The St. Patty’s Day Massacre: AEW Recap and Review

Or: LIGHTS OUT!!!

It had finally come to this; the first women’s match to main event AEW Dynanite after nearly 18 months on television, built on the back of a classic, long-standing feud that could only be settled outside of AEW’s sanctioned guidelines. 

Before the opening of the so-called “forbidden door,” Billy Corgan’s National Wrestling Alliance cracked it open a little when one of its top stars—its World Women’s Champion, in fact—kicked down the boundary between her home promotion and All Elite Wrestling. Thunder Rosa was killing it long before rushing AEW’s doorstep, already touted as one of the best talents in the business. Then, she ran into Dr. Britt Baker, DMD—arguably the best heel AEW’s got—and they’ve traded verbal potshots and stiff strikes ever since. It had to have come to this, especially when the pretty fantastic match they had a few weeks ago did nothing to dissolve the hatred these two competitors had for each other. For those of us hoping AEW would give us better vis a vis their overlooked and undercooked women’s division, this was the peak, the apotheosis, the shining example of what it would be like if they actually gave their women competitors the time and the energy to flesh out an honest-to-god pro wrestling feud

After the events of AEW Revolution earlier this month, Dynamite also underwent a dizzying reboot which, among other things, saw Scorpio Sky turn heel, finally played MJF’s wild card in his ongoing storyline with the Inner Circle by introducing a rival faction of similarly talented assholes, and gave Penta El Cero Miedo an edge he hasn’t had since Lucha Underground against Cody Rhodes, who is inexplicably still a prestige babyface. (After Penta’s threats to break Cody’s arm, Brandi bombastically refuted fan speculation her husband was going to take any sort of paternity leave—again, why is considered a good guy?) Eddie Kingston rekindled his friendship with erstwhile rival Jon Moxley and teased a run at Kenny Omega’s AEW World Championship, and so did Christian, who reemerged in WWE a scant two months ago after a years-long layoff due to injury.

And just like that, the deck is appropriately shuffled as we make the long march to Double or Nothing, AEW’s Memorial Day Weekend flagship event.

The show opened with the as-yet-to-be-named faction hopping off a charter flight, Four Horsemen style. Wardlow rocked a look I might decide to swagger-jack now that my stimmy is in the bank.

AEW

Cody Rhodes def. Penta el Cero Miedo

Alex Aberhantes is still translating for Penta—which is a shame, because I thought he was a full-fledged member of the Dark Order?—saying The One With Zero Fear would make certain Cody took some paternity leave ahead of the birth of his daughter. Of course, the match didn’t take long to get started, with Penta and a green shirted Cody brawling around the ring before the match starts. Cody’s shoulder injury was still being played up as Penta targeted it mercilessly. Penta leaned a conveniently placed extra guard rail against the ringside area, which he lightly brushed up against after a soft suicide dive from Our Cool Boss.

Cody nearly got a win with a Destroyer followed by a Cody Cutter, then nailed a Crossrhodes for only a two count, and then hit a Vertebreaker for another two. Penta was built as a killer after kicking out of Cody’s home run shots. Penta’s knees were targeted, culminating in a Figure Four he managed to get a rope break from. When Cody tried for another Figure Four, Penta went for the armbreaker and dislocated his shoulder, but Cody managed to get a quick rollup for the win. After a heated buildup last week that made this feud look like it might have been going somewhere, LOLCODYWINS!!

After the match, Penta continued beating on Cody until Dustin and the Gunn Club came out for the save. QT Marshall, several minutes later, came out to check on Cody to a round of blank stares from the Nightmare Family members. 

Backstage Interview: Alex Marvez interviewed the Young Bucks, who were bigging themselves up as the best tag team after both being defeated in singles matches by Rey Fenix. Out came Don Callis, who taunted Matt and Nick for the stasis they have been in since forming AEW and remarked how Kenny has surpassed them since their days as the (truly) Elite in New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Jade Cargill def. Dani Jordan

Two weeks ago in her very first match, Jade showed out in a spotlight match with Shaq as her partner. Here, she muscled Dani Jordan around in a pretty brutal squash. Again, by highlighting her strengths and concealing whatever weaknesses she may have through inexperience, Cargill looked like a million bucks.

On the way out, Jade got in Red Velvet’s face, which obviously means their story is not quite over.

Allow the Pinnacle to Re-Introduce Themselves

Tully Blanchard started off by mentioning the talent in the ring supplanting the former greatest group in AEW by a severe beatdown, making them the baddest dudes in town. Blanchard said he left wrestling with its greatest group, and that when he hangs it up for good, it would be with the top group in the sport again. Max called himself the real Judas, explained how arduous it was to pretend to be Chris Jericho’s friend for six months, and basically went through his motives like the villain in the penultimate scene of a movie. He mentioned when it’s all said and done, talk of Chris Jericho being the greatest of all-time will be kiboshed by Maxwell’s own fruitful career; he’s only 24 and has nowhere to go but up.

He introduced his group as the Pinnacle and ran down the roster. All in all, it’s a good enough introduction to a new stable; nothing particularly memorable but it got the point across. Max approached Triple H time consumption with his promo last night, which probably was a good move for a top heel because by the end, I was booing audibly in the living room and near-shouting for him to wrap it the fuck up.

Matt Hardy, Private Party, and the Butcher & the Blade def. Jurassic Express & Bear Country

Before the match, Hardy talked about how he and his group love money, and as of April 1st he’ll be making more money than ever. The match started off with Matt Hardy taking on Marko Stunt, who slapped Hardy in the mouth before Jungle Boy got the blind tag. After a brawl and a pose, Bear Country overshot Marko on a toss onto their opponents, prompting a little disagreement between the two loosely aligned teams. I am wholly undecided as to whether Marq Quen’s rainbow-colored hair is a heel move or total babyface stuff—I suppose it depends on how much Tekashi 6ix9ine he listens to. (But hey, at least Hangman paid Private Party back the $12 for the whiskey he stiffed them on a year ago!) The match by and large was your average ten-person tag match; to adopt a Jim Ross cliché, a lot of sizzle and not a lot of steak. Hardy pulled Marko down onto the top turnbuckle, Private Party hit Gin & Juice, and Hardy nailed Marko with a Twist of Fate for the pin. 

After the match, Bear Country argued with Jurassic Express over the loss.

Backstage Segment: Mox and Kingston basically just riffed off the cuff about needing a vacation, the Good Brothers, their podcast, Southpaw Regional Wrestling, the Impact Zone, whether or not it was legal to say Bullet Club on AEW programming. Kingston quoted a 50 Cent lyric and let Gallows and Anderson they were gonna get busted up. Another cliché: the camera doesn’t lie, and Kingston and Mox’s chemistry as friends is undeniable. You get the feeling this is exactly how they talk when they hang out backstage, or when they shared a car on 300-mile drives across bumfuck Pennsylvania on the way to get paid $50 and a White Castle hamburger at an indie show.

Backstage Interview: Dasha asked Christian Cage what brought him to AEW. Cage answered by saying he’s not a workhorse after explaining what a workhorse is—he’s the workhorse. He said he’s only after one spot, the champion’s spot. Cage’s promo was just a collection of platitudes that wrestlers who are good at wrestling but rarely win matches in its fictional context say (appealing to those who care about “workrate” instead of appealing to people who watch wrestling for the storytelling or explaining that winning is actually important to your character), so we’ll see how this whole Cage experiment goes.

Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston def. the Good Brothers

Kingston’s music barely hit before Gallows and Anderson came out to get this brawl started, and Mox rumbled through the babyface tunnel soon after. This match is a good use of the Good Brothers, who are a tad boilerplate inside the ropes but make convincing brawlers when the match is taken to the outside. Soon enough the match went into the ring and started officially. The Good Brothers dominated the early part of the match, fighting early and gouging the eyes of Kingston. As Mox pulled himself up on the apron, Kingston took quite the convincing ass whooping from the former third-best tag team of Bullet Club.

I know I throw them a lot of shade, but Gallows and Anderson have been virtually unchanged in nearly a decade since establishing themselves as a tag team—literally the most entertaining thing they’ve done since was establish their alter egos Sex Ferguson and Chad 2 Badd. After a huge exploder suplex from Kingston, he finally got the hot tag to Mox, who took to the ring like the proverbial house of fire. To the credit of the Good Brothers, the match picked up a little steam toward the end and the match picked up the pace two or three notches. Kingston stopped the Magic Killer and sent Gallows out to brawl, while Mox defeated Anderson with the quick rollup.

After the match, the Good Brothers beat Mox down and Kenny came out with a chair and a Too Sweet tee, going to sit on the chair to taunt Mox. Kingston came back in the ring to rush Omega, but the Good Brothers stopped him and the three of them use the chair to break Kingston’s ankle. Kenny and the Good Brothers turned back to Mox and went to crush his throat with a chair, but the Young Bucks came out for the save and a big argument brewed in the center of the ring. The segment ended with the Bucks leaving Kenny and the Good Brothers hanging in the Too Sweet pose, Kenny pushing them to Too Sweet him, the Bucks still motioning to leave, and Mox swinging the chair at everyone in the ring. Kingston, broken ankle and all, shouted at Bryce Remsburg to get him in the ring with Mox so he could help his friend fend off his enemies.

Breaking News: Darby Allin and Sting are Still Friends!

Darby limped to the stage, suffering injuries from Scorpio Sky’s post-match attack last week. He mentioned he’s only defended the TNT Championship three times since he won it. The crowd cheered, but Darby emphasized that he felt his lack of title defenses felt like a joke. He challenged anyone in the Dark Order to step up and fight him for the title—which brought out Lance Archer and Jake Roberts. Archer called Darby an “indieriffic” joke and Roberts called him a weenie, which was pretty unintentionally funny. And THEN, Team Taz came out yet again, with Brian Cage giving Sting his props while throwing shade at Ricky Starks (furthering the tension exhibited the night before on Dark) before storming off. AEW kinda does have too many Kingshit Heels right now, so a Brian Cage babyface turn might work out for him.

Segment: Scorpio Sky cemented his heel turn by commenting on his less than fruitful run as a babyface, saying the spotlight wasn’t meant for him—so he took it. And it’s only just the beginning. I hope this promo marks the beginning of him finding himself as a character.

Rey Fenix def. Angelico

I enjoyed the interesting dichotomy of styles in this match—both reared in their training in Mexico, similar but different. The announce team painted the match as the greatest high flying wrestler in the game versus a somewhat underrated submission specialist, but the truth is both men have easily adopted the kind of style the other is known for. (In fact, Fenix’s submission wrestling skills are fucking dope when he busts them out; as I have said every week for months now, he’s one of the very best overall wrestlers in wrestling, period.) This match was a lowkey banger; smart, fast-paced, innovative as fuck. Fenix won with that quick, sit-out driver he does so well.

Segment: Alex Marvez interviewed Miro about Orange Cassidy and Chuck Taylor challenging he and Kip Sabian to a rematch, which Miro declined. Sabian still had hurt feelings about how the match went down, to which Miro blankly said he only cares about winning, not him, not his wife. But outside of the ring, they’re very much still friends, Miro insisted. Kip accepted the match on Miro’s behalf after he left. 

Segment: Marvez spoke to the Dark Order to see who would accept Darby’s open challenge. -1 stepped up and was quickly rebuffed. John Silver then said he’d do it, causing a meat chant to sweep the Dark Order. It’s official: The beef boy John Silver vs. Darby Allin next week! Silver has been the secret ace of the group for a while now, so next week’s match should be kind of a barnburner!

AEW

Lights Out Unsanctioned Match: Thunder Rosa def. Dr. Britt Baker

Justin Roberts made the official announcement for the Lights Out match, which always carries that big fight feel. Given how the Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match flopped, the Lights Out Unsanctioned Match still lives on as the gravest, most punishing, highest-stakes match AEW has.

After the entrances, Reba (Rebel) hit Rosa with a crutch and Dr. Baker sprung on the offensive; throwing a chair at her face and the whole nine. After taunting for the camera, Rosa turned the tables around and threw the chair right back at Dr. Baker, wailing on both her and Reba (Rebel) with it. Hikaru Shida watched from backstage with bated breath—as the winner here obviously will be a future challenger for the AEW Women’s World Championship even though this match technically doesn’t count toward any official standings. 

After Dr. Baker threw several chairs into the ring, blood started to trickle down Rosa’s face. Again, they both threw gnarly looking shots at each other, driving home the believability of their contempt for each other.

After the show came back from break, Dr. Baker suplexed Rosa onto the stack of chairs. Reba (Rebel) pulled out the ladder, but Rosa used it to her advantage against Dr. Baker. Shida was seen with PRAYER HANDS as she watched the progression of the match’s carnage. Rosa hit a brutal dropkick right into the face of Dr. Baker, which busted her open. Reba (Rebel) screamed bloody murder as the blood flowed down Dr. Baker’s forehead, and Rosa bit the laceration and turned Dr. Baker into a bloody mess before getting her face driven into the ladder. Rosa hit a Death Valley Driver onto the ladder, but Dr. Baker managed to kick out at two. 

Dr. Baker smiled at the camera after denting a chair (twice!) with Rosa’s face and went for her glove. Reba (Rebel) pulled out a bag full of thumbtacks, which Dr. Baker emptied in the center of the ring. Rosa reversed the swinging neckbreaker, hit Reba (Rebel) in the head with a crutch, dropkicked her through a table, and powerbombed Dr. Baker onto the thumbtacks, and still only got a two count. Dr. Baker cinched in the Lockjaw on the thumbtacks, but Rosa reversed it by rolling Baker into them. Dr. Baker nailed a brutal superkick but Rosa hit a Fire Thunder Driver through the table on the outside for the win.

Rosa broke down into tears after getting her hand raised, having gone through hell and back with her bitterest enemy and coming out on the other side with a win. For all the great buildup leading up to it, it’s wonderful to see this rivalry end (for now) in a spectacularly violent and satisfying way. This match was a total credit to finally giving the women’s division a chance to shine, and damning evidence that AEW could have and should have been programming feuds like this way sooner. It was gripping, it was brutal, it was hateful in the best possible way. 

Holy shit, dude. It might take me a while to process how wild (and great) this match truly was.

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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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