Pretty Nice With the Fork: AEW Fyter Fest Night 2 Recap and Review

Or: Alex Abrahantes Drip

Last Week’s Notable Happenings on AEW Dynamite’s Fyter Fest Night 1:

  • In last week’s sorta-rushed but ultimately awesome main event, Darby Allin Coffin Dropped himself into the wooden coffin Ethan Page was sealed inside of after losing the match—causing a lot of people to try to get me to watch I Think You Should Leave.
  • Team Taz all but officially kicked Brian Cage out of the group, and—rather hysterically—Ricky Starks is the new FTW Champion.
  • Our Cool Republican Boss Cody Rhodes emphatically challenged Malakai Black, who told a story about a once-champion horse getting sent to the glue factory and teleported to the ring presumably with black magic, causing a pull-apart brawl.
  • Jon Moxley successfully defended the IWGP United States Championship against Karl Anderson, no Forbidden Door needed.
  • After squaring up against Matt Hardy for 22 years, Christian Cage got his first win ever over his longtime rival.

The First Labour of Jericho (Unfair Chairs Match): Chris Jericho def. Shawn Spears

Regular readers of this section already know that I’m a sucker for wrestlers having signature matches; one of the things AEW does better than any other wrestling product. I don’t know if it’s a shame or a hilarious instance of self-fulfilling prophecy that Spears—the “chairman” of sorts of AEW—is the guy who is given a signature match only to use it.

MJF arguing with the commentators provided a compelling counterpart to me trying to suspend my disbelief long enough to allow myself to believe Spears would win this match. It was fine for the most part; Spears used the chair intelligently by using it to help work over Jericho’s injured arm. Jericho hitting a top rope hurricanrana after the nine punches to the face was a brilliant subversion of one of wrestling’s most dated (and illogical) moves. 

Late in the match, Tully Blanchard intervened while Spears was in the Walls of Jericho (and tapping out), but Sammy Guevara came out to make sure the match was played fair. Spears hit Jericho in the head with a chair and nailed C4, but Jericho kicked out—making him the first competitor in AEW to kick out of the move. Narrowly escaping a C4 onto a chair, Jericho pushed Spears into the chair set up in the far corner and hit him with Judas Effect for the win.

MJF hopped on the microphone to berate Jericho for getting help—noting that no one will interfere in subsequent labours or else he won’t get his match—and offered him his next labour in one week’s time: A No DQ match against someone who has stabbed someone in the neck, against someone who robbed a bank with no mask: NICK FUCKING GAGE. Although Nick Gage is the eternal babyface of all babyfaces for all he’s done on the deathmatch scene (and his support for historically marginalized groups in video messages), I like the idea of MJF having the clout to enlist Gage to cut Jericho all the fuck up. Another marvelous choice of stunt casting for AEW.

Backstage Segment: Miro—sporting a Bloodsport jacket and a new white and green TNT Championship—wondered who is going to step up when AEW returns to Jacksonville. A highlight reel of past TNT Champions and Miro beating the tar off of motherfuckers helps the Redeemer’s case of being the most dominant champion in AEW.

Doc Gallows def. Frankie Kazarian

The Elite Hunter at long last got a match against a member of the Elite. Early in the match, Gallows was given ample opportunity to show off his power game—full of the kind of no-frills-but-reliable big man presence which probably exposes why he’s primarily regarded as a notable tag team wrestler. Of course Karl Anderson got a few cheap shots in. Hikuleo, little brother of Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa, was shown multiple times during the match as the next challenger for the IWGP U.S. Championship. The match wasn’t much to write home about, but Gallows got the win with the choke/powerbomb regardless.

After the match, Gallows and Anderson continued to beat up Kazarian while Kenny Omega and Don Callis entered the arena—Callis referring to all the “Friday night cowboys” in Dallas. As Kazarian continued to get beat down, Kenny taunted him with weird aphorisms and pretending to need Callis to help him remember his lines. But as Kenny went to strike Kazarian with the AEW Championship belt, “Hangman” Adam Page sauntered out to the ring with a half-finished beer. Callis let Hangman know he was outnumbered; Hangman passed him his beer and went after the Elite. Soon enough, the Dark Order came out to even things up—Kenny and Callis scurried up the ramp and left their friends for dead as the Dark Order and Hangman laid out Gallows and Anderson, the latter getting nailed with a Buckshot Lariat.

Backstage Interview: In response to Team Taz gloating about their win over Brian Cage last week (and teasing a celebration), Cage noted that he enjoys himself a good celebration, so he might just have to attend.

Darby Allin def. Wheeler Yuta

Early in the match, Yuta bridged out of a pin attempt and Darby caught him in a crucifix for another pin attempt, which was pretty masterful. Yuta naturally worked Darby’s taped up ribs throughout the match. After last week’s heated main event, I like the idea of two babyface characters engaging in a good old fashioned exhibition. During the match, Orange Cassidy and Sting engaged in Cassidy’s signature shin kicks until Darby looked at them both like, “What the fuck are you doing?” A quick Coffin Drop gained Darby the win. 

After the match, the Blade socked Cassidy—his opponent for the night—right in the mouth.

Segment: A short promo package for Texas Death II whet our appetite for tonight’s main event, live from Archer’s hometown. 

AEW Women’s World Championship: Dr. Britt Baker (c) def. Nyla Rose

With CM Punk dominating the wrestling rumor mill today, my first thought watching this match was how Dr. Baker has tried her hardest to remain cavalier about the fans’ approval, no matter how much they love her (a la Punk a decade ago). Is she a heel or an antihero? That still remains to be seen, as she employed shortcuts and the help of Reba (Rebel) in her first defense of the AEW Women’s World title. The world of pandemic wrestling has benefited few wrestlers more than Dr. Baker, who is 100 times more assured in the ring after wrestling nearly a year in front of next to no fans. The match looked a little sloppy in spots, but I enjoy matches like that because they usually emphasize how imperfect real fighting looks. 

Nyla’s in-ring work is always incredibly solid—her top rope knee drop looked as good as ever—but this match seemed like it was always meant to be a showcase for Dr. Baker as the top star AEW wanted her to be back when she was a babyface and the fans were booing her. Rose and Dr. Baker both traded the Eddie Guererro belt shot trick, which got the crowd into the match in a big way. Two curb stomps couldn’t put Nyla away; a huge Beast Bomb couldn’t put Dr. Baker away, but the match was finally won when the champ put Rose in Lockjaw for the win.

Backstage Segment: Santana & Ortiz will finally face FTR next week at Fight for the Fallen, so the two teams sat behind desks and berated each other. Until Santana started pulling out ephemera from his hard life—his mother at 15 when he was born, documents from her mom fighting New York slum lords—adding a lot of earned pathos, which Santana is arguably better at than any other wrestler alive. By the end of the segment, both teams (and Tully) were nearly at each other’s throats. Naturally.

Tony Schiavone Interviews Andrade El Idolo (with No Subtitles!)

Andrade gently took the mic away from Tony to introduce a surprise, which unfortunately wasn’t an old business partner but awesomely enough was a new one: Chavo Guererro! Chavo looked absolutely thrilled to be there; his enthusiasm was for sure infectious. Chavo naturally put over the crowd and the talent backstage, and proceeded to tout the talent of Andrade—until Death Triangle joined the proceedings to a huge ovation. PAC proved that AEW wrestlers actually watch the show, and came out to prove that they will see to any criticism personally. Andrade spoke to Death Triangle in Spanish and Chavo took over to speak to PAC, who “only speaks one language,” saying their waists are not shiny enough. Andrade asked Fenix and Penta why they work for PAC—to which all three men answered they are a brotherhood. After all the shit-talk (which included lovably goofy-ass Alex Abrahantes translating for Penta), Death Triangle made their way down to the ring, where a corp of referees ran out to stop any physical altercation.

Backstage Segment: Christian Cage decried the idea of the Hardy Family Office jumping Marko Stunt and offered a challenge to the Office for next week.

Backstage Interview: Alex Marvez asked QT Marshall if he thought he owed Tony Schiavone an apology for emptying a protein shake over his head last week. QT, in a surprising instance of remorse, said maybe an apology is in order and promised he’d deliver one next week. See? QT is actually a good guy!

Orange Cassidy def. The Blade

“Where is My Mind?” played but Orange Cassidy was nowhere to be found—until he snuck in the ring while the Blade demanded that he be awarded the match by forfeit. Early in the match, the Blade went down, apparently feigning a knee injury. After a very short while, the Blade jumped right up and gained the advantage over Cassidy. The Blade hit a really harsh-looking gutwrench powerbomb on the top turnbuckle before delivering some stiff shots to Cassidy outside the ring. Both competitors really laid their shit in here, to the point where it could have been deceptively the best match of the show. Late in the match, the Bunny tried to interfere but Kris Statlander pulled her off the apron and Cassidy dived on all three wrestlers on the outside. (Commentary gets a demerit for J.R. going out of his way to acknowledge “unstable women.”) With his hurt back, Orange teased the Beach Break and finally hit it for two. While distracting Bryce Remsburg, the Bunny threw the Blade the pair of brass knucks, but the Blade took a swing and missed before getting nailed with an Orange Punch. 

After the match, the Blade was leveled by a brass knuckle-assisted Orange Punch.

Backstage Interview: Chris Jericho was interviewed (with his back to the camera) by Alex Marvez, saying that if MJF was going to bring the most ruthlessly violent man in the business to take him on, Jericho himself would bring the most ruthlessly violent man in the business to take on Nick Gage. He turned around to reveal the Painmaker. I mean, if you’re going to be facing arguably the most infamous deathmatch wrestler in America, you might as well pull your spiked leather jacket out of the closet, dust off your Bruiser Brody knockoff persona, and go crazy with the sad clown eye makeup. You might come close to dying. Just go all out!

Cue Okada saying, “What the hell does Painmaker even mean, you jackass?”

Texas Death Match for the IWGP United States Championship: Lance Archer def. Jon Moxley (c)

Mox came out looking like he was in a foul mood, which always forebodes a real slugfest. (He also came out first, which is likely because Archer was the hometown boy.) Of course they wasted no time getting into it, as Mox hit a few home run shots on Archer’s back with a kendo stick. They brawled into the crowd, up the stairs and around the arena. Archer threw a plant into Mox in the heat of the moment. I’m still trying to figure out what the hell Jake Roberts was wearing. Archer exposed the concrete and in turn received a DDT on the surface by Mox. A beautifully chaotic match, very much in the style of Dynamite main events as of late being a little pressed for time. 

Mox busted Archer open something good and went underneath the ring to introduce a table. And then another. And then he threw an assortment of chairs, as well as a trash can and lid, into the ring. Mox proceeded to “Pillmanize” Archer as he stomped on the chair wrapped around his leg. As Mox was about to nail Archer with the garbage can lid, Archer punched Mox through the lid—which might be one of the coolest thing he’s done since joining AEW. Archer went for Blackout through the chairs, but Mox escaped and low-blowed him. Mox set up the chairs so that the edges were juxtaposed and Archer chokeslammed him right through them. Running into the corner, Archer caught a King Kong Lariat and Mox hit the Paradigm Shift, to which Archer nearly popped right up. After stabbing him in the head again with a fork, Mox set up barbed wire boards on top of the tables, to where Archer stabbed Mox with the fork and chokeslammed him through the table. Mox was unable to answer the ten count and Archer was awarded the IWGP U.S. title in front of his hometown crowd.

After the match, Hikuleo stood face to face with Archer as his next challenger.

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Martin Douglas

The unofficial poet laureate of Tacoma, WA, Martin Douglas is an essayist, critic, and journalist specializing in the fields of music (KEXP.org, Bandcamp Daily, Pitchfork) and pro wrestling (Seattle Weekly, quite a few online zines). He's also a hip-hop beatmaker, fiction writer, disposable camera photographer, and all-around renaissance man.

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