AEW set the wrestling world on fire with Double Or Nothing in May. Now the upstart promotion has to prove it has staying power with AEW Fyter Fest.
While Double Or Nothing proved that AEW is for real, Fyter Fest provides a different challenge. Without a host of giant, marquee matches, can AEW stay in the pro wrestling landscape for the long haul?
More importantly, Fyter Fest may well give us a glimpse at the format for AEW’s venture into weekly television.
Fyter Fest might not have the pomp and circumstance or the high stakes of Double Or Nothing, but make no mistake. This is an important show for AEW.
No titles are on the line, and no big rivalries are set to be paid off. But this is essentially the first step on the road to August’s AEW All Out pay-per-view. The Fyter Fest card needs to deliver.
Kylie Rae vs. “The Librarian” Leva Bates – Buy-In Preshow
There’s no real issue here, aside from Bates interrupting an interview with Rae on the Double Or Nothing buy-in.
Kylie Rae should pick up the win in this Fyter Fest match, if only to keep herself strong within the burgeoning women’s division. The match will serve as Bates’s AEW debut, which should make her an odds-on favorite.
But Kylie Rae already found herself on the losing end at Double Or Nothing, and if she’s going to be a major player in AEW’s women’s division, she needs to pick up a win here.
I’m looking for Kylie Rae to walk out of Fyter Fest all smiles.
SoCal Uncensored vs. Private Party vs. Best Friends – Buy-In Preshow
SCU kicked off Double Or Nothing with their big six-man match against a trio from China’s Oriental Wrestling Entertainment promotion. It was a rare case of the opening match very nearly stealing the rest of the show.
Best Friends competed later at Double Or Nothing against Angelico and Jack Evans, while Private Party competed on the preshow. There’s not a lot of history and not a lot of animosity between these teams, but this match at Fyter Fest should serve a highly critical function.
AEW president Tony Khan announced on Steve Austin’s podcast that a tournament to crown the promotion’s first tag team champions will begin when AEW debuts on TNT.
The winners of this contest will compete at All Out to earn a first-round tournament bye.
There’s a lot riding on this match, and everyone in it is money, making it hard to pick a winner. Private Party got the least exposure at Double Or Nothing, so I’ll pick them here at Fyter Fest.
Michael Nakazawa vs. Alex Jebailey – Buy-In Preshow
Okay, so not every match has something critical at stake.
This is very much a comedy match. Jebailey is the organizer of Community Effort Orlando, a fighting game event happening concurrently with Fyter Fest.
As for Nakazawa, you may remember him as the guy who literally greased himself up in the Casino Battle Royale match at Double Or Nothing. I can’t believe I just typed that.
Far be it for me to agree with Jim Cornette, wrestling’s equivalent of that old man next door who keeps yelling at you to pull up your pants. But AEW needs to be careful with how prominently it features its comedy acts.
They aren’t built so much on jokes or humor as much as goofy gimmicks. In fact, much of the Casino Battle Royale was way to full of indie/outlaw shenanigans. AEW has the built-in benefit of already being considered “big time.” The last thing they want to do is come off like a well-funded rinky-dink operation.
It may be a comedy match, but AEW still needs its guys looking strong at Fyter Fest, especially if they’re facing off against non-wrestlers.
Nyla Rose vs. Riho vs. Yuka Sakazaki
This contest at Fyter Fest should go a long way toward further establishing AEW’s women’s division. And it should definitely factor in to the title scene for the company’s eventual women’s championship. AEW Chief Brand Officer Brandi Rhodes announced last week that the championship itself will be unveiled at All Out.
With AEW’s heightened awareness on inclusivity, Nyla Rose is the odds-on favorite to get a big push in the women’s division. Rose is the only transgender woman to compete for a major wrestling organization. But more than that, she’s an extremely good pro wrestler.
Something tells me this match will steal the show at Fyter Fest, as it combines elements of Double Or Nothing‘s premier women’s match (the fatal four-way between Rose, Britt Baker, Kylie Rae, and Awesome Kong) and the Joshi match that featured Riho and Sakazaki.
The Joshi match was one of the most unexpected hits of Double Or Nothing. Given Kenny Omega’s — who organized Fyter Fest and brought the Joshi talents to Double Or Nothing — support of the Joshi style, everyone should come out of this match looking like a million bucks. Omega is one of AEW’s myriad of wrestlers/executive vice presidents.
Still, the smart money is on Rose to come away with the win and continue to carve through the AEW women’s division.
Christopher Daniels vs. CIMA
This match should be nothing short of incredible.
In one corner, we have Christopher Daniels, one of the unsung heroes of recent professional wrestling history. Since generating healthy buzz in the early 2000s and taking his act global, Daniels has been one of the most prolific wrestlers on the planet.
And opposing him is CIMA, one of the biggest stars in the East. He’s been a top guy in Dragon Gate and OWE, and he was a part of the aforementioned six-man tag between Daniels’s SCU and CIMA’s Strong Hearts at Double Or Nothing.
We should get a pretty good example of what AEW has in store for its televised matches when the promotion premieres on TNT next fall. There’s no real issue between these two, aside from the match being a spin-off of a previous tag encounter.
Smart business indicates that Daniels will come away from Fyter Fest as the winner, as he’s slated to be a full-time member of the AEW roster. CIMA and the OWE contingent have a working relationship with All Elite but aren’t exclusive signed talents.
Hangman Page vs. MJF vs. Jimmy Havoc vs. Jungle Boy
Here’s a Fyter Fest match that could give us another glimpse at how AEW will unfold its stories.
The issue between all of the above began at Double Or Nothing when MJF interrupted Bret Hart’s in-ring segment with the AEW Championship belt and Page, who will face Chris Jericho for the title at All Out.
MJF interrupted the segment, saying that he, not Page, deserved the title shot at All Out. He was attacked by Havoc and Jungle Boy, who each faced both MJF and Page in the Casino Battle Royale, leading to this four-way match.
The booking for this one could be tricky. MJF is the best heel on the roster and one of the best heels in all of pro wrestling, and Page is about to challenge for the first-ever AEW Championship. Page needs to head into his match with Jericho at All Out strong, but MJF needs to get some traction underneath him.
Page secured his title shot last month, so he’s in good shape no matter what. MJF benefits the most from the win, so he’ll leave Fyter Fest victorious, possibly with a little help from Page’s All Out opponent, Jericho.
Jericho was adamant that he would not appear at Fyter Fest, but this seems like misdirection to me.
Cody vs. Darby Allin
Cody doesn’t necessarily “need” the win in this match at Fyter Fest, but he’ll probably get it.
Allin, who has a strong background in hardcore wrestling, may force Cody into a brawl. But if Double Or Nothing proved anything it’s that Cody isn’t afraid to draw blood.
AEW insists that wins and losses will determine who does and doesn’t get title shots. Considering he’s basically AEW’s co-founder and a huge star, Cody is going to be in the title picture.
Cody will come out of this as the winner, but Allin will look like a rising star. And maybe Cody will be able to afford to take the loss in his tag match with Dustin at Fight For The Fallen in July.
Jon Moxley vs. Joey Janela – Non-Sanctioned Match
Nobody – nobody – made a bigger impact at Double Or Nothing than Jon Moxley.
The program with Joey Janela started almost immediately after AEW’s debut show. Moxley was cutting a promo right after his attack on Kenny Omega and was interrupted by Janela.
There’s no way this match at Fyter Fest ends in anything other than a Moxley win, as he’ll need to look strong for his All Out match with Omega in August.
But this match is also a great place to showcase Janela, who is cut from the same cloth as Moxley. Janela came up in the world of CZW and blood-and-gut-fest matches. The two are a great pair for an unsanctioned, no-DQ match, and this is a great intro to the promotion for Moxley.
It’s an opportunity to introduce folks who might have been familiar with Dean Ambrose, and it’s an opportunity for Moxley to reintroduce himself to the business.
The Elite (Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks) vs. Lucha Bros. And Laredo Kid
The Bucks recently lost their AAA tag team titles back to the Lucha Bros. after successfully defending at Double Or Nothing last month.
Granted, we haven’t seen a lot of this feud in AEW (being that this is the second show and all). But the issue between the Bucks and the Luchas needs to end at Fyter Fest.
If AEW is truly going to hang its hat on tag team wrestling, it has to switch things up. At the most, the two teams should meet in the tag team championship tournament, but it’s time to move on.
Omega’s presence in this match would seem to invite another run-in from Moxley. Potentially a chance for Omega to get a little payback for the beating he took after beating Jericho at Double Or Nothing?
As for the result of this match, Omega picks up the pin for his team but not before having to fend off another attack from Moxley.
The card for Fyter Fest isn’t nearly as stacked as Double Or Nothing. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just as important, if not moreso.
AEW already made a good first impression, but pro wrestling is the second act that never ends. Fyter Fest is going to be a test of how well AEW follows through.
Fyter Fest will take place Saturday, June 29, in Daytona Beach, FL. The Buy In preshow will begin at 7:30 PM ET, with Fyter Fest following at 8:30 PM ET. The event will stream live, and for free, on B/R Live in the United States and on other platforms elsewhere in the world.
All images courtesy of AEW.