By Gwen Lombard
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW
The show began this week with the teams that will be fighting against each other in WarGames come Survivor Series having a face-off in the ring. Cody Rhodes brought out his teammates Seth Rollins, Jey Uso, and Sami Zayn, while Judgment Day brought out their team of Finn Bálor, Damien Priest, Dominik Mysterio, and JD McDonagh. Judgment Day stirred the metaphorical pot by mentioning a potential WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between Cody and Seth down the line, but Cody and his team did it right back by managing to goad Damien Priest into claiming that he is the real leader of the Judgment Day. Later in the show he apologized for this statement backstage, and announced that JD McDonagh is finally, officially part of the Judgment Day, seemingly as a way to appease his teammates.
This segment eventually led to a tag team match to start the show that saw Seth and Sami take on JD and Dom. These are four great athletes, three of whom get incredible reactions from the crowd no matter what, so it made this match quite enjoyable to watch. That is until the most predictable finish ever came to fruition with it all ending in a Disqualification when Damien and Finn attacked Seth and Sami. Jey and Cody came down in an attempt to even the number game, and it devolved into a massive brawl that required security and producers to pull the teams apart. This set up the stipulation for the main event Tag Team Title match between Cody and Jay and Finn and Damien that anyone from either team not directly involved with the match will be barred from the building, including Rhea Ripley.
Rhea Ripley stayed in the ring as the two WarGames teams were led to the back so she could argue with Adam Pearce. This brought out Zoey Stark who cut a promo about how she’s going to beat Rhea at Survivor Series.
Shinsuke Nakamura had a backstage promo next where he said he was looking for his next target, and this led to a match against Otis. These are two really fun wrestlers who have such different styles that I can’t help but have fun watching these two. In the end, Shinsuke was able to overcome Otis and put him away for the win. After the bell rang, Shinsuke immediately began brawling with Chad Gable, which set up a match between them for next Monday night.
Ludwig Kaiser took on Tomasso Ciampa who each had their respective tag team partners at ringside. This was a fun match, though nothing too spectacular in the realm of television matches. In the end, despite having been ejected from ringside by the referee, Giovanni Vinci came back down to attack Johnny Gargano, distracting Ciampa enough so Kaiser could pin him with a roll-up and win.
Xia Li took on Indi Hartwell in a very quick and decisive manner by knocking her out with a kick only two minutes into the match. Becky Lynch then came down to the ring and announced that she wants to have a match against Xia Li next week.
Then we finally had our main event match that saw Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso challenge Finn Bálor and Damien Priest for the Tag Team Titles once again. I enjoyed watching this match; these four men know each other incredibly well at this point and their matches are always fast-paced and pretty heavy-hitting. The real shock in this match however was when Drew McIntyre suddenly appeared at ringside and hit a fantastically executed Claymore Kick to Jey, letting Finn capitalize and win. Rhea Ripley made her way out to the top of the ramp where Drew met her to shake hands and seemingly add him to the ranks of Judgment Day. Cody grabbed a microphone though and warned Judgment Day that he and Jey also have a friend they can call on to be their backup. This has to be my match of the night; these two teams work so well in the ring together and Drew’s heel turn was wonderfully done. I also have a few theories as to who Cody’s ‘friend’ may be, and I’m excited to see if I’m right.
A tag team match began the show this week, pitting Blackpool Combat Club’s Jon Moxley and Wheeler Yuta against the team of Orange Cassidy and Hook. The brawling started before the bell even rang as Hook and Orange attacked Yuta and Mox as they made their way through the crowd during their entrance. This was a great match that showed off how well the BBC is in tag team situations despite being composed of singles wrestlers. Hook and Orange both looked great in this match as well, but in the end, Hook tried to sink in his Redrum submission on Moxley, but Moxley was able to reverse it into his Death Rider finisher, letting Yuta pin him for the win. This isn’t promising momentum for Cassidy heading into his International Championship match against Moxley at Full Gear, but Yuta just pinned the FTW champion and might have a championship match down the line. Yuta versus Hook? Yes, please.
Hangman Adam Page and Swerve Strickland had a face-to-face next. Every promo these men have delivered throughout this feud has been highlight reel worthy, and this didn’t disappoint. Hangman called Swerve a waste of human life who doesn’t have what it takes to be AEW World Champion, and at Full Gear Hangman will be his judge, jury, and executioner.
Skye Blue and Red Velvet met in an eliminator match where the winner moves on to the TBS Title match on Saturday at Full Gear against Kris Statlander and Julia Hart. This was a fine match and ended with the rather predictable finish that saw Skye Blue pin Red Velvet with her Code Blue finisher.
Samoa Joe then absolutely decimated Jon Cruz in a match that wasn’t even two minutes long, before grabbing the microphone and offering his partnership to MJF to defend the ROH Tag Team Titles against the Gunns at Full Gear one last time.
The Young Bucks then took on Penta El Zero Miedo who was teaming with Kommander this week. This was a fantastic match that saw some amazing sequences of counters. The real story of this match however was the Bucks starting to play nasty; they shook Penta and Kommander’s hands to start the match to lure them into a pair of Superkicks. The end came when Kommander took to the skies with a Springboard off the ropes, but Nick caught him in midair with a low blow while the referee’s back was turned. It grounded Kommander long enough for Matt and Nick to hit the BTE Trigger on him and take the win.
We then had the big match of the night: Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, and Paul Wight taking on The Don Callis Family and Brian Cage. The match began before everyone could even finish their entrances, breaking out into a brawl on the entrance ramp. It was such a fun match and just the right amount of chaos. Ibushi rode a bike down the ramp, smashing people with a lead pipe at one point, and Takeshita jumped off of a refrigerator to hit Jericho who fought back by spraying a fire extinguisher. Omega was finally able to get Cage up on his shoulders and land a beautifully executed One Winged Angel on him for the win.
The main event segment was given to MJF to stand in the ring and address the crowd. He spoke about how every time he tries to get close to people, they get hurt. He’s standing on top of a mountain surrounded by people who just want to knock him off of it, and he’s afraid. Afraid, but not going to back down because he’s not going to let his past define him. Jay White came out then and told MJF that despite how much he’s trying to play the hero to the people, he’s always going to be the villain. And at Full Gear, he will ‘bleed with the Switchblade’, a great twist on Jay’s usual ‘breathe with the switchblade’ catchphrase. The Bang Bang Gang attacked MJF, and the show went off the air and Jay hit him with a Blade Runner and ‘pinned’ him for the three count.
The new and improved Damage Control faction made their way down to the ring to open the show so Bayley could tell everyone that while they’re all playing Candyland, she’s been playing chess. And with the addition of Asuka to their group, Damage Control is now the most dominant faction in WWE. Shotzi’s music announced her running down to the ring to brawl with the faction, which brought out Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair for backup. They stood no chance against the number game however and were overpowered and forced out of the ring, Damage Control standing strong. Later backstage, Charlotte, Bianca, and Shotzi decided that they needed to find another partner to take them on in a WarGames match.
The opening match for the night was once again perfectly catered to me, and I cannot thank WWE enough for continuing to put the Brawling Brutes and Pretty Deadly in matches against each other. This time the match also included the Street Profits and the winners would receive a title shot against the Judgment Day for the tag team titles. This was such a fun match, and I can’t not like a match that has the Brutes and Pretty Deadly in it. I just can’t, it’s a legal, moral obligation at this point. In the end, though, the Street Profits were the ones who came out on top, hitting their Revelation finisher on Pete Dunne to win.
Dragon Lee versus Axiom was next, and this was everything. Just two amazing luchadors doing luchador stuff. This match wasn’t even a full ten minutes, but it felt like you were fast-forwarding through a 30-minute match the whole time. Amazing athleticism was on display from both men, but in the end, it was Dragon Lee who hit his Destino finisher to pin Axiom and win.
Santos Escobar came out next to tell everyone to never meet their heroes. Rey Mysterio was his hero, and now after working with him for so long, he can see that everything Dominik Mysterio said all through months ago when he turned on Rey was true. He wished Rey’s surgery was unsuccessful and that he needed to get his leg amputated so we never have to see him again. This brought out Zelina Vega who begged him why, to which Santos simply told her to pick a side. She slapped him and left, which in turn brought out Joaquin Wilde and Cruz del Toro, who Santos told were just dead weight and the LWO never needed them. Carlito ran down to start a brawl, but Santos slipped away.
Next, Paul Heyman, Solo Sikoa, and Jimmy Uso came out to the ring. Paul talked about how we’ll never see John Cena again because of Solo and what he did to Cena. That Solo humiliated him so badly that he couldn’t even come out to say goodbye to the fans. LA Knight interrupted them and called out Jimmy Uso, saying that without his help, Roman Reigns wouldn’t be champion right now, Knight would be. This set up our main event match as Heyman got a call and he ushered Solo out of the ring and backstage as he answered it.
The main event match between Jimmy and Knight was a perfectly fine television match, and utterly predictable. Knight managed to pull out the win with his BFT finishing move, and while he celebrated, Solo ran down to attack him. Before they could send him through the announce table like they set up to though, Cody Rhodes ran down and made the save.
Charlotte, Bianca, and Shotzi were in the ring next to announce their final teammate to face Damage Control in the WarGames match as none other than Becky Lynch. The two teams brawled to send the show off the air.
The show was moved to 8/7c this week to make room for the Full Gear PPV which is on in Collision’s usual time slot of 8 p.m. on Saturday. The show opened with Tony Schiavone in the ring for an interview with Christian Cage, who was shadowed by Luchasaurus and Nick Wayne like always. He reminded the audience that he’s going to end Sting’s career on Saturday, as well as guaranteeing that he’s going to re-break Adam Copeland’s neck. He promised to be present later in the night for the fatal four-way to decide the next contender for his TNT Title, before declaring himself the patriarch of AEW, and that he doesn’t work within the system, he is the system.
Lexy Nair interviewed Ricky Starks and Big Bill backstage ahead of the fatal four-way tag team match for their AEW World Tag Team Championships. Ricky informed Lexy that he’d gone to Tony Khan and asked for an added stipulation to the match, that it be turned into a ladder match for the titles. Khan agreed, and Ricky and Bill walked off looking very satisfied with their decision.
The Kings of the Black Throne team of Malakai Black and Brody King took on The Boys (Brent and Brandon) next in a match that was finished in just over two minutes with an emphatic Dante’s Inferno finisher to Brent, giving the Kings of the Black Throne was great momentum into the four-way tag match.
We then saw the fatal four-way to name the number one contenders to Christian’s TNT Title next between Penta El Zero Miedo, Kommander, Trent Beretta, and Brian Cage. This was a lot of fun to watch, especially with Penta and Kommander opposing each other. All four men were wonderful here, and there were some amazing moments with Trent delivering a picture-esque Poisionrana to Cage that Cage pretty much ignored in favor of delivering a Lariat back to Trent. In the end, though, Trent took advantage of the inherent chaos of a fatal four-way, hitting a Strong Zero on Kommander while the other two were outside the ring to score the win, setting up a match with Christian on Rampage for the title.
FTR’s Dax Harwood took on La Facción Ingobernables’ Rush next in another preview of Full Gear. This was a pretty great match as far as television matches go, with the two powerhouses of their respective teams wearing each other out, trading Chops to the chest and German Suplexes. They traded open palm strikes until they knocked each other down. Rush rolled out of the ring and pushed Ricky Starks, who’d been part of the commentary team for the match, out of his way at ringside, rolling back in and getting ready to hit Dax with his Bull’s Horn’s finisher, but Ricky slipped into the ring and Speared Rush. This ended the match with a No Contest finish, and Cash came down to help his partner as the three teams began to break down in a brawl. The Kings of the Black Throne ran down and joined in until the security team had to break them all apart.
The main event saw Hikaru Shida team up with Kris Statlander to take on Ruby Soho and Saraya. This was a great match that saw Statlander prove her strength, suplexing both Ruby and Saraya at the same time, as well as seeing Ruby’s romantic prospects grow. Angelo Parker was sitting in the front row to cheer her on and jumped over the barricade to check on her when she was dumped outside the ring. With Ruby’s focus taken, Saraya was left on her own in the ring and Shida quickly took advantage of the situation, hitting Saraya with a Katana Kick and pinning her for the victory.
Rampage began where Collision left off, opening with Trent’s chance at Christian’s TNT Title. This was a fun match that saw the best we’ve seen of Trent lately. He quickly took the upper hand, despite the numbers advantage against him with both Luchasaurus and Nicky Wayne in Christian’s corner. Trent was able to hit a Strong Zero, but it wasn’t quite enough to put Christian away and while Luchasaurus briefly stole Trent’s attention, Christian seized the opportunity and hit his Kill Switch finisher on him, pinning him for this win.
Next, we saw Toni Storm take on Emi Sakura in a self-proclaimed ‘warm-up’ match before her match against Hikaru Shida at Full Gear. Emi wasn’t one to put up with any of Toni’s antics, quickly landing Chops to Toni’s chest and hitting a Cross-Body Press. Toni managed to dodge a Moonsault from Emi though, and this spelled the beginning of the end as Toni followed that up with a Hip Attack and a Piledriver to get an emphatic win under her belt before heading into Full Gear.
The main event match saw Roderick Strong take on Action Andretti. And despite a quick start in Andretti’s favor, Roderick is not one to be out-thought and put Andretti away with his End of Heartache finisher.
Renee Paquette interviewed Jay White in his locker room, and though he started talking a little shit about MJF, it took barely any time at all before MJF himself appeared and attacked him. Juice Robinson tried to come to Jay’s aid but only got a TV monitor broken over his head for his troubles, courtesy of MJF of course. MJF chased Jay out to the ring where he continued beating him down, the Gunns even coming down to help and getting beaten down as well. While his back was turned, however, the Gunns recollected themselves enough to hit him from behind and let Bang Bang Gang have the upper hand. That is until Samoa Joe ran down, sending Bang Bang Gang packing real quick. Joe extended his hand to MJF, and MJF took it, accepting Joe as his partner against the Gunns in his defense of the ROH Tag Team Titles.
AEW FULL GEAR PAY-PER-VIEW
MJF teamed with Samoa Joe during the Zero Hour Buy-In show before the pay-per-view started, defending his ROH Tag Team Titles against The Gunns. It was a fun match that saw Samoa Joe absolutely clean house against the Gunns. At one point, Adam Cole made an appearance, his foot still in a hospital boot and walking with crutches. Off the distraction of his appearance, Joe was able to sink in the Coquina Clutch submission on Colten and win the match via submission, letting MJF retain the titles. After Joe left, the Gunns immediately jumped MJF in front of an incapacitated Adam Cole, unable to do anything as he watched his best friend’s knee be destroyed by a steel chair. The medical team stretchered MJF out to the ambulance, sending him off to the hospital, but not before MJF cried out to Adam to not let Jay take his championship. Later on, it was announced that Adam, despite his injury, would take on Jay in MJF’s place.
The actual show itself opened with Christian Cage, Luchasaurus, and Nick Wayne taking on Sting, Darby Allin, and Adam Copeland (who wore the coolest jackets I’ve seen in a hot minute, can I just say). This was a really fun match, with some great moments that spotlighted Sting and Darby specifically. Christian fled the scene after accidentally taking out Luchasaurus with a title belt shot to the head, and this spelled the end as Adam Copeland took the opportunity and pinned Luchasaurus for the win.
Next, we had Jon Moxley challenging Orange Cassidy for his International Championship. Moxley brought out Wheeler Yuta as his second and Cassidy brought Hook out with him. Orange came out swinging, jumping into action as soon as the bell rang, and as with any good Moxley match, his blood started flowing pretty quickly after a nasty headbutt. This was the absolute brawl that we all expected out of these two finally facing off again, and after 6 Orange Punches and a Beach Break, Orange finally put his Moxley demons to rest. He finally beat Moxley and can now confidently call himself the International Champion, and feel like he means it.
Then we had Toni Storm challenging Hikaru Shida for the AEW Women’s Championship. This was a fun match, as one would expect with these two facing off. A whole lot of shenanigans happened throughout this match, and it ended when Toni up putting a mini frying pan-esque thing down her pants and hitting Shida with a Hip Attack to knock her out and win the championship for a historic third time.
The fatal four-way for the AEW World Tag Team Championship between the teams of Ricky Starks and Big Bill, Kings of the Black Throne (Malakai Black and Brody King), FTR, and La Facción Ingobernables (Rush and Dralistico) was next. This match was absolute chaos everywhere you looked, as to be expected with four tag teams fighting in the same ring. It can be hard to find surprises in ladder matches, as it seems everything that can be done has been done, but this match managed to keep me on the edge of my seat. All four teams had moments where they were within a hair’s breadth of winning, before getting snatched away. In the end, Ricky Starks and Big Bill managed to retain their championships.
Next was the triple threat match for the TBS Title between Kris Statlander, Julia Hart, and Skye Blue. This was a lovely match all around, and I’ll admit to personal bias on this. These three women are carrying Rampage and Collision on their backs lately, and you can tell they’re all the better for it. They had great in-ring action and there was even a moment where it looked like Skye was finally going to align herself with Julia, before clobbering her with a Forearm Strike instead. Julia Hart pulled out the win in the end when Kris hit her Friday Night Fever finisher on Skye and Julia pushed Kris out of the ring with just enough time to pin Skye. Julia is finally the TBS Champion, and the House of Black finally has some gold to their name.
It was teased leading into the pay-per-view that AEW would announce their latest talent signing, and rumors swirled for weeks. It was finally revealed that Will Ospreay is officially All Elite. He did ask for the audience’s forgiveness and patience as he wanted to finish up the last few remaining weeks on his contract to New Japan Pro Wrestling, but we’ll see him on the road to Revolution early next year.
Hangman Adam Page challenged Swerve Strickland in a Texas Death Match next. One of the bloodiest, most brutal, most violent matches with no care given towards humanity or children that might’ve been in attendance in the whole history of AEW I think. There was no grace of human decency or mercy in either of these men’s souls when they stepped through the ropes of that ring, they were out for blood and worse. And they both got their fill, that’s for sure. Hangman started by taking a staple gun to Swerve, stapling his son’s finger paintings to Swerve’s cheek. Broken glass was introduced and both men were dropped into it at different points, as well as a concrete block that was broken over Hangman’s back. Barbed wire was wrapped around flesh like Jesus’ crown of thorns, though no forgiveness was handed out. Barbed wire halos echoed Baroque paintings, focused imagery of stark red color and violence. Swerve’s face was pouring blood and Hangman drank it as it poured. Neither man walked out the same as when he entered, losing gallons of blood and any innocence they might’ve had lingering in the corners of their souls. The unmerciful end was finally reached when Swerve took a length of chain, mirroring how Hangman got such a name in the first place, wrapped it around Page’s throat, up over the turnbuckle, and pulled until Hangman passed out and couldn’t reach his feet for the ten count, laying a pool of his own blood and concrete dust. Swerve had his hand raised in bloody victory, walking away without even a glance back. Without even a heartbeat of hesitation, this was my match of the night. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with a weak stomach, the human body is pushed to its limits in this match, but I’d watch it again this instant if I could. It’s been shortlisted as one of my favorite matches in the history of this company.
A still from Hangman versus Swerve from the live streamed event. Credit to All Elite Wrestling.
The Golden Jets team of Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho took on The Young Bucks next. If The Young Bucks win, the Golden Jets must break up, and if the Golden Jets win, the Young Buck’s number one contendership they hold to the AEW Tag Team Championships will be the Jets. The Bucks played nasty again, even low-blowing Kenny at one point, their best friend. In the end, Kenny hoisted Matt Jackson on his shoulders and hit the One Winged Angel on him. Only one person has kicked out of that move in history, and Matt didn’t make it two. The Golden Jets now have a guaranteed shot at the Tag Team Championships whenever they choose. After the bell rang, Nick began to throw things at ringside, yelling and tossing pieces of the broken table he’d been sent through by Kenny earlier. Once Matt regained enough of his wits to realize what had happened, he too began having a fit, breaking a steel chair into pieces by slamming it against the ring post. These two turned away from Kenny when he tried to offer a hand to them, turning a cold shoulder and walking away from their best friend. From the friend that they founded this company with. Someone teach these guys some healthy and productive communication methods immediately, please.
The main event saw Adam Cole make his entrance, not even in his wrestling gear, and still on crutches, and Jay White made his. Just before the bell could ring, however, the video feed cut to MJF driving the ambulance back into the parking lot and jumping out, making his way to the ring. MJF, despite his injury, his thigh and knee wrapped and taped up, took on Jay White in the match that had been promised. Throughout the match, Adam fed MJF several different weapons, and each one Jay intercepted and used to his advantage until the very end when MJF got the Dynamite Diamond Ring on his finger and knocked Jay out with it, finally pinning him for the hard-earned victory. MJF and Adam celebrated together, MJF finally getting his hands back on his World Championship belt a month after Jay stole it from him in the first place.