SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Wardlow vs. Luchasaurus – HIT
A great showcase for Wardlow. He has proven himself to be an excellent pick-up who doesn’t fit the typical mold of most AEW wrestlers. My biggest issue with the match was the lumberjack stipulation. A post-match brawl, setup a tag match between MJF and Wardlow vs. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus at Fyter Fest. With the spike in COVID-19 cases in Florida and WWE experiencing an outbreak amongst talent now is not the time to cluster people together. In general, people not paying attention to COVID-19 have had the feeling that it is something in the past and we are nearing normalcy when that couldn’t be further from the truth. As each week goes by the crowds and amount of brawls get bigger while the number of masks declines.
Hikaru Shida vs. Red Velvet – HIT
Finally, Hikaru Shida went into her match and took care of business quickly. Her match with Red Velvet only lasted a few moves with Shida solidifying her finisher. The segment revoked around Shida’s title match against Penelope Ford. Ford antagonized Shida from ringside before the match then Shida went to attack her after the match. This was a success for Shida showing more fire despite Ford being a weak challenger.
Press Conference – HIT
Having more press conferences is an idea I advocate for more in wrestling. It adds to the sports-like presentation and also gives a chance for multiple people to cut promos. The execution of this segment was mostly positive, but could use some improvement. Faux PWI journalists were used to ask rudimentary questions. Arn Anderson showed he can still be used sparingly, but appeared listless and lacked substance for a big title match. It’s interesting that Jake Hager and his wife, Catalina, were the two late to the press conference. Last summer in the build to All Out, Cody did the same thing to Shawn Spears on an episode of Road To. Cody came in, did what he needed while avoiding conflict. Hager did the same thing except his wife was the agitator splashing water on Cody.
Sonny Kiss & Joey Janela vs. Colt Cabana & Brodie Lee – HIT
Will he or won’t he join the Dark Order? Colt Cabana teamed up with Brodie Lee to create the odd pair tag team of the year. While a few spots were less than perfect, I enjoyed seeing both of these new teams square off. AEW is taking their time with the Cabana storyline teasing that winning might turn him. Joey Janela has struggled to find a role for himself within AEW. Dating back to All In, he was one of the hottest wrestlers on the independent scene and since then he’s been primarily known as a death match wrestler. His new pairing with Sonny Kiss gives his act new life. Kiss is someone full of life and character who fits well with Janela. They are another addition to the loaded tag division.
FTR vs. SCU – HIT
Great match between these two teams. For those longing for more structure in AEW tag matches, they are going to get it with FTR. This match may have had the most tags of any AEW tag match. Both teams looked great with FTR securing the win and establishing their signature spots. In the post-match Dax called out several tag teams with The Young Bucks being at the top of their list. The Butcher and The Blade came out and challenged them to an 8-man tag match at Fyter Fest along with the Lucha Bros and The Young Bucks. Pentagon made his return to Dynamite alongside Fenix for a beat down before The Young Bucks made the save. I had hoped that the Pentagon would be treated as a bigger deal upon his return. The pairing with The Butcher and The Blade is almost as odd of a pairing as Cabana and Lee.
Brian Cage vs. John Cruise – HIT
A short and sweet squash for Cage. After the match, Taz cut a promo on Jon Moxley for not being there. He referred to him as a “tough guy” and accused him of being scared. In reality, Moxley’s wife had contracted COVID-19 which puts their match at Fyter Fest in serious jeopardy. If he is subject to a 14-day quarantine he would miss the taping of night two. If all goes well, it is possible he could wrestle the match live and still be a part of the show. That said, a wrestling match is not worth advancing the exposure of contracting the virus. There are many moving parts to the point where AEW may need to find a new home outside of Florida.
Santana vs. Matt Hardy – HIT
Santana was a late fill-in after Sammy Guevara had been suspended indefinitely for using inappropriate language on a podcast. The suspension postpones the story with Matt Hardy, but it was the only option given the severity of the situation. Hardy had a fine match with Santana which led to a match being announced between Santana & Ortiz and Private Party for Fyter Fest. Hardy had already aligned himself with Private Party making this an acceptable segway until Hardy can resume his program with Guevara.
Orange Cassidy-Chris Jericho Confrontation – HIT
Chris Jeircho noticeably made his entrance without Sammy Guevara by his side. Jericho compared Orange Cassidy to the “Why did the chicken cross the road?” joke and said implying he’s a one note act. He embellished what he’d said about Cassidy in real life to Tony Khan and EVPs that he was an embarrassment to wrestling. Cassidy continued to look on completely disinterested before ripping the mic from Jericho. Cassidy teased speaking before setting the mic down and lightly kicking Jericho before putting his hands in his pockets. Jericho tackled him into the crowd. Cassidy got the better of Jericho by putting him through a table and standing tall. Orange Cassidy has really broken a lot of myths about what can get over in wrestling and Jericho is capitalizing upon it. Without Moxley, this is the hottest program going into Fyter Fest and it was treated as such.