AEW Elite 8 is our look at eight things that we liked about the latest edition of AEW. This is a very special pay-per-view edition You can check out last week’s Elite 8 on AEW Dynamite here.
8. BOOM! BOOM! COLT CABANA!
The biggest surprise of the night was straight out of the Chi, Mr. Shake-N-Bake Colt 45 making his AEW in-ring debut and later being announced as officially signing. I know that Colt said no to corporate America before, but I’m glad he’s here and I’m ready to give it up for my favorite character. Good times, great memories.
Seriously, this is long overdue as Colt Cabana should’ve been a day one signing. Him and the Young Bucks embody the DIY-spirit more than anyone else in wrestling and AEW wouldn’t be here today without some of the things that he did. From Art of Wrestling to Wrestling Road Diaries to Colt basically making Pro Wrestling Tees happen, Colt helped take indie wrestling to a whole new audience and helped create a world where the Bucks and the Elite didn’t need mainstream wrestling to be successful. He’s a legend for that and absolutely deserves to be a part of this party. He’s also pretty good at the wrestling thing too.
7. Cody’s big match entrance
There is nothing in AEW that can match the big match entrance of Cody Rhodes right now. Whatever you think about this match, the tattoo, the band, the last couple of seasons of Arrow, Cody’s gear, and everything else that went into this one – when Cody walks to the ring for a match on a big AEW event, you pay attention. He has the “walk to the ring and get the crowd behind you” part of wrestling down better than anyone in AEW or beyond right now and it’s always electrifying to see.
I think I am contractually obligated as an AEW fan to give my tattoo take so here it is. I, like a lot of people, didn’t really like it when I first saw it. It feels like it’s too big and it doesn’t seem to fit the suit-wearing EVP/Rhodes legacy character that I believe Cody to be. I think it would’ve been better if the Road To segment had aired before the pay-per-view to mentally prepare us for the change because a neck tattoo for a guy without a ton of tattoos will always be jarring to see the first time you see it.
That said, I’ll get used to it. So will you. It might never get to the point where you forget it’s there, but it will become something that we’re used to seeing and it won’t distract us. It’ll just be Cody. It’s his body and it clearly means a lot to him so it’s pretty pointless to not be accepting of it and try to get used to it. He’s not going anywhere.
Cowboy Alien Sh*t
Kris Statlander and Nyla Rose really drew the short straw here as they were in the dreaded post-greatest-match-of-all-time slot on the card. Making matters worse, Statlander was recovering from the flu here and this match didn’t have a ton of build-up behind it with neither appearing on Dynamite this week.
The match ended up eventually bringing the crowd back to life and a big part of that was Statlander breaking out some alien sh*t.
This is exactly what I want to see out of Statlander: wrestling from a whole other world, a different dimension. Kris is supersonic, I wanna see her powers. Her style is cosmic, every move is magic.
5. Queen Aubrey
Has there ever been a referee who gets the kind of respect and adoration from the crowd that Aubrey Edwards gets?
The answer is no.
4. The future of AEW
I’ve been thinking a lot about how people compare AEW to WCW lately. It’s true that AEW is the spiritual successor to WCW and stylistically that’s the closest to AEW that has ever appeared on mainstream television, but I keep thinking that current AEW is more like 1997 WWF.
I’m still working it out in my head, but the gist of it is: 1997 is the time when WCW was absolutely destroying WWF in the ratings, but WWF was quietly putting together the better shows with some of the best storytelling in the company’s history. You had the Hart Foundation vs. USA, Stone Cold’s ascension, Mankind/Cactus Jack/Dude Love becoming a beloved character, Triple H’s growth, and a lot more that would set this company up for everything that would happen in the years to come.
That’s where I think AEW is at right now. This company is still so new and people are just learning about it, and it’s slow to start to trust that something is real and good and worth giving up this other thing that you’ve watched for a long time. It takes a minute to get there for people and all AEW can do is continue to put on great shows and build towards their future.
All of this has been a long way of saying that Darby Allin vs. Sammy Guevara reminded me a lot of those early Mankind/Triple H or even Triple H/The Rock matches from that period. This was the undercard of the big show with the established names all coming on later, but that didn’t stop these two from doing their best to steal the show. This was probably my second or third favorite match of the night and they did it by making every second they had count.
I can absolutely see these two facing each other again in a year or two in a pay-per-view main event. If we’re being honest, they could probably do it right now. The sky is the limit for these two as they proved here that they are capable of breaking down any door and smashing any glass ceiling to get to the top.
3. There’s a time for love and a time for letting it be, baby
Orange Cassidy can do things.
He doesn’t usually want to and prefers to get by doing the bare minimum, but when Orange Cassidy decides to do things? He’s really freakin’ good at doing things. Seriously, look at this:
The rolling was fantastic, obviously, but Orange Cassidy’s offense was so crisp and effective that I was really starting to think that Trying Orange Cassidy might be the best wrestler in the world.
The crowd live was red hot throughout this match and my only complaint of the whole show might be the “this is wrestling” chant that broke out here. I haven’t had a chance to re-watch it, but in the moment it felt like one of those tongue-in-cheek “this is wrestling” chants you get at a themed WrestleMania weekend show. Not that there’s anything wrong with that per se, but it’s just not what this was.
This wasn’t a joke. This actually was wrestling!
2. New Champ
Everything from the entrances to the finish of Chris Jericho vs. Jon Moxley was exactly what it needed to be. This didn’t need to be the match of the night or the match of the year to tell the story that needed to be told. This was Jon Moxley proving that Chris Jericho and his way of doing things is wrong, and Mox’s way of doing things is right. It was Mox proving that he is the better wrestler and proving that he is the guy that should be the face of AEW.
I’ve seen some (minor) complaints online that AEW’s first two champions have both been former WWE guys, but to me that couldn’t be further from the truth. First of all, WWE employs like 250 wrestlers at this point so finding someone who has never been there is almost impossible. Second, I think Chris Jericho transcends companies while Jon Moxley is about as far from a “WWE guy” that I can imagine.
The only thing that Jon Moxley has in common with the guy who wrestled in WWE is the way his face looks. Everything else about him is fresh and new. He’s rebuilt himself to run as far away from that character from that other company as humanly possible. That’s exactly what that era of his career was to Jon Moxley too: a character.
While the Jon Moxley that you see in AEW is anything but. He’s real, he’s happy, he’s violence, he’s heart, he’s napalm death, and he’s the new AEW World Championship.
Moxley’s win here is proof of concept. It would be very easy for Jericho to have won this match and continue doing exactly what he’s been doing. It’s been working for AEW and made for some great television, but it’s not the change that we signed up for. Moxley can be that change. I can’t think of a more “AEW guy” than Jon Moxley right now and I’m excited to see what his title reign holds for us.
1. The best match I’ve ever seen
Going in to Kenny Omega & Adam Page versus the Young Bucks, it felt like it had a chance to be “an emotionally charged, couples therapy version” of Page & Omega vs. the Lucha Brothers and it somehow even outdid those lofty expectations. What do I even say here? This was fantastic. Everything about this was fantastic.
Some of my favorite moments:
- I was fully prepared to boo the Young Bucks after last week’s Dynamite, but even I was surprised to see the entire crowd join me. It just goes to show how over Adam Page is right now. The guy can do no wrong, even when he’s spitting in his friend’s face.
- Kenny Omega clearly feeling the effects of last week’s match with PAC which made him a target throughout the match. The heart taking that throughout the match and the fire he showed here just further proves to me why this guy is still one of the best at this.
- To a lot of people, the Elite has always been Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, and those other guys so the symbolism of Adam Page busting out the Marty Scurll style chicken wing was not lost on me.
- Speaking of symbolism how rude of the Young Bucks to bust out the Golden Trigger, Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi’s finishing move, complete with taunt. Kenny has said that he didn’t ask Ibushi to join AEW because he knew he would come and wanted Ibushi to complete his own goals. The Bucks, as Kenny’s best friend, would know that and would know how much doing this would hurt him emotionally. It’s no wonder he kicked out at one. He was pissed.
- Hey, look, it’s my wife on TV. I know that the constant cuts to the crowd after every big move can be annoying when you’re watching on TV, but it’s pretty cool when it’s someone you love.
- Kenny Omega failing to do the One Winged Angel because the Bucks worked on his shoulder the entire match, only for Adam Page to hit it. That was a real “I’m the captain now” moment for Page and I’m here for it.
- After that doesn’t lead to the win, Page powers up and hits each Buck with a Buckshot Lariat to get the win with his won move.
- The post-match featured a moment where it looked like if Adam Page turned around at the right time that he would’ve been hit with a triple superkick and another moment where it looked like if Omega turned around at the right time that he would’ve been hit with a Buckshot Lariat. Was this just frustrations bubbling to the surface and cooler heads prevailing? Or the beginning of the end of the Elite?
The crazy thing about all that? It didn’t solve a dang thing. These four were in the best match in AEW history, one of the best tag matches of all time, and the best match I’ve ever seen in my life, and it’s the end of chapter one in their story. Unbelievable.