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.
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Jon Moxley vs. Alex Reynolds and Jericho Promo – HIT: Nice squash to open to a hot crowd. This is how Jon Moxley should’ve been booked in week 1. He comes out, lays out a jobber and cuts an adrenaline filled promo about why he’s in AEW and what he’s going to do. With the exception of the post-match promo, all of that still worked in week 11. The Inner Circle came to ringside and offered Moxley a spot in their group. I like this because we’re not completely sure what Chris Jericho’s motivations are. Does he sincerely want Moxley to join the group in order to avoid facing him or is this all a ploy? Moxley didn’t immediately respond giving legs to the idea that Moxley could join.
Cody & QT Marshall vs. The Butcher & The Blade – HIT: This wasn’t a great match, but the hot crowd really helped. Cody was the biggest name in match of relative unknowns to the AEW audience. He worked hard to keep the crowd engaged and build the hot tag. I wasn’t high on The Butcher and The Blade’s debut coming through the ring. They felt like another “dark” stable in an already cluttered landscape. The crowd bought them as menacing brutes. It’s tough to say where they will go from here, but after a flat debut this was a sign in the right direction.
MJF Promo – HIT: Damn, MJF can command an audience. He’s proven himself to be one of the best in the business on the microphone. I’m happy to see him move further away from slinging comedic insults to having a goal. His program with Cody feels like they are playing a bit of catch-up getting to his promo several weeks later, but they have to spread out the storytelling to have it last at the soonest their February pay-per-view in Chicago.
Emi Sakura vs. Big Swole – MISS: Since Dynamite began 11 weeks ago there has been a lot of criticism of the women’s division. Some of it has been overblown while some is justified. I think one of the common themes is that some of the matches are needlessly long. The same can be said for some of the men’s match as well. I like Big Swole and I think she can be another positive asset for the company. She has a great look and top-tier athleticism, but she needs work in the ring. AEW Dark should be the place where wrestlers get more experience working in front of large live crowds. Dynamite can still feature whomever they want, but it may be wise for AEW to start shortening matches in order to avoid lagging periods in the show and exposing lesser experienced wrestlers.
Hangman Page & Kenny Omega vs. Kip Sabian & Shawn Spears – MISS: This match involved a lot of the things that I don’t like about AEW. Several moments where the referee had to play dumb. There was overt outside interference taking a competitor out of the match. It also involved the overused lights out gimmick. For a show that strives to make more sense than the main WWE product, this did not help their case. The crowd continues to be really behind Kenny Omega and gave a nice reaction to Hangman Page. At the end, they teased some descension when Page made the blind tag and stole the pin. It was only briefly mentioned on-air that Page is taking a sabbatical from The Elite. This feels like a key component to wherever they’re heading with Page. It needs to be expanded upon on TV instead of leaving it to the viewer to watch every YouTube show and put the pieces together themselves.
Luchasaurus vs. Sammy Guevara – HIT: Guevara created a lot of movement around a still limited Luchasaurus. Guevara is the perfect opponent for him at this point emphasizing Luchasaurus as this immovable object. The post-match is what really made this whole segment work. Chris Jericho and Jake Hager attacked Jurassic Express leading to Jungle Boy getting a visual pin over Chris Jericho. The response was universally positive seeing that a pin was possible. It’s very unlikely Jungle Boy will defeat Jericho next week, but the short build had lead to some intriguing possibilities.
The Young Bucks vs. Santana & Ortiz – HIT: Did you think this match would be anything short of being great? Of course both teams delivered again in a fun main event. The hardcore street style isn’t for everyone and while AEW has done plenty of that lately, it fit into the story of this feud. They’ve already had the normal tag team then the arena brawl. It was a fitting blow off now that The Young Bucks can move onto the next chapter. Next week they will challenge SCU for the tag team championship in another stacked episode of Dynamite.