Maybe the most anticipated women’s match in AEW history? Without an appearance by a debuting Mercedes Monè it was always destined to disappoint. And I’ll be honest, when it didn’t come together even your truly couldn’t help but feel crestfallen.
This is really too bad for these four women and, if you haven’t already, I recommend watching it again with fresh eyes. It’s easy to forget that this was only Saraya’s second(!) match in AEW and while the drama in her first match at Full Gear absolutely hit the mark, I was hoping she could come into a more AEW-style. Did she?
Toni and Jamie start off the match. The fans absolutely love Jamie Hayter. After sending Hayter to the floor with a hip attack, Toni would take gin Saraya who’d do a flying flip over attack on Jamie. Big spot. It’s worth mentioning though that Saraya & Toni Storm fire-up spots were treated by the crowd as heel spots. The preference for “AEW Day One” talent is strong amongst the fanbase.
At commercial break, Hikaru Shida come down to the ring with kendo stick in hand to balance the 3-on-2 advantage with Rebel being in the other corner. The action really slows down during the break as Hayter grabs a chin lock on Toni. Soon after coming back we’d get two hot tags. Saraya & Baker fight it out and at one point, Saraya drops Britt with a Knight Cap (really well done) but when she cries out “THIS IS MY HOUSE” the crowd boos and when a laying Baker kicks her in the face, they cheered. The battle lines with the fans has been drawn.
Toni Storm kicks out of a massive and scary Avalanche Air Raid Crash from Britt Baker. Toni is rewarded by dual lariats to the front and back and then Jamie hits the Haytebreaker but Saraya breaks the pin. Then Toni is able to evade Jamie and after giving her a German Suplex with a Stardom-style landing, Storm hits an absolutely lush looking Storm Zero. I was extremely sold on that being the finish if not for Britt breaking it up.
A Kendo Attitude
We get to the finish where Shida slides her kendo stick into the ring, supposedly for Toni Storm to use, but both she and Jamie Hayter have knocked each other out with duelling lariats. I have to think the execution of this spot was meant to make Shida’s actions look as ambiguous as possible. Is this the start of a Shida heel turn or an innocent mistake?
In the end, Toni takes a kendo strike from Britt and the Hayterade from Jamie which ends the match. I thought Saraya’s work in this match was a lot better than at Full Gear. She did a bigger variety of moves and overall, I thought had better execution. Britt’s work was strong as always. And Jamie & Toni… what’s left to say? These two have amazing chemistry and there was some good callbacks to Storm’s facial injury.
I think a lot of us feared for a potential high-jacking of the show should Mercedes Monè not appear. To AEW’s credit, I thought the sequencing of the entrances and the quick out after the match prevented that. But if a crowd is intent on taking the show over, there’s no stopping them and to their credit, this crowd… While I think a good percentage of them struggled to get into the match due… Were, thankfully, respectful when it was slow during commercial break and actually really got into it by the end. Even online, the fans were pretty good. I don’t know whether to feel impressed or gaslighted, lol. I know I took it kind of hard but there’s a good chance I’m more invested than the average fan as Sasha Banks was my favourite wrestler in WWE. In any event, despite what most fans, journalists, etc. would have called a huge disaster by not having Monè show up, wasn’t as big a deal.
AEW fans are built different.