There was always going to be a lot to talk about: this show being AEW’s return to touring in front of a live audience, Cody facing QT Marshall in a strap match, The Young Bucks defending the titles in a street fight. But by the end of the evening, there was only one thing people were talking about—the surprise debut of Malakai Black, the artist formerly known as Aleister Black…
The Big Match: The Bucks Brutalise Their Way To Victory
Say what you like about The Young Bucks, but they’re not the first people you might think of when it comes to hardcore wrestling. Now Eddie Kingston and Penta, on the other hand…
Which is why Eddie and Penta should have had the advantage coming into this one; this match would be like a home away from home to the challengers. And yet, the Champs gave as good as they got, with Nick Jackson using a trash can to aid him with a big senton to a prone Eddie Kingston, while Matt sent Kingston through a table. Not that the challengers were overwhelmed; Penta smashed Matt Jackson with an awesome Canadian Destroyer through a table at ringside, while Kingston brought out the Kings Road style, nailing Nick with a half and half suplex and locking in a rear-naked choke on Matt.
In fact, said choke looked as if it might earn the challengers the gold. But The Bucks don’t adhere to the rules anymore. A Nick Jackson 450 splash took the ref out before he could see Matt tap out. The Good Brothers then arrived but Kingston and Penta threw them to the outside. This brought out ‘The Elite Hunter’ Frankie Kazarian, who attacked both Brandon Cutler and the Bucks.
Sensing that he needed to push things further, Kingston brought out the thumb tacks. Unfortunately for Eddie, Matt Jackson threw a handful into Kingston’s face (!) in a nasty little moment. Penta prevented Kingston being power bombed onto the tacks and ended up being hurricaraned from the top rope onto the tacks instead for his trouble. The tacks were then thrown into Penta’s mouth, but some tacks were shoved into Kingston’s mouth (!!) and a superkick sealed the deal for the Champions.
This was an entertaining match that, while it never felt super intense or heated, was at least a lot of fun. You could argue that it was overbooked, what with the involvement of The Good Brothers, Cutler and Kazarian, but it added to the sense of chaos that pushed Kingston into breaking out the thumbtacks, something that would conversely be the downfall of the challengers.
So, The Bucks retain. But something tells me they haven’t seen the last of Kingston and Penta…
The Big Segment: Malakai Black Makes a Surprise Debut
It was inevitable in a lot of respects. As soon as WWE released Aleister Black, it was obvious that AEW would make a play for the former Tommy End.
Well, Tony Khan got his man and he set his stall out immediately, attacking one of the company’s major stars and EVP, Cody.
Earlier in the night during the opening strap match between Cody and QT Marshall, the lights went out momentarily, which commentary put down to bad weather. Fair enough. But then, when Arn Anderson came out later to do an interview with Tony Schivone, the light went out again and when they came back up, there was a silent, sinister Black watching them. But not for long.
Fair play to Arn Anderson taking the kick to the face that he did at his age, because it looked brutal. It also brought out Cody, who enraged and half mystified at Black’s appearance and actions. After a moment’s hesitation, perhaps showing a sign of weakness on Cody’s part, he approached Black only to take a massive kick to the face too! As commentary fumbled over the names Tommy End and Malakai Black, Mr End’s new ring name, Black took his leave, smirking with self-satisfaction at the shock and awe he had just struck into the hearts of both the Nightmare Family and the fans with what he’d just done.
It was a good debut, better than Andrade’s had been. Why? Because it was surprising, out of the blue, short, sharp and to the point. It also left more questions than answers, which a debut like this should. I want to tune in next week and find out what the hell Black’s motivation is. That means it really did its job, and it did it well.
Malakai Black looked good out there, and I liked the bruise makeup he was sporting, to give a sense of continuity to the injury he was supposed to have suffered to his eye back on Raw. It wasn’t necessary but it was a nice touch, certainly.
Malakai Black has arrived in AEW. The future looks black indeed.
Other Promos & Segments
- Shawn Spears was celebrating his assault on Sammy Guevara last week when Sammy appeared a threw a chair at Spears’ head before telling “The Chairman” that their feud wasn’t over. Thankfully this chair was safer than the one Sammy threw at Matt Hardy that time…
- Kenny Omega and excellently bitchy Don Callis ran down Kenny’s previous opponents before stating there was no one left to face. The Dark Order arrived, with an on-form Evil Uno falling Callis a “weird uncle” before demanding to know why Kenny was ducking Hangman Page. Of course, it came to blows, with the Good Brothers coming out, until Hangman himself ran out and cleared house before staring down an escaping Omega. A great segment and the crowd was so into it.
- JR hosted an intense sit-down interview between Ethan Page and Darby Allin ahead of their coffin match next week. Allin stated that Page’s problem is that they both wrestled for Evolve and Page is jealous that Allin took one year to get where Page got in 12 years. He called out Page’s complacency, while Page took Allin to task for not showing him respect when Allin wouldn’t have got where he was without working with a 12 year veteran and that Page should have been the star. This is how their feud should have been booked from the beginning! AEW got it right here.
- Karl Anderson hyped up his match with Jon Moxley next week for the NJPW US Championship and said how disgusting it was that Mox holds the title when Kenny Omega was the initial holder of the belt. I’m not sure Mox is that bothered about that, to be honest…
- Chris Jericho and MJF had an awesome face-off where Jericho agreed to MJF’s ‘Labour of Jericho’ stipulation: Jericho has to win four matches in a row with opponents and stipulations of MJF’s choosing to get a match with MJF himself. Jericho was able to insult a ring-invading fan, MJF and MJF’s mom in the process before knocking the cocky Pinnacle man down with the Judas Effect.
- Britt Baker told Tony Khan that he should be ashamed that Reba got hurt in an unsafe working environment last week and to enjoy his ‘blood money,’ before cynically suggesting AEW could run in Saudi Arabia next—ouch!
- Christian Cage and Matt Hardy talked up their feud before Cage added, “get on my level or get out of the way!”
- Footage was shown of Ricky Starks in the ring with security people, provoking Brian Cage with lines about his wife as Taz tried to prevent him from poking the bear. Cage arrived and demolished the security.
- American Top Team’s Dan Lambert was alongside Jorge Masvidal and Amanda Nunes as guests to the show but claimed he hadn’t been asked to do an interview. He went on to rant about AEW and how if he wanted to watch proper wrestling, he’d watch his old VHS’ of Championship Wrestling From Florida. Lance Archer emerged to drop Lambert with the Black Out and shut his mouth. Funny segment, but I wonder how Mr Lambert’s other employer, MLW, felt about it…
- Cody Rhodes (w/Arn Anderson) beat QT Marshall in a fun strap match.
- FTR and Wardlow beat Santana, Ortiz and Jake Hagar (w/Konnan) in a decent match after Hagar was drilled with the Big Rig. Konnan took a smack afterwards…
- Andrade El Idolo beat Matt Sydal in a good match that was a decent showcase for the debuting Idolo without burying Sydal.
- Orange Cassidy and Kris Statlander beat The Bunny and The Blade after Statlander drilled Bunny with the Big Bang Theory (tombstone piledriver).
- AEW Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks beat Eddie Kingston & Penta in an entertaining street fight after Kingston fell to a superkick.
AEW Dynamite: Road Rager, as their return to touring in front of a live crowd after months being hunkered down at Daily’s Place, was a success, no question. I’ve seen comments online that the crowd were slightly subdued, and maybe they were a little, but for a lot of things they absolutely popped; Cody, the Kenny-Dark Order segment, Jericho-MJF, Malakai Black, Andrade’s in-ring debut for the company. The live crowd definitely made a difference and seemed happy to be there, and you could tell the talent really did get a buzz from working in front of a live crowd.
While Cody and The Bucks had fun matches, and MJF and Jericho killed it with their segment, the thing that everyone will be talking about coming out of this one is Malakai Black. Whilst we all suspected it was coming, we really didn’t know when and AEW did a great job of keeping it as a surprise. That’s to be commended in this spoiler-heavy age. Black did a good job too, looking sinister and dangerous and leaving us wanting more.
What did you think of Malakai Black and AEW Road Rager? Let us know in the comments!