script.
Swerve took Jeff down and immediately got two with a rollup, crowd chanting ‘Whose house?’ as Strickland continued seeking quick pins. A ‘Hardy’ chant hit back and Jeff tried a schoolboy with a handful of trunks. Swerve wasn’t happy, Jeff came out of the corner with shots, missed a corner splash, Swerve hit a backbreaker then targeted the arm on the mat, while Matt (no relation) hit the apron and Swerve’s dumb so that led to the hold being broken.
A dueling chant played as Jeff hit a splash to the back after dancing. Swerve to the corner, boot up, Jeff hit a Russian legsweep into a pin by trapping the ankles with his own. Swerve didn’t lose. He then swept Jeff’s legs on the apron, hit a thrust kick then a neckbreaker off to the floor.
Jeff should not be taking bumps like that given the shape he’s in. Nana was incredibly annoying yelling at Jeff while Swerve grabbed a chair, set Hardy on it, mocked his dance and paid for it by being tripped off the apron.
Who in the blue hell is the face and heel?
Jeff placed Swerve on the barricade then smashed with via leg lariat after springing off the steps.
Back to Swerve setting Jeff atop the buckle. Hardy knocked him off via headbutt but was crotched but again fought Swerve off to hit a twirling body attack. He hit a kick to the face and something like a low blow out of a rough sequence. Then a Manhattan drop and leg to the yambags. Elbow drop to follow, Swerve out at two.
This is way beyond too much offense for Jeff.
Swerve sent Jeff outside then dragged him along the apron and sent him to the buckle. Hardy came back with a Twist of Fate on the steps at ringside. Then flung Swerve back in and prepped a Swanton. Swerve moved then hit the House Call, Jeff kicked out.
Swerve tried a Twist of Fate, Jeff countered into a backslide, they exchanged more pin attempts, Jeff hit a jawbreaker, Swerve hit bag via leaping flatliner, trying to smoothly switch into a brainbuster but Jeff doesn’t really do anything smoothly these days.
Swerve hit the Stomp then won, the most popular babyface in the company just scraping by.
This is everything I don’t want out of AEW. A few vets who can still go? Sure. Outside of that I want young talent I haven’t seen a million times. And not a show full of elongated matches with obvious winners.
Jeff was very over.
Winner: Swerve Strickland
Renee with Hangman to ask about him being top of the rankings come the end of the month. Swerve rolled up to remind him he beat him, Page said it’s ‘a new year dumbass’ (they used to reset rankings every year) and if they wrestled again he’d knock him on his ass. Tony Khan told Renee (in her earpiece) that the two would be in dealer’s choice matches next week where they choose each other’s opponent.
Nice and heated, Page’s continuing fire adds a lot. And picking opponents is a nice – and very different – way to continue a feud.
Red Velvet vs Thunder Rosa
Rosa took Red down into a front facelock, Velvet rolled to the ropes to break. The crowd chanted for Rosa before the two exchanged armdrags. A Rosa drop-toe hold followed when Velvet rushed her, Rosa elevated to the apron – just – Velvet blocked a face to the buckle and gave Rosa one then tripped her off the apron and did her stirring thing.
Rosa hit a lariat as we came back, another, charging lariat in the corner into a falling knee strike, running dropkick against the ropes, northern lights for two. Fans into Rosa here. Velvet ducked a lariat and kick, firing body shots, rolling through a cazadora into a stomp, knee to the back of the head against the ropes, Rosa countered a springboard bulldog and kick to the gut (this all looked slow and awkward).
Rosa tried her finish, shotgun dropkick before trying again, yelling ‘Bucks’ and doing the Elite ‘smoking’ thing before hitting the Tijuana Bomb to win. Not sure if Rosa isn’t quite back in ring shape but this really slowed after the break. The ladies hit hard though and Rosa was popular.
Winner: Thunder Rosa
Schiavone hit the ring to call out Sting and Darby. As far as I’m aware there are still two matches to go and half an hour left, so unless they’ve scrapped the six-man that main event isn’t going long.
Darby started by saying he’s always asked what it’s like to team with Sting. He said the impact Sting had on him started in 2015 when he saw the vet’s career end early via neck injury and it made him wonder if it’d happen to him.
Then when Sting joined AEW Darby flew to his house to work out in the ring and within five minutes looked him in the eyes and said ‘You still got it’.
Matthew and Nicholas were shown watching backstage.
As Darby said they’re undefeated as a team and that should make them #1 contenders. ‘We’d be kinda dumbasses not to take the opportunity’ (shots fired at FTR & Copeland). He told Sting that still to this day ‘you still got it’. The crowd agreed.
Allin asked if Sting wanted to end things as tag champs then handed the mic off.
The vet paused dramatically, the crowd chanted his name, he said he was ‘all in’. Then screamed. This is not well done. It’s rushed and they haven’t built any backstory between these two and either of the other teams or made the belts seem even slightly important.
After a break, Starks and Big Bill replied backstage. Bill said they accepted the challenge. Starks said it’s fitting that Sting started his AEW career against he and a partner and now was facing Starks and the best partner he’s had so they could end his run.
The Acclaimed & Billy Gunn vs Mogul Embassy (AEW Trios Titles)
Backstory: Loosely – the Embassy lost their titles to the Acclaimed’s new stablemates BCG last week; in actuality – not a single solitary thing
I could not remember which company’s titles were on the line here. That’s not a good thing. What is is BCG’s utter banger of a new theme, White and the Gunns out first before the Acclaimed & Bill joined them.
Caster’s rap included telling Cage ‘for once you’re not the most generic guy on the team’ and saying we were ‘rocking with the Bang Bang Scissor Gang’.
Cage and Caster got us going, the big man launching shoulders to the gut, Caster ducking and dodging until landing an armdrag to Cage’s legit injured shoulder. Bowens in, stiff strikes to the face and back of the head before adding a ‘bang bang’ to ‘everyone loves the Acclaimed’.
For the umpteenth time on the show, a babyface paid for preening as Cage tagged out and the heels trapped Bowens in their corner. It didn’t last long, Bowens hit an enziguri to Cage’s shoulder but his partners were dragged off the apron, preventing the tag.
Nana – Excalibur twice called him ‘Prince Ghana’ – grabbed the leg and Bowens was knocked off the apron to bring the break.
Back to a Bowens blockbuster, hot tag time so you know Billy’s coming, which he did after Bowens fought off the Gates. Before everyone took out everyone, Cage hit an F5 to Bowens, Caster took him out, Kaun hit him with a dropkick then hit a very loose pedigree to Gunn for two.
Aubrey’s dumb so stopped to argue with Nana while Kaun prepped a chair shot. Jay White took it away, Gunn hit a suplex, the Gunns powerbombed Nana off the apron through a table (so he is a heel? Because that’s a heel spot).
Everyone just hit the ring again at will, the good guys took out the bad: Fameasser, Arrival, Mic Drop, win.
If BCG are turning, White helping them there cannot possibly make sense. But this surely isn’t a long term arrangement? The six pointed in mutual approval.
Winner: Acclaimed & Billy Gunn
Serena Deeb package – if you can call it that – lasted about fifteen seconds. Message: she’s back. Excalibur pushed that tickets for Collision were still available. That’s putting it lightly.
Minoru Suzuki vs Adam Copeland
Backstory: Suzuki answered Copeland’s open challenge
Justin is now doing ‘Super, Super, Superstar’ on every entrance and it’s not good. We want Dasha. Much like last week, this is a cool spectacle; it’s not a main event.
‘To call it a Dream Match would be an understatement because no-one in their wildest dreams could think that it would even occur’. Thus spake Excalibur. There was a light ‘Holy Shit’ chant before we got going.
Right to a fight, stiff forearms in the middle, they wobbled backwards selling the strikes then went back to it, staggering between blows now, Copeland dropping to his knees. Back to it, Suzuki dropstepped before knocking Copeland down again, Gotch-style coming, Copeland backdropped out, Suzuki rolled to the apron.
Where he tried an armbar using the ropes, Copeland fought it off, hit a big boot, Suzuki wobbled but held on, caught a Spear coming in with a knee strike and grabbed a front facelock, maintaining it as they fell off the apron and Copeland drove Suzuki through the barricade to break the hold.
Copeland hit his head on the floor there.
The ref’s count was at nine and they ran back in simultaneously. It’s almost as if we saw that exact spot Saturday. They came together in the middle once more, back to striking, from their knees, as TiA played. To their feet, a stream of forearms, Suzuki laughed and moved to open hands, both ducked, both hit, both dropped.
Staggering up, Copeland yelled ‘cmon’, Suzuki rocked him then fired a series of open hands, targeting the arm, Copeland rolled through to block an armbar, into the impaler, both down once more. Dueling chant as they tried again to reach their feet.
Suzuki avoided a Spear, into the Fujiwara, Copeland near the ropes but not near enough, finally reaching them with damage done. Suzuki climbed him into a choke, Copeland flung him off, hit the ropes, Spear, cover, kickout. Predictably.
Both sat up then Suzuki clambered behind into the rear naked, bang center, Copeland trying to fight out, to his knees, Suzuki wrenching, Copeland almost done, until ramming Suzuki into the buckle, Killswitch, win. Cage was shown watching backstage.
Nice match. Suzuki’s clashes have a legitimacy to them and the crowd were as into this as anything sans maybe Swerve/Hardy.
Copeland took the mic to say he’s never been hit that hard is his life. Then ‘Suzuki… respect’. He offered a hand, Suzuki growled at him and left. Copeland said he’d have been disappointed if Suzuki had shaken. Then said that was a war and the sort of war Christian Cage knows nothing about. He said he was still coming for Cage.
Winner: Adam Copeland
Like last week, there was nothing particularly bad but nothing I can’t wait to see going forward or that you must watch if you missed the show. Unlike last week, the show ended not by highlighting a fresh young talent but by pushing a feud between two middle-aged ex WWE-ers.
- FTR & Daniel Garcia vs House of Black (Elimination Cage Match)
- Bryan Danielson vs Yuji Nagata
- Serena Deeb returns vs TBA
- Mariah May vs Lady Frost
- Hangman Page vs (Swerve’s choice)
- Swerve Strickland vs (Hangman’s choice)
- Deonna Purazzo vs Taya Valkyrie
- Sting & Darby vs Starks & Big Bill (Tag Titles)
- Opener and closer were pretty good
- Hook’s follow up is just about a plus for now, they did the bare minimum to keep him in mind, let’s see what’s next
- Women’s seg did a decent job building that
- Anyone fail to predict one of these finishes? Anyone?
- Where the hell is Takeshita!? (Rampage is the answer. And shouldn’t be)
- This Sting build is bog basic – they haven’t done a thing to make the tag belts seem important or build any issues – he deserves better
- Dumb interference
Appreciate you reading. Have a good week.