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The exciting times in wrestling just keep on rolling as AEW prepares to cap off All Out weekend with a bang while WWE loads up its special SmackDown show live from Madison Square Garden on Friday night.
The latest development coming out of the blue brand was that Finn Balor’s Demon persona might be returning to combat Universal champion Roman Reigns leading up to Extreme Rules. Although it would be an interesting wrinkle to their rivalry, the timing isn’t ideal if the plan isn’t for Balor to win.
CM Punk will have victory on his mind when he steps back into the ring to wrestle for the first time in more than seven years Sunday at All Out. His match against Darby Allin is easily the biggest attraction on the show, though Kenny Omega vs. Christian Cage for the AEW World Championship may take precedence as far as the match order is concerned.
The official main event for All Out remains unknown, but on the bright side, AEW can’t go wrong with either bout in that spot. Chris Jericho’s career being on the line is also worth noting, even though all signs point to him beating MJF.
This installment of Quick Takes will tackle why AEW doesn’t need Jericho, how WWE has gotten it right with United States champion Damian Priest, the latest case of false advertising on Raw and more.
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AEW’s All Out card is so stacked that the promotion has run into the issue of having to choose between two blockbuster bouts as the night’s main event.
CM Punk vs. Darby Allin has been the most heavily promoted match on the show since Punk debuted in AEW in August. With it being his first professional wrestling match since 2014, it feels like the obvious choice to be the main event, especially with the show emanating from his hometown of Chicago.
Then again, the AEW World Championship hasn’t headlined an AEW pay-per-view since Revolution in early March. It played second fiddle to Stadium Stampede at Double or Nothing in May, and for it to be slotted second to the top again would be questionable.
Omega vs. Cage is bound to be well-wrestled, but there is zero doubt that Omega is holding on to the gold. Omega celebrating to close out the show would be a flat finish, which is why someone has to show up.
Adam Cole and “Hangman” Adam Page would be fun surprises, but Bryan Danielson (fka Daniel Bryan in WWE) is the one everyone wants to see. That is the only circumstance in which Omega vs. Cage should serve as the main event because Punk vs. Allin fits the bill better otherwise.
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WWE’s track record when it comes to the booking of NXT call-ups on the main roster is far from stellar. But Damian Priest has managed to not only remain relevant since being brought up to the Raw roster at the start of the year but also find success as a singles star.
There’s no rhyme or reason for why certain call-ups thrive and others do not. For example, a guy like Karrion Kross has the size that one would assume CEO Vince McMahon loves, but he has yet to be booked as anyone special since making the move from NXT.
Priest, on the other hand, was never the top dog on the black-and-gold brand. Although he started to hit his stride toward the end of his time there, he only ever held the NXT North American Championship for a two-month period.
It felt like he would get lost in the shuffle if he ever moved over to Raw or SmackDown, but he had a strong showing in his debut at Royal Rumble, teamed with a celebrity at WrestleMania 36 and won the United States Championship from Sheamus at SummerSlam.
His stock rose even more with his win over Sheamus and Drew McIntyre in a Triple Threat match on Monday’s Raw. If WWE can stay the course with him, it has a future main event player and an organically over breakout babyface on its hands.
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The ending of Friday’s SmackDown saw Roman Reigns just barely eke out a victory against an injured Finn Balor to retain his Universal Championship. The fluky finish and the way the match was handled indicated that the two have unfinished business, which was all but confirmed by what happened afterward.
As Reigns was walking to the back, the lights turned red for a brief second while the sound of a heartbeat could be heard in the arena. Some assumed it was meant to hint at Brock Lesnar’s impending return to SmackDown, but it was clearly a sign that Balor’s Demon persona is about to make a comeback.
WWE fans haven’t seen Balor portray The Demon since he faced Andrade for the Intercontinental Championship at Super ShowDown in June 2019. He didn’t bring it back while in NXT, but it appears he will be using his alter ego to combat The Tribal Chief.
As exciting as Reigns vs. The Demon sounds on paper, it would be a poor choice for the character to return only to lose to Reigns at Extreme Rules. There’s no chance Balor is beating Reigns for the universal title before Reigns has a chance to clash with Brock Lesnar, so wasting The Demon on a match with a predictable outcome would hurt its mystique.
WWE should hold off on utilizing The Demon until it makes sense to do so and when it can ensure it won’t be treated like an afterthought.
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Falsely advertising matches has been the norm in WWE for decades, but only recently has it gotten inexcusably bad. Monday’s Raw was a prime example of this.
One week prior, WWE advertised a total of three matches for the most recent edition of Raw: Bobby Lashley vs. Sheamus, John Morrison vs. The Miz and Eva Marie vs. Doudrop. But none of the matches came to fruition, and no reason was provided in any instance.
The closest any of the three contests came to getting underway was when Doudrop ambushed Eva before the bell, which led to Eva claiming she wasn’t cleared to compete. Unless the Superstars were dealing with legitimate injuries or illnesses, promoting matches that don’t take place is an efficient way of killing goodwill with whatever audience WWE has left.
It sends the message that nothing that happens matters, not to take the advertising seriously and that there is no incentive to tune into the show as it airs.
That’s a terrible precedent to set, but doing it over and over again (see: SummerSlam 2021, with Sasha Banks being replaced by Becky Lynch even though it was known ahead of time she wouldn’t be there) suggests WWE has no intention of stopping.
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The so-called “final fight” between Chris Jericho and MJF at All Out 2021 will see Jericho put his career on the line. If his former tag team partner wins, Jericho has promised to step out of the ring for good and take up a permanent position on commentary.
The build to their bout has suggested that it will be a win for Jericho, even though it isn’t necessary. MJF would gain much more from remaining undefeated against an icon of his caliber, while Jericho could absorb another loss and not see his credibility suffer.
AEW can have Jericho win at All Out if it’s adamant about that being the end to their program, but there’s no need for him to be regularly featured on Dynamite or Rampage for the remainder of the year.
With CM Punk now a part of the fold and Daniel Bryan potentially on his way, among others, there isn’t an obvious spot for Jericho on the card. Even with Cody Rhodes’ absence, AEW has a plethora of popular babyfaces who would benefit big time from being in the spot Jericho possesses.
Jericho taking time off from AEW TV for a few months would allow him to return feeling fresh and give others an opportunity to rise up in his absence.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham “GSM” Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.