Beach Break has come and gone, and if last year’s Bash at the Beach Dynamite special is any indication, AEW loves winter in Florida. Last night’s AEW special was both the culmination of events have have been happening for months and an appetizer for Revolution four weeks from Sunday. Kenny Omega and fellow Bullet Club ex-pats Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson have been running afoul of All Elite Wrestling alongside Impact EVP Don Callis, jumping enemies and alienating old friends alike. Jon Moxley and 2/3 of Death Triangle have had enough, but the Young Bucks have expressed interest in having Gallows and Anderson challenge them for the AEW Tag Team Championships, even though Callis recently tried to buy them out of their friendship with Omega.
Penelope Ford (AEW’s most improved wrestler by a long shot) and Kip Sabian (I guess I can begrudgingly admit he’s kinda handsome?) are getting married, and their best man Miro has acquired the services of former tag team contender and current butler Charles Taylor. Dr. Britt Baker has drawn the ire of Thunder Rosa, cultivating one of the few women’s feuds in AEW that is actually entertaining and feels well planned. FTR cut the horns off of Luchasaurus, a despicable act which gained Dax Harwood a one-week suspension, meaning FTR are ineligible for tonight’s tag team battle royal. (Aren’t dinosaurs considered an endangered species since they nominally extinct? Shouldn’t Harwood be arrested?)
Let’s see what a (not literally) hot winter night in Jacksonville had in store for us last night.
Chris Jericho & MJF win the #1 Contenders Tag Team Battle Royal
The show begins with assorted entrances for the battle royal, complete with Sammy Hagar endorsing the tag team of Sammy-Hager and Max Caster spitting some half-hearted rhymes (even more so than usual), with Anthony Bowens getting some mic time as his hype man.
The Young Bucks dive off the stage to start the battle royal in earnest and chaos unfolds. Isiah Kassidy goes for a move off the top and hits canvas. John Silver gets an early elimination on Jake Hager, which is somehow seen as an upset. A hornless Luchasaurus cleans out the ring and chokeslams Stu Grayson off the apron before being eliminated by Silver and Evil Uno, the latter getting ousted not too long after. Private Party go for Silly String and get blocked by Darius Martin, eliminating Marq Quen in the process. Boos ring out when Silver gets eliminated.
The Good Brothers show up at ringside and help Nick Jackson eliminate Kassidy without his consent. While Nick tries to figure out what happened, he gets eliminated by MJF. The final six— Jungle Boy, Caster, and Martin on the opposite side of MJF, Jericho, and Sammy Guevara— slug it out as Wardlow observes from the outside. A brief exchange between MJF and Sammy leads to Max Friedman being eliminated. The final three are Darius Martin and Le Sex Gods, until Jericho eliminates Sammy as he tried to set up a tandem move to eliminate Martin. As Martin eventually finds himself regaining his bearings on the apron, Jericho hits him with the Judas Effect for the win.
Grade: A fun but kind of disposable show opening battle royal. It had a very southern U.S. territories vibe to it.
After the match, Sammy storms off while Jericho and Max celebrate.
Highlight Package: Jade is lifting weights and training, flexing and looking like a badass. I agree with those who have said Jade needs a little work on the wooden delivery of her heavily scripted promos, but you can’t teach presence, and I’m certain jaws drop whenever Jade enters a room. It will be exciting to watch her wrestle, and that day is coming soon as it was announced later in the episode that Cody and Red Velvet will be taking on Shaq and Jade on the March 3rd episode of Dynamite.
Moody Goth Buddies Darby Allin and Sting Address Team Taz Ahead of Their Street Fight
Apparently Team Taz aren’t allowed in the building, “like a bunch of jabronis,” but Taz— interrupting Darby and Sting before they had a chance to speak— says they will watching closely to Darby’s TNT Championship match against Joey Janela next week. Ricky Starks, week by week proving himself to be the best promo in AEW, says maybe Sting ain’t the man he used to be, and he’s already said Darby ain’t ready to step into the jungle. To wit, Sting replies that he will be ringside for next week’s TNT Championship match to serve as equalizer (a role he knows intimately) and that maybe Starks needs to take a closer look if he doesn’t see the icon.
Dr. Britt Baker def. Thunder Rosa
Thunder Rosa doesn’t even wait for Justin Roberts to introduce her before storming to the ring, running Reba (Rebel) off, and going after Dr. Baker. The match starts off as a fight, with the two competitors slugging it out and chopping each other to shit; even the “technical” wrestling are hard arm wrenches like they’re trying to tear each other’s limbs out of their corresponding sockets. They’re wrestling like they really hate each other, which I feel is missing by and large from today’s product, even the most heated feuds. This is a perfect example of wrestlers truly believing the motivations of their characters. Dr. Baker gets hit with a brutal Death Valley Driver on the stage by Rosa.
Rosa follows it up with a crazy stiff dropkick in the corner, but only gets a two-count. The latter half of the match is a seesaw of momentum, which normally feels trite and forced but here bolsters each competitor as highly skilled and evenly matched. Reba (Rebel) hands Dr. Baker the glove for Lockjaw but Rosa reaches the ropes. Dr. Baker hits a curb stomp and goes for Lockjaw again; Rosa spends the better part of 30 seconds trying to struggle out of it and eventually does. Reba (Rebel) rips off the turnbuckle pad while Paul Turner was distracted; of course Dr. Baker drives Rosa’s head into it. Rosa was already unconscious by the time Dr. Baker puts on Lockjaw, so Turner has no choice but to call the match.
Grade: Match of the night by a long shot. I was totally engrossed watching this match, and I could feel everyone involved were totally engrossed while performing it. A lot of stuff on weekly wrestling — even the good stuff — feels a lot like wrestlers going through the motions, so it was a breath of fresh air to see some real, hard-earned intensity.
Backstage Segment Recorded the Previous Week: Tony Schiavone spoke to “Hangman” Adam Page and Matt Hardy, trying to figure out just what the hell is going on between them. Hardy said they go back (and they do IRL, with the Virginia born Page wrestling in Hardy’s independent promotion OMEGA), and Hangman said, “I’m only here to dress.” He’s not here to get into a tag team or be a part of a group — two things that worked well for him until they didn’t. Hardy says he’s a good person, and that he wanted this tag team match because Chaos Project ruined Brodie Jr.’s birthday, and he thinks it’s a good way for Hangman to leave things with the Dark Order on a good note. Hangman tenuously agreed, as long as it’s a one-time thing.
“Hangman” Adam Page & Matt Hardy def. Chaos Project
Hardy starts the match by putting a beating on Serpentico and quickly tags in Hangman; they show good teamwork in the early going against Chaos Project. Hangman does a lot of the heavy lifting during the match, at times taking on both Luther and Serpentico by himself. Hangman hits a Buckshot Lariat on the masked half of Chaos Project, but Hardy tags himself in for the pin and the win.
Grade: A short, decent match that primarily (and appropriately) existed on character building.
After a brief moment of tension, Hangman raises Hardy’s hand.
Video Package: The teaser introducing the competitors in the AEW Women’s Title Eliminator Tournament— taking place in both the United States and Japan— looks very promising, and it feels a little like AEW is finally starting to get their shit together with their women’s division! This may even capitalize on our hopes that AEW will do for joshi what WCW did for cruiserweight/junior heavyweight wrestling in America.
Backstage Interview: Alex Marvez (or “Markvez,” as MJF enjoys to call him) interviews Jericho and Max after their win earlier in the evening as Jericho carries a cake into the Inner Circle dressing room to a nonplussed remainder of the group. Sammy speaks up (seemingly for everyone) and says he’s tired of being collateral damage and maybe Jericho— formerly his mentor but now apparently MJF’s— doesn’t have the best interests of the group at heart. Sammy leaves and Jericho goes after him. Max tells Wardlow to close the door as he begins to address Santana, Ortiz, and Hager.
The Wedding of the Century Decade Year (…Maybe?)
Tony tries to get a quick word with the groom’s party; Miro gets a quick shot in on Charles Taylor, talking about how everyone else is married but Charles has never had a girlfriend. Vickie Guerrero walks Kip to the ring, Jerry Lynn walks Penelope (who looks like $50 million bucks— but of course she does, it’s her wedding day!), and the sinister James Mitchell serves as the officiant (a great comedic touch). Kip’s vows are funny and appropriately pervy, while Penelope starts hers and Kip interrupts her. The rings are exchanged, and Miro makes sure Mitchell skips the call for objections— Miro knows his tropes!— and the newlyweds share their union sealing kiss.
Miro gathers some champagne for the toast— drinking Charles’ glass because he’s working. He says he’s been to a couple (wrestling) weddings and he knows how it goes. The bachelor party didn’t pan out as well as he would have hoped, and he didn’t give Kip a present, because Miro himself is the present! He’s going to show Kip all the things he knows to be the wrestler he has the potential to be! A huge, wrapped present (apparently from Charles) has been bugging Miro all night, so he attacks it— again, knowing how these wrestling weddings go— only nothing was in it. The cake is brought out. Somehow, Charles manages to shackle Miro to the bottom rope, nails Kip with a punch, and cake ends up all over Penelope’s face. The cake opens and Orange Cassidy appears; he and Chuck(!!) take out Kip with a bottle of the bubbly.
Lumberjack Match: Lance Archer def. Eddie Kingston
There were barely any entrances for this one; both Kingston and Archer get right into it. Archer gets thrown out of the ring and the Butcher and the Blade beat him down for a second. Kingston gets sent out and sent right back in by Billy [Last Name Redacted]; he goes back out and throws hands with half of the lumberjacks as Archer takes a dive to the outside. both competitors manage to find their way back in and try to choke each other out. Periodically, they send each other out, and continue to slug and strangle each other when they make their way back into the ring.
The Bunny jumps on Archer’s back and he sets her up for Blackout; as she screams for her life, Kingston hits the spinning backfist. On the outside, Jake Roberts falls over while knocking Angelico on his ass. Chaos descends on the ring as the Butcher and the Blade are victims of Chekov’s Table. Archer blocks the spinning backfist, hits Blackout from the second rope, and wins.
Grade: Not quite as good as their match last week, but still pretty good.
Backstage Segment, “Sent in” by FTR: Cash Wheeler berates Jungle Jack Perry for “going to the principal’s office” after Jurassic Express’ beatdown last week. Tully speaks to how FTR has been getting screwed for weeks. Dax says, “We’re not bad men. But sometimes, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What would bad men do?'” The camera reveals Marko Stunt, tied to a chair with his mouth duct taped shut.
Kenny Omega & the Good Brothers def. Jon Moxley, PAC & Fenix
Kenny and the Good Bros come out to some new, “edgy” music. It’s not that bad; it just sounds like mid-grade grunge. The show goes to commercial when Callis takes the mic, which is the funniest and most noble decision Tony Khan has made since he started verbally eviscerating Impact on their own show. Tony Schiavone displays acidic insincerity while welcoming Callis to the announcer’s table. The Two Tonys appearing on Impact TV with their “paid announcements” has easily been the greatest part of this AEW/Impact crossover.
PAC starts out with Anderson and they do the usual opening “punching to leapfrogging to step-up hurricanrana” sequence damn near every indie wrestling promotion has used to commence their main events for the past three years. Then Mox and Gallows come in, the latter showing his power by knocking Mox down with a punch while the former tries to brawl his ass off against his much bigger opponent. Quick tags are peppered throughout the first third of the match. Mox displays a rarely seen third gear here, as well as his often seen and unfortunate suicide dive.
The Not Bullet Club dominates the second third of the match, continuing to make quick tags and isolate Mox. He escapes Magic Killer and evades the Good Brothers to make the tag for Fenix as Kenny gets tagged in. Fenix and PAC do stereo moonsaults onto the Good Bros before Fenix gets a long two-count on Kenny. Omega hits a gnarly rope-assisted Snapdragon suplex on Fenix before tagging Gallows in.
Kenny hits PAC with a huge Dr. Wily Bomb and V-Trigger for a two-count. PAC comes back with a deadlift German suplex. Their exchange reminds me exactly how good their ironman match was. Eventually, it comes back to Kenny and Mox, the latter getting the upper hand before the match descends into the Last Scene of the Departed Spot. Fenix breaks up a pin attempt with a 450 splash. Pretty much everyone gets their shit in until the Good Brothers hit a Magic Killer on Fenix for the win.
Grade: Chaotic and fast paced, but it still didn’t really do much for me. I’ve made it clear I’m not the biggest Gallows and Anderson fan in the world, but not even four of the finest wrestlers in the world could have saved this match for feeling way lower stakes than I’m sure it was supposed to feel.
After the match, the Not Bullet Club beat down their opponents until Archer comes out to clear house. Mox crawls towards Omega and stands over him until he is attacked— BY KENTA! Kenta hits Mox with Go to Sleep on Mox and stands over him as Kenny looks uber satisfied and stands over his rival as the show fades out.