The Landscape of AEW Continues to Rapidly Evolve.

The Young Bucks
The Young Bucks posing in 2016. PHOTO CREDIT: Courtney Rose//Flickr

Nick and Matt Jackson selling their souls to the devil by giving in to Kenny Omega and Don Callis. The dynamic tag team set out to make a different kind of impact on last week’s Dynamite. They donned a new entrance style that saw the subtraction of the beloved money explosion for a streamer one. Now the two were posing in the ring rather than on the entrance ramp. The Bucks also have been flexing recently, wearing the Dior Jordan 1 collaboration.

The crowd quickly caught on to their antics and turned on them. You could hear a devastating wave of boos and “you suck” chants. This marks the first time since their pre-AEW days where they have not been a crowd favorite. What would follow their tag team title match with Death Triangle would prove very effective in reinforcing their heel persona as well.

As much as they would hate to admit it, PAC and Ray Fenix had the tag champs beat. Wrestling at such a ferocious and fast-pace that the Bucks were noticeably frustrated. Not that any of these four individuals have ever had a bad match in AEW, but PAC and Fenix looked like they were on a mission. Just when it looked like Triangle was going to leave with the belts, Nick ripped off Fenix’s mask. This is an absolutely despicable act that should have resulted in a disqualification. It certainly would have if  this bout took place in Mexico where the Lucha mask is a sacred and protected practice. I must give it to the booking here as this act cemented them as full-fledged heels across the board and not solely when it comes to the Moxley/Omega dynamic.

While Rey was hiding his face, he received two devastating super-kicks to the face and was covered for the 1-2-3. PAC has been on a rampage lately and the harm The Bucks caused his close friend may just be the justification he was looking for to unleash “The Bastard”. Nick and Matt better sleep with one eye open from now on as you can be sure PAC has just pulled their number. 

AEW’s delinquent Darby Allin hasn’t been content simply holding the TNT title. Since March 24th, Darby has defended his championship three times against competitors such as John Silver,JD Drake and now Matt Hardy. I’m all for a fighting champion, but somewhere along the way Darby needs to shed the “underdog” gimmick he has going on. Yes he is smaller than a lot of the talent on the roster, but he shouldn’t be taken lightly. Darby can play with the best of them and this week’s title defense was no different. 

Matt Hardy showed why he has remained relevant over the past two decades with his in ring style and pure heel ability. Taunting and humiliating Darby was the priority for the night. Although the Hardy Family Office was ringside, Sting is always lurking in the shadows waiting for the opportunity to strike against any opposition. Alas, not even Stng is immune from the numbers game but he found help in the superstar he least expected, Lance Archer. Archer came to the aid assisting The Icon in clearing the ring of the filth that are Hardy’s foot soldiers. This comes after Sting and Archer revealed they had mutual respect for each other and the journeys that got them here. While I would love to see them as a tag team, a rivalry between the two could prove to be just what Sting needs to really bring him into the AEW fold. 

Christian Cage had been approached the week prior by Taz who extended an invitation for ‘Captain Charisma’ to join the already crumbling faction. While this story arc gives Christian another opponent to face on his way to the top, the real hidden layer of all this may lead to Brian Cage finally turning on his teammates and saving Christian from a beat down on a later Dynamite. 

Expectedly so, Christian turned down the offer and most likely never even took it seriously. As we all know from the Darby Allin/ Brian Cage feud, Taz does not take rejection well. He proceeded to let his dogs loose on the newly signed star in the form of Hook and Powerhouse Hobbs. It is now official that Christian and Hobbs will face off in singles competition in Cage’s second match with the company. Hobbs will certainly be his biggest challenge to date and we will really get to see how well Christian has held up over his long absence from professional wrestling.

 The Pinnacle and Inner Circle factions had their first collision of talents this week when Le Champion Chris Jericho took on “oh no name” Dax Hardwood of FTR. Jericho was sporting a small beard this week and it really added to his character. To some people it may not matter, but little things like facial hair can absolutely help make a character more believable/impactful.

Jericho and Hardwood had a decent match with a few close pinfalls but the real highlight of the match was “Iron” Mike Tyson being a special guest enforcer. Tyson was certainly enjoying himself and got too excited during a worked spot on the apron where he actually punched Cash Wheeler in the mouth, which sent him crumbling to the floor. The genuine shock on his face was absolutely priceless and the small taste of revenge we got was oh, so sweet. The distraction caused by Tyson allowed Jericho to hit The Judas Effect to retire Dax for the very important first win in this heated rivalry. The record stands Inner Circle 1-0 and Pinnacle already trailing 0-1. How they will respond to this humiliating loss will be nothing short of brutal in the coming weeks on Dynamite. 

With factions sprouting up seemingly every week, Kris Statlander had her first match back on AEW and as a member of The Best Friends. She took on AEW Dark talent Amber Nova in what was to be a squash match. The point of such squatch matches is to get the athlete reacclimated all the while building their character as a force to be reckoned with. This bout was no different and only lasted a few minutes with Statlander delivering a crushing Supernova Piledriver for the ‘W’. While off to a great start, it will be interesting to see how her role in Best Friends plays out. 

Jade Cargill’s rivalry with Red Velvet is approaching a fever pitch. Cargill has been constantly  boasting about her victory over Velvet when she teamed up with Shaq. The kicker to this is that Jade hadn’t beaten Velvet one-on-one up to this point which Velvet made sure to promptly throw back in her face. While Velvet is a tremendous talent and a future star, Cargill is what’s hot now and no one is going to stand in her way. None of the female talents have been able to beat her and we have to assume that she is approaching Hikaru Shida’s radar. With a little more than a month away from Double or Nothing, an exciting match would see Cargill and Shida lock up for the women’s title. Shida certainly has the longevity and experience over Jade but Cargill has the raw power that Shida is sometimes lacking. We may see more of this potential rivalry develop in the coming weeks once Shida and Conti and face off next week for the women’s title. 

As we begin to see Double Or Nothing peak over the horizon, the possibilities seem endless with the AEW landscape changing every week. How the booking for the May 30th pay-per-view will play out remains to be seen but with this being the third annual DON event, we can count on AEW bringing out all the stops for this one when it takes place in Daily’s Place in the heart of Jacksonville, Florida.

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