Looking At Hardy, Regal, & Van Zant

Last night’s post-Revolution Dynamite proved to be an action-packed episode, and while not everything was perfect, it highlighted some of the main differences between Tony Khan’s upstart league and Vince McMahon’s sports entertainment empire.

The opening segment of the show saw Eddie Kingston go to the ring to cut an emotional promo alongside Chris Jericho, and it looked to be a matter of time until the rumored heel turn took place, especially after the inaugural AEW champion refused to shake Kingston’s hand at the pay-per-view. When Daniel Garcia and 2.0 hit the ring, I found it somewhat odd that they weren’t doing much to Jericho before Santa and Ortiz made the save. As we saw, Jericho hit Ortiz with the baseball bat to, in fact, turn heel to joined forces with Hager, 2.0, and Garcia to form a new stable. This was really brilliantly done because that slight wrinkle in the fabric of the angle kept it from being too predictable. At the same time, Jericho has gotten himself in great shape recent and looks to be rejuvenated to have yet another fresh run in All Elite Wrestling. I have to be honest, Jericho is one of the best of all-time, and this isn’t meant as a criticism toward him, but I assumed that prehaps he was near the conclusion of his in-ring career since he had done more or less what there was for him to do in AEW. That being said, the sports entertainment angle is a way to keep him relevant and also to bring a spotlight to 2.0 as well as Daniel Garcia, which is similar to what the original Inner Circle did for Proud and Powerful. The sports entertainment basis for the faction will immediately give Jericho something meaningful to do as a heel because the company is based on pro wrestling. Kingston reunited with Santana and Ortiz will give Proud and Powerful more exposure of television so this should be an angle that benefits everyone.

As expected Jeff Hardy made his All Elite debut when he made the save for his brother, Matt after he was attacked by the AHFO. This wasn’t shocking because Jeff Hardy, who the WWE incorrectly assumed had more personal problems after he left a house show match early a few months ago, is still a very popular star among casual fans. As far as wise investments, Jeff is obviously toward the latter stage of his in-ring career, but his level of star power is one of the few things that can legitimately increase the exposure for the product. Sure, the Hardy Boys reunion has been done before, but it’s been a few years since they had a stint as a team in WWE so there’s still a fresh run for them as a duo in AEW, particularly because there are new teams for them to have matches against in the promotion.

Again, I don’t think the Hardys in 2022 are going to do the high spot ladder matches of twenty years ago, and they shouldn’t, but the investment of the Jeff Hardy signing is very worthwhile because he’s a guy that, despite being used as just another mid-card on WWE programming in recent years, can move numbers for a main stream audience. More than anything, Khan signed a level of star power that isn’t often on the free agent market.

William Regal cut an emotional in-ring promo and it’s truly great to see him get the reaction from the crowd. As I said before, I will never understand how the WWE could release one of the brightest minds in the history of the industry, but this was a huge acquisition on every level for All Elite Wrestling. Coaching, training, scouting, and as a television performer, Regal is a undeniable asset for the company. Speaking of star power, if Tony Khan wanted to book Moxley and Danielson as a tag team then it makes sense for them to have some major matches as far as bouts that can be built for pay-per-view. For whatever reason, The Briscoes still haven’t inked an AEW deal, but they would be stellar opponents. Already on the roster, FTR vs. Moxley and Danielson could be a money match as well. Basically, the level of star power of Moxley and Danielson should be used to elevate the tag division, not necessarily an angle to keep them busy while Adam Cole is in the world title scene.

The conclusion of the broadcast saw Scorpio Sky beat Sammy Guevara for the TNT title, which is completely fine because Sky is probably better then how he was used on television recently, but the post-match angle has a lot of work to do before it will be worthwhile among the AEW landscape. Former UFC fighter, Paige Van Zant attacked Tay Conti and signed and AEW contract. As mentioned before, Tony Khan offers contracts the way that Oprah gives away cars. Obviously, it’s important that Van Zant get the experience to be a decent in-ring wrestler, especially when the stage is national television, but more important than that, the entire American Top Team angle has to be refreshed. The last time Dan Lambert cut a promo in the ring, it was during that horrendous segment with Brandi, and the reaction to that segment took a lot of steam away from the Lambert faction. Ethan Page has the potential to be one of the best heels in the company, but more recently, he was just a secondary figure during the previously mentioned subpar Brandi segments. The bottom line is, if Paige Van Zant is going to be successful and Scorpio Sky is going to have a decent run as TNT champion, the faction has to be presented as dangerous heels.

Granted, All Elite has its flaws and rightfully has its critics. Booking two blood bath matches on the same pay-per-view card wasn’t as effective as if the dog collar match was booked as the only bloody bout. Sting jumping off the balcony through two tables minutes before the main event put Adam Page and Adam Cole in a difficult spot. That being said, the biggest difference here is that AEW progresses its product, and if you missed Dynamite then you missed the formation of Jericho’s new group, as well as a the TNT title switch. On the flip side, the WWE product is booked around Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. For the past few years, specifically since the company signed the mega TV deals, you could skip a month of Raw without actually missing anything important to the storylines. Still, any criticism of that is rather moot, at least right now because it’s difficult to argument with the WWE model when the company is more profitable now than any other time in its history. It will be interesting to see how the dynamics of each company shift in the future because AEW is at least attempt to make new stars, while the WWE has the same main event this year for Wrestlemania that was the main event of the show seven years ago.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta