Welcome to Sports Obsessive for a glance back at AEW Fyter Fest Night Two. A handful of the world’s best professional wrestlers changed the landscape of professional wrestling in September of 2018 with All In, an event that drew over 11,000 fans to a true indie show and proved that the sport of professional wrestling (not to be confused with sports entertainment) was ready for a rebirth of sorts. The buzz and excitement were authentic, and it wasn’t long before AEW was born.
Here we are in the summer of 2021, and it’s shaping up to be the most unpredictable and electric year wrestling fans have seen since the late 1990s. It’s been a quarter of a century, but there are moments it feels like I could easily be watching Rick Rude on WCW Monday Nitro saying, “Oh, what a difference a day makes!”
Yeah, we’ve heard it a lot lately- it’s a hell of a time to be a wrestling fan. There’s no argument here.
It took me a while to make it happen (thanks a lot, COVID-19), but I finally attended my first AEW Dynamite. I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I picked a damn good one to attend. Fyter Fest Night Two featured two big title matches, The First Labor of Jericho, a damn solid undercard, and multiple surprises. TV cameras don’t always capture the feeling of the raw energy in a crowd, and that was definitely the case with the majority of an episode that drew the third-highest ratings in AEW Dynamite history.
So, how about we dig in?
Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Spears
I have to start by simply saying that the singing of Chris Jericho’s entrance has got to be my favorite moment in wrestling today. It’s a killer moment for the crowd and for him; the look on his face kind of warms your heart. He’s by God earned it, and he gets serenaded every week in a show of respect for a 30-year career that we’ve grown up with. Also, the tune is pretty good. Fozzy has developed over the years into a world-class, kick-ass rock band. AEW Fyter Fest Night Two was already gearing up to be a great show!
MJF is out for commentary and a little trash talk. The “stacked deck” stipulations will be the order of the day for the Five Labours, and this is a great one to start with. It’s not too tough a task if the Godfather of the Inner Circle can get the chair out the hands of The Pinnacle’s Chairman and keep it out. Jericho’s match pacing is at its best when he’s the story face with odds to overcome; it’s just vintage Jericho. The nuts and bolts of the match are fairly pedestrian, but Jericho’s Frankensteiner shows that the G.O.A.T. is still the best in the world at what he does whenever he damn well feels like being so. Spears was never going to be the man to stop the Demo God, though. Spears’s corner-wedged chair would come back to be his undoing and set up the Judas Effect and the 1-2-3.
Winner: Chris Jericho
Nick Gage Arrives
The big story comes after the match with MJF’s mini-tantrum (something he does better than anyone in the business except perhaps The Miz). After getting it out of his system, he reveals that The Second Labor of Jericho will be a No-Disqualification Match against the Undisputed King of the Deathmatch and all-around unrepentant psychopath, Nick Freakin’ Gage! He made sure to bring his pizza cutter to AEW Fyter Fest Night Two.
Remember how I said TV cameras don’t always capture every nuance of the big pop? What you won’t be able to fully appreciate on TV is the shock of the crowd. The pop had a hush to it that tells you everything you need to know about the reputation the (now former) GCW World Champion. Don’t get me wrong…the pop was thunderous in the cozy confines of the 6,860-seat Curtis Culwell Center, but it was a nervous pop that lets you know the booking on the Five Labours is going to be a lot of fun.
We get a backstage promo from Miro enlightening us even more on why he is God’s Favorite Champion. He’s giving the whole roster an earful. He wants to know who’s going to be next for The Redeemer. You couldn’t put the workhorse strap on a better guy- Miro is a wrestler who can work with anyone from Darby Allin to John Cena and still make his stuff super believable while getting his opponent over. After being at the top of the list of guys who got the “start-stop” treatment from WWE, it’s great to see him showing what a great worker he is.
Frankie Kazarian vs. Doc Gallows (with Karl Anderson)
For weeks, Frankie Kazarian has been torturing various members of The Elite with his well-timed run-in saves. He’s been playing superhero for a bit, but even superheroes eventually take an ass-whipping. In a match that’s back and forth early, the story is Doc Gallows using his killer striking (love those looping punches) to keep Kaz down.
Frankie gets two distinct offensive flurries that are making a dent, but that devil is coming due and it isn’t long before Karl Anderson is interfering and giving Gallows the distraction he needs to hit his ugly sit-down powerbomb for the win.
Winner: Doc Gallows
Of course, the beatdown doesn’t stop there. Gallows and Anderson slap Frankie around a bit more before hitting the Magic Killer just for fun. Right on cue, we’re joined by Don Callis and the AEW World Heavyweight Champion, Kenny Omega. Kenny and Don taunt Kazarian before setting him up for a V-Trigger, but they’re interrupted by the #1 contender, “Hangman” Adam Page. Drink in hand, the Hangman marches to the ring and picks a fight. When the numbers become too much, the Dark Order arrives (also on cue) to make the save. Karl Anderson is left alone in the ring for a Buckshot Lariat. The anticipation is building for a match that’s a couple of years in the making now, and it seems to be time for one of AEW’s brightest stars to take the top spot.
Dasha is backstage at AEW Fyter Fest Night Two, with the former FTW World Champion, “The Machine” Brian Cage. He’s taunted by Team Taz and the new FTW World Champion, “Absolute” Ricky Starks. There will be a celebration next week for the new champ. This seems to be to the liking of Swolverine (I still dig that moniker much more than The Machine, honestly). He’s not even upset that Team Taz isn’t in the building this week. He says he loves celebrations with a contented grin. Good segment.
Wheeler Yuta vs. Darby Allin
The newest protégé of the Best Friends and Orange Cassidy is out first, followed by the former TNT Champion and his mentor, Sting. The match itself is a pretty short affair of back and forth, high-speed technicality. Wheeler Yuta shows a speed and tenacity that’s fun to watch and very similar to Darby Allin in some ways. He has a silky-smooth Flying Octopus submission that you’d love to see developed into a true finisher; Yuta has tremendous upside.
The match (and the crowd) were brought to a grinding halt by the epic (and extraordinarily low-key) “confrontation” between Orange Cassidy and Sting in a moment that can be rewatched over and over again for sheer entertainment value. Off of that irresistible distraction, Darby Allin is nearly pinned before recovering and using that crazy over-the-top Stunner to set up the Coffin Drop for the 1-2-3!
Winner: Darby Allin
Post-match, Orange Cassidy is sucker-punched by a brass-knuckle-wielding Blade. The two will meet later tonight. Orange is helped back to his feet by Sting as The Blade laughs his way back up the ramp while looking like an S&M butcher. Next, we see NJPW / Bullet Club member Hikuleo sitting at ringside for an up-close look at the IWGP US Title match in the main event. Hikuleo is the son of the legendary Haku.
Nyla Rose vs. Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D for the AEW Women’s World Championship
It’s fitting for Britt Baker that her first AEW World Title defense would come against the mountain that she’s never been able to climb. AEW’s homegrown superstar is “the baddest b*tch on the block” for a reason- she’s done it the hard way and hasn’t made a ton of friends in the locker room. She doesn’t need friends, however- she has Rebel (not Reba) at her side and seemingly every fan in AEW standing behind her. It’s another case of TV not always doing justice because Dr. Britt Baker is seriously over right now.
With the history between the two, they have a smoother connection and better chemistry than many of the women on the roster do. Giving the best match of their rivalry to date, Nyla hit Baker with everything in her arsenal including multiple Beast Bombs and that gorgeous top-rope knee drop to the back of the neck (God, I wish the camera had my angle on that one). Rose carries the pace as the legitimate beast in this match, but Baker utilizes every square inch of the ring with moves like her face breaker into the middle turnbuckle that’s become a wonderful set up to pair with a Seth Rollins-Esque Sling Blade before throwing a pair of Curb Stomps (the second of which was a thing of beauty). Even so, Baker still eats another Beast Bomb before somehow floating over the following attempt and applying Lockjaw for what seemed an interminable time before Nyla finally taps out!
Dr. Baker and Rebel (not Reba) celebrate for a minute or so with a crowd that’s really giving her some love (present company included). That’s how you open a title run- with a perfectly paced match that told the conclusion to a great story while showcasing a ton of great work from two women operating with the pedal to the floor. Britt Baker has truly become the face of the AEW Women’s Division, and Nyla has a long future ahead of her. This showing at AEW Fyter Fest Night Two certainly made one hell of an impression.
Winner: Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D.
The Blade vs. Orange Cassidy
The Blade is out first, and he thinks Cassidy won’t even make it to the ring. After a few seconds of Orange Cassidy’s intro (but no Orange Cassidy), Blade demands to have his hand raised. Orange Cassidy sneaks into the ring from behind, and the fight is on! He attempts to end it immediately with the Orange Punch before Blade slips out of the ring to regroup. After a minute of back and forth, Blade fakes a knee injury to take control of the match. Continued offense leads to the top rope before Blade drops Cassidy with a Gutwrench Bomb that got the gasp of the night and an obligatory “holy shit!” chant as Orange Cassidy twitched on the floor outside.
In typical Orange fashion, he just won’t die. It isn’t long before he’s dodging and floating again and the two trade high-impact offense…until the inevitable appearance of the brass knuckles, that is. After weeks of repeated brass knuckle sandwiches, Orange Cassidy is finally able to dodge the cheap shot and hit the Orange Punch for the 3-count.
Winner: Orange Cassidy
After the match, Orange Cassidy shows the ref the knuckles that The Blade had hidden away before putting them on and nailing Blade with a loaded Orange Punch that turns out Blade’s lights. Backstage, Alex Marvez is standing with Chris Jericho. All we can see of Jericho is his right shoulder. He’s wearing the jacket with the huge spikes (crowd noise rumbles a bit).
He says that if MJF is going to bring in the most violent and demented man in the business today to face him, then he’s going to have to call upon the most violent and demented version of himself (serious crowd rumbling). He turns around to reveal the Painmaker facepaint before donning the hate and snarling (crowd noise boils over and booms). That’s the beauty of the G.O.A.T.- even his least used persona is iconic!
Lance Archer vs. Jon Moxley for the IWGP US Championship
A water bottle comes flying out of the tunnel at the end of the floor, and outcomes Jon Moxley to the crowd’s chorus of “Wild Thing”. He makes a tour through the floor seats of AEW Fyter Fest Night Two, before hitting the ring. Archer is out last, hurling kendo sticks as he makes the proverbial bee-line for the ring. Jake “The Snake” Roberts follows in one of the sickest ring jackets I’ve ever seen. The two men trade a nearly comical number of forearms and kendo stick shots before Archer throws his entire bulk in a human cannonball that sends Moxley rag-dolled to the outside. Archer follows it up with a 273-pound flying senton to the floor that probably made Mick Foley smile upon hearing the thud. Archer clubs Moxley more before putting him through the barricade and out into the crowd. The ensuing exchange of fists leads the two back around to the other end of the ring before Archer grabs a “random” fan and using him as a human missile, hurling him into Jon Moxley. The floor padding is the next thing to go before Moxley hits a flat Paradigm Shift on the concrete. A bleeding Archer barely has time to register what his name is before Moxley starts in on his head and face with a fork from one of his cargo pockets.
With the emergence of cutlery apparently meaning we’ve devolved further, Moxley eats a trashcan lid that’s on the end of Lance Archer’s fist before eating the trashcan itself. Archer sets up two chairs for what would be a backbreaking Black Out, but Moxley slips out and goes to the great equalizer. Moxley’s grin is unsettling, and once he turns the two chairs around so their backs are together you start to realize how bad this could be.
Archer senses the opening, however, and plants Moxley as squarely in the middle of those two chairs as possible, and it’s every bit as hideous as you’d expect. I love hearing cries of “No! God no!” and “Why would you do that?” from the folks around me; that’s when you know the match has made a connection.
Moxley manages to mount a comeback despite suffering the nastiest chokeslam on chairs spot that I’ve ever seen, throwing that big lariat and hitting another Paradigm Shift (sans concrete this time). Middle fingers are exchanged and more fork action occurs. Moxley sets up two barbed-wire covered boards on a pair of tables outside the ring (on my side of the ring, no less!). As Moxley slides back into the ring, Archer decides he’s had enough. He has his own fork, and he proceeds to put in wet work on Moxley’s face before dragging him over the apron and blasting him through a stack of wood and barbed wire. The count is on with the ref and the crowd, loud as hell.
After the match, Lance Archer celebrates with his hometown crowd. He’s interrupted by Hikuleo, who will be his first challenger. Hikuleo leaves peacefully and gives Archer his moment with his family and friends, and he cuts the kind of hometown promo that reminds us of what we all love about old-school pro wrestling. Fyter Fest Night Two closes out with a rowdy, Texas-sized celebration with the new IWGP US Champion at AEW Fyter Fest Night Two.
Winner: Lance Archer
What a show AEW Fyter Fest Night Two was. As a lifelong wrestling fan who’s been to numerous house shows and televised shows for WWE and WCW going all the way back to my first show in 1986, it’s fair to say I’ve seen a lot of great and not-so-great wrestling. I’ve been to WrestleMania twice (X-7 and 32) as well as SummerSlam in 2003 and WCW Uncensored in 1996. I was there for TLC 2 when Jeff Hardy took the world’s biggest Spear from Edge. I saw Sting face-off with Hogan and Rodman.
That’s not to brag but simply to reinforce how critical I am of the sport that I’ve loved my whole life. The impression I walked away from my first AEW show with is that of a company that feels quite a bit like the old WCW of the mid-nineties, a show on the edge of breaking something wide open. The energy from the performers and the fans was off the charts. And while I know we’re all happy to be in public and enjoying shows again after the nightmare of 2020 and early 2021, it’s not just the relief of rejoining society and the wrestling world that I felt. It’s momentum. And that’s a good thing for all wrestling fans, no matter whether you prefer AEW or WWE.
Professional wrestling is a cyclical and fan-driven sport in a way that the major pro sports can never really be, and the direction we’re going in is up. Let’s enjoy the ride.