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AEW ‘Fight for the Fallen’ was unbelievable

Pro Wrestling

AEW ‘Fight for the Fallen’ was unbelievable

If you read this recap three years ago, you wouldn’t have believed a single word.

Hiroshi Tanahashi spoke on an episode of AEW TV that was headlined by a Nick Gage deathmatch. After Nick Gage’s match, MJF announced the TNT return of Juventud Guerrera. This all follows an opener where the best wrestler in the world played basketball with his friends, sponsored by Space Jam. Somewhere in the middle, CM Punk’s wrestling return is teased, Christian Cage teams with a dinosaur, and Miro thanks God for his double-jointed wife.

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I don’t know how we ended up on this wrestling timeline, but I’m in love with it.

Grab a cowboy hat and join the Dark Order as we dive into another hot edition of AEW Dynamite: Fight for the Fallen style.

The Elite def. Hangman & Dark Order

The show kicked off with the two greatest entrances in AEW history back-to-back as Hangman Page and the Dark Order entered the ring with spotlights, bandanas, and an orchestral version of Hangman’s theme song. Then, the Elite came out, finally giving us the greatest payoff to the NORTH CAROLINA gimmick by going full Chicago Bulls, tying in Space Jam, and even bringing Nick Jackson’s trickshot character to TV.

The crowd was really hot for this one, as both sides went all out. Silver and Reynolds hit combos like they hadn’t missed a beat. Grayson lifted up Gallows as if he were Jungle Boy-sized. Kenny and the Young Bucks brought out a whole superkick party to take out Hangman.

Though everyone was on another level tonight, some power levels did have to decrease as per the law of a 5-on-5 elimination match, so Reynolds was out first after a tights-held roll-up from Karl Anderson. However, it only took one Fatality from Stu and Uno to take Anderson out and even the odds once more.

Grayson and Gallows brawled out into the crowd while legal and got hit with a double count-out, meanwhile Omega personally put Evil Uno away with a V-Trigger and a One-Winged Angel. Though the match was fast-paced up to this point, the two-on-three match began the all-important slowdown — though the match still didn’t turn in the Elite’s favor.

Omega and Nakazawa set up the Young Bucks for an Indytaker to Silver on the outside, complete with Nick (almost) dunking a ball into the basket. They rolled Silver back into the ring for a BTE Trigger, and it was now 1-on-3.

The rest of the match was mostly depressing, though we did get a few hope spots where Hangman showed some promise. He even hit a double Buckshot Lariat on both Jacksons before pinning Matt! That being said, Omega didn’t even let Hangman get one over on Nick, as he hit a barrage of V-Triggers on Hangman followed by a One-Winged Angel to put Omega down.

This is it: the second loss. Hangman lost to Omega before, and he’s lost again. Though he’s further from the title now than he was, Hangman still has to face his fear of defeat. Will this loss also set him back as a person? Only time will tell.

A great match, even if I’m gutted at the loss.

Promo Break: PAC, Team Taz, HIROSHI TANAHASHI?

Alex Marvez asked PAC where the Lucha Brothers were, and Chavo told both of them that, though their ride from the airport was “somehow” canceled, Penta and Fenix did get a ride there in a limo. Chavo was great in his snobby role here.

Team Taz threw Ricky Starks a celebration for becoming FTW Champ — complete with a Louisiana big band — but it was interrupted by Brian Cage and his new music. Cage bashed some band members, but Starks and Hook got away. A sort of dud of a segment since the crowd’s not really behind Cage, but it was a really good concert!

Then, freaking Hiroshi Tanahashi, ace of New Japan (next to Okada and Yano), appears on screen to challenge whoever was the IWGP US Champion at the end of the night? Just think about it: Hikuleo vs Tanahashi. That could sell out MSG.

FTR def. Santana & Ortiz

This match was really, REALLY good, and any doubts I had about their chemistry after their 6-man tag at Road Rager were quickly dashed. Santana & Ortiz both look better than ever, and the North Carolina boys on the other side wrestled on their A-game.

There were a lot of grapples and roll-ups and quick tags in this one, and it was on its way to becoming an instant classic, but then we neared the finish as FTR attempted their superplex/body splash combo on Ortiz and were stopped by Santana, who shoved Cash off the top rope. Dax was able to put Santana down, and he hit a superplex on Ortiz, but without Cash there, both men just went for a cradle pin, only for the ref to stop it as neither team would win if he counted to three.

This all seemed to be part of the plan, but Cash never came back to the match, and after a sneaky baseball slide to kick Santana out of the match, Dax hit Ortiz with a brainbuster and won the match solo, then rushed to ringside to check up on Dash, who was surrounded by medical professionals.

It was still a great, recommendable match despite the potential injury, but you still hate to see someone in this position. I wish Cash Wheeler the best of luck in his recovery if this does take him out.

Promo Break: Britt, Tony Khan Schiavone, Darby

Marvez was with Dr. Britt Baker, who said that Nyla does indeed break bitches, though Baker still made her tap last week with a broken wrist. Baker teased that she needs better protection since it’s too much work for Reba, and tells people at home who are holding their breath waiting for her to lose the title to get ready to suffocate. What a great final line.

Tony Khan did NOT come out as he promised, and instead, Tony Schivaone announced that the second episode of Rampage will take place in the United Center in Chicago and is subtitled “The First Dance,” a reference to that arena’s forever champion, Michael Jordan.

Though the crowd’s chants of CM Punk amounted to nothing immediate, Marvez did interview Darby backstage, and Darby says that the only way for anyone to prove that they’re the greatest to do so is right here in AEW, “even if you think you are the Best in the World.”

Lance Archer def. Hikuleo to retain the IWGP US Championship

A quick big boy match here as Bullet Club’s real young boy (sorry Cutler) enters the ring with his father, King Haku, accompanying him.

Now, real talk, I was really down watching this show since it took place in my home state but I couldn’t make the drive. That fear of missing out totally left my body when I realized that Haku was in the building. I could have DIED.

Anyway, Hikuleo and Archer both tried to show how big they were by catching and throwing each other all over the place. Since Archer was the smaller guy (a rare occurrence), he could actually show off how agile he is in this one, taking to the ropes more than he normally would. Even so, Archer still won the match with old reliable: a Blackout and a pinfall.

I wasn’t super invested in this one, but it’s exciting to know that Archer is returning to New Japan proper to go face Tanahashi (even if it’s a little sad knowing that Tanahashi isn’t coming to AEW yet).

Promo Break: Cody Rhodes, Malakai Black, Miro

Marvez tried to interview Cody Rhodes about Malakai Black, but Black just ran up and booted him in the face. The two brawled out to the ramp area, but Black put Cody down with a kick. The crowd was fully on Black’s side, booing Cody as he appeared on screen and cheering for Black’s kicks, but when Black ran up to the crowd up helpful babyfaces and hit his Blackout on Fuego Del Sol, it fully established him as a monster heel.

After this, Miro told Lee Johnson that he cannot defeat him because Miro’s powered by two things: a vengeful God and a double-jointed wife. Love that Miro.

Christian Cage & Jurassic Express def. Angelico & Private Party

This match is pretty simple in its breakdown: the heel manager gets involved, the heel trio beats down the smallest babyface, and a hot tag or two sets the babyfaces up for a big win.

There was a little something spicy when Christian Cage chased Matt Hardy up the ramp and seemingly left the match while Jungle Boy was getting beat down, but all of that interesting business went out the window when Christian came back as if that wasn’t even an inconvenience.

Jungle Boy withstood Private Party’s offense (which was more Hardy Boyz-themed than usual last night) and tagged in Luchasaurus, who brutalized both men with lariats and chokeslams. The end of this match was really fun to see break down despite the build of the match being fairly generic, but after a chokeslam from Luchasaurus, a suicide dive from Jungle Boy, and a frog splash from Christian, Marq Quen was downed and the good guys won.

Then, after the match, a hooded figure decked Christian with brass knuckles. The crowd seemed hyped for a second, but then the man revealed himself to be The Blade and they went mild.

Thunder Rosa def. Julia Hart

It was straight-up 9:30 when this one got underway, and since it followed an extended video package hyping up Nick Gage, the crowd was dead for this one aside from an initial pop for Thunder Rosa.

Rosa played on Julia’s inexperience, getting Julia to clap and cheer for the crowd so Rosa could sneak up and attack her leg. Julia kept allowing Rosa to get her by the legs, and Rosa finally wrapped Julia in a leg lock until Julia gutted it out to grab the ropes.

Not to be deterred, Rosa just picked Julia up and finished her off with a Fire Thunder Driver. A great (if quiet) win for AEW’s newest public signing.

After this, Jon Moxley called out Tanahashi from his locker room, saying that it’s funny how the Olympians can get into Japan but he can’t, and as soon as he loses the US title, Tanahashi shows his face and wants a match. Mox says screw Tanahashi for ducking him, but if I was a betting man, I’d wager Tanahashi won’t be ducking Mox for long.

Chris Jericho def. Nick Gage

The first move of this match was Gage slicing Jericho’s bicep open with a pizza cutter. This was not the only time that Jericho was sliced with said pizza cutter.

Frankensteiners through panes of glass, chair shots to the back, light tubes in general — something that was previously thought to be banned in AEW per Tony Khan himself. This one was brutal, and though it wasn’t EXACTLY the type of deathmatch you’d see in GCW, it was still pretty close. Jericho got stabbed in the head with a broken light tube. I’d say we were one barbed wire door spot and a “F*** Ohio” chant away from this being Gage’s typical weekday night.

Jericho withstood a lot of pain in this one — be it from weapon shots or actual wrestling moves like a falcon arrow — but he finally managed to put Gage down with some black mist spray and a Judas Effect.

MJF screamed on commentary, then grabbed a mic and told Jericho, “While you lay there, hopefully as uncomfortably you possibly can be, I want you to listen to me.”

This was no Pipe Bomb, however, as MJF instead reminded Chris that he holds grudges. Jericho once quipped that MJF is the lovechild of two New York parents who got turned on by a Jericho vs Juventud Guerrera match, so for Jericho’s next labor, he’s facing the Juice in a match where the first person to hit a move from the top rope wins.

Since they didn’t play MJF or Jericho OR Juvi’s music after this, it was a weirdly flat ending for the show crowd reaction wise (though they did pop for the announcement itself). Production stuff aside, this show was a wild one, and I don’t think I’ve ever been emotionally rocked by an episode this much (at least not for kayfabe reasons).

I’m excited for Tanahashi, freaking out about Punk, curious about them playing into Punk but not Danielson, and worried about Jericho. Add in my ever-present disappointment with the women’s division’s placement and my unyielding love for Hangman Page, and you’ve got a whole mind-bending stew going.

Like every week, the moment Dynamite goes off the air, the clock begins ticking in my head until I’m watching Dynamite again next week. It’s a good time to be a wrestling fan.

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