Hello and welcome to the #AEWeekly Roundtable Discussion where ProWrestlingMusings contributors share their thoughts on the major talking points arising from the last week of AEW programming.
1) Cody Rhodes defeated Andrade El Ídolo in the Dynamite main event. What did you make of the match and how it plays into Cody’s character arc?
[Jae] Imagine an onion—or grab one if you really like visual metaphors. The outer layer is Cody’s overarching storyline going back two-plus years. The consistency and development are remarkable, and I am confident it is leading somewhere great. It is a pretty onion, one worth buying.
Going inward is the current storyline involving Malakai, Andrade, and PAC. At first, when it was just he and Malakai, I liked it. Then it kept going with Andrade and PAC added. This is perplexing to me; what the heck kind of onion is this?
Then at the onion’s core is the current iteration of Cody: the guy who “built the bank” but gets no respect, the hero who did nothing different other than some ra-ra patriotism and sport a long, ridiculous cape. I love this. This is a beautiful onion after all.
[Andy] As Street fights go it certainly didn’t disappoint. There is a level of match we have become accustomed to on Dynamite but when they do these plunder brawls, each one feels special and unique – the flaming table spot is sure to be one that lives in people’s minds for a long time.
In terms of Cody’s character arc, we’ll he is John Cena. Mixed reactions, playing a baby face regardless and claiming he will never turn...despite showing heeling tendencies. I honestly don’t know what the end goal is and that is what makes it so intriguing. My guess is that he is giving the fans everything they ask for and is still getting booed – which will lead to him eventually snapping.
[Peter] Turns out just like me, Cody really has a need for people to like him. Unlike Cody, I’m probably not going to hurl myself through a burning table because last time I checked, fire isn’t really a safe worker.
The match itself was your normal “plunder” match. Enjoyable but hides the qualities of a great brawler. Where this goes, who knows. I’d like to think that Brandi’s appearance at the end is the start of a character shift to Cody. Brandi is a very underrated heel manager/valet.
Yes, we’re talking about a Cody heel turn that might never happen but what does Cody do for the next few years of his career. Two of his three most interesting stories in AEW have involved titles when he chased the AEW World Title and when he was TNT Champion and with those chapters closed off permanently, Cody has personal feuds left which have been very hit and miss in the past year.
Could Brandi be the devil on Cody’s shoulder going forward and could that shape the future of The Nightmare Family? Time will tell. But my faith in this is certainly simmering as the weeks go on.
[Brian] Yes, that’s it! Brandi as the Devil but at first Cody doesn’t see it... or does he? Just like Fox Mulder, I want to believe only in this case I sincerely hope that Mr. Runnels’ self-awareness is not an alien concept. The match was comparatively overbooked but admittedly I only feel that way in critical hindsight. I was with it most of the way watching it for the first time so it’s mixed emotions for sure, which consistent for nearly every Cody match since his return from his most recent hiatus.
[Gareth] I see the potential for all spoken above. It's just I am losing faith week upon week. What Cody's doing just doesn't seem to be interesting most people and a story isn't good if it isn't engaging.
Was Cody burning more than his back? Is he burning Andrade's, Malakai Black's and his own hype? Only time will tell I guess, I'm 50-50 on it.
2) CM Punk overcame Lee Moriarty in what MJF on commentary described as “sad”, before Punk and Maxwell went back-and-forth on the stick. What did you make of this and are you a fan of their feud thus far?
[Jae] I assumed, based on MJF’s framing, that he is going to wrestle Moriarty and try to beat Punk’s time or something. As I write this, there has been no announcement to that effect. If that happens, I really like it. I am a fan of the feud overall, although I want to make sure Eddie Kingston gets a story out of this as well. There’s so much left after Full Gear, and I hope that is not lost. I do find myself wondering if Punk and Kingston continuing to feud would have been the better play since the story only started right before the PPV.
[Andy] I think the most infuriating thing is that MJF has a point. Should Punk be giving so much offence to the likes of QT Marshall, Daniel Garcia and Lee Moriarty? The match itself was good. Not great, just good but no doubt a great learning experience for one of AEW’s hottest young prospects.
The feud is an excellent one and dare I say MJF should be the one to five Punk his first taste of defeat in AEW. The promos are predictably excellent and seeing Punk go through Wardlow (who I think is the next next big thing) and maybe the rest of the Pinnacle will provide plenty of quality TV over the coming weeks.
[Peter] I’ve enjoyed the first three weeks of the feud between MJF and Punk. Two of the best talkers of modern time lived up to their billing last week in their eagerly awaited verbal clash but eventually they're going to have to touch but there can be plenty to do in the meantime.
After MJF’s mention of the Dynamite Dozen Battle Royale, surely two things have to happen. 1) He’s getting booed like crazy in his hometown and 2) He’s eliminated before the final two and that Punk has something to do with it.
As for the Punk/Moriarty match, my excitement levels were way too high for this. One of my favourites of all time against the most exciting young wrestler that I’ve enjoyed in the last five years. It was always going to end up like that movie you go and see after the trailer got you all excited but wasn’t the masterpiece you wanted it to be (I’m looking at you Sin City). It was good but it was going to have to be a 5-star classic to live up to my own personal hype. Got to say though Punk showed some hustle to get Moriarty onto his shoulder from the Dragon Sleeper position.
[Brian] I’ve enjoyed this to date. I’m here for the interpromotional callbacks and sense I’m being spoken to more directly than usual. That being said, I hope this feud avoids the similar path we’ve already seen twice before with Cody and, most recently, Jericho. I’m referring to the series of obstacles in general and Wardlow in particular. I also would like to see Punk cost MJF the Battle Royale or, failing that, the expected follow up 1-on-1 encounter at Winter is Coming for the ring itself. Recall that Maxwell is already a two-time winner and, though he hasn’t held an official championship, the ring has been a prominent part of his character since late 2019 and even moreso for the last 12+ months. I think before we get the coveted Punk vs MJF match in the ring, the Four Pillar-spokesman will lose the coveted ring once and fall.
3) Kris Statlander vs. Ruby Soho in the TBS Championship Tournament was most people’s match of the night, with Ruby Soho winning to go on to face Nyla Rose in the semi-final. Do you agree with that assessment and who do you think becomes the first champion now that we have the semi-finals confirmed?
[Jae] Great match. I, like most everyone, figured that Ruby Soho would win. I was personally hoping for Statlander. I like Soho a lot - who doesn’t? - But I am a particularly huge Statlander fan. It would not have hurt Soho in my opinion, and it is good to have modest upsets once in awhile. Statlander is a pillar of the women’s division, and it is clear Soho is in front of her in the pecking order, so to speak. If I were booking things, I would reverse that. I assume that Ruby Soho will be the first TBS champion.
[Andy] It was definitely a tremendous match. My opinion of Statlander has grown massively since her return from injury and Soho (as we know) can go. I think this will be a future PPV title match somewhere down the line.
Out of the four women remaining, the sensible pick would be Ruby defeating Jade for a big babyface reaction in the main event on the first show on TBS. Thunder Rosa should be taking the main title off Baker at Revolution and Nyla Rose, whilst being a solid competitor, doesn’t feel hot enough for a title run right now.
[Peter] It was a really good with a nice finish. Kris Statlander’s best match since returning from her knee injury.
Considering I predicted Ruby Soho to win the tournament when it kicked off, I’m not changing course now. Rosa is surely primed for Britt Baker and her World Championship and while Nyla is great and Cargill has tons of potential, I think they will go for Ruby to win it so she can go for the open challenge/great match format that we saw from Cody’s run with the TNT Title. Also, it can give us more opportunities to hear Taz give his rendition of Ruby Soho by Rancid.
[Gareth] Definitely my match of the night for Dynamite. The result is how I predicted but I’d have been happy with either winning. I am hoping Ruby Soho wins the TBS Championship.
[Brian] Bell to bell match of the night even with the expected result despite Statlander being the only ranked competitor who received a Bye to lose. I think this, like many things was very deliberate to establish her underdog status.
Further, I see Cargill defeating Rosa as she has bigger fish to fry once the year turns over and she goes after the DMD where she can take the Women’s World Championship off of Dr. Britt Baker. As well, you don’t end an undefeated streak in a Semi Final match; everyone knows that.
4) Sammy Guevara retained his TNT Championship on Rampage against Tony Nese. What did you make of the match, Nese’s TV debut and Sammy Guevara’s title reign thus far?
[Andy] Let's get this said first - Tony Nese is a great worker and any match he in is likely to have a high quality...though the AEW roster has a lot of people this can be said about and is perhaps starting to feel a little bloated now.
Sammy is a fantastic in ring performer who has clearly benefited from the experience around him in the Inner Circle. Even so, there seems to be something not clicking about this title reign. Perhaps that is down to there being little realistic prospect of his opponents winning. TNT champions usually have around 9 defences before losing the title so the longer the reign goes, the more the jeopardy will build.
[Gareth] I really enjoyed the match and it sold me on Tony Nese becoming All Elite. He won’t be a huge star, but he’ll have great matches, has credibility to his name so when he loses it should mean something.
I’ve loved Sammy’s reign from an in-ring perspective. However, he just doesn’t feel like a champion in the way Cody or Miro did. The Inner Circle vs American Top Team feud contributed to this. Hopefully from now on he can focus on himself and show some initiative, rather than feeling so passive.
[Brian] The match, similar to the ones with Fish and Lethal, are each great In a vacuum. Each brought credibility and athleticism but I never once doubted the result or blinked for the false finishes. Undoubtedly I’m a little jaded but I liked Nese’s look and demeanour and think these two could tie up again down the line for a second go around.
My issue with Sammy’s reign is the lack of a definitive identity to this reign thus far. It seems to be a hodgepodge of elements from Cody (Open Challenges) and Darby (taking on lower-to-mid tier wrestlers) but the lack of a personal feud or grudge is starting to wear on me. Hope this challengers for the first of the quarterly specials, Battle of the Belts in January on – wait for it – TNT!
[Sam] When Sammy first won the TNT Championship from Miro, I remember being surprised as it didn’t seem his time, and as good as his matches have been, part of me still feels uncertain he needs the title. I have a theory that Sammy may end up being slightly transitional, and his biggest moment will be when he loses the championship, most likely at Battle of the Belts.
[Jae] The match was great, the reign has been good—but a TNT title reign should be excellent.
5) How did you feel about AEW overall this week? Is there anything in else you’d like to spotlight?
[Gareth] It was a decent, but not great, Dynamite and an entertaining episode Rampage for this week. Overall, fairly standard by AEW standards. Very little, if anything, that I’ll remember for a long time. A week to keep things ticking over. But I’m loving the Punk/MJF stuff and Bryan/Hangman also. More positives than negatives, but a bit of a messy week regardless.
[Brian] I think it was a lot of good but it’s hard to imagine there will be much, aside from the flaming table of course, that will stick with me long term. In a weird way it was kind of peaceful. On the Metrics side, I actually got to a point of relaxing for a bit... at least until I realized they were doing Dark Tapings at Universal Studios again this weekend. Oh good, only 48 more matches to log.
[Jae] I want more from Santana and Ortiz. I am hopeful something big and dramatic happens with them soon. Maybe the Kingston/Jericho tease leads to something. Maybe Santana or Ortiz challenges Sammy. Maybe they just give a promo about focusing on the tag titles. Just something.