Date: March 30, 2022
Location: Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, South Carolina
Commentators: Excalibur, Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone
We’re still on the long road to Double Or Nothing and that means there are some things that need to get ready before then. It seems that we will be seeing Adam Cole vs. Hangman Page II either on the way there or at the show itself, meaning there is a good chance we’ll see more of the build here this week. Let’s get to it.
CM Punk vs. Max Caster
Caster’s rap goes straight to the Will Smith reference and throws in a Hunter Biden line, plus a reference to Punk’s issues with Z-Paks. Anthony Bowens is here with Caster as Punk works on Caster’s taped up shoulder to start. Punk takes him down by the arm but it’s too early for the Anaconda Vice. Back up and Punk’s headlock doesn’t last long so he shoulders Caster down and grabs the armbar again. Caster gets in a shot of his own but Punk flips over the corner and runs the apron to set up a top rope ax handle.
Back up and Caster hits him in the neck, setting up a fisherman’s buster for two. Punk catches him on top though and it’s a super hurricanrana to bring him back down. There’s a running knee into the bulldog out of the corner for two more and they’re both down. Caster drops him ribs first across the top rope but the Mic Drop misses. Punk goes big with the piledriver out of nowhere and the Anaconda Vice finishes Caster at 7:09.
Rating: C+. I for one could go for more of Punk facing off with these tag wrestlers as he is getting them to much higher levels than they would be reaching on their own. Caster had probably his best singles match ever and hung in there for a bit against Punk before getting caught by the bigger star. Good enough match and Punk broke a sweat to make it look like he put in the work. Nice opener.
Post match Tony Schiavone gets in the ring for a chat with Punk, who asks the fans what motioning for the belt means. There is a lot of gray in his beard and there are scars on his head and there will be a lot more of both before he is done around here. He wants to be World Champion and it doesn’t matter who has the gold because he is coming for it.
FTR (in Outsiders inspired vests) and MJF are in the back. Mark Sterling is behind them putting up security photos of Wardlow, because he isn’t allowed around here. MJF talks about how the Pinnacle is still around and they’re going to be picking up some wins. Dash Harwood isn’t sure what is going on with MJF and Wardlow, but MJF says they’re family. Everyone’s hands go in.
Jay Lethal vs. Jon Moxley
Moxley is now in a Blackpool Combat Club hoodie to make the team name official. After a handshake to start, Moxley takes him down with a headlock takeover. That’s reversed into a failed Figure Four attempt and Moxley sends him outside. That doesn’t last long so Moxley comes inside and puts his hands behind his back so Lethal can get in some cheap shots. The forearms off goes to Moxley so he loads up the top rope superplex, only to get crotched back down. Lethal scores with the suicide dive into the barricade and we take a break.
Back with a double crossbody putting both of them down for a bit. They strike it out until Moxley blasts him with a clothesline for a delayed two. Lethal grabs the Lethal Combination for two but Lethal is able to try the Paradigm Shift. The knee gives out though and Lethal tries the Lethal Injection, which is reversed into a sleeper. A flip over into a cover gives Lethal two and he’s back with a brainbuster. Hail To The King gives Lethal two but Moxley small packages him for the save. Back up and Moxley manages a quick Paradigm Shift for the pin at 10:59.
Rating: B. They went a bit heavy with the forearms here but this was rolling by the end. Lethal is in that place where him pulling off the upset isn’t the craziest thing in the world and that gave the match some additional drama. I could go for more of Lethal in roles like this as he can have a good match with almost anyone, including a game Moxley. Pretty nice stuff here.
Post match an upset Lethal shakes Moxley’s hand.
Video on Marina Shafir.
FTR vs. Gunn Club
Non-title. Billy Gunn is here with the Club and MJF comes out to do commentary, which FTR doesn’t seem to like. Harwood puts Austin in a top wristlock to start but gets thrown down. Colton comes in instead so the Club can do their gun sound effects. Austin hammers on Wheeler in the corner but gets armdragged down for his efforts. Some chops set up a running elbow drop from Harwood for two. Everyone winds up outside and Billy Gunn gets in a cheap shot on Wheeler so the Club can take over.
We take a break and come back with Wheeler flipping out of a sleeper and hitting a belly to back suplex. Wheeler gets sent into the corner though and it’s a Stinger Splash followed by a dropkick for two. That’s enough for Wheeler, who gets over for the tag off to Harwood to clean house on both Gunns. Austin and Harwood fight over a suplex on the apron until Colton trips the leg.
The Bobby Heenan pin doesn’t work but let’s cut to Wardlow storming into the arena and beating up security. This includes powerbombing a security guard onto (but not through) a table and coming into the arena. Security manages to hold Wardlow back, much to MJF’s relief, and we cut back to the match (Yeah remember that?) where Harwood and Billy get in a staredown. Wheeler jumps over Austin to take Billy down and the Big Rig gives Harwood the pin at 9:08.
Rating: C. This was more about Wardlow vs. MJF and FTR getting sick of the whole thing. That has potential for the future and I’m not sure how much longer FTR is going to put up with him. They’re practically good guys already and the fans are happy with them, but they still need that big moment. You also had the Club, who have come a long way sine I was rolling my eyes at them week after week on Dark.
Post match MJF gets in the ring but FTR really isn’t pleased with him. They eventually let him raise their hands and leave without getting violent though.
Video on Keith Lee vs. Powerhouse Hobbs, with Hobbs saying “you can bask in kissing my a**”.
Chris Jericho, with the Jericho Appreciation Society, says everyone wants to join the Jericho Appreciation Society but there are only five of them so everyone else can GFY. Matt looks for Santana/Ortiz/Eddie Kingston but can’t find them because they’re gone. Hager goes to do the same…..and there they are behind a curtain! The brawl goes out to the arena with the Society getting beaten down until Hager fights back and turns the tide. Kingston gets put in a Sharpshooter and Jericho unloads on him with Floyd the baseball bat. Jericho throws in some leather strap shots so the Society can stand tall.
Mark Sterling has picked Leva Bates as Jade Cargill’s thirtieth opponent but that’s not cool with Cargill. That leaves Sterling to pick Marina Shafir, which works for the unworried Cargill.
Bryan Danielson vs. Wheeler Yuta
William Regal is on commentary. Danielson grabs a suplex to start and cranks on the arm but can’t keep the shoulders on the mat. He can’t break Yuta’s bridge either so it’s off to a cross armbreaker attempt. Yuta makes it over to the rope for the break and that’s enough for a standoff. A dropkick puts Danielson down and Yuta grabs a bridging leglock to send Danielson to the ropes (that’s a rare one).
We take a break and come back with Danielson taking over and kicking him in the back for some cringing. A dragon suplex gives Danielson two so he fires off the hard elbows to the chest. Yuta slips out and does the same though, setting up an arm trap cradle for two. The not frustrated Danielson is right back with the running knee and Yuta is knocked silly. A large spit in the face sets up the hard stomps on Yuta and there’s a Gotch style piledriver. The LeBell Lock finishes the unconscious Yuta at 10:12.
Rating: B-. Yeah this worked and that shouldn’t be a surprise. Yuta was trying to hang in there for as long as he could and even gave Danielson some problems before getting beaten down by the higher level wrestler (see also the Punk match). I could see Yuta becoming a prospect for the Combat Club, and Regal’s reactions seem to be leading in that direction. I’m thinking Regal might be a good choice for this show.
Post match Regal says he is very impressed with Yuta for taking that kind of a beating and keep fighting.
Video on Andrade El Idolo vs. Darby Allin.
Here is the Undisputed Elite with their stolen titles, now featuring their homemade name plates (just like FTR does on their AAA titles). They’re here for a celebration, complete with a PARTY SUPPLIES box. Said box is opened and five balloons fly out, thereby ending the party supplies. Hangman Page and Jurassic Express weren’t invited to the party because these titles look better here.
AEW needs a new crew to run the show and now they have the best pro wrestlers on the planet. Kyle O’Reilly talks about how the haters keep saying that they don’t have enough wins to get the title shot. Actually O’Reilly has had too much champagne so he sits down, leaving Bobby Fish to brag about how bad the three of them are.
Cue Hangman Page, driving into the arena in a Tesla (complete with longhorns) to clear the ring. Cole is pulled away before the Buckshot Lariat can launch but here is Jurassic Express with Christian Cage for the brawl from behind. The real beatdown is on and the champs all get their titles back. They got to the point with getting the titles back but the title matches are probably coming soon.
Here is Thunder Rosa to say she is here to put women’s wrestling back on the map. She has fought and clawed to get here but she doesn’t want to be just the face or pillar of this division. Instead, she wants to be the case of all of women’s wrestling but there are always bullies who want to bring her down. Pillars get knocked down, but foundations remain standing and she doesn’t want to hear from Vickie Guerrero. Instead, she wants to fight the best, like Nyla Rose. Bring it on.
FTR has been told that they take things too seriously and maybe they do. They came here to build a reputation rather than lose one so now it’s time to issue the challenge to the Young Bucks. Let’s see who the best team of all time really is.
Owen Hart Foundation Women’s Tournament Qualifying Match: The Bunny vs. Toni Storm
There’s your big surprise debut. Storm starts fast and sends her into the corner for some forearms to the face. Bunny chops her way out of trouble and a basement dropkick gets two. That doesn’t last long though as Storm is back up with some arm cranking. Bunny knees her outside though and there’s a running clothesline to send us to a break.
Back with Bunny kneeing her in the ribs to cut off the comeback bid but getting forearmed in the face. A fisherman’s suplex gets two on Bunny but she’s right back with a Death Valley Driver for the same. Storm isn’t having that and snaps off a German suplex setting up a quick piledriver (now dubbed Storm Zero, the third piledriver of the night) for the pin at 8:40.
Rating: C+. Slight obsession with piledrivers aside, this was a fine way to debut Storm. Most of the fans are going to know her so it isn’t like she needs some big introduction. Putting her into a tournament that is coming up a few weeks from now isn’t a terrible idea and giving her said tournament would be a good start, assuming that is the way they go.
Vickie Guerrero rants about Thunder Rosa, though she isn’t quite talking into the microphone. Nyla Rose is the foundation of this division and if Thunder Rosa has a wish, Rose will be her genie. Rose: “Abracadabra b****.”
Darby Allin vs. Andrade El Idolo
Darby takes too long to skateboard to the ring, allowing Andrade to hit a slingshot dive to the floor. Allin is sent into the barricade and Andrade yells at the camera as we are waiting on the opening bell. Allin avoids a charge into the steps though and there’s a skateboard to the back. They head outside with Andrade picking him up for a suplex, walking him over to the barricade, and then dropping him down. That works so well that Andrade does it again, this time dropping him onto the side of the steps.
Allin gets inside and we have the opening bell, with Andrade sending him hard into the corner. Some running knees in the corner get two, with Allin having to grab the rope. Andrade backdrops him so high that Allin almost lands on his feet and we take a break. Back with Allin hitting a Code Red for two but getting stomped into the corner. They strike it out and lock up (JR: “They did something wrestling!”) until it’s a double knockdown.
Andrade whips off his belt but it gets taken away, allowing Allin to hit the flipping Stunner for two. Another exchange of strikes lets Andrade take him to the top, where Allin manages a super crucifix bomb. Allin puts on the Fujiwara armbar so here is Jose for a distraction, only to have Sting make the save. Butcher and Blade go after Sting so Allin dives onto both of them to save Steve. Back in and Andrade buckle bombs Allin, setting up El Idolo for the pin at 10:38.
Rating: B-. Another hard hitting fight here with Allin trying to hang in there but getting caught by the cheating numbers game again. Allin continues to be kind of floating around at the moment as I don’t remember the last time he got a big win. I can go for Andrade winning as he hasn’t really gotten his push, but he has to fight a bigger name at some point if it is going to mean anything.
Post match Andrade sends the goons after Sting again, with Private Party coming in to make it worse. The Hardys make the save to end the show.
Overall Rating: B. It might not have had any classic match but it covered a lot of ground and had a bunch of pretty awesome matches. I had fun with almost everything going on tonight, but the show still doesn’t feel like it has a big story going. Cole vs. Page isn’t doing it so far and Jericho N Pals vs. Kingston/Santana/Ortiz isn’t exactly great. Still though, what we’re getting is good and I can go with this as the “weaker” show.
CM Punk b. Max Caster – Anaconda Vice
Jon Moxley b. Jay Lethal – Paradigm Shift
FTR b. Gunn Club – Big Rig to Colton
Bryan Danielson b. Wheeler Yuta – LeBell Lock
Toni Storm b. The Bunny – Storm Zero
Andrade El Idolo b. Darby Allin – El Idolo
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