AEW FEUD TRACKER: Assessing and grading the march toward Double or Nothing including Elite Hostile Takeover, House of Black vs. Edge, Swerve vs. Christian, Willow vs. Mercedes, more

By Zach Barber, PWTorch contributor


Two quick pieces of housekeeping this week…

• AEW announced a Collision residency at Esports Stadium in Arlington, Tex. (about 2 hours south of me) for the last Saturday in July through the fourth week of August. The venue seats just over 2,500 people and has a unique look. It’s an ambitious idea. It could be challenging to fill the same venue for several weeks in a row or it could be a shrewd move. The Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex has a large population. It may not be as difficult as it first seems to get 2,500 people each week. Nothing says it has to be the exact same 2,500 each time. One thing’s for sure: Tony Khan is going to have step up Collision each week to make it worthwhile.

• Congratulations to Angelo Parker and Ruby Soho. The happy, expectant parents got married over the weekend. This love story continues to be so wholesome. All the best to the happy couple.

Happy Anniversary AEW fans! This weekend marks five years since Tony Khan, The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, and another former EVP who expatriated back to the other side, took a giant leap of faith, and founded their own wrestling company. Now the Bucks have executed a hostile takeover in an attempt to remake the company in the image of the Elite. Swerve looks to make the PPV defense of his title and vanquish an old foe all at once. There’s also the small matter of the in-ring debut of the best women’s wrestlers in the game today. This shoe is night and day different from the first Double or Nothing. In the spirit of Vegas, to quote the classic musical Guys and Dolls, “luck be a lady tonight.”

The Elite Hostile Takeover

Last week, The Elite continued to throw their weight around. They took credit for Eddie Kingston’s injury. (Kingston suffered a broken tibia as well as a torn ACL and meniscus in his New Japan match.) The Bucks defeated Christopher Daniels & Matt Sydal in relatively quick fashion. Jack Perry sat in on commentary during the match. He was a rather pompous ass, but he was very effective as a mouthpiece for the Elite.

After the match, Matthew Jackson got on the mic and fired the Fallen Angel. Perry then dumped a cup of water on Tony Schiavone’s head.

In the main event, Kazuchika Okada and Dax Harwood had a really good match that Okada won by kicking the ropes into Dax’s crotch and hitting a Rainmaker. In the post-match scuffle, Darby Allin charged in, revealing himself as Kingston’s replacement on Team AEW. Given that he’s been out with a broken foot since just after Revolution and he was struck by a bus in New York City, the fact that he’s back is borderline insane. That said, he’s a perfect representative for AEW.

On Collison, the Bucks put a bounty of sorts on the head of Bryan Danielson & FTR as they did battle with The Righteous & Lance Archer. Danielson and FTR won the match but were beaten down after the match. FTR, in particular, took a beating until Daniel Garcia made a very late save. Look for him to be punished for that by the Elite.

With Dax and Cash hurting, the Bucks have once again put a bounty on Danielson’s head and Satnam Singh, of all people, answered the call. If Danielson can get anything resembling a passable match out of Singh, it’ll be a miracle. There’s a reason Singh hasn’t had many singles matches. The saving grace here is that it’s more about Singh beating up Danielson than having a classic.

As far as the match on Sunday is concerned, I expect it to be totally insane and out of control. I still believe that the Elite pull out the win with the help of a returning “Hangman” Page. I expect there to be echoes of Bash at the Beach ’96 in the commentary, although the moment will not be as shocking.

Grade: A

Swerve Strickland vs. Christian Cage

Last week, Swerve successfully finished killing his creation, The Mogul Embassy, by defeating Brian Cage. After the match he was sneak-attacked by Nick Wayne and Killswitch as Christian looked on. In a callback to last fall, Wayne struck Swerve across the face with a framed picture of his family opening up a nasty cut above the champ’s eye. Christian then cut a promo calling Swerve an absentee father and smearing blood all over the photo.

Tonight, Swerve goes one-on-one with Nick Wayne. Crazy as it might sound, I think Wayne should pick up the win. It doesn’t have to be clean win, but this way Swerve would go into Double or Nothing behind the eight ball. There’s absolutely no chance that Swerve is losing the title to Christian, but it should be a good match nonetheless and the likely interference from the Patriarchy gives Swerve something to overcome in the process.

Grade: A

Toni Storm vs. Serena Deeb

Toni cut my absolute favorite promo that she’s ever cut. It was hilarious with an all-timer of a closing line. She then went out and beat Harley Cameron in a match that probably lasted a little longer than it should have. Serena Deeb just watched on smiling.

On Collision Serena had a good match with Anna Jay. After Deeb won by submission, Luther came down and stole her “Deeb’s Dojo” flag from its stand, and along with Mariah May, held it up so that Toni could strip her clothes off and wrap herself up in it. It was amusing if nothing else.

She and Mariah team up tonight to fight Harley Cameron & Saraya to put an end to this pointless subplot. When it comes to the match between Toni and Serena, it could be a sleeper hit. Both of these women are excellent workers. The problem is that the larger story between Toni and Mariah overshadows everything that happens in the interim. Unlike the last two PPV title matches, I don’t think there’s a chance of Toni losing.

Grade: A-

Willow Nightingale vs. Mercedes Mone

Mercedes Moné’s AEW in-ring debut is nearly upon us. It’s been quite the road to get here, that’s for sure. Talking is not Mercedes’ strong suit, but she’s had to do a lot of talking since her debut on Mar. 13. As a result, Willow has really had to step up her promo game, and to her credit, she did just that and met the moment.

Mercedes fully leaning into being a heel the last two weeks has really set this feud on a stronger path. The contract signing last week was great. Willow was every bit the fiery babyface on the mic and Mercedes was arrogant and unlikable. The visual of Willow putting Mercedes through the table was fantastic. Tonight, we’ve been promised a preview of this match which is likely just a video package. AEW’s video packages are always top notch so I expect nothing less here.

I also expect these two women to bring everything they got on Sunday. Mercedes needs to remind the world why she’s one the best women’s wrestlers of all time and Willow needs to prove that she belongs. This match could steal the show. I do expect a Kris Statlander heel turn leading to a Mercedes win in the end.

Grade: B+

Adam Copeland vs. Malaki Black

Adam Copeland was jumped from behind by the House of Black before he could even make his entrance last week. Kyle O’Reilly attempted to make the save, but he too was laid out. HOB stole Copeland’s wedding band as Malaki believed it symbolized Copeland masking his true self. He accepted the barbed wire steel cage match with Copeland, but added the condition that if he wins, Copeland must bend the knee to the HOB, which I take to mean he would be forced to join the group against his own will.

To me I think this only adds mystery to the outcome of what should be a brutal, bloody, cage match. Will Malaki Black actually do a job? Will Copeland join the HOB against his will? I really think the HOB needs a win here. Too often lately one or all of them are pushed relatively strong to a big match only to come up short. At some point they need to win one. I think it could be interesting to see Copeland fighting for his freedom throughout the summer. For both of these reasons, I’m going with Malaki.

Grade: A-

Will Ospreay vs. Roderick Strong

Give credit where it’s due. There was an honest attempt to add some juice to this match. In a strong backstage promo segment, Ospreay and Strong called on their history in ROH, specifically Strong’s lack of respect for the Billy GOAT. Strong reaffirmed that he doesn’t respect Ospreay while Ospreay promised to show Strong why he’s on another level. This was about the best-case scenario for a match that feels beneath Ospreay.

Ospreay won a hard-fought match against Shane Taylor on Collison. Tonight, he teams with Orange Cassidy to face their opponents at Double or Nothing, Roderick Strong & Trent Baretta. I fully expect Cassidy to eat the pin in this match just as a fully expect Will Ospreay to defeat Roderick Strong on Sunday and become the new International Champion even if it’s not where I expected him to be.

Grade: B+

Orange Cassidy vs. Trent Baretta

Following Orange Cassidy defeating Isaiah Kassidy in an utterly pointless match, Trent Baretta accused OC of cheating in their match (ironic given that he attempted to cheat first) and challenged him to a “straight up wrestling match” at Double or Nothing. Rather than verbally accept the match, OC jumped the rail and attacked Baretta.

As mentioned above, they will be on opposite sides of a tag match. When it comes to Double or Nothing, I think Trent cheats to pick up a win over OC and evens up the series one apiece. The real question is what role Don Callis plays in this. Whatever happens, I just hope that OC doesn’t get duped by Callis. There’s no reason to make him the dumb babyface.

Grade: B+

Hook vs. Chris Jericho

The feud I care about the least. Hook returned last week, beat a jobber in 30 seconds, and then immediately called Jericho out. Jericho did his oblivious heel schtick and then told Hook he’d have to earn a rematch at the FTW Title. Jericho set up a FTW contender’s series on Collision, three matches with the winners of those matches advancing to a triple threat on Dynamite.

Hook, Katsuyori Shibata, and Bryan Keith each won their matches thus they will square off tonight for the right to face Jericho. I anticipate Hook winning. I’d like to think he’d just beat Jericho and that would be the end of it. Sadly, Jericho just started this “Learning Tree” gimmick, so I don’t think it’s getting cut short.

Grade: C+

Deonna Purrazzo vs. Thunder Rosa

Not much change from last week. Once again both women had matches on Collision/Rampage and once again Rosa ran down to get her some of Deonna and Deonna scurried off through the crowd. I assume a match between these two is added to the Zero Hour.

Grade: B

Bullet Club Gold vs. Triangulo de la Muerte

Pac cut a promo about being dead inside, not feeling anything, and demanded that Bullet Club Gold make him feel something. BCG responded by battering him three on one. BCG have been advertised to be on Dynamite. I think this is where we get an official reunion of Triangulo de la Muerte and the trios title match added to the Zero Hour as well.

Grade: A-

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