Best, Worst and Ridiculous Booking Decisions from AEW Fyter Fest Results
Night one of All Elite Wrestling's Fyter Fest is in the books, and as is typically the case, the event had its share of good, bad and ridiculous booking decisions that may well have long-lasting effects on the young talent involved.
While the massive Wardlow, the lackadaisical Orange Cassidy and the dangerous Penelope Ford all shone brightly in their respective roles, The Inner Circle's Jake Hager's night was not quite as fruitful.
And it's not just because of the super unfortunate "Rock Hard" nickname Justin Roberts threw on him prior to his TNT Championship match with Cody.
On the heels of the first night of action, dive deeper into those competitors' evenings to find out why Hager could, and should, have been handled much smarter in one of the night's marquee bouts.
Best: Wardlow Is a Beast
The focus heading into Wednesday's opening tag team match may have been on Jungle Boy and MJF, but by its end, no star had captured the audience's attention quite like Wardlow.
The big man, growing and evolving as an in-ring performer with every passing week, was booked as an absolute beast. He withstood an errant Dynamite Diamond Ring to the face from MJF and continued to fire up after every bit of offense thrown at him by his opponents.
It was not until Luchasaurus uncorked a standing moonsault that he could no longer fight through it.
There has never been any denying Warlow's look. He has screamed "star" from the moment he first stepped through the curtain in AEW. His ability between the ropes and willingness to incorporate elements of character and story have been the unknown variables.
This contest and the previous week's Lumberjack match with Luchasaurus have given fans a taste of how Wardlow has integrated those elements to his ring work while continuing to showcase the unparalleled strength and awe-inspiring speed that elevates him to the level of a Brian Cage or Lance Archer in terms of raw athleticism.
That AEW continues to plant the seeds for an eventual split between the bodyguard and MJF suggests the company has big things in store for Wardlow when he finally moves on from his scene-stealing cohort to forge a path of his own.
It remains to be seen just how quickly that will happen, but watching his development until then should be a fun, rewarding experience for the AEW faithful.
Worst: Jake Hager's Lack of Awareness
Late in his TNT Championship match against Cody, Jake Hager countered Cross Rhodes, delivered an uranage and applied an arm triangle. Cody, though, reversed into a pin and retained his title.
And here is why that is an awful finish: It makes Hager, this supposed badass mat technician and undefeated MMA fighter, look like an unaware goof.
The moment Hager noticed Cody had leverage on him and heard the referee's hand slapping the mat, he should have, in theory, released the hold. Doing so would have negated Cody's grip and broken up the pin.
But he did not.
Instead, he looks like a total noob whose lack of awareness between the ropes probably means he was never on Cody's level anyway.
Hager was once a big deal as the enforcer of the Inner Circle. He was a legitimate threat to Jon Moxley's AEW World Championship. Unfortunately, he now more closely resembles just another guy, and that is an indictment on his booking in the company over the past few months.
Best: Penelope Ford Goes It Alone
Referee Aubrey Edwards ejected Kip Sabian from ringside before the AEW Women's World Championship match between his fiancee, Penelope Ford, and titleholder Hikaru Shida. For Ford, it was the best possible decision the creative forces could have made.
To that point, Ford had been defined by her association with Sabian. Her success had been attributed to his and partner Jimmy Havoc's interference in her matches. With Superbad eliminated from the equation early, Ford was afforded the opportunity to star on her own, and she did just that.
The Philadelphia native was as crisp as she has ever been inside an AEW ring, inspiring commentator and Le Champion Chris Jericho to label it the best performance of her career.
Her athleticism had never been in question, but after a few uneven performances, her ability to hang against the top wrestlers in the AEW women's division was. She answered her critics Wednesday with a showing that saw her rise to the occasion and solidify herself a credible contender going forward.
Ridiculous...ly Awesome: Orange Cassidy Antagonizes Le Champion
Orange Cassidy did not miss out on the opportunity to taunt Chris Jericho Wednesday night, joining the commentary team for a match or two and infuriating his Fyter Fest opponent in the process.
Jericho was livid at Cassidy's presence, even though the King of Sloth Style did not utter a word. He barely moved. He simply sat still, with his mere presence enraging Jericho.
And it was awesome.
It was such a simple bit of booking. It was not forced, it did not result in another over-the-top brawl like the one we saw on the previous week's show. Cassidy merely got under Jericho's skin and will now look to exploit his emotions against him in the hopes of scoring the biggest win of his career on Night Two of Fyter Fest.
With Jon Moxley vs. Brian Cage off of the card, saved until Fight for the Fallen on July 15, Jericho vs. Cassidy takes on greater significance as the main event of Fyter Fest. Not overexposing the program while still keeping fans invested was essential Wednesday night.
Tony Khan and his creative forces made that happen Wednesday.