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 Joe [@GoodVsBadGuys] exploring match of the week as well as the weekly MVP, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promos, Gareth [@Gareth_EW] covering story beats, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week and Dan [@WrestlingRhymes] reflecting on the best move.
Match of the Week: Joe.
AEW World Tag Team Title Eliminator Match: The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) © vs Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi).
There has been a lot of talk about who or what has been missing from AEW lately. Starting with injuries to every Summer of 2021 big name acquisition: CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole. Also missing: Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, Jungle Boy, and Santana. The AEW’s women’s division suffered losses of Leyla Hirsch, Red Velvet, and Skye Blue. Pandemic-Era contributors Darius Martin and Lee Johnson are on the shelf. You have the departures of Stu Grayson and Alan Angels from the Dark Order. Then, at the very core of what AEW was formed around and fueled by - The Elite - Kenny Omega has been out since last November, and Hangman Page’s removal from the title picture and main event scene was its own loss for many fans.
That’s why seeing the Young Bucks back with the tag team titles feels refreshingly familiar, the comfort food many early days AEW fans might be craving right about now. During their first tag team championship reign, the Young Bucks put out matches with a ridiculously high floor when it came to quality, they elevated their opponents, and they changed roles in terms of babyface and heel during the reign. This match against NJPW’s Bishamon gave me hope that we’re about to see that again in this reign. I have no investment in Bishamon as a team, and I had very little belief that they were going to defeat the Young Bucks. However, that didn’t prevent me from getting sucked in during the final stretch of the match that featured sequences from Nick Jackson that made better use of the 2-ring set-up than even the battle royal on the same episode. The Young Bucks have elevated Bishamon by showing the AEW audience they could hang with them, giving the rub to them and the NJPW tag team division, which will actually help the Bucks’ long-time rivals FTR. During that match, and their promo this week on Dynamite, you can feel the audience opening up to embracing the Bucks again (hopefully that will coincide with an embrace amongst the Bucks and Hangman Adam Page). A Bishamon match is not something I was ever longing for, but it was an entertaining bout that I would recommend to all AEW, NJPW, and tag team wrestling fans as being well worth your time.
Story Beat of the Week: Gareth.
Another Monster Called Brody
This week's AEW Dynamite emanated from the late, great Brodie Lee's hometown of Rochester, New York. So it was quite fitting that a monster called Brody fought Jon Moxley for the AEW Championship on this episode.
Both Brodie Lee and Brody King were inspired by Bruiser Brody and whilst all three have their distinctions that make them unique, they also have similarities that go beyond their name. Brody King and Brodie Lee both excel at facial expressions, and are both intimidating, yet athletic, monsters in the ring.
Brodie Lee burst on the scene with an impressive record before losing to Jon Moxley. And when he won the TNT Championship he did so in a truly shocking manner. By annihilating Cody Rhodes. I got similar vibes from Brody King's Royal Rampage victory.
Towards the end of the match Brody simply went on a 'rampage' (pardon the pun). Eliminating former AEW Champion Adam Page before rag-dolling Cody Rhodes' spiritual successor in AEW, Darby Allin. Choking Darby out and then dropping his unconscious body out of the ring was an imagine just as shocking, to me, as Brodie Lee holding the TNT over Cody's lifeless body.
Now, this was a very short story. "Build a monster to beat a monster." It's classic pro-wrestling booking and is really nothing remarkable when you write it down on paper. But it was performed so expertly, just like Brodie's TNT title win, that it really resonated with me.
And it left an image so striking that next time Brody King is platformed as a threat, people will remember. These really are the moments many people watch wrestling for. To be shocked, to be left in awe and, ultimately, to be invested enough to watch a match in the future. Brody King's Royal Rampage victory certainly achieved that.
Promo of the Week: Sergei
Matt Menard on Road To
I feel like I’ve said so often now something along the lines of: “I have some reservations about calling this the BEST promo of the week, but it’s definitely the most important, or the most thought provoking” that it’s become a bit of a cop out. But this week, I just don’t have another option. I have serious reservations about the high praise some are giving to the post-B&G-match promo given by a bloodied-but-unbowed Matt Menard. But there’s just no question that it was the mic-work most worth having a conversation about this week.
Menard usually does comedy, and he is fantastic at it. If nothing else, this promo shows unquestionably that the same weird accent and verbal tics work great in something dramatic as well.
Menard’s delivery was amazing, and most of the content was as well. I loved to hear about stuff that made his character more three-dimensional: explaining the reasons he is so unquestioningly loyal to Jericho, describing the sacrifices he’s made–missing his child’s first steps.
In the context of that, Menard says that he has no regrets regarding what he had just been through in the Blood & Guts match, and that’s where I part ways with Menard’s approach to this promo. It would be different if his demeanour and body language had put the lie to his words, but that didn’t come through to me.
There are lots of kinds of good guys in pro wrestling, and which kind they are facing should always inform how the antagonist interacts with them. If the protagonist is a Woobie that the audience feels protective of, the antagonist needs to threaten them. If the protagonist is honorable, the antagonist needs to cheat, or tempt the hero to cheat. But some protagonists, their whole deal is to terrify and terrorize the villain, And if you’re working with an Eddie Kingston on the warpath, we need to see some fear, or if you start with foolish bravado, we need to see that transform into regret that you ever messed with him.
That’s the one thing I feel like we didn’t get from Menard, that kept an excellent promo from being one of the greats.
Moment of the Week: Peter.
As you can see above our Promo of the Week was Matt Menard's just over 3 minute dialogue on AEW's Road to Dynamite episode on their YouTube channel.
While Sergei puts the merits and the weaknesses of that promo to us in his writing and while I don't wish to make this a debate between us because he makes some very good points in his analysis, my Moment of The Week which comes from said promo from Daddy Magic shows why its "weaknesses" are not all it seems
Long time readers of the Roundtable and this website will have gathered that my favourite character in AEW today is Eddie Kingston. His stories in the past 12 months have seen his side of that story completely understandable to us fans who might have been Eddie Kingston at one point in our lives. But the antagonists in these stories (the protagonist in their eyes) have their reasons for their actions and words.
When Matt talked about his reasons for tapping on top of the Blood and Guts cage, he talked about doing so because he knew it'd hurt Eddie, that it'd deny him his moment of glory and that it was Claudio that inadvertently cost him in the process extending the pain even more.
Matt's tears about having to miss his son's first steps so he could massacre himself in the cage and his words while in tears tell you a story. As a member of JAS he is under the leadership of Chris Jericho and which means more money and a more stable place in AEW which means he can provide long term for his family and when I say this I am talking about AEW Canon where Tony Khan is recognised as the owner of the company and people leaving the company is seen as Canon (see Christian's Marko comment a fortnight ago) so while his tears at the short term pain he'll have to suffer is evident he knows that in the long term that it'll work for him as the child that made his first steps on the 28th of June will have all the benefits growing up that Eddie Kingston the man Matt Menard and the rest of JAS the group set up to finish the King despise never had and by tapping out before his master he took just a tiny bit of Eddie's spirit and maybe even gave him extra credit in the eyes if his boss.
Did Matt Menard's promo make him more sympathetic in the eyes of some fans, those tears might be born from the most important thing in his and his faction. Notoriety and a better standard of living.
Move of the Week: Dan.
Very few, if any, of my Move of the Week entries have come from AEW Rampage. Whether that’s because the quality of the wrestling compared to Dynamite is weaker, or simply because the whole thing often feels like a complete B-show I’m not sure. Either way it takes something special to come out of that awful Friday time-slot to make me sit up and take notice.
Enter Brody King, a wrestler who although massively impressive both physically and athletically, hasn’t really had much of a chance to step out of Malakai Black’s spooky shadows to date. Put that lack of previous impact together with a new concept in the ‘Royal Rampage’ and this didn’t feel like it would be a big moment for Brody.
Yet having already eliminated former AEW Champion Hangman Page by clobbering him into the middle of about three weeks away, King then set his sights on Darby Allin. Clutching Darby around the neck and hoisting him up over the top rope like an angry gorilla playing with a gangly cat, it looked like the job was already done.
Though why would you simply push someone out of the ring when you could actually execute them…or at least come very very close. That seemed to be Brody’s mantra as he wrapped his colossal arms around Allin’s neck, cinched them in tight and then dangled his smaller foe over the edge of the apron as if he was about to Heidenreich him right into the crowd.
That wasn’t the endgame however as Darby, normally known for being incredibly tenacious and durable, went out like a light almost immediately. The gruesome task completed, Brody dumped his opponent to the floor like an empty bag of Wotsits.
Yes that aura around Brody King was pretty much snuffed out on Dynamite, but for a few haunting and terrifying days the House of Black member felt like a genuine threat to both Jon Moxley and the world at large. All because of this move.
MVP of the Week: Joe
In a Dynamite that was lacking in terms of long-term impact and consequence, there was one moment that felt very important, very consequential, and like it could have a very long-term impact. Wardlow’s Win.
After conquering MJF, many fans online or on podcasts expressed that MJF’s promo on the following Dynamite shifted the heat and interest and momentum right back to MJF and minimised the impact of Wardlow’s moment at Double or Nothing. On this Dynamite from Rochester, the coronation of Wardlow felt like a righting of the ship for Wardlow, and for the direction and legacy of the TNT Championship.
AEW has done a great job of building a monster babyface. I have not seen this pulled off so well since Goldberg’s rise in 1998. By making this match a street fight and allowing outside interference from American Top Team, Wardlow was allowed to stay overpowered while keeping the audience under the belief that he might not win. The confetti for his victory was a nice touch that made this moment feel important, and will add to the legacy of the moment when it is played back on future broadcasts.
After expressing his respect for the history of the TNT Championship, I believe that winning the title in former TNT Champion Brodie Lee’s home city carried extra emotional weight for Wardlow. Having Jon Moxley representing the World Title gives it prestige, but since this is his 2nd reign, it does not have that fresh feeling that Wardlow’s TNT reign will bring. That freshness for the future, mixed with that hope for a return to TNT Championship days past, is why Wardlow is so valuable to AEW right now.