Best Friends vs. SCU vs. Private Party – A banger of an opening tag match. The most important goal here was getting Private Party over– it didn’t take long! Their synergy and sudden fan support caused SCU to relegate to being heels, and the Best Friends gimmick was popular here in Daytona too (that bro hug, always a winner!). But that didn’t stop them from their viciousness and PP played well off that; at one point, Kassidy even flipped out of a top rope German. Bananas. While the end of the match broke down a little, everyone tore it up and the dude-bro gamer crowd was completely with it. – 3.5/5
Allie vs. “The Librarian” Leva Bates – This wasn’t good, and it lost any possible juice it had due to a lousy Librarian skit. I liked the promo they had at DoN, so if they leave the comedy to the Buy-In’s I’m OK with that. Let’s give Bates and Avalon another shot with this at Fight For The Fallen and see where it goes from here. As for the match, the ultra-likable Bates was real sloppy.. I mean real sloppy. While Allie was better than most of the Impact stuff I saw her in, her effort was still a far cry from that of Kylie Rae and Brit Baker from DoN. Crowd gave Allie a nice pop for the Allie Kick victory, though. – 1.75/5
Hardcore Rules: Michael Nakazawa vs. Alex Jebailey – Okay, okay. Hear me out now. THIS WAS FUCKING AWESOME. Okay, okay. I get it. You hated it. BUT I DON’T CARE. I fucking loved it. I know, to you, you super smart mark, that this “match” was the drizzling shits, but whatever. A hardcore match between Michael Nakawhonow and Alex F’N Ja-Bayley — the CEO of CEO — should never *classic Y2J voice* EVERRRR happen. But it did and it was the best/worst possible hardcore match Michael and Alex could have had. It was ridiculous. It was surprisingly vicious. And the whole building loved it. This match had giant clipboards, kendo sticks, kiddie pool spots, floatie flamingos, baby oil, Lego bricks, and a fucking Gamecube controller! Agh! This was better than anything on Raw in the past five years. Now we just need a CEO versus BITW — Alex Jebailey versus Shane McMahon — thing to happen A$$$AP! – 4/5
CIMA vs. Christopher Daniels – A good opening match that showcased CIMA’s skills to the rest of the maybe unfamiliar world. There’s a history between the guys, and there wasn’t a whole lot of time given. Yet, despite that, they gelled real nice and hit all their gems. CIMA v Omega should be a treat. Looks like SCU can regroup as a trio. – 3.25/5
Three-Way: Nyla Rose vs. Riho vs. Yuka Sakazaki – This wound up surprisingly really good. The crowd pretty much started off silent whenever Nyla pressed the heat on her Joshi opposition. Riho is a little uncareful, but I like her spark. Yuka is gonna be a star. But, despite Sakazaki getting all the love for the first half the match, it was — and I can’t believe I’m saying this– Nyla’s show. She even hit one of the better spots on the show, a wild flying knee to Riho who was drapped over the ropes. She followed that momentum by stack-catching both flying plancha attempts by Yuka and Riho. Totally awesome. Following a double cradle and some magic knees from Yuka, Rose hit a beast bomb and devastating DVD. Now there’s no need for AEW to sign Brock when she’s already here. Best of all, the booking accomplished their goal of making Nyla the Beast of the women’s division while giving Riho the 1-2-3 Kid surprise win. I wound up loving this. – 3.5/5
Four-Way: Adam Page vs. Jimmy Havoc vs. Jungle Boy vs. MJF – Maxwell Jacob Friedman with another industry-crushing promo. He’s not taking long to win people over with his gift to gab, and this chat was especially great for this environment, burying all the game-playing virgins still living in their mom’s basement. Newsflash: she swallows. God, he’s great. MJF actually looked real good in the 4way too, a well-executed dance that made everyone look like a serious contender and future AEW stud. Hangman gets the momentum heading into his world title shot at All Out against Jericho and new match with Kip Sabian next month. – 3.5/5
Cody vs. Darby Allin – Again, this was unlike anything on the show. Cody works at such a methodical, older school pace that you can forget what a great storyteller he is. The first half of the match saw Allin fighting for his life against his stronger opponent, with Cody taking an extended powder when Allin got the one-up. Cody ruthlessly beat down Darby, even stuffing his ass in a body bag and nailing him with a disaster kick. While the spot took a while to put together, it was still dope! Before that one, Cody destroyed Darby with an inverted top rope suplex. Crowd popped big for this and the following fuckshit crazy Coffin Dive. Yup, Allin missed and went splat on the apron. After a grueling, well-told and well-worked match (trust me, I’m missing a bunch of cool reversals and stuff here), they went 20 to a draw. It was likely the best booked finish, despite initial crowd jeers post-match; but all was forgotten when The Perfect Spears attacked Cody post-match in a great surprise that sets up an even larger program. – 3.75/5
Six-Man Tag Team: The Elite (Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks) vs. The Lucha Brothers (Pentagón Jr. and Rey Fénix) and Laredo Kid – If I listed every wild spot in the match here, it’d be the world’s longest wrestling review. But, above all that, The Elite came out to the ring as Ryu Jackson, Ken Jackson and Akuma Omega-san! Clearly this touches all of my weeby/gaming/wrasslin’ fanatic heart. The match was a 20-minute sprint, with both teams working together seamlessly. Matt hit a great Northern Lights Amigos spot on the Lucha Bros until he was cut off. PAC replacement Laredo Kid looked great and even good ol’ J.R. was astonished. He did a nice job allowing Excalibur to takeover the brunt of the commentary, since he knows all the guys and the moves (in addition to AAA, Laredo is also currently wrestling in PWG). This match had the best timing of Triggers from Kenny, too; he didn’t overdo his patented knee strikes and absolutely destroyed a flying Kid in mid-air. So amazing. I also loved how the Lucha Bros seemed to hit the majority of the Super Kicks in this match, with the Bucks really growing out of that phase and into another, more creative one. Just watch this, yo. – 4.25/5
Unsanctioned Match: Jon Moxley vs. Joey Janela – If you’re OK with death matches, this was one of the best matches of the year. It was the damn near perfect mix of hardcore and creativity. Since this is AEW and not GCW or CZW, they never turned to the squeemish (there wasn’t much blood and no light tube stuff), but they certainly didn’t hold back. We all know how Janela rolls right now, but Moxley was certainly back in his glory. The sadistic smile on his face post-match tells the whole story. Joey was absolutely great and did half the job deading Dean Ambrose. R.I.P. For those concerned, that watered-down Moxley era is officially over and the real Jon Moxley is back for F’N good! And yes, there were barbed wire chairs, barbed wire boards and thumb tacks. They didn’t just show it like WWE does and perform one forced spot to prove they’re “extreme”. Nope. They used these weapons to push their opponents to the brink and used them time and time again, perfecting their spots, selling like a million bucks in the process. I also loved the great mix of wicked strikes (when was the last time you saw Ambrose this motivated?), hard slams, suplexes and surprise DDTS. And how about the release suplex onto the thumb tacks? I won’t even get into the bare feet bit, y’all. Bad Boy hit a wicked Macho elbow on top of stacked tables to the outside, while taking a very cringe DVD bomb over the ropes onto a barbed wire board. Poor bastard. Mox finished it off with a Paradigm Shift (his “Death Rider” in New Japan) onto the tacks. So satisfyingly brutal… but wait. Omega gets revenge from Double or Nothing and beats the living hell out of Moxley!! Akuma, unleashed! The demon warrior flattens Mox with a piledriver on top of an outside table, pummeling Jon further and even smashing him with a mic stand. Funnier, Kenny goes on to play the drums on Moxley, and belts him with an electric guitar. Moments later Omega came back and decked Mox with a trash can, eventually putting him through Oscar’s home with a dirty deeds. This felt like the very best moments of the Attitude Era. – 4.5/5
Match Scores = 3.5/5
Entertainment Value = 4.25/5
Overall = 3.75-4/5 Busted Gamecube Controllers.
Lord, this was some show. What began as an uneven night of enjoyable in-ring action and questionable comedy wound up another tremendous showing for All Elite Wrestling (and a lot of that really depends on your love for the Nakazawa/Jebailey shitshow). The last hour-plus of Fyter Fest had some of the best wrestling all year, and this was supposed to be some silly “throwaway” thing to keep the competitive gaming Kenny happy. Rather, we got about 3-hours of very good to great pro wrestling, an admirable mix of all forms at that. What a variety of matches. They even found a way to mix a lady Brock with two Joshi performers and have it stand out. Tag team wrestling was really the backbone here, while the night also proved that AEW isn’t shying away from the most controversial elements of the hardcore. Just hope we don’t see too many more chairshots to the dome (please and thank you, Cody; they need your brain). Throw away a Librarian thing the crowd shit all over and a rushed woman’s pre-show match, a divisive hardcore Buy In disaster (that I absolutely adored!) and this was a fantastic night top to bottom. Maybe I should have planned to go to Chicago, after all.