Whip You With a Strap: AEW Road Rager Recap and Review

Or: Fade to Black!!

Last Week’s Notable Happenings on AEW Dynamite:

  • To close out AEW’s 14-month Daily’s Place residency, MJF defeated Sammy Guevara in a wild main event after months of simmering tension and outright hostility.
  • With the help of the “Elite Hunter” Frankie Kazarian—a oft-overlooked component of AEW reinvigorated by vigilante justice—Best Friends: Sociopathic Version (that’s Eddie Kingston & Penta El Zero Miedo) won a shot a the Young Bucks’ AEW World Tag Team Championships.
  • Kenny Omega (sporting egregious new facial hair like his compatriots in the Bucks) laid down straight facts when the Dark Order suggested his next challenger might be a man he has a lot of history with, “Hangman” Adam Page. Hangman expressed his notorious self-doubt when confronting the Dark Order in their dressing room after.
  • Brian Pillman Jr. showed great heart in nearly being destroyed by Miro in last week’s TNT Championship match.
  • Dr. Britt Baker tapped out a 53-year-old Vickie Guerrero and was powerbombed through a table by Nyla Rose for her trouble.
  • Jungle Boy became the first AEW competitor to reach 50 wins with a win over the pride of Parkland, WA, Jack Evans. Christian seems to still be all up in his business though.

cody vs qt marshall in a strap match

South Beach Strap Match: Cody Rhodes def. QT Marshall

Marshall didn’t get an entrance this week, but of course Our Cool Republican, Revolutionary War Jacket-Wearing Boss got all the pomp and circumstance of his, as Cody handed his weight belt to a fan at ringside and dove through the ropes to throw hands before the match even started. The opening moments of the match saw the pendulum of momentum sway violently as members of South Florida’s own American Top Team watched from ringside. Rhodes touched two of the turnbuckles before Aaron Solow distracted him, which brought out Dustin immediately. They fought up the stairs as Marshall low-blowed Rhodes with the strap. As Marshall tapped the turnbuckles, Cody closely followed, each tapping three before getting tangled up in strap and limbs. 

The lights abruptly went out, apparently for no reason, and the match continued as normal. At some point, Marshall’s face was bloodied while scrapping with Cody. Not long after, QT wrapped Cody up with the full length of the strap and hit a Tower of London-style Diamond Cutter off the turnbuckle. The struggle of having to touch all four turnbuckles made for a more interesting match concept than usual, but the match hit a lull when Cody no-sold a few whips from the strap and Hulked Up for the comeback, hitting the Cody Cutter on QT. Rhodes touched three and hesitated as QT pulled the length of the strap towards himself and spit in Cody’s face. After three straight Crossrhodes, Cody touched all four turnbuckles for the victory, ranking pretty high on the lolcodywins scale.

Backstage Segment: Shawn Spears explained his motives for hitting Sammy in the head with a chair—aside from the fact that he was facing his leader in a match. Spears blamed Guevarra’s ego and got a chair tossed in his face by Sammy, who smiled, sat down, and said, “Gotcha, bitch” like the Chappelle’s Show skit when Dave found out he got Oprah pregnant. Only I’m sure beating Shawn Spears in a match won’t come with nearly as good a payoff.

hangman and kenny omega

Tony Schiavone Spoke to Kenny Omega, Presumably About What Happened Last Week

Don Callis snatched the microphone and dismissed Tony, telling him to “be the geriatric Tommy Bahama model we all know you want to be.” He then spoke of making history—as he always does—while the fans reminded him he got fired from Impact. (He did have a clever rebuttal, though: “Real men don’t quit, they get fired!”) Callis again listed the wrestlers Kenny has beaten, and said since he wasn’t around last week, he realized there’s nobody left to beat. The fans made their intentions clear about wanting to see Hangman get that title challenge. The Dark Order came out as Evil Uno chastised Omega and his “weird uncle,” wondering why Omega has been ducking the Hangman the past couple of weeks.

Kenny offered a retort: What is the capital of Thailand? He low-blowed Evil Uno and answered Bangkok, which brought out the Good Brothers and sent the Elite and the Dark Order into a brawl. Hangman finally entered the fray, resplendent in a fringe-winged shirt, fighting off the Elite and standing on the apron as a groggy Omega turned around, letting him know he could have Buckshot Lariated him in February 2020 just as he could now. 

jr interviews darby allin and ethan page

Jim Ross Interviewed Darby Allin and Ethan Page in a Stockroom

Ross admitted he felt disturbed and dismayed by the blood feud between Page and Darby. Darby mentioned the jealousy of Page due to his ascent; he mentioned the sacrifice he made against Page’s complacency. Page mentioned everything Darby said was true, but also that he was the one who plucked Allin from obscurity. Allin jumped the line and Page worked his ass off for twelve years, with a family to support, to get where he is, and it makes Page sick that a runt like Darby got to “paint his face to hide the shame” from knowing he wouldn’t be where he is without Page. Ross has a right to believe next week’s Coffin Match will get ugly; it might be a career-shortening affair.

jake eats a big rig

Wardlow & FTR def. Jake Hager, Santana, & Ortiz

They’re really drawing out this FTR-Santana & Ortiz feud, aren’t they? Nothing wrong with that, as AEW usually reserves the weeks upon weeks of storytelling for their main event feuds. (Does this mean we’re gonna run back the Parking Lot Brawl? I mean, if you’re gonna do a not-as-good retread of Stadium Stampede, you might as well bring back one of your company’s best-ever matches.) Accompanied by Konnan, Santana and Dax Harwood started the match; their volley highlighted by a Three Amigos. Both teams exhibited quick tags—no real surprise there—in a very competent first half of the match. The pace quickened in the match’s second-half, with FTR exhibiting some great combination moves. For some reason when Hager was tagged in, he decided to cinch in an ankle lock on the competitor who wasn’t legal. When he beckoned for Wardlow to enter, Wardlow obliged and they went to blows. Tully Blanchard distracted Aubrey Edwards as FTR hit Big Rig on Hager and Wardlow pinned him for the win.

After the match, Konnan hit Wardlow in the back with the sock full of baseballs and Tully chop blocked him. The Pinnacle members stood tall on the stage.

Backstage Segment: Karl Anderson cut a promo on Jon Moxley ahead of their IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship match next week. It was all pretty boilerplate stuff: Kenny Omega being the first IWGP U.S. Champ, Anderson returning to New Japan “where the Bullet Club” began, and repurposing their Beat Up John Cena catchphrase to fit Mox.

jericho appreciates judas

Chris Jericho and MJF Have a Face to Face Meeting to Discuss the Terms of Their (Long-Awaited) Blowoff Match

Finally, this thing between Jericho and MJF will come to an end (at least temporarily) and they can each move on. A fan tried jumping into the ring but the cameras made sure not to catch it entirely. MJF invited anyone else to jump in and get their ass beat too. Max then went into a diatribe about how everybody wants a piece of the “King of All Elite Wrestling.” Jericho said he would accept any challenge, which include standing in front of a Mac truck, swimming a piranha-infested pool, or having sex with Mrs. Friedman … again. Max noted again how he used to look up to Jericho and study his career, including what he did to get Jon Moxley—fight every other member of the Inner Circle. 

Max referenced Greek myth “The Labors of Hercules” and challenged Jericho to fight four competitors of his choosing with different stipulations in a gauntlet match, and if he wins, only then will he get a shot at MJF. Jericho emphatically accepted his challenge and signed the contract—to which Max said in Plainview, Long Island, they shake hands to seal a deal. Jericho shook his hand, didn’t let go, and hit Max flush with a Judas Effect. So this blowoff will be extended to five different matches after seeing these men in each other’s orbit non-stop after a year? Sounds appropriate. 

Backstage Interview: Tony Schiavone interviewed his friend Dr. Britt Baker, who proceeded to complain about the unsafe working conditions of Reba (Rebel) getting gravely hurt in a tag match—all for the acquisition of Andrade El Idolo. Dr. Baker was in rare form here, saying she doesn’t need a makeup artist because “this is pretty much all natural” and Tony Khan’s blood money for hiring Andrade El Idolo might as well result in an AEW show in Saudi Arabia. 

el idolo

Andrade El Idolo def. Matt Sydal

As he entered the arena wearing a mask and a suit, I immediately thought of a potential Forbidden Door being opened in a (hypothetical) reunion with Tetsuya Naito, which would be such a banger regardless of who they were to face in a tag match. Andrade looked great here, hitting his gorgeous backflip into a standing moonsault early. Sydal was able to show off a little offense, but the match was very obviously an Andrade showcase; for him to effortlessly hit superb high-flying moves (as well as the second Three Amigos of the night) and show off his pinstripe pants. With a hammerlock leg sweep he now calls El Idolo, Andrade won the match.

After the bell, Andrade locked a brutal submission hold on Sydal just to make a point.

Highlight Package: Matt Hardy and Christian Cage expound on their decades-spanning rivalry—with Christian getting some good shots in like, “Never trust a rich man with an ill-fitting suit.” Christian also pointed out that over the years and years and years they’ve faced each other, he is the one who has always gotten the win. 

In-Ring Interview: Tony Schiavone interviewed Arn Anderson, who was about to say something when the lights went out, and MALAKI BLACKS appeared and kicked the shit out of Arn! Cody appeared and he offered another round house to Our Cool Republican Boss! Here’s my official review of the segment: Hell. Fucking. Yes. After watching the death of Tommy End via his social media earlier in the day yesterday, the tease of his new persona had fans everywhere stoked as fuck, but I don’t think anybody realized he’d be appearing on television later that night! 

Pre-Taped Segment: Ricky Starks invaded the ring with his own security, playing up his injury. Taz came out and reprimanded Starks for embarrassing the crew. Starks continued to show ass, taunting Brian Cage about wanting to fuck his wife Melissa Santos, which obviously sent Cage to the ring to fuck up his security.

orange and bunny

Kris Statlander & Orange Cassidy def. The Bunny & The Blade

Before the match, Aubrey Edwards checked the Blade’s leather pants for brass knuckles and found them. Orange started off hot early but got stopped by a hard Blade powerslam. Excalibur did a great job pointing out the Blade as a mercenary in AEW, first being a hired gun (so to speak) of MJF and now carrying out hits for the Hardy Family Office. In the ring, Statlander hit the Bunny with her incredible stalling vertical suplex. The Bunny and the Blade placed their chemistry in full display as they committed shortcut after shortcut behind Edwards’ back for the advantage. The Bunny made the tag to the Blade, who faced off with Statlander still in the ring, but Cassidy came in and dropped him with a tornado DDT for two. After some confusion, Statlander hit Area 451 (her awesome 450 splash) on the Blade but the Bunny pulled Orange off the cover at two. The Blade hit Cassidy with the brass knuckles and tried to cover, but Statlander was the legal competitor, so he hit Big Bang Theory on the Bunny for the win.

Ringside Interview: American Top Team, special guests of Tony Khan, snatched the microphone from Tony Schiavone and cut a promo about how modern pro wrestling in general and AEW specifically sucks. He put over Championship Wrestling from Florida for heel heat, which seems like a really odd flex. Dan Lambert basically served as a stand-in for every white dude wrestling fan who hasn’t watched since 1999, which is probably every Gen X MMA dude today. Lance Archer came out to hit Blackout on Lambert for a decent pop. All in all, it was a mildly entertaining waste of time that might have been better served as more time for the main event, but what do I know? I’ve never run a wrestling company outside of some weird backyard shit

the young bucks

AEW World Tag Team Championship Match: The Young Bucks def. Eddie Kingston & Penta El Zero Miedo

The Young Bucks came out for their title match once again looking extra obnoxious, replete with pink bandanas, leather do-rags, and trendy jorts. Before the ring crew could even sweep away the streamers, Kingston and Penta brought the fight to the Jackson Brothers. Early on, Nakazawa got hit with double superkicks and Brandon Cutler nearly got murdered by Best Friends: Sociopathic Version before the Bucks came in for the save. Chaos abound in the main event as chairs were dropkicked into for “involuntary vasectomies” (it’s okay; Nick has enough kids). Kingston was powerbomed into the metal harness of the table as Penta hit Matt with a Destroyer through the outside table. The Bucks took control of the middle part of the match with trademark overconfidence, punctuated by Nick hitting a senton atomico on Kingston through a garbage can. Kingston locked Matt in a rear naked choke, and instead of breaking up the hold, Nick hit a 450 splash on Rick Knox. 

Predictably enough, the Good Brothers joined the fray, beating up Kingston as Penta dove on them to fight them off. As Cutler attempted to spray Penta, Frankie Kazarian showed up to powerbomb him through a table. Penta and Kingston hit Matt with the Fear Factor/spinning back fist combo, but no referee was there to count until it was too late. Kingston brought out the thumbtacks, of which Matt threw some in Kingston’s face. Nick hit a hurricanrana on Penta onto the thumbtacks, but only for two. Kingston attempted to fight off both Bucks to no avail—with a mouthful of thumbtacks, Kingston received a double superkick as the Young Bucks retained their titles. All in all, it was a wild, wild match with a pretty rushed ending—which honestly didn’t detract from the anarchy at all; if anything, it augmented it.

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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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