Both HOOK and Jungle Boy have been spinning their tires in AEW as of late. Now, the odd-couple team seems to be striking a chord with fans.
All Elite Wrestling continued to put homegrown stars in positions to succeed to close out 2022, this time giving HOOK and Jungle Boy a decent spot in the middle of Dynamite. The December 28 episode of the show, branded New Year’s Smash was a solid card through and through, featuring a handful of high-end matches and a few notable storyline progressions. HOOK squashed another “local competitor” in Baylum Lynx, but the match itself was secondary to the fallout afterward. What went down after the bell was significantly more interesting than what happened during the bout, and Tony Khan might have found his next tag-team odd couple in HOOK and Jungle Boy.
After the FTW Champion tapped Lynx with Redrum to a noticeable pop, Lee Moriarty, Stokely Hathaway, and Big Bill—formerly Big Cass in WWE—made their way to the ring. HOOK gave up plenty of size to Bill but surrendered no ground in the stare-down. As things began to turn physical, Jungle Boy’s music hit, and he made the save while wildly wielding a two-by-four. The babyfaces stood tall in this segment, setting both Jungle Boy and HOOK up to feud with The Firm in a midcard spot for the next several weeks. It’s an odd couple on paper, but one that AEW fans will be all too happy to get behind and support due to the on-screen nature of the talents involved.
HOOK & Jungle Boy Balance Each Other Out As Teammates
For Jungle Boy, teaming with HOOK to feud with The Firm mercifully gets him away from the Luchasaurus angle. That story was jammed up due to an injury to Christian, but AEW still seemed intent on trying to get Jack Perry over as a tough guy against the 6-foot-5 dinosaur. That worked to some degree, but the shift away from jungle print and towards leather wasn’t enough to get fans to take Jungle Boy seriously as a badass. Something felt a bit off regarding that portrayal of the usual white-meat babyface. That wasn’t a fault of the 25-year-old. That’s just a difficult switch to find for a young man, especially when it’s seemingly expected to happen overnight.
As Jack Perry tries to move away from his more lighthearted gimmick, he’ll need more of a believable edge to hang his hat on. Considering this, getting Jungle Boy next to HOOK works for AEW. Despite being similarly sized, HOOK has that kind of vibe in spades. His carefree attitude differs significantly from Perry’s, who sometimes seems to care a bit too much about what is happening inside the ring from an emotional standpoint. On the flip side, HOOK sometimes fails to connect with audience members at home because of how little he seems to care whenever he’s not wrestling. He’s the walking embodiment of Gen Z’s perceived attitude.
At the very least, this program gives HOOK and Jungle Boy—can we please call them JungleHOOK?—a dynamic worth exploring. The FTR Champion hasn’t had any worthy adversaries since late July. That’s a long time to be involved in meaningless squash matches, but he’s still very over with live AEW audiences. The suplex he teased on Big Bill during Dynamite got a massive reaction, and when he eventually lands that move, it’ll be a signature moment for his character. Likewise, for Jungle Boy, this is something fresh for him to do following multiple months of feuding with Luchasaurus and Christian. It’s unclear at this juncture whether JungleHOOK will be an on-screen tag team, but the odd couple seems to make a lot of sense, at least in the short term. This storyline doesn’t have to last for too long, but it’s something new that AEW can work with in the midcard for both Rampage and Dynamite in early 2023.
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