In what could only be described as a Jason Mendoza fever dream, AEW held a 10-man main event Saturday night inside the Jacksonville Jaguars’ stadium with the Jaguars cheerleaders and the team mascot, Jaxson de Ville. Perhaps if Mr. Mendoza had known about this, he wouldn’t have thought a perfect Madden game was the bar to clear to run for the tree arch. After this was over, we all felt like running for the tree arch. What is their left to see and do? How are you gonna get them back on the farm after they’ve seen Adam “Hangman” Page paint a yard-line over a prone Chris Jericho?
In perfect metaphor for the Jaguars’ entire existence, Jaxson’s appearance was snuffed out by an all-time legend, in just as ruthless a fashion as Tom Brady ended the Jaguars’ attempt to pop their heads into the sports world’s consciousness.
Flat out on their back, staring at the lights and sky — is this not the eternal condition of the Jaguars? The layers of commentary in this piece of art are simply staggering.
The match also saw Matt Jackson complete 100 yards of suplexes on Sammy Guevara, which means Jackson suplexed for more yards than the Jaguars had rushing in seven of their eight home games last year. Jackson will receive an invite to training camp this week, assuredly.
Why was there a wrestling match in an empty football stadium? The simple answer is, why not?
The longer answer is that Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle faction and The Elite were supposed to have, essentially, a War Games match back in March (though because WWE owns that name, they changed it to “Blood & Guts”). However, AEW realized that without a live crowd, a double-ring match, in a cage, with 10 guys, where anything goes, doesn’t really work — so they shelved that. This was the replacement, and almost certainly surpassed anything they could have come up with at Blood & Guts.
What the cheerleaders thought of all this is anyone’s guess, though as we know from recent stories they were almost certainly paid more for this than they were for any NFL game. And cheering on a player only to watch him whiff and end up face-first on the turf would be old hat for them. It’s important to only ask people to do what they know.
TIAA Bank Stadium’s not-as-famous-as-Arizona’s pool was also used, which Matt Hardy filled with waters from the Lake of Reincarnation. Which, if I tried to explain, all of your eyes would roll back in their head and cause foaming at the mouth, including mine. Needless to say, security needs to be tightened at the stadium if a goth North Carolina wizard/shaman/alien can simply change out the water in the pool to transform himself into various versions of himself while attempting to be drowned by his opponents. All of that is correct and I ask you to not think about it too hard for fear of a serious need of brain-rewiring.
AEW have been running their shows of late, and this pay-per-view, at Daily’s Place, which is an arena/theater next door to the Jaguars stadium. They must’ve figured since no one was using it and the company’s owner also happens to own the stadium and team that inhabits it they would borrow it for the weekend. And this is what happens when you leave the kids alone in your vacation house. The pool’s going to be gross and filled with mystery substances and all the booze is going to end up on the floor.
The match was perhaps the prime example of how and why AEW gets these closed-set shows far better than WWE, and really just the whole business of wrestling. While incredibly silly and ridiculous, at no point did any of the performers take time out to try and highlight how stupid it all was. Everyone involved played this as straight and serious as Leslie Nielsen, even when there were separate horse and golf cart chases. Nor did it ever, directly or indirectly, try and make you feel stupid for watching and enjoying it. While some of the football-centric jokes might have been a touch forced, it’s hard to complain too much in a match where one performer was fed to a Jaguar head and another took time out to drink by himself in a stadium bar (Adam Page is all of us). It was simply a celebration of what can make pro wrestling great — the most outlandish and silly and yet performative form of storytelling.