AEW is kind of in a weird limbo this summer. Its TV show doesn’t start up until October, and it’s next really big pay-per-view, All Out, is set for late August. In the meantime, the promotion is still running events and has to figure out ways to make them stand out without title matches or much in the way of ongoing narratives. Saturday night at Fight for the Fallen in Jacksonville, the answer was to focus on something that the industry leader doesn’t do all that well.
That would be tag team wrestling, as evidenced by the seemingly endless parade of teams that get over in NXT and then falter when they get called up to the main WWE roster (through no fault of their own, it must be said). AEW trotted out a pair of tag team matches that stole the show during Fight for the Fallen, one featuring the Lucha Brothers and SoCal Uncensored, and the other a showdown between two sets of actual brothers.
When one of those duos, the Young Bucks is arguably the best tag team in the world today, it only makes sense to have them anchor a show when necessary, even with something of a dream match between Kenny Omega and CIMA also on the card. The build-up for the Bucks’ bout with Cody and Dustin Rhodes was effective even with no TV to help sell it, with Matt and Nick Jackson sliding back into some of their more heel style behavior to mock the emotion the Rhodes men sold during Double or Nothing a few months back.
Cody offered Nick a handshake before they did battle, and it was accepted. They proved to be evenly matched on the mat, but Nick wasn’t about to shake hands a second time. Rhodes played to the crowd and mocked the Bucks’ biceps flexing, which earned him a slap to the face. Tempers flared as neither man could get any offense in, and soon all four men were staring each other down.
The Rhodes finally got rolling as Dustin tagged in for a running bulldog, and both brothers hit Dustin’s trademark low punch. Matt Jackson responded with a high cross body, and all of a sudden they had the Rhodes on the outside for tandem pescados. The Jacksons mocked their foes by embracing and hugging with fake tears flowing.
That fired up Dustin, but Nick grabbed his leg from the floor and set up the Bucks to fly around again, with Nick commenting that it was “too easy” to that point. Matt rained down right hands on Dustin, and the Bucks hit a double suplex to earn a near fall.
Dustin was caught in the wrong corner and felled by a double dropkick, and Cody showed some frustration as he was stuck on the apron, but the Bucks sent him to the floor so he wasn’t in position to receive a tag from his brother. A spinebuster by Dustin earned him a breather, and when Nick tried to fool him by joking to tag him in, his reward was a huge slap to the face. Dustin came off the top rope to dive onto both Bucks, which finally gave him a chance to tag Cody into the action.
Cody’s hot tag flurry included hurling himself over the top rope to crash into Matt on the ramp. Off came the weight belt, which seemed to be acceptable to the ref as long as Cody only used it once, and he hit a reverse superplex on Matt for a two count.
The Rhodes brothers seized the momentum by keeping Matt isolated and working over his left shoulder. After shaking off an armbar by Cody, he managed to get the Rhodes to collide with each other, and a spear allowed him to tag Nick back in to deliver a barrage of offense. Nick wasn’t finished, going corner to corner with kicks and knees and calling for a superkick party. Cody decided he didn’t want to attend, but the Bucks got double Sharpshooters applied. The Rhodes brothers returned the favor with double Figure Fours, but all four men ended up going for lariats at the same time, leaving everyone down on the canvas.
Rewinding the clock a bit, Dustin dished out quick powerslams to both Jacksons, and he scored with a flipping senton off the apron as well. Nick was in trouble in the corner, but his brother tagged himself in for a superkick. The Rhodes brothers hit Matt with the Cross Rhodes only to see Nick fly off the top rope to break up the pin.
All four wrestlers started exchanging strikes, but referee Rick Knox got a little too close and ate a shot to the face. He was down trying to gather himself as the Rhodes hit the Golden Globes on both of their opponents, leading to another two count.
Cody crashed and burned as he tried to leap to the floor again and was caught with a double superkick to the midsection. The Jacksons tried to use the numbers game on Dustin, and he ended up having to kick out after Matt dropped an elbow off the top turnbuckle. Dustin used a sunset flip powerbomb for another pinfall attempt, but Matt kicked out at two.
The superkick party was finally on with Cody as the honored guest, forcing Dustin to leap in to make the save. Both teams stole pages from the other’s playbooks, but Cody was able to kick out of Cross Rhodes. He wasn’t so fortunate after the Meltzer Driver, and the Jacksons prevailed in this battle of the brothers.
After the Rhodes helped each other to their feet after the bell, Matt took the mic to admit that things got a little competitive, particularly with he and Nick making fun of Cody and Dustin. However, Matt said it was all in the name of competition, and he told the Rhodes that they lived up to the legend and were one of the best tag teams they’ve ever faced.
Some music hit to prematurely stop their discussion, because some other members of the roster accompanied Shad Khan to the ring with a check for $150,000 for the Victim Assistance Advisory Council of Jacksonville. Cody went on to say that no one could counterprogram the spirit of AEW — a not so subtle reference to the EVOLVE 10th anniversary show running on WWE Network at the same time — and asked the fans if they would come with the company to TNT this fall. He handed the microphone to Omega to discuss how what they’ve done for the community was even more important than what they’ve done with their unique brand of wrestling. Omega didn’t want to sign off with a bang given the cause of the night was victims of gun violence, so he signed off with a boing instead.
The next AEW pay-per-view is All Out on August 31, 2019.
FIGHT FOR THE FALLEN PRE-SHOW RESULTS
Match 1 – Peter Avalon (w/ Leva Bates) vs. Sonny Kiss
Kiss has a move called the Twerksault, and I’m not making that up. There’s also a “reading sucks” chant, which is something you don’t hear during every pro wrestling card. Avalon misses a more conventional moonsault and gets pinned by a split into a legdrop from the middle rope.
Cody and Dustin Rhodes discuss their match with the Young Bucks and the old school vs. new school dynamic they expect to see. Cody also answers a question about his chair attack at the hands of Shawn Spears, so it’s good that there’s at least some continuity in AEW in these early days.
Match 2 – Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. and Riho vs. Shoko Nakajima and Bea Priestley
This is the AEW debut for both Nakajima and Priestley, who are both champions in their respective promotions. There’s a nice power/agility mix on both sides, but it’s especially fun to see Riho and Shoko face off. Fittingly, the finish comes down to the Japanese duo too, with Nakajima using a step-up hurricanrana to get the pinfall. The bell doesn’t end the hostilities, with Baker trying to get in some extra shots at Priestley before the ref steps in.
Someone at B/R Live accidentally turns on the closed captioning for a bit, and if you think wrestling fans are just going to take that lightly, please go check out the AEW Twitter account and read some of the replies. It gets fixed pretty quickly, thankfully. Meanwhile, Kip Sabian cuts a short promo on Hangman Page, feeling a little overlooked. Aren’t we all, Kip? Aren’t we all?
FIGHT FOR THE FALLEN MAIN CARD RESULTS
Match 1 – MJF, Sammy Guevara and Shawn Spears vs. Darby Allin, Jimmy Havoc and Joey Janela
Spears asks to be announced as “The Chairman of AEW” as he was the one wielding the chair that busted up Cody Rhodes during the last show. But MJF was one of the wrestlers who ran out to check on his boss, so who knows who they will get along? The other big question is whether MJF will have any fingers left after Havoc gnaws on them. Sure enough, in-between a steady stream of middle fingers from almost everyone involved, Spears and MJF stay at each other’s throats, up to an including Havoc samming them into each other. Havoc also pulls off one of the cooler spots of the night so far, using two of the other wrestlers as steps to launch into a superplex. Guevara gets his time to shine as well, flying out opposite sides of the ring and using a Spanish Fly to earn a near fall. Allin looks like he’s going to go for the win, but Spears tags himself in and hits a backbreaker followed by a running DVD to pin Allin.
The winners by pinfall: Spears, Guevara and MJF
Match 2 – Brandi Rhodes vs. Allie
The fans are distracted by the ringside arrival of Awesome Kong, which is understandable. She’s just an observer at first, but restrains Allie from bouncing off the ropes when the ref is tied up with Rhodes. Allie rallies (sorry) to get a two-count from a running bulldog, but Rhodes responds with a suplex for two of her own. After some more hijinks, Rhodes hits the Bionic Spear to pick up the win. She’s ready to go to the back, but Awesome Kong suggests some further punishment instead. It never happens, though, as Aja Kong arrives to save Allie’s bacon, and the two Kongs have a staredown that might hint at a confrontation at All Out.
The winner by pinfall: Brandi Rhodes
Match 3 – The Dark Order vs. Angelico and Jack Evans vs. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus (w/ Marko Stunt)
Despite the crowd chanting heavily for Luchasaurus, it’s Jungle Boy who ends up working for quite some time, taking a beating from the Dark Order. The fans eventually get what they want, however, as Luchasaurus dishes out power moves and pulls off maneuvers you’d never expect from someone his size. The day-glo twins finally get their turn in the spotlight as well, with Evans preparing to fly before Stunt gets involved … and then ejected from the ring, but not before Luchasaurus tosses him high over the ropes onto Stu Grayson. The Dark Order pulls off a cool spot with a cannonball and top rope splash at the same time. Jungle Boy kicks out of that, but not the Dark Order’s tandem finisher
The winners by pinfall: The Dark Order
Match 4 – Kip Sabian vs. Hangman Adam Page
Sabian might be trolling the fans seeing as he’s decked out in the colors of The U, unless I’m reading too much into that. The fans don’t seem to be quite as into this match as some of the previous ones, which could be a bad sign if Page is being pushed as one of the faces of the company. Or perhaps they just dislike Sabian. They definitely won’t like these stiff kicks to the chest, then, as Sabian tries to keep the pressure on Page. The storyline they’re pushing here is that Page is a little banged up, so this match isn’t doing him any favors the longer it goes. The Hangman wakes up the fans with a pair of devastating moves, including one that sees Sabian go flying out onto the stage. With less than three minutes left in the allotted 20, Page hits a swinging neckbreaker off the top rope and turns incredulous when Sabian kicks out. A series of reversals leads to Page getting the win with his back-to-belly piledriver, but after the bell, one of the Dark Order’s creepers lays in wait to assault him. Except that guy looks somewhat familiar … oh yeah, it’s Chris Jericho, who ends up bloodying Page. The refs finally intervene, but the damage may already have been done.
The winner by pinfall: Hangman Adam Page
Match 5 – SCU (w/ Christopher Daniels) vs. Lucha Brothers
Now these teams are over, with the fans chanting for both sides early on. They also razz referee Aubrey Edwards for dropping Pentagon Jr.’s glove toss. The Lucha Brothers hand out hard chops on the floor until Daniels drops them with an Arabian Moonsault, which earns him an ejection from Edwards. But Kazarian comes flying out of nowhere, and pretty soon Rey Fenix is getting worked over but good. A series of acrobatic kicks changes that, and pretty soon, Pentagon is helping to administer all kinds of kicks too. A double foot stomp off the top rope earns Pentagon a two count, then another following a pumphandle powerbomb. The next sequence comes too fast and furious to recap, but it leads to an acrobatic DDT by Kazarian for two. The Lucha Brother gather momentum and manage to hit their package piledriver/diving double foot stomp combo to finish things off. They grab a ladder, and after briefly using it as a weapon, they challenge the Young Bucks to a ladder match at All Out. Sign me up now.
The winners by pinfall: Lucha Brothers
Match 6 – CIMA vs. Kenny Omega
CIMA enjoys some success by keeping Omega grounded in the opening minutes, but Omega isn’t really bothered by the slower pace at all. Both men counter each other smartly before Omega covers for a near fall, selling a shot to the face and a potential broken nose (again). CIMA’s face isn’t feeling too good either after being driven into the middle turnbuckle, and Kenny pulls him up onto the turnbuckles. That backfires on Omega as CIMA pivots and throws Kenny onto his back, but he misses a flying knee shot off the top. The referee allows the wrestlers some leeway as they take the fight out toward the crowd, where CIMA lands a diving knee shot on Omega while his back is stretched over a table. Ouch. Two more knee springboard knee shots follow in the ring, but Omega manages to kick out at two. An even closer near fall goes Omega’s way following a V-Trigger. After an exchange of slick counters, CIMA’s slaps are answered by a knee strike, but CIMA knows something about those knees himself. Out to the apron they go, where Kenny gets slammed down back first before absorbing yet another meteora. They exchange strikes in the middle of the ring, and Omega hits a double underhook piledriver for another near fall. CIMA gathers himself again, but he ends up in the One-Winged Angel, and he isn’t kicking out of that.
The winner by pinfall: Kenny Omega
It appears even after his sneak attack on Hangman Page earlier, Jericho is still getting his advertised microphone time. He brags about having the blood of the Hangman on his hands and talks about watching the battle royale at Double or Nothing trying to see who would win. Jericho gives Page props as one of the hottest prospects in wrestling, noting that if he wins, it’s another tally in his historic career, but if he loses, it’s the beginning of the end for both AEW and said career. That’s why he decided to leave the Hangman in a pool of his own blood, as well as to remind everyone that you never know what he’ll do. Will Page stand for this? Of course not. Hangman’s ensuing assault catches Jericho completely off-guard, and they brawl until referees and a bunch of wrestlers who competed earlier tonight force them apart.
Main Event – The Young Bucks vs. Dustin Rhodes and Cody Rhodes
Total Event Rating: 7.5/10