MJF had a hell of a bad night on Saturday. Not only did his AEW World Championship reign come to an end at the hands of Samoa Joe. But so too did his best-friendship with Adam Cole, who, at the conclusion of the Worlds End pay-per-view event, revealed himself as the Devil who had been making MJF’s life a living hell over the past few months.

The unmasking came after MJF’s title match with Samoa Joe, which saw MJF try to compete despite his arm injury caused by the attack by Joe and the Devil’s henchmen on Wednesday night. Before that, MJF had no idea that Cole was going to betray him – he’d actually invited Cole to be at ringside for the match, waving him down to the ring as a surprise after MJF’s introduction had finished.

Despite his shoulder being taped, MJF started off hot to the delight of his hometown crowd. But he got shut down pretty quickly, when he went for a charging attack in the corner, and Joe just picked him up and dropped him with a hard Uranage. Joe then targeted MJF’s injured shoulder, clamping on holds and hitting it with strikes.

MJF floated over from a Muscle Buster attempt, which likely saved his title, and then went for some quick rollups to try to surprise Joe, but it was to no avail. He tried for the Kangaroo Kick, but Joe blocked it and sent MJF to the floor where Joe hit him with a big Flying Tackle from the ring.

Joe continued to beat up MJF, hitting several big moves including a Death Valley Driver and a series of Suplexes, but MJF mustered up the strength to kick out of each pin – though each time, he seemed to be in more pain and lose more and more energy.

Joe, looking to end things, hit MJF with a Muscle Buster on the apron which looked absolutely gross, but MJF kicked out one more time. Joe went for another one in the ring, but MJF fought it off and used some hit and move tactics to stun Joe and land some head shots to daze the challenger.

MJF then hit a Stomp onto Joe’s arm that weakened Joe and had Joe trying to leave the ring. But MJF caught him and hit a Heat Seeker for two. MJF tried to lock on Salt of the Earth, but his injured arm didn’t afford him the necessary leverage, and Joe reversed it into an Armbar, forcing MJF to fight his way to the ropes to cause the break.

Joe clamped on a head squeeze, looking to transition it into a Kokina Klutch, but before he could drop down, MJF ran him into the corner, but causing the referee to get squashed – the look on MJF’s face suggested that may have been a deliberate tactic.

Because with the ref down, it allowed MJF to stop Joe – who was climbing up to the top – with a low blow and then carry Joe into the centre of the ring and hit an F-5 type move. MJF made the cover, but the ref was still out and by the time he woke up and made the count, Joe was able to recover and kick out at two.

MJF asked Cole to give him the Dynamite Diamond Ring, and as he waited, Joe came up from behind and locked on the Kokina Klutch. As Cole cheered him on, MJF tried to fight for survival. The referee raised his arm once and it fell down; twice and it fell down; thrice… and it fell down one more time. Even the referee seemed stunned by this and it took him a second to realize that MJF was truly down and out before he signalled for the bell to ring.

After the match, the crowd vocally criticized the outcome and the new champion, who simply left and headed to the back.

In the ring, Adam Cole tried to console MJF, and as they talked, the Devil’s henchmen came out and circled the ring.

They rushed the ring and attacked Cole and MJF, swarming them and forcing them to their knees. One henchman threatened them with a chair, and both Cole and MJF screamed at him to hit them and spare their best friend.

As he was about to swing the chair onto Cole’s head, the lights went out. When they came back on, Adam Cole was seated in the chair looking down at MJF while the henchmen stood behind Cole. They unmasked to reveal themselves as Roderick Strong, Matt Taven, Mike Bennett, and Wardlow.

MJF looked on in disbelief, and then got up to confront Cole. But before he could, he got blasted by a Flying Knee by Roddy and the henchmen swarmed him. Wardlow Powerbombed MJF and Adam Cole reached into his  jacket and pulled out the Devil mask, which he threw down on the prone body of MJF. Cole and his cohorts stared down at MJF as the show came to a close.

While the Devil reveal wasn’t necessarily the most surprising or earth-shattering outcome – and, indeed, some may argue that it doesn’t necessarily make sense from a booking perspective – the match itself was great and these two told a very strong story. Even the finish, which didn’t end with the usual high-spot and exciting climax, was perfectly in-line with what they had built towards throughout the match.

It was a high moment on a card that was a very mixed bag – with one other tremendous match, and others that were “mid” as the former champ would say, to bad.


Zero Hour Match 1: Kris Statlander vs. Willow Nightingale

It was noted that both women are from Long Island. Kris Statlander whipped her jacket into Stokely Hathway’s face before the match – he had joined the commentary team of Excalibur, Taz, and Nigel McGuinness. She was apparently upset that, as an ROH Board member, he was instrumental in making these two friends and tag team partners compete against each other – seemingly in an attempt to recruit Statlander into his faction.

They started off with technical wrestling, and things picked up as the match went on, with Statlander using her strength to counter Willow’s size advantage – including hitting a big Body Slam at one point and a Shiek Suplex later on. Willow hit some big shots of her own, splashing Statlander a few times, and hitting some other power moves. They had a lengthy Vertical Suplex exchange at one point. Statlander hit a nice Electric Chair Facebuster, but Willow recovered and hit a Pounce and a Death Valley Driver for a very close fall.

Willow thwarted a top rope move attempt and POwerbombed Statlander onto the apron before hitting a Missile Dropkick – for yet another two count. Later, there was some horrible sloppiness, including Willow unable to pick up Statlander for a Doctor Bomb and putting her down on her head (luckily, it was kind of controlled). Later, she did hit a Doctor Bomb for the pin.

This was too long and sloppy, with the last couple of minutes being bowling shoe ugly as Jim Ross would say. The face vs. face dynamic didn’t really help kick the show off with a major bang. This could be a long night.

Winner: Willow Nightingale

Match Rating: 6/10

A video aired hyping the pending return of Serena Deeb. The juxtaposition of her after watching that last debacle of a match is immense.

A video aired outlining the drama between Miro and CJ.

Zero Hour Match 2: 20-man Battle Royal

The winner of this one will get a contract for a TNT Championship match anytime they want.

This was the match to get a bunch of low- and mid-carders on the show. Everyone started off on the floor for some reason, and they all brawled there before the bell, with a bunch of the jobbers burying Lance Archer and Killswitch (the former Luchasaurus) under tables – which is stupid because they can’t be eliminated until they get into the ring – so it gives them a chance to recover while everyone else tires themselves out by fighting or possibly getting eliminated, and I spent more time writing this sentence than any of the bookers or participants did in trying to make this match worthwhile. Nothing of importance or interest happened, even ironically or unintentionally.

Killswitch won, which is possibly the only interesting outcome, since he will now get to face the winner of the match between his “father” Christian Cage or Cage’s enemy Adam Copeland, the guy who put Killswitch out with the Con-Chair-To some weeks ago.

Winner: Killswitch

Match Rating: 5/10

A video aired hyping the Women’s Championship match tonight between Riho and champion Toni Storm.

Zero Hour Match 3: Hook (c) vs. Wheeler Yuta – FTW Rules match for the FTW Championship

Yuta cut a promo in the ring before the match, insulting the Long Island crowd, their sports teams, and he dropped the first cuss word of the night. He got cut off with the sound of the Islanders horn before Hook came to the ring.

Hook beat the tar out of Yuta early on both inside and around the ring. A desperate Yuta grabbed a trash can lid from under the ring and walloped Hook in the head, reversing the tide of the match. Yuta bashed Hook’s head on the announce desk and then used a metal stop sign to continue the punishment. Yuta used a combination of technical wrestling and weapons to weaken Hook. But Hook had no quit in him, and he kept fighting back – though an attempt at Redrum saw him get dropped hard through a metal trash can.

Yuta got a 2-by-4 but Hook pulled out a hockey stick to counter it and Hook got the better end of the deal, smashing it over Yuta’s back, and then using it to add another level of punishment to Redrum. Unable to escape the stick-assisted move, Yuta had no choice but to tap out.

This was pretty decent and the only highlight of the Zero Hour pre-show.

Winner and still FTW Champion: Hook

Match Rating: 7/10


Match 1: Brody King, Jay Lethal, RUSH, and “Switchblade” Jay White (w/ Jose) vs. Claudio Castagnoli, Mark Briscoe, Daniel Garcia, and Bryan Danielson

This match featured a bunch of the losers in the Continental Classic Tournament. Speaking of losers, Matt Menard joined the commentary team for this one. On commentary, Nigel was very anti-Danielson in this one, so that seems to be leading towards the two of them facing each other at the next Wembley show.

They did a bunch of pairing offs early on, with the crowd really popping when Danielson and White faced off – in a lengthy segment that was very good. Until Garcia – whose entrance was cut off by Danielson – blind-tagged himself in just when it looked like Bryan was going to win the match for his team. But Garcia wasn’t able to keep things up for his team – instead, he just took a beating from the other team, who only paused from that when Brody King and Matt Menard started exchanging hostile words that looked like it might come close to getting physical.

When Garcia finally escaped and tagged out, the pace really quickened and the action got faster and more furious, ultimately building to a showdown between Claudio and King, the two teams’ respective big men, that saw Claudio put the Giant Swing on King. Then came a parade of finishing moves that ended when Garcia dodged the Lethal Injection and rolled up Jay Lethal for the surprise pin.

After the match, Brody King blind-sided Matt Menard at commentary.

This was a fun opener that gave everyone a chance to shine. Not sure why Garcia is getting a push when guys like Lethal and Briscoe are on the roster, but Tony Khan’s gonna Tony Khan.

Winners: Claudio Castagnoli, Mark Briscoe, Daniel Garcia, and Bryan Danielson

Match Rating: 7/10

Match 2: Miro vs. Andrade El Idolo (w/ CJ Perry)

Miro attacked Andrade from behind before the bell, and beat him up for a while, including hitting a nice Overhead Throw that sent Andrade flying halfway across the ring. Miro and CJ yelled at each other as she tried to motivate her client to come back. Andrade obliged by shoving Miro hard and sending him tumbling over the announce table and then driving him into the ring steps. Miro powered up, though, and hit a Superplex, but he also felt the impact and couldn’t capitalize. They slugged it out in the middle of the ring, and then Andrade clipped Miro’s knee, forcing the big man to scramble to the floor where Adrade hit him with a Moonsault off the top.

Miro fired up, though, and hit a big Superkick that flattened Andrade. Miro locked on Game Over, but Andrade kept getting an arm loose and he was able to grab the rope to force the break. Andrade went back to the knee and then hit a Spinning Back Elbow to get a 2.999 count, and then tried to end things with a Figure-Four Leglock. He bridged up to convert it into a Figure-Eight, but CJ slipped under the rope and swiped Andrade’s arms from underneath him and he collapsed, breaking the hold. Betrayal!

Andrade turned to question her and ate a Superkick from Miro for two. But though he escaped the pin, he couldn’t escape another Game Over, and Andrade tapped out.

The booking of Miro and CJ continues to get messier and sillier. If rumours are true and Andrade is heading back to WWE soon, well, it’s not like he’s done anything here that will make people miss him. That all said, the match was fine.

Winner: Miro

Match Rating: 7/10

Match 3: Toni Storm (c) (w/ Luther) vs. Riho – for the Women’s World Championship

Tony Schiavone replaced Nigel on commentary for this one. The story of this one was the larger Storm sometimes taking her smaller challenger too lightly. At one point, it became easy to do, when Riho tried to dive-bomb Luther off the apron; Luther simply caught Riho and handed her over to Toni who slammed Riho on the floor. That gave Toni the advantage and she used a series of power moves to ground Riho.

The crowd was getting behind Toni here as she continued the onslaught, alternating between beating up Riho and posing for the crowd. Toni finally found a use for Luther in the company, using him as a vehicle to help her flip Riho off the apron and hard to the floor. Toni continued to punish Riho’s back with a Texas Cloverleaf, but Riho would not quit. Luther tried to interfere, but Rick Knox finally did something right and sent Luther to the back. This turn of events flustered Toni and allowed Riho to come back, hitting her in the face with a 619 and following up with a High Cross Body and a Body Slam for a 2-count.

Riho avoided a Hip Attack but couldn’t avoid a Piledriver – but was still able to kick out before the ref’s hand hit three. She nearly pinned Toni with a nifty roll-up, but Storm grabbed the bottom rope to stop the count. Riho went up top, but Storm whipped her down and Riho crashed hard to the mat. Not sure if Riho was actually knocked loopy from the landing or if it was just a botch, but it looked like Toni was supposed to float Riho over into a Facebuster or something, but the two collapsed in a heap with Storm seeming to land right on Riho’s head. Whatever that was supposed to be (the commentators said it was a DDT… it wasn’t), it was enough for Toni to get the pin.

After the match, Mariah May came to the ring with a bucket full of rose petals, which she showered the champion with while prancing about in celebration.

This wasn’t a bad match, though the ending definitely marred it overall. Still the right outcome – Toni is still the most entertaining part of the women’s division – may as well squeeze as much juice out of it as possible.

Winner, and still Women’s Champion: Toni Storm

Match Rating: 6/10

The commentators acknowledged the passing of Killer Khan and “Mad Kurt” Chapman.

For part two of this report click on the link below: