SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)…
Announcers: Excalibur, Tony Schiavone, Jim Ross
AEW returns to the UBS Arena in Elmont, NY in western Long Island for this week’s Dynamite and Rampage tapings. My wife and I will be in attendance. Barring any conflict, I will record a special edition Pro Wrestling Then and Now show to discuss my in-person experience. I did the same for my experience at WWE Smackdown at Nassau Coliseum this past Friday.
Five matches are advertised along with two non-wrestling segments:
The Highly Anticipated #OwenHart Foundation Tournament Begins | Watch the #AEW Road To Long Island NOW! ▶️ https://t.co/PdCZ61ZlYO pic.twitter.com/MH09pVDXQO
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) May 11, 2022
Both the men’s and women’s Owen Hart Cup Tournaments get underway. Two matches on the men’s side and one for the women are set up for Dynamite.
Jeff Hardy vs. Darby Allin. For all intents and purposes this a battle of similar wrestlers in their presentation and match style. Darby qualified by beating Swerve Strickland a few weeks ago on Rampage while Jeff qualified by defeating Bobby Fish last week. Jeff has always been known as the “Charismatic Enigma” and you can say Darby is an enigma in his own right. Darby has talked about Jeff being one of his inspirations especially on a Talk is Jericho podcast a few years ago. He along with his “mentor” Sting said it would be a special night, wrestling Jeff.
We expect absolute insanity 🤯
Who are you taking to advance in the #OwenHart Men's Tournament? pic.twitter.com/QAzB1VTToI
— AEW on TV (@AEWonTV) May 10, 2022
Dax Harwood of FTR vs. Adam Cole. Dax Harwood won a “dream match” of sorts by defeating his FTR partner Cash Wheeler two weeks ago on Dynamite. Both men have a tremendous respect for the Hart family and said so in video package in the run-up to their match. They did multiple tributes to Bret and Owen, replicating spots in their legendary matches including the opening encounter at WrestleMania X.
Adam Cole qualified by defeating Tomohiro Ishii of New Japan Pro Wrestling with the help of frequent Ishii rival “Switchblade” Jay White on Rampage several weeks ago.
The winner of these matches will face each other in the semifinals.
Tomorrow night. #AEWDynamite https://t.co/bPLlhHKJBf
— Uncle Dax FTR (@DaxFTR) May 10, 2022
Jamie Hayter vs. Toni Storm. This match has been building for quite some time with multiple backstage segments and in-ring encounters. The latest chapters unfolded last week. Tony Schiavone interviewed Jamie & Dr. Britt Baker and Toni & Ruby Soho simultaneously in advance of their match on Rampage. Britt called herself “Dr. Britt Baker the History Maker.” Ruby said she has a receipt coming and called her a b*tch (Eye roll). Toni & Ruby came out victorious.
Only three things in life are certain: birth, death, and Jamie Hayter booting you in the face https://t.co/FCxAyf1MEv
— JAMIE HAYTER (@jmehytr) May 7, 2022
Jamie qualified by defeating Skye Blue while Toni defeated The Bunny in her AEW debut. Toni was granted her release from WWE around Christmas 2021.
Frank’s Call: I’ll be very honest in that I haven’t given these tournaments much thought, mostly because I’m not particularly thrilled about them. It’s not a big deal, but I have my personal reasons and we can leave it at that. On the men’s side I could see Dax Harwood winning it considering how much he and Cash have publicly shown respect and love for the Hart family. What better choice for a winner than that? Now there is a joker who will face Samoa Joe, so obviously that’s a consideration. The same can be said for the women’s tournament. Of the women currently qualified I could make a case for Toni. Being the newcomer to AEW it would be a nice way to solidify her arrival and push her towards a title match (challenger to Jade Cargill?). Hikaru Shida is a possibility too to kind of give her a rebound after losing the world title last year.
At the upcoming Double or Nothing PPV, AEW World Champion “Hangman” Adam Page defends his title against CM Punk. Last week on Dynamite, for all intents and purposes, Page cut down his prospective challenger. He said things like there would be no “masturbatory Bret Hart match” (referring to Punk’s reverence for Bret) and went so far as to tell a fan wearing a Punk shirt that he’ll be going to the concession stands requesting a refund. It was a change in attitude for Page, who has been more crowd-favoring during his time in AEW.
This week on Dynamite, Punk will take on Long Island’s own John Silver. According to Wikipedia he is from Wantagh, which is about 10 minutes from me and is famous for the bar Mulcahey’s. If you live anywhere near the area, you had to have been there once for a cover band! Anyway, Silver cut a quick soundbite on Dynamite challenging Punk to dance with “the meat man.”
The last time Punk was here, he was in the middle of his feud with more prominent Long Islander MJF. He ran down the area including the New York Islanders (for which he had good reason). At Double or Nothing, Punk will attempt to becoming a world champion for the first time since 2013 when he dropped the WWE Championship to The Rock. He held the title for 454 days.
How much does Long Island love me?
— player/coach (@CMPunk) May 9, 2022
Whoever makes these videos hates me soo much https://t.co/DJXuJoxGui
— John Silver (@SilverNumber1) May 9, 2022
Frank’s Call: There’s zero chance Punk loses this match. With Page acting heelish out of nowhere, it’s an interesting choice to have Punk face crowd-favorite local Silver. I think we’re all looking to see if Punk responds to Page after last week. I’m not sure how I feel about Page flipping the heel switch out of the blue. I’m old school and still believe in true turns, not these “repositions” wrestlers do these days. I thought AEW would avoid this practice, but I guess I’m wrong.
AEW Tag Team Championship co-holder Jungle Boy of Jurassic Express will look to add gold as he goes after Ricky Starks and his FTW Championship. Things got heated this past Friday on Rampage when Jungle Boy went after Starks, who was in his customary color commentary chair. Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs walked in on an interview with Jurassic Express back on the April 27 edition of Dynamite, laying their claim to a potential tag team championship match.
Starks has held the (technically unrecognized) FTW Championship since defeating Brian Cage at the July 2021 edition of Fyter Fest. The title, formerly an entity of the long-defunct ECW from 1998-’99, was reintroduced by Taz in 2020 and gifted to Cage. Jungle Boy has co-held the tag team championship since he and Luchasaurus defeated the Lucha Brothers back in January of this year.
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Jungle Punk hasn’t been roughed up in a minute https://t.co/2ipEHEsZqy
— Ricky Starks (@starkmanjones) May 8, 2022
Frank’s Call: I see Starks retaining with shenanigans to set up a tag team championship match. It’s hard to get too invested in a title that’s technically unrecognized. I’m more interested in the tag match to be perfectly honest, but overall, this should still be a fun match.
MJF vs. Wardlow Contract Signing. Speaking of MJF, he will sign the contract for his match with Wardlow. Last week after Wardlow defeated Impact Wrestling’s William Morrissey (former WWE’s Big Cass) Afterward, Wardlow fended off security guards attempting to put him back in handcuffs. MJF suggested they “have a little match.” He said if Wardlow wins, he’ll let him out of his contract. MJF suggested he has some conditions, and they would be revealed in a contract signing next (this) week in his hometown of Long Island. MJF is from Plainview, N.Y., a hamlet which is about a 20-minute drive from the UBS Arena. The last time he was in the building back in December 8 of last year, he was one of the two finalists in the Dynamite Diamond Battle Royale along with Dante Martin.
Wardlow, in storyline, is “under contract” to MJF. He betrayed him at Revolution when he gave the Dynamite Diamond Ring to CM Punk to use against MJF in their Dog Collar Match. Since then, MJF has put Wardlow in various matches and only allowed him to come in and out of the arena in handcuffs with a security escort.
Long Island hates Wardlow.
— Maxwell Jacob Friedman™️ (@The_MJF) May 9, 2022
Jericho Appreciation Society Victory Speech. Last week, Chris Jericho defeated his former Inner Circle stablemate Santana. After the match, Jericho along with his Appreciation Society beat down Santana and his regular tag team partner Ortiz. This past Friday on Rampage, Eddie Kingston discussed the recent incident where Jericho cast a fireball in his face, and the pain suffered by him and his wife. He vowed to hurt Jericho “real bad,” and it will be for his wife’s sake. Tonight, they will give a “victory speech.”
The issues between Jericho and Eddie go back towards the end of last year when Eddie started sidling up to long-time friends Santana & Ortiz, who were members of the now defunct Inner Circle. Eddie defeated Jericho at Revolution. Jericho did not shake his hand as promised but attempted to do so on the ensuing Dynamite. Instead, he attacked Eddie and formed the Jericho Appreciation Society.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Thank you for reading!