Better late than never? I've made a list of matches and events I have to watch. It was a tough list to make, but I really need to move on and push forward. If you ever see something missing from my coverage near the end of the year that you think I absolutely need to see from 2023, shoot me a text at 315-330-6840.

Anyway, in the meantime this one is a road to Double or Nothing themed edition. I rewrote this a few times but it was always too fucking bloated. This set specifically is the first part of the bunch and features a look at the World Championship scene and the BCC/Elite drama. I'll be reviving AEW Spark for this and will include links to the two installments used.

Hopefully this is useful or entertaining or something for someone. 

I'll be splitting it up by program.

"PILLARS"

Darby and Strickland went at it, adding to their catalog of quality content. You can really do no wrong by watching their past encounters, for the record. Many are on YouTube, in fact. Here's a playlist I made. Chaotic as fuck in all of the right ways, this worked as a fantastic lead in...

MJF and Allin shared some words in the ring. The champ talked shit like he does and Darby had a raw response. A fine enough segment and the fans actually got behind Sting's squirrel. Speaking of, The Icon made his way out and had some fun of his own. He teased his retirement and plugged his buddy .

Good shit, if a bit bloated.

The following week, the "pillars" had a rougher segment. None of the dudes are great on the mic and it was too unstructured. I'm not saying we need scripts and shit, but this felt mishandled. A tournament was announced to crown a contender with Allin getting a bye.

Meh television, to be honest but MJF tried his best to save it.

Jack and Sammy's match was actually pretty good and the shit finish honestly added to it well enough. Very old-school stuff and the action itself worked well as a lead-in. I don't consider the pillars to actually be the real pillars of the company, not entirely at least, but this was a fun main event.

MJF aligning strategically with Sammy worked well for both characters.

Your mileage will vary a lot and you'll need to be willing to deal with attitude era endings, but I had a good time.

The following week, MJF joined the commentary table to watch on as Sammy and Darby beat the fuck out of each other. The 630 senton to the outside through a table that Guevara dropped was especially sick and really showcased the car crash athleticism that AEW pumps out on the regular.

An Eddie finish worked fine enough for the angle, but the match was a bit weaker than the one from the week before and it sucked the air out a bit more this time around, too. Good stuff overall, but you can tell not everything is landing as well as it could.

In post, MJF bragged on the mic while Sammy smirked. Darby looked like he had rabies and Perry stood there. Tony Shiavone called the champ a prick and then announced a tag match for the following week. If the faces win, the title match would become a four-way. The whole thing is clunky and this post-match segment really showcased that.

Moving on...

The tag match from episode 187 saw the obvious victory for the emo dude and the caveman. The heels were heels and the faces overcame thanks to in-fighting. Darby stealing the pin right after was actually a solid add. This was a nice, simple onion done well and a fairly good match was the result.

Rush and Perry worked a singles match ahead of Double or Nothing to give Jack a victory. A nice matchup for sure as both gelled well together. Perry had some color, adding nicely to this one and Rush did Rush things which is always a nice sight. 

Tony needs to give us the Park/Rush apuesta before it's not possible.

Anyway, Jack had to get a flashpin to move past the bull and his Ingobernable faction attacked after. It was suggested that MJF had paid them to do the type of thing they always do anyway. Darby and Sammy eventually managed to run off the heels.

Guevara helping right after the shit he had done prior is certainly a booking choice. I'm sure it's supposed to be because of MJF being a dick, but it felt a bit off in execution.

MJF with a mic to end the segment? The champion ripped on the challengers and then plugged them before moving his ire to the fans. He referenced his contract situation again and suggested a screwjob attempt by TK.

Darby came out to interrupt and talk about his hobbies and goals. MJF kicked him in the balls for his efforts. The others helped even things out to close this out.

This program exposed the pillars and showed that Tony's chosen four are not all equal by any stretch.

MJF is MJF. Nothing else needs to be said but he clearly is a pillar of AEW.

I can get behind Darby being one of the four. He's been a big part of the soul of the brand and very much has modern Jeff Hardy appeal.

Sammy, a dude from my same hometown (he's from Katy, not Houston) is a hard worker but it's hard to say he is a pillar when Orange Cassidy is right fucking there. Like it or not, Cassidy is a pillar, folks.

Baker deserves Perry's spot. Jungle Boy has been a fun roster member for sure, but he's the weakest link of the bunch and has absolutely nothing on Britt. I'd say Yuta or Garcia are far more relevant if you insist on keeping the pillars a sausage fest and are okay with picking dudes that came a tad later. A pillar fest? 

Whatever.

I dig the caveman's in-ring work well enough, but lets not lie to ourselves and pretend he is a pillar.

Oh, there was a Perry/Spears match that aired on Rampage that you can watch if you want. I didn't want to. You likely wont either.

Culticon, aka Eric Mutter, insists that Starks should replace Sammy. Okay, I won't argue much there. He'd have Jamie be the other. Interesting choice, for sure.

Chats between pals posted publicly because why not.

Shoot your picks to me if you want. Could be a fun debate or whatever.

All of that said, the matches of the set all worked well enough to different degrees. The best one of the bunch wasn't technically part of this rivalry and likely shouldn't have been included, but none of it was bad. The bad-to-average stuff was basically the other things.

Oh well, it could've been better but was fine for what it was.

Match Ratings

  1. Darby vs Swerve ****
  2. Perry vs Guevara ***1/2
  3. Guevara vs Darby ***
  4. MJF, Guevara vs Darby, Perry ***1/4
  5. Rush vs Perry ***1/2

Watch AEW Spark Episode 4, as used for this set, HERE.


ANARCHY

The Blackpool Combat Club (they need a new name) and The Elite are up next. 

Cutler and Naka were beaten the fuck up by Mox and Claudio, bleeding a lot in a squash making the heels look like true dicks. Mox grabbed a mic and talked some shit after and Yuta kicked a man while he was done. The Bucks and Omega watched from the back as their friends were murdered, eventually running out making it appear that they cared more about their cool return moment than their pals.

It kind of fits Matt and Nick a lot, to be honest.

The two sides would brawl for a bit, eventually giving us a fun visual of a stuck screwdriver and Mox and crew taking off.

Next, Nick and Matt stood in the ring with Kenny holding the mic. Omega hasn't slept because he really wants to push that tool into Jon's face. I think he needs Darby's therapist. Danielson appeared on stage to answer The Elite's call as the rest of the heels ran out to attack from behind.

A big brawl followed and I absolutely loved the fuck out of it. Very IWRG with better production values kind of shit. Bryan made his way down to mock their rival unit. Then, Don came out with a chair, dropped it, and ran off. Takeshita would then come out with Don to assist Kenny in a hot moment.

I've been HUGE on Soup for years and LOVE that the dude got such a big moment here.

Sincerely, I loved everything about that segment.

Over on Rampage, Mox and The Fallen Angel worked a singles match. Jon would get the W in about nine-minutes. It was filler content, but a nice throwaway match either way between the two vets. Good overall, though really only something diehards should check out. Otherwise, this felt like a perfect representation of what Rampage as a program is.

Jon shook Chris' hand after.

Back to Dynamite, where effort tends to actually exist.

In the Wednesday night pull, Kenny and Takeshita teamed up to get a record pad victory over the jobber duo of Butcher and Blade. Sub-nine again, this was serviceable enough of a "sleep walk". After, Bryan came out to tell Soup to split and join the BCC because Kenny was past his prime. The heels attacked from behind and teased another screwdriver attack. The Bucks got superkick-y to make the save while Bryan asked Soup help Jon. What followed didn't land super well in execution.

Jon took the tool to Konosuke to close it when the latter declined a turn.

The following week, Claudio took on Fenix in a Double Jeopardy match. What's that? Well, CC is the Ring of Honor World Champ and Fenix is 1/2 of the ROH Tag Champs. The winner gets a shot at gold. A nice Ring of Honor tie in and a nice dream match giveaway. Considering the names involved, on paper this promised to be must-see. It was. Back and forth fire, they worked hard for this ROH showcase and put in for one of the best matches of the set.

I watched the Road to Detroit video, which is included in the playlist linked below but will embed here too, and thought it worked well to make that last segment look even better as well as to set up...

...a fucking awesome steel cage main event that saw Kenny and Mox go to war. Two experts of the craft, painting a brutal piece of art through waves of violence, this encounter really pushed the program to another level. The V-Trigger through the cage wall in particular was sick as fuck and Don's involvement in the finish honestly didn't take much of anything away.

In fact, D.C. turning on Kenny and using the screwdriver to give Jon the victory here was a legit surprise that landed very well and served nicely as shock TV.

Who doesn't love a good betrayal spot?

Fantastic stuff!

Tony S. and Donny C. had an in-ring segment next with some nice heat attached. He wanted to tell everyone about what Kenny had done to him.

Kenny came out rather quickly into this and started dropping "security". BCC stopped that quick and entered the ring to talk some shit. They gave Omega a final, final warning that he needed to stay down. The Bucks came out, banged up, carrying some plunder. Hangman returned, wearing an eye-patch, and another big brawl occurred.

I love big, chaotic brawls like this.

Yuta got rocked with finishers and thought he was back in CHIKARA.

Page made it clear he was Elite again and announced BCC/Elite as being an Anarchy in the Arena match. Glorious!

On Rampage, Claudio teamed with Yuta and Jon to best the Best Friends and Bandido in another throwaway. A fine six-man to give the heels a pad ahead of DoN though nothing close to being required viewing, much like Rampage in general.

Last up, Claudio and Yuta challenged Fenix and Penta for the Ring of Honor Tag belts. This build off of the double jeopardy match and worked well to showcase ROH while adding a last bit of flavor to the Anarchy angle before the PPV. The champs would retain, looking good as always in the process, and BCC came off looking pretty damn good once again, too. Evenly matched fire with the fans getting hot as it moved along, this felt like something deserving of a PPV spot on its own. 

The Bucks would get involved in the finish, but it didn't take away much. Borderline great, overall.

Mox promised next level violence for Double or Nothing.

This rivalry is my kind of shit, people. What a fucking build!

Closing thoughts?

Bryan was just a manager during this set. I hope we eventually get Takeshita versus Kota again. This program was so much better than the pillars one.

Fin.

Match Ratings

  1. Blackpool Combat Club vs Nakazawa, Cutler NR
  2. Moxley vs Daniels **3/4
  3. Omega, Takeshita vs Butcher, Blade NR
  4. Double Jeopardy: Claudio vs Fenix ****
  5. Cage: Omega vs Moxley ****1/4
  6. Blackpool Combat Club vs Bandido, Best Friends ***1/4
  7. ROH World Tag Titles: Lucha Bros(c) vs Blackpool Combat Club ***1/2

Watch AEW Spark Episode 5, as used for this set, HERE.