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Friendship Betrayed? | AEWeekly #113

Welcome to the #AEWeekly review discussion where PWM contributors reflect on the highlights of the last week in AEW. The eligibility week ends with the most recent episode of Dynamite. so it covers last week's Rampage and then the most recent episodes of Collision and Dynamite.

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

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

Adam Copeland X Matt Cardona

"An Efficient Surprise Classic..."

by Joe.

Adam Copeland vs Matt Cardona is the match of the week because it was surprising, it felt special, and it was efficient.

Now, part of why Copeland vs Cardona delivered for me is because of the expectation vs reality ratio. For something like a WrestleMania or All In or especially a Wrestle Kingdom main event, your expectation should be a minimum of an 8, happy to have a 9, and a 10 seems within reach. For a regular opening match on AEW Collision, which is free TV wrestling on Saturday night for an audience that is half of Dynamite, the expectation set is much different, and that is leverage that Collision’s creative team should use to its advantage to take more chances. With Collision, I am expecting a bare minimum of a 5/10, I’m expecting a 6/10, and I’d be happy with a 7/10. Let’s look at that expectation of a 6, versus how people felt about it:

On CageMatch, Adam Copeland vs. Matt Cardona has a 7.49/10 rating based on 162 reviews, with 11 people rating it as high as 9 out of 10, 78 rating it as high as 8/10 (myself included), 56 rating it as 7/10, 15 at 6/10, and 2 going as low as 5/10. The Wrestling Observer scored it at 3.75 stars, which equates to a 7.5/10. 

As you can see, I came in ready for a 5, expecting a 6, and walking away with an 8, and it took less than 15 minutes, which is awesome! (More on that later).

So, the quality was surprising, but that’s not where the surprise ended. The biggest surprise was that Cardona was in AEW! Cardona had not been in AEW since the pandemic era in Jacksonville in 2020, and had more recently been rumored to be appearing at WWE shows rather than AEW. So not only was there no expectation of a great match, but there was no expectation of Matt Cardona. Pleasant surprises are starting to stack up here. However, any wrestler not on AEW or ROH’s MASSIVE roster pool would have been a surprise, but having it be someone of both Cardona’s popularity and with this much history with Copeland were additional pleasant surprises! What else was surprising here was that this AEW crowd was well aware of who Cardona was, and what his relationship with Copeland was. It’s been nearly 2 decades since these stars were closely linked, and it was in another promotion, so that cannot be taken for granted. The fans realized this wasn’t just a surprise, this was a special relationship and therefore a special match.

So as I just alluded to, this match was special - partly because of their pre-existing relationship, but it was also special because of Cardona’s ring gear, and the attitude of the performers.Cardona came out in ring gear seemingly inspired by Copeland’s WrestleMania 22 match and feud with Mick Foley. Then you had the attitude the wrestlers approached the match with. Instead of just locking up, or rushing into punches, they stopped and soaked it in, giving the audience a chance to express their excitement, which helped to give it a special feel.

Lastly, this match was efficient! This match reached that level of a great TV match in 13 minutes and 32 seconds of bell time, something I will always be appreciative of. A match should last long enough to achieve its desired goals, and no longer than that, so that you can spend more time featuring other stories and characters on a previously referenced overstuffed roster. This is not only generous to the rest of the roster in terms of allowing more TV time, but also in terms of warming up the audience with the first match, yet not leaving them drained to the point where you would dread following them. This created a fun and positive base of energy that FTR and The Infantry benefited from. 

Willow Nightingale

"Mother-fluffin’ Great!"

by Sergei.

My favorite interview from AEW this past week was from the inimitably cheerful Willow Nightingale. She starts out by going after babyface appeal, first with cute minced swears, proclaiming how she’s feeling “motherfluffing” great, and then with the cheapest of pops, naming the town and asking how they are doing, which gets a predictable roar of agreement. But she immediately takes that cheap pop somewhere deeper by talking about her deep history with the town of Worcester predating AEW. ICYMI:

Y’know I really, really love this city, because for years and years I was bustin’ my butt in this town. I packed myself into a car, I’d drive up and down the Merritt Parkway… and we would wrestle across this town at a little place called the White Eagle. [huge pop] And, obviously it sounds very special to you guys, it’s very special to a lot of wrestlers, y’know, so many of us have left our sweat on the canvas, we’ve had great nights there.
But, to me, this is really like a home away from home. This is where I learned who “Willow Nightingale" is. This is where I figured out who I am, y’know? And every time I questioned: “does a girl like me belong in wrestling?” Every time I wondered… [building roar] … Yeah, see? This! This is it! Every time I wondered if a weird, quirky, “unconventional,” chubby, curly-haired freak like me, if I belonged, if I could make it in wrestling, your cheers reassured me.
This applause? This applause is what helped water me, and made me blossom into the woman standing in front of you guys today. This woman, who is going to be challenging Julia Hart at Dynasty for the TBS Championship! You have ALL made me so confident… I am so confident from your love and support that I KNOW I am going to be the smiling face of TBS!

This was a perfect example of using one’s insecurities and imperfections to create a bond of identification between performer and audience, and then tying that bond of “love and support” to one's confidence and success. This was basically a perfect babyface promo, and it elicited the intended response: a groundswell of emotional support.

One thing that’s great about a promo like this is that a reference like “the White Eagle” can mean something very clear and specific to the fans in the know: the locals and folks who followed Willow’s career before AEW. Whereas, to the rest of us watching at home, it’s just a bit of mysterious lore—but it works either way. For those who, like myself, were NOT in the know, the White Eagle is a nightclub/event hall that’s been the primary home of the local indie promotion Beyond Wrestling since 2018. Until her AEW debut in 2022, Nightingale was a regular fixture of the shows there, including doing color commentary for the first Wrestling Open.

It’s definitely an interesting choice for Willow to give such a perfect babyface interview about her “home away from home” only to be potentially upstaged by one of the biggest stars in the promotion, only an hour on the I-90 from her actual home of Boston, and still benefiting from debut-pop. Mercedes Moné goes on to express her own interest in becoming the face of TBS, and declaring dibs on the winner at the next PPV after Willow faces Julia at Dynasty. There are lots of directions they could go with Willow vs Mercedes: they could do something with shades of gray where nobody really turns, or they could turn Willow heel, as seemingly hinted by the steel-chair tease the prior week. But I suspect it's just a matter of time before Moné wears out that initial welcome and begins to show her true colors. And if we are meant to switch our perspective on Mercedes so quickly, Willow may be the perfect protagonist for comparison’s sake—Moné is every bit the opposite of all of those traits that Willow was once self-conscious about: neither quirky, unconventional, nor curly-haired. The Double or Nothing match may just end up being a quick revenge for Nightingale’s fluke win over Moné in NJPW Strong. But it could just as easily turn into a career-defining feud for both women.

Trent Berretta

"I Just Don't Like Ya No More..."

by Saul

What should be your life’s main pursuit?

Best Friends have been a part of AEW since the beginning. They’ve provided many great moments (such as the lauded parking lot fight against PnP), been reliable with in-ring action and brought joy with their loving showcases of friendship. However, despite being AEW originals, and having multiple championship matches, Trent and Sexy Chuckie T have never held gold in the promotion…

Orange Cassidy, on the other hand, has been one of the breakout stars of AEW. In spite of many people having reservations, and labelling him as a “gimmick”, OC has proven every doubter wrong with his excellent work and enduring popularity. He’s achieved more than most would have ever expected: having been in programs for the world title, feuding against some of the best wrestlers in the world, and having won the International Championship twice. All this success creates a large shadow, with the Best Friends often coming across as back-up for Orange, rather than being on a path to their own success. Perhaps there’s only so long that someone can shun the spotlight.

When Trent and OC lost to the Young Bucks in the semi-finals of the tag title tourney, it seemed one too many disappointments for Trent to handle. He had shown disgruntlement in the past, but that happens in most friendships, and they had always been able to settle their differences and hug it out. Maybe it was just the frustration of falling short of tag team glory yet again. Maybe it was seeing his Orange Cassidy in front of him, who had been able to achieve a much higher level of success. Whatever it was, Trent didn’t want to hug it out, as he decked his “friend” in a seemingly decisive action. Something needed to change, Trent was no longer satisfied with just being the best friend.

As wrestling fans, we’ve all been privy to tag team break ups. Many of them have been cautionary tales, with former members getting lost in the shuffle as singles stars, or just not being as interesting as they had been when in a team. That’s why, while this development is intriguing, the next steps of this story are crucial. What direction will they go? Chuckie T seemed shocked by Trent’s actions, but will he side with Trent and turn heel? Less Sisterhood of the Travelling Wrestlers, more Mean Boys?

You should pursue whatever you think will bring you happiness, right? Or maybe it should be legacy? Whatever Trent’s specific motivation is, it seems he’s made his choice. Only time will tell if it’s the right one.

Tony Khan

"How to cause chaos on a Saturday Night..."

by Peter.

For this week's Moment, I'm going to let you into my Sunday morning. I wake up and get out of bed, (at the third attempt,) make myself breakfast, and look at my phone to scroll through the results of Night 1 of WrestleMania. After raising an eyebrow that Cody Rhodes got pinned clean by The Rock, I went on Twitter to see people either freaking out or laughing at those events, and that’s when I came upon this:

Now with Matthew and Nicholas, you know that they like to troll, that they are organisers of mischief, and with the build-up of Bucks/FTR IV at Dynasty starting after FTR won their semi-final match of the AEW tag tourney late Saturday night, memories of the third match of their rivalry at All In will be back to the forefront, along with the events backstage, given that talk about “the Thriller in Gorilla" has reignited because Punk is always Punk. This, at first sight, felt like another moment of mischief by The Young Bucks. But then Dave Meltzer and Sean Ross Sapp claimed that the announcement is a shoot: that AEW will actually show the footage of CM Punk and Jack Perry's incident on Dynamite.

The reaction has been mixed. People whose opinion I respect have said this is a bad idea, others whose opinion I also respect have pointed out that after a week of WWE, through various orifices, taking shots at AEW, this is just an act of self-defense. For some it's just the actions of a jilted lover post Punk's interview with Ariel Helwani, but for me, the truth is I'm shocked that it's taken this long for the footage to come out.

With CCTV cameras situated in the tunnel of Wembley Stadium where the Gorilla Position was that night, (at the behest of the stadiums owners, so that for example, the Football Association in the hypothetical case that say Erling Haaland and Cole Palmer were to get into a fight during the semi-final of the FA Cup and they needed to investigate the incident,) the footage of Punk/Perry has always been there. Also add the rumors of additional cameras documenting the incident, footage of the Incident has been waiting to escape. Whether it should be shown on AEW television, or it should have been leaked to the likes of Meltzer or SRS, is a debate that will continue until Wednesday and beyond… (we might have a frontrunner for next week's Moment!)

But what is indisputable is that, the morning after Dwayne Johnson's first match in 11 years, (I'm not counting the Erik Rowan debacle,) on WrestleMania weekend, which has felt like the most mainstream-media-pushed Mania in a long time, the most talked-about company in wrestling was All Elite Wrestling. 

So maybe there is a method to the madness in what Tony Khan is doing. Whether or not it's an act of self-defence, or (metaphorically) the actions of a lovestruck teenager coping with their first love slagging him off to one of his enemies, a lot of eyeballs are going to be on Dynamite come Wednesday. after a couple of weeks of rating that could have been better to put it politely. I mean… you're going to watch Dynamite, aren't you?

Throwback of the Week

Trent Berretta

"Giving the people what they want?"

by Sam P.

While there were some excellent matches this last week, such as Komander against Penta or Will Ospreay against Powerhouse Hobbs, the moment that everyone reacted to was the moment where after losing to the Young Bucks in the Tag Team Semi-Final, Trent turned on his Best-Friends partner, Orange Cassidy. Having been hinted at since Trent’s return back in December 2021, a growing viciousness and seeming bitterness, has left Trent more frustrated than ever at his lack of success.

Looking back at Trent’s career, since joining AEW, he has had nineteen(!) title attempts, whether for the AEW World Tag Team Titles (lost to Kenny Omega & ‘Hangman’ Adam Page and FTR), ROH Television Title (lost to Samoa Joe), ROH World Tag Team Titles (lost to FTR and Aussie Open), IWGP Tag Team Titles (lost to FTR and Aussie Open), AEW World Trios Title (lost to Death Triangle twice and House of Black twice), AEW All-Atlantic / International Title (lost to PAC once and Orange Cassidy twice), NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Titles (lost to Motor City Machine Guns), NJPW Never Openweight Title (lost to Shingo Takagi), ROH Pure Title (lost to Katsuyori Shibata), AEW TNT Title (lost to Christian Cage), and the AEW Continental Title / NJPW Strong Openweight Title / ROH World Title (lost to Eddie Kingston). Despite being an AEW original, Trent unfortunately has never been successful at any challenge for a title, even in the ongoing AEW Tag-Team Tournament, when partnered with Orange Cassidy, arguably the most successful singles champion in AEW history.

To some degree, Trent snapping could make sense in retrospect, and the reaction of Chuckie Taylor (less surprised and more seemingly resigned that it came to this) could hint that Chuck has been expecting this to happen. Trent’s mum Sue was confused, and Kris Statlander was infuriated, although a quiet word from Trent seemed to leave her shaken. Right now, Trent has turned his back on Cassidy, and it’s uncertain whether he might also turn his back on the entirety of Best Friends, breaking out as a singles wrestler. This may surprise some fans, considering Trent has mostly performed either as a tag team or trio with some combination of Chuck Taylor, Rocky Romero or Orange Cassidy, which is why for this week’s Throwback, I’d like to highlight some great singles matches from Trent’s history.

The most recent is the aforementioned match against Eddie Kingston for the AEW Continental Title, NJPW Strong Openweight Title and ROH World Title, which occurred beginning of this year on 6th January on AEW Collision. Trent won a Four-Way for the chance against Eddie in his first triple title defense since AEW World’s End. The two men had previously teamed together in the Stadium Stampede at AEW All In. Trent’s battle for the title included being busted open after chops to the face, and a Saito Suplex on the floor. Despite the crimson mask, Trent got a great nearfall after a Gotch-style Piledriver, but eventually an Emerald Flowsion took him down.

Four months before that, on the 2nd August edition of AEW Dynamite (the 200th episode), Trent fought fellow AEW originals Penta El Zero Miedo and Jon Moxley (give or take a few months) in an Anything-Goes Three-Way, featuring trash cans, 2x4s, barbed wire, tables and thumbtacks. Trent personally was again busted open by barb wire, and received an Avalanche Destroyer from Pentagon through another table, but also superplexed Jon Moxley through two tables, and hit a vicious Knee Strike on Moxley to get a pinfall victory over Penta. A great brawl that is draped in history from the previous two hundred Dynamite episodes.

Back in 2022, Battle of the Belts IV had one of the strongest matches in Battle of the Belts history, up there with Cassidy’s All-Atlantic title defense against Kip Sabian, Big Bill & Ricky Starks’ Street Fight with Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara, and with Claudio Castagnoli’s ROH World Title defense against Konosuke Takeshita. Trent faced the AEW All-Atlantic champion PAC in his sixth defense on his 103rd day as champion, in a fast paced and hard hitting encounter that had PAC retreating several times as Trent got several nearfalls. It would take an Avalanche Brainbuster, a second Brainbuster through a table, a Brutalizer and a shot with a hammer for PAC to survive.

And finally, we roll back four years to 2020, the 1st April and only the 26th edition of AEW Dynamite, in the midst of the pandemic with no fans in attendance, where Trent took on one half of the AEW Tag Team Champions, Kenny Omega. A hidden gem of a match that had nearly twenty minutes of action, Trent faced one of the best wrestlers in the world and elevated his performance, looking like an equal in a dramatic encounter that was aggressive, passionate and enthralling. If Trent does end up transitioning into a singles run, the previous four matches demonstrate that he is more than up to the challenge.

Trent Berretta

"Beretta pulls the trigger..."

by Gareth

The main talking point coming out of AEW Dynamite was almost certainly the breakup of Best Friends as Trent Beretta hit a running knee on his long-time friend Orange Cassidy.


What made this heel turn so fantastic is that it was both shocking in the moment and also not a shock at all. Trent has been acting slightly off for almost a year now. Deliberately so. It was very obvious they were building something like this and just saving it for the perfect time.


This is exciting for fans who have been with AEW since day one especially. Trent has always been somewhat of an unsung hero in the company, putting on great matches in the singles, tag and trios divisions, and being involved in some all-time great AEW moments such as the Parking Lot Brawl against Santana & Ortiz.


However, there was always this feeling that he could be doing more. Many people have speculated over Trent, and his tag partner Chuck Taylor, turning heel given how well they have performed those roles in the past. Although even if that isn’t the direction for them to turn as a team, Trent is an exceptional, hard-hitting singles wrestler and I would argue his style suits being a heel more.


Whatever direction they go in, one thing is for sure is that this will be one of the more compelling stories in AEW over the next few months and a lot of that goes down to Trent’s brilliant and underrated ability to convey how his character is feeling and what he’s thinking.


This has the potential to be a real career high with the perfect babyface on the other side of the ring in Orange Cassidy. Expect violence, a lot of it as Cassidy, Trent and Chuck all thrive in that environment. However, below all that will be a story with potential to really resonate and hit home particularly with the core audience. A perfect recipe for upper-midcard madness.


You can go to the LinkSearch tab to find a link to video of each segement that led to an award in #AEWeekly history and to the article where we talk about it...

Just use the drop-down menus to choose the date and category, and the tool will tell you who the awardee and writer were and give you links to the article and to a video.

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