Time for the second AEW event ever! Fyter Fest seems to be pitched as a less significant show than Double Or Nothing – which isn’t to say that there’s no stakes, but it’s being offered for free in the US and generally seems to be intended to provide build to All Out rather than being a destination in its own right.
It makes sense for AEW to offer free/reasonably-priced “B”-shows like this as a means of advancing its storytelling until its television deal starts and to provide an onramp for new viewers, and with WWE in the doldrums right now it feels like all AEW needs to do tonight to stay on course is to provide a decently entertaining show. Let’s see what’s in store…
As before, I’ll be on Discord (see the Fake Geek Fun Pit link to the right) if anyone else who’s watching live wants to join me.
Best Friends vs. Private Party vs. SoCal Uncensored (Preshow)
Good job, Best Friends! I noticed that AEW are doing that thing WWE do where in triple threat tag team matches only two teams at a time are legal and the third team has to get a tag to become legal, and… the fuck? Why? That’s not how singles triple threat matches work, why would it be the way tag team triple threats work?
The Dark Order got to speak this time, which was fun.
Kylie Rae Allie vs. Leva “The Librarian” Bates (w. Peter “The Librarian” Avalon) (Preshow)
So they had their big attempt to get the librarian gimmick over with a live crowd, and it feels like the crowd played along – that “WE CAN’T READ!” chant was fun – but the comedy’s a bit broad here. Points to the heckler who yelled “That’s not even a real book!” at Peter. Allie going over makes sense to build her for Brandi – but no explanation as to why Kylie Rae wasn’t in the match? C’mon, gang.
Jebailey vs. Michael Nakazawa (Preshow)
There was a moment when I fought that when Jebailey got the arcade controller he was going to control Nakazawa with it instead of hitting him with it, and was gratified to be wrong. This was a better comedy match in my opinion because it didn’t rely to nonsensical adherence to a pointless gimmick.
Jebailey cannot sell for shit, even when he’s supposed to be being strangled, but I guess giving him a fun spot was the price of doing business and at least he went through the table and generally was a good sport. (Based on the commentary I get the impression that this is part of an ongoing schtick that Jebailey and Nakazawa have going too – would have been good to get a proper rundown of that.)
Christopher Daniels vs. CIMA
As soon as J.R. gets in the booth, the commentary gets much better at putting the match in context! There’s the touch of experience for you.
Nyla Rose vs. Yuka Sakazaki vs. Riho Abe (Triple Threat)
I’m impressed how Nyla Rose seems to be as comfortable in a joshi-style match as in a Western-style one, and it’s nice that she seemed to get a bit more of a spotlight here than she did at Double Or Nothing. Still, Riho is super-impressive too and deserved the win. The post-match angle suggests a feud with Nyla messing with the joshi wrestlers more, which I hope is the case.
Poor Yuka though.
Hangman Page vs. Jungle Boy vs. MJF vs. Jimmy Havoc (Four Way Match)
Just when I thought MJF’s heel speech was the high point of the match, Jungle Boy rides in on Luchasaurus like he’s his trusty steed. Hangman Page winning was the right call to keep his build to All Out going, MJF not taking the pin was the right call to continuing his development as mouthiest heel. Jimmy Havoc impressed mainly with his capacity to resemble a Jhonen Vasquez character come to life.
Cody Rhodes vs. Debry Allin
A time limit draw? Rarity in this day and age, but as far as being a showcase for Allin’s abilities without having either party eat a pin goes that worked quite well. The Artist Formerly Known As Dillinger’s intervention at the end was a good way to deflect the inevitable calls for overtime too. Was that bleeding at the end hardway or was there a very sneaky bladejob there? (It’s evident from the replay that Cody quite artfully protected his actual head by turning it aside so the force of the chair shot hit his left shoulder.)
The Elite (the, the Elite) (Young Bucks and Kenny Omega) vs. Lucha Bros. and the Laredo Kid
Of course this was a flippidy-dippity spotfest. Of course the finisher named after a Final Fantasy VII character goes over at the videogame convention. Of course they did a hadoken in honour of their Street Fighter II cosplay. This was an extremely Young Bucks match, but it showcases what makes their approach fun and offered a nice stylistic contrast prior to the nightmare to follow.
Jon Moxley vs. Joey Janela (Unsanctioned Match)
I liked the little ritual at the beginning with the ring announcement and dipping the lights before raising them again to mark that it’s an unsanctioned match – gave it a bit of a big fight feel as well as underscoring the kayfabe point that this is an unsanctioned match (and therefore probably won’t count when AEW’s ranking system kicks in).
As for the match itself… it was fun, I didn’t hate it. But at the same time, it feels like it proved that you might give a deathmatch a budget and an arena to play out in front of, but it’ll always seem a little… tacky.