Red's Pro-Wrestling Digest #67: AEW road to Full Gear

Match Ratings

  1. AEW World Tag Titles, Scissor Me Trademark Apuesta: Acclaimed(c) vs Varsity Athletes **1/4
  2. AEW All-Atlantic Title: Orange(c) vs Ten vs Rush ***
  3. Eliminator: Storm vs Diamante ***
  4. Rey Fenix vs AR Fox ***1/2
  5. Eliminator: Moxley vs Moriarty ***
  6. ROH World Title: Jericho(c) vs Colt ***
  7. AEW All-Atlantic Title: Orange(c) vs Fenix vs Luchasaurus ***1/2
  8. TBS Title: Jade(c) vs Marina NR
  9. ROH TV Title: Joe(c) vs Cage ***1/2
  10. AEW All-Atlantic Title: Orange(c) vs Shibata ***1/4
  11. Mei, Emi vs Shida, Storm ***1/2
  12. Ass Boys, Swerve in our Glory vs FTR, Acclaimed ***3/4
  13. Eliminator Tournament 1st Round: Page vs Kingston **3/4
  14. Lethal vs Trent **
  15. Best 2/3 Falls: Danielson vs Guevara ****1/4
  16. Eliminator Tournament 1st Round: Cage vs Dante ***1/2
  17. Eliminator Tournament 1st Round: Rush vs Bandido ***1/2
  18. Athena vs Sparks S***1/2
  19. ROH Pure Title, Pure Rules: Garcia(c) vs Ruffin ***1/2
  20. Jericho Appreciation Society vs Blackpool Combat Club ****
  21. Strickland vs Bowens ***
  22. AEW Trios Titles: Death△(c) vs Fox, Top Flight ***3/4
  23. Eliminator Tournament Semi-Final: Page vs Bandido ***
  24. Athena vs Rayne NR
  25. Jun, Takeshita vs Kingston, Ortiz ***3/4

Digest

We start with Rampage 64 content, specifically with The Acclaimed trying to win a trademark about scissoring back by putting their championship belts on the line. Wrestling is fun, people! Admittedly, this was rough around the edges and in no way represented the talent involved in a very positive manner. It's an average as hell title defense on television and one you should sadly skip.

Sterling DID have his dick squashed a few times after, though. Gunn also thinks that tearing up paper makes what was written on it gone forever.

Next, the former Fire Ant defended the TNT Championship against Ten and Rush. Jose got involved and broke up a pin, setting up a curse from Danhausen and then a punch in the dick as a cherry on top. If you can't tell, I will clearly state now that this was a circus act affair but also a pretty entertaining one.

JR correctly said they lost the crowd a bit here, which I clearly agree with, but they were trying their best. It doesn't always land perfectly. Whatever.

I'd say it's arguably good while being far from great.

After, Ten would have a moment with Rush.

I half-watched Jade and her crew demanding that Nyla returns the TBS strap from this episode. It was awful. The best part is when the champ insisted that she wasn't leaving until she was forced to, moments before she left on her own by choice. 

Please, stop this shit.

I watched the next week's worth of AEW content and posted about it HERE in Digest 44 in an experimental edition of the ongoing series.

On to Dark, we have two pulls.

Diamante was the next to drop an eliminator match, this one to the (interim) Women's champ, Toni Storm. I wish they'd have folks win these more often against the title holders. Anyway, here we had a solid singles match between the two. Good shit honestly and it's always nice seeing Diamante getting some work. 

I still wish they'd redo the way Dark and Elevation are treated, but that's likely just me.

Next, Killshot and Fenix main evented the 168th episode of the program. I miss Lucha Underground, goddammit.

This was an under-5 clash and I'm very excited that it even happened. AR Fox is one of the dudes I've always wanted to get signed to a big deal, regardless of where. I respect the fuck out of him and that includes his in-ring content as well as the work he does behind the scenes, too.

He deserves this.

He's clearly going to run with it.

They started with a more mellow pace allowing for pockets of fire and a building rumble of energy to burn this uphill nicely. Fox ran with this chance and displayed how well-rounded he is as a performer while Fenix delivered the goods, as usual, too.

In a word...Yes!

I have Full Gear on DVD and am happy that it's finally time to watch the damn thing. More on that later. Thanks, as always, for reading. Please consider donating HERE to help keep this website alive!

Next, Dynamite from 11/02.

Billy Gunn's birthday celebration was pure crowd pleasing content for the masses. What the hell do you say about this other than that!?

W. Morrissey and the Ass Boys would try to ruin the fun. FTR would then save the day.

Darby and Lethal would run it back. The dive spot from Darby that led immediately to Jay's crew being thrown out was sick as hell. Someone pretending to be Sting would then give us a shit finish. That someone was revealed and not a single fan knew who the fuck it was. Sting's tunes would ring out and then Jeff Jarrett would smash a guitar over Darby's head before cutting a long shitty promo.

I really do not care for this.

The mic was a bit fucked again as production issues continue on and on and on again in AEW. A shit covered cherry on top of a shit sundae.

Mox and Moriarty's match was overshadowed by Lamar Jackson arriving but seemed to win the crowd back on the downstretch. Honestly, this was just a filler match meant to get Mox a W and in place before they'd get to adding a new building block to the MJF/Mox program.

Lee's a great worker and did the best he could given the circumstance. I do dig how AEW tries to typically do the rising ships theory.

Ethan Page would attack Jon in post.

Colt got a shot at The Ocho next, which felt like a statement. It wasn't as clean nor good as expected, to be honest. BCC and JAS would brawl after in a save spot after Jericho tried to continue his attack on Ring of Honor related crew.

Another three-way for the All-Atlantic strap was up to bat after and this one saw the big ass dino being a beast. Fenix did some Fenix things and Orange did Orange things, too. Jungle Boy's attack on the guy that should be extinct was fire though I wish they would've quickly cut the screams from that one fan out of the clip that they kept running back.

Pac and Fenix had a moment again and this one saw Orange retain moments later.

I'll admit that this was a bit all over the place, but it was so damn fun and everyone worked so damn hard and, as a result, it's hard to really complain.

The Bastard would attack after. The God known as Shibata would come out with some CHAOS buddies (Rocky, Best Friends) to save the champ from more damage.

Shibata and Orange was set up to close the segment. How could anyone not like this?

I next watched Jade and Marina in a title match while Nyla and Guerrero talked shit from the stage. It was basically the worst title match I've seen in a long time. Hogan failed to take the belt and Nyla ran off because this program was going to continue.

We're in the worst reality.

Brian Cage tried and failed to dethrone Samoa Joe in the installment's main event. About 12-minutes deep and a heavyweight hoss brawl throughout. Mr. GYSI was good here. Him being MIA isn't a terrible thing, but when he does appear I'm fine with it. He can be good is what I'm saying.

He was good here.

Joe was good here, too.

The match was pretty, well...

Good.

The Embassy attacked after. Wardlow made the save. Hobbs rocked his shit. Basic af way to run this in post, but Hobbs' portion wasn't trash.

I also watched Saraya have a sitdown interview with Renee, which was fine. I actually really like the artist formerly known as Paige and this was good, but much of her AEW content prior to this moment was rusty at times.

Last from this installment, there was a sweet House of Black package that I thought was pretty well done.

The episode gets an overall rating of 70/100%. Basically, it was a good edition of the program while being largely forgettable. You can tell they tried to do the counter of this, but the execution was lacking in the end.

On Rampage #66, we Orange defending against Shibata. It was a bit chaotic and not always in the best way, sadly. It was also admittedly a bit hard watching Katsuyori taking shots and I still have no fucking idea how he's cleared.

I'm not interested in watching a legit The Wrestler moment occur.

In a vacuum, without the baggage, it was still a good match and a part of me really enjoyed seeing it happen. But the baggage remains, regardless.

Starks promo was the last thing I watched from this one. Decent stuff.

Next, we head to Dark where Shida and Storm bested Mei and Emi. This was pretty good and reminded me a lot of a ChocoPro match in an AEW ring, though Mei didn't get to show off nearly as much as I would've wanted. One of the better Dark outings of the year that I've seen.

Apparently La Estrella and SB KENTo had a dark match tryout when they taped that episode of Dark, but nothing happened after which is...surprising.

Moving along, we get to Dynamite 162.

The big clusterfuck 8-man tag match was honestly great for what it was. It even made Gunn's kids seem relevant which is saying something. Simply an entertaining multiman with everyone having some fun.

Kingston and Page could've stole the show. It did not. Both are great workers and are capable of far more, but this honestly was just a throwaway match that had very little heart and some sports entertainment style shit attached. A shame.

At least the finish was cool.

I sadly watched Jay and Trent's match next. It's shit like this that really makes me fear for what Ring of Honor is going to look like seeing as they've suggested previously that this heel unit might be involved in the program. For now, they are just dragging down AEW and they've decided adding JJ to the mix is a good idea for some fucking reason.

Messy and average at best.

The sad thing is, despite the personal shit, Lethal is a quality performer. You'd just be excused for not really realizing it if you'd not seen his TNA or ROH work.

Cheap ass TV.

Luckily, the main event bookended the forgettable in-ring middle chunk of the show with one hell of a match between Sammy and Bryan. The BCC/JAS program has been a bit mixed, but there are a lot of gems coming out of it, too.

This was one such gem.

Sammy had a touch of roughness here and there, but was largely great and Danielson was basically as awesome as always. A treat for wrestling fans to make up for the bullshit before it?

Segments from the installment that I watched included:

  • MJF on Pardon My Take was pretty damn good crossover content and yet another sign of MJF's excellence. That's how you sell a damn PPV, people!  
  • Baker and Saraya's segment finally sold me on the match.

Oh, and The Elite's return was teased again.

11/11 Rampage means that I hope you made a wish beforehand.

Cage monstered past Dante Martin in an Eliminator Tournament match to start things. If #11 is ChocoPro in an AEW ring, this was Lucha Underground in style and tone. In short, it was very good and right up my fucking alley.

Rush and Bandido's tournament match was rough in a way that actually added to the action in a positive way and saw the crowd supporting Bandido in a way that I really loved. John Silver came out and fucked Jose's shit up. A flashpin finish followed. Possibly because Rush hates dropping clean but that's just me speculating. He's been more generous in AEW than usual, for what it's worth.

Very good content, in my opinion, but I know this one was likely polarizing.

I also watched...

  • The House of Black's rebirth package ran which was pretty awesome.
  • Jungle Boy demanded his old buddy fight him in a cage then got his ass kicked.
All the stuff I watched from the episode was enjoyable.

Elevation time? I guess it is.

I wanted to see what Athena would do with Sparks. She squashed her ass and kept her spirit burning. I'm cool with this shit and absolutely want more!

Note the updated S (squash) rating system similar to what I do with comedy content.

Leon Ruffin got a shot at the Ring of Honor Pure Championship next. One of AR Fox's kids and someone I like to see getting any form of TV time. 

The dude was smooth as butter with his athletic abilities taking center stage while Red Death Dragon Slayer Daniel Garcia was a damn force. In physics, the basic idea is that gravity is an asshole that always wants to keep everything frozen in time. It just sucks at getting the job done. Here, Garcia helped gravity out and put the challenger down.

I approve of the way it took place and applaud the efforts of both men.

The last Dynamite of the set was up next.

Claudio and Danielson against Jericho and Guevara? Who wouldn't love to see that!?

Quality storytelling and strong in-ring action, this one was and a fantastic tag team contest to kick off an episode. Honestly, I'd argue that this was PPV level stuff

Death△ beat Fox and Friends in a balls to the wall battle to retain the straps and then called out The Elite. A visual making it official followed. Great shit.

Page beat Bandido in a semi-final match. An interesting choice, for sure. Basically, they decided that Starks would gain more from beating All Ego Ethan Page than he would Bandido, not to mention the risk factor involved in the latter.

It didn't get the best of responses, and was at Bandido's expense, but it was a solid move for sure when you think back on it.

Other things from the episode included...

  • Baker backstage put herself over to further build her match against Knight. Fire!
  • Mox called MJF out. The Firm attacked the champ. MJF attacked The Firm and made the entire group look like jobbers (including the dude that just won the damn semi-final earlier in the night). Certainly a choice. The promo that came out of MJF was awesome like usual and I love the Punk call out that it featured. The fact that you can point to multiple different mic outings as being the best of the year and I can see this easily being worth a mention. Mox then forgot when the damn show was.
  • The Acclaimed dropped A Hand for a Hand on the world. It ran before Bowens' match but deserves a shoutout in advance because it was fucking magic. I mean, Captain Insano made an appearance for fucks sake!

Everything I bothered with was enjoyable.

Rampage 68 had another legit House of Black package. The audio felt like something that'd kick off a Cradle of Filth album.

Rayne said she wanted to squash a bully. Got bullied. It lasted less than 3-minutes and moved Athena's revival to TV and off of YouTube. For that, I approve. Too short to rate but fine for the circumstances. Athena would fuck up Rayne more after and do the same to Edwards.

Mercedes would run off the American joshi.

The final match I caught was Uncle Jun and ace level Takeshita against Ortiz and Kingston. I love Akiyama and Takeshita so seeing them with Eddie on the other side of the ring was fun. Ortiz was actually pretty fun here, too. Clearly an attempt at a love letter for classic 90's puroresu tag team matches and they delivered on the attempt pretty decently.

Can we get Jun back more, please!?

This one was admittedly bloated but I am appreciative of anyone that found value here. Rotation issues, not bailing fast enough on shit programs, and stop-start pushes are still an issue for the company but AEW was pretty damn good for the most part during this build up and I stand by all acclaim given throughout the words above.