The first AEW PPV of 2020 has come and gone, and what a show it was.
Every single match had a story behind it, whether it was a drawn out one like the world title match or if it was a quicker build like PAC vs Orange Cassidy. Emanating from Chicago in front of arguably the best fans in America, the show got the reaction it fully deserved. Cody said in a press conference before that this could be their version of WrestleMania, and I can see exactly why after this show.
The Buy In: SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) vs. The Dark Order (Evil Uno & Stu)
Suspicious by his absence is Christopher Daniels as the other two members of SCU go to battle with The Dark Order. They hit the ring and clear away the Dark Order’s accomplices, Alex Reynolds and John Silver, before exchanging fists with Evil Uno and Stu. The match officially started with Kaz taking the fight to Stu and keeping him down with attacks himself and with Sky.
Stu eventually got control and tagged in Evil Uno, or “Bad Uno” as Taz called him on commentary. Kaz shipped Stu out the ring and did the same to Uno, he tried a springboard but got caught in a Powerbomb by Stu and thrown into the ring post before being mugged by the minions. Frankie eventually got away from the attack and tags in the fresh Scorpio Sky who takes out both Uno and Stu. They set up for the SCU Later but Uno pulled out Kaz, allowing the minions to attack again. Uno hit a blindsided shot on Sky and Stu pins for the three.
Following the match, The Dark Order attack but SCU were saved by the hometown boy, Colt Cabana, but he was eventually mugged by the minions. Someone came out in a long robe and hood, believed to be the Exalted One but it turned out to be Christopher Daniels who attacked and the heels fought off the Dark Order. Cabana hit a Flying Apple and Daniels hit Angels Wings and they held the ring.
A slightly sloppy show, especially when the minions got involved because it just felt really cluttered. Not much really happened in the actual match, it was all about what happened after to keep the story going. SCU are always class when they team but we didn’t get to see much of what The Dark Order bring in this match.
Jake Hager vs. Dustin Rhodes
Dustin comes out to the ring with face paint like the Joker and a t-shirt saying ‘I’m here to fight Jericho’s bitch’, and Jim Ross calls Hager “Swagger”. The match starts off frantic with Dustin running straight for Hager who just easily drops him and takes control. The match spills into the crowd with Dustin now in control after he turned it around by throwing Hager outside the ring with Rhodes focusing on the arm of Hager to take away some of the power moves.
After the fast-paced beginning, Hager neutralises the momentum with a clothesline on the outside but the back and forth continues between the two men, with the majority of the offence coming from from Hager. Hager messes up by getting some advice from his wife which allows Dustin to take him out, block a punch from her and kiss her but Hager eventually regains the upper hand.
Dustin attempts to harken back to a former life with the Shattered Dreams but Hager wriggles away from the corner straight into a sunset bomb. Submission exchanges between the two with Hager countering a cross-arm breaker into an ankle lock, Rhodes get loose by forcing Hager into the referee allowing Hager to low blow Rhodes when she is distracted. Hager locks in a standing triangle, with Dustin tapping.
A very good debut match for Hager, back and forth between the two and it shows that Dustin has still got it and that Hager can be billed as a legitimate badass. He came out in the UFC style gear instead of his old wrestling attire and he changed up his move set to be more MMA based. Very well paced match as well, kept the fans guessing who was going to win as the momentum shifted constantly but the right result at the end of the day.
Darby Allin vs. Sammy Guevara
The match starts hot straight away, Darby makes his way to the ring with Sammy waiting on the outside. The second Allin is in the ring, he launches a taupe through the middle and bottom rope onto Guevara. Guevara gets the upper hand avoiding an attack against the barricade before they exchange various attacks. Darby lays Guevara on the barricade and hits a taupe onto a hanging Guevara, missing Sammy and going head first into the barricade and Sammy.
This is all before the bell has even rung which Guevara takes advantage of by throwing the skateboard at Allin and getting a table from under the ring, despite one being set up at ringside. Sammy hits an impressive 630 from the top rope onto Darby through the table. Darby climbs into the ring slowly as Sammy waits for him, the bell rings and Sammy hits a flying knee before taking control of Darby. Darby is relentless. He fights back, locks in a Gory Special and bites Sammy’s hand before transitioning into a Fujiwara Armbar.
Guevara’s entire attack is focused on the previously injured throat of Darby, using the ring ropes to his advantage and hits a Diving Foot Stomp onto Darby on the apron, seemingly jamming his knee. This match is what you expect from it – fast-paced, hard hitting and extremely athletic. This was evident as Sammy leaps to the top rope like Shelty B and hits a Spanish Fly. Guevara exposes the top turnbuckle but it backfires on him, allowing Darby to hit a Stunner and he actually hit a Coffin Drop for the three-count. Darby looks like he’s about to attack Sammy with the skateboard before Hager comes down and saves him.
These two are future stars of the industry and have brilliant chemistry together. A lot of high-risk spots were in this match and all went down without a problem, except for the Spanish Fly as Sammy lost his footing ever-so-slightly but managed to maintain balance and execute the move. A much-needed win for Darby as well for him to be reintroduced to the fans after being off injured and his momentum will build whereas Sammy didn’t need to win thanks to his affiliation with Jericho.
AEW Tag Team Championships: The Young Bucks vs Adam Page & Kenny Omega
Page gets in the face of Matt causing them to be pulled apart by their partners, Kenny having to call down Adam. I was quite surprised there was no show of sportsmanship between Kenny and The Young Bucks. Kenny and Nick got straight into the action, but after Nick got the upper hand in the beginning, they did. They tag in their partners with Page being the clear fan favourite in this match. Matt extends his hand to Page who spits in his face causing Matt to lose it and take Page down and lays in the fists.
Omega comes in to drag Matt away who gets shoved away. Nick comes in and calms his brother down and makes him tag out. The Bucks give up their attempted truce with their partners and just go full on with the double team moves to both men. They keep Omega away from the action and focus on Page taking full control of the match. Page gains control by attacking his back, tags in Kenny but not tagging his hand – instead a loud slap to his chest.
Page gets back in and takes out Nick, continuing the attack on Matt’s back. Page looks like he is about to Powerbomb Matt on the timekeepers table, Omega comes over and pulls Page away and throws Matt in the ring before they both light up the chest of Matt with some chops. Page gets a taste of his own medicine as Matt spits in his face before continuing the attack on Kenny.
Another hot tag sequence as Page comes in and clears house, he attempts the Buckshot Lariat but The Bucks stop him, attempting to slingshot him in the ring. Page counters and slingshots both Bucks to the floor, before hitting a top rope Moonsault on both men. Nick gets the tag in and again, takes control. He attempts his springboard arm drag but is thrown back onto the ramp. He moonsaults, lands on his feet and hits a springboard Destroyer onto Page for a two-count. The Bucks hit a Skull and Bones, a homage to the Motor City Machine Guns, but Kenny breaks up the pin. Page locks in a Crossface Chicken Wing, paying homage to his former Bullet Club teammate, Marty Scurll.
Matt rolls back and allows Nick to land a 450 splash for another near count. We nearly got the end when Page and Omega hit the Powerbomb/V Trigger combo but Matt breaks up the pin. Kenny hits V multiple Triggers and Snap Dragons on both men before hitting the Tiger Driver 98 on Nick but he somehow kicks out. Kenny looks like he’s about to attempt a One-Winged Angel from the top rope but Nick counters it into a Spike Rana and Matt hits three Northern Lights Suplexes on Page on the ramp.
The Bucks hit an Indy Taker on Page on the ramp, taking out of the ramp. The Bucks hit the Golden Trigger on Omega but that seemingly hulks him up as he kicked out at one. Matt attacks Kenny’s injured shoulder and rips off the tape on his shoulder which brings Nick in to calm him down. The Bucks attempt the Meltzer Driver but Page grabs Nick and puts him through the table outside. Omega and Page hit the Buckshot/V Trigger combo but Matt still kicks out at two.
Omega attempts the One-Winged Angel but can’t connect because of his shoulder so Page tags in and hits it for him. Page hits both men with Buckshot Lariats and it’s over. Omega and Page retain and my god, what an incredible example of tag team wrestling.
Post-match, Kenny and The Bucks shake hands and attempt to get Page involved but he just leaves the ring, he looks like he’s about to set up for a Buckshot Lariat on Kenny but reconsiders and they leave together.
This was possibly the best tag team match I have ever seen and I went into this show thinking this would be mainly about storytelling and less on the action in the ring because we know that part of it is sorted. All four men went above and beyond in this and just took their story to the next level. Kenny giving up on being the peacekeeper and just wanted to retain the titles and The Bucks being less caring about Kenny and Page and becoming hungrier for the titles.
The ending of the match lines up for the turn at some point but the team of Omega and Page is so good, I don’t really want the turn to come. If it does, it’s got to be Kenny who turns because the Page is currently a cult favourite.
AEW Women’s World Championship: Nyla Rose vs. Kris Statlander
Both women attempt to take the upper hand before Kris tries a shoulder barge on Nyla to no affect. Nyla hits one and Kris stumbles, hits another and Kris falls to the mat, attempts a kip up but botches it slightly. Statlander takes some control using her speed and taking Nyla out by the legs. Rose takes some control outside, throwing Kris through the ropes from the ramp for Kris to roll through and then attempt a taupe. Nyla just wanders out the way and hits her own taupe style spear onto Kris.
Nyla gets rocked, Statlander is hitting forearms and Nyla can only push her away. Kris hits an Enzuigiri and then two Tope’s on Nyla after she rolled out the ring. Nyla eventually regains the control using her power with some hard clotheslines, and attempts a splash on Kris as she is draped across the top rope. Kris walks on her hands out of it as Nyla is on the top rope bemused, Kris lays on the floor and blows her a kiss before outsmarting herKris gets Nyla on the top rope to hit an Avalanche Hurricana, only for Nyla to reverse and hits a Beast Bomb for the three-count.
For a match with limited build, it was a very good singles match between two women who aren’t at the forefront of AEW. They are still building both women, Nyla as a monster and Kris as a resilient babyface, and they were able to do both with this match. Kris lost because she got caught despite being on top a lot of the time and Nyla was still a monster throughout and using her power to gain momentum. Very excited to see what’s next for both women.
MJF vs. Cody
Here comes the match we have all been waiting for. Cody is sporting a new tattoo on his neck of the Nightmare Family logo, very bright! Cody comes up through the stage and is played to the ring live by Downstait. He also has the entire Nightmare Family including the Green Arrow himself, Stephen Amell, which got me popping loud.
As both men are in the ring, Cody looks laser-focused and MJF looks somewhat put off and nervous by Cody’s entrance. Cody immediately goes for MJF who jumps out of the ring and wanders around behind Wardlow. MJF hops into the crowd and flips off all the fans before knocking one fan’s hat off and dares Cody to join him in the crowd as Arn tells him not to. Wardlow gets involved and pulls Cody into the turnbuckle as the referee was distracted, allowing MJF to take over and attack Cody’s right shoulder.
MJF locks in the Salt of the Earth on Cody before eventually becoming Zack Sabre Jr for a second, gripping onto all of Cody’s limbs. Cody breaks the hold with his teeth, which is ingenious. MJF changes his attack and takes off Cody’s right boot, exposing his broken toe, standing on it and biting it. Cody gets some control on the match, hitting an inverted Superplex and a Disaster Kick on MFJ who is on the apron. He attempts a taupe but is thwarted by Wardlow, which brings Arn over with a chair in his hand.
MJF is busted open, seemingly from the Disaster Kick. Perhaps the blade job went a little wrong there as his face is covered in blood. Cody attempts to channel his inner Randy Orton with a draping DDT but MJF hits the Heatseeker. Wardlow holds his feet which brings the attention of the referee and Brandi who leaps onto him. He catches her in a fireman’s carry with Cody telling him to put her down. He goes for a pump kick on Wardlow who moves, and Cody connects with Arn who was behind.
We nearly get a double count-out, but both men get in the ring at the count of nine after they both spill out of the ring. Cody hits his daddy’s signature jabs but MJF flops to the floor before he can hit the elbow. Cody goes for the Cross Rhodes but MJF counters into the Double Cross for a two count. MJF removes the weight belt from Cody and goes to lash Cody before the referee takes it from him. Allowing Cody to get a low blow and a Vertebreaker but doesn’t get the three-count, somehow.
Cody gets his own back and whips MJF with his weight belt before the referee tries to take it away. Cody pleads and asks for one more, the referee obliges before Cody launches the belt into the crowd. Great call by the commentary team, Cody takes 10 lashes like a man but MJF gets two and is cowering in the corner and eventually grasping at Cody’s right ankle. MJF stands up and hugs him before spitting in Cody’s face which brings the red mist and the Cross Rhodes. Cody picks him up for another but still doesn’t go for the pin. MJF counters and gets the Dynamite Diamond ring out of his tights and knocks out Cody for the three. He cheated, as expected but this feud continues.
This match was brilliant. Every single aspect was amazing. The storytelling between the two, Cody desperate to shut MJF up and MJF just looking to survive. The outside interference was done brilliantly too as it continued the storyline that we all think – that Arn will turn on Cody. With MFJ winning, this story continues and he can gloat about it for weeks to annoy the fans because that is what he is good at.
PAC vs. Orange Cassidy
The match starts with Cassidy being billed from “wherever” and weighing “whatever”, you know this match is going to be brilliant. Best Friends come out like they’re Cassidy’s trainers with towels around their necks and the fans are going nuts, chanting “please don’t try” as the two men square up in the middle of the ring.
Cassidy goes for the hands in his pockets but PAC holds onto them which brings out some chain wrestling from Freshly Squeezed. Cassidy starts to hit some vicious kicks on PAC who reciprocates with the exact same style. Cassidy hits a Superkick before being shoved to the floor by PAC. Cassidy avoids attacks by PAC and hits a Dropkick and a kip up to a huge pop.
Cassidy hits an arm drag on PAC, with his hands in his pockets before PAC hits a Tilt-A-Whirl Backbreaker on Cassidy and takes control and starts to brutalize Cassidy. For once, Jim Ross corrects someone else on commentary after Excalibur can’t comprehend that the ring posts have corners. PAC hits a high angle Powerbomb but Cassidy kicks out, to PAC’s annoyance, so he hits an Avalanche Brainbuster. He goes for the pin but pulls Cassidy’s shoulders off the mat.
PAC sets up for the Black Arrow but Cassidy rolls out the ring, PAC goes for it again but again, Cassidy rolls away. PAC rolls him back in the ring and Cassidy continues to roll so PAC walks round to the other side of the ring which makes Cassidy laugh and PAC gets distracted. Cassidy hits a Tope, Crossbody and a Tilt-a-Whirl DDT but PAC still kicks out. Cassidy hits a couple of shots to PAC who no sells and decks him with a forearm which brings some life back into Cassidy.
Cassidy hits a huge Superman Forearm and starts to hulk up, hitting a Stun Dog Millionaire before venturing to the top rope. Only to be cut off by PAC who attempts an Avalanche Tombstone, only for Cassidy to reverse into a DDT and hits another DDT from the top rope. PAC rolls out the ring and is thrown back in by Trent for Cassidy to hit an Air Raid Crash for a near fall. For some reason, the Lucha Brothers come down to take out Best Friends who take it to the back, allowing PAC to lock in the Brutalizer getting Cassidy to tap out.
This is what we expected it to be, a comedy match. The angry heel in PAC getting annoyed at the idiocy of Cassidy but it worked. PAC is so good at playing a vicious heel who is sick of everyone, he portrayed that perfectly. The only downside for me was the ending and why the Lucha Brothers got involved when they haven’t had much interaction with the Best Friends as of late. Overall an entertaining match which served as a palette cleanser before the main event.
AEW World Heavyweight Championship: Jon Moxley vs. Chris Jericho
It’s main event time and Moxley comes all the way from the outside of the building and through the crowd. Whilst Jericho is sung to the ring by the Inner Circle choir singing Judas which was an interesting choice, accompanied by Santana and Ortiz.
The bell rings and both men start to exchange blows, Jericho attempts to avoid but is Clotheslined over the top rope bringing both men outside, Moxley having to keep an eye on PnP as well. The venture out into the crowd and Jericho gets control, using the barricade poles as a weapon but Moxley doesn’t take long to reverse the fortune of Le Champione. Jericho does his usual thing of getting a hold of a camera and flipping off Moxley before launching a barricade at Moxley.
It’s an all-out brawl which has only been in the ring for about 20 seconds, I felt sorry for Aubrey! Moxley bites at the seven stiches on Jericho’s face but gets thrown into the ring post which cuts open Moxley. This allows Jericho to take control and Powerbomb’s Moxley through the timekeepers table as well as the ring bell. Moxley counters the Walls of Jericho into his own version of it until Hager makes an appearance to cause a distraction, giving Jericho time to connect with a Codebreaker.
Jericho locks in the Walls of Jericho but Moxley gets to the ropes causing Jericho to lose his cool and shove the referee, attempting to get disqualified but it actually gives Mox enough time to recover. Hager gets involved but is caught by the referee which gets all three accomplices ejected from the ringside area. Guevara appears from the crowd and hits Moxley with the AEW World Championship belt and scarpers before Aubrey realises.
Jericho attempts a pin but Moxley kicks out and both men begin another slugfest with Jericho coming out on top as he focuses on the right eye. As Moxley goes for the Paradigm Shift, Jericho rakes the good eye and takes control again before taunting Moxley about his lack of sight. Jericho goes for the Judas Effect but Moxley avoids and hits the Paradigm Shift before removing the eye patch, proving to everyone that he can see. He hits another Paradigm Shift for three and is your new AEW World Heavyweight Champion.
A great main event from two men who have had various encounters in the past so we knew what to expect from an in-ring point of view. It’s fresh to see Jericho lose the title because we only really know him as the obnoxious leader and champion. What will he be like without the title? Moxley is a great face of the company because he has a monster backing from the fans and I can’t wait to see who he next challenger will be.
And there we have it, what a show for AEW compared to the garbage we got a couple of days ago. Onwards and upwards to Dynamite on Wednesday!