Pre-Show: Best Friends def. SoCal Uncensored and Private Party in a Three-Way Match to Earn a Bye in the First Round of the AEW World Tag Team Championship Tournament at All Out
Tag team wrestling is alive and well in All Elite Wrestling if what we saw here was any indication of how much respect the tag teams will be treated with. Most fans are well aware of how awesome Best Friends and SCU are, but this match was extra important in establishing Private Party as a credible tandem. I've seen them in action before and they are a ton of fun to watch. This was all action and left me looking forward to the AEW World Tag Team Championship Tournament. Afterward, The Dark Order (f.k.a. Super Smash Bros) interrupted Best Friends' victory celebration but never hit the ring.
Pre-Show: Allie def. Leva Bates
I applaud Bates and Peter Avalon for making the most of this "librarian" gimmick, but it's pretty stupid, if we're being honest. It may be a cute little shtick on Being The Elite, but it doesn't come across well on these pay-per-views. It made the match a total afterthought and I felt like Allie's debut was wasted. I'm glad she won, but Kylie Rae may have been better off in her spot as originally advertised.
Pre-Show: Michael Nakazawa def. Alex Jebailey in a Hardcore Match
Without knowing too much about their history from last year, the commentators and even Nakazawa and Jebailey effectively caught me up to speed with their pre-match promos. I wasn't expecting much from this given the circumstances, but I got a kick out of it, personally. Yes, it was completely ridiculous and difficult to take seriously, but that was never their intention. I don't need see stuff like this on every show, but for what it was, it was fine. Plus, props to Jebailey for doing far better than I thought he would.
CIMA def. Christopher Daniels
Seeing as how they're both over the age of 40, you can argue that these guys are in the twilight of their respective careers right now, yet they're still capable of putting on quality matches. This was a solid followup to their six-man tag team clash at Double or Nothing, and while nothing special, it was very well-wrestled and was perfectly positioned as the opener. CIMA winning made sense as he is scheduled to face Kenny Omega at Fight for the Fallen in two weeks.
Riho def. Nyla Rose and Yuka Sakazaki in a Three-Way Match
I believe I was in the minority that didn't care much for the six-woman tag team match at Double or Nothing and therefore I didn't have high hopes for this, but it ended up being a blast with all three women having strong showings. Rose impressed me way more than she did at Double or Nothing and Riho and Sakazaki were also great. Riho's pinfall win over Rose felt like a genuinely huge moment, and considering she's probably the best all-around women's wrestler I've seen so far in AEW, she'd be my pick to become the inaugural AEW Women's Champion.
Adam Page def. Jimmy Havoc, Jungle Boy and MJF in a Four-Way Match
I think it's safe to say that MJF is the best heel in all of wrestling today. His mic work is fantastic and never fails to elicit true heat from the audience. I was glad he wasn't pinned here and that Page was able to maintain momentum after winning the 21-man Casino Royale at Double or Nothing ahead of his AEW World Championship match against Chris Jericho at All Out. The four-way itself was enjoyable and everyone managed to shine at one point or another. It's also worth noting that Luchasaurus played his role very well at ringside.
Cody def. Darby Allin
I'm a big fan of AEW instituting time limit draws into their matches. Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro-Wrestling do them as well, but it's a shame WWE doesn't. It's a small yet appreciated touch, especially in cases such as this where you want to keep Cody undefeated yet protect Allin. The draw finish worked wonderfully and everything that preceded it was tremendous. Allin took a ton of punishment from Cody and hung in there until the very end. The eventual rematch could be even better. Based off their history, Shawn Spears laying out Cody post-match was cool (seemingly setting up a match for All Out), but I could definitely do without chair shots to the head. That looked brutal, and while I understand that was the intention, those have proven to do some serious damage. Leave those in the past, please.
The Elite def. The Lucha Brothers and Laredo Kid
If you loved The Young Bucks vs. Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fenix at Double or Nothing, then you probably loved the hell out of this the same way I did. It was all action from bell to bell and filled with countless insane spots that were hard to keep track of. The crowd ate up everything they did and rightfully so. This was stellar stuff. Fingers crossed this is the last meeting between the Bucks and the Lucha Bros for a few months so it'll mean more when they revisit it down the road. The Lucha Bros are in desperate need of a major victory the next time they compete for AEW.
Jon Moxley def. Joey Janela in a Non-Sanctioned Match
I dug the way ring announcer Justin Roberts made it clear beforehand that this was a non-sanctioned match, going so far as to say that the AEW portion of the event would be over when the lights went out briefly prior to Janela and Moxley making their entrances. Of course, the referee had an AEW logo on his shirt, but that's merely nitpicking. If garbage wrestling isn't your thing, you might have hated this, but I found myself thoroughly entertained. I'm not huge into hardcore matches, but once in a while, they're a guilty pleasure of mine, and you couldn't find two better guys for this than Moxley and Janela. They went all out with the ladder, chairs, tables, barbed wire and thumbtacks and it made for quite the spectacle. Moxley has officially arrived (or returned, whichever you prefer). Meanwhile, Omega's post-match assault on Moxley further fueled their feud going into their anticipated encounter at All Out.
Aside from the three-way tag, the pre-show was almost completely pointless, but the main event delivered and the top three matches in particular were terrific for different reasons. All in all, this was an entertaining event with an electric atmosphere and it was well worth the time. The commentary was much better than at Double or Nothing and they made the right call by ditching Alex Marvez for Goldenboy. It was very generous of AEW to offer this pay-per-view for free on Bleacher Report Live and they'll be doing it again with Fight for the Fallen in two weeks. Who knows if that will continue to be a trend for the smaller shows, but for now, it's a treat. Regardless of where your allegiance lies (WWE, AEW or both), we all should be able to agree that it's a very exciting time to be a wrestling fan at the moment.
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