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Compare and Contrast TNA and AEW: AEW Fyter Fest 06/29/19

Barrett Tribe continues to Compare/Contrast as he looks at AEW’s Fyter Fest 2019, featuring The Elite vs. The Lucha Bros. & Laredo Kid, plus Jon Moxley vs. Joey Janela!

Hello, Gatecrashers! Let’s talk AEW! Last time we saw what might be the greatest first PPV for any wrestling company ever. Matches that ranked from good to unforgettable. Characters and motivations being established. A guy in a mask sitting on other guys in masks. It was AEW’s Double or Nothing.

All In and Double or Nothing showed that The Elite were capable of bringing it business wise. Only the most jaded would consider Double or Nothing a fluke. Fyter Fest wasn’t expected to beat Double or Nothing, but it was an opportunity for AEW to solidify it’s reputation as the cool alternative to WWE.

Fyter Fest had a unique setup for a couple of reasons. First, it was part of an annual video game fighting festival called CEO (Community Effort Orlando). The previous year had been a showcase for New Japan. Kenny Omega had helped put that show together and since he was the main contact for the CEO event, he brought AEW onboard.

The second strange thing is the name. Fyter Fest was a play on the disastrous Fyre Fest that was the subject of two competing documentaries around the time of CEO. In the alternate universe of BTE, Kenny became obsessed with Fyter Fest, making extravagant promises and nearly bankrupting AEW. The weird thing is… they are still using Fyter Fest in 2021. Fyre Fest is long in the rearview of popular culture. Maybe they can update the name every year to match whatever hilarious meme is big at the time. Like… I don’t know, Tiger King of the Ring 2020.

But enough background… IT’S TIME… FOR THE MAIN EVENT! I mean THE GOOD/BAD/MID of FYTER FEST 2019!

Well Handled: Bikini Babes

The set for the show has elements of Fyre Festival, mainly quonset tents and women in bikinis. Shockingly the camera does not linger on any of the bikini babes. They are there as part of the set. I mean, they could have had masculine presenting people on stage in speedos or whatever, but this is as tasteful as you can get with eye candy. The only interaction the wrestlers have is when Trent shakes one of their hands. No gross leering or groping. I’ll take it over the TNA cage dancers

Good: I’ll Buy In

The first match in the Buy In (watch the whole thing here) is a three way tag team match between The Best Friends, Private Party and the Skyzarian version of SCU. The winner gets a first round bye in the upcoming tag team title tournament.

The story of the match is the two veteran teams working over Private Party. Private Party get a lot of high spot pops early in the match. The Silly String causes folks in the front row to jump to their feet. After that SCU and The Best Friends isolate Cassidy for a while.

Impressive every time.

Skyzarian’s double team work here is fantastic. At one point Sky hits a reverse elbow on Cassidy. This starts a Rube Goldberg machine of moves; Kaz with a jumping lungblower, pushes Cassidy into a Sky kick, Sky Double Stomp assists a Kaz Unprettier. I’m such a sucker for this stuff.

In the end The Best Friends take control, hitting the Strong Zero for a win and a first round bye.

Great choice for an opening match. Having SCU and The Best Friends in there with Private Party gave the match shape instead of being a bunch of cool spots.

It’s sort of nuts to think how this match could be the main or semi-main event on a PWG show a year earlier.

BAD: The Horny Order

The Dark Order interrupts Taylor and Trent’s celebration with a video promo. Uno cuts a gross promo about how TBS will be their first victims and that “you never forget your first but don’t worry, we’ll make it quick.” Barf. Stu says “NO I WANT TO ENJOY EVERY SECOND OF THIS.” BARF.

Uno snaps his fingies and the lights go out. When they come up, the ring is surrounded by CREEPERS who don’t do anything for a full 30 seconds before the lights go down and they disappear. We get a shot of Alan “No Use For A Number” Angels as a lowly creeper.

This is what they call an “eVster eVgg”.

GOOD: NO MARVEZ ON THE BUY IN

Marvez is not at the desk!

I don’t know who these two guys are but they aren’t Marvez!!!!

Logan Sama, Goldenboy and Excalibur are a very strong booth for the Buy In. Logan is a Grime DJ and wrestling fan, Goldenboy does eSports commentary, Excalibur is, well, Excalibur. You’d think this combo might be a trainwreck but they’re really good!

Good: BTE content

There’s a pre-taped bit where the Bucks and Kenny parody the Fyre Festival documentaries. Fyter Fest is hemorrhaging cash, the only tents are tents left over from the Fyer Festival documentary, and they are stuck eating CHEESE SANDWICHES LIKE A BUNCHA PLEBS. They blew half the budget making the show so they have to cut 2 of the four models from the stage setup. A slender looking QT MarSHALL escorts a couple bikini babes backstage. They get replaced by mannequins in swimwear. It’s a weirdly satisfying payoff; the women weren’t there just to be satirical eye candy. They’re part of the story! Love it!

Mannequin 2: On The Move

MID: A Good Beach Read

This bit continues with Leva “The Librarian” Bates entering, then hearing SHHHHHUSSSHING from inside the tent on the stage. The two remaining real live models bail as Leva reveals “The Librarian” Peter Avalon. Peter charades-es that he and Leva should work together. When Leva rejects him, he throws the tent in the pool and knocks the head off one of the mannequins.

Leva and Peter then try to get the gamers to read books. Avalon does his best but he’s really cartoony and the whole thing feels half baked. I can’t believe they’ll be saddled with this inside baseball anti-gimmicks for over a year.

BAD: Shhhhhhhhhhhhit.

Allie (The Bunny) jumps around like a human can of Red Bull on her way to face off with Leva. Her gimmick is that she’s overcorrecting for being the weird demonic meanie in Impact by being a weird peppy band nerd in AEW. SHE DIED IN IMPACT BECAUSE SATAN.

This is the first ever 1 on 1 womens match in AEW and it… isn’t great. Leva spends a lot of time shusshing and Allie just isn’t *there* yet. All the credit to Allie, she has come on strong in late 2021. The match can’t decide if it’s a comedy match or an actual contest, which leaves it directionless. I liked it better on this second watch than when I saw it live, but it’s still pretty mediocre. It’s the first real “bleh” match in AEW.

“C’mere, I gotta read this to you.”

HEY BRITT BAKER STOLE THIS BIT

Allie wins after Peter Avalon accidentally distracts Leva by throwing her a book and then Leva doesn’t hold it in front of her face like she was supposed to but she eats a Superkick anyway.

I can’t give this a BAD but it’s definitely in lower MID territory.

GOOD: “The Roadd Dogg” Kenny Omega

There’s another backstage bit with Kenny having to do all the work to set up the instruments, but then Brandon tells him that Blink One Hundred and Eighty Two pulled out. Kenny is distraught. Short but sweet.

Shockingly Good: Jebaited

So, like, I don’t follow eSports so I definitely had to have Alex Jebailey explained to me. He’s the head organizer of CEO and eSports legend. He faced Michael Nakazawa at the 2018 NJPW show even though Jebaily had a broken ankle. You can watch that match here but I don’t recommend it. So this year it’s a HARDCORE REMATCH! JEBAILEY REVENGE!

It’s a fun match and the crowd is INTO IT. The oil spots are pretty fun. Jebailey doesn’t know how to hit the ropes, but that hardly matters. Jebailey beats Nak down with on of those big 8 button fighting sticks. They fight into the floatie pool with some more comedy bits before getting back to the ring. Nak wraps a corded Xbox controller around Jebailey’s neck and then hits the buttons. A table spot to the outside! Nak beats Jebailey with a kendo stick! Nak pulls a speedo out from under his tights! I’m still using exclamation points! Misses with the Venom’s Tentacles into a slightly mistimed RELEASE GERMAN BY THE CEO!  A BAG FULL OF JEBAILEY BRANDED ARCADE PUSHBUTTONS! BACK BODY DROP ONTO THE BUTTONS BY THIS DOUGHY GUY! MAGISTRAL CRADLE BY JEBAILEY REVERSED INTO A PIN! NAK WINS!

This was SO much better than it should have been. The comedy bits worked, the hardcore stuff protected Jebailey’s lack of athleticism, and the few moves he hit looked… okay! Fun stuff.

That’s it for The Buy In. Time for the PPV!

GOOD: NO MARVEZ IN THE MAIN SHOW!

“He’s the DJ, I’m the JR.”

The Grime DJ is replaced by the grim JR. Marvez starts to carry a cot and alarm clock with him to every venue since he pretty much lives in the back from here on out.

Good: Daniels vs. Cima

Awwww shiiiiiit, it’s Chrisopher Daniels vs. Cima. Two veterans who have worked together before. Cima was about 40 here, which in the modern era is considered “near peak”; you have all the experience and your body can still go. He shoots around the ring like a lightning bolt.



Daniels is a great choice of opponent. He’s not nearly as fast but he has so many counters that he can hang with Cima. They’ve also been wrestling each other on and off since 1999. 

The match only gets 10 minutes and it feels like they do the first half of a 20 minute match. There’s a little bit too much stalling which gets in the way of the pace. They really needed to cut some of the brainy stuff and keep the pace brisk.

In the end this was a credibility builder for the upcoming Omega/Cima match. Daniels is kind of a proto Omega; a strategist with a big fucking finisher. Cima wins this with a Metora. Good match given the time restraints.

MID: Nyla Rose is a nerd

Look at this nerd shit.

Good: I Dream Guillotine

Three way dance between Mayo Rhio, Genderswapped Aladdin Yuki Sakazaki and Nerdy Nyla Rose. Rose weighs as much as the other two competitors combined. She hits a ton of power moves and throws the two women at each other. The spots look very contrived. I did like when she put both of them in a submission hold at the same time.

The match is shaky all the way around. Riho and Yuki keep having timing issues. Nyla is always a mixed bag. She needs the right opponent to look good. The Flying Guillotine Knee’s setup is too long but it looks fucking deadly.

NO THANK YOU

Nyla is also stupid as fuck, she goes to the top instead of pinning, gets held up by Yuka, then goes for a Swanton after, like, two minutes. Riho moves, Nyla eats shit but then she CATCHES BOTH WOMEN after consecutive Lateral Presses. 

Look at Aubrey’s and Grey Shirt Guy’s reactions.

The match definitely picks up after this, it’s mostly EVERYBODY IN THE RING stuff which is so much more fun for 3 Way matches. Riho wins with a roll-though leg capture pin thing. Nyla jumps Riho after the match. Yuka makes the save but Riho pushes her away.

There were really two matches here. The first was a sloppy affair. The second was an exciting and clever match featuring the strengths of all three women. The end really saves this from being Mid. Worth watching especially for everything after the Guillotine Knee.

Mid: Revenge on the Nerds

MJF trashes the audience for a few minutes. It’s all very low hanging fruit here; gamers are smelly virgins who live in their mother’s basements. He then trashes his four opponents:

A Dollar Store Tarzan (Jungle Boy)
A 65 Year Old Grown Man who is still in his emo phase from High School
Sea Buscuit

Not MJFs best work here. Strangely it was too surface for a crowd that has been hearing AND SAYING these things for years. It’s hard to out-troll a room full of trolls.

Good: Revenge FOR the Nerds

Image courtesy of NBC Universal

This club has everything; scarf jerks, jungle twinks, balding goths, and millennial cowboys who keep missing their meds.

It is a fun mix of wrestlers here. You’ve got your guaranteed first AEW world champion Adam Page, your future main event heel with MJF, exciting midcarder with a weird gimmick Jungle Boy and lower card hardcore maniac Jimmy Havoc. This was all set up at Double or Nothing when MJF interrupted the AEW Title Gender Reveal, got into it with Page, then was chased out of the arena by Page, Havoc and… Boy. Based on that logic it should be a 3 on 1 match with everybody taking turns supericking MJF’s face until it looks like red jello, but instead it’s a competitive match between all four.

Jungle Boy is still acting like he was raised by jungle pigs or whatever here. He squats, picks at his hair, looks around vapidly… is Jungle Boy secretly a Dupp?

Beverly KILLS 90210

But then he does amazing shit like this and gets over immediately. 

It’s nice to have a match with some level of story in it. MJF and Page are in a mini feud so their interactions have more heat. MJF works over Page’s taped up hamstring, taking a moment to do Bret Hart’s taunt before getting the Sharpshooter reversed on him. MJF attempts to set up an alliance with Havoc by giving him a thumbs up. Havoc flips the ol’ bird in response. Smart stuff; they are both the most heel-ish guys in the match, but there is NO WAY IN HELL that Havoc would work with MJF. In other companies heels often work with heels regardless of personality. Havoc is a straight up punk and he has no respect for MJF.

The match ends when MJF ducks a Buckshot Lariat, which hits Havoc. Page with a Deadshot  to Havoc and the match is over.

Good, fun stuff here. Nothing world shattering but a good, safe exhibition of 4 talents.

Good: Jocks vs Goths

I love Allin. He looks like an Alkaline Trio album cover was an unlockable character in THPS2. He’s a fully realized character from day 1. The music, the paint, the bodybags, it all serves the character he made, a character that is basically him turned up to 11. His intro video is him wearing a printed out Cody “mask” which he then sets on fire.

The dash of story to this match is that Cody and Allin are 1-1 in the indies and this is the deciding match as to who is better. It’s a fun juxtaposition; the conventionally handsome All American Boy Cody Rhodes vs the brooding, darkly attractive “I can fix him” Darby Allin. Plus they are both pretty damn good wrestlers.

Excalibur tells the story of Darby’s uncle dying in a drunk driving accident with a five year old Darby in the car. “On that day Darby Allin lost all faith in humanity.” Fucking hell, Excalibur. JR says “Darby is not expected to win this match.” They’re setting up a great story here; the hero vs the anti hero, the veteran vs the rookie, the old school vs the daredevil, the man with nothing to gain vs the man with nothing to lose. This story KEEPS PAYING OFF for another year or so. They could easily put Cody and Allin back in a program tomorrow and it’d be compelling both in and out of the ring.

After all that, guess what, the match fucking rules. Darby mix and matches his very good technical wrestling with is daredevil work. He also gets in Cody’s head; he offers a handshake and then turns that into a hamerlock-Magistral Cradle. Cody LOSES it, slapping Cody and then throwing him in between the turnbuckles to hit the ring post. THEN HE DOES PUSH UPS LIKE A DICKHEAD.

Post Punk

Cody spends the next five or so minutes just wrecking Darby. Cody was usually the smaller guy in WWE, but here he’s the monster heel. Darby slams Cody’s hand into the ring post but is unable to capitalize. Cody keeps selling the hand; he can’t keep a grip on his underhook. Cody is still in control though. He throws Darby around. All the suplexes are released, dropping Darby on his back and neck over and over again. It’s an absolute dismantling.

Darby takes some control back after wrenching Cody’s hand during a stall suplex.

A firm grip during a handshake shows that you are ready to do business.

Darby then just twists Cody’s hand and wrist mercilessly to take control of the match. He straight up mounts Cody’s arm and reigns punches down on Cody’s hand. Things get more and more even from here; they trade moves and counters and pin attempts. Time is counting down. The big moves come out. An inverse Superplex by Cody, Darby BITES CODY’S HAND, COFFIN DROP TO THE APRON FUUUUUUUCK

How about a Knuckle Sammich?
Coffin Flop Sketch from I Think You Should Leave Season 2 on Netflix

Darby grasps at the body bag. Cody pump kicks him down and then puts Darby in the bag. He DISASTER KICKS DARBY, but has to take him out of the body bag to prove the shoulders are down. This takes to long. Darby kicks out. 1 minute remaining! Another kickout! Cody WHIPS DARBY with the weight belt! Cody is LOSING IT. Darby reverses the Crossroads, into a flipping Cutter, reversed into a Crossroads! Cody goes for the cover as time runs out! TIME LIMIT DRAW! 1-1-1! The rivalry continues and can do so forever as far as I’m concerned.

The crowd chants “FIVE MORE MINUTES”. Shawn Spears slides into the ring and gives Cody an unprotected chair shot which sucks. Cody is busted open the hard way. MJF runs in to make the save but it’s too late.

Bleh.

This match was pretty great even with the gross headshot at the end. The fact that it’s part of a very lengthy rivalry makes it even better. Necessary viewing for how to build a RIVALRY as opposed to a feud.

Good: To live is to fight, to fight is to live!

Another rivalry here with a twist. The Bucks vs. The Bros always have standout matches as seen in EVERY TIME THEY FIGHT but this time we get the full Elite vs The Lucha Bros and Laredo Kid. The Kid is definitely underrated in America. I have seen him wrestle live and he is legit. You should check out his match with Belt Collector Omega for the AAA title.

The Elite come to the ring in Street Fighter inspired gear. Kenny’s Akuma gear got lost or something so he just has the red hair and devil’s mark on his back. Matt Jackson makes Justin Roberts say “Round One… FIGHT!” Nick Jackson does “idle animation” in between moves.\

Unlockable Cosmetics

I’m not going to try and recap this match. Much like the last Bucks/Bros match, there’s no way to sum up what happens here. It’s just all SO FUCKING GOOD AND INNOVATIVE. I’ll just grab some gifs.



Kenny has to pull out the One-Winged Angel to put away Laredo Kid. He was always there to take the pin.

Match of the night here. The gifs don’t show how the match hangs together. It’s not just spots, it’s a series of moves that lead logically from one to the next. PLUS THEY ARE WILLING TO HAVE FUN EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE

Good: The Night The Lights Went Out In Daytona

Moxley vs. Janella is built around Moxley leaving the Deathmatches for the PG world of the  WWE and how Janella took up the mantle as the next big deathmatch wrestler. Technically this match is not part of Fyter Fest. It’s an optional bonus level. The match is Lights Out/Unsactioned because AEW doesn’t want to be responsible for what happens. The lights go down to signal the end of Fyter Fest and the beginning of… not Fyter Fest.

Janella and Mox both get their intros. I don’t think they should. Since this is not part of the official show, they should’ve made it feel different. Have one of the people in the booth leave because they don’t want to be part of it. Some of the ring crew bails. Whatever, that’s just my opinion.

Mox is absolutely jacked here. He looks like he dropped weight but kept his muscle. Janella looks completely outclassed. Janella has made some drastic changes between 2019 and 2021.

This is a good ass hardcore match. Early in the match Janella is offered a prosthetic leg from the audience, so he boots Mox in the face. Janella swantons into a chair. Mox gets a barb wire wrapped chair from the ring, puts it on Janella and stomps on it. This ends up biting him when he gets second rope Hurricanran-ed onto it. There’s a sick looking russian leg sweep from the apron onto a table.

Mox pulls out a barb wire board and puts it in the corner. Janella Fireman Carry THROWS Mox into the wire then drags him off the board. Mox is a bloody pincushion.

Then this LADDER SPOT FUUUUUU

UUUUUUUUUU

UUUUCK.

More barbed wire shenanigans happen. Mox drops thumbtacks on the mat, takes off Janella’s shoes and then repeated dumps him on the pile, eventually smashing his bare feet into them.

Facing de-feet. I’m sorry.

MORE tacks.  Paradigm Shift into the tacks and John Moxley wins.

Center of the Venn Diagram for S&M + Foot Fetish.

The only negative thing I’ll say about this is a personal gripe. I don’t have any problem with Deathmatch wrestling. I just want a reason why they are trying to kill each other. This felt like the GCW thing; they have deathmatches because they have deathmatches. It just seems like a bunch of lunatics throwing each other into glass because that’s just what they do.

The eventual Omega/Mox Deathmatch feels earned. A year and a half of assaults means they HATE each other. The deathmatch is the only way to end it. You gotta get there. Deathmatch wrestling for it’s own sake is rushing to the end of a story. It’s spectacle with no heart.

Good: Chicken Fight Reference

Omega runs down to the ring and V-Triggers Mox, then sandwiches him between two tables. DOUBLE STOP FROM THE ROPES TO THE FLOOR! Omega drags Mox to rampside(?), then starts beating him with the unused music equipment.

HAHAHAHAAAA WIPEOUT

Kenny goes to the back. The refs pick up Mox and take him to the ramp. Omega COMES BACK AND BRAINS MOX WITH A TRASH CAN! This is the AEW version of the Family Guy Chicken Fight. I hope that’s the only Family Guy reference I ever make.

Mox, beaten, lays on the ramp and laughs like a weird weirdo.

“Just remember something funny I heard on the radio.”

And that’s it! Fade to black!

This was another good AEW PPV. It doesn’t hold a candle to Double or Nothing. Fyter Fest didn’t need to prove as much. AEW just needed reasons to put on shows. It didn’t matter if it was a typical PPV or crossover with a gaming event. AEW needed to keep their name out there and put on good, strong shows that showcased their brand. This achieved that goal. It won’t go down as one of the greatest AEW PPVs of all time, but it’s good fun with a couple standout matches.

Let’s compare and contrast with the second weekly TNA PPV from 2002.

Wrestling:
TNA had one incredible banger of a match; the four way elimination match for the X Division title. I legit would have loved to see a match of that quality on this card. It was definitely much better than the Fyter Fest 4 way.

Other than that, AEW wins hands down. Even the most mediocre match outshone everything TNA had to offer that didn’t involve TFRCIYITPTE.

Fun Factor:
AEW definitely delivered on the fun. The Fyter Fest BTE bits to the Jabaley match to the Street Fighter costumes all add a level of pure enjoyment to the show. You can tell that everybody is having a good time.

TNA does not seem like anybody is having a good time. The poor women in the Lingere Battle Royale look like they’d rather be anywhere but in that ring. All the men are so pissed off all the time. The announcers just bicker bicker bicker. It’s NOT FUN. It’s tedious!

Story:
Both companies are working on why people are fighting. AEW has the win/loss thing but with this being the second PPV, they aren’t hitting it too hard. Neither company has any solid stories yet. AEW only has rivalries and TNA only has jingoism and racism, which aren’t really storylines. TNA hasn’t given us a reason to be invested other than “this person is an obvious face”, “this person is an obvious heel”, or “this person wrestle good.”

TNA did set up Shamrock with an actual feud vs. Mitchell and his New Church, but it smells of placeholder pasta. Jarrett is feuding with Hall for what seems like no reason other than they are “big names”.

On the AEW side, they are also struggling with storylines. The Mox/Omega feud is heating up. Mox is trying very hard to bring out the most dangerous version of Omega he possibly can and it’s working. MJF is kinda feuding with Page. Other than that there aren’t any true feuds or strong stories being told.

Identity:
TNA definitely solidified it’s identity this week. Misogyny, racism, jingoism, homophobia, X Division, Jeff Jarrett.

AEW also solidified its identity: wrestling, wrestling, fun, wrestling. AEW is a ‘wrestling first’ company to this day.

Best Matches
TNA
4 Way X Division Championship Match – TNA Weekly PPV 2

AEW
The Young Bucks vs. The Lucha Brothers for the AAA Tag Titles – Double or Nothing 19
Cody Rhodes vs. Dustin Rhodes – Double or Nothing 19

Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho – Double or Nothing 19
The Elite vs. The Lucha Brothers and Laredo Kid – Fyter Fest 19

Next week:
TNA’s third weekly PPV, featuring more Johnsons, the debut of Monty Brown, the debut of… Buff Bagwell, a tournament for the NWA Tag Titles, and our first turn for no fucking reason! Let’s get into it!


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