Date: February 29, 2020
Location: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, Illinois
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Excalibur, Jim Ross
We’re back on pay per view for the first time in a good while as AEW is much more of a TV company than a major event company. The top of the card looks stacked this time around too and we could be in for a rather big night. The main event is Chris Jericho vs. Jon Moxley for the World Title, but there are two other matches that could easily headline. Let’s get to it.
Pre-Show: SCU vs. Dark Order
It’s Kazarian/Scorpio Sky for SCU, though they have requested that Christopher Daniels stay in the back. The brawl is on before the bell and they fight to the floor, which might not be the best idea given that the Creepers are out there as well. We officially start with Kazarian suplexing Grayson and Sky comes in to kick him in the chest. They head outside again though and Kazarian gets posted, allowing the rest of the Dark Order to beat him down.
Back in and Kazarian can’t quite fight out of the corner as the fans are chanting something about the Creepers. Grayson grabs the chinlock for a bit but Kazarian avoids a charge in the corner. A few flips allow the hot tag to Sky so house can be cleaned. Sky dropkicks Uno into a sunset flip for two and everything breaks down.
Grayson suplexes Sky into Kazarian in the corner for two but Fatality is broken up. Back up and Sky gets creative by monkey flipping Kazarian for a double clothesline to Uno and Grayson. SCULater is broken up with Kazarian getting knocked into the steps and a clothesline to the back of the head finishes Sky at 9:23.
Rating: C. Not too bad here and the Dark Order winning was the only way to go as the Exalted One is arriving soon. I’m not sure who that is going to be but AEW has done a good job of making me wonder. Daniels doesn’t seem to be the most likely candidate as he seems to be more of a red herring. That makes things even better, as there are so many options to pick from.
Post match the beatdown is on but Colt Cabana of all people debuts to make the save. He gets beaten down as well and here’s a guy in a hood. Presumably the Exalted One but it’s actually Daniels, who comes in for the real save. The Dark Order gets beaten down in a hurry.
The opening video looks at all of the matches, which is a nice change of pace from focusing on one or two. Of course the main events get more time but everything is at least mentioned.
Jake Hager vs. Dustin Rhodes
Or “Swagger” as JR called him on the pre-show. Hager broke Rhodes’ arm several months back and it’s time for revenge. Dustin’s shirt: “I’m here to fight Jericho’s b****.” Before the match, Hager kisses his wife in the front row. It’s a slugout to start with Hager kneeing him in the chest to take over. Rights and lefts in the corner keep Dustin in trouble until he sends Hager over the top.
The fans chant JERICHO’S B**** as Dustin knocks him over the barricade to take the fight into the crowd. It’s back to ringside with Dustin going into the post and getting blasted with a running clothesline. Back in and Hager starts working on the arm, including a double arm crank. That’s broken up and Dustin takes it to the floor again, where Dustin gets in Hager’s wife’s face. Back in and Dustin hits the bulldog and powerslam for two each.
Hager slams him down and hits the Vader Bomb for two. There are some running clotheslines in the corner and Hager licks his neck ala Tyson Fury. Dustin backdrops a charging Hager over the top to send him face first onto the steps. Back in and Dustin kicks him rather questionably low and gets two off a Code Red. Dustin goes with a cross armbreaker for the sake of revenge but gets reversed into an ankle lock. That’s reversed with a roll through but the referee is almost bumped and the distraction lets Hager get in a low blow. The standing arm triangle choke knocks Dustin out at 14:48.
Rating: B-. Good, hard hitting brawl here with Dustin trying as hard as he could but not being able to take out the monster Hager. They can go a good distance with Hager as the crossover athlete who can hurt people for Jericho and he never has to go that far on his own. That didn’t work so well in WWE so a different style, like this one, could work rather well.
Blood and Guts (looks like a one ring WarGames) is coming on March 25.
Sammy Guevara vs. Darby Allin
Another revenge match after Sammy hit Allin in the throat with Allin’s skateboard. Allin wastes no time in suicide diving onto Sammy and then dropkicking him into the barricade. Sammy gets in his own whip to the barricade but Allin fights right back. A suicide dive misses though and a skateboard shot makes it even worse. It’s already table time and Sammy hits a 630 to drive Allin through it on the floor. They get inside for the opening bell and Sammy hits a running knee for a fast two.
Allin fights up and tries a Gory Special but bites the fingers for a bonus. A Fujiwara armbar into a double armbar makes Sammy get to the rope with his foot and they’re back up. Allin is sent to the apron and a top rope double stomp drives him down for a big crash (and a possible ankle injury for Sammy).
Back up and Sammy can’t get in a skateboard shot, allowing Allin to hit a quick Canadian Destroyer. The Coffin Drop is broken up though and Allin gets sat on top so Sammy can run the ropes, NEARLY fall (with one foot going in the air), and grab a super Spanish Fly for two. Sammy unhooks a buckle pad but gets sent into the exposed steel. A Stunner into the Coffin Drop is good for the pin on Sammy at 5:04.
Rating: B. The length hurt this one but dang they were beating each other up out there. This was the kind of hard hitting star enhancing performance from both of them and something that will get some attention on a stacked show. They’ve got something special in Allin and they know it, which is one of the best things that you can say about such a young promotion.
Post match Hager has to save Guevara from a skateboard shot.
We recap the Young Bucks vs. Kenny Omega/Hangman Page. Omega and Page won the titles before the Bucks despite Page walking away from the Elite. This is about seeing who the real stars are because the Bucks need to be validated as the best team in the world, though Omega isn’t interested in letting them walk there so easily.
Tag Team Titles: Young Bucks vs. Kenny Omega/Hangman Page
Omega and Page are defending. Nick takes Omega (with a taped up shoulder) down with a flying mare to start and there’s a spinning armdrag out of the corner to do it again. Page comes in to a BIG reaction and they go to the mat with neither being able to maintain control. Back up and Page spits in his face so everything breaks down with the Bucks taking over, including a neckbreaker out of the corner to Page.
Things settle down and Page hits Matt in the back to take over, with some knees to the spine making it even worse. Everything breaks down again and Page is ready to send Matt back first into the ring bell, but Omega isn’t letting that happen. They head inside again with Matt getting chopped but coming back with the northern lights suplex. That’s enough for the tag off to Nick as everything breaks down again (with JR wondering why the tags have stopped).
The slingshot X Factor hits Omega and Matt grabs the Sharpshooter on Page, only to have Page making the save off the running Fameasser. The brawling continues until Matt piledrives Omega for two but Omega knocks Nick away and brings Page back in. With the fans chanting for COWBOY S***, Page hits a fall away slam on Nick and knocks Matt to the floor. Both Bucks are tossed over the top and Page hits the top rope moonsault onto the two of them at the same time. Back in and Page shoves Nick into the corner because he wants to fight Matt.
Page gets the better of the slugout and Omega tags himself in, with Page throwing Matt into a German suplex (where he almost landed on top of his head). A Doctor Bomb gives Omega two more but Nick comes back in to make the save. The springboard wristdrag is broken up but Nick backflips onto the ramp and sunset flips Omega back in. The Bucks hit a powerbomb/Sliced Bread combination on Omega but Page is back in for the save. We get a Marty Scurll chickenwing but Matt breaks it up with a 450 for two.
Matt’s back gives out on the More Bang For Your Buck so Omega hits You Can’t Escape. Page gets his own two off a Blockbuster suplex to Nick, followed by a V Trigger for the same. Some Snapdragons rock Nick and the Tiger Driver 98 gets two. Nick is back up with a super reverse hurricanrana (so Omega can get dropped on his head as well) as Matt hits the rolling northern lights suplexes to Page on the ramp.
To make it worse, the Indytaker plants Page on the ramp….and the fans are REALLY unhappy. Back in and the superkicks have Omega in trouble and the Golden Trigger (Kenny and Kota Ibushi’s finisher) gets one as Omega is all fired up. Another one gets two so Matt starts stomping on the shoulder, even taking the tape off. Somehow Page is back up to stop the Meltzer Driver, meaning it’s a powerbomb through the timekeeper’s table.
That leaves Matt to take the Buckshot Lariat/V Trigger combination for two more and Omega is stunned. The V Trigger connects but Page can’t hit the One Winged Angel. Page does it instead with Matt coming in for the save at two. The Buckshot lariat drops both Bucks and Matt is finally done at 30:04.
Rating: A. If there was a rating between an A and an A+, it would fit perfectly here. They beat the heck out of each other here and the storytelling was awesome with the Bucks showing anger and then remorse at beating up their friend in the name of winning the titles. The ending is the right call as the story hits a bit of a wall with the Bucks winning but they did the right thing by having Omega and Page retain. Outstanding stuff.
Post match Page still won’t celebrate with the Elite and seems to tease a Buckshot lariat to Omega, but holds the rope open for him instead.
We recap Nyla Rose vs. Kris Stadtlander. Rose won the title earlier this month and Stadtlander is her first challenger. The idea is that Stadtlander can take away the size and power advantage.
Women’s Title: Kris Stadtlander vs. Nyla Rose
Rose is defending. After the Big Match Intros, Stadtlander slugs away to start but Rose drives her into the corner. A shoulder drops Rose and Stadtlander hits a standing moonsault for two. They head to the ramp with Stadtlander diving back inside, only to miss a dive and crash onto the ramp. Rose crushes her with a slingshot spear and suplexes Stadtlander into the corner.
Back in and more stomping has Stadtlander in trouble again but she manages a superkick. Stadtlander strikes away and an enziguri puts Rose down on the floor. There’s the back to back suicide dives, followed by a dropkick for two back inside. Rose clotheslines her in the back of the head before draping Stadtlander across the rope. That’s fine with Stadtlander, who hand walks away and lays on the mat to blow a kiss to Rose.
An STF puts Stadtlander in trouble again but she blocks a splash with knees. Rose catches her with a pop up Beast Bomb for two and goes up top, only to get pulled down with a nasty looking super brainbuster (Stadtlander almost dropped her). Stadtlander loads up a super hurricanrana but gets caught in a super Beast Bomb (with Rose leaving one leg outside the ropes for a nearly scary crash) to retain at 12:55.
Rating: D+. This was rough and by far the worst thing on the show so far. They were botching stuff left and right and it seemed like they weren’t ready for this stage. The match felt like it just kept going and they would have been a lot better off ending with that first Beast Bomb. Really not good here and it was a bit letdown after everything else.
We recap Cody vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman. MJF turned on Cody to cost him any chance of winning the World Title in the future, but then made it impossible for Cody to get his hands on him. Cody had to jump through hoops, including taking a whipping and beating MJF’s bodyguard Wardlow to get the match but here we are.
Cody vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman
Brandi Rhodes, Arn Anderson and Wardlow are all here and Cody gets played to the ring live. Cody has a new neck tattoo of an American flag skull so you know he’s serious. MJF runs away like a true coward should and it’s time for a breather on the floor. Back in and the Cody Cutter is blocked so MJF heads outside again. This time MJF bails into the crowd (making sure to flip off the fans) but Anderson won’t let Cody follow him.
Back in and Cody hits the uppercut into the Cody Cutter for one, with MJF rolling to the ramp this time. Cody stomps on the fingers but MJF uses one of the good ones to poke him in the eye. MJF steps on Cody’s broken toe but since it’s just a toe, Cody hits a spinning Alabama Slam. Wardlow pulls MJF to the floor for a breather so Brandi throws a drink in Wardlow’s face. The stalking is on so Cody makes a save with a suicide dive.
Back in and MJF gets in a cheap shot, meaning it’s time to start on the arm. The reverse cross armbreaker keeps Cody down and MJF works on the second arm for a bonus. With his legs too far away, Cody crawls over and bites the rope for the break. MJF takes the boot off so he can stand on the broken toe….and then bite it for a bonus. A running powerbomb out of the corner is broken up and Cody hits the Disaster kick with the unbooted foot. Wardlow offers a distraction so Anderson grabs a chair to chase him off.
Somehow a socked foot to the head has busted MJF open and Cody hammers away in the corner. After a Randy Orton poses, Cody’s hanging DDT is countered into the Heatseeker. Wardlow tries to get involved again but this time Brandi dives off the apron to….not take him down. Cody goes after Wardlow but kicks Anderson by mistake. The medic comes out to check on Arn and MJF hits a low blow for two.
MJF tries a suplex but Cody reverses into one of his own over the top and they have a big crash to the outside. They get back in for the big slugout with Cody getting the better of it but MJF collapses before the Bionic Elbow can connect. That’s some goldbricking though as MJF grabs the Double Cross for two. MJF goes for the weightlifting belt but the referee takes it away, allowing Cody to get in a low blow.
A Vertebreaker gets two (because Cody doesn’t have enough finishers) and it’s time for Cody to get in his own whipping. The belt is thrown out and MJF cowers in the corner before grabbing Cody’s boot and begging off. JR: “I didn’t mean to be a Richard.” Now MJF hugs him, only to spit in his face, setting up Cross Rhodes. That’s not enough for a cover so Cody hits it again, only to have MJF sneak in a shot with the diamond ring for the fluke pin at 25:38.
Rating: A-. I smiled way too hard at MJF winning in the end because it’s such a slimy way for him to escape after taking that kind of a beating. It wasn’t as action packed as some of the other matches but it was the old school emotional fight with MJF stealing the win to keep things going. I loved the ending (though I might not have had it come after back to back Cross Rhodes) and I’m counting the seconds to hear MJF’s victory promo.
We recap Pac vs. Orange Cassidy. This only needs five words: this time he’s gonna try.
Pac vs. Orange Cassidy
The Best Friends are here with Cassidy. Fans: “HE’S GONNA TRY!” Cassidy wristlocks him down and it’s time to put the hands in the pockets. They exchange weak kicks to the legs until Pac shoves him down. Cassidy is back up with a dropkick and a victory roll for two, only to charge into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. They head outside with Pac sending him into the barricade and post. Excalibur: “If I didn’t know any better I’d say he was from a town called Malice.” JR: “I know a girl named Alice once. From Malice. She was mean.”
Pac knocks him down again and we get a NO PULP chant. The top rope superplex connects but Pac pulls him up at two. Cassidy rolls away before the Red Arrow can launch though and then does it again for a bonus. Fans: “HOLY S***!” The rolling continues until Cassidy smiles at him and nips up. There’s the suicide dive to Pac and a high crossbody connects, followed by a tornado DDT for two.
A hard forearm cuts Cassidy off but he puts his hands back in his pockets. They come right back out though for a Superman punch and a Stundog Millionaire drops Pac again. Pac crotches him on top, only to get tornado DDTed down. A super DDT connects but Pac rolls to the apron. Excalibur says Cassidy is pursuing him with the tenacity of a fire ant for your insider reference of the match. A White Noise gives Cassidy two but here are the Lucha Bros to fight with the Best Friends. Pac pulls him down by the arm and the Brutalizer finishes Cassidy at 13:00.
Rating: C. The important thing here was Pac won (which I don’t think was ever in any doubt) and everything leading to that was fine enough. I’m not sure they needed the Lucha Bros interfering instead of being on the card but the match was what it was supposed to be. Pac could have been used for something more important, but they didn’t do anything ridiculous and it could have been a lot worse.
We recap Chris Jericho vs. Jon Moxley. Jericho was scared of facing Moxley and tried to get him to join the Inner Circle instead. Moxley broke a bottle over Jericho’s head so Jericho stabbed Moxley in the eye. That sent Moxley over the edge as he’s fighting for revenge and the title, but he’s fighting on his own.
AEW World Title: Jon Moxley vs. Chris Jericho
Just to show off, Jericho has a gospel choir sing his theme song. Jericho is defending and has Santana/Ortiz with him. They go straight to the brawl to start and it’s already on the floor. Jericho takes it into the crowd and hits Moxley with something made of metal as he’s already trying for a DQ. Jericho does his steal a camera deal and flips Moxley off before hitting him in the face again. It’s back to ringside with Moxley getting the better of things and biting him across the nose, which Jericho had stitched up on Wednesday.
Moxley is bleeding from the head as Jericho powerbombs him through the announcers’ table. Jericho rings the bell and declares himself the winner before heading inside for a change. The fans start a STUPID IDIOT chant so Jericho flips everyone off. The book gets raked across Moxley’s face and it’s time to go back outside so Santana and Ortiz can hammer away.
A whip sends Moxley into the steps as the beating continues. Back in and Jericho gets a bit too cocky, allowing Moxley to slug away. Jericho charges into an elbow and gets pulled into a heel hook. That sends Jericho straight to the ropes and then outside, meaning it’s a suicide dive from Moxley. Santana and Ortiz offer a distraction to break up the Paradigm Shift and the loaded sock puts Moxley down again. The Lionsault gets two but Moxley picks the leg and puts on his own Walls.
Cue Hager for another distraction so Jericho can get the Walls as well. Moxley makes the rope so he gets in an argument with the referee. This time Hager punches Moxley in the face so all three seconds are ejected. Cue Sammy Guevara with a belt shot though and Jericho gets a very delayed two. Back up and Jericho rakes the bad eye so Moxley is totally blind. The Judas Effect misses though and it’s the Paradigm Shift….because the right eye is fine. Moxley points at the eye and hits another Paradigm Shift for the pin and the title at 21:40.
Rating: B. You could have gone either way here and that’s a good situation to be in. Moxley winning is a great moment and the eye patch being a fake was quite the mind game that suits him well. Jericho had held the title for a long time now and they could do a rematch at whatever their next big show is going to be. They almost had to switch the title here after what Moxley had been through and that’s what they did. It helps when either way could have worked fine though and it was a good enough match too.
Post match Moxley thanks the fans and says he wouldn’t be here without them. AEW wanted to bring wrestling back to the world and now it’s time for some beers. His music starts up again and Moxley drops an F bomb. He’ll fight anyone anytime so he can knock them down. For now though, it’s time to knock back some whiskey.
Overall Rating: A-. This was a rather good show with only a few bad matches, both of which were minor compared to the big ones. The main stuff all hit rather well and we got a feel good moment to end the show. They know how to do these big shows very well and it was a heck of a night. It ran about four hours counting the half hour pre-show and that’s fine when they only do a few pay per views a year. Mostly good to very good stuff here and some eventful moments so it’s hard to complain about much. Check out that tag match though as it stole the show by a wide margin.
Jake Hager b. Dustin Rhodes – Standing arm triangle choke
Darby Allin b. Sammy Guevara – Coffin Drop
Kenny Omega/Hangman Page b. Young Bucks – Buckshot lariat to Matt
Nyla Rose b. Kris Stadtlander – Super Beast Bomb
Maxwell Jacob Friedman b. Cody – Punch with a diamond ring
Pac b. Orange Cassidy – Brutalizer
Jon Moxley b. Chris Jericho – Paradigm Shift
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