I’m honestly not sure if AEW’s slow rollout of Taz’s son prompted the internet’s fascination with the 22 year old, or vice versa.
Some time in the future, I will be interested to hear Tony Khan and the Senerchias* talk about that. But right now it doesn’t matter. Whether our strings were pulled the whole time, we just saw a meme-driven push pay-off, or the most likely answer, “a little of column A, a little of column B” — the result was a wildly successful debut for Hook on the Dec. 10 episode of Rampage.
I’ve watched that clip three times now, and in a general sense, I don’t have much to say other than what I tweeted after it aired for the first time on TNT: “My expectations were way too high, and that exceeded them.”
There’s still a lot worth singling out for praise:
- Action Bronson’s “The Chairman’s Intent” is a great walkout song for Hook. That it got AEW some mainstream buzz doesn’t hurt either. In particular, Bronson’s “You don’t even know me” refrain perfectly addresses both the public’s fascination with a young man who’s only said a handful of words on television, and his no-drama presentation.
- Speaking of that presentation, I was a little disappointed he wasn’t wearing his signature hoodie for his entrance. Looking at it with everything else from the match, however, it’s great. There’s no extravagance to Hook. The kid is all business. Taking it off also might mess up his hair (spoiler alert: nothing can mess up that hair).
- His coolness is a huge part of the Hook phenomenon. And just like his dad was billed from a specific part of Brooklyn, Hook is announced as hailing from somewhere considered one of the coolest places in New York City.
- About the old man? How great was it Taz got to call his son’s first match?
- Hook (and Taz) had to be feeling some powerful emotions, having this moment, with this much hype, on their home turf. But they were total pros, and not only didn’t Hook show any nerves — he never cracked a smile.
- My man did the Brock Lesnar walk around the ring gimmick, then turned his back to his opponent and rested on the turnbuckle while the pre-match formalities which clearly bored him were taken care of.
- Did I mention that hair? Amazing.
- Back to Hook’s opponent. Lots of fans have correctly pointed out how amazing Fuego Del Sol was. He’s a giving match partner who sold like crazy for Hook, and never once bristled against his job to make the future star the focus. Great stuff. He earned his contract with this outing alone.
- Back to the legend in the making, the match was laid out to show off Hook’s natural athletic gifts and give us a taste of what he’ll be as a pro wrestler. From this small sample, that’s a technically-based with power and crisp striking — but there were teases of some acrobatic flourishes as well.
- Taz told us Hook calls that high crotch lift & throw the “El Camino”. It was one of several moves his son did that reminded us of his Human Suplex Machine’s lineage. But those elements weren’t overdone, and they all had something to delineate the Hook version from his father’s.
- Like the finish, which even while he’s being a grateful proud papa on Twitter today, Taz reminds us isn’t the Tazmission any more. It’s now REDRUM:
“Folks, I really need to say THANK YOU to all of you for the tons of tweets toward me about the kind words about Hook - it’s just too many to reply to lol!! And yes, it was SO special for me to call his first worldwide TV match. •Tazmission is now - “REDRUM”
- After holding onto REDRUM past Fuego’s quick tap, and until referee Bryce Remsburg (who also deserves a shout out for selling Hook’s several intimidating/dismissive moves toward him) gets him to break the hold, Hook just bounces. He doesn’t wait to get his hand raised, or play to the crowd. He just leaves, only taking a moment on the stage before exiting the scene of a flawless debut.
- And his hair still looked perfect.
Hyperbolic fun aside, there’s a ways to go before we replace all Four Young Pillars with Hook (I think Hook should be billed as the Pillar Breaker when he inevitably starts feuding with the likes of Darby Allin, Jungle Boy, MJF, and Sammy Guevara, though). We’ll have to see how he does in longer, more competitive matches, and how he handles himself on the microphone.
AEW’s clearly been getting ready for this phase of his rollout though, with training going on at The Nightmare Factory (allegedly with Arn motherf’n Anderson) behind the scenes. They’ve been very smart about how they’ve handled Hook thus far, and I expect that to continue — although there will certainly be a temptation to get him into higher profile spots as soon as possible after the reaction to last night.
For now though, it’s worth savoring a really fun, quite special moment. A very 21st century pro wrestling build culminated with an exciting young talent delivering a great performance, with his dad calling the whole thing.
I love pro wrestling. Hook is the man. Taz is the man. Thanks for being on this ride with me, fellow Hook-ers.
* Taz’s real name is Peter Senerchia, and — this will probably break your heart a little bit just like it did mine, because damnit I wanted his birth certificate to say “Hook” — his son’s is Tyler Senerchia.