Welcome to the #AEWeekly review discussion where PWM contributors reflect on the highlights of the last week in AEW. The week runs Monday through Sunday covering the most recent Dynamite, Rampage, and Collision.
This week’s contributors are ??? covering match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promos, Saul [@SaulKiloh] exploring a key story beat, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week, and Gareth [@Gareth_EW] giving us the MVP and Match of the week.
Match of the Week: Gareth.
FTR vs. Komander & Vikingo
The idea of FTR wrestling some high flying luchadors is one that has often been fantasy-booked by fans, but never truly been realised in the ring. The chemistry, for whatever reason, just hasn’t been there in the past.
But in this match we finally saw that vision of the perfect styles clash of FTR’s hard-nosed, traditional, Southern tag team wrestling against the high-flying action of a luchador team come to life.
The match started out tentatively as Dax Harwood responded to Komander’s quickness with brute strength. But the match picked up when both men tagged in their partners.
Cash Wheeler attempted to go toe-to-toe with El Hijo Del Vikingo and paid the price as he was out-maneuvered by multiple fast paced spots. But the match turned around when Vikingo, attempting a Tope Suicida, was redirected headfirst into the announce table by Wheeler. A jaw-droppingly brutal collision as the match broke for a commercial break.
FTR dominated throughout the break before eventually Vikingo was able to make a tag to Komander who went wild. His quickness proved too much as, after reversing a double-team move, Cash Wheeler looked around in absolute shock and confusion. Selling the peril of the moment really well.
Some more spectacular moves followed from the luchador team, whilst Cash and Dax tried, and failed, to make it a grounded fight thanks to the speedy reversals of Vikingo and Komander.
Something which usually is a criticism of this high-flying style is that it loses its realism. But Wheeler and Harwood do such a good job in this match of being a base for Vikingo and Komander’s exhilarating action.
Eventually FTR are able to regain some level of control in the match and it really starts to feel like a fight. Things such as Vikingo not landing a move perfectly don’t matter because of how well Dax adapts. You stop waiting for the spectacular moves and you get drawn into the drama.
There’s so many reversals and back-and-forth in the second half of this match, but eventually FTR manage to isolate Komander and hit the Shatter Machine for the win.
The real triumph of this match wasn’t just delivering a great match, this is something we know these talents are capable of. But wrestling a match where a babyface FTR are fighting from underneath against babyface luchadors? For all the fantasy-booking fans have done of FTR in matches like these — THAT dynamic is surely one that nobody thought of. Perhaps that is why it felt so real and drew so many people in.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
Daniel Garcia Is Lost
In the Moment of the Week segment, Peter talks about Hangman’s vow to make an annual tradition of taking his son to piss on Swerve Strickland's grave. It IS a great moment: exciting, engaging, emotional. And it's also a great promo— and very much a promo: a professional doing his damnedest and a damn fine job at that, of convincing us that if we pay per view, we'll get to see some righteous, murderous revenge… when, in reality, we know that what we're actually going to see will be an illusion of brutal violence created by two performers who actually rather like and respect one another. Nothing wrong with that, that's the job. But Daniel Garcia this week gave us something far more ambiguous, intriguing, and fourth-wall stretching.
Cameras caught up with Garcia after his unsuccessful AEW World Championship challenge on Dynamite Wednesday, and the result seemed so much like a genuinely emotional moment of self-doubt and reflection that, even now as I write this, I still question how much was real and how much was story. His thesis is clear from his first words: “these losses”... “used to hurt a lot less.” And he goes on to expand on why the losses used to be easier, what different factors have made them more painful, and what it all means for him now and going forward. And yet, even while telling this entirely logical story, he sounds like a person genuinely dealing with a devastation that they haven't fully processed—calm, distracted, with a flat affect… The lack of histrionics is a big part of what makes this interview so convincing and realistic.
Specifically, Garcia says that when he first arrived in AEW, a big loss might seem “charming,” because he came so close… so, think what he could do in a couple years! But now those years have passed and the locker-room keeps getting more crowded, so instead of a bump in the road, each loss—and THIS loss, especially—seems like “the end of the world.”
In the MVP section, Gareth talks about how Daniel Garcia is “leading the way” (the lyric of his theme, I had never realized before!) for the young homegrown performers in AEW. But in this interview he says that he feels lost, himself! Because this interview was so convincing, the possibility rears its head that this is not just a story, but how the real person behind the character feels—that he's frustrated and feels that his career is stalled. That certainly fits, but it could just as easily be a great jumping-off point for a new direction as a fictional character, whether that means a Daniel Garcia who says “I don't even know what's best for myself” falling under the sway of some charismatic leader… Or maybe a DG who regains his confidence and sheds the influence of the people who are “telling [him] what they think is best for [him]”.
Whatever the case, I can't wait to see where Garcia is leading us...
Story Beat of the Week: Saul.
Samoa Joe: The Rightful King of Wrestling
In part of his efforts to win back internet cred, Tony Khan announced Samoa Joe vs Keith Lee for Dynamite. Fair play. (One could say that this mentality of big matches/moments coming at the cost of long-term and solid week-to-week storytelling is part of AEW’s bigger issues, but now isn’t really the time to unpack all that.)
With Sweet Tooth recently becoming the longest-reigning ROH TV Champ ever, many suspected that this may be time for him to drop the title. They were right! However, likely not in the way they anticipated. Instead of losing to the Limitless One (I sadly feel that this nickname is no longer appropriate considering his run in AEW), Samoa Joe made his opponent pass out and then vacated the championship. Joey coming out victorious in this battle of the title of Mr. Meaty was interesting, and made me think that Sammy may soon become the King of the (AEW) Hill.
Some may say that this damaged the prestige of the ROH TV title, and to those people I would argue that I simply don’t care. However, I would like to congratulate VACANT on another title victory in his hall of fame worthy career!!!!
Last week, I speculated about who would be a good choice to beat MJF for the AEW World Championship. My section this week is an apology for not mentioning King Shark as a serious contender for that position. He has been on fire. He can still GO in the ring, and is in my humble opinion, the most underrated promo in all of wrestling (I get that most people think he’s good, but I never really see him be brought up in the convo for best talker and I think that he truly belongs in that mix.)
Samoa Joe said that he is hungry. After consideration, my appetite for the Samoan Submission Machine reaching the top of the mountain in AEW while close to his prime is strong. I can only hope that he doesn’t kill me for waiting a week to say so…..
Moment of the Week: Peter.
What could have been…
Well, that took awhile.
Since Swerve Strickland visited the Hangman family home and dropped his shirt into Page’s son's crib, we have been waiting to see Hangman tell us or even show us what he has been thinking. From Bryan Alvarez asking "where the heck is Hangman?" (he didn't say heck!) to the lack of TV time, Hangman Page has been conspicuous by his absence. But all the waiting and wondering came to fruition once we heard from Page.
Finally given a chance to say his piece, he laid down the law. Adam Page talked about the stipulation that Swerve will have to deal with at Full Gear: a Texas Death Match, the match that Page has made his own thanks to an act of violence that gave Jon Moxley no choice but to tap out. If that act of violence came from what was essentially two blokes engaging in toxic masculinity after an accident, what would Page do after Swerve's actions.
While we have to wait till Full Gear to see the consequences that Hangman will unleash on Swerve, we know how Hangman Page will mark the anniversary of this Texas Death Match. While we now know what will constitute Hangman Jr's toilet training, his dad's words about what they will do every November as their father-son bonding moment, (certainly different than me and my dad watching All Japan Women matches from the mid-90s,) shows how Strickland's moment of madness has made Page maybe the maddest we have seen him in AEW.
But… even at his most angry, his most venomous, Hangman still talks about ending Swerve with a hint of remorse…
"What could have been…"
To win the Texas Death Match, to win the feud, to bury Swerve and piss on his grave, Hangman will have to end Swerve, not just when he is in his prime, but with so much potential ahead.
"What could have been…"
It didn't have to end this way, Swerve took a rivalry that was competitive and made it personal.
"What could have been…"
If Swerve ends up losing and ends up getting that annual visit from Hanger, it will have been his own fault.
MVP of the Week: Gareth.
Daniel Garcia Is Leading the Way…
I was tempted to give ‘MVP of the Week’ to Tony Khan after responding to criticism well and introducing the Continental Classic, which fans have wanted for years. However, so soon after signing Ric Flair, he does not deserve the honour.
So instead I will credit the AEW fans. Over the last two weeks we as a collective have held AEW to account well. Over the signing of Ric Flair, the perceived decline in standards and in asking for something like the Continental Classic.
Cody Rhodes made it abundantly clear how important the fans were to AEW’s “revolution”, but that is an ongoing thing. It’s not something which stopped in 2021 when CM Punk signed. Fans are vital to a promotion and AEW shouldn’t forget that.
One of the things fans have called out online in recent weeks is the lack of Daniel Garcia on TV lately. It was nice to see this addressed as DG was booked not in one, but two matches on AEW this past week.
A Dynamite opener against MJF for the world title, which was followed by a brilliant promo as Sergei wrote about above. Then another good match against Andrade on Collision.
It’s time AEW rallied around its second generation of “homegrown” stars, and in that race, Daniel Garcia is leading the way.