Yes, they have a loyal following, but it’s a valid question to pose as the Young Bucks’ act is getting stale and possibly hindering the growth of AEW.
I used to kind of understand the Young Bucks shtick back when they were actually young and the name fit them more appropriately. This version of the Bucks in AEW is lesser and tiresome. Now, a lot of times, they just come across as awkward. It’s a cosplay style of doing things that gets more convoluted with each passing day.
It also makes me either fast forward or tune out and I’m sure that I am not alone on that. I do actually like AEW overall. There are many segments which are great pro wrestling TV show segments. The Young Bucks stuff just always feels out of place in AEW. When they’re involved, it’s like a different and “less than” show in comparison to the rest of it. It could just be personal preference but I do not connect with their vision of what pro wrestling is and what they think it should be.
AEW Tag Team Division
Their influence as Executive Vice Presidents is what really makes them susceptible to criticism. If Matt and Nick were just a tag team that was silly and quirky, it would be a different story. The fact that they have some form of control in regards to how the show is presented is concerning. It’s eye-opening, especially the sway that they reportedly have over the tag team division. Up until the last couple of months, there was very little that I enjoyed about the AEW Tag Team scene.
Quantity Instead of Quality
There are many tag teams in AEW. Sometimes those teams come and go in a head-scratching manner. Thankfully, FTR has been featured more lately and been given somewhat of a push. FTR should be the AEW Tag Champions or be competing for the tag titles most of the time. The current champions, Jurassic Express are fairly underwhelming. I cringe when Luchasaurus does his dinosaur yell thing in promos because it is ridiculous and off-putting. He also botches moves quite a bit. Jungle Boy seems promising at times and bland other times.
I still don’t understand why Santana and Ortiz haven’t been featured as a valued team that competes at the top. That’s a missed opportunity because they were a great duo as LAX during their time in Impact. In fact, Santana and Ortiz are the most underutilized team in AEW.
The Gunn Club have a decent young team, but Billy’s sons are fairly inexperienced and not ready to have big-time matches yet. I’m not sure if the Blackpool Combat Club have a distinct tag team between the three full-time wrestlers but that could be something. The same applies for House of Black as they don’t have an official twosome per say. The Butcher and the Blade aren’t super impressive based off of what we’ve seen.
The Lucha Brothers are a really good brother tag team. They got a brief run with the tag titles and it didn’t really move the meter. I think they should still push them over most of the other duos but it probably won’t happen. reDRagon are also a high-quality tandem but they rarely compete as a team and have lost many of their singles matches.
Powerhouse Hobbs and Hook together could have been a team within Team Taz but instead Hook is spending time with Danhausen. Hobbs and Starks may be a twosome moving forward and that pairing has potential if so. The Hardy Boyz have not been crisp in the ring since they reunited in AEW. Jeff seems like he’s not well physically and he’s taking crazy risks for his age.
Makeshift and Repackaged Teams
The team of 2.0 showed some promise for a while and now they’re busy kissing Jericho’s ass and have lost most of their momentum. Dante Martin and Matt Sydal are showing signs of pairing up and that could be a good duo. Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee apparently are a team now but we’ll see how long that lasts. A lot of these tag teams feel just thrown together with little to no explanation or backstory.
The tag division as a whole is tough to figure out and make sense of. The Young Bucks need to shoulder most of the responsibility for a lackluster tag team division. The WWE and Impact Wrestling both have better tag scenes than AEW. That shouldn’t be the case given all of the good talent in All Elite Wrestling.
Now the new idea in AEW is to introduce a Trios Championship? That seems like overkill since there are several championship belts in the company already, especially with the ROH titles in the mix too. Maybe just fix the already existing tag team division first before you begin a separate trios division?
All Bucks Friends are Welcome in AEW
It’s pretty obvious that Nick and Matt have been given permission to basically hire their available friends. If their buddies were all red-hot-commodity types of wrestlers, then it wouldn’t be that egregious. The worst example of this is Brandon Cutler. He brings absolutely nothing to the table. He’s not entertaining and he can’t wrestle. He’s just annoying and useless.
Adam Cole used to be one of the best performers in NXT. Then he comes to AEW as the friend of The Bucks and seems fairly average now. His physique isn’t up to par and his matches and promos are generally not that good either.
Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly are both good wrestlers but when they’re associated with the Young Bucks it gives them a more phony vibe. O’Reilly has been getting some wins lately but most of their time in AEW has been fairly forgettable to this point. The pattern of cronyism with the Young Bucks in AEW should be a red flag.
The Young Bucks matches in AEW mostly feel the same. If you’ve seen one Bucks match then you’ve seen all the Bucks matches. There are a million super kicks and dives and flips and tumbling and unnecessary no-selling and fifty or so false finishes. That’s pretty much it. It’s a very choreographed and fake looking routine from Matt and Nick. At this point, it’s probably not going to change much so it is what it is.
They represent what’s wrong with AEW, as I explained in a previous column. It’s all sizzle and no steak. I guess it appeals to the ”ironic fans” but that can only get you so far. It doesn’t attract more eyeballs to your wrestling product. It’s honestly a bit disappointing to watch Tony Khan go along with so much of this ”modern wrestling” stuff because AEW caters to their core audience to a fault at times.
If AEW would just pull back a bit from trying to constantly please a niche type of fan base, then they could really makes some waves in pro wrestling. You see the potential of doing things the right way with certain acts. The MJF segments are usually gold. The CM Punk stuff is mostly very good. FTR is great when they are featured correctly. AEW has made a new star in Wardlow. The potential of some real growth for AEW is there. They just have to make sure that the Young Bucks don’t ruin it.
Lastly, here’s something to ponder. What if the Bucks took some time off from the AEW product? Kenny Omega needed time off for surgeries and recovery but let’s say it was a few months long sabbatical like that. What would the product look like and what would the changes be? That would be worth finding out.