The PG Era Rant for the 1st Annual AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup.
From the AEW Arena. Original release dates August 3, 10, and 17.
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Veda Scott.
So this is a DEADLY DRAW, meaning that the 16 women entered were randomly paired into teams, though as you’ll see the randomizer still needs a little work. The team that wins this tournament gets a very large trophy as a reward.
FIRST VIDEO! Tony introduces Veda Scott and they talk in general terms about the tournament. Shaul Guerrero is your ring announcer, and Madusa comes out at the beginning to talk about how great this tournament will be. (Note: all times from Wikipedia and are approximate.)
Dasha talks to the Nightmare Sisters. They are great in tag action, but there’s no guarantee they’ll team up. Brandi is disappointed; they spearheaded the tag team movement, and now this? Brandi chooses her color – and behind everyone’s back, Allie digs through the bag and matches it!
Dasha tells Kip Sabian he’s not eligible for the tournament (“But we’re partners for life!”), then Penelope draws and finds out she’s paired with MEL. Kip to Dasha: “Thanks a lot, Diana!”
Quarterfinal: Brandi Rhodes and Allie (with Dustin Rhodes and QT Marshall) vs. Penelope and MEL (w/Kip Sabian). Schiavone makes sure to note Brandi brought MEL into AEW, but that went nowhere. And thank heaven for small favors on THAT, eh? Now, hindsight comment here: up until this tournament, Allie had been the one that wasn’t a team player, while Brandi was trying to get her to stick it out. Read on.
Ford and Allie start. Headlock by Ford, but she’s caught trying to pull hair when Allie stands her ground. Allie throws Ford down and mocks MEL, getting herself cradled for two. Allie with a back kick and kneelift before blowing a kiss to Marshall. She covers for two. Brandi comes in, and the Sisters get a double elbow smash and double elbowdrop… but MEL tagged herself in and mugs Brandi. MEL wipes the mat with Brandi’s face (in theory; just saying, maybe go to a wide shot for that) before throwing her into the ropes, but Brandi comes out with a headlock takedown and twerks at Ford. That happened.
Both Sisters with kicks to the head, and Allie gets two. Allie stop a whip with a back elbow and swinging neckbreaker for two. Then another one. Ford in off a rush to the corner, and she rakes Allie’s eyes across the top rope. Clothesline misses and Allie slugs Ford down. Sabian pulls Ford out of Allie’s way and consoles her, leading to Sabian and Marshall getting into a bro-off. Allie tosses Ford back in only to get run over by a big boot from MEL. She throws Allie in, and Ford with a Gut Check for two.
Ford drags Allie away from Brandi and chokes her on the ropes before doing her guillotine pull. Brandi tries to help, so Ford gets more boot choking. MEL in now, and she goes CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY! C’mon, Veda, I dare you to bust it out! MEL keeps throwing Allie into the mat and taunting her, cutting her off with a double sledge and dragging her to the other corner. Ford and MEL with a wishbone on Allie, but Allie reverses a suplex to a small package for two. Schoolgirl gets two, but Ford with a clothesline for two. Ford cuts Allie off, stopping a flurry with a Matrix into a Stunner. MEL in, but the top rope legdrop misses, hot tag Brandi.
Clotheslines stagger MEL, and a running boot and SUPERKICK get it done. She knocks Ford off the apron, but MEL with axhandles only for Brandi to nail a Sling Blade, Ford saves. It’s BONZO GONZO as the ref tries to remove the illegal wrestlers, and MEL gets a visual pin on Brandi with a choke bomb… that is eventually a two. Now Sabian complains, so Marshall and Dustin get involved and the ref tries to control the men. Allie with an eyerake to MEL, and Brandi hits a spear for the pin at 9:05. When in doubt, stick to the formula. *1/4
Last week, Nyla Rose found out Ariane Andrew would be her partner.
Earlier today, Anna Jay threw off questions about the Dark Order to focus on the tournament, then found out Tay Conti is her partner.
Quarterfinal: Tay Conti and Anna Jay vs. Nyla Rose and Ariane Andrew (w/Vickie Guerrero). For those who keep track of these things: Anna Jay was masked on entry but allowed to remove it, kept her own music and video, but was accompanied by the Dark Order (including Mr. Brodie Lee). If I were Alan Angels or Preston Vance, I’d ask why Anna doesn’t have to wear the mask and I do. Of course, if I were in the Dark Order, I’m pretty sure I’d abide by Rule One which is Brodie Lee makes the rules. Meanwhile, Veda says that although Ariane “doesn’t wrestle much, she trains all the time”, which just sounds like a stretch.
Ariane and Anna start, but not right away as Ariane needs to stretch. Code of Honor is offered by Ariane but rejected by Anna, earning her a slap. They go International~!, with Anna getting a drop toe hold and mocking Ariane. They exchange headlocks, with Ariane throwing Anna down by the hair. Axe kick by Ariane gets two (she remembered which way was up on her opponent!), but Nyla refuses the tag and Anna with a cradle for two. Conti in, and a double clothesline leads to ground and pound by Conti on Ariane… which is Nyla’s cue to deliver a double chokeslam.
Now Nyla tags in, and Conti eats a kneelift and clubbing blow. Charge in the cormer misses, and Conti goes full martial arts on Nyla, who barely feels it. Conti tries running away but gets caught by the hair… before reversing to an armbar and roundhouse kicks for one! Anna in with a shotgun dropkick for one. Nyla catches her with a tilt-a-whirl slam for two. Avalanache and running lariat gets two. Ariane in now, and she tosses Anna to the corner and twerks before getting a splash. Facebuster gets two. And one. And two.
Ariane with a boot choke, and Nyla in with a beal. Anna cuts Nyla off and begins kicking away, getting a clip to floor Nyla for two. Anna works the leg and keeps Nyla grounded, and then Conti comes in with a legbar and cradle for one. She kicks away at the leg, putting it on the ropes and dropping her weight before getting a rope-assisted kneebar. Back in, it gets two. Anna keeps on the leg, adding a knee twist only to get punches in the face. Nyla with a dropkick to take care of Anna, then a Samoan Drop on Conti.
Ariane in, and I guess this is the hot tag because she unloads with clotheslines and a casadora bulldog. Sliding Complete Shot gets two on Conti, Anna saves. Nyla staggers back in and sopts a double suplex, clotheslining both opponents down. Everyone’s down, and Ariane tries a snap suplex and split legdrop, but Anna tagged herself in and gets a Hennig neck snap off the cover for the pin at 8:45. Anna and Conti had a gameplan and stuck to it. I like it. *3/4 Nyla beats up Ariane post-match to get her heat back or something. Rose sells the leg the whole time, which is great. Conti helps Andrew up.
Backstage, Brandi takes the credit for the win and says she feels like a big star. Brandi says she – er, they, sorry Allie – are headed for big success. And Brandi has an action figure! Allie is so over Brandi’s ego, and Brandi doesn’t even notice. You get the feeling Allie hears this ALL THE TIME.
Meanwhile, Conti says her team is both the prettiest and the most dangerous. Anna again refuses to talk about the Dark Order for now.
Big Swole is in the Deadly Draw and she was born ready and stays ready. Apparently, Swole used to have a tag partner, but she can’t guarantee they’ll team. Oh well, at least Britt Baker ain’t in it. And then Lil Swole (Nicole Savoy of SHIMMER) sings Happy Birthday and they’re teaming up. [NOTE: apologies in advance to Swole Nation if they read this, but during the match I’m calling them Monroe and Savoy rather than Big and Lil.]
Leva Bates was the last to pick and her partner is Rache Chanel. They can’t even coordinate their pose.
Quearterfinal: Rache Chanel and Leva Bates (w/Peter Avalon) vs. Swole Nation. My gosh, was the roster so short on names they had to bring Rache out? She’s got a character that’s fine for a jobber to the stars, but she needs a LOT more seasoning. And yes, Leva shushes everyone on the way to the ring. Especially Tony. Leva: “Sh!” Crowd: “What?” And so on. Leva is enjoying this. She even brought Chanel a book on fashion!
I may mark out too much for the Initiative. No regrets.
Chanel and Savoy start with the trash talk before locking up. Savoy with the armlock, but Chanel rolls through and reverses. Savoy takes her down and hooks an Indian Deathlock on Chanel, following up with a Pentagon armbuster. Veda: “Is that her purse-carrying arm?” Savoy looks for a cross armbar, but Chanel races to the ropes before it can be applied and brings in Leva. Leva tries to calm down Chanel, giving Savoy a cradle for two. Savoy sends Chanel off the apron and tells Avalon to back off before pounding away… to the point where Monroe has to go get Savoy and bring her back into the ring. Monroe tags herself in and tells Savoy to cool off.
Monroe with a headlock takedown on Leva, but Leva with a cradle for one off of it. Monroe tackles down Leva, adding a single-leg dropkick for two. Monroe clubs down Leva, adding a big boot. Savoy with Bite of the Dragon, but Avalon distracts the ref and Chanel uses the HAIRBRUSH OF DOOM to break it up. Savoy, offended, suplexes Chanel and talks her down, which allows Leva to get a Backstabber for two. Leva with a fisherman’s suplex for two. Leva clubs down on Savoy, shooting Monroe a MEAN glare, before Chanel enters with a double axhandle.
Savoy goes into the corner, with Chanel tripping her up and getting a Broski Boot with Leva following with double knees. Leva slams Savoy and brings in Chanel, who pounds away on Savoy. Snapmare and grounded abdominal stretch by Chanel, and again she messes with the hair, which just ticks off Savoy. Chanel is mad at herself, so Savoy gives her a T-Bone mid-tantrum and brings in Monroe. Whip kick to Chanel, another to Leva, a spinning Doctor Bomb on Chanel gets two.
Leva with a spear and she tags herself in, but a Pedigree is reversed to a cradle. Chanel kicks the pile over, but Savoy and Chanel distract the ref so it’s only a visual pin. Chanel is tossed out, and Swole Nation gets an STO/neckbreaker combo for the pin at 8:55. Not sure why they had a fake-out finish, but this was all about establishing Lil Swole’s character and in that sense it worked. *1/2
Meanwhile, Ivelisse says there was someone she thought she wanted to team up with before that went sideways… but she gets her wish anyway as Diamante is her partner.
Meanwhile, Madusa tells Dasha she’s in the Deadly Draw as a mixup, and Dasha finds out her partner is Rachel Ellering. They’re really happy to team up.
Dasha Gonzalez and Rachel Ellering vs. Ivelisse and Diamante. You know, at this point, I say go with the established team since they’re 2-0. Maffew, an alert: Shaul announces Ellering as being “from Saint Paul, Missouri” – Saint LOUIS is in Missour; Saint Paul (Ellering’s hometown) is in Minnesota. Well, what’s 525 miles (850 km) between friends, eh? Jurassic Express and Shawn Dean are cheering loudly for Dasha. Meanwhile, Ivelisse and Diamante come out with their national flags – Ivelisse has Puerto Rico, Diamate has Cuba. And despite the two being friends, Ivelisse and Diamante have never been a tag team until now.
Ivelisse and Dasha start, and Ivelisse is amused before throwing a back elbow. She throws forearms to Dasha’s face, but Dasha blocks one and fights back, getting a lucha armdrag and kip up. Handspring forearm follows, then a dropkick. Diamante in, and she works the arm. Dasha reverses and holds the arm, handing it off to Ellering. Ellering with a hiptoss and holds the arm, switching to a headlock, and we go International~!, which ends with Torpedo Moscow from Ellering for two. Dasha in, and it’s a double suplex on Diamante. Round-off splash by Dasha gets two.
Dasha stops a back body drop with a big kick and wants a suplex, but Diamante shoves her into a kick from Ivelisse. It gets one. Diamante with the front facelock, and Ivelisse in. She stomps a mudhole in Dasha, with Diamante walking it dry behind the ref’s back. Ivelisse with a snap suplex and bridge for two. Ivelisse with a lotus lock (leg full nelson with arm control), but Dasha leans back to get two and force a break. Ivelisse pounds on her for two. Diamante in with a cravat as Veda talks about how Diamante no-sold a dislocated elbow.
Snapmare and shoot kick gets two. Ivelisse in, and both women throw uppercuts on Dasha, with Ivelisse getting a Flatliner for two. Ivelisse goes ground and pound before throwing her into the corner, and Diamante in with another uppercut before a double flapjack gets Diamante two. Diamante throws her back to the Latina corner, and Ivelisse pounds away, but a 540 kick (or something like that) misses and hot tag Ellering.
Ellering knocks Diamante off the apron and gets a mat slam on Ivelisse before chopping her hard. Sliding dropkick by Ellering, then a senton for two. Diamante holds Ellering up, but miscommunication means Diamante goes down. Corner splash and STO by Ellering, then a twisting legdrop gets two (Ellering was too close to the ropes and had to re-position), Diamate saves. Dasha in, and Team Smile tries a double-team, but Diamante pulls Ivelisse away and Ellering splats. Ivelisse kicks Dasha away, and Diamante with a casadora Stunner on Dasha. She clears out Ellering before covering, so it’s only two. Ivelisse back in, and a scorpion kick leads to Code Red for the pin at 10:15. They really wanted to make Dasha look like she belonged, but she was a step slower than everyone else. Still, put someone in with three ring generals and they’ll be fine. **1/4
Alex Marvez talks to Swole Nation, noting they have instant chemistry. Monroe says of course they do, they’ve been together since Day 1. “Swole” gets said a lot.
Marvez then asks Dasha about her debut, who says wrestling in AEW was the experience of a lifetime. And while it’s her first loss, it won’t be her last because she’s going to be here for a long time. She hopes to get better, and she thanks AEW for the chance.
Meanwhile, Ivelisse admits that she and Diamante had a rough start, but they’re together through respect. Diamante says they are a threat.
THIRD VIDEO! Oh yeah, I’m going all three like I’m lucha!
Tony and Veda look at the matches in Round 2. Veda: “Three out of the four teams are people who have had some sort of association before.” Random draw, everyone!
Semifinal: Swole Nation vs. Nightmare Sisters. Brandi is now bringing out her action figure (Li’l Bran Bran) and cares more about that than Allie. Can you tell Monroe and Savoy are friends who just love teaming together? Because that is always infectious when you enjoy your work. And Brandi insists on being introduced as “the only woman in AEW to have her own action figure”. Even Dustin thinks this may be a bit much.
Savoy and Brandi start. Brandi with a headlock takedown and crucifix for one, reversed by Savoy for two, as we go through some pinning reversals. Allie tags herself in and goes to the arm. Savoy reverses to an armdrag and Move #427 (armBAR). Monroe in, and both she and Savoy do the dance kicks in the corner like it’s CZW. Monroe with an uppercut into a T-Bone from Savoy, and Allie bails to get some help from Marshall. Savoy dives onto Marshall AND HURTS LIL BRAN BRAN! Brandi grabs the action figure and runs off in distress, while Allie runs over Savoy.
Back in, Allie cuts off the tag and works the arm. Allie boot chokes Savoy, and Brandi stomps her mudhole and walks it dry. Allie with shoulders to the gut and kneelifts. Running kneelift into a SUPERKICK from Brandi gets two. Brandi again cuts off the hot tag (in theory) and goes ground and pound so much she nearly gets herself DQ’d. Savoy with some martial arts and a suplex into a cross armbar. Brandi makes the ropes. She drags Savoy to the corner, and Allie in with her own ground and pound before taunting Monroe. Brandi holds the hair of Savoy to keep her in the corner, and Allie hammer throws her before getting the Kevin Nash choke.
Brandi in, and the double elbow smash and double elbowdrop gets two. Brandi with forearms and chops, but a big boot misses and Savoy with a butterfly suplex. Hot tag Monroe, who knocks Lil Bran Bran off the apron to keep Brandi busy while she works over Allie with a clothesline and pump kick. Doctor Bomb gets two. Monroe brings in Savoy for the finish, and a fallaway slam by Savoy follows. Suplex by Savoy gets two, Brandi saves. Monroe tosses Brandi out and it’s academic from here…
…or it would be if Doctor Britt Baker, DMD, didn’t start yelling into her megaphone. Monroe screams at Baker, allowing Allie to recover and sneak up on Savoy with Eye of the Hurricane to win at 8:25. Monroe chases the Roles and Royce (that’s the truck name) away while the Nightmare Sisters celebrate… then Monroe charges back in as everyone wisely gets the heck out of Dodge. As with most matches involving Brandi, they sports entertained the whole thing and it made the match watchable. *1/2
Semifinal: Tay Conti and Anna Jay vs. Ivelisse and Diamante. Gotta say, Conti as standoffish heel is working much better than I thought it would. Once again, the Dark Order en masse acocmpanies Jay to the stage. (For what it’s worth, the next day she would be doing the Dark Order salute while accompanying others, so I assume she’s fully a member, or at least wants to be. Maybe she can’t talk about it as part of her initiation?) Diamante is on a roll, going 3-1 in her last four with the only loss coming against Hikaru Shida.
Conti and Ivelisse start and try to out-mean-mug each other before getting into a martial arts battle, which Conti easily wins. She adds a back elbow and catches Ivelisse coming in with an armbar, but gets stacked for two. She retreats to the apron, but she gets a hanging armbar there before running her into Anna’s boot. Anna tags in, but Ivelisse escapes and Diamante’s in. Anna to the headlock, and we go International~!, ending with a hiptoss… from Anna.
Anna with a hook kick and spinning kick in the corner, then a shotgun dropkick for two. Diamante goes to the eyes to stop her, then runs Anna into Ivelisse’s boots. Ivelisse with a Flatliner for two. Ivelisse going ground and pound before tripping Anna into the corner and stomping a mudhole (which Diamante walks dry). Ivelisse and Diamante with a series of kicks on Anna for two, and Diamante casually holds the arm and kicks away. Conti is drawn in, and Ivelisse kicks Anna hard in the head. Diamante with a suplex for two.
Diamante with a cravat, adding knee smashes and a snapmare for two. She adds, according to Tony, a “back leg front kick”, and Ivelisse comes in. Anna tries to fight out, but walks into another Flatliner and STO for two. Butterfly guillotine by Ivelisse and Anna is stuck. Anna escapes and throws a right, but Ivelisse catches a spin kick and throws her down. Anna ducks a clothesline and gets a dropkick, and an actual hot tag to Conti! Pump kick to Ivelisse and a Gory 2 Sleep to Diamante, then crucifix Catatonic and shoot kick, Ivelisse ssaves.
WHERE WAS THIS TAY CONTI IN NXT?
It’s a huge slugfest with everyone involved, and Ivelisse/Diamante win easily with stereo casadora drops. Assisted shiranui by Diamante ends it at 7:20. This felt like a Dark match, and I mean that in the nicest way. Also, between Conti’s antics in the corner and her crispness in the ring, I think WWE may have given up on her a bit too soon. **1/2
Marvez interviews Brandi and Allie. Brandi isn’t surprised they won, but Brandi says she did the work to save the team before being forced to walk it back. Brandi talks about how they’re the best tag team, and she’s expecting to get a second action figure before anyone else gets one. “Sorry, Allie, you don’t count; we’re friends.” Time to go do some Instagram influencing.
Ivelisse and Diamante talk about how long they’ve been wrestling – 26 years combined – but it’s bigger than that. They HAVE to do this for their people (said in unison)!
The final is on Satuday as part of a special edition of Dynamite!
So, basically this was a way to build up the records of Ivelisse/Diamante (which is fine, I approve) while telling a couple stories and testing the waters with new talent. Rache Chanel didn’t work out I think, but Rachel Ellering and Tay Conti should be worth a second look (and in fact, Ellering did get a callback on Dark). The other stories here: Nyla Rose doesn’t like losing and Ariane Andrew was in there to eat the pin; Anna Jay is more in the Dark Order than she would want to admit; and instead of Brandi tolerating Allie, Allie’s now tolerating Brandi – who has let her own action figure go to her head.
Now, for my favorite thing to do: BOOK IT. We know this final is happening, and we know Cody Rhodes is facing Brodie Lee. Here’s what I’d do:
Before the matches, Lee tells Anna Jay there’s one more step before she is fully in the Dark Order, and it comes tonight. We aren’t told what it is.
The Tag final comes first. During the match, Jay sneaks to the ring and grabs the action figures, then makes sure Brandi notices this. Brandi, predictably, races off after Jay to get them back, leaving Allie all alone. She can’t fight both of them off, and Ivelisse and Diamante win the tournament. Just to rub it in on Allie, the reward for winning was a triple threat title match at All Out against Shida.
Fast forward to Cody/Brodie. It’s neck and neck up to the end, where Anna Jay (again) heads to the ring, with Brandi Rhodes in hot pursuit. Brandi is desperate to get Lil Bran Bran back, and it causes the ref to try to clear the ring… only as he tries, Uno and Grayson attack Cody with the Fatality. Brodie Lee wins the TNT Title, and Brandi is to blame… but she’s oblivious to that because she has her precious action figurte back.
And if you think that’s evil, Brodie’s just getting started. We find out later – either through BTE, Dark, or the next Dynamite – that Allie feels betrayed by Brandi’s self-centeredness, and it only gets worse when Brandi insists on fighting Anna Jay on the Buy In. Allie can’t get Brandi’s attention to explain because Brandi is a selfish jerk. It’s clear the Nightmare Family will take Brandi’s side, which leaves Allie alone… until Brodie gives her some literature and begins recruiting her into the Dark Order.
And it’s all Brandi’s fault – a lost friendship, her husband’s defeat, the expansion and power of the Dark Order is all due to Brandi. Or, at least, that’s what Brodie Lee will say. Just as planned.
Will it happen? Probably not. Will what AEW does be better? Find out with me on Saturday!