On Wednesday, May 5, AEW Dynamite will present the first-ever Blood and Guts match. While we don’t know the exact rules for the War Games-esque bout, it will involve a massive cage structure and see two factions–The Inner Circle and the Pinnacle–face off to hopefully end their vicious feud once and for all. For Inner Circle member Jake Hager, though, this match has even more meaning. According to him, it’s about redemption.
It all stems back to the March 10 episode of AEW Dynamite, where Inner Circle members MJF and Wardlow betrayed the group and launched a rival faction in the Pinnacle. They then laid waste to the Inner Circle, a group that has been a cornerstone of AEW since its inception. Since that moment, Hager admits the Inner Circle has been taking stock of how to re-establish itself.
“That’s a humbling moment. I mean, anytime you make a mistake, you need to sit back, humble yourself, and look at the reasons that caused it,” he said during an appearance on Wrestle Buddies, . “I look at the other four members of the Inner Circle as men. Real men can admit their mistakes and learn from them, grow from them, be better from them, stronger from them. And I think that’s what we’re really eager to prove is that we are better, we are stronger. But we have to show you for you guys to believe that.”
That all leads to Blood and Guts, a match he believes his group is ready for. “I think all five of us really have a chip on our shoulder and we’re training harder than ever for this match,” Hager said. “I’m preparing for this match like it’s an MMA fight. It’s that real to me, I have that much to discuss with the other guys on the other side of the cage. And I feel the Inner Circle has so much to prove in this match. This is a big turning point. We’re trying to come back from the most humiliating, worst beatdown at the hands of our own members.”
This level of animosity is exciting to see in wrestling, if only because it’s so rare. While The Pinnacle only formed in March, this particular storyline has been slowly building for the last six months. Long-term storytelling isn’t all that common in professional wrestling. When it happens, though, it can make a feud mean that much more–for not just the fans, but also the performers.
“Being able to have this type of storyline, this once-in-a-lifetime storyline to develop, it’s so cool,” Hager explained. “I get goosebumps just talking about it. It’s been almost six to seven months in the making, [the] Inner Circle alone has been 18 months. So that has been so gratifying to really sink your teeth into the character and give the fans everything they want. To have a storyline like this develop, with a match like this that’s also once in a lifetime, one of a kind, it’s so cool. It’s almost like two perfect storms colliding together right now.”
Now, those storms will collide in Blood and Guts and Hager already knows who his sights are set on. “For the longest time, [Wardlow] and I just had this problem with each other, even though he was in the group and I was supposed to accept him like a brother,” he said. “I never could. We had to come to blows as brothers are supposed to get it out of our system back in December. It’s still there. I really want to get my hands on him.”
AEW’s Blood and Guts Dynamite airs Wednesday, May 5, on TNT.