Date: May 18, 2022
Location: Fertitta Center, Houston, Texas
Commentators: Excalibur, Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone
It’s Wild Card Wednesday, meaning we find out the two Joker entrants in the Owen Hart Foundation tournaments. Other than that, we have two Dynamites left before Double Or Nothing and that means it is time to start hammering out a few more matches on the card. Most of the show is already set though and that can make things all the more interesting. Let’s get to it.
Owen Hart Foundation Tournament First Round: Samoa Joe vs. ???
Non-title and the joker is….Johnny Elite (Nitro/Morrison/about eight other names). Feeling out process to start as Joe doesn’t seem overly impressed. Joe knocks him into the corner for some shots to the ribs, followed by an elbow to the face. Some shots to the face have Joe in a bit of trouble though and Elite knocks him to the floor, setting up the big twisting cannonball to take Joe down again.
We take a break and come back with Joe hitting a big boot and then chopping Elite down. The MuscleBuster is loaded up but Elite takes him down and goes up top. The 450 connects (with Elite’s knees hitting a good bit short) for two but Joe is right back with the MuscleBuster for the pin at 10:21.
Rating: C+. Yeah fine. Elite is about as perfect of a choice as you could get to have him come in, be a nice enough surprise, and be fed to Joe without ruining a debut. I don’t need Elite to stick around, but he had a pretty nice start to his time in AEW, even if this is it. Joe is likely making a deep run in this thing and him winning the whole tournament wouldn’t shock me.
Post match Jay Lethal, Sonjay Dutt and Satnam Singh come in to take Joe out with a pipe. The Best Friends make the save.
We look back at Jeff Hardy getting banged up last week against Darby Allin (egads).
The Young Bucks come up to see the Hardys, with Jeff being cleared to wrestle tonight. The Bucks have been praying for him all week but Jeff wants that “Christian AF BS” out of here. Jeff has a tournament to win and Matt threatens violence if the Bucks interfere. Matt calling the Bucks Hardys cosplayers was funny.
Hangman Page vs. Konosuke Takeshita
Non-title and CM Punk is on commentary. Page starts fast and knocks him to the floor but Takeshita is back in with some strikes of his own. They head to the apron with Page taking him down again as we take a break. Back with Takeshita hitting a Blue Thunder Bomb and a jumping knee for two each. They clothesline each other down but Page is back up with a release German suplex, setting up a Tombstone for two.
The buckshot lariat is countered into a jumping knee and a stalling German suplex plants Page again. They go up top with Takeshita hitting a heck of a forearm to knock Page to the mat. Page pops right up with a discus lariat and the Buckshot lariat….but doesn’t cover. Instead it’s the GTS (Punk: “I’ve got him right where I want him.”) for the pin at 12:12.
Rating: B-. I’ve liked Takeshita more than I would have expected as DDT Pro doesn’t have the best reputation for being serious. Takeshita has a good look and his work has gone well enough so I could go for more of him going forward. That being said, this was an extended workout for Page and that’s all it needed to be.
Fuego del Sol and the Dark Order are ready for the House of Black.
Swerve Strickland/Keith Lee vs. Workhorsemen
Lee gets the better of a chop off with Drake to start and hands it off to Strickland. A jumping kick to the face rocks Henry in the corner and it’s back to Lee to clean house. Lee loads up a sitout powerbomb and Strickland adds a top rope double stomp for the pin at 2:21. Nice use of the new power/speed team here.
Post match Lee says they are a top five team but here is Team Taz to interrupt. Ricky Starks calls Lee Rex from Toy Story but Strickland says Starks looks like a bar of soap with a pearl necklace on. Cue Jurassic Express with Christian Cage to interrupt. Christian says they are the best and the triple threat challenge is thrown out for Double Or Nothing. Deal. Oh and for a bonus: let’s do Jungle Boy vs. Ricky Starks vs. Swerve Strickland next week.
Red Velvet and Kris Statlander are ready to fight in the first round of the Owen Hart Tournament on Friday. Jade Cargill comes in for catchphrases/trash talk.
Here are MJF and Shawn Spears, with MJF nearly getting sick when saying he’s in Houston. He tells Wardlow to get out here right now so here is Wardlow, with his hands still cuffed. MJF spits in his face and slaps him but Wardlow maintains his composure. MJF gets in a few whips but Wardlow doesn’t flinch. Spears gets in a few whips of his own and those wake him up, but MJF gets in a low blow and unloads with the belt. The Dynamite Diamond ring knocks Wardlow cold and MJF is rather pleased with himself.
Roppongi Vice throws out the challenge to FTR for a Ring of Honor Tag Team Title shot.
Owen Hart Foundation Tournament First Round: Kyle O’Reilly vs. Rey Fenix
Fenix starts with the flips but loses a chop off to put him right back down. Back up and an armbar slows Fenix down but he knocks O’Reilly to the floor for a heck of a running flip dive. O’Reilly posts the arm though and we take a break. Back with Fenix kicking him down as O’Relly’s chest is very red. O’Reilly grabs the rolling butterfly suplexes but Fenix drives him into the corner for a springboard spinning kick to the head.
Another spinning kick rocks O’Reilly but he bounces off the ropes with a rebound lariat. O’Reilly is back with a choke, which is reversed for a jumping enziguri. Fenix isn’t done and knocks him to the floor for a rope walk flip dive. Back in and a rolling cutter is countered into a cross armbreaker for the tap at 11:16.
Rating: B. This was an interesting back and forth style, with O’Reilly being perfectly logical by going after the arm that was hurt not too long ago. O’Reilly is going to go after a limb no matter what and they gave him an extra target here. Joe vs. O’Reilly should be a good showdown next week and they have done a nice job getting us there, especially with Fenix getting in just enough flips etc. to not take it too far.
Here is the Blackpool Combat Club/Eddie Kingston/Santana/Ortiz, as William Regal and Chris Jericho have their face to face chat (as Jericho tends to do). The Jericho Appreciation Society comes out, with the order to cut off the pyro and music. Jericho brings up the attack last week and says he thought Regal would be dead by now. Regal gets a chuckle out of that and talks about how Regal should have been one of the best of all time given all of his skills. Instead, he wound up being a world class addict.
Regal has been fired from every company he has ever worked for until he weaseled his way in here on the coattails of his proteges. Then you have Eddie Kingston, whose face was burned with a fireball. Then you have Bryan Danielson, and we pause for a YES chant. Danielson has never had a drink or taken a drug in his life, but stick with this gang long enough and Regal will have him needing the program just like Moxley. Jericho tells Regal to get out of the business or the Wizard will shoot a fireball in his face. Or relieve himself in Regal’s tea again.
The tea gets Regal talking, as the two of them have known each other since 1997. The only thing that are worse than Jericho’s voice are the screams from a burning orphanage so please be quiet. Jericho is right about Regal’s issues, but one thing has kept him going for the last 21 years. Whenever he has been on a show with Jericho, Regal would go to Jericho’s bag when Jericho was in the ring and….place Jericho’s toothbrush in a certain area. Daniel Garcia: “HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO SOMEONE???” Regal: “Actually flower, I did it to yours last week.”
Jericho loads up the Stadium Stampede challenge but Moxley says he “isn’t doing that s***.” Moxley isn’t doing that sports entertainment stuff so let’s make it anything goes with glorious violence until the Society is bleeding like stuck pigs. Call it whatever you want, including wrestling vs. sports entertainment.
Jericho seems down with that and brings up the other team’s history with each other, including Danielson calling Kingston “a judgmental prick.” Kingston to Danielson: “You are.” Kingston doesn’t care about buyrates or ratings though so let’s fight right now. Jericho and company leave instead, with Danielson and Kingston being ready to fight over giving chase. There were some great lines in there, but this wasn’t what I had in mind for Regal vs. Jericho: Face To Face, especially as Regal didn’t exactly get in any great lines in response to Jericho’s stuff.
Dante Martin and Matt Sydal want the Blackpool Combat Club on Friday.
Owen Hart Foundation Tournament First Round: Britt Baker vs. ???
The Joker is Maki Itoh, the singing wrestler who teamed with Baker last year at Revolution. Baker loads up the Fingerpoke of Doom but Itoh small packages her for two instead. Itoh steps on her foot and hits a headbutt, only to miss a falling headbutt. There’s a Sling Blade to Baker and we take a break.
Back with Baker sending Itoh face first into the buckle, but Itoh has a hard head so she does it to herself. A headbutt puts Baker down and Itoh adds a tornado DDT for two. Itoh finally hits her falling headbutt for two but Baker pulls her straight into the Lockjaw for the win at 6:45.
Rating: D+. The match itself was nothing and that isn’t the point here. Itoh is the definition of a gimmick and therefore having her pop up once every now and then is going to work. I don’t know how much anyone was wanting a payoff to Itoh and Baker teaming together at Revolution, but for something that lasted about eight minutes, there are far worse ways to go.
Post match Toni Storm comes out for the staredown with Baker, who doesn’t seem impressed.
Here is Tony Schiavone in the ring to hype up next week’s three year anniversary show but Serena Deeb cuts him off. She is sick of hearing Tony talk, especially last week when Tony said that she can’t beat Thunder Rosa. Dustin Rhodes has had a lot to say about Deeb having no chance against Rosa, so here is Dustin to interrupt.
Deeb calls him the poster boy of failure and says Jim Ross might be the only one with any brains around here. She says Dustin knows how hard it was to be a woman in her era and even got implants to satisfy old perverts. So why does Dustin think Deeb can’t beat Thunder Rosa? Dustin has nothing to say so she slaps him in the face, which draws out Rosa. Deeb takes the Women’s Title from her and gets in a good shot. I have no idea what they were going for here, but Deeb talking isn’t a good thing.
Owen Hart Tournament Semifinals: Adam Cole vs. Jeff Hardy
Cole jumps him in the aisle and the beating starts fast. Hardy is sent into the steps, setting up a Backstabber to drop Jeff again. We take a break and come back with the slugout in the middle (because of course) but Cole enziguris him down. The sitout gordbuster gives Jeff two but the Whisper in the Wind is…kind of superkicked out of the air (that didn’t look great). The Boom misses so Jeff hits the Twisting Stunner, only to miss the Swanton. Cole hits the Boom for the pin at 7:05.
Rating: C. This felt like a rush job due to time constraints, especially with Cole jumping him in the aisle. I can kind of get the idea of not wanting Allin to lose to Cole here, but if that is the case, don’t set up the brackets that way in the first place. Hardy was still banged up here so he has an out, but it wasn’t like there was much to the match in the first place.
Post match Cole stares at Jeff but Matt Hardy gets in to cut him off. The Young Bucks come in for the cheap shot but the Hardys stare them down. Cole jumps the Hardys and here are Sting and Darby Allin for the save. Cue ReDRagon to go after Sting and Allin though, including Sting’s ankle being Pillmanized to end the show.
Overall Rating: C+. AEW continues their weird streak of a good show with that one weird thing in there. This time it was Deeb’s segment, as I’m not sure I get what they were trying to do. Other than that (and the Baker vs. Itoh match, which was meant to be glorified comedy), there wasn’t much to complain about here. Double Or Nothing had matches either added or enhanced so I can’t complain all that much. Not a home run show here, but it did what it needed to do and didn’t go nuts with the surprises. I had fun, so call it at least mostly a success.
Samoa Joe b. Johnny Elite – MuscleBuster
Hangman Page b. Konosuke Takeshita – GTS
Swerve Strickland/Keith Lee b. Workhorsemen – Sitout powerbomb/top rope double stomp to Henry
Kyle O’Reilly b. Rey Fenix – Cross armbreaker
Britt Baker b. Maki Itoh – Lockjaw
Adam Cole b. Jeff Hardy – Boom
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