Another action-packed week of All Elite Wrestling is in the books. Wanted to share my thoughts about five things I liked and five things I didn't like about what I saw from the Jacksonville Outfit this week.
Like: The Baddies
Whoever pitched this idea, give them a raise.
Kiera Hogan wasn't doing anything anything; Red Velvet got booed against another crowd favorite in Willow Nightengale in Boston a couple of weeks back; and Hogan and Velvet are still better in-ring performers than Jade Cargill right now.
Together, though, they are a perfect fit.
The three have now formed a stable, The Baddies, and they had their debut this past Friday night on Rampage in a trios squash match against Nightengale, Trish Adora, and Skye Blue. There was even a slight explanation for Velvet joining forces with Cargill, even though it was mostly provided by the commentary crew.
They ooze charisma. Let's keep this act going for at least 12 months.
Dislike: Thunder Rosa's minimal TV time
Thunder Rosa is the best female wrestler in North America. There is not a single female talent that I would take over Rosa, except maybe Serena Deeb. I'm also biased—she's my all-time favorite pro wrestler.
She's also been barely seen as women's champion.
Including the match she had to main event Battle of the Belts in Garland a couple of weeks back, Rosa has had less than 20 minutes of TV time as the fifth AEW Women's World Champion. She won the belt in an entertaining, but rushed cage match with Britt Baker—a month and a half ago.
Hopefully this changes over the next few weeks as the obvious PPV match for Double or Nothing in Las Vegas is Serena Deeb, who just "won" her months-long feud with Hikaru Shida.
Like: FTR vs FTR
Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler love pro wrestling. Their brother-vs-brother tag team match was a love letter to pro wrestling, Bret Hart, and the late Owen Hart.
From the various tributes to the call backs in their match, Harwood and Wheeler told an interesting story before, during, and after the match. If they ever embark on singles careers, they would be wildly successful. Nonetheless, a fantastic outing from those two this past week on Dynamite.
Dislike: Hangman Adam Page getting COVID
Well wishes to the best men's world champion in all of pro wrestling in Hangman Adam Page. The eco-friendly Virginian came down with COVID this past week, thus missing this past week's Dynamite. He was scheduled to start his month-long feud with CM Punk, who will be his opponent at the Double or Nothing pay per view.
Like: The progression of the Owen Hart Cup Tournament
So far, so good in the Owen Hart Coup Tournament. The vast majority of the matches have been entertaining performances. I believe there is still two more names left in each of the men's and women's fields to fill. Will they be filled this upcoming week in AEW programming? We shall see. We already know that Jeff Hardy and Bobby Fish will be competing for the 6th spot on the May 4, 2022 episode of Dynamite.
Nonetheless, both tournaments will feature most of AEW's best workhorses, including Darby Allin, who punched his ticket this past week on Rampage in a solid match with Swerve Strickland.
The women's side should be spectacular: Britt Baker, Toni Storm, Jamie Hayter, Hikaru Shida, Red Velvet, and Ruby Soho have all qualified.
Here's hoping that it will be an 8 person field for both and not a 6 person field.
Dislike: Way too many gimmick matches
AEW has had quite a few gimmick matches through first four months of 2022. In fact, this past Dynamite featured two gimmick matches: the Philly Street fight between Deeb and Shida and the ladder match between Scorpio Sky and Sammy Guevara.
That Street Fight match between Deeb and Shida was a solid, enjoyable affair that served as the blow off match for their feud. The duo told an interesting story over the past few months that unfortunately never quite reached its potential. Why? Because, quite frankly, Tony Khan is not good at writing TV for the women's division.
Sky and Guevara had a good, spot-heavy ladder match. The right guy won, of course, completing one of the stranger double turns in recent memory. Fans hated the "hot potato" booking, but it was necessary—it was a classic case of the promoter manipulating the crowd. Sky's second time around as TNT Champion is going to a lot better than his first run because Sky has more upside as a babyface than a villain.
To tell you the truth, I'm not sure if either of these matches had to be gimmick matches. Aside from the Dog Collar Match at AEW Revolution between CM Punk and MJF and the Rosa-Baker Championship Cage Match, I can't say that any of AEW's gimmick matches were necessary.
AEW likes to load up its weekly shows, but going overkill on gimmick matches is not the way to do it. These matches need to be serious turning points in the various stories being told, and when they have been used as frequently as they have been in the past few months, they lose their effectiveness as plot devices.
Let's avoid jumping the shark here, Mr. Khan—no more gimmick matches until after All Out.
Like: The Return of Rey Fenix
When we last saw Rey Fenix, he was injured after a rough spot involving Luchasaurus in their otherwise excellent tag team match where Jurassic Express won the AEW World Tag Team titles.
Death Triangle—Fenix, Pentagon, and PAC—have been embroiled in a trios feud with The House of Black. The House of Black have seemingly had Pentagon, PAC, and Alex Abrahantes' number as of late. Nevertheless, Fenix made a surprise return, swerving the crowd into thinking he was Abrahantes cutting a promo in the middle of the ring in response to The House bringing out the beaten body of Fuego Del Sol. Fenix teed off with Buddy Matthews, got the better of him, and Death Triangle sent the heels running with triple tope suicidas.
I imagine that they are going to have their big match at the Double or Nothing PPV.
Dislike: The TV surrounding The Elite soap opera
This isn't a criticism of the angle—which so far, I think is brilliant. This is more of a concern about how it has progressed on television.
We all know where this is going—an eventual leadership struggle between Adam Cole and Kenny Omega. This is angle has a lot of potential and it just may be AEW's next great long-term storyline. While it is fine thus far, I feel the TV could be a little bit smoother. On the other hand, I do understand that this story hasn't really kicked off into high gear and this is still the exposition stage.
AEW does not do fly-on-the-wall backstage segments like WWE does. The Elite get around this by having Brandon Culter behind the camera in cinéma vérité backstage segments which can be hit-or-miss (mostly miss). Here's hoping the TV presentation catches up with the potential this angle has.
Like: Scorpio Sky as a babyface
Scorpio Sky turned heel against Darby Allin back in 2020 and so far has had an entertaining act with Ethan Page as Men of the Year. About a year ago, Dan Lambert joined their act as their mouth piece in their feud with The Inner Circle as a way to involve America's Top Team. Paige Van Zant, who will soon start wrestling in AEW in the next few months or so, joined the group full time, making them a quartet.
Fans never really wanted Sky to turn heel; they just wanted him to be featured more often on TV. The AEW audience got excited when Sky won the TNT title from Sammy Guevara, but there was one slight problem: audiences turned against Guevara due to his relationship with Conti; the audience did not want Sky as a heel; and his first TNT title reign was off to an underwhelming start.
So what did AEW do? They basically reversed and re-did the title switch, as part of a two-part double turn. Guevara and Conti are firmly heels while Sky is essentially a babyface. Sky has more to offer the audience as a babyface than a heel—all he has to do is keep up the intense promos. I do think, however, it will eventually lead to a feud between Sky and Ethan Page, who doesn't seem too happy about the respect Sky paid to former SCU teammate Frankie Kazarian, who has the first title shot.
Dislike: AEW's TV format
Tony Khan does not believe in hiring TV writers. It shows.
As I always say, I still enjoy watching Dynamite and Rampage—I just wish the shows had a smoother, tighter flow. Still, the shows often have too many segments and matches into a single broadcast. I'm not going to be too harsh this week—both shows underwent significant changes due to Hangman Page getting COVID.
My view is this: if it is not a title-related feud, it doesn't need to be on TV every single week. AEW's audience is consistent enough to where the company can have an effective formula of a live segment one week, a pre-taped promo the following week, and alternating from there to keep angles progressing.
Having a TV showrunner does not necessarily mean the company needs to start scripting promos. That certainly doesn't need to happen. But having someone with bonafide TV experience will help the company better structure its weekly broadcasts, a situation that would ideally allow segments to breathe and for stories to have a bigger impact.