Though taking place one week later than expected, due to the tragic passing of Jon Huber (aka Brodie Lee, fka Luke Harper), All Elite Wrestling (AEW) presents the first night of New Year’s Smash. A massive AEW Championship will headline the show, as “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega defends his title against a long-time rival, Rey Fenix of the trio Death Triangle. The AEW Women’s Championship will also be on the line, as Hikaru Shida defends against the demonic Abadon for the first time ever. Also on the show, Cody Rhodes will be accompanied by the one and only Snoop Dogg as he faces Matt Sydal, while The Yong Bucks and SCU team up to face the four man team of The Acclaimed and The Hybrid 2. And finally, for the first time ever, two members of the Inner Circle come to blows as the monstrous Wardlow and Jake Hager finally get in the ring against each other.
+ Kenny Omega (c) vs Rey Fenix (AEW Championship): so get this – two of the best wrestlers in the world, given time to do a match they want to do with real stakes. Obviously this was fantastic. These two have wrestled in the past, for a handful of other companies, but this was arguably their biggest match to date and they made sure to make it come across that way. Fenix has a few sloppy jumps, but considering just how good the rest of the stuff they did was you can easily make it part of the story. Omega is the champ for a reason and this was presented as a big match for a reason, all the way up until a hell of a post match angle. I loved everything here, but I personally would have ended the show slightly differently
+ Hikaru Shida (c) vs Abaddon (AEW Women’s Championship): I’m a sucker for gimmicks like Abadon, so I’m willing to give this a pass. The match was below average, but in the world of wrestling, I believe that all champions need to face these supernatural/spooky characters just for their future resumes. That is not to imply that Abadon didn’t destroy Shida in a few minutes… but lol can you imagine
+ Jon Moxley makes his first live appearance since losing the AEW Championship and cuts a hell of a promo. Moxley is one of the few people in wrestling right now that could make anything sound good, so given that he’s allowed to write his own scripts, it not only sounds good. It is good
– Matt Sydal vs Cody Rhodes (w/ Snoop Dogg): there was nothing special about this match itself, and it all seemed to revolve around the fact that Snoop accompanied Cody to the ring. Both Sydal and Cody are good in the ring, but there was no feud leading into this, and nothing on the line, so frankly it just felt like a way to get Snoop on TV. As much as I like Snoop Dogg, I don’t watch wrestling to hope and see him
– Darby Allin and Brian Cage weighed-in for next week’s TNT Championship match. I had no real issues with it, but it didn’t really accomplish anything. Anybody with eyes can see that Brian Cage is a beast compared to Darby, but that size is half of Darby’s charm. This just felt unnecessary
– Jake Hager vs Wardlow: y’all know by now that I love some big meaty men slapping their meat, but this was not very good. A few sloppy transitions and both guys generally looking pretty tired after a relatively short time didn’t do either guy any favours. Wardlow is going to be a huge star, one day
– The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) & SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels) vs The Acclaimed (Max Caster & Anthony Bowens) & The Hybrid 2 (Jack Evans & Angelico): this was ninety-nine percent fine, but with one big botch at the ending that made at least one of the four-man teams look pretty dumb. It felt very short, and frankly didn’t really get anybody looking any better than they already were
> I’m not going to consider this a negative, but it is my personal opinion that there is just too much swearing on this show. Of course it’s all of the upper-PG level of curse word variety, but they have much more of an effect when they are limited
Should you watch this event: Overall, I enjoyed this. Much like the NXT New Years Evil show I watched first (but aired simultaneously), there did feel to be some superfluous stuff that could have perhaps gone into the title matches, but of course a free TV show will not be only big happenings. Definitely seek out the positives above, and maybe even Wardlow/Hager.