Welcome to the #AEWeekly review discussion where PWM contributors reflect on the highlights of the last week in AEW. The week runs Friday to Friday covering Rampage and Dynamite.
This week’s contributors are Trish [@TrishSpeirs48] giving us the MVP and match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promo of the week, Sam [@Sir_Samuel] reflecting on the key story beat, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week and Gareth [@Gareth_EW] covering move of the week.
Match of the Week: Trish.
Jamie Hayter vs Emi Sakura.
The time given and the positioning of women's wrestling matches continues to be a constant source of discussion around all of the major US promotions. Commentators offer up many solutions but the reality is not much different from any other division-give the strongest wrestlers on your roster good spots against opponents of a similar level and they will succeed. On Friday's Rampage this was exactly what happened.
Jamie Hayter has been on an excellent run of form since Full Gear, with her last TV main event against Hikaru Shida one of the best TV matches of last year and her exchanges with Toni Storm were the highlight of the high profile tag match in LA. Emi Sakura was the perfect opponent to continue it.
"Hayter hits hard!" May be a catchphrase but it also seems to describe when she is at her best in the ring. This bout went heavy on this from the start, Sakura unloading with viscous chops both inside and outside that left the Champion's chest red raw. Hayter found herself on the receiving end of them every time she attempted to gain momentum.
Faced with such onslaught Jamie had to go with high impact moves that could alter the course instantly, using a pair of exploder suplexes to stop Sakura's charge. This match was a furore of chops, suplexes and elbows that ended in just as physical a way with Hayter putting her opponent away with the Hayterade ripcord as the crescendo of a burst of lariats. It was a strikers paradise, with over 100 strikes used in just 12 minutes.
If you want people to talk about women's wrestling give the wrestlers the time to put together something like this more often.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
Danielson Speaks with Passion
From the beginning of his career, there has always been an unfair rap against Bryan Danielson that he's a one-dimensional talent: all grappling and athleticism, and no mic and character skills. This has always been bunk, but at the same time understandable. Much like some wrestlers like a QT Marshall play the character of a guy who isn't really that good in the ring, Danielson's character has always been the guy of few and simple words.
Wrestlers whose characters are founded on wit and expressiveness like Eddie Kingston or CM Punk or Roddy Piper or Raven by the nature of their performance are going to more frequently show their chops on the microphone. But this week, in a backstage interview regarding whether he's medically cleared, Danielson showed just how much artistry with words can be demonstrated with a character as straightforward as the one he portrays.
The first thing I want to point out is his absolute mastery of dynamics. Without seeming mannered or affected at all, Danielson's monologue ranges from a shout to a whisper with each level perfectly serving the drama of the moment.
And the other thing I want to commend is Danielson's logic. He ties what he's saying into what his antagonist was last saying, and twists Friedman's boasts into talking about what makes sense to be his insecurities. Of course the character MJF would suffer Imposter Syndrome, how else?
Danielson's name is rarely mentioned among the promo greats, but it may be about time for that to change. Doing simple things extremely well may sometimes reveal the highest artistry.
Story Beat of the Week: Sam.
Ruby Soho, Destination Originals
This week there was lots of joyful speculation about how the teams in this women’s AEW Originals v Invaders stable war might pan out. Personally, I had Ruby Soho pencilled in for the invaders based purely on her history. Thankfully I think I was wrong.
Before the Toni Storm v Ruby Soho match Soho made an impassioned speech about how she loves AEW because it gave her the opportunity to be taken seriously and she has bled buckets alongside the other women in the locker room that Toni and Saraya look down on. At the end of the match, Britt Baker interfered to help Ruby pick up the win, seemingly confirming the Originals want Ruby on their team.
This isn’t a done deal though with a brief Rampage segment showing there is still plenty these two need to work through before they will team together however based on the initial speech I’m going to pencil Ruby in alongside Britt and Hayter.
This was smart for the story for multiple reasons. Firstly Ruby just bled buckets for the forces of good alongside Willow Nightingale so such an abrupt change would be jarring for her character, she is also just better as a face and the crowd naturally wants to cheer her.
More broadly though, what this beat shows for the grander story is that being an ‘AEW Original’ is about where your heart lies as much as where your wrestling journey began. This opens the fight up to a conflict of ideology, someone like Anna Jay who is clearly an original but has been finding a second gear as a heel does not have to backpedal to her previous alignment if this war comes her way, she can simply say she has no respect for the locker room and that is why she is with the Invaders. Additionally, this keeps the battle lines much cleaner for the crowd, I am all for complex characterisation when done well but with the amount of time dedicated to the women’s division in a normal week, I think it will just be a better story if there are clear heroes and antagonists for the crowd to get behind.
Moment of the Week: Peter.
Mark Briscoe hits the Froggy-bow.
So, WBD finally came to their senses and let Mark Briscoe onto their channel just hours after everyone became aghast of the news that the Briscoe ban wasn’t rescinded even after Jay’s death and what we would see was a beautiful Celebration of Jay Briscoe’s life that we will never forget.
First off, as one of many that has gone through the process of grieving the death of a family member, to see Mark go out and wrestle a match, call spots and be the person that was the strongest out there that night shows how Mark is the Man of the Year already in pro wrestling.
While there were so many moments in the Mark Briscoe vs Jay Lethal match that will live long in the memory (see Gareth’s entry below) and Excalibur’s pointing out that the wrestling that we like is down to Jay Briscoe was a perfect testament to Jay’s contribution to wrestling.
But when Mark got to the top rope with Jay Lethal on the timekeepers table, we all knew what was going to happen and when Froggy Bo was hit on Lethal it was a moment of catharsis in a horrible week.
Earlier in the match when Lethal hit his signature Lethal Injection, Mark rolled out of the ring with Caprice Coleman exerting the values of Mark strategy skills in the squared circle. Jay was the heart, the passion of the team, the creator of chaos that would be the X Factor in the classic Briscoes matches and maybe the greatest tribute on a night of remembrance of Jay came was the chief strategist causing a moment of chaos that his brother would be proud of.
Move of the Week: Gareth.
As Peter explained there were multiple significant, meaningful moves in the Mark Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal match. But the move of the week is probably the most predictable one we'll ever see. Predictable because it was perfect.
I am of course speaking about the Jay Driller which Mark hit on Lethal to win the match. Everyone knew this is how the match would end. And when it was delivered, as Mark lay on his back for a solitary second before making the cover, there was this feeling of calm before the cover and explosion of emotions from Mark and much of the AEW locker room on the ramp.
There's not too much more I can say about this move, except RIP Jay Briscoe.
Just as a side note, because there was only going to be one move of the week. Jamie Hayter's clothesline just before her two lariats against Emi Sakura I feel deserves a mention. After selling for a large portion of the match this clothesline came out of nowhere and demonstrated the explosivity and power that makes Hayter such an exciting wrestler.
MVP of the Week: Trish.
The main event of a televised wrestling is never an easy spot. There are time pressures, positioning requirements and countless other things to think about. It's a daunting prospect at the best of times; let alone a week after the unexpected death of your brother.
There a couple of phrases which come to mind when considering this situation. The first is that "everyone deals with death differently" and the second is that "wrestlers are a different breed." In essence, both of these may be true, and yet they shouldn't be used to downplay in any way Mark's bravery on Wednesday night as well as his level of professionalism.
In what was easily the strongest match on Dynamite this week, Mark did more then just honour his fallen brother, he also reminded the audience that he is a fantastic wrestler in his own right as well. His strength, ring intellect, timing and bouts of explosive offense have always been there but is always a good thing when you can to remind the audience when given the opportunity.
What Mark and (a visibly moved) Jay Lethal put together on Wednesday night was a strong main event in its own right but also a perfect tribute and a feel good moment after a week of justified sorrow. Mark Briscoe may have other priorities in the close future (it's well known how family centric both he and Jay are/were) but it's clear that if he does want to continue in professional wrestling after all this that he still has plenty to offer. The Briscoes have already created quite the legacy in Ring of Honor, this past Wednesday night was another addition; and a beautiful one at that.