AEW launched night one of Fyter Fest with a big coffin match between Darby Allin and Ethan Page, while Jon Moxley defended the NJPW US title against Good Brother Karl Anderson, plus Wheeler Yuta made his Dynamite debut against Sammy Guevara in a big shot for him.
Let’s go to the ring and look at how it all went down.
The Big Match: Darby Allin Perfoms a Literal Coffin Drop!
Truth be told, I wasn’t looking forward to this one too much. While Page and Allin’s sit-down interview last week finally sold me on their feud, the idea of a Coffin Match didn’t thrill me. For every good match of this type, there’s two clunkers. Add to that my growing up with the Undertaker fighting such matches with the likes of Kamala, Yokozuna and Kama in absolutely dismal matches and you can appreciate why I’m not the biggest fan of the stipulation.
I wouldn’t say this match changed my mind on Coffin Matches but, after a scrappy start, I did enjoy it. Darby came out with a metal plate strapped to his back and dropped Page with a plate-assisted coffin drop early on. Page then took it off and hit another coffin drop to the outside—probably should have kept it on for that one as well, Darby! Scorpio Sky appeared out of the coffin early on when Darby opened it, with Sky throwing Darby into the steps. This brought out Sting, who popped the crowd hugely when he started fighting Sky over the barricade. The cameraman did drop a clanger by cutting away just as Sting went for the Stinger Splash and Scorpio moved; we consequently missed Sting crashing hard into the stand.
Ethan Page wasn’t going to take the light route to winning the match, taking the turnbuckle off before sending Darby over the barrier. Picture in picture saw Darby jump off one of the stands in the audience before being caught and dropped by Page. Back in the ring, Page showed a sadistic streak, throttling Allin by using the hook from the discarded turnbuckle to pull Darby’s chain against his neck. Darby fought fire with fire, though; he fish hooked Page with the turnbuckle hook instead! Allin then dropkicked the ring steps, which had found their way into the ring, sending Page straight into the coffin! Before Allin could slam the lid shut, Page dragged him and the two exchanged fists before Page pinned Allin to the apron by his throat and threw some nasty slaps to the side of the head.
A back body drop sent Allin to the floor hard but he was able to regain momentum with a flipping stunner off the ring steps. The steps wouldn’t be Allin’s friend, though, as Page nailed an Ego’s Edge from the top right onto the ring steps in a brutal spot. Page tried to drag Allin into the coffin but Allin sunk his teeth into Page’s head and, as All Ego was reeling, Allin grabbed his skateboard to stomp Page right into the coffin! Allin closed the lid to win AEW’s first-ever coffin match.
But it wasn’t over. Oh, no. Darby had one last trick up his sleeve.
Climbing to the top turnbuckle, Allin threw his body with all his force onto the coffin crashing through the wood onto the prone body of Ethan Page in a literal version of the coffin drop! Not to put down the match, but that moment is set to eclipse it in time-it was jaw-dropping. The crowd went crazy for it and in fact, were super hot for Darby all the way through. There’s no doubt Allin will be a major star and player for the promotion in the near-future. He just needs that one main event feud to get him there.
Who’s going to give it to him?
The Big Segment: Is Page Being Set Up To Fail?
When fans comment on AEW’s brilliance at creating excellent long-term stories, I sometimes scratch my head. The only real long-term story that I can think off, outside of MJF-Jericho perhaps, has been the trial and tribulations of The Elite. What else has there been, really?
What I will say is that The Elite storyline has generally deserved the praise it has deserved. It has swerved, flowed, changed directions, taken breaks and come back together and each time it has seemed completely right, natural and compelling. If only this could be applied to other stories in the company at times, but there you go.
The segment here played on the story’s past while pushing things forward in a credible way. Adam Page came out to the ring to talk to Tony Schivone about being dodged by World Champion Kenny Omega. Page recalled how he tried to hide from the fact he lost when he had his chance to become the champion, but the Dark Order are right—Page needs to face the truth that he still wants to be champ! Page was about to make the challenge when out came Don Callis and The Elite to interrupt.
According to Callis, Nick Jackson and Doc Gallows, Page is not “that guy,” the one to be a Heavyweight Champion. The segment dipped briefly when Matt Jackson entered the ring and started speaking—please don’t give him a mic—but he played to the story well at least by arrogantly stating he can’t believe Page ditched The Elite for the Dark Order. Matt went on to push Page with comments about his drinking and how Hangman will be the next wrestling tragedy. He claimed Page didn’t have the balls to hit Matt. Page proved otherwise.
This is where things got interesting: Page said he wasn’t leaving without a match tonight and neither was Kenny. Omega told Page that he could have a match—but it would be a 5-on-5 elimination match between The Elite and Dark Order! Page raised the stakes; if Dark Order wins, Page gets a shot at Kenny’s belt and the Order get a shot at the tag titles. But, Kenny reasonably asked, what’s in it for The Elite? So, if the Dark Order lose, Page and the Order will lose their title shots. Page will have his dignity in tact, he’ll be able to tell people about his successes and wins but he won’t be able to challenge for the gold. But that should suit Page because he’s afraid to fail, said Kenny. Why have the pressure? It was a great tactic, linking back to what Page said about hiding from himself when he failed to become the first AEW Heavyweight Champ.
Page, of course, agreed, and it should one hell of an encounter. Well done, AEW.
Other Segments & Promos
- Lance Archer issued a challenge to Jon Moxley for a rematch of their Wrestle Kingdom Texas Death Match from last year. The NJPW US Title will be on the line again next week!
- A furious Cody came out and called out Malakai Black for a fight after his heinous attack last week. Black appeared on the video screen and related a tale of a trainer who put down his prize horse when he realised the horse was no longer the same horse as the one who won all those prizes. Black felt the same when he looked at Arn and Cody last week. Cody wouldn’t back down so the lights went out and Black appeared in the ring for a hot scrap before the refs pulled the two apart.
- Santana and Ortiz threatened Tully Blanchard backstage before telling him to bring his boys. Tully assures them he would…
- Chris Jericho was attacked during an interview by Shawn Spears with a chair to the throat before Spears restrained Jericho while MJF revealed that Spears would be Jericho’s first opponent in the ‘Five Labour’s of Jericho.’ The stipulation? Spears can use a chair and Jericho cannot. Spears then gave a parting chair shot, smashing Jericho on that hurt elbow. Jericho and MJF were fire as usual, while Spears actually came across as dangerous here, something he often struggles to put across for me.
- Miro referred to himself in a video package as being “God’s favourite champion, “ before stating he will defend his TNT title against anyone and calling himself “The Redeemer. “
- Britt Baker told Tony Schivone that it’s more daunting keeping Nyla Rose relevant was more daunting than beating her. She also said that Vickie Guerrero is lucky she has a surname that will always keep her relevant. Ouch…
- Jon Moxley responded to Lance Archer’s challenge, telling the big man that he knows Archer is not going to stop, so he’s going to get Archer before Archer gets him. Archer might be Texas-born and Texas-bred, but next week he’s going to be Texas dead!
- QT Marshall poured protein shake over Tony Schivone’s head after Marshall perceived a slight that wasn’t there.
- NJPW US Champion Jon Moxley beat Karl Anderson in a fun brawl after Moxley nailed the Paradigm Shift. There were surprisingly, and thankfully, no shenanigans in this one, which made for a better match.
- Ricky Starks beat FTW Champ Brian Cage to win the belt in a decent match with a hot couple of closing minutes after Hobbs turned on Cage and hit him with the title belt.
- Christian Cage beat Matt Hardy in a reasonable effort after hitting the Kill Switch. The Hardy Family Office hit the ring afterwards but we’re chased off Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus.
- Sammy Guevara pinned Wheeler Yuta in a short showcase affair for Guevara after he stunned Yuta with the springboard cutter and the GTH. The crowd were boiling hot for Sammy here.
- Yuka Sukazaki beat Penelope Ford in a fun encounter after hitting the Magic Girl Splash.
- Darby Allin defeated Ethan Page in a Coffin Match after knocking Page down into the coffin with a skateboard-assisted stomp.
This was a solid show that saw a great segment between Kenny Omega and Adam Page as the build begins to the confrontation that has perhaps been inevitable since AEW opened its doors. That it did so with clever references to their past stories together and with real fire and passion from both men is very much to be applauded.
The coffin match between Darby Allin and Ethan Page started a little scrappily but soon blossomed into a good, solid fight that really showed why Allin has the fuss around him that he does. The rest of the night perhaps didn’t live up to those moments, but there was nothing particularly bad or embarrassing either. It was a solid show that gave some hints of the future, and with Omega and Page treading the path to their confrontation, and Darby showing off his star potential, that future could be pretty damn bright if they keep on this path.