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, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week, Dan [@WrestlingRhymes] reflecting on the best move and Trish [@TrishSpeirs48] giving us the MVP of the week.
Match of the Week: Joe.
Hangman Adam Page © vs Konosuke Takeshita: Non-Title.
Despite the fact that this was Hangman Page's first non-title singles bout since capturing the AEW World Championship in November of 2021, it had more intensity and seemed more significant than many championship matchups I've seen in the past. Hangman stated that he had not felt as exhausted after a match since his 1-hour match with Bryan Danielson at the end of 2021, despite the fact that this match lasted only 12 minutes. Takeshita had wrestled Tenryu, according to the commentary team, which audibly sparked joy in the wrestling fan heart of special guest commentator and #1 contender for Hangman's World Title, CM Punk. The style, pace, and intensity of this match, on the other hand, reminded me of another Japanese wrestling great, Kenny Omega.
Hangman ricocheted off of the second turnbuckle pad into a clothesline that knocked Takeshita to the floor, then capitalized by catapulting over the top rope to the outside with a cross body block. How did Takeshita respond? While Hangman was feelin’ himself and doing a taunt to the crowd, he did that same move back to Hangman, only from a greater height and with twice the hangtime. That seemed to wake up Hangman, who dropped Takeshita with a John Cena-esque Proto-bomb (rotating release back suplex) onto the steel ring frame to set up Hangan’s hangtime with his signature Orihara moonsault off the top to the floor which connected with the accuracy of a bullseye. Takeshita hit Page with a Sami Zayn-esque Blue Thunder Bomb, before trading Helluva Kicks (sprinting big boot to a cornered opponent) with Page, and then hitting a Kenny Omega-esque flip dive. They traded German suplexes and forearm smashes. Takeshita hit Page with a Kota Ibushi-esque powerbomb. Something both of these fighters proved to have in common is the ability to make an overdone move exciting with their clotheslines, however Takeshita went for one too many of his leaping lines and got caught with a Masato Tanaka-like roaring elbow in mid-air. Then after hitting his own Buckshot Lariat, Hangman Page hit a KENTA-esque GTS, a move that Page’s current contender CM Punk adopted to be his own finisher, in retaliation for using Hangman’s finisher on his good friend John Silver last week.
For a fan like me with ADHD, this was ideal in terms of the pace, impact, and sidebar mental pathways these referential moves could send my mind down. I have referenced many legends of the past in this summary, but what this match did more than anything is show who is the present - Hangman Adam Page, and who is the future - Konosuke Takeshita.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
Bear with me... Serena Deeb.
This may be my heel turn. Or when y’all decide “we were wondering if he was crazy, but now we are sure.” But, in a week where two titans of the mic brought out the worst low bathroom humor in each other, for me Serena Deeb’s promo was head and shoulders the best of the week, even the best of several weeks. It was passionate and real, but at the same time petty, (because she’s the heel.)
You may ask if I can possibly be serious about acclaiming a promo that was so widely panned, to which I reply: did I stutter?
Story Beat of the Week: Gareth.
Thunder Rosa Does... Nothing.
Usually I take a more positive approach with the story beats. Pointing out a good development or key moment in a story... but here I have to highlight the total lack of any real story.
Now, as much as I agree with Sergei that Deeb's promo was... decent, let's say. There were certainly some good elements which Sergei has pointed out. However, there's also some fundamental issues from a storytelling perspective.
Deeb is going into a title match. Now, sure, it makes sense for Deeb to be peeved by commentators and coaches
Issue 1) Most fans don't remember those tiny details or they didn't see them (in the case of Dustin). So to build an angle around these is very lazy. An attitude (of the booker) that we've sadly come to expect for AEW's women's division.
Issue 2) To have your babyface (and protagonist) almost entirely absent for the first angle cut over this feud (bar an uneventful promo discourse which doesn't qualify as an angle) is criminal. Especially when you look back at Thunder Rosa's booking and realise, "oh - they've always booked her as an absent character."
Which begs the question of why? It's not because they can't book - look at Hangman as an example of an excellent babyface champion who is booked correctly. I think we all know 'why', whether you admit it or not.
The issue isn't specifically anything that happened. All of those things are things which are 'fine' (and nothing more than 'fine') for a wrestling feud. The problem is the lack of ANYTHING else. There's no conflict whatsoever. And with no conflict you have no story.
This is the AEW Women's World Championship and the booking of this title, and most of the division, is nothing short of a disgrace. Storytelling and character development are virtually non-existent in this division.
Moment of the Week: Peter.
Wardlow gets Whipped.
When MJF mentioned that Wardlow was going to have to meet some conditions to get his match against Maxwell it felt like a case of deja vu and when Maxwell set the first condition to be that Wardlow would have to take 10 lashes, the feeling was that this was going to be as repetitive as a Resident Evil game in the nineties.
But any fears were immediately quelled when Wardlow just simply laughed off the first lash from MJF’s belt. But while Wardlow’s smile got him over as the stud we all knew he was, the moment was made by MJF and his reaction.
The cocky strut unaware that his potential Double Or Nothing opponent was not affected at all and then his shocked face when he realised that this was not going to go down like the events of February 2020 is what pro wrestling is all about.
Wardlow’s last two months have been something to watch. His aura has multiplied by the week (his entrance this week was a Top 3 moment of the Week alone) and you get the feeling that he might actually end up overtaking the “Pillars” at the rate he's going but MJF is the perfect man in the other corner. He's quite simply Lex Luthor to Wardlow’s Superman and while a kick to the dick might actually be Wardlow’s Kryptonite, the difference of reactions from Wardlow to how Cody Rhodes sold his strapping two years ago was IMHO the dictionary definition of what pro wrestling is.
Move of the Week: Dan.
Kick in the Dick!
The aim of this Move of the Week section of the Roundtable is to highlight the moments of true wrestling genius that occur on weekly AEW television. To promote the aerial marvels, the technical masters and the feats of super-human strength performed by some of the greatest wrestlers on the globe right now.
With that in mind it is my great pleasure to award this week’s Move of the Week to…….
The kick in the dick.
I know I know. All of you wrestling purists will now be launching furious tirades in my direction. But if you sit and really think about it, which single move had more impact than the KITD in AEW this week?
Up until that moment MJF’s dastardly plan appeared to be going disastrously wrong. Wardlow was taking Max’s puny little whips like someone who has spent far too much time in the seedier parts of Amsterdam. He was smiling. He was mocking. Goddammit he was jiggling his pecs!
But with one short, sharp and beautifully delivered punt to the groin, MJF restored order, felling the beast like a rubbish tree and laying the groundwork for yet more vicious abuse inflicted by Maxwell and his lackey Shawn Spears.
It was blunt. It was brutal. It was brilliantly effective. So don’t you come in here trying to tell me that Takeshita’s moveset, awesome as it was, even came close to this masterpiece.
Kick in the dick for the win!
MVP of the Week: Trish.
Dynamite debuts for relatively unknown wrestlers can be challenging spots; especially in singles competition. A crowd consisting of a large number of people who may not know who you are (no, a Rampage 5:30pm match does not change that) or of your previous accomplishments can be a difficult thing to overcome, add in the pressure of being in there with the AEW World Champion and it is, indeed, a lot of weight to carry. This doesn't seem to be a problem for Konosuke Takeshita.
Some will ask if it should, after all, Takeshita has just completed his fifth reign with the KO-D Openweight Championship (that he defeated Jun Akiyama for just under a year ago) and has faced a number of high profile opponents throughout his career, including most notably "the Best Bout Machine" himself- Kenny Omega. That isn't the beast that is American TV wrestling though;- an environment where even vastly experienced wrestlers can be met with the sound of silence or just a weak complimentary clap. We've seen many a match like that in AEW, where the named opponent hasn't been enough to invest the crowd into the match up, thankfully that was not the case here.
The audience grew with and into this match, to the point that near falls on the champion became believable and drew huge reactions. The speed, tempo and flows of offense energised the bout in a way that vastly outperformed what most expected of it, whilst never removing itself from it's role in aiding in the overall PPV story between Punk and Page. It meant that on a programme with two wild card appearances, Konosuke's performance stole the show and was a vastly greater talking point in ring then anything else from those two hours. Not a bad start to this excursion is it?
An honourable mention to 'Hangman' Adam Page as well, who started his run with Omega and Danielson elevating him into his role as champion and is now able to do the same for others. Champions that are willing to be selfless in nature whilst maintaining their own aura are vital in helping companies to progress. We've seen similar from Jon Moxley, Bryan Danielson and Kenny Omega in recent years, it's very promising we're now seeing this from Page as well.