Wednesday, July 17, 2019

AEW Fight For The Fallen 2019

Two weeks after the gamer-centric Fyter Fest, All Elite Wrestling presents their third event called Fight For The Fallen, a charity wrestling show where all a large portion of profits go to victims of gun violence, which is a worthy cause. Meanwhile, the show is offered for free on the BR Live service... provided you sign up for said service, adding that barrier of entry.

Meanwhile, over at the WWE Network around that same time, WWE opted to live stream the EVOLVE promotion's 10th anniversary show, featuring a couple NXT guys wrestling in matches. My lack of familiarity with the EVOLVE promotion ultimately contributed to my decision in going for the AEW show, though I did manage to sample some of the EVOLVE show and it might be worth giving a closer look. Even the Extreme Rules PPV that took place the day after (which I'm not watching, by the way; I'm holding out until Summerslam) apparently got some good reviews, so it was definitely a good weekend of wrestling in this continent if you're into that sort of thing.

But let's fight for the fallen... and then see it all fall off a cliff.

Like before, this starts us off with the pre-show and I gotta say, I like the outdoor setting of the amphitheater. Lots of clarity, nice variety in the visual setting... seriously, it's their third show and there's already a change in the visual set-up that doesn't make it look like the same thing as the other two shows. And yet the biggest name in sports entertainment is content with keeping the same shitty set for over a decade now.

Sonny Kiss defeated Peter Avalon... in a thing that happened. They're keeping this Librarian thing going, huh? Meh... I'll give them this much; it was a better match than what the ladies had last time, but this Librarian thing isn't working for me. I like reading, so why must you make me hate it?

Bea Priestley & catgirl gimmick joshi Shoku Nakajima defeated Dr. Britt Baker DMD and Riho in a pretty entertaining enough four corners match that was advertised as a tag-team contest. Funny thing is that it never felt like such a thing and probably shouldn't have been that, but whatever. It was fun.

And that was the far superior pre-show.

In the opening contest, former ten-guy Shawn Spears, Sammy Guevara, and MJF defeated Darby Allin, Joey Janela, and Jimmy Havoc in a perfectly acceptable wrestling match where everyone got their stuff in and showed off what they could do. I like the fact that Spears pinned Darby, because it's a nice bit of long-term storytelling where Spears pinned the guy that Cody couldn't. I missed out on this the first time, but watching it again, I liked that little detail. For people who complain about the storytelling being lacking, it is there; you just have to dig a bit deeper to find the details... which, in the universe of Twitter Twits and Youtube commentary, is a nigh impossible task.

 Apparently, MJF got injured in this match. Hope it isn't too serious.

Brandi Rhodes (paired up with AWESOME KONG) defeated Allie (the former Cherry Bomb) in a thing that happened... and then AJA KONG (giant Joshi with shaved head and paint on face) shows up to tease some Kong On Kong action that may or may not happen... and that's why the match that came before was a thing that happened, because who cares when you have the BATTLE OF THE KONGS in the horizon?!

That and the lack of Kylie Rae or Yuka Sakazaki makes me indifferent to this match in any meaningful way.

The Dark Order (the former Smash Bros... which doesn't help me much) defeated Jack Evans/Angelico and Jungle Boy/Luchasaurus in a three-way match to earn the opportunity to earn a bye in the upcoming tournament to determine the first AEW Tag-Team Champions. It's alright, I guess... though the prospect of a Dark Order taking on Best Friends for a bye isn't the most exciting thing to look forward to, but hey, I'll give it a shot.

"Hangman" Adam Page defeated Kip Sabian in a five-minute match that somehow got stretched out to twenty minutes. This was the first match on the card where I was actively clock-watching to see how long this match has gone and that's never a good sign. I get that they wanted to stretch it so that Hangman would beat the other guy with seconds to spare, but for someone who is going to challenge for the very first World title, it wouldn't hurt to give the guy a nice quick win. I'd probably argue that it would've been BETTER because it gives you a much stronger competitor going into that all out show.

And then a masked dude shows up and bloodied up Page before pulling off his mask, revealing a very pudgy-faced man who bares a striking resemblance to Chris Jericho... oh wait, that is Jericho. Sorry, my bad.

The Lucha Bros defeated SCU (Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) in a perfectly acceptable slice of tag-team wrestling. They then challenge the Young Bucks to a ladder match at All Out... because sure, why not? It's not like there's any other tag-teams they could be feuding with at the moment or something. It's not like the Bucks are going anywhere six months down the line or something.

Kenny Omega defeated CIMA in what I thought was the best match on the card. Lots of knees and stuff being used, but I also like how this match flowed. An ingenious concept where you never hit your finisher unless it's the actual finish; until then, it just gets blocked or escaped from before the killing blow is landed. Of all the matches on this card (and this includes the main event), this has the most energy and, quite frankly, was the most entertaining pairing on this show. Great stuff.

There's a Chris Jericho segment where he buries Jerksonville (or is it Jackoffville? Who knows?) as well as Hangman Page's victory at Double Or Nothing, which took place in a Battle Royal that featured a guy with no legs, the lube guy, and Joey Janela. I have not seen that Battle Royal as of yet and I've heard pretty terrible things about that, but Jericho's promo paints a pretty grim picture in that a silly Battle Royal (allegedly) with silly competitors was responsible for deciding the opposite end of AEW's first World Championship match. This was supposed to make you hate Jericho, but it's a sad realization that in another universe and another time, we could be having a title match between Jericho and Michael Nakazawa.

You're welcome for that mental image, by the way.

So Hangman Page comes out and beats up Jericho, prompting a bunch of officials to break up. I like that push towards the title match... I cared little for the promo itself once he shone a light on the mental image of... never mind.

And then in the main event, The Young Bucks defeated Cody & Dustin Rhodes in a tag match that was going good at first - in the process of telling a good story of a match between two teams of friends that grew bitter as time went on - but suffered from dragging on for far longer than it needed... and this is where they've got to be careful because Cody is now inviting those HHH comparisons ever since the throne destruction at Double or Nothing, where he's being accused of overly-long self-indulgent matches.

Experience with having to watch these sorts of HHH matches is not fun and Cody - and to a lesser extent, the Bucks - are getting dangerously close to that sort of self-indulgent territory. Sadly, when it gets to a point where you start clock-watching rather than focus on the match, that's never a good sign.

And they cut a promo that gets cut off by the check presentation to the VAAC or something like that. And the whole thing comes off as awkward and bush league, which is not the best note to end your show on.

On a whole, Fight For The Fallen was a solid show with a bunch of solid and entertaining matches that was marred by some of those matches going on longer than they really need to and to be perfectly frank, this was a show for the sake of having a show. Yeah, it's a charity show of sorts, but that doesn't mean you can't put your best effort on there. If people are going to be spending four hours plus (god forbid) on your show, it can't hurt to give people a memorable show. People had fun, but I doubt anyone would remember anything that happened here. Again, it's a common stigma with a lot of these WWE B-shows that they have to avoid.

Not every show is going to be a winner and it's okay not to book each show like a Wrestlemania. Yes, this was (in the U.S. and Canada) a free show for the B/R Live audience, but it's still a huge time sink and you need to give people a reason to care about not only this show, but enough that you'll want to catch their next event. Each of these AEW shows feels like they were booked in a vaccuum, even if there are hints of continuity here and there... and on its own, it was fine. But as the final show before their big All Out show, I'm not exactly chomping at the bit to give them more money.

Final verdict: stay for the Kenny-CIMA match, skim the rest.

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