Jungle Boy vs. Dax Harwood – January 27
In just the first month of 2021, AEW has already put on what could be one of the best professional wrestling matches of the year. The match between Jungle Boy and Dax Harwood was pro wrestling arguably at its finest.
FTR and Jurassic Express have been involved in a feud, stemming from their high ranks for the AEW Tag Team Championships. They are the number one and two contenders for the tag team championships. Two weeks prior to January 27, Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt took on the pair managed by tag team wrestling legend Tully Blanchard. In this match, FTR came away with the win after hitting “Big Rig” on Marko Stunt.
The next week, Jungle Boy set a challenge to FTR. He claimed that being in the ring with FTR the previous week taught him he could beat either one of FTR in a singles match. Dax Harwood stepped up to the plate and accepted the match. Later on, a stipulation was added to the match that Luchasaurus would have both Cash Wheeler and Tully Blanchard handcuffed so that nobody could interfere.
Harwood’s in ring experience of 16 years almost triples that of Jungle Boy. The young buck would have his work cut out for him. Jungle Boy, at only 23 years old, has a couple inches height-wise of an advantage. However, Harwood is heavier by about 50 pounds and has a strength advantage.
But an overlooked factor is that Harwood is a tag team specialist. The last singles match he had was December 3, 2018 when he faced Lucha House Party in WWE. Whereas Jungle Boy has a draw on his record against the former AEW Champion, Chris Jericho. He also held his ground for over 17 minutes against MJF at Double or Nothing in 2020.
Part of what made this match so great was the simplicity of it. There was a clearly defined line of who you were meant to cheer for and wanted to win. Clear condescension from FTR to Jurassic Express due to perceived disrespect from the “new school” guys helped fuel the fire. There was also a clear distinction between the styles. The slogan “No Flips, Just Fists,” are words FTR fight by. Their traditional style contrasts with the lucha libre and acrobatic styles of Jungle Boy. Even down to their hair, the differences are blatantly obvious. Harwood’s bald head is a stark contrast to the flowing locks of Jungle Boy that seems to be right out of a commercial for Head and Shoulders.
At the first lock up after the bell rang, Harwood easily pressed Jungle Boy into the corner. After locking up again in the center of the ring, a headlock by Hardwood was quickly transitioned into a modified arm drag by Jungle Boy. As the pair grappled around the squared circle, the weight and strength advantage became apparent. Jungle Boy would need to use his quickness to avoid the blitz of Harwood.
The hard hitting “in your face” style employed by Hardwood was difficult for Jungle Boy to initially keep up with. But as the pace quickened, the youngster settled in. Soon, Jungle Boy nearly caught Harwood in his Snare Trap submission, yet the veteran was positioned too close to the ropes and caused a break.
Part of the beauty of this match existed in how Jungle Boy would get his offense in. Urged on by the limited crowd in attendance after thunderous chops from Harwood, Jungle Boy would start to fight back. The weight difference and strength disparity dissipated. The audience were willing a new strength into Jungle Boy.
Dax would typically be in control as long as the two were interlocked. Yet, when either of the two created some distance, Jungle Boy would seize the opportunity and take some ground back. Jungle Boy noticed a chink in the armor of Harwood, an injured arm, and targeted it to break him down. He was able to almost neutralize half of Harwood’s offense by taking out his left arm. No longer could Dax lay in with his right hand and hold Jungle Boy close with his left.
Throughout the match, Harwood continued to look down on and not view Jungle Boy as a credible opponent. Disgusted that a Tarzan wannabe would infiltrate the respected sport of professional wrestling. With every lariat, slam and forearm driven to Jungle Boy, Harwood was trying to break his spirit. But the crowd kept that hope alive in Jungle Boy.
The veteran had the experience advantage, and it was evident throughout. Jungle Boy would try to counter Dax’s offense, but the same trick would not work twice. After Jungle Boy parried a slam by swinging through with a head scissors takedown, Harwood improvised the next time. By facing the ropes Jungle Boy’s attempt at escape only increased the power behind Dax’s slam, bouncing Jungle Boy off the ropes, before crashing him to the mat with a sit out powerbomb.
The match amplified how Jungle Boy could take and withstand all the damage being thrown his way yet still, with the help of the crowd, fight his way back into any contest. Harwood could tell this was happening around him and tried to silence the supporters by hitting their favorite even harder. But Jungle Boy just came back with more spirit.
There was a lovely sequence of roll up pin attempts by both parties. Each attempt was a viable conclusion to the match with how battered and damaged the combatants were. Through this Dax helped show off the mat wrestling prowess that Jungle Boy had in his back pocket and how he could grapple with the “old school” boys almost as well as he could fly with the “new school” style.
Jungle Boy’s ground game eventually won him the match after quickly transitioning a roll up into his Snare Trap submission. With neither Tully nor Cash able to assist Dax and the ropes well out of reach, Jungle Boy modified the stretch by targeting his arm. Moments later, Harwood gave up and submitted. Jungle Boy had beaten half of one of the best tag teams in the world. With a perfect blend of mat wrestling and acrobatic offense, Jungle Boy had overcome the traditionalist.
Yet the resentment in the hearts of FTR for such a foolish “act” as Jurassic Express sparked a beat down. Out of embarrassment and shame, the trio assaulted Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy. Until Marko Stunt came to the rescue with a folding chair and two other tag teams to break up the melee.
This match served as a platform for Jungle Boy, his credibility enhanced by Harwood after not just withstanding the onslaught but prevailing on the other side. Jungle Boy has a draw with Chris Jericho in singles competition as well as a win over Dax Harwood. Jungle Boy is certainly going to be a future world champion.
Could that championship be the Tag Team titles? With a Tag Team Battle Royal coming up at Beach Break on February 3, the opportunity is there. The winners receive a championship match at Revolution, AEW’s next pay-per-view, which takes place in March. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus will have to outlast nine other teams including MJF and Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara and Jake Hager, FTR and current champions, The Young Bucks to win the match.
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