Adam Page wins Casino Battle Royale
I guess I feel bad that I didn’t know approximately half of the competitors in there, but fortunately, the major names were able to carry the bulk of the match. Mainly, it was the heel mannerisms if MJF that carried the battle royale.
It seems to be that the only thing that makes the casino battle royale differ from your traditional battle royale is the the frequency with which the competitors enter the ring. I think that pretty much character got a chance to showcase what makes them unique, and while I’m not exactly a fan of battle royales in general, I thought this was well done.
I had Joey Janela winning the battle royale, but I suppose you can’t go wrong with Page to compete for the world title. Solid start solely meant to warm up the crowd. ***
Kip Sabian def. Sammy Guevara
People may not have known it at the time, but this match carried an important weight to it as the first singles match in AEW history. I liked that there was a bit of a backstory here as Sammy disrespected Sabian at the weigh-in. So they were at least fingering for something.
Overall, this was a rock solid singles match that I thought could have been excellent if given more time. Sammy’s heel mannerisms were solid but they were matched by his wherewithal in the ring. That shooting star press on the outside? Gorgeous.
Kip’s energy was also infectious here, as he combined splendid mat work and counters to Sammy’s moves, which were no doubt inflating his ego as the match went on. It told a simple story, and the right guy won. A bit short based on how things were going, but pretty neat. ***
SoCal Uncensored def. Strong Hearts
The handicap in many six man tag team matches is the fact that you will have a lot of rest holds or have prolonged sequences when two heels beat up on one face. I think Jim Ross pointed out beautifully that what made this match work was that there was no wasted movements.
I absolutely loved the pacing of this match, as all six men never missed a beat. With SCU, what I especially loved was how their was a rapid change of pace whenever Daniels was in and then when we Sky was in. What also carries this match is the fact that all three members of Strong Hearts were wise in what they were doing in the ring.
They also prevented three-counts, intercepted potential dives by Daniels, and prevented Kazarian from interfering when possible. The ending sequence was also all sorts of crazy as bodies were flying all over the place like a demolition derby. This match hit the right spots, and I enjoyed it a great deal. ****
Britt Baker def. Kylie Ray, Awesome Kong and Nyla Rose
Some people believe Awesome Kong to be an overrated competitor. While some may deny her ability, you can’t deny that pop she got. This was a pretty solid swerve as Brandi came out in her ring gear as if she was going to be competing.
The flow of this match was also beautifully well done. I loved the sequences of Baker fighting with Kylie because it was kind of a clash of personalities of sorts. Ray is all smiles, generally forgiving and obnoxious because of it. That’s why some of what Britt did early took Kylie off guard, but she eventually got the message.
You also have to like how it often took multiple hits to take out Rose and Kong. And what is a fatal four way match without a tower of doom spot? I liked the energy here, and all four women worked hard to make this match work. And it worked for me. ***1/4
Best Friends def. Angelico and Jack Evans
Compared to the high paced action of the six man tag team match, this match took on more of a traditional tag team bout as this match required real team work and cunning.
If you ask me, the MVP of this match was Evans. His energy was just fantastic all around. Whether it was the heat segment on Trent, or his resiliency taking on tag team moves by his own, his performance took this tag match to another level.
The Best Friends showed tremendous spunk here as well. They simply found unique ways to stay alive throughout the entire match. Not only that, but they were reliant on each other’s individual abilities to stay alive, and they ended up taking advantage of a 2 on 1 opportunity, which Angelico and Evans were doing all evening.
If you ask me, in terms of in-ring skill and storytelling, this was your match of the night so far. ****
Hikaru Shida, Riho Abe, Ryo Mizunami def. Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki and Emi Sakura
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I know any of these people who are, but what I will say is that I have been invested in Japanese women’s wrestling for a while, and I believe the purpose of this match was to acclimate the crowd to this kind of style.
I think this match effectively accomplished its purpose, although some portions of the match were a bit disjointed. I think the parts of this match I liked the most was Aja facing Mizunami. You can never go wrong with two bigs going at each other.
Also, did you happen to notice some of the sick upper body strength shown in this match? I think that was a unique quality that made it stand out. Some portions of the match just dragged, and I think there were some other spots that were mistimed, but I enjoyed this more than I loathed it. ***1/4
Cody Rhodes def. Dustin Rhodes
It’s kind of ironic that Cody took a clear as day shot at Triple H before the match, only to have a 2003 Triple H style match after. Everything from the interference, overuse of blood and sports entertainment was present in this match. As a matter of fact, if you didn’t watch wrestling before and didn’t know who they were, you could say Triple H was facing Shawn Michaels with Ric Flair in his corner.
That being said, this match lived up to the hype, albeit with way too much blood. You have to respect Dustin, 50 years strong, busting his ass and putting on great matches. Cody played a terrific heel here as well, needing Brandi’s interference to control the edge early, effectively controlling the pace of the match and hitting some impressive moves that led to even more impressive near falls.