Suspicious Minds: AEW Recap and Review

Or: A Lawnmower For Your Thoughts

It was the dud heard ‘round the world.

I’m sure you’ve had your good share of reading about the final moments of AEW Revolution over the past four days. What was supposed to be a pivotal, emotional moment in the history of All Elite Wrestling has instead led me to watch more Curb Your Enthusiasm than wrestling this week. Botchamania predictably roasted it. Jon Moxley himself—after waiting for impending doom and receiving the most boring backyard 4th of July party probably since his childhood—saved face by cracking a joke after the unintentional sabotage of most dangerous wrestling match of his career. He didn’t even get a hot dog, but at least he had a shot of whiskey to pregame.

Tony Khan tried to walk it back in the aftermath, saying the mistake was an intentional storyline conceit for Kenny Omega’s crayon-drawn plans for explosive immortality to fizzle out. They used goddamn Onita to explain the gravity and danger of the match, Mox could fill a Solo cup with the blood he lost, but this was all according to storyline plans. Okay. Even if the dud were canon, wouldn’t you think Eddie Kingston’s heroic deed of coming out to save Mox—Kingston being arguably the most fully-present character ever in wrestling—would have ended with him uncovering his friend, throwing his hands up, and saying to the hard cam, “What the fuck was that?”

Of course, other things happened to presage last night’s episode of Dynamite. Scorpio Sky grabbed the golden donut/Sonic the Hedgehog brass ring in order to earn a shot at Darby Allin’s TNT Championship; MJF and Chris Jericho lost their tag team title shot, leading them to completely reevaluate the Inner Circle as a whole; Hikaru Shida is still women’s champ but neither Dr. Britt Baker nor Thunder Rosa seem too far behind as potential challengers; PAC and Fenix are the new #1 contenders for the AEW Tag Team Championships, meaning the Young Bucks are in some serious shit. And Miro is somewhere checking Hypebeast, ready to stretch a motherfucker.

AEW

Rey Fenix def. Matt Jackson

The problem with Matt Jackson taking on Fenix—as I have mentioned in past weeks—is that Fenix, although in a tag team, is one of the most dazzling singles competitors in the world. SCU were watching from the stands, apparently the #1 ranked tag team in AEW, still competing collectively after their assertion that their next tag team loss will be their last. Fenix during this match delivered more hang time than Sunday’s NBA dunk contest, and can easily transition into gnashing submission wrestling. He was wrestling in rare form last night, and with an added boost of confidence; check out the way he took in the audience reaction after that dead shot superkick. 

Commentary tried to talk up Matt Jackson, but he very much looked overmatched by Fenix from a singles perspective, which is not to speak ill of Jackson’s skills. Just reiterating a point I’ve made countless times. Toward the end of the match, Jackson spammed Destroyers only for Fenix to beat the 10-count. Fenix semi-intentionally baseball slid into Nick Jackson, and his older brother offered a retort by way intentionally superkicking PAC. Jackson went for a Tombstone Piledriver, but Fenix reversed it and dropped him on his head for the win.

Segment: Mox and Eddie Kingston were having drinks, where Kingston flashed back to a panic attack where he thought he was going to prison in relation to the end of Sunday’s pay-per-view. Kingston, as is his wont, looked back at the hell he’s been through, said, “Look at these hands, you think I got these playing video games?” Mox felt it was intentional, and then joked that Impact made the bomb. He quipped, “I took on Kenny Omega in an Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match and all I got was this lousy t-shirt!” They took turns roasting Kenny for the infamous weak bomb from Sunday and rekindling their past friendship. Both Mox and Kingston seemed happy about their reunion, with Mox saying, “I knew that [bitter, insufferable] guy [who I feuded with relentlessly over the summer] wasn’t you.” Friendships in wrestling are my favorite, so two of the baddest dudes in the industry as drinking buddies makes my heart sing.

Cody Rhodes def. Seth Gargis

Where will Our Cool Boss go now that he’s seemingly out of the TNT Championship picture and is forever disqualified from competing for the AEW World title? As he went to the ring, he gave a special needs fan his weight training belt, so there’s no (appropriate) heel turn on the horizon. The commentary team speculated on his shoulder injury, which helped prevent him from winning the Face of the Revolution Ladder Match. Cody got a very quick win over Gargis with a Figure Four.

After the match, Tony Schiavone asked Cody about the arm. Before he got into it, Penta el Cero Miedo rose from the Spanish Commentary booth, using Alex Abrehantes to translate for him. Penta switched to English, and said Cody lost the ladder match, and he’s lucky Penta didn’t hurt his arm even more, because if he did, Cody wouldn’t be able to pick up his baby girl. This—of course, knowing what we know about FAMILY HEAT—caused Cody to rush out of the ring and brawl with Penta. 

Segment: Chuck and Orange Cassidy were filmed in an arcade—Orange doing that thing I did as a kid where I pretended to play an arcade game because I didn’t have a quarter. Chuck challenged Kip and Miro to one more match, saying he will be Miro’s butler forever if they win. But wait, they want to surround the ring with arcade machines and smash their heads through every single one of them!

Sting Speaks After His Street Fight Win

After Sunday’s cinematic street fight, Sting came out to put Darby over—but was quickly interrupted by Lance Archer, who said he never needed a ladder match to prove he was the face of the revolution. He threatened to take much more than time, and half-heartedly apologized to Sting for taking up his time. Sting didn’t seem to have much left to say after that, so maybe we’re heading into a Sting/Lance Archer rivalry of some sort here? Archer jumping back and forth from killer heel to badass babyface hasn’t done him many favors in his scattershot time with AEW, but there’s still plenty of time to really establish who he is as a character.

AEW

Ethan Page def. Lee Johnson

Before the match, QT Marshall gave a half-answer to Dasha’s question about blowing up on Dustin during the Casino Tag Team Royale, and Page cut a pretty good pre-match promo on Lee Johnson. I enjoyed Johnson’s winning the match for his team a few weeks ago, as I was worried he was just a diversity hire for the Nightmare Family. He was able to compete in a lightly competitive match against Page here, who showed a good deal of poise and crafty veteran guile here in this not-too-long encounter, nearly torturing Johnson with backbreakers and knocking him silly with his power advantage. Johnson got some big moves in, like a good-looking Blue Thunder Bomb, but it wasn’t enough to best Page, who nearly kicked his face off as Bryce Rembsburg was checking on a tweaked knee from a bad leapfrog. Ethan Page ended up winning with Ethan’s Edge.

Page stomped out Johnson after the match, and as Marshall did nothing to help, Dustin Rhodes came out to save Marshall from any further injury. I’m not sure if anyone is checking for a QT Marshall heel turn, but it can’t be any less entertaining than Marshall as a babyface.

Backstage Interview: Alex Marvez interviewed “Hangman” Adam Page, who spent some of the money from his Matt Hardy stimulus check to get a bunch of new stuff, including six bottles of whiskey, Dwight Yoakam’s complete discography on vinyl, a sizeable donation to a local charity, and a new lawnmower. The Dark Order all jump on the lawn mower, except for Alan “5” Angels, admonished for trying to get on because of the weight limit. 

Interview: Tony started to talk about Christian Cage, but Kenny Omega came out with Don Callis and the Good Brothers, along with the Cleaner Dance Team making their return. Kenny was wearing a floral print shirt I would totally wear and a pair of gaudy alligators I would not wear. Callis was bragging on Omega, saying no one should care about some new signing when the champ—and King of the Deathmatch—is here. They spoke on the “explosion not heard ‘round the world,” and the heat they all took. Callis said they loved taking away the fans’ big moment, they loved taking away Mox’s big moment, they took away Eddie Kingston’s star-making big moment. I will say this is all in line with Kenny’s championship turn as a not-very-funny comedic presence on the show.

Kingston came out while Kenny talked shit about him, taking his ball cap and his rosary off like he was ready for a fight. Callis said he fired Kingston from Impact for the same reason he’s been fired from jobs his whole career: Because he failed to grab the brass ring every time he’s given the spotlight. Callis gave Kingston 10 seconds—complete with countdown clock—and made a mockery of Kingston’s attempt to save Mox. The best heel part of this promo was when Kenny insinuated that Callis could kick his ass. Soon enough, Kingston knocked Omega on his ass while Mox came out to ward off the Good Brothers and Callis. Christian Cage entered the arena after having a face-to-face with Omega. Kenny offered a handshake to Cage, to which Cage went for an Unprettier, but Callis pulled Kenny out of the ring in time. The segment ended with Cage holding the AEW World Championship and setting it in the middle of the ring. 

Of fucking course I’d rather see Kingston vs. Omega than Christian Cage vs. Omega, but I’m willing to see where things go from here.

AEW

Thunder Rosa, Ryo Mizunami, & Hikaru Shida def. Dr. Britt Baker, Nyla Rose & Maki Itoh 

Maki Itoh decided to complete her entrance performance while everyone else fought, which was the greatest thing I’ve seen in wrestling in a long time. And then she smashed Thunder Rosa in the head repeatedly with the microphone. Give Maki Itoh the AEW Women’s World Championship! Award it to her right now!

This was an amazingly fun match: Reba (Rebel) again forgoing this match due to “injury,” the charisma battle between Itoh and Mizunami, Itoh hitting the Kokeshi on Thunder Rosa, Shida suplexing Mizunami into Dr. Baker. All roads, as they always do, led to Rosa and Dr. Baker tangling, and they did for a bit before Rosa hit a Cancun Tornado on every participating member of the match. Rosa avoided the crutch shot by Reba (Rebel) and dropped Itoh on her head to win the match.

Before Rosa could even celebrate, Dr. Baker nailed her with the crutch and cinched in Lockjaw while Reba (Rebel) choked her with the crutch. 

Backstage Segment: After Matt Hardy’s large financial loss on Sunday, he struck a plan to bring in more money, as Private Party waited with anticipation for him to reveal his thoughts. He said he signed a new crew to the Matt Hardy empire, the Butcher, the Bunny, and the Blade. With the addition of Buffalo’s finest (and Westside Gunn’s favorite tag team), Hardy vowed to destroy the Dark Order for all the money they cost him.

AEW

TNT Championship Match: Darby Allin (c) def. Scorpio Sky

With his brass ring grab, Scorpio Sky stepped up as a face to watch in AEW’s singles division, but I’m hoping this new status and focus comes with a deepening of his character. I want to root for Scorp, I think he’s got the potential to be a star. But he needs something extra, he needs something he (and we as fans) can sink their teeth into, and he might find it as he gets deeper into his singles run. Maybe he’ll channel the maniacal and borderline sociopathic obsession with success of his hero Kobe Bryant; that seems like it would be an interesting character direction for him. 

Scorpio, with what looked like a huge fucking bruise on his head and upper back, kept up with Darby in the opening moments of the match, showing the ground wrestling prowess he rarely gets to display in his matches—as he’s got kind of a WWE platonic ideal style. Darby tweaked his ankle trying to flip off of Sky’s back, and Scorp charged in with the quickness like a shark when it smells chum in the water. Scorpio kept up with Darby’s quick pace, which is notable given his size advantage. He also, for the most part, wrestled like someone with something to prove with two unsuccessful title shots in his past. Both Darby and Sky leaned into all of their shots, even making a Code Red look like it was going to score the pinfall. Scorp was going silly with the counters in their match, hitting a cutter off of a dive and a powerbomb off of a Coffin Drop. Ultimately, it was Darby who scored the win, cradling him for the three after countering a TKO. 

After the match, Darby went for a show of respect and Scorpio locked in a heel hook and wouldn’t let go, as boos float throughout Daily’s Place. Scorp looked at his hands a la Bob Backlund, but then started smiling. A good heel turn, all in all, one that was foreshadowed by the end of the Face of the Revolution Ladder Match on Sunday.

A heel turn might bode well for Scorpio; a new way to bring out his personality and flesh out his character. Let’s just hope it goes better than what happened after Shawn Spears brained Cody with a chair last summer.

AEW

The Inner Circle’s War Council

Chris Jericho spoke of the decline of the Inner Circle, saying maybe it’s time to shake things up. Maybe a new member? MJF countered that by saying maybe someone needed to be let go. This marked the return of Sammy Guevara, here for Inner Circle business even though he left the group last time we saw him. Jericho seemed incredulous about Sammy’s appearance, but Sammy said he had evidence he needed to show him, which was a video of Max campaigning to kick Jericho out of the Inner Circle and take over as leader. Max said he didn’t want Jericho to find out this way, but it’s out in the open, so he instructed Santana, Ortiz, and Hager to beat Jericho down.

But the tables were turned! The original iteration of the Inner Circle reformed! Jericho pushed Max on his ass and gave him his walking papers. Max tried to beg his way out of it, starting to cry, until he revealed he had built his own inner circle. Wardlow, FTR, Shawn Spears, and Tully Blanchard appeared and a fight broke out. Dax Harwood smashed a bottle over Hager’s head. Spears curb stomped Sammy onto a chair. Santana & Ortiz were handcuffed. Wardlow gave Jericho a knockout knee. Jericho tried to climb up Max’s torso by the hands and was attacked by Floyd the Bat and carried over to the side of the stage, where Jericho was powerbombed off the stage by Wardlow.

Aside from the obvious weak link in Shawn Spears, I like the idea of this new, MJF-led faction. They have the leader (MJF), the rising star (Wardlow), the killer tag team (FTR), and the canny advisor (Tully). It remains to be seen whether or not they’ll make a real impact in AEW, but I do see the promise there. And maybe the Inner Circle will bring back the Bubbly Bunch now that they’re babyfaces!

I mean, a guy can dream.

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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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