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A Star Alights on Dynamite | AEWeekly #110


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, Greyson [@GreysonNation] taking over for Peter last minute with the moment of the week, and Gareth [@Gareth_EW] giving us the MVP of the week.


Please welcome with us new contributor, Sam P. [@BigBadaBruce], debuting a brand new section—throwback of the week, which explores some great moment or aspect from AEW’s past that has some relevance to what’s going on in the current week!


Feel better, Peter!


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




The Elite vs Eddie Kingston, PAC, and PENTA


"Elite Efficiency"


by Joe.


The Elite vs the Loosely Arranged but still Logically Aligned babyface team of PAC & PENTA from Death Triangle + PENTA’s best friend from COVID-era AEW, Eddie Kingston, was excellent TV wrestling. The 3 big goals of a TV wrestling match are to (1) entertain the live audience (on TV & in person), (2) move stories forward, and (3) develop characters. This match was entertaining, pushed stories forward, and developed characters.


First let’s cover that entertaining match action. Nick Jackson, PENTA, and PAC brought the high spots, as you would expect—but what was better than I expected was PAC’s pacing and urgency. With a few notable big-bout exceptions, PAC has wrestled with AEW moves, but at a WWE pace. In this match, PAC seemed like he was in a rush to fight and win. Eddie Kingston brought his signature angst and grit that adds a level of realism and believability to his bouts. Okada was able to showcase his elite athleticism with a few carefully picked highlights, such as that Hardcore-Holly dropkick, while limiting his ring time to keep him special early on.


Next, let’s cover the story development. The feud of Okada versus Eddie was advanced through their interactions, which I’ll cover more in a bit, and that heated up their title match in Toronto next week. The Bucks are involved in that Eddie Feud, but the trios interactions rekindled their heat with PENTA & PAC as well. This has me thinking that PENTA & PAC will be the wildcard team revealed to face the Undisputed Kingdom, and go on to face the Bucks in the Tag Title Tournament. I could see Okada defeating Eddie at Dynamite, and the Bucks defeating PENTA & PAC, clearing the way for Okada vs PAC at Dynasty. Where does that leave Eddie Kingston? Possibly teaming with PENTA to chase the Young Bucks and Okada. 


Finally, let’s cover that character development. Before the match even started, Okada’s facial expressions were telling a story. He looked at the crowd like he was disappointed or disgusted. He was giving off vibes of “Ugh, I really have to perform for THEM!?”. Okada ducking Eddie Kingston to start the fight shows him to be either a continuation of that condescending tone from the entrance because he doesn’t think Eddie is worth his time and sharing the spotlight with, or that he’s cowardly and afraid to face him 1-on-1 with even odds. Okada running over to Eddie’s corner and mocking him while pretending to wait for the hot tag showed Okada to be a sarcastic jerk, which built on to Okada’s bullying of Alex Marvez earlier in the show. The Elite won the match with a low blow from Nick Jackson to Eddie to set up Okada's Rainmaker while the ref was checking on Matt Jackson. The fact that the Elite needed to cheat to beat the babyfaces with that blow so low, showed their character and morals are also low. The Elite are removing reasons to support them, while adding reasons to pay attention to them. Eddie’s resilience and persistence in the face of these uneven odds solidifies his role as AEW’s top underdog—or King of the Bums, as he likes to say. PAC’s newfound urgency makes him seem like a man with more purpose or passion than we have seen from him in years, so it should be interesting to see if his promos and angles reflect that apparent shift as well.


To wrap a bow on this, this match succeeded in entertaining the fans, pushing forward a title feud, possibly setting up a tag title tourney feud, and developing the acts of heel Okada, the Elite 2.0, Eddie Kingston, and PAC. To accomplish all of that with less than 13 minutes of bell time is elite TV wrestling. 







Will Ospreay


"BRUV! I AM the feeling!"


by Sergei.


...the moment I stepped foot in AEW, there as been a phrase that has been following me, and following everyone, and I believe all of you guys know it, because Tony Khan knows it, the boys and girls in the back know it, and everyone here knows the phrase: Restore the FEELING! 
BRUV! I AM THE FEELING!

—Will Ospreay


On Wednesday night, Will Ospreay had some words about his Dynasty match with Bryan Danielson and also about the phrase: “Restore the Feeling”:



Some doofus Daniel Garcia fan on Twitter attempted to stir shit up by suggesting that since DG started the “Restore the Feeling” meme, he should own it. Garcia’s reply was truly classy:


Garcia is right that Ospreay embodies “The Feeling” and it’s not just that Ospreay says it’s so. And as much as people loved his first two matches since he joined the roster, it’s not just about amazing moves and technical brilliance, either. Everything about how he carries himself, how he speaks, how he presents himself evokes legitimate awe. He has this spirit in every gesture and tone: that he feels lucky to be part of something amazing… that he has the self-confidence to realize that he is himself a big part of what makes it amazing, but instead of arrogance it evokes a humility in being blessed to be a key part of something wonderful. This may be rebound syndrome talking, but it reminds me of nobody so much as Sting. Even Ospreay’s outfit has The Feeling: the colors of Superman, the gold filigree of a fantasy knight or a Greek god, and the sporty louche of an elite athlete dressed to pop around for a pint of milk but at the same time ABSOLUTELY GAME to jump at some impromptu challenge to play handball or race to the corner. Ospreay has so much of The Feeling he’s practically glowing.


If Ospreay had only come out and made the crowd swoon by calling them “beautiful” and smiled and said “bruv” a lot, he’d already be my interview of the week on charisma and infectious enthusiasm alone. But there was another bit, easy to miss under all of that wattage. There is a match to promote, with the GOAT Bryan Danielson at the first edition of Dynasty in six weeks. Ospreay characterizes this match as “you put the best wrestler in the world against the best wrestler of the 21st Century and only one man walks out a winner.” As Saul points out in his section below, there isn’t much more to this story and there doesn’t need to be. Ospreay adds a little fire to the basic premise of “which of us is truly best” with one of his very best lines:

The one thing that I have learned from Bryan is that I can have respect for the man that stands opposite me, but the moment you walk into this ring it’s your life or it’s mine AND I DON’T PLAN ON DYIN’ BRUV!

That would be a fantastic hook without the need for anything more. HOWEVER… If you pay close attention, a little earlier on in this promo, Ospreay does indeed add just a LITTLE more to this story:

Bryan, allow me to remind you what you said once upon a time. Y’see after my match with Kenny Omega, everyone was talking about one move: the Tiger Driver ‘91… where I butterfly my opponent’s arms, lift him up, and drop him on his knockers. No regard for the body bruv! And you know what the most violent man on live TV said? He said "was it worth it?"
Speaking as the guy that was in the match, with BLOOD PISSING OUT OF MY HEAD and every single time my HEART BEAT, MORE BLOOD CAME OUT! and standing as the winner, Bryan Danielson I can say, "yeah, bruv, it was worth it!"

This feels to me like a strong hint that Ospreay is lumping in Danielson with concern trolls like Al Snow and Stevie Richards to stir the pot of their feud with a hint of something other than pure respect...BUT, if you listen to the full quote from Danielson’s Forbidden Door scrum, he meant “was it worth it?” as a real question, not a rhetorical one, and had a far more nuanced take on risky maneuvers:

...you have to skate that line… For example, I remember when I was in WWE and John Cena tore his pec taking a hiptoss… and so this is where I, I go and I talk to our doctors—legitimately, before matches, and I say, like: "Hey, what do you think about this? " Or "What do you think about this? Can I do this?" Right? And they are very frank with me. As far as saying, like: "No, you cannot do that. Yes, we’re okay with this but only under certain circumstances." And I think, for the safety of the performers and also… it’s the best thing for AEW to do the same kind of thing.
As far as like… I saw the, whatever you want to call it, Tiger Driver ‘98, you know what I mean? I saw that, and… that kind of stuff does scare me, because the injury potential is so great, and I know, specifically, from, like, a Kenny Omega, who… both him and Will Ospreay are just FANtastic, just fantastic: "Was it worth it?" You know what I mean? Did it make the match actually better, or is it just a risky part of their career?
And, y’know, I don’t have the answer for that! Y’know, we all did things… I did things… to get… noticed? that I wouldn’t do today. You just have to balance… those things. And those are just two… driven men… wanting to put on the best pro wrestling matches they can. I don’t think it’s my responsibility to say who should do what. Because I’ve done some pretty stupid things in my career. But, yeah, I think we should be working with our medical staff to be approving certain things.

—Daniel Bryan


And I can easily see this spiraling into some discourse where people forget that—while the scrum quote was (probably, mostly) a shoot—everything else about all of this is fundamentally fictional, and acting like “Danielson said that move was too risky, so clearly he’s been pressured to take it, and risking another injury to eat into this last precious year of his career.” Where I choose to take him at his word: that he would discuss it with his doctors first, and if they say “No” the match will only tease the Tiger Driver, while if the docs say yes, more power to ‘em! Whether Ospreay tries to hit the Tiger Driver, and whether Danielson, (in kayfabe,) takes that personally should add a wrinkle of intrigue to what was already shaping up to be an all-timer of a match.







Will Ospreay


"Who’s the best?..."


by Saul


Will Ospreay has arrived in AEW, and he’s started off hot.


After his first PPV match, which many thought was a masterful outing, (please push Takeshita better,) it seems like he’s out to prove his value as a full-time roster member. If you’re trying to do better than fantastic, a good idea is to fight the Dragon.


AEW’s roster is very ridiculously stacked. Many times they have booked a dream match between two world class wrestlers, with the subtext being that the winner will cement themselves as the best in the entire world. However, this has never felt false or faked, as they have collected various wrestlers who could rightly lay claim to that title. They usually deliver, and I expect this one shall be no different.


It’s yet to be seen whether more “STAKES” will be added to this match. Maybe Ospreay will demand that Danielson shave his head if he loses. Perhaps Bryan will refuse to fight unless the match is fought in the woods, so he can put his bear techniques to use. Anything is possible…


…but it’s not necessary. This match is sold by the graphic alone, and the assured quality that the two competitors involved promises. Maybe some people may hate that. Probably the kind of people who would say that the idea of King Kong fighting Godzilla isn’t enough to entice them to the cinema. These are the kind of people I don’t feel the need to listen to.


There’s no part of me that thinks Ospreay won’t win. We know Danielson is in the final stretch of his career, and his mission to elevate others as best as he can. I guess we’ll find out at AEW Dynasty (interested to see how this new era of PPVs goes, very interested).


I try to step outside myself, to try and fully appreciate this Danielson run because it has been truly unrivaled. Although it seems he’s determined to deliver some absolute bangers on his way out. Appreciate it fools, while you still can.

 






Mercedes Moné


"Mercedes Moné shows she is All Elite”


by Greyson.


Despite the glitz, glamor, and incredibly positive fan reception of Mercedes Moné’s debut at the beginning of Big Business, I am specifically choosing the moment where she came to the aid of Willow Nightingale against TBS Championship Julia Hart and Skye Blue, who ambushed her after her main event, match against Riho, because I believe that is where she truly became #AllElite. Any big-time superstar newcomer can enter AEW and claim to want to uplift the other talent in the locker room, but AEW is a place where you prove yourself and show your true values with your actions, both inside and outside the ring. Over the past year or so, Willow has become one of my favorites in the women’s division, as she has proven her prowess by becoming NJPW Strong Women’s Champion and winning the Women’s Owen Hart Cup, while also being involved in super fun storylines like the current dilemma between her, Kris Statlander, and Stokely Hathaway (Or “Stooley” LOL), even appearing on Being The Dark Order as the Dark Order’s “babysitter.” 


Clearly by choosing to align herself with Willow, Moné has chosen to support someone who reflects the authentic AEW culture and all it entails. You may have expected someone with the CEO moniker to act like our EVPs, become petty against any perceived enemy and work only with those who show ostentatious seriousness, but alas, she appears to have to chosen another path, deciding to save the very woman who defeated her for the NJPW Strong Women’s Championship. Nightingale has spoken highly of Moné and was very positive about her experience working with her in that championship match, so we can look forward to seeing what comes about with these two in the near future. I certainly believe Willow is more than ready to achieve TBS Championship gold, and it seems Mercedes Moné would agree.








Thunder Rosa.


"I am here to put the Women’s Division on the map..."


by Sam P.



AEW Big Business will always be synonymous with the debut of Mercedes Moné, just as AEW The First Dance will be remembered for the return of CM Punk to professional wrestling. It can be very easy to compare Mercedes to Punk and use that as the throwback, but instead, I’d like to focus on a throwback to a debut that went on to make a major impact in the Women’s Division. There have been examples of debuts for the Women’s Division in previous years that had strong focus, such as Kylie Rae and Awesome Kong (which unfortunately neither went anywhere), debuts that we were unaware would go on to become major impacts in the Women’s Division (Britt Baker, Jamie Hayter, Hikaru Shida), or debuts that have been too recent to truly compare (Deonna Purrazzo).


Instead, we will roll back to August 22nd 2020, a special edition of AEW Dynamite that appeared on Saturday night, building up to AEW All Out in less than two weeks. Jon Moxley was preparing to defend his AEW World Title against MJF, FTR defeated Private Party and a Gauntlet was announced for the following week to determine who would challenge at All Out against Kenny Omega and ‘Hangman’ Adam Page for the AEW Tag Team Titles, and most memorably, Mr Brodie Lee destroyed Cody to win the AEW TNT Title. During the show, Tony Schiavone was backstage and introduced the NWA Women’s Champion Thunder Rosa, who announced that she was here to not only challenge Hikaru Shida at AEW All Out for the AEW Women’s Title, but to put the Women’s Division on the map.



AEW All Out 2020 is a slightly maligned PPV in AEW’s history, derided for not only featuring a terrible cinematic match between Big Swole and Dr. Britt Baker, but also a controversial match between Matt Hardy and Sammy Guevara that brought AEW’s concussion policy into focus, featuring a possible injury for Hardy and a decision to continue the match to the derision of the fans. While both fans deserve their negativity, it does mean the rest of the PPV is unfairly ignored, including some great matches where Young Bucks battled Jurassic Express, Jon Moxley outthought MJF to defend his AEW World Title and FTR vanquished Omega and Page for the AEW Tag Team Titles, breaking the team up in the process. The most damaged match was Shida and Rosa, which had to follow the Hardy-Guevara debacle, but in a match that probably represents both women perfectly, they battled through the shock of the audience and by the end, the audience was fully invested in the match. To some degree, Shida and Rosa accomplished the biggest victory of the night, which was pulling the audience back in, and this is a great opportunity to rewatch the title match out of context to appreciate it better.


At the time, Rosa was thought to be appearing in just a one-off cool crossover moment, a precursor to the future crossover between AEW and Impact Wrestling, and of course the Forbidden Door, but it retrospectively was a huge moment in the AEW Women’s Division, introducing a competitor in Rosa who went on to become an integral part of the AEW Women’s Division, becoming All Elite in July 2021. Since her debut, Rosa has featured in a brilliant Unsanctioned Lights Out match against Dr Britt Baker, matches with Serena Deeb and Riho, and becoming AEW Women’s Champion in 2022. However, Rosa eventually had to vacate her title due to injury, and has only recently begun to return, but if Mercedes Moné accomplishes just the equivalent of Rosa, she will be a relative success, and it’s exciting to imagine what more Mercedes will achieve now that she has arrived, to put the Women’s Division on the map…


On a side note, if you prefer a throwback to the same date in previous years, I would easily suggest the 2021 and 2022 editions of St Patrick’s Day Slam, which features the aforementioned Lights Out and Cage Matches between Thunder Rosa and Dr Britt Baker DMD, or last year’s 15th March 2023 AEW Dynamite that had two cracking multi-man matches, firstly the Blackpool Combat Club against ‘Hangman’ Adam Page and the Dark Order, or House of Black defending their AEW World Trios titles against The Elite and the Jericho Appreciation Society. In fact, March is often a great month for awesome matches in AEW’s history. Whichever of the five matches mentioned you decide to watch, enjoy the throwback!







Mercedes Moné

 

"CEO! CEO! CEO!..."

 

by Gareth.

 




Without necessarily doing anything truly spectacular Mercedes Moné announced herself in a huge way in AEW merely by showing up. Now, when we talk about “most valuable player” in this award we don’t literally mean value in terms of business, but of course she’s a huge name.

 

However, on night one, Mercedes showed she was going to be more than just that with her first involvement within AEW to be to help elevate Julia Hart, Skye Blue and, mainly, Willow Nightingale. As well as teasing a future “dream match” with Riho.

 

Similar to when CM Punk arrived in AEW and immediately looked at Darby Allin, ‘The CEO’ looks like she’s taking her business to the more developmental side of the division. Which is such a hugely valuable attitude to have in a big name star.


Of course we’ll get the dream matches with AEW, and likely Stardom, talent down the line. But what this division really needs is for the top stars to want to engage with these younger talents. Probably more than in the men’s division. Luckily AEW have built a roster where this is the case, and the fact that on night one Mercedes has slipped right into that, whilst elevating it with her star power, is huge for AEW.



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