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Jamie Hayter and Britt Baker are headed for splitsville following AEW All Out/Credit: All Elite Wrestling
All Elite Wrestling presented its All Out pay-per-view Sunday night, live from Chicago, with several newsworthy events on the minds of the company’s faithful audience.
There was the return of MJF after months of speculation, the questionable booking of both Chris Jericho and Ricky Starks, the breakout of The Acclaimed and the beginnings of a breakup between Dr. Britt Baker DMD and trusted enforcer, Jamie Hayter.
Dive deeper into those topics and more with this recap of the September 4 extravaganza.
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Credit: All Elite Wrestling
Few acts in AEW entered All Out hotter than The Acclaimed.
A babyface turn over the summer, a reunion with Billy Gunn and a few catchphrases had them riding a wave of momentum into the event and the fans in Chicago repaid their hard work to develop both creatively and in the ring with one of the loudest ovations of the night.
An ovation that extended well beyond their entrance and trademark pre-match rap.
The crowd was red-hot for the tandem, cheering them at the expense of tag team champions Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee. The support only grew louder and more passionate as Anthony Bowens and Max Caster came closer to dethroning the champions.
By the time Bowens found himself fighting through what appeared to be a severe knee injury in pursuit of his championship aspirations, there was little denying who the fans in suburban Chicago wanted to see leave with the titles.
They did not and the crowd voiced their displeasure, but in defeat, Bowens and Caster earned the biggest win of their young careers. They are made men, accepted by a die-hard fan base that can be difficult to please but is incredibly loyal once they are won over.
Caster and Bowens may not have left Sunday’s pay-per-view offering with the titles, but their future is bright. They are marketable, have an undeniable connection with the audience and now have proven they can thrive on a big stage, under the brightest lights, and with lofty expectations placed on them.
They are the future and their performance in their first major championship opportunity confirmed as much.
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Credit: All Elite Wrestling
First things first: the final match of the tournament to crown the first AEW World Trios Championship was very, very good.
The Elite, Dark Order, and Hangman Page exhibited extraordinary chemistry, kept the crowd hanging on every spot, and teased the next evolution of Page’s story with his former friends. It set the bar and nothing else on the show came close to eclipsing it.
With that said, the predictability of the tournament did somewhat undermine what was a great match.
Tony Khan essentially tipped his hand six months earlier by admitting that he was waiting for Kenny Omega to come back before introducing the tag titles. From there, he booked a tournament that felt destined to end with The Best Bout Machine and The Young Bucks holding the title high overhead in victory.
By the time The Elite made it past Will Ospreay and Aussie Open on the final Dynamite before All Out, it felt even more like a given that the trio synonymous with AEW would win the titles.
No, that is not the wrong call. Their exploits on the Being The Elite YouTube show garnered fans and helped set the table for All Elite Wrestling to exist in the first place, so by no means is rewarding them with the historic first reign a bad thing.
Perhaps building intrigue by creating even the slightest bit of doubt that The Elite could actually go all the way and win the titles would have better suited the moment.
Even the story involving Omega and his injured body was tossed aside, nowhere to be found Sunday night. There was no KT Tape or athletic tape protecting his injured ribs. That story, so integral to his first night back and his return as a whole, was neglected completely as Omega competed at full strength.
That inconsistency, combined with a total lack of mystery as to who was leaving the show with the titles, managed to hurt what was a significant moment and the fantastic match that preceded it.
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Credit: All Elite Wrestling
Ricky Starks spent the last month dropping the FTW Championship to Hook, feuding with The Factory in a third-rate TV program, ran from said faction, was beaten down by them backstage, and beat QT Marshall in his most prominent in-ring appearance.
That booking was enough to raise a few eyebrows. By the time he ate a spinebuster and lost to Powerhouse Hobbs in mere minutes Sunday night, it became apparent that it was time to sound the alarm in regards to his booking.
A charismatic star with all of the potential in the world to be the star of AEW’s future, it felt very much like All Out was his platform to establish himself as such with a win over his former tag team partner.
Instead, he lost in short order, an extended squash even.
There will be some that tout the idea of strengthening Hobbs to propel the storyline forward but Starks had been so poorly utilized, despite an impassioned and emotional promo that won the crowd over, that even a win a month or two down the line may be too late.
Starks earned better than his treatment Sunday night. There will be a sentiment across social media, perhaps even from Tony Khan himself, that the Louisianan is still a major part of plans for the future and that this loss was merely a roadblock in his path to greatness.
That may be the case, but recent booking trends in regards to young, up-and-coming stars in AEW suggest there is still reason to be skeptical.
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Credit: All Elite Wrestling
The long-awaited breakup between Dr. Britt Baker DMD and Jamie Hayter is on the horizon following Sunday’s Four-Way match for the Interim AEW Women’s Championship.
Late in the match, Hayter had the championship in her sights, only for the good doctor to selfishly pull the referee out of the ring and break up the count.
From there, she nearly pinned Hayter and even teased a Lockjaw, proving once and for all that the egotistical former champion is only out for one person: the good doctor.
The fans in Chicago were overwhelmingly behind Hayter, wanting her to win the match and title throughout. That Baker was the cause for her not realizing their collective dream made for a great moment and will prove the ignition point for a rivalry that in theory, should make Hayter and major babyface in the division.
Keep in mind: despite her willingness to interfere on behalf of Baker, Hayter has never joined in on the DMD finger shtick that Baker and Rebel do routinely, suggesting she has never been completely sold on the partnership and that she has always seen through her associate’s chicanery.
Ala Batista during his time with Evolution and, more recently, Wardlow with MJF.
It is a story that works and, hopefully, one that AEW executes correctly to the benefit of the Brit.
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Credit: All Elite Wrestling
Chris Jericho defeated Bryan Danielson Sunday night with a low blow and Judas Effect that continued a trend of big match wins that’s both questionable and reminiscent of a guy with whom he once had a professional rivalry with, Triple H.
In 2002 and 03, it was clear that the Triple H who earned Match of the Year candidacy every time he set foot in the ring was gone. He was a step or two slower and the overall quality of his work dipped significantly. That his booking reflected that of someone clinging to their spot, beating opponents that made no narrative sense for him to defeat, did not help matters.
While Jericho remains an asset to AEW based on his star power alone, there is no denying that the hero booking that has resulted in eyebrow-raising victories over Danielson and Eddie Kingston, in particular, is problematic in the same way The Game’s was two decades ago.
No, he is not beating guys cleanly, but there is a very real case to be made that he should not be beating them at all.
His win Sunday over Danielson came at the expense of a guy who already lost to Daniel Garcia a month ago and is still chasing that definitive AEW win that has eluded him dating back to the time-limit draw against Kenny Omega last year and his title match loss to Hangman Page a few months later.
The win over Kingston in the Barbed Wire Everywhere Deathmatch robbed the Mad King of a win that had been months in the making. Rather than paying off that feud with the most logical, slam-dunk booking decision, there was, Jericho inexplicably went over again for reasons that have yet to play out on television.
Yes, he is a legend. No, his ability to evolve, adapt and change to fit the current scene cannot be denied. Jericho is one of the best to ever do it, but he is no longer a guy that, A) needs protection creatively and B) should be winning matches against hotter babyfaces when the story clearly calls for him to get his comeuppance.
Some will say, “shut up and let it play out.”
Sure, maybe that is the call. Since the company’s inception in 2019, though, shutting up and letting it play out typically ends with Jericho’s arm raised in victory and unbiased viewers wondering why it was necessary.
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Credit: All Elite Wrestling
MJF returned to AEW Sunday night following CM Punk’s victory over Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship, revealing himself to be the Joker and winner of the Casino Ladder Match roughly four hours earlier.
While he did not explain his apparent association with Stokely Hathaway or any of the manager’s recent acquisitions, he did label himself “the devil” and express that he was coming after his former idol and the top prize in the company.
How this impending main event run ultimately turns out will very likely determine the future of the scarf-wearing villain’s time in AEW.
MJF is a virtuoso performer who can talk, emote, elicit cheers or boos and back up every word out of his mouth with his performance in the ring. He is the young star around whom the company should have been built a long time ago and was rightly pissed about taking a backseat to more recognizable stars from other companies.
Whatever real-life heat existed between him and his employers appears to have been smoothed out enough to instigate his return to television.
With the revolution in the worked voicemail from Tony Khan to MJF that was played prior to the return that he does not have to sign an extension for missing time and will be a free agent come 2024, Khan and AEW officials have one shot to get this right.
Push him to the heights he and so many believe he’s worthy of or risk letting him waive goodbye to the company in just under two years.
A feud with Punk, whom he previously worked to great results, is a step in the right direction. Whether he wins, or is even presented as an equal to the champion rather than a bitter fan boy, is the key.
Panthers outlast Hurricanes in 4th OT in 6th-longest game in NHL history
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers seemed determined to keep playing. And playing. And playing.
The teams opened their Eastern Conference final playoff series with Florida’s 3-2 victory in four overtimes early Friday, with the game ranking as the sixth-longest game in NHL history.
Matthew Tkachuk’s goal came at the 19:47 mark of the fourth OT to end this one, which marked the 15th four-overtime game in NHL history and the longest game in franchise history for each team.
The longest game in NHL history came on March 24, 1936, when the Detroit Red Wings beat the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in the sixth overtime on Mud Bruneteau’s goal at 116 minutes, 30 seconds of extra play.
Florida’s previous record for longest game was 104:31 in Game 4 of the 1996 Stanley Cup final against Colorado. Carolina’s previous record was 114:47 for Game 3 of the 2002 Stanley Cup final.
The only good news for the teams is they had an extended break before this series began. Carolina closed out New Jersey exactly a week earlier, while Florida eliminated Toronto a day later.
But this game ended roughly six hours after Thursday night’s puck drop, and the teams have a Game 2 in less than 48 hours.
AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Barcelona says probe found no evidence of corruption by club
MADRID (AP) — The investigation ordered by Barcelona into its controversial payments for refereeing reports found no evidence of corruption by the club, president Joan Laporta said Monday.
Laporta reiterated that the club’s payments over several years to the company owned by the vice president of Spain’s refereeing committee were only for technical reports and not to influence referees. He said he believed there were no ethics breach and that Barcelona was the victim of a campaign to hurt its reputation.
“This is one of the most ferocious attacks in our history,” Laporta said. “I ask FC Barcelona supporters to be as united as ever in defense of our crest, our essence, and our ownership model. No campaign to discredit us will prevent us from continuing to be an organization of reference in the world of sports that is beloved and admired by millions of Catalans and by many more millions of people around the world.”
It was the first time Laporta spoke at a news conference to give explanations after it became public that the club paid 7.3 million euros ($8 million) from 2001-18 to the company of then committee vice president José María Enríquez Negreira. Prosecutors have accused Barcelona of alleged corruption in sports, fraudulent management, and falsification of mercantile documentation.
Barcelona opened the probe to look into the actions of all the different presidential administrations that made payments over the years, including Laporta’s first at the club. The investigation was conducted by an external company.
The club said the probe found that “no conducts of a criminal nature associated to sporting corruption have been identified, nor are there any grounds to investigate any form of criminal activity associated to bribery.” It added there was “official documentation on the invoices and payments” for the services of “scouting and advice regarding referees, which are common practices in the professional sports sector.”
“Consulting on technical-refereeing issues does not constitute any type of illegal act,” Laporta said. “Consulting, as is done by the big clubs, that was carried out transparently, with the corresponding invoices, at least in my first mandate as president.”
The probe found 629 technical refereeing reports and 43 CDs that the club received over 18 years for what Laporta called “market price.” More reports were likely lost over time, he said.
“I reiterate with all my resolve, I am convinced that FC Barcelona has not committed any crime of sports-related corruption. I hope that sooner rather than later, it is fully exonerated,” he said. “Accusations must be proven. We live by the rule of law, which guarantees among its basic principles the presumption of innocence.”
He said that if there were any irregularities committed by Negreira, Barcelona would be a victim of them. He also said Negreira was not in a position to directly influence referees, and that it was Negreira’s son who actually produced the refereeing reports.
“I dare anyone to show an instance in which Barcelona was favored in a match because of these payments,” Laporta said. “We will allow the justice system to do its work and I’m sure that Barcelona will be cleared. I am fully convinced that FC Barcelona has never performed any act with the intention of altering the competition to gain an advantage.”
The Spanish league, Real Madrid and other clubs have been among those taking part in the legal proceedings against Barcelona. Laporta criticized league president Javier Tebas for making accusations against Barcelona, and also took a shot at rival Madrid.
“Everyone knows that Real Madrid is a club that is historically favored by refereeing mistakes,” he said.
Laporta said Barcelona has always been a club that takes pride in its values, and it would never want to win anything with outside help.
“Throughout its 123-year history, FC Barcelona has always been a model of fair play, both on and off the field,” he said. “If we have won for so many decades, it has undoubtedly been a result of effort, talent and knowledge.”
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Silicon Valley councilman indicted in 49ers report leak
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Silicon Valley city councilman has been charged with perjury after he allegedly lied about leaking a grand jury report to the San Francisco 49ers last year that detailed a purportedly unethical relationship between the team and the city council, prosecutors said Friday.
Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker is accused of providing the secret report titled “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Santa Clara City Council” to the team’s former top spokesperson and a local media outlet in 2022, days ahead of its official release.
Becker then allegedly lied to the grand jury about the leak, prosecutors said, prompting the criminal charges.
The 49ers play in Levi’s Stadium in the city of Santa Clara, about 35 miles (56.33 kilometers) south of San Francisco. Santa Clara County is broadly considered home to Silicon Valley.
The city of Santa Clara owns the stadium and leases it to the team; fighting between the two groups has led to ethics complaints, legal disputes and years of bad blood.
Al Guido, the team’s president, and Larry MacNeil, the former CFO who worked extensively on the team’s stadium project, were named in the indictment as witnesses who spoke to the criminal grand jury for Becker’s indictment.
“The 49ers have cooperated fully with the District Attorney’s Office in their investigation, and will continue to do so,” team spokesperson Brian Brokaw said in a statement Friday. “However, because this is an ongoing legal matter, the organization is not able to make any further comment at this time.”
Prosecutors say the team has bankrolled Becker’s political career by spending $3.2 million through independent expenditure committees for his 2020 city council race, which he won, as well as his unsuccessful 2022 mayoral bid.
The “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” report alleged that Becker and four other councilmembers regularly voted “in a manner that is favorable to the 49ers” and would routinely meet with the team’s lobbyists but not disclose what was discussed.
Becker faces a felony charge of perjury under oath, as well as a misdemeanor charge of willful failure to perform duty. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.
Becker did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday, and it was not clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
“Councilmember Becker violated the public’s trust,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “That an elected official would commit perjury and lie under oath before the grand jury strikes at the very heart of our justice system and requires accountability.”
Representatives for the Santa Clara City Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.