Venue: Lakeside Arena, New Orleans, La.
Wow this arena’s dark. Wild Thing kicking us off. Some of the CMLL dudes were in the crowd. Hechicero’s facing Danielson Saturday and they tried to make it seem a big deal.
Jeff Hardy vs Jon Moxley
Chants of ‘Moxley’ as he took Jeff to the corner, firing rights until elevated over and out. Hardy launched himself off the apron at the former champ then choked him with his shirt.
‘Relaxed’ rules apparently. Already.
Moxley knocked Jeff off the apron with a boot then launched a tope which Hardy just crumbled underneath, unable to cushion Mox at all. As Schiavone lived up to his gimmick by saying Mox wasn’t known for his topes. Moxley crotched and lariated Hardy off the barricade then flung him back in.
And began working the arm, stomping the fingers, release suplex, two count. Into a heel hook combined with a head scissors, then aiming Danielson-like kicks to the chest. Jeff countered a piledriver via back body.
(Tony Khan has a ‘big announcement’ next Weds – that’ll feel flat if it isn’t Mercedes or Okada. Though personally I prefer wrestlers debuting as surprises. If it’s simply to explain the rankings… yeesh.)
But was whipped hard to the buckle and just crumpled to the floor when it looked like Mox was trying to follow via lariat. Forcing Moxley to slow things down and work him over in the ropes. Hardy tried to fight back on the outside but was quickly flung into the barricade, But reversed a second as Mox landed in the front row and had words with Hechicero (was that supposed to happen the first time and Jeff forgot?).
Hardy flung a chair at Mox (bad wrestling companies have lax rules because they can’t be bothered to keep their stories straight) then tried to fly at him off the steps but took an anti-air.
Ads. This does not need to go through an ad break.
Back to Moxley sticking a pen in Jeff’s ear. No lie. Hardy again tried to fight back, ducked a Mox lariat, Manhattan drop, yambags legdrop, elbow drop, two. An angry Mox up into H&A elbows, piledriver, Jeff out at two. Before blocking another on the apron, hitting a twist of fate, twisting senton which was dangerously close to Mox’s head, pendulum dropkick in the corner, back to the top but caught up there.
Back rake, superplex, both up slowly, throwing rights, Mox countered a Twist of Fate into a cutter, Jeff blocked a Death Rider via Russian legsweep and got two. Jeff hit a stunner then another Twist of Fate before going upstairs. But missed a Swanton and was quickly choked out.
Not every opener should go fifteen.
Mox offered a handshake and Jeff gave him an ‘FU’ gesture then left. Mox jawed with Hechicero and the Mexicans jumped the barricade. Four on one yet Mox threw the first punch. The BCC ‘aren’t here’.
What on earth is this company doing? They don’t have enough tv time for half their roster yet are using it on more identity-less Luchadors only here for the week who only the hardest of hardcore fans have any knowledge of. Some lower card wrestlers eventually ran them off.
Winner: Jon Moxley
Hangman Page vs Toa Liona (Dealer’s Choice)
Backstory: Swerve chose Page’s opponent
Back to Hangman’s music which got a nice pop though it seemed he took some boos as he hit the ramp. They replayed his promo from Collision teasing Rob Van Dam as Swerve’s opponent. Excalibur talked about a special guest and ‘an odor’ backstage (weed).
Dasha’s on ring announcing btw.
Page ducked a right and fired away until being shoved clear. Rinse and repeat. Page avoided a corner charge but was again shoved away. Liona this time hit the lariat. Page tried a sunset flip, avoided being crushed, basement lariat, Liona right back up to knock Page down.
The rankings are now back ‘very soon’.
Page fired chops, was caught by Liona but countered through into a cradle for two then bridged Liona over and out. Page nailed his springboard lariat and a second, Liona wobbled but didn’t drop and flung Page outside by the hair. Then hurled himself off the apron via cross body.
The announcers made a bunch of in-jokes. And it wasn’t during ads. As Liona continued working over Page. The former champ tried to fight back but was pounced outside, just about dragging himself over.
Liona threw very weak headbutts with Page hanging in the tree of woe then launched a diving one to knock Page down. But missed an apron senton and crashed to the ringside, Page vaulting over, Liona just ignored it and sent him back in. Page came back via tope, to the top, high diving cross body back inside. For two.
Page rolling forearm, a second, deadeye coming – Liona too heavy, flattening out and crushing Page. Thrust kick, two for Liona.
Page avoided a corner charge, hit a big running elbow strike, big lariat, Liona not budging. Page slid under a cross body and belted him with a big lariat, finally taking him down. Trying deadeye once more, hitting, Liona popped up and hit a headbutt (they have got to stop having lower card guys ignore and kick out of finishes and big moves. It’s yet another booking crutch).
Liona hit a rolling elbow; Page out at two. Liona this time hit the apron senton, Page crumbling to the floor, crowd very quiet when Hangman’s not on offense though they’re generally hot and certainly behind the Cowboy.
Page avoided a moonsault off the apron, Liona crashing to the mats, looked like it sucked. Page quickly up top for an ourihara, Buckshot ducked back inside, Page cradled his way to a win out of a Samoan Drop.
Liona flew at Page who ole’d him outside. Liona grabbed a chair and threw it in, Page used it to ward him off then took a seat mid-ring as the pair glared.
Happy to be wrong on this. If Liona’s a big part of the show during February and becomes a feature. Fine. Otherwise, what on earth is with this relentless protection of 9/10 of the roster?
Pretty good match, built to a nice finish, which was never in doubt and felt flat because Page should be mowing through guys with the Buckshot every single week.
We’re also about forty minutes in now and it’s kinda ‘Well if you like wrestling, here’s two hours of it’. There are no hooks, no promos, no feuds, nothing to feel especially excited about.
Winner: Hangman Page
The rankings are coming back at the end of tonight’s show. So that announcement is something else…
They cut to the Bucks arriving in a hummer limo. They’ve changed the Vince-style moustaches to goatees. Good on them.
A stagehand appeared with the format but called them ‘Nick and Matt’. Nick explained what was on their birth certificates, including middle names this time, and said ‘don’t let it happen again’ before doling out a ‘$500 fine!’ in a way too comical to be taken seriously. Was entertaining though.
A calmer Matt took the stagehand aside to apologize for his brother being a ‘hothead’ but casually insisted the fine had to be paid ‘end of day’. Offering a fistbump with a shit-eating grin on his face – ‘let’s have a great show!’.
Wardlow vs Komander
Poor Komander. On the flipside, they are at least trying to make Wardlow seem a legit title contender by having him appear and win on tv every week.
Dasha got mixed-up a couple times introducing the UK and Wardlow. The whole crew came out. Cole joined on comms, reveling in how Wardlow was going to crush Komander. A weak ‘Wardlow’ chant played. Which’ll happen when the audience don’t know the guy he’s facing. Even if he is a heel.
Komander kept trying to take him down but was ignored and/or flung around with ease. Komander hit a couple low dropkicks, briefly staggering the big man until being caught into a nice pop-up jackhammer. It seems we are totally ignoring the whole ‘Devil’ angle now since the announcers aren’t bringing it up at all.
The beating continued, Wardlow choked Komander in the ropes with his boot, mockingly counting along with the ref on his fingers. Crowd very quiet here until a monstrous F10. Komander scrambled outside as Wardlow posed and watched himself on the big screen.
Then sought a powerbomb outside. Komander rana’d his way free – Wardlow sent to the steps and taking a weak dropkick from the apron. Until leaping up to join the Mexican on the apron. Komander kicked the rope into his crotch then headed upstairs. Rope-walk dropkick, Wardlow down, phoenix splash which looked like it nailed Wardlow in the head/throat. Looked really nasty.
The big man was still able to catch him out of another rope-walk into a powerslam. About to finish Komander off, the UK told him to do more damage and he hit his draping knee strike then a sloppy Powerbomb.
‘Thanks Adam, my best to your girlfriend,’ said Schiavone as Cole left.
They threw Komander in and Strong did his stupid name yelling and was preparing to beat him down when Orange Cassidy, Rocky Romero and Trent interrupted. Wardlow left to protect Cole at ringside. Leaving the UK jobbers to bail in the face of a fair fight.
After nearly fifty minutes of elongated squashes, we went to a sit-down between the tag champs and #1 contenders. ‘No physicality’, yada yada.
Starks started. Putting over Sting’s AEW journey. Emphasizing it started with him as they showed clips of that match. Sting quickly interjected that he beat Starks in that match. Darby took over to say it was ‘a load of shit (bleeped)’ that Ricky respected Sting.
Then took the level up about nine notches too many considering this isn’t even really a feud.
He doesn’t think Starks respects anybody. Then yelled that Sting ‘isnt a stepping stone’ and nor is his career. We abruptly cut to Starks yelling back (this is very poorly edited, like that Omega sit-down last year) ‘You’re the one that attached yourself to Sting!’ and vowed that next week two things would happen.
They’d retain their belts and he’d get back the ‘vendetta’ he had against Sting. He’ll make sure Sting doesn’t make it to his last match. As for Darby ‘there’s no space in my body for respect for you’.
Bill mocked them for always bragging and talking each other up. Making the salient point that they were overlooking the champs heading into Sting’s last match. Then saying that Sting and Darby ‘represent everyone else here and we’re going to take our frustrations out on you two’ (which is probably a shoot, the champs have been an afterthought).
Sting said he admired something about Starks in the early days but respect has to be earned. As for Bill, he’s faced many big men before. And they were ‘killers’. He’s not sure Bill is.
Another abrupt cut to Darby saying he respects Starks but he blames others too often when he should be blaming himself. Starks threw a drink and begged Darby to hit him. Sting calmed things down and said he’s always hated talk. ‘He (Darby) will hit you… in Phoenix. Oh, and I will too’.
Should’ve mentioned this earlier but it didn’t help that this took place in what looked like a high school gym with a scoreboard visible in the background. Was there nowhere else?
This was awful. AEW are so poor at these. They edit them down to choppy, cliché packed (yelling, ‘respect’), rushed clips which don’t have time to breathe and allow the tension to develop. Surely one of the three matches so far could’ve donated another few minutes for this to feel smoother?
And what about Sting? What does this last shot mean to him as he enters his last month ever in the ring? When was the last time he held tag gold? What would it mean to do so with his protégé?
To boil it down – What’s the reason for the match? Why should we be invested in watching? Neither question was answered.
Kyle Fletcher vs Chris Jericho
Backstory: Jericho’s sort-of been feuding on and off with the Callis Family, if there’s anything more, they didn’t explain it or remind us
Obviously whatever Jericho did or didn’t do isn’t on the level of Vince McMahon. But given that backdrop it still feels uncomfortable watching someone who may have used his power to make a young woman’s life more difficult. Though it did not seem the crowd here agreed as they sang his entrance.
Fletcher has new music or at least music I haven’t heard before. Wardlow and Callis were out too.
Right to a fight, they brawled to the corner, Jericho got a boot up but ran out into a Michinoku Driver for a near fall. Fletcher shots from the mount, Jericho elevated him outside, springboard dropkick, not a hint of a boo for the Ocho.
As he followed Fletcher outside but decided to chase Callis instead. Allowing Fletcher to strike from behind. Back in, the Aussie fired rights in the corner. Seems he’s bulked up a little. He fired a running elbow strike, snapmare, kick to the spine, two.
But was caught up top, Jericho seeking a rana and nailing it after ten punches. Hobbs hit the apron and Callis tripped Jericho; Fletcher took back over.
A half and half left Jericho in the corner for a running kick to the face, brainbuster, two. Excalibur sounded constipated as Jericho kicked out. Schiavone put over Fletcher’s performance and it’s hard to disagree. He’s been the best thing on the show so far.
Jericho slipped behind out of a scoop slam, pair of shoulder blocks, axe handle from the top, sloppy bulldog, Hobbs nailed Jericho mid-lionsault (looked very staged as Jericho waited to be struck) as Callis again took Aubrey.
Fletcher said it was over and sought a piledriver but was swept into the Walls, dead center. Fletcher crawled for the ropes and nailed a thrust kick as he returned to his feet for two. A ‘wear your socks’ chant started at Callis’ expense as Jericho hit a codebreaker. Fletcher out at two after a delayed pin.
Fighting from their knees to their feet, Fletcher sent Jericho to the apron but took a right. Though recovered to nail a kick to the head leaving Jericho open for an avalanche brainbuster which went badly wrong as Fletcher lost his footing. Crowd even quieter now.
Fletcher nailed a leg lariat against the ropes, tried a sunset flip, Jericho hooked the legs to counter for two, Fletcher nailed a superkick, Jericho hit back with a boot, tried a Judas Effect, Fletcher ducked, it looked like Callis was supposed to grab the boot but missed, Fletcher hit a roundhouse which left Jericho outside.
But he caught Fletcher via Judas Effect mid-tope, flung Hobbs to the steps then headed upstairs, diving back elbow which they called a Judas Effect. For the win.
Slip aside, Fletcher was great here. It’s time he and Takeshita become permanent fixtures and guys on the rise on Wednesdays.
Takeshita hit the ramp to eye Jericho before they wrestle next week. We then raced away.
Winner: Chris Jericho
To a Deonna/Toni Storm package. Purazzo explained each of her tattoos as representing a different part of her career. She and Toni got the same tattoo of a duck ‘on a whim’ in the UK (they showed photos of the pair from a few years back). But now it symbolizes the journeys of two girls as they travelled the globe to become some of the best in the world.
To her, it symbolizes the journey from who she was to who she is. But she wonders what the tattoo means to Toni.
AEW are much better at this type of package. They should stick to these and avoid the sitdowns which are never better than average. This women’s build is the best in ages.
‘By order of the Bang Bang Gang! Gunns Up!’
This damn entrance. Love it. Very cool they way they film the trio too. And it’s working: big pop for BCG. The Acclaimed & Billy Gunn came out to join them, sharing the entrance.
Bowens said the ‘Bang Bang Scissor Gang has arrived!’ and scissored with Billy. White said he enjoyed scissoring but they have a thing too – ‘Gunns Up for my New Orleans Gold members’.
Caster said they were the six men who’d dominated the trios scene for years. But that someone was missing. He yelled at Bowens to get CardBlade a la ‘D-Von get the tables’. Colten said they fired him weeks ago and Bowens tossed it outside. People booed that. Colten yelled at Austin to ‘Get the Juiceboard’ instead and the crowd cheered and chanted ‘Whoop whoop, Juiceboard’.
Austin started to say ‘If you’re not down…’ but was cut off by his dad. Austinsaid it was ‘my thing’. Billy countered that it was his thing ‘when you were still… well, let’s not go there’.
Then asked the crowd if he should show Austin how to do it. There were definitely some ‘no(s)’. Billy did the ‘two words’ thing, the crowd yelled ‘suck it’ but Billy said this was a new era and said ‘Gunns Up’ instead. They all raised their ‘guns’ and prepared to scissor/bang. And did.
As much as I hate this defining down Jay White, it was pretty fun. Though unless it’s building to a very quick turn, it’s hard to figure out what it all was for.
Deonna Purazzo vs Taya Valkyrie
Backstory: Taya challenged Deonna last week
Toni Storm came out to join on comms. The announcers were already cracking up as she pranced down the ramp. May and Luther in tow.
Still don’t understand Deonna looking arrogant and beckoning the camera to go away during her entrance when she’s otherwise very likeable. Storm was shocked by what had happened to Schiavone since she last saw ‘him’. ‘You look like a half-sucked mango’.
Taya had a skirt straight out of Marie Antoinette’s wardrobe so struggled to hop to the apron.
Lockup, break, back to it, Taya using the hair to push Deonna back to the corner and aiming a slap as the fans chanted for Deonna. Who took Taya down via armdrag out of the corner, several armwringers torquing away in early preparation for Venus de Milo. Storm said she was going to tell Taya ‘Chin up and tits out but it I guess she already got the memo’.
Deonna took Taya down by the arm, Taya got the ropes then swept the legs, working the knee, the pair wrestling on the mat. ‘We all know Excalibur is Sean Mooney anyway,’ said Storm and Tony lost it. Then told Taz it was pronounced ‘su-plais’. As Deonna sent Taya outside via headscissors.
But missed a sliding dropkick. Then was a moron and distracted by Johny TV and sent to the steps.
Purazzo hit a running forearm to Taya (as Storm said that neither was ‘Wendy Richter’), took her down via Russian legsweep, floating over looking for the Venus, Taya countered via cradle, Deonna kicked out and nailed a pump kick. Nice sequence.
Storm praised New Orleans because ‘someone gave me a lovely pair of beads when I got here and they were not for my neck’. Cannot believe she just said that on national tv.
Taya hit a blue thunder for two, tried a stomp but had her leg hooked into a kneebar mid-ring. Valkyrie hit a sliding lariat for two after escaping. A ‘Johny’s jacket’ chant showed the crowd’s level of interest. Purazzo hit a sliding dropkick which landed her right in front of Storm who did her ‘why I oughta’ motion, Taya tried to attack from behind and was sent into Storm.
Back inside, Deonna hit another pump kick as Storm was yelling that someone had ‘pissed in her seat’. Distracting from the finish as Taya submitted. You absolutely cannot say Storm isn’t entertaining; you absolutely cannot say she doesn’t distract from everything else.
They showed Storm who had gone silent and was staring straight ahead after witnessing the tap. Deonna glared at her then made the ‘belt’ motion.
Winner: Deonna Purazzo
Renee with Darby Allin. She asked about his ‘admiration for the Young Bucks’. Darby acted as if he had anything but, as the Bucks just happened to be nearby and asked him to answer. They said it was a great question and she deserved a raise. They still have headsets on btw.
Matt said it was ‘vibetown’ backstage today and they loved Darby because he fitted AEW – an ‘original’ who fit the ‘change the world’ slogan and was young. But asked why he was letting a 60+ guy suck money from his pocket. ‘Save some for the rest of us am I right?’
And that he has a great ‘gimmick’ idea for Darby once Sting retires. They could be a trio since the Bucks ‘went through a goth phase’ in high school. Nick got serious and accused Allin of being ‘unprofessional’ and ignoring their texts.
‘You got a problem with us or what?’
Darby said ‘No offence’ but there was only one thing on his mind – the tag titles. And left. The Bucks said they’d have to get his attention another way. Then Matt gave Renee and fist bump – ‘great show’ and etc. She half-heartedly gave one back.
This was excellent. The Bucks’ characters are better defined – Matt’s the smarmy, disingenuous boss and Nick’s the serious hard ass – and this began the tease nicely for Sting’s last match, subtly making it clear Darby has no time for them while they mocked and talked down to him.
Samoa Joe came out to join on comms. It should be a bigger deal all show that the world champ will show up later. The announcers should not let us forget it. This is either going very long or there’s an angle coming after.
Swerve Strickland vs Rob Van Dam (Dealer’s Choice)
Backstory: Hangman chose Swerve’s opponent
A loud ‘Swerve’s house!’ greeted Strickland. As above, we should not be allowed to forget he’s coming. If they want him to feel like a big deal that is. Little details.
Nana’s not here due to injury.
Joe said he hoped Schiavone ‘was on it’ re: the ratings being released later. Excalibur said Hangman ‘was not exactly subtle’ about Swerve’s opponent but we still don’t know for sure.
I have to think folks in WWE will have a smirk about Rob Van Dam main eventing an AEW show in 2024.
Joe put over how dangerous Van Dam was. Before the match started, Hangman interrupted from the big screen to say Liona was a good choice earlier but not good enough. And that Dealer’s Choice means he can pick the stip too so this is a hardcore match.
Crowd cheered; Swerve turned around into a chair flung at his face. Crowd chanted ‘RVD’. Van Dam followed Swerve outside and hit a spin kick against the barricade. Joe accused Swerve of having ‘fronts’ as RVD nailed another.
Then did his pose atop the steps. Before flinging Strickland into the front row camera-side. They need to stop doing that since it reveals there are no people there. Crowd chanted ‘we want tables’ cause yeah. Van Dam did his pose again then hit a vaulting leg drop from in-to-out onto the apron.
Crowd chanted ‘You still got it’. Was an impressive move tbf. Van Dam’s very over.
The beating continued, Swerve was posed atop the barricade then nailed with a twisting leg lariat from the apron.
Ads. Strickland hasn’t got a move in yet.
Back to Van Dam being flung into a chair propped in the corner. Count of two. Van Dam reversed a second whip though and nailed rolling thunder. Running chair-assisted dropkick in the corner for another near fall. Swerve countered a monkey flip into a powerbomb on the chair.
Van Dam out at two, the pair exchanging armwringers until RVD crotched Strickland on the top rope then headed upstairs, prepping another move when Brian Cage shoved him off. Hook – in a ‘D12’ baseball jersey – hit the scene with a chair and introduced it to Cage’s back.
The pair brawled outside as Swerve used the distraction to attempt a suplex. Van Dam countered into a tripping pin and nailed his step-over heel kick after blocking Swerve. He looks really good here.
Swerve rolled free of another rolling thunder into his flatliner for two. Then dragged Van Dam outside and setup a chair at ringside. A table was also setup somehow. As if by magic. Strickland hit a kick to the face, Van Dam landed in the chair and Swerve nailed a Stomp off the apron.
Then headed upstairs. Van Dam threw a chair which only brushed Strickland but he took a bump through the table outside. Joe loved that. He’s been anti-Swerve all match.
Van Dam sandwiched Swerve between chairs then headed up, Swerve avoided the Five Star, Swerve hit a chair-assisted house call. Van Dam kicked out then just popped right back up to try to cut Swerve off upstairs but was shoved down. Then kindly and patiently sat up straight to take a Stomp – always hate that – as Swerve won.
Nice match; not crazy about the booking. Strickland has been dominated two weeks in a row by older guys and barely scraped wins.
Hangman hit the scene, he and Swerve eyed one another. Page congratulated him but called him an ‘Evil Bastard’. Then said the pair were undefeated in 2024. So both would be top of the rankings when they come out. He vowed – as he did months ago – that he’ll never let Swerve become champ. He’s the next champ, not Strickland.
Swerve cackled and said he’d beaten Page twice. He has nothing to prove. Page can’t get over the fact he can’t beat him. Hangman countered that Swerve’s saying that to try to convince himself. Because both times it took the whole Mogul Embassy. ‘Man to man, when it counts, Swerve, you can’t lace my boots’.
That ticked Swerve off. He said he’d give Page what he wants. They’ll wrestle a third time but after that ‘we are done’ and he’s going for the championship. The smirk Samoa Joe let out here through the headset was just gold.
Nice and heated as usual. Slightly spoiled by ‘Tony Khan has just made this official’. For next week. Winner faces Joe at Revolution.
Show finished strongly.
Winner: Swerve Strickland
- Hechicero vs Bryan Danielson
- Eddie Kingston vs Bryan Keith
- ‘All of that and so much more’
- Sting & Darby Allin vs Ricky Starks & Big Bill (Tag Titles)
- Tony Khan ‘Big Announcement’
- Chris Jericho vs Konosuke Takeshita
- Hangman Page vs Swerve Strickland (Winner faces Joe at Revolution for the title)
- Bucks were very entertaining and their new characters are becoming better defined by the week
- Kyle Fletcher
- Swerve vs RVD
- Swerve/Page promo to end the show
- No suspense over finishes again
- Tag buildup segment – heavy on cliches; light on reasons why they were wrestling, feuding or why we should care, there were no emotional attachments here
- Nothing main event-worthy, RVD in that role in 2024 seems a little desperate, even if the match was good
- Hook feuding with Brian Cage is not a way to continue his momentum
Appreciate you reading. Have a good week.