AEW Roundtable Weekly #29: What's Next for Cody, Malakai, Pac and Andrade!?
Hello and welcome to the AEW Roundtable Weekly! A slight format change as these will now aim to hit the sweet spot between review and preview between AEW of the past week and that that is on the horizon. This weeks writers are Gareth (@Gareth_EW), Dan (@WrestlingRhymes), Peter (@PeterEdge7), Brian (AEWMetrics) and Craig (CraigPWMusings).
What’s next for Cody, Malakai, Andrade and Pac!? What did you make of their matches over the weekend?
[Peter] Andrade and Pac have that chemistry that makes pro wrestling so great. The match on Rampage and their match the week after All Out is the dictionary definition of what makes AEW stand out to other promotions in the wrestling world.
Cody-Malakai III was like I went back in time and was watching a Jeff Jarrett main event from TNA in 2005 but it was also a barrel of fun. How can I say no to an Arn Anderson spinebuster and as a AJPW Kings Road fan, how can I say no to a Tiger Driver ‘98.
As for the future. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Cody/PAC vs Malakai/Andrade tag match at Full Gear possibly and in a promotion where alliances are a key to success, a Malakai/Andrade team makes sense with their history and who their mutual friends are.
[Dan] Cody and Malakai Black is the strangest story in AEW, and whilst I know I’m in the minority on this one, I’m continuing to enjoy it. The match itself was chaotic fun and whilst I’m not sure why Cody won, I actually don’t think it hugely harmed Black. In terms of what’s next it does seem as if this feud is going to bleed into the Andrade and PAC shenanigans, which is a tad odd.
The Malakai and Andrade alliance doesn’t make a lot of sense on paper considering their current characters and teaming up with PAC is a bit like Cody trying to form a union with an angry wasp. Either way though we’ll see some fascinating wrestling and it’s a great reminder of how the stories and feuds in AEW don’t exist in a solitary bubble, something which really sets Tony Khan’s promotion apart from the others for me.
[Brian] Cody’s return has brought a divisiveness to AEW fans as he finds himself hurtling into a multiway rivalry involving three former NXT Champions. I don’t think this is a coincidence It’s not so much directly a case of the sins of the father (ie. Dusty) being visited upon by the son but there are definite overtones here worth exploring that tap into this shared history. Especially in light of Cody’s own fledgling fatherhood, I’d like to see the younger Rhodes invoke the premise that Dusty laid the foundation for all of them to succeed in one way or another. Cody-Malakai III was a unique effort that felt patterned after Jericho-MJF (if in straight Wins and Losses if nothing else) although in a much more compressed timeframe. I will say I rose out of my seat a little at the finish as I thought I was about to see a Pedigree rather than the Tiger Driver ‘98. PAC-Andrade made me smile because I very often simply don’t know what to expect next. It appears to be just non-formulaic enough to work and lets me suspend my disbelief a healthy amount. Whether we see the tag match or perhaps an exchange of opponents from the past week, anything other than a four-way will be fine. Trust the process.
[Gareth] Not quite sure. I think Andrade vs Pac happens at Full Gear to finalise their feud before we move into Andrade vs Cody and Pac vs Malakai feuds. The latter of which I find very appealing, the former confuses me. It’s not the direction I would have picked for Cody.
[Craig] I need Malakai to get a little bit of his edge back. Cody’s pop back up post Black Mass was terrible, in my opinion. This match has received criticism for being a series of rematches, I take no issue with that, rematches are great in so much as they build more layers of story. The issue I take with these matches is that post the first, Black has been diminished to protect Cody; a roll-up win post cheating in the second and then losing. The effectiveness of the presentation of Malakai coupled with the snap in his work deserves better.
Will the Dark Order vs The Elite feed into the Hangman/Omega feud, and how do you see that playing out?
[Dan] With only three weeks to go, the Hangman and Kenny story now needs to go into overdrive and this four-on-four match seems to be platform to do it on Dynamite. Do they have the Elite going over Dark Order with Kenny seeking to yet again prey on the insecurities of Hangman? Or does Page put the fear into Kenny that his tactics won’t work this time now that he finally believes in himself?
I actually think the latter is the way to go. Have Kenny’s stooges and Don Callis get involved in the match to try and sway it in the Elite’s favour, but for once we see them fail as Hangman saves the day. That could then lead to an increasingly desperate and unhinged Omega as we go into Full Gear. And a desperate and unhinged champion is one that can be beaten.
[Brian] I think Hangman needs to careful to avoid the hypocrisy of helping Dark Order when he told them to stay out of his business. It's a fine line where, even in defeat, they can all try to find strength in that they did their best. In reality, that only works so much as the losses begin to pile up and people begin to lose their patience.
Despite having the overall membership advantage, The Elite have had and continue to win via multiway attacks, run-ins, etc. They’re just more organized and more ruthless in their pursuits. This shouldn’t let up quite left but I’m definitely here for a moment (and just a moment) of doubt for Omega between now and the go-home shows for Full Gear.
[Gareth] I don’t think the result for this is in doubt, unless we see Evil Uno pin one of the Bucks to set up Grayson & Uno vs Young Bucks for Full Gear. I think that’s unlikely though, The Elite win.
As for the true purpose of this match I think it is to pick up from where they left off with Hangman and Kenny. Show how cruel The Elite are and show the audience who the hero is, Hangman.
[Craig] Start the match off goofy, have the costumes and The Elite taking the mickey out of the Dark Order early doors. But this match needs to feature The Elite taking things too far and putting a Dark Order member at risk of serious injury. Thus, leasing to Hangman Adam Page, metaphorically, riding to the rescue. Last week Omega addressed Page, at last, but this week it’s time to add danger and physical stakes back into this luxurious dynamic.
Serena Deeb and Hikaru Shida are scheduled to face off again in the TBS Championship Tournament. Who goes over here and how has the presentation of the tournament worked for you so far?
[Peter] For the sake of my tbs tournament bracket, I hope Shida takes the W. This is probably to be the closest we have to a pick ’em in the first round and a victory for either women would not be a surprise.
I think it’s safe to say that the tbs tournament will go past the 20-minute mark for all the matches combined and I would not be surprised if we saw the four first round matches overtake the combined time for the WWE Queens’s Crown tourney matches that was rightly derided.
[Dan] The beauty of the TBS Championship Tournament is that, unlike the equivalent on the men’s side, there are a huge number of viable winners. This match between Shida and Deeb proves that, with both potentially winning this opening round match and both having a very real claim to win the whole thing.
Personally I would love Serena Deeb to win the tournament and defend this belt on a weekly basis, therefore for me she has to go over here. I would also use yet another defeat for Shida to actually do something with her character, although that sort of story development remains something that the women’s division largely remains bereft of.
As Peter mentions above, this tournament is a great tonic to the pathetic WWE farce of the last few weeks, and whilst I am already tired of saying this, I hope it does act as a launching pad for improved booking in the women’s division overall in AEW.
[Brian] I’m much more invested in the idea of Deeb as the Professor continuing to school and unhinge Shida as the former Women’s World Champion pursues her 50th win. The real question is whether a replacement trophy was made and who has to pay for it. In all seriousness, though, I think Deeb should get the W and then Shida cost the Woman of 1000 Holds her next match, which would be against Nyla Rose in the Quarter Finals.
On that note, Nyla is second all-time with 46 wins, and as a former rival of Shida’s, could create an intriguing push-pull dynamic in the vein of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. From there, Shida could continue, perhaps look to take the ‘easy way out’ by facing off against a lesser opponent who could benefit from some shine like Skye Blue, who I thought declared for the tournament but is nowhere to be seen on the bracket.
The overall presentation has worked for me because there is a good balance of intrigue with new matchups (Hayter vs Jay and Soho vs Statlander) with others, like the above, predicated on company history.
[Gareth] I’m liking this tournament; the bracket looks good and promises a lot of great matches. I predict that if Deeb wins here that she will win the tournament. However, I don’t think she will. I think in typical 50-50 booking practice Shida gets her win back and they have a trilogy match down the line. I hope I’m wrong though.
[Craig] It’s not going to happen, but I want a re-establishing of Hikaru Shida and a rescuing of the legacy of her title reign in this tournament. She should win in to fix the damage done by the lack of presence in her booking post-title-loss. With the TBS Championship, Hikaru Shida can be the best version of her champion-self. There is a legacy of the TNT Championship being a fighting wrestler’s belt thus needing less promo work if the more regular title defences can carry the weight of the reign.
Is the World Championship Contenders Tournament everything you hoped it would be, and how do you see it continuing with Mox/10?
[Peter] The Danielson/Rhodes match was a banger and unfortunately the Archer/Kingston didn’t go to plan with Archer’s mishap on the moonsault. But the semi-final between The American Dragon and Eddie Kingston should be fantastic.
As for the other side of the bracket, I fear the beating Ten is going to suffer at the hands of Mox will be so severe that Netflix might release a true crime docuseries about it. Should the heavy favourite in that match progress, the match of Moxley vs Orange Cassidy should be interesting viewing with the differing characteristics of the two individuals involved.
[Dan] I was disappointed with the brackets for the men’s tournament and so far, I’ve largely been disappointed with the outcome. I didn’t enjoy the Hobbs v OC match at all and really didn’t see the need for Hobbs to be sacrificed to Cassidy. The Archer moonsault and injury obviously wasn’t anyone’s fault (and the main thing is that Archer seems to be okay), but it did mean we didn’t see the full potential of that combo.
Having been such a negative Nancy though, Bryan Danielson v Dustin Rhodes was absolutely superb. Danielson’s new vicious streak paired brilliantly with the slowly deteriorating underdog, and Danielson’s fourth different finisher in four matches makes him feel properly dangerous.
Assuming MOX puts 10 away tonight, we should then get two very intriguing semi-finals and ultimately a great contender for the AEW Championship. It will have been a bit of a slog getting there though.
[Brian] After the implementation of First Round Byes for the TBS Championship Tournament, I became slightly annoyed that something similar wasn’t done for the Eliminator but for the sake of continuity with last year’s iteration, I made my peace with it. Further, outside of Page – who has his match – and Miro, at least the Official #2-#4 were all in the tournament. Even with a fairly evident Final of Moxley vs Danielson at Full Gear on the horizon, each of the matchups along the way has been enjoyable thus far. I think Moxley will make short work of Preston Vance though longer than the 47 seconds he needed to dispatch Wheeler Yuta a few weeks back.
[Gareth] Mox will run through 10, probably not in a dissimilar way that Kenny Omega ran through Sonny Kiss last year. How interesting it is now that Mox is being more ruthless that he finds himself in the same place as Omega did a year ago. My hope for the match though is that Mox rips 10’s mask off. 10 is too good looking to be wearing a mask and it will give Mox some of the heat he’s going to need to face Orange Cassidy in the next round and Bryan Danielson or Eddie Kingston in the final. Sammy Guevara has been sucked into the ATT vs Jericho feud, do you like this story beat, does he come out on top and if so, how will he use the power that brings?
[Dan] I like that we are getting Sammy v Ethan Page, but other than that I continue not to feel very much at all about this whole feud. Sammy obviously isn’t losing to Page, and the stakes for when he wins don’t feel very high. I will admit that I’m not best placed to comment on this as I couldn’t give the remotest of you-know-whats about the MMA side of all this, and you cannot ignore that Lambert and American Top Team are generating a huge amount of heat.
But you also cannot (or at least should not) ignore the fact that this story has been laced with homophobic ‘jokes’ and frankly, in 2021 in the supposed babyface company, that’ not acceptable. [Brian] It’s frustrating to realize that the TNT Championship will likely be defended on only a single PPV this year. Indeed, it’s named after a television network and yet in moments it seems to increasingly become the afterthought and prop I don’t wish it to be. I long for the Open Challenges, which were teased again with the arrival of Bobby Fish. More of this, please. Alternatively, having a mandate that the belt be defended every two or three weeks with a contenders match in between will help give this championship some consistency and structure it sorely lacks. Otherwise, we tend to get many defenses concentrated in a short amount of time followed by periods of dormancy (see Darby and Miro). Even so, I like that Sammy has retained his alliance with Inner Circle and is not an island unto himself. Not everyone is a loner. I expect Guevara to beat Page and be featured well in the 10-man Tag at Full Gear. Recall that the Spanish God scored the deciding fall at Double or Nothing and I hope he does the same here. Perhaps that can be a catalyst for the return of the more natural, or least more familiar, arrogant heel persona of the guy who used to wear a Panda Head to the ring.
[Gareth] I like the booking of Ethan Page vs Sammy Guevara and would like to see Scorpio Sky challenge also after Full Gear perhaps. Guevara is going to be in the big 5v5 match at Full gear, so I guess I like that they’re not ignoring his championship. But it really felt like Guevara was finally getting somewhere on his own and now he’s been sucked back into the Jericho-sphere. Hopefully this whole feud ends up elevating Sammy, Sky and Page.
[Craig] Ethan Page would be a great TNT Champion, I’m sure, and it would make sense of all the time and effort has gone into the strange addition of him and Scorpio Sky to American Top Team. However, the time to break up the Inner Circle has passed. MJF and The Pinnacle could have used it to really set them up as the Big Bad in AEW, having Ethan Page be the man to break a piece off after that seems low rent. I’ve had enough of this feud and its idiotic heel-face dynamics and antiquated rhetoric.