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, Dan [@WrestlingRhymes] reflecting on the best move and Trish [@TrishSpeirs48] giving us the MVP of the week.
Match of the Week: Joe.
Young Bucks vs Lucha Bros. AEW Rampage
This match was excellent because of how creative it was, how fast-paced it was, how they still showed character - not just moves, and how they caused the audience to buy in with their choices. Many matches build towards the finish by starting slow and using rest holds or submission attempts, lockups, etc. Things that don’t require big bumps. The Bucks and The Bros avoided the early bumps as well, but much more creatively and engagingly. The commentary team laid out the story that this was their 9th match, so it makes sense they would be familiar with each other’s movesets and mind games. Matt Jackson and Penta - the older brothers and more sports-entertainer-ish character inclined of their sibling pairs, started off. They started off exchanging taunts, then reversed and countered every move attempt throughout the entire first sequence. Simple reversals and counters can bore me towards the fast forward button, but these were inventive and exciting.
The pace of this match was insane. You couldn’t leave the room or look away without missing something GIF-worthy. After 6 minutes, the crowd was already chanting “This is Awesome”, and that praise was earned. Whereas Matt and Penta were leading off with taunts and counters, Nick and Fenix turned it into high flying sprint. Nick’s reaction to Fenix’s awesome flip dive through the ropes is one of the most authentic and realistic looking reactions I’ve ever seen to a dive while still protecting the diver.
The match continued making use of moves that could only be done in tag team matches, like Nick Jackson dropkicking Fenix off of Penta’s shoulders causing Fenix to poisonrana spike his own brother. There were so many moments where this match seemed like it could be and should be over, which caused me to buy in. The other thing that made me buy in was that they still aligned to babyface and heel tactics, with the Bucks using a manoeuvre to win, that Excalibur mentioned would have caused them to lose by DQ in Mexico. That manoeuvre being ripping Pentagon’s mask off before finishing him off while he was vulnerable and defenceless. This character choice caused the Bucks to get boo’ed in their own hometown. No small feat. No small match. This was the stuff of Greatness.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
Unquestionably, this week CM Punk has no competition. He took the audience, both in the arena and at home on their couches, who were already on the edge of their seats from the rumors, and took them on a whole damn emotional journey, It had every trapping of a retirement speech, including the tears standing in his eyes, but his fans held onto forlorn hope that it was all some fake-out like Mark Henry’s famous salmon jacket promo and he would pull the rug out and tell us he’s “got plenty of gas in the tank!” It sounded too serious to be anything else, but then he said there was both good news AND bad news, injecting the tiniest doubt!
Once he revealed that he would be back and that TK hadn’t accepted his offer to relinquish the title, it seemed almost like good news– a perfect example of controlling expectations: compared to retirement, a mere pause sounded pretty good! (Of course, then Jericho totally misunderstood, and half the internet followed his lead, but that's not Punk’s fault!)
The core of this promo was when he said that he’s AEW Champion for a reason, and it’s crazy to me that anybody misunderstood that. And once he promised to come back “better, stronger, faster,” I halfway expected him to continue the Six Million Dollar Man references and say that they “can rebuild him.” “They have the technology!”
At its heart, this promo was a somber and necessary announcement that the talent that AEW had been planning to be their centerpiece for the coming months would be on the DL for an as-yet to be determined time-frame. But I came away in the end reassured that the “get back” really would be bigger than the setback.
Story Beat of the Week: Gareth.
It's hard to pick a story beat of the week in AEW at the moment because the champion has just had a major injury, the major story (MJF) isn't on the show because if he was it would undermine the story and AEW are building a short term build to Forbidden Door. So, naturally, most of their focus is on that event. And a lot of that is very basic.
However, Wardlow outlining his intentions for the TNT Championship was a high point of the show from the mindset of "how do we move forward from here?"
The promo itself has divided some people because of the way in which Wardlow expressed himself. Should he be undermining the rankings system? Should he be discrediting the idea of a interim title? I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. It's not really relevant to my point.
The thing that excites me is Wardlow focusing on the TNT Championship. That belt has felt secondary for too long. Wardlow has legitimate motivation to win that title. He had it all but won before and had it taken from him. He wants to be the one to restore its legacy. And because he's hench, he believes he can take anything when he wants to do so, and he wants the TNT Championship.
This is great. Hopefully Wardlow wins it as soon as possible. It'll be fantastic for elevating him, but equally he can bring importance back to the championship. It's a win-win, a no-brainer.
Move of the Week: Dan.
If you are one of those royalist types who tugs their oh-so obliging forelocks every time a royal marries someone from their own bloodline, you'll have seen the Red Arrows forming part of last weekend's Daily Mail-tastic Jubilee celebrations.
Now I freely admit that it is very impressive to show your commitment to an old lady by flying a very fast plane very closely to another very fast plane. However I put it to you dear reader that a better way to stamp your Britishness on the watching public is to launch yourself off a wrestling ring, spin through the air majestically and then land on an Australian.
Which is why the AEW move of this week is PAC's Black Arrow…and I'm sure her majesty would agree wholeheartedly (she must have about four of them by now).
Genuinely though the sight of a unfairly ripped, straggly haired mongoose of a Geordie leaping into the skies before twirling his way down to his opponents doom is an unbelievable sight to behold, unless presumably you are on the receiving end. And on the receiving end Buddy Matthews certainly was, with PAC looking like he somehow added even more force onto his devastating finale.
A special mention for Athena's almost equally as impressive finisher (presumably not The Eclipse anymore) as it was just great to see the awfully used in WWE Ember Moon back in the ring.
But to sum up….Black Arrows are better than Red Arrows. PAC is better than the Queen. And I'll be writing my next 'Move of the Week' article from The Tower.
MVP of the Week: Trish.
Interim Championships are difficult things- they can often be viewed as simply a placeholder and therefore feel somewhat unimportant. The AEW Interim World Title felt at risk of that at times already on Wednesday night, especially with so many key names missing from the Casino Battle Royale. Thankfully though, it is of the upmost importance to one man; and that man is Jon Moxley.
On Wednesday the 'Death Rider' gave more life into that belt in just two minutes then anything else which has been done on-screen or off since last Friday's confusing announcement. The reason why this was so successful outside of it just being due to Moxley's excellent delivery and believable demeanor is that the audience knows that everything he fights for matters to him and he conveys this on each occasion.
The man we saw in Wednesday night's main event against Kyle O'Reilly was a far cry from the comedy styled, predictable offense of WWE Dean Ambrose. This version of Mox is a viscous grappler with purpose who is willing to endure and inflict pain in equal measure. He is calculative, smart but also fights with emotion. He feels like everything I wish to see in a pro wrestler in 2022 and offers somewhat of a break from others by choosing to still develop his moveset and match layouts rather then simply relying on history and nostalgia.
it feels somewhat right that is Jon Moxley representing the AEW brand at the top of this card against Hiroshi Tanahashi, the man who (through botched translation) brought the 'Forbidden Door' phrase into prominence and has acted as a safe pair of hands for NJPW whenever they have needed him to be. Just like the Ace though, Moxley is much more then a fall back guy, he's still one of the most captivating men on their roster, is having a standout year in-ring and is more then capable business wise to "put the company on his back".
Whilst most believe it's a certainty that CM Punk will return and be successful in the unification match, it is never a good idea to overlook Jon Moxley. From now to whenever that matchup ends up taking place, he will be doing everything possible to remind the audience and Tony Khan of that as well.