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The Young Bucks defeated Roppongi Vice: HIT
Good, “traditional” Young Bucks match.
The commentators tried hard to educate viewers on the history between these two teams and, in combination with a video package we saw on Dynamite a couple of weeks ago, I think it was moderately effective.
Apparently, “Roppongi” refers to an entertainment district in Tokyo filled with late night bars and clubs. That sounds cool, but we haven’t seen much gregariousness from Trent and Romero on AEW television, and that’s probably a crucial part of their identity which the non-NJPW crowd isn’t seeing. In addition, Excalibur went a step too far by referring to Roppongi Vice as one of the greatest tag teams “of the generation.” That’s simply not how they have been portrayed on AEW television, I’m sorry.
One more note about commentary: Ricky Starks mentioned how he stayed up late to watch the Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice in New Japan, thus opening himself up to a “parent’s permission” joke from Jericho. That would be a nice, light-hearted moment in real life, but on television it just diminishes Starks’s badass heel aura. There was probably a way to say exactly what he said tonight but still retain dignity as an upper mid-card heel. Just try not to lose touch with your character while you are on air, especially if your inner fandom is starting to creep up. This is one of many reasons I don’t like seeing Starks on full-time commentary, or any young wrestler for that matter. It’s just difficult to avoid slipping into your real-life self during awesome moments.
Post-Match Angle with Jay White: MISS
NJPW star Jay White, who made a brief backstage appearance on Dynamite, snuck into the ring and flattened Beretta with a Switchblade. He is new to me, but I hear is supposed to a top-tier, marquee heel. If that’s the case, was it wise to debut him in this rivalry? I’m sure he has history with both teams, and there might be plans to work this into something long-term with Cole, but that requires you to put more effort into explaining the story.
It’s also difficult for me to digest all of Excalibur’s factoids about White’s championship history and get emotionally invested in a matter of seconds, especially when he’s attacking someone who hasn’t even come close to winning a championship in AEW. Even if you are one of those die-hard fans who has followed White since his independent days, wouldn’t you want something a bit more compelling than this? Doesn’t he deserve a bit more pizzaz for his first appearance? I understand the deal was solidified pretty late, but if that’s the case, save White’s arena appearance for when you have time to think through his presentation.
To make things worse, later in the show, Excalibur announced that Jay White will be wrestling next week on Rampage. This was sandwiched in between a bunch of other announcements for next week’s happenings. Shouldn’t Jay White’s first AEW match be presented as a bigger deal?
Ricky Starks Promo: IT HAPPENED
I’m sure there is superstar potential in Starks, but he tends to feed some intangible “extra” mannerisms into his promos that make them come across less compelling.
Bryan Danielson Backstage Interview: HIT
Bryan made good case differentiating his offer to Moxley from Punk’s last week. Lee Moriarty and Matt Sydal came to inquire about the potential faction he wanted to form. While Sydal started the talking, Moriarty spoke up for himself afterward, and Danielson was great in challenging him to prove himself. Superb work from everyone.
Britt Baker defeated Robyn Renegade: MINOR HIT
Typical lengthy, semi-competitive AEW squash that ran through a commercial break. It was fine for what it was. Would have been better if the commentators leaned more into the fact that Renegade is one of Rosa’s trainees, and if Baker behaved more like she was trying to get into Rosa’s head by tormenting her protégé.
Post-Match Angle: MINOR HIT
After the match, Baker applied the lockjaw on Renegade, but Rosa ran out for the save. She was promptly beaten down by Baker’s friends. They teased some dissension in the faction, but it cooled down quickly.
The offense in this brawl was weak, but it’s good to see Rosa doing more than just yelling into a camera in between her in-arena appearances. I want to see her get Steve Austin-like treatment. Find ways to make Baker’s life increasingly more hellish every week or biweekly until the eventual showdown. Be more ruthless in building up her star power.
Leyla Hirsch-Kris Statlander Video Promo: HIT
Hirsch came across “legit,” no pun intended, while Statlander still has to work on the genuineness of her promos. Nonetheless, this was a good verbal battle to keep things moving along. We got some insight into Leyla’s backstory in orphanages, which was compelling to hear.
Hook defeated Blake Li: HIT
This was on the higher end of what are typically good Hook squash matches. Great, crisp offense, and the Samoa Joe-like “walk” away from a diving opponent is pure gold.
Given AEW’s roster depth, I’m okay with him tangoing with QT Marshall’s goons for now. We can complain about the dissonance between his babyface aura and association with heel Team Taz later.
Main Event Promo: HIT
I could nit-pick some aspects of this, but it was on the higher end of Rampage main event promos. Good work from Gunn, Christian, and Jungle Boy. You can tell JB is putting some demonstrable effort into planning his promos, and while the delivery isn’t always good, his floor is much higher.
Jurassic Express defeated Gunn Club to retain the AEW Tag-Team Championships: HIT
Good match between two young, athletic tag teams. This was probably Gunn Club’s biggest match, and I thought they did well. However, there’s nothing special about them to warrant further television time in the immediate future. I’d rather see AEW try to build up some of their minority talents instead, which will really help to grow their audience.
Commentary: MINOR HIT
Apart from the opening match, the commentary was fine. However, I would have preferred if Jericho sat out this week. After having an emotionally compelling angle with friends on Dynamite, it’s a good idea for a babyface to sell “needing some space” for a night. Yes, I know he’s probably turning heel again, but needing a while to reflect in isolation can fit right in with the descent to darkness.
Overall Show: MILD HIT
If you don’t care about how smartly AEW presents Jay White, this was a good show.