Wrestling is hard, ya’ll. As evidence, the two biggest promotions in North America managed to end their final televised shows of 2019 with angles that were mostly panned. AEW gets its chance for a clean start in 2020 from Jacksonville, the place it calls home. Let’s head to TNT and see what’s popping.
Match 1 – Darby Allin vs. Cody (w/ Arn Anderson)
Double A is announced as the “head coach of the Nightmare Family,” and amusingly plays that role to a tee, even covering his mouth with a piece of paper like an NFL coach when whispering instructions to Cody. The announcers do a nice job of framing this encounter, with Allin looking to grab a win this time after wrestling Cody to a draw last year, and the American Nightmare potentially distracted by his feud with MJF. The match gets plenty of time to play out, perhaps to flirt with another time limit draw, and is punctuated by Allin’s breathtaking Coffin Drop to the apron. Cody grabs a win this time, but it shouldn’t do anything to cool Allin’s ascent.
In a backstage interview, SCU discusses the numerous teams aiming to dethrone them. Props for calling the Dark Order “spooky perverts,” by the way. Sammy Guevara stops by and tries to sow some dissent by asking Christopher Daniels what he has while his teammates hold the gold, and he appears more than willing to prove he still has it against Guevara next week.
Rhio goes to the air.
Match 2 – Nyla Rose vs. Hikaru Shida vs. Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. vs. Riho (champion) – AEW Women’s Championship Match
It’s interesting how over Shida is with the fans in a relatively short time, and there really are no classic heels in this four-way with that in mind. Rose also wins some admiration from the crowd with a running senton off the apron that puts Shida through a table on the floor. The finish sees all four women come very close to winning before Riho manages to fight through the chaos and pin Baker. Rose refuses to take her ‘L’ lying down, clotheslining Riho after the bell and using a top rope splash to drive the champ through a table.
What is Joey Janela looking forward to in 2020? Probably not a low blow from behind by Penelope Ford. That’s an Unhappy New Year for the Bad Boy.
The Dark Order angle gets a new twist with the mention of someone called the Exalted One.
Jon Moxley gets the crowd excited.
Match 3 – Trent (w/ Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy) vs. Jon Moxley
Let’s be honest, the big attraction here is seeing Cassidy and Mox interact. In this case, Moxley mocking Cassidy distracts him from the business at hand long enough to be hit with a piledriver. But Mox shakes that off to hit the Paradigm Shift on the ramp to keep his winning ways going into 2020. Of course, Moxley is also involved in a running storyline with the Inner Circle, and Chris Jericho appears on the big screen to make his final pitch: 49 percent ownership of Inner Circle LLC (making him the Executive Vice President, and essentially co-leader with Le Champion) and a brand new Ford GT. It’s a persuasive offer, one that Jericho urges Moxley to consider carefully. Mox says he has always considered Jericho a friend and mentor, and out of respect for him, Moxley announces that he’ll give the champ an in-person answer next week, letting the world know what is in store for 2020. Cue the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” clip from Dumb and Dumber.
Match 4 – Sammy Guevara vs. Dustin Rhodes
It appears this match is being used to further a feud between Rhodes and Jake Hager (if he’s ever going to get into the ring) as the Big Hurt intervenes when the ref is otherwise engaged and costs Rhodes the match.
Private Party is asked about their New Year’s resolutions but end up having a run-in with a grumpy “Hangman” Adam Page.
Arriving to a chorus of boos, MJF hits the ring to lay out his stipulations for facing Cody. The first is that Cody can’t touch him before they collide on pay-per-view at Revolution, the second is that Cody must beat Wardlow in a steel cage match prior to getting his hands on MJF, and the third is that Cody has to allow MJF to whip him 10 times with a belt. That seems like a bridge too far to me, but we’ll see.
Still sporting the cocktail he made himself during the Private Party segment, Page joins the announcers for the main event.
Riho’s chance to talk about her next title defense is taken away when Baker crashes it. Her slow but steady heel turn still feels like a thing that is happening.
Kenny Omega deals with the Lucha Brothers.
Main Event – Lucha Brothers and PAC vs. The Elite (Nick Jackson, Matt Jackson and Kenny Omega)
The deal here is The Elite questioning whether they are still at the top of their game, with an added complication since Page is admittedly trying to distance himself a little from the group. PAC is a little bit of a strange inclusion but does still have beef with Omega, and there’s never an excuse needed to have him wrestle. The action does not disappoint, and Omega gets a much-needed pinfall with a One-Winged Angel on Rey Fenix. There’s some intrigue during the post-match celebration, however, as Cody joins his Elite teammates but Page declines to join them in the ring, despite their urging. Something to chew on for next week as we’re out of time. See you in seven!
- ‘Homecoming’ for AEW hot and frustrating for Jacksonville fansNick 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.
Arn Anderson and Cody. Photos by Lee South/AEW