It’s been a while since I’ve typed about something recent but I’m kinda co-opted by Starrcast which vicariously means I’m co-opted by AEW so get ready for a completely un-biased look at AEW’s second show. Sponsored by CEO Gaming!
I didn’t understand why they wanted to go all-in (hurrr) with referencing the Fyre Festival, an event synonymous with mishandling-of-funds, lies and blowjobs-for-water. I mean, if everyone gets the joke then OK but hopefully we don’t get AEW Woodstock ’99 next year.
Fyter Fest: The Buy In
And we start off with a direct reference to blowjobs-for-water, alright. We don’t get to hear if the audience popped for it or not but I assume everyone did the “oh I get it” chuckle and then looked around for people not chuckling so they could bore them with an explanation.
We’re at the Ocean Centre, Daytona Beach, Florida and our commentators are Logan Sama (who follows me on Twitter), Excalibur (who follows me on Twitter) and Goldenboy (who doesn’t so can go fuck himself). I won’t be doing full play-by-play or this’ll take longer to deal with than PAC’s visa.
Private Party vs. SCU vs. Best Friends
Happy for Private Party to be at this level as this time last year they were making a name for themselves in crappy venues for GCW but already looked way above it. Isaiah starts off against Best Friends and gets knocked down by the sheer mass on display. Mark tags in and shows off his allergy to gravity against Kazarian. SCU are OVER, I don’t think they get enough credit for using the Elite social media juggernaut to keep themselves popular (or in Scorpio’s case, propel himself out of SoCal indies). Kaz shows he’s still fluid despite his boy-hair leaving him by double-teaming the Best Friends. Quen takes out everyone while wearing shades and looking like a King Of Fighters 2002 design. Private Party bust out the Silly String double-team which is easier to GIF then to describe.
Nifty double-teams get exchanged until Best Friends go for the hug which gets rudely interrupted so they’re forced to actually wrestle and deal with SCU before getting it for real and exploding the crowd. Best Friends work over Private Party until some of the crowd starts booing Trent for daring to cut off a tag. Considering all three teams are getting cheers, that’s an accomplishment. SCU get tagged in by default and Kaz launches Cassidy in with the first RKO of the night and Sky follows up with the second. It all breaks loose with Quen tagging in a downed-Kazarian and landing a stunning Shooting Star Press. Remember the Essa Rios moonsault from WWF No Mercy? This was the Essa Rios Shooting Star Press. Moves galore with Private Party refusing to get pinned with whatever is being thrown at them, Quen averting a Super German Suplex by landing on his feet (!), hitting a top rope frankensteiner by leaping off the mat (!!) causing Kazarian to flip off the top and into a stunner from Cassidy (!!!). It gets broken up by Sky but piss off, that should have been the finish. Private Party knock SCU off the apron and onto his neck with a dropkick combo but make the mistake of following it up with a dive to the outside, leaving Cassidy in the ring by himself to take the Strong Zero from Best Friends to end it.
Winners: Best Friends (Move-filled match featuring three very-over teams, something WWE would struggle to put on a show right now so appropriate for an opener. And also featuring three teams WWE wouldn’t touch for being either too young, too old or just plain weird. Private Party continue to impress and should have won, dammit.)
The team formerly known as Super Smash Bros. show up on the screen to be evil and threaten Best Friends. They’re known as The Dark Order, which was an improvement over their name at Double Or Nothing, “Oh It’s Them.” The minions then appear at ringside, do nothing then disappear. Oh.
The Bucks complain about how much money they’re losing and how badly it’s going. “This is just like the documentary!” they exclaim before we get more references and people yelling “the documentary!” before half the models by the entrance way get replaced by shop window models for budget reasons. The crowd is laughing so that’s good and I’m not expecting Young Frankenstein from my wrestling comedy but when you’re having to yell out the thing you’re homaging to make sure people get it….anyway The Librarian Leva Bates enters but the Librarian Peter Avalon is also here and they nearly get into it before he dumps a tent into a pool and decapitates a model. Leva then turns on the crowd by encouraging us to read and also games are bad.
Logan: Do they even have a library here in Daytona Beach?
Excalibur: It’s at the 711.
Allie vs. Leva Bates
Allie was a highlight of the Impact Knockouts Division until they forgot she was employed. Leva focuses on strikes until Allie lands a crossbody and tries for a pin and the camera cuts to a crowd shot for some reason. Avalon trips up Leva so she can regain the advantage as the crowd chants for HOOKED ON PHONICS. Apart from that, The Librarian is doing a good job keeping the crowd quiet when she’s on offence so at least she’s sticking to her gimmick. Allie takes over and gets a near-fall after a sliding elbow. Leva recovers to get a pedigree (with the camera missing the impact), Avalon throws a book into the ring, Allie gets it, throws it to Leva and then kicks her for the win.
Winner: Allie (I guess the idea is for Leva to tell the crowd to SHHH and they rebel because WRESTLING HAS MORE THAN ONE LIBRARY but here they chanted for “Reading Rainbow” and looked at their phones.)
Even more Fyre Festival jokes with Omega trying to get the music sorted out but Blink 182 have pulled out. At least they’re making it easy for the WWE fans to start watching by having backstage segments with no punch-line. Alright look, that sounds negative and I enjoy The Elite’s wrestling and business sense but I’m not watching for their comedy. Someone smart once said “good comedy is when a man wears a silly hat but doesn’t realise it’s silly.” Being The Elite is ten minutes of Kenny Omega telling The Young Bucks to look at his silly hat.
Michael Nakazawa vs. Alex CEO Bailey
Alex is the guy who runs CEO Gaming so the joke is he’s not a wrestler. Nakazawa’s gimmick is saying his name but I’m old enough to remember his arse-based offence so maybe this is a step-up. Anyway, this is a rematch of the CEO x NJPW event last year which went as well as could be expected.
MVC3 megastar Justin Wong (wait wait what) hands Bailey a CEO branded arcade stick as the FGC and wrestling worlds collide. “Hopefully a Smash Bros. player hasn’t brought a CRT TV with him.” They brawl in the pool and battle with inflatable flamingos. Naka chokes Bailey with a controller wire, complete with WOMBO COMBO shout-out and a gore off the apron and through a table. Bailey somehow manages a German Suplex followed by a bag of ARCADE BUTTONS being dumped like thumbtacks. Nakazawa gets backdropped into them, the ref takes the thong-to-the-face and Bailey finishes with LA MAGISTRAL of all things…oh no wait, Michael counters to pin.
Winner: Nakakakakakakakazawa (This was bad comedy but in it’s defence, the target audience was in the arena watching it live so at least they were playing to them. Christ knows what people at home who didn’t care in the slightest for FGC thought about it but I’m sure the sight of a guy that literally paid his way in the storylines and in real life to be on the show was warmly received.)
Fyter Fest For Real
Christopher Daniels vs. Cima
Jesus Christ, these two were going at in Michinoku Pro twenty years ago. Oh Excalibur says the same thing on commentary, great everybody’s going to think I stole that from him. A gentle reminder Cima is 41 and Daniels is 49 but that you wouldn’t know it watching the opening segment exchange. Daniels gets locked in a Rings Of Saturn-type move but makes the ropes with J.R. explaining why that means he has to release the hold in a nice touch. They start launching slingshot moonsaults and Iconoclasms with ease as I give up typing play-by-play. Finishers get traded and kicked out with Cima’s schwein setting up the Meteora to end it.
Winner: Cima (Perfectly decent match from two dudes who should be at home mowing the lawn. Cima winning makes sense as he’s getting Omega at Fight For The Fallen in a few weeks, plus Daniels will probably be doing this until he’s 70.)
Yuka Sakazaki vs. Riho vs. Nyla Rose
They’ve changed Yuka’s music and AYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYA hate it so here’s the original.
Riho and Yuka team up against the monster Nyla for the Joshi’s Story of the match. Nyla blocks and counters everything and appears to be dressed as Orchid from Killer Instinct so you know she’s the star. Eventually Yuka gets the shaky dive to the outside, leading to Yuka vs. Riho for a while as Nyla licks her wounds. Sadly it’s nowhere near as good as watching Rose do her thing and soon she returns to catch Yuka mid-sliding elbow to slam her in a cool visual and follows THAT with a draping knee off the top rope to Riho. That doesn’t end it as a swanton off the top misses, with duelling crossbodies resulting in a near-fall on Nyla. More pin-fall attempts as I wonder if there’s any chance of Nyla NOT winning and then Riho somehow gets a roll-up to end it, what the fuck.
Winner: Riho (The match was nearly a Nyla Rose highlight reel but still couldn’t win despite cosplaying as a fighting game character at a fighting game event. Hopefully AEW starts doing promo packages so we can figure out who some of these women are, in the mean-time I’ll judge them on their skill and entrance music as nature intended.)
Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Jungle Boy vs. Adam Page vs. Jimmy Havoc
MJF continues to dominate the Cheapest Heat League and I love him for it, managing to get begrudging respect from the front row despite insulting them directly. Jungle Boy enters via Luchasaurus and like Private Party, I’m happy to see him go from GCW to here as he’s young but willing to destroy his body. Adam Page’s pop doesn’t match his pyro-filled entrance JUST SAYING. Must be a lot of Jimmy Havoc fans in Daytona. Winner gets Kip Sabian at the next show so I’m getting the feeling Page isn’t winning seeing as he has Jericho to deal with later on. Excalibur fills in the gaps and assumes if someone pins him, they’d get the first shot if he wins the title. Page starts with Jungle Boy, looking like a time-traveller fighting his younger self. Everyone dives to the outside resulting in Jungle Boy deciding to spike himself for the good of the show.
Jimmy Havoc lands the Shoryuken before we get a Tower Of Doom, contractually obligated in multi-men matches by order of the Gods of Wrestling (WALTER & R-Truth). Luchasaurus helps Boy not land on the floor so Jimmy uses the initiative and uses Boy to take out Lucha. Jimmy’s middle finger gets the pop of the match but it isn’t enough to prevent him from taking the Right Of Passage to give Page the win.
Winner: Adam Page (Well shows what I know. Big, fun four-way with all four men getting a chance to showcase their characters which this company will need more of in the long-run. Page is alright but he keeps on getting put into matches with people more interesting than him.)
Cody Rhodes vs. Darby Allin
Cody had the most memorable matches at All In & Double or Nothing so it’ll be interesting to see how Big Match Cod fares with an AEW newbie. And I still love “THIS IS CODY with brandi RHODES” entrance to get around the copyright issue. Crowd politely reacts for Darby but they’ve not done much to explain who or what he is and seem to be relying on EVOLVE and WNN fans to tell others. It also doesn’t help the guy’s got a “brooding hardcore guy” gimmick when Jimmy Havoc and Jon Moxley are also on the show. To be fair, he shows his athleticism and makeup early on and commentators put over the “he’s bleeding mental” aspect if the jorts/leggings combo didn’t clue the crowd in.
Cody has enough politely wrestling Darby and yeets him outside while he does press ups in the ring. Cody then Alpha Males the hell out the match with Darby not getting much and making you wonder if they hired him because his surname looks like “All In.” Cody has Darby in a submission hold for so long the crowd starts chanting for CODY. It’s fun watching Cody get to be a big dog, reminding me of the Ibushi feud in NJPW. Eventually he counters a suplex by grabbing Cody’s hurt hand and lands a springboard tornado out of a kickout. Darby starts launching his body out the ring until Cody remembers he’s hench and dumps him on the steps and follows with his own damn dive. Cody ignores Darby’s Yoshi Tonic and delivers a Reverse Superplex for two. Darby bites away and gives us THIS bit of fuckery.
J.R. wonders if Darby Allin is sane enough for wrestling. You’re right Jim, not a lot of crazy people in this sport. Cody follows that by dumping him in a bodybag and landing the Disaster Kick. However there was a delay in Allin falling over so it got unintended laughter. Allin instantly recovers with one minute left so Cody whips him with his belt. Cody just about manages to hit Cross Rhodes but can’t get the pin-fall before the time limit expires.
Winner: No-one (Going into the match, Darby was just a goth dude but now he’s got “went twenty minutes with one of the biggest stars” for the new audience to appreciate which is the type of thing the big stars should be doing now and I’m sure everyone will be talking about this accomplishment for-
NEVER MIND THAT SHIT, HERE COMES SHAWN SPEARS.
Shawn gets chased off by SCU and MJF (wait why’s he there EDIT: oh he’s Cody’s friend) as Cody bleeds heavily from the back of his head.
Commentators go mega-serious and you’ve got to wonder why they chose Chairshots That People Associate With CTE And Benoit as a hill to die on, and this was the main thing that showed up on twitter the day after the show.
Update: So apparently it was supposed to be a gimmicked chair that wouldn’t kill Cody, however the edge caught him in the back of the head and gave him stitches. But no concussion according to AEW.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) June 30, 2019
Thanks for coming Darby!
Young Bucks & Kenny Omega vs. Lucha Bros & Laredo Kid
Young Bucks are dressed as Ryu & Ken then some fan shows up to interrupt so we get the Akuma Raging Demon entrance for Omega to really turn the non-nerds into Jim Cornette.
Jason Roberts gives it the “Round 1! Fight!” to ham it up and the only thing missing is MJF running in to yell “Street Fighter V was the best Street Fighter!”
Anyway this is a combination of Omega vs. Pentagon from All In and Young Bucks vs. Lucha Bros from Double Or Nothing so naturally it’s a giant spotfest so forget typing all that up. WATCH AAA FUCKERS (or read this ). Laredo Kid gets knocked out the air by Omega, leading to Ross make a reference to happy endings, “his favourite Chinese dish.” Pentagon milks the CERO MIEDO bit for all it’s worth.
The Elite are obviously worshipped at a sweaty nerd wrestling show but Laredo & Bros. get an equal amount of offence in. Also if you don’t know who they are you, all you need to do is look at Pentagon Jr. and realise he’s special. Not special enough to succumb to a Hadouken trio from The Elite. Liger Bombs, 450 Splashes and big-arse cutters are all here, including one from Fenix where he clearly didn’t know it was coming. And then (let’s see if I can get this) Fenix counters a rope-walk assisted moonsault to the outside into a Spanish Fly onto Pentagon & Nick Jackson. This leaves Omega alone with Laredo who kicks out of a Tiger Driver ’98 but not a One Winged Angel.
Winners: The Elite (The Elite Six-Man Special, perfected by years of wrestling the likes of Kevin Steen, El Generico & Max Landis in PWG. Delivered what it advertised and I wonder if AEW will be the ones to sign The Lucha Bros. and whoever else feels like joining them come TV time.)
Jon Moxley vs. Joey Janela
Moxley’s obviously the mega star here (it helps Roberts gives him the JAHHHHHHHHN intro he used to give Cena) but bloody hell at the rise and rise and rise of Janela. In the Age of The YouTuber, Janela has taken a video of himself falling off a roof and spun it into gold. There’s hope for Super Humman yet.
The Thinking Man’s Joey Ryan dives onto Moxley to start and we’re crowd brawling already. Back in, Moxley delivers the Necro Butcher chairslam and is probably smiling inside that he gets to wrestle this style again. Janela misses a dive and flattens a set-up chair, allowing Mox to grab a barbed-wire chair (which already has bloody bandages from when he prepared it) and ends up getting stuck in it himself. Mox flungs himself & Janela off the apron through a table with a Russian Leg Sweep and continues by spearing Joey through a table in the corner. Then we get the funniest moment of the night as Moxley curses as Janela flips him off causing Jim Ross to apologise. There’s barbed wire, blood and tables but god forbid someone say “fuck”. Moxley sets up a load of tables and a barbed wire board and because he set them up, he goes through them, grimacing the whole time but probably thinking “this is what WM32 was supposed to be!” Janela sets up a ladder and flies off with an elbow drop to the outside, putting Mox through a sturdy-looking table. Double J sets up a barbed-wire board across the barricade but he takes so long making sure fans aren’t hurt that Mox delivers The Paradigm Shift and Rybacks him through the wire. Mox grabs a bag of thumbtacks, removes Janela’s boots and drops the poor cunt right in them.
I spared you a GIF in case you’re not into that. Janela still doesn’t give up and demands more so Mox plows him into the tacks again with another Paradigm Shift to end it.
Winner: Jon Moxley (Your mileage will vary for sure but I approve of deathmatches done right and at least they made it clear this was not an approved match. AEW is self-indulgent to a certain degree and I like that for the Young Bucks that means dressing up as video game characters but for Mox it means putting his arse through barbed wire. Janela and his deep-fried bod was able to hang in with a previous WWE Champion which is a hell of a journey for the Bad Boy.)
Post-match Omega flies down the ramp to deliver a V-Trigger and piledrives Mox through the remains of a table. Omega gets his revenge for Double Or Nothing by attacking Moxley with a guitar and leaves him laying with a Paradigm Shift. One of the last things we see is the cameraman falling over and Moxley laughing at him so let’s pretend the show ended like that.
Overall: Given that All In and Double Or Nothing delivered, the big question going into this was “can AEW do smaller shows?” in preparation for their upcoming TV deal. The answer’s a mixed one. This show they have the excuse that it was a co-promoted FGC event which explains the Fyre Festival gimmick and the CEO Bailey match, neither of which screamed “WWE alternative.” Going ahead, match quality isn’t anything they need to worry about and they have ready-made stars at the top but with two big shows until the TV deal (Fight For The Fallen and All Out) they need to get their promo packages and social media sorted out to fill out the rest of the card. You can’t throw the Joshi or OWE or Brits out there every time and expect the commentators to fill in all the gaps, they’ll tell you who they are but AEW need to tell us why we should care, otherwise guys like Page are going to be more fucked that Shawn’s chairshot.
But I’m possibly overanalysing (at 3,500 words, no shit) and the important thing is I got my £8’s worth which was more than what I got when I watched Anthony Joshua defend his titles so well done.
What did you Windjammers think?