Since debuting in AEW, Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood have been nearly unstoppable. They portray themselves as wrestling purists, even going so far as to claim that one of the many things FTR stands for is “Follow the Rules.” The last few weeks have shown us that they have no intention of doing that, however. But it’s much more than just simply cheating while the referee’s back is turned. Really, it’s almost the opposite. There have been two notable instances of foul play by FTR in matches officiated by Paul Turner that seem to suggest that there’s some corruption going on behind the scenes that may even involve the Young Bucks. I’ll be looking at both these instances, as well as the implications they hold.
The first instance we see of corruption from referee Paul Turner comes during the tag team title match at All Out. Dax, while holding Kenny Omega in a figure-four leg lock, reached out and held onto the ropes for leverage. Paul Turner noticed this, gave Dax a wink, and went back to asking Kenny if he’d like to submit. This wasn’t the end of the match, but in my opinion it’s pretty irrefutable evidence that Paul Turner is crooked in favor of FTR.
The second instance of corruption by Paul Turner in favor of FTR happened during their match on Dynamite against Jurassic Express. Jungle Boy had Dax caught in a roll up, until Cash reached through the ropes and pushed Dax’s knee, flipping the roll up so Jungle Boy’s shoulders were down. Cash then held his partner’s hand so Dax could get enough leverage for a three count, win the match, and deny Jurassic Express a title shot.
But what’s of particular interest in this instance is that Paul Turner wasn’t meant to officiate that match. The original referee was Mike Posey, but he had to be replaced after being super kicked by the Young Bucks in the center of the ring. This leads us to our next discussion.
The first time I watched the Young Bucks’ superkick to Mike Posey, I saw it as a middle finger to AEW as a whole. It was a sign that they didn’t care about any kind of punishment or fine AEW would impose, they’d continue to do whatever they want, and superkick whoever they want. But what if the Young Bucks’ attack was actually a calculated move?
The referee that they superkicked was Mike Posey. His replacement was none other than Paul Turner. Maybe the Bucks knew that Paul Turner was crooked, and took out Posey so that Turner could come in and replace him. But, this would imply that the Bucks and FTR are working together despite being rivals. So, what could motivate the Bucks to help out FTR?
The short answer for this: jealousy. The Bucks have been resentful of the fact that Hangman Page and Kenny Omega were able to capture tag team gold before they were since the start of their reign. Given their constant irritation with Hangman, maybe it’s not so much of a stretch that the Bucks would bring in some competitors to take him down. In fact, not only did FTR take the titles off of Hangman and Kenny, but they’ve severed the tag team for the indefinite future.
So, there is incentive for each party in an alliance between the Bucks, FTR, and Paul Turner; FTR get the titles, the Bucks knock Hangman off his high horse, and Paul Turner likely gets a fat paycheck.
Britt Baker has been yelling about conspirators in AEW for weeks. She even named Aubrey Edwards as a conspirator, and claimed that Edwards was part of a secret plot in AEW to sabotage unfavorable competitors. Maybe Britt Baker was onto something, but targeted the wrong referee…
Most likely, this will be a slowburn story line in AEW if it comes to fruition, and I’m very excited to see where it eventually leads us!