Last week on the show, Cody faced indie wrestling cult favorite WARHORSE, got beat down by Alex Reynolds and John Silver, and was saved by the erstwhile Zack Ryder; Kenny and Hangman successfully defended their tag titles against Evil Uno and Stu Grayson (lots of Dark Order players in the mix last week!); Jericho challenges Orange Cassidy to a rematch and a debate, as well as a final notice for Cassidy’s $7000 debt; MJF cuts an overblown, Trumped up “State of the Industry Address” (and it’s only sorta great); and Darby Allin and Jon Moxley defeat Ricky Starks and Brian Cage (by way of literal mutilation) and their alliance leads them to an AEW World Championship challenge.
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The Dark Order def. Kenny Omega & “Hangman” Adam Page, the Young Bucks, and FTR
The evening starts off hot, with the twelve-man tag commencing seconds after the theme song fades. This match’s obvious story comes down to whether or not the Venn Diagram of the Elite + the Mid-Atlantic drinker’s alliance of Page and FTR will function long enough to get the duke over the Dark Order. Given this is a clash between a stable and three tag teams, quick tags are the order of the day. Later in the match, Page and his friends(??) in the Elite clean house; FTR attempt to keep the momentum going, but Dax Harwood ends up being helped to the back due to an apparent knee injury. Page heads backstage along with FTR, which leaves the Dark Order with a startling three-man advantage. Colt’s friendship with Brodie Lee works as an intriguing side story in this match, as he still doesn’t claim Dark Order membership but likes hanging around.
Hangman returns and catches the hot tag from Matt Jackson and clears the ring with characteristic fury. He dispatches Alan “Five” Angels and throws him into the corner as a challenge for Lee to reenter the ring. Brodie eventually hits a suicide dive, Colt hits a Chicago Skyline, but it’s still not enough. A missed Buckshot Lariat and a flush lariat from Lee to Page and this one is over.
Grade: Unlike the past few multi-team matches, this one was heavy on story and was made better because of it. Angels continues to serve as Dark Order’s secret weapon, and the Elite and Page tease the synergy of friendship’s past and still lost. Very enjoyable!
Chuck and Trent hit the arena, borrowing Sue’s minivan to get to work on time. Five stars!
Backstage Interview: Mox tells the story of struggling with demons early in his career (“wrestling ghosts,” as he puts it). He paid the price for not listening to those concerned for his safety. He understands Darby’s challenge, but finds himself the voice of reason he ignored as a young man, wishing he could remind Darby of almost breaking the young skate punk’s neck in their previous matchup (you know, the one that prominently featured a body bag). He pleaded with Darby to stay down when he goes down, but knows his concern for his “little compadre” is futile. Darby’s gonna do what Darby’s gonna do, and Mox will do exactly the same.
Best Friends def. Santana & Ortiz
Both Best Friends and Santana & Ortiz are coming into this match with winning streaks, the former’s way heavier (they’ve won 11 of their past 12 matches— yeah stats!). Best Friends demolish their opponents before giving the people what they want (Excalibur is off television for the second week in a row, reportedly due to racist slurs he once made in a PWG promo on Human Tornado, so there’s that). Santana & Ortiz are secretly the best (THE BEST! THE BEST! THE BEST!) tag team in AEW, shining in these deep first-hour tag matches with grimy efficiency. Ortiz taunts Trent’s mom during the match (“Look at your boy, Sue!”) before Chuck Taylor gets the hot tag. Santana & Ortiz go for the Street Sweeper, but Chuck disrupts, Trent pins Ortiz, and the Best Friends win the match.
Grade: A solid, meat and potatoes tag team match. Not the type that makes people go WOWOWOW, but exactly what wrestling shows need in terms of pacing.
Backstage Segment: MJF and Wardlow are live from their “campaign office.” Max tells his campaign manager to smile again and bullies workers because his poster isn’t level. Nothing to write home about. My biggest criticism of Max is that although he is a capable speaker, he is often too clever by half when he thinks he’s doing genius work. He said in an interview this week that he’s not even close to his prime, and you know something, I have never agreed with him more.
In-Ring Interview: Matt Hardy hits the mic to explain his trials since coming to AEW, and he has portrayed an array of characters locked in the Multiverse. He wants to be himself now. He mentions he has mentored Private Party; he tried to mentor Sammy Guevara, but he rebuffed Matt’s help. Sammy tries to sneak attack, which leads to a brawl at ringside. Hardy sets up a table, which of course backfires when Sammy hits a Fosbury Flop off the stage, onto Hardy, through a table.
Backstage Segment: A disturbance is being created outside the arena and Santana & Ortiz are smashing Sue’s minivan to smithereens! Getting Sue heat works tremendously here, because for exactly two seconds, I reconsidered my status as Santana & Ortiz fan boy, as they have officially violated Hood Rule #1: Never mess with a man’s mama.
Cody & Matt Cardona def. Alex Reynolds and John Silver of the Dark Order
I now they’re supposed to be a lower-ranked tag team in a heel group, but I just think it’s so cute that John Silver can’t keep a straight face during Being the Elite bits! He’s having so much fun! I went on a little Twitter subtweet missive when Cardona debuted; AEW’s men’s roster heavily skews white, so instead of, say, giving Scorpio Sky and Will Hobbs a decent amount of time on the main show, the company brings in another one of Cody’s friends (for a reported short-term deal, but still). Cody hits his ribs on the ring post at some point during the match. Reynolds and Silver look good in the match with very fundamentally sound tag wrestling. Cody wrestles most of the match before the hot tag to Cardona, who gets some okay offense in and a very good Tiger Bomb. Cardona hits Reynolds with Radio Silence (aka the Rough Ryder) and the match is won.
After the match, Scorpio Sky makes a visual challenge for the TNT Championship, and a title match is confirmed later in the evening.
Grade: As basic as a pumpkin spice latte.
Chuck and Trent are pissed about Sue’s demolished minivan — Chuck in particular made a promise to her he’d take good care of it — and pledge revenge on Santana and Ortiz, saying they will apologize to Sue on speaker phone when this is all over.
AEW Super Wednesday Debate: Orange Cassidy def. Chris Jericho
As predicted, Eric Bischoff is the special guest moderator (who kinda looks like a million bucks for a guy deep into his sixties), which was the worst-kept secret of the week. Bischoff goes over the rules of the debate and introduces the participants. Jericho comes down to the ring, finally wearing a different suit, while Hager carries the demon juice stained $7000 jacket. The first question is “Why do Chris Jericho and Orange Cassidy hate each other?” Jericho starts by running down Cassidy’s outfit, and Cass snaps a clip-on tie to his t-shirt of himself. Jericho goes off and notes that’s why he hates Cass, because he takes nothing seriously. He says critics, historians, and experts laugh at him behind his back.
Orange Cassidy has no rebuttal.
Question 2 asks who is the better wrestler and biggest star of the two, and Jericho quickly points out he has held over 50 championships in his near 30-year career, while Cassidy’s only title was when high school graduating class voted him biggest slacker. Jericho mentions something about being the Demo God— which I still think is a funny concept, because a) Lil B might actually curse a motherfucker for gimmick infringement, and b) I don’t really give a shit about ratings! Jericho said he’d give Cass a wedgie if they were in high school together
Orange Cassidy has no rebuttal.
Question 3 focuses on the global sea level rising. Jericho dismisses the question, while Cass goes into pitch-perfect college lecture mode. Question 4 focuses on Cassidy’s popularity, to which Jericho uses the same material he has used for the past couple months, but primarily AEW fans are as lazy as he is. And how Jericho is going to send Cass back to Jamba Juice and will refuse to tip him for his blueberry smoothie with extra protein and pumpkin seeds. Question 5 is, “Why does this match mean so much to you,” and Jericho starts, only to be cut off by Cass: “HEY CHRIS, SHUT UP,” says it’s the biggest match of his life, and it should be the biggest match of Jericho’s life, because what if he loses?
Orange Cassidy wins the debate. “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, NOBODY WINS A DEBATE,” Jericho demands.
Hager attacks Cassidy, puts Cassidy’s hands in his pockets, and sends him into Jericho for a Judas Effect.
Big Swole def. Reba (Rebel)
Tony Schiavone interviews Dr. Britt Baker (in a Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey, not his Washington Wizards fit) about the special opponent Big Swole must defeat in order to face Dr. Baker at All Out, and it’s Reba (Rebel)! Reba (Rebel) is clearly against this decision but actually gets some offense in, almost a little too impressed with herself by hitting these rudimentary moves on Swole. Reba (Rebel) goes for the moonsault and misses. Swole hits her with Dirty Dancing and the match is over.
Grade: Reba (Rebel)’s enthusiasm over her performance entertained me greatly! This was a fun — and mercifully short — match.
AEW World Championship Match: Jon Moxley def. Darby Allin
Darby comes out wearing a paper Mox mask, his intense blue eye piercing through the one eye hole cut into the mask, and looks resplendent in his championship match bodypaint.
The interesting thing about Darby is how advantageous he is when it comes to forming alliances. When he teamed with Cody a few months back, the endgame was to receive a rematch with our cool boss (he would go on to lose, of course). And now, he helps Mox fight away Team Taz in order to get a shot at the AEW World Championship. It’s seemingly uncharacteristic for a character rooted in nihilism to be so opportunistic, which makes this character trait super intriguing to me.
Mox rips the paper mask off Darby and Darby slaps him. Mox responds by knocking him on his ass and bloodying his mouth with one punch. The logical story of this match is a speed advantage vs. a power advantage, and Mox controls the pace of the match with stiff shots. Mox throws Darby off the stage and his head smacks against the ring post. Mox continues beating the tar out of Darby, grinding him down with brutal half-crabs and forearms to the face. Darby throws up middle fingers when Mox puts him in an STF.
Darby makes a comeback, eventually stepping on Mox’s hand on top of the ring post and hitting a senton atomico off the top turnbuckle. At points during the match, Mox seems to show glimpses of sympathy for Darby, wanting to go easy on him despite his natural instincts. Mox hits a German suplex off the top rope, and then Wardlow and MJF crash the party. Max’s heater distracts Rick Knox as he hits Mox with the AEW title belt. Darby goes up for a Coffin Drop and hits it, but only gets a two-count. He misses a second and gets caught in a rear naked choke. Mox transitions into a Gotch-style piledriver— an obvious nod to fellow sadist grouch Minoru Suzuki. But the match continues! Eventually Mox hits a Paradigm Shift and this match is mercifully over.