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] covering match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promos, Craig [@CraigPWMusings] exploring a key story beat Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week, Dan [@WinsDANlosses] reflecting on the best move and Trish [@TrishSpeirs48] giving us the MVP of the week.
Match of the Week: Hikaru Shida vs Jamie Hayter
[Joe] This match worked because it was given a proper amount of time, premium positioning, and the wrestlers attacked the opportunity as fiercely as they attacked each other.
There was enough time not just for the match, but also the entrances. There was a big fight feel and Shida and Hayter both came off as big time fighters. You could get a good feel for each character based on their entrance. Shida seeming like a proud warrior, Hayter seeming like a cocky clubber. That match time was used to reinforce those personalities, with 15 taunts from Shida and 16 taunts from Hayter. Those 16 minutes of fight time also allowed for plenty of false finishes that hooked fans in, as evidenced by the 9 pin attempts. This was a case where Hayter’s lack of a super-established finisher benefited the match. We could believe that many of the clotheslines and that deadlift power bomb could have realistically been the end.
The fact that the Women’s Championship was given the main event slot also helped make this match work to its fullest potential. Getting that sought after spot, even if it isn’t always the most sought after time slot, makes a match feel important.
Most importantly, however, this match worked because of how hard the wrestlers worked! Shida and Hayter layed into each other, with 161 strikes, working out to just over 10 strikes landed per minute. There were 16 strikedowns, working out to 1 strike powerful enough to level someone per minute. That being said, those numbers don’t do this fight justice. There were 16 strikedowns, but far more strikes than that with enough intensity to be strikedowns. This hard-hitting flavor of a fight is one that women’s divisions in North America have not featured very often, and based on the fan reaction live and in the crowd, it’s a flavor that I would bet we’ll be seeing more of. While this was an impressive win for Hayter, just like her victory over Toni Storm, it was not a clean win, which protects Shida. This fight felt important while it was happening, but it feels even more important for the impact and influence it could have going forward.
Promo of the Week: Danielson Sounds Off On MJF
[Sergei] Tough week to pick, as there were many promos that were quite good, and arguably may not have pushed past to "greatness". Of them, I've decided to pick Bryan Danielson's promo. For one thing, I feel that Danielson isn't given enough credit on the mic. He has the rep of a guy whose greatness in the ring is balanced by mediocrity on the mic, but if that was ever true, it hasn't been for decades.
For another, the promo segment on Wednesday showed a lot of range: from heartfelt sincerity talking about William Regal with Renee Paquette to genuinely funny riffing zingers back and forth with Stokely Hathaway. Not the best promo from Danielson ever, and not the best promo in all AEW most weeks, but good and good enough to take the honors this week!
Story Beat of the Week: Swerve Forms Mogul Affiliates
[Craig] He told you it was coming, and some eagle-eared(?) viewers predicted the acquaintances line was purposeful. It would have been oh so simple for Rick Ross to have hit Keith Lee in the back of the head with a microphone so that Swerve could low-blow him as Keith Lee did the 'oh no you didn't' slow turn around.
However we saw, much-touted, Parker Boudreaux and new-comer, Granden Goetzman help Swerve beat down Keith Lee in a memorable manner. It was the kind of easily-rememberable moment due to the combination of the cinderblock, the charismatic commentary or Rick Ross, the involvement of a recognisable, intriguing talent in Boudreaux and a complete unknown in Geotzman.
So what now? Well Keith Lee defeated his opposition in a 2 on 1 situation after Swerve walked out on him, whereas when roles were reversed Swerve lost the tag belts and the match without Lee. Therefore, Swerve needs a group with at least more than two members and now we have a group for Lee to go through to get to Swerve, eventually (but probably at Revolution).
Moment of the Week: Starks Calls Jericho a Jobber
[Peter] On a week when losing in wrestling became a debating point, it was interesting to see Dynamite start with two wrestlers that left Winter is Coming with high profile losses. But what the takeaway from the `segment was that in an industry where maybe the whole point of it all is losing, both Ricky Starks and Chris Jericho's short-term future will be dictated by the events of last week.
The segment looked on paper like your cookie-cutter wrestling angle. The fallen babyface comes out, says that he'll get his revenge on the man who beat him and then the heel interrupts and tries to recruit him to join his team only for the face to say no. It's a plot device as old as the hammerlock but it's a moment in the usual that makes me the AEW viewer interested in what happens next.
In Absolute's rejection of JAS's invitation, Ricky went down the same path as a fortnight ago when he threw verbal boulders at MJF. The same path as the man he has been compared to in recent times. Insult comedy from a babyface is a proven winner in the right hands, mind and mouth and a death sentence to those who haven't got the gift that The Rock had. Ricky thankfully has the former.
In the midst of making air fryer and vampire comparisons Ricky said the J-word. By calling Jericho a jobber referencing the biggest upset in AEW history and Jericho's reaction coupled with the chant of jobber that followed it showed that Action Andretti's win last week mattered and not just to the winner. All roads look like they lead to Jericho and Starks being each others first feud rivalry of 2023 and its a feud that one needs to win for his AEW future to look like it's worthy of being in the main event picture and for one, he needs to lose to make his 2023 a very interesting when it comes to his character arc.
Move of the Week: Shida Kicks Out a 2.99
[Dan] First things first….what a bloody match! Jamie Hayter and Hikaru Shida took the sometimes struggling AEW womens’ division, put it on their backs and carried it into the big time. In doing so they also came up with a number of contenders for move of the week, particularly in that absolutely breathless last few minutes.
In the end I’ve gone for the move that contributed to the closest 2.9 count of the match and which caused the crowd in Texas to lose their Lone-Star minds.
It followed the entry into proceedings of the endlessly entertaining Rebel and Britt Baker, who was summarily dismissed with some violent kendo-sticking action. This interference allowed the champion to intercept another vicious Shida kick before a lovely double reversal which saw Hayter holding her opponent down seemingly for a pinfall attempt.
Unsurprisingly though Jamie had more destructive thoughts in her mind. Highlighting her always impressive strength, Hayter snatched Shida off the floor and yoinked her into the air as if it was nothing. This would be jaw-dropping enough in most circumstances, but following the war these two had already gone through it was downright astounding.
From there the champ planted Shida onto the canvas with a powerbomb of such ferocity that it seemed nailed on to finish the contest. Hayter collapsed onto her downed foe (her facial expressions here were pitch-perfect) and we began the inevitable count to three…
And yet Shida still had more to give, kicking out to send the match into the added time that everyone craved. The crowd rose as one in astonishment. A child looked as if he’d seen Pikachu being executed. And I’m not ashamed to say I squealed more than a little bit.
A fantastic move leading to a fantastic moment in a fantastic match. Merry Xmas all…but especially to Jamie Hayter and Hikaru Shida.
MVP of the Week: Jamie Hayter
[Trish] To build a successful division you require more than one star to empower it. Having succeeded in propelling Britt Baker to that level by May 2021, AEW have struggled to recreate that success with the other prospects on their roster. Thunder Rosa burnt out by the summer, Toni Storm was hampered by the Interim tag and focus being elsewhere, Jade has cooled in recent months and very much stagnated whilst the likes of Ruby Soho and Kris Statlander have had any sense of momentum stopped by injuries.
Coming out of Full Gear it was hard to see if this was going to change. AEW had a new Women's Champion coming out of the PPV in Jamie Hayter and yet any talk made in concern of the division was solely around a potential new addition on January 11th rather than celebrating or promoting its new champion. It would have to be something exceptional to break the rhetoric and would require someone to make the absolute most of the limited TV time opportunities the company provides to its less proven roster members.
This week Jamie Hayter took said opportunity and changed the conversation. Her match with Hikaru Shida felt like a breath of fresh air. Hayter, having worked in Japan during her formative years, had no issue in her opponent working a stronger style and gave it back in each exchange. The style difference between this match and most others over recent months was notable; the offense building to key moments with heavy impact that brought the crowd to their feet. The finishing sequence led to some of the loudest reactions of the entire show and a standing ovation upon reaching its conclusion.
This wasn't just one of the best women's matches of the year, it was one of the best Dynamite matches of the year. If the division is going to be viewed in the same way as the other three in AEW then this is absolutely critical. In Jamie Hayter they now have a Champion capable of delivering this match quality in every defense and under the mental/ time pressures of the main event slot. Perhaps even more importantly, she has a story with Britt Baker in the works that could be the definitive women's program to propel the division upwards.
Not everything will be easy, she will have to deal with the impact of a big name signing receiving a high degree of attention over the next few months. It is, however, in AEW's best interests not to cast her aside and repeat last year's mistake in the aftermath.
Jamie Hayter is a wrestler you could build a division around. She has all the tools to make it a success. In 2023, we will find out if she will have the opportunities to match.