Everyone knows that the first Blood & Guts match in AEW pitted Chris Jericho‘s Inner Circle against MJF’s The Pinnacle. The two factions came to blows inside the double ringed steel cage match, with only one way to win – surrender.
The match was lauded as one of the best matches in AEW history, albeit was an iffy ending that took away from the bout. The fight ended with MJF and Jericho on top of the cage, with the young man threatening to throw Le Champion down onto the stage, mirroring Mick Foley’s iconic fall in the first Hell in a Cell match.
Sammy Guevara made the call to surrender for his team, but to no avail. MJF shoved Jericho off the cage and he came crashing down onto the stage. Luckily, he landed on a set of carefully placed carboard boxes which cushioned his fall nicely. This was incredibly visible and took away from the dramatic ending. However, it didn’t completely ruin what was an amazing first Blood & Guts match in AEW history.
However, it wasn’t supposed to be the matches debut. The original one was announced for the year prior, and was due to feature some faces familiar to the match and some that have never stepped inside the double cage before.
First Blood & Guts Match
The first Blood & Guts match in AEW was supposed to be the Inner Circle vs The Elite. The match was set for a special event on March 25th, 2020 and would have been one of the biggest matches in AEW history.
The two teams involved made this match a must see. The Inner Circle were the top heels in the company, despite Chris Jericho having just lost the AEW Championship to Jon Moxley at Revolution 2020. The best way to bounce back from that was a big win. There is not bigger win than beating the top stars in the company in a legendary match type.
The event itself was announced a AEW Revolution, but the teams in the match were announced in a social media post by the official AEW account. Personally, I would have used their national TV show to announce the match but then I’m not in charge of a million dollar company.
The Elite’s team for Blood & Guts was even more interesting. It would have been the first time that Cody Rhodes would have teamed with his fellow Elite members in AEW, having kept himself separate from them up until that point. He had begun his AEW journey by wrestling his brother, Darby Allin and Chris Jericho, not taking stock of what the likes of Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks were doing.
Those three men were meant to be part of the match, as was Kenny Omega’s fellow AEW Tag Team Champion “Hangman” Adam Page. With the final addition, it made this team one of the most star-studded of all time. However, Nick Jackson had been attacked by the Inner Circle prior to match and was set miss out (in reality, he was out on maternity leave). The plan was to replace him with the debut “Broken” Matt Hardy, who went on to debut not long after the match was announced at AEW Revolution 2020.
However, disaster struck in March 2020 as the entire world shut down due to COVID-19. Crowds were banned from all events including wrestling and all plans went into chaos. AEW had to film months of TV over two days before the new laws went in, with wrestlers like Kenny Omega and the Best Friends’ Chuck Taylor and Trent wrestling multiple matches on one night.
It also affected the first ever Blood & Guts match. While AEW originally wanted to continue with the match, hoping crowds would return by then, it eventually became clear that it was going to be a long slog. The match was pushed back and back until it was eventually cancelled, although a replacement match was created.
Stadium Stampede was made to take place at Double or Nothing 2020 to replace the Blood & Guts match. Being in front of no fans was used to AEW’s advantage, pre-taping a cinematic-style match that took place entirely in the Jacksonville Jaguar stadium. It featured the same core teams but with one significant change.
Cody Rhodes was removed from The Elite team and replaced by the returning Nick Jackson. He was instead moved into the TNT title picture, competing in the tournament to crown the first ever champion. He did go on to win the championship by beating Lance Archer in the final on the same event as Stadium Stampede, but he missed his only opportunity to tag with The Elite in AEW. He has since left the company to re-sign for WWE, in 2022.
The Stadium Stampede match was a huge hit and featured some fun spots between all ten men involved. Kenny Omega picked up the win for his team, pinning Sammy Guevara after an astonishing One-Winged Angel from the stands through a table to put an end to a fantastic match. However, we never got to see The Elite inside the Blood & Guts match, so here’s hoping they can wrestle inside the cages in 2023.
The first Blood & Guts match to take place was between the Pinnacle and Inner Circle the year later, although some fans were allowed in attendance at that point.