30 for 3000 - Part II

Updated: 4 days ago

Primer: To date, AEW has featured over 2950 matches. In the next few weeks, prior to Double or Nothing 2022. AEW will reach the milestone of having promoted 3000 wrestling matches in a little under three calendar years. This is the second installment of a three-part series sets out to celebrate selected matches over this duration but with an added caveat: to ensure a complete overview, I am identifying a single match from each group of 100 (1-100, 101-200, etc.) that is either the most significant to wrestlers' Career Metrics or simply a personal favourite of mine. In turn, I will note the actual match that has the distinction of falling precisely on each century mark whether it be a PPV Main Event or one of the numerous Dark matches that lasted less time than it took you to read this paragraph. The overall intention of this to celebrate the best (as well as acknowledge the rest) of AEW.

[1001-1100] Actual Match #1100: Madi Wrenkowski defeated Leva Bates on Women's World Championship Eliminator Tournament - Show 4 * Selection: Match #1098 - Ryo Mizunami defeated Yuka Sakazaki in the Women's World Championship Eliminator Tournament Semi Final [Japan Bracket] on Women's World Championship Eliminator Tournament - Show 3

Early in 2021, AEW held a 16-woman tournament, half of which took place in Japan. As a result, this match was also billed as a "Final" in that it was the last match on the Japan side of the bracket but in the context of the entire tournament functions as a Semi-Final. Here, we saw the emergence of Mizunami in a hard fought battle against two competitors that were on opposite sides of the second women's match the company ever put on (at Double or Nothing 2019). I chose this match because, while it did not open the Forbidden Door, it unlocked the world of Japanese wrestling as an entirely separate entity. Mizunami would go on to defeat former Women's World Champion Nyla Rose to secure a title match at Revolution 2021. against longtime rival and occasional partner Hikaru Shida, who was in the tail end of record-setting championship reign. [1101-1200] Actual Match #1200: Team Taz (Powerhouse Hobbs & Ricky Starks) defeated The West Coast Wrecking Crew (Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs) on Dark: Elevation #2 * Selection: Match #1142 Darby Allin & Sting defeated Team Taz (Brian Cage & Ricky Starks) at Revolution 2021 in a Street Fight

The most recent cinematic effort in AEW brought The Icon out of more than five-year retirement. Shot on location in a manner I cannot possibly describe better than Dominic Deangelo from Mandatory:

The match used an expansive warehouse that blended the surreal of Fallout with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and plenty of weaponry at the ready, using each of those elements to their fullest extent.

Grade this one on a curve if you must given the circumstances around the production, but it told a unique story from bell to bell. Most importantly, it provided Sting with the well-deserved opening act of his final chapter. (Now can someone get him to stop jumping off balconies?!)

[1201-1300] Actual Match #1300: They Hybrid2 (Angélico & Jack Evans) defeated Carlie Bravo & Dean Alexander on Dark: Elevation

* Selection: Match #1287 - The Elite (Kenny Omega & The Good Brothers) defeated Jon Moxley & The Young Bucks on Dynamite #79

This one is as much for the match itself and the angle that ended the night. As the emotional and competitive bout headed to a close, The Young Bucks were primed to hit the BTE Trigger on their fellow EVP but did not follow through. An angry Mox yelled from the apron and hit the ring and proceeded to manhandle Omega like few have. As a third Paradigm Shift appeared to be destined, the brothers from Rancho Cucamonga invited Moxley to the Superkick Party and put him down for the count. In hindsight, it was an obvious and predictable storyline and I'm not embarrassed to say that I didn't see it coming.

[1301-1400] Actual Match #1400: Miro defeated Will Allday on Dark: Elevation #8 * Selection: Match #1369 - Title vs Title: Kenny Omega © defeated Rich Swann © at Rebellion 2021 for the World Championship and IMPACT World Championship

This represents the only match in AEW history to take place at an event promoted by another company. Already AAA Mega Champion, the Best Bout Machine completed his Belt Collector trifecta by going into enemy territory, taking what he wanted and then coolly and calmly walked out from behind enemy lines. For his part, Swann showed his Main Event prowess and went toe to toe with one of the best of this generation.

For the purpose of tracking Metrics, as this was a World Championship Title Defense (Omega's third of six), the results are counted as part of AEW Wins and Losses records; as such, Swann, despite not ever setting foot in an AEW ring, is now 0-1 in the company.

[1401-1500] Actual Match #1500: Christian Cage defeated Matt Sydal on Dynamite #85 * Selection: Match #1432 - Blood & Guts: The Pinnacle (MJF, Shawn Spears, Wardlow & FTR) defeated Inner Circle (Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara & Proud-N-Powerful) at Dynamite #83: Blood & Guts

Taking place more than a calendar year after the original iteration of this bout, Inner Circle vs The Elite, was derailed owing to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the more than half hour* battle delivered on the promise of its nomenclature. Only seconds into the action, Sammy leapt from one ring to another. To me this was a clear signal to me that this was not Wargames as we knew it. The ending received its share of detractors but I wouldn't take that bump at age 50 or 15 crash pad or not. *By rule, the match doesn't officially "begin" until all wrestlers have entered but, for the purposes of tracking actual ring time, I individually noted the duration each of the ten competitors spent in the squared circle - from Guevara & Harwood at 34:05 to Jericho at 17:02.

[1501-1600] Actual Match #1600: Orange Cassidy defeated Cameron Cole on Dark: Elevation #14 * Selection: Match #1534 - Serena Deeb © defeated Riho at The Buy In: Double or Nothing (2021) for the NWA World Women's Championship

On this night, it was clear that the appetizer outshone everything else on the Pay Per View card. Deeb's steely focus and intensity could not be equaled as she defended the oldest women's world title on the planet in an AEW ring for the sixth and final time. Riho, the inaugural Women's World Champion, put up her usual underdog fight for over fourteen minutes but ended up submitting for the first time clean in the middle. This should have removed any remaining doubt that Deeb is to be taken seriously every time she competes.

[1601-1700] Actual Match #1700: Tay Conti [with Negative One] defeated KiLynn King on Dark #96 * Selection: Match #1681 - MJF defeated Sammy Guevara on Dynamite #91

The battle between two pillars in their first one-on-one AEW contest proved to be another lightning rod for controversy owing to the ending that wasn't: a top-rope Tombstone Piledriver. What some forget is that MJF immediately sold a knee injury after performing the high-risk maneuver. MJF then proceeded to kick out of a 630 splash, which was followed by Shawn Spears toting his favourite metal to ringside to set up the finish.

Like it or not, this built up energy and emotion and, whether it be six months or more than a year from now, I'll be ready for Round 2.

[1701-1800] Actual Match #1800: Kris Statlander [with Chuck Taylor, Orange Cassidy & Wheeler Yuta] defeated Ashley D'Amboise on Dark: Elevation #21 * Selection: Match #1792 - The Elite (Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks & The Good Brothers) [with Brandon Cutler & Michael Nakazawa] defeated Adam Page & Dark Order (Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, Alex Reynolds & John Silver) at Dynamite 95: Fight for the Fallen 2021 in an Elimination Tag.

A deviation point for many who expected and/or wanted a different outcome. On paper, the historically superior talent got the victory. I think the booking of the eliminations was immensely logical from the opening bell. Most of all, I appreciated that it ended with both Kenny Omega and Nick Jackson standing tall; too often, when these matches end up 2-on-1, it goes the other way. My only gripe with this is that it was the Opener rather than the Main Event, which was Nick Gage vs Chris Jericho in a No Rules match (Chapter Two in the Five Labors of Jericho); I think these two should have been flipflopped.

[1801-1900] Actual Match #1900: Jon Moxley defeated Daniel Garcia on Rampage #2: The First Dance * Selection: Match #1862 - Christian Cage defeated Kenny Omega © on Rampage #1 for the IMPACT World Championship

They say you never forget your first and time will tell if that proves entirely true here. Nevertheless, the very first match on Rampage was a back and forth encounter that proved the Best Bout Machine and Belt Collector was human after all. Indeed, it took underhanded tactics to do it, but when has that stopped anyone from accomplishing their goals?

Christian Cage has immense value to the company both in the ring and behind the scenes. If this was his last true moment in the top tier, it seems a fitting tribute.

[1901-2000] Actual Match #2000: The Butcher & The Blade [with The Bunny] defeated The Outrunners (Truth Magnum & Turbo Floyd) on Dark: Elevation #28 * Selection: Match #1968 - CM Punk defeated Darby Allin at All Out 2021

The match I genuinely thought we would never see. I was among the masses who thought Punk was done and I've rarely been so happy to be wrong. Seven and a half years after his less than graceful exit, the former Voice of the Voiceless began his journey back. He gritted it out and mostly kept his wind for over sixteen minutes for our entertainment.

Darby played his part to perfection, going it alone after Sting brought him onto the ramp. In my view, the loss didn't hurt Allin to any significant degree. To be clear, even after the double debuts of Cole and Danielson, this night belonged to the Best in the World.

As always, anyone with questions or comments is encouraged to contact me on Twitter @AEWmetrics.

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