AEW’s highly anticipated follow up to its Double or Nothing show was hugely successful and extremely entertaining.
Fyter Fest premiered last Saturday night in Daytona Beach, Florida at the Ocean Center. This show followed a similar format as Double or Nothing in that it had a preshow called The Buy In followed by the main card, Fyter Fest. Unlike Double or Nothing, Fyter Fest streamed free of charge to customers in the United States on BleacherReport.com. Many fans who watched the entire presentation seemed split on the show. The general consensus was that while Fyter Fest was enjoyable, The Buy In did not meet the expectations of many fans.
The Buy In offered fans an opportunity to watch a three way tag team match with the winners earning a spot at All Out and the chance to claim a first round bye in the tag team championship tournament. Additionally, a hardcore match between an actual wrestler, Michael Nakazawa and the mastermind behind ceogaming, Alex Jebailey was on the schedule as well as a match between The Librarian, Leva Bates and Allie. The main card offered something, theoretically, for every type of wrestling fan.
There was a four way match, a 6 man tag team match featuring luchador style wrestling, an unsanctioned no rules match, a women’s 3 way match featuring Japanese wrestling vs traditional power wrestling and more. So what can we take away from AEW’s latest show? Keep reading to see 5 things we learned from Fyter Fest.
1. The Buy In Matters
The idea of the preshow is to entice those fans who have not yet decided to purchase the show to take that plunge and pay to watch the main card. If you watched Double or Nothing then you witnessed first hand how fantastic The Buy In can be when done right. Hangman Adam Page assured himself a future title shot by winning The Casino Battle Royale. This event had a large number of compelling characters competing such as LuchaSaurus, Joey Janella, Jimmy Havoc, MJF and Jungle Boy. This was exactly the type of event that would persuade someone to drop the required cash to watch the main card.
The Buy In for Fyter Fest was at best, uninspiring. The 3 team tag team match did ensure the winners, Best Friends – Trent Barreta and Chuck Taylor, an opportunity at All In – a first round bye in the upcoming the tag team championship tournament. Beyond this stipulation, The Buy In for Fyter Fest lacked any real intrigue or drama. It is not that the pre show was terrible, it was just not compelling enough to merit someone purchasing the rest of the show based on what they witnessed on The Buy In.
2. A great name in a match doesn’t guarantee the match will be great
One of the biggest names in AEW, Cody Rhodes participated in a match that felt more like a time filler than a marquee match. I expected a match which included a founding member of AEW to be much more exciting, fast paced, and action packed. Cody vs Darby Allin had all the needed ingredients to be a high caliber match. There was the angle of wrestling royalty vs throw caution to the wind competing styles. Instead, what we were treated to was a slow paced match that mostly demonstrated that Cody was the bigger stronger performer. This match which had so much potential ended up really underachieving. To make matters worse we watched for the entire 20 minute time limit only to witness this lackluster match end in a draw.
The only drama this match provided was after the draw had been declared, when Shawn Spears rushed to the ring to deliver a devastating blow to the head of Rhodes with a chair. What seemed like a run of the mill gimmick at the time was actually a botch which caused a gash to the head of Cody Rhodes which required 12 staples to close. Fortunately, Rhodes was able to avoid a concussion or further injury. This was certainly not the reason that AEW wanted his match to be remembered. This, like The Buy In, wasn’t bad as such, it just did not live up to its potential given the in ring talent.
3. The wrestling world has fallen in love with a boy and his dinosaur
The crowd erupted when during the introductions to the 4 way match between Jungle Boy, MJF, Jimmy Havoc and Adam page, LuchaSaurus carried Jungle Boy to the ring as has been so common lately. Chants of “Jungle Boy, Jungle Boy” could be heard throughout the 4 way match. The seemingly unlikely and primitive pairing of a 65 million year old dinosaur and a Tarzan-esque boy has captured the hearts and minds of the wrestling community. LuchaSaurus was a constant source of security for Jungle Boy during the match and even provided aid to his non-reptilian companion when needed. This pairing has quickly become a favourite amongst wrestling fans and AEW would be well justified in giving the fans what they want, more LuchaSaurus and Jungle Boy.
What is not clear is what the future holds for these two fan favourites. In the, albeit brief, conception of AEW neither has appeared to be getting a major push. It may be that their best bet is to end up as a tag team rather than continuing to wrestle as singles competitors. Jungle Boy has all the technical skills needed to make it but his small stature may be a limiting factor. His luchador style teamed with the athletic and powerful LuchaSaurus would seem to be a great fit for the tag division. The two obviously have history together and would be no stranger to wrestling with each other. This would appease the fans and make for a high flying viable tag team.
4. The Omega vs Moxley feud is alive and well
Rewind the clock back to May 25th. AEW’s first event Double or Nothing just concluded with Chris Jericho defeating Kenny Omega via pinfall. Jon Moxley, appearing through the crowd, goes on a rampage and delivers his Dirty Deeds finishing move to Jericho, the referee, and Omega. Moxley ended his assault by delivering a powerbomb which ends with Omega crashing through a table.
We knew this wouldn’t end at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada but the two were not scheduled to meet at Fyter Fest. Fast forward to last Saturday night. Moxley defeated Joey Janela in a non-sanctioned, no rules, hardcore match. This was a brutal match that included ladders, chairs, tables, barb wire, and thumb tacks. The beating each man took was visible in the abrasions, cuts, and scrapes each presented. Upon conclusion of this brutal spectacle, Kenny Omega rushes to the ring to even the score from the post Double or Nothing beating he took at the hands of Moxley.
The beating given by Omega included the use of a suplex, stomping, and culminated with an assault with an electric guitar. Just when the beating appeared to be over Omega returned with a trash can and delivered a Paradigm Shift, Moxley’s own move, to Moxley into the trash can. Omega and Moxley are not scheduled to meet until August 31st at All Out in Chicago, Illinois. It’s a good bet, however, they will renew their extracurricular activities before then, at Fight for the Fallen July 13th in Jacksonville, Florida.
5. MJF has established himself as AEW’s top heel
His monologue prior to the 4 way match was brilliant. He entered the ring to a chorus of boos and he embraced and owned them all. He worked that crowd at Ocean Center in Daytona Beach into a fervor with his witty comments. One such comment he rained down upon the crowd was “I used to love video games…and then I lost my virginity.”
He ended the soliloquy by saying “I’m better than you and you know it.” To add to his heel repertoire, MJF mockingly attempted Bret Hart’s sharpshooter on Hangman Adam Page. MJF capped off his evening with a profanity laced tirade directed toward the media at the Fyter Fest press conference following the show. He vehemently claims he is undefeated, as he wasn’t pinned in the match and claims he will be “the future face of the company.”
For all the niceties AEW has shown during its inaugural year it is actually really refreshing to see someone take on the role of heel. MJF has become the best thing about AEW. He is the man you love to hate.
There are many events on the horizon for AEW as it makes it way towards All Out and then moves into its tv deal with TNT beginning in October. The heavyweight title has to be determined for both the men and women’s division as well as the tag team championships for both divisions. Much still has to be sorted out in AEW but if these first two events are any indication of the future to come, then hold on tight and buckle up. The rest of this year looks to be full of elite wrestling action as the stars of AEW continue to challenge the status quo in the professional wrestling universe.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @ngtriplett. Thanks for reading!