Hangman Heel Turn? Or Something far Better? | #AEWeekly Review 15
Welcome to the #AEWeekly review discussion where PWM contributors reflect on the highlights of the last week in AEW. The week runs Friday to Friday covering Rampage and Dynamite.
This week’s contributors are Joe [@GoodVsBadGuys] exploring match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promos, Gareth [@Gareth_EW] covering story beats, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week, Dan [@WrestlingRhymes] reflecting on the best move and Trish [@TrishSpeirs48] giving us the MVP of the week.
Match of the Week: Joe.
Owen Hart Memorial Tournament Qualifier: Dante Martin vs Rey Fenix.
It was pretty fitting that two wrestlers who are part of brother tag teams were competing to be a part of the Owen Hart tournament, and two men who are top level junior heavyweights, like Owen was. The tournament set the stage for these two babyfaces to face off with stakes on the line.
The match itself was good because of the creativity of the moves that created memorable moments, and the fast-paced effort that sent a message to viewers that you couldn’t look down at your phone for too long without possibly missing something special, even during the picture-in-picture break. I have missed seeing Fenix run the ropes, ON TOP of the ropes, like only he can.
The attempted backflip Russian leg sweep that led to a slow stare down was 90s action movie cheesy, but fun. The successfully landed springboard backflip forward Russian leg sweep (aka “The Stroke”), was inventive & will stay in my memory for a long time, which is an achievement for a move, and will probably be immortalised in GIF & clip form as well.
This was the best that Dante Martin has looked since the fall, and I think a fair amount of that credit should go to Rey Fenix, but also to Dante for being capable of rising to this level at such a young age. This was a fun clash that invoked the spirit of the WCW Cruiserweight division of the 90s, the TNA X-Division of the 2000s, and the worldwide independent scene of the 2010s.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
William Regal's Address.
Unquestionably, the promo of the week, and some might say an early candidate for promo of the year, is the amazing pre-tape from “The Road To Baltimore” YouTube show by Sir William Regal. (A shorter version was played on Dynamite, and while they did not ruin this one with cuts, the full-length version is worth your time. If you haven’t yet, treat yourself and give it a watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T40KPYM6DUQ )
There are many aspects that make this promo good: excellent filming, dramatic background music, Regal’s cool accent and voice and delivery. But all of that is surface. The heart of the promo is the words themselves and the concepts behind the words.
“It’s one thing to observe a tiger in a cage, it’s another thing to take that step forward and poke that tiger with a stick. But would you poke that tiger if there was no cage there? Would you even approach that tiger?”
These words are the beating heart of the Blackpool Combat Club. The enormous respect that Regal has for the viciousness and destructive ability of his men doesn’t just act to bring them up, it also puts over the praiseworthy bravery or insanity of every opponent with the willingness to step foot onto the canvas that is their killing floor.
Story Beat of the Week: Gareth.
Hangman Turns Heel?
When I saw the card for Dynamite this week, I knew we were going to get some interesting story developments. Because it wasn't a blow-away card, but AEW usually save these sort of cards for weeks when they have some interesting character or story developments.
And when AEW World Champion 'Hangman' Adam Page took to the mic, I knew something interesting was coming. Because Hangman and CM Punk are storytellers who have chosen the medium of pro-wrestling.
So, I knew that the face-off last week, which got criticism from some fans as "NXT booking" (setting a match up via a face-off rather than a story), I knew it had some meaning. And did we get a hint into what this week?
Hangman berated a CM Punk fan in the crowd in a way you would see from a heel, but also in a way which wasn't directly a heel turn. He wasn't rude and he wasn't suddenly changing his attitude. He is a fighting champion and he treats every challenge the same way. As someone trying to take something from him.
AEW know what they're doing. And Punk and Hangman *certainly* know what they're doing. They knew this would get a few boos and they're going to lean into those in the build to this feud, because they know what they can do in the match.
Now, I won't pretend to know what they're going to do in the match. But this tweet from CM Punk should be a hint. And maybe *that* face-off from last night wasn't simply a challenge, but potentially a hint of what is to come?
In short, Hangman is not turning heel and this promo from him was an excellent red herring. These two have the audience in the palm of their hand and are about to execute something special.
Moment of the Week: Peter.
William Regal's Stare.
The “Road to…” videos have become the template for how to build an episode of your television show or PPV and while the Dax/Cash video last week was a A+ piece of work, this week’s episode with William Regal’s voiceover on top of The Blackpool Combat Club training was a A* piece of work.
While Sergei will have the actual promo as his Promo of the Week, I want to point you to a particular moment in the video.
The timestamp is 3:26. For the previous 208 seconds we have heard Regal talk and seen Wheeler Yuta be tortured by his lordship and Mox and then we see Regal not in his suit that we have been accustomed to in the last two decades but a BCC hoodie (which I want to buy by the way) with Moxley and Danielson behind him in the gym that we have seen them train which looks like something out of a Eli Roth movie.
The next 16 seconds are terrifying, nightmare-inducing and iconic. I want to commission a canvas of a still from this moment and hang it up on my wall. All Mox and Danielson do while out of focus is look down the barrel of the camera. Regal initially looks lost in thought and then he looks and growls at the camera. It’s almost a metaphor for the last 8 months of Regal’s life. He is in his happy place now and it’s a place of violence.
Move of the Week: Dan. Spanish Leg Sweep?
Just from looking at the card for this week’s Dynamite it seemed more than likely that the Move of the Week would come from Fenix versus Dante Martin. Not only did the MOTW come from this match…so did every single potential candidate for the prize.
Picking the best move from this match is like picking your favourite Radiohead song (certainly very difficult for this humble writer) but when a manoeuvre happens that you’ve never seen before? That has to take the victory.
So this week the Move of the Week is…ummmm…the part Russian Leg Sweep, part Spanish Fly from the middle rope which I am officially now dubbing ‘The Spinning Holy F**K’.
The synchronisation between these two incredible wrestlers in this move was fantastic, and the athleticism of it all was obviously the thing that stands out the most.
But calm down all haters of ‘gymnastics’ because this move wasn’t just an example of aerial beauty. It really looked like Fenix hurt Dante, and that does have to remain the point of any wrestling move. In combining both the flamboyant grace and the pure unadulterated pain of it all, Fenix really made this epic move count, and Dante sold it like a champ.
Yes I could have gone for Dante’s gravity defying Tope Suicida, or that ludicrous Destroyer. Or for Fenix’s running top rope splash to the outside or even the cutter he hit after launching his opponent into the heavens.
And the absolutely superb thing about this match? They would all have been worthy winners.
MVP of the Week by Trish
Of all the recent ex-WWE employees to make their way to AEW, William Regal might just be both the most surprising as well as potentially one of the most important.
Since his arrival at Revolution (in one of the most memorable moments of the year so far) he has provided a captivating voice for the Blackpool Combat Club–one that can convey excitement, toughness and even cruelty in equal measure. This has helped to play a key part in the elevation of Wheeler Yuta and is reinforced because of the respect shown to him by former student Danielson, and former foe in Jon Moxley.
Furthermore, Regal has been a fantastic addition to commentary. From wanting Yuta to be thrown around by "big, hairy men" to proudly exclaiming this week how the BCC are a "bit of a YouTube sensation," his comedic timing and quick wit have been on full display. His way of breaking down matches whilst in the booth has also helped the trio to feel completely different from anything else currently on AEW television.
William Regal is the most impactful non-wrestling act to AEW Dynamite since Don Callis joined Kenny Omega at 'Winter is Coming' in December 2020. He is now a permanent highlight of the weekly shows and quite frankly; a source of great joy. Long may it continue.