I don't typically watch AEW pay-per-views live, but this show was intriguing to me, and I made a last-minute decision to watch along. Let's see what happens here...
I've been watching The Buy In for all of 10 minutes, and I'm already fed up with RJ City. I get he's a funny guy, but this run as the backstage interviewer shtick just isn't working...
I will be honest: I didn't love Ricky Starks vs. Chris Jericho as an opener. Starks just doesn't do it for me, and he didn't exactly redeem himself here. I completely get the idea of elevating new talent, it just didn't seem like the stars were aligned. Jericho is one AEW's true pillars. The loss certainly doesn't kill him, but he could have easily hid behind the Floyd finish and pulled a coward-style win here.
Jungle Jack Perry vs. Christian Cage absolutely should have been the opener. The whole thing felt like a real grudge match/street fight (so many matches billed like that don't) and the crowd was all over every move. Perry needed a decisive win like this to move on from this lengthy feud (and I'm wondering whether Christian's AEW contract is near its end?). Awesome match overall - so much fun.
AEW often gets criticized for not telling stories in the ring, particularly with the likes of The Young Bucks. But that definitely wasn't the case when The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega took on The House of Black. Even just looking at these two teams, you could tell what the story was, and both trios took their time letting the story play out instead of turning it into a twenty-minute spotfest. The mini-match between Omega and Malakai Black was tremendous, and the interference from Julia Hart, while somewhat telegraphed, worked really well. The finish was so well executed, and there's no doubt in my mind that The House of Black are very deserving Trios Champions. I've finally become real fans of the act (I wasn't as much at the beginning).
Jamie Hayter vs. Ruby Soho vs. Saraya wasn't bad but I was somehow expecting more. There idea of all three women constantly in the ring at once got tiresome at points, and the finish kind of came out of nowhere. I wasn't really a fun of the "turn" afterwards, either, given Ruby could have aligned with Saraya and Toni Storm earlier to take out Hayter. No? Meh.
Hangman Adam Page vs. Jon Moxley was even more brutal than I expected, with tons of gore, weapons and dangerous-looking moves. Although the barbed-wire and bricks were clearly (at least partly) gimmicked, it didn't take away much from the pace of the match. Page needed a win here to redeem himself, and now he can finally be considered in the main event picture again. I loved the brutality and blood, but I do believe AEW goes to this well far too often.
Wardlow vs. Samoa Joe didn't particularly hold my interest for most of the match. Both guys are fantastic when they are better dominating smaller opponents, whereas this felt on the slow and plodding side. The ending kind of came out of nowhere (thought for sure Samoa Joe would ounce back). I get why the finish happened, and hopefully Powerhouse Hobbs can get a better match than these guys could.
The Acclaimed vs. The Gunns vs. Orange Cassidy & Danhausen vs. Jeff Jarrett & Jay Lethal was the perfect re-set type match after a few fairly heavy matches. It was entertaining as hell and honestly, one of my favorite matches on the show in terms of watchability. Some great sideshow interference from Satnam Singh, Sonjay Dutt, Billy Gunn and Danhausen, but the match itself had lots of fun moments.
And as if that match wasn't fun enough... the return of FTR was just about perfect (apart from Dax's quick bloodying) and sets up a great rivalry. I assume this means they're sticking around?
No matter who is competing in an Iron Man match, they are very tough to hold the audience's interest. Honestly, I'm not sure I'd want to be in the crowd for this after three-plus hours of PPV action, just because the fatigue has probably begun to set in. Still, I went into this optimistic that Bryan Danielson and MJF could put on a decent show.
The first 20 minutes or so of the match lagged as they paced themselves for a longer match ahead, and it was obvious they were dipping into the smoke and mirrors early on.
Things started picking up with a fun series of pinning sequences and the first pinfall in Danielson's favor, then another fall. Two quick pins by MJF in rapid succession is something that I don't believe has been done before, and a good way to keep people into the match.
The final 20 minutes were excellent, with MJF getting the fall advantage, and Bryan trying everything to tie things up. I will say, I'm not sure a diving headbutt was the best choice for someone with concussion issues to try. Unlike the Texas Death Match from earlier, both men bleeding seemed to be more meaningful in this match. Tying things up at about the 10 minute mark definitely kicked things up a notch.
The final few minutes in this match were a masterclass in emotion and storyteling. Even though I figured they were headed to a draw at that point, it was edge of your seat viewing. I honestly expected the show to end in a draw and go off the air... so the sudden death overtime was a bit of a surprise. But what was more surprising were those final few minutes of action, with MJF pulling every dirty trick in the book and getting Danielson to tap out.
An epic match - kudos to both men - and definitely a bout that put this show over the top. Great event!