SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Sammy Guevara Defeated Cody Rhodes – HIT
While Cody may be a judge on the Go-Big Show, he really put his money where his mouth is with this match.
Both men told a great story that started with power vs. “elusiveness” as JR called it, which then turned into who would be able to outlast their competitor. The action was paced very well, with enough slow spots to make the big spots feel big.
While I can understand the story may be they can kick out of such dizzying and painful spots due to the stakes and increased adrenaline (just a theory) it would be nice if the commentators made sure to mention that kind of thing, as it became much easier to wonder about that kind of thing as the much went on. Ultimately a great and worthy win for Guevara.
Ricky Starks-Powerhouse Hobbs Segment – HIT
This was a fun segment, as it gave not just Ricky Starks some time to shine on the mic, but Hobbs as well.
Hobbs seems to have been working on his promo skills. He had a charisma and delivery that pulled toy in and wanted to hear more. Much more than he was allowed. While that may sound like a negative, it’s meant in the best way possible.
“Mr. Mayhem” Wardlow Defeated Elijah Dean and James Alexander – HIT
The hometown crowd gave Wardlow an incredible atmosphere to perform. While the symphony may have been happening in the ring, Mr. Mayhem played the crowd to perfection for some of the loudest reactions of the night. While tonight could have been the night to finally pull the trigger (or thumbs down) with Wardlow, it’s coming soon, and it will be glorious.
Chris Jericho-Ortiz-Santana Defeated Daniel Garcia-2point0 – SOFT HIT
This match told a good story, but it feels like something they should have done already.
It’s no secret that Proud and Powerful have been underutilized in AEW thus far, and it’s great to see them Santana and Or-teasing dissension within the Inner Circle. I’m just ready to see them capture the Tag Titles or seeing them pursue separate TNT title runs. They’ve shown they’re up to the task.
Lance Archer-Hangman Adam Page Segment – MISS
I’ll always be happy any time I can see Jake Roberts on the show, but the structure of the video and delivery didn’t do Hangman any favors.
While the reveal of the match stipulation doesn’t seem bad on paper, having Page ask “What?” along with the implied record scratch with the music stopping only makes him look foolish. It isn’t the script itself, but rather Page’s “aw shucks” demeanor that takes the tone of this from courageous to cowardly. I have all the faith that Page and Archer can put on a stellar match, but this video didn’t help them.
Christian-Jurassic Express-Matt Hardy-Private Party Segment – SOFT MISS
This just didn’t hit for me. Allowing Christian and Hardy carry the workload is boring at this point. I’d much rather hear from Jurassic Express and a Private Party, and if they had been allowed more time, the program might be much more compelling than it is.
C.M. Punk-MJF Segment – HIT
This was incredibly fun to watch. Both men gave performances that rivaled the emotion of their 20-minute long initial promo battle, but without some of the barbs. Rather than going for the jugular and having nasty comebacks, this focused on the psychology between the two men. Both men made valid points with reasoned responses, and dug deeper into both characters. The end beat down and shot of MJF sitting on Punk’s chest was the perfect send off before the match.
The Acclaimed Segment – HIT
This was a lot of fun. I’m glad they gave Bowens the lead in this video, as it balances out the relationship with Caster and keeps them on equal vocal footing. Bowens continues an impressive streak of top quality competition by calling out Moxley. A streak that Bowens has stepped up to and really shown he’s ready for bigger things.
Julia Hart-Mark Sterling Segment – SOFT HIT
Not much to this segment, but seeing them continue to build Hart as a character with more dimensions than just “cheerleader” is quite entertaining. Building a persona with a “take every opportunity” mentality that’s causing cracks between her and the Varsity Blonds is a fun direction. Hart will end up in a much better place after this program, whether it ends with Julia joining the Kings of the Black Throne or not.
Leyla Hirsch Defeated Red Velvet – SOFT HIT
This was a fine enough match. The action was good, but the crowd never seemed to get into it. I didn’t personally feel the match warranted the stoic reactions.
Hirsch is developing quite well as a heel. She has always had a natural physical charisma that gives the illusion that she’s taller than she is. As short as she is, you wouldn’t think it when she runs the ropes. Building on this character work, including the sadistic look in her eyes at the end of the match, is really elevating the character.
Kings of the Black Throne Segment – HIT
Malakai is so good at these little vignettes. He’s able to elevate them from a mid card feud to something that you want to care about. Adding Brody, who uses a much different promo style and performance than Black, only raises the whole product to another level.
Sammy Guevara Promo – MISS
Guevara needs to ditch the cue card shtick. I get that it may have been cute and endearing on the indies, but it doesn’t translate to national television, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Sammy is now the undisputed TNT champion, so act like it. Get on the mic and pull an audience in. It wouldn’t take much. The crowd clearly loves him.
Until he can start doing that, he will have a limited ceiling, and be the pillar with the weakest structural integrity.
Britt Baker Promo – HIT
Britt Baker was the complete opposite of Guevara in this segment, and only made Sammy look worse by following it.
Baker played a much better heel among this crowd, because she knew how to get under the crowds skin. Working Cleveland’s quarterback shortcomings riled the crowd up, and it almost felt like Baker was going to lose control. She held it together though, and if she can learn to do that with more crowds, to the best she can, she can extend the length of her current heel role and add some depth to the character.
Orange Cassidy Defeated Adam Cole – HITHAUSEN
This match peaked with Danhausen
In all seriousness, this match was great. Glad to see Danhausen finally joining AEW. He is tailor made for BTE.
Both men put in great performances with great violence. Not as bloody as I would’ve expected, given the carnage in the last Lights Out match between Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa. The action more than made up for it.
The parallels between Cole and Baker are interesting. Not just going through similar matches in a similar time of the year, but Baker really excelled and grew into her own over the past year, and I can see Cole easily doing the same. There’s another gear there that he hasn’t hit yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if him finding it coincides with Tony Khan finding that next million.