It was back to business for All Elite Wrestling this week after last week’s emotional Brodie Lee tribute show. Tonight’s “New Year’s Smash Night 1” felt like a bit of a reset for the company as the new year rolls around and the wrestlers’ records reset. In this week’s Breakdown, I’ll go over what went well (the majority of the show) and what didn’t (very little) on New Year’s Smash Night 1.
Kenny Omega vs. Rey Fenix: The best match in Dynamite history?
AEW is establishing itself as the greatest weekly wrestling television show in history based on in-ring work alone, so for me to say that the main event of New Year’s Smash Night 1, which saw Kenny Omega defend his AEW World Championship against Rey Fenix, is the best match in Dynamite history could seem like a stretch. But that’s exactly what the match was. The work was incredible, somehow perfectly crisp and absolutely spectacular at the same time. Most know by this point that Omega is one of the best wrestlers in the world, but Fenix’s performance was just as eye-dropping, including multiple unbelievable spots that genuinely only a handful of people in the world could even think of attempting.
Even with little chance of a title change here, I was fully invested in the match’s story. When Fenix landed that Fire Thunder Driver, the tiniest part of my mind thought that we might see a title change here. But even with the expected finish, you can’t ask for much more in a television main event match.
BULLET CLUB reunites once again
Having been established in New Japan Pro Wrestling and spread to Ring of Honor and even WWE (under a different name), the Bullet Club, “Too Sweet” pose and all, reunited at the conclusion of this week’s show.
While I don’t seem to be as blown away by the angle as other people, I feel like I’m getting deja vu at this point. There’s still a ton storyline potential with this group, even if they can’t actually use the “Bullet Club” name. Just a couple years ago, you couldn’t go to a wrestling show without seeing dozens of Bullet Club shirts, and much of that popularity remains to this day.
It will be interesting to see where AEW goes with this new group. The Good Brothers (with Don Callis, of course) are IMPACT talents, and it remains to be seen whether the AEW-IMPACT partnership will extend beyond this Omega title reign, but AEW has done a really nice job creating engaging long-term stories, so I have plenty of faith in this one going forward.
Jon Moxley returns
We’re suddenly over a month away from Revolution, AEW’s next pay-per-view, meaning it was time to start setting up matches for that show tonight. The world title is the most important program at any given moment, so the fact that it appears that Jon Moxley could get his rematch is great news, as Omega vs. Moxley is the biggest match that AEW has.
Moxley’s return promo was excellent as always. I love that he didn’t just “move on” from the Omega angle, like so many people do even after being screwed out of championships. And with he and Omega’s first match being marred by the major storyline developments at the show, I’m chomping at the bit to see what they can do in a straight-up PPV main event setting.
Hikaru Shida vs. Abadon: A mockery of professional wrestling
While Omega vs. Fenix may have been the best match in Dynamite history, I immediately identified tonight’s AEW Women’s Championship match as the worst title match I’ve ever seen from AEW television.
The absolutely preposterous Abadon character literally biting chunks out of Shida’s neck was disgusting and frankly insulted my intelligence as a wrestling fan. I’m happy to suspend disbelief, but when you have people on your show blading at least once a month, fake blood is completely ridiculous.
In May 2019, Cody Rhodes said “I want to be the sports-centric alternative in the pro wrestling world.” That’s great. That’s what I want out of wrestling, not this campy horror garbage involving one of the best women’s wrestlers in the world having to cower in the face of a character that is somehow less compelling than WWE’s Fiend.
Darby Allin and Sting: What’s next?
This week marked the fourth straight week that Team Taz wanted to start a fight, the lights went out, and Sting and/or Darby Allin appeared to save the other. It’s time to move on and give viewers something new.
Aside from confirming that Allin and Sting have some sort of relationship, literally nothing new has been established regarding Sting. That’s disappointing because his first two appearances were phenomenal: he absolutely oozed star power like he hadn’t missed a beat.
I trust that something new will happen next week for Allin’s TNT Championship match against Brian Cage, but without any new developments, I think some of the time over the last few weeks could have been spent furthering one of the many other storylines that have been left off recent shows.