Pre-Show: The Dark Order def. SCU
Christopher Daniels was once again nowhere to be seen at ringside. Both of these teams are talented, but as a match, this wasn't anything special. It was solid but nothing you wouldn't ordinarily see on Dynamite, which is fine since it was on the pre-show. The actual important stuff happened afterward with Chicago's own Colt Cabana making the save for SCU. It was a cool moment and even cooler is that it's since been announced that he's been signed to a contract with AEW. A dark hooded figure then emerged, only to reveal himself as Daniels. I was nervous he'd be revealed as The Exalted One after all, but thankfully, that was not the case. In other words, hope remains that it's Matt Hardy.
Jake Hager def. Dustin Rhodes
I'm perplexed that AEW would go with this as the opener. It was the second weakest match on the card behind Nyla Rose vs. Kris Statlander and didn't really have anything exciting about it. I applaud the effort of both men and thought they produced a well-worked match, but it was average at best. It was hardly the blow-away performance Hager probably should have had for his AEW in-ring debut. Fans didn't expect that chokehold to be his finisher, either. At least he won decisively, so there's that.
Villain Enterprises (Marty Scurll, Brody King and Flip Gordon) def. Slex and The Briscoes
Scurll and Slex were involved in a three-way match together at Bound by Honor, so that was the connection here. It's odd how Slex has impressed in all of his matches so far since debuting last month, yet hasn't won a single one. He was able to dodge Shane Taylor and Soldiers of Savagery afterward, so I guess that's something. At any rate, this was a super fun six-man tag team match opener where they worked a frantic pace and kept the crowd invested in the action throughout.
Dan Maff def. Alex Shelley
This was not a match I expected to see and I'm so glad we got it. It was a such a contrast of styles yet that was exactly why it worked. Maff has been awesome since returning to Ring of Honor late last year and has been ripping it up in the singles and tag team ranks. Shelley has also been doing some terrific work lately and I loved the David vs. Goliath dynamic that they worked here. It didn't really matter who won, but I mean that in a good way. This was a blast all around.
Joaquin Wilde def. Raul Mendoza
There isn't much of a story to this rivalry aside from these two splitting victories in recent weeks on 205 Live, but at least the matches have been a blast. The crowds haven't cared because they have no clue who they are, but that hasn't stopped them from giving it their all anyway. It might be better if Wilde turned heel because he's far more natural in that role, as seen in IMPACT. The babyface vs. babyface dynamic doesn't work as well with them because they aren't established.
Lio Rush def. Tony Nese by Disqualification
Rush and Nese have had so many matches against each other since Rush joined the Cruiserweight division late last year that this was nothing new, yet I enjoyed it for what it was. Nese has done it all at this point on 205 Live, but at least he continues to put forth a commendable effort in all of his outings. The interference from Mike Kanellis that led to the disqualification finish was lame, but the post-match brawl with Nese, Kanellis, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch was well done and laid the groundwork for the 10-man elimination tag team match in two weeks. As for Gentleman Jack Gallagher attacking Rush afterward, I honestly don't mind Gallagher's new look. He needed something new upon his return, and if he can adopt an aggressive attitude to go along with his updated appearance, he'll be better off.
Roman Reigns Confronted Universal Champion Goldberg
I was expecting Goldberg to receive a negative reaction after beating The Fiend at Super ShowDown and the Boston crowd did not disappoint. He probably would have been booed louder if his promo was longer than 10 seconds. Reigns answering his open challenge of sorts was super predictable and sets them up for their rumored WrestleMania match. Here's hoping this means the men's Elimination Chamber for SmackDown (which was hinted at last week) is off. Reigns received a fairly favorable reaction when he made his entrance, so it'll be interesting to see how that changes heading into WrestleMania and if he'll be as heavily cheered when he inevitably wins the title.
Naomi def. SmackDown Women's Champion Bayley by Disqualification (Non-Title); Naomi and Lacey Evans def. Bayley and Sasha Banks
This whole segment was weird. Firstly, Bayley vs. Naomi was over within minutes. Secondly, they made a big deal of Banks coming back, only for her to lose in the tag team match. Granted, she wasn't pinned, but she has been a complete afterthought since coming to SmackDown. It was a good match that likely sets up Naomi to challenge for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at Elimination Chamber, but my guess is that plans changed and it will be Bayley vs. Banks at 'Mania instead of Bayley vs. Naomi.
Luther def. Sonny Kiss
I honestly have no desire to see Luther in action, but this match wasn't half bad. Kiss was probably the best first opponent for him because of how he's a good wrestler but has been directionless since the start of AEW. This was perfectly fine and thankfully didn't overstay its welcome. Jimmy Havoc wasted no time in rushing the ring afterward, only for Luther to get out of harm's way. Look for them to have some sort of "death" matchup on an upcoming episode of Dark.
The Dark Order def. Michael Nakazawa and Peter Avalon
You pretty much know what you're getting with any match involving Nakazawa and Avalon. On the bright side, this was kept on the shorter side much like the opener and was designed to further Dark Order's recent momentum. They completely dominated from start to finish and won in decisive fashion. I'm very looking forward to seeing who The Exalted One ends up being. Matt Hardy would be a perfect for the role as many others have said, but that's assuming he actually leaves WWE and signs with AEW.
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