AEW: The Young Bucks’ heel turn needs more time

AEW, Young Bucks Photo courtesy James Musselwhite/AEW.
AEW, Young Bucks Photo courtesy James Musselwhite/AEW. /

A meaner, more aggressive Young Bucks in AEW is promising but needs time

When AEW started back in 2019, it felt almost inevitable for the promotion’s main faction, ‘The ‘Elite’, to eventually go their separate ways. It’s pretty commonplace in wrestling for friends to come together, break apart, and become rivals, and the hints were all there for ‘The Elite’.

‘Hangman’ Adam Page expressed a desire to leave ‘The Elite’ back in November but ended up staying despite some tension. Kenny Omega kept being reminded that his performance in AEW wasn’t quite at the level of his New Japan glory days, and The Young Bucks became upstaged by their own Elite comrades in a tag-team match at Revolution, once again losing their chance at the tag titles that were supposed to be theirs.

Not to mention ‘The American Nightmare’ Cody more or less separating from the group to do his own thing, including going for the TNT Title and starting a competition show, but I digress.

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But with ‘The Elite’s split effectively completed at All Out, how is everyone doing now? Well, Hangman and Omega have certainly shown a lot of promise.

Hangman has had some stellar singles matches since All Out in an attempt to get Omega back on a team with him, and Kenny keeps on teasing a full-on ‘Cleaner’ style heel comeback. Their current status in AEW and their relationship with each other is brimming with potential and promise.

Cody is back from the competition show with black hair and a vendetta against Brodie Lee, but again I digress.

But what about The Bucks? Well, their match at All Out was excellent with them showing a more serious and bitter side due to Hangman screwing them out of a tag title shot.

But since then, all they have done despite being on the show pretty consistently is superkick Alex Marvez, superkick a referee before a Jurassic Express vs FTR match, and break Tony Schiavone’s phone during an interview – well, Matt Jackson did that last one solo.

The Young Bucks have been upstaged by Hangman, Omega in AEW

There have been some entertaining aspects to this, such as them continually getting fined and throwing their young bucks around at Tony Khan and at Schiavone after doing their dirty deeds. But as of right now, this apparent heel turn just feels like them being overly pouty about Hangman’s betrayal, and it doesn’t feel like there is much purpose to their current superkicking and device smashing escapades, especially considering that the people they should be mad at haven’t exactly been affected by them.

Ironically enough, just like the Revolution tag match, The Bucks have been upstaged by ‘Hangman’ and Omega after the split. The latter two have a lot of emotion and intrigue behind their characters, and the Jacksons were left resentful and slightly directionless.

But hey, we’re not at the end of the story yet, and perhaps this character development just needs a little more time in the oven.

To be fair, the YouTube series ‘Being the Elite’ does provide more context to their characters. Matt and Nick more or less state that they need to focus more on themselves. The outbursts can then be seen as ways to be isolated from everyone so they can focus on themselves, and hopefully that becomes more clear outside of BTE and develops over time.

As also referenced on BTE, it’s not like The Young Bucks have never been heels or have never had a mean streak (need I say more than Bullet Club?). In fact, I would wager that a lot of longtime fans prefer them that way. Even if the start of this character change has been somewhat confusing, there’s plenty of precedent and lots of room for things to develop into something compelling.

Here’s what can help the Young Bucks develop their new characters in AEW

Do you know one of the main things that will help develop their characters? More matches!

Think about it, we’ve only seen one match from them since they were betrayed, and the match was not only great, but also showed their emotions really well. The Young Bucks at their best are masterful in-ring storytellers, and a great match should show more about their emotional state than all of the prior segments combined.

Now obviously there has also been a slow buildup to the Bucks facing off against current champions FTR. FTR largely influenced Hangman’s betrayal, and the future feud has been brought up multiple times, notably by Schiavone before his phone got smashed.

Will this be an exciting feud? Perhaps. FTR have been putting a lot of effort into their heel status, playing up their style clash with most of the division and complaining about tag ropes – though if you’re an avid fan of those things then I guess they are practically faces and saviors of the division.

Considering how big of a deal this matchup is, however, I’m sure that they’re going to do a slow buildup. Let FTR continue their evil reign of caring a lot about old tag rules and being born in the wrong generation, and let the Bucks develop their characters organically.

Personally, if Young Bucks vs FTR is the endpoint of this chapter, then I’d love to see Matt and Nick develop this mean streak into serious and aggressive versions of themselves – whether that means a full heel turn or just as more complex faces – to take on their polar opposites for the tag title, and I sincerely hope the match itself lives up to the hype these two teams deservedly have.

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Of course, this will all be dependent on how The Young Bucks are presented and allowed to grow in the near future. AEW has overall been really great at slow-burn storytelling when it comes to the Elite, so let’s hope they continue that trend here.