AEW X NJPW
JUNE 26, 2022
BISHAMON (HIROOKI GOTO & YOSHI-HASHI) DEF. THE FACTORY (QT MARSHALL & AARON SOLO)
Goto and YOSHI-HASHI got good pops coming out. There were even chants for YOSH-HASHI as the match was getting underway. The man is an international superstar.
This was a pretty standard tag match and Marshall managed to generate a lot of heel heat. He’s actually a really good heel, which is something you all need to accept. Goto seemed to savor wrestling in front of a vocal crowd for the first time in a while.
The last several minutes of this developed into something good with a lot of near falls. Marshall even tried a 450 Splash but missed. Goto hit a YOSHI-HASHI assisted GTR on Solo for the win. A nice opener that was helped by the hot crowd. ***½
LANCE ARCHER DEF. NICK COMOROTO
This was added at the last minute to the Buy In.
Archer attacked before the bell with a Cannonball. Then these guys just started hitting big power moves on each other. Comoroto managed to hit a Powerslam off the top rope. Archer then powered back and hit the Blackout. Not the slickest match you’ll ever see, but a good beef slapper that served to heat up Archer going into the G1. **¾
SWERVE IN OUR GLORY (SWERVE STRICKLAND & KEITH LEE) DEF. SUZUKI-GUN (EL DESPERADO & YOSHINOBU KANEMARU)
When this match was announced, I got a much better feeling about this show, as it was the kind of match I thought they should have been booking throughout the show.
I cannot tell you how happy I am that Kanemaru managed to get on this show. He even got to spit the whiskey. Kanemaru went chest to chest with Lee and climbed the turnbuckle to try a test of strength. Kanemaru was great during this sequence as the surly but much smaller heel. Desperado and Strickland also had good chemistry during their sequences.
Desperado and Kanemaru managed to work over Lee in a very credible way using their speed and trickery to keep the big man down. Definitely the opposite of what you expect when there is one wrestler in a tag the size of Lee, but it worked.
Some miscommunication was teased between Lee and Strickland and Kanemaru did the whiskey spit to Lee. Lee managed to kick out and Strickland came in to help turn the tide. Lee then pinned Kanemaru after the Big Bang Catastrophe. This was awesome. KANEMARU 4 LIFE. ****
GUNN CLUB (BILLY, AUSTIN, & COLTEN GUNN) & MAX CASTER DEF. LA DOJO (YUYA UEMURA, ALEX COUGHLIN, THE DKC, & KEVIN KNIGHT)
I know many love the Gunn Club teaming with The Acclaimed, but I actually think that this is beneath The Acclaimed. Caster’s rap was great as usual mentioned injuries, hentai and washing Shibata’s balls.
For some reason that is not justifiable Danhausen got on the screen and lured Austin and Colten to the back using the Assboys theme. That sucked.
For what ended up becoming a four on two match, this was actually decent.
Coughlin hit a beautiful Fallaway Slam on Billy. Knight got to show off how he’s developing into a good wrestler with an explosive style.
Billy and Caster cleared the ring and Billy hit the Fameasser on DKC. Caster then followed it up with the Mic Drop to get the pin. This was surprisingly good for what it was but it made the LA Dojo look like geeks and I did not need this to be part of a storyline involving Danhausen. **¾
LE SEX GODS (CHRIS JERICHO & SAMMY GUEVARA) & MINORU SUZUKI DEF. EDDIE KINGSTON, WHEELER YUTA, & SHOTA UMINO
We now got to the opener of quite possibly one of the most cursed shows in pro wrestling history.
The crowd was hot for this. Yuta got huge pops for his Rolling German Suplexes on Jericho. The crowd also went insane when Kingston and Suzuki faced off.
After everyone got some heat spots to establish themselves, this kicked into high gear carried by Guevara and Yuta. Kingston helped a lot too. I thought Umino was good, but not great here. He did what was expected of him well, and I still see potential in him despite the mixed reviews he’s received during his run in Rev Pro. The spot where he finally got the Walls of Jericho on Jericho was great. Jericho deserves credit here because he clearly worked to get Umino over in this.
The heels managed to finally clear the ring and Umino ate a Judas Effect and got pinned by Jericho. Now the Jericho Appreciation Society has the advantage going into Blood & Guts this Wednesday. I thought this would be a nice little opener, but it actually was tremendous and managed to tell multiple stories and probably set up more stuff down the line. ****¼
WINNER TAKE ALL IWGP & ROH TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
FTR (DAX HARWOOD & CASH WHEELER) (© ROH) DEF. UNITED EMPIRE (GREAT-O-KHAN & JEFF COBB) (© IWGP) & ROPPONGI VICE (TRENT BERETTA AND ROCKY ROMERO)
We were joined on commentary for this match by Caprice Coleman who really should be a regular commentator somewhere. He’s become very good and his experience as a wrestler really adds to his commentary as he explains why wrestlers do what they do in the ring and why some moves hurt in the manner that they do. I’m sure he will be the regular commentator for ROH once it is re-launched.
FTR came out with the AAA tag belts which is interesting given the politics involved.
Harwood got “injured” early on and got taken to the back by the doctor in an obvious work that was going to play into the finish. That Wheeler got worked over for a while by the United Empire after Harwood went to the back added to that storyline.
To the surprise of only the biggest marks, Harwood returned when Wheeler was once again being double-teamed by the United Empire. Harwood came in and went to town on the United Empire. Not sure how injured his left shoulder could have been given the Rolling German Suplexes he gave to Cobb. He barely sold the shoulder injury during the rest of the match.
After some good near falls in the closing stretch, FTR hit the Big Rig on Romero for the win.
I thought this was good but not great. We did not need the melodrama and this definitely had the just a collection of moves feel with the exception of the last couple of minutes that I did think were good. Everyone worked hard but it did not congeal into a top level match. Also, FTR bringing out those AAA tag belts definitely gave the finish away because if another team was winning, they would not have been out there. ***½
AEW ALL-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
PAC DEF. MIRO, MALAKAI BLACK & CLARK CONNORS
What do I think of another title in AEW? Well let me tell you, it’s not how many titles you have, it’s how you use them. So I’ll let you know in six months whether the title was a bust or not.
I hate, hate, hate Black’s spooky shit. I think it bothers me even more than it should because he’s a pretty good wrestler. He could just be a brooding guy instead of some weird cult leader or whatever House of Black is supposed to be.
PAC got the win with a submission victory over Conners with the Brutalizer after PAC hit a 450 Splash on Black who had Conners in a Cross Arm Breaker.
I have a lot of the same feelings about this match as I did the previous one. Good action, some nice spots but in the big picture, this match did not become something epic. Conners did get a decent amount of shine, especially with his spear of Miro through the table, but I thought the match could have been constructed around him more.
Anyway, always a risky thing to say about wrestling, but with this All-Atlantic title, I will let it play out. ***½
DUDES WITH ATTITUDES (DARBY ALLIN, STING & SHINGO TAKAGI) DEF.
BULLET CLUB MATT JACKSON, NICK JACKSON & EL PHANTASMO W/ HIKULEO)
Sting did not come out when his music played and after the Bullet Club entered, the lights went out and Sting jumped off of the entrance onto them which ruled.
Sting and Takagi working together was also great, and Sting pulled out a Senton. This crowd also loved Phantasmo’s bake rake. This crowd has been hot all night but they got REALLY hot for this, thanks to Sting.
Sting did the nipple grab to Phantasmo and Takagi soon tagged in and won a forearm battle. Phantasmo kicked out of a Pumping Bomber but then got pinned by the Last of the Dragon.
This was a ton of fun. Sting is a crazy old man and the crowd heat and the spectacle of it all really made this. I received a report from someone who was there live and they said that at one point Takagi did the Sting “Wooo!” which I think the camera missed. A true shame. ****
There was a backstage segment where the Jericho Appreciation Society went up to Shota Umino looking to congratulate him for his performance but Jericho shot a fireball in his face. I am a sucker for fireballs so I loved it. Also I would bet that Umino is going to be sticking around in AEW for a while.
AEW WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
THUNDER ROSA © DEF. TONI STORM
They really laid into each other early on. I thought Rosa looked really good here, the best she has in a while. Storm was no slouch either. The confidence that WWE sucked out of Storm definitely returned here after a couple of shaky performances for her early on in her AEW run.
The Fire Thunder Driver from Rosa looked like it dropped Storm right on her head. Shuji Ishikawa should take notes on how to do one that looks that devastating.
I was really into this and they had some great near falls but I felt Rosa’s twisting suplex that got the pin didn’t look that devastating and I think they could have gotten a couple of more minutes out of this. This was trending to be really great before the somewhat flat finish.
I saw a lot of people predicting Storm would win this, but with the exception of the TNT title, AEW gives their reigns plenty of time. Still, one of the better women’s matches in AEW. ***¾
At this point they brought out Jim Ross to commentary and my appreciation of the commentary which had been high up to his point plummeted. He sounded very crabby early on in his commentary.
IWGP UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
WILL OSPREAY © DEF. ORANGE CASSIDY
I do not like Orange Cassidy but I do think Will Ospreay is one of the best wrestlers in the world, so I am curious to see what he can make of this match.
They got right down to business and while Cassidy did a little bit of his schtick, Ospreay dictated the pace so there wasn’t as much of it as usual.
Ospreay was great at working over Cassidy and his hand in Cassidy’s pocket during an Abdominal Stretch was a nice touch. Cassidy was disrespecting Kawada by doing Dangerous K’s namesake kicks with a hand in his pocket.
The last few minutes were tremendous with Cassidy getting some great near falls, and when Ospreay took back over, Cassidy’s kick out from the Hidden Blade was huge. But after that, Ospreay got the win with the Stormbreaker.
This definitely exceeded my expectations and was the best match I’ve ever seen Cassidy in. Once again, Ospreay is having a MVP level year and the interesting thing is that a lot of that resume is happening outside of Japan. ****¼
After the match, KATSUYORI SHIBATA came out, took out Aussie Open on the ramp and did the corner dropkick on Ospreay and was going for a PK before Aussie Open pulled him out of the ring. The crowd of course was melting down for this. Cassidy then put his sunglasses on Shibata to a huge pop. Is Shibata finally back?
CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI DEF. ZACK SABRE JR.
Well most people turned out to be right and it was Castagnoli who got a massive pop.
Castagnoli hit a Neutralizer only a few seconds in and I totally bit on it as the finish.
Castagnoli was dominant early on but eventually ZSJ got to shine, working over both the arm and the leg. Castagnoli did some great stuff like carrying ZSJ back into the ring on his arm. The teases for the Giant Swing were great and the pop was huge when it finally happened even though he was selling the arm work.
There was a furious closing sequence with ZSJ getting some near falls but Castagnoli powered through and hit the Ricola Bomb for the win. I will give Castagnoli credit for selling the arm into the finishing sequence.
What a match and what a debut. This was the perfect way to debut Castagnoli and he is instantly one of the hottest wrestlers in the company. ****¼
IWGP WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
JAY WHITE © VS. KAZUCHIKA OKADA VS. “HANGMAN” ADAM PAGE VS. ADAM COLE
Gedo accompanied White. Okada was the most over wrestler of the entrances. The crowd felt electric during the introductions.
White and Cole teased stalling but thankfully that did not last long as Page and Okada went after them.
At one point Okada applied the Money Clip to Cole and there was no heat which was funny to me and par for the course given the history of that move.
Unlike the other multi-man matches on this show, this had an epic feel to it. The crowd certainly helped. I generally dislike three or four way matches but unlike the vast majority of them, they avoided a lot of the throw everyone else out of the ring and wrestle. Everyone in this was very involved and the one-on-one sequences were saved until the later half of the match.
The biggest flaw of this match was the finish. White hit the Blade Runner on Okada and then went for a pin on Cole who had just been hit by a Landslide by Okada. Cole may have been injured which I can understand and he was almost certainly going to be pinned in this match. It looks like he avoided taking a Rainmaker once he knew he was injured.
Had whatever happened to Cole not happened it would have helped a lot I can’t help but be someone that puts a lot of stock into the finish of a match. However the commentary team really put over White seeing Cole injured and going for the pin and that did help. ****
INTERIM AEW WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
JON MOXLEY DEF. HIROSHI TANAHASHI
Is Tanahashi past his physical peak? Yes, but he’s still one of the greatest wrestlers in the world (and of course of all time) because of his overall psychology.
There was zero feeling out in this match and they went right into it. Moxley going for the Texas Cloverleaf was great. And some blood in a Tanahashi match was really cool to see. In fact Moxley was really going up the Muta scale in this and the blood really added to all of this.
It was incredible to see how Tanahashi got the crowd behind him and that the crowd was booing Moxley when he went for those elbows to the head and neck.
Tanahashi made a kick out at one but Moxley still cut the Ace off and then hit the Paradigm Shift to get the win.
I thought a lot about this was truly great, but at the same time, and this might totally be me, I was expecting a totally more epic closing stretch. But at the same time, I can’t complain that much. ****¼
After the match, there was a big brawl involving the two teams involved in Blood & Guts.
For such a cursed show, they really delivered. I always suspected that despite all of the injuries, everyone would work hard to make this a good show. And they did. While I didn’t think there were any match of the year contenders, everything was good, and the dips in the card as far as match quality went were not as deep as they were at Double or Nothing.
These companies can absolutely come back next year for another show like this given the quality of this show and if they can finally offer some more dream matches.