The bikini-clad ring girls really isn't the best look for a wrestling promotion in 2019 that is trying to be woke. I suspect Cody's new pal AOC would un-follow him if someone showed this to her.
WINNERS QUALIFY FOR A MATCH AT ALL OUT FOR THE CHANCE TO EARN A BYE IN THE FIRST ROUND OF THE AEW TAG TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT:
Private party vs. Best Friends vs. SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) - 7.5/10
A great "big moves" match that did an excellent job of setting Private party up as fan-favorite underdogs, which seems to me like a darn good route to go for the tag title tournament as a whole.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Meh. A video from the Dark Order aired in which they said they had many targets but have chosen to go after Best Friends first. Then the lights went off and their minions appeared surrounding the ring. Then they went off again and when they came back on the minions were gone. This all took a lot longer than it does for pretty much any other promotion. If something had happened during this segment it wouldn't have been bad, but with nothing actually happening it really made how long it took everyone to get into position stand out.
YOUNG BUCKS BACKSTAGE - Dumb. They complain about not getting the promises that were made to them met. Basically either AEW or Fyter Fest (I'm not sure which) is apparently not as big-budget as we thought. So this makes either Tony Kahn or Alex Jebailey a heel right? For not delivering on the promises he made to the wrestlers and (as the Bucks themselves said) disappointing fans?
Also, apparently they don't have ear and Kenny Omega spent half of the budget on getting them new gear. Also in a "budget cuts" joke, Q.T. Marshall came out and told two of the bikini models to go home and replaced them with mannequins. This is all very stupid. To make things worse, they then gave us a shot of one of the mannequins and one of the models, and the model was first corpsing, then looked bored as sh*t. Very unprofessional.
DUMB SH*T WITH THE LIBRARIANS - Peter Avalon is annoyed at the low budget or something like that so he smashes things. The Librarians (but mostly Leva) cut a promo telling the fans to read books that aren't comics and manga, so they're heels. Then they tell each other to shhhh a bunch. Please explain to me how this isn't stupid cartoony BS but WWE is?
ALLIE vs. LEVA BATES (w/Peter Avalon) - 4.5/10
In a painful WWE trope, they showed us Brandi Rhodes watching the match backstage. While they at least let her look at the screen while standing like a normal person, they did commit the sin of CUTTING AWAY FROM THE MATCH ENTIRELY to show us this. Thankfully they didn't go full NJPW and do it while there was action going on, but it's still cutting away from the match in the middle of a match. Is it really that hard to show us a split-screen (or, even better, have Brandi come out and do commentary like she did on the previous show)?
Much librarian shtick was done, and the crowd responded with many dumb reading-related chants. The story was that Avalon's attempts to help Leva backfired, which moves their story along, but the whole librarians gimmick is stupid because there is no reason for there to be even one librarian (never mind two) and they appear to be too dumb to not realize that the wrestling arena isn't a library. They could easily tell this same story with Leva and Peter without the dumb librarian gimmick, but they've given them this gimmick anyway because they know their fanbase will eat up anything they try to turn into a catchphrase. Or maybe they're geniuses for figuring out that their fans won't get into undercard characters without goofy catchphrases (and I think this dynamic has been playing out in WWE and to a lesser extent ROH as well), but if that's the case then their fanbase aren't wrestling fans so much as fans of kitsch and chanting... and I think the various dumb reading chants during this match is strong evidence of that (why are you chanting for reading when the person telling you to read what she wants you to read and not what you want to read is a heel?).
DUMB KENNY OMEGA SH*T BACKSTAGE - He's getting stuff together for bands that have pulled out. And yet someone still set up a spot for them on the stage. So in kayfabe AEW is a completely uncoordinated rinky-dink promotion and the top star is a goofball.
Alex Jebailey vs. Michael Nakazawa - 3/10
So Jebailey is an incompetent nepotistic goof who is also (if one of the announcers is to be believed) someone who whacks off to mannequins. And if I am remembering last year's show correctly, Nakazawa cut a racist promo... so who is the babyface here?
Nakazawa immediately outsmarted Jebailey into confirming which of his legs had previously bene injured, then jumped the bell on him, so that's negative points for both guys. The match was hardcore spots with with goofball comedy crap. Some of Jebailey's selling (particularly when he was being choked) was downright embarrassing.
CHRISTOPHER DANIELS vs. CIMA - 6.75/10
Daniels worked over CIMA's back but CIMA hit his big stuff and got the win.
NYLA ROSE vs. RIHO vs. YUKA SAKAZAKI - 7.5/10
GREAT storytelling using both the size differential between the competitors (and Nyla's overconfidence because of that) and the triple threat rules to tell a story of a cocky monster and two smaller babyfaces who knew they had to work together to take Nyla out if they were to have any chance of winning, but also that their alliance was only going to be temporary.
ADAM PAGE vs. JIMMY HAVOC vs. MAXWELL JACOB FRIEDMAN vs. JUNGLE BOY (w/Luchasaurus) - 7/10
A solid all-action match with some good storyline stuff going on. Page got the win, but the story the announcers pushed coming out of it was MJF exposing that Page's knee is still injured, contrary to what Page had claimed. I was actually a little surprised with the result here, as I was certain MJF was going to steal Page's pin for the finish.
DARBY ALLIN vs. CODY RHODES (w/Brandi Rhodes) - 6.75/10
Darby brought a body bag to the ring with "Cody 1-1" spray-painted on it. The referee just left it in the corner (and it was taking up a good chunk of the area near the near-right turnbuckle) where someone could easily slip on it. Do your job, referee! The reason the body bag wasn't removed from the ring was so that they could do a spot where Cody first wasted time putting Darby in the body bag before hitting him with a suplex, then waste more time unzipping it and taking Darby out again before going for the pin.
Other than that stupidity and the spot where Cody whipped Darby with his belt (which should clearly be illegal, or else wrestlers should be allowed to just wear brass knuckles as part of their ring gear), they told a good story (Cody worked over Darby's back while Darby worked over Cody's arm) and did a great job of getting Darby over as extremely tough and more than a little bit crazy. Darby did a Coffin Drop off the top rope and landed on the apron, which was terrifying.
I liked the fact that they went to a time-limit draw, as it allowed neither man to take the loss, easily set up for a rematch down the road, and making Cody go through this long, grueling match established just how wiped out Cody was to set up for the...
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Mixed feelings. Shawn Spears came out and hit Cody in the head with a chair, then left. Cody bled a lot, from the side of his head. I can't imagine that he doesn't have a concussion. The execution here was very good, but I'm just having a lot of trouble caring about a feud involving a f*cking jobber who is clearly only in this company because his buddy got him a job and now he gets to have a feud with one of the top guys because that top guy is his buddy... and this all goes doubly so when the top guy buddy involved is the self-indulgent Space Clown. They did their absolute best to make it clear to us that this Shawn Spears is NOT Tye Dillinger... but it's still Tye Dillinger vs. the Space Clown. When left to his own devices, Cody is usually a big miss for me, and I don't have much faith that this feud will be any different (especially because I never saw much in Spears/Dillinger, either).
PENTA EL 0M, REY FENIX, & LAREDO KID vs. THE ELITE (Kenny Omega & the Young Bucks) - 8.5/10
Kenny Omega came out dressed in what the announcers claimed was "Akuma cosplay," but if that's what it was then it was utterly terrible. He wasn't wearing a bald cap and he didn't even have "F.I.S.T." on his tights.
The match was a big long series of impressive spots, but nothing in it was offensively choreographed, so it was more than fine for its spot on the card.
Jon Moxley vs. Joey Janela - 9/10
It was a deathmatch. A scary, sickening, brutal, deathmatch.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. Omega came out and attacked Moxley. People came out to break it up and help Moxley to the back but Moxley beat them up. Omega eventually laid Moxley out with a Paradigm Shift onto a trash can, and we closed the show with a shot of Moxley laying there... and smiling.
Another great show from AEW, though nowhere close to the level of the previous show. Things are progressing along nicely, although I really, truly, could have done without all of the dumb sh*t on the pre-show. Excalibur and JR were both very good on commentary although the guy from the gaming convention stunk. The booking on this show was that sort of predictable that's actually very pleasant because it inspires confidence that these guys know what they're doing.