PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.
(Search "wade keller" to subscribe in podcast app or CLICK HERE to subscribe in Apple Podcasts.)
The Young Bucks & Dustin Rhodes vs. Sammy Guevara & Santana & Ortiz – HIT: Fun opener with some memorable sequences. The finish of the match with the double Meltzer Driver was a memorable visual as well as the double superkick to Sammy Guevara flipping off the top rope. A much needed win for The Young Bucks. Despite being a 6-man tag match, hopefully this puts The Bucks back on the right track after being damaged from numerous loses and beatdowns. They don’t come off as the mega stars like they once did before Dynamite began. Dustin Rhodes is having a career renaissance. He’s in the best shape he’s ever been and appears to be enjoying himself every time he’s in the ring.
Trent vs. Fenix – HIT: There’s more potential in Fenix as a future singles star than Trent at this point. Fenix has been featured exclusively as a tag team wrestler up to the past couple of weeks. He and Pentagon could both be significant players in the singles division adding more depth. AEW clearly believes they have something in Trent, but it feels like he is lacking an “it” factor. He’s risen to the occasion when given the opportunity, including this match with Fenix. They’re not strapping the rocket to him, but perhaps they’re flagging him as someone to pay attention to down the road as he progresses.
Cody Promo – HIT: Cody finally addressed MJF with Schiavone in the ring without being interrupted. He continues to be the charismatic leader that fans believe in. At times, Cody gets a little “too cute” when talking about things like his entrance, but it doesn’t matter to the fans because he’s built-up so much good will. Instead of coming off like an arrogant jerk, showing off his shoes, watch, and premium vehicle plays into his success as a wrestler and his mantra, do the work.
Nyla Rose vs. Leva Bates – MISS: The pre-match clip of Nyla Rose beating down Shanna looked contrived seeing arena security in the background smiling with his hands together as someone is being attacked. Several other people were just patiently watching instead of showing any sense of concern. The crowd was mostly flat for this quick squash. I think Nyla still has potential, but she needs to improve in the ring. She can play the role of a crazy destructive monster. The Librarian gimmick continues to reek of go-away heat. Since the inception of AEW, they’ve been parody wrestlers who stand-out negatively.
Chris Jericho Promo – HIT: Chris Jericho continues to pull out past references including “the list.” Jericho was quick to shut down the crowd after they reacted positively. I liked the idea that Jericho is obligated to have one more match before the end of the year. It creates another good opportunity for a young talent to gain something by facing the champion without giving away a big money match. Jungle Boy is another young wrestler like Darby Allin who can benefit just by sharing ring time and looking credible.
Kris Statlander vs. Hikaru Shida – HIT: Its difficult to understand the direction of the women’s division with the 50/50 booking. I understand they want Kris Statlander to look good in her debut, but I don’t have a sense of where Hikaru Shida stands in the division. Some weeks it looks like she’s becoming a challenger for the title only to have the rug pulled out from under her the next. While being a relative unknown, Statlander got over with the crowd and put on a good match with Shida.
Brandi and Awesome Kong – MISS: I’m not sold on Brandi’s new partnership with Awesome Kong. Brandi can deliver a great promo, but she doesn’t feel believable in this role. She may grow into it, but there are far too many darker acts/stables on the roster. With the Butcher, Blade, and Bunny, The Dark Order, Darby Allin, Jimmy Havoc each new act makes the rest stand out less.
Christopher Daniels vs. Pentagon Jr. – HIT: Not as crisp of a match as you would expect from these two. Pentagon has more to gain with the victory. His entrance reminded me of how much charisma he had in Lucha Underground when I thought he could be a top babyface. If he becomes a bigger player in the singles division, I think he like Fenix could add a lot more depth to the roster.
Joey Janela vs. Jon Moxley – HIT: Joey Janela looked credible, but of course the priority is to build up Jon Moxley as he appears to be the next major title contender. Moxley and Jericho is a program that feels fresh because both stars appear to be on the ascension. Janela continues to struggle outside hardcore matches. It seems like it could be leading to a major win at some point to legitimize as someone more than just a hardcore wrestler.