Wrestling lives and dies by the stories behind their characters and AEW plays by those rules. All these stories turn into PPV sales, which equals brand loyalty. This is a new segment that will look at current AEW wrestling storylines and will grade them according to their quality.
I will be grading the most current storylines on wrestler development, match quality, and story coherency. Predictions will be made on how I think AEW is going to move that story. Here we go!
1. Sting endorses Darby Allin- “B”
Darby Allin had just finished a rigorous battle with Swerve Strickland when MJF decided to come out and deride him. Calling him Sting’s baby boy and a weakling, MJF left nothing to the imagination about how he felt about the next contender. Darby had no problem giving it back, telling MJF that he is losing his soul to the business and that the belt has corrupted him. MJF was okay with dying alone without hope for his soul as long as he could take the belt with him.
Sting made an entrance and went full Joker on MJF. He reminded him that he was once Cody Rhodes’ baby boy when he first started. Sting hinted that he was ready to retire from wrestling soon, but Darby is the future of the company. He proceeded to throw cheerleading pom poms at the champion to remind him that he was a cheerleader for Darby (as opposed to being a daddy). Darby got the parting shot, revealing that he will take the title from MJF.
The Score: Darby being the voice of reason and healthy living in the storyline was a refreshing take. I liked that Sting had “saved” Darby from corruption and now Darby is fighting on the side of the angels. Sting went bat-guano crazy with his wackiness. It was weird but it definitely wasn’t boring.
Prediction: This smells like a main event match and I hope it makes it to PPV. Double or Nothing needs some good matches. The reality, most likely, is that MJF is not ready to leave his reign and Darby will face an upset loss. Is there any meat on the bone for a continued feud after that? Darby looks like a wrestler who is very comfortable with a cruiserweight belt or a United States belt, but he doesn’t carry himself like the head of the company. Then again, neither did MJF.
2. Orange Cassidy’s hurt hand- “B-“
Orange Cassidy has been the target of the House of Black in previous Dynamite episodes. Buddy Matthews had been the result of a surprise attack on the International champion. Now Orange has a hurt hand, which affects his finishing move, the flying Orange punch. In his revenge match with Buddy Matthews, Orange got the upper hand on Matthews straight away, setting him up for a quick finisher. As fate would have it, the Orange punch resulted in Orange keeling over in pain. Matthews took over quickly wrenching on the busted hand and stepping on it. A whole commercial break was devoted to Orange getting his hand crushed. It would seem that Orange would be unable to continue the fight, but he got a quick package pin for a victory.
The Score: AEW is very good at taking their skinny guys and making them look respectable against powerhouses. Orange Cassidy should have been destroyed if he was playing by WWE rules. Instead, he was able to defeat one member of the House of Black. I am not sure where that puts the House of Black members in terms of story. They used to be the gods of wrestling putting away much bigger foes in less than a minute. Buddy Matthews had to bow to Orange’s success, leaving him at the bottom of the belt contention pile. Meanwhile, Orange has this broken hand, which makes him easy pickings for the next member of the House of Black.
Prediction: Orange should lose to a heel and this hurt hand story is a good opportunity. The House of Black already has a trios title so it would be foolish to overload them with a new belt (even though AEW has lots of them). I can see the Orange versus Black storyline ending with the baby face squeaking out another victory.
3. The Outcasts want to be the NWO and Raven’s Flock- “D+”
Ruby Soho, Toni Storm, and Saraya wanted the wrestling world to know that they are jerks and evil. They accomplished this by dressing as gutter punks and being mean to the opponents they destroyed. In their latest match, they gave Skye Blue and Riho a sound beating. After some brutal German suplexes and some flashy strikes, they were victorious and ready to gloat. They celebrated by spray painting an L on Skye Blue and hitting her with a three-person power bomb. Britt Baker and Jamie Hayter ran out to start a fight.
The Score: AEW has an obsessive-compulsive tendency with their matches. It goes like this. Heels win an easy match, new people run out and start throwing fists, new match starts next week. I saw this five times in a row on the latest Dynamite. This is their insurance to make sure that even slightly boring matches have something interesting in them. The Outcasts have tried to tap into the spirit of the NWO and Raven’s Flock with their look. It forces a heel motif on wrestlers that should be pushed in their wrestling prowess. Borrowing from successful heel stables is not a shortcut to a good story. AEW has a warehouse of “violence for the sake of violence” stables and this one feels like it belongs at the bottom of the deck.
Prediction: AEW needs to get some AAA wrestling ladies to team up and kick their butts to the bottom of the list. The Outcasts will most likely get some cheap victories on Dark and Elevation before someone like Jamie Hayter or Britt Baker wipes them off the map. Maybe it would be best if Outcasts teamed up with House of Black and formed a new Ministry of Darkness/ D-Generation X.