AEW followed up their big co-jointed Forbidden Door event with a special Dynamite focused on the Blood And Guts, a Wargames style match between the Jericho Appreciation Society and the Blackpool Combat Club, Eddie Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz. This seems like a smart strategic decision because it means that after building for an event with outsider talent they bring the focus back to AEW’s “regular programming” right away with a big match. It also means that during the build to Forbidden Door they have mostly to focus on this AEW storyline.
The rating seems to reflect the success of this strategy as if the lower ratings were due to a part of the fanbase not being as interested in the NJPW talent and matches (and we discussed two weeks ago how the build for the PPV had its issues), then they came back for Blood and Guts and we now have around 2 months to build for All Out and do a lot of fun stuff in between.
As for this week’s round-up, I will focus on the Blood and Guts match, discussing the different phases of the match and nitpicking on the announcing.
For this year’s Blood and Guts, we had a 6v6 match, which adds time on the entrances and thus makes it more challenging to keep the first section interesting, but they seemed to have enough character dynamics to make it work,
How Did The Match Start?
The match started with Sammy and Claudio which seems to make sense since both should be able to bring a “work rate” opening. They can do good chain wrestling and Claudio obviously works very well with smaller high flying opponents. This is the same position Sammy was in the first Blood and Guts match when he opened for the Inner Circle and faced Dax Harwood to guarantee a well-wrestled kickstart to the match before the man advantage dynamic starts. Strangely, there is no mention that this is the second time that Jericho trusts Sammy to start this match.
Regarding Sammy, I have to say his character is very off right now. They have lost a very organic dynamic: a new couple displays their newfound love and affection and expects everyone to recognize how much of an incredible couple they are and get defensive when the rest of the people react with a lack of interest and annoyance. But they turned it into too much of a gimmick, an obvious over-the-top act and it just does not come off like they are being genuinely affectionate but rather that they found a cheap heat trick. On this, Taynara also stopped being Tay Conti to become Sammy’s girlfriend which doesn’t do her a lot of favors.
Anyway, the wrestling itself is fine and it’s a good showcase for Claudio. Sammy tries to flee in inventive ways to run the clock and it works but they do an odd choice of having Sammy countering Claudio and hitting a Cutter right before the JAS got the man advantage. The reason being only that they wanted to do a Sammy/Tay kiss spot that makes Sammy distracted which again becomes way too cartoonish in my opinion.
Claudio regains the advantage but Daniel Garcia gets in which is a good choice because he is another guy you would like to showcase in this match. In kayfabe, Hager would probably be a better choice as Claudio was dominating Sammy but you can also argue that Jericho was confident in the man advantage. He wanted to save Hager because their opponents had other heavy hitters.
Sammy and Garcia’s control of Claudio is mostly generic which is fine since this happened in the break but I think there was a real chance for them to do some innovative things like double submissions on Claudio while Claudio tries to power through them. But this is a nitpick, the commercial spot is well chosen because you just want people to take away that Claudio has been struggling against two opponents.
After the break, Yuta is in for the babyface team and he is great. They are making the German Suplexes his thing and it works because his technique is great and it comes off as someone who despite not being as naturally strong as other wrestlers has a perfect form. Not enough is made by the announcers about the endurance aspect of the people who enter early in the match because that should be used as a way to put over people like Yuta and Garcia.
Hager is next and we have the mandatory confrontation with Claudio, which honestly felt like they could have done more with. They worked together for most of the match but feels like the first focused segment could have gone for a bit longer. Also, in some spots wrestlers seem to have some issues throwing each other into the cage, as if the cage is a bit too far from the ropes and it hurts the match a bit since there is no plunder inside at this point with the cage as the only weapon.
Mox is the third for the babyfaces and brings chairs (and other concealed weapons) which feels like a shift in the match as if we’re entering a more violent phase. The First three participants from the babyface side are members of the Blackpool Combat Club with Kingston’s crew filling the final spots. The announcers should have questioned Regal if this means that the BCC are the ones leading the team and play into the possibility of dissension and friction in the team while the heels have the united front.
Mox makes Garcia bleed and it’s a great visual but unfortunately for him, he’d be outdone in a memorable way by Angelo Parker. BCC dominate and it’s good until they go for the sync elbows which is really a problematic move because they can either hit hard with the elbows and it’s possibly dangerous or they have to do it very softly, obviously not hitting elbows which happens here and it’s a very bad visual. This is a problem Garcia has always had with this move as the memorable spots he did were probably way too unsafe but then maybe there is no way of pulling this off safely.
Angelo Parker is next for the most important match in his life and a memorable performance. His partners are down so he tries to stooge but gets beat up and is good but then the heels get control again and the match reaches a state of “sameness”. But this is also why right after Ortiz gets in they go to a break and it’s the perfect time and the viewing experience is probably better if you are skipping the breaks.
As Ortiz gets in, no mention about him having also participated in the first Blood and Guts and no particular focus on him vs Sammy and Hager. It is just strange for them not to mention that the Inner Circle members that were in the first match are all here.
Mox brings out broken glass during the break which gets the crowd hyped but is a bit of a miss of a great live shot. At this point, Moxley feels like the owner of the match because he is the one willing to take it to the extreme side. He doesn’t even feel like he takes it as personally, he’s just happy to be allowed to do this to people he doesn’t like. Would not be surprised if he wanted to do spots with Panes of Glass but the smaller weapons like forks, broken glass, and thumbtacks are much easier to conceal.
Back from the break and Matt Menard is in for the JAS but it starts becoming about Kingston and Jericho being the ones being left for last. The heels gang up on Mox who gets his cut from sunday re-opened and begs Menard to keep working on it but Menard does not seem to know exactly how to do it. Santana is in and brings a table and a barbwire bat, one-upping Jericho on the batting department but that is not brought up.
Contrary to Ortiz, he does not bring facepaint and they don’t do one double team or seem to work together which is both interesting and strange. Would be curious to see if Santana and Ortiz would work together and we would get a Santana/Ortiz vs Menard/Parker-focused segment but unfortunately, Santana got seriously injured right away doing a Spinning Uranage.
He didn’t seem totally comfortable in his street fight attire, and had a bit of an issue raising the leg for a boot right before, so that restriction of movements may have contributed to this strange injury.
As it was, the match didn’t lose much momentum and kept the sense of chaos and danger that peaked when Mox brought up skewers and stabbed Menard with them. Sadly he couldn’t get them to stick on Menard’s head which would have been an iconic visual for this match.
Jericho gets in and right away takes some offense from Ortiz. Seems like it would have been a good chance to have Ortiz using scissors on Jericho, both trying to stab him and cutting his hair. While it’s true that we already had forks, glass, and skewers used in this way, the backstory of their hair vs hair match would probably make it work.
Kingston gets in for the big pop and they do a great execution of the JAS trying to protect Jericho but ultimately Kingston gets to him and hits him with the kendo stick. He brings out rubbing alcohol but it’s cut off. Fire has been a theme in this whole feud and I’m kinda scared about how it will end. We had none on this match, not even a fireball and while I don’t see Jericho going through a flaming table or something he may be at the age where he knows he’s on his last years and may be willing to do some crazy stunts. As it is, it has been built enough that some kind of payoff seems necessary.
At this point the crowd is pretty hot and they keep them tuned in by escalating the spots: Hager gets powerbombed through a table, Yuta and Mox bring out thumbtacks, ring boards are exposed and with the bloody canvas it really becomes a unique visual, and a sense of a unique and violent spectacle. Menard bumps on the tacks, and “Cool Ang” hangs on the cage structure upside down losing blood with a crimson face (maybe a bit too cute of a joke but it’s very nuanced so it’s fine).
On break, Jericho throws rubbing alcohol into Mox’s cut which seems like a weak payoff for the airtime the alcohol bottle got, but that was probably mostly due to the bottle having gone out of the cage and Tay struggling to give it back to Jericho. Back from the break, the match enters its final stage with Jericho fleeing the cage and climbing it.
Blood and Guts: Back To The Top Of The Cage
This may be a bad precedent that both Blood and Guts matches so far have gone to the top of the cage. I don’t know if they wanted to “avenge” the original cage bump or something but it is bad to tell people to expect wrestlers on the top of the structure every time this match happens.
As it happened, this is a good way to give focus to the final and the search for the fall after all the violence people had watched. It is now about the captains, trying to get Jericho to tap out and have a decisive ending. Tay gets the key to open the cage and Ruby Soho comes out to fight her off which is a good use of both and sets up an interesting match.
On top of the cage, Sammy also climbs and the three seem confused about whether or not they are on break and stall during air time which honestly didn’t come out as bad as an anticipation thing, other than their confused faces.
Sammy takes the big bump which I have mixed feelings about. As a bump, we all know that Sammy is willing to do these crazy things and it feels like him taking it because he was the one willing to and not much else. At the same time, there’s a cool story here, where in the first Blood and Guts match Sammy tried to save Jericho.
Jericho was thrown over by MJF anyway, so now he is smartening up, and instead of quitting to save his mentor, he gives his body. This is a cool story but in this case, the execution could make it more obvious with Sammy actually saving Jericho and Kingston throwing Sammy because he was mad at him for saving Jericho. Maybe this is what they idealized but with the break confusion and the dangerousness of the match, it just did not come off this way. The announcers also did not touch on this.
They go to a break and during the break Kingston and Jericho exchange chops and elbows but sadly no headbutts. Back from the break, Jericho puts the walls on Kingston, but Claudio climbs up for the save and does the swing on Jericho on the top of the cage which was really anxiety-inducing. As Menard climbs, Kingston and Claudio get submissions on Jericho and Menard and Menard taps.
An anti-climactic finish since Menard is a goon but that is the point. Kingston gets upset at Claudio because the point for him was to make Jericho quit (again) and not some of his goons. The thing is he knows it would be very childish to display that after Claudio had won the match.
The problem here is that Claudio vs Kingston works best with Claudio as a heel. As of right now anything to show conflict will only make Kingston look like a baby and he can lose a lot of the connection he has built. The only way to go is for Claudio to reveal himself as an arrogant fake dude and the way they choose to do that will determine how good the feud can be.
As for the finish, I would have liked it if there was some sort of a sign from Jericho to Menard for him to tap out and thus save Jericho from doing it. In hindsight, this would all have been better if Kingston’s win against Jericho hadn’t been a submission, because that could have built to a situation where King had never made Jericho tap or quit.
As it is, the match more than delivered and while the finish was not cathartic the crowd understands it is building to something more for Kingston, both in regards to Jericho and Claudio. It was violent in gross and surprising ways, being bloody without getting too graphic. Excalibur kept mentioning how many stories there were regarding everybody involved but I felt the commentary really missed some obvious ones.
All in all, it was a strong way to start a new booking cycle, return to pure AEW content and kickstart the build to All Out in around two months. There’s a lot to discuss about that, but let’s save it for next week!
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