By Lvke Joseph
“Buy the ticket, take the ride.” -Hunter S. Thompson
Chicago, Il. A fitting epigraph for just such an occasion. The tickets were bought, and we were All In for the ride. Three marks and your brilliant author managed to secure four seats to the hottest ticket in professional wrestling today. It took us each logging on to the ticket site with multiple browsers open to get a handle on these tickets, but we just managed to squeak into the Sears Center, home of the Windy City Bulls. Not to be confused with the Chicago Bulls of the NBA which share the same colors and logo. What kind of mud show carny bullshit is that? “Hey son, I got us tickets to the Windy City Bulls. We get to see all your favorites like Jordan Michaels, Scotty Pepper, and … Dennis Rodman?” But who’s complaining? This kind of bait and switch nonsense fits right in with the backwards world of wrestling, and we didn’t come to see basketball anyway. No, the four of us came for a real sport, the sport of Kings- professional wrestling.
I have alluded to the marks I spent this trip with, so lets just get the introductions out of the way now. The man behind the wheel this weekend was Alex; a man that gives less of a shit about what anybody thinks of him then anyone I’ve ever met. A man that feels most at home in jorts and likes his burgers meat and bun. Next we have my cousin Justin, the native Chicagoan. He’s not really native, but he lives there and was our only hope in navigating the absolute sideshow that is the Chicago toll roads. He is the most level headed of the bunch, possibly due to him being a ginger. I haven’t done sufficient research to verify. In the Role of Miss Daisy this weekend we have Jamie. The only woman of the group, in case you hadn’t done the math. A woman that is unshakable in her faith in all things cute. She was the designated snack and hydration supplier for the drive. Oh yeah, and I guess she’s my beautiful girlfriend, moving on.
All Out Side Party ****
We arrived at the arena roughly an hour and a half before doors opened, so 5:45pm Central. We split up as Meat n’ Bun and Justin headed over to the block party. My first course of action was to smoke a joint with Jamie whilst we wandered the parking lot aimlessly trying to look like we weren’t doing exactly what we were doing. Once we heard the last crackle of the cherry and the paranoia crept in sufficiently, we ditched the roach and made our way to the party ourselves making a pit stop at the Porta-Johns.
“Let’s go boys! Pissing only! No shits!” a man shouted from a few places back in line. I don’t normally condone this behavior, but this was an extraordinarily slow line and I could feel my molars beginning to float, I had to go so badly. I turned to agree with the sentiment that had begun to snowball through the line, and I saw the shouter. He seemed friendly enough if not a bit boisterous, he had clearly been here for a few hours and the Miller Lite in his hand was not his first judging solely on the red puffiness of his face, a true tell-tale sign of a drunkard. That’s when I realized that the majority of the crowd had been throwing back brews for a better part of the afternoon, a fact that may come up again later. Spoiler alert-it will.
Standing there scanning the party there was a large shipping container that was used earlier for the Colt Cabana Q and A as well as live music. There was a very large tent for people to chill out and enjoy some shade. A concession stand was next to that, with a mob out front sweating and grinding their way past each other single file to collect the next can of the bubbly. Lastly there was a dunk tank with the largest crowd yet, each taking turns dunking Frank the Clown with Flip Gordon supplying the softballs. If you’re not familiar with Frank the Clown he is a mark that dresses up as, you fucking guessed it, a clown and shows up to wrestling shows to get himself over. Somehow this clown shoe dipshit landed the gorgeous Noelle Foley as his girlfriend, yes Mick Foley’s daughter (the one from beyond the mat). Also hanging out near the tank was a Zubaz, fanny pack, mullet clad Brian Pillman Jr. and the absolute tank of a man The Machine Brian Cage. Unfortunately the two couldn’t pose for pictures due to their statuses with MLW and Impact wrestling respectively. As I’m taking in the atmosphere someone nails the bullseye and the jabroni jester is plunged into the chilly waters of the tank below and the crowd erupts in cheers. But that was not just any old someone, no it was Alex! Great shot. At this point I am finally free to use the bathroom.
We do our business and make our way to the tank to hype up our boy. Alex is all smiles and tells Justin, “Now you gotta do it.” He’s hesitant and says one of us has to do it if he must. Jamie volunteers thankfully, as the thought of standing in front of this sea of black XL shirts stoned as a goat was giving me real anxiety. Jamie went up first and took her 3 shots missing by a nose hair, a better showing than most. Then Justin went up and threw a beautiful Dontrelle Willis-esque pitch and on his second try and down goes the clown. Another big pop from the crowd and an even bigger pop from the three of us. At this point I am feeling the pressure. The gang want to go for a walk so we start to leave the area. The internal conflict I am facing was getting heated. I realize that if I am going to leave this weekend with no regrets, I have to go up and give this a shot, whether my head is in the clouds or not.
“Alright I gotta try this.” I blurt out. I make my way up and hand over my 5 dollars. Flip Gordon is there to meet me with a handshake and a hand full of balls… softballs… for throwing, try and keep up. Firstly, I must say this man exudes cool. He’s dapper, friendly, and he even smells wonderfully. My first two attempts miss, but not by much. I can see Frank shaking in his wig. I rear back and bring the heat one more time, bullseye. The clown gets wet and the crowd pops nicely, even Flip popped, giving me a high five/chest bump/ half hug combination. It was an awesome, even surreal moment. Frank climbs from the tank and back to his perch, and at this point I must admit, he’s actually a really nice dude. He’s funny, the wrestlers seem to genuinely like him, and I can’t forget to mention that he sat there getting drenched in chilly water for hours and all the money from the tank went to charity. I really can’t hate the guy for basically living most wrestling fans’ dream, good on you Frank. I would like to apologize for my previous burial, but it really was my sentiment at the time.
Next Justin, Jamie and myself took a walk around the rest of the party while Alex hung tight at the tank. Not a whole lot to see, but we came around the backside of a trailer and standing there was a man in a leather vest slipping a latex mask over his face. We had just stumbled upon none other than Stone Cold E.T., Youtube sensation of course. We debated getting a picture with him but weren’t sure if we’d be a bother. Then it strikes me-he’s not a wrestler and he showed up as a gimmick, he clearly wants to be noticed. That was all the logic I needed to walk up and ask his girlfriend to take a picture of the three of us with the legend himself.
Once we have finished the photo shoot, we say our thank yous and head back toward Alex. We find him and do our best to make him jealous before we all take turns getting pictures with Flip Gordon, who again is a particularly good-smelling individual, which stands out very distinctly among the Windy City sweat hogs by which he is surrounded. I did my best to complete coherent sentences but hadn’t come down enough yet to be communicating with professional athletes. Luckily Alex was quick to wish him a speedy recovery from his arm injury, to which he told us he was 100% and ready to go. Great news to send us off for it was time to head to the arena.
Overall, we had a great time at the party. Having the wrestlers hosting the event and mingling with the fans in a laid-back environment was a true highlight of the weekend. It was clear that a lot of thought went into making this a unique and enjoyable experience for everyone. I’m not sure I can fairly judge the party as a whole, considering we missed most of the festivities, but judging by the crowd with their Miller-stained smiles and glazed-over eyes I’d say it was a success.
Meeting Dave Meltzer *******
Yes, you are reading that correctly, we met Dave Meltzer. That’s right, the stories are true, he does exist. Of course, as you all know Dave Meltzer is the man that invented pro wrestling. He is the Creator, the Alpha and the Omega, the Observer. In fact, it is his 5 star rating system for judging matches that I myself use in my reviews. The all-knowing, all-seeing Dave Meltzer has transcended the 5 star system in his most recent incarnation, but I am a mere mortal and thusly I shall stick to his original design. Words cannot possibly describe what it is like to be in the presence of The Anointed One and because of that this will be my one and only 7 star rating.
We spotted him coming out of a side door of the arena in a black shirt and Rascal Flatts jeans. He was moving quickly, obviously in a hurry, almost floating on air with his rolling luggage in tow, bouncing from side to side trying to keep up with his pace. “Uncle Dave!” I exclaimed, which drew some more calls of “Dave” and “Grandaddy Meltzer” from the mob. “Hey guys.” He said with a smile pushed through his anxiousness to get away from everyone. With his urgency quite evident, Alex made sure to stop him long enough for a handshake. Wow. Touched by the divine, what a blessing. And just like that he was gone.
Sears Center Arena/ Merch/ Concessions ***
Once we had collected ourselves from that chance encounter we were corralled into a herd that wrapped a good way around the building. There were plenty of fellas walking back and forth showing off their sign which they were very much proud of themselves for making. Some were quite clever, but you really only need to see them once and the shirtless dude underneath one particular sign was a sight I didn’t really need to see at all. As we moved along towards the door Alex looks up and reads the banner hanging from the arena and says “Oh, the Bulls play here?” Boom. That’s how they fuckin’ get you. You see the Bulls, the logo, the colors, and you just make that mental leap that these are the God’s honest Chicago Bulls. This promoter took Danny Devito’s words in the film Matilda to heart; “Nobody ever got rich being honest.”
Getting through security was quick giving us plenty of time to look around and make any purchases before the show starts. The arena itself was quite nice. The stadium seating gave plenty of leg room which is a problem for me in most venues. The concessions were pretty typical and I enjoyed my soft pretzel which is more than I can say for the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. Their “soft” pretzels are like eating cardboard right out from under a homeless man.
The merch stand was a bit of a let down as the shirts were quite busy and it was kind of confusing to figure out if a shirt on display was a different shirt or just the back of the shirt hanging above. As you probably surmised, I got a shirt that I didn’t realize had print on the back. Alex was kind enough to stand in line for the group and get us all what we needed. When he had reached about halfway through the line this guy- tall, black, laid back, red shirt- walks up to Alex and asks him to get him a shirt and hands him $35. The confidence of this guy. At one point he even walked away to go who knows where? That’s a lot of trust in a complete stranger. I mean he was a big guy that could have smashed Alex into a puddle, but still. A cool thing that AEW was offering was a free “All Elite Fleet TNT” logo to be printed right there in front of you. All you had to do was buy a shirt and take it over to that booth. Sadly, we didn’t have time to do this before the show which was just now getting ready to begin. Justin and I had grown impatient and decided to get to our seats and wait for the other two.
We reach our seats, section 207 row 8 seats 9-12, and I had begun to come down from the devil’s lettuce a little. I’d say on a scale from 1 to Teddy Hart I’m at about a Jack Swagger preparing for a Wrestlemania title shot. The show begins and immediately the sound is an issue for us in attendance. It sounds like Justin Roberts is announcing though a toilet paper roll and the video packages are just loud enough to hear the cadence, but not loud enough to hear anything important.
Casino Battle Royale: #1 Contender for the Women’s Championship **
The opening match kicks off with 5 women entering at the same time. There are rules involved that can be a bit confusing and this confusion was multiplied to the live audience without a coherent sound system nor the luxury of the commentary filling the gaps in our understanding. Basically, each participant was dealt a card from a deck and whichever suit they’re card is dictates which group of 4 other women they will enter with. The deck also contains a Joker card which 1 participant will be dealt. This person will enter last at number 21 and thus is the odds-on favorite to win.
Of the first group announced I was only able to hear Leva Bates and Priscilla Kelly. I was able to see that one of the remaining women was Nyla Rose, but I couldn’t recognize the other two. The crowd is still filing in, getting merch, and concessions, but the folks watching the match are up for it- there is an energy, a buzz. The ladies hit the ropes and keep things moving to start. Leva Bates nearly gets dumped but Peter Avalon is there to put books on the floor so her feet don’t touch. This draws a laugh, but isn’t it a bit soon to be jumping the shark on Kofi spots in your new Battle Royales? She finally climbs back into the ring and Nyla hits her with a book (no DQ?) and eliminates her as well as all the other women in her group. Priscilla Kelly caught the worst of Nyla’s abuse by being dropped over the top rope and splatting on the floor like a gob of ketchup sliding off the end of one of those aromatic boiled stadium hotdogs littering the hands of people in the rows below.
Once the next group is announced I have lost hope in keeping track of everyone. I recognize Penelope Ford, and of course the star of this group Britt Baker. Everyone is getting a chance to look good. The next group is the most stacked of the match with Brandi Rhodes, Awesome Kong, Bea Priestly, Ivelisse, and Tenille Dashwood. Britt Baker leaves the ring and sprints up the ramp attacking Priestly and the crowd loves this grudge. Brandi has a very impressive moment getting the best of Nyla then taking a moment to be proud of herself. Allie, Teal Piper, Jazz , ODB, and another are the next to enter. It was awesome seeing Jazz, she’s a hoss, but her appearance was somewhat underwhelming because of her entrance with four other women. At this point there are many eliminations happening with most of the name talent being dumped out in rather nondescript ways. The fans booed the eliminations of Ivelisse, Jazz, Kong, ODB, but the eliminations hold very little space if any in my memory. Out last is the Joker, and I am curious, but wasn’t expecting much in the way of a surprise. So when Mercedes Martinez entered I jumped out of my seat with a roar that had my throat scarred by the time I had reached my feet because that was quite unexpected, surprising even.
With Mercedes in there I am pulling for her to win, I am ready for her to be the first women’s champ. Sadly, my brand-new dreams were dashed when Martinez was eliminated by Baker. Baker then eliminates Priestly, which was great that their story played all the way through the match up till this point. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there as the already eliminated Priestly helps Nyla Rose eliminate Baker and win the Battle Royale. The Hogan/Sid Vicious finish in your first women’s battle royale. Never been a fan of eliminated wrestlers eliminating people from matches. Are you eliminated or not? If you are then you can’t be doing shit to interfere in a contest, and if you aren’t what the hell is the point of this exercise? Anyway, this was fun live and the crowd was ready for it so it was fine. Nyla winning makes sense and will make even more sense later in the night.
Private Party vs Jack Evans and Angelico ***1/4
The entrance music of Private Party drew more people into their seats, but I was surprised how many were still empty. Those lucky saps that did sit down were treated to a show. This match was simply two high flying teams playing to their strengths. The moves these four were pulling off were incredible. I understood physics, geometry, and bio-mechanics better after watching this. Spins, dips, spirals, dives, flips, bounds, a menagerie of shapes. The perfect match to put on the Buy In to entice people to pony up and buy the PPV. One great spot was when Isiah Kassidy made a comeback and did a springboard coast to coast to tag Marq Quen; very impressive, save that move for a big match for the pop that it deserves. The finish saw Evans and Angelico climbing the opposite turnbuckles only to be stopped by the Party. Evans received a nasty avalanche poisonrana off the second rope followed by a standing poison rana. Then Angelico gets caught with a hurricanrana off the turnbuckle sending him head first into a cutter. Very slick and was a satisfying ending even after so many other big moves.
After the match the teams shook hands and Private Party immediately turned their back. This is what is known as a rookie mistake and they learned that when Angelico and Evans attacked them from behind. So now the tag division’s heel face dynamic is starting to take shape and this strikes me as a good move. Jack Evans is a natural heel with a big mouth, Angelico is more naturally a babyface, but put on a smug look and follow Jack’s lead and he will be fine. All in all this was a very good match and segment that I think did it’s job getting the crowd hyped as well as lure fence-riding fans.
Next we see MJF on the big screens above the entrance tunnels being interviewed backstage. For the live crowd this was just a tease due to the sound system being stuck on whisper. The crowd is getting restless with the issue and chants begin to spark up throughout the masses. “Turn it up!” caught on and actually made it onto the live feed. “Volume” was another chant that was far less effective. It is a poorly thought out chant with the wrong number of syllables for the cadence. I won’t have it sir!
In spite of the sound issues the Preshow successfully roused the crowd and we were all ready for the meat and taters of this show. Good Ol’ JR is introduced next and we all stand to show this fine man some respect. Out next is a small choir that had their uniforms stolen I presume as they all had different clothes with shirts untucked. The spit out a fine rendition and were backed up with pyro. Love the pyro for the anthem, the shameless co-branding with Americana, giving old Spangled Banner a gimmick to help get her over, brilliant.
Socal Uncensored vs Luchasaurus, Jungle boy, Marko Stunt ***3/4
SCU enters first and calls back to All in before going into their “Worst Town” gimmick. I’m expecting SCU to be outright baddies once AEW gets to television because otherwise this schtick won’t make any sense. A Boy and His Dinosaur and Marko Stunt enter and wow are they over. The crowd absolutely loves Luchasaurus, who looks like he’s gotten even more jacked since the last show. SCU controls this one by targeting the two smaller members of the opposing team. Early on Stunt and Jungle Boy both hit dives leading to a dive from Luchasaurus and the crowd goes mental. Much of this one built to a hot tag to Luchasaurus and when it came the crowd was ready. He comes in hitting an array of precision kicks then hitting a chokeslam and following it with a standing moonsault and the crowd loses their collective shit. I remember a moment when Luchasurus is standing in the ring and the crowd is getting louder and louder as it comes in waves. Each wave of fanatic sound triggers another portion of the crowd to rise until the entire place is on their feet. This was one of the loudest pops I have ever heard. The crowd was roaring for this guy, he is a star. He. Is. A. Star. Everyone had a chance to shine and the finish was a Best Meltzer Ever on Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt at the same time. I was happy that Marko took the pinfall loss saving everyone else from a loss. Overall a very fun match that the crowd loved. I’d say the crowd even peaked in this match. During the massive pop for Luchasaurus I thought this was going to be the hottest crowd there has ever been, but we were never able to get back to that summit again.
PAC vs Kenny Omega ***3/4
Omega vs PAC was the match I had been most excited to see live, so it caught me by surprise when the promo package for the match began to play on the tron. This is going on second? Kenny Omega and PAC in the death spot? I suppose when you consider that this was originally scheduled to be Jon Moxley vs Omega before Moxley had to pull out due to a staph infection he got while in Japan for the G1 the week of All Out, this placement makes sense since PAC/Omega had no build. At this time the crowd was significantly quieter after reaching our zenith the match before. The lull also gave the Neanderthals among us the opportunity to reveal themselves. You see at this point the large portion of the crowd that had been drinking were all having a collective blood alcohol spike, and then began the descent.
During the early portion of this match a large group of people in the section to our left stoop and began waving for an usher frantically. I heard one man yell “HEY! THIS GUY IS DONE!” while pointing at another man that had fallen and appeared to pass out on the floor of the first row of the upper deck. The usher ran over and realized he was going to need assistance. He ran full speed and found a police officer and hurried back. The cop took his time walking with no trace of urgency. This isn’t the first time he has dealt with a drunk idiot. He saunters down the stairs, takes one look, and walks right back up the stair at the same pace. He returns with two other cops and they hoist him up and drag him off until he comes to and is able to help by stumbling his way out of the building (“Don’t worry folks. He’ll get the help he needs.”-Bono)
As you can imagine this was quite distracting, even a bit scary at times when many of us didn’t know if we were cheering next to a dead body. In spite of all that, this was a very good match. PAC is one of the best heels in the business and he can express that all the way to the eighth row balcony at least. This was a very evenly fought match with both men connecting with dives and big moves. Kenny had teased the One Winged Angel a few times which lead to the one blemish on this match when PAC tried to counter with a poisonrana, but landed awkwardly forcing Kenny to take a phantom bump. They moved past it and the crowd had risen for the end which came unexpectedly when PAC countered a One Winged Angel into a standing Rings of Saturn causing Omega to pass out. Crowd was mixed on the finish at first then seemed to be ok with it. These two worked their butts off here and this built up Kenny’s frustrations with not having a singles win in AEW while showing how dangerous PAC is and reminding us that he is a top guy.
Cracker Barrell Clash: Jimmy Havoc vs Joey Janela vs Darby Allin ***1/2
We were able to positively identify the two morons in our section during the feeling out process of this match. Number one was located directly in front of Jamie drinking a one beer per match and number two was seated two rows back and over to the right. There is always two, as everyone that has attended a wrestling show knows. Sometimes there are more, but never less, and every section has them. They are easy to identify if you know a few key facts:
- The Fuck Head- Waits until the crowd has quieted to yell out stupid jokes, usually some sort of WWE reference. The Fuck Head will throw out a few jokes early on and get a laugh, as soon as they have an audience they continue telling inane “jokes” the rest of the night hampering the experience for everyone trying to enjoy the actual performers. This person plays the numbers game and is not phased by the constant failure to produce useful thoughts. Belching out horrible attempts at chants with no discernable rhythm. The worse offender of the pair.
- The Ass – So named because anything that comes out of this person’s mouth is pure shit. This is the single individual on earth that finds the Fuck Head to be a true comic genius. The Enabler. Constantly calling out half thoughts and references to help the Fuck Head develop his goddamn material. Always stepping up to assist in Fuck Heads chants.
Ah yes, the match. As a former Host at Cracker Barrel I must admit I had a great time during this match. Havoc wasted no time showing us that we were in for a garbage brawl by bringing a staple gun into the ring and stapling himself. An absolute maniac. Things escalated quickly when thumb tacks were introduced and poured into Havoc’s mouth then duct taped shut whilst being taped to a chair on the floor. Moments later Darby dove from the top crashing onto Havoc who had been daring him to do so even through his confinement. Janela added some humor to this one with reversals and crowd work. All three men are absolute lunatics. Havoc appears to enjoy pain, both inflicting and receiving. Darby is fearless, an adrenaline junky with heavy moods. The Bad Boy Joey Janela loves to party and take big risks, many of which he doesn’t think out clearly, like his moonsault to the floor. Darby, not to be topped, attempts a Coffin Drop off the top with a Cracker Barrel behind him crashing onto the strategically placed ringside steps. The place is going nuts, unable to believe this man is alive. The end came when Havoc hit his Acid Rainmaker through a barrel for the win. This ran longer than needed, but it had a side of biscuits so all is forgiven.
At this key moment Alex sprung into action and took all three of our new shirts to get the All Elite Fleet print. In what was truly a clutch move he even made it back before the bell rang.
The Dark Order vs Best Friends **1/2
The stipulation to this was that the winning team receives a first round bye in the Tag Team Title tournament. Unfortunately, the stip wasn’t enough to spark an interest from the mob that had overwhelmingly agreed that this was the piss break. I wish I could say they missed a great match because I am a big fan of the Best Friends and I like the Order. Fact is that they did not miss much as many others would filter out once it dawned on them that they needed another beer to maintain. The Dark Order controlled most of this match and there wasn’t much heat left in the room by the time Chuckie T got the hot tag. Both teams worked hard at the end exchanging some great double teams and Dark Order wins with the Fatality after interference from the Creepers. Not a great match and it makes me question if the Evil Uno gimmick can get over in large arenas.
Suddenly the lights go out and when they come back up Orange Cassidy is standing in the ring casually, hands in his pockets. He hits the ropes and delivers a suicide dive to the Creepers while the Dark Order watches from the ramp. Cassidy rolled back into the ring, kips up, and receives a group hug from the Best Friends, all without removing his hands from his pockets. This all got a great reaction and arguably saved this segment and gave the crowd a boost for what came next.
Riho vs Hikaru Shida ***
This was a good match and one that we have come to expect from the Japanese ladies. There was certainly a disconnect with the unfamiliar crowd here. I think AEW should be careful not to treat the joshis like many promotions treat their luchadores by always putting them in matches with each other, effectively segregating them from the rest of the roster. We all enjoyed this and Hikaru was given a chance to stand out more than her last match in the company and I was impressed. Riho has mastered the art of the underdog, which is somewhat of a must considering she weighs 52 pounds. Shida controlled the pace in this while Riho was given plenty of hope spots. Riho kept throwing pinning combinations at Shida trying to catch the larger and stronger opponent off guard. Turns out this is a fantastic strategy as Riho wins this match with a rollup. I loved the finish. Small wrestlers stealing wins with legal wrestling holds is just great booking. Riho has earned a shot to be the first Women’s Champion when she faces Nyla Rose, a woman that she beat with a rollup at Fyter Fest, on the first episode of AEW on TNT. A nice way to add some intrigue to this match.
Cody Rhodes vs Shawn Spears ****
You couldn’t call this a technical masterpiece, but this was some good old fashioned wrasslin’. Spears’ star has risen dramatically since joining the company and his addition of Tully Blanchard at his side is a perfect fit. This is my first time seeing Tully live and I am oddly star-struck in a room of 10,000 people. Cody enters with DDP, MJF, Brandi, and their dog Pharaoh all wearing Star Trek garb. The Pyro goes off and sends a terrible fear through Pharaoh as Brandi and MJF work to calm him. Poor boy. Cody chooses MJF as his corner man sending the others to the back as MJF makes a Ready to Rumble reference, “A diamond upside down is a pussy,” with his hands. The match starts hot with Cody diving out of the ring onto Shawn and the fans are rabid for this. Cody lands a right hand on Tully’s head then he and Spears brawl along ringside and into the crowd all before the bell rings. Once in the ring the two men had an intense back and forth match with Tully trying to help Spears at every opportunity, infuriating MJF as he pounded the mat and was stuck playing cheerleader for Cody. At one point, Senior Official Earl Hebner snapped at Spears when he tried to attack Cody with his weight belt. Cody feels that fighting spirit and powers through the attack and works the belt away from his assailant. He returns the favor on Spears hitting his so hard that the buckle broke off. This part happened in front of Hebner so I guess its up to his discretion, which is historically flawed as the sellout crowd pointed out by chanting “You Screwed Bret” just moments before. With his back torn and bloodied Cody hits the Cross Rhodes to put away Spears, but no! Tully interferes and this is too much for MJF. The corner men square off in the ring and hit each other with the dreaded double choke! They scuffle ringside and all of a sudden I hear a faint pop from a group across the arena and look around to see what is causing this reaction and at the top of the ramp storming toward the ring is Arn Fucking Anderson.
I am one of the first in my section to notice him and before I could consciously react, I am standing screaming “OH MY GOD!” The crowd catches on in waves as slowly everyone is realizing what is happening. Arn hit Spears with a spinebuster and the place loses it again. Arn storms off as Tully follows with confusion painted all over his body language. Tully oddly just goes to the back through the heel tunnel not following Arn and leaving Spears all alone. This seemed like a possible misunderstanding from Tully. Cody hits a disaster kick on a chair into Spears face and drills another finisher to end this one. MJF climbs in the ring and picks up the chair leading the majority to think this would be the moment he turns on Cody, but he casts it aside and the two celebrate in the ring. Like I said earlier, this was a great wrasslin’ match and now I can say that I have seen 3 of the Four Horseman in person- Ric Flair, Tully, and Arn- all I have to see now is Mongo.
Escalera de la Muerte- AAA Tag Team Championships: Lucha Bros vs Young Bucks ****3/4
Match of the night right here, daddy. These four men had one of the craziest ladder matches of all time. There were reports that Fenix had injured his leg earlier in the week which lead to speculation that he would be protected in this match. That was not the case. The crowd was hot for this even though nobody could deny they were either tired or drunk. The story here was a simple one, each brother had to be willing to sacrifice it all to beat a team that knew them so well. At many points throughout the match each man had to decide if punishing one opponent was worth sacrificing the same fate for their brother. One moment in particular captured us all and dragged us to the edge of our seats, when Nick Jackson stood on top of a ladder on the floor with Pentagon prone on a table and locked eyes with Fenix, Matt in danger below. Fenix committed and jumped, followed by Nick. There were some scary moments, like when Nick was pushed from the ladder and his feet hit the top rope before going through one of two tables on the floor. Moves were done in this match that I hope are never attempted again, but for this time thumbs up. The end came when the Lucha Bros climbed the ladder together to bring down the belts with the crowd popping as each button on the belt snaps undone. It was nice to have this type of reaction to an uncontested finish, many crowds die when they see who is about to win.
In the aftermath former presidents Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy stormed the ring and attacked the victors. Small chants of “L-A-X” started to break out. “Perhaps the former presidents just flew in from the west coast.” I think to myself before suddenly the two men pull off what I can only assume are masks to reveal it is actually Santana and Ortiz, Latin American Xchange! I should have known what the chants were and joined in. Now I can’t watch this show back to hear myself ruin a surprise that was designed for me. Oh well, it is truly great to see LAX in the company and look forward to what they add.
AEW World Championship: Chris Jericho vs Adam Page ***3/4
We have reached our main event and people are doing their best, but exhaustion has fallen upon the masses. I have completely come down and Fuck Head has consumed 10 beers in as many matches. Jamie’s world becomes a perfect dream as Hangman enters on a beautiful brown horse. The black sea parts and through it walks this stoic horse. This hooks me- I am ready to pull for Adam Page. The crowd was split but was definitely a majority Jericho reaction. Alex lends a joke that gets a laugh-“Fuck you and the horse you rode in on” which is immediately stolen and repeated verbatim by the Fuck Head. People around us are unamused, “He just stole this guys joke” someone says. Moments later both the Fuck Head and the Ass starting chanting “Lets Go Cena,” to which my body had a visceral almost Pavlovian response and before I could stop myself, I was shouting “Shut the Fuck up! That’s enough of that shit!” He gave a Roman chant a shot and again I was a passenger to my reaction, which was “You’re so over dude!” Considering none of his jokes landed perhaps he got the point because the swine piped down. Please, don’t call me a hero.
Oh yeah, I was trying to watch the main event of this show. These two put on a very good match representing the company well and giving the people a taste of what the AEW World Title scene will be like. There were some sloppy moments, but they recovered nicely. Page bloodied Y2J with a roaring elbow which was a nice call back to Page getting busted open by the point of Jericho’s elbow. Jericho commanded the attention of the room and shoves referee Aubrey Edwards and gets a big reaction. Hangman had his opponent scouted and escaped an onslaught of Walls Of Jericho attempts. Page hits the Deadeye for a nearfall. He hits another, and crushes Jericho with a Buckshot Lariat-1-2- No. Jericho presses on and Page goes in for the kill, but Jericho eludes him and catches him with a perfectly placed Judas Effect and gets the pin. Chris Jericho is the First Ever AEW World Champion. Congratulations to him, and also to Aubrey, who was the first woman to ref a world title main event.
I was pulling for Page, but I agree with this decision. I think putting the strap on your most well-known star, who is also a veteran, and the top heel makes all the sense in the world. This gives you the chance to get your younger babyfaces over while they chase the title. Things have been put in place for a strong start to television.
This was a great show and possibly the most fun show I have seen live. The atmosphere really only compares to my experience at NXT Takeover. It was a long show, much like this report, too long. So I will wrap this up by saying these things allegedly happened, but I cannot be certain. I can be certain that this crowd gave me perspective, and I wouldn’t want any three other people to climb out of their mother’s basements and to join me at a wrestling show. AEW did a great job of giving us what we paid for and I look forward to Wednesday night. With that, here is a vid of what happened after the PPV went off the air to hopefully satiate you.