SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Jurassic Express vs. MJF & Wardlow – HIT
What a way to open the show. Great energy with a lot of fun that set the correct tone for the show. Everyone came off like an up and coming star. MJF cut a promo before the match in a new pastel colored robe and ring attire. A more common tradition for heels of past generations, but a more recent comparison being Damien Sandow, an image that AEW likely hopes the audience doesn’t remember. One of the more memorable spots was in a flurry of action, Jungle Boy hitting a Canadian Destroyer alongside one of the most enthusiastic calls from Chris Jericho. The finish of MJF inadvertently knocking out Wardlow felt like the right finish giving Luchasaurus the pin for the victory. The tension grows between Wardlow and MJF while MJF’s feud with Jungle Boy continues to feel fresh.
Hikaru Shida vs. Penelope Ford – HIT
A great match that far surpassed expectations. Penelope Ford was presented as a relatively weak challenger with her only AEW victory of note being a fluke win over Hikaru Shida which earned her the title shot. Ford, known for her unique athleticism and flexibility, put that on display rising to the occasion for the best match of her career. Shida also established herself as the most complete AEW Women’s champion thus far. More matches like this will help to further establish her as their top female wrestler.
Cody vs. Jake Hager – HIT
Cody was able to get a much better match out of Jake Hager than his bout with Jon Moxley. Hager’s act felt more complete with his wife Catalina accompanying him to the ring. The finish of the match was off putting when Cody awkwardly rolled over Hager for a quick pin. Hager jumped up in celebration despite there being no sensible reason he could have thought he won. Hager realizes he’s lost and knocks out the referee. This was treated as a big deal with ramifications which helps to make the angle effective. Cody still came off as a star, but his act really loses something without a crowd. He had some of the biggest crowd pops in the company before COVID. Without the crowd, he comes off more like a natural heel and now might be the time to go in that direction.
Private Party vs. Santana & Ortiz – HIT
This was a match where it felt that both teams could really use a win. Good action throughout with a few hiccups here and there. Private Party took the victory and will face Kenny Omega and Hangman Page next week as a replacement match for the AEW Championship. AEW has a loaded tag division with only so much time to feature each team. I had thought Santana and Ortiz would be bigger players in the company, but with the exception of Jericho, they’ve become like their Inner Circle team members where losing has become the expectation.
Taz Promo – HIT
More good stuff from Taz. He again antagonized Moxley for not appearing due to his exposure to COVID-19 and being subject to a 2 week quarantine. While completely understandable, the match being postponed is a major blow to next week’s lineup. NXT is countering with Adam Cole vs. Keith Lee which is the strongest match on either week of both shows. One like of note was Taz referring to WWE as a “sloppy ship”. This wasn’t the first reference to WWE on the show, but definitely the biggest shot taken. While not necessary, there is a lot of truth to that as it is the very reason Jon Moxley will not be ready to wrestle next week.
Kenny Omega & Hangman Page vs. Best Friends – HIT
Solid main event tag. The Best Friends’ comedy isn’t my idea of what should be the AEW main event, but the match delivered enough and Best Friends were built well heading in. Hangman Page and Kenny Omega continue to deliver great matches, but it has become increasingly evident that it’s time to move on from them as champions. There are too many teams waiting in the wings while Omega and Page are of more value as singles competitors. In the post-match, FTR came to the ring and handed Omega and Page beers to celebrate. Page took the beer without batting an eye, while Page pretended to take a sip before pouring it out. Omega’s actions caused tension between the teams where The Young Bucks had to come out and break up the fight. A well thought out closing angle that adds drama to the ongoing Omega-Page saga and drives home the loaded eight-man tag next week.
RECOMMENDED: 7/1 AEW DYNAMITE TV REPORT (UPDATED ANALYSIS): Keller’s report on Fyter Fest Week 1 special edition including Cody vs. Jake Hager for TNT Title, Page & Omega vs. Best Friends for AEW Tag Titles, Shida vs. Ford for Women’s Title