A Wobbly Week? | AEWeekly Review #65
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 Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering moment of the week, Gareth [@Gareth_EW] writing about the match, move and promo of the week, Peter [@PeterEdge7] exploring a key story beat and Trish [@TrishSpeirs48] giving us the MVP of the week.
Match of the Week: Gareth. Vikingo vs. Dralistico
This was one of AEW's weaker weeks in the ring. We got some good work, don't get me wrong. Jungle Boy vs. Sammy Guevara was a good match which 5 years ago we're probably raving about more than we are in 2023. Jay White vs. Komander was a good debut for the Switchblade, but very much felt like a "one-man show".
But El Hijo Del Vikingo vs. Dralistico on Rampage for the AAA Mega Championship is PWM's match of the week and it's for one simple reason... the selling.
Vikingo sold brilliantly to put over Dralistico's offence early in the match and it was this selling that hooked me into the match. The champion then grew into the match more and more as the LFI's influence on the outside begun to have an impact.
This match was full of crazy moves, of course. That is what you get with talents like these. But it was the story they told around those moves, and the desperation with which Vikingo delivered some of his high spots, which really made the victory feel earned. It's tempting when you have the aerial qualities of Vikingo to become a, for lack of a better word, "spot monkey". But he is so, so much more than that.
This also sold me on a Rush vs. Vikingo match, which I would have been excited for regardless. But now I am actively invested and that is a real accomplishment for a match I went into not really caring, to be very honest.
With the signing of Komander, Dralistico's emergence and the undeniable brilliance of Vikingo AEW has added a few exciting faces to their lucha-libre ranks. It feels like a real attempt to re-create what WCW with their cruiserweights division and much like Rey Mysterio in the 90s, Vikingo is AEW's futuristic, acrobatic revolutionary for the 2020s.
Promo of the Week: Gareth.
Arn Anderson Loads up The Glock
We weren't going to do a promo of the week as there wasn't really anything that stood out for its quality. Quite the opposite, in fact. But I did feel like Wardlow's TNT Championship victory deserved a mention.
AEW has a great talent on their hands, but monsters are notoriously hard to book. Whatever they do with the Wardog moving forward, it is abundantly clear to me that Arn Anderson should be involved moving forward. As his involvement on Dynamite is the most interesting Wardlow has felt in months.
And I may be reading too far into it here, so take it with a pinch of salt. But Arn made a reference to the Four Horsemen, what Tully did with Wardlow as part of The Pinnacle and also said that Tully was playing checkers, whilst he and Wardlow are going to play chess.
Was this merely a way of saying "I'm going to take you to the top"? Or was there something else at play? I won't speculate anymore than that.
[Worst?] Promo of the Week: Sergei.
Pillars Take Shots
We don't usually do "worsts", but without wanting to drag these young pillars, we felt it necessary to address what has been pretty much universally criticised: the Dynamite-opening promo between the four pillars. Because, while I think it was undeniably bad, it was bad in a good way. On the minus side, if your protagonists are squabbling in such an annoying manner that it’s a relief when the bad guy’s music hits to interrupt them, you’re doing things exactly backwards. But young guys with potential to be the future of your promotion like Jack Perry, Sammy Guevara, and Darby Allin are exactly who you need to sometimes send out to sink or swim.
They sank this time, but I feel confident that they are getting good coaching, and giving thought to what went wrong and will learn from the experience. Jack and Sammy have the potential to be passable speakers, and Darby perhaps a great one, and they aren’t going to reach that potential if they are always protected from stumbles.
Story Beat of the Week: Peter.
When Chris Jericho and Adam Cole began side-eying each other in the weeks after Cole's return to in-ring action, the collective reaction from fans was "oh no, Cole is going to be Jerichoed"
Whether that is a harsh criticism on the first AEW World Champion is something for another day but on the basis of the happenings on Dynamite this past Wednesday the fears of those who wish the best for Adam Cole might have been premature.
First off, let's ignore Britt and her cries of "Austin!". I could spend a thousand words on why referring to wrestlers by their real name on wrestling programming is rubbish but those thousand words are going to be spent on why this segment was important.
For someone who has spent such a time as a heel, the reality is away from the ring, Adam Cole (or Austin Jenkins) is one of the nicest human beings on planet earth. His Chugs channel on social media is a window to his true nature. When CM Punk was unloading on anyone with a pulse on that night in Chicago, the "Gripebomb" spared Adam Cole with Punk talking about what a sweetheart he was. But great guys doesn't necessarily mean great babyfaces with Evidence A being Owen Hart's run as a good guy in early 1998 being very average. But Cole so far has been every bit as likeable in the 8-10pm time slot on Wednesday night as he is on The Chugs and All Access. His words on Wednesday night addressing Chris Jericho made Cole come across the humble, aspirational babyface that will extend his popularity from the "Boom" and the “Adam Cole BayBay"
Wrestling being wrestling, things escalated and we saw a JAS beatdown, a Britt Baker save and an Outcast setup. Criticism of the coincidence of the Outcasts being under the ring and the JAS/Outcasts alliance being so reliant on Baker coming out are justified but wrestling in its storytelling has and always will be reliant on coincidences. From a character development point, everything we saw from Cole and Jericho made this writer more attached to their futures.
Cole and the realisation that he had got his soulmate into the predicament she was in and then his determination to get her out of it spoke of a man whose love of his partner in that moment outpaced his now hatred of Jericho. Give it a week of stewing and looking at Britt and her black eye and the hatred will end up overtaking even the deepest love he has for Pittsburgh's finest.
The JAS/Outcasts alliance makes complete sense. With enemies and philosophies in common, of course the Sports Entertainment guys and the ex-New York territory ladies who think their way is the Way are going to get on.
But maybe the most interesting thing to come from this advancement in the Cole/Jericho and Baker/JAS story is the cross pollination of the biggest story in AEW's women's division at the moment and one of the biggest stories in the men's side of the roster heading to Double or Nothing.
For too long the men's and women's roster have felt like they have been on two different islands on AEW television (It's also a criticism that can be made at the Outcasts former place of work) but by the actions of JAS and the Outcasts we got too see the two islands collide. Hopefully we get Jericho/Saraya vs Cole/Baker as a result but also hopefully after this angle we get to see more interaction between the men and women of AEW.
Moment of the Week: Sergei.
Don brings in a Ringer
In a month that has featured some shaky storytelling at best, one storyline that most all observers would agree has been consistently entertaining and intriguing is the developing feud between the Elite and the Blackpool Combat Club. In my view, the most important aspect that has been keeping the flywheel spinning, is intrigue: even though we’ve all seen many faction feuds before and there is a clear blueprint for such things. they have kept fans guessing with developments that could potentially go more than one way, like Danielson's fake-out save that became a heel turn.
In this vein, this week Big Don evened up sides and neutralized the numbers advantage for BCC by bringing in his latest project, Konosuke Takeshita. There are several reasons this is intriguing. For one, the Elite already has a fourth member if they were to only mend fences with their erstwhile running buddy, the Hangman. Adam Page is currently at home selling having his eye put out, but once he returns, how will this development effect their ongoing rapprochement?
The other issue (and the "moment" of the week) seen above, is the side-eye Elite leader Kenny Omega gives this new recruit that he clearly hadn't been consulted about in advance. Some (Peter!) may say that it's obvious that Takeshita is a poison pill that Callis has brought in to betray the Elite from within. But Konosuke has always been depicted as innocently honorable up to now. Other directions for the story are equally possible, such as Kenny Omega being eaten alive by unwarranted paranoia. The possibilties are what give this story its intrigue, but whichever way it falls out, I feel confident that Omega's suspicious glance at Takeshita will prove to have been a pivotal moment for whatever story we end up with.
Move of the Week: Gareth.
There were two incredible Canadian Destroyers on AEW TV this week and from a purely athletic perspective they're probably your move of the week. But they're not moves that make you feel anything more than exhilaration these days.
No, instead I was most wowed by Jay White's Blade Runner finishing move on Komander. After dropping the luchador on his head with a cut-throat suplex the Switchblade hit his finisher on Komander who sold it like a bullet to the cranium.
Over the entire match I felt, personally, that White carried Komander to a decent match. But in that final sequence Komander really made Jay look like a star, so credit to him.
MVP of the Week: Trish. Konosuke Takeshita
The last year has been somewhat stop/start for Konosuke Takeshita. After a show stealing performance against then champion Adam Page back in May there have been standout matches with the likes of Jon Moxley and Claudio but also a lack of consistency and momentum required for him to be viewed in a similar way to other Dynamite regulars.
The pursuit of him by Don Callis has been similar:- with segments pulled from shows, pushed back due to administrative issues outside of his control as well as the general nature of AEW booking meaning he has played mainly supporting roles in recent times.
It may have taken forever but this week Takeshita finally found himself thrust into the major story which he was always due to be part of with the Elite and the BCC. By having him play a major role in this ongoing program it will automatically elevate him in the eyes of the AEW audience. AEW has shown countless times that they can change the perception of a wrestler quickly using such methods.
This is not to say Takeshita is being carried. The 27 year old Osaka native is an excellent in-ring wrestler, easily in the top 20 in the company in that regard. He has quickly built a strong relationship with live crowds, who have supported him twice over former World Champion Jon Moxley.
A year ago the BCC added Wheeler Yuta to the fold after a series of incredible matches with both Moxley and Danielson. It gave him instant respect and credibility. This time around it is Konosuke Takeshita who will get the lift;- whether by staying with the Elite or somehow finding himself aligned with Danielson and co thanks to the relationship built between the two in the spring. What is guaranteed though is that all parties will be using this story in the hope of creating another potential main eventer.