One of the more intriguing things advertised for the final Dynamite before AEW’s Double or Nothing 2 PPV on Saturday was a confrontation between retired wrestlers Arn Anderson and Jake Roberts.
Now managing Cody Rhodes and Lance Archer respectively, they are regarded as two of the greatest minds the wrestling industry has ever seen.
And with their charges facing off in the tournament final to crown a TNT Television champion on Saturday, weeks of off-the-cuff threats between Arn and Jake were paid off with an in-ring summit.
So, which of the two silver tongues had the better of the exchange?
The debate is moderated by Tony Schiavone. Both Arn and Jake take a seat at opposite ends of a long table, mic in hand.
Jake is up first. He calls this “surreal” and notes that all the times he and Anderson crossed paths, they never actually wrestled one-on-one.
Roberts compliments Arn for not bringing his “dog and pony show” with him today and says Arn isn’t used to showing up alone. Ouch. 1-0 Jake.
Snake says the Murderhawk has destroyed everybody in his path so far, including Dustin Rhodes and Cody can no longer hide on Saturday.
He then swiftly changes tack without missing a beat and asks Arn if he’s on a pass from “the home” tonight, since we haven’t seen him in a few weeks “you’re looking thick”. 2-0 Jake!
Arn now speaks for the first time, and calmly informs Jake that he almost had Double A believing him – almost. He agrees this is surreal, calling this a dream match on many fans’ wishlist for years.
Double A says they’re two people who could talk anyone into believing anything, and that even from the length of this long table he can feel the evil permeating from Jake.
Arn says he saw how many men in the locker room were scared of the snake, but that he realised early on that the snake was a distraction and the evil was Jake himself. Nicely put. 2-1 Roberts.
Jake interrupts, remaining the aggressor, and says he’s been to hell and back so many times that one more trip with Arn wouldn’t be that bad. Great line, and he’s 3-1 ahead on the scorecard.
Arn dares him to repeat that, and Jake stands firm: any time, any place, they can make this physical.
Anderson says he hears Mike Tyson isn’t just here to present the title to the winner Saturday. He has free reign in the building all day. Arn wonders aloud if Roberts has the courage to throw that snake on Tyson.
Jake evades that challenge, claiming he promised Archer first shot at Iron Mike, before seemingly growing impatient at AA’s calm approach to this verbal joust.
He changes the topic to Brandi, calling her a bimbo in more of a desperate attempt to provoke than his great start to this. He says he’d love to bump into her again.
Still unflappable, Arn casually says he’ll let the snake out of the bag – pardon the pun – and share what Cody told him in private. He says Cody isn’t just motivated by the extra money, legacy and respect the title will earn him. He wants to win because he has to.
Jake then attempts to cut in for the second time – only this time, Arn shuts him down with a swift, cold “don’t interrupt”. Powerful! 3-2 now.
Arn puts over AEW’s first year, noting Cody being the first TV champ would cement his leadership as having been a success.
He then points out that Jake’s body language is a little more nervy after he threatened Arn – and it should be, because Anderson is, in his own words, a “vicious prick”.
He then namedrops Jake’s use of DDP Yoga and says it’s good because he wants Jake to be nice and limber for when he gets hit by a spinebuster.
This causes Roberts to flip the table and manhandle Schiavone when he tries to get in the middle. It takes a fleet of officials to calm things down, and Arn has really got to one of wrestling’s finest minds there. 3-3.
Those who are in the crowd here chant “let them fight”, and we agree. They’ve actually sold us on a match they probably can’t ever deliver, unfortunately. But who knows: maybe Cody and Arn vs Jake and Archer in a tag match after the PPV?
Anyway, Anderson’s rope-a-dope worked a charm here. He let Jake get in all the early zingers before questioning whether Roberts could still get the job done physically, whether it be with Mike Tyson, Cody or himself.
Ironically, the challenge of Jake’s ability to fight was what gave him the edge in this battle of mind games. It was three great verbal shots apiece, but when the segment ended it was Arn who had all the power and Jake who was flustered.