The Young Bucks on Making AEW a Destination for Tag Team Wrestling
Matt and Nick Jackson are collectively known as the Young Bucks, argued by many as the best tag team in professional wrestling today. Now the popular duo is parlaying their entrepreneurial spirit and drive into helping All Elite Wrestling thrive.
This hard work is paying off in the form of sellout arenas attending AEW’s Dynamite broadcasts on TNT, which have exceeded expectations in viewers. Executive vice presidents alongside their Elite brothers Cody Rhodes and Kenny Omega infused a fresh exuberance to the landscape of the business, leading a hungry roster looking to make the most of the opportunity president and CEO Tony Khan has afforded them.
“It’s really just all hands-on deck still,” Matt Jackson said. “There are some instances where Kenny would be more involved in terms of the women’s match. He will literally call it move-for-move. He is passionate about that. When it comes to the tag team booking and putting matches together, Nick and I are influential on those decisions. But really no one decision is made without all of us either in a room or on the phone deciding these things. What you see on that television show, we’re part of every decision that happens.”
By the same token, the Bucks believes their meteoric rise is due in large part to a collaborative atmosphere. A team in every sense of the word.
“If we’re working with a particular talent, we go to them with, ‘What do you think is best?’ Jon Moxley has a great mind and something the five of us have seen, he may see differently,” Matt Jackson added.
“He might have a different idea because he knows his character better and those nuances. Same with Pac. What a great mind he has and useful tools he has. Hangman Page, too. It’s not just us. Chris Jericho, who is a genius, he’ll come up with an idea completely than what we had. Something we’ll call in a production meeting the night before, and he’ll go, ‘No, I think we should do it this way.’ And we listen. That’s what is fun about all this. That’s why it has come across so well the first few episodes because we are open-minded, and our ears are open. We’re willing to adjust and go with the flow.”
Nick Jackson finds one of the challenges they face behind the scenes is changing course with little notice due to unforeseen circumstances. A recent example is finding out Luchasaurus couldn’t compete in an advertised tag team title tournament match an hour before doors opened due to a hamstring tear.
“Instead of panicking, we all just came together and made a decision on what to do,” Nick Jackson said. “We worked very well on the fly. We told Marko [Stunt] that this was his night. We switched that match with the SCU versus Best Friends. I feel like we hit a home run. You have to really be able to work on the fly and make adjustments that quick.”
An aspect of their jobs the “Superkick Party” takes pride in within AEW is cultivating new talent. Among their most proud discoveries is the Private Party, who have emerged one of the promotion’s hottest new acts. Marq Quen and Isiah Kassidy earned their contracts with a standout outing at Fyter Fest and upset the Bucks in the first round of tourney to crown the first AEW tag team champions.
“We wanted to face this tag team in the first round. We know that moment would be huge for them,” Nick Jackson said. “For them to deliver such a great performance four or five years into their professional wrestling career, it was mind-blowing. Isiah is 22-years-old for crying out loud. If I was 22 years old and was in his same spot. If I was about to perform in front of a TNT audience, I would be nervous. You couldn’t read that on both of them. I told Matt afterward that they are obviously ready to become stars.”
“It really felt like they belonged,” Matt Jackson added. “We can talk and plan for months like we did. We set the whole thing up, but sometimes things don’t really happen the same…But sometimes things click. Story was told almost perfectly. I watched the match back, and usually I can’t stand watching my matches back because I’m a bit of a perfectionist. However, for me, with the time given, the story we were able to tell, that is almost as perfect as a match you can have. They played their roles flawlessly. I feel that night they were made. I’m really happy for them.”
When it comes to metrics, Matt Jackson believes they are on the right track even besting the established WWE hot property NXT head-to-head on Wednesday nights. Though he knows long-term there is a tough road ahead once the novelty of a new brand wears off. The EVPs take everything in stride.
“I heard the expectations were possibly in the 400 or 500,000 range,” Matt Jackson said, referencing what numbers were anticipated for Dynamite’s premiere. “The fact we crossed a million was great. I think opening we expected a big number. I don’t know if we expected the number, we got in 1.4. Of course, a week or two after there will always be a drop. We expected that.
“If we can keep around a million, we’d be thrilled. That would be amazing. We’re such a brand-new thing for them. The next week is tough with Major League Baseball, NBA coming up. We understand that. This whole thing is a whirlwind. We are thrilled right now. And of course, you think about the other wrestling playing that night. And you want to best them, and the fact we are is great. We are also not taking that for granted because they have a great show too. Right now, we have one step foot forward and think about our brand, our television show and making it the best we can make it.”
This dedication isn’t without sacrifice. The Bucks are happily married with two loving children. They continue to make them a top priority, but given their new professional normal, that is becoming an increasing struggle.
“My kids are used to having daddy pick them up at school and taking them during the week. Then I’d be gone on the weekend. This is definitely different. Now when I am home, I’m constantly on conference calls or creative meeting calls. It’s really been a 24/7 job that is difficult to put away,” Matt Jackson said.
“It’s tough. I am a family man and want to be around my kids all day and don’t want to miss these precious moments. My mind has been so preoccupied now with AEW. My life is AEW. For me, it’s about me putting my phone away and brain away to play with my kids. Me and my son Zachary, I recently got him into the old school Nintendo. My daughter is into arts and crafts. Her and I do that when I get a chance.
“It’s a balance. It’s a constant battle. My wife Dana who also works for the company in merchandise and marketing. She is constantly thinking about work, so when her and I get together I notice we are talking about work. We try to say to each other let’s put it away for a second and watch a show and be together. I’m hoping we find that balance.”
Though there are perks being on television. During week two of Dynamite, Nick Jackson recalls being able to give his son a birthday shout out on his way to the ring.
“I told him I loved him,” he said. “He saw it and was so happy. My wife recorded it. Those memories I think they’ll love and tell their friends about. At least we get to do things like, ‘My dad said happy birthday to me on TV.’ That’s pretty cool.”
There is no rest for the Bucks with AEW’s next big pay-per-view event Full Gear on November 9. Along with it is the constant pressure to top their last effort and deliver to a passionate fanbase. The tag team are currently on the road to meeting Ortiz and Santana.
“We got the challenge. That’s something we want to see,” Matt Jackson said. “The only time we only faced them was in a tag in the middle of the ocean. Nobody has ever seen it. I remember people saying it was one of the best tag matches they’ve ever seen. If and when that match happens, it would be an honor to get in the ring with those guys.
“Our main objective is to have the best tag team division in the world. As far as I know, they’ve had a hell of a body of work. We like that competitive nature. It fuels us and wants us to do better. I think they will bring out a new side of us. A more aggressive, less graceful side for us. Maybe when we get into the ring with them, it won’t be such a beautiful match. It will be a little more violent. I think that is a side I want to show the world.”
AEW Dynamite, Wednesdays, 8/7c, TNT