Last week on the show, Cody won a very good match absolutely no one expected him to lose against Marq Quen; FTR made their All Elite Wrestling debut against a team of reformed leather daddies; Colt Cabana appeared to seriously consider joining the Dark Order; and Orange Cassidy was bludgeoned by his literal namesake courtesy of the frontrunner for the 2020 Pro Wrestling Observer Award for Commentator of the Year. Fyter Fest is on the very close horizon, and we are using a joke that was barely funny in 2019 as the name of AEW’s two-week summer extravaganza. Where is Ja??
The show opens with Rebel applying makeup to Dr. Britt Baker, as every episode should.
AEW World Tag Team Championship: “Hangman” Adam Page & Kenny Omega (c) def. the Natural Nightmares
Since bonding through smashing champagne bottles over Jake Hager’s head in the masterpiece Stadium Stampede match, Omega and Page have seemed to be on the mend friendship-wise (maybe they watched the season finale of Insecure together over whiskey and milk?), while Dustin and Brandi Rhodes have seemingly talked QT Marshall out of including Allie in their family functions. I’m curious as to what led her to leave the S&M mistress bunny gear behind and become the Willa to the Rhodes’ Roy family dynamic.
It’s easy to see Allie’s appeal in the eyes of QT; he’s ranked dead last in the Nightmare Family power rankings, even behind Cody’s dogs who aren’t Pharaoh. Why not gain a little confidence from the attention of a very good-looking person and a few tag team wins under your belt? Here, Marshall take the brunt of the punishment from Kenny and Hangman, while Dustin picks up the slack. Even his big move, the QT Special, is described by Excalibur (the most diplomatic member of the AEW announce team by a mile) as “ugly but effective.” A Diamond Cutter — my favorite finisher in the history of wrestling, maddeningly bequeathed to Marshall by Diamond Dallas Page — somehow summons Allie, who cheers on her bae(?) from the stage. He is essentially stuffed by a Last Call from Omega and Page, and the three-count is academic.
Grade: It’s kinda sad to see one of AEW’s best in-ring competitors and its very best character going through the motions in a boilerplate match, but the match is driven by the admittedly intriguing QT Marshall + Allie + Nightmare Family storyline.
Abadon def. Anna Jay
Anna Jay has piqued my interest in her short losing efforts on Dark, so I’m interested in how she’ll do with a promo package building her up. As Jim Ross and Rick Knox express being terrified of Abadon, she absolutely demolishes Jay. Well, there’s always next time, especially with the Dark Order leading her out of the ring after the match.
Grade: The match was what it was supposed to be. Short and painful.
While the Dark Order apparently recruit Jay, they also extend a rather formal offer to Colt Cabana. On behalf of freelancers and independent contractors everywhere; for the love of god, Colt, make sure that package includes health insurance! (Note: It is revealed later in the show the envelope handed to Cabana was a contract for a tag team match for next week with Mr. Brodie Lee as his teammate. I think Colt should still negotiate for health insurance and paid vacation upon his Dark Order membership. I mean, he might have to wear a suit, after all.)
MJF def. Billy [Last Name Redacted]
Although MJF’s trunks look like he’s been indulging in some Nordstrom Rack pandemic sales online, I do have to agree it has been inexplicably weird that he has been undefeated for months and has yet to receive a title shot of any kind. AEW made such a big deal out of win-loss records and rankings in the early days of Dynamite, and now it seems like all you have to do is come in from someplace else with some buzz to get that main event slot. (Though I will not concede to wrestling critics suggesting his mic skills will turn him into a babyface eventually. Max’s own face is so smug and punchable it makes me want to elbow it into chuck steak even though I haven’t been in a fight since the fifth grade.)
In his match against Billy [Last Name Redacted], his two sons in tow, Max displays his trademark wiles to outsmart and, um, outgun, his veteran opponent. Chop blocks and stalled takedowns; a preternatural utilization of fundamental wrestling. He taunts Jungle Boy while working Billy’s left leg. Max wins with cleverly placed AEW Dynamite Diamond Ring, smashed right against his face.
Grade: It was good for what it was, one match in a never-ending build for MJF to finally become a main event-level heel.
After the match, Max and Wardlow get into a pull apart brawl with the Jurassic Express. Marko Stunt could have easily burrowed underneath people’s legs to shank the bad guys, but he’s a gentleman.
Interview: Alex Marvez interviews Le Sex Gods, asking about Orange Cassidy and their violent encounter last week. Chris Jericho chides Cassidy’s apathy and notes he stuck his aviator shaded nose into the Inner Circle’s business and now he will pay dearly. They beat him to a pulp! He says the Inner Circle are blood, and blood is thicker than orange juice.
Interview: Tony Schiavone “waddles” down to Dr. Britt Baker’s position to announce Hikaru Shida will be taking on Penelope Ford for the AEW World Women’s Championship at Fyter Fest, and Dr. Baker is incensed her frenemy’s full attention is not focused on her, telling Tony they’re on a friendship time-out. Instructing Reba (Rebel) to take her away, it turns out the driver is actually Big Swole, who kidnaps her and drives her to a place yet to be determined.
TNT Championship: Cody (c) def. Ricky Starks
Our Cool Boss Cody is out for his weekly open challenge, apparently answered by someone not on the AEW roster. He says he’s standing alone, wondering if he’s even still a member of the Elite. And then there’s the Nightmare Family, his own family, who he doesn’t even interact with on the show. He is an island. He hands the mic to Arn Anderson, who introduces Ricky Starks, superstar of the Texas independents and a key component of the National Wrestling Alliance’s studio wrestling reboot.
The match starts with fire and a fast pace, with Starks slapping the taste out of Cody’s mouth. Starks sends Cody ribs-first into the bottom rope, using his savvy to outmaneuver Cody in the early going. His tornado DDT had an unreal amount of hang time. They bump heads and Cody starts the comeback. Starks and Cody match each other move for move for most of the match, until the former is suddenly hit with a Cross Rhodes.
Grade: An extremely competitive, surprisingly great match. AEW has been pretty masterful at using one-off guests (like Starks and Jeff Cobb) to supplement their stories to fantastic effect.
The Young Bucks def. the Superbad Squad
I’m still getting used to the combination of the Superbad Squad; although it makes sense because they all live together, the cool kids from Baby Driver and the King of Goths need a little more character depth to make this tandem truly interesting. (Tell me Kip and Penelope don’t look like the protagonists of an Edgar Wright movie with a straight face. You can’t!) The Young Bucks have been on a slump since they were ousted from the tag team title tournament they quite literally handpicked in the first round. Knox finding a pair of pliers on Havoc before the match even starts was a very nice touch.
This was a very fast-paced match — par for the course when you’re working the Young Bucks — it’s a sprint, not a marathon. The Butcher and the Blade jump the guard rail to confront the Bucks and Havoc takes advantage. Soon enough, FTR joins the party (nothing says “tough Carolina boys” quite like grey denim) and observes the match from ringside. Are they scouting the competition? Are they playing equalizer? Jimmy distracts Knox by trying to bring in a hammer while Ford hits Nick Jackson with what looks like a wet floor sign. When Matt has Havoc up for the Meltzer Driver, Nick becomes distracted by the teams on the outside. The Bucks eventually win with a Double Kamigoye (a slight variation of the Golden Trigger, it appears).
Grade: A pretty good match with way too many components. The closest thing to a schmozz without actually going through with it.
After the match, FTR and the Bucks clean house, primarily as competitive posturing.
Segment: Taz is explaining the events from last week, which ended with Jon Moxley going through the back windshield of a rental car with a vanity AEW license plate. Drinking whey protein shakes (“body guy stuff”) in their trailer, only to be interrupted by Jon Moxley’s ranting to Alex Marvez. I greatly enjoy this pairing in its early stages and I’m eagerly anticipating what it brings with time. It won’t bring a win over Mox, but, you know, the future and stuff.
Segment: Mox criticizes Brian Cage for thinking he can step up to the champ. “I’m in this business for one reason. I’ve got demons. Bad ones. And the only thing that keeps them at bay is hurting people in the ring. And now your path has crossed my path. Brian Cage, beat me if you can, survive if you are the kind of miserable son of a bitch that can survive the deep water I’m going to drag you into.”
Segment: Rebel finds Dr. Baker in a dumpster, who fires her and rehires her immediately, and explains her makeup artist/assistant/confidante’s duties. Dr. Baker pledges revenge on Big Swole, threatening to sue and make her life a living hell. Rebel scrambles to figure out a way to get Dr. Baker out of the dumpster, the best part being the split second she considers lifting her out and instantly thinking better of it.
Best Friends def. Le Sex Gods
Le Sex Gods are such the platonic ideal of a main event-level tag team; two phenomenally talented singles stars playing up their undeniable chemistry. Best Friends, an excellent tag team in their own right, are looking to avenge the humiliation of their laconic/iconic best friend getting beaten down by a twenty-pound bag of oranges. They come ready for a right, not hugging and holding hands. The people will have to wait to get what they want.
Chuck and Trent are so irate they have decided to put their tag team title shot against Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page on the line against Guevara and Jericho, which might fortell a bad move. The match starts out as a dog fight and settles into a more measured pace. Jericho hits his knee on the mat awkwardly during a missed Lionsault and Best Friends take over when Sammy is tagged in. Jericho sneaks Floyd (the bat) in to clip Trent on a dive. Matt Hardy is on commentary and has offered Sammy the opportunity to choose what iteration of Hardy he will face next week.
Jericho reverses a tornado DDT from Trent into a Liontamer and thinks he has won when Trent reaches for the ropes and the hold is broken. (Classic Jericho.) Chuck loses it and grabs a chair (a thing he should bring from his cup of coffee in New Japan is absolutely blacking out with rage in the middle of matches), only for Jericho to snatch it from him and push him over the barricade into Suge D (“I hate you Pineapple Pete!”). Trent, after taking a bat shot and a Shooting Star Press, kicks out, hits Sammy with a Dudebuster, and pins Sammy for the win.
Grade: A very good match, and hopefully the first of many between these two teams.
After the match, a wild Orange appears, dressed like a cameraman, hitting Jericho with a wild Superman Punch. Cass stands tall in the ring as the broadcast ends, and Best Friends finally give the people what they want. Bravo.