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  • Connor Ewens

Let's Review: WWE, AEW & New Japan- Shows I missed 2023

I intend of doing an awards ceremony at the end of the year, but there are some big shows that happened early in the year before I started blogging so I have not reviewed them or even watched them. WWE and NXT shows I think I have watched but I need to review, but I also need to watch AEW's Revolution as well as New Japan's Wrestle Kingdom. So, here I am again. With a myriad of shows in need of reviewing and a stack of free time to myself. Guess it's time for another wrasslin' binge. So let's crack open the Red Bulls or Monster Energy or the Euro Shopper Original and start this Wrestlethon. Let's Review.


I have 5 shows to watch; Royal Rumble, Vengeance Day, Elimination Chamber, Revolution and Wrestle Kingdom. So for real this time, the reviewing will be concise for this one. Let's hammer out the WWE shows first because I've seen them before.


Royal Rumble, January 28th 2023 @ Alamodome, San Antonio Texas.

The 2022 Royal Rumble, sucked ass, mainly because both Rumble matches were boring slices of tripe. This year though, a very different story.


-Not only Michael Cole and Corey Graves but we had a returning Pat McAfee which is always fun


Men's Royal Rumble

This was a brilliantly booked, competitive rumble. Sure Rhodes winning was a predictable outcome but sometimes predictability is the right thing to do. This was like a re-dux of the Rumble that Triple H won when he returned from injury. This featured plenty of great moments. Gunther had a star making performance lasting from number 1 all the way to the final two where he and Cody had an awesome mini match to close. The stare-down between Gunther and Lesnar. We saw that amazing double crossbody spot between Ricochet and Logan Paul. We saw call backs to past rivalries such as Gunther vs Sheamus, Lesnar vs McIntyre, Rollins vs Edge etc. Booker T made a surprise entry which was cool. More development of ongoing rivalries such as Lesnar vs Lashley, Rey vs Dom, Edge vs Judgment Day etc. Beth Pheonix coming out to help her man was wholesome. A lot of positives. A few minor negatives in the match, unfortunately for a second year in a row the Kofi elimination spot was botched and he ended up being prematurely eliminated. Also I'm a fiend for Rumble surprises and I think I would have liked another couple of notable appearances from legends or NXT guys. Overall though, this was a very high quality rumble with smart booking and the right winner. Gunther set the record for longest amount of time in a 30-man rumble. Both Gunther & Rhodes finished the match with the most eliminations (5).


Cody Rhodes wins (71:42)

****


Bray Wyatt vs LA Knight, 'Pitch Black' Mountain Dew match

It really is a shame that this is the last match we ever got of the legendary Bray Wyatt. This was a weird neon-painted sponsored match which I don't think suited the narrative but I will admit Wyatt looked cool as shit in this match. I don't hate this as much as other people, but this was a 5 minute dominant win for Wyatt with little substance other than showing off pretty colours and a big Uncle Howdy dive (which was poorly captured by the camera crew and you can see he clearly misses LA). Even with this, I was very engaged with how the Wyatt character was going to end up. RIP Windham, you will be forever missed and beloved.


Wyatt wins via pinfall (5:06)

*


Bianca Belair vs Alexa Bliss, Raw Women's Championship

This was another disappointing match. They weren't given much time to work with and they wrestled like the most basic TV-quality match you could expect. Bliss cheats to get advantage, rest holds, Bianca fights back and retains. Paint by numbers. The pitch black match felt destined for failure, but these two are both great talents in a standard singles match so it's confusing how this fell so flat. A KOD gets the win. We see some creepy stuff after the match which I would assume was leading to another chapter in the Wyatt and Bliss story arc, you know, the worst era of the Fiend.


Belair retains via pinfall (7:33)

*1/2


Women's Royal Rumble

A reverse of the rumble we saw early, as instead of number 30 winning we saw number 1 mami Rhea Ripley go the distance to book her tickets to Wrestlemania. Another good decision, Rhea was the absolute best choice to win the rumble. We saw a few more surprises in this rumble, some NXT stars like Zoey Starks and Roxanne Perez, a former world champion in Michelle McCool and of course the most surprising number 30 entrant, Nia Jax. Seriously, no one saw this coming and we were all very confused on how to feel. I laughed if I'm being honest. Similar to the men's rumble though, this match was focused on being a competitive contest without the frills and thrills of lots of returns or legends. The issue is though that there are far fewer viable women who could win the match compared to men, the roster isn't as well established in the main event scene. So like 2/3's of the rumble felt like cannon fodder. There were still some highlights in this match. Damage CTRL taking over the match, Chelsea Green returns but is eliminated in seconds (not a fan), Asuka with a fresh look similar to her time as Kanna, Doudrop finally returning to her actually good name of Piper Niven and going on a tear. 1 & 2 Rhea and Liv lasting to the very end was a nice touch too. There was a quite a few moments of lull in the match though, but still largely good. Rhea Ripley & Liv Morgan hold the record now for longest women's rumble performance, or just Rhea depending on how you view it.


Rhea Ripley wins (61:08)

***1/4


-Musical performance by country singer Hardy. It was kinda more hard than I was expecting.


Roman Reigns (c) w/Paul Heyman & Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens, WWE & Universal Championships

This was like PEAK Bloodline story, with the Sami Zayn's loyalty and motives being questioned even after months of dedication to the Bloodline. Theres too much lore to recap, but man it was so fucking good. This was your usual Roman Reigns title defence, but it was before now where people were getting real sick of the same formula. The match was very good as expected, but the real story was what happened after the match. Zayn finally betrays Reigns to defend his long-term friend, leading to him being bludgeoned by the Bloodline, except for Jey Uso who took off refusing to partake. The storytelling was absolute perfection. It was an awesome way to close the show.


Reigns retains via pinfall (19:15)

***1/2


Overall- 53%

It peaked with the opening match, a couple of disappointing matches but a couple of good ones too. A pretty memorable closing segment too. A mostly fun enjoyable show.


MOTN- Men's Royal Rumble


Moving on...


-intermission-


NXT: Vengeance Day, February 4th 2023 @ Spectrum Center, Charlotte NC.

Initially a main roster PPV named Vengeance, then an NXT Takeover special, then a NXT TV special and now an NXT PLE. This would be the first NXT PLE to take place outside of Florida since pre-COVID. It took Shawn Michaels and NXT some time to recover after Vince stripped almost everything good about the once black and gold brand. At this point the now white and gold show was starting to find their feet once again with compelling stories, great characters and good wrestling.


-I actually really like Charlotte's hype package, it really bigged up all tonights competitors


Wes Lee (c) vs Dijak, North American Championship

The artist formerly known as T-Bar returned to NXT in the far cooler name and persona of Dijak and immediately targeted Wes Lee, setting up this contest. Wes Lee could arguably go down as the best North American champion ever so far, now with the longest ever title reign and a plethora of banging matches under his belt. This was one of them. Like the Royal Rumble, the opener stole the show. This was a very important match for a couple of reasons. They needed to start the first non-Florida NXT show in 3 years in hot fashion and they did, but also Dijak needed this to be great to remind everyone how fucking awesome he was before Retribution was birthed. Great match at a great pace.


Lee retains via pinfall (17:01)

****1/2


Katana Chance & Kayden Carter (c) vs Fallon Henley & Kiana James w/Brooks Jensen & Josh Briggs, Women's Tag Team Championships

Chance & Carter are the longest reigning women's tag champions on any brand which is a cool record for them but ultimately not massively impressive considering how poorly booked the women's tag division is. It's virtually non-existent. Henley & James actually hate each other but put aside their differences to challenge for the gold. HOW WILL THE CO-EXIST?!?!?! This was a perfectly average tag match with a flat finish, it just felt a bit sudden and out of no where. All 4 of these women have talent, but I don't really see any of them as serious future stars in WWE. I think Carter has the best chance of success. A flash roll up pinfall just felt like a weak way for this to end, especially when dethroning the longest reigning women's tag champions ever.


Henley & James win via pinfall (9:20)

**1/4


Carmelo Hayes w/Trick Williams vs Apollo Crews, 2 out of 3 Falls

A feud that has been simmering for a couple months since Hayes started clapping at Apollo for losing his title match. These two got over 20 minutes to work this match and I think they struggled to work an interesting match. Nothing was bad in this from an in-ring standpoint, but the pace was far too slow for two guys who are incredibly talented. They told a solid story, interesting decision for Hayes to win in 2 straight falls, it kind of makes the whole stipulation feel a bit redundant. The 2-0 didn't even put Hayes over strong because we saw the return of bloody Dabba-Kato who cost Apollo (his former ally) the match. All things considered, a bit of a let down.


Hayes wins 2-0 (23:30)

**3/4


The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) (c) vs Pretty Deadly (Elton Prince & Kit Wilson) vs Gallus (Mark Coffey & Wolfgang) vs Chase U (Andre Chase & Duke Hudson w/Thea Hail), Tag Team Championships

In NXT's peak era they stopped relying on main roster talent coming down like in the early days and stood on their own two feet. Vince then cut their feet off, so as they rebuild once again they started bringing in main roster talent for fun little runs in NXT. Dolph Ziggler, Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin and here we have the New Day who previously won the tag titles from Pretty Deadly. They take on all challengers here. This was a very fun match, very chaotic with lots of moving parts and entertaining moments. It's a bit messy but I had a really good time. As a Scotsman, I'm overjoyed to see Gallus walk out with the gold.


Gallus win via pinfall (16:47)

***1/2


Roxanne Perez (c) vs Gigi Dolin vs Jacy Jayne, Women's Championship

Remember how good Toxic Attraction were? One of the few highlights from Vinnie Mac's NXT. Gigi and Jayne co-won a battle royal together to get this opportunity. This is the just before the inevitable Toxic Attraction break-up, it's a shame they never had a big blow off match on a PLE because they both deserved it. This was a good match, they all worked well and followed a safe formula of the valiant face fighting the odds as well as the two heel allies starting together and gradually falling apart. Perez takes advantage of the fallout to retain her title.


Perez retains via pinfall (14:43)

***1/4


Bron Breakker (c) vs Grayson Waller, Steel Cage, NXT Championship

A rematch from NXT Deadline after a rope breaking caused Waller to lose the match. Breakker is a great worker but needs work on the mic. Waller could do with some improvment in the ring, but on promos he is excellent. A real clash of styles. This unfortunately suffered the issue that a lot of WWE steel cage matches suffer. A lot of people seem to struggle to engage in a compelling within the cage, they're not bad but they just have like a standard match whilst sprinkling in the usual offence you see in literally every other steel cage match. Becky Lynch and Trish Stratus showed how to properly do a rivalry-ending steel cage match full of intensity. This was lacking something to make this good. It wasn't bad though, it was well worked but another pretty flat finish that made Waller look a bit foolish for standing around on the cage for too long. Breakker retains with a spear.


Breakker retains via pinfall (14:25)

**1/2


Overall- 62.5%

A lot of heavy lifting done by the amazing opener, the rest of the card felt rather lacklustre in comparison, but there wasn't anything outright bad.


MOTN- Wes Lee vs Dijak


One more WWE show to cover...


-intermission-


WWE Elimination Chamber, February 18th 2023 @ Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

In his home country Sami Zayn gets a big marquee main event match with the Tribal Chief and EVERYONE wants him to win. But that is not the story WWE want to tell.


Asuka vs Carmella vs Liv Morgan vs Nikki Cross vs Natalya vs Raquel Gonzalez, #1 Contendership Elimination Chamber

The winner goes on the face Bianca Belair at Wrestlemania. My main gripe with this one before it even began is that it was really obvious who was going to win. You could make an argument for Morgan and maybe even Gonzalez but for a Wrestlemania level match, Asuka vs Belair is the only one worthy of the stage. Natalya wrestling in her home country is a nice moment for her. I almost always enjoy Elimination Chamber matches too, it's a fun format. In this near 20 minute match, it's pretty dead and slow for the first 10-15 minutes except for two spots by Cross, the pod dive and the pod spear. Things picked up in the last 5+ minutes as the pace quickened and Asuka entered the match. Carmella was really impressive in this match too, being a more than solid worker and good character work, especially when eliminating Natalya. Asuka wins like we all knew, which was the right call in fairness. A bit of a slog but the end was well done.


Asuka wins (19:30)

***/1/4


Bobby Lashley vs Brock Lesnar

Lashley beat Lesnar at Royal Rumble last year, then in a rematch passed out in the Hurt Lock, then at the Royal Rumble this year Lashley eliminated Brock from the match. Lesnar got a contract for a third match here. This doesn't even go five minutes. A physical fight, Lesnar seemed frustrated he couldn't put Lashley away and break the Hurt Lock again so he low blowed Lashley for a DQ finish. Yeah, this sucked. This didn't go anywhere, build to anything or benefit anyone. This was a waste of time and effort. If you ever think Meltzer's ratings are to live by, he gave this match a 2.25 star rating which is actually insane, he needs to be medicated.


Lashley wins by DQ (4:40)

3/4*


Judgement Day (Finn Balor & Rhea Ripley) w/Dominik Mysterio vs Edge & Beth Phoenix

A long-term feud which began when the Judgement Day ousted Edge from their group, the feud his since involved the Mysterios and now Edge's wife who recieved a conchairto. Edge and Beth returned at the Royal Rumble and they want revenge, to put the Judgement Day out for good. Edge is serenaded by his hometown faithful. Rhea vs Beth is a mini dream match for me so this was awesome. A cracking mixed tag match with great action and great storytelling. Edge winning in his hometown was a good call I think but in return Balor should have really went over at Mania for a Judgement Day win to end the feud. It all worked out though, they're arguably the hottest faction of the year now. I loved the match ending in a shatter machine, shout out to FTR.


Edge & Beth win via pinfall (13:48)

***3/4


Austin Theory (c) vs Bronson Reed vs Damian Priest vs Seth Rollins vs Johnny Gargano vs Montez Ford, Elimination Chamber, United States Championship

All the challengers won qualifiers to get into this one. This was so fucking good. We finally got to see Rollins and Gargano mix it up even if just for a few minutes. Theory played his role as dickhead heel really well. Reed and Priest were both perfect powerhouses with some great power spots. For me though, Montez Ford was the absolute MAN in this match. Rumour says this match was a little test to see how Ford could work as a singles star. If that is true, he absolutely proved his worth. He's dripping with charisma and he's flawless in the ring. This is easily one of the best chamber matches of all time. Everyone plays their part to perfection, even Logan Paul who runs out to cost Rollins the match in the end. Theory retains which is fine, I honestly would have loved to have seen Ford walk out of here as the US champ. A close to perfect match nonetheless.


Austin Theory wins (31:30)

****1/2


Roman Reigns w/Paul Heyman vs Sami Zayn, WWE & Universal Championships

I really thought the US Chamber was going to be the best match, until these two worked some absolute magic. Credit goes to everyone involved to be fair, this is just more master storytelling by all these guys. The MONTHS of beautifully woven story-telling, Zayn being the most over man in the company and Reigns being the most hated, the hometown crowd, the heavy rumour that no Bloodline members were in Canada (which we would later find to be false). So many factors lined up that made this so damn good. The Canadian were so amazing throughout this. We all bought that maybe Zayn could do it, but deep down surely we knew the outcome of this. They wouldn't end a historic reign at a B show right? But yet we all were suspended in belief, which is hard to pull off in modern day wrestling sometimes. That's what makes this match so special. Zayn was able to survive so much, even with the Uso's appearing and we saw more development between Jey and Reigns but ultimately the Tribal Chief would retain. To prevent a sad go home ending, Kevin Owens makes his return saving Sami from a beatdown, returning the favour for the Rumble. There are a couple of things you could nit pick at this for but honestly this was such a magical match to watch and I think it deserves the full 5.


Reigns retains by pinfall (32:19)

*****


Overall- 69%

If only Lashley vs Lesnar delivered and wasn't absolute ass, this could easily be up for PPV of the year. A MOTY candidate, one of the best Chamber matches ever, plus another two good to great matches to add. An incredible show.


MOTN- Sami Zayn vs Roman Reigns


We're done with WWE, now let us hop on a plane and cross the continents for the biggest show in Japanese wrestling...


-intermission-


New Japan: Wrestle Kingdom 17, January 4th 2023 @ Tokyo Dome, Japan

A show in honour of the late Antonio Inoki who founded the company, this is technically a two day event but the second day I'm not including in the review. It was a cross-promotional event with NOAH and it wasn't like a major show like Wrestle Kingdom is. There was a pre-show which I'll post the results and my ratings below without any text because this is a PHAT show full of long matches to watch;


Oleg Boltin vs Ryohei Oiwa draw, 3-minute exhibition. 1/4*

Great O-Khan, Shingo Takagi, SHO & Toru Yano win a New Japan Rambo match, King of Pro Wrestling Right to Challenge. *

Satoshi Kojima, Togi Makabe & Yuji Nagata defeat Minoru Suzuki, Tatsumi Fujinami & Tiger Mask, Inoki Tribute match. *1/2


Catch 22 (Francesco Akira & TJP) (c) vs CHAOS (Lio Rush & YOH), IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championships

A fast paced, high-flying cruiserweight match is a great way to start the show. It gets the crowd warmed up for the rest of the show. Lio Rush took a nasty bump and was bleeding on his head which was a gruesome visual, but he didn't slow down at all. Rush & YOH chase the gold well but the defending champs are successful in their quest to remain on top of their division.


Catch 22 retain (10:29)

3.5


KAIRI (c) vs Tam Nakano, IWGP Women's Championship

This had a big match feel but unfortunately they were only given about 5 minutes to work a match which is no where near enough time. For the time given, they did really well to give all they could and work the crowd well but yeah, not much you can do with the same amount of time it takes to cook my lasagne in a microwave. They probably did this to make time for the following segment, the shocking debut of Mercedes Mone FKA Sasha Banks which was a huge deal but the crowd were barely into it, plus she botched her move which is a shame.


KAIRI retains via pinfall (5:47)

***


FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) (c) vs Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI), IWGP Tag Team Championships

I can't help but think how amazing this would have been if they got like 20 minutes. FTR have casually been the best tag team in the US, whilst Bishamon have been doing the exact same in Japan. Easily 5 star potential with more time. They still work a brilliant 10 minute match here, FTR once held 3 tag titles at once but they've gradually dropped them one by one, and here is the final silverware to leave their possession. Every year at Wrestle Kingdom since 2014 we've seen new tag champions crowned.


Bishamon win via pinfall (10:10)

***3/4


Zack Sabre Jr vs Ren Narita, NJPW Television Championship Tournament Finals

ZSJ got past Alex Zayne, David Finlay & EVIL to get here. Narita beat Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & SANADA. Zack has been one of my favourites in NJPW for quite some time now, he is one of the most entertaining technical wrestlers I've ever seen. This was an extremely competitive 10 minute contest to crown an inaugural champion, Narita really proved his upside but it was the technical master ZSJ who scored a good reversal for a flash pinfall. It is also after this match where Sabre joins TMDK which would begin some seriously big growth for the stable.


ZSJ wins via pinfall (10:32)

***1/2


Karl Anderson (c) vs Tama Tonga w/Jado, NEVER Openweight Championship

A very interesting circumstance here, because Karl Anderson just resigned with WWE not long before this, making this the first time a WWE signed superstar and an AEW signed superstar (Kenny Omega) have competed on the same wrestling card. Obviously a predictable match considering the circumstances, like there is pretty much 0% chance of Anderson winning which I think hurt the match a tad, but this was still fine. Tonga puts Anderson away to win his second Openweight title.


Tama Tonga wins via pinfall (9:36)

**1/2


Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, Keiji Mutoh & Shota Umino

This will be Mutoh's last match in New Japan as he is on his retirement tour, which would wrap up a month later in Pro Wrestling NOAH. This was a standard 6-man tag to get all of these faces on the card. An inoffensive send off to one of the GOATs in Japan, I really liked that upcomer Umino was the one to get the win for his team.


Team Mutoh win via pinfall (9:20)

***


Taiji Ishimori (c) vs Hiromu Takahashi vs El Desperado vs Master Wato, IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship

Ishimori wanted to prove his worth as champion by facing 3 challengers instead of just one here tonight. It's an honourable move but it backfired as he ended up losing the match. A fault in a lot of 4-way matches is how more often than not it's a singles match with 2 guys sitting outside recovering. Whenever New Japan bust out a rare multi-man match like this you always see action involving all the guys. All 4 grafters work an excellent match with really no indication of who walks out as the champ. It would be Hiromu who walks away with the victory and his 5th Jr Heavyweight championship.


Takahashi wins via pinfall (16:43)

****


Will Ospreay (c) vs Kenny Omega, IWGP United States Championship

I don't have to say anything here. This was an absolute classic, people are calling this the best match in wrestling history and SHIT they might be right. It's fucking hilarious seeing Meltzer give this a 6.25 star rating, absolute insano mode. I cap my ratings at 5, but yeah this really is wrestling perfection. Just go watch it.


Omega wins via pinfall (34:38)

*****


Jay White (c) w/Gedo vs Kazuchika Okada, IWGP World Heavyweight Championship

White defeated Okada to take the world title away from him at Dominion. Okada would go on to win the G1 climax, booking his ticket to the main event and a shot at revenge. Quite a tame entrance for Okada, who usually has crazy epic entrances at Wrestle Kingdom but I guess tonight he is here to represent and honour Antonio Inoki, even down to his ring attire. An unfamiliar difficult position for the main event of Wrestle Kingdom, because how the fuck do you follow that Omega vs Ospreay match? They certainly tried their best and of course this was still a great match. This was another match I think was hurt by predictability as well as having to follow the previous match. This was also a 30+ minute match and it did feel like it. A safe Okada formula where the opponent takes control for the first part, Okada fights back and dominates, then the final third is reversal city back and forth. A predictably excellent main event.


Okada wins via pinfall (33:03)

****1/4


Overall- 72.2%

Well who would have thunk it, New Japan's flagship show was one of the best shows of the year. I contender for the end of year awards for sure. Nothing much else to say, except their pre-show was one of the worst NJPW pre-shows I've ever watched. Main card slapped though.


MOTN- Omega vs Ospreay


-intermission-


AEW: Revolution, March 5th 2023 @ Chase Center, San Francisco, CA.

I am very excited to watch this show, because I have heard such good things about it and I can't see the reason why I put off watching this. I mean, the obvious one is finding the funds to afford all the wrestling I wanna watch but I'm here now and I'm ready to viva la revolution! Only one pre-show match which feels like an AEW first, I'll keep my thoughts brief on it.


Zero Hour: Mark Briscoe & Lucha Bros. (Rey Fenix & Penta El Zero Miedo w/Alex Abrahantes) vs Ari Diavari & Varsity Athletes (Josh Woods & Tony Nese) w/Mark Sterling

This was less than two months after the death of Jay Briscoe, so this was just a really feel good match for Mark in his 4th AEW match and his first on PPV. A fun fast paced match that was a bit sloppy in the first few minutes but came together by the final bell.


Briscoe & Luchas win by pinfall (12:50)

***1/4


Ricky Starks vs Chris Jericho

This was supposed to be a big moment for Starks that should have really elevated him up the card, Ricky was a real hot commodity. He is still over today but he didn't really benefit from this feud that much, even though he picked up a big victory here. The match was a good one, Jericho played the heel role well and Starks fought back. The spear into a codebreaker counter was smooth as butter. The JAS coming out even though they were barred from ringside was a bit unnecessary, but it didn't harm the match that much. Starks winning was a great decision for him, but like I say for some reason his momentum dipped after this.


Starks wins via pinfall (13:49)

***1/2


Christian Cage vs Jack Perry, Final Burial

Christian has been doing some of the best character work of his entire career and it began with his heel turn in 2022. Luchasaurus betrayed Jack to align with Christian, Jack has been away for months and recently returned to get vengeance. You win via putting your opponent in the casket. This was a real fight, the feud intensity sold real well by both guys. A lot of investment and a great crowd for this one, signs of a well told story. Filled with drama and emotion, Jack Perry finally gets his revenge with a conchairto on his former mentor, burying Christian in the casket to end the feud. Commentary do a good job selling the dark place Perry went to, which would lead to his heel turn soon after. An excellent match.


Perry wins (14:49)

****


The Elite (Kenny Omega, Nick & Matt Jackson) (c) w/Brandon Cutler & MT Nakazawa vs House of Black (Malakai Black, Brody King & Buddy Matthews w/Julia Hart), World Trios Championships

The inaugural Trios champions the Elite were forced to vacate them after the Brawl Out incident, but won them back in January from Death Triangle. I'll get my criticism out the way first. I'm now so bored by Young Bucks matches, whatever they do offensively just feels like copy-paste. That being said, of course the moves they did were executed well and are impressive. Omega and the House though were absolutely on fire here. A lot of very natural chemistry here between the two teams. Julia Hart eats a MEAN V-trigger by Omega. God I want an Omega vs Black singles match so badly, how has that not happened yet? Eventually the House manage to keep isolating members of the Elite, eventually dethroning the EVP's as champions. It's a great match and I was very happy to see the House of Black given some creative plans to work with.


House of Black win via pinfall (17:58)

****1/4


Jamie Hayter (c) w/Britt Baker vs Saraya w/Toni Storm vs Ruby Soho, Women's Championship

Hayter had an absolutely meteoric rise in AEW, it's a real shame about her injury and I hope we see her soon. In an often floundering women's division, Jamie really rose up to be a fan favourite with her great character and wrestling ability. This was only Saraya's 5th match since returning from retirement, the ring rust was still there. This match was good, Hayter spent a lot of the match on the backfoot, maybe a bit more than I would have hoped but she was still the best performer in this match. She retains her title in a flash pinfall, I would have liked a more dominant win for her but her still being champion is a win. Afterwards a pissed of Soho saves Hayter & Baker from a beatdown before attacking them anyways and deciding to join the Outcasts. The faction surprisingly was a flop for the next few months.


Hayter retains via pinfall (10:04)

***


'Hangman' Adam Page vs Jon Moxley, Texas Death

Hangman & Moxley have been in a feud since late 2022 with a handful of singles matches on TV leading up to a big blow off here. This would snowball into a Blackpool Combat Club vs The Elite storyline over the following months. AEW have made a name for themselves being able to put on some very brutal Texas Death matches, this was more of the same. We are exposed to barbed wire within minutes, then Moxley starts stabbing him with a fork, Abdullah the Butcher style. The barbed wire chair comes to play, the barbed wire board, the usual suspects in these kind of matches. It was ugly and uncomfortable, but still entertaining. My biggest gripe with this, as well as a lot of AEW, is one word that they're criticised for a lot. Selling. They do loads of brutal things to each other, but minutes later it's not an issue at all. I dunno it kinda irks me a bit. Like, Moxley stamped on Page's hand sandwiched betwen two bricks, commentary selling a broken hand yet he wrestles pretty the same for the rest of the match. Hangman eats a surc stomp, ON A BRICK, and he's back on his feet as normal soon after. Hangman eventually makes Moxley tap out by choking him with a chain, which tied in to a story injury Moxley had which was very good. I think I enjoyed Page vs Swerve more than this, but this was still an excellent bloody brawl,


Page wins via submission (26:04)

****1/2


Samoa Joe (c) Wardlow, TNT Championship

The TNT Championship was entering it's worst time period in 2023, where it was seemingly booked with little thought and passed around more than a chick in a gangbang. Joe has cut some great promos against Wardlow, making this match feel personal. Wardlow unfortunately has been mired by poor booking since defeating MJF last year. This match was in a tough spot, it was a fine worked match but slow and boring, very little noteworthy. Wardlow choked him out with his own sleeper which was a surprising finish. Wardlow got his win back and ended the feud.


Wardlow wins via submission (10:42)

**


The Gunns (Austin & Colten Gunn) (c) vs The Acclaimed (Max Caster & Anthony Bowens) w/Billy Gunn vs Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett w/Satnam Singh & Sonjay Dutt vs Danhausen & Orange Cassidy, Tag Team Championships

Remember when AEW said they're going to rebuild tag team wrestling and make it their goal to have the best tag division in the world? Here they are with a 4-way tag match for the titles with two teams essentially being two singles guys thrown together. "WWE does it too" I know but they aren't bigging up how much better their tag division is are they? The Gunns took the titles far too early I think, I would have liked a really solid reign for them, but I can't argue that the Gunns are great heels and over 2023 have quickly became one of the company's best teams. An average AEW multi-tag match, lots of double teaming, lack of tags, also quite a bit of comedy too. It was fine. The spot with Satnam, Sonjay, Danhausen & Billy kinda sucked. The heavy focus on Aubrey and Jarrett also kinda sucked. Also I'm not interested in watching Jeff Jarrett in 2023, though I'll admit he looks great. Danhausen is pinned by Austin Gunn. FTR return post match and kick the Gunns ass, setting their sights on the gold.


The Gunns retain via pinfall (13:22)

**1/2


MJF (c) vs Bryan Danielson, Iron Man, AEW World Championship

60 minute time limit, with Bryan Danielson. Yes please. I can't believe I have waited so long to watch this. After Regal helped MJF beat Moxley, then MJF betrayed him and attacked him, Danielson sought to avenge is mentor. 'The Devil' gets a grand entrance fitting of a champion. I love me a good iron man match, HBK vs Hart at Wrestlemania I used to own on DVD and rewatch it religiously. We're treated to a great 25 minute crowd-pleaser before we get our first fall, Danielson putting MJF down for the 3 after the running knee. MJF responds with a dirty low blow, then 2 quick pinfalls meaning it is now 2-2. AEW and the referee did a horrible job making the DQ known so my thanks go to Excalibur for being competent. All tied up, we get another 15 minutes of competitive action until MJF takes the lead following a heat-seeking missile and a pinfall. 20 minutes left on the clock and Bryan is chasing the match, MJF takes his time and is confidently in control being a mega heel ass, but it comes back to bite him. MJF ends up gushing with blood which was an awesome visual, Danielson hits a running knee followed by a Regal stretch for a submission to level it 3-3. The final 10 minutes sees a battle of submissions and a battle of strikes. MJF starts crying whilst Bryan is laughing. Justin Roberts announces 5 minutes remain and they both pick up the pace looking for the finish. Bryan holds him in a single-leg Boston crab for the final minute but MJF manages to hold on until the time expires. It's announced as a draw, but Schiavone is given a message to pass on, Roberts announces sudden death. MJF is receiving oxygen while this happens. We get another fantastic 5 minutes of nearfalls, on the outside MJF manages to clock Bryan with the oxygen tank and locks in Bryan's LeBell lock and forces Danielson to submit.


I have all confidence in saying this is the best Iron Man match of all time, at least that I'm aware of. It never dragged for a minute, it was perfectly paced. The storytelling was phenomenal. We all knew MJF was real good as a wrestler but going over an hour with Danielson cemented him as a world class worker. Just amazing.


MJF retains via submission (65:15)

*****


Overall- 71.9%

Yep. Another contender for show of the year. 4 matches are **** or higher, with one of them being a 5 star classic. Only 2 matches are a bit weak but it was a nice little cool off in-between the Texas Death and the Iron Man.


MOTN- Bryan Danielson vs MJF


Well this was a long watch party, however a very enjoyable one because 2 of these shows are contenders for best of the year, and the 3 WWE shows had plenty of great matches to watch.






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