KELLER INTERVIEWS ROB VAN DAM FOR FIRST TIME...
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Kenny Omega – MISS: In 2018, Omega became a legend in the wrestling business. Earning himself the nickname of “Best Bout Machine”. Omega’s work in Japan opened the eyes of wrestling fans to what a legitimate wrestling star could be outside of WWE. One might assume that AEW would have ran with Omega out of the gate and presented him as their sole mega star and face of the company. Instead, they have elected to do a slow build with Omega by having him go on a singles match losing streak before climbing back to the top. This is a questionable move on the part of AEW as we presume that a lot of lapsed or new fans will be checking into the product. While longtime fans of Omega will know where he has been and what he’s done, newer fans may wonder why he is such a big deal if he is consistently losing. If this story continues Omega may take another big loss at Full Gear when he finally get his match against Jon Moxley.
The Young Bucks – HIT: Matt and Nick Jackson continue to do what they do best. They are themselves and they have great matches. The creators of the YouTube series, Being The Elite, have had critically acclaimed matches on every AEW show thus far proving that they are one of if not the greatest tag-team in the world. The Bucks will take part in the forthcoming tag-team tournament that will begin on AEW television. At this point, it is difficult to imagine another team being the first champions other than The Bucks. Their presentation has been consistent with what fans have come to expect which are likeable babyfaces, but there has been a few moments where they have acted heelish. This plays into what AEW officials have said about their presentation which is that depending on the feud, fans may be guided to root against someone they typically cheer for.
Cody – HIT: If someone new to wrestling turns on AEW, it’s not inconceivable that they would view Cody as the company’s biggest star. Cody has taken all the right steps in getting rid of any of the stench that was left from his days as Stardust in WWE. He has an advanced level of understanding what it means to be a star in the wrestling business in an age where workrate is king. When reviewing the past two major AEW shows, most people have pointed to Cody’s matches as a highlight on the shows. He masterfully told a logical story where he faced his brother, Dustin Rhodes. At All Out, Cody wrestled Shawn Spears and elevated Spears beyond his one-note “10” gimmick in WWE. Beyond the ring, Cody has been the flag bearer for the wrestling revolution. After every major show, he has rallied up the fans to follow them and they will be rewarded with a great product. Cody is yet to lose a singles match which has led him to an AEW title match against Chris Jericho at Full Gear.
Hangman Page – MISS: Page has been touted as a “blue chip prospect” for some time. After his performance in New Japan’s G1 Climax tournament in 2018, many thought he could be on the brink of breaking out as a star. While all of the potential remains, AEW hasn’t been able to elevate him to the top tier of the roster. Page’s first AEW bout was cancelled shortly before Double or Nothing due to his opponent, PAC, having creative differences with the company. Page was thrown into the pre-show battle royal with the stipulation of the winner challenging for the AEW Championship. Although the fans were behind Page when he won, many saw winning a battle royal as a fluke way to challenge for a title instead of earning victories. Page went on to be in a 4-way match against MJF, Jimmy Havoc, and Jungle Boy at Fyter Fest. Again, Page was relegated to a mid-card match instead of a featured bout. Page took home the win then went into Fight For the Fallen against undercard talent, Kip Sabian. Sabian and Page had a nearly 20 minute match that featured plenty of Sabian on offense. After the match, Jericho attacked Page from behind then went to make his case for winning the title while Page wasn’t given a chance to speak. Leading into All Out, Page lacked any sort of credibility against main event talent by not being placed in featured matches or given an opportunity to speak in front of a live audience. AEW will have plenty of time to rehab Page and give him more time to connect with the audience this coming Fall despite the rocky start.
Chris Jericho – HIT: With the internet humor phenomenon and best selling t-shirt based around the phrase, “A little bit of the bubbly.” I think it’s safe to say that at his advanced age, Jericho can get over just about anything. From AEW’s inception, Jericho has been treated as a major acquisition. He was rightfully booked for the company’s first ever main event against Kenny Omega dubbed Alpha vs. Omega 2. From there, he established his new finishing maneuver, The Judas Effect, with a win over Omega forcing himself into the first AEW Championship match. Jericho went on to get over a number of catchphrases and cut critically acclaimed promos before defeating Hangman Page to become the first AEW Champion. Looking forward to Full Gear, Jericho is set to face one of AEW’s biggest stars, Cody. He also has a wealth of baby face challengers if he is to hang onto the title.
Jon Moxley – HIT: Moxley’s surprise debut during the conclusion of Double or Nothing was a moment that wrestling fans will not forget anytime soon. Since departing from WWE, Moxley has been presented as a huge star. He’s taken control of his character ridding himself of all the goofiness that consumed the Dean Ambrose character. On the mic, Moxley has proven himself as an elite promo. Thus far, Moxley has only had one match in AEW which was a victory over Joey Janela at Fyter Fest. He was scheduled for a match with Kenny Omega at All Out, but the match was cancelled due to Moxley contracting a staph infection which required surgery on his elbow. The match has since been rescheduled for this November in Baltimore at Full Gear.
MJF – HIT: Maxwell Jacob Freidman has been a revelation since joining AEW. MJF first got mainstream attention when he was added to the card for All In after being a relative unknown in MLW. He’s unique because he is always acting as his heel character in and out of the ring and on social media. At the first Starrcast event, MJF gained attention by throwing insults at anyone “within an earshot”. Following All In, he joined the cast of Being The Elite and started a storyline where he became Cody’s best friend. Unbenounced to Cody, MJF remained his typical heel self to everyone else. In AEW, MJF was one of the final competitors against Hangman Page in the battle royal at Double or Nothing. He’s continued to tease the heel turn on Cody most recently at All Out. AEW sees MJF as a future star who already receives a tremendous amount of deserved heel heat.