Updated: Oct 5, 2021
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In Styles Make Fights #28, I previewed the top singles matches on the big Arthur Ashe stadium show using the stats on the competitors' rate of offense types used in their past AEW singles matches. One of those matches was the most anticipated debut match in AEW history.
Non-Title: The American Dragon vs. AEW World Champ Kenny Omega
I am extremely limited in the claims I can make about a debut match, as I only have stats about one of the competitors. One pattern I have noticed with Kenny Omega that I believed could be applied to his match with Danielson: In his matches with Christian Cage he notably avoided grapple moves: suplexes, slams, throws, etc. I believe that this was out of wariness that the set-up for any such move might be reversed into Cage's devastating finishing maneuver, the Killswitch. Similarly, I expected that Omega would use submissions far less than usual, if at all, fretting over Danielson's fearsome LeBell Lock. Below and to the right are Kenny's stat's for his AEW World title reign, up to but not including the match at Arthur Ashe. In that time frame he is in the 63rd percentile for seconds per hour of submission holds:
Below are the stats on the offense used by each competitor in the opening match of AEW Grand Slam. It's worth noting that several categories of offense were lower than usual for Kenny—not only submissions, but also reversals, grapples, and strikes. For the most part—in those categories where neither competitor used relatively high volume—this can be chalked up to pacing themselves for a battle they both knew would take time.
This does not, however, apply to submissions. For these 30 minutes of match-time, Danielson was in the 66th percentile for submission usage, while Omega fell from his average in the 63rd percentile all the way down to the 9th percentile! In my view it is clear that Omega ceded ground to Danielson on submission holds out of wariness.
What does this match tell us about Danielson's future? I would say that the low rate of offense in this match will most likely prove to be an artifact of the unusual pace of this match. Similarly, I would expect that in future matches with a more typical pace we will see a higher rate of grapples, and possibly of strikedowns and reversals, from the Dragon.
And of course we can definitely expect awesomeness from Danielson, always.
Dr. Britt Baker defended her AEW World Championship from Ruby Soho
I said last week that the one thing I was confident to say about Ruby Soho's offense after only one match under her belt was that volume striking is definitely the key focus of her offense style. However, a different category came to the fore in the main event Wednesday night:
Ruby's use of offense avoidance jumped from the 41st percentile in her debut singles match to the 85th percentile in the title match. There is nothing inherently wrong with counter-wrestling: Britt's rate is just as high. But for the champ that's her usual level, and her levels of actual offense didn't go down. When a competitor's counter-wrestling spikes up at the expense of their actual offense, (Ruby's volume striking dropped from the 98th percentile to the 54th,) this is an indicator of wrestling to not-lose, rather than wrestling to win. Which, ironically, leads quite consistently to losing, which is exactly what we saw Wednesday night.
CM Punk against Will Hobbs
I noted in the preview to this match that in the past when matched up against opponents with excellent win records, he has given up submissions in favor of dodges—wrestling to not-lose, as I characterized it above. It's very impressive that against CM Punk, he stuck with his game-plan. It wasn't enough to pick up the win, but it allowed him to keep the match substantially even, which is a major sign to expect big things from him in the near future.
Sammy Guevara challenges Miro for his TNT Championship
Below are the respective offense mix averages for the challenger and champion in the upcoming TNT title match:
However, Sammy Guevara recently had a change of heart, as well as a long layoff from singles competition, so it is worthwhile to see if that changed his mix of offense:
As it turns out, yes, it's made a massive difference. Aerial offense is still the centerpiece of Sammy's style. However, his fouls went down, his submission holds fell to almost nothing while his power-grapple offense went up. That should serve him well against Miro, whose one weakness is grapples and strikes which target the neck.
Jungle Boy vs Adam Cole
Adam Cole claims that Jungle Boy is not the future of AEW, and has an opportunity tomorrow night to assert his superiority. Below are their stats:
I don't want to jump to conclusions based on just one match, but—with his high-production kitchen-sink style of offense, and below average rate of fouls—Cole wrestles a lot like his scheduled opponent, and very notably like a man who does not yet realize that he's on the villains' side...
I'm quite intrigued to see what that will mean for his match tomorrow night, and for the Elite as a faction going forward.