Best Friends (Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, and Wheeler Yuta) and Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus) (with Marko Stunt) defeated Hardy Family Office (Matt Hardy, Private Party (Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen), and The Hybrid 2 (Angélico and Jack Evans)) (with The Blade) by submission
AEW has consistently been the target of a lot of unwarranted hate for their seemingly positive outlook on the freedom of booking, and this was proof that it’s all good fun for everyone except those sourpusses. To be honest, it was far from a technical marvel or even a decent story in the ring, but everyone got to get their major spots in and looked like they were having a good time, which translated well to the audience and this proved to be a good opener for the show. Really impressed by Orange Cassidy’s pockets gimmick and how he has stuck to it, its clear that he is definitely going to be higher on the card going forward.
Miro (c) defeated Eddie Kingston by pinfall to retain the TNT Championship
This was an excellent brawl with a hell of a series of false finishes. Both Miro and Eddie Kingston looked stronger after the match, despite Miro getting the victory. There was not much in terms of technical aspects but the story told between these two of a pair of fighters that refuse to quit was very well told, and Miro’s build as TNT champion has somewhat reached its apex as he is now moving on from some of the mid-card talent to finally taking on wrestlers that are higher on the totem pole at AEW. It wasn’t pretty, but it was surely entertaining.
Jon Moxley defeated Satoshi Kojima by pinfall
Wasn’t a huge fan of this, seemed much more grounded in that hardcore style that Moxley seems to gravitate towards. That is totally fine, but to be honest it just isn’t my bag. They had a brawl but it lacked the viciousness and energy that normally accompanies Jon Moxley matches but it was a solid strong-style type of affair for the appreciators out there. Minoru Suzuki coming out after the match to attack Jon Moxley was much more exciting of a bit.
Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. (c) (with Jamie Hayter and Rebel) defeated Kris Statlander (with Orange Cassidy) by submission to retain the AEW Women’s Championship
This match, as by the books as it could have been, was honestly destined a bit of a flat story. Obviously, it is still early in Britt Baker’s run as AEW Women’s Champion, and while this match wasn’t bad it didn’t really have any standout spots. Everything seemed crisp and clean, love Britt Baker’s heelwork overall, and how dominant she looked but it barely went past 10 minutes and it probably would have benefitted from being shorter, as Kris Statlander is good but definitely not on the level of Baker yet.
Lucha Brothers (Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix) (with Alex Abrahantes) defeated The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) (c) (with Brandon Cutler) by pinfall to win the AEW World Tag Team Championships
This was an absolute banger. Lucha Brothers and The Young Bucks are widely regarded as the two best tag-teams in the world and they all shone in this match. It was a bloody affair, that focused more on the intricate timing between the two teams that revel in just about any style of wrestling as they excellently bring those styles in a great mixture of hardcore, Lucha, and emotional storytelling. One admittedly questionable aspect of the match is some of the psychology (or lack thereof) but it was honestly thrown by the wayside for the sake of showing off the pure talent and athleticism of the teams. So many false finishes, amazing pin breakups, and devastating power moves from all over this cage. Side note, that tall cage design is far superior to the shorter cage and provided the perfect setting for this match. This is an instant recommendation for any wrestling fan.
Ruby Soho won by last eliminating Thunder Rosa in the 21-woman Casino Battle Royale for a future AEW Women’s World Championship match
This was rough to watch. In terms of battle royale/Royal Rumble types of matches, it was perfectly in tune with the hectic setting and fast-paced momentum of the match and totally allowed everyone to get their “shit” in so to speak. Seeing Ruby Soho debut for AEW was a feel-good moment that will have a big impact on the women’s division, however, this was just a bit too messy for its loosely pieced nature.
Chris Jericho defeated MJF by submission
The second of the three instant classics comes from Chris Jericho and MJF, as they had (what should be) the end of their feud culminate in an awesome affair. The match was crisp, classic, and very well structured for the amount of time they were given. Once again, Chris Jericho has proven that he can put on amazing matches when he has the right focus and proper opponent. The entire storyline of Jericho fighting MJF really helped boost MJF’s heel character on AEW television, and while the two aren’t the fastest, strongest, or even most technically proficicent wrestlers on the planet they are up there with the greatest storytellers and character workers in the business today. That is where that structure of face vs. heel really played into the dynamic. The Dusty finish, mixed with the false finish shenanigans and quick rollups felt truly in-tune with the desperation from both guys trying to get the win; one to save himself and another to extinguish the competition. Great to see Y2J in full stride, and hopefully MJF can move on to another rival in AEW.
CM Punk defeated Darby Allin by pinfall
What. A. Breath. Of. Fresh. Air. CM Punk came out of a 7-year retirement and instantly gave the wrestling world a classic for the ages. There were so many eyes on this match, and both Allin and Punk knew this and played perfectly to the expectations without sticking too close to the predictable. Allin’s style of taking horrendous bumps took off so much of the brunt of the selling load from Punk and thus proved to be a perfect opponent for Punk in his return to the wrestling art. Everything in this match was perfectly coordinated, with Punk constantly teasing the GTS with a few ineventive ways of getting the move started without pulling it off. Darby Allin, someone who is primarily known as a high flyer but he was comfortable getting smooth transitions in the lockup and through the sequence of moves that the two exchanged. Of course, there was very little doubt that Punk was going to win, and there might have been a few too many rest spots where he clearly called spots but it was all good. Another instant recommendation. Side note: Punk, please return to the short trunks.
Paul Wight defeated QT Marshall (with Aaron Solo and Nick Comoroto) by pinfall
Not much to say about this short match, it was a one-sided affair in its timely match length. Paul Wight looks great, love to see him still active on the roster but QT Marshall’s place on the card is questionably high. But it was harmless, a bit of fun, and a good breather between the prior match and this main event.
Kenny Omega (c) (with Don Callis) defeated Christian Cage by pinfall to retain the AEW World Heavyweight Championship
Somewhat ironically, the biggest wrestling PPV of the year ended with a bit of a lukewarm match between Kenny Omega and Christian. This was a good match, very smooth, and Christian proves that WWE was completely nuts to not offer him a contract as he is still clearly capable of putting on great matches. However, their match on Rampage felt superior as the desperation of Cage was much more apparent. Omega is great as always, but it is quite clear that he is not at 100% and that might be because of the sheer workload that he has put on his shoulders over this past year of programming. The looming downer of Don Callis’ interference was just lazy and disappointing. It is just blasphemous that no wrestler has looked competent enough to actually call out the constant interference. It just really takes away from the competitor that Omega is, but it was still a good match.
Overall PPV Grade: 9/10
It might seem a bit high given the mixed bag of the scores, but honestly, this is easily one of the best PPV’s and it isn’t just because of the surprise debuts of Bryan Danielson, Ruby Soho, and Adam Cole (bay bay), this is genuinely a fantastic sample platter of the different styles, backgrounds, and match types that really make AEW a true wrestling company. It was a pleasure to watch, even if it was a bit messy or a tad too loose at times, it was a fantastic wrestling show. However, it isn’t perfect and it would be nice to see a bit more attention towards the women’s division in terms of booking and character development, not just involvement in the screentime. Any other types of criticism and exceptions to the overall stellar show would be nitpicking at best.