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AEW Women’s Tag Team Tournament debut recap: Brandi Rhodes’ big ego is on the loose

AEW debuted their newest experiment, The Deadly Draw women’s tag team tournament. The opening episode rolled out notable names to add credibility and featured two first round matches. There was also another potential heel turn for Brandi Rhodes.

Watch the full episode here.

Let’s break down the debut episode.

The rules of The Deadly Draw are that every participant picks a color. Matching colors become a team. The winners receive a trophy cup as the spoils of victory.

The Deadly Draw received its own intro package and theme song.

Tony Schiavone welcomed us to the broadcast. He was joined by Veda Scott on commentary. Shaul Guerrero handled ring announcer duties. Madusa was brought in for a special introduction to hype the tournament.

Backstage, Brandi Rhodes was with Dasha Gonzalez to pick her color. As Brandi was discussing her color red, Allie looked in the bag of chips to also pick red. Nobody noticed Allie clearly breaking the rules, but it means the Nightmare Sisters will be together.

Penelope Ford was joined by Kip Sabian in a cut-off shirt to pick her color. Blue was the choice. In walked Mel also with blue. Both were pleased with being partners.

First round: Nightmare Sisters vs Penelope Ford & Mel

Kip Sabian, Dustin Rhodes, and QT Marshall were all ringside. The men would become a distraction throughout. First Sabian saved Ford from a pin by pulling her out of the ring. QT had words for Kip. After Allie rolled Ford back into the ring, Mel blasted Allie with a big boot to the face.

Brandi had a nice hot tag moment with two clotheslines and pump kick to finally knock Mel off her feet.

Later, Mel destroyed Brandi with chokeslam spinebuster, but the referee was distracted by Allie and Ford fighting. The ref wasted valuable time before starting the count, and Brandi kicked out.

Sabian hopped up on the apron to yell at the referee over the blown count. QT pulled Kip down to the floor, so Kip punched him. In the background of this melee, Allie raked Mel’s eyes. Brandi pounced with a spear to win. The Nightmare Sisters will advance to the semifinals.

The same backstage segment with Nyla Rose and Ariane Andrew from Dynamite aired. Both picked purple. Nyla did not look pleased about the pairing.

Anna Jay picked black. Tay Conti sidled in to reveal she is in AEW and will be Jay’s partner. Both rolled their eyes at each other.

Nyla Rose & Ariane Andrew vs Anna Jay & Tay Conti

The Dark Order showed full support for Anna Jay. Mr. Brodie Lee, Stu Grayson, Evil Uno, Alex Reynolds, John Silver, 5 and 10 were all on stage for her entrance. They exited prior to the opening bell. Vickie Guerrero was ringside to manage Nyla Rose. Vickie didn’t factor into the match at all.

Nyla and Ariane Andrew started off on the wrong foot as Nyla refused to accept Ariane’s first tag. When Ariane was in trouble, Nyla came in for a double chokeslam to Jay and Tay.

Tay Conti did her best to tame the Native Beast. She unloaded a barrage of strikes then jumped up for an armbar to a standing Nyla. Nyla broke free pretty easily, but it was still a nifty looking sequence.

Conti also grapevined Nyla’s leg on the bottom rope for extra pain. All those leg kicks ended up paying dividends when Nyla’s leg got gimpy.

For the finish, Nyla double clotheslined her foes, but she rolled out of the ring in pain. Ariane took over with a snap suplex and standing leg drop to pin Conti. In the midst of that attack, Conti had a blind tag to Jay. Jay ran in for a rolling neckbreaker on the unsuspecting Ariane in her split-legged pin. Anna earned the 3 count on Ariane to win. Anna Jay & Tay Conti advance to the semifinals.

After the match, Nyla shared condolences with Ariane about their loss. Nyla was faking her pleasant attitude then flashed a middle finger and hit Ariane with a clothesline. Vickie cackled in laughter.

Alex Marvez spoke separately with the winners. Up first was the Nightmare Sisters. Being out there, Brandi realized that she’s a big star. Brandi is an Instagram influencer and also has her own action figure. Allie made faces of disbelief at Brandi’s inflated ego. They left to talk brand management over a drink.

Marvez interviewed Jay and Tay as the final segment. Tay believes they are the prettiest and most dangerous team in the tournament. Marvez asked Jay about the Dark Order, but she only wanted to focus on the tournament.

The bracket was displayed. The two successful teams are on opposite sides of the tournament.

Overall, I’d say The Deadly Draw debut was pretty cool. It must be acknowledged that the match quality was subpar, and it is easy to understand why the matches weren’t on Dynamite. Everything else was rocking. AEW did a great job of making the tournament feel special. They brought in popular names, such as Madusa, to add legitimacy. The action was exciting. Stories were told. There was an unpredictable result with Nyla Rose losing in the first round. Plenty of short promos provided a chance to invest in the characters.

The standouts in the ring were Mel and Tay Conti. Mel is effective as a powerhouse. Once Mel tightens up her flow, she should be a serious contender for Hikaru Shida and the AEW Women’s Championship. If women’s tag action takes off in AEW, then I’d like to see more Mel and Penelope Ford. They had good chemistry together as characters.

Conti’s wrestling style should make her a keeper for AEW to sign. Her grappling skills are unique for their women’s roster. I don’t see any other woman in AEW being able to apply a jumping armbar.

I also have to give props to Nyla Rose for selling her leg injury. I couldn’t tell if it was legit or not. In hindsight with the way the story played out, I suspect Nyla was just selling. The fact that I was unsure shows how well she snookered me.

There is a big elephant to discuss before we part ways. That would be Brandi Rhodes’ elephant-sized ego. Her closing promo was dripping with self-satisfaction. She crossed the line from confident to arrogant. Brandi doubled down after the show.

I thought Allie was supposed to be the heel of the duo, but Brandi may have just turned to the dark side, again. I did not expect that and am very confused about this step of the storytelling. I understand it could be a way to play into all the criticism she unfairly receives, but I feel like they already tried that with the Nightmare Collective. It’s too bad, because I was enjoying Brandi in the role of fan favorite Chief Brandi Officer.

Give us your take on The Deadly Draw. Did the debut surpass your expectations? Do you like big-head Brandi or do you prefer babyface Brandi?

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