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by Samoa Rowe
April 15, 2020
From the One Fall Power Factory in Norcross, Georgia. Our hosts are Chris Jericho and Tony Skee-a-vone.
Ominous Jake Roberts and Lance Archer opening package. Roberts feels that the TNT Championship was created with Archer in mind. The TNT title is like a bone and Archer is the hungry dog, so who is going to try and take it away from him? Roberts says he's watched Colt Cabana for years, and he's got some stuff, but he's not good enough. Colt can listen to his warning or regret it.
Colt Cabana talks about his hopes and dreams coming to AEW. He wanted to surprise fans by exceeding low expectations. Colt feels that his international record is just as good as Archer's. All Colt is thinking about is defeating Archer and becoming TNT Champion.
TNT Championship Tournament - Opening Round:
Colt Cabana vs. Lance Archer
EVERYBODY DIES, starting with some poor ringside guy. Colt is not fazed and holds his own with a knife edge chop, but Archer answers with a shoulder block. Colt clocks Archer off the apron after faking him out. Match restarts with Colt controlling the wrist, but Archer reverses the Flying Apple into a chokeslam for 2. Cabana's desperate chops have little effect and Archer tackles him down. Archer takes his time dismantling Cabana, hitting a twisting splash to send us to break. They return in time for Colt's hope sequence, as he dodges a flying headbutt. Colt hits a head scissors takedown and the Flying Apple, and hits a bouncing headbutt dive for 2. Archer cuts him off with the POUNCE, followed by a high chokeslam. Archer hits the Blackout for the win at 11:22. Good, straightforward match, **½.
Winner: Lance Archer
Britt Baker gives a lecture on being a role model from her dentist office (whoa, did you know she's a dentist?!?). Rule #1: Always fight fair (unlike that dirty Hikaru Shida). Britt vows to always be the face of the AEW women's division, and makes a fair point about being the real winner after losing to Shida.
Ariel Helwani chimes in on the Jake Hager vs. Jon Moxley showdown. He picks Hager as the winner due to his MMA resume. Taz predicts that Moxley retains after he turns the match into a street fight.
Cassandra Golden vs. Dr. Britt Baker
Jericho hilariously recommends that Baker, Golden, and Anna Jayy all triple team Hikaru Shida in the crowd. Baker goes after the jaw and smugly poses besides her while she sells. Baker curb stomps her teeth into the ropes and wins at 1:11. Five star squash.
Winner: Britt Baker
Ron Funches picks Moxley to beat Hager. Mike Goldberg picks Hager. Whatta bunch of marks.
The Inner Circle star in The Bubbly Bunch. It's basically another parody of Being the Elite and they chat on Zoom in comical fashion, and I can't do it justice with any recap. They manage to be very funny, put over their issues with Matt Hardy and the Elite, AND promote social distancing all at once.
Suge D vs. Sammy Guevara
Suge D (or "Pineapple Pete" as Jericho calls him) is longtime CHIKARA star, Sugar Dunkerton, finally getting a big break. Sammy has a size disadvantage but still gets a takedown and poses on Suge's back. Suge gets a wrist lock and dances with Sammy before hitting a fancy armdrag. Sammy hates that and hits his knee to the face. Jericho has not stopped gushing over how sexy Guevara is. Delayed vertical suplex by Sammy gets 2. Sammy squats with Suge on his shoulders before hitting a Samoan Drop. Sammy's cocky pin isn't enough to put Suge away. Suge dodges an avalanche in the corner and rallies with desperate quick attacks. Sammy cuts him off quickly with a stiff knee to the head and finishes with Go 2 Sleep at 5:57. This was pretty long for a squash, but Sammy looked good and Jericho was hilarious.
Winner: Sammy Guevara
Sammy grabs the mic and gives us a spoiler: he will beat the sh!t out of Darby Allin in the TNT tourney. Sammy puts the boots to Suge D until Allin chases him out.
John McCarthy from Bellator MMA picks Hager to beat Moxley, as the Wrestling vs. MMA lines continue to be drawn. Excalibur thinks Hager would win if it were a steel cage match, but gives Moxley the edge due to the Street Fight format.
Kip Sabian (with Penelope Ford) vs. Chuck Taylor (with Orange Cassidy)
OC does a cute limp wristed fist bump with several guys at ringside. Taylor and Sabian exchange holds with a sense of urgency. Taylor reverses a single leg crab, but Sabian flees to ringside. Sabian lures Taylor into a springboard dropkick and takes control. Taylor answers with a boot to the face and flashes an OC thumbs up. Taylor dodges a baseball slide and backdrops Sabian onto the apron. Taylor misses a dropkick so Sabian hits a missile dropkick for 2. Ford gets in some cheap shots while Sabian talks smack at OC. Sabian works over the back, but Chuck comes back with a Michinoku Driver (or Chucky Cheese as Jericho puts it). Taylor's sit-out powerbomb gets 2. Sabian strings together some offense and hits a spinning neckbreaker for 2. Sole Food by Taylor, but Ford struts her stuff to distract. Sabian plants a kiss on Ford. OC imitates Ford for a good distraction, but Jimmy Havoc pulls him down for a spike DDT. Ford catches Taylor with a flying head scissors takedown, and Sabian wins via roll-up at 10:27. Despite both guys working really hard, this felt aimless until all the wacky interference set in, so this could have easily stood to lose five minutes, **.
Winner: Kip Sabian
Dan Soder is totally excited for tonight's main event and picks Moxley to win. The Inner Circle's Ortiz picks his buddy, Hager. Sammy Guevara echoes Ortiz.
Justin Law vs. Shawn Spears
The jobber, Law, not only has a televised entrance, but he has music and graphics! He looks to be about 12 years old. Tony and Jericho are acting like Spears is on a hot streak after beating Billy Gunn on Dark. Spears doesn't bother taking off his t-shirt and locks right up with Law, who holds his own early on. Spears gets on his knees and dares the jobber to do something and Law nearly pins him! That fires Spears up and he aggressively pummels the young man. The running C4 finishes at 2:19. Nice to see them heating Spears up again, even if it's seemingly just out of necessity.
Winner: Shawn Spears
Some MMA guy named Josh Thomson cannot wait to see Jake Hager beat down Moxley. Inner Circle's Santana also picks Hager. Looks like the "experts" are starting to favor the challenger.
AEW World Championship:
Jon Moxley © vs. Jake Hager
Jim Ross goes solo on commentary as the action shifts over to Daily's Place in Jacksonville, Florida. Moxley is only on day 46 of his reign, but it feels like he won the gold 4 months ago. Damn quarantine slowing down time. Match begins in typical fashion with them feeling each other out in the ring. They are working their asses off and not shying away from physicality, but this still feels like a dress rehearsal heading into the first commercial. Back from break, both guys are huffing and puffing as they brawl past the guard rail. Hager is gassed while in control, and Moxley applies a Figure Four around a rail. Hager survives and smashes Moxley into some barricades. J.R. is running low on things to say to fill the dead air time. Back to the ring, Moxley avoids a Hager Bomb and desperately hits a running knee so they can both take a breather. Hager wins a striking exchange with vicious knee lifts and nails a gut-wrench powerbomb for 2. Cue the second commercial (this has been a major bummer of a match so far). They return with Moxley saving himself with a clothesline. J.R. is trying to get over a story about Moxley's arm being hurt, but I'm not sure Moxley and Hager got that memo. DDT by Moxley sets up a crossface, but Hager gets the ropes. Despite there just having been a rope break, Hager uses a chair to remind us this is supposed to be No Holds Barred. Hager props a chair in the buckles and a tussle leads to Moxley taking a glancing shot in the corner. Cue the THIRD commercial. Back from break, Hager cracks the chair over Moxley's ankle before applying an ankle lock. Moxley is bleeped repeatedly before breaking free and hitting the Paradigm Shift into a Dragon Sleeper. They slug it out and Hager delivers a suspicious running knee to the groin. Moxley throws a chair to the face and uses it for a Paradigm Shift to finally win at 30:45. Major disappointment. The effort was there, but this felt so empty and pointless without any live audience, and a match with this kind of pacing does not work unless you have noise from an invested crowd, **.
Winner and still AEW World Champion: Jon Moxley
Final Thoughts: When my favorite match/segment of the week is a 90 second Britt Baker squash, you know it wasn't exactly a great Dynamite. The Hager/Moxley match was a major letdown that I probably should have seen coming. You can skip this one.
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