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Elevated, to the Sky | AEWeekly #122

Welcome to the #AEWeekly review discussion where PWM contributors reflect on the highlights of the last week in AEW. The eligibility week always includes the most recent episode of Dynamite, but is more flexible in terms of Collision and Rampage, to account for busy folks not always being 100% caught up, so can include this week OR last week’s episode.

This week’s contributors are Tim [@TimmayMan]  covering match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering interview, Saul [@SaulKiloh] exploring a key story beat, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week, Sam P. [@BigBadaBruce] with Throwback of the week, and Joe [@GoodVsBadGuys] giving us the MVP of the week.

 A page of links to prior installments may be found here: #AEWeekly

Thunder Rosa X Deonna Purrazzo

"An Elevating Fight..."

by Tim.

This week’s match didn’t get the highest score on Cagematch, nor did it get the main event spot on the show.  Yet the No DQ match from Collision between Thunder Rosa and Deonna Purrazzo provided a boost to both competitors.  This comes at a good time as the AEW Women’s roster is the strongest it’s been in months.  Workers need to go above and beyond to stand out or they risk getting lost on the card.

Purrazzo was starting to get lost after her unsuccessful attempt at the AEW Women’s Championship.  This happens sometimes after title shots where the loser doesn’t have any angle to fall into.  Luckily for Purrazzo she turned heel on Rosa and had a nice little feud to work with.  As for Rosa, a short feud benefitted her as well as she’s a top talent in AEW and should be featured.  No better way to feature Rosa than a No DQ match, a stipulation that she’s very familiar with, having produced classics in the past (Britt Baker being a prime example).

Now this no-DQ felt more dialed down in intensity than others, we didn’t have any blood for one, but there was one spot that particularly deserves recognition.  Rosa had Purrazzo in the corner with a garbage can over her.  Rosa angles a table in the center of the ring and uses it as a ramp, launching herself into Purrazzo.  The most surprising element of this unique spot is the integrity of the table.  A few weeks ago we saw the announce table collapse after Sonjay Dutt looked at it.  Seeing Rosa place her first step on the ramped-up table my first thought was how this isn’t going to work.  We’re conditioned as fans to see tables break, to see one come out of a No DQ match intact is a fun novelty.

Purrazzo ended up the victor which sets her up as a solid heel in the AEW Women’s division, something that is lacking at the moment (aside from Statlander).  Meanwhile, Rosa as the plucky babyface gets to chase redemption wherever she moves on to. Both workers are in a better spot after the feud than when they started. 

Mark Briscoe

"A stick of Human Dynamite..."

by Sergei.

When it comes to wrestling characters and wrestling interviews, there are some guys who are really down-to-earth and realistic like Kyle O'Reilly, others who are "themself, but turned to 11" like Ricky Starks, and others who play a completely invented, over-the-top character like Orange Cassidy. But then there are those that may come across as a wild, off-the-wall invention, and yet, as far as anyone can tell, they are in fact just being their own crazy self. To this long list of mat madmen—such as Terry Funk, Randy Savage and Scott Steiner—add the name: Mark Briscoe.

On Dynamite this week, Renee Paquette conducted a group interview with Kyle O'Reilly, Orange Cassidy, and Mark Briscoe. Each man said his piece, but Briscoe stood out from the pack with his livewire energy and outrageous personality. ICYMI:

Renee, you talk about "last week"... that's things in the past! You're never gonna get where you're going by lookin' in the rear view mirror, you see what I'm sayin? 'Cause today is today and the word of the day is "conglomeration". And we got a conglomeration of dangerous individuals right here, and there are three men who are in dire straits this evenin', that's Roderick Strong, that's Kyle Fletcher, and that's KonoSUke TakeSHIta! We comin' for you boys!
I got Kyle O'Reilly here! What's he gonna do? Is he gonna snatch a leg off… Or is he gonna kick you in the face? YES! Yes: that's the answer, he's gonna do it all!
And I got the main man! …with the plan… with his hands… in his pocket! But watch y'jaw… cuz he's gonna rock it! OC, Orange Cassidy, baby!
We comin' for ya! You got three bad boys, and you got the most dangerous, unpredictable man in professional wrestling right here, and tonight you boys are in trouble and there ain't nothin' you can do! Well, there's one thing you can do, and that's get yo' ass whipped! It's goin' down in De Moines, Iowa, baby! [Briscoe barks… then screams!]

(I truly think that was the most demented sequence of words I've transcribed since Steiner Math!)

The best context to present a truly outrageous character like Mark Briscoe is with foils to play off of—for comparison and for reaction. Think of Randy Savage: no doubt he cut some awesome in-ring promos alone in the ring, talking directly to the people, but what do we remember him for? Stuff like the "Cream of the Crop" backstage interview where he had Gene Okerlund to play off of and to react to him. Similarly, it's the reactions on KOR's face—shifting from befuddlement to delight—that really make Briscoe's promo Wednesday night.

On Thursday nights, Mark Briscoe is the Champion of the World, but on a Wednesday he is a man trying to stand out among a truly deep and talented roster. His in-ring "redneck kung fu" is entertaining no doubt, but it's his genuinely unhinged mic persona where he really adds value. On Dynamite, Mark Briscoe is a stick of live human dynamite.

An Elite Announcement

"Boy, That Escalated Quickly..."

by Saul

The cart doesn’t come before the horse. The train doesn’t go before the tracks. Whatever third tired aphorism about things not being done right or in the wrong order.

The power hungry and ego-fuelled Elite was victorious in Anarchy in the Arena against a team composed of some of AEW’s best. As Nicholas Jackson pointed out in his promo, the faction is riding high. Bucks holding the tag gold, Okada being the Continental Champion while being a genuinely delightful heel presence, and Jack Perry having just pinned Bryan Danielson. 

But his promo continued. He went on to say that they still weren’t getting their due respect, and announced that they’re booking themselves into (intense promo voice) BLOOD AND GUTS!!!!!!

Ummmm, what? So forgive me here but this all feels just incredibly wrong. Blood and Guts is meant to be the most VIOLENT match in ALL OF WRESTLING (hope you read that in an intense promo voice). So, The Elite entering themselves into the match, basically for the clout, is just incredibly weak motivation wise. Like, I guess it fits them being driven by total ego, but that’s not enough for me, boss.

As heels, this should be something they have been forced to do. There aren't even any real opponents pushing back against them, just, like, some criticism from a couple wrestlers. It’s like a micromanaging boss wringing his whole staff a new one because he heard one employee make a slightly mean joke about his new moustache, except this hypothetical insecure manager isn’t volunteering to put hundreds of thumbtacks in his back.

I don’t think many people are surprised that this is the direction of this storyline. In fact, I’d think many have predicted it and a lot would’ve welcomed it, myself included. However, it feels like they’ve raced forward to this plot point without the necessary storytelling to justify it. 

Having The Elite being genuine menaces to the roster for months and months, abusing their power to their own ends, which forces opposing members of the roster to put their differences aside and team up for the greater good could’ve been compelling stuff. If you're going to have Christopher Daniels as a quasi-GM figure, he should risk his safety and use that power to force The Elite to compete in this match against their wishes. Instead, after The Elite was victorious against a team of AEW’s best in a violent and trademark match-type a couple of weeks ago, they announce that they’ll face another random assortment of AEW's best in a violent and trademark match-type, because it’s around the time of year that Blood & Guts usually happens.

I suspect the match will be great and may even hold some interesting storytelling moments. If Swerve is to eventually be on team AEW, I suspect we’ll see the return of a certain handsome cowboy, to either cost Strickland the match or to even join the men who ditched him just to spite the AEW World Champion. However, the fun spots and moments shouldn’t do anything to distract from the fact that the road taken to arrive there was a damp squib of storytelling.

MJF X Rush Brawl

"The Value of a Top-Tier Brawler..."

by Peter.

One of the many misconceptions of wrestling is that wrestling from Mexico is "flippy s***". Lucha has given us some of the great brawlers and brawls. If you take anything from this week's roundtable, it should be to watch MS-1 vs. Sangre Chicana from 23/9/83. And of the best Lucha brawlers in history, Rush is low-key a contender to be on the Lucha-brawlers Rushmore. We, the AEW fans, have seen it with our own eyes on Dynamite. The Moxley brawl on Valentine's Week in 2023 was an ode to brawling. Then there was Danielson with a crimson mask having to survive Rush on his road to Revolution, and of course the Jack Perry fight which—on historical rewatches—feels like the moment the boy became a man. Rush is maybe the best brawler in wrestling over the last 10 years and MJF knows it.

After Rush destroyed Deonn Rusman, the strains of MJF's theme sounded around the arena and MJF entered wearing the leather jacket which didn't stay on him for long. It was obvious that with his hands wrapped up in tape that Maxwell was looking for a fight. Max knew what was coming. He should know, considering he had hired Rush to fight Bryan Danielson to weaken him leading up to the Dragon's challenge for MJF's world title. 

Maybe it's because MJF deep down feels—after his injury layoff and after his World Title reign ended up with people desperate for others to "restore the feeling"—that he needs to prove himself again.  But with Rush setting out the challenge to MJF, it was the perfect time for Maxwell (considering the changing waters of All Elite Wrestling) to set his mark as the one of the AEW originals that can still make an impact, and—with an out-of-control brawl that also saw Christopher Daniels in his new role of authority figure struggle to restore calm—MJF took everything Rush had to dish out, and kept on going. And with the match set up for next week—a match that many had expected for Forbidden Door instead opening the go-home show for said PPV—it's going to be a perfect chance for MJF, (with all the new sharks in AEW,) to prove that his bite—that many felt was gone in the second half of 2023—is back.

More Tournament Matches

"It’s Tournament Time..."

by Sam P.

Last week, we began looking at some great tournament matches in AEW, specifically focusing on Tag Team and Trios matches. This week, we shall be looking at some classic singles tournament matches, but same as last week, we will not be including Finals. We begin back in 2020, where an AEW World Title Eliminator Tournament kicked off on the 21st October episode of Dynamite, with the match of the round featuring the brothers Penta El Zero M and Rey Fenix facing one another. The early part demonstrated respect between the two, shaking hands but relatively competitive, exchanging planchas and hard Superkicks. The competitiveness nearly descended into nastiness as Penta’s frustration led him to attempt his patented arm snap, only for a surprising act of mercy towards his injured younger brother. Fenix cheekily took advantage to hit a Canadian Destroyer to defeat his older brother, but left the match with a concussion. Because of this, Fenix would have to forfeit the next round and was replaced by Penta against tournament favourite, Kenny Omega.

Penta’s much more physical style meant he and a mocking Omega had a wondrous brawl, including shots from a nearby ice chest, Crossbodys off the apron, an attempted Superplex by Omega onto the ring steps and a chaotic Destroyer by Penta on the entrance ramp. Penta attempted to weaken Omega with a Double Corner Stomp and arm snap, and utilised his experience from previous fights with Omega to avoid the One Winged Angel as long as possible. Penta nearly won after a Top Rope Destroyer and a Package Piledriver, but Omega stayed alive, gradually breaking the Lucha Brother down with vicious V-Triggers, before finally hitting the One Winged Angel for the victory.

A year later, Bryan Danielson entered another AEW World Title Eliminator Tournament to challenge Dustin Rhodes in the First Round, kicking off the 23rd October 2021 episode of AEW Dynamite. A much simpler match than the previous mentions, Dustin portrayed an aged challenger utilising his experience, bouncing back from the Dragon’s initial control with an apron Senton and Superplex for a nearfall. Danielson grew nastier as he looked to submit Dustin with the LaBell Lock, stomping on the head but getting caught by a Spike Piledriver. Dustin’s fiery drive had him outsmarting Danielson, but his attempted Brainbuster was reversed into a Danielson Guillotine, with a resilient Rhodes eventually passing out. A classic old gunslinger going down fighting, Dustin demonstrated why he’s still an AEW favourite.

Six days later on AEW Rampage, Danielson entered the Semi-Finals to take on the student of Strong Style, Eddie Kingston. A bitter battle between two crowd favourites, the two warriors went for kicks and chops early on before the American Dragon began attacking the arm of his opponent. Kingston however utilised suplexes to battle back, even locking in a Dragon Sleeper. In the final third, slaps and strikes galore had both men reeling, only for Danielson to retaliate with a barrage of Hammer Elbows to Kingston’s head, and choked out Kingston with a Triangle Submission, a defiant Eddie passing out flipping his rival off. This was less a match and more a fight, tremendous chemistry and unquestionably intense, a hint towards future battles to come.

It turns out that there are so many great tournament matches that we are going to have to do something shocking: we are going to have to split into a third part! But before we do, we will jump to the 11th May 2022, where on an episode of AEW Dynamite, we had two excellent first round matches on the same night. The first was a technical style featuring two students of great 90’s wrestlers, Dax Harwood in the vein of Bret Hart (which was especially suited as a Quarter Final in the first ever Owen Hart Tournament) and a cocky Adam Cole evoking the original degenerated Shawn Michaels, even hinting at a Superkick ala Michaels and Cole winning through the Sharpshooter. In contrast, the main event had two daredevil fan favourites in an Anything Goes, the enigma of the 2000’s in Jeff Hardy against the half-dead underdog and original Four Pillar, Darby Allin. A wild car crash that included launching off the steel steps, a Somersault off a ladder onto chairs galore, painful Coffin Drops onto the apron, and a missed Swantom Bomb on the steel steps. In the end, Hardy’s experience won out, but the real winners that night were the fans. Join us next week for our final round of Tournament Matches!

Will Ospreay

"Elevating AEW..."

by Joe.

Will Ospreay (England) won the AEW International Championship on May 26, where he defeated Roderick Strong (USA) at Double Or Nothing - a match that received a 8.02/10 rating on CageMatch from 624 voters and a 4 & ¾* rating from Dave Meltzer, he has defended the title against Kyle O’Reilly (Canada) at Collision - a match that received a 8.13/10 from 203 voters and 4 & ¼* rating from Meltzer, and now Rey Fenix (Mexico) on Dynamite - a match that received a 7.88 rating from 237 voters, and a 4 & ½* rating from Meltzer. What Will Ospreay has done for the International Title - as you can tell from the (parentheses) here - is make this title feel truly INTERNATIONAL (although the booking credit should go to Tony Khan), and Will’s match quality has made it PRESTIGIOUS.

Will’s match with Rey Fenix was a microcosm of this overall trend, and even though it got the lowest rating of the trio on CageMatch, it got the highest rating from me, with a 9/10 score. Now, this sounds like I’m covering my old beat, match of the week, but this is just one aspect of Will’s value—the match quality. Will was once again the best striker in AEW this week, showcasing those incredible kicks, and was tied for the best aerialist with Rey Fenix. 

Now beyond the value of his match, let’s add to what happened before the match. We saw Will pulling off a new kind of low-on-energy high-on-humility promo that Will pulled off with Renee Paquette, where he put over Daniel Garcia, Rey Fenix, and Swerve Strickland as much or more than he put over himself. 

The value there goes beyond the promo itself, as Will was able to put over 3 programs that are currently running on his star power: 

  1. The International Title Reign

  2. Daniel Garcia’s Journey Up The Card

  3. The World Title Feud with Swerve Strickland

Then we have the added value that came after the match. With Will Ospreay using Swerve’s finisher to set up his own finisher, it gave a non-heel edge to Ospreay, and a reason for Swerve to increase his aggression. This choice from Ospreay kept his character as a babyface, and revealed that Swerve still has that heelish side to him. When Swerve threatened Will, Will was so humble and deferential that I was worried Swerve was dimming Will’s star power, but at the last moment, after being insulted by Swerve saying his shoulders can’t handle the weight of Two Titles, Will snatched the World Title while still holding the International Title. We have seen Will score big in promo and angle segments with his Big Bruv Energy, but the Renee Paquette interview and this post-match showdown showed that Will can make moves with much less hubris and hoopla. 

Will Ospreay is AEW’s Most Valuable Player because of his incredible range, and I’m not even talking about his long jump or his high jump. 


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