A new league has risen, according to the commercials, and something the 1999 version of Nick Tylwalk never expected to happen is a reality: Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone on the announce team together. Also Excalibur, who is good in hiw own right. Let’s see how they gel.
Is there going to be a vignette for every match, every week? That could get old fast, though this one is well done, with Cody insisting he doesn’t want to look past Sammy Guevara, who in turn calls this the biggest match of his life. That’s good storytelling for the newcomers out there in such a small amount of time.
Match 1 – Cody vs. Sammy Guevara
If you had “first match” in your office pool for the first mention of WCW, you win. The announcers are also bragging up the fact that AEW is trending No. 1 on Twitter, something the distinguished competition loves to do. Brandi Rhodes takes an early bump and lends an active hand as well. The really funky lighting on all but maybe six rows of fans is pretty strange, making them look like they’re all in the Phantom Zone. Guevara gets to show off his aerial prowess but is eventually felled by the humble inside cradle. Schiavone heads to the ring for some words with Cody, but as the competitors shake hands, Chris Jericho rushes down to assault Cody.
Since we aren’t doing mid-match commercials here, the break came during the Jericho attack, but no worries: He’s still dishing out pain to Cody after the ads. A powerbomb on some chairs is a fine way to end it, but why not let him talk a little bit more?
Match 2 – Brandon Cutler vs. MJF
MJF’s rants against people who play Dungeons & Dragons have me feeling a little bit seen. He certainly does nothing to dispel the idea that he’s got superstar potential, running the cocky heel playbook to a tee before taking some shortcuts and getting Cutler to tap out.
Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes almost get into it with Jack Evans and Angelico before Private Party intervenes, because sure. The segment turns into an extended tease for the tag team title tournament, especially once SCU and the Lucha Brothers start throwing hands on stage.
Match 3 – Hangman Adam Page vs. PAC
These two gentlemen figure to be hanging around the world title picture, so it’ll be interesting to see who emerges with a win tonight. Well, if wins and losses matter, then PAC comes out on top. After using a mule kick that Earl Hebner doesn’t see, Pac hits the Black Arrow, then locks in the Brutalizer to force a submission from Page.
Match 4 – Nyla Rose vs. Riho – AEW Women’s World Championship Match
This is a match where having some advance knowledge of pre-Dynamite AEW shows would be good, though the size difference alone is enough to set up the classic David vs. Goliath dynamic. If that isn’t enough to get the fans into it, Rose doing a somersault senton off the apron only to see Riho move and send her crashing onto a pile of chairs might do the trick. Did I mention Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. is on guest commentary? I believe it’s a requirement to write the whole thing out like that. Riho also bumps like a champ, but there’s something about those running knee strikes to a much larger opponent that are gold. And that’s what she wins with them too, becoming the first ever AEW Women’s World Champion. Michael Nakazawa tries to congratulate Riho in Japanese, but Rose returns to the ring and powerbombs him (after sort of failing on her first try). She seems to have more punishment in store for Riho, but she’s stopped by … Kenny Omega? Interesting.
Main Event – The Elite (Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks) vs. Chris Jericho, Santana and Ortiz
The first twist comes just a few minutes in, when Jon Moxley attacks Omega and they brawl into the crowd. Since Kenny wasn’t the legal man, one supposes this isn’t grounds for a disqualification. Backstage, Mox suplexes Omega through a glass table, leading to a classic “get some help out here” plea from J.R. I missed that. That leaves the Bucks to carry on a man down, and while no one in the business flies through offensive flurries like the Jacksons, a well-timed Judas Effect by Jericho wins this for the heel side. Cody, Guevara and Dustin Rhodes all join the fray in short order, soon followed by Jack Swagger … er, Jake Hager. He’s firmly on the side of the bad guys as he helps to decimate the Bucks and the Rhodes brothers, and we never do see what became of Omega and Moxley.
But that’s a question for another week, as it were. Not exactly a revolution, but not too shabby for the first time out. See you in seven!
Nick Tylwalk has been with SLAM! Wrestling since the dawn of time, or at least since before the turn of the century. He spends his days doing PR things, but he’ll always make time to sneak away for some wrestling.