SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
•The Inner Circle vs. Orange Cassidy & Trent & Chuck Taylor & Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus – HIT
Excalibur was noticeably absent from the announce table with Taz as his replacement. Chris Jericho has been able to stay consistent with his character while announcing, but Taz flips his character into being a likable gregarious announcer which is a role he’s played for years. Good back and forth action throughout. Matt Hardy interfered at the end pushing Sammy Guevara off the turnbuckle allowing Luchasaurus to get the pin. With Guevara returning it makes sense to return to his feud with Hardy. This week, Guevara wasn’t the center of attention instead taking the pinfall.
•Cody vs. Warhorse – MISS
Cody’s bout with Warhorse was a far cry from the segment with Eddie Kingston last week. A below average match in Cody’s weekly open challenge series. Not every match is going to steal the show as AEW continues to use this slot to give exposure to unsigned talent. In the post match, Cody was attacked by John Silver and Alex Reynolds of Dark Order. Matt Cardona (FKA Zack Ryder in WWE) made the save to help out one of his best friends. AEW is going to provide a platform for Cardona to get a renewed look after being presented as a jobber for his career. There were several times when Cardona felt like he was on the cusp of reaching another level in WWE and hopefully he can overcome it in a new environment. That said, AEW has brought in a wealth of former WWE talent to date. One of the biggest things TNA received flack for was bringing in anyone released from WWE. The key difference is the AEW has been able to better utilize and showcase their talents while TNA mostly had wrestlers come out, complain about their push then prove why didn’t make it in a major promotion. AEW hasn’t reached that territory, but this growing movement certainly changes the optics when looking at the roster. It remains to be seen whether that has an effect of fan’s perception of the promotion.
•FTR contract signing – HIT
It appears FTR were working in AEW for a couple of months under a gentlemen’s agreement. FTR were joined by the coach of The Nightmare Family, Arn Anderson, to sign and finalize their deals. They requested tag ropes be used as well as a Tag Team Appreciation Night on August 12th. Hangman Page then joined them for a shot of Whiskey. It seems that FTR is looking to infiltrate The Elite in their quest towards the Tag Championship. It’s been different from a traditional debut that is trying to legitimize FTR as a major signing as well a threat to the AEW ecosystem.
•Kenny Omega & Hangman Page vs. Evil Uno & Stu Grayson – MISS
It’s been many months since fans have raised questions about the viability of Dark Order and the act is still not clicking. Evil Uno and Stu Grayson haven’t been able to overcome the early rejection and instead they’ve been sidestepped by Brodie Lee. For a tag team championship match, this didn’t feel special and at times I felt disconnected from the match. Kenny Omega and Hangman Page still bring it in the ring, but this match felt like a routine instead of a fight. In the post match, Brodie Lee addressed The Young Bucks for being ringside after shoving Colt Cabana to the backstage area. Lee then told Hangman Page he’d pissed them off for the last time before unleashing the creeper for an attack. FTR came in for the save setting up a tag match between The Elite and FTR vs. Dark Order for next week.
•Hikaru Shida vs. Diamante – MISS
Not a bad match, but a disappointment given the talent involved. Hikaru Shida is the most talented female wrestler on the roster. She’s proven she can have great matches with the right opponents. Other times, her matches feel clunky and they’re missing an emotional investment. Diamante is a hard hitting edgier character that the division was previously missing. There are plenty of injuries with Britt Baker and Kris Statlander as well as travel restrictions with Riho and Bea Preistley. The women’s section of the card has made improvements, but it’s going to take either acquiring or creating a big star to get this division where it needs to be.
•MJF Address – HIT
Who doesn’t love to hate MJF? This guy is an unbelievable talker because I would want to just about anyone kick his ass. The segment was a spoof of a campaign announcement (it’s election season) where MJF spoke about the tyranny of the Jon Moxley championship reign. He stated that at All Out, he would be taking the championship from Moxley. Kicking off the expected next world title feud. MJF are two outstanding promo guys so I would be expecting great stuff going forward from both men.
•Jon Moxley & Darby Allin vs. Brian Cage & Ricky Starks – HIT
If Ricky Starks continues to get chances to talk like that, he could be a major player in AEW going forward. He has a swagger about him as if he was ready for the spotlight from the beginning. The chemistry between Cage, Starks, and Taz gives the act the boost of energy it needed after Cage lost to Jon Moxley. A good main event between both teams. Darby Allin picked up the pin after stomping his tack filled skateboard over the back of Ricky Starks. A second week of tacks leading to a gruesome visual. Before closing out the show, Schiavone announced that Moxley and Allin would be facing each other in a world title match next week as they stared each other down in the ring.