Friday, December 29, 2023

AEW Worlds End 2023 Preview & Predictions

It's the final AEW show of 2023, and the first of its kind, AEW Worlds End!

2023 was a rather tumultuous year for the upstart wrestling promotion, but AEW achieved some major milestones both commercially and artistically, as well as expanding their PPV calendar to eight shows.  Worlds End was built around the finals of the inaugural Continental Classic tournament, which treated us all to some of the best free-TV wrestling we've ever seen in such a short window.  But there's a lot more to this show, including the presumed culmination of one of AEW's more intriguing storylines, plus a huge No DQ grudge match between two veterans.  On paper this show looks to be about on par with this year's Double or Nothing - not a blowaway lineup but plenty of potential.

Let's dive in, shall we?  There's a Zero Hour battle royal for a TNT Title match but we don't know the participants yet so I won't even attempt a prediction there.

Zero Hour FTW Rules Match: Hook vs. Wheeler Yuta

This one could've been added to the main card, as Hook really needs a proper PPV slot at this point.  Should be a fun No DQ match, I'd guess Hook retains.  Does Jack Perry come back to resume their feud (or is Jack the Devil as I'd previously speculated)?

Pick: Hook retains

Bryan Danielson/Claudio Castagnoli/Mark Briscoe/Daniel Garcia vs. Jay White/Brody King/Jay Lethal/Rush

These are the leftover guys from the tournament, and while there isn't a story here the match should be a lot of fun.  I'm not sure why Rush is on the heel team and Garcia's on the babyface team; surely they should be reversed, no?  Is this like the 1995 Survivor Series Wild Card match?  Anyway Jay White could use a win here after failing to unseat MJF last month and failing to make the tourney finals.

Pick: Team White

TBS Championship: Julia Hart vs. Abadon

Two of the most improved women's division stars, both of them fond of using evil forces.  Hopefully the gimmickry won't overshadow the wrestling in this one, as I think these two are very capable of putting together a fine bout, Julia especially.  I don't see Julia losing the title yet, but it's nice to see Abadon finally getting a PPV match.

Pick: Julia retains

Chris Jericho/Sammy Guevara/Sting/Darby Allin vs. Ricky Starks/Big Bill/Powerhouse Hobbs/Konosuke Takeshita (or is it Kyle Fletcher?)

This is another thrown-together 8-man tag, a substitute for Starks & Bill vs. The Golden Jets Tag Title match that was slotted for this show until Kenny Omega fell ill with diverticulitis (get well soon Kenny!).  I've seen it reported two different ways, with Kyle Fletcher or with Takeshita, but the more updated card seems to indicate Takeshita, which is the better move.  Sammy Guevara clearly wasn't supposed to turn on the Callis family this soon but shit happens.  Hell, maybe it's all a ruse to further fuck with Jericho.  Anyway this should be another fun clusterfuck of a match, and I think the babyfaces win since Sting hasn't lost an AEW match to date and probably won't until his retirement bout (hopefully against Darby).  Plus if Sammy or Jericho pins one of the tag champs it sets up a title match.

Pick: Team Jericho

Miro vs. Andrade El Idolo

This one's been a long time boiling, as Miro's "hot, flexible wife" CJ Perry now manages Andrade, but Miro promised not to harm him during the tournament.  Andrade's AEW contract may be coming up in early 2024 and I wouldn't be surprised if he went crawling back to WWE now that Hunter's in charge and considering his wife just signed a new deal there.  As Miro is under contract till at least 2026, it makes sense for him to win here unless Andrade's planning to stick around.  Maybe CJ screws over Andrade and reunites with her husband.

Pick: Miro

Swerve Strickland vs. Keith Lee

Speaking of a long time boiling, jeezus they waited a long time to pay off this feud.  Better late than never I guess.  Swerve is a much more complete wrestler than he was a year ago, and these two know each other really well, so I expect this to be a damn good showing.  Swerve is the breakout star this company needs in 2024, so he's gotta get the win here.  Then set him up to win the AEW Title at Revolution.  This dude is money.  Strap a rocket to his back.

Pick: Swerve

AEW Women's Championship: Toni Storm vs. Riho

I like this matchup a lot; if they give it enough time and keep Toni's character stuff to a minimum this could be one of the company's best women's matches.  Sit back and let these two knock it out of the park.  Toni's obviously retaining, as they're setting up an All About Eve feud between her and Mariah May.

Pick: Toni retains

TNT Championship: Christian Cage vs. Adam Copeland

Aww man, I really hate to see Christian lose this title.  Dude is on fire right now and he's made this title feel more important than anyone other than maybe Darby Allin.  But Copeland's already dropped one match to him (which was an incredible match by the way), so I guess he kinda has to win here.  Maybe they have a rubber match later on where Cage regains the strap.  This should be fantastic though.  Perhaps Killswitch returns and helps Copeland?

Pick: Adam

Continental Classic Finals: Jon Moxley vs. Eddie Kingston

It's all come down to this return match between two violent frenemies.  These guys are so good on the mic they sold me on their Full Gear 2020 match with a single promo segment, and they did it again this past week.  Eddie making the finals should've been obvious, as it's his two championships being folded into the new Triple Crown title.  Moxley as his opponent makes perfect sense as they go back twenty years and have stellar chemistry together.  This should be brutal as all hell, an unruly brawl between two of the best sluggers in the business right now.  I have to think Eddie finally gets the big win over Mox, becoming the inaugural holder of this new title.

Pick: Eddie

AEW World Championship: MJF vs. Samoa Joe

This is the most story-driven match on the card, as Joe just revealed on Wednesday that he hasn't been protecting Max, he's been in cahoots with The Devil this whole time.  And who convinced Max that he needed Joe's help?  Adam Cole.  Does this mean Adam is close to being cleared to come back?  If he is indeed The Devil, is Britt part of the deal too?  Is Wardlow?  Is Jack Perry?  If The Devil's goal is to screw Max out of the title, is he content with Joe winning it or is Joe just there to further soften up the beleagured champion so The Devil himself can win it later?  I need some answers!  Anyway, I feel like the deck is SO stacked against MJF that he's gonna end up squeaking by once again, thus setting up a match with whoever The Devil turns out to be.  Regardless, MJF's run as champion has been one of the most complex I can remember.  "aEw DoEsN't TeLl StOrIeS!!"  Get fucked, trolls.

Pick: MJF (barely) retains

AEW's poised to end 2023 with a bang and set up some new stuff for 2024.  Things change and it's time for some new faces to take center stage both in front of and behind the camera.  It's an exciting time to be a wrestling fan....

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