We start with a match that felt rather fitting considering the stage, with Shibata and Eddie working a very good, borderline great contest. I appreciate the pacing and tone and felt that they delivered rather well on the promise set when this was announced. Both of these dudes have been excellent this year and I still can't believe Shibata is active again at all. Like seriously…how!?


Next, Strickland finally got something real to sink his teeth into and he ran with it. Meanwhile, Adam has continually been a workhorse for this company and showed that here once more. Swerve in particular has felt like a dude that has never truly gotten a real chance anywhere on a big stage to prove his worth so I was admittedly rooting for him to take this when it was revealed.

The fire crowd that was behind him wanted it, too. #SwervesHouse.

We got it, though it was in the form of a protected finish. Strickland's a threat in AEW, if nothing else, and this was clearly meant to be a great match that served as a seed more than a conclusionary battle. No matter the direction they head after this one, I'd suggest they play this one back in a year and a half or so as a main event with the AEW World Heavyweight Championship on the line. Give the people what they want, Tony!

Next, a match I've wanted for a very long time and, until recently, never thought was possible.

The Tech-Wizard versus The American Dragon. Two of the best technical wrestlers of all time, one on one, in honor of Inoki. Danielson's on his retirement tour so it's rather important that we got this when we did, especially after it was canceled due to injury last time they tried to run it.

It's shit like this that reminds me why I love this business.

If you missed this, and consider yourself a fan of the style, this is an easy must-see in bold and with all caps. Not only was this fitting of the circumstances, it was simply one of the best matches of the year in general. Hell, I wouldn't argue with someone calling it THE best of the year. The dragon screw alone was worth the price of admission plus you'll even get Mox revealing some personal info that no one needed to know on commentary and Nigel creaming anytime Bryan was hurting.

Those are called cherries and this sundae was sweet already.

In short, even if you've already seen this one, watch it again and enjoy the heat because this was a fucking firestorm, folks. A fucking firestorm, a perfect battle between these titans of mutilation, and one of my favorite contests ever.

In post, Bryan held out his hand but was rejected. Sabre might be the best technical wrestler alive right now, but Danielson might be the best professional wrestler alive right now overall.

Expect a look at Sabre's TV Title reign soon in a new segment for the magazine.

Next, Don Callis and his crew took on Jericho, Omega, and Kota. That Will considered signing with Impact because he was annoyed at the attendance number lie is funny af to me and I honestly get it 100%. The fuck you, Callis chants were funny af, too.

Sammy was the clear weak link, standing out in a big way. That he's considered a pillar is...funny af.

I'm cracking up over here, folks.

Bullshit takes aside, this match was pretty damn entertaining. They leaned into the program nicely, building off of the foundation which allowed for some minor story movement alongside the action. For this position on the card, and in the feuds, this landed well. Crowd pleasing kind of stuff.

I mean, I’m pleased despite the shit finish.

The tag belts are on the line with FTR defending against Aussie Open next. Taz sucks at geography.

I had very high expectations for this one, considering both to be elite class teams, and I feel they delivered well on those. Just basic stuff done at a very, very high quality. That's all it needed to be. Easily, one of the best tag matches of the year and that's all that needs to be said. FTR are really THAT good!

Nick Wayne hugs Darby, then returned to the back for the main event. Later, he'd (Nick) stab him (Darby) in the back right to his stupid face. The ride there was epic with strong storytelling and strong in-ring action, too. I personally loved this and felt it was very fitting of the main event spot.

Even without the big debut that occurred in post.

Speaking of, Nick and Cage went to cause more damage in a well done post-match segment. The artist formerly known as Edge would then run out to stop the assault. It was a big deal to most, and I personally loved it.

Also from the show, MJF retained the Ring of Honor Tag Team belts against The Righteous, Kris defeated Hart to keep the TBS strap, The Bucks won a multi-tag #1 contender battle also featuring The Lucha Bros, Hook & Orange, and The Gunns, and, lastly, Starks bested Yuta.

Say what you will about the weekly show quality at times this year, but the AEW special events almost always land big and this was no exception! Three of them hit 4 star range, one was one of my favorite matches ever, and the other two I that actually watched were pretty dang good, too.

It’s hard to complain about that!

Red's Ratings
  1. ROH World, NJPW STRONG Titles: Kingston(c) b Shibata ***½
  2. Strickland b Page ****
  3. Danielson b Sabre Jr *****
  4. Don Callis Family vs Golden Jets ***½
  5. AEW World Tag Titles: FTR(c) vs Aussie Open ****¼
  6. TNT Title, Best 2/3 Falls: Christian(c) vs Darby ****


Section Written 12/20/23 for The Pro-Wrestling Digest #150. Issue due Jan. 2023.