Updated: Sep 10
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Hangman Adam Page vs. the Machine Brian Cage: the Rematch
This rematch is predicated on the Hangman's dissatisfaction—not just with having lost, but with how he lost to the Machine, due to a pre-match gang up—and using Cage's competitive spirit and pride to goad him into a rematch where he has agreed to no help from his team.
I usually point to offense style or offensive strategy to use numbers to reveal the underlying reasons behind how a matchup plays out. But in the case of Brian Cage, the most important number is match length. The average length of a Brian Cage win is under five minutes. The only time he's ever had a win go significantly over five minutes was in a nine minute-victory over Will Hobbs, before the Powerhouse joined him on Team Taz. Hobbs has something in common with Cage that none of his other opponents have: lots of muscle mass. Muscle mass is Cage's weapon, but the longer a match goes, the more it becomes a liability. Cage's coach knows this, and knows that the Hangman is too good to not weather the Machine's initial storm of offense—not without giving Cage a headstart.
This is what the numbers look like with Team Taz not letting Page get out of the blocks. Without this advantage does Brian Cage have a chance to overcome the Cowboy? In a word: no. Brian Cage's real enemy is lactic acid, and in the end, lactic acid wins.
The Hangman's story for months has been about how he has grown and learned from his past mistakes. His feud with Matt Hardy showed how he can use a manipulator's greed to turn the tables on their manipulations. This storyline shows how he can use a competitor's pride to counter strength in numbers. I won't belabor the point of who, exactly, all of this is meant to demonstrate that the Hangman is finally ready to face.
The Murderhawk Monster, Lance Archer challenges TNT Champion, Miro
This is our "big, meaty men slapping meat" match, and might well be the Platonic ideal of that type of match. Looking at their respective offense the two big men are not quite clones of each other:
Miro likes to use lots of painful holds, while Archer does not focus on that offense type. Archer leaves his feet from time to time, while Miro stays consistently grounded. But in substantial ways they are very similar: both mix devastating, powerful blows with intimidation and dirty tactics. They're both going to be in the unaccustomed situation facing someone on their own level in strength and size. If this were happening somewhere else you might suspect that there could be no conclusive winner. But this is AEW, and ultimately: one must fall. In a game of inches, I have to give the slight edge to Miro, owing only to the momentum and confidence boost of his recent, major title win.
AEW World Champion Hikaru Shida defends historic reign against greatest threat: Challenger Dr. Britt Baker, DMD
Hikaru Shida has cemented a legacy for herself as an AEW legend by holding the AEW World Championship for 372 days, by far the longest title reign in the young promotion's existence. 372 days so far, but 372 days exactly if her rival and challenger Britt Baker has her way. In many ways, the rivals' stats seem very similar, the primary difference being Shida's focus on powerful, clean strikes, where Baker focuses equally in her turn on foul blows.
However, that's looking at Baker's career as a whole. But Baker herself says that the Britt Baker that is coming for Shida's title tonight is a monster that Shida created herself, when she memorably broke the bad doctor's face in April of last year. So let's look instead at the difference between pre-injury and post-recovery Britt, to see what the Champion will truly be facing tonight:
Before Britt's long absence from competition, she was actually significantly more similar to Hikaru than today's version. Back then, she focused much more on strikes, almost as much so as the striking expert that broke her nose. Since her return—while her focus on technical wrestling and dirty tactics has remained consistent—she has completely flipped her focus from striking to grapples—suplexes, slams, and throws. It would not be a stretch to claim that her entire fighting strategy has been re-designed and tailored for a fated confrontation with Hikaru Shida—the competitor who had claimed the championship while Britt was sitting on the shelf that the new champ had just recently put her on.
This high stakes World Championship match is the third match of the night that is a high profile rematch. On Dynamite Friday night, Tony Schiavone pointed out how difficult it is to get a second win in a row over a top competitor, because losing is a learning experience. Riho, Brian Cage, and Hikaru Shida each face an uphill struggle to achieve that second victory tonight.