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  • Connor Ewens

Let's Review: AEW WrestleDream 2023

I was planning on having a night off of wrestling tonight. Prepare the outline for this blog then have a good sleep and review this tomorrow. Then, I watched the pre-show and got too excited so I watched it live. whoops. Well AEW's PPV calendar got busier didn't it? For the first time since AEW's first year in 2019, we have 3 monthly PPV events in a row. Rumours of AEW expanding their PPV schedule next year have ben circling for some time now, so this wasn't all too surprising. The show was only announced during the media scrum for All In and it would take place exactly a year after the death of Antonio Inoki. The show was announced as a tribute to his memory, Tony Khan called him "wrestling's greatest dreamer." I really liked the name of the show, I imagine this will probably become a yearly addition to AEW's PPV calendar. AEW, don't do monthly PPV's next year please. You've already proved that you struggle to build a card in short time. All In and All Out were both great shows but poorly built, a lot of the matches not being announced until the week of. I think a PPV every other month is a great schedule to have. Another insanely stacked AEW card here, even on the pre-show which I will talk about but not rate. Let's honour the memory of Japan's biggest wrestling icon. Let's review.

1st October 2023 - AEW WrestleDream 2023. Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, Washington.

Zero Hour

-Stokely Hathaway says on ROH on Wednesday he has things to say about Kingston being the new World champion, thus absolutely rendering tonight's match against Shibata pointless. Yes, it was very predictable Kingston was going to win anyway, but at least suspend our beliefs for a little AEW.

-A tribute package plays honouring Antonio Inoki featuring some of AEW's stars and Rocky Romero.

-Tony Khan is in the ring and introduces Rocky Romero, Katsuyori Shibata, Naoto Inoki & Hyoto Inoki (Inoki's grandchildren). Khan shouts "Ichi Ni San Da" which was Inoki's phrase back in the day. Christian Cage is seen watching on which has hilarious connotations. "ooo, a dead relative? hell yeah."

-Excalibur, Jim Ross & Nigel McGuinness are on commentary. They confirm that the TNT title is main eventing tonight. Hot damn Edge is debuting isn't he?

Shane Taylor, Lee Moriarty, Diamante & Mercedes Martinez vs Satoshi Kojima, Keith Lee, Athena & Billie Starkz

I don't know if any of these guys are feuding or not, I've had a look through AEW & ROH YouTube clips and I haven't found anything so I assume this is just a match for these. Lee Moriarty recently joined the Shane Taylor Productions stable. Athena & Starkz have a great story building up together on ROH, they're "allies" but I use that term loosely. Athena has established dominance and basically uses Starkz, she even calls her a minion. Diamante & Mercedes have been teaming together which is pretty cool. Kojima is a legend that I'm always happy to watch. Keith Lee, man he was one of my favourites and now he's just barely around. I don't want to jump to conclusions, I know he's had health issues in the past but his AEW has been underwhelming. He was hot shit for a time in WWE, then Vince got involved and he was given shit to work with before being released. Since joining AEW, he had a good tag run with Swerve Strickland, but then they broke up and feuded which never really had a pay off. Then he got into a tag team with Dustin Rhodes, how exciting, and now he's just kind of there. A shame really, he had world championship potential at one time.

"we want bread" fills the arena in support of Kojima, founder of Bread Club. Under mixed rules, men will only fight men and women only with women. JR says he's waiting for Athena to have a hot run, proving that he doesn't watch the current product as she is tearing up ROH currently. All 4 ladies get the match off to a hot start before we slow down with Lee vs Taylor. Keith Lee is the one being beat down and he tags in Kojima. The women take each other out. Moriarty is isolated. Athena hits the O-face on him, so is that not a DQ guys? Nope? Okay. Jackhammer by Lee, lariat by Kojima. Feel good win for the faces. This was fine, the women did well with the little time they were assigned, The lads didn't get much time either to be fair. Keith Lee hit like 5 moves.

Team Kojima win via pinfall (5:42)

Josh Barnett vs Claudio Castagnoli

What a match for a pre-show! This is a main event level match right here. After recently losing the ROH title, Claudio says you don't need a championship to act like a champion. He challenged anyone for a fight, and Josh Barnett answered. Former UFC Heavyweight champion has transitioned into the wrestling world perfectly, hosting a yearly event called Bloodsport for GCW. Inoki was a man who blended MMA and pro wrestling in the early years of NJPW which brought a lot of success but also a of failure. Barnett is a guy who completely encapsulates Inoki's success within Puroresu. I'm very excited for this match.

Barnett is a former student of Inoki, he comes out wearing the red scarf. Mox is here! Nice to see he is well. He is joining on commentary. Mox does well to sell Barnett and his intentions here tonight. An early grappling contest, Barnett is the more skilled technician but Claudio is able to hold his own. "LIGHT HIS ASS UP!!! sorry gentleman" Mox is funny, but he's dominating commentary too much. Barnett continues to target the legs, firing off leg kicks. Uppercuts by Claudio. More grappling and strikes exchanged. We finally get the big swing. A neutraliser into an octopus stretch pinfall gets the win. I am a big fan of Bloodsport, but this was not it. An MMA plus wrestling hybrid match that was largely boring. A few holds were exchanged, a couple of strikes and a couple moves. They sold the offence well, but the finish was a little flat. If they run this again at Bloodsport next year I think this could be awesome. But in a normal wrestling between the four corners? This was pretty weak.

Claudio Castagnoli wins via pinfall (8:23)

Luchasaurus vs Nick Wayne

These two are side characters in the wider Christian vs Darby storyline. Wayne is 18 years old, grandson of legendary 'Moondog' Ed Moretti and son of deceased wrestling trainer Buddy Wayne. Christian has a fetish for dead dad's so he was a nice addition to the feud. Luchasaurus was the previous TNT champion but he doesn't seem to mind losing it since Christian holds it now. I much prefer current heel monster Luchasaurus than his face run, he's cool as fuck.

Wayne comes out firing but Luchasaurus quickly begins dissecting him. Wayne flips out of a chokeslam and fires back with kicks. A chokeslam onto the ring apron. The mauling continues until Wayne fires back again. Wayne's World reversed and a clothesline to the back of the neck gets the win. Another average match to put over Luchasaurus as a dominant monster. Some of Wayne's offence looked a bit sloppy, but he's 18 years old performing in his hometown so I get it.

Luchasaurus wins via pinfall (4:55)

The Acclaimed (Max Caster, Anthony Bowens & Billy Gunn) (c) vs TMDK (Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls & Bad Dude Tito), AEW World Trios Championships

Again, I've scoured the web and haven't found any indication of build. TMDK member Zack Sabre Jr. will be facing Bryan Danielson on the show tonight, I assume it will main event the show. In case you aren't privy to them, TMDK is The Mighty Don't Kneel. You might know them as TM-61 during their spell in WWE. A tag team originally but they became a stable in 2022 and expanded in 2023. This is TMDK's first appearance for AEW. The Acclaimed & 'Daddy Ass' have held the gold for 31 days. Damn, All In was 31 days ago. It feels like it happened yesterday still for me. What an amazing night that was.

Caster raps about tentacle porn, gloryholes and Slapjack (Shane Haste's identity in Retribution). TMDK take control early on but Billy Gunn comes in and takes on Haste. Bowens lands the scissor me timbers, followed by a three-way scissor party. Nigel keeps trying to get JR into sicssoring. TMDK take control and work over Bowens for a long time. Haste has some brutal sounding kicks. Tito held Bowen's away from a tag, but he was definitely in range for one of the Acclaimed to reach and tag him. Eventually Billy is in for the hot tag. They clear out TMDK, a Mic Drop elbow by Caster gets the win. Another decent match, probably the best match on the Zero-Hour. Good crowd work by the champions, Haste & Nicholls worked really well but Tito was a little off his game.

The Acclaimed retain via pinfall (9:22)

Main Card

-Tazz has replaced JR on commentary

MJF (c) vs The Righteous (Vincent & Dutch), ROH Tag Championships

Adam Cole went and got himself injured again, I swear that man is made out of paper mache. Better Than You Bay Bay have also held their titles for 31 days, scheduled to defend them tonight before Adam Cole broke his foot jumping off the stage. They were set to relinquish them but MJF refused and wanted to soldier it on his own. God I love MJF. This will be interesting, MJF might retain depending how long Cole is out for, but I doubt it. The Righteous are basically the Wyatt Family of ROH. I predict we might see Jay White appear since they have begun a feud over the World Championship. We may even see the mystery man disguised as MJF when he entered the Casino Ladder match last year. I do hope MJF drops the tag titles though and focus on, you know, the "most prestigious championship in wrestling today" as the commentators would say.

MJF comes out and cuts his music. He's so over. He's pissed off about the Jay White attack and says he didn't do it and someone stole his gear. He tells us what he's going to do. He's going to hit a bodyslam which starts a chant. He plays the crowd so well. He tries the bodyslam but can't and asks a female fan to rub his shoulders. MJF goes for a handshake and does an eye poke. MJF continues to play the crowd but he is knocked down by a clothesline. The beat down begins. Vincent mocks the Adam Cole taunt for great heat. MJF breaks free and looks for a tag but obviously no one is there. MJF kicks out of big offence moves, Death from Above, a Bossman slam and an acid drop. Dutch distracts the referee as Vincent tries to use a chair but MJF grabs him by the cock and balls! Referee turns around and MJF plays dead and nearly gets a roll up. He dodges a swanton and now begins to fire back. MJF throws punches as the crowd count to 10. MJF hits the body slam to a huge pop! "holy shit" chants, for a body slam. Mental. MJF hits the kangaroo kick! Heat seeker and a leverage pin for a win.

This was a basic tag match in-ring wise, but MJF elevates this match with his amazing ability to play the crowd. When you have thousands of people popping for a body slam, you know you're good at your job. The Righteous did their jobs well, MJF was fantastic. I'm surprised to see no interference here.

MJF retains via pinfall (9:35)


Eddie Kingston (c) vs Katsuyori Shibata for the ROH World Championship & STRONG Openweight Championship

Man I'm so happy Kingston has finally made it to the mountain top. He won the STRONG title in July from KENTA, at Grand Slam less than 2 weeks ago he finally dethroned rival Claudio Castagnoli for the ROH title. His first title defence comes against current ROH Pure champion Shibata, one of the best Puroresu wrestler of all time. These two have been allies against the Blackpool Combat Club, but now Shibata wants to be a 3x reigning champion. These two aim to go out to represent Inoki's love and style of professional wrestling.

This was a physical war. It's one long striking contest between two of the best strikers on the roster. It's very back and forth with strikes, chops and kicks until Shibata takes over with his superior submission ability. Kingston manages to break free with a backdrop driver, gaining momentum with his machine gun chops. They get back into a brutal strike exchange but Shibata looks to seal the deal with a cobra twist into an octopus stretch, both moves Inoki used often. Kingston powers through though, and after a barrage of spinning backfists and a death valley bomb, he nails a powerbomb for the 3 count

If you like stiff strikes and physicality, this one is for you. A really good match that was competitive right until the end.

Eddie Kingston retains via pinfall (10:58)


-Tazz has tagged out, Tony Schaivone is at the desk

Kris Statlander (c) vs Julia Hart w/Brody King, AEW TBS Championship

A challenge was laid out by Brody King on behalf of Julia Hart for this match. Hart has been very impressive recently, undefeated for the last 5 months and over 2 dozen wins. Hart has quietly been a huge rising star in AEW. She was an unusual addition to the House of Black at first but now she is a perfect fit with the faction. Her character work and in-ring work has improved massively. I'd actually like to see her win here, Statlander feels like another female wrestler now. Gone is the uniqueness she had since her return to defeat Jade Cargill. The alien stuff was wacky and needed to be reigned in, but now she has zero character. She's a great performer and I know she has the talent, but I want more character work.

Julia Hart has an awesome entrance. Statlander takes control early with her powerful strikes. Hart creates space with a superkick and uses her speed advantage with a nice headscissors. Kris has control again but Brody gets near and runs his mouth allowing Hart to drop her on the apron. A back standing senton looked a little awkward but it's a cool looking move. Statlander powers out of an abdominal stretch, beginning a strike exchange which she wins following a powerslam. Brody gets in Kris' face and almost distracts enough for a mist to be sprayed but Kris slapped her before. A nice deadlift suplex. Hart meets her on the top rope with a belly to belly and a CLEAN moonsault for a great nearfall. She goes for the Heartless submission and locks it in but Statlander powers up and hits a tombstone piledriver, into a Sunday Night Fever to retain.

A good match by these two, Hart was very impressive here in her first major singles match on PPV. At 21 she still has a lot of potential to grow. Statlander was great as always, a nice back and forth match with realistically the right winner, even though I'm a Hart fan.

Kris Statlander retains via pinfall (8:56)


Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) vs The Gunns (Austin & Colten Gunn) vs Lucha Brothers (Rey Fenix & Penta El Zero Miedo) w/Alex Abrahantes vs Orange Cassidy & Hook

No feuds here, just 4 teams fighting for the opportunity to become the number 1 contender for the AEW Tag Championships. I'm hoping and also heavily adamant that Lucha Bros are going to win this one. FTR have already had big matches recently with the Bucks and the Gunns, Orange & Hook are relatively new and I don't see them getting into the tag title picture so quickly. Anything can happen in the Elite Wrestling Federation though so we'll see. Rey Fenix is the AEW International champion, probably by accident considering the botch issue against Jon Moxley. The Bucks are 2/3's of the ROH 6-man champions alongside Hangman Page.

This is going to be hard to keep up with. Fenix & Nick Jackson start, previewing their upcoming match next week on Dynamite. They're evenly matched, Orange tagging himself in the face the new International champion. Fenix sells the injured shoulder and tags out but the Gunns batter them. Colten tags Penta and faces Orange. They knock down all of competitors, the Gunns try to pin each other for a cheap win but the referee obviously doesn't allow this. The Bucks are in for their signature offence. Matt Jackson & Hook square up, they exchange Northern lights suplexes. Fenix seems to be taken out of the match. The Gunns take charge of the match but in comes Penta for kicks. Hook is isolated by the Gunns. Austin mocks Road Dogg as he hits strikes. Hook manages a tag to Penta who runs wild. His flurry of offence continues, a made in Japan gets a near fall. Everyone takes turns to hit big moves, Hook and Austin Gunn are legal. Redrum is locked in but Nick hits a 450 for a questionable pin for a near fall. A piledriver-gory bomb combo with by Penta with a dropkick assist by Nick Jackson was very impressive. Eventually a BTE trigger ends the match for the win.

Your usual AEW tag action, good work rate with plenty creative spots but no psychology and little selling. The Gunns really impressed me in this one with great wrestling and heel work. Penta also was on his game. I wonder if the Fenix injury was legit or not, it looked like a work shoot from my perspective. Interesting to see the Bucks win. These matches all feel the same and I like them less and less over time. I feel like every Bucks match is the exact same now. I'm really questioning if they're going to run Bucks vs FTR IV, or if we're getting Young Bucks vs Aussie Open.

Young Bucks win via pinfall (12:13)


"Hangman" Adam Page vs Swerve Strickland w/Prince Nana

This has been a very interesting feud, perhaps another chapter in the psyche of Adam Page. Swerve says Adam Page was hand-picked by AEW, given all of these opportunities to become a champion. Page hasn't earned his chances and now he is comfortable in his spot that he lacks the ambition and drive that he once had. Swerve claims he has clawed and sacrificed just as much as Page but has never been given those same opportunities, so now he is coming to take the spot Page sits in and take those deserved chances. Hangman has been seen visibly questioning his drive and his purpose again, but seemingly Strickland has lit a fire in him. He promises to bring his A game, he refuses to give up his spot and he will continue to be synonymous with AEW greatness. The promos these two have had together have been excellent, especially the contract signing. Swerve said "What's a buckshot to a kill shot" and that might be the coldest line ever dropped in a promo. I love Hangman, but I want Swerve to take this. I think it would be great for him to win and be elevated to the main event scene.

Hangman does not get a positive reaction, because he isn't a heel but Swerve is the hometown hero. It is indeed Swerve's house. Hangman acts the aggressor and taunts the crowd whilst he takes control. A slick headscissors by Swerve and a kick. Swerve with a cool looking diving chop. Neckbreaker, a second countered, a strike exchange into a fallaway slam by Page. Man I forgot how good Hangman could be as a heel. An apron powerbomb, followed by a barricade bomb, into the huge top rope moonsault. Pop-up Liger bomb for a 2. Suicide dive, Hangman works the hand. A top rope lariat gets a 2 count. A strike exchange, some flashy kicks by Swerve, he manages to hit a flatliner and rolls into a suplex. A big boot is caught into a back breaker. Hangman targets the hand to take back power. Diving foot stomp from the top, I hate this contrived move. Why are you hanging there waiting for it? A house call for a near fall. Page hits a Dead Eye on the steps! A buck shot is prevented as Swerve stays too close. Page bits the hand like a bastard. Buckshot reversed into an arm snap. They call the docs over but a Swerve stomp to Hangman on the apron. A 450 on the arm for a near fall. Cross armbreaker but Page gets to the ropes. A nice snap german. Swerve goes for a stomp again but a dodge, Buckshot lariat! Hangman delays the pin but Prince Nana puts a foot on the rope. Nana is ejected for it. Swerve uses Nana's crown to intercept a Buckshot for a CLOSE near fall. Swerve hits 2 House calls and a JML driver for a huge win.

An awesome contest. Initially good storytelling with Hangman targeting the hand but that didn't really lead to anything. Swerve working the arm though came in to play when Page struggled to pin. Another competitive match with great wrestling. Swerve has all of the in-ring ability, but he needs to improve his selling. He was up far too quickly from big moves.

Swerve Strickland wins via pinfall (20:12)


-JR is back to replace Schiavone

Ricky Starks vs Wheeler Yuta

After Starks' loss in that epic rematch with Bryan Danielson on Collision, Wheeler Yuta confronted Starks and called him a whiny prick and challenged him to a match, which leads us here. I'm sure this will be great to watch, but I would have preferred this to main event a Dynamite or a Collision when the card is already so bloated.

Jon Moxley is back on commentary, he revealed he was fined for swearing on commentary early when he said "getting this shit for free". 2 minutes later, he said shit on commentary again. What a goof. This was a tough spot to be in after a very hot crowd for the previous match, they're cooling off currently but these two are beyond skilled enough to keep the fans interested. Ricky plays the crowd well and punishes Wheeler a lot. Moxley, again, dominates commentary. An Old School by Starks, or should I call it New School? This was another competitive match on a card full of them. Once Yuta began taking control, Big Bill came out to be in Starks' corner. His appearance caused a distraction and Ricky takes control. Yuta comes back but is dropped with a lariat by Ricky. A springboard but Yuta pushes him into Big Bill. Big elbow strikes by Yuta. The rebound that Yuta does looks so contrived. Starks ends the match with a Roshambo. Moxley just puts down the match as meaningless.

This was a good match, nothing much really to add. Starks needed the win so I'm glad he got it. Hopefully he get's into a feud that will continue to elevate his stock.

Ricky Starks wins via pinfall (9:53)


Bryan Danielson vs Zack Sabre Jr.

Some matches don't need building. Some matches just need announced and that generates enough hype. This is that match. The two best technical wrestlers alive today. Danielson is so good at techncal wrestling, the WON named an award after him. He won that award 9 years in a row from 2005 to 2013, then he retired due to injury. Who stepped up? ZSJ did, who won the same award 7 years in a row. Both men are acclaimed for their wrestling ability. The moment Bryan returned to wrestling and left WWE, the talk of the dream match was already going around. It was originally scheduled for the first ever Forbidden Door show but Bryan got injured. Now, here at the first ever WrestleDream, we are finally getting the match we've been savouring. The hype and expectations are high, let's hope they knock it out the park.

Interesting that this is just in the middle of the card. Moxley is still on commentary for his boy. The feel each other out early, Moxley puts ZSJ over really well as an attacking wrestler. This a duel between technical masters and it's so good to watch, counters, reversals, counters and reversals. submissions, transitions and submissions. They continue to wrestle to a stalemate. Bryan walks out of a Romero special into his own. Moxley compares this match to high-level chess and that is a perfect analogy. After the technical war, they now move into a war of strikes. ZSJ goads Bryan to use his injured arm and it costs him. Zack now has control and works the right arm and manipulates the fingers. ZSJ just kicks him around and taunts him, Danielson comes back uses his kicks. A nasty looking dragon screw, ZSJ reverses and cranks the neck. tree of woe kicks by Bryan. Back to the arm for Zack. They need to remove JR from commentary man jesus. An awesome butterfly suplex into a lovely labell lock but a counter by Zack. More brutal kicks from Bryan. The wrist-trapped stomps, always look painful. The counters and exchanges continue to rain down. They trade strikes, a good transition into a cattle mutilation but a GREAT counter back by ZSJ. We are back into submission and technical wrestling, they have a face to face mid-submission leading to spitting, slapping and kicking. More duelling strikes. More hold counters and pinfall attempts. Zack punishes the arm with uppercuts and a PK. Omoplata is in by ZSJ, Bryan somehow manages to get to the rope. kick after kick after kick by Zack. Bryan with a pair of roundhouse kicks! A regal plex by Bryan, a running knee for a 1-2-no! what a fall. Another running knee finally for the win.

This was everything I wanted this to be. A masterclass in wrestling, striking, submissions and the rest. Bryan's selling of the arm was amazing, he kept it as part of his storytelling when trying to put Zack away. ZSJ stayed laser focused on the arm throughout. The psychology was brilliant, the work was brilliant, it absolutely achieved it's hype.

Bryan Danielson wins via pinfall (23:12)


-Tazz is back to replace JR

Chris Jericho & Golden Elite (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi) vs The Don Callis Family (Will Ospreay, Sammy Guevara & Konosuke Takeshita) w/Don Callis

Omega & Jericho have been long-time rivals ever since late 2017 when Jericho targeted him ahead of Wrestle Kingdom 12 for an icon vs icon match. Their rivalry has continued through ROH and AEW but for the first time they're finally on the same side with one common enemy. Don Callis. Most recently, Chris Jericho defeated Sammy Guevara at Grand Slam, Sammy low blowed him after a hug and join the Don Callis Family. Guevara's turn paid homage to Jericho low blowing Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 19. Will Ospreay even being near this match means this is probably going to be another MOTY candidate, he's been handing classics out like a Burger King employee.

I absolutely love the 'Last Supper' painting with Callis as Jesus surrounded by his boys. Don is booed and jeered massively, as usual. We begin with Kenny & Ospreay, who have had two classics this year already. Great chain wrestling and back and forth until Sammy tags himself in, Ospreay ain't happy. Sammy heels it up and he is arguably as hated as Don Callis is. More chain wrestling, Sammy hits a dropkick but Kenny grabs the arm, bringing in Jericho. Sammy tags out to Ospreay, a mini rematch from All In here. Omega and Opsreay back at it for a bit until all 6 are in for a stand off and a brawl. Big dives by all 3 faces. Omega is blindsided by Takeshita, who tags in and begins to work over Kenny. Omega stays primarily on the back foot, All 4 of the family holding hands to strengthen an abdominal stretch. After a few failed attempts, Omega finally gets a tag to Jericho who runs wild. Nice to see Jericho as a face, he has great babyface fire. The faces do the 3 person abdominal stretch too. Ibushi finally tags in, he and Jericho do the Le Sex Gods pose "Le Golden Sex Gods". Great call by Nigel. Synchronised dives by the Golden Lovers, a lionsault for a near fall. Takeshita german suplexes everyone, a brutal one to Ibushi on his head. Ospreay and Takeshita clash creating an opening for the faces. Terminator dive by Kenny on to them. Jericho and Sammy go at it. A shooting star press to Kenny outside! We're back to Omega vs Ospreay, it's an awesome back and forth. The Family double team all of their opponents. Sammy hits a codebreaker to Jericho, kickout before 1! Jericho attacks them all. Ibushi knocks Ospreay and Sammy down with 1 strike, he and Takeshita duel strikes. I want these two in a singles please AEW. Everyone takes turns hitting big strikes on each other, Ospreay with a jawdropping sky twister dive. A Judas effect to Ospreay, A GTH is reversed but Callis hits him with the belt! Omega & Ibushi are held back as Sammy pins Jericho for the win.

Another great tag match, but it's a recycled formula now. All 6 lads put in a great effort to put on a classic. I liked the call backs to previous matches. Another issue of lack of selling at times but not as bad as the earlier matches. This was really fun, but I have reached my limit of seeing this exact formula of 6-man tag.

Don Callis Family win via pinfall (2:10)


FTR (c) vs Aussie Open, AEW Tag Championships

Now this, should be amazing. These two teams tore it up at Royal Quest II last year, earning a 5 star rating from Mr Meltzer. Exactly a year later, we're getting the rematch. Both these teams are former ROH and IWGP Tag champions, Aussie Open could well be the greatest tag team in the world within the next couple years. For me, FTR are the greatest tag team in the world right now. They won the gold for the second time in April, currently at 177 days in their reign. This should be a masterclass of tag wrestling.

A technical battle early on, Fletcher tries to isolate Cash but it back fires and now FTR go to work, proving why they're the best tag team today. I'm not gonna lie guys, it's been 5 hours since the pre-show started, I'm fucking tired and this show is dragging so I'm providing less analysis. This is the fourth 20+ minute match so far, there is just too much wrestling to get through. Aussie Open do a good job isolating Cash in a variety of ways. The crowd slowly got more invested as time went on. Cash finally gets a tag and Dax goes hard on the comeback with big lariats. He's a one man wrecking crew taking on both challengers alone. Big german suplexes. Cash finally gets back in to the match to even up the sides as Dax is losing control. A tower of doom diving kick by the Aussies looked cool. A rough looking shatter machine by the Aussies. A super Shatter Machine by FTR gets them the win.

A very good match but it felt long. It was a match with plenty of good action but it dragged on throughout the middle. So we're getting FTR vs the Bucks again? Fair enough I guess, it's a formula that's churned out great matches.

FTR retain via pinfall (20:26)


Christian Cage (c) vs Darby Allin 2-out-of-3 falls, AEW TNT Championship

Luchasaurus won the TNT title in June but Christian was carrying it around, calling himself champion and insulting dead dads. Last week, he actually won the title in a three-way featuring Luchasaurus and Darby Allin. After pinning his monster to win, a rematch was set here with the stipulation. Christian has been doing some of the best character work of his career this year, he is also still a very skilled wrestler too. Allin has been a consistent fan favourite for 4 years now. He has been a solid upper midcarder who always feels so close to reaching the main event scene but I don't know what else he needs for that to happen. A heel turn maybe? But he's so good and likable as a face. I'm unsure, but whatever it is I'm sure he'll find it. There is A LOT of rumour about a certain Rated-R Superstar appearing for AEW soon and even tonight. I'm doubtful but I also doubted Punk's debut so we'll see.

A technical start, a quick back and forth but it's only a few minutes before Darby gets the first fall! Very quick. Christian takes a moment to recollect himself before getting back in to punish Darby. Christian trash talks Nick Wayne's mom so Darby dives on him. A coffin drop is dodged and Darby is thrown outside. Darby is thrown back first across the steps of the steel stairs. Ouch. He does it again, this time standing from the apron. OUCH. Darby is checked by the doctors and cannot answer the 10 count, we're at 1-1. Christian is untying the knots that is holding down the canvas. A stretcher is coming for Darby, whilst Christian tears up the padding of the ring. Darby has taken worse bumps than this I'm sorry, the're milking this a little. The wood of the ring is exposed, Allin is on the stretcher and Christian hits a frog splash! Awesome, I take it back I'm happy with the milk. Christian takes Darby in and hits a killswitch on the boards. Darby kicks out! Christian spear is dodged but Darby is dropped into a Scorpion Death lock. Allin fights back, a Scorpion Death Drop! Coffin drop! 1-2-NO! Coffin drop 2 is countered, sunset flip powerbomb by Christian. Accidental spear on the referee. Uh Oh. A low blow by Christian. He grabs his TNT title and poses with it. He tries to use it but Nick Wayne grabs it from him. Christian chases him and falls into a 2 on 1...Nick Wayne turns on Darby! A slow 1-2-3. Christian retains.

The rest of the roster needs to look at this and learn some lessons about selling, storytelling and the mantra "less is more". There was less wrestling in this than most matches, however these two put on an absolute classic. This felt violent and aggressive, perfectly selling the hatred between them. The Wayne heel turn was genuinely shocking, I guess Christian is his new father figure.

Christian retains via pinfall (25:17)


-A 2 on 1 beat down on a defenceless Darby. Out comes Sting to help but here comes Luchasaurus to fight Sting. a 3 on 1 attack on Sting now. Christian is setting up a conchairto. Lights go out. Holy Shit. A promo package, our feature presentation. A man drives through Seattle to the arena. YOU THINK YOU KNOW ME!!!!! It's fucking Edge! Metallingus and everything! Holy shit indeed Seattle. He takes the chair from Christian and he wacks Wayne and Luchasaurus with it. Spear to Luchasaurus! Spear to Wayne! Adam Copeland has arrived. Edge shakes hands with Darby & Sting as the show closes.

Overall- 70.5%

Well it's another banger show, obviously. Negatives first. Way too many matches and an exhausting show. This is my main gripe with AEW most of the time. 5 matches exceeded 20 minutes and it was just way too excessive. Not even New Japan do that shit. The AEW tag title match would have benefited being shorter, they were all great matches but they made this show feel like a struggle to get through. I would have cut at least 4 matches off this card. Your world champion should be in a better spot than a handicap against a ROH team no one knows. The Four way match was prime example of what AEW really lacks, SELLING. A few other matches had this issue but this one was the most apparent. Hopefully they do indeed watch the main event. Aside from some disagreeable booking decisions that's all my negatives, now my positives.

Plenty of amazing wrestling to enjoy. Danielson vs ZSJ was an absolute classic. Hangman vs Strickland was an awesome match that put over Swerve as a potential World champion. That main event was a perfect presentation of wrestling storytelling. Then, the dramatic rated-R finish as Adam Copeland makes his expected but also doubted debut in AEW I am very excited to see how this goes down, even if Edge does not have much longer left.


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