A marathon of a show, AEW’s final event before All Out continued to establish new faces and storylines ahead of their TV debut in October.

AEW’s third show was a charity affair, coming from Daily’s Place Amphitheater in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s a weird-looking venue if you’re used to seeing major league stuff coming from basketball arenas, but it genuinely was a set-up that was inspired by South Park…

Who knew, eh?!

Commentary for the pre-show comes from Excalibur and Alex Marvez.

Peter Avalon vs. Sonny Kiss
Yay, we start with the librarians. Alex Marvez’s style fits in with the hushed tones you’d expect the librarians to demand… unlike the crowd, who at least play along by booing them. Sonny Kiss gets the Jacksonville Jaguars cheerleaders and Jaxson de Ville out for his entrance.

We’re all about the shushing here as Sonny Kiss goes all lucha with a splits-armdrag, only to get pulled down into a superkick as Avalon got fed up with the twerking. Kiss uses his rear to get free, only to get caught with a dropkick as the momentum swung around.

Bates rolls Kiss back inside, and that sparked the comeback as Sonny started to chain together offence, including an Exploder suplex before he Matrix’d away from a bicycle kick from Avalon. A standing moonsault nearly ends it as Leva gets on the apron to show off a book. How the hell is that a good distraction? That just makes the good guy look dumb…

Avalon’s back with a Finlay roll, but his ode to Kenny Omega falls flat as he ended up getting caught with a splits legdrop off the middle rope for the win. Sonny looked good here, and the Librarian gimmick continues to miss the low bar everyone has for it. **¼

They pitch to a promo with Kip Sabian… except it’s actually Cody and Dustin Rhodes. Ah well. At least their promo was great, with Dustin threatening to powerslam the souls out of the Young Bucks. That got a good pop.

Britt Baker & Riho vs. Bea Priestley & Shoko Nakajima
We’ve debuts here for Priestley and Nakajima, who were paired together as the top singles champions of Stardom and Tokyo Joshi Pro respectively. That had to have been a political nightmare…

Nakajima’s not even 5ft tall, so she’s giving up height to Britt Baker from the off, not that it mattered as they kept it on the mat, with Shoko effortlessly flipping out of some headscissors as she forces Britt to make the ropes. Baker stops Shoko by grabbing her tail, but Nakajima’s able to use her speed to evade Baker and come back in with a dropkick off the ropes.

Priestley gets a loud reaction after tagging in, who seemed to rock Bea with her first kick, which led to Baker making a comeback with an arm whip before she tried to tag the wrong partner. Whoops. Riho’s in with a big crossbody to nearly put away Bea, before a second crossbody got caught and turned into a slam. Bea takes down Riho with a Fujiwara armbar, which ends in the ropes as the Stardom/TJP connection began to wear down Riho.

Bea wrecks Riho with a forearm as they continued to work over her left arm. Britt Baker tries to interject, but all she can do is distract the referee as Nakajima proceeded to drive Riho’s head into the mat. Baker’s back in to catch Shoko with a knee in the corner, before the pair trade neckbreaker. Riho comes back in to wheelbarrow Nakajima into a stomp, but Riho ends up getting kicked in the ropes by Bea, ahead of a 619 from Nakajima.

Headscissors from Riho looked to set up for a retaliation, but Bea and Britt come in to cut that off as a brief Parade of Moves breaks out. Tags got us back to Bea and Britt, as the crowd gets unglued for that. Back-and-forth forearms keep the crowd hot, before a scramble for a Fisherman’s suplex came to nought, with Britt instead taking a springboard double knees for a near-fall. Britt’s comeback gets a near-fall, but she’s taken outside along with her partner as Shoko lands a tope, before a Regalplex from Bea nearly gets a win.

Someone falls onto the closed captioning button (and several others) as they appear on-screen for everyone. Those poor sods trying to type up Excalibur and Marvez’s stuff… A draping DDT nearly gets Riho the win… as did a knee and a Northern Lights suplex. A double stomp off the top just caves in Nakajima’s chest for another two-count as the pace ratched up, but in the end it’s Shoko who got the win with a ‘rana. An excellent finishing stretch, as AEW’s women’s division threatens to be its flagship. Good. ***

All four women continue to have a scrap after the match, but we’re still no nearer to finding out what’s going on with regards a championship.

We finally get the Kip Sabian interview. He’s a little sour over how Hangman Page has had preferential treatment because he’s part of the Elite, and how Page seems to be overlooking him. Very eloquent stuff here from Kip, who really lived up to that “pasty white Brit” stereotype because of the bright light in his face.

JR’s out for his end-of-the-pre-show pop as he’s doing commentary on the main show.

Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Sammy Guevara & Shawn Spears vs. Darby Allin, Jimmy Havoc & Joey Janela
Shawn Spears is calling himself the “Chairman” of AEW after what happened at Fyter Fest. LA Park’s gonna be suing…

The early exchanges saw everyone have a go at MJF, but he’s able to get free as we began the old “cycle through partners” routine. Janela nearly kills Guevara with a German suplex into the bottom turnbuckle, before tags got us to Darby Allin and Shawn Spears, with Darby looking for revenge on Shawn for “stealing his moment” at Fyter Fest.

Of course, Spears refuses to engage and tags out instantly.

That left poor Sammy in there to take the brunt of things for a spell, at least until he caught Janela with a dropkick to the gut. MJF’s back in… only for Spears to blind tag himself in as he saw Janela was down and out on the outside. Dissension builds up between MJF and Spears as the pair weren’t exactly big fans of each other… MJF doing the old Tye Dillinger cartwheel pose riled up Spears some.

Jimmy Havoc started a one-man comeback, landing a superplex on Guevara for a near-fall before sending Spears and MJF to the outside. Darby Allin blind tags himself back in as he flipped back in and lands a flip stunner on Guevara for a near-fall. That sparks a big Parade of Moves, with Guevara throwing in some dives that aren’t exactly the stuff of bad guys. Janela stops that with a death valley driver on the apron, while stopping to flip off Jim Cornette…

Back in the ring, Allin looked to finish off MJF with a Coffin Drop, only for Spears to stop him with a running death valley driver for the win. So that’s Spears now having upstaged AND beaten Darby in successive shows, eh? Some good stuff here, as both sides showed that they weren’t on the same pages, perhaps teasing future interactions. The win for Spears was perhaps a no-brainer given what’s in his future… ***

Shad Khan – the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars – is shown in the crowd. Ditto the guys from Farah & Farah, the show’s sponsors. Unawares, and via a zoom… at least WWE clues in the guys before they’re on TV, so they look interested and not grumpy. There’s also a bit with Private Party, who were sitting next to Alex Jebailey. He’s ejected, because he wasn’t invited.

Allie vs. Brandi Rhodes
In the run up to the match, we’ve a long promo of how Brandi was mentally conflicted at whether she should continue to wrestle despite all of the setbacks she’s had. It was emotional, but it felt like they’d stitched together a Brandi interview with Allie’s response, rather than anything to do with this match.

Brandi shakes Allie’s hand… which is the cue for Awesome Kong to arrive. So, that’s how she’s getting over those mental demons?

That appearance didn’t seem to rattle Allie too much at first, but then she does the Dumb Thing™ of getting herself distracted as Brandi followed through with a dropkick through the ropes to the outside. I get that Cody doesn’t buy the “there’s no clear good or bad guys anymore” thing, but the crowd didn’t really know what to make of all this.

Back inside, Allie can’t really build any momentum, as Brandi kicks her to the mat and tried to wangle a cover out of it. When Allie does get back in, she again got herself distracted by Kong on the outside, and that kind of stuff is really hurting the crowd’s belief in her. A strike exchange finally got some momentum for Allie, as she followed into the corner with a sliding forearm as she finally put her self-imposed ADD aside.

A running bulldog/cutter lands for a near-fall – no matter how ugly it looked – but Brandi’s able to return with a tornado suplex. Allie recovers with a running death valley driver, but Kong pulls Brandi onto the apron to force the break. Brandi’s small package nearly got her the win, but instead Allie caught her in a Dragon sleeper… but Kong appears on the apron and distracts the ref as Brandi taps.

Yeah, this is a match not being helped by referees and the good guys looking dumb, and when Brandi ran in with a spear, this was mercifully over. I absolutely loathe when good guys are made out like fools like this, and especially against the background of the sympathetic Brandi vignette, this was just a confusing mess. *

Post-match, there’s a beatdown as Kong looked to put away Allie… only for Aja Kong to come out! So they’re heading to Kong vs. Kong, and I guess it’s on. Soon? Referees come out to keep them apart, as small pockets of fans in the crowd went nuts.

The Dark Order (Evil Uno & Stu Grayson) vs. Angelico & Jack Evans vs. A Boy And His Dinosaur (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus)
I’m not quite sure how you mess up spelling someone’s surname on an entrance video, but with Stu Grayson/Greyson, AEW have done just that. The Dark Order came out with their minions, tagged here as “creepers”, as we’re told the winners of this match face the Best Friends at All Out for a shot at a bye in the AEW tag title tournament, which’ll start when AEW hits TNT later in the year.

For some reason, Marko Stunt is accompanying Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus. I hope there’s an explanation other than “they’re both kids who love dinosaurs”.

Grayson neutralises Evans’ flying early on, catching him off the top rope and throwing him to the outside before tags brought in Uno… who began to gnaw on Angelico’s ear. Jungle Boy’s next, who crashes into Uno with dropkicks, only for Uno to live up to his evil name by raking the eyes. After a neckbreaker, Jungle Boy tagged in Luchasaurus, only for Uno to tag in Evans… who had no luck.

Luchasaurus proceeds to throw Evans around the ring with ease as no team was really able to get much momentum. Uno holds the rope open as Jungle Boy spilled to the outside, giving the Dark Order a chance to dominate the match. Keeping Jungle Boy in their corner, Uno and Grayson worked their way into a big senton on Jungle Boy, that nearly gets Uno the win.

With Uno stopping to wind up Luchasaurus, Jungle Boy’s able to hit a slingshot spear to buy himself some time… as tags took us back to Grayson and Luchasaurus. Angelico and Evans tried their luck, but Luchasaurus was able to outmaneuver both of them at the same time, before he chokeslammed Evans into Angelico on the floor. There’s a running shooting star press off the apron to the pair by Jungle Boy, before Grayson tried to capitalise… but he got pancaked with a tombstone flapjack instead.

A TKO from Luchasaurus gets rid of Uno, but we’re back in with Evans and Angelico dropping Jungle Boy with a stuff back suplex… Angelico tries to make Jungle Boy tap out to an inverted figure four, but Uno kicks it apart. Evans and Angelico continue to double-team Jungle Boy, before the BT Bomb left Jungle Boy on the mat.

Marko stunt gets involved, knocking down Angelico as commentary forgot… there’s no DQs in 3-ways. A top rope ‘rana from Stunt gets him ejected by the referee, but Luchasaurus instead press slams him to Angelico on the floor as he came down with snow on him. Evans is there on his own as Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus hit some nice double-teams for a near-fall, but Uno’s back in to chop block Luchasaurus. An overhead belly-to-belly took Jungle Boy into his cornered partner, before an Uno cannonball and a 450 from Grayson led to yet another near-fall.

From there, Uno picks up Jungle Boy in a Gory special, with a flip cutter from Grayson giving Jungle Boy a rude landing – and the Dark Order their ticket to All Out. This was real good, but threatened to go a little too long. Now, can we quit with these multi-way tags for a while? ***¾

Kip Sabian vs. Adam Page
Where the hell is “Norfook”?! Throughout the video package – and during Page’s entrance – the music seemed to shift in tone quite a lot. Like when you used to listen to a Walkman with batteries that were dying…

Considering Page is going for the AEW title next month, you’d expect this to be pretty straightforward for Page, who started by keeping Sabian at close quarters with a headlock… but Kip scrambles free, only for Page to quickly send him outside with a clothesline as Page looked to be having trouble with his knees.

Sabian’s knees were working though, as he caught Page with a springboard kick, only for Page to come straight back with a bridging fallaway slam as he was hell bent on doing stuff that needed a strong knee. Kip dives again, before we got the viral moment where he gave a heckler a peck on the lips.

The pace stays low back in the ring as Sabian used a half nelson to keep Page down, before a stomp off the top drew a near-fall. Page’s overhead belly-to-belly cuts off the momentum, as does a standing shooting star press… but still this match is feeling lukewarm. As good as Kip Sabian is, the vast majority of fans in AEW likely don’t see him as being on Page’s level… nor were the crowd all in on him being an upset merchant here.

Some PKs from Sabian gets him a two-count, before a pop-up knee ended up seeing Sabian getting turned inside out with a discus lariat. On the top rope, Sabian knocked Page to the apron with a headbutt, before a double stomp came up short as Page turned the match on its head with a side slam onto the apron. An Orihara moonsault followed… but Page instantly grabbed his knee on the landing as commentary began to treat it like he was taking too high a risk.

Out of nowhere, Page dumped Sabian onto the raised walkway with a powerbomb – as someone finally made use of that classic WCW-style ramp. Somehow, Kip snuck back in, before he got caught with a swinging neckbreaker off the top as Page was starting to face a fight against the clock.

Page looks for the Dead Eye, but Sabian pulls himself free with the ropes as he tried to drag Page’s knee through to the outside, using a Dragon screw for good effect. A ‘rana from Sabian gets him a near-fall, as does a sunset flip, before Page kicked out and rolled Sabian up into the Dead Eye for the win. This was just bizarre. I get how Sabian pushing Page to the limit raises his profile, but this does absolutely nothing for Page (and his weird music). Unless Kip’s suddenly in a high profile match at All Out, this was a weird choice of match to have. **½

After the match, one of the Dark Order’s creepers randomly appears. Did he miss his cue by an entire match? The masked man attacks Page, and suspiciously sounds like Chris Jericho. The Codebreaker gives it away – and of course, he unmasks as Page’s All Out opponent. That attack’s bloodied Page up, before the Judas Effect love tap elbow knocked him down… and if you needed any more signs that Page is the underdog, well, they gave you it.

SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) vs. The Lucha Brothers (Pentagon Jr. & Rey Fenix)
SCU’s out for the cheap pops in Jacksonville Jaguar colours, while the Lucha Brothers get fireworks and flame pyro. Commentary teases that a win for the Lucha Brothers will put them in line for the AEW tag titles… which are being determined via a tournament.

Kazarian and Fenix start with the ol’ shoulder tackles, but the ring quickly filled as referee Aubrey Edwards was forced to assert herself… and that she did, clearing the ring. Good to see AEW has competent officials! Scorpio Sky and Pentagon are next with the mind games, but those just stop as Pentagon takes off his glove and tosses it to the ref. Unlike the camera crew, she at least caught the throw on the second try.

The Lucha Brothers enjoyed the best of the early going, wiping out all three members of SCU on the outside – while Fenix held Christopher Daniels for a nasty chop. Hey, even in the semi-open ampitheatre, that noise travelled well. Scorpio Sky got similar treatment, before Fenix’s tope accidentally hit his own man as Christopher Daniels hit an Arabian press to the outside. Erm, DQs?

That was an opening for SCU to get back in as Kaz and Sky worked over Fenix. There’s a weird moment out of Alex Marvez where he called Tony Khan “our leader” – I mean, I get the sentiment, but the wording just felt very… cult-ish? Anyway, as for the match, Fenix found a way to up the ante, cracking Kazarian with a step-up heel kick before he tried to tag in Pentagon. Slingblades follow as Penta went hog wild on SCU, with a little help from Fenix as well, as he propelled Pentagon into the corner with a monkey flip cannonball!

Scorpio Sky avoided a package piledriver, but had to wait as Pentagon’s pumphandle driver forced him to kick-out as there seemed to be a slight stutter between the Lucha Bros. Kazarian capitalises with a release German suplex as SCU finally began to chain some offence together, working a double-team stomp to Pentagon. We barely see Fenix catching Sky with a cutter on the apron, before he returned to capitalise on an assisted DDT off the middle rope that somehow didn’t end Fenix.

JR starts getting a little moany about the number of DDTs on show here as the Lucha Bros almost take the win with a leaping Destroyer on Scorpio Sky… before a stuff package piledriver finally had Sky down for the count. Sure there were a few slips and stutters, but this was a hell of a tag match that entertained without ever threatening to outstay its welcome. ***½

After the match, the Lucha Bros pull out some ladders and throw them at SCU… it led to a challenge for a ladder match against the Young Bucks at All Out. That ought to be nuts.

CIMA vs. Kenny Omega
At 41 years old, you’d expect CIMA to begin to take things easy. Nah…

The crowd go nuts for this before the pair even locked up, as the match started relatively slowly. For like a moment, as CIMA and Omega turned it up with armdrags before an early leaping stomp had Omega rattled. A ‘rana from Omega looked to get him back in, but CIMA rolls through and traps him in a submission as Kenny struggled to make his way to the ropes for a break before the pair began to trade chops.

Omega’s back suplex stopped CIMA in his tracks and earned a near-fall, before a ‘rana took the former Dragon Gate star to the outside. Returning to the ring, an enziguiri catches Omega, but he shrugs it off and hits a swinging DDT as that enziguiri was thought to have bloodied up the former IWGP champion. CIMA’s quickly back with a modified Ki Krusher for a near-fall, before he caught Kenny with a powerbomb off the middle rope as Kenny had him up in an elevated Electric Chair.

CIMA tries to follow up with a Meteora, but Omega rolls away as CIMA’s knees hit the mat and nothing else. That gave Kenny something to target as he focused on one of CIMA’s knees – and CIMA getting his knees up to block a springboard moonsault perhaps wasn’t as good an idea as you’d think. A snap Dragon suplex spikes CIMA, but he’s able to retaliate with a back cracker, only to miss his pescado to the outside as Omega again targeted the knees, dumping CIMA onto the apron knees-first.

An attempt to dump CIMA into the timekeeper’s table is avoided as he instead countered with a suplex on the floor, all while the crowd cheered and booed as the big screen lost the picture. Meanwhile, CIMA ignores that so he can drive Kenny onto that table with a Meteora! Back inside, a pair of springboard Meteoras – one to the back of the head, one to the front – drew another near-fall as CIMA perhaps realised that was his big weapon. Another Meteora was caught and turned into a bucklebomb as a quick flurry almost gave Omega the win with a V-Trigger, before an over-the-knee Ki Krusher left CIMA in a heap.

More V-Triggers left CIMA prey for a One Winged Angel, but he slips out and eventually hits a DDT as neither man was able to maintain much of a lead again. A stomping Meteora from CIMA keeps Kenny down, then another off the middle rope as we quickly were finding out the law of diminishing returns in terms of crowd reactions to that move. CIMA followed that up with a Schwein on the apron before another Meteora led to a near-fall.

Back-and-forth slaps ended with a dropkick from CIMA, before a V-Trigger to the back and a Tiger Driver ‘98 almost got Omega the win. The back and forth continues as a La Magistral cradle nearly got the win for CIMA, prompting Omega to just drill him with a One Winged Angel for the win. I really enjoyed this – in spite of those Meteoras getting a little spammy. This was presented as a “dream match”, with the crowd reacting accordingly – I wonder if there is anything left for a rematch on a larger scale though? ****

Chris Jericho was out next for his open mic – and this time he’s in the douche-y fedora and that spiked jacket. At least the Dark Order mask was left in the back… Jericho had said something in the build up to the show that he was still waiting for his “thank you”, but here he was out with the “blood” of Hangman Page on his hand. Eventually, Jericho told us he didn’t want a thank you from the fans as his unscripted spiel continued, taking us to Jericho saying that he’d collect his “thank you”s by beating the AEW roster. Apparently if Jericho loses to Page, it’s “the beginning of the end for AEW… and (his) career”. That’s a little over the top, isn’t it? Eventually that drew out Page for a pull-apart as the back emptied out to try and split them up. Good to see Angelico and Jack Evans keep the luminous gear going out of the ring too!

The video package for the main event was interesting given that one of the talking heads included was MLW’s Tony Schiavone. For those who don’t watch Being The Elite and the other AEW videos, they did a good job of patching in the Young Bucks’ mocking of Cody’s “I need my brother” promo from Double or Nothing.

Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) vs. The Brotherhood (Cody & Dustin Rhodes)
I just realised this was another way to get Cody’s surname back without actually saying it. It’s also interesting to see the stark difference in entrances: Dustin got next to nothing, while Cody got ALL THE PYRO.

Cody and Nick get us going as the pair worked headlock takedowns and escapes, before Cody’s posturing just earned him a slap. It’s not long before the Bucks went to their usual playbook, turning up the tempo, but we quickly reach a stand-off as all four men hit the ring to try and cool tempers. The Bucks begin to isolate Dustin for a spell, using a pop-up dropkick before Cody’s held on the apron for a dropkick as well as Excalibur rightly called them for “playing the hits”.

The Bucks hugged each other because “they need their brother”, in a throwback to that video, and that slowly made them the bad guys here. Even if the crowd did cheer Nick’s facebuster/moonsault combo.

Dustin remained isolated as the Bucks keep him in their corner, before they swarmed the ring to knock Cody off the apron… only to run into a double back body drop as Dustin… had nobody to tag. Nick pokes the bear again, begging Dustin to tag him… which he did. Just not in the way he was hoping.

Cody eventually got the hot tag as he tried to put away the Bucks, launching into them with a moonsault and a tope onto the ramp. Back in the ring, Cody begins to whip Nick with his weightlifting belt, before he lifted over a charge from Matt Jackson… whose shoulder found that ringpost. Dustin’s back in to aggravate that arm as well, as the Rhodes brothers began to pick apart Matt’s left arm. There’s even another throw into the ring post as they looked to switch things up, as Cody did a Ted DiBiase and shoved some of the Bucks’ fake money from their entrance down Matt’s throat.

Eventually Matt finds a way free, throwing away Cody’s bulldog before dumping him onto the ramp with a back body drop. A spear kept a persistent Cody down, before Nick finally gets a tag in as he uncorked a series of kicks to Cody. Nick keeps flowing, with a Meteora-like kneedrop to Dustin and a back cracker to Cody on the way to duelling Sharpshooters on the Rhodes. Those are broken up, as were retaliatory Figure Four leglocks, before duelling clotheslines left all four men down.

The Rhodes come back dives off the apron as the crowd heated up once more. Dustin took too long setting up Nick for a Shattered Dreams – but Cody’s able to recover as an assisted Cross Rhodes dumped Matt, only for Nick to break it up with a senton. A four-way slugfest broke out, accidentally wiping out the ref, before the Rhodes hit their duelling Shattered Dreams as the ref was still coming to.

A pair of Twister suplexes got the Rhodes a near-fall, but the Bucks again superkicked their way back in, catching Cody as he leapt off the top rope. That left Dustin all on his own, but he too ate a superkick as the Bucks nearly put him away with a top rope elbow. A Code Red nearly steals it for Dustin as the match started to feel a little ragged while we crossed the half hour mark. Dustin checks on Cody, but the Bucks are just sizing them up… for basement uppercuts! The Rhodes reply with superkicks, before Cody took a Cross Rhodes for a near-fall, as a Meltzer Driver just about landed to put Cody away. This was a lot slower paced than we’re used to seeing out of the Bucks – which made this a lot easier to digest than their usual endless Parade of Move-style matches. My only concern was that this was a long match that felt long – albeit not on the same egregious level as Page/Sabian earlier. ***½

After the match, the Bucks shrugged off the jibes they’d made at the Rhodes, calling it “in the spirit of competition”, before calling the Rhodes “one of the best tag teams they’ve been in the ring with”. Kenny Omega’s music suddenly played as the Bucks tried to explain they were “short on time”… that was the cue for some of the locker room to appear, along with Shad Khan and the novelty oversized cheque. For $150,000 for the Victim Assistance Advisory Council – which was the charity that was benefitting from tonight’s show, as things ended on a high note. Even if Cody didn’t know if they were still on the air as he threw a few jabs at the competition… Boing.

Fight for the Fallen makes it two shows in a row now where we’ve started to see signs of what I guess you could call creative gluttony in AEW. The things that people feared would happen in “the executives” matches are creeping in – which could well detract those who were already on the fence with AEW. Add in the downright baffling booking of Adam Page, who’s run to the title match came from winning a battle royal, a four-way and an even match with a relative unknown (in the States)… and you’d be forgiven for wondering what the hell is going on.

Along with a few production flubs (wrong promos playing, music issues and the like) mean that AEW all of a sudden are down to one show before they start making TV… and with no further details currently available about where those shows will be and when that’ll be, it’d be fair to be a little concerned over this group right now.