Orange Cassidy and the Real Winners and Losers of AEW Fyter Fest Night 2
It felt like Fyter Fest's first week was going to be tough to top. There was a fantastic TNT title match, Penelope Ford's Matrix moment and even a minivan mom stealing the show in the main event.
But somehow, against all odds, Week 2 of the now-annual event managed to leave its predecessor in the dust with one of the best episodes in the short history of AEW Dynamite. Even without the title match between Jon Moxley and Brian Cage that was supposed to headline the show, it was a night to remember, with two match-of-the-year candidates emerging in a single two-hour television block.
In traditional sports, choosing the winners and losers is as simple as looking at a box score. The winner, well, wins; the loser falls short. It's binary and not especially complicated.
Wrestling, however, is as much art as sport. So choosing the winners and losers can be a little trickier. That's where we come in with our patented "Real Winners and Losers" feature to shine a little light on who emerged from the chaos stronger than ever and who might have taken a step backward into the dark.
Winner: Private Party
No, Private Party won't be celebrating a title victory at an exclusive club you're not cool enough to even know about, let alone get into. "Hangman" Adam Page and Kenny Omega's "Last Call" finisher saw to that, putting an end to what was starting to look like an upset for the ages.
The truth is, the duo aren't at a place in their career where a victory of that magnitude quite makes sense. There's more miles to log, dues to pay, and trust with fans to build before they are ready to take that leap into the stratosphere and carry All Elite Wrestling gold.
For Private Party, just being in a match like this—a memorable, fast-paced pay-per-view-caliber contest opposite a future Hall of Famer like Omega and a rising talent like Page—is victory enough.
They stepped into the ring against the best in the world and absolutely looked like they belonged there. And that's the first step on the path of long-term success in the sport of kings.
During the broadcast, the AEW announce team said all the right things about protecting yourself against the scourge of COVID-19.
"We hope you'll be wearing your mask when you're out in public," the legendary Jim Ross said. "As we will, I promise, when we get off the air here tonight."
"Absolutely," Tony Schiavone chimed in. "Take care of yourself. Take care of your family."
It almost worked as a nice public service announcement—except for one issue. When the camera panned around the ring, none of the people in the audience (with the exception of Luchasaurus, naturally) were wearing any sort of protective mask. Nor were any social distancing guidelines in place, something that became abundantly clear as wrestlers in the opening match launched themselves bodily into the crowd.
One thing I've learned, especially as the parent of two young kids, is that the old maxim you've heard a million times remains truer than ever: A picture is worth a thousand words.
AEW should lead by example with action, not talk.
Winner: Joey Janela
Lance Archer ended up crushing poor Joey Janela. It was the result everyone expected: A predictable finish that, on paper, did little but fill television time while Archer awaits his next program.
And yet, I'll bet for a second you felt a sliver of doubt slowly build, a sensation in your spine sensing an upset brewing. That's the sign of a good wrestling match—and this one was a banger.
For awhile Janela, one of independent wrestling's most vibrant creative forces, felt lost in AEW's deeper water. After early standout performances against Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega, he all but disappeared from the promotion's mainstream narrative.
This, even though it was a loss, is a reminder of who he is and what he stands for. Janela is really good when he's given the chance to be. Here's hoping this bout earns him a few more opportunities to make his mark.
The eight-man tag match featuring the unlikely team of FTR and The Young Bucks taking on the Butcher/Blade and Lucha Brothers combo was one of the wildest clusters I've seen in decades of watching televised wrestling.
The action was completely wild, innovative high spots intermingling with vicious slaps and old-school double teams until it all blended into a kind of sensory overload.
I'm not even sure how to describe it, other than to simply say "more."
No one in the match was a loser in any meaningful sense of the word, but I did have one issue that kept popping up—for the life of me, I can't keep the members of FTR straight in my mind.
They are, apparently, going by the improbable names "Dax Harwood" and "Cash Wheeler", almost certainly nom de plumes stolen from bit characters in the classic motion picture Road House. If not, well, I'll bet you could convince someone that was a fact.
The truth is, there's nothing that really stands out about either man. In a way, that makes them a good tag team. Their identities are so connected that many fans have trouble distinguishing one from another.
Maybe next week is the episode where I finally remember which is which. If not, I'll be happy enough watching the Lucha Brothers smack the heck out either. Or both. It's all the same when you have no fear.
Loser: Britt Baker
Don't get it twisted, haters. Obviously, Dr. Britt Baker herself remains beyond reproach, a role model in the seedy underbelly of sports just doing her best to make wrestling a better place.
Unfortunately, the working conditions she's forced to endure have become increasingly unsafe. She's been assaulted, kidnapped and otherwise defamed by the notorious Big Swole for weeks.
Finally, it seemed, justice would be served.
AEW refused to allow Swole on the premises—but wrongdoers can't be stopped by a mere piece of paper. She confronted Baker anyway, tossing trash that struck the doctor's assistant, Reba, in the face, causing Baker, who has a highly developed sense of empathy, to feel her friend's pain.
This kind of aggression cannot stand, man. I demand AEW head honcho Tony Khan take immediate action to make sure Baker—a dentist, if you didn't know—feels safe and valued while she prepares body, mind and soul to take the AEW Women's World Championship that is her destiny and birthright.
Winner: Orange Cassidy
Orange Cassidy is one of the most polarizing figures in all of professional wrestling. His laissez-faire approach and comedy stylings have created a massive divide in the fandom, some of whom appreciate his gentle humor and "too cool to care" ethos and others who yearn for the days when wrestling played it all a little straighter.
In his first major main event in AEW, though, Cassidy held up a Stone Cold-style middle finger to all the doubters who suggested he didn't belong, delivering the best match of his AEW tenure, a memorable mat classic against the immortal Chris Jericho.
Before the bout, Cassidy assured his supporters he was going to try—and he was a man of his word, his best very nearly enough to score an upset win over one of the best wrestlers of the past 30 years.
After months as a punchline, Cassidy mostly played it down the middle here, proving to be a deft in-ring worker with enough tricks in the pocket of his ever-present jeans to nearly finish a living legend time after time.
In the end, Jericho implanted the Judas Effect in his mind, or at least on his temple, winning one of the most exciting matches of the year. But the real winner here was Cassidy, a budding main eventer who will emerge from this defeat more compelling than ever, the first true breakout star of the AEW era.