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by Doc Allen
March 7, 2021
Written in February 2023.
In memory of James Crocket Jr.
Live from Daily's Place in Jacksonville, Florida. Things were still shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so there's roughly 1,000 socially distancing fans in attendance. Our hosts are Jim Ross, Tony Shiavone, and Excalibur.
AEW Tag Team Championship:
The Young Bucks © (Nick and Matt Jackson) vs. The Inner Circle (Chris Jericho and MJF, with Wardlow)
The Bucks are looking for revenge after Jericho and MJF bloodied up their father. The Inner Circle seem to weather the storm, turn their backs to taunt, and get blindsided by stereo topes. The Bucks apply stereo Sharpshooters, Jericho grabs MJF's hand to stop him from tapping. Jericho gets a rope break, but eats Matt's spear. The Bucks dropkick MJF outside, and drape Jericho for a Swanton Bomb to the gut. MJF grabs Matt's leg, allowing Jericho to dropkick the back of the head. The Inner Circle isolate Nick, hit a tandem flapjack, and taunt with the Bucks' pose. Nick slips away for a hasty hot tag to Matt, who nails MJF with a DDT. Wardlow pulls the ropes so Matt tumbles outside, and the Inner Circle regain control. Matt takes a beating but manages a double DDT to buy some time. Nick gets the hot tag and cleans house like a whirling dervish. MJF survives a spike DDT, so the Bucks hit a stuffed superkick and the MCMG's powerbomb/crossbody combo. Matt and Jericho trade counters, MJF helps stop the Meltzer Driver, so Jericho hits a Tombstone Piledriver and Liontamer. Matt gets a blind tag, but Jericho puts him into the Liontamer too. MJF returns with a sitout powerbomb for a good nearfall. Fans chant “This is awesome!' MJF gets carried away with DX taunts and Jericho has to rescue him from the Meltzer Driver. Jericho blasts Matt with Floyd and MJF delivers the Heatseaker, but MATT KICKS OUT! The Bucks regroup and hit stereo crossbody dives. Wardlow's interference backfires and he suffers a mistimed Judas Effect. The Bucks block the Lionsault with superkicks! BTE Trigger on Jericho, MJF saves the match! The Bucks throw a SUPERKICK PARTAY! The Meltzer Driver finishes Jericho at 17:43. Terrific opener, and it's refreshing to see the Bucks just play straight babyfaces for a change. MJF gets bonus points for bumping like crazy too, ****.
Winners and still AEW Tag Team Champions: The Young Bucks
Casino Tag Team Royale:
This is basically a tag team Royal Rumble. Two teams start, a new team joins every 90 seconds, you win by throwing opponents over the ropes. The Natural Nightmares
(Dustin Rhodes and QT Marshall) and The Dark Order
(Alan Angels and 10) begin with Dustin shaking hands, and QT hitting a cheap shot. The Dark Order get overconfident and Dustin ambushes with double clotheslines. Santana and Ortiz
are next and go right for Dustin. The Dark Order interrupt and Angels hits a crossbody to Ortiz' spine. Angels is tossed out, 10 nearly dumps QT. Matt and Mike Sydal
are the fourth team, this time Matt manages to enter a battle royal without falling off the top rope. Nothing much happens until Stu Grayson and Evil Un
o join the match to run wild. Santana and Ortiz throw Mike Sydal out. The Dark Order hit Ortiz with a tandem powerbomb and spinebuster. Santana single handedly knocks down the Dark Order goofballs. The Gunn Club
are out next and are still playing white meat babyfaces. Santana and Ortiz throw Matt Sydal out to completely eliminate the Sydals. Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi
sneak their way onto PPV and join the match. They even get to run wild for a few seconds. The Varsity Blondes
(Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison) are next and also are allowed to shine momentarily. The Gunns toss Peter Avalon. The Gunn swarm Bononi, and QT dumps all three of them. Dustin yells at QT for eliminating members of the Nightmare Family, so QT willingly eliminates himself and walks away. Bear Country
(Boulder and Bronson) are next . Boulder hoists Uno and Garrison for a double power slam! Grayson tries a torture rack, but gets thrown out by Bear Country. Jurassic Express
(Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus) are next, and Luchasaurus wastes no time hitting double chokeslams. Jungle Boy clotheslines Ortiz over the ropes. Bononi suffers a tail whip and gets tossed by the dinosaur. Luchasaurus throws Garrison out. Jungle Boy arranges for Santana to fly out. Marko Stunt helps Luchasaurus eliminate Uno (who botches the spot and has to run himself into the ring post). The Butcher and Blade
come out next and go after Bear Country. The Bunny helps drag Dustin off the apron, so he's gone. Private Party
(Marq Quen and Isiah Kassidy) take their time entering the ring, then target Jungle Boy. SCU
(Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels) are next and hit Kassidy with a tandem powerbomb. SCU block Luchasaurus' chokeslam, and Bear Country capitalize to throw out the dinosaur. Butcher sneaks up to dump out Bear Country. Death Triangle
(Pac and Rey Fenix) join the party and throw Blade and Quen out. Another Dark Order team is next, this time John Silver and Alex Reynolds
, the lovable underdogs. Silver gives Daniels a spinning powerbomb. Silver and Reynolds hit Kassidy with a Dark Destroyer and throw him out. SCU backdrop Butcher over the ropes. The Final Four are SCU, Dark Order, Death Triangle, and Jungle Boy on his own. Fenix eliminates Daniels with a springboard rana. Jungle Boy back drops Reynolds over the ring post. Pac suplexes Kazarian outside. Silver and Pac brawl while Fenix takes on JB. Silver and Pac trade forearms, Silver takes over with hard kicks. Pac fires back with a German suplex. Fenix helps with a tightrope kick to knock Silver outside. Jungle Boy is alone against Death Triangle! Jungle Boy dumps Pac! Fenix and JB test each other with knife edge chops. JB misses a baseball slide, and Fenix dives through the middle ropes for a tope into the rails. Fenix flies into JB's superkick, then eats a lariat. Poison rana by Jungle Boy! Fenix avoids elimination and clothesline Jungle Boy out to win at 26:48! This took a long time to get going, but ended with an exciting and spectacular display of athleticism and drama, ***¼.
Winners: Death Triangle
Backstage interview with Paul Wight, who's really excited to get to work on Dark Elevation. He won't give any hint who the big free agent signing is.
Paul Walter Hauser and Diamond Dallas Page hang out in the front row. Al Snow is enjoying the show with his lady.
Quality video package setting the stage for Hikaru Shida vs. Ryo Mizunami. Ryo was going to quit wrestling, but Double or Nothing 2019 changed her mind. She just won a great Eliminator Tournament to earn this title shot. Shida is in the midst of a year-long title reign and is doing pretty well for herself too. When Shida was a rookie, Mizunami told her she'd never beat her, even if she wrestled for 100 years. Personally, I'd be kind of interested to see these two fighting at age 120, in kind of a darkly comical way.
AEW Women's Championship:
Hikaru Shida © vs. Ryo Mizunami
Some of my favorite reviews from 2021 were the Women's Eliminator Tournament shows from Youtube, go check those out for my sake. The backstory here is that Shida has never beaten Mizunami, all their previous matches ended in draws. They lock up, and their feeling out process suggests that they know each other well. They take turns pummeling one another into the buckles. Mizunami doesn't respect Shida, so she gets carried away taunting, and Shida capitalizes with running attacks. Shida tries a running knee strike off a chair, but Mizunami slams her over the barricade. Mizunami takes over with rapid leg drops. Shida answers with a missile dropkick for 2. Shida counters into an Air Raid Crash onto the stage! Shida nails a suplex off the bottom rope for 2. Mizunami responds with short range headbutts. Mizunami throws some lariats and a spiking power slam for only 2. Shida powers her way into some strong drive-by attacks, but collapses without making a cover. Mizunami fires back with a backdrop driver and spear! Flying leg drop by Mizunami, but SHIDA KICKS OUT! Shida blocks a power slam and finds her second wind for a straight jacket German suplex. Mizunami pops up to lariat the back of the head! Desperate Falcon Arrow by Shida, series of running strikes to the head, and a second Falcon Arrow only gets 2! They exchange KO blows, but Shida pokes the eyes and gets an inside cradle for 2. Mizunami reverses a pin attempt, Shida nails an enziguri for another 2. Fans chant "This is awesome!"" Shida hits a Side Effect and running knee to the face, but Mizunami kicks out yet again. Roundhouse kick by Shida finally knocks Mizunami loopy enough for the 3 count at 15:11! Physical match that absolutely benefited from the previous video package to set the stage for the story they wanted to tell, ***½.
Winner and still AEW Women's Champion: Hikaru Shida
Shida's celebration is cut short when Nyla Rose (with Vickie Guerrero) sneak attacks. Rose turns her attention to Mizunami, but Shida helps out. Dr. Britt Baker, Maki Itoh, and Rebel join the party to beat down Shida. Thunder Rosa makes a late save and sends the heels scattering away.
Alex Marvez chats with Orange Cassidy and Chuck Taylor, but they're ambushed by Miro and Kip Sabian. Miro throws Chuck's head through a glass window and demands that production play his music.
Miro and Kip Sabian (with Penelope Ford) vs. Orange Cassidy and Chuck Taylor
Sabian and Miro haul a bloody Taylor through the heel tunnel. Miro grabs a mic and demands that Taylor submit to him, but Taylor asks for the bell instead. Bell rings and they're starting with Chuck stuck in a handicap match scenario. Miro totally dominates, but Taylor finds an opening against Sabian. Orange Cassidy arrives late, sells a serious back injury, and collapses onto the stage. Cassidy kips up to give Miro the Orange Punch! Sabian plants Sabian and tags in Cassidy. Sabian blocks the Orange Punch, but Cassidy makes him pay with a tope suicida. Diving DDT by Cassidy gets 2. Sabian hits a mean gutbuster and penalty kick for 2. Falcon Arrow by Kip gets another 2. Cassidy answers with a tornado DDT, Taylor blind tags in for a Beach Break/Double Stomp combo! Chuck hits a spike piledriver, Miro returns for the save. The ref argues with Ford, while Cassidy gives Miro sloth kicks. Miro blocks the Orange Punch, but Cassidy hits Stun Dog Millionaire! Orange Punch connects, but Ford distracts, only for Miro to knock Cassidy into her! KO kick by Miro and a swinging uranage. Miro blasts Chuck with a lariat but almost gets pinned on a small package. Miro puts Chuck into Game Over and wins at 7:57. Average TV match, absolutely not PPV-worthy, but it does give the show some breathing space, **¼.
Winners: Miro and Kip Sabian
Alex Marvez is standing by with the Inner Circle. Jericho threatens to attack Marvez for suggesting they "failed" against The Young Bucks. Jericho says they are a well trained army, and they just need to change their battle plans in the midst of a war. They'll have a War Council on the next Dynamite. MJF agrees, he thinks a change would make the Inner Circle a whole lot better.
Big Money Match:
Matt Hardy vs. Hangman Adam Page
Hardy is offended that Page chose the Dark Order instead of joining his loser stable, so they're fighting with their first quarter earnings on the line. There's a strange "Big Money Matt" chant at the opening bell. Hangman stomps Hardy into the buckles. Back suplex by Page, followed by a fallaway slam. Hardy slips away from a possible Buckshot lariat. Page drops Hardy onto a barricade and then hits a double sledgehammer from a staircase. Hardy drives Hangman's shoulder into the ring post and then goes to work on his fingers. Hangman rallies but sacrifices his bad hand with a punch. Hangman reverses the Side Effect into a crucifix pin for 2. DVD by Page gets 2. Springboard clothesline by Hangman, but his slingshot plancha misses, and Hardy nails a Twist of Fate on the floor! Page beats a countout, climbs the ropes, but Hardy counters into an avalanche suplex for 2! They collide with dual clotheslines, Hangman clotheslines them both over the ropes. Desperation top rope moonsault by Hangman! Diving crossbody by Page only gets 2. Sliding lariat by Page, Hardy blocks Dead Eye and hits a neckbreaker. They fight on the top rope until Hardy hits a sitout powerbomb for 2. Page counters with Deadeye, but Isiah Kassidy distracts the ref from counting. Page takes care of Private Party, but runs into Hardy's Side Effect. Twist of Fate, but HANGMAN KICKS OUT! The Dark Order run in to neutralize Private Party. The catch Hangman in a trust fall, allowing him to hit a Buckshot Lariat to win at 15:00! Most of this felt like a Tv main event, but that finish was charming AF, ***.
Winner: Hangman Adam Page
Hangman joins Dark Order for a group hug, and Colt Cabana arrives with beer!
Face of the Revolution Ladder Match
Max Caster vs. Lance Archer (with Jake Roberts) vs. Scorpio Sky vs. Penta El Zero Miedo vs. Cody Rhodes (with Arn Anderson) vs. Ethan Page
The winner gets a shiny, brass ring and a shot at the TNT Championship. Yes, the same TNT Championship that is constantly defending in open challenge situations. I hate the stipulation, so this match has an uphill battle to get over with me. Ethan Page is the surprise sixth man and making his debut. Page ironically attacks his future partner, Sky. Cody pairs up with Archer. Penta thrashes Caster at rinside. Archer knocks Cody with a ladder and then launches it towards Sky and Ethan. Penta gives Archer a Sling Blade under the ladder. Sky ambushes Penta with a German suplex. Caster clears the ring and calls Jack Evans for help, but 10 intervenes. Cody hits Caster with the Disaster Kick onto the stage. Cody and Ethan briefly unite to take down Archer, Cody stupidly offers a handshake for Ethan to hit a cheap shot. Penta sprints up the ladder to hit a plancha onto Cody. Ethan hits Archer with a slingshot cutter onto the ladder. Ethan botches a gutbuster on Sky, but then gives him the Ego's Edge onto Archer stuck in the ladder. Archer tips the ladder to send Ethan falling into Penta's backstabber. Penta climbs but Cody dropkicks him down. Penta gives Cody a Destroyer onto a bridged ladder! Cody sells a serious injury and gets taken away. Sky and Caster climb up competing ladders and slug it out. They're joined by Archer and Ethan. Sky knocks everyone down, but Penta returns to cost him victory. Caster gives Ethan a sunset flip powerbomb. Sky gives Caster a frog splash onto a ladder. Archer returns and knocks Sky backwards through a ringside ladder. Penta superkicks Archer and suplexes Caster into Ethan. Cody fights his way through Arn and the trainers to smash Ethan to pieces. Archer superplexes Cody from the top of the ladder, and Caster follows with a top ladder Mic Drop onto Cody's bad shoulder! Archer pushes Caster and Penta over and then goes on a chokeslam spree. Archer gives Caster a Blackout onto a ladder! Ethan stops Archer's climb with a big time Ego's Edge! Jake pulls Ethan into a classic clothesline! Penta assaults Jake from behind. Sloppy Cody Cutter on Penta! Penta totally no-sells and hits Cody's bad shoulder with a chair. Sky wacks Penta off the ladder with a chair. Sky knocks Cody from the top of the ladder and retrieves the wacky, oversized brass ring at 23:20! I hate rating ladder matches like this, because this was mostly a ho-hum series of highspots that we've seen time and time again, but I don't want to be dismissive of the enormous physical toll paid by the performers. This one was simply too long, too sloppy, and unforgettable for me to recommend, **¾.
Winner: Scorpio Sky
It's time for our mysterious free agent contract signing and it's none other than Christian Cage, complete with an updated version of his TNA theme song. He gets a loud, standing ovation from the live crowd. He signs the contract and pimps his new t-shirt, and that's a wrap.
TNT Champion Darby Allin and Sting vs. Team Taz (Brian Cage and Ricky Starks, with Powerhouse Hobbs, and Hook)
Taz hangs out on commentary. This is a CINEMATIC match taking place from an undisclosed location. Starks and Cage hop into a fancy, green sportsmobile and arrive at a gloomy warehouse. They find a wrestling ring inside, and a referee appears out of nowhere. Meanwhile, Sting pops Darby's music into a cassette player, and things go all black and white as Sting druids enter the building and Darby skates his way in. The entire thing turns into a completely awesome, gonzo music video. Sting hops out of a pickup truck and joins Darby to walk through the druids and meet Team Taz in the ring. Darby springboards off the wall but Cage catches him in a German suplex. Cage pulls Sting off of Starks and puts the boots to him. Cage rolls a wheel into a druid and powerbombs another one onto the apron. Cage carries Allin like a suitcase and slams him into a railing. Meanwhile, Sting takes Starks to school with a Stinger Splash. On the other side of the building, Cage slams Darby into a wall and press slams him through closed doors. Elsewhere, Sting grabs a bat and hunts Starks down like an animal. Starks taunts that Sting is nothing without a bat, so Sting throws the bat away and throws Starks into the brick wall. Meanwhile, Cage carries Darby up some stairs in a delayed vertical suplex and drops him through a garbage can. Sting arrives to help Darby, but Starks isn't far behind. Starks swings a barrel into Sting's legs. Sting knees Ricky in the groin, but Cage attacks. Cage hoists Darby, but Sting sprays him with an extinguisher. Darby breaks a bottle over Cage's head, and Sting helps powerbomb him through a table. Darby and Ricky slap it out until Ricky hits a knee lift. Ricky misses a head of steam and hits a metal beam. Allin climbs the beam for a makeshift Coffin Drop! Powerhouse Hobbes and Hook pick their spot to interfere. Meanwhile, Cage gets up to drive Sting into the wall. Hobbs and Cage swing Darby through a glass window! Team Taz shifts their attention to Sting, and beat him with a shovel. Sting comes back against greater numbers with his trademark bat. He swings the shovel into Cage's forehead! Allin then dives from a window to elbow drop Cage through a platform! Well… they're dead. Sting hunts Starks in the ring, but misses a Stinger Splash. Spear by Starks gets a 2 count. Low blow by Starks, but Sting reverses his powerbomb into a sunset flip for 2. The Scorpion Death Drop finishes Starks at 17:41! This was all kinds of creative bad-assery. Obviously, I'm glad that the pandemic era is behind us, but I wouldn't mind if AEW still tossed us an occasional cinematic match like this again every once in a while, ****.
Winners: Sting and Darby Allin
AEW World Championship (Barbed Wire Exploding Ring Match):
Kenny Omega © (with Don Callis) vs. Jon Moxley
Yep, it's this match, the moment when AEW's honeymoon period officially ended. This match has a reputation of being quite good before being ruined by the botched stunt at the end, so I'm coming into this with an open mind. The ring is (allegedly) rigged to explode after 30:00 regardless of what happens between the bells. Moxley swigs some whiskey before the bell. The referee is decked out in a hazmat suit. Bell rings, they lock up for a shoving contest. They switch to a slugfest. Moxley hits a back suplex, but Omega holds on for a headlock. They tease bumps into the wired ropes until reaching a stalemate. Mox clotheslines Omega onto the stage. Mox finds a wired bat and wraps it around Omega's neck for a Russian leg sweep. Kendo shots by Moxley, but Omega throws powder into his eyes! Omega whips Moxley into the wired ropes, which explode upon impact! Fans chant “Holy sh!t!” Omega unloads weapon shots and gives Moxley an inverted atomic drop through a can. Kotaro Crusher through a can only gets 2! Mox is busted open, but manages to survive a Figure Four by rubbing a wired chair over Kenny's knees. Omega shoves Mox through a wired table! Kenny cautiously hits a second rope moonsault for 2. Mox kicks Omega into the ropes for more explosions! Suplex by Moxley, and a reverse Exploder Suplex through a wired table! Kenny teases One Winged Angel, Mox counters with a suplex and then a side slam through a wired chair. Snap Dragon by Omega, Moxley no-sells another, and Omega blasts a V-Trigger. Fans chant “this is awesome!” Omega shoves Mox into the ropes for another explosion, and needs to wash debris from his eyes. They duke it out on the apron until Mox hits a Paradigm Shift through an exploding wired board! Mox grabs a fistful of barbed wire and smashes Omega in the face. Piledriver by Mox gets 2, as does a stacked powerbomb. Omega sells blood loss but still hits a pair of V-Triggers. One Winged Angel, but Moxley gets an exploding rope break! Mox stumbles up, but The Good Brothers run in. Moxley clears them up with wired bat shots, but Omega smashes an exploding wired bat through Moxley's face, but MOX KICKS OUT! The Good Brothers help set up a chair for Omega to put Moxley down with an One Winged Angel to win at 25:12. This was one of the greatest hardcore grudge matches I've ever seen until that copout finish. If this match was judged on it's own merits with no regard to the botched stunt to follow, we'd still be talking about it in glowing terms today, ****½..
Winner and still AEW World Champion: Kenny Omega
The exploding ring countdown continues, so Omega and the Good Brothers handcuff Moxley and leave him there to meet his doom. Eddie Kingston rushes in at the last second and shields Moxley with his own body as the ring… sets off some lame fireworks and the fans boo the entire deal. Fans chant for Eddie while he refuses to let go of Mox as a medic checks on them. As of early 2023, this remains the greatest debacle of AEW's short history.
Final Thoughts: Well, there were ONLY three matches rated **** or higher, so this was a totally skippable show. This is best known for the notorious ending, which is a shame, because Moxley and Omega totally delivered a world class grudge match beforehand. Since this didn't sink AEW in 2021 like many predicted, it's worth taking a second look.
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