Return of the Painmaker: AEW Fight for the Fallen Recap and Review

Or: The Public Disappointment of Cowboys

Last Week’s Notable Happenings on AEW Dynamite’s Fyter Fest Night 2

  • In the First Labour of Jericho, Shawn Spears was given a signature match—and lost. After the contest, MJF introduced Nick Gage(!!) as Jericho’s next opponent in a No Disqualification Match. Jericho later had a surprise of his own: the imminent return of the Painmaker.
  • Dr. Britt Baker won her first defense of the AEW Women’s World Championship against former champion Nyla Rose, who always seems to be a rite of passage for AEW’s women’s champions.
  • Andrade El Idolo introduced Chavo Guererro as his new executive consultant—then was confronted by the full complement of Death Triangle, a match that would be a banger regardless of which member ends up squaring off with Andrade.
  • Jon Moxley and Lance Archer reprised their Wrestle Kingdom Texas Death Match, with the latter coming out with the W in his hometown after a wild brawl every bit as good as the original. 

10-Man Elimination Tag Team Match: The Elite def. “Hangman” Adam Page & the Dark Order

Elaborate entrances abound for the first ten minutes of Dynamite: While Dark Order & Hangman evoked cowboy ethos (complete with rugged narration), the Elite went full corporate tie-in by introducing themselves as the “Elite Squad,” complete with hastily made Space Jam homage jerseys and Jock Jams entrance music.. Hangman vs. Kenny—the age-old story of longtime friends turned rivals—was teased as the first matchup but Omega quickly backed off as Karl Anderson ended up starting the match. Alex Reynolds was eliminated first due to a quick pin and a handful of trunks. Anderson was eliminated after being surrounded by the opposing team and ultimately taking a Fatality from Stu Grayson and Evil Uno. 

After nearly missing the twisting moonsault, Grayson took Doc Gallows into the crowd and dove on him, missing the ten-count and getting both himself and Gallows eliminated. The match continued with Kenny Omega (naturally wearing number 23) and Evil Uno squaring off in the ring for a hot second before Omega nailed a V-Trigger and One-Winged Angel for the pin. The core of the Elite end up on the other side of the ring from Hangman and John Silver, the only two left on Team Dark Order. The Young Bucks powerbombed Hangman onto the apron during the break, leaving Silver to capably fight off all three members of the original Elite for a hot second. Until Brandon Cutler brought over the basketball hoop and the Bucks tried a Meltzer Driver, NBA Dunk Contest style, but missed getting the ball into the rim. The Bucks eliminated Silver with a BTE Trigger, leaving Hangman all alone.

Hangman and Kenny stepped face-to-face, and the brawl started when Kenny spit in Hangman’s face. After a barrage of V-Triggers and superkicks, Hangman still kicked out. Hangman did a commendable job fighting off all three members of the Elite simultaneously, climaxing with the top rope moonsault to the floor. Matt Jackson was eliminated after he and Nick were given a Buckshot Lariat at the same time. Omega tried to hit Hangman with the belt but was stopped multiple times. Kenny nailed Hangman and he still kicked out at two. After two V-Triggers and a One-Winged Angel, Omega won the match and Hangman lost his title shot.

Backstage Interview: Alex Marvez was about to ask a question, but PAC interrupted him to complain about how Penta and Fenix had their car canceled. Chavo and Andrade showed up to say Chavo ordered a limo for the brothers, and Andrade added that if PAC doesn’t start treating his guys with respect, they will go with someone who will.

The FTW World Heavyweight Championship Celebration!

A brass band—very New Orleans!—played Ricky Starks to the ring to celebrate our new FTW Champion, the overly cocky, ostentatiously dressed, unrecognized champion we deserve. After noting Powerhouse Hobbs is off recruiting, Starks launched into a typically articulate diatribe about Brian Cage, punctuating his rant with hurt feelings from Cage not even checking in on him when he broke his neck. Before Starks’ rant could finish, Cage stormed out to the ring and leveled two of the brass band’s members. He entered the ring and broke the trombone over his knee before Starks threw his roses in Cage’s face and ran off.

Segment: Hiroshi Tanahashi officially challenged the winner of tonight’s IWGP U.S. Championship, and that’s really all you need to know!


FTR def. Santana & Ortiz

The Pinnacle came out together, showing off their fancy new matching warmup suits, another gesture of team solidarity which emphasized AEW dividing the lion’s share of their talent into groups. Cash Wheeler and Ortiz started the match, which included a lot of nice chain wrestling (of course), showing off their bonafides as underrated ring technicians. Lots of smart tags and tag team combination moves heavily peppered this match. After the break, Santana came in and cleared house like the enormous babyface he is but couldn’t put FTR away. One of the things FTR are so good at are their quick diversions from tried-and-true tag team tropes in the form of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-moves. Cash Wheeler got injured at some point during the match, but Harwood nailed a vertical drop brainbuster for the win.

Backstage Interview: In light of Dr. Baker always getting injured—and Reba (Rebel) not always being able to protect her—she said it might be time to add someone else to the fold. Just make sure you don’t hold your breath waiting for Dr. Baker to lose that belt, because she assures you’ll suffocate.

Tony Khan’s Big Announcement

Tony Schiavone announced The First Dance, an AEW Rampage special, August 20th, live from the United Center in Chicago. (You know, the place where Michael Jordan won six NBA championships with the Bulls. Oh, and it also seats 20,000.) Of course the CM Punk chants shook the arena.

Backstage Interview: Alex Marvez interviewed Darby Allin and Sting about Chicago and The First Dance, to which Darby said the only place to prove your worth is in AEW, “even if you think you’re the best in the world.”

Oh. They’re really going for it, huh?

I personally think AEW fanning the fires of anticipation for Punk (and quite possibly Bryan Danielson) to arrive is a good move instead of trying to cultivate some surprise that it seems everybody knows—and Tony Khan can’t even bring himself to outright deny. Darby hitting Punk with the verbal subtweet in a short promo not only turns many fans into big eye emoji, it also begins the anticipation in earnest instead of having everyone speculating a surprise reveal.


IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship Match: Lance Archer (c) def. Hikuleo

The youngest son of Haku brought out his father to be his corner man, and it was a real treat to see one of the baddest dudes ever be so stoked to bask in the fans’ respect. Hikuleo looked very impressive here—it’s been a while since I’ve seen him wrestle—moving with a lot of purpose and grace, not to mention putting some pepper on his offense. During the break, Haku put his hands on Archer and caught him with the Tongan Death Grip. As you might imagine, this was a hoss fight, though maybe a little more methodical than it could have been. Archer (naturally) hit the Blackout for the win.

Backstage Interview: Marvez interviewed Cody from the Gorilla Position and before Cody could get a word out edgewise, he got kicked in the face by Malakai Black. This started a brawl that extended to the stage; Black laid Rhodes out and spoke to him as he knelt beside him before other wrestlers and officials came to Cody’s aid. Black damn near kicked Fuego del Sol’s mask off as a rebuttal.

Backstage Segment: Miro spoke about how although the TNT Championship was built on open challenges, it’s funny how all those challenges have dried up since he became champion. The most important things in his life are “a vengeful god and a double-jointed wife,” so it’s hard for him to take pity on a challenger. Mercy will not be shown when Miro defends his title, nor will it ever be. 


Jurassic Express & Christian Cage def. Private Party & Angelico

Christian and Angelico started the match and showed great chemistry in the few seconds they were in the ring together, deepening from their encounter in June. Private Party were dressed on their ‘99 Hardy Boyz shit, which was a nice little visual cue. The match itself was short and sweet, not much to write home about aside from Luchasaurus’ compelling strength. Christian won the match with a frog splash. Christian is still undefeated in AEW, perhaps giving him an in for the AEW World Title picture since Hangman is now out of it. 

After the match, the Blade appeared at ringside and knocked Christian the fuck out with the brass knucks.


Thunder Rosa def. Julia Hart

Rosa officially signed a full-time contract with AEW a few days ago and it is absolutely a great move to get her on the show as soon as possible, given the empty promises we’ve been given about AEW’s women’s division and their reluctance to give it some necessary depth. Rosa seemed to have a lot of fun damn near demolishing the traditional babyface Julia Hart (how could you get more “traditional babyface” than an ex-cheerleader teamed up with dudes in letterman’s jackets?), who aside from a few timing hiccups improves with each passing week. A Fire Thunder Driver won the match for Rosa and mercifully ended Hart being battered. 

Backstage Segment: Mox ranted about watching the Olympics and how he couldn’t enter Japan, yet the second Archer beat him then Tana sent a video challenge, which we found out will finally bring Archer back to Japan. Mox spoke of Tana being scared of him, and maybe rightfully so, perhaps learning from the lessons of Yuji Nagata and Minoru Suzuki. But he sent a stack of contracts nearly a foot high to Japan, so the pain will be coming.


The Second Labour of Jericho (No Rules Match): Chris Jericho def. Nick Fucking Gage

Gage started the match with his infamous weapon of choice, the pizza cutter, in hand. He sliced Jericho’s arm open from jump, and then they started to brawl. There seemed like a lot of tentative movements and not a ton of initial chemistry between Gage and Jericho, but the longer the match went, the more they congealed in sync. When Gage brought out the light tubes and Jericho brought out the bat, the pace of the match quickened in a pace it needed pretty desperately—especially for a 13-minute main event. Jericho made it to Gage with Floyd the Bat right in his stomach before the light tubes were utilized. 

Gage pulled the pizza cutter out of his boot and proceeded to dig into an already bloodied Jericho’s forehead. During the commercial break, Gage brought in a glass pane into the ring to the horror of most people who don’t watch deathmatch wrestling, but Jericho hit a top rope hurricanrana on him right through where the glass was set up on the chairs. Jericho went for the Codebreaker but got blocked by Gage right onto the broken glass. Then Gage started breaking light tubes over Jericho’s head. Gage proceeded to stab Jericho with the light tube glass in the forehead—better than stabbing him in the neck like he did David Arquette. Gage brought out more light tubes, but Jericho spit green mist into Gage’s eyes, hit Gage with the bundle of light tubes, and then knocked him out with a Judas Effect for the win.

Before Jericho could even get his hand raised, Max introduced the Third Labour: Jericho has to hit a top rope maneuver to win the match, and his opponent will be Juventud Guererra!


Martin Douglas

The unofficial poet laureate of Tacoma, WA, Martin Douglas is an essayist, critic, and journalist specializing in the fields of music (, 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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