SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Jon Moxley Return – Home Run
It was great seeing Jon Moxley back in front of a crowd. Moxley looked visibly thinner and more energized. He exuded a sense of peace he’d found yet still had a look in his eye that made it clear, you don’t want to mess with him. Jon is a master at crafting metaphors into his promos that pull you in and stay in character, sounding like a story he would tell, huddled around a campfire on the run from the cops. He showed his vulnerability without revealing much at all. He left you wanting much more, with a line that will spawn a million T-shirt’s and become an iconic part of wrestling history.
MJF Promo – Hit
In complete contrast to Moxley’s promo, MJF remains a master at building heat. In thirty seconds he made you legitimately believe he was turning a corner and ending the Wardlow breakup and then rebuilding the fire into a stronger flame.
Wardlow’s getting better at his facial reactions, and made the viewer want to see the inevitable breakup that much sooner.
Adam Cole and Britt Baker defeat Kris Statlander and Orange Cassidy – Hit
This was a well performed match with great storytelling. They did a great job of weaving the action between the tags so as not make it consciously clear that they weren’t fighting the opposite sex.
The ending with Cole’s facial reaction and the camera work after the Cassidy kick out of the Panama sunrise were particular highlights.
Chris Jericho, Santana and Ortiz Promo – Slight Hit
This could’ve gone two different ways, and thankfully it went the correct way. Had this promo gone forward with Jericho trying to push a new catchphrase, it would’ve been a disaster.
Giving Santana and Ortiz some time to shine on the mic and planting the seeds of an Inner Circle breakup saved this.
Adam Cole Promo – Hit
This was great, and shows the intensity and fieriness that Cole can display as a heel when given some space from the goofy antics he’s been up to lately with the rest of The Elite.
C.M. Punk defeated Shawn Spears – Hit
This was exactly what it needed to be. The video package before the match gave it a big fight feel, which only added to the surprise fifteen second match length. In the same vein as Anna Jay getting fed to a surprise Abadon in June of last year.
The post match bit worked as well to bide time before MJF and Punk meet in the ring.
Billy Gunn-Christian Cage Segment – Miss
This was fine for what it was, but could’ve easily been on Elevation. The point was to call out Jurassic Express for a title match, but it just felt like Cage and Gunn made it about themselves. The crowd sounded dead for this.
Cody Rhodes Promo – Hit
Cody has this strange ability to mimic a jazz musician with his promos. He’s able to adjust the rhythms of his sentences and pitch of his words into melodys that groove together but feel weird. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Your mileage on this promo will vary, depending on your tolerance of Cody’s meta talk.
Cody’s biggest foray into flirting with heeling was emotional, intense and loose. He pushed the limits of taste by making jokes of new AEW signees from NXT, but thankfully it was over quick and he worked the crowd while setting up a ladder match with Sammy Guevara next week on Beach Break.
Anna Jay-Jade Cargill Segment – Miss
This just didn’t work. John Silver undermined the serious tone Jay wanted to convey, and Jay didn’t sell it well enough in the first place.
Kings of the Black Throne defeat The Varsity Blondes – Hit
Very fun match showcasing the power and chemistry of Brody King and Malakai Black. Short, as it should’ve been. Black is so charismatic that, as much as I appreciated the PAC video package that interrupted them, I almost wanted to hear what Black had to say more.
Lance Archer-“Hangman” Page Segment – Miss
This just didn’t work. Having Lambert stand with Archer and Roberts with no explanation of why felt incredibly clunky, especially since they just had him address it later in the show. Page did well enough for his part but it couldn’t save the segment.
Roppongi Vice Promo – Slight Hit
Fine for what it was, setting up a match between Trent Beretta and Rocky Romero. Fun challenge and blast from the past for fans who are aware of the two teams history, but AEW showing old footage of the two teams later in the show was a much better way of selling the match.
Lance Archer defeats Frankie Kazarian – Miss
This just didn’t work for me. Archer has gone from the guy punting jobbers on a farm to Jake Roberts’ delight, to making Kazarian look good. I like Kazarian, but he shouldn’t be pushing Archer in this way at this point in his career. This killed the crowd energy due to the length of the match.
The post match angle made up for it, but barely. The stare down and skirmish with Page was the lean piece of storytelling they should’ve focused on, rather than the multiple talking segments.
Dante Martin/Lee Moriarty-Team Taz Segment – Slight Hit
This was okay in furthering the two teams story, but I give it a slight positive nod for giving Powerhouse Hobbs some mic time.
Kris Statlander-Leyla Hirsch Segment – Miss
This could’ve worked, but Hirsch stumbled over her words. Once the fists start flying, Hirsch is hypnotic, but her promo skills need work.
Serena Deeb defeats Skye Blue – Hit
Blue looked good but Deeb is an excellent heel and her skills were on full display here.
Ethan Page Promo – Slight Hit
Nothing particularly special with this, but Page is so much fun to watch. Page and Sky need to break off from Lambert and American Top Team. They can handle themselves while Lambert works with Roberts and Archer.
Matt Hardy-Andrade Segment – Miss
This just didn’t work for me. As much as the Cody-verse has the reputation of pulling people down, Matt Hardy and the HFO isn’t helping anyone. Bringing Andrade into the group feels like it’s just going to drag Andrade further down.
The Acclaimed vs. Darby Allin & Sting – Hit
Very fun match showcasing a different side of Sting in AEW. Seeing him in the rough end of a handicap situation was a great story, and the pseudo hot tag with Allin coming back from the back promoted a great pop from the crowd. Kudos to Caster as well for working WWE’s “self mutilation” line into his rap in a creative way.