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Best Bout Machine Is Back, Baby! | AEWeekly Review #90

Welcome to the #AEWeekly review discussion where PWM contributors reflect on the highlights of the last week in AEW. The week runs Monday through Sunday covering the most recent Dynamite, Rampage, and Collision.

This week’s contributors are Joe [@GoodVsBadGuys] covering match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promos, Saul [@SaulKiloh] covering moment, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with story beat, and Gareth [@Gareth_EW] giving us the MVP of the week.

Match of the Week: Joe.

One-Winged Angel Blocks the Aussie Arrow … For Now

On last week’s Dynamite, we were able to witness Kenny Omega vs. Kyle Fletcher I. I put the number behind the match simply because it would be a shame if that was the last chance we got to see these two tango. This match was well-received by fans and critics alike, garnering the following ratings …

  • CageMatch Rating: 8.04/10 out of 229 votes

  • Meltzer Rating: 4.25 stars (Meltzer recently stated that “Zero means bad, 1 fair 2 okay 3 good 4 excellent. No upper limit because wrestling in theory will improve in time as people learn more, study more and become more athletic” ( 10/3/2023).

  • McCaffrey Rating: 8/10 = Great; would watch again.

Now why did we all think it was great / excellent, or better? Kyle Fletcher was showing off the raw athletic ceiling that is reminiscent of a young Eddie Guerrero, a young Will Ospreay, and a young Kenny Omega. Like all three of those sure-fire hall-of-famers, Kyle has the unique combination of being a skilled flyer, striker, and grappler. Someone who can hit you with a dive, a top rope move, a quick and powerful strike, or a brainbuster or driver. This versatility is not only exciting to watch in real time, but it creates extra suspense in every moment, not knowing what kind of offense could come next.

While the fans couldn’t be sure what was coming next, the wrestlers did, as their reversals revealed a respectful awareness of each other's move-sets and abilities. That awareness is a place where Omega has the edge. While Kyle has likely watched much more film on Omega than Omega has on Kyle, Omega has that 10,000 hours + experience and wisdom that keeps him mentally sharp at any moment. That wisdom gained through experience and observation is something that will eventually elevate Kyle to higher levels of expertise, but in this moment, he still stands in the towering shadow of the One-Winged Angel. That shadow isn’t cast from legacy alone, but also Omega’s current present day stature.

Omega isn’t as fast as he once was, but he’s still faster than most. He might not be as strong as he once was after all of his injuries, but he’s strong enough to lift and control his opponents. One spot where Omega seems to be as good as he ever was, and anyone ever has been, are his strikes. The precision, the impact, and the effectiveness are largely unmatched in wrestling today and in wrestling history as well.

Speaking of history, MJF provoked Omega by mentioning that he will soon be breaking his World Title reign record, and as we’ve covered here by talking about what Kenny can still do, that piece of trash talk might come back to leave a bad taste in the mouth of the poison-tongued Prince of Long Island.

Promo of the Week: Sergei.

What's the Word, Stinger?

Eddie Kingston is the coolest man on the AEW roster, and it's NOT close. This week he gave two brilliant promos— on Rampage demonstrating the power of dynamics by dropping to a whisper to deliver dire threats to Double-J, and on Collision using an awesome "our cruel mistress" metaphor while spattered with his own blood.

But I have to give the Duke for best promo this week to AEW's most uncool man, and I think Eddie would agree that he deserves it. If you were a teenager in the 90s and a fan of WCW, you might disagree with the idea that Sting is a deeply uncool human. After all, his Crow character is a brooding anti-hero in a trenchcoat! However, as soon as he opens up his mouth, he quickly demonstrates the cadence and bonhomie of a sincere and enthusiastic youth pastor.

And yet, we love him for it, and we can feel that he genuinely loves us.

Sting's promo tonight imparted massive news with historical significance for pro wrestling as a field. But that aspect is for Peter to cover in the "Moment" section. My commission is to characterize the promo qua promo.

Sometimes a performer will build intrigue by entering the stage with a closed box, raising a question in the audience's mind. Sting does this metaphorically by almost immediately asking the portentous question: "should I say the word?" but then ducking saying or even explaining the nature of this word while… reflecting- woolgathering about his storied past and all of the legends he's worked with, while the unresolved tension in that initial little question builds and builds.

As his speech gets to sound like more and more of a valedictory, which isn't normally what Sting is about at all, it becomes sadly apparent that "the" word can only be "retirement"- the last thing any wrestling fan would want to hear when the man is on one of the hottest runs of his career, and yet seemingly inevitable considering that the Icon has crossed his sixth decade!

As Sting sells his ambivalence by continuing to dance around coming out and saying "the word," the audience finally clues into what he's been driving at, breaking into a "you've still got it" chant apropos of only his obscure hints.

When Sting finally says the word, the crowd is awed into a hush. They are experiencing a moment in history. Sting then sandwiches some good and bad news: we still have a few months before his final match…. But unlike his previous "retirement," this time it IS "for sure."

After Revolution rolls around in March, we'll all be missing Sting's unique presence and style in the ring, but I assert that his absence will be felt on the microphone, as well. And that's because of his unmatched ability to reflect back to the crowd their own love and enthusiasm and energy.

Story Beat of the Week: Peter.

Circling the Champ’s Tower

A phrase that is older than a side headlock that has been used by many in wrestling is "the champion is the one with the bullseye on his chest" and MJF has been wearing that target for nearly a year but as that landmark is nearer in Maxwell's sight, this past Wednesday saw the roster starting to circle MJF and Triple B.

One in that circle is in the shape of Wardlow who hasn't forgotten the way they were treated by Max when they were under their employment. One in that circle is in the shape of Kenny Omega who has had bad things happen to him in the past six months. Some in the circle may not be what they seem with questions still arising about who were the people that attacked Jay White a few weeks back.

Some in the circle are bad people who have said bad things that have got the AEW fan base wishing that their scumbag will commit heinous things on Juice Robinson. One in that circle is in the shape of Samoa Joe who wants another shot at MJF who has reloaded his arsenal and with lessons learnt from his defeat in Arthur Ashe on his mind is looking for one more crack at the World Title.

As MJF looks from above as those who want "Pretty Platinum" are circling, wanting to take the tower, MJF sees the sins from his past with the monster he created with his name written on his wrist. He also sees monsters he vanquished in NY but also the monsters in his past that made his life a misery. But also the monster within still remains, he couldn't help but be that scumbag that had to remind Kenny Omega that he was 13 days from breaking his record of longest reigning champion, he couldn't help but call Kenny a bitch. He also couldn't help but call Hangman Page a bitch on twitter the other day.

As Maxwell sees the roster with their mission clear and their sights set on him and Triple B, that target on his body looks more clear and more accessible than before. MJF is going to Collision for the second time this coming Saturday. He's making himself accessible for whoever wants to take the tower. Has MJF, with the goading of The Elite, his ahead of schedule defense of his Dynamite Ring and the increased schedule finally become a fighting champion? OK, probably not but with the love of the AEW fanbase also matched with the hate from a percentage of the AEW locker room, MJF is going to be a very busy man before the year is out.

Moment of the Week: Saul.

Love Stings

“My very first match with AEW was Revolution 2021 and my very last match will be Revolution 2024!” - Sting

Despite the bags under my eyes, the persistent pain in my knees and my extremely faded perspective, I’m relatively young. The first I saw of the man they call Sting was his WWE run in 2014-15, and the less said about that the better.

His debut in AEW felt like an event. However, I must admit that I was very skeptical. What was he actually going to do? Surely he isn’t going to wrestle?? Well, past self, your doubt was for nought.

Sting has jumped off on balconies, competed in multiple hardcore matches and wrestled at one of the highest attended PPVs in wrestling history. It’s been a truly bonkers run.

Most importantly of all, he’s given back to the next generation. His on-screen association with Darby Allin helped propel his starpower tenfold, and gave us some truly special moments. Whether or not he’s teaming with Darby or potentially facing him in his last match, their farewell is sure to spark some emotions.

Wrestling retirements are as reliable as news stories on Facebook. However, it does seem like we could be witnessing the end of The Icon. And if that’s the case, I just wanted to express my gratitude on his way out.

Thank you Sting.

MVP of the Week: Gareth.

Omega Returns to Form

As often is the case there were a few good candidates for MVP this week. MJF had a light shone on him as various different opponents and storyline possibilities appeared his way on Dynamite. Danielson kept doing his thing with a brilliant match against Andrade on Collision.

But your MVP this week is Kenny Omega. One of those directions teased for MJF was what I believe to be the first proper interaction between MJF and Omega on AEW TV ever. A truly dream match for any die hard AEW fan, and likely some of the more "casual" audience too.

Along with this came the tease from Kenny that he's "back". Suggesting he was targeting the world title and would go on a series of matches trying to earn a shot. Now I don't know about you, but a motivated Kenny Omega who is dialled in is the greatest wrestler of all time. And the tease for that Kenny returning was by far the most exciting thing on this show.

Omega also had a brilliant match with Kyle Fletcher to kick off this teased "winning streak." Which just further solidifies his MVP status for this week. AEW already has Danielson and MJF in generational form. If Kenny really can deliver on his promise, then AEW could be about to explode into another seriously hot streak that has been lacking since Brawl Out, if not before even.


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