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 & MVP, Saul [@SaulKiloh] exploring a key story beat, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week.
Match of the Week: Joe.
Quadruple Mega Star Match for the Triple AAA Mega Title
This was a pretty perfect Rampage Main Event. A testament to its quality was a crowd that had sat through a Dynamite taping and a Rampage taping, still chanting “Fight Forever” for this bout at the end of the night. I have attended many AEW shows, and the end of a Rampage taping rarely gets a chant implying that anyone wants their Wednesday night to go on any longer.
What made this match great was the high flying, the power moves, the suspense from the risks required to pull the moves off, the chemistry and timing between these wrestlers, and the fact that they tried to play each other’s game before returning to their own.
Early on, you saw Black Taurus, known for being more of a Cruiserweight Colossus rather than a Featherweight Flyer, hit a spectacular spinning dive to the outside, that connected with an impact that you don’t get from many dives. It was a typical cruiserweight move, but Black Taurus used his size to put his own spin on it, literally.
Then, you have the diminutive dynamo known as El Hijo del Vikingo, and this Hijo showed that he could be a padre some day because he also possesses some serious dad-strength, a point proven with a in impressive slam of Taurus on the hard floor at ringside.
After sampling each other’s signature styles, they continued to take it to the ropes in the case of Vikingo, or the sky in the case of Vikingo’s body after it was hurled by Taurus. There were several clip-worthy highspots all throughout the match, and the risk involved in even attempting to hit these moves created a sense of suspense. Now, not all of these moves landed perfectly clean, the way they would in a video game, but that almost made them more memorable and unique, and they still connected in a way that was believable. What was unbelievable, and garnered likely the largest reaction, was Black Taurus standing on top of the top turnbuckle with Vikingo pressed above his head, and slamming him down to the mat. In that moment, Vikingo became “El hombre que la gravedad recordó” (the man that gravity remembered). Gravity—and when I say gravity I mean the scientific force rather than the luchador—isn’t the only one that will remember Vikingo, or this match. For me: 4 stars, 8/10, meaning it was great and I would not only recommend that you watch it, but I would watch it again.
AEW has pivoted to a rebrand of Rampage as their lucha-centric show, giving fans like me a reason to actually check it out. It’s hurting my weekly free time, but helping reinvigorate my wrestling fandom.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
King of the Bums
One of the most dramatic stories in sports is a comeback from early losses in a series making every match or game in the latter half do-or-die for the sentimental darkhorse, while other competitors have more leeway. Eddie Kingston has been in win-or-go-home mode since losing his first two matches in the Continental Classic, leading to lots of suspense and drama. Earlier in the night, Danielson only managed a draw in his Blue League match, but he had that leeway, that one point was enough to guarantee his slot in the finals. This was not the case for Kingston; he had to beat Andrade outright. When he got that win, it was such an amazing feel-good moment, but Danielson immediately came out to trample on it. Danielson, the man that Kingston has never beaten, the man that Kingston says judges him, the man that pulled an “Eddie is a Bum” sign from the crowd and laid it on his opponent when they last faced a few weeks ago, that was the Danielson who would be Kingston’s final obstacle to reach the finals at World’s End, and the man who couldn’t let a moment of triumph breathe.
When the feed cut at the moment the two men faced off, I hurled many expletives at my screen! Thankfully, it wasn’t long before the post-show footage made its way around social media:
In many ways this wasn’t Eddie’s best work. He is a man with virtuoso-level ability with his words and with his voice. This promo was brief and to the point, and at first seemed merely functional, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was a promo that changes everything for Eddie Kingston’s character, and that there is more meat on this under-a-minute speech than many a 20-minute special.
Eddie Kingston calls himself “the King of the Underdogs” and that isn’t new, he’s called himself that before. But he goes on to say that he is “the King of the Lowest of the Low” and “King of the Bums”, and that changes everything. Calling oneself King of the Underdogs evokes sentimental favorites who finally turned around a losing streak when their backs were against the wall, and that’s cool and all. But if you google “King of the Lowest of the Low” what comes up is sermons. As a devout Catholic, Kingston likely didn’t intend a Christ reference there, and might think the suggestion blasphemous, but taking up the banner for the meek and for the “least of these” is one heck of a babyface move.
But even moreso, calling himself “King of the Bums” means owning an insult that clearly stung only a couple weeks earlier, and transforming a slur into an identity. And a powerful identity: a man who knows that any deprecation means nothing compared to the challenges and demons he’s already had to face, a man who is proud to represent for every “bum,” for everyone who’s failed over and over again, but keeps getting back up. Basically, Eddie is “Rocky” and it’s amazing!
Story Beat of the Week: Saul.
A “Meaningless” Victory
In my previous piece, I was effusive in my praise for Daniel Garcia’s storyline in the C². Using failure effectively in wrestling has a tricky history, but bah gawd they’ve done it brilliantly here. This week there was nothing on the line when DG faced Brody King in his final match of the tournament. Well, nothing but pride.
Classic wrestling psychology. Put a big boy against a much smaller boy. It’s worked since the genesis of professional wrestling, it worked in Rocky IV (and basically every single other sports movie) and it still works to this very goddamn day. There’s almost nothing as reliable as an underdog story told well. Weaving in the terrible form of Garcia in the tournament so far only elevated this classic dynamic and paved the way for a memorable contest.
Daddy Magic brought the passion from the commentary desk. The crowd got behind the young wrestler as he gradually wore down Mike "The Rock" Davis (shout out to you if you catch this reference). The match was formatted well, with both men playing their roles perfectly. Sometimes, wrestling storytelling can just be that simple.
Despite still coming last in his group, Garcia can walk out with his head held high. Maybe the real treasure was the personal development he had along the way….
While this piece is mostly to praise the story of Danny Boy, it also represents the great booking of the C² as a whole. The competitors may have not been quite what everyone was hoping for (get better soon Kenny) and I’ve seen some backlash for the triple threat situation.
However, over the company’s short history, AEW have had their fair share of tourneys and I believe the C² is head and shoulders above the rest. Each wrestler had a compelling ongoing narrative, the in-ring action was consistently great, and they effectively used the format of the tournament to create tension in every matchup. Of course, I can’t overlook the fantastic promo work from everyone involved, which has given Sergei boundless options for promo of the week and elevated the stakes of every result.
I can’t wait for the conclusions of the groups and the resulting ULTIMATE final at World’s End. And while the triple crown championship prize for the tournament is rather confusing and I’m not sure how it’ll work, if they can repeat a similar level of quality for next year’s C², it’ll be the equivalent of a nice wrestling Christmas present!
Happy holidays wrestle-peeps!
Moment of the Week: Peter.
Danielson Turns his back on a Face Off
So, the group finalists are set and while a dissection of the Gold League triple threat final is better off done on another platform (trust me, it’s a 1,000 words coming from me in that one) the Blue League saw a more traditional conclusion from the Saturday League and for the comments you can make about the booking of the tournament itself (My opinion that Garcia shock victory should have been against Jay White to prevent him progressing in the tournament is a hill that I will die on for eternity) the Blue final feels right.
Eddie Kingston got his momentum going after a slow start. Having to wrestle elimination matches in the final two Collisions of the group stage of The C2, Eddie’s victory saw him qualify for the knockout stages with a familiar foe in the shape of Bryan Danielson.
The obligatory face off between the League Finalists saw Danielson not understand the assignment. Almost as soon as he came face-to-face with Eddie, Bryan turned his back on his foe, such is the contempt he has for Kingston. The 7th ever ROH Champion treated Eddie as the man he beat in the semi-finals of the AEW Eliminator Tournament, the man who couldn’t beat his demon two weeks later at Full Gear 2021. The contempt Bryan held for Eddie in that moment shows a man who thinks in a business where levels are more obvious than other sports that Eddie is the Accrington Stanley to his Manchester City.
With his 48 seconds with a mic in his hand, Eddie Kingston talked about being the King of the Underdogs. WIth his 12 seconds with a mic in his hand, Bryan Danielson pointed out he was undefeated against Eddie and he called Eddie a bum.
Words that were meant to wound, words that were meant to mess with Eddie’s head. 26 months ago, it would have worked. It did work for Eddie Kingston’s opponent at Full Gear 2021 when his words wounded and messed with Eddie but in the final week of 2023, Eddie looked and felt like a different man.
The man who talked about being a underdog with more pride than ever before wasn’t fazed because in the 26 months since he was called a bum in such a high-profile setting, Eddie Kingston finally won the big one, he beat another demon he feared he was never going to have a chance to deal with again, becoming the 32nd ROH World Champion and doing so in his home city. You can’t accuse Eddie of being a choke-artist anymore after Grand Slam.
In a year where underdogs wrote their story with a happy ending from the Detroit Lions winning the NFC North to Marketa Vondrousova winning Wimbledon, Eddie Kingston looks like a man who is wearing his underdog tag with pride and looks like a man who can erase the L he suffered 26 months ago because Kingston looks like an Eddie we’ve never seen before.
Laughing in the face of Danielson when the word bum was said to his face, Eddie has the aura of a man who now knows he can climb another Everest on Dynamite this Wednesday.
Would you bet against Eddie Kingston?
MVP of the Week: Sergei.
San Antonio Collision Hard-cam crowd
Twas the night before the night before Christmas and the last three matches to determine the finals of the Blue League had a lot of room for different sorts of dramatic kick-outs: Danielson surviving his way to a time limit, Garcia playing David & Goliath, and Kingston refusing to die after all he’s put into this tournament. So it was the perfect night for a sea of seasonally-colored “2” signs in the crowd to pump up the drama of those kick-outs.
We often talk about how important the fans are to the success and to the atmosphere of All-Elite Wrestling, but maybe not enough. Every week crowd interactions add to the fun and to the story of AEW. And the shouts and sign-lifts accompanying each dramatic kick-out Saturday night were a great example of this!