AEW Fight for the Fallen Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJuly 28, 2021

AEW Fight for the Fallen Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    Kenny Omega's AEW World Championship reign is facing its greatest threat to date in the form of "Hangman" Adam Page, and a victory in a 10-man tag team elimination match Wednesday would not only earn The Cowboy a shot at his former friend, but it would also grant The Dark Order a chance at the tag titles.

    The war between The Elite, Page and The Dark Order headlined a special Fight for the Fallen episode of Dynamite, which also featured the debut of "King of the Deathmatch" Nick Gage as MJF's latest test for Chris Jericho.

    Would The Painmaker successfully complete the latest Labour of Jericho or did Gage brutalize him out of MJF's life forever?

    That question and more was answered Wednesday night.

Match Card

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    • 10-Man Tag Team Elimination match: The Elite (Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson) vs. Hangman Page and The Dark Order (Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, Alex Reynolds and John Silver)
    • No Rules match: Chris Jericho vs. Nick Gage
    • Santana and Ortiz vs. FTR
    • Trios match: Christian Cage, Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy vs. Hardy Family Office (Angelico and Private Party)
    • IWGP United States Championship match: Lance Archer vs. Hikuleo
    • Thunder Rosa vs. Julia Hart
    • Ricky Starks' FTW Championship celebration

10-Man Tag Team Elimination Match

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    Hangman Page and The Dark Order's title aspirations were up for grabs Wednesday in the opening match as they battled The Elite in a huge 10-man tag team elimination match.

    Despite a hot start by the babyfaces, the heels struck first as Karl Anderson rolled up Alex Reynolds with a handful of tights to score the first elimination. Evil Uno evened up the odds, pinning Machine Gun to send him packing. Both Stu Grayson and Doc Gallows were counted out as they battled on the floor, bringing both sides down to three competitors each.

    A V-Trigger and One-Winged Angel by Omega to Uno gave the heels the upper hand, leaving Page and John Silver to defend their dreams of holding AEW gold against Omega and The Young Bucks.

    Back from the break, Silver unloaded on Nick Jackson, delivering a burning hammer for a strong near-fall. The Bucks halted his momentum with an IndieTaker on the arena floor, leaving him motionless. The BTE Trigger to Silver led to his elimination and left Page to go it alone against the core members of The Elite.

    Page overcame a three-on-one disadvantage and wiped the competition out with a top rope moonsault to the floor. He added a double Buckshot Lariat and pinned Matt Jackson for the latest elimination. Omega benefited from a distraction from Nick Jackson, used the TNA Championship for a near-fall, added two V-Triggers before concluding with the One-Winged Angel for the pinfall victory. 

            

    Result

    The Elite defeated Page and The Dark Order

             

    Grade

    A

          

    Analysis

    A wild, chaotic and story-heavy start to the show that ranks instantly as one of the best matches on Dynamite this year.

    From the heroic entrance of Page and The Dark Order to the overconfident, corporate Space Jam: A New Legacy-themed entrance of the heels, all the way through until the very end of Page's valiant fight, this hit on every level.

    The One-Winged Angel has been so protected by everyone from All Elite Wrestling to Impact that the moment Page inevitably kicks out of it to beat Omega and win the world title will be unforgettable.

    For now, Page came oh-so-close to achieving his goal of an AEW world title opportunity, only to see it slip through his fingers via a numbers disadvantage. Keep the fans salivating for the moment so that when it is finally delivered, it means more and elicits the desired reaction.

    AEW is on its way there, thanks to the undeniable connection between its central babyface and the fans.

Ricky Starks Celebrates His FTW Championship Victory

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    Credit: AEW

    Backstage, Alex Marvez interviewed PAC, who revealed travel problems had kept The Lucha Bros from arriving on time. Chavo Guerrero and Andrade El Idolo arrived, talked trash and suggested they were behind those issues.

    In the arena, Taz introduced new FTW champion Ricky Starks. Absolute said he excelled with the team because he knew his role whereas Brian Cage was too busy vanity searching and worrying about befriending everyone to take care of the business at hand.

    The Machine hit the ring, wiped out the band that had accompanied the new champion and chased both Starks and Hook to the floor, standing tall to close the segment.

    In a pre-recorded message, New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Hiroshi Tanahashi formally challenged the winner of Lance Archer and Hikuleo for the IWGP United States Championship.

             

    Grade

    B-

               

    Analysis

    There was a lot going on in a short span here, proving it is possible to present multiple storylines throughout a show without overexposing talent in matches week after week.

    El Idolo and Guerrero proving to be major pains for Death Triangle will make for interesting television until the two sides finally do battle.

    The Cage-Team Taz feud is fine for a midcard program but it will be interesting to see how Tony Khan and Co. present both Starks and Cage in the coming weeks and if crowds force a change in who is presented as the babyface. The fans in Austin, Texas were much louder in their support of Starks.

    Finally, if you are not excited at the prospect of Tanahashi appearing on AEW Dynamite, you're either not a wrestling fan or you're unfamiliar with Ace's work as one of the genuine legends of NJPW. Google him. We'll wait.

Santana and Ortiz vs. FTR

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    Credit: AEW

    The rivalry between The Inner Circle and The Pinnacle continued Wednesday when Santana and Ortiz squared off with FTR in a battle of two elite teams in AEW.

    Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler cut the ring off, isolating Ortiz from his partner. A hot tag to Santana sparked a babyface comeback that included Wheeler connecting with his forearm on the steel post.

    The bloody after-effects kept him from the remainder of the match, forcing Harwood to finish out a match that clearly had to call some audibles along the way.

    Harwood ultimately pinned Santana to score the win.

        

    Result

    FTR defeated Santana and Ortiz

        

    Grade

    C+

        

    Analysis

    The injury suffered by Wheeler severely hampered this one, through no fault of his own. It is far too early to speculate on what the issue was, but cameras caught him and ringside trainers attending to a bloody forearm injury of some sort.

    Hopefully he is OK and makes a quick recovery. If he was physically capable of competing in the final stretch of the match, he would have.

    The action here was very good. Harwood, Santana and Ortiz all deserve props for making the most of the match to the best of their ability. They excelled despite the circumstances. Hopefully, they get the opportunity to have this match again when all four are healthy.

IWGP United States Championship Match: Lance Archer vs. Hikuleo

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    Credit: AEW

    Tony Schiavone made a major announcement at the top of the stage, revealing the August 20 episode of Rampage will take place at the United Center in Chicago and will be called "The First Dance."

    Chants of "CM Punk" then broke out among the fans.

    Alex Marvez caught up with Darby Allin and Sting. The former TNT champion said the greatest wrestlers come to AEW to prove it...even if you think you're the "Best in the World."

    Lance Archer made his first appearance as IWGP United States champion, defending against New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Hikuleo of the infamous Bullet Club.

    The big men waged a physical war, with the young Hikuleo controlling the pace during the commercial break.

    The Murderhawk Monster fought back, walking the ropes and delivering a moonsault. Moments later, he put his opponent away with the Blackout for the pinfall victory.

        

    Result

    Archer defeated Hikuleo to retain

        

    Grade

    C

           

    Analysis

    The effort was there but Archer was clearly working with someone with considerably less experience than him. With that in mind, he did a fine job of selling the second-generation star's offense before firing up and putting him away. 

    The biggest takeaway from the segment was the obvious Punk tease.

    Punk made reference to The Last Dance docuseries centered around fellow Chicago icon Michael Jordan on social media so the "First Dance" tagline attached to Rampage is intriguing. Allin's tease was less coy, pointing a big finger at the former WWE star with his "best in the world" line.

    If AEW doesn't have Punk in store for its fans, it is essentially shooting itself in the foot. There's no way the obvious nod from Darby makes the airwaves if he's not popping up at that show, though.

Trios Match: Christian Cage and Jurassic Express vs. Hardy Family Office

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    Credit: AEW

    Malakai Black attacked Cody Rhodes backstage, then onto the stage to continue their rivalry.

    Elsewhere, TNT champion Miro cut a promo on Lee Johnson, against whom he will defend his title on next week's AEW Homecoming episode of Dynamite.

    Back in the arena, the undefeated Christian Cage joined Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus for a Trios match against Hardy Family Office's Private Party and Angelico, accompanied as always by Matt Hardy.

    Cage chased his longtime rival up the ramp and to the back, eliminating the threat of interference. The babyfaces thwarted the opposition and Cage scored the win for his team.

    After the match, though, Captain Charisma caught a pair of brass knuckles to the face, courtesy of The Blade.

           

    Result

    Cage and Jurassic Express defeated Hardy Family Office

             

    Grade

    C

               

    Analysis

    This had energy, thanks to the crowd's love for babyfaces, but it was a relatively straightforward match otherwise. The babyfaces went over, with Cage scoring another win and then immediately set up a match with The Blade afterward.

    That will be a fine match between two grizzled wrestling vets. The question becomes when Cage will move on from what is a mostly uninteresting feud with Hardy Family Office and onto something with more bite.

    There are only so many times fans can listen to Jim Ross remind them that Cage and Matt Hardy have been fighting for 23 years.

Thunder Rosa vs. Julia Hart

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    Credit: AEW

    Thunder Rosa celebrated her full-time contract with All Elite Wrestling with a one-on-one match against Julia Hart, who was accompanied to the squared circle by the Varsity Blonds' Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison.

    Hart put up a fight, showing gutsiness beyond her years, but she was no match for Rosa, who is competing on an entirely different level right now.

    Shaking off a bum left knee, Rosa picked up the win with a Fire Thunder Driver to retain her No. 1 ranking in the women's division.

           

    Result

    Rosa defeated Hart

         

    Grade

    C-

              

    Analysis

    This was little more than a showcase for Rosa, who outwrestled her younger opponent. 

    Hart has repeatedly shown flashes of a performer with great promise and will likely achieve big things as she gains experience. The future is bright for her.

    However, this was one step closer for Rosa on her journey to the AEW Women's Championship.

No Rules Match: Chris Jericho vs. Nick Gage

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    Credit: AEW

    Nick Gage battled Chris Jericho in a No Rules match, the second in the Five Labours of Jericho, to headline Wednesday's show.

    Gage drew blood after slicing at Jericho's bicep with a pizza cutter and busting his forehead open. He shook off shots to the midsection with Floyd the baseball bat and sawed away at the veteran's face with the cutter, much to the disgust of the commentary team.

    And all this came after retrieving light tubes from underneath the ring but not immediately utilizing them.

    Gage set up a pane of glass between two steel chairs but Jericho used it against him, delivering a top-rope hurricanrana that drove MDK through it. Gage recovered and countered a Codebreaker by driving Jericho into the glass. He added a series of light-tube shots to the head.

    Jericho recovered, spewed green mist in the eyes of Gage and broke light tubes over his head. A Judas Effect finished the contest, much to the dismay of MJF.

    The scarf-wearing spoiled brat announced that, after holding a grudge based on a joke from two years earlier, Jericho's next labour will be against Juventud Guerrera.

          

    Result

    Jericho defeated Gage

        

    Grade

    D

        

    Analysis

    What makes today's wrestling landscape so much fun is the wealth of styles for fans to invest themselves in. Some love technical wrestling, others appreciate the Japanese Strong Style. Some love aerial action, and others appreciate the more story-based in-ring action you find in major North American promotions.

    Then, there are those who love deathmatch wrestling. And that's totally cool. Everyone has their tastes. This writer doesn't care for the uber-violence of that style, so this match wasn't for me, but it wasn't meant to be.

    It was the next logical step in MJF's quest to make life insufferable for Jericho and, in that regard, it worked. It forced him into a realm in which he had never competed, against a performer who has perfected that style. 

    Jericho overcame the challenge of Gage and now awaits a showdown with Guerrera, a world-class cruiserweight against whom he made his name in WCW. The nostalgia of that matchup, and its style, will be more palatable.

    For Gage, it marked a major milestone and opportunity to share his passion for the deathmatch style with the largest audience he has competed in front of. The match with Jericho, coupled with his social media-ruling showdown with Matt Cardona over the weekend, has MDK's name on the lips of fans.

    One of the great stories in wrestling, as documented by his appearance on Vice's Dark Side of the Ring, it is nearly impossible not to feel some sense of happiness for him.

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