top of page

A Cowboy in Crisis | #AEWeekly #105

Updated: Feb 18

Welcome to the #AEWeekly review discussion where PWM contributors reflect on the highlights of the last week in AEW. The eligibility week ends with the most recent episode of Dynamite. so it covers last week's Rampage and then the most recent episodes of Collision and Dynamite.

This week’s contributors are Joe [@GoodVsBadGuys] covering match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promos, Saul [@SaulKiloh] exploring a key story beat, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week, and Gareth [@Gareth_EW] giving us the MVP of the week.

 A page of links to prior installments may be found here: #AEWeekly

Sting, Darby Allin, Ricky Starks, “Big” Bill

"World Tag Championship Tornado…”

by Joe.

A lot of the magic formula for the early Darby & Sting matches was novelty + Darby creating a lot of the movement + ridiculous high risk moves. Now, nearly 30 matches deep into their pro-wrestling portfolio, the novelty can’t be credited much. In this match, Darby was on the ground resting or recovering for a larger portion, meaning he wasn’t as heavily relied upon to create that motion. However, when he was in action, he made it count, as that third ingredient of high risk moves was still very much in play.

At this point, while watching Sting wrestle isn’t as rare of an opportunity for AEW fans, it remains just as special, because where novelty has worn off, it has been replaced by increased attachment. In a pro wrestling world where it has become hard to invest faith & trust in wrestlers from a kayfabe or real-life standpoint, Sting feels trustworthy and truly good. He seems to always do the right thing, and always be there for Darby. In WCW, he was a hero you’d want on your side: In TNA, he was the wild Uncle with his heart in the right place. In AEW, he’s the dad we wish we had. 

Sting doesn’t just show up for Darby, he’ll throw himself for Darbywhich he did again in this match. Sting’s jump out of the stands from that great height, without a whole crowd of independent wrestlers dressed as security or tables there to break his fall, put an excited fear into my body like the one you get before a big rollercoaster drop. That fear was followed by awe & appreciation, as well as inspiration. I hope that when I’m his age, I’m still that brave. Sting wasn’t the only putting his body on the line though. Darby’s dive was intercepted by Big Bill and turned into one of the most devastating Boss Man / Black Hole Slams of all time. While in reality I’m sure Bill protected Darby as much as he could - in TV world Bill swung Darby with high velocity and planted him with a sickening, forceful thud that made Big Bill look like the sociopathic Big Brother in a backyard wrestling match. Darby would get his revenge by driving Bill through a table on the outside, eliminating Biland himselffrom the closing sequence of the match.

While Ricky was the wrestler doing the least bumping and risking and going through tables, he still brought a valuable contribution to the table. Ricky showed impressive acting when he was going for that spear, looking like his old consciencethat good heart somewhere still deep within Ricky Starksstarted to awaken. Ricky looked like he was having second thoughts about ending Sting’s fairytale run, but when Sting showed his legendary King-Kong Chest-Pound fire-up, Ricky’s fight or flight kicked in and he realized it was go-time to try and end showtime. Ricky hit the spear, filling fans with fear, but our hero’s resilience was still here. Sting kicked out, powered up, fought back, and won decisively with his Scorpion Death Drop. 

This led to a very heartwarming celebration between the Dad we wish we had, and the sons he actually has, plus the wrestling son he found in the form of Darby. One of the most special things Darby did on this night was shift so much spotlight to Sting. 

This was one of the best feel-good moments in the history of AEW, which made the following attack that much more painful, but I’ll leave it to someone else to cover that. 

Eddie Kingston

"This is for the grinders..."

by Sergei.

It was a tough call this week. Swerve Strickland did an amazing interview: he spoke in front of an arena of excited fans eager to tell him whose house they were in, he was filled with passion, he demonstrated character growth and he dedicated the promo to Black History Month and to the Black wrestlers who came before him. But when Kingston pulls out ALL the stops, even Strickland at his best can’t beat him on the microphone.

For those who may have missed it, here is another entry in the classic Blue-League-style post-Collision post-match social-media interviews:

Eddie starts out by renewing his ongoing feud with Dom’s lighting rig. But he quickly pivots to his real topic of conversation, the man he had defeated earlier in the evening in a Proving Ground match for an opportunity at his Continental Crown, the Bounty Hunter Bryan Keith. He reveals that he had specifically chosen Keith because he wanted to afford an opportunity to an up-and-comer who had been grinding like he had done back in the day. He expressed that guys like that keep him on his toes, that Keith had almost had him a couple times, and how deeply please he had been when it was announced that the Bounty Hunter was now “All Elite” with a regular full time contract. The moment reminded him of his own debut and how the outpouring of love led to getting his own first full-time prime-time TV contract.

But then Bryan Danielson ruined everything.

Kingston compares the timing of Danielson’s entrance to the way old-timers would do business—the way they would try to hold up-and-comers down. He addresses Bryan directly, asking if he remembers how the old guys used to hold him down? He lumps this action in with everything else the Dragon has been doing in recent weeks to get under Eddie’s skin, but with an important distinction: before, Bryan went so far as to spit in Eddie’s face, but he couldn’t really take it seriously when it was so obviously contrived to provoke a reaction from him. But to step on a young guy’s first big moment, just to provoke him? That’s “lowlife”!

Then his voice rises in volume and passion as he reveals something very interesting: “You want me pissed off? I’ve BEEN pissed off?” Very Bruce-Banner of Eddie:

Then he addresses the elephant in the room: presumably all of Danielson’s provocations are intended as mind games to lead up to a rematch between the two. So Eddie highlights the important difference between the two men’s attitude toward victory and defeat: “What happens if you lose to me twice? Huh? Can YOU live with that?” Eddie Kingston’s superpower (besides the Always-Angry) is perspective. Danielson meditates a lot, but he’ll be the first person to tell you, that’s not because he’s a calm person, quite the opposite. Whereas Kingston understands that life goes on whether he wins or loses. As the Talmud says: “the sun will set without thy assistance.”

I don’t know when the next in-ring chapter of the Kingston/Danielson series will occur, but everything they have been doing to build anticipation for it is working and this promo, in particular, has me hyped and ready.

Adam Page

"See you, face cowboy..."

by Saul.

Now this was some exquisite wrestling storytelling.

“Hangman” Adam Page and Swerve Strickland had a third classic match, in a rivalry that is cementing itself as one of the best in AEW history. Page received a frosty reception from the crowd, with the majority of fans in Phoenix loudly behind his nemesis. This angered the cowboy, who became gradually angrier as the match progressed, leaning into heel tendencies such as accepting a count-out win and attacking Prince Nana with a chair. Swerve managed to stave off his opponents' furious attacks and seemed to be about to win right before the time limit expired.

There have been many jokes about the lazy trope of “YOU PEOPLE” promos to justify heel turns. It’s basically the wrestling version of a movie villain saying “we aren’t so different, you and I”—a tired cliché that totally takes you out of the moment. However, there’s a reason clichés become so worn out: they’re lazy and over-used versions of something that is elemental to that medium’s storytelling.

An antagonist in a film is usually a dark reflection of the protagonist, positioned to highlight or test something about the hero's character. Sherlock and Moriarty. Batman and Joker. Killer Bean and Jet Bean. So this is where the tired line comes from. It’s a writer pointing out the fantastic character conflict that they’ve written. Usually when it’s necessary to explicitly state this (whether they specifically say you aren’t so different you and I, or if they’ve whipped out a thesaurus to make the same point but more wordy), it’s a cheap shortcut to try to “tell” the audience, when the story has failed to “show” this kind of relationship.

If you are a wrestling fan, you will have witnessed many wrestlers come out after a heel turn and completely blame THE FANS for their decision. This has a spotty track record. This has failed on many occasions, for the same reason as my film example: it’s often inauthentic. Given that wrestling takes place in front of THE FANS, the dissatisfaction of a bad turn will be audibly clear immediately (take Becky Lynch’s justification promo after attacking Charlotte as a premiere example of this). However, this points to the importance of the interaction of the audience and the storytelling in professional wrestling. It’s one of the most unique and powerful aspects of the medium. The most impactful wrestling moments come when the audience reaction is wielded in interesting ways.

Swerve asked “Hangman” for 5 more minutes to have a conclusive winner. This moment called back to recent history, when Adam Cole asked then uber-heel MJF the same thing when their AEW championship match ended in a tie. Adam Page, much like MJF, said no. He was satisfied enough that Swerve failed to win, therefore failing to become number one contender. He rolled away, leaving Swerve seething.

When Tony Schiavone announced that both men would face Samoa Joe in a triple threat, “Hangman” wasn’t even happy that he had a chance to win the AEW World Championship. All he cared about was that Swerve had a chance to become champion. A chance that “Hangman” thought he had already succeeded in taking from him.

Adam Page’s hatred for Swerve is justified. After all, Swerve cheated in his previous two wins against “Hangman”. Swerve invaded Adam Page’s house and threatened his baby. Swerve (I was going to write another thing here because of the rule of threes, but it’s unnecessary because Swerve THREATENED HANGMAN'S BABY!) However, Swerve has won the support of the fans due to his excellent work and Prince Nana’s smooth moves. He’s the hottest rising star in the company. The audience is Andy in Toy Story: excited to cheer their new Buzz Lightyear, leaving their old favourite cowboy in the cold.

I wrote last week that this rivalry had pushed both men to higher limits, their determination to be better than the other improving each man's performance. However, it seems to have turned into something more for Adam Page. This has become a toxic obsession, fuelled by Swerve winning the affection of the audience. And despite Swerve following through on his promise to not have any interference in this match, Adam Page’s reaction is completely just. 

“Hangman” Adam Page has always been the main character of AEW. While beloved, it feels like he has never received quite enough plaudits for his consistent excellence. He crafted a totally unique babyface persona, that weaponised fallibility in a way I’ve never seen before in wrestling. His character is most interesting when leaning into this aspect of his character, which is what this angle did. As may be clear from the length of this piece, this was one of my favorite character developments in a while. Whether or not this is a temporary bump or “Hangman” turning evil outlaw, this story-beat gets a big YEEHAW from me.

Basically, if “Hangman” comes out and blames “YOU PEOPLE”?... that’s fair.

Adam Page TIE the Young Bucks

“How to (and How Not to) game the system."

by Peter.

When the rankings were reintroduced to AEW, the reaction was what you expected. People loved it but people also didn't love it. Turns out Tony Khan managed to find something more divisive than the civil war that engulfed AEW between CM Punk and The Elite.

As the rankings were unveiled two weeks ago, of the many takeaways from them, two that came to mind were the top 2 of the Men's Singles Rankings being Swerve Strickland and Hangman Page and the lack of The Young Bucks in the Tag Top 5. 

Under the criteria with the records resetting at the calendar turned to 2024, both were the right call. Page and Strickland did have the best January out of those seeking the Men's top prize in AEW and with Nicholas and Matthew Jackson being inactive in the first month of 2024, their names were correctly out of the picture.

With Dynamite this past Wednesday beginning with Hangman/Swerve III and the winner becoming the No.1 Contender for Samoa Joe’s belt, the match which might be in many peoples ballots for MOTY in 46 weeks time going the distance and with no decisive winner after half an hour, Swerve said a phrase that was familiar to AEW fans in 2023. Five more minutes, to which Hangman Page said… “No”?

Hangman Page, the man who has fought the odds on so many occasions, the man who equalised setbacks frequently, the man who has been the dictionary definition of a white-hat babyface turned the other cheek. Even MJF finally came round to the notion of five more (and even more) minutes. Yet Page said “No”.

So obsessed with Swerve Strickland and so absorbed with his hatred of the man, in saying that Swerve had to beat him to be No.1 contender, Page forgot that Swerve was No.1 in the rankings ahead of him. Or was Page trying to game the system. That hatred he has for Swerve, which is probably bigger than the love he has for himself, the fact he prevented Swerve from winning the contenders match meant that No.3 in the rankings, Adam Copeland with a convincing win in his next match would jump over them in the rankings like Ohio State jumped over the two Big 12 teams that shared the Big 12 title in the first incarnation of the College Football Playoff after beating Wisconsin convincingly.

But Page forgot that Tony Khan has taken umbrage to one of his wrestlers trying to game the system. Remember Kenny Omega causing a double knockout in the PAC/Orange No.1 Contenders Match and having to deal with the pair in a 3-Way. Remember MJF trying to fix the Four Pillars Tournament and failing. Page obviously didn't, because once again someone tried to game the system and failed.

The Young Bucks however, showed how to game the rankings. Their attack of Sting and Darby Allin as well as the icon’s sons after Sting’s tag team title win was reprehensible. It was a reputation-tarnishing moment as Excalibur claimed, but it was also genius. 

There are two ways to “game the system” when it comes to the AEW Rankings. 

  • You beat the hell out of the champion(s) to the point that they want to face you in March and will put their title(s) on the line

Darby Allin has been bloodied many times in his career. Sting has been beaten up many times in his career. But before Wednesday night, no-one had ever laid hands on Sting’s sons before. The act that Matthew and Nicholas committed will have lit the torch within Sting and he will to want to beat the hell out of the Jacksons and he will put his belt on the line if he has to.

  • You could also beat enough people that may or may not have a Cagematch profile and most certainly don't have a Wikipedia profile in wrestling matches that you climb to No.1. Call it doing a Lance Archer/Britt Baker.

I mean, “Robbie Lit” is not the name of a serious person.

While Top Flight will be a sterner challenge on Dynamite, Rampage’s squash match had the hallmarks of option 2 of how to “game the system” and while we know that Hangman Page will fight for a championship at Revolution even if he has to deal with the Swerve problem again, maybe he should have taken notice of his Elite stablemates on how to get what they want.

Adam Page

"Hangman Restores the Feeling..."

by Gareth.

After an episode of Dynamite that truly felt like AEW back to its best, one man stood out above the others as the reason for why, in my opinion. Previously when AEW has been at its best in early 2020 or the Summer of 2021, it has coincided with key moments in the character arc of ‘Hangman’ Adam Page. Now, as AEW maintains momentum post-Continental Classic, Hangman is once again in the midst of a defining period in his character's cycle.

After a brilliant match against Swerve Strickland ended in a time-limit draw, Page refused to give Swerve five more minutes and instead chose to take the draw. Not exactly the attitude we’ve come to expect of babyface, “take on all comers”, Hangman Page. Now whilst one might think “this is out of character for Hangman”, the reason this works is that it fits the context of this feud. With two losses against the man who broke into his house already, Hangman is justified in despising Swerve. Which usually would lead to Page wanting to beat him down. However, the insecure side of Hangman, deep down, doubts that he can beat Swerve. Especially after being saved by the bell for this time-limit draw. Now we’ve seen Hangman battle his insecurities before, but this time it seems Page is caving in to those insecurities and changing in front of our eyes.

Hangman is the best storyteller in wrestling, currently. At this stage I don’t think that’s up for debate. But one thing he’s not done in AEW yet is a heel turn. If this is that, as it appears to be, then he is crafting this turn masterfully, using the context from a feud and the desperation to regain the world title as core motivators for his character.

Wrestling is at its best when it invests you. For me personally I haven’t been this invested in a story for a long time. So how could I not put Hangman as this week’s MVP?


You can go to the LinkSearch tab to find a link to video of each segement that led to an award in #AEWeekly history and to the article where we talk about it...

Just use the drop-down menus to choose the date and category, and the tool will tell you who the awardee and writer were and give you links to the article and to a video.

You can also go to the TalentRank tab and use the drop-down menus to choose a range of time to get the rankings for who was the awardee most often in each category:


bottom of page