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    Saturday, January 8, 2022

    Reviewing The Elite (1/5/22): Blood, Guts, and Glory

    This week's episode of Dynamite must have been a nightmare to book. 

    Imagine having to cram three main event-worthy matches in one card and sprinkle great segments in between. Any of the three championship matches could've headlined the first show of 2022. In hindsight, I think they made the right call to book the show the way they did. The opening match was the perfect way to kick off the new era, the TBS Championship match surprisingly didn't deliver, and the main event did give a feel-good yet ominous conclusion to an already bonkers episode. 

    Say what you will about AEW's bad habit of booking their best match in the beginning of the episode, but this week's decision to open the show with a highly anticipated rematch seemed fitting to me. Aside from welcoming the new year, AEW also kicked off the TBS Era, so I wouldn't fault them for choosing to go all in during the first hour of Dynamite. So let's give them a pass on this one and instead talk about how insanely good Adam "Hangman" Page vs. Bryan Danielson II was, weird judges and all. 

    I initially didn't care for the weird judge stipulation. In general, I hate it when they try to make wrestling more like a sport. Remember when Impact tried to make the round system a thing? And now some judges are supposed to judge a wrestling match. Why can't pro wrestling be pro wrestling? If I want to watch a sport, I'll go watch a goddamn sport. But after the first drop of blood was spilled, I just ignored the silly stipulation and just enjoyed the bloody masterpiece these two warriors were crafting.

    They had me for a second there when Bryan started to fuck around once again at the start of the match. Great, another one-hour slog. But I'm really glad Hangman learned from their previous encounter and just went straight to hitting him hard. That resulted in a more streamlined pace that someone with a short attention span like me would thoroughly enjoy. Their first match was great, but it would've been better if they didn't force an hour by stalling and taunting. This week, they did exactly that. 

    And the blood! So much blood! And it's not even a death match! This match probably didn't need all that blood, but the sight of the two bloodied contenders slugging it out in the ring really added a lot of weight in every big move or near fall. Seriously, just go watch this match if you haven't. I don't need a Dave Meltzer to tell me this match deserves five stars. In the NitPickRichter Scale (trademarking it now), this match is easily a Magnitude 10. And this is just the first match of the year! Insane. 

    In contrast, the inaugural TBS Championship Match somehow failed to meet expectations. On paper, it should've been a slam dunk, right? I was really hyped to see Jade Cargill just destroy Ruby Soho, but they somehow failed to click. Everything felt clunky and Jade's greenness was exposed in some parts of the match. And that finish? That was a rough landing. Jade Cargill had better dance partners throughout the TBS Championship Tournament, and for some reason, Ruby Soho just wasn't one of them. 

    Underwhelming match aside, it was totally the right call to make Jade Cargill the first-ever TBS Champion. She was my pick from the very start mainly because she's the perfect midcard villain. While she's not ready for the big leagues just yet, she can just dominate the rest of the women's division and rack up wins to justify a promotion to the main event. After all, AEW knows not to strap the rocket too early on promising talent. I can't wait to see her forge legendary title defenses with the likes of Thunder Rosa, Hikaru Shida, and loads more. Hell, let's give Jade vs. Ruby Soho one more try. Why not?

    And lastly, Jungle Boy finally received his first taste of AEW gold and it was awesome. While they probably should've pulled the trigger on him when he was still white-hot, this AEW pillar's slow journey towards tag team glory made this week's win even more significant. While the match itself was superb as always, the closing moments were the most interesting. AEW is probably the only wrestling promotion that really values tag team wrestling more than anything else, and it shows. 

    That final image of almost every tag team AEW has to offer coming out from the back to check out the new champions was amazing. Just look at the caliber of teams this company has. FTR, The newly reunited reDRagon, The Acclaimed, Private Party—even Malakai Black want some piece of the tag belts, for some reason. I also love how these teams aren't just frankenstein tag teams meant to fill a quota. Needless to say, the landscape of AEW's tag team division just changed big time, all because a boy and his dinosaur just became tag team champions.

    But aside from Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus winning, the other highlight of this main event was the gnarly landing that twister Rey Fenix's arm the worst way possible. Seeing joints bend the wrong way really freaks me out and I was expecting the worst. But thankfully—and perhaps miraculously—he survived without breaking any bones. Of course that's great news, but I can't help but think that maybe Rey really is a phoenix and just heals instantly every time he gets an injury. Fucking insane. 

    Show Grade: A+

    Dynamite Debris That Don't Think The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

    • Man, imagine not including CM Punk in the main part of your review. Sorry Punk, I just don't have the space for you. But we can at least talk about how the CM Punk and MJF are brilliantly using AEW's ranking system as a backbone for their rivalry. I often forget that we have a ranking system and this massive feud should be our reminder to start caring about it. Top-ranking wrestlers should get some sort of perks the same way the top-ranking women wrestlers received automatic quarterfinal spots in the TBS Championship Tournament.

    • I really thought Malakai Black was slowly building a stable for his House of Black cult and the people he's spraying black liquid will be his brainwashed recruits, but I'm pretty sure he's just out here kicking heads of random people just because. I mean I guess that can still be the case, but why exactly is he wasting time targeting Varsity Blondes? I don't know, this rivalry seems too random for me to care about. 

    • Why is AEW full of loudmouth heels? I'm not complaining or anything, it's just weird how many annoying heels are currently in the roster. Daniel Garcia and 2.0 are probably on top of my list and I can't wait to see Eddie Kingston finally beat the crap out of these jackasses. In the meantime, I'm also liking this brewing rivalry between Eddie and Chris Jericho. But please, please give me the satisfaction of seeing Eddie destroying Daniel just once. Damn, I feel like a kid again getting worked up over fictional characters. 


    Ricky Publico (@nyamnyamgarbage) is Smark Henry's seasoned veteran and resident SmackDown free agent reviewer. He's a sucker for well-written promos and fast-paced matches. While he enjoys nitpicking shows, he now prefers enjoying wrestling for what it is instead of stressing himself over things he can't control. He's anxious about the future, now more than ever. His potential haunts him. 

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    Item Reviewed: Reviewing The Elite (1/5/22): Blood, Guts, and Glory Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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