All Elite Wrestling returns to pay-per-view tonight (Sun., Oct. 1, 2023) with WrestleDream. The event comes our way from Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington, at 8 pm ET.
Tony Khan is wasting his biggest draw on pay-per-view
WrestleDream is AEW’s third pay-per-view (PPV) event over the last 35 days, so the card should feature a world championship match that fans simply can’t pass up. With that in mind, the company’s biggest draw, AEW World Champion MJF, is booked in a...handicap match against The Righteous for the ROH tag team belts?
Yes, plans went awry when Adam Cole broke his ankle. But even if Adam was completely healthy, a tag team bout of MJF & Cole against The Righteous would still be a baffling match to book on PPV. The Righteous are just starting to get TV time in AEW and going through the process of trying to get over. They are not over yet, and have no business being anywhere near the world champion on PPV. Just listen to how quiet the audience was for The Righteous’ entrances on Rampage and Collision this week.
PPV buy rates are a thing that actually matter for AEW, yet the biggest needle-mover for the company is booked in a match that’s a very tough sell for an audience that has shelled out a lot of money for AEW PPVs over the last five weeks. I don’t get it; MJF needs to be in the ring with a similarly hot act that is somewhere near his level. The bottom line is that AEW expanded its pay-per-view schedule and immediately ran into trouble finding a suitable match for its world champion.
As for the story of this match, The Righteous earned a shot at the ROH World Tag Team Championship by winning a four way match on Rampage. MJF is defending those belts by himself against Vincent and Dutch because Adam Cole is out with a broken ankle. It’s not clear if Cole will be ringside to support his best friend now that he’s been summoned to Roderick Strong’s house by The Kingdom.
Even with the numbers working against our scumbag world champ, he’s still the overwhelming favorite to win because once again, The Righteous are not over in AEW.
One last thing to keep an eye on here is whether Bullet Club Gold ambushes MJF at some point tonight, perhaps after this match is over. Someone wearing an MJF devil mask led a group attack on Jay White on Dynamite, and it’s just a matter of time until Bullet Club responds with an attack of their own.
The rest of the card
Even though MJF is being wasted on this show, Tony Khan is trying to make up for that by stuffing the card with 13 other matches, as well as the promise that something unforgettable will happen at this event that brings forth a new era for AEW.
So here are all of the other matches currently advertised for tonight at WrestleDream:
Christian Cage (c) vs. Darby Allin in a two-out-of-three falls match for the TNT Championship
Could the debut of former WWE Champion Edge be the unforgettable moment that ushers in a new era for AEW? There’s a lot of speculation that Adam Copeland will get involved in this match now that he is a free agent and AEW has emphasized this is the final match of the night.
Darby failed to win the TNT title twice in September, perhaps because the big championship victory is being saved for this match in his hometown of Seattle. Darby and Christian have implied that they will leave their allies (Nick Wayne and Luchasaurus) in the back for this one, but Christian must have some kind of backup plan in mind to give himself an unfair advantage. That backup plan might involve convincing Wayne to turn on Darby and look up to Christian as his new father figure.
Bryan Danielson vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
This one is billed as a Dream Match, and that phrase is very accurate in this case. Danielson and Sabre are two of the greatest technical wrestlers in the world, and Bryan finally gets to have an epic match as the local hero in Seattle.
Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay, Konosuke Takeshita & Sammy Guevara
Jericho and Omega have both been betrayed by Don Callis and are looking for revenge. Guevara is the real life Judas who turned his back on Jericho after nearly four years as his partner. Will Ospreay is arguably the greatest wrestler in the world and always produces something special when he shares the same ring as Omega. Takeshita has Kenny’s number, pinning him at both All In and All Out. Then there is Ibushi, who is still trying to find his old level of greatness after missing most of the last two years due to injury. This could certainly be the match of the night due to the ridiculous amount of talent on hand.
Hangman Page vs. Swerve Strickland
AEW made sure to book Swerve Strickland in a high profile match in his hometown of Seattle. Page is on the rise and has a fire lit under his ass now that the dark cloud known as CM Punk is no longer hanging over his head. Hangman and the Young Bucks recently defeated Swerve’s Mogul Embassy for the ROH world six-man tag team belts. It feels like this could finally be the stage where Swerve gets the big win he’s been looking for to propel himself up to the world title scene.
Kris Statlander (c) vs. Julia Hart for the TBS Championship
Julia Hart has apparently won something like 27 or 28 matches in a row and can take out her opponents in a blink with that poison black mist. However, Kris Statlander is the defeater of the undefeated, as the only woman alive who has ever beaten Jade Cargill. Something has to give when these two clash over the TBS title at WrestleDream. Will Brody King or the Best Friends play a role in the finish?
Eddie Kingston (c) vs. Katsuyori Shibata for the ROH world title and NJPW Strong Openweight title
These guys just teamed up on AEW’s last pay-per-view, but now they’ll go at it in a match where both of Eddie’s belts are on the line. Shibata is already the ROH Pure Champion, so he might be swimming in gold by the end of the night. Kingston and Shibata respect each other, so it would be a shock if either man resorts to nefarious shenanigans to win this fight.
FTR (c) vs. Aussie Open for the AEW World Tag Team Championship
Aussie Open dropped the ROH tag team titles to Better Than You Bay Bay at Wembley Stadium, but there are plenty of other tag titles to pursue on AEW programming. FTR recently declared themselves the greatest tag team of all-time after beating the Young Bucks on that same card in Wembley. Aussie is looking to pull off the upset to pay FTR back for beating them exactly one year ago in a match for the IWGP tag team titles.
Young Bucks vs. Lucha Bros vs. Orange Cassidy & HOOK vs. The Gunns
The team that wins this match will earn a shot at the AEW world tag team titles anytime they want. Young Bucks and Lucha Bros are always candidates to have the match of the night when they get it on. Cassidy & HOOK are the new team on the scene and the wild card of this match, especially given that HOOK only has one loss on his record.
Wheeler Yuta vs. Ricky Starks
During the last month, Ricky Starks survived a brutally violent Strap match and Texas Death Match against Bryan Danielson. A regular singles match against Wheeler Yuta should be a breeze to get through in comparison. Yuta is extra motivated to whoop Starks’ ass after Ricky used a Blackpool Combat Club shirt to choke out Danielson in September.
Daddy Ass & The Acclaimed (c) vs. TMDK for the AEW World Trios Championship (pre-show)
The very popular tag team champions needed something to do on this card, so AEW booked them in match against SLAPJACK and pals. I think we all know that this one will end in a very aggressive scissoring party.
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Josh Barnett (pre-show)
WrestleDream is an Antonio Inoki tribute show, so AEW booked his prized pupil Josh Barnett for a match on the card. There’s no story here other than Claudio is maybe a little extra pissed off now that he’s no longer the ROH world champion.
Do you remember that rumor about AEW planning to bring in an outside name to face Jon Moxley on this card, before Mox was ruled out due to concussion? Perhaps Barnett is the man in question who would have confronted Moxley, but will now compete on the pre-show against a different member of the Blackpool Combat Club.
Nick Wayne vs. Luchasaurus (pre-show)
Hey, even the pre-show needs a hometown hero to root for. Wayne is the underdog who says he owes Luchasaurus a receipt for recently chokeslamming him onto a skateboard. Luchasaurus is the man who just lost the TNT championship to his own ally, Christian. The outcome of this match will likely play into the booking of Christian and Darby Allin’s main event match later on in the night.
Keith Lee, Athena, Billie Starkz & Satoshi Kojima vs. Mercedes Martinez, Shane Taylor, Lee Moriarty & Diamante (pre-show)
WrestleDream apparently didn’t have enough wrestlers booked on the show, so Tony Khan added eight more names to the card at the last second. Lee and Athena are a formidable duo who will be difficult for the opposition to tackle, so they should target Billie Starkz or old man Kojima instead.
AEW says a new era will begin tonight, so it sounds like something huge is planned for WrestleDream. The earth-shattering moment probably won’t come during MJF’s baffling match with The Righteous; perhaps the debut of Edge in the main event is the game-changing moment that AEW plans to deliver. As is often the case with AEW PPVs, there are plenty of matches at WrestleDream that look like they could be great on paper, but it sure would be nice if some of them had more heat going in.
What will you be looking for at WrestleDream?