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Young Bucks and FTR craft masterpiece in tag title match at Full Gear
A familiarly endearing scene took place on Saturday as the Young Bucks celebrated in the ring with Kenny Omega during the Full Gear pay-per-view.
Wrestling fans who have followed the journey of Omega and the Bucks have witnessed similar moments of camaraderie in rings from Tokyo to Long Beach, Calif. Yet there was one distinct difference in the celebration from this past Saturday. The Bucks were not the ones rushing under the ropes to celebrate with Omega. This time, it was a shirtless Omega sprinting out from backstage to share in the joy of Matt and Nick Jackson.
“That’s a complete opposite from what we’re used to,” Nick says. “Usually, it was us coming to the ring to celebrate Kenny’s victory. This time, with him coming to congratulate us, it was very special.”
A different, deeper meaning of pro wrestling was on display in the Bucks-FTR match at Full Gear.
The Bucks were wrestling for significantly more than gold-plated tag belts. Obligations, commitments and long-term planning as executive vice presidents of AEW have made them choose to share their bright spotlight since the launch of the company, and though their collection of pay-per-view matches thus far have been nothing short of spectacular, this marked an opportunity to show that the match of the year could be a tag-team match. They wanted to validate a feud with FTR that dates back more than three years, when they chose to take an unconventional, frowned-upon route by taunting a tag team in WWE, a decision that appeared to have no resolution. They also needed to prove this match was deserving of the main event, even though it was placed in the middle of the card.
This bout was also a ballad for all their professional sacrifices, mainly the lonesome stretches spent away from their wives and children. Those nights, thousands of miles away from home in Osaka, Fukuoka or Sapporo, are never too far from mind, and they were spent together plotting how to achieve greatness in pro wrestling.
“When we were in the ring after the match, Kenny kept repeating, ‘You did it! You finally did it!’” Matt says. “Nobody else could hear him but us, and it got emotional for us. Sharing that big moment together meant a lot.
“The three of us have gone through so much together in that ring. We’ve all literally grown up together, from three poor kids trying to make our names in sweaty bars and gymnasiums on the indie scene, filming silly sketches in between 10-hour bus rides, watching ringside as he and Okada rocked Tokyo Dome. We’ll always have this bond, so it was only appropriate to share such a special moment together.”
The Bucks and FTR highlighted the moves of tag teams from wrestling’s past in their masterpiece of a match, paying homage to the men who have inspired them to pursue this craft. The story of the match followed the arc of the Bucks’ career, from cover band singers to musicians crafting their own hits. Even the gear had additional meaning, with FTR wearing the green of the Boston Celtics and the Bucks adorned in the purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers to symbolize the intense feud between the two teams.
“FTR asked us if we’d like to wear something completely opposite of them,” says Nick, who shared that he and his brother are Clippers fans but still hold the Lakers in great esteem. “There was talk of superheroes and villains, but there is nothing close to the rivalry of the Celtics and Lakers.”
The Celtics, steeped in history and championship banners, dominated the Lakers for the majority of their meetings, capturing the first eight battles in the NBA Finals. With a background of WWE excellence, FTR played the role of the Celtics to near-perfection, with the exception of losing the bout.
“We represent Los Angeles,” Matt says. “We’ve lived near the area our entire lives and spent most of our career grinding in that city. Winning the tag-team championships was appropriate with the Lakers coming off their big title win, along with the Dodgers.
“Also, most importantly, we want to dedicate our title win to Kobe and Gianna Bryant. Their tragic passing hit all of us hard. The city of L.A. is still mourning their losses.”
Though the match against FTR mirrored their wrestling journey, the Bucks still have much more of their story to share. They have a new tag partner in publisher HarperCollins, which is releasing a book written by the brothers. The Bucks’ story— —hits shelves next week.
“I was inspired to one day write a book after reading Mick Foley’s Have A Nice Day back in my freshman year of high school,” Matt says. “I dreamed not only of being a wrestler but having a career worthy enough that I would one day be asked to write a book.”
Nick took particular pride in watching Matt during the creation of the book, as he knew this was a decades-long goal for his older brother.
“This was a bucket list thing for Matt,” Nick says. “When HarperCollins approached us, it was a no-brainer.”
The book is a personal account of a career in the uniquely compelling, uncharted seas of pro wrestling.
“We’ve never really told the complete story of our early days,” said Nick. “I’m excited to see the reaction from our fans when they read about the days in our backyard, or how we got the Young Bucks name. It’s our origin story, and a story about never giving up.”
The connection with their fan base is an integral piece of the Bucks’ story, which is why they opened the vault to share pieces from their past.
“We’re hoping our story inspires people to chase their dreams and to persevere even when it feels like you’ve hit rock bottom,” Matt says. “The book is filled with stories we’ve never shared publicly, some personal and some professional. We go into detail about our days as WWE extras, I talk about meeting my high school sweetheart Dana, and we take you through the days of our adventures in Japan.
“I’m looking forward to fans getting to know us on a deeper level as human beings. I don’t know if fans realized how dire our situation was at one point, how close we came to ending our wrestling careers, before finally deciding to ultimately bet on ourselves and do things the way we wanted.”
There is little time for the Bucks to bask in the glow of their title win, with Dynamite airing live on TNT on Wednesday night, and with it comes the immediate return of the demands and stresses of attempting to achieve constant greatness every week. But moving forward, this upcoming stretch will be different for Matt and Nick Jackson as, for the first time in their storied careers, the Bucks are carrying the AEW tag-team championships.
“If we’d won them right away, there wouldn’t have been a struggle for our characters,” Nick says. “We actually wanted to hold back for another year, so winning now was a Tony [Khan] call, but I’m glad it happened at the pay-per-view. It felt special, and winning it from FTR in this rivalry, in a match we never thought would happen, took it over the top.”
“We wanted our story to be painful,” Matt says. “So we kept losing, and when you finally thought we’d start winning, we’d lose more. Being fans, we know the feeling of when that pain turns to celebration, and this was the right time for us.
“We competed in arguably the biggest tag-team match of the last five years and finally won the tag titles in the company we helped start. Does it get any bigger than that?”
Jeff Hardy paying close attention to the work of Cameron Grimes
Jeff Hardy was among those whom the Young Bucks and FTR paid tribute to in their match at Full Gear, and Hardy has carved out a legacy for his contributions as a tag-team wrestler with his brother Matt.
Tag-team aspirations still drive Hardy, though he envisions himself playing a far different role if the Hardy Girlz ever decide to enter the wrestling profession.
“If there are ever human beings on planet Earth that I would ever train in wrestling, it will be my two daughters if they ever show the interest when they’re older,” says Hardy, . “Before the women’s tag-team titles were a thing, I remember thinking, ‘We should have a women’s tag division. The women would kill it if they got that shot.’ The women are incredible, and I’m so happy there are women’s tag-team champions now, too.”
Of course, Hardy’s children are nowhere close to embarking on a career in WWE—the oldest is 10 while the youngest is about to turn five—and the proud father noted that he will support whatever they chose to do when they grow up, which includes pro wrestling.
“My 10-year-old understands what I do, and she actually shows a lot of interest in it, too,” Hardy says. “When would they be at WrestleMania? WrestleMania 60? Hopefully COVID will be obsolete by then. No matter what they’ll do, they know how to keep me on my toes.”
The 43-year-old Hardy is also in awe of the work of Trevor Lee Caddell, who is currently starring in NXT as Cameron Grimes.
Grimes is 16 years younger than Hardy, but the two think of each other as extended family. The Hardys were extremely close with Grimes’s father, Tracy Caddell, who co-founded IMEGA Championship Wrestling in 1997. There was a ring in Caddell’s backyard and that was the promotion that helped ignite the Hardys’ careers. Though Caddell passed away in 2018, his memory remains a driving force in Grimes’s success.
“Trevor is incredible. He’s just so talented,” Hardy says. “Many, many moons ago, even before I debuted in WWE against Razor Ramon in ’94, I was training in Trevor’s dad’s old yard. That’s where our ring used to be. I can still remember doing shooting stars and landing on my feet, doing reverse-450s and landing on my feet.
“I remember when Trevor was a little baby, he was in that ring. I’ve seen him grow up, and to see him so big and healthy and athletic, it’s a beautiful thing. His dad passed away at the age of 50, but I’m sure he’s living vicariously through his son. It’s such a cool thing to see another human being come from this little antique town called Cameron, N.C., and be on this main stage. He is such a talented and deserving individual, and I wish him the best of luck.”
The (online) week in wrestling
- Cody Rhodes has a much better ring to it than just Cody.
- AEW announced plans for the start of its video game series and the launch of AEW Games.
- WWE is having a record year for profit, which makes the recent cuts reported by PWInsider’s Mike Johnson, including that of longtime employee Tony Chimel, even more disheartening.
- The news of Alex Trebek’s death was incredibly sad. The iconic host of Jeopardy!, which has occasionally included pro wrestling clues, was also a part of WrestleMania VII.
- Sasha Banks and Bayley wrestled on Friday, again proving they are a bona fide draw, helping SmackDown reach more than two million viewers in the television ratings. Hopefully their story reignites around the time of the Royal Rumble and leads to WrestleMania.
- Always a champion for women in wrestling, Bayley just put a bright spotlight on NWA women’s world champion Serena Deeb.
- New Japan Pro Wrestling has the main event set for both nights of Wrestle Kingdom 15 in January, with Tetsuya Naito defending the IWGP heavyweight and intercontinental championships against Kota Ibushi on Jan. 4, and the winner of that match facing off against “Switchblade” Jay White—who defeated Ibushi for the title contract last weekend—on Jan. 5.
- KENTA defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi at last weekend’s Power Struggle, retaining his IWGP united states championship challenge rights certificate. The current champ is AEW’s Jon Moxley.
- Rocky Romero has done a phenomenal job with the build to Talk ‘N’ Shop A Mania 2, which airs this Friday.
Conrad Thompson previews this week’s edition of “Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard"
A new episode of “Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard” is set for this Friday, as Prichard and Conrad Thompson examine the WWE career of Eddie Guerrero.
“It’s crazy to think Eddie’s run with WWE only lasted from 2000 to 2005,” said Thompson. “Bruce fell in love with him as a person and a wrestler, and this will be a very emotional week for us on the show. Eddie’s passing was a loss that Bruce took very hard.”
Guerrero’s death took place on November 13, 2005, with acute heart failure claiming the life of one of wrestling’s most charismatic performers.
“There were shaky points during that WWE run, and Bruce will talk about when Eddie was released in 2001 and then proved himself back in the independents,” said Thompson. “Eddie battled his demons, but he has also had one of the best comeback stories in all of wrestling, becoming the top guy in the business. He certainly had a tragic and untimely death, but his redemption story is unlike any other. I hope we can bring some happiness to the anniversary of his death.”
Thompson also released a new interview with former WCW executive Jim Herd, presenting a different narrative capturing his years in pro wrestling.
“History has been unfair to Jim Herd,” said Thompson. “And not that long ago, history was unfair to Tony Schiavone. Tony’s now one of the more beloved figures in wrestling, but only a few years ago, people thought he was bitter and hated wrestling. Now, after we have the chance to hear from him, we know Tony’s story.
“This is a chance to hear Jim Herd’s story. History has been unkind to his name, but he made Sting a world champion and brings Great Muta to WCW. He brought a beer sponsor to wrestling, brought in pyrotechnics, and starts the booking committee process. He doesn’t get credit for his contributions to wrestling, and this is a chance for him to answer tough questions and examine his time in WCW. This is a chance to learn a different side from Jim Herd.”
Tweet of the Week
Congratulations to the sons of D-Von Dudley, who made their AEW Dark debut on Tuesday night.