It used to be WCW territory back in the day, but at least for tonight, Atlanta is AEW country. Tonight’s card is stacked on paper, with a tag team title match and the first ever Steel Cage Match as Cody continues his quest to get his hands on MJF. Let’s not waste any more time — to TNT we go.
Match 1 – Tag Team Battle Royal – Winner receives AEW Tag Team Championship Match at Revolution
The concept here is that both members of a tag team have to be thrown over the top rope and have their feet touch the floor before they’re eliminated. There are a lot more teams involved besides the usual suspects, though all the expected ones are in the ring, including the Young Bucks, SCU, the Lucha Brothers, Best Friends, Private Party and Jurassic Express. It would be nice to not have the Dark Order interfere with this, but they do, causing enough distraction to have SCU eliminated. The Dark Order also offers CIMA a mask after he’s eliminated, and he appears to be contemplating the offer. Luchasaurus gets perhaps the biggest pop of any competitor in this bout, and he gets some time in the spotlight going toe to toe with the Butcher. The fans are displeased when four wrestlers team up a little later to eliminate him. Orange Cassidy also gets a big reaction when he saves Trent from elimination. The finish is also popular, as Matt Jackson overcomes the odds to toss out both Santana and Ortiz (while also fending off Sammy Guevara), putting us one step closer to an all-Elite title match at Revolution. Pun partially intended.
Random note: Jim Ross came ever so close to saying the winner of the Battle Royal would get a title shot at WrestleMania before catching himself and saying Revolution. Old habits do indeed die hard.
Match 2 – Shanna vs. Kris Statlander
The announcers are joined by Dr. Britt Baker, who is just as perplexed by Statlander’s gimmick as everyone else. Weird or not, Statlander wins, and Baker is relatively tame in terms of her level of heel behavior while at the table.
A video package takes us back to one whole week ago to show us Nyle Rose’s Women’s Championship triumph. She also comes out to speak with Tony Schiavone and appears to be miffed that she’s not being put up on a higher pedestal. Despite claiming that no one can beat her and that she plans on being a one-time champion, she soon has both Statlander and Big Swole begging to differ.
Let’s stay with video packages to introduce you to Jeff Cobb. The timing is not coincidental, because he’s wrestling next.
Match 3 – Jon Moxley vs. Jeff Cobb
Lots of guests for this one, including Chris Jericho and the Inner Circle at ringside and Taz at the announce table. Figure they needed a suplex expert for Cobb’s AEW debut. It’s cool to see someone brought in and allowed to go blow for blow with Mox, and even the finish comes more or less out of nowhere. So even though Cobb takes the ‘L’, he’s certainly made to look strong if he sticks around the promotion. The Inner Circle immediately hits the ring to beat down Moxley after the bell, and even the arrival of Dustin Rhodes isn’t enough to stem the tide. But then the lights go down and Darby Allin makes his return, using his skateboard to extract some revenge. Eventually, Jericho ends up alone in the ring with Moxley, and even though their confrontation is brief, that was a pretty good segment overall.
Match 4 – Lucha Brothers (challengers) vs. “Hangman” Adam Page and Kenny Omega (champions) – AEW World Tag Team Championship Match
Page gets the “Cowboy S–t!” chants right away, which is not too shabby considering who else is in this match. Also, the Lucha Brothers are awesome and deserving of a title shot at any time, but they got to skip the line and go right for the belts while everyone else had to battle it out for a shot. Classic wrestling logic. Anyway, the crowd is very into this one, and with good reason because it’s one of the better tag team matches on free TV in recent memory in any promotion. There’s a palpable sense that the belts could change hands after Page accidentally wipes out Omega with a Buckshot lariat, but Kenny kicks out of a Penta Driver, and the champs manage to get back on the same page to hit a tandem finisher and retain. Great stuff, and the expected awkwardness after the bell occurs as the Young Bucks come to the ring to congratulate the men they’ll soon battle.
AEW action figures are on the way this year from Wicked Cool Toys. Thanks for helping me part with my money before I even earn it.
To emphasize the importance of the first Steel Cage Match in AEW history, let’s do one more video package.
Main Event – Wardlow (w/ MJF) vs. “The American Nightmare” Cody – Steel Cage Match
There’s no escape in this one, because the only ways to win are pinfall or submission. The announcers admire Wardlow’s training videos and physique but we’ve yet to see him in the ring in AEW. In case you were wondering if Cody would bleed, the answer is … come on, of course he does! With the cage door open, MJF tries to convince Arn Anderson to slam it in Cody’s face, but he stays loyal and makes MJF eat the steel instead. And hey, a top rope senton from Wardlow. Can’t lie, that’s impressive. Cody goes even bigger with a moonsault off the top of the cage, and Wardlow just manages to get in position for it. It’s even cooler looking because the AEW cage is just really big. Anyway, there’s a tremendous visual to end the show as a bloody Cody climbs to the top of the cage again and stares down at MJF. That was a brisk two hours, and that’s meant as a compliment. 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.