AEW Fyter Fest didn’t exactly make history.
It didn’t have the excitement of being the first-ever AEW show like Double Or Nothing did. There were no championships decided, no surprise legends appearances, and no instant classics. But there was some refreshing action, some of which haven’t been seen by mainstream American wrestling audiences in years.
Stories that began at Double Or Nothing (and earlier in some cases) continued to grow. And the talented roster showed it has more than enough ability to carry the upstart company.
But the show wasn’t perfect. Fyter Fest definitely had some missteps along with its stronger attributes. And we’re going to break them all down to find out what worked, what didn’t, and where AEW goes from here.
Buy-In Preshow Match – Private Party vs. SCU vs. Best Friends
The winner of this match gets to compete at All Out for a first-round bye in the AEW Tag Team Championship tournament. They look to be using the Double Or Nothing set for Fyter Fest. Well, that’s disappointing. They did add some fake palm trees and girls in bikinis at the entrances. Which is less disappointing.
SCU dominates both Private Party and the Best Friends early until Marq Quen tags himself in and cleans house on Frankie Kazarian and Trent. Isiah Kassidy runs in, and Private Party try to double team SCU before Chuck Taylor tries to run in to help his partner, only to get dumped.
Best Friends and SCU regroup on the outside before swarming Private Party in a 4-on-2 attack. Trent and Chuck take over in the ring before Kazarian and Scorpio Sky rush the ring. Best Friends fight them off and stand alone in the ring with Kassidy.
Kassidy finally fights back, hitting a backdrop on Trent, but Quen gets knocked off the apron, forcing Kassidy to tag Kazarian in. Cool – you never see that in these triple threat tag matches. Best Friends stay in control, though, until Quen tags himself in and hits a moonsault on Trent for a really near fall.
Taylor hits a spike piledriver on Quen followed by a baseball kick from Trent, but SCU breaks up the pin. They take over beating up Kassidy, who takes out Scorpio Sky. The Best Friends hit the Strong Zero on Kassidy for the pin. In the spirit of AEW taking wins and losses seriously, we’re going to track which matches are winners and which are losers tonight for Fyter Fest.
Winners – Best Friends
After the match, the Dark Order (the guys nobody knew at Double Or Nothing) pop up on the video screen and cut a weird, Wyatt family-esque promo on the Best Friends. The lights go out, and when they come back on the Dark Order is surrounding the ring. AEW’s commentators are cracking jokes, which kind of kills any chance of me taking this seriously.
Backstage, the Elite are trying too hard to sell Omega’s weird idea to sell this show as a parody of Fyre Festival. Turns out he doesn’t have enough money to pay the bikini girls, so they bring out mannequins. This isn’t necessarily obscure, but it’s not remotely timely. Or funny.
Stick with wrestling, guys.
Buy-In Preshow Match – “The Librarian” Leva Bates vs. Allie
On the way out, we continue the Librarian vs. Librarian schtick from Double Or Nothing, and the crowd is just completely silent. For all the wrong reasons. Peter Avalon smashes up one of the mannequins for no reason.
Apparently Allie is replacing Kylie Rae at Fyter Fest. Um. Okay?
Bates goes for a shush, but Allie grabs her finger and wrenches at it, and we get the first finger-bar I’ve ever seen. I feel like I just said something about AEW needing to stay away from this outlaw/indie stuff. Avalon, serving as Bates’s manager, distracts Allie and allows Bates to hit a leg drop off the apron.
Back in the ring, Bates hits a fisherman suplex followed by a northern lights for two. Allie gets a distraction roll-up for two while Bates tries to shoo Avalon away. Bates regains control and locks in an armlock. A pair of corner kicks get a two-count for Bates, but Allie hits a hanging neckbreaker to halt Bates’s momentum.
Allie lays in a ton of stiff elbows to Bates’s face, culminating with a running elbow in the corner that damn-near takes off Bates’s head. It only gets two, though. Bates recovers and hits a pedigree, but Allie kicks out. Avalon distracts the referee and Bates and tosses a book into the ring for Allie to use.
She tosses it to Bates (what?) and superkicks her for the win. This match was neither good nor fun. 1-1
Winner – Allie
Backstage, Omega finds out that Blink-182 has pulled out of the Fyter Fest. Dude, this isn’t funny. AEW is supposed to be the alternative to “sports-entertainment.”
Buy-In Preshow Match – Michael Nakazawa vs. Alex Jebailey (Hardcore Match)
I’m really glad this show is free. Apparently this is a rematch from last year. I mean, okay. It’s just a comedy match, but still, that would’ve been helpful to know.
By the way, Jebailey is the organizer of the CEO fighting game festival, which is co-producing Fyter Fest. Jebailey gets Nakazawa in a waistlock, but Nakazawa greases himself up to escape. The announcers say they can’t make heads or tails of the match. That makes several upon several of us.
Jebailey tries to drown Nakazawa in the kiddie pool at the entrance. Omega couldn’t afford a real pool. Because it’s a Fyre Festival parody. They fight with inflatable flamingos — no, seriously — and Jebailey body slams Nakazawa into the pool. In the ring, Nakazawa hits Jebailey with a GameCube controller and strangles him with the cord.
Because video games, you see. Mercifully, B/R Live‘s feed freezes up a couple times, so I get a break.
It cuts back in just in time for Nakazawa to pull a thong out of his trunks with the intent of stuffing it in Jebailey’s mouth (ew). Jebailey dumps a bag of video game controller buttons in the ring, and Nakazawa gets backdropped on them. After a few kendo stick shots, Nakazawa accidentally stuffs the thong in the referee’s face.
Nakazawa reverses a pinning attempt for the win. This was exceedingly stupid. 1-2
Winner – Michael Nakazawa
The Fyter Fest cold open footage rolls, and promises a product completely contrary to the last two preshow matches.
Christopher Daniels vs. CIMA
We get the babyface handshake to open the match at Fyter Fest. CIMA locks in a headlock early, but Daniels escape only to eat a shoulder tackle. Both guys trade whips into the ropes, but Daniels takes control with an armdrag into an armbar. The fight carries over to the outside, and Daniels nails a release northern lights, sending CIMA crashing to the floor.
Back inside, Daniels hits the Arabian moonsault and transitions into a crossface submission hold. CIMA makes it to the ropes to break the hold. Daniels keeps up the attack on CIMA’s back in the corner, but CIMA gets a big boot up and tosses Daniels into the turnbuckle.
CIMA hits a backstabber, but he tweaks his back further and can’t capitalize. A top rope release razor’s edge (wait, what?) gets two for CIMA. Daniels targets the back with a blue thunder bomb followed by Angel’s Wings, but CIMA kicks out. This is great. CIMA counters a uranagi attempt with an enziguri followed by a running Ligerbomb and a Michinoku driver, but Daniels kicks out.
But a meteor drop from the top gets the win for CIMA. The announcers wisely remind us that CIMA will face Omega at Fight For The Fallen. If Fyter Fest can keep up that level of quality, I’ll forgive the stupid comedy matches on the preshow. 2-2
Winner – CIMA
Nyla Rose vs. Riho vs. Yuka Sakazaki
Sakazaki and Riho offer Nyla the babyface handshake, and Nyla just starts throwing them at each other. A double-team is attempted, but Nyla bashes them into each other, but a double dropkick puts Nyla down. She fights up and hits a bodyslam on both Sakazaki and Rio before hitting a diving splash.
Nyla goes for the pin, but both woman slide out from under her and go for a double-team suplex, but Nyla reverses and suplexes them both. Somewhere Nia Jax is taking notes, and not just on how to avoid breaking peoples’ faces. Nyla gets both of her opponents in a double camel clutch, but Riho makes it to the rope to break the hold.
Sakazaki gets thrown at Riho by Nyla. Nyla goes for a suplex on Sakazaki, but Sakazaki reverses into a huricanrana that sends Nyla to the outside. Sakazaki perches on the top rope and hits a splash to the floor, taking out Riho and Nyla. She leaves Nyla laying and throws Riho into the ring and heads to the top rope for a missile dropkick. It gets two.
Riho and Sakazaki have a slugfest before Riho hits a headscissors takeover. She goes for a dropkick, but Sakazaki ducks it. Nyla wakes up and runs into the ring, but Rihi hits a drop toehold and follows it with a 619. Sakazaki and Riho each hit diving attacks on Nyla before turning their attention back to each other.
Nyla hits a guillotine legdrop that absolutely murders Riho, but she doesn’t go for the cover. Instead, she heads up for another one, but Sakazaki rushes to pull her back down. Nyla brushes her off and goes for a senton (!), but Riho moves out of the way.
Now Riho is up top and goes for a diving splash, but Nyla catches her. Sakazaki tries to dive at both of them, but Nyla catches her as well. The weakened Nyla collapses and nearly gets pinned, but she kicks out.
Sakazaki goes for the Magical Girl Splash, but Riho gets the knees up, allowing Nyla to hit a release German suplex followed by a sit-out powerbomb, but Riho hits a diving knee to break up the pin. This is insane. Riho leaps at Nyla but gets caught by a death valley driver for two. Nyla goes for another powerbomb, but Riho slips underneath and hooks the leg for the pin and the victory.
I didn’t see that one coming at all. Fyter Fest just had the best women’s match I’ve seen all year out of any promotion. 3-2.
Winner – Riho
After the match, Nyla goes for a powerbomb on Riho, but Sakazaki makes the save. Riho doesn’t want the help, though, and shoves Sakazaki away. There was so much story being told in this match.
“Hangman” Adam Page vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Jungle Boy vs. Jimmy Havoc
Kip Sabian, who will face the winner at some point for some reason (AEW doesn’t elaborate), is out to do guest commentary. MJF is out first and grabs a mic. The Fyter Fest crowd boos him from the jump, and MJF rightfully notes that he hasn’t said anything yet. There are WWE guys who would give their right arm to be able to cut the kind of promos that generate this kind of heat.
Jungle Boy enters on the shoulders of Luchasaurus. See, that’s silly, but it’s not stupid. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Page dumps Havoc and Jungle Boy dumps MJF early, and they trade dodges before a big kick from Page puts Jungle Boy on the mat. Jungle Boy does some cruiserweight stuff, capping it off with a huricanrana to put Page out of the ring, but Havoc is back in, and he takes out Jungle Boy.
Later, Jungle Boy hits a reverse rana on his three opponents on the outside. He throws MJF into the ring and hits a top rope powerbomb for two. Jungle Boy goes up top, but Havoc rushes in and hits a running uppercut. Havoc goes for a superplex, but Page hits a tower of doom that takes out MJF as well. All four guys are down.
Page hits Havoc with a lariat, but MJF gets a roll-up for two. The Hangman rushes at MJF in the corner, but MJF slips under the ropes, and Havoc and Jungle Boy take Page out. Page hits a discus lariat followed by a powerbomb on Jungle Boy, but MJF puts Jungle Boy’s foot on the bottom rope to break up the pin.
MJF armdrags Page into Havoc in the corner and then dumps Page out of the ring. Page returns the favor, pulling Havoc out of the ring to break up MJF’s pin attempt. We get a staredown between MJF and Page followed by a slugfest. Can’t wait for that eventual match. MJF hits a chop block to take out Page’s injured leg before teasing a Sharpshooter, but Page reverses.
Friedman crawls to the ropes and manages to break the hold. He dumps Page on the apron and dodges a shoulderblock before hitting a heat seeker. Jungle Boy breaks up the pin attempt but gets slammed onto Luchasaurus by Havoc. MJF goes for another heat seeker, but Havoc avoids it and gets two.
Page sneaks back into the ring and hits a Deadeye to pick up the win on his way to All Out. Match was good but seemed a bit rushed. 4-2.
Winner – Adam “Hangman” Page
Cody vs. Darby Allin
Big chant for Cody from the Fyter Fest AEW marks. Allin brings a bodybag to the ring.
Feeling-out process for both guys in the early going. Allin reverses a hip toss into a top rope arm toss that sends Cody to the floor. Cody heads back inside, and Allin suckers him in for a handshake only to slap him. Allen gets thrown between the ropes and hits the back of his head on the ring post. Yikes!
Cody lays in the beatdown, sending Allin to the outside. He reaches outside to pull Allin in, but Allin drives his hand into the ringpost.
Back inside, Cody manages a pin attempt and only gets two, but Cody’s hand is dead weight at this point. Cody tries to hook a submission hold, but he can’t maintain the grip.
Allin manages an armbar and starts punching away at Cody’s left hand. Cody finally lunges at the rope to break the hold, but the damage is done. Allin hits a running splash through the ropes and takes Cody down on the floor. He drags Cody by the hand and slams it into the steel ringsteps.
A snapmare from Allin leads to a tonic that puts both guys down. Allin goes to the top, but Cody attacks him from behind and hits an inverted suplex from the top rope. That was cool.
Allin manages to put Cody down and heads to the top and goes for an elbow on the apron, but Cody moves, and Allin just goes elbow first into the apron. That was sickening. As in, like, damn. Cody drags Allin up by his leg, but Allin slaps him only to catch a bicycle kick to the face. He stuffs Allin into the bodybag and hits the disaster kick.
Cody pulls Allin out so the referee can see the shoulders, but Allin kicks out and staggers to his feet. Another pinning attempt only gets one, so Cody whips Allin with his weightlifting belt. Cody goes for Crossroads, but Allin slips out an over-the-top stunner. Another Crossroads leads to a pinning attempt as time runs out, and the referee can only get to two before the 20 minutes is up.
Decision – Draw
After the match, while Cody demands a 5-minute overtime period, Shawn Spears runs in and smacks Cody in the face with a chair. Cody bleeds a gusher. I don’t care how “weak” or “lame” fans think it is, there’s a reason WWE got rid of chairshots to the head.
Decent storytelling, and I’m all for making interesting and exciting use of the time limit concept, but the beginning and middle portions of the match just dragged too much. 4-3.
The Lucha Bros. And Laredo Kid vs. The Elite (Kenny Omega And The Young Bucks)
The Young Bucks come out for Fyter Fest dressed as Ken and Ryu. Omega is cosplaying as Akuma. Street Fighter references. Because fighting games.
Laredo and Nick Jackson start the match. They trade leap frog spots, and Laredo just slaps Nick in the back of the head. Nick whips Laredo into the corner, but Laredo hits an enziguri and follows with a diving crossbody. A couple of superkick attempts are dodged by Laredo, and Nick starts a shoving match.
All six guys are in the ring, and the Elite bounce off the ropes for an attack but are met by a triple superkick followed by a giant triple tope that put the Elite down on the outside.
Pentagon and Fenix hold Matt, with Laredo on his shoulders. The Luchas hit a superkick sandwich, and Laredo takes him down with a rana. Nick runs in and tries to toss Fenix but eats a superkick. Laredo hits a Michinoku driver followed by pair of moonsaults for two.
The Elite triple-teams Laredo, who eats suplex after suplex. Omega puts him down with a slam, and the Bucks follow up with back-to-back sentons. Laredo finally manages to tag Fenix in, who cleans house on the Elite culminating with a backstabber on Omega.
Pentagon hits a destroyer on Matt, but Matt counters with a spear. Omega tags in and cleans house with snapdragons for everyone. He goes up top, but Pentagon attacks. Matt rushes in for the save but gets backdropped over the top rope. Fenix runs in from out of nowhere, but Pentagon throws him over the top for a splash onto Matt.
Omega kicks out of a wicked top rope move from Laredo, who drops Nick straight on his head afterward. Laredo goes to suplex Omega, but we get a superkick party to break everything up. I’m so tired of the Elite, the Luchas, and their superkicks. The Elite hit a synchronized haidoken followed by a triple powerbomb but can’t get the pin.
Omega hits V-triggers Pentagon out of the ring, but Fenix hits a neckbreaker before Nick runs in and hits a reverse diamond cutter.
Laredo kicks out of a tiger driver from Omega, and Omega signals for the One-Winged Angel and hits it for the pin. Lots of cool action make this match an easy win, but there was nothing remotely resembling a story. It wasn’t sloppy, but it was messy.
Winners – The Elite
Non-Sanctioned Match: Jon Moxley vs. Joey Janela
Moxley has never seemed more excited about getting in the ring than he does at Fyter Fest. Janela hits a tope on Moxley to start the match and keeps up the attack. Moxley throws Janela over the barricade, and the fight spills into the crowd. Janela throws Moxley over the barricade back to the ringside area and slams Moxley’s face into the ring post.
Joey Janela pulls Chekhov’s table from under the ring and sets it up before grabbing a fan’s prosthetic leg and nails Moxley with it, drawing blood just above Moxley’s eye. That was fun. Moxley takes advantage of the distraction and slams Janela into the steps. He grabs a chair from under the ring and drags Janela back inside.
Moxley scoops the chair and Janela up and hits a bodyslam on Janela onto the chair. Ow. Janela manages to set Moxley up in the chair before heading to the top rope. He goes for a senton, but Moxley gets up from the chair, and Janela collapses the chair. Moxley gets a two count before elbowing Janela in the temple.
More plunder emerges from under the ring, as Moxley pulls out a steel chair wrapped in barbed wire. Because those are under the ring all the time. He plants the chair on Janela’s chest and stomps at it. And now Moxley heads up top, but Janela comes to and hits a rana sending Moxley onto the chair.
Janela hits Moxley across the back with it for a two-count before heading outside to hunt for his own treasures under the ring. He emerges with another table and slides it into the ring. Moxley lifts Janela up in a fireman’s carry and tries to throw him over, but Janela holds onto the rope. Janela lands on the apron and sets Moxley up for a suplex, but Moxley reverses and joins him on the apron, but Janela hits a Russian legsweep, and both guys go through a table.
Back inside, Moxley shoves Janela into the table. Moxley pulls out two more tables and sets them up side-by-side. Janela baits Moxley back into the ring by flipping the double bird. Moxley lays in the punches, and he pulls out a barbed wire board and props it up in the corner. Janela escapes being run into the board and lifts Moxley into a fireman’s carry and slams Moxley into it.
There hasn’t been a match like this in years. Not on a major show, anyway. WWE really needs to rethink calling this month’s show Extreme Rules. Fyter Fest has it beaten in terms of sheer violence.
Janela can only get a two-count. A slugfest ensues, but Moxley takes Janela down with a huge clothesline. Moxley ends up on the apron and eats a superkick from Janela, who pulls a ladder out from under the ring. Janela sets the ladder up in the ring. I wonder where this is going.
Moxley drags Janela out of the ring, but Janela slams his head into the ring steps. Janela lays Moxley across the tables and climbs to the top of the ladder and hits a diving elbow, driving himself and Moxley through the table. Joey Janela recovers and props a barbed wire board between the ring apron and the barricade.
Jon Moxley hits the Paradigm Shift (formerly Dirty Deeds) out of nowhere and throws Janela through the board. This is madness. Moxley pulls Janela up and eats a slap, leading to a flurry of kicks from Moxley. Back under the ring Moxley goes, and this time he comes back with a bucket.
In the bucket is a plastic bag, and in the plastic bag are thumbtacks. Hoo boy. JR’s commentary is kind of taking the violence lightly. I don’t like that. Moxley removes Janela’s boots and socks and goes for an atomic drop onto the tacks. Janela fights out, but Moxley backdrops him onto them.
Janela is forced to Die Hard the rest of the match. Moxley pulls him up and its the atomic drop this time. But Janela flips another bird and dares Moxley to keep hitting him. So naturally, Jon Moxley pulls another bag of thumbtacks out and hits a DDT on the tacks to put Janela a way.
That was brutal, it was fun, but it never got super uncomfortable. Great, great match. 6-3.
Winner – Jon Moxley
After the match, Omega runs out and hits the V-trigger on Moxley before hitting a piledriver on a table. He sets the other table over Moxley’s upper body and and stomps it into Moxley.
The fight spills into the crowd, where Omega keeps up the beatdown, using the equipment at the empty bandstand as weapons. Omega unplugs a guitar and smashes it over Moxley’s back, evening the score for the aftermath of Double Or Nothing.
Referees try to help Moxley to the back, but he fights them off, and Omega comes charging from the back with a garbage can and smashes it into Moxley’s head. And a double underhook DDT onto the can seals the deal. Their match at All Out should be insane.
So, we’ve got a mixed bag here with Fyter Fest. The comedy stuff didn’t just fall flat. It was awful. If this is what AEW has in mind for its vignettes and out-of-the-ring segments going forward, I’m kind of worried.
The match between Cody and Allin told a really good story about a plucky underdog, and it’s going to serve Allin really well as AEW moves forward. It served the higher purpose, but the match was difficult to watch for a number of reasons. Not the least of which was the awkward pacing.
As for the Young Bucks, they’re athletic, and they’re amazing to watch, but their matches with AEW so far have been all spots and no stories.
There was plenty of good stuff, though, as the opening three matches of the proper card made it impossible for the rest of the show to drag them down. And that main event was top notch scripted violence.
So we end Fyter Fest with six good matches, and three stinkers. The stinkers were absolutely godawful, and the good matches ranged from okay to outstanding.
All images courtesy of AEW.