It’s finally fucking here! After too many months and even more opinion pieces, AEW’s TV kicked off on Wednesday night, and I shall be giving it a review. I doubt I’ll be doing this weekly, but the first one does feel like a big deal, so I figured I’d throw my opinion into the ring.
We opened with JR, Excalibur and Tony Schiavone who welcomed us before providing a quick preview of the card and cutting to a good, character-driven promo video for Cody vs Sammy Guevara. They pushed the idea that Cody’s focus was elsewhere and that if he lost he’d give up his title shot.
Cody defeated Sammy Guevara
Cody was 100% the right man to start this show even if him rising god-like from the floor was a bit much. For whatever reason, AEW fans adore that man and his mere presence guaranteed Guevara would be booed even if he wasn’t already a little shit.
The opening minutes then felt like we were heading towards the old Cody special. We got some nice agility from Sammy, but the boss man seemed determined to grab a hold and bore the life out of me.
Thankfully, things picked up as they went along with the turning point being a Cody Tope Suicida that Sammy reversed by throwing Brandi into the splash zone. From there, these two hit their second and third gear, as we got a Spanish Fly, a nice Reverse Superplex and Cody getting his knees up on a Shooting Star Press to roll Sammy up for the finish.
That was far from a classic, but it turned into a strong opening match with Cody managing to keep up with Guevara. There was a touch too much Brandi (she also hit Sammy with a shoe to set-up the Disaster Kick), but that was my only complaint. It was good stuff.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Afterwards, Schiavone entered the ring to try and grab a word with Cody, but they got interrupted by Sammy. At first, he looked like he wanted to keep the fight going, but he eventually decided to shake his boss’s hand. Sadly, the sportsmanship was short-lived as Jericho attacked Cody from behind and Guevara decided he wanted nothing to do with that. Y2J would go on to conduct a pretty extensive beat down that went on a bit too long, but was fine apart from that.
MJF defeated Brandon Cutler
After the hot opener, Brandon Cutler felt like a bit of a let down, getting a noticeably muted response from the fans. That didn’t last long as MJF showed up seconds later and went straight into promo mode. It was the usual MJF stuff, as he called everyone poor and suggested Cutler was a loser. Actually, he didn’t suggest it, he outright said it.
Quick shout out to Bryce Remsburg who reffed this match. Few wrestlers deserve their job more.
Cutler might have come into this as the underdog and ended up being squashed, but he impressed me a hell of a lot more than MJF. The offence he showed was a lot of fun, and he managed to hit a Tope into a Lou Thesz Press which was pretty damn cool.
Unfortunately, the finish was weird as Cutler fell off the top rope in what originally looked like a botch, but appeared to be on purpose. MJF would then use Remsburg as a shield, smack Cutler in the face and lock in a shitty looking Armbar for the win. That started well before ending badly.
Verdict: Two Stars
We went to ringside to have a chat with Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes who plugged the new Jay and Silent Bob film which Jericho is in. They were interrupted by Angelico and Jack Evans who had a squabble with them until Private Party came to the celebrities’ rescue. Wow, that was bad.
SCU cut a promo from outside the White House in which Scorpio Sky did an Obama impression and, well, you can probably guess what opinion they came to. When we went back to the arena they were interviewed by Schiavone before declaring that Kazarian and Daniels would represent them in the tag-team tournament. That brought out Lucha Brother for a wee brawl until they were dragged apart by (among others) Dean Malenko.
Can we get back to the wrestling, please?
PAC defeated Adam ‘Hangman’ Page
Here’s a match! PAC vs Page was originally booked for Double Or Nothing, but booking/visa/who the fuck knows what issues stopped it.
And these two went at it hard from the start, exchanging elbows before Page hit a great Tope Suicida to send PAC in the barricade. It wouldn’t keep The Bastard down for long, though, and he’d later show off some of his flying talents with an Asai Moonsault. That was beautiful, but the Springboard 450 that followed was a rare ugly move from PAC.
For those who haven’t seen a PAC match in 2019, this followed the formula he’s established for himself. He works a slower style than you might expect, grinding opponents down as he wrestles to his gimmick and only throws in the occasional moment of flash. He’s an arrogant prick and a master at getting under your skin.
It also makes for some brilliant babyface comebacks, as the fans were gagging for everything Page had to offer. As he leapt from the top to the floor with a Moonsault, they were off their feet, and the boos rained down on PAC when he cut that momentum off with a low blow. A Black Arrow followed by the Brutaliser made sure that the Bastard King reigned supreme.
These two could go out and have a four and a half star match, no problem. However, that wasn’t what they were aiming for here. This was about getting PAC over as a prick and Page as the underdog babyface who ain’t getting it done. From that point of view, it was perfectly done.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Did you know that Brit Baker is a dentist? I don’t think they’ve ever mentioned that before… she joined the commentary team for the match and we learnt that it took eight years for her to become one. Gosh, I care so much about all of this. Thankfully, she barely said a word, so we didn’t have to hear too much more.
Riho defeated Nayla Rose to win the AEW Women’s Champion
If you’re going to present yourself as a serious sporting promotion that books men and women equally, then maybe the women’s title (the only match for a title on this show) should be main eventing? I get why they went for the closer that they did, but if you set yourself up as being something and then don’t act like it, you’re inviting criticism.
I was amazed at how much of this match Riho took. That amazement is not a complaint, though, as she is the better wrestler of the two and they did a great job having her do all the complicated stuff while leaving Rose to hit cool power moves. Although they also made Nyla look like an idiot as she kept dragging chairs out despite the ref standing right in front of her. Her attempt to use them would even backfire as she hit a Senton onto them.
There was a botch towards the end as Riho couldn’t get Rose up when it looked like she was supposed to, but after a few seconds in which Nyla looked a bit concerned, Riho got them back on track. Not long after she hit a huge Avalanche Fisherman Suplex, a Running Knee to the back of the head and a Somato for the win. That was easily the best match on the show so far and a fantastic showing from Riho.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Michael Nakazawa came out to interview Riho and was about to talk in Japanese when Nyla attacked him from behind and hit a Liger Bomb (it took her two attempts to get him up). She was about to hit a DVD on the apron only for Omega to come to Riho’s aid. Well, that’s a cracking way to undermine your champion twenty seconds after she’s won the belt.
Chris Jericho, Santana and Ortiz defeated The Elite (Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson)
A few minutes into this match, Jon Moxley turned up, attacking Omega from behind before vanishing into the crowd with him for a brawl. As this is AEW, our new serious sport-inspired wrestling promotion, you’ve got to assume that led to an instant DQ, yea? Well, you’d be wrong. For some reason, the match continued while Moxley and Omega hit each other with mops and brawled into the ‘VIP Area’. It did end with a Death Rider through a glass coffee table which was awesome.
When we got back from commercial, the match was continuing as if nothing had happened which was fucking weird, but oh well. It was a decent little tag with the Bucks working from underneath but showing some nice defiance. Thankfully, they were smart enough to keep that short and sweet, with Nick having a brilliant hot tag before the numbers caught up with them and Y2J hit the Judas Effect on Matt for the win.
That was more an angle than a match, but the action we got was fine.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
The fight wasn’t over as Jericho and pals kept going. That brought out Cody for the save, which was negated by Guevara, who was then taken out by Dustin before ‘Jake Hager’ turned up. Seriously? AEW are going to have to do something really special to make me care about Jake Hager. He teamed up with the heels, by the way, I forgot to mention that. They combined to leave The Elite lying in the ring at the end of their first-ever show.
That was a good wrestling show. I went in kind of hoping it would either be brilliant or shite, but it danced along at solid. There were a few bits that pissed me off, usually to do with the booking and a lot of it their fault because of how they’ve presented themselves, but none of it was enough to turn me away. It certainly pissed me off less than any WWE TV show ever has, and as I finish writing this it’s come out that they murdered NXT in the ratings, which made me happy. All things said, AEW can call that one a success.
Watch AEW (in the UK) on ITV or at: https://www.itv.com/hub/itv