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Isn't It Time? | AEWeekly #115


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 Joe [@GoodVsBadGuys] covering match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promos, Saul [@SaulKiloh] exploring a key story beat, our guest Greyson [@GreysonNationwith 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



Ospreay X Castagnoli


"Excellence of Execution..."


by Joe.



Ospreay vs Claudio was an excellent version of predetermined pro wrestling as an athletic sporting event worthy of an Olympics spot. Longtime fans would not be surprised by any of the feats we witnessed, but what was still impressive was the excellence of the execution, the flow between the moves, and the counters that didn’t lead to just blocked moves, but linked into more exciting moves. Also, the way they kicked the pacing and urgency into an extra gear after you’d think they maxed out is worthy of praise. Not much more needs to be said about this one!




Jon Moxley


"How deep can you dig?..."


by Sergei.


There were several excellent interviews this past week, but two of the very best were from the returning (bedecked in IWGP gold) Jon Moxley. And the most noteworthy of those was a fired-up, classic live in-ring promo on Dynamite. ICYMI:



Mox starts out taking a page from Willow Nightingale’s promo of the week a couple weeks ago by calling back to his roots in the city back in his indie days. (Indy indie days, in this case.) Since he is here to talk about his recent title win, he mentions that he won one of his first championships in a much smaller venue right there in Indianapolis. (For those who may be curious, he won the IPW Mid-American title from Billy Roc. He lost it back to Roc in an Iron-Man match about three months later.) Moxley goes on to say that he never had “the wind to his back” in his pro wrestling career:


A lot of people tried to tell me what I can and can’t do, what I can and can’t accomplish, well my message for them is the same now as it was twenty years ago: kiss my ass, and WATCH ME! Watch me. Watch me as I climb mountain after mountain after mountain. Because being great… being great is not about what other people say, it’s about what’s in here.
Now, if you didn’t know, this is the IWGP Championship. [“You Deserve It” chant breaks out] This championship is steeped in history, it is illustrious to the extreme, and I have been chasing it for five years. Five years of pain and heartache, of wins and losses, pints of sweat and blood, thousands and thousands of miles back and forth across the ocean, I’ve been chasing it. Five years ago a lot of people said me holding this championship—especially holding this championship live on Dynamite—was impossible. It wasn’t impossible. Not if they knew what was in here, not if they knew what was inside me.
Because that is what this is all about. When your back is against the wall, how deep can you dig? When you feel like you’ve got nothing left, when you’re choking on your own blood, how deep are you willing to dig, how far are you willing to go? Are you willing to dare to be great, to prove the doubters wrong, to show the world? THAT’S what AEW is all about! [AEW Chant breaks out]

This was some “hyping you to run through a wall” material, and Moxley delivers it with all of the fire warranted. That alchemy of material and delivery is what makes pro-wrestling promos a beloved art form of their own.





Awardee


"The time has come?..."


by Saul


As of writing, we are mere hours away from AEW Dynasty, the main event of which could be a massive event. 


In what has been an interesting PPV cycle, no qualms have been made at the main event program, as Swerve Strickland faces off against Samoa Joe, once again hoping to claim the glory of world championship gold.


The feud has been a simple one, with the competitors trash talking. Joe calling Swerve a choke artist. Swerve promising that Joe’s time is up, and he will take the belt home with him.


After having feud of the year, and delivering consistently, Swerve has accrued a major amount of support. It feels like a title change could be imminent, as having Swerve lose multiple championship matches in such quick succession could quell his momentum severely. While Joe has been unsurprisingly great as champ, it seems like they should strike while the iron is hot.


Will Prince Nana be doing a celebratory cha-cha, or a sad sombre shuffle? We won’t have to wait long to find out…




Ruby Soho & Angelo Parker


"Angelo Parker Finds His New Purpose..."


by Greyson.


One of the principles that makes pro wrestling unique from all other combat sports is that it is, at its core, about fighting with purpose. As I have said before, it is not merely “fighting for fighting’s sake.” It is about the story behind the match as much as it is about the physical ability and skill of the athletes in the ring. In a segment on this week’s Rampage, Cool Hand Angelo Parker explained his objective when he started out in wrestling, a very simple, but strong one: to make his father proud. And even though his father has since passed, he believes he has fulfilled that. But with everything that has happened between the end of the Jericho Appreciation Society and the tribulations he has had in his relationship with Ruby Soho as of late, he said he felt like he didn’t have much to fight for, and was seemingly about to announce his retirement, until Ruby suddenly came out. She tearfully said that it broke her heart to hear Angelo say “you have nothing to fight for,” then announced to Angelo, in front of the fans, she was pregnant, explained that she “didn’t know how to tell” him, and that is why she “just disappeared.” As Ruby’s explanations seemed to fizzle out with worry about how Angleo would take the news, he interrupted her with a sudden kiss and then the delighted question: “I’m gonna be a dad?” Then Angelo embraced Ruby and said “I love you,” and Ruby replied “I love you too.” 


In that moment of finding out Ruby was pregnant and he would soon become a father himself, Angelo regained his purpose and their relationship seemingly mended. Just as Ruby said, he now has “something very important to fight for,” to be a great example to a child that one day will strive to make him proud, just as he wanted to make his father proud. And in that brief but very heartwarming segment, Angelo and Ruby managed to rise above the noise that often goes around in the world of wrestling and recenter our attention on what really matters, both in wrestling and in life. Congratulations to Ruby Soho and Angelo Parker, and I hope they have a happy, healthy baby.






Claudio Castagnoli


"The Swiss Superman..."


by Sam P.


My expectation for the week is a strong focus on the match between Will Ospreay and Claudio Castagnoli, due to the great chemistry between the two and the continued impressive showings from the English-born star. With Ospreay cementing himself even more as a megastar on a week-by-week basis, especially in the lead-up to his dream match with Bryan Danielson at AEW Dynasty, it can be easy to forget about his opponent in Claudio. But having debuted 22 months ago at AEW Forbidden Door, Castagnoli has proven he is just as valuable a performer for both ROH and AEW, whether during his two successful reigns as Ring of Honor World Champion, or his impressive work alongside the aforementioned Danielson, Jon Moxley and Wheeler Yuta as an integral part of the Blackpool Combat Club.


With that in mind, I wanted to take the time to highlight some of Claudio’s best outings for both companies, primarily as a singles wrestler. We have to begin with his debut match in AEW, back in 2022 where Claudio replaced an injured Danielson at the AEW / NJPW Forbidden Door PPV, taking on the technical master Zack Sabre Jr. Claudio blasted out of the gate with a vicious Uppercut and Neutralizer combo, instantly putting ZSJR on the back foot and leaving him struggling throughout, combining his unnatural strength, deceptive speed and technical capability to counter all of Sabre’s offense. The sight of Claudio walking up the steel steps carrying Sabre above his head was an image difficult to forget. One of the best matches on the night, Claudio was quickly awarded with a title shot for the ROH World Title, defeating Jonathan Gresham and going on to face Konosuke Takeshita at Battle of the Belts III on the 6th August.


A true throwback to the main event classics of ROH events during the 00’s, this featured two crowd favorites determined to prove themselves the better wrestler. Both men’s speed and agility came into play, as early on Claudio hit a Monkey Flip and Takeshita replied with a middle-rope Hurricarana, following up with a flip dive to the outside to wipe out the champion. This transitioned into a more physically demanding battle as the challenger hit the Big Boot and Blue Thunder Bomb for a close nearfall, and another close nearfall after a Running Knee and Brainbuster. The champion would have to dig deep and hit a flow of big moves with a Death Valley Driver, the Hammer and Anvils, and the dreaded Ricola Bomb to put away his biggest challenge, and in the process achieving the best match in Battle of the Belts history.


There is of course the excellent series of matches with his forever rival in Eddie Kingston, whether at Supercard of Honor 2023 where Claudio barely survived with the ROH World Title, or at the emotionally fulfilling victory by Eddie on 20th September at AEW Dynamite - Grand Slam 2023. But there’s another hidden gem between that period, on the 10th May 2023 edition of AEW Dynamite where Claudio and Rey Fenix squared off in the ultra-rare Double Jeopardy match, where if Fenix won he could challenge for Claudio’s World Title, or if Claudio won the Blackpool Combat Club could challenge the Lucha Brothers for the ROH Tag Team Titles. Reminiscent of his classics with Sami Zayn in NXT, Fenix began with suicide dives and a Springboard Hurricarana to have the Swiss Superman scrambling, but one hard hit and Claudio was back in control. Unfortunately, every time Claudio tried to utilize his strength (suplex on the steel steps, middle rope gorilla press), Fenix used his agility to hit Springboard Hurricaranas off both the barricades and the top rope. It would take several hits against a barricade, an Angle Slam, and the dreaded Ricola Bomb, for the World Champion to win.


But since December 2023, Claudio has demonstrated his specialty as a tag team partner in a series of matches against FTR, beginning back at ROH Final Battle where the Blackpool Combat Club (Danielson, Moxley & Claudio) battled FTR & Mark Briscoe in a vicious, violent Fight Without Honor in memory of the beloved late Jay Briscoe. But it’s at last month’s PPV, AEW Revolution 2023, where Claudio and Moxley defeated FTR in a tag team classic, suggesting that Claudio and Moxley may be on the hunt for more gold in their future, but this time as a formidable tag team. What we can guarantee is that Claudio has plenty of classics in his future, and has demonstrated what a talent he can be when given the opportunity.






Adam Copeland


"Cope fills a certain void..."


by Gareth


During his multi-month feud with Christian Cage, many people didn’t really feel like Adam Copeland was quite “all elite” yet. The work he was doing was WWE-fantasy booking from years ago and whilst it was great, it wasn’t quite the manifesto he delivered when he first signed.

 

Now there was nothing wrong with doing it that way. Copeland and Cage did great work together and told a good story. However, now he feels special in a different way.

 

To see him interacting with Willow Nightingale, Eddie Kingston, Mark Briscoe, amongst others, is something you can’t have imagined before he signed. It’s not even something you necessarily know that you want but when we’ve seen it, there’s a certain novelty that’s being scratched.

 

Now, I don’t want to make this comparison as it’s such a high standard to live up to. But it does feel eerily reminiscent of Sting’s run in AEW. A true industry legend seeing out his final years wrestling with a who's who from the wrestling world. Names you couldn’t even have imagined fantasy-booking alongside or against Copeland, just going out there and “putting on a show”.

 

Take this week for example: the multi-time world champion faced off against Brody King and made him look like a monster. Granted, Brody does a great job of that himself. But the selflessness from Copeland to sell for King as if he were the Undertaker is something I don’t think can be overstated. Not everyone in his shoes would do this.

 

We had a glimpse of it a couple months back with the “Cope Open” before he won the TNT Championship. But it seems now this will be the norm for the foreseeable future and that’s an exciting prospect. Not to mention the various dream matches which Cope has teased.

 

All in all Adam Copeland is just great at putting on TV pro-wrestling and has been doing a consistent job since he arrived in AEW. But something lately especially has been really clicking. It seems like he has a really genuine connection with the AEW fans which feels unique to AEW—different from what he did in WWE.

 

I can only speak for myself, and I certainly would say that is true. When he first signed, I was begging for Copeland to turn heel. That’s the “Edge” I loved, and I never felt much for him as a babyface, to be truthful. However, now I am really starting to feel that connection to him and I don’t think I’m alone.







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