Zero Hour: AEW All-Atlantic Champion Orange Cassidy, Danhausen, Rocky Romero and Best Friends def. The Factory (QT Marshall, Aaron Solo, Lee Johnson, Cole Karter and Nick Comoroto)
This came together on the last minute and wisely placed on the pre-show. It's weird that Cassidy didn't have a match on the main card considering how much he's been featured on Dynamite and Rampage lately, but I'm not complaining. Danhausen was clearly going to be the mystery man on the babyface team, but it was more a matter of what version of him it would be. He looked cool, but he wasn't drastically different than how he normally is other than not being a straight-up comedy character. This was an average outing leading up to Danhausen coming out, but the crowd was hot everything Cassidy did.
Zero Hour: Ricky Starks def. Brian Cage in an AEW World Championship Eliminator Tournament Semifinal Match
Starks and Cage are no strangers to one another given their ties to Team Taz. They even had that Street Fight on Rampage about a year ago before Cage disappeared from AEW TV for months on end. Starks is the favorite to win this tourney as he should be, so while I figured he would win here, he took a hell of a beating from Cage and had the crowd behind him the entire time. He'll face Ethan Page in the finals on Wednesday's Dynamite.
Zero Hour: Eddie Kingston def. Jun Akiyama
Kingston got his dream match against Akiyama on Friday's Rampage, but it was in tag team action and he came up short. This was really what he wanted and they delivered. Again, I'm not at all familiar with Akiyama, but they had a hard-hitting affair and it obviously meant the world to Kingston based on how emotional he was afterward. Kingston's post-match promo talking about it while also hyping up the pay-per-view was terrific.
"Jungle Boy" Jack Perry def. Luchasaurus in a Steel Cage Match
I'm really happy they went with this as the opener because I'm not sure it would have been able to capture the same magic had it occurred after some of the other matches on the show. It definitely ranks up there as one of the best openers in AEW pay-per-view history, and they didn't need anything at stake to make it feel special. The blood came early on, and they went overboard with all the kickouts, but all in all, this was an excellent piece of business with the right outcome. Christian Cage likely won't be cleared to compete for a while, so they can always revisit that rivalry down the road when he is.
AEW World Trios Champions Death Triangle (Pac and The Lucha Brothers) def. The Elite (Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks)
The song choice for The Elite's entrance was cool, but everything about screamed over-the-top considering they were only gone for two months. People will act as if they're the saviors of AEW coming out of the CM Punk dilemma, but they're very much at fault for other things as well and who knows if that stuff has been addressed and resolved. Putting that stuff aside, this was the wild spot-fest you'd expect from these two trios. I usually enjoy The Elite's matches, but this wasn't my cup of tea, personally. It looks like I'm going to have to get used to it because we have seven more matches between them coming as part of a Best of 7 Series playing out on Dynamite through January. On the bright side, the crowd was hot for this and the storytelling with Rey Fenix giving in to Pac and cheating to win was a fantastic finish. Keeping The Elite in chase mode for a little while longer is a smart call.
AEW TBS Champion Jade Cargill def. Nyla Rose
The build to this bout was so poor and lazy that it was impossible to view Rose as a threat to the title, and I don't know if it would have been much different had she been made out to look more dominant considering she's been a stepping stone in AEW's women's division since losing the belt back in 2020. This wasn't the smoothest encounter, but it was honestly better than I thought it would be. I still see no one on the horizon who can take the title from Cargill and that's a problem now that her reign/undefeated streak has grown stale.
ROH World Champion Chris Jericho def. Claudio Castagnoli, Bryan Danielson and Sammy Guevara
Although Jericho had three people gunning for his title, there wasn't much drama surrounding the outcome because we all know Jericho isn't losing it until the time comes for Daniel Garcia (who has been completely absent from AEW TV as of late) to dethrone him. As a match, however, this was top-notch and all four guys had their time to shine. Even Jericho and Guevara going at it briefly was well done. Hopefully Jericho pinning Castagnoli means they're not doing that one-on-one rematch at Final Battle next month and Jericho will have a different opponent at that event.
Saraya def. Britt Baker
Of course, Saraya has been out of the ring for almost five years, so you had to know she'd have ring rust. This was far from a stellar showing, but she held her own and the important thing is that she didn't get hurt or look out of place. It's bound to take time for her to find her footing again, but Baker was the perfect opponent to carry her to a competent contest. The crowd wasn't as into this as I thought they would be given the circumstances, and I partially blame that babyface promo Baker cut on Wednesday's Dynamite and the fact they turned this into a WWE vs. AEW thing instead of going with a straightforward babyface vs. heel dynamic.
ROH World Television Champion Samoa Joe def. Powerhouse Hobbs and Wardlow in a Three-Way Match to Win the AEW TNT Championship
It's such a shame that the buildup for this match was so rushed because this didn't mean as much as it should have. They had a well-worked three way, but this wasn't the all-out hoss fight I hoped it would be. The biggest surprise was Joe pinning Hobbs to capture the title. I thought Hobbs was inserted into the story so he could become champion, but apparently not. Joe's tremendous, though, so him being a double champ isn't necessarily a bad thing. Wardlow had an underwhelming reign, so I'm not upset about him dropping the belt.
Darby Allin and Sting def. Jay Lethal and Jeff Jarrett in a No Count-Out, No Disqualification Match
The fact almost all of Allin's pay-per-view matches in 2022 have been on pay-per-view is ridiculous. This was a new low for him seeing as how Jarrett has no business being in the ring in AEW at this point, but to his credit, he played his role well and this was an enjoyable affair on the whole. My only nitpick was that Lethal ate the pinfall loss instead of Jarrett. I really hope the feud doesn't continue.
Jamie Hayter def. Toni Storm in an AEW Interim Women's World Champion
Interestingly, of the three women's matches on the show, this had the least story (even though Storm and Hayter go back many years and that was barely acknowledged in the leadup to this show) and yet it was the match I looked forward to the most because I knew they wouldn't disappoint. Sure enough, they killed it. There was a bit too much interference down the stretch, but the crowd was into every nearfall as a result and I was pleasantly surprised when Hayter won. All due respect to Storm, but Hayter is so organically over right now that her becoming champion was the way to go. A split from Baker should be on the horizon as well.
AEW World Tag Team Champions The Acclaimed def. Swerve In Our Glory
This wasn't remotely on the same level as their other three matches, but it was entertaining enough and The Acclaimed remain one of the most over acts in the entire company. This installment in the series was more about cementing the breakup of Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland, and when Lee refused to cheat with Strickland, he walked out and left him to get beat. This served its purpose and was what it needed to be. The Lee vs. Strickland feud has the potential to be stellar if given consistent creative attention.
MJF def. Jon Moxley to Win the AEW World Championship
If you hadn't been following the product in recent weeks, you'd think from watching this match that MJF was the babyface and Moxley was the heel based on how they was working. That said, it was pretty clear coming into this main event that MJF was going to return to his roots as a heel one way or another, and I'm happy it happened with William Regal helping him cheat to win the title. It makes total sense if you've seen their interactions on Dynamite for the last month, and time will tell as to whether Regal will fully align with MJF as his manager. Either way, MJF becoming champ at long last made for an awesome moment. The match itself was great as well, but the shenanigans at the end seemed to overshadow everything that came before it.
AEW desperately needed to hit a home run with this show coming off the disastorous events surrounding All Out weekend and everything that has transpired both behind the scenes and on the shows since then. Truthfully, I felt they delivered their strongest show since at least Revolution. The length was once again an issue, even with less matches on the card, but there were enough above-average matchups to keep the crowd invested for most of the night and I agreed with a majority of the booking decisions. This was a reset show for AEW, and now it's imperative they follow up properly and don't drop the ball with the momentum they now have.