Hello, Gatecrashers! I’m Barrett and I’m about to mark the fuck out for AEW’s Fight For The Fallen! This event took place on July 13, 2019 at the now familiar Daily’s Place. Per Wikipedia “The company held the charity event to support victims of gun violence, with all gate receipts from the event being donated to these victims.” The charity aspect was directly in response to the Jacksonville Landing shooting at a video game tournament in 2018. This show was free in North America with the gate proceeds donated to charity.
Time for The Buy In! Watch it with me!
Bad: ALEX MARVEZ NOOOO
I figured out why Marvez doesn’t work for me. He’s Bizzaro-Michael Cole. Cole YELLS EVERYTHING HE SEES AT THE SAME VOLUME, SO EVERYTHING IS IMPORTANT SO NOTHING IS IMPORTANT. Marvez delivers everything like he’s on an international flight and he’s trying not to wake up the person next to him. With Marvez it’s nothing is important so nothing is important.
Good: Sonny Kiss’ Entrance!
Peter “The Librarian” Avalon and Sonny “The Limber-rarian” Kiss have a short inoffensive match. Sonny is stupid flexible and fast but them strikes are very weak. Avalon does some old school heel work, a lot of “SHUT UP”’s to the audience. “The Librarian” Leva Bates helps Sonny back into the ring like a nice person should, but then later distracts Sonny by showing him the cover of… let me zoom in on the video… “Hello Sunshine” which is I guess related to “Sonny” or maybe Kiss just likes novels about Youtube cooking hosts who get doxxed.
Sonny Kiss is queer and nobody on commentary makes a bid deal out of it. There’s no face announcer Don West telling us that everything he does is gross or “why can’t he do that in the privacy of his own home?” It’s so refreshing to have announcers focus on Kiss’ wrestling instead of 20 year old TNA trying to gay panic me.
You can read about my feelings on The Librarian gimmicks in the two previous AEW columns.
Good: When Dustin Cuts a Promo
Cody and Dustin Rhodes (aka The Brotherhood) are interviewed by Jenn Sterger to hype up their match with the jerky Young Bucks. Cody is pretty measured, but Dustin goes BIG on his half of the interview. Best line: “I personally am going to powerslam you both SO HARD, your SOULS are going to LEAVE YOUR BODIES.” Cody fields a question about Sean Spears’ brutal ass chair attack a couple weeks ago at Fyter Fest. Dustin drops a quick Goldust *chomp* at Jenn on the way out. Great stuff.
Good: Boring people vs WILD CHARACTERS
Generic Face Britt Baker and unused stack of copy paper Riho face off against the Big Beast Tokyo Joshi Pro Champion Shoko Nakajima and spoopy evil Stardom Champion Bea Priestly. Shoko is dressed like a white wolf with full headpiece and tail.
Priestly looks like the Negative Universe Britt Baker here. They’re both tall, lanky, strong and all over the place in wrestling quality. Years ago a friend was telling me about a band he was in. He said the guitarist was a beginner and an expert at the same time. He could play basic chords or play high speed off time Dillinger Escape Plan-y stuff, but he didn’t know about how to build a song or how to discuss music. That’s kind of what Baker and especially Priestly are like. Some great moves mixed with the basics with a lot of fuck ups and dangerous mistakes between them.
At one point Baker goes to the wrong corner to tag Shoko and it’s great.
Shoko and Riho work SUPER great together. They’re about the same size, allowing them to do, like, POWER MOVES and SLUGFESTS along with a bunch of flippy shit. It’s all very smooth and fun to watch.
The match is pretty hot from start to finish. Shoko reverses a hurricanara from Riho into a pin. After the match Baker and Priestly go at it. Their tag team partners pull them apart.
Good/Bad: Closed Captioned for the Hearing Impaired and the Hearing Unimpaired
I forgot this was the PPV where the captions came on for some reason but they’re all fucked up.
Not to skip Kip here. He has a good promo about being an afterthought in the upcoming contest with Adam Page. Kip is a good promo and worker. It’s too bad he’s been lost in the shuffle since… this match.
The Buy In has been bought. Let’s get to the PPV!
Good: Everybody gets a story, everybody gets a payday
We got a six man tag featuring the mostly Young Guns of AEW. “Cody’s Other Brother” MJF, “No Panda Head BOOO” Sammy Guevara and “The Ch10r Man” Sean Spears vs. Darby Allin, Jimmy Havoc, and THE BAAAD BOY JOEY JANELLA! When The Dapper Yapper says “THE BAAAAD BOY” he sounds like he’s talking about a little kid who is naughty.
MJF has heat with Spears since Spears jumped BFF Cody at the last event. MJF is super pissed and definitely doesn’t want to be on the heel team but, you know, he’a fucking heel for life. He talks more shit to Spears than his actual opponents. “HEY SPEARS! TAKE NOTES! TAKE NOTES!” They steal tags from each other, they flip each other off, they steal taunts… it’s great. The audience can’t decide if they hate Spears of MJF more.
The story of this match is TENSION. Allin stares down Janella after a tag to Havoc instead of Allin. Allin is mad at Spears as well since he stole Allin’s moment after the draw vs. Cody at Fyter Fest. Havoc hates MJF because of course he does. Allin is driven crazy by Guevara’s arrogance.
Darby is reaping the benefits of the draw with Cody. The crowd is chanting for him and popping for all his big moves. AEW knew he was money from Day 1.
The match ends with Spears hitting the Death Valley Driver on Allin after Allin loses track of who the legal man is.
This is a great opener, getting eyes on the lower and midcard AEW talent while keeping the wrestlers healthy. We’re also getting a bit of character development and teases of possible future feuds. Right now AEW needs some stories. Great matches will only go so far into keeping people engaged.
Good: Brandi and Allie Build
There’s a video package for Brandi vs. Allie that is super good. Brandi expresses a lot of self doubt here and it’s very real.
Bad: Allie Out
Brandi shakes hands with Allie, but then Awesome Kong’s music hits while Brandi laughs. She’s the heel for the match which feels bad after the video package. Kong comes to ringside to MENACE and STARE.
The match isn’t very good. They stay away from the old WWE hair pulling spots, but their moves are awkward and sluggish. They lose the crowd pretty early and don’t get them back. Brandi wins with a BIONIC SPEAR. She has a surgically repaired clavicle so I guess her spear hurts more? Because of screws?
Brandi and Kong beat down Allie after the bell. AJA KONG STEPS OUT OF THE TUNNEL. IT’S A KONG STAREDOWN.
The refs break it up before things get too fucking amazing. Also the world breaks up this matchup before things got too fucking amazing. Awesome Kong was too injured to work any matches at this point and would soon be gone from AEW. We can’t have the nicest of things!
Good: Uno, Stu, Three Way Tag
It’s the first OFFICIAL appearance of The Dark Order in tag action. They do the “Creepers make a creepy throne” bit. The as yet unnamed Hybrid2, Jack Evans and Angelico, do some flips and breakdancing. The crowd pops when A Boy and His Dinosaur (Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus) come to the ring accompanied by Marko Stunt. The winner of this match gets a first round bye in the Tag Tournament. Mr. Saurus and Mr. Boy are definitely the most over here. The Dark Order and Evans/Angelico get respect claps for their work but nobody is losing their shit for anything they do.
I notice that Jungle Boy has already dropped his “I was raised by wolves who were raised by apes” body language and silent act, which is for the best. Currently in late 2021, Jungle Boy is getting a character rehab in his feud with Adam Page. At this point he’s a tough wrestler who I guess likes jungles. Kind of like Kevin Steen and zoos. OH GIVE ME THAT TAG TEAM JUNGLE BOY AND KEVIN STEEN AND CALL THEM THE WORLD WILDLIFE FOUNDATION.
Luchasaurus is the true star of this match, at least for the audience. Everything he does gets a pop. He gets tons of chants. When I saw these early AEW shows I was convinced that he’d be in the main event picture, but a knee injury put him on the shelf and ate up some of his heat.
Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy have similar issues; they can’t be AEW singles champions with their current gimmicks. I think either would make great TNT or AEW Men’s World Champions with some continued tweaks for Mr. Boy and a complete revamp for Mr. Saurus.
Oh, yeah, I was talking about a match. It’s another good PWG style pre-intermission showcase. A couple of blown spots and the ref just letting Marko Stunt do flippy shit in the ring are small marks against a fun, if quiet, match. The Dark Order win with some great strategy, clearing the ring, working over a Boy and a Dinosaur with team moves before pinning Boy with the FATAL1TY. Their story was that they were ring generals but the announce team doesn’t pick that up.
Good: Meaningless Fun
Sabian vs. Page here. Unfortunately this feels like filler; Page is already booked for the AEW title match. Everything Sabian gains here is in the abstract; he’d look good for a future title shot if he gets a win over the Page if Page actually wins the title. Which, as we all knew in 2019, was inevitable seeing as how Page was in The Elite and OF COURSE they will put the belts on themselves as soon as possible!
It’s easy to forget how charismatic Sabian is. He’s shown sparks of it here and there but hasn’t had the opportunity to do anything since Gamer Miro. I know he’s currently working a post-modern Shia LaBeouf thing but until he shows up on Dynamite he’s going nowhere. The guy is too good to be relegated to WCW Alex Wright status.
The story of the match is hard-hitting but hamstring-injured Hangman vs. the speed of Sabian. Sabian has trouble pressing his advantage; Page keeps absorbing the attacks and laying Sabian out. Unfortunately this leads to a lot of slow back and forth for the middle stretch of the match. Even the sprint at the end is more like a jog. Page wins after reversing some… leg thing… into the Deadeye. Sabian takes Page to 19 minutes of a 20 minute time limit, but that isn’t enough to make it memorable or consequential. It’s a perfectly fine match but not a hidden gem by any stretch.
Good: WHO IS THAT MASKED MAN oh it’s jericho
Post match a fully clad blue eyed Creeper comes into the ring behind Page and jumps him, eventually connecting with a Codebreaker. OH EMM GEE IT’S CHRIS JERICHO!!! Page comes up bloody and eats a Judas Effect. Jericho flips off the audience and leaves.
Okay, I love this BUT. This is the second time that Jericho has shown up in an AEW-ish event and pulled the Mask Reveal bit. He did it at All In after Omega beat Penta by replacing Penta and then doing the beatdown on Omega, then pulling the mask off to reveal that BY GOD IT’S JERICHO! Now he does it again here… but in both cases I have to ask “why?”. What purpose does the mask serve? In neither case does it help him get the drop on anyone. He attacked Omega and Page while their backs were turned, so the mask is only there to disguise him from the audience. I’ll talk about AEW Mask Reveals more down the line.
My theory is that Chris Jericho the character is still bitter about the ol’ Malenko/Ciclope bit from Slamboree 98, but he still hasn’t figured out that the mask reveal wasn’t the important part, but that it was part of a longer strategy by Malenko to get another shot at Jericho. It’s all about the mask coming off, baby! Masks! Pull off a mask! What’s the point of a mask if not to pull it off and have people go OMG IS JERIMAN!!!
Good: Big Bad Beetle Bros
The Lucha Brothers face off against SCU: Skyzarian Configuration. We are in the “Penta is so fucking over” phase of The Lucha Brother’s career. Penta is such a badass here, taking no shit and giving no fucks. There’s a rare “face gets ejected from ringside” bit as The Lucha Bros beat up Daniels on the outside, only for Daniels to hit an Arabian Moonsault. That’s enough for Aubrey to send him away by referee-al decree.
J.R. is in full “old man yelling at spots” mode. “How many DDTs are we going to see here? Somethings gotta give, fellas!”
The match is tight all of the way through. Skyzarian look super strong here, even though they lose after getting hit with the Stomp Package Piledriver combo. Both teams deliver here. Definitely worth watching.
After the match The Bros grab a color scheme matching ladder, racking the returning Daniels and dumping the rest of SCU outside. Penta gets on the mic, tapping the rhythm of “Cero Miedo” while climbing to the top of the ladder with Rey. Rey says “What about a ladder match? The Young Bucks vs The Best Tag Team on the Planet, the Lucha Brothers! Chicago, All Out! The Best tag team on the planet, nahnahnah The Universe!” Well, fuck.
Bad: Kenny Omega is a fucking loser!
Kenny HAS YET TO WIN A SINGLES MATCH and they’re trying to tell me that if he doesn’t win soon he’ll be overlooked. Ludicrous storytelling.
Good: I hope you like Metoras
CIMA vs. Omega is a match that has taken place across thousands of Total Extreme Wrestling simulator seasons, but this was the first time they met in real life. It’s not quite a DREAM MATCH, more like a “Wouldn’t that be cool” match.
This match feel so unexpected. We knew both Cima and Omega were capable of just stellar matches. Both have at least one 5 star match from Meltzer. The only thing we needed to see was if they’re styles would mesh. Shockingly, they do!
There is real “All/New Japan Energy” here. The match has a measured pace, then they both target their opponents limbs, then lots of strikes, an extended section outside the ring, then spamming signature moves before teasing the finish.
For fans of long term storytelling: Kenny doesn’t show a ton of personality here, but halfway through the match he gets violent. He was jumped by Moxley at All Out, then returned the favor at Fyter Fest. Moxley is trying to infect Omega and it’s working. Kenny clears the timekeepers table and SURPRISE MOTHERFUCKER it doesn’t work out!
Kenny isn’t THERE yet. And, truly, the Omega that Moxley wanted, the vicious man who would do anything to win, doesn’t appear until the Deathmatch in March of 2021.
CIMA does as many Meteoras (see above) as Kenny does V-Triggers. Some people aren’t fans of Signature Spamming but I love it. Signatures don’t win matches; they set up finishers. Kenny knees people in the head over and over again so that the One Winged Angel hits that much harder.
They do one of those spots I love where an injury affects the match. Cima dropkicks Kenny into the ropes but his knee gives out when he tries to cross the ring, leaving him open to another V-Trigger. Cima tries to counter and reverse intot pins, but it’s not enough. Kenny kicks out of a crucifix pin, Cima can’t stand up and eats another V-Trigger followed by a One-Winged Angel for the pin.
Great match that really feels like the transition from NJPW Omega to AEW Omega. The notes are the same, they’re just being played a bit differently.
Mid: A Red Mark(er) On Your Record
Jericho gets some mic time. He says he has Hangman Page’s blood on his hand, but it’s obviously Raspberry Red Scratch N Sniff Marker.
This is part of Jericho’s “Thank You Tour”, where he wants a thank you from AEW. The fans chant “Thank You” and he says “NOT FROM YOU!” He also calls Jacksonville “Jerksonville”, “Jackoffville.” and “The White Trash Rivera”. Not his best work.
He makes claims that all the successes of AEW are due to him, including the new TNT TV Show (“starting in October”). He said he was looking at the Casino (Battle) Royale from the last PPV and wondering who would be the winner, including a dig at “Brandon Cutler, the Young Bucks cabana boy.” SPEAKING IT INTO EXISTENCE.
Jericho says if he loses to Hangman it’s the beginning of the end of AEW and Jericho as well. He can’t accept that it’s the end, so he has to beat the hangman, has to beat the hangman, has to beat the hangman, has to beat the hangman, HAS TO BEAT THE HANGMAN!
Page runs out and lays a BEATIN’ on Jericho. First Ever TNA Tag Team Champion Jerry Lynn and some less adorned refs come out to break things up. Eventually the lower end of the locker room joins in. Peter Avalon gets a “SHHHH”… chant(?) as he holds Jericho back.
The segment is whatever. Painmaker Jericho does his best to put over why he attacked Page, to give some personal heat on the match, but it’s not a super great promo. The “blood” is a symbol of the angle; it looks fake and it’s trying too hard. I think being the first AEW World Champion is all the heat the match needs.
Good: Stardust and Goldust vs. Generation Me
Technically Cody is still part of the Elite at this point, but in spirit he left the group at the end of All Out. Cody begins his alternate AEW timeline in this match. He lives in a parallel world where The Elite do not tread. The villains cross over but Cody hasn’t been seen alongside The Bucks in well over a year at this point (this point being December 2, 2021).
The Bucks have been acting like complete dickheads on BTE, making fun of the heartfelt moments from All Out. Instead Cody reaching out to his bloodied brother, Nick reaches out to a ketchup covered Matt. In this case the fake blood actually helped tell the story!
There’s a really nice sequence at the top of the match where Nick and Cody are going at it. They are both going for signature moves but their opponent is not there. It’s miss after miss after miss until Nick just BARELY misses a headkick to Cody and then gets in his face. It’s all a very effective way to show how well they know each other.
The Bucks figure that Dustin is the weak link in the match, so he spends a lot of time on defense. The Bucks work heel here, cutting off the ring, blocking the tags… I mean, #FTR all you want, but this is textbook southern heel work.
Tides turn when Matt gets a shoulder injury. Cody and Dustin work him over. When Nick gets the hot tag he goes shit-nuts with kicks, knees and running clotheslines. Nick is so goddamn athletic. After this the ref just lets them all wrestle. Lots of mirror moves going on here; double flips, double Sharpshooters, double Figure Fours, double Power Slams, double RAM THE JEWELS.
EVEN MORE DOUBLE STUFF HERE! The Bucks fake the Double Superkick, then do the Rhodes’ drop down Uppercut, then the Brotherhood hit Double Superkicks, then eat Superkicks of their own! Nick hits CrossRhodes! MELTZER DRIVERRRRRR for the pin. Great tag match, watch it!
Excalibur: THAT IS IT!
Marvez: that is it…
After the match The Bucks make peace and they’re about to make things fully right with The Brotherhood, but then Kenny’s music hits. Matt says “We must be running out of time” and it’s true. Kenny, Jurassic Express, Shahid Khan, Brandi Rhodes and Brian Hughes from the Jacksonville Mayor’s Office come down with a big ol $150k check for the Victim Assistance Advisory Council.
Cody mentions that there was “counterprogramming” for this event. I totally forgot that WWE put the Evolve 10th anniversary on the network against Fight For The Fallen. WWE’s history of counterprogramming failures will continue!
Kenny takes the mic and refocuses the event on the charity aspect. He changes his catch phrase for this event “I must bid you adieu, GOODBYE SMOOCH AND GOODNIGHT BOIIIIING!”
AEW hasn’t been around for too long, but this is their first forgotten show. Not much of consequence happens. It’s like a pre-season game except the teams are actually trying. The only real feud going in was Bucks/Brotherhood and that’s wrapped up after the main event. We get some unnecessary heat between Jericho and Page for the upcoming AEW men’s title match but it feels forced. You could easily skip from Fyter Fest to All Out and not feel like you missed anything.
Let’s compare and contrast with the third weekly TNA PPV from 2002!
AEW again delivered. Sometimes all you need is good wrestlers in the ring together and just let ‘em fight. TNA’s Tag Tournament did not result in any bangers or even bongers, just blanders.
Neither company is doing well at this point. TNA just has a bunch of people with anger issues yelling at each other or bum rushing each other for no explicable reason. AEW is taking the saner approach; put the wrestling up front to cover for the lack of established relationships. The Jericho/Page build is more along the lines of TNA’s RAGE ARGUING but at least Jericho immediately explains why he jumped Page instead of what TNA is going to do; keep the reasons for acrimony secret for as long as possible because they don’t have a payoff. RUSSO!
No explicit movement with Moxley and Omega this go around. We aren’t sure why Brandi is being such a meanie but she’s sticking with it for another event!
TNA has found it’s lowest common denominator lane and is sticking with it.
But what is AEW? Fight for the Fallen doesn’t answer any questions in that regard. It’s “wrestling first” but so was early Ring of Honor. The Code of Honor was a nice shortcut for good vs. bad and it felt like going to an underground hardcore show. AEW was slick and produced and had great action, but… were they ROH 2.0? New Japan? NXT? PWG with less jokes? It was hard to say. Getting Dynamite definitely helped transition the wrestlers into characters and the matches into storylines.
AEW wins here again. The show ends with a great match, friends making up with each other, and a gift to charity. TNA wins with a pointless swerve and Jarrett beating Hall with a trophy. It’s barely a cliffhanger and nobody leaving that night could have felt super great on the way back to their car.
4 Way X Division Championship Match – TNA Weekly PPV 2
The Young Bucks vs. The Lucha Brothers for the AAA Tag Titles – Double or Nothing 2019
Cody Rhodes vs. Dustin Rhodes – Double or Nothing 2019
Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho – Double or Nothing 2019
The Elite vs. The Lucha Brothers and Laredo Kid – Fyter Fest 2019
Kenny Omega vs. CIMA – Fight for the Fallen 2019
Next week: TNA’s fourth weekly PPV, featuring GODDAMMIT THE DUPPS, The Flying Elvis Impersonators, Satanists, Norman Smiley, NASCAR MAN, Kid Romeo and the reason I tape traded for these first 8 TNA PPVS back in the day! WHO WAS THE WRESTLER THAT ROPED ME INTO BUYING THIS TRASH ON VHS? Join us next time to find out!