5-Star Match Reviews: The Young Bucks vs. The Lucha Brothers – AEW All Out 2021

aew all out 2021 lucha bros young bucks

There are some pro-wrestling matches that are universally adored. Flair vs. Steamboat had several great matches, but their second televised encounter is widely considered a timeless classic. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker at WM25 is arguably the best match in WrestleMania history. ‘6-9-95’ is the Citizen Kane of tag matches. And Joe vs. Kobashi is still regarded as arguably the greatest indy wrestling match of all time.

Those four matches all have one thing in common: all of them are straightforward matches without major stipulations. What we’re looking at today is something different. It has been called the greatest cage match of all time, and is the second-highest-rated match in AEW history. Many people have praised it while others have lambasted it for being awful, with most opinions coming out shortly after the match took place. This is why I usually stay away from reviewing matches right as they happen; the knee-jerk emotional reaction in the moment doesn’t always reflect how good a match truly is.

Thus, we once again look at a match with cool heads long after they’ve taken place to see if they still hold up and if they are indeed as good as their initial fanfare. To that end, let’s look back at the tag team steel cage match between The Young Bucks and The Lucha Brothers from AEW All Out 2021.

As a reminder, I am reviewing Five Star and almost-Five Star wrestling matches as rated by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It goes back to the 1980s and I’m going to pick different matches from different eras to see how they look today. It was also rated ***** out of five by John Canton right here on TJRWrestling. Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series right here.

The story

The Young Bucks really and truly believed that they were – and still are – the best tag team of all time. They tried to prove this by winning AEW’s tag titles and defending them after one team of challengers after another. As champions, they did retain their titles, but not always cleanly or decisively. More often than not, they got help from other members of the larger Elite faction. But to them, a win was a win.

To make sure that their next challengers would get a fair chance – and to see if the Bucks really could retain their titles without interference – it was announced that their title defense at All Out would be in a steel cage match. As for the challengers, that ended up being The Lucha Brothers, Fenix and Penta El Zero Miedo, who won a tournament to earn the right to challenge for the Bucks’ tag titles.

This was a huge match-up considering the history these two teams shared. They had wrestled each other over twenty times since 2015 in promotions all over the US and in Mexico. In their various four-, six-, and eight-man tags over the years, both teams traded big wins and losses. Things got even more interesting when titles were introduced to their feuds. Years earlier, the Lucha Bros – two Mexicans – kept beating the Bucks – two Americans – for the American company Pro-Wrestling Guerilla (PWG)’s tag titles. Then the inverse happened later when the American Bucks kept beating the Mexican Lucha Bros for the Mexican AAA tag titles. So each team had an advantage over the other with one set of tag team belts. But in AEW, the Lucha Brothers weren’t so lucky at first. Fenix and ally PAC (as ‘Death Triangle’) tried and failed to win the AEW tag titles from the Bucks in April 2021.

With all of that history involved and with the cage stipulation, expectations were high for this match. This was to be a titanic clash between two teams with both extensive history together and penchants for incredible daredevil acrobatics. But who would come out on top in the end? Would it be The Bucks, who had dominated most of the tag team landscape for the past several years? Or would it be The Lucha Bros, who were undefeated as a duo going into the match?

The match

This match originally took place on September 5th, 2021 at AEW’s All Out PPV. It was originally rated *****3/4 by the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, and he considered it one of the best tag matches of all time and unequivocally the best cage match of all time. Let’s see if all that praise was well-earned.

This is for the Bucks’ AEW Tag Team Championships. After a stare-down and some trash-talking, the match begins with some synchronized brawling. The Bucks duck clothesline and then try to win this no-escape cage match…by trying to escape. They climb the cage with their opponents right in front of them and thus get stopped easily. OK, so it’s going to be one of those matches.

Fenix hits an aided jumping dropkick to stop the Bucks’ climb and both Bucks end up in opposing corners. There’s some do-see-do exchanges that end with the Lucha Bros hitting enzuigiris and then they double-team Nick. Matt blocks an attack and goes for a springboard but Fenix cuts him off. Matt does a head-stand in the corner but gets superkicked in the face for his efforts. Both Fenix and Nick lock in arm-wringers and decide to do a dance routine by running to the same corner and then Fenix hurricanranas Matt. Fenix hits an ushigoroshi on Matt, allowing Penta to land a diving dropkick to Matt’s ass. Penta pins but Nick breaks it up.

Penta and Fenix hit coordinated superkicks as the crowd cheers. They toss the bucks between the ropes and the cage wall and start landing coordinated attacks. But the Bucks catch on and dodge at the last second, causing both Lucha Brothers to hit the cage hard. That’s what you get for playing to the crowd. Fenix tries to attack both Bucks but gets slingshotted into a corner kick from Nick, and then suffers a backbreaker/double stomp combination. Nick follows with a running backstabber to Penta in the opposite corner, which leads to boos.

Matt powerbombs Fenix into the cage wall as Nick kicks Penta’s head off on the opposite side. Matt chokes Fenix with a chain as Nick pushes Penta’s face into the cage with his foot. They try another powerbomb but this time Fenix escapes via headscissor while Penta pulls a Tanahashi and lands some slingblades. Penta begins a comeback with a corner reversal into a backstabber that gets a two-count. Fenix takes Nick’s arm for an armdrag, then does some flippy stuff and kicks off the cage to take Matt down instead. Nick misses a senton and eats a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker from Penta and the Lucha Brothers go for simultaneous superkicks. But the Bucks dodge and the Brothers kick each other instead. Time for a spot-fest. Wheelbarrow cutter by Nick onto Fenix. Rolling Codebreaker by Penta onto Nick. Corner flipping stunner by Matt onto Penta. Fenix ducks a double-clothesline and flips into a double stunner on both Bucks. Superkick/Half-Nelson Driver combo by the Brothers onto Matt. Matt kicks out at two as the crowd chants ‘this is awesome’. The Brothers go for a corner double powerbomb but Nick kicks Fenix off the top rope. Matt locks Penta in a sharpshooter as Nick German suplexes Fenix on the edge of the ring. There’s no ropebreaks so Penta gets no help by crawling towards the ropes. Matt locks Penta in a crossface but Fenix kicks him off seconds later.

The Bucks maintain control with an assisted senton atómico on Penta for a two-count. Fenix blocks two attacks but his springboard is interrupted by double superkicks. Matt puts Penta in the Tombstone position and hits a dropkick to Penta and sentons Fenix as Matt spikes Penta. Both Buck pin and both Fenix and Penta kick out. The Bucks set Fenix up for their BTE Trigger double-knee smash but Fenix dodges and they knee each other instead. Fenix goes to the ropes for a springboard ctossbody. But he gets caught. They go for the Meltzer Driver. Fenix escapes and pushes Matt into Nick. Fenix goes for some rolling move but Matt kicks him in the crotch and then does the same to Penta. They land their More Bang For Your Buck combination and pin but Penta makes the save with a superkick.

The Bucks decide to get serious heat by ripping both Lucha Brothers’ lucha masks. When that fails, they double lawn dart Fenix into the cage wall and then Matt motions to Brandon Cutler outside the cage. He throws a bag into the ring, which reveals a shoe covered in thumbtacks. Matt wastes precious seconds putting this shoe on as the crowd chants ‘you sick f**k’. He prepares for a superkick on Fenix when suddenly Penta rushes in. He comes between Matt and Fenix to protect his little brother. Penta takes the bullet for his brother as Matt kicks his head in. Fenix gets tossed aside as the Bucks toy with Penta some more. Matt sticks his foot out in the corner and Nick tries to throw Penta face-first into it. But Penta blocks and tries to fight back. But he fails. Matt overpowers him and drives his face into Matt’s thumbtack-covered boot. But the Bucks want to inflict more carnage. Matt holds Penta’s head against his shoe as Nick kicks Penta’s head from the other side. They signal the end and placer Penta in place for the BTW Trigger when Penta starts staggering around the ring. Nick shuts him down with a superkick and a poisoned Frankensteiner. The BTE Trigger double-knee smash connects. One, two, no, Fenix makes the save at the last second.

Matt puts his thumbtack shoe in his hand and swings it at Fenix but Fenix dodges. The Bucks go for a 3D but Fenix counters into a midair headscissor takedown. Suddenly Fenix begins his comeback. Superkicks and spinkicks galore. Fenix hits both Bucks with the thumbtack shoe. Muscle buster into a Fisherman Driver. One, two, Matt kicks out. Fenix goes to the corner as Penta sets Matt up but Nick interferes. Both Penta and Nick climb the cage wall but are dragged down. Then, for some reason, instead of helping their teammates, Penta package piledrives Nick as Matt does the same to Fenix. Then Penta and Matt start brawling. Matt gets a brief advantage with stiff slaps but Penta stops him and hits a diving Canadian destroyer! Everyone is down.

All four wrestlers start taking turns chopping each other, then they pass around superkicks like it’s a game of hot potato. Nine superkicks get passed around until Penta breaks the combo with a double lariat spot with Matt. All four men go down once again.

After some time, Nick and Fenix get up and trade forearms. They counter-toss each other and trade tiger feint kicks in the ropes. Fenix hits another superkick and goes to the top rope. Package Piledriver/double stomp combo by the Lucha Brothers. Matt saves his brother. Fenix tosses Matt into the cage wall as his brother points to the top of the cage. Despite all the brutal pain he’s endured, Fenix climbs to the top of the cage with blistering speed. He and Penta go for another stomp/piledriver, but Nick interferes before they can finish it. Then Nick spidermans his way up the cage to meet Fenix but Fenix kicks him back down. Penta holds both Bucks up as Fenix dives. Crossbody from the top of the cage. That’s followed with an aided Tiger Driver ’98! Fenix holds Matt against the ropes as Penta pins Nick. One, two, three! There’s the match! New Champions have been crowned.

Winners and NEW AEW Tag Team Champions after 22:04: The Lucha Brothers (Fenix and Penta El Zero Miedo)

Post-match, the Lucha Brothers get a huge reaction from the crowd and Penta gets a special moment by celebrating his win with his family.


When Tony Schiavone asked JR what they were watching and JR responded with “a classic”, I was hoping to see a camera shot of him and see the script he was reading from. This wasn’t a classic by any stretch of the imagination. It was simply a disappointment. All four of these guys had the tools in front of them to do something special and different. Instead, it was the same tired indy-style spot-fest that has been seen a hundred times before, but with a few unique spots. It was fine as a popcorn demolition derby, but by no means was this a tag team classic of any kind.

This was one of those matches that made a joke of the wrestling industry in different ways. It was all over the place in terms of the story it was trying to tell. The Lucha Brothers did their jobs as the valiant babyfaces that constantly pushed forward to achieve their goal. They were serious for the most part, save for a few early segments when it was hard to tell if they were being serious or comedic. The real problem came from the Bucks. As the heels in the match, it was their job to use whatever means necessary to stop the Lucha Brothers’ forward advance. But the problem is that, while they did just that, i.e. whatever they could, they kept changing the tone of the match as well. One minute they were serious, the next they displayed their trademark tongue-in-cheek humor, and the next there was no story at all beyond ‘superkick party’.

Everything about them – from their mannerisms, to their moves, to the words they used – just screamed ‘I’m not taking this seriously’. It was hard to believe them as threats or as dominant champions, especially considering there was no real structure of the match. It was just move after move after move with both sides blatantly cooperating and taking turns on each other in a way that made this match look as phony as possible. So in that sense it was less a wrestling match and more a circus act or a dance routine.

There many examples of this annoying choreography to it: the opening arm-drag spot in which both Fenix and Matt went to the same corner for instead of saving their respective partners; the double piledriver spot in which both teams willingly sacrificed their brother to hit the same move; the cheesy chop and superkick trading; I could go on. Sure, all these moves got huge reactions from the crowd. And yet, there was something almost Pavlovian in how the crowd made noise that didn’t come across as genuine. It was as if the fans were reacting just to some spots instead of to the larger emotional story being told (or in this case, not being told). And while some people might like that sort of entertainment, it lacked something critical. Even with all the near-falls and submission holds, the match never come across as competitive. It came across as exaggerated, self-indulgent, overly-choreographed, silly, and above all else, unrealistic.

It was also another case of overkill in pro-wrestling. These four guys just threw every crazy idea they had into the match and executed them, without asking if they should. There was no build; just move after move after move whereby they all had to get their shit in. The match should’ve ended several times before it did: after the thumbtack spot, after the diving Canadian Destroyer, immediately after Fenix’s cage dive, and so on. But no; all of those big moves were simply transitions or near-falls, whereas a non-descript aided TD’98 was what ended the match. It was just so…silly and unbelievable. Both sides almost killed each other with these brutal moves yet none of them ended the match. By doing these sorts of crazy stunts, they kill the prospects of future matches. How can any of them top this? What’s the point of future match-ups when they showed you everything they got here? No one’s going to believe that a Canadian Destroyer or a 15-20-foot dive from the top of a cage will be important in the future; they were made into inconsequential ‘spots’ in this match.

The ONLY redeeming moment was when Penta saved his brother. That marked the peak of the story as Penta showed how much heart he had and how far he was willing to go to both win and save his brother. That should’ve been left for the finish, to build towards an immediate climax whereby either the Lucha Brothers valiantly overcome the odds or the Bucks retain and get monster heat. Sadly, that awesome moment of storytelling was forgotten moments later because there was this apparent need to throw more wild stuff in. Just like that, the match’s strongest moment fell by the wayside in favor of more choreographed chaos.

Final Rating: ***1/2

On one hand, this was a successful match because the four participants were able to get such strong and consistent emotional responses from the crowd. And at the end of the day, that’s the crux of what pro-wrestling really is: striking an emotional chord to sell a ticket by showcasing two sides people want to see fight. But it wasn’t a fight; even with all its interesting athleticism, it was a dance routine with what looked like fighting. So in that sense, this was pro-wrestling in theory, but not in execution.

This is not something I would show people if they asked what pro-wrestling is. They’d watch for five minutes and think ‘wow, this looks fake’. Obviously, they’re right; pro-wrestling is fake (or scripted, if you want to get technical). But there’s a difference between knowing it’s fake and trying to convince people otherwise, and knowing it’s fake and making it even faker. This was an example of the latter. It was twenty-two minutes of exaggerated spots with tiny fringes of seriousness in it.

But if you’re already in the pro-wrestling bubble, then this match is a one-and-done situation. If you’ve seen it once there’s no reason to see it again, which applies to virtually every big Young Bucks tag match. Even though all four guys did some unique things here, doing so many ‘wild’ spots has been par for the course for the Bucks for so long that nothing they do feels truly special or satisfying.

Thanks for reading. You can email me with any questions or comments, and be sure to check out my 5-Star and Almost 5-Star Match Reviews series here.