One of Dusty Rhodes’ Greatest Rivals to Manage Shawn Spears in AEW

AEW is bringing in an all-time great to work with Shawn Spears.

On the very first episode of The Road to All Out, which dropped on YouTube this Wednesday night, the former WWE Superstar is featured in a sit-down interview with Hall of Fame announce Jim Ross. In story, Spears requested the spotlight in order to explain why he bashed open Cody Rhodes’ head with a steel chair on June 29th at AEW Fyter Fest.

The so-called “Perfect Ten” went on to explain that his unexpected attack was a measure of revenge for Cody, one of his oldest and closest friends, referring to him as a “Good Hand” in an interview prior to him being officially signed by the promotion.

“[There are] five people that I let into my inner circle. Five people that I trust, that I had planned on keeping near and dear to my heart until the day that I die. Cody was one of them.”

“There’s certain things that you’re just not supposed to do. There’s certain things you don’t say publicly. You don’t call a woman the ‘C word’, and you don’t tell children that Santa Claus isn’t real. In the wrestling industry there are certain terms, and certain things you also don’t say – especially within your core group.”

“Cody crossed the line, and I think you know what I’m talking about. He’s changed. He’s put on a suit, given himself a nice, fancy EVP title, and he’s saying the same damn thing that they have said for nearly eight-and-a-half years. You don’t call someone a ‘good hand’. It’s a curse in this industry. Clearly he forgot, and that’s why I wrapped a steel chair around his face at Fyter Fest. Sometimes people just need to be reminded.”

Spears then went on to officially lay down a challenge to Cody for a match at AEW All Out on Saturday, August 31st in Chicago, IL. He expects that the “American Nightmare” will accept his challenge, and has found himself an “ace up his sleeve” for the oncoming battle…

It would appear that Shawn Spears has enlisted the managerial services of none other than one of professional wrestling’s all-time greats, WWE Hall of Famer Tully Blanchard! The iconic Horseman of course had numerous, bloody battles with the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes throughout the mid 80s; Dusty ending Blanchard’s year-long run as NWA World Television Champion, and facing each other in the first six WarGames matches.

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Rey Fenix & Lucky Kid Added to PWG Battle of Los Angeles, Updated Lineup

You can officially add All Elite Wrestling star and one half of the Lucha Brothers, Rey Fenix, to the lineup for the 2019 PWG Battle of Los Angeles. The promotion announced both him and 26-year-old German star Lucky Kid for this year’s tournament, taking place over the course of three days this September.

Here’s the updated lineup:

  • A-Kid
  • Jonathan Gresham
  • Artermis Spencer
  • Darby Allin
  • Mick Moretti
  • Orange Cassidy
  • Bandido
  • Caveman Ugg
  • Jake Atlas
  • Tony Deppen
  • Rey Fenix
  • Lucky Kid

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Wanna Make Wins and Losses Matter? Look at Chikara.

The Bucks, for example, know about Chikara, so they should take an idea…
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein

“Wins and losses mattering” is all the rage nowadays now that All Elite Wrestling is on the scene trying to bring something fresh and I guess “legitimate” to the table. Outside of Kenny Omega just needing to end his one-match losing streak, I’m not sure how that’s manifested so far, although to be fair, it’s only been three shows. On one hand, that’s a small sample size. On the other, well, whether it’s your third or 103rd show, you shouldn’t have to be screaming the core values every other sentence. Wrestling hasn’t always gotten it in regards to “showing and not telling” but really, showing is way better than telling. One other company in this decade has tried pushing the “wins and losses matter” party line as a vocal selling point, and that’s EVOLVE.

Already, AEW has it better than EVOLVE, which didn’t have a top Championship until around the time Dragon Gate USA failed. Wins and losses only matter to the viewing audience at home inasmuch as they need to have stakes behind those wins and losses. EVOLVE didn’t have a season. It didn’t keep standings. The roster wasn’t uniform. For at least two years, the only titles you could possibly win on an EVOLVE show belonged to the Dragon Gate brand. Sure, you can peddle pap about the winner’s share of the purse, but no one at home really gets any satisfaction out of that. Most fans don’t care about what they get paid, kayfabe or not, and leftist fans think that everyone should get paid the same, win or lose, and it should be more than what the promoter takes home, NO WAR BUT CLASS WAR. Pride is the other answer, but at the end of the day, no one cares about pride either unless that pride is attached to a feud that fans can attach to. EVOLVE wasn’t really good at those either, with its most notable feud early on, Jon Moxley vs. Brodie Lee, ending in both of them getting suspended from the company. Sure, they both could still wrestle for DGUSA which was a thing at the time, but COME THE FUCK ON.

AEW has already announced titles, which, wins and losses mattering matters a lot more when you have something to wrestle for than if the stakes are nebulous and undefined. However, the roster isn’t uniform, and usage won’t be uniform either, which I get it. Wrestling is a variable business, and even New Japan Pro Wrestling can’t run a G1 Climax-style schedule all year and has to max out at 20 wrestlers in two blocks. How do you bridge the gap between saying that records are important and making the fan believe those stakes are real? Jim Ross halfheartedly yelling it between snide complaints that seem to be too bitter to be worked comments isn’t going to do it. The best answer is to look at a wrestling promotion which has best integrated the idea that match results mean something and having a well-established storytelling template and vibrant feuds and angles.

I’m talking about Chikara Pro Wrestling, of course.

A promotion that the old codgers who like to talk about match results mattering, or not mattering more accurately, love to pile shit on Chikara, which they feel isn’t “wrestling” because it has things like anthropomorphic wrestlers, time travel, slow motion, and mad science. Personally, I think those things add color to any wrestling promotion, but that’s just me. What Chikara has that is most germane to the “real sport feel” argument is the fact that it has a concrete way of making sure wins and losses matter, and I’m talking about the points system.

Chikara has two Championships that fall under this jurisdiction (the Young Lions Cup is the only one that doesn’t). The Grand Championship and Los Campeonatos de Parejas, and both titles require that the challenger has three points before they can get a match for that/those belt(s). You earn a point by winning a match, or by gaining a fall in an elimination match. You lose ALL your points when you lose a match or are eliminated from an elimination match. The beauty in it is its simplicity. Wins are coins, literally, as Chikara uses oversized coins or medallions to signify a point. How you earn them is simple, how you can lose them is simple. There are no riders or qualifiers. A rookie doesn’t have to jump through further hoops if they win three straight singles matches. And the way Chikara books its cards with multiple multi-competitor matches to the key of trios and atomicos matches, the idea that you have go to 50-50 booking out of necessity to not dilute title matches goes away.

A top-three wrestling promotion in silliness (can’t overlook Kaiju Big Battel or Inter Species Wrestling) in America runs with a pure sports foundation that has worked ever since los CdP were introduced. No other company has an excuse to fail at implementing their “wins and losses matter” trappings, and yet how many companies really have succeeded doing something like that? I’d argue only Chikara and New Japan, and the latter only during its round-robin tournament seasons (G1, Best of the Super Juniors, both tag leagues). You can’t just look at WWE diluting wins and losses (and WWE has done a terrific job of making sure nothing matters at all over the last 20 years), and say “I’m not going to do what they’re doing.” Trying to sell people on match results mattering absent a story backing it with a negative promise is untenable. You need a plan. Chikara has one. Honestly, wrestling is so steeped in unoriginality, that maybe AEW SHOULD copy the points system. I mean, one of its referees, Bryce Remsburg, has been with Chikara since its inception. Its roster has former roster member Chuck Taylor. The Young Bucks held los CdP there. If Mike Quackenbush is offended that they would steal that idea, then shame on him, because good ideas are the ones most worth emulating.

Whether it’s the Chikara way or some other different but effective manner, wins and losses mattering has to have some kind of concrete foundation. It can just be something Omega tells Ross to say on commentary during his matches when he’s sad that he’s coming off a loss, no matter how many wins he was booked to have beforehand. No matter how badly wrestling promotions past or present have been in this department, win/loss records need to be shown, not told, and even with that backing, you probably still need to have a strong creative department thinking of angles to put with those wins and losses anyway. In fact, saying that you really treasure match results? Yeah, that’s just another angle that you run. Funny how it all comes back to the script, isn’t it?

STF Underground Ep.24! What Does AEW Need To Fix Before TNT Debut? Evaluating Title Scenarios Going Into Summerslam, Interview With Average Guy Gourmet’s Tony Rican

Welcome back to another episode of STF Underground!

In this episode, we discuss the ups and downs of Fight For The Fallen and ask what AEW needs to fix before making their long awaited debut on TNT.

We also discuss the fallout of Extreme Rules, grade Seth Rollins’ Universal Championship reign, and examine the possible landscape and card heading into Summerslam.

Stick around for our exclusive interview with former pro wrestler turned cooking sensation, Tony Rican!


Facebook: STF Underground Podcast
Twitter & IG: @STFUnderground

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Should AEW’s Creative Be a Concern?

Omega’s “losing streak” is the biggest among AEW Creative’s red flags so far
Photo via Extra Mustard

One of the most prominent talking points at Fight for the Fallen was how Kenny Omega was distraught looking for his first singles win in the company. It’s not an uncommon angle to run. WWE runs it into the ground, and a losing streak angle is what launched All-Japan legend Kenta Kobashi’s career. If you’d have tuned into FftF, you might have thought All Elite Wrestling was running its fifth, seventh, or even tenth show with Omega looking to get off the schneid. It was their third show. The first show, Double or Nothing, featured Omega losing to Chris Jericho. Fyter Fest featured Omega in a six-man with the Young Bucks vs. the Lucha Bros. and the Laredo Kid. They won that match, with Omega getting the pin on the Kid. The talking point made no sense, indicative of creative rot that you’d expect from WWE from the last 20 or so years.

Much like running with a story about a one-match losing streak based on a small sample size is problematic, it might be shortsighted to gauge AEW’s creative direction off three shows. That being said, I might not be so worried if the Omega losing “streak” was the only thing they rolled out. However, over the two free shows since Double or Nothing, AEW has:

  • Made MJF the guy who made the save for Cody after Shawn Spears cracked him across the head after allowing him to ROAST the crowd before his own match.
  • Shoved Darby Allin, who was made by a time-limit draw against Cody, Joey Janela, who was made in a brutal war against Jon Moxley, MJF, and Spears in a nothing opening trios match instead of in prominent positions later in the show.
  • Showed a syrupy vignette for Brandi Rhodes about how she has to “conquer her demons” only to have her become a dollar store Stephanie McMahon villainous overlord with her own muscle in a match against her “friend.”
  • The main event’s stakes and drama were pretty much nullified when the Jacksons told Cody and Dustin Rhodes “lol j/k.”

That’s a lot of flubbing for two shows you’re putting out for free to charm a new audience. That’s WWE bad. Hell, that’s Dixie Carter-era TNA bad. I’ve been pretty lenient on the two shows because I legitimately enjoyed them for the wrestling. If you’re a wrestling company, and the matches are good, congratulations, you’ve won half the battle, possibly more. That being said, what should separate a good promotion with a passionate following for the actual wrestling from a corporately-funded wrestling promotion that has millions of fans because it has things that cater to those attention spans that aren’t German suplexes and armbars, well, it’s not good enough.

It’s clear to me that the fact that the creative team isn’t doing its work early on. I’m not sure who among the people making the decisions has experience booking a promotion or writing for television. It certainly isn’t Tony Khan. It might be Cody or the Jackson Brothers or even Omega, but it’s clear from this output they came into it unprepared at best. If they’re saving their “best” for All Out or the beginning of television, well, why would you withhold ALL the good stuff? You should want to give people a taste of what you’re all about with the free shows, correct? I truly believe that the wrestling side did that, but you know who else had great wrestling and incoherent creative? 2004-07 TNA.

Following that path is not a good idea, because TNA could not survive as a nationally-televised promotion with corporate backing on its wrestling alone. They never changed up what they were doing creatively, staying with the same rotating cast of Jim Cornette, Vince Russo, and Terry Taylor, and their booking and angles made them a laughingstock. I would hope that the All Elite gang know they need to have a hook. It doesn’t have to be Shakespearean, but man, it can’t feel like it was limply ideated and rushed into production with no ear for continuity or emotional punch. It’s the difference between being the cutesy Internet fave and being a contender to the megalith dominating, choking even, the current wrestling scene.

IN other words, AEW has to be better going forward. You can’t try to frame a one-match losing streak as a thing, and you can’t be bouncing back and forth on which parody of Stephanie McMahon you want Brandi Rhodes to be. Even though it would amount to a shortsighted decision not to take advantage of the free shows to build strong creative rapport with your burgeoning audience, one can only hope that they were phoning it in for Fyter Fest and Fight for the Fallen. They can’t afford to do the same with All Out and television on TNT, that’s for damn sure.