Updated: Sep 9
Striking the balance between pushing established stars and building hot prospects in wrestling is a hard feat to accomplish. For any criticism you can levy at AEW, you cannot deny that they are a company bristling with stars and hot prospects alike.
On the most recent episode of Dynamite, AEW showcased this in various matches. Established talents such as Cody Rhodes and Miro put on great showcases for new and upcoming talents within the company. Cody was comfortably dispatched by the newcomer Malakai Black. Meanwhile, Miro told a fantastic story with the upcoming Lee Johnson in a TNT Championship match that showed us a new side of Johnson.
However, it was in the 7-minute trios match where this quality that AEW excel at was perhaps showcased best. Three established talents in Jon Moxley, Darby Allin and Eddie Kingston taking on the young newcomers, Daniel Garcia and 2.0 (Matt Lee & Jeff Parker, formerly NXT’s Ever-Rise). This match epitomises that balance in AEW.
What is the purpose of this match?
This match really didn't have much story going in and, unlike most AEW matches, had no real purpose to exist as there isn’t a trios division in which to climb the rankings. Garcia and 2.0 simply called out the “three baddest dudes on the roster”, as Garcia put it, and we have ourselves a match.
Now, we know the real reason this match was made is because AEW wanted to get three known draws in Mox, Eddie and Darby on TV for the purpose of ratings whilst giving the unsigned Garcia and 2.0 a shot to impress and providing fans with a quick, mini-banger.
But, within the realms of story, the motivation for these characters is simple; make a name for yourself.
The character dynamics coming into this match, whilst simple, are really interesting. 2.0’s comedic style mixed with Garcia’s grit and determination made for a fascinating team. Meanwhile, Moxley’s relationships with Kingston and Allin have a storied history built on mutual respect.
Moxley himself appeared to be channelling his inner Dewey Finn because he was really ticked off. Maybe because, as a new father, he’s not getting sleep, maybe because he’s annoyed he has to fight this random match or, perhaps, foreshadowing a shift in character. Either way, it worked.
Throughout the match Garcia and 2.0 make their more established opponents increasingly more annoyed be it through 2.0’s obnoxious attitude, Garcia’s ability to constantly be in the right position and refusal to say die or the fact that they actually start to better them.
The Key Stats
We can see from the stats above that 2.0 and Garcia worked well as a unit against their more established foes. With 8 tags and 4 double teams, not to mention various moments where members on the outside got in to help the legal man, it’s clear to see who the ‘team’ in this match was.
Despite 2.0 and Garcia being in control for more minutes of this match, Mox, Darby and Eddie dominated the offence. Be it through Eddie Kingston’s quick strikes and chops, Moxley’s playing equaliser to Garcia’s great work or Darby Allin’s crazy dives, the more established team used their experience to find a way to win.
Even though 2.0 and Garcia had less of the offence, this was still a rather even match. Managing a strikedown rate of 22% to the 16% from Mox, Darby and Eddie is very telling of the resilience of Daniel Garcia in particular. Not to mention the hard-hitting nature from Garcia who got most of those strikedowns.
How it played out.
Daniel Garcia and Darby Allin started the match and this was the perfect way to get the action moving. Fast-paced reversals and pin attempts got the crowd going in the first minute in an exchange where Garcia came out on top, before making a tag.
A few seconds into the second minute Darby retreats to his corner as Eddie Kingston tags in, ruffling Darby’s hair like it’s his younger brother as he does so. This is a game changer for the more experienced team as Matt Lee, foolishly, invites Eddie Kingston to “take a swing” before attempting to go chop-for-chop.
Kingston dominates the second minute with rapid strikes, stomps and chops before a distracting from Jeff Parker at the start of the third minute allows his 2.0 partner Matt Lee to take advantage by focusing on Kingston’s knee.
From here 2.0 and Garcia dictate traffic for three minutes with Eddie Kingston isolated in the their corner, unable to make a tag, barely able to mount any offence as his knee gets torn apart.
It’s within these three minutes where Tony Schiavone on commentary points out how impressed he is with 2.0 and Garcia, as Jim Ross calls it a “surprisingly good performance” from the newcomers.
As we come into the 6th minute, Daniel Garcia stops Kingston from making the tag and this is what sends Mox, who has been stuck on the outside for the entire match so far, over the edge. Mox charges round the ringside area and takes Garcia out.
Seconds later Matt Lee finds himself face-to-face with Sting at ringside and loses himself somewhat. Lee drops everything and exclaims “you’re the real Sting” as Darby Allin flies out of the ring with a brutal suicide dive.
These two actions from Mox and Darby, whilst popping the hell out of everyone in the crowd, also serve to allow Kingston time to recover and make the tag to Mox, who just takes everyone out before hitting a Paradigm Shift on Daniel Garcia, tagging in Darby who hits a Coffin Drop to get the win.
So... How Do AEW Make Stars?
And that’s your result. As predictable as they come and, in many ways, this was meaningless. It didn’t work towards any form of rankings and didn’t progress any stories. In other ways, it really wasn’t pointless. It was a fun, short match that introduced us to new wrestlers in the AEW world, clearly establishing what their characters are.
2.0 are a funny tag team who can hang with the best whilst having a lot of fun. Meanwhile, Garcia is a seriously good upcoming talent who bested both Darby Allin and Eddie Kingston in periods of this match. He’s intelligent, versatile and doesn’t have much room for quit in him. The decision to take a Paradigm Shift and a Coffin Drop in order for Garcia to lose was no accident.
Hopefully this is not the last we see of Daniel Garcia in AEW. His IWTV match against Wheeler Yuta which is getting “best indy match of all time” levels of praise, so whether that's warranted or not, I doubt it will be the last we see of him in AEW. 2.0 meanwhile would be a breath of fresh air in a tag division that has grown a little stale in recent months with room to grow in the future.
This was a concoction of all sorts of talent. A legit star in Jon Moxley. Darby Allin on the brink of stardom. Eddie Kingston who is adored by fans. A relative unknown in Daniel Garcia, a prodigy who, if AEW want him to be, will be a future star. A great, comedic tag team with huge potential.
This match didn’t give us any star-making performances, it was too short to accomplish that. But it did allow us to see wrestlers at different stages of their development and reflect on how AEW creates stars.
To reflect on how Eddie Kingston came in and was made in one promo. On how Darby Allin had an 18-month journey to be “made” in AEW. The truth is there isn’t one way that AEW makes stars outside of allowing them to be unique and themselves, to get over naturally. Eddie’s journey and ceiling is different from Darby Allin’s.
On an episode that established Malakai Black and showcased Lee Johnson as a future star, Daniel Garcia and 2.0 ended the night with fans begging AEW to sign them in a similar vein to one of their opponents, Eddie Kingston, little over a year ago. If that isn’t a sign that AEW did something right with this match, I don’t know what is.
Utilising Sting at ringside will only serve 2.0 in the long run. As will the likes of Daniel Garcia tangling with the likes of Darby and Mox. I use this match more as an example of how AEW make gold from the bare bones, rather than how they made a star in one night. But keep building matches and moments like these for Garcia and one day you'll have a star on your hands. It's exactly what they did with Darby Allin for 18 months.
Match Star Ratings (out of 5):
Grappl: 3.07 stars.
Cagematch: 3.3 stars.
PWM Writer's Opinion: 3.25 stars.
In Tale of the Tape we take one match to break down the stats and story from and I was originally going to do Miro vs Johnson. However, Griff made a fantastic video and Craig wrote a great article on that match for Pro Wrestling Musings, so I decided to focus on this trios match instead. But do go and check out their fantastic work.