Powerhouse Hobbs and the TNT Reset
On All Elite Wrestling Wednesday Night Dynamite, Powerhouse Hobbs captured the TNT Championship from the recently crowned Wardlow with assistance from QT Marshall.
Hobbs, 32, is one of the best homegrown stories for All Elite Wrestling. Asked if he was local to the Jacksonville area (he wasn’t) by QT Marshall, Hobbs would make the trip from California to Florida during the pandemic for his shot in AEW. Hobbs debut match in AEW would be looking menacing but losing in 13 seconds to Orange Cassidy on AEW Dark. Despite his impressive size and trademark scowl, Hobbs would find the blinding Jacksonville, Florida sun in his eyes at Daily’s Place in losing outings to AEW’s midcard, including an under three minute loss to Darby Allin which had Darby, usually the underdog, playing the aggressor to “Willpower” Will Hobbs.
I immediately took a shine to Hobbs, feeling like he looked unlike anyone on the roster and came from nowhere. He just had an aura he was meant for something bigger. Hobbs, real name William Hobson, wasn’t a rookie to the business. He had spent years grinding in Northern California, including the making his debut as Will Rood in All Pro Wrestling (APW back in 2001 held a King of Indies tournament which was my first exposure to a masked wrestler named The American Dragon) in 2009, spending most of his time in Northern California promotions and never getting a crack at the star making Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in Reseda. While he did get a couple looks from WWE, it didn’t go anywhere.
After being on the losing end on Dark, Will Hobbs found himself in the Casino Battle Royal at All Out in 2020. Hobbs would get the first elimination, throwing out The Blade and lasting almost 20 minutes before being eliminated by the eventual winner Lance Archer. That earned him his contract to All Elite Wrestling. After a temporary alliance with Jon Moxley, Hobbs found himself in Team Taz under the tutelage of the Human Suplex Machine.
If Hobbs knows anything it’s patience. Despite his impressive performances, he progressed slowly. He spent much of 2021 on Dark, with the few times on Dynamite losing to top stars like Hangman Adam Page and Christian Cage and a battle royal at Double or Nothing 2021 before getting two big television wins against former Team Taz faction mate Brian Cage and rookie Dante Martin. Unfortunately, Hobbs was right back to losing on television, with a high profile match as CM Punk’s first TV opponent and a loss to Orange Cassidy (in a much more competitive match) in the AEW World Title Eliminator tournament. Hobbs would then focus on a tag team with Ricky Starks, getting to Double or Nothing in a title shot only to be on the losing end. After losing to Swerve in Our Glory in a triple threat tag match, Hobbs would turn on Ricky Starks to go out alone.
The MONStar now on his own would feud with Ricky Starks, destroying him at Full Gear 2022 but losing the Lights Out unsanctioned rematch. He would get a shot at the TNT Championship, inserting himself between Wardlow and Samoa Joe. It’s here where Hobbs destiny was set.
TNT Title Turmoil
The TNT Championship was once on the most respected championships in wrestling. When worn by Darby Allin and defended on AEW Dynamite, the Championship was held in high regard. It would sometimes be argued as just as important as the World Championship. It would then get into a complicated back and forth between Sammy Guevara and Scorpio Sky that ended up diminishing the stock of both men, and especially the Championship. That turmoil was finally ended when Wardlow won the Championship against Guevara, and it felt like it could finally recover. But the 136 days Wardlow held the TNT Championship didn’t really set the world on fire like we all expected it to.
At the triple threat at Full Gear 2022, Samoa Joe would smash the Championship over Wardlow’s skull and lock on the Coquina Clutch to Powerhouse Hobbs, winning the TNT Championship without pinning Wardlow. Joe, the former tag partner of Wardlow, began calling himself the King of Television as he also held the Ring of Honor Television Championship. The story being told was between Wardlow and Samoa Joe, with Powerhouse Hobbs having played disruptor in slipping himself into the program.
Hobbs would take a seat back, discussing “The Book of Hobbs” and being sparingly on television between December and February. This allowed the story of Wardlow and Joe to expand to Samoa Joe cutting Wardlow’s hair, a personal insult as Wardlow grew his hair for his father who passed away. Joe would lose the TNT Championship to Darby Allin only to regain it a month later. This allowed the story of Wardlow and Samoa Joe to continue. The problem is that it didn’t need the TNT Championship anymore. The man who needed that Championship was Powerhouse Hobbs.
Which Story Do You Tell
So AEW had an issue. They needed to finish the Wardlow/Samoa Joe story so Wardlow could get his win back from Joe cutting his hair. But there was definitely a plan in place to make Powerhouse Hobbs the next TNT Champion, and AEW had him win the Face of the Revolution ladder match on Dynamite before Revolution to earn a title shot the next week. Hobbs did have unfinished business with Samoa Joe, who was the one who originally beat him for the TNT Championship. Hobbs was also very popular in his home state of California so facing Wardlow would split the crowd.
AEW could have had Darby Allin (who is rumoured to have taken a break to film a TV show so was always going to be a temporary Champ) lose the TNT Championship to someone else who Powerhouse Hobbs could defeat, and then AEW could run the matches with Hobbs against Wardlow and Joe. They couldn’t have Joe retain against Wardlow after he vowed to defeat Joe to make up for his tribute to his father being destroyed. So AEW instead decided to have Wardlow return, defeat Samoa Joe, and then drop the TNT Championship days later to Powerhouse Hobbs. That’s fine, but Wardlow is a protected commodity.
So instead of Hobbs having that decisive win, he ended up getting assistance from QT Marshall, the man who got him into All Elite Wrestling. Marshall in real life is a major cog in the All Elite Wrestling machine, and basically the right hand man of AEW owner Tony Khan. They’ve played that up in this with QT, having just disbanded his Factory faction on Twitter, teasing a TV station “QTV” and sneaking into the main event looking like a part of the camera crew to attack Wardlow with a chair. Why he didn’t hit him with the TNT Championship is beyond me, since Wardlow said the TNT Championship was stolen the day prior on Twitter, and QT claimed responsibility. QT is a quality wrestler, but ever since his failed Cody Rhodes program he isn’t someone fans look forward to seeing in something major.
Hobbs would powerbomb Wardlow into a crash pad (just a minute prior Wardlow was powerbombing Hobbs on the stage, which looked a lot more impressive than the safe drop Wardlow endured) to win the falls count anywhere match on a standing 10 count. It was a bittersweet victory. Powerhouse Hobbs finally did it. He became AEW TNT Champion. But he did it needing the help of QT Marshall and several gimmicks just to get the job done. It wasn’t the decisive victory a lot of his fans wanted. Some of his other fans didn’t care. The result was all that mattered. And maybe they are correct.
The Next Chapter of The Book of Hobbs
There was a lot to be desired in the way AEW got to this result. Powerhouse Hobbs promos of The Book of Hobbs and TV squashes of nobodies wasn’t earth shattering. He should have been beating name wrestlers on his way to the TNT Championship and not going 50/50 in his feud with Ricky Starks if he was the one to wear gold and not Ricky. There should have been a groundswell for Hobbs on this. And while his victory was decisive to win the Face of the Revolution ladder match, the criticism over referees holding his broken ladder up created a discourse that distracted from the win. And now he does win the TNT Championship but it’s with help from the YouTube heel extraordinaire whose faction broke up because none of them could win anything. None of this inspires much hope.
But Powerhouse Hobbs fans don’t need much hope. They didn’t have a lot of hope in the first place. It’s rare for someone with no name to make themselves into something the way Powerhouse Hobbs did. He didn’t have Pro Wrestling Guerrilla buzz. He didn’t get released from a WWE contract with his name on every copy and paste website. Hobbs had very little hope and yet he’s now the TNT Champion. A little hope is all he ever needed, and it’s all his fans needed to support him. Hope, patience, and power. Hobbs may have won the Championship with dubious means but in the macro, the total journey? Hobbs got there the right way.
As the new TNT Champion, my hope is Hobbs can bring stability to the title not seen since Darby Allin defeated Cody Rhodes at Full Gear in 2020. He needs to be on Dynamite or Rampage every week, and he needs to be wrestling. Not just unknowns who don’t get an entrance, but the best of AEW. He needs to take on outside participants with a fighting chance and then beat them. Hobbs needs to be writing new chapters in The Book of Hobbs every week. People need to believe he’s everything I thought he could be back in July of 2020. Not just for his career, but for the second most important singles Championship men can win in All Elite Wrestling.
Powerhouse Hobbs will hopefully be the great reset for the TNT Championship, and make that Championship shine again. Go break a leg, Will. Or maybe a few backs.