Date: February 9, 2022
Location: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Commentators: Jim Ross, Excalibur, Tony Schiavone
This is another big night and that is because Tony Khan has promised a huge debut in a qualifying match for the Face of the Revolution ladder match. As a result, there has been a lot of excited speculation and that has made the show feel that much more important. Other than that, we are probably seeing some more from the potential Jon Moxley/Bryan Danielson pairing. Let’s get to it.
Here is Wardlow with some cardboard cutouts of MJF sitting on CM Punk’s chest and MJF putting Punk in the sleeper. Wardlow looks annoyed as he hands Justin Roberts some cards with introductions for FTR with Tully Blanchard and Shawn Spears, who has his own introduction for MJF. As you might expect, it is as over the top as you can get, including talking about how he beat punk TWICE in the garbage heap that is Chicago in the mid-mid-mid-midwest.
MJF comes out on a throne carried by various men and kisses one of the women nearby. Confetti falls and the Pinnacle (minus Wardlow) celebrates before MJF talks about how he has proven that he is the best in the world. Actually, he is better than the Best In The World, but he couldn’t have done it without that big strapping muscular man…..Shawn Spears (Wardlow is not pleased). Speaking of Spears, he has a gift for MJF: his new Better Than The Best In The World shirt!
MJF is happy, but now he wants to be World Champion. Cue CM Punk to the stage, with Tony Schiavone going up with a microphone. Punk mocks MJF’s spray tan but realizes that he’s at a numbers disadvantage. That’s why he has some friends with him. Cue Sting and Darby Allin with baseball bats, with Punk saying he’s getting what he wants or beats it out of him: he wants a rematch.
MJF says no, but Punk wants a rematch with the man who really beat him: Wardlow. Dax Harwood is ready to fight, but MJF has an idea. We’re in Atlantic City so let’s gamble: Punk can pick any partner save for Sting/Allin and if he can beat the Revival, he can face MJF in any kind of match he wants. As for Wardlow, who is in a suit, he has a match right now!
There was a lot here, but something stuck out when Punk came to the stage. One thing I love about AEW is that when someone comes out with a microphone, it sounds like a person talking rather than a wrestler reciting lines given to them. Punk sounds different than MJF who sounds different than Hangman who sounds different than Britt Baker etc. It feels like people talking instead of people performing. That was the case here, as I’m not sure anyone else saying these lines would have worked, as they felt natural coming from these people. That’s a huge difference to what you hear in WWE and it helps a lot.
Andrade is in the back with Sting and Darby Allin and asks about Sting owning him. Sting says Allin has already explained this and Allin, who isn’t a boy, doesn’t need Sting to speak for him. Allin says he wants the TNT Title back, but Andrade says he’s the next champion.
Blade vs. Wardlow
Blade stomps him into the corner to start but Wardlow snaps off an overhead belly to belly. They head outside with Wardlow driving him into various hard things and we take a break. Back with Wardlow hitting a suplex and then the first powerbomb. The Powerbomb Symphony finishes Blade at 6:11.
Rating: C-. I doubt enough was shown for a rating but this was near total dominance, as it should have been. Wardlow continues to rise up the ranks and this time he beat someone with some more status. The Powerbomb Symphony is over and when Wardlow FINALLY turns on MJF, the reaction is going to be incredible.
Post match Wardlow celebrates and Shawn Spears chairs Blade in the back. Wardlow doesn’t look happy.
Penta El Zero Miedo is ready to destroy Malakai Black.
Here is part of the Inner Circle for a chant. Chris Jericho (who looks like he has slimmed down) says they haven’t seen Santana and Ortiz all day, but here they are to their own entrance and not in their Inner Circle gear. Jericho talks about how they wouldn’t tag him in during a six man tag a few weeks ago and wants to know what is up. Santana says it boils down to Jericho only caring about himself.
Every time Santana and Ortiz get closer to winning the Tag Team Titles, they have to come save Jericho from whatever he is doing. The days of bailing Jericho out are over because Santana and Ortiz need the titles. Jericho says Santana reminds him of Eddie Guerrero and says this is all because of Eddie Kingston getting in their ears. Kingston has never done anything but it was Jericho who brought them in and is responsible for their success.
Jericho brings up them losing the Tag Team Title shot against the Young Bucks about a year ago, which had nothing to do with him. He brought them into the Inner Circle and he can kick them out, because maybe he brought in the wrong members of LAX. Jericho: “Hey Jake, do you have Homicide and Hernandez….” and Santana lunges for him.
Sammy Guevara cuts them but Jericho tells him to shut up. Guevara tells Jericho to save it and while he loves these guys, he’ll quit again if the team can’t figure this out. Guevara leaves and Ortiz yells at Jericho about how he keeps talking about things. Instead of talking, they can fight it out next week. Jericho accepts the match on Hager’s behalf against the two of them and attendance is mandatory next week. Hager never said anything during the whole showdown.
Roppongi Vice is ready for the Young Bucks, who show up and are ready to fight right now. Adam Cole jumps Vice from behind and the big beatdown is on, including the BTE Trigger to Rocky Romero. Cue Jay White to take out Romero and seem to be happy with Cole and the Bucks.
Face of the Revolution Qualifying Match: Isiah Kassidy vs. ???
The mystery opponent is…..Keith Lee, who looks like he has gotten in better shape. The fans sing BASK IN HIS GLORY and Lee LAUNCHES Kassidy with a beal to start. Kassidy gets sent outside but comes back in to fight out of the Spirit Bomb. A dropkick has no effect on Lee, who Pounces him out of the ring. Matt Hardy walks out on the match so Marq Quen grabs Lee’s leg. The distraction lets Kassidy get in a corkscrew dive to actually knock Lee down, but Lee swats a kick to the face out of the way. The Big Bang Catastrophe finishes for Lee at 4:26.
Rating: B-. But remember: there was nothing for him to do in WWE. You know what you have him do? Beat up people every week and wow the crowd, then have him do it to a bigger name. That’s how wrestling has worked for the better part of ever, but for some reason WWE couldn’t think of something for him. Either way, at least he’s here now and got a great debut.
Post match Quen goes after Lee, who gets knocked to the floor. Then he catches a diving Kassidy, followed by catching a diving Quen.
Mercedes Martinez is ready to end Thunder Rosa in a No DQ match, because we need one every week or so.
FTR vs. CM Punk/???
The partner is…..Jon Moxley in a good choice. Harwood works on Punk’s wrist to start but Punk is out without much effort. Moxley comes in for a headlock takeover but it’s quickly back to Punk. Everything breaks down in a hurry with FTR being sent outside for a dive from Punk (who is favoring his leg).
We take a break and come back with Moxley getting choked down in the corner. Some legdrops put Moxley in more trouble but he manages a belly to back on Wheeler for a save. That’s not enough for the save though as it’s a Veg-O-Matic (old Midnight Express move) for two on Moxley.
Back up and the big clothesline gets Moxley out of trouble, allowing the hot tag off to Punk. Everything breaks down and it’s a Doomsday Device for a close two on Harwood. Wheeler pulls Moxley outside for a tornado DDT before grabbing the ring bell. Punk rolls Harwood up for two and the kickout lets Wheeler hit Punk with the bell.
The brainbuster gets two on Punk but the GTS is countered into the Big Rig for two more, with Moxley having to make a save. A simultaneous GTS/Paradigm Shift is broken up so Punk pulls Harwood down into the Anaconda Vice for the tap….which the referee doesn’t see. Instead Tully Blanchard hits Punk with a jacket so it’s a GTS (after some stumbling) to Tully. Now the Paradigm Shift/GTS can connect for the stereo pins at 19:36.
Rating: B+. Yeah this was great and I don’t think that’s the biggest surprise. I don’t think there is any shame in losing to a pair of former World Champions and it isn’t like FTR has meant much in the last few months anyway. What mattered here was having a great match with Punk and Moxley fighting through all kinds of trouble to get the win. I don’t think Punk vs. MJF II is a shock, but Moxley getting involved, even slightly, is interesting. Heck of a match.
Jade Cargill vs. AQA
Non-title and the debuting AQA was trained by Booker T. AQA goes after the arm to start but her short armscissors is countered with a deadlift into a slam. A dropkick puts Cargill on the floor but she blasts AQA with a forearm. We take a break and come back with Cargill hitting an Ultimate Warrior gorilla press slam but AQA knocks her down again. A heck of a shooting star press gets two on Cargill but she catches AQA with a Tour of the Islands. Jaded finishes AQA at 7:31.
Rating: C+. This was longer than it needed to be but AQA showcased herself well. She looked smooth and crisp in the ring and felt like she knew what she was doing. At the same time, Jade continues to be a force of nature, though she is clearly still rather green. That being said, leaving her to basic power moves that show off her natural skills is a great thing and works very well for her.
The Young Bucks, with Adam Cole, are ready to go after Roppongi Vice. Cole says Jay White can have their back next time, but the Bucks aren’t wild on Cole bringing in White without giving them a heads up. Don’t worry though, because Cole says it’s cool.
Serena Deeb vs. Katie Arquette
This is part of Deeb’s new Professor’s Five Minute Rookie Challenge, meaning there is a five minute time limit. Deeb knocks her into the corner, pulls her down, waits for a second, and finishes with the Serenity Lock at 58 seconds.
The Gunn Club is ready to win the Tag Team Titles on Friday.
AEW World Title: Hangman Page vs. Lance Archer
Page is defending in a Texas Death Match and the fight is on in the back before the bell. They come to the stage with the bell ringing and Page hitting a running belt shot. Page sends him through a glass wall and Archer is busted open. They get inside where Page hits the Buckshot Lariat to send Archer outside for a seven count. A suicide dive is cut off with a trashcan lid to the head, but here is Dan Lambert to unhook a turnbuckle. Page has to superkick his way out of a chokeslam and it’s a moonsault off the barricade to take Archer down. They head back inside, where the top rope is down, meaning no Buckshot Lariat.
We take a break and come back with two tables set up at ringside. The Black Out and the Deadeye are both broken up so Page (also bleeding) kicks Archer in the face twice but gets knocked down again. Jake Roberts hits the short arm clothesline on the floor but Archer won’t let him hit the DDT for some reason.
Instead Page hits one behind Jake’s back but a bunch of kendo stick shots wake Archer up. The chokeslam onto the trashcan knocks Page silly but Archer would rather whip out a fork to stab Page in the head. He even licks the blood off as it feels like we’re in ECW again. Archer pulls out a barbed wire chair before hitting the Blackout onto the side of the steps.
Instead of winning, Archer picks him up though and Page pulls the barbed wire off the chair. The Hangman Page, using the referee instead of a rope, with wire around the arm, drives Archer through the tables at ringside. That’s finally enough to finish Archer and retain the title at 15:24.
Rating: B. The ending was cool, but egads this was up there in the “violence for the sake of violence” category. I’m not sure how much drama there was over the result but at least they beat each other up. That being said, the fork and the licking of the blood was WAY too far for me, as it didn’t so much make me think thata the match was extreme. Instead, it made me think I was watching something out of XPW or some hardcore indy and that’s not a good thing.
Post match Adam Cole comes down and picks up the title to end the show.
Overall Rating: A-. This show was built around surprise moments and energy and they both made for an awesome night. Lee wasn’t the biggest surprise, but you could feel that he was bringing something different and it worked on all levels. Jay White is a very cool addition and Moxley made for a great partner in an outstanding match. The main event is going to be hit or miss for a lot of people, but it was a hard fought cap on one of the more entertaining nights I’ve seen around here in a long time.
Wardlow b. The Blade – Powerbomb Symphony
Keith Lee b. Isiah Kassidy – Big Bang Catastrophe
Jon Moxley/CM Punk b. FTR – Double pin
Jade Cargill b. AQA – Jaded
Serena Deeb b. Katie Arquette – Serenity Lock
Hangman Page b. Lance Archer when Archer couldn’t answer the ten count
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