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We’re back with another episode AEW action, and boy has that action been ramping up as we get closer and closer to the Revolution PPV! With so many angles and matches to set up on our way to the big show, does this episode juggle it all with aplomb or are they gonna need a bit more time to sort through all of this? Let’s find out!!
The feud between CM Punk and MJF has been firing on all cylinders the past few weeks, but they manage to find a way to kick it up a notch with this opening promo. The show begins with CM Punk already in the ring; legs crossed, mic in hand, and a box sitting in front of him. He reminds everyone that he came up with the Better Than You thing back when he was doing his Straight Edge persona, but he’s not mad at MJF for trying to emulate him or even for supposedly beating him in his hometown last week. The fact is though that he is still no Piper, no Bret, and certainly no Punk; he’s still just Max from Long Island and he’s about to learn that lesson the hard way in their upcoming rematch. It will take place on the Revolution PPV and Punk announces that it will be a Dog Collar Match as he theatrically pulls the chain out his box to punctuate his point. He then calls out MJF to meet him face to face which begrudgingly obliges, though is clearly perturbed at the prospect of this match. With MJF looking right in the middle of the ring, CM Punk takes a photo out of his box and it’s a young baby-faced MJF standing next to the one and only CM Punk. Punk wants to make sure that MJF knows he’s about to get his butt kicked in a brutal match by his hero, and the moment leaves MJF speechless as he walks out without saying a word. Dang, I’m feeling chills after that one! I don’t know how this Dog Collar thing is going to turn out (my money is on MJF ultimately winning the match), but I can’t wait to get to the PPV to find out!
Bryan Danielson Vs. Lee Moriarty
Despite Danielson’s proclamations last week about building up young talent, he’s really just a cocky jerk and spends a good chunk of this match toying with Moriarty instead of giving him a proper fight. Still, it’s not like he has to put that much effort in as Moriarty isn’t doing much against Danielson. He tries to put him into a submission hold but he just can’t lock it in and Danielson easily reverses it into a Romero Special that he transitions into a Dragon Sleeper. Moriarty does manage to break out of that hold and quickly locks in one of his own, but Danielson gets to the ropes quickly and this ended up accomplishing is getting Danielson to start hitting him harder. Once again, Moriarty tries to fight back with a series of Uppercuts, but Danielson outclasses him easily and manages to trap him in the ropes so he can hit a series of Yes Kicks; punctuated by a Knee Strike to the face. Things continue on this way until Moriarty manages to hit a Back Suplex on Danielson, but something was off with it and Danielson ends up hitting his head on the mat. It wasn’t too hard of a hit by the looks of it, but this is a guy who does not need even a TINY bump to his head. This does start the hope spot for Moriarty though as he powers through Danielson’s offense and manages to lock in the Border City Stretch, but Danielson counters out of it and hits the Shoulder Counter Suplex which brings Moriarty’s momentum to a screeching halt. All Danielson needs to do now is hit the Psycho Knee, Stomp on his face a few times, and lock in the Triangle Sleeper which knocks Moriarty out like a light and gives Danielson the win. Even with that one ugly spot that left Danielson checking his head, this match was decent and Moriarty looked fine. Still, I’m not sure that getting his butt kicked by Danielson did much for him, and if the plan is for AEW to do something with him then he should have his own storyline instead of being a small piece of Danielson’s.
With another victory under his belt, Danielson grabs the mic and calls out Jon Moxley. He gave him a week to think about his offer, and now is the time to give him an answer! Well, Moxley is more than happy to oblige as his music hits and he makes his way to the ring. He talks about the first time he met Danielson at some indie show and how Moxley lost that match as well as every other match he’s had against Danielson. In fact, that’s what made him so happy to see Danielson come to AEW; so that they can fight once again! There’s no doubt that he and Danielson teaming up is an interesting offer and that there would hardly be a stronger duo in all of wrestling, but Moxley is not sure if the offer is authentic… or if it was made out of fear. Perhaps he wants to stand next to Moxley so that he doesn’t have to stand in front of him? Whether they will join forces is still up the air, but Moxley is not going to be denied the match he was hoping to get, and perhaps he’ll make his decision after they meet in the ring! They don’t announce it here but it’s almost certain that these two will go head to head at the PPV, and frankly, this is looking to be one of the best-stacked cards they’ve had in a while!
Wardlow Vs. Max Caster – Face the Revolution Qualifier Match
Wardlow is accompanied to the ring by Shawn Spears while Caster is accompanied by Anthony Bowens
Max Caster is not a Jobber, but he’s also not a guy who’s going to give Wardlow any trouble once he gets his hooks into him. That proves to be harder than expected though as Bowens is not shy about interfering and saving his tag team partner whenever he can, and this gives Max a little bit of a lead early on. Bowens also hands him a chain during the commercial break as an insurance policy, and Max manages to make great use of it when Wardlow finally lifts him up for a Powerbomb as he uses the chain to bash Wardlow over the head. Wardlow falls down like a poorly shelved sack of potatoes, and Caster hits the mic drop as fast as he possibly can to try and put Wardlow away… but he only gets a two count. He tries to keep his momentum going by lifting up Wardlow for a Powerbomb, but Wardlow just tosses him across the ring. Bowens tries to make the save once again, but Wardlow knocks him off by shoving Caster into the ropes; leaving Caster defenseless and friendless in the ring. One, two, and three Powerbombs later, Wardlow gets the pin to win the match which I found to be pretty entertaining! I wish that they didn’t have the commercial break right in the middle of such a short match, but other than that I thought Caster and Bowens did a great job trying to outmaneuver Wardlow before ultimately succumbing to his raw power! Sadly they didn’t take that lesson to heart as Bowens attacks Wardlow after the bell rings, but then Wardlow hits him with a Powerbomb as well and walks out the ring like a boss! So far it’s him and Kieth Lee in the Face the Revolution Ladder match, and that alone is enough to get me excited to see it!
Britt Baker and her crew is in the back and are having a tense pep talk with Mercedes Martinez since we are getting another Martinez/Rosa match tonight, only now it will be No DQ. This is kind of a nothing segment and doesn’t do Martinez any favors as Baker is still talking down to her, but then it turns into something kind of surreal and AMAZING when none other than Martin Kove walks into frame as Baker’s sensei. Kove, if you aren’t aware, is the actor who plays John Kreese in Cobra Kai as well as the original Karate Kid movies, and honestly, I love it when wrestling pulls out some random celebrity to do a fun bit. It doesn’t always work, but it certainly did here!
If this episode didn’t already do enough to make Revolution sound like a great show, we see Hangman Adam Page head to the ring to talk with Tony Schiavone and before he can say anything, Adam Cole comes out to talk over him. He acknowledges that Hangman earned the title he holds over his shoulder but makes it clear that he’s gonna be taking it sooner rather than later; a threat that Hangman doesn’t see playing out as well as Cole is envisioning it. Still, the guy does get under his skin as he talks about him being a selfish champion as The Dark Order haven’t been seen since their run-in with Bryan Danielson. I mean he is right as any week of TV without Evil Uno is a poorer week for it, but Hangman is getting peeved at all this needling and Cole has to calm him down before fists start flying. See, Cole doesn’t want to fight him right now; he’s just making his intentions clear and wants their inevitable match to be an honorable contest between two men. Once again, we have a pretty good promo here and I like the idea that Cole isn’t going all out Heel in his bid for the title… but then they had to undercut it by having Fish and O’Reilly jump Hangman from behind and the three of them start stomping on the champ. The security crew tries to break it up, but when that fails the Dark Order run out to chase the New-Disputed Era away, and for some reason, this leaves Preston Vance so upset that he starts attacking the security guards? I would have preferred that they keep the pretense up for at least a week with Cole coming across as a noble competitor, and the Preston Vance thing that happened at the very end was just kind of weird, but it’s still a good match-up and I’m interested to see how well those two work together at the PPV.
Jericho & Jake Hager Vs. Santana & Ortiz
Santana & Oritz are accompanied to the ring by Eddie Kingston
This was an okay match, but there wasn’t a lot to it that felt like a big feud blow-off, and frankly the ending almost gauntness more matches in the future. The highlight for me was seeing Jake Hager again who’s been absent for a while now and he’s no less entertaining to watch on screen! The guy is big and physically imposing, but he’s also awkward and kind of goofy; exemplified by one moment where he’s getting the heat on Ortiz but spends a lot of that time just yelling at him over and over again. Despite his rhetorical onslaught and a Hager Bomb that lets him and Jericho keep control during the commercial break, Santana eventually tags in and manages to overpower Hager; that is until Jericho pops in out nowhere and hits a Code Breaker that leaves Santana completely dazed. Hager hits a slam to try and take advantage of the situation, but he only gets a two count and the match evens out into a back and forth brawl. Jericho manages to kick out of a Street Sweeper so Santana and Oritz try for an assisted Cannonball, but Jericho catches Santana and locks him into the Walls of Jericho. Santana just barely makes it to the ropes with the help of Kingston’s encouragement outside the ring which really gets under Jericho’s skin, so he attacks Kingston with a Springboard Drop Kick. This gives Santana enough time to recover and avoid a Judas Effect from Jericho, and this creates an opening for Ortiz to jump on the ropes and hits Jericho who stumbles right into a Discus Lariat from Santana. This proves to be an attack almost as strong as the Judas Effect as Jericho is effectively knocked out and Santana gets the pin to win the match. It was an okay match, but the big problem is that it didn’t do what was advertised; namely, settle this feud between Santana & Oritz and Jericho as neither side is ready to meet the other halfway and Jericho just straight-up attacks Kingston in retaliation. Of course, it was unlikely that this would be the end as we still need Eddie and Jericho to go one on one in a match, but with no real point to it the match ends up feeling like filler; something to just connect us from one part to the other without any real advancement in the storyline.
Mercedes Martinez Vs. Thunder Rosa – No DQ Match
It seems that the AEW solution to making any underwhelming feud in the women’s division work is to have a No DQ match, and to their credit, it has been an effective strategy. Baker got her biggest push after losing to Thunder Rosa in the Lights Out Match, and only a couple of weeks ago we got a Dark Order Vs. Bunny and Ford match which was the highlight of that otherwise meandering feud. Now it’s time for Mercedes Martinez to course-correct after her lackluster first match, and while it doesn’t fix everything it does make up for a lot. The two start beating the crap out of each other right out of the gate and it doesn’t take long for them to make their way into the crowd. This includes two spots that made me pretty anxious, the first was when Mercedes was thrown into the barricade and it ended up toppling over which I don’t think was the plan and a second spot where Rosa gets up on what has to be the shakiest guardrail you’ve ever seen. The fact that she was able to balance on this thing that was waving back and forth and land a splash on Martinez is nothing short of a miracle, but things thankfully slow down a bit after that as the two make their way back to the ring and fill it with lots of weapons. We get some decent spots after that like when Martinez puts Rosa through a table that’s propped-up on the apron and when Rosa hits a Top Rope Hurricanrana before bashing Mercedes with a trash can, but it eventually comes down to the pile of chairs in the middle of the ring. Martinez tries to give Rosa a Powerbomb into the pile, but Rosa manages to escape and hits a Crucifix Bomb that leaves Martinez in bad shape. Rosa then lifts her up and hits the Fire Thunder Driver into the pile which is enough to get the pin and win the match. It’s not over yet however as Baker and her crew come down the ramp while Rosa picks up Martinez out of a show of respect. Baker goes over to Sensei Kreese who reminds her to show no Mercy, and so her crew proceeds to attack Rosa in the ring. She makes her way inside and hands a steel pipe to Martinez with the clear instruction to start whacking Rosa with it. Martinez stalls for a while, but instead of her making a decision either way, Hayter bashes her in the back of the head and the Heels start attacking both Rosa and Martinez. This was a much better showcase of Martinez’s talents, but I still feel that she hasn’t been given a proper shot yet; especially with the way the angle ended. Seriously, can we get ONE really good Heel/Face turn? Let Martinez get the upper hand by attacking the three of them with the pipe!
Sammy Guevara Vs. Darby Allin – TNT Title Match
Darby is accompanied to the ring by Sting
This is probably not the match you’ll want to see if you don’t like guys taking really risky bumps because these two pretty much destroy themselves here. It starts off well enough with the two doing some moves back and forth, but then Sammy drops Darby spine-first onto the turnbuckle who then proceeds to tumble his way down to the floor. Sammy then drapes Darby over the ropes and hits a Senton; once again sending Darby tumbling to the floor. These are back-to-back spots in the first few minutes of the match, and while things are generally much safer for the rest of the match, neither guy seems willing to take it easy on themselves. Darby manages to throw Sammy into the turnbuckle and starts hitting Coffin Splashes as well as a Chop Block that sends Sammy to the mat. Sammy had hurt his knee during the commercial break, so Darby works that over for a bit, including a spot where he puts Sammy in the Tree of Woe. That’s always a fun spot to see, and Sammy manages to fight out of it with a Headbutt before hitting a Spanish Fly from the top rope. He can’t make the cover in time though because his knee is slowing him down, and he manages to only get a two count for his troubles. There’s some fun back and forth action with a Figure Four Leg Lock as well as the two of them countering out each other’s super moves, but eventually, Sammy has to roll out to catch his breath which gives Darby a chance to hit a Suicide Dive. Ah, but Darby’s biggest flaw has been his predictability as Sammy easily scouts this and grabs him in midair to hit a Cutter! It looks like Sammy is the one fighting smart in this match, right? Well, that would be the case if he didn’t do something ludicrously dangerous next which is to put Darby on the apron (not in the ring itself) and goes up top to hit a Senton. Darby obviously rolls out of the way and so Sammy lands spine first on the apron which, as every wrestler is quick to remind us, is the hardest part of the ring, so I guess Darby isn’t the only one looking to cut his career short with this match. Speaking of whom, Darby drags Sammy back into the ring and sets up for the Coffin Drop, but then Jose (Andrade’s assistant) comes out of nowhere and jumps on the apron. Sting takes care of him very quickly, but Andrade runs up to Darby on the turnbuckle and bashes him with a tablet! Darby is out on the turnbuckle and Sammy slowly gets back up. Seeing Darby completely helpless, he doesn’t have much of a choice but to finish what he started so he hits Darby with the GTH and gets the pin to win the match. Matt Hardy runs down and starts raining fists on Darby Allin which Sammy is not cool with and chases him off. But wait! Andrade comes up from behind and hits Sammy with the tablet! Sting is not happy about any of these shenanigans and goes to the ring to confront Hardy and Andrade, but the two peace out the two of them walking up the ramp with Sammy’s title belt in tow, or I guess title BELTS since he still has the interim belt for some reason? I don’t know why he’s still carrying that one around when he has the ACTUAL TNT title, but that’s how the episode ends; with Andrade carrying two belts that aren’t his and laughing all the way up the ramp!
This was definitely an episode about building towards the PPV with some fantastic promos and genuinely interesting twists to existing storylines. The matches though were ultimately overshadowed; not necessarily because any of them were bad, but none of the action was quite as interesting as what people were saying and frankly anything that’s happening right now that isn’t directly leading to a PPV angle feels like it’s just there to fill time. I’m sure the Inner Circle Feud will have some presence on the PPV, but the match tonight just didn’t do anything for me, and while having AHFO attack Sammy and Darby during the main event is certainly going to lead somewhere, the match itself felt like a throwaway title match where you never expected the belt to change hands. Still, there wasn’t anything on the show I’d classify as bad or even below average, but it was definitely the talking bits that made this such a memorable episode.