Match of the Week: Trish.
On a week where in ring action was of a very high standard in AEW it was the second of Konosuke Takeshita's efforts that stood out for me, this time against interim World Champion Jon Moxley. It was a great example of using a matchup to establish a number of key points and also one which continued to illustrate the potential in Takeshita having a greater level of use on American tv wrestling.
The initial exchanges between the two men helped to acknowledge that Moxley looked at Takeshita as being of a similar stature and that it was only his additional experience which allowed him to gain control early on. This remained the case until both competitors found themselves on the apron and Takeshita delivered an impactful German suplex to the ring's edge, causing Moxley to fall to the outside. It was the first evidence of Konosuke's explosiveness in this matchup and felt like something of an eye opener to a crowd which viewed him very much as an unknown at the start.
Moxley returned to the ring but didn't allow his younger opponent to do so, with a high boot in order to keep him down. This shot opened up the Japanese man (for what was one of the very few occasions in his career so far) and became a target for Moxley for the next few minutes as he viscously opened up the wound through a mix of elbow shots and biting. These moments helped to reaffirm just how dangerous and unforgiving Jon Moxley can be in the ring as he wiped Take's blood across his chest.
The match slowing whilst Moxley added damage to the body of his opponent meant that the next change of pace had all the more impact. With a suddenness often associated with the likes of Kenny Omega and Shingo Takagi, Takeshita turned the match on its head. Forearm shots were followed up by leaping attacks from the ropes and to the outside, Moxley's next attempt to regain control ended in a high impact brainbuster. The champion, who had controlled much of the matchup, was now the one in trouble.
The crowd roared. The man who they had little interest in at the start not only now had their sympathy after surviving a grueling mid-match beating but also their support against his better known foe. They believed for the first time that not only could he challenge his more experienced opponent but also that he could now potentially win.
The exchanges continued in a flurry, Moxley countered a frogspash with his knees, Takeshita escaped an armbar by using his reach before a double count after the blue thunder bomb sold the entire audience on the near fall that followed.
The match ended with Moxley reversing a straightjacket suplex into the death rider after the paradigm shift had not been enough. It was a symbol of how much he had taken from Takeshita that it was required to end such a contest.
Konosuke Takeshita is no rookie in professional wrestling and isn't being presented as such. After taking on three of the five best in-ring wrestlers in AEW in recent months is clear that he belongs in the company's higher tier and this match was also structured in order to once more underline his believability against the top AEW talent. Hopefully this is now followed up by some record affirming wins to help him move further forward during his excursion.
For Jon Moxley it reiterated that he is still dangerous and that there is no man smarter right now in monopolising his experience into an in ring advantage. With a returning CM Punk on the horizon he has to use every opportunity to illustrate it and this one definitely wasn't missed.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
Chris Jericho speaks on Barbed Wire and Eddie Kingston
Chris Jericho had a bit of a slump when people forgot why we had ever called him one of the greatest on the mic. There were a few reasons for that. He had a short run as a fan favorite, buoyed almost solely by MJF's hateability. But it wasn't just that he didn't have a lot of justification for being a good guy, and a lot of us fans find it a stretch to root for him in the best of circumstance. But mostly that he has some bad habits of leaning on old standbys rhetorically when he is working to pump up an audience's cheers. It makes it easy to forget how constantly creative and challenging he is when he pursues an antagonist role.
Wednesday night we got a reminder of what Jericho is capable of on the mic when he is pushed to be his best in the villain role that suits him best, strutting around the ring in his sharp Satan suit, spitting out cruelty and logic in the same breath.
Eddie wants a barb-wire match because he admires wrestling legends who have been in them, there shouldn't be anything wrong with that, but the way Jericho says it makes it sound like a sucker move. And he reminds us that among the legends who have won barb-wire matches in past decades, we have to count the Lionheart, Chris Jericho!
He uses the fundamental technique of improv–"Yes, AND"–to amazing effect. He takes Eddie's longing for vengeance on behalf of his friends and twists that into pointing out what a bad situation being Kingston's friend is, laying on the guilt as if he didn't realize that guilt only fuels Kingston's lust for vengeance.
He takes Eddie's legitimate and genuine openness to normalizing talking about mental health and weaponizes it, using it to cast Kingston as an unstable loser.
And, climactically, he doubles down on Kingston's words that blood will wash away Jericho's sins, only twisting it to call into question whose blood, promising a biblical flood of Kingston's.
Story Beat of the Week: Gareth.
This is the first week where I don’t have much to comment on in terms of story. We had a title switch, but besides an overplayed “can they co-exist” storyline, there’s not too much to read into there as of yet.
So, instead, I’ll talk about The Bucks losing the tag titles. Where does this leave them? Lost, perhaps. Much like a certain other wrestler who has recently lost a championship. I am, of course, speaking about ‘Hangman’ Adam Page.
On Being The Elite the Bucks have teased the attempts to try and make up with Hangman. With both the Bucks and Hangman in similar circumstances, and the effort to reach out, perhaps they realise their similarities?
This could drive a wedge between Adam Cole, reDRagon and The Bucks. And then you have to factor in what role Kenny Omega plays also. I don’t know how it plays out, and I don’t think fantasy booking anything further makes sense, as it could go so many different directions.
But this tweet below as an end goal of all this? That would be pretty perfect.
Moment of the Week: Peter.
More of “Moments” than a Moment this week as we look at Wardlow vs Orange Cassidy from Dynamite.
The match itself was a very enjoyable cat and mouse match with Orange’s game plan of setting traps for the TNT Champ making the contest what it was. However the moments that I will remember from Wardlow’s first TNT Title defence revolves around the art of pins.
When Wardlow hit the F10 and put his foot on Orange cockily, sure of his victory only for Cassidy to kick out, it set up a number of things. Not just for the end of the match but for Wardlow’s TNT title run.
Wardlow’s reign is basically a redemption reign for the TNT belt after what will be my vote for worst feud of the year between Scorpio Sky and Sammy Guevara. After Cody Rhodes and Miro’s runs won critical acclaim from fans and Darby Allin’s latter half of his reign scored huge ratings, the last 6 months of the TNT belts life have been more the fifth season of The Wire than the four that preceded it.
But after The Spring of Wardlow (yeah, that doesn't roll off the tongue like Summer of Punk) and the months that preceded it, booking Wardlow defences of the TNT belt could be very tricky. You need to show Wardlow as vulnerable but also have him win with conviction. But with popular challengers like Orange Cassidy in Wardlow’s future, he'll also need to show heel tenancies in his defences against fellow babyfaces and when Wardlow put his foot on Orange’s chest it helped us have a peek into a portion of his TNT reign.
After a spirited fightback by “Freshly Squeezed”, his attempted Orange Punch was countered by a powerbomb with an immediate pin for the win.
After we saw one powerbomb from Wardlow in his win over W. Morissey in the run up to Double or Nothing, debate started up as to why it took just one powerbomb to dispose of Morissey. Was it promotional politics, was it something to make the now ex-IMPACT star happy with a view to a future in AEW potentially down the line? Well, this time round, it was obvious why we saw one note of the Powerbomb Symphony.
Post the F10 kickout, Wardlow knew the moment he had Orange down, he could not waste time and soak in the moment. He had to put his opponent away even if it looked like a compromising situation in the end (shoutout to Nyla Rose’s tweet afterwards) and in the end, it made Orange a bigger star and in a company where its preached that wins and losses matter, it showed that some losses are better than others.
Move of the Week: Dan.
Keith Lee needed a big week. Whilst not every star that joins AEW should immediately be catapulted into the main title pictures, it did feel slightly as if the Limitless one had been forgotten in the wake of the arrivals of the likes of CM Punk, Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole.
One way of pushing yourself right back to the front of people’s minds however is to just be awesome, and Lee chose this week’s Dynamite to unleash that awesomeness. In a match littered with superb moments from the former ‘Bearcat’ (shudder), there was one particular highlight in my humble but correct opinion, and it of course heavily featured the always terrific Young Bucks.
The dastardly Jacksons seemed to have the match sewn up as they dismantled Swerve Strickland and set him up for the Meltzer Driver. But as Swerve was hoisted upside down, and Nick Jackson went to the top rope, Keith Lee emerged and caught the flying Young Buck as if he was catching a balloon. The particular genius of this moment was that Nick was properly in the middle of the actual somersault element of the Meltzer Driver…this was not a ‘Flying Nothing’ to allow someone to show off.
From there, Lee and Strickland hit a thumping double kick and elbow combination on Nick before Matt unwisely found himself in Big Keith’s clutches. This allowed Swerve in our Glory to hit the pretty epic looking Swerve Stomp/Powerbomb combination that would have wrapped up proceedings if it wasn’t for a desperate lunge from Starks and Hobbs.
It was a selection of moves that screamed ‘top-tier’ and that was where Swerve and in particular Keith Lee found themselves by the end of the match.
MVP of the Week: Trish.
With the right opponents, a high level of promotion and the buy-in from the live crowds during matchups a tag team can go on a special run of matches. They can be swiftly labelled "GOATS", adorned with belts and the center of star rating discussions. It probably seems like the top tier of what can be achieved by a duo in the modern age, but it isn't;- there's a tier above.
To be consistently great, tell multiple stories whilst in ring and elevate others is what changes the discussion on a tag team and it's also why the Young Bucks are still the best tag team worldwide today. Every reason for this was present in the triple threat this week.
In regards of in-ring action the match layout helped to build excitement, catching the energy of a quieter crowd which had struggled at times during the show and ensuring they were completely ready to erupt for the title change at the finish. It was built around showcasing the other two teams; with Nick having the athletic exchanges with Starks and Strickland whilst doing everything to illustrate the power of Hobbs and Lee. The pacing was fast but built to frenetic at the end as all 3 teams were involved in the final exchanges. It was a fantastic TV match with a suprise ending that has helped to elevate two other teams within a tag division which now has the most unpredictable title picture in the company. However, that isn't what makes them a cut above on this occasion, it was the other elements which stood out.
The creation of the 3 way in itself confused and annoyed some of the audience the previous week. Why would the champions put themselves at a disadvantage and why were they running back a match trope of the title holders being inserted into a match in someone else's feud- an element that has drawn alot of complaint on each occasion it's occurred. This was brought into this match by having the Bucks be outsmarted at every point and having their signature offense (including the Keith Lee catch to stop the Meltzer Driver). It led to them having to resort to nefarious means by using the belts and then also not being involved in the finish. Their bravado and cockiness had completely backfired in the story but itwas also a clever way to take what has been a valid criticism of the tag division this year and turn it into something positive; an aspect of thinking that was fundamental to their growth in the first few years of the company.
The belt shots were also used to signify just what the Bucks have lost since their previous tag title run last summer- a move that would have ensured they'd retain last summer was now unsuccessful. It also occurred with less mental conviction, with Matt displaying a second of doubt before attacking that will draw similarities with the choice Adam Page made not to use the belt in his title match with CM Punk. It isn't lost the differing choices made by the individuals in each case resulted in the same outcome.
Perhaps people expected a winner take all match at All Out between the Jacksons and FTR and are disappointed here but it shouldn't digress from that in one night they have elevated two other teams whilst telling the story that this is now the Young Bucks at their lowest. A reunion with Page (in what is a badly needed emotional story for much of their core audience) to create a resurgent Bucks to meet FTR down the line in a fully refreshed division is of great value right now and this is a much more interesting way to get there.
The Young Bucks remain the storytellers of All Elite Wrestling and the primary elevators of their division. After taking somewhat of a back seat these last 12 months it is now the story side where their attention is required.