Not unlike the Star Trek movies with the original cast, the matches at AEW’s WrestleDream Pay-Per-View event on Sunday night alternated between bad and good quality. But the closing moments were so good, it’s like if you took all the best parts of the good movies and put them all together in one. Or, let’s be honest, if it was simply The Wrath of Khan.
Or in this case, the Cash of Khan, which was apparently enough to attract “The Rated R Superstar” Adam Copeland (formerly, WWE’s Edge) to become the newest AEW signee.
Copeland made his debut at the end of the show, choosing sides and aligning himself with Sting and Darby Allin against his former friend and tag team partner Christian Cage. In doing so, he laid out the message to Cage that, unlike Kirk and Spock, while he has been, he may not always be, his friend.
Okay, that’s enough with the nerd talk, let’s get to the recap.
ZERO HOUR PRE-SHOW
A video tribute aired for Antonio Inoki, with various members of the roster paying tribute to him. They cut to the ring, where Tony Khan was with Rocky Romero, Shibata – who Khan called wrestling’s greatest champion – and two of Inoki’s relatives (grandsons?). Then Tony hollered out a welcome to WrestleDream, before hyping up the crowd and leading them in a round of applause for the Inoki family.
Christian was shown watching from the back, and he didn’t seem too impressed.
A neat opening video aired with Japanese type of music. The commentary team of Excalibur, Nigel McGuinness welcomed us to the show. The commentators would change a few times during the evening, with Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone also having their turns at the desk, and Jon Moxley popping in from time to time.
Pre-show Match 1: Shane Taylor, Lee Moriarty, Mercedes Martinez, and Diamante vs. Billie Starkz, Athena, Keith Lee, and Santoshi Kojima
During the babyface introduction, Lee Moriarty could be seen in the corner talking to referee Rick Knox. Possibly explaining him how to actually referee?
If you had “Match #1” in the pool as to when we would see the rapid chops in the corner on this show, you’d have won, since Kojima did it to Moriarty at about the 5-minute mark. The over-under for that on this show is 7, btw. Athena violated the rule that said the action had to be between men and men or women and women when she hit Moriarty with the Eclipse. But it’s not like Knox cares about enforcing rules anyway – Moriarty’s lessons went unheeded apparently. Knox also forgot about the rule to tag in and out, since he let Lee Powerslam Moriarty and then just hang around in the ring while Kojima finished off Moriarty with a Lariat.
This was what it was.
Winners: Billie Starkz, Athena, Keith Lee, and Santoshi Kojima
Pre-show Match 2: “War Master” Josh Barnett vs. Claudio Castagnoli (w/ Jon Moxley)
The graphic for Barnett explained that he was a protégé of Inoki’s, hence his participation on this show, and the commentators provided some more background on his history.
This was a good grappling fight, with both men trying to gain control and lock on a submission. After a while, Claudio tried to use his strength advantage and go for a Giant Swing, but Barnett grabbed the rope to break the attempt. They then both added striking into the mix, picking their spots to weaken the other man before going for more submissions. If you had “Match #2” in the pool as to when we would see a forearm exchange in the middle of the ring, you’d have won. The over-under for that on this show is 10.5, btw. Eventually, Claudio was able to muscle up and get Barnett in the Giant Swing, but didn’t get too many revolutions before releasing it and going for a leg submission, but to no avail. Barnett blocked a Neutralizer, but then Claudio locked on an Octopus hold to tie up Barnett’s arms, and then rolled that over into a pinfall position, keeping Barnett’s shoulders down for three.
After the match, Barnett took the microphone and told Claudio that all the good things he’d heard about Claudio were true. Barnett said he came in with no expectations, but was leaving with very high ones for Claudio. He said that Inoki would absolutely be a fan of Claudio. But Barnett said while he respected him, he wants Claudio to know that Barnett is looking forward to a rematch somewhere down the road. Castagnoli agreed to that, and they paid each other mutual respect to end the segment.
This was a good, physical battle – nothing fancy, just a tough scrap. More of this, please.
Winner: Claudio Castagnoli
Match 3: Luchasaurus vs. Nick Wayne
Wayne tried to start hot, but got hit with a huge Release German Suplex and was in trouble early. Luchasaurus toyed with Wayne, throwing him around like a sack of flour and generally just beating him up. Wayne floated over on a Chokeslam attempt and got in some Superkicks, but Luchasaurus Kronwalled him to stop any momentum and then Chokeslammed Wayne on to the apron. On the floor, Wayne crawled over to where his mother was sitting, so she had a front row view of Luchasaurus swinging Nick face-first into the ringside barrier and then continuing the beat-down. Back in the ring, Wayne dodged a Running Charge and then surprised Luchasaurus with a Moonsault for a near-fall. Wayne tried for Wayne’s World, but Luchasaurus caught him, and then bashed him in the back of the head with a huge clubbing blow, and that was all she wrote.
This was pretty much a glorified squash match. Not sure it needed to be on a PPV – particularly with 16 matches going on tonight – but it was short and made sense. On paper, Goliath should beat David – and that’s what happened.
Match 4: TMDK (Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls, and Bad Dude Tito) vs. The Acclaimed (Max Castor and Anthony Bowens) and Billy “Daddy Ass” Gunn (c) – for the AEW World Trios Championship
The best part of Castor’s rap was a reference to Haste’s past as WWE’s Slapjack. If you don’t know who TMDK are, they’re apparently a NJPW faction along with Zach Sabre Jr. and a few others. Of these three, Bad Dude Tito has the most unique look and name as opposed to the other two who look like generic Create-A-Wrestler defaults. After being embarrassed by the champs in some comedic spots, TMDK took over thanks to some referee distraction, and isolated Bowens. Bowens eventually escaped and then things escalated quickly with all six men brawling, both inside the ring and on the floor. In the end, Gunn hit the Fame-Asser on Tito, and Castor hit the Mic Drop on Tito. All that was left was the 1-2-3 and the Scissoring Party.
It’s not like the titles were in any danger of changing hands, so again one wonders why this couldn’t have been replaced with an actual PPV match, so as to shorten what could be a way-too-long show. This was a fine throwaway one-off, but could just as easily been done on TV.
Winners, and still AEW Trios Champions: The Acclaimed and Billy Gunn
WRESTLEDREAM – FULL RESULTS
Match 1: MJF (c) vs. The Righteous (Vincent and Dutch) – 2-on-1 Handicap Match for the ROH Tag Team Championship
MJF cut a promo on the way to the ring, denying being the one in the Devil mask who attacked Jay White at the end of Dynamite. He said that someone broke into his locker room and stole the mask. He also said that Adam Cole was not in the building tonight. He promised to pick up and body slam Dutch and then would grab Vincent by the braids and shove his head straight up Dutch’s… well, you know… let’s just say his Dutch Oven.
At the top of the match, MJF tried to deliver on both of his promises, but failed, albeit in entertaining fashion. Dutch and Vincent capitalized on MJF’s predicament, and double-teamed MJF, including hitting Death From Above, an Assisted Boss Man Slam, and an Acid Drop for near falls. Frustrated by MJF’s kickouts, the Righteous tried to bring weapons into play behind the referee’s back. MJF thwarted their attempts, framing Vincent by pulling the Eddie Guerrero Phantom Chair Shot gimmick, and nearly stealing a pin with a rollup when the ref questioned Vincent.
This got MJF all fired up and, fueled by the crowd, he set out about to deliver the promises, slamming Dutch, then propping him up in the corner, sending Vincent head first into the abyss. MJF stunned Vincent with a Kangaroo Kick that knocked Vincent out of the ring, and then he hit Dutch with the Salt of the Earth, using his legs on the ropes for extra weight to keep Dutch’s shoulders down for three.
This was a fun match with lots of fan service for MJF’s faithful following, who loved everything he did. It’s too bad that Dutch and Vincent didn’t have a better showing – an established team losing 2-on-1 to a primarily singles wrestler isn’t a good look (even if he did cheat), and kind of nullifies the point of them having to beat three other established teams to get the title shot. But it certainly got the crowd livened up, so what the heck.
Winner, to retain the ROH Tag Team Championship: MJF
Match 2: Kastuyori Shibata vs. Eddie Kingston (c) – for the ROH World Championship and the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship
Shibata’s ROH Pure Championship was not on the line for this one. On a related note, there are way too many people holding way too many titles on this show / in this company.
They started off by having a chop battle with both welcoming the other to chop them, which seems stupid. Shibata did the right thing and kicked Eddie instead, and then tried to end things early with a Figure Four Leglock attempt, but Eddie got to the ropes. Shibata tried some more submissions and when Eddie came back with some rapid-fire corner chops, Shibata threw some strikes of his own, grounding Kingston. They did a mid-ring strike exchange and traded big moves that left them both lying in the middle of the ring. Shibata hit some kicks to Eddie’s torso before locking on a Cobra Twist and an Octopus that kind of crashed and burned, but still forced Eddie to get to the ropes.
More strikes and collisions and more time spent with both men knocked down and not doing any action. Then they stood up and did yet another strike exchange, with Eddie hitting a few big moves that Shibata kicked out from, until Eddie finally hit a Powerbomb that ended things.
If you like the Japanese strong-style, you’d have liked this. If you don’t like the Japanese strong-style, everything about this match would have solidified that view.
Winner, and still ROH World Champion and NJPW Strong Openweight Champion: Eddie Kingston
Match 3: Julia Hart (w/ Brody King) vs. Kris Statlander (c) – for the TBS Championship
Statlander started off quickly and with aggression, knocking Hart silly and bouncing her around the ring with ease. Hart tried to use her speed and surprised Kris with a Hurancarana, and then used a distraction from Brody on the floor to take over, bashing Statlander against the ringside barrier repeatedly. Back in the ring, Hart took ground control, driving Statlander’s head into the mat repeatedly, and then working over Statlander’s ribs and midsection area.
Statlander tried to mount a comeback, but got again distracted by King. Meanwhile, Hart loaded up and prepared to spray mist into Statlander’s eyes, but Statlander blocked the attempt. The action went up to the top rope, where Hart Won the battle, launching Statlander to the mat. Hart hit the Moonsault, but Statlander got her foot on the rope to break the count, infuriating Hart. Hart clamped on Hartless, but Statlander powered up and lifted Hart onto her shoulders. Statlander maneuvered Hart’s body around to put her into position for a Tombstone, and then Statlander didn’t release it, but instead picked Hart up and spiked her down with Sunday Night Fever, and that was all she wrote.
This was pretty good. The blocked mist spot didn’t come across well, but that’s a minor quibble. Hart isn’t ready to be showcased as a champion, but she continues to get better and put on decent matches. Statlander needs some higher-level competition to continue to hone her game even further.
Winner, and still TBS Champion: Kris Statlander
Match 4: The Gunn Brothers (Austin and Colton Gunn) vs. Orange Cassidy and Hook vs. the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) vs. the Lucha Brothers (Fenix and Penta)
The winners of this one earn a future AEW Tag Team Championship match.
I can’t stand the Young Bucks or Orange Cassidy and always change the channel when they’re on TV so I don’t have to watch their terrible matches. But for you, faithful Slam readers, I’ll gut through it.
The story early on here was that Fenix’s shoulder was injured and it prevented him from doing some of his moves. Later, the Gunns tried to test the theory of what would happen if they were both tagged in as legal and one tried to pin the other; the ref didn’t make the count and said that technicality wasn’t allowed. Loophole closed.
There was a lot of obviously-choreographed gymnastics here characteristic of the Bucks and I lost interest in this one early. Sorry, folks, I tried.
The commentators noted that Fenix was being taken to the back by medical. Meanwhile, the Gunns tried to add some actual wrestling into the mix, using some good double-team moves and classic tag team strategy. But we can’t have good things for too long, apparently. Eventually, things got chaotic and nonsense prevailed with a convoluted spot that saw one of the Jacksons take out a member from all the other teams. IN the end, the Bucks won with some kind of nonsense following StuporKicks.
This was what some people would call a “party match” but what I call nothing I would want to watch again. The Gunns are really good. They were given the Tag Team Championship some time ago, and that was too early. But they’re certainly on their way to becoming one of the premiere tag teams in this company, and hopefully they get back there soon. In the meantime, we’re unfortunately stuck with the Bucks getting another title shot.
Winners: The Young Bucks
Match 5: “Hangman” Adam Page vs. Swerve Strickland (w/ Prince Nana)
The crowd was very much in favour of home-town boy Swerve, going against the face-heel booking of this one. To their credit, Swerve and Page both acknowledged that, and wrestled the match with that dynamic in mind. Page wrestled much more aggressively, using the ring apron and ringside barrier to punish Swerve’s back, and then hit a Pop-up Powerbomb to continue the punishment.
Swerve tried to recover and fight back, but Page then attacked and worked over Swerve’s hand, which was all bandaged up, taking time away from the attack only to taunt the crowd.
Swerve kicked it into the next gear and fired back with a big Flatliner and then a Twisting Suplex for a 2.5 that electrified the crowd. Swerve hit a Backbreaker, but got caught up top in a follow-up attempt, and they battled on the top turnbuckle as the crowd chanted for Swerve. Swerve jockeyed for position and hit a huge Double Stomp on Page, and then hit a House Call, but Page surprisingly kicked out.
The battle spilled to the apron and Page tried to end things, hitting Swerve with the Dead-Eye right on top of the ringside steps. Page rolled Swerve back into the ring, but didn’t pin him – rather, he looked to put Swerve down with the Buckshot Lariat. But Swerve dodged the attempt and instead locked on a huge Arm Wringer on Page, snapping it back with a kick in a gross-looking spot. As the trainers checked on Page’s condition, Swerve showed no mercy, hitting a Swerved Stomp onto Page’s arm as the trainers looked at it. Swerve then rolled Page back in the ring and hit a 450-Splash onto the arm. Swerve looked to end things, but Page got his foot on the rope.
Page shocked Swerve into pain by going after his injured hand and surprised him with a huge Lariat. Page continued to work over the hand, but Swerve shocked him with a big German Suplex. Swerve went up top for a Stomp, but Page moved, and quickly scrambled over to hit Swerve with a Buckshot Lariat.
He nailed it, but Page’s arm was in too much pain to immediately go for the cover. By the time he scrambled over, Prince Nana had moved over into position to reach in and grab Swerve’s leg and put it on the bottom rope to break the count.
The ref ejected Nana, who protested the decision. As the ref dealt with him, he didn’t see Swerve get Nana’s crown, which he used to blast Page in the head. That wasn’t enough to get earn him a three-count, but a couple of House Calls and a JML Driver later, and that was enough to end Page’s night.
This was very good, with the crowd playing a huge part in that. Swerve is on the cusp of being a mega-star and this match is definitely one that is going to help that trajectory. The JML Driver should be protected like Kenny Omega’s One-Winged Angel as a finisher – that move is flashy and looks devastating. Swerve’s Embassy stablemates came out to celebrate the win with him after the match – getting rid of them would be the next big step to propel him upwards. Let’s hope that happens soon to strike while the iron is hot.
Winner: Swerve Strickland
Shawn Kemp, who is apparently a basketball player (or maybe a retired one?), was shown in the crowd.
Match 6: Wheeler Yuta vs. Ricky Starks
They exchanged quick shots early on, with Ricky getting the early edge, even hitting the Undertaker’s Tightrope Forearm Smash among other moves. Wheeler had no quit in him, though, and he came back with a High Cross Body before moving to a ground game.
As Yuta had Starks in an Armbar, Big Bill lumbered his way to the ring to offer some moral support to Starks. Yuta was momentarily distracted by the presence of the big man, allowing Starks to regain control with a big Release Powerbomb. Starks then took a page out of the BCC’s playbook, hitting some fake-looking elbow strikes just like the BCC does. Starks went for a Springboard attack, but Yuta shoved him and Starks crashed onto Big Bill. Yuta then went to the floor and threw Bill into the ringpost. Yuta went back in the ring and after some back-and-forth, Starks hit Roshambo for the pin.
This was kind of disappointing with some sloppy moves, and an anti-climactic finish. Both of these guys can have some good matches – unfortunately, this one just fell a bit short.
Winner: Ricky Starks
Match 7: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Bryan Danielson
The opening minutes of this one was a grappling masterclass, as both men tried to out mat-wrestle the other. This was so unique from what you normally see on North American wrestling, and that made it even more impressive, because of how good it was.
The commentators spent a lot of time talking about Danielson’s right arm and how his recent surgery – which required a steel bolt to be put in – might have weakened it too much. Playing into that story, Sabre challenged Danielson to throw some forearms with the right arm, and when that pained Danielson, Zack capitalized, targeting that wing with submissions and stomps.
Danielson came back, but had to modify his offense to minimize the use of his injured right arm, which led to some creative variations. But it didn’t stop him from hurting Sabre’s knee with an ugly-looking Dragon Screw. Danielson hung up Sabre in the Tree of Woe and hit a series of Yes Kicks to Sabre’s exposed torso. Then followed that up with some Elbow Strikes, forcing Sabre to go back to Danielson’s right arm. But Danielson was able to counter and soon he had Sabre reaching for the ropes to break out of a submission hold.
A second series of Yes Kicks – punctuated with a final one to the head – let Danielson take over yet again, and he followed that up with Face Stomps. Sabre avoided a Flying Goat, and this led to a nifty exchange of bridging pinfall attempts that had the crowd showing major respect.
More submission exchanges followed, increasing in intensity and velocity. Their legs entangled, they got into a trash-talking exchange which quickly escalated into a Boot-to-the-Head exchange from a seated position. That was great.
As was a lengthy sequence that saw Sabre tying up Danielson in a nasty-looking arm/body submission hold that Daniel looked powerless to escape, before he finally got to the ropes.
The war waged on with more strikes and submissions exchanged. As Sabre had Danielson tied up, Danielson hit an ugly Belly-to-Back Suplex that dumped Sabre right on the back of his head. A pair of Flying Goats followed and that was enough to end the war, with Danielson picking up the 1-2-3.
As JR said, “What a hell of a match.” This was simply fantastic. An absolute technical classic. Go out of your way to find this one. And watch it twice.
Winner: Bryan Danielson
MMA fighter Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson was shown in the crowd.
Match 8: Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, and Chris Jericho vs. Will Ospreay, Sammy Guevara, and Konosuke Takeshita (w/ Don Callis)
After several minutes of feeling each other out with various pairings wrestling against one another, the first big moment happened when all six men squared off in the middle of the ring, leading to a short brawl. But then things went back into the ring and the various pairings resumed, with the crowd really getting vocal when Ibushi and Takeshita were in there together, but that only lasted for a few seconds before they both tagged out.
At one point, they did a comedy spot where Team Callis did a daisy chain of leverage to help Ospreay add some muscle to a submission hold. Referee Aubrey Edwards finally caught on and did the spot where she kicked Ospreay’s arm, forcing him to release his hand, sending the other team members falling off the apron. Later, the faces did the same thing, but Aubrey didn’t kick their arms, and instead, Jericho simply poked Guevara in the eye when the ref dealt with the others.
Then the match disintegrated into chaos with no rules enforced and people just hitting big move after big move with no psychology or story-telling – a mind-numbing parade of high spots that will undoubtedly earn 8 stars from some critics but simply made this one annoyed.
After several minutes of that, the ref was distracted by Ospreay, and this allowed Callis to hit Jericho with a foreign object, and Jericho got pinned.
This was a major fustercluck, simply reinforcing that this company shouldn’t even bother with rules or referees. The outcome makes sense, in order to have the new Team Callis seem like a threat. The downside of that, though, is that we’re likely to see more matches like this in the future.
Winners: Team Callis
Match 9: Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis) vs. FTR (Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood) (c) – for the AEW Tag Team Championship
What a refreshing change of pace after that last mess. This one was much more deliberate, and consequently when they hit big moves later on, they felt even more meaningful.
Early on, Davis and Harwood had a stellar chop exchange that sounded vicious – and in a change of pace from some of the earlier ones tonight, both people actually sold the chops… what a concept.
Aussie Open hit the first big move, reversing simultaneous Ten-Count Punches by picking up both members of FTR and running them into each other – and then doing the same on the floor which gave them even more runway to make the collision more impactful.
Aussie Open trapped Wheeler in their corner for a while, using their tags effectively to get in their double-team moves when they could. They used some classic tag team strategy to block Wheeler from cashing in.
Eventually, Cash was able to break free, hitting Fletcher with a huge Sheik Superplex. But even then, Cash couldn’t get the tag because Aussie Open took Dax out of commission with a blindside attack. Wheeler finally got the hot tag to Dax who was fresh and on fire, taking out both challengers with big shots, including a trio of German Suplexes on Fletcher.
Dax missed a Flying Headbutt attempt and that nearly cost him, as he nearly got pinned after a double-team move by Aussie Open after he crashed hard. Later, Aussie Open hit a Doomsday Device type of move, but Wheeler kicked out. Aussie Open tried for another combination move, but FTR blocked it. This led to some ugly landings as Cash appeared to land with a top rope move hard onto Fletcher’s wrist. And then in the subsequent pinfall breakup, Davis flew off the top rope and landed on Dax and they both fell onto Cash who was covering Fletcher – ouch on all counts.
The action continued with all four men brawling in the ring. Aussie Open hit a Shatter Machine and a Coriolis on Wheeler, but Harwood broke up the pin at the very last second. Aussie Open went for a move on the apron, but FTR turned it around and hit a Spiked Piledriver on Davis on the apron. They then followed that up with a Super Shatter Machine on Fletcher to get the pin and retain the titles.
This was a hard-looking battle with some spots that looked absolutely brutal – in a good way. Aussie Open really got a chance to shine in this one, and they stepped up to deliver. It’s a shame – for many reasons – that the Young Bucks appear to be next in line for a title match. Not the least of which is that it would be great to see these two teams continue to feud.
Winners, and still AEW Tag Team Champions: FTR
Match 10: Christian Cage (c) vs. Darby Allin – 2-out-of-3 Falls Match for the TNT Championship
Christian’s new wrestling gear with the turtleneck is so obnoxious – in the best way possible.
Allin outwrestled Christian early on, prompting a frustrated Christian to spit in his face – but Darby didn’t take the bait and lose his cool, rather he continue his more deliberate wrestling strategy, controlling Christian with a tight Headlock. Christian tried to use his strength and size advantage – but Darby outsmarted the champ. Darby did a go-behind, pulled Christian’s turtleneck over his head, and then rolled up a blinded Christian for the quick pin.
Winner of the first fall: Darby Allin
An angry Christian started the second fall with a cheap shot, smacking Darby in the corner when the ref was trying to separate them. He then smothered Allin, grounding Allin and then taking out his frustrations with nasty stomps to the back, and raking Allin’s face. Christian whiplashed Allin’s back over the top, but missed a top rope follow-up. Allin tried for a number of pinfalls, but Christian was able to withstand the barrage, and bought some time by throwing Allin to the floor and sending him hard into the ringside barriers – taking time out only to taunt Nick Wayne’s mom. She played off like she was into it, but it was a ruse and she threw a drink in his face. Blinded, he didn’t see Darby Allin charge at him until he was hit full force. But when Darby went for a follow-up Coffin Drop in the ring, Christian got his knees up and Darby crashed hard. He crashed harder still when Christian ran him off the apron and sent Darby flying off the apron and onto the announce table. As Darby tried to get up, Christian repositioned the ring steps, and Suplexed Darby onto the step portion. He then hit a Driver off the apron sending Darby’s body slamming into the pointy steps. Dang, dude, this is a work. That looked absolutely brutal, with Darby landing directly on his shoulder on the bottom step. Darby was lifeless on the floor, and hadn’t even moved when the referee reached the count of ten, counting Darby out.
Winner of the second fall: Christian Cage. Match tied at 1 fall apiece.
As the ref and trainer checked on Darby and put him on the stretcher, Christian went to work untying the ring mat and exposing the hard wooden boards underneath the ring padding. He then scaled to the top rope and hit Allin with a Frog Splash off the top and landed onAllin who was on top of the stretcher. Seriously, if you told me that Cage was legitimately trying to kill Darby Allin, I’d believe you.
Allin wasn’t dead, though, and he made his way into the ring. There, Christian dropped him head-first on the board with a Killswitch for the one, two, NO! Allin kicked out!
Christian then locked on a Scorpion Death Lock, mocking Allin by using his mentor Sting’s own finishing move. Allin wouldn’t give up, and he defiantly got to the bottom rope to break the hold. Allin berzerkered back, throwing wild haymakers at Christian, and then hitting Christian with a Scorpion Death Drop on the board. Allin followed that up with a Coffin Drop – but this time Christian kicked out!
Allin climbed up top for another, but Christian shoved him and crotched Allin on the top. Christian then hit a Sunset Flip Powerbomb and Allin crashed hard. Christian went for a Spear, but Allin dodged it, and Christian Speared the ref instead.
Cage hit Allin with a low blow and then grabbed the TNT title, which he held up in Nick Wayne’s mom’s face. Nick ran down and grabbed the belt from Cage, and scrambled into the ring where he stood beside Allin in solidarity against Christian.
But instead of smashing Christian with the title, Nick shockingly hit Darby Allin right in the face with it, knocking Allin out. As Nick Wayne’s mom shockingly questioned her son, Christian crawled over and woke up the referee, then covered an unconscious Allin for the shocking pinfall.
This was great. The match looked absolutely brutal, and maybe even uncomfortably so. Seriously, it’s getting to the point that Darby Allin’s matches are getting scary, seeing the types of bumps he’s taking. Better enjoy them while we can. Cage has found another level to his game, and he’s actually more interesting and compelling now than he may have ever been in WWE or Impact. If nothing else, he’s certainly helping in elevating the TNT title such that it seems more important than it has in a long, long time.
Winner of the third fall, the match, and still TNT Champion: Christian Cage
After the match, Christian embraced Nick and they celebrated. Cage picked up Darby and let Nick Wayne take shots at him with fists and kicks. They continued the beatdown until Sting made his way to the ring. Cage and Wayne tried to attack Sting, but he laid them out. Luchasaurus came to the ring and it became a 3-on-1 beatdown on the icon. As Luchasaurus and Wayne beat up Sting, Cage went to the floor and grabbed a couple of chairs.
Cage was ready to hit Sting with a Conchairto when the lights went out.
A video aired on the big screen, of a muscle car driving up to the arena with a driver dressed in black emerging.
Cut back to the arena.
A woman’s voice said “You think you know him” and Edge’s old WWE theme song started playing.
Enter Edge – Adam Copeland – into AEW to a great ovation and “Holy s***!” chants.
Edge got into the ring and went up to Cage who was holding the chair.
Edge asked him for the chair and Cage handed it over. Edge looked at Sting and it looked like he was going do deliver the killing blow, but instead he whacked Wayne with it. Edge threw the chair at Luchasaurus and then dropped him with a Jurassic-sized Spear. He then Speared Nick Wayne for good measure.
Christian Cage bailed out of the ring and scampered his way up the ramp. The two former friends and partners stared at each other as Sting and Allin arose. Allin extended his hand to Edge, who shook it and nodded. Then Sting extended his hand to Edge, and they shook hands in a show of mutual respect. The show ended with Copeland, Sting, and Darby in the ring while Cage and his goons made their retreat up the ramp.
What can you say? This was simply tremendous. A great debut for Adam Copeland. And the TNT title picture continues to be elevated.
AEW WrestleDream - October 1, 2023
Climate Pledge Arena – Seattle, WA
While the debut of Adam Copeland was a major hit and should give his career a new life a-la Project Genesis, there was a lot of the show that wasn’t good. Too many matches felt random and expendable like everyone should have been wearing red shirts. They could have cut every other match and this show would have been the real McCoy.