Last week on the show, Cody defeated Jake Hager (is he wearing fight shorts or boxer briefs?); the main event featured the greatest wrestling entrance of all-time; Santana & Ortiz and Private Party distinguished themselves as (hopefully) the future of AEW’s tag team division; and Penelope Ford and Hikaru Shida stole the whole damn show in their women’s title match. In lieu of the AEW World Championship match being pushed back to next week, big announcements are being teased in addition to big matches being booked on the fly. Which means our main event this evening is the climax of the summer’s hottest blood feud.
AEW World Tag Team Championship Match: Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page (c) def. Private Party
On a purely aesthetic level, Matt Hardy’s friendship with Private Party is instantly reminiscent of the old white guy at the club, hanging around the cool guys (who most certainly aren’t sipping water) and trying to get into VIP with them. The Old White Guy in the Club is mostly in charge of making sure the Lyft is on time. I understand how and why they came together, though; one of the great tag team wrestlers of his generation mentoring a hot young team, deepening and finessing their talent with veteran feedback. It’s just an unintentionally hilarious visual, especially when Hardy is wearing JNCOs and a sheer t-shirt.
This match starts out with an unbelievably fast pace and the thin pandemic crowd is hot for this match. Marq Quen gets powerbombed into the crowd by Page before Isiah Kassidy does a springboard dive from the second rope (a subtle feat of innovation, as is Private Party’s way). The crowd reaction for AEW’s matches feels genuine and not with the *”live” in front of a studio “audience”* feel of the other major wrestling brand’s pandemic content. This match tells the story of a young, immensely talented team going balls to the wall, giving it all they have in order to unseat the tag champs (including a double Spanish Fly that made me sit up straight).
For their trouble, they are blitzed by the fiery tag champs, energized by the challenge. While delivering chops to both members of Private Party, Kenny chops Kassidy in the head. Quen hits his gorgeous Shooting Star Press, but Omega breaks up the count. Kenny blocks the Gin and Juice with a V-Trigger, Page hits a powerbomb from the top rope, and their tandem Last Call gets the job done.
Grade: A shootout. Short but absolutely electric in its intensity.
Lance Archer def. Joey Janela
The match begins with Archer doing his “pulling talent from backstage and bludgeoning them” spot with Sonny Kiss, carrying Sonny on his shoulders throwing him into his tag team partner. In a way, Janela knows he has to bring out the daredevil who made his name in blood on the indies in order to have a fighting chance against Archer, so he busts out tables and chairs and dives from the top turnbuckle to the floor. Archer stops Janela’s momentum with one move and proceeds to beat him the fuck down. Janela barely gets Archer off his feet, aside from a clever counter of Blackout and a sharp knee strike. Sonny gets a quick 450 in while Jake Roberts tries to pull a snake out of his bag, but Archer kicks out definitively. Eventually, Archer hits Janela with a brutal Blackout through Chekov’s Table, and nobody is kicking out of that shit.
Grade: One of Janela’s better singles matches from the past few months, and a great way to build the ongoing rampage of Archer.
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Segment: The adventures of medically uncleared Darby Allin continues as he calls out Brian Cage (very much in line with his character never letting go of a grudge) and does Coffin Drops into a foam block pit, the centerpiece of motocross legend Travis Pastrana’s compound. Now that’s what I call … [puts on sunglasses] … stunt casting.
Interview: Taz and Brian Cage comes to the ring for the big announcement. Taz talks about something he created, something he considers to be his life’s work, something he has bled for. The Fuck the World Championship, the relic of Taz’s badassery in ECW. “That’s some renegade shit.” I enjoy how Taz has been bequeathing the ephemera from his career of choking motherfuckers out to Cage; it is a good way to interact with the past without falling into the trap of nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake (something the store across the street does at will). Of course this is just a tool for heat, but an FTW division could be cool, with Brian Cage suplexing dudes into oblivion and Darby Allin jumping off of whatever structure is bolted down.
The Butcher & the Blade and the Lucha Bros def. the Young Bucks and FTR
The heel team in this eight man tag (well, the outward heels, as the Young Bucks are totally secret heels) drive into the arena in the custom vintage Chevy truck they stole from FTR, which is a good look for anybody. (Says the guy who shed tears when his El Camino broke down; I’m a loyal Chevy guy.) The Young Bucks are on a four-match winning streak for the first time since AEW’s inception, but can they win while teaming with their erstwhile Twitter rivals? Or will this be devolve into another dick-measuring contest and a loss for their four-man team?
Nick wants to start with Pentagon, but Penta demands Dax Harwood. They slug it out after a trademark hard slap from Pentagon, which is followed by quick tags between Harwood and Cash Wheeler. Lucha Bros pull off a masterful series of moves, showcasing their gifts as tag team specialists. Matt Jackson gets the blind tag off of Wheeler, which prompts a quick “what the fuck” moment from the latter. This match is basically an All-Star exhibition, with both teams displaying quick moves, savvy (and consensual) blind tags, and getting their shit in. That includes the Butcher and the Blade, who are easily ranked fourth out of these teams objectively but bust out a couple of crazy tossing gut busters. Eventually, an errant superkick from Nick to Harwood leads to a devastating assisted piledriver by the Lucha Bros, who pick up the win.
Grade: All killer, no filler. This match is a nightmare for people who are sticklers for psychology, but who needs psychology in a match like this? What teams actually run plays during the NBA All-Star Game? Don’t you just want to just see them alley-ooping and dumping threes on each other?
Segment: Big Swole arrives at Daily’s Place, only to be told by Alex Marvez that she is not allowed in the building. She gets “served,” and she immediately realizes the culprit who led to her suspension: Brittany “Basura” Baker. Tony Schiavone explains after the fact (because, of course, he has the inside scoop through his not-quite-sincere friendship with Dr. Baker) Swole’s suspension is for “kidnapping and harassment.” If pro wrestling companies were real workplaces, everyone would essentially be arrested, never mind suspended.
Nyla Rose def. Kenzie Page and KiLynn King
I don’t know what to say here, exactly. This was a massacre. I offer my sincerest apologies to the families of Page and King.
Grade (courtesy of my girlfriend, who doesn’t watch wrestling but pops in from time to time): “Wow, what the hell?”
Nyla gets on the mic, saying actions speak louder than words. Her action is that she has hired a manger, though she will not reveal their identity just yet.
Segment: Colt Cabana is seen backstage with a HUGE FUCKING BRUISE on his side, but Mr. Brodie Lee says he expects Colt’s involvement in their six-man tag and Colt obliges.
The Dark Order def. SCU
Seeing SCU together — and thinking about all the boss six-man tag teams AEW has — makes me wonder if they are eventually going to introduce trios titles. I don’t know if there are any wrestling companies that have solid trios divisions; they mostly seem superfluous. As long as great six-man tag matches continue in AEW, I don’t really care whether or not they introduce titles and make it an official division (and I’m definitely “less is more” when it comes to championships).
With the rest of the Dark Order looking on (a great visual touch), the match is mostly a back-and-forth affair. Scorpio Sky shines, as he always does, while Colt nurses his formidable injury throughout the match. Lee dominates Sky when he enters the match, as expected, and then bosses Cabana around after making the tag. The Dark Order do a tremendous job of isolating Sky, breaking him down two at a time while making quick and frequent tags. Finally, Sky makes the tag to Kazarian, who tries his hardest to swing momentum back into his team’s favor. Eventually, Daniels comes in and hits a Best Moonsault Ever, to which Colt breaks up the count. Lee hits his huge discus lariat and tags Colt, who gets the pinfall victory.
Grade: Perhaps the most inessential match on either night, but I am still intrigued by where this Dark Order business is going, which is something I didn’t think I’d say three months ago.
Segment: A masked-up Swole bumrushes Rebel and the “Rolls Royce” holding Dr. Baker and after a brief altercation (and some marvelous ad-libbed shit-talking), Swole punches Dr. Baker right in the nose with her balled-up suspension notice, who sells it like she just got shot. This feud is going to pay off big when Dr. Baker is finally able to compete again.
Chris Jericho def. Orange Cassidy
And now, the grudge match of the century!
During his entrance, Orange finally takes off the blood-stained shirt, his reminder of Jericho’s antagonism over the past number of weeks, the souvenir he keeps to remind him of his hatred. At ringside, Ortiz is drinking from a half-gallon jug of orange juice. A screwdriver with no vodka, a tequila sunrise with no tequila. Aside from the sock full of baseballs, are Santana & Ortiz even heels?
Orange starts off the match with his signature, his hands in his pockets, but the gimmickry and showing off falls away quickly in favor of the disdain that has been driving him throughout Jericho’s assaults. Less than a minute into the match, Cassidy is put into the Liontamer. Naturally, Jericho dominates much of the match, highlighting just how good Cassidy is at selling. Orange kicks things into a higher gear, evading Jericho swiftly and attempting a couple flash pins.
Cassidy’s back is worked on throughout the match; Jericho punches him in the lower back before a suplex, he’s pelted with the aforementioned sock full of baseballs, he’s given belly-to-back suplexes and a backbreaker submission and rope-assisted abdominal stretches. Aubrey Edwards gets fed up and kicks Jericho’s hand off the ropes. Orange hits the comeback and hits his trademark shin kicks, followed up by catching Jericho flush with a superkick. After fighting off all three Inner Circle members, Cassidy gets caught in the Liontamer again, Jericho knowing his back is toast, but Orange reverses the hold into a pinning combination. Orange juice is thrown in Cassidy’s face; he gets hit with Floyd the bat and a Codebreaker but still has the wherewithal to kick out. Cassidy aggressively courts the win with a series of incredible moves, but gets hit with a Judas Effect out of nowhere. The pinfall is academic after that.
Grade: An absolutely stellar match. AEW has done such an excellent job of positioning Orange Cassidy as someone who could conceivably win against major, main event level players. And even though he doesn’t, he still comes out looking like a hero. Sometimes coming out of a match wanting a wrestler to win is more rewarding than them actually winning. This is part of Cassidy’s gift as a talent.