AEW is prepared to launch its best possible episode of Rampage on Friday, with one particularly intriguing factor.
For the first 30 minutes of the show, Rampage will have direct, head-to-head competition from WWE (due to an extended two-and-a-half-hour edition of SmackDown). This is an exciting proposition for The Young Bucks’ Matt and Nick Jackson, who double as AEW executive vice presidents and the most talented tag team in the world.
“I love the competition,” Nick Jackson says. “It makes pro wrestling so much more fun to watch. This is what wrestling needed for the last 20 years. I’m just glad we’ve helped bring that excitement back. Let’s f---ing go.”
The Bucks bring an undeniable charm and passion to pro wrestling. Continually seeking to enhance and improve the industry, the two on-screen villains even found a way to bring a more engaging feel to Twitter, which has an overwhelming tendency to harp on negativity.
Instead of tweeting, the Bucks are constantly updating their Twitter bio. The bios include a mixture of humor, insults and in-character bravado, even blurring the lines between character and reality, like they did on Thursday when responding to a tweet from WWE’s Top Dolla (who is former NFL player A.J. Francis). Whether people agree or disagree with what they write, the Bucks have, once again, found a way to take an already established medium and add an entirely new component to it.
“We are constantly trying to use any and every platform we have available,” says Matt Jackson, who crafts the Twitter bios. “Unfortunately, the days of gauging ideas or reading constructive criticism on Twitter are over. It’s mostly just hyperbole, or trolls trying to give their hottest takes so their tweets are the most liked. As a creator or someone in the spotlight, if you tweet something out, no matter what it is, you likely just created your own hate-thread.
“Although social media has turned into an overcrowded cesspool of toxicity, there are still ways to use it as an effective tool. I wanted to figure out a way to do Twitter without actually having to do Twitter, so I started writing my thoughts in the bio. Most of the time I ‘post and ghost,’ and have no idea if people liked what I wrote. I knew I was on to something when the boys [in the locker room] would reach out and tell me.”
After setting a new standard for tag team excellence at Full Gear last November in a match with the exceptionally talented team of FTR, the Bucks raised the bar again last month when they wrestled an instant classic in a cage match against Fénix and Penta. The match was spectacular, pushing wrestling to new heights in terms of storytelling, physicality and athleticism.
“I’m still pretty banged up from that match,” Nick says. “Was it worth it? Hell yeah, it was. I was telling the guys in our locker room that it was the most nervous I’d ever been before a match because I knew it could—and would—be something special if everything went right. I actually remember talking to the Dark Order before the event, telling them some ideas I had and I said, ‘This could be the best cage match of all time if it goes right.’
“After the match, [Evil] Uno laughed and said, ‘Well, I think everything went right.’ It always sucks when your run as champion comes to an end, but we put so much effort into building up those titles that I actually felt a little relief when Fénix flew from 20 feet high crashing down on us. I knew everything went right, and trying to top the run we just had would be pretty tough. The Lucha Bros. might be my favorite opponents ever. I respect the hell out of them, and I think our rivalry will live forever.”
Matt Jackson was also in awe of Fénix as he came flying off the top of the steel cage in the final sequence of the match.
“It felt like an Olympic gymnast sticking that perfect landing, or the crescendo to a live opera performance,” Matt says. “That live reaction made me realize the story we told that night worked better than I could’ve imagined. The father in me had tears run down my cheeks, alone in my hotel room, as I watched back Penta celebrating this special moment with his children. It may have been our finest match.”
The match, which featured a number of intricate spots and highly dangerous risks, was designed in the same fashion as an action film.
“We draw inspiration from forms of art that are not professional wrestling,” Matt says. “We want the viewer to feel as if they’ve been sucked into a live movie, where they experience a little of every emotion. We want the experience to feel like a journey. Our jobs that night in the cage match were to be the villains and make you root for the heroes. The thumbtack shoe was like the showdown at the end of an action movie, where the bad guy pulls out a knife in the middle of a fistfight with the good guy, and then has an unfair advantage. As a viewer, the one thing you want so badly is for the good guy to get his hands on that knife.
“When I watched the match back, I didn’t expect it to hit me in the feels the way it did. The moment that older brother Penta shielded his baby brother Fénix from the dreaded thumbtack shoe, I got very emotional. It brought me back to when Nick, myself and our other two siblings were little, and I’d stand up for them in the playground against bullies.”
In addition to their groundbreaking work in the ring, the Bucks remain the heart and soul of the Being The Elite YouTube series. They were incredibly excited to welcome Adam Cole back into the BTE world, as Cole departed WWE in August after five successful years with the company and then made his AEW debut in September at All Out.
“I can’t fully express the happiness I currently have, sharing a ring with Adam Cole again,” Matt says. “His positivity and energy had really helped the morale in our locker room. I haven’t stopped smiling since he showed up. When he arrived, it felt like we finally found that missing piece of the puzzle. The whole gang is finally back together. We hadn’t worked together in five years, but the chemistry was still there. The dude is a star and getting some of the biggest reactions I’ve ever heard.”
As soon as he signed with WWE in 2017, the Bucks joked that Adam Cole was dead. Now that Cole is in AEW, Nick Jackson addressed how someone was brought back from the dead.
“I’m still trying to figure that out,” Nick says. “But even crazier than resurrecting the dead is letting a superstar walk away from your company to join the competition.”
The Bucks, Cole and the rest of The Elite—including AEW champion/undisputed best wrestler in the world Kenny Omega—will look to add to the excitement and frenetic pace of Friday night’s Rampage. And no matter how this evening unfolds, the wrestling business is a more captivating, exciting, and better place with the Bucks prominently involved.
“If you’ve followed our careers to this point, you know,” Nick says. “If we’re on the screen it’s going to be something people either praise or bury.”
“Whether you physically see us or not, our fingerprints will be on the show,” added Matt. “So look forward to another wild Friday night.”
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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.