On My Screen Last Night
The Young Bucks vs. Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston (AEW; May 31, 2021)
It is simply not true that I dislike the Young Bucks’ style of wrestling. However, it is undeniable to me that their act only works when I’m in the mood to watch independent wrestling as it was intended, which is to break the rules of the mainstream, and for all the right reasons.
Whether it always planned to do so or not, All Elite Wrestling has taken an independent wrestling mindset to national television, dismissing the concept of big fight feel and replacing it with illogical highspots and “amusing” gimmicks (the main in-ring exceptions being the Cody Rhodes versus Dustin Rhodes bloodbath, and the Cody Rhodes & Red Velvet versus Shaquille O’Neal & Jade Cargill special attraction).
Simply put, the style that I enjoyed so much in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla circa 2009-2016 does not work in a grander environment, just as a hair metal band playing a club gig is always more enjoyable than seeing them perform in a 20,000-seat arena.
I bring this up because, at May 31’s Double Or Nothing, the Bucks managed to capture a little of that classic indie style opposite Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston. Perhaps it was the fact that Daily’s Place appeared on television to be far more Reseda-esque than its 5,500 capacity, or the fact that every seat was filled with an enthusiastic spectator. Either way, this AEW Tag Team title match, which aired second on the pay-per-view card, was a triumph of the Bucks’ style.
The battle started hot with an attack by the babyfaces, and maintained its energy throughout. The Bucks were particularly pestiferous here, but in a manner that kept them to their gimmick and allowed Moxley and Kingston to remain true to their own. The babyface tags were quick and refreshing at the outset, until the match turned on a spot in which referee Rick Knox had to pretend to be distracted by the invading Karl Anderson and Frankie Kazarian, long after both had disappeared behind the curtain. As if reacting to the exact opposite of what had just happened, the audience then began chanting, “This is awesome!”
It wasn’t the only moment that Knox’ timing was horrendous (it’s actually more appropriate to blame the wrestlers who took too long to complete the spot, but by playing along Knox’ effect on the match was notably deleterious) as he spent a full 15 seconds placing the Bucks’ Air Dior trainers in the hands of a ringside attendant, allowing Moxley and Kingston to strike Matt with a Doomsday Device. That came after some infuriating camera direction ruined arguably the biggest spot of the match, in which the Bucks’ hit the Meltzer Driver on the ramp on Moxley, and before the director was equally absent for Matt’s 450o splash.
Speaking of camera direction, there was a particularly amusing moment that should have been ought of sight, as after Kingston no-sold several of Nick’s punches, he twice gave him the eyes to tell him to run off the ropes and bump for him, which Nick promptly did. Although he wasn’t as intrinsic to the match as his more illustrious colleagues, Kingston performed admirably overall, and it’s clear that if he had a look on the level of his work, he’d be a millionaire several times over.
While I’m pointing out flaws that took away from the bout, I can’t overstate that when the action was performed well, it was both entertaining and gripping. There was some much-appreciated storytelling, too, when Nick superkicked Kingston above his previously injured left knee, and then the same man performed a well-executed roll-through counter as Moxley went for the Paradigm Shift DDT.
The finish also came at a pleasing time, with most fans expecting Moxley to kick out of four consecutive BTE Triggers (double knee strikes) after he had also kicked out at one after a Superkick Party (double superkick). With Kingston reeling from another knee attack, however, Moxley was indeed put down for three, as the cameras quickly cut away to Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, and Excalibur on commentary. (***3/4)
A Little Bit Of Housekeeping
This is merely a preview of this week’s issue, as I wanted to publish this review while the match was still being discussed. I have a (very!) small match review project I’ll be sending out later.
I’m really interested in your feedback to the first several issues of Riffing On Wrestling. Please comment here or reach out to me at brian(at)hardcopy(dot)ie.
I am available for further editing and occasional writing work. It seems boastful to list my credits here, but I have over 15 years’ experience in newspapers, magazines, and as a freelance correspondent for various news agencies. You can inquire about my rates by emailing brian(at)hardcopy(dot)ie. I can also provide professional editing feedback, or offer advice or mentoring, by prior agreement and through the same email address.