We are now one week removed from AEW's Inaugural Blood & Guts event, which put a match that truly was PPV caliber on free tv as a part of Dynamite. The event was a success in many ways and a failure in others.
A lot of the discourse online is focused on whether or not the final spot of the match which saw MJF throw Chris Jericho off of the cage and onto a "steel platform" ruined the entirety of the match or if some wrestling fans were overreacting. Regardless of how you feel about the final spot, there are always lessons to be learned and elements that can be improved upon. So let's take a look at some lessons that I hope AEW will learn before they put on their next Blood & Guts event.
5. Keep This Event Away From Daily's Place
Whether it is Blood & Guts or WarGames having two rings and a steel cage to surround them takes up a lot of room and suspending a cage that large requires a facility that can hold it. Unfortunately, AEW's home venue just could not accommodate suspending the ring in the air.
Fans who paid good money for 2 hours of wrestling were treated to an entirely pretaped first hour of wrestling. This didn't really subtract from the experience for most of the audience who was watching from home, but part of the appeal of going to a live taping is seeing the action in person.
I don't think that AEW necessarily made a huge mistake by going about this the way that they did. But as venues outside of Jacksonville continue to open up, it is in the best interest of the promotion to stage the next Blood & Guts in a venue that can handle it.
4. Don't Drop The Story
I totally get what AEW was going for with this match. They promised us Blood & Guts and they gave us blood and guts. However, the ultraviolence of this match came at the expense of the story.
While the final moments of the match with Jericho and MJF on top of the cage served as the major story beat as well as the finish, the rest of the match was mostly dedicated to violent spots that didn't do much to advance the story in the ring. In my recent article discussing how Blood & Guts could live up to the hype, I suggested that Santana and Ortiz, and Shawn Spears all needed major moments, but those moments didn't happen. Instead, we got guys openly blading and moving from spot to spot without doing much selling beyond their recovery time from their most recent bump.
I hate to keep bringing up WarGames, but the more recent NXT takes on the match type feature major story beats all leading up to satisfying conclusions. NXT has featured running storylines in WarGames like Io Shirai being locked out of the cage or Kevin Owens being the surprise entrant for Team Ciampa in 2019.
If AEW puts on another Blood & Guts match they need to consider the story they are trying to tell and find ways to move those stories along without sacrificing the brutality.
3. The First Hour Needs To Matter
The first hour of Blood & Guts needed a lot of work. Sure we got matches from some big names, but an event like this needs to have quality throughout the card.
We know that AEW can put on a totally stacked card even when the main event is guaranteed to be the big draw. Events like Winter Is Coming, Fyter Fest, and St. Patrick's Day Slam all had huge matches up and down the card that made Dynamite more than just a one-match show.
The Four-Way Tag Team match did set up SCU as the next team to challenge for the Young Bucks titles, but other than that we saw Britt Baker in a squash match that didn't even last two minutes, a lackluster tag match with Kenny Omega and Michael Nakazawa facing Eddie Kingston and Jon Moxley, and Cody Rhodes and QT Marshall extending their feud in a way that continues to affirm that AEW has no idea what to do with Cody outside of a title scene.
Blood & Guts could've been a contender for Show of the Year, but instead, it got stuck just a few weeks before Double or Nothing so most of their storylines aren't ready to blow up in big matches quite yet.
2. Blood & Guts Should Be Ad Free
How much of that match didn't translate to fans because of picture-in-picture breaks and full-on commercial breaks? This main event was PPV caliber and we only got to see a fraction of it in full screen.
I get it, TNT needs to sell ads in order to justify keeping AEW on the air, but we also know that companies can pay the network in order to run events without ads. AEW knew that this match would be long and that it would be important. This is just one of those things that really takes the viewer out of the match and makes it even hard to keep up.
1. How To Sell The Finish
I'll start by saying this, of course, I didn't want Chris Jericho to fall onto an actual steel or concrete stage. That would be very strange of me to want to see anyone actually do that. But there is a lot of room between noting that the finish to Blood & Guts could've been better and wanting to see someone actually die.
Lots of people have suggested ways to fix the finish to this match including different camera angles and choice of cameras to just choosing a different finish. There really isn't anything that AEW can do to change what happened, but what they can do is actually learn the lesson this time.
Look, this is the second time in less than 6 months that AEW had production issues that led to a lackluster finish to a solid and incredibly hyped up match. Lots of fans are starting to get the perception that AEW has a finishing problem, and that perception could turn away potential new fans.
I just want to see AEW put some more thought into how they are going to pull off big spots like exploding rings or throwing one of their biggest stars off of a steel cage, because right now it looks like they are just winging it.
So those are the lessons that I believe that AEW needs to learn from their inaugural Blood & Guts event! Do you agree with me? Do you think I need to stop being so harsh on AEW? Let me know by tweeting at me @robbydeshazer!
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