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 and the best move, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week and Trish [@TrishSpeirs48] giving us the MVP of the week.
Match of the Week: Joe.
FTR vs The Young Bucks.
From the jump, the crowd support behind FTR and against The Young Bucks, in AEW of all places, gave this a very special feel. The data collected here on PW Musings shows that FTR’s slow burn face turn has become almost fully formed, with them committing ZERO fouls in this match compared to 11 from the Bucks. There were big moves a plenty, with 46 strikedowns, 26 grapples, and 6 dives, to get the crowd excited and reacting throughout (most of) the match.
While this match was not as perfect as the Briscoes match, because it did not include the same focus on the friendship and compassion dynamics of the FTR boys being truly concerned for each other’s well-being, plus the Bucks threw in a lot of basic small offense during the Picture-In-Picture break (evidenced by their 81 total strikes, compared to only 26 strikedowns), and a heat spot on/against Cash that was prolonged a bit long for my taste that led to it being a little one-sided and lop-sided (there were 4 tag blocks from the Bucks in this match that cut off FTR momentum and they had 57% of the total offense). This led to a really good hot tag - but it would have required an incredibly prolonged and aggressive slingshot/boomerang return to cancel it out completely.
However, on the upside, it made Cash look incredibly resilient, it positioned FTR as honorable underdogs, and it solidified them as the best and hottest tag team in the world today, who now have the full force of fan support behind them for the first time ever. What is truly great about this match is that if you knew nothing of the history or characters going into it, it’s still a banger, and if you’ve been paying attention, this was an important stage of story and character development.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
I feel like I’ve jinxed AEW’s promos by taking on this gig: once again it was tough to pick a stand-out promo for the week. But one exchange on the microphone stood out this week, even if it might not’ve in a more promo-intense week: the exchange between the Adams regarding Page giving Cole a shot at his World Heavyweight Championship next Friday.
Page showed his fire in a promo that leaned on his cowboy character by proposing a Texas Death Match stipulation for the next time the show rolls into Texas. Cole did one of the most difficult and important things that a heel can do for a babyface in a promo exchange like this:he showed fear!
Story Beat of the Week: Gareth.
After Christian's loss to Adam Cole earlier in the night, he accompanied his protégés Jurassic Express for a backstage interview. However, as he went to speak he couldn't muster any words and simply threw his bottle of water at the wall and walked off in frustration.
Jurassic Express continued their backstage promo and the detail was largely glossed over, but that's just why this is perfect. If they'd made a big deal about this, it wouldn't have resonated. It's not meant to be a huge deal right now. But this action from Christian has been put in there to sow the seeds of a heel turn down the line.
Fantasy booking time: I hope we get this turn before Double or Nothing. Have Jurassic Express lose the tag team titles soon. Maybe to reDRagon next week, or perhaps on TV to current number one contenders FTR who are on somewhat of a belt collector mission as well as the best run of their career.
This would open up for the possibility of Jungle Boy vs. Christian Cage exactly a year on from Jungle Boy's victory in the Casino Battle Royale at Double or Nothing last year. A battle royale in which JB eliminated Christian to win, where their alliance first begun out of a place of respect and mentorship.
Moment of the Week: Peter.
So, who had FTR being the faces in the first FTR vs Young Bucks match in front of fans when the seeds for this rivalry were sown in the days when FTR were in Orlando and The Bucks were tearing it up in ROH and Japan in a time when Tony Khan was only known as the GM of Fulham FC?
But when Dax got the hot tag and went wild on Matt and Nick and the crowd were going ballistic, it just felt right. It was a product of how good FTR are and the AEW fanbase knowing it, how good The Young Bucks are as heels and how well Dax and Cash have been portrayed in the last few weeks in their business with MJF (also some love for Cash’s ability in “playing Ricky Morton”).
In a match where there were so many great moments (an honourable mention for FTR’s stereo slingshot powerbomb/tombstone and especially Dax catching Nick for the powerbomb which led to the Buck’s demise) watching Dax play a wonderful fiery babyface brought joy to the heart of this cynical Brummie.
Move of the Week: Gareth.
Dax's Powerbomb & Cash's Tombstone.
There were various great moves this week from Keith lee pouncing Powerhouse Hobbs through a wall and Jeff Hardy doing a Swanton Bomb off a ladder through a set of tables. However, as great as these moves were, both were too contrived to really resonate to the desired effect.
However, as The Young Bucks set up for a Meltzer Driver on Cash Wheeler, Dax Harwood slid in the ring and caught Nick Jackson mid-450 whilst Cash reversed the hold Matt Jackson had him in. FTR then hit a simultaneous powerbomb and tombstone piledriver on each of the Young Bucks shortly before setting up the finish.
It was a beautiful moment of teamwork and much preferred to the typical breaking up on the move or the pin fall. A snapshot into the sort of form FTR are on right now.
MVP's of the Week: Trish.
FTR's first run with the AEW Tag Team Championships happened in a tough spot; occurring between the two strongest title runs in company history and whilst they were still finding themselves as performers outside of the WWE environment.
Fast forward a further 15 months and not only have they found their feet in AEW but they've managed to seamlessly transfer from heels to babyfaces in the space of 8 weeks, all the while delivering a number of stand out performances in tag matches with Punk and Moxley, the Briscoes and now in their second meeting with the Young Bucks.
To deliver two absolutely classic matchups in the space of six days, with the additional pressure of being a centre point for both shows, makes them the no question choice for MVP's of the week on this occasion.
The AEW tag division has felt secondary at times in recent months, often restricted to Rampage and without story. A rejuvenated FTR, led by a great talker in Dax and strongly supported in ring by Cash, will help to revitalise the division as we move into the summer of 2022.