The Young Bucks & SCU vs The Acclaimed & The Hybrid 2

This really was the Young Bucks show through and through but unfortunately failed to be the exciting opener I think the Bucks intended.

The Bucks pretty much ruled the match with the attempts to fight back from the Acclaimed and Hybrid 2 squashed in swift fashion by the AEW Tag Team Champions. This resulted in the opposing teams looking limp and ineffective which is a shame considering The Hybrid 2 has two incredibly impressive talents not used to their full potential.

SCU did get to help out however with an assisted BTE Trigger that allowed the Bucks and SCU to take the victory.

Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels reiterated that they will break up after their next straight tag team loss but intend to face the Bucks for the AEW World Tag Team Championships before that happens.

There is no argument that from an athletics perspective the Bucks are some of the best in the business, however their approach to matches can be mentally exhausting. I’ve started to refer to the Bucks offence as a “set menu” with a set array of flips and flops that we’re accustomed to seeing in every match they do. It causes feats of impressive acrobatics to become stale and routine. Not only that but the momentum of many of their TV matches lack the ebbs and flows necessary to give them the necessary dramatic tension.

The Bucks have great matches in them, their match against Kenny Omega and Hangman Page will likely go down as one of the best tag team matches of all time and their first outing with FTR was sensational, but that consideration of story telling and pacing needs to be considered more often or their high-flying spectacles are going to get tiring for audiences when they see them every week.

 

Jon Moxley returns

Moxley returned and despite people expecting him to scream bloody murder about being screwed, he, instead, very firmly stated he would not back down.

He said it would be appropriate for him to beat Omega and Don Callis with a bloody crowbar but believed in the sanctity of the AEW World Championship, putting over Rey Fénix and refusing to get in the way of his opportunity.

He finished by promising he would get even and then some. An incredibly well-delivered promo with a lot of control hiding a simmering rage that seemed ready to leap out at any moment. Just great stuff from Moxley as per usual.

Jake Hager vs Wardlow

The other Inner Circle members watched from the entrance way as these two slabs of beef were set to slap against one another.

The pair both tried knocking each other down to no avail before spilling to the outside and eventually taking each other out with dual clotheslines.

Coming back from the break Wardlow used some impressive speed to perform a leaping dodge and combat roll to dodge Hager allowing him to hit a hefty spear into the corner. Following up on this, Wardlow started tossing Hager around like a sack of spuds.

Hager managed to break out of the F-10 to fight back but a big slam only managed a two-count. Wardlow tried to stop the follow up Hager bomb with his legs up but Hager converted it into an ankle lock.

A kick to the face once on his back allowed Wardlow to escape before hitting a big release German suplex for a close two-count of his own.

Duelling on the 2nd rope, Hager locked in a triangle hold but Wardlow pulled them both down stinging Hager on the ropes and quickly followed up with an F-10 to take the win.

The pair bumped fists after the match out of respect. Two big men beating the heck out of each other, these are the kinds of matches Hager should have been having long ago.

Brian Cage and Darby Allin weigh in

Tony Schiavone was in the ring to officiate the weigh in for Cage and Allin’s upcoming TNT Championship match, complete with a new black belt after the original red was forever gifted to the late Brodie Lee’s son in Lee’s honour.

Cage came in at 272lbs which Taz promised was solid muscle. Allin, on his lonesome in stark contrast to Cage with the full entourage of Team Taz, came in at 170lbs.

Taz began to mock Allin’s weight but Allin snatched the mic from Schiavone. He said this feud was 27 years in the making as he’d spent his entire life taking shit from people like Taz.

He said everyone knew how the evening was going to end and said they should just get to it, brandishing his skateboard in the process. Taz shooed Schiavone out of the ring as he anticipated things would get ugly.

The lights went out and the snow fell once again signalling the appearance of Sting who scared off Team Taz once again.

Sting’s constant entrances need to be replaced with something more engaging soon before Sting’s enigmatic presence is diminished. That and they must be spending a fortune on fake snow.

Cody w/ Snoop Dogg vs Matt Sydal

An awkward opening botch from Sydal was quickly quashed by an impressive Meteora to the ramp that nearly took out coach Snoop Dogg.

An accidental punch from Cody at ringside caused him to accidentally clock Sepentico in the crowd, much to Luther’s anger.

Cody locked in a Sharpshooter on Sydal back in the ring but it was stopped by a rope break. Cody kept on the pressure with an avalanche reverse suplex but only managed a two-count.

Some impressive dodging and a hurricanrana was not enough to stop Cody who managed to put Sydal away with a pair of Cross Rhodes.

Luther and Serpentico immediately jumped Cody after his win but Sydal hit an enzuigiri to take out Luther and allowed Cody to plant Serpentico on the mat with a scoop slam.

It looked like Sydal would go for his famous shooting star press but instead Snoop Dogg scaled to the top rope, hit a 5-Star Snoop Splash and symbolically pinned Serpentico for a three-count.

A fun little match and Snoop Dogg doing a splash was silly fun to cap it off. I’m sure many will try to claim this was somehow “killing the bizz” but how could you be mad at Snoop Dogg? He looked like a kid in a candy shop after that splash.

AEW Women’s World Championship match: Hikaru Shida vs Abadon

Abadon did not wait around as she tried to rush Shida on the ramp. Shida smashed her over the head with a kendo stick in response.

Shida took Abadon to the outside but Abadon blocked Shida’s trademark draping running knee and bit into Shida’s thigh before tossing her by the throat into the barricades.

Then in a terrifying follow up, Abadon dragged Shida under the ring as the show went into a break.

The two were back in the ring after the break with Shida’s neck wound from Abadon’s bite busted open again.

A middle rope splash to the outside managed to put a stop to Abadon’s offence as Shida started smashing Abadon’s head into the barricades before dragging her to the top rope and landing a superplex.

Abadon shook off the offence with a crab pose and got a close two count on a clothesline. The AEW Women’s Champion managed to retain after countering Abadon’s Widow’s Peak and hit the Tamashii for the win.

This was an entertaining match that played into the horror aspects of Abadon’s character and the terror she’s bestowed into Shida. The timing on the card took the wind out it’s sails somewhat sadly and it didn’t get nearly enough time for what It needed to fully work but it was still an enjoyable watch.

AEW World Championship match: Kenny Omega w/ Don Callis vs Rey Fénix

You know a match is good when I don’t want to do the usual spot descriptions to avoid spoilers and this is certainly one of them.

Omega may have had a good run with Page in the tag division and trying out hardcore matches with Moxley but, here, he’s in his absolute element.

Put him in the ring with someone with the incredible ring ability of Fénix, strip away the gimmicks and the magic happens.

The counters were surprising, the good vs evil story struggle was text book professional wrestling and a particular move sequence that may be one of the most impressive pieces of collaboration and athleticism I’ve seen in wrestling in a long time.

Go in blind, have a good time and remember why you love wrestling so much.

After the match, Don Callis revealed that Kingston and the Family had captured Fénix’s Death Triangle brethren and he signalled Omega to end Fénix’s career. Thankfully, Moxley came for the save with his barbwire bat in hand and knocked Omega to the ground.

Then shockingly the Good Brothers, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, stormed the ring and struck down Moxley, hitting him with the Magic Killer.

Several of the crew and ringside wrestlers attempted to save Moxley from further assault but the Good Brothers and Omega kept them at bay.

Finally, the Young Bucks came down to the ring pleading with the men to stop the beating but ended up joining the gang in a 2-sweet salute. The former Bullet Club stalwarts reunited once again.

A crazy way to cap off a thoroughly entertaining Night One of New Year’s Smash. The opener aside, all the matches were great watches and the finale gave you the goosebumps you used to feel when anything could happen back in the days of WWE vs WCW. Roll on Night 2!

All pictures and videos provided by AEW.