Has the build to FTR vs. The Young Bucks lived up to expectations?

AEW, Young Bucks Photo: Nick Jackson/Twitter
AEW, Young Bucks Photo: Nick Jackson/Twitter /

Fans of both The Young Bucks and FTR have waited for this match for years, but has AEW leaned on that hype to carry too much of the heavy lifting?

For the last few years, few tag team matches have generated as much enthusiasm as The Young Bucks vs. FTR (formerly The Revival) have. The desire to see these two duos square off inside the squared circle extends far past the not-so-subtle “F*** The Revival” jabs found on Being the Elite.

The barbs spoke to an obvious chasm in terms of how their respective in-ring styles; the Bucks have built their longstanding reputations on being the personification of what every crabby critic thinks is destroying pro wrestling while FTR, conversely, brings a smile to those curmudgeons’ faces with their winks and nods to yesteryear (with a modern flavor).

Of course, neither team is merely the sum of their respective initial impressions. As fun as it is to call FTR a bargain bin version of The Minnesota Wrecking Crew, doing so obscures the intricacies they adopted from those teams that make them one of the best tandems in wrestling. And only viewing the Bucks through a highspot-friendly lens unfairly downplays their underrated selling and pacing.

In short, there’s more to these teams — in the ring, at least — than you think, which adds another wrinkle to their extreme contrasts in terms of wrestling preferences. All of those elements should create a foolproof recipe for a stellar television feud between these two pairings, right?

Well, that theory hasn’t worked out as well in practice. Yes, we’ve seen a few bright spots (FTR crunching Matt Jackson’s ankle between a steel chair, the excellent video package that aired on the Nov. 4 episode of All Elite Wrestling [AEW]: Dynamite), but most of those segments and angles were the equivalent of using a single lit match to heat up a frozen TV dinner.

Now, you could argue that a more fleshed out program between the Bucks and FTR wasn’t necessary given their established history. But when you barely acknowledge that history — which was already fairly flimsy — until the last show before Full Gear, it comes across as just another match on the show rather than the momentous superfight most people imagined it would be. AEW wouldn’t have added that “Young Bucks will never challenge for the AEW World Tag Team Championships again if they lose” stipulation if it didn’t.

Other factors contributed to diluting this feud. A lot of the angles would’ve worked better had the Bucks not spent the last two months teasing a heel turn. That faux face run by FTR early in their AEW tenure — which no one over the age of nine could’ve possibly bought — didn’t help matters, either. And people probably would’ve looked forward to this more had FTR not flushed away all the goodwill they earned via enduring Vince McMahon’s animus toward tag teams and “old school wrasslin'” by pilfering their first post-WWE name from an indy team and doubling down when they got called out for it.

None of these things singularly chilled this down to a “meh”, but all of it together has created a concoction that has left a disappointing taste in a lot of folks’ mouths.

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That said, it won’t matter that much if these four deliver on Sunday when the bell rings. It’s not like AEW centered Full Gear around this match anyway, so as long as the Bucks and FTR live up to expectations in terms of workrate, most fans will forget about the TV hype that preceded it. And given how unmemorable said hype was, that will be an easy feat.