MJF Makes his Presence Felt in Absence | AEWeekly Review #42
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 Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promos, Gareth [@Gareth_EW] covering best match this week and 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: Gareth.
Bryan Danielson vs. Sammy Guevara 2 was a brilliant match. They leaned on classic spots for iron man or 2-out-of-3 falls matches, with the heel sacrificing a fall and getting disqualified to get an advantage and take the second fall. However, this is fairly 50-50 in its success rate, in my opinion. But when done well it can not only be a device to believably shorten these stipulations for a TV time slot, but also increase the drama late in the match.
And that's exactly what it achieved here. As Guevara threw a chair at Danielson's head, before attacking his eye with the announcer's microphone. Guevara capitalised on the damage done from the disqualification and secured the second fall, hitting Bryan with the GTH and pinning him clean(-ish... a few minutes after the DQ) in the middle of the ring. Which I felt was a great way to get heat and put Guevara over in defeat.
As it was defeat which loomed for Sammy, as much as the final stretch of the match felt like it could go either way. Danielson hitting a couple of Busaiku knees, Guevara threatening another GTH which Bryan evaded. But he couldn't evade a crazy flipping springboard DDT off the top rope from Sammy Guevara. A fantastic move which in the moment I bit on, and truly believed would get Guevara the victory. But Sammy went to the top rope and tried to hit the 630 senton, which Bryan reversed into a barrage of elbows.
Eventually Danielson made Guevara pass out with the LeBell Lock. But it really did feel like Bryan had to fight from underneath to overcome Guevara, which was a great credit to Sammy. And his pinning of Danielson is a really nice rub for him. But this ultimately is just the genius of Bryan Danielson at work. I would use the word masterclass, but this is just what he does.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
Orange Cassidy stealing Mark Henry's line was hilarious, but I WAS KIDDING, Craig! The promo of the Week was Jon Moxley, who did an amazing job of balancing the tightrope of mocking the pretesions of his upcoming challenger MJF without undermining him as a threat. He did that by comparing the two of them to himself and William Regal years ago. So even while he deflated Friedman's fashion affectations and claims of wealth, it can't be forgotten that when a young Mox, who he'd been comparing MJF to, got his chance at a rematch. he'd beaten the world-class vet in Regal who had put him in his place the first time. Moxley takes seriously the possibility that MJF will do the same to him at Full Gear. But not without proving that there is more to him than we've seen up to this point.
My favorite part of the promo, though, was when Moxley gets quiet and comes close to the camera, and tells us very seriously that he has met and known truly evil men, and that Friedman is no Devil.
Story Beat of the Week: Gareth.
Undoubtedly the "major development" on Dynamite this week was Samoa Joe turning on Wardlow. However, it split opinion online. Many thought this was a good move and the prospect of Wardlow beating Samoa Joe could be a huge rub for the TNT Champion. Others saw this as a large waste of time that's got in the way of the "Wardog's" championship reign, just for a heel turn which felt cheap given the small amount of time for the alliance of "WarJoe" to blossom.
I can only give my opinion which is more in line with the latter. I think the potential for moving forward is promising for Wardlow. With Hobbs and Joe in his sights, this is the first time Wardlow has felt interesting for a long time.
But that's exactly it. Wardlow is the TNT champion and he hasn't felt interesting as a character for a while. Now, the WarJoe stuff was fun for what it was. But what it was, was mid-card filler at best. And a distraction from what could and should have been a great TNT Championship reign, in my opinion.
It's looking positive as we move forward though, so I guess I welcome this development? But if it leads to a triple threat match where Powerhouse Hobbs is sacrificed to protect Samoa Joe then I think that would be a disappointment. Two one-on-one matches against Hobbs at Full Gear and Joe at Winter is Coming would be fantastic for Wardlow!
Moment of the Week: Peter.
One of the many things that Covid ruined in its rampage against the world in the last two years was the chance for fans outside America to watch AEW live. Whilst Canada got its first taste of All Elite Wrestling last month, the British fans have still had a couple of years delay on their chance to experience AEW in person without having to get their passport out of the drawer. But with an announcement by Tony Schiavone that next year AEW will come to the UK, that wait will come to an end.
For those outside the UK that don't understand what this means to us Brits, when Tony Khan announced that in the aftermath of Double or Nothing 2020 that Fyter Fest was scheduled to be in the UK that June had the world not shut down there was a feeling of disappointment and what if from the British fans. Three years later it looks like we will get that show and with ratings at an all-time high on ITV4 despite a lack of advertising compared to the start of the companies existence when Full Gear adverts dominated the commercial breaks of the England vs Australia Rugby World Cup 1/4 final and an ITV wrestling twitter account that hasn't had a fresh tweet since December 5th 2019 (it's almost as if the guy who ran the account left the job and took the account password with him) the appetite for AEW to come to Britain has never been so high and with WWE having made an impact in the country thanks to Clash at the Castle, its a visit that can't come soon enough for all sides concerned.
And while Craven Cottage is the favourite to host an event in some eyes with the Khans' link to the stadium through Fulham FC (wishful thinking on my end that the LG Arena in Birmingham gets the Dynamite show) this is a case for Tony not be risk averse as he has been in the past year when it comes to the touring schedule of his company. The potential for a ultra successful tour of Britain is there if you look at the interest in the company and wrestling as a whole in this country and I for one like many others cannot wait for the next week to hear the further details on what the trip to the UK entails
Move of the Week: Dan.
Road Dogg is an arsehole.
To be honest that could be my entire entry this week but I am contractually obliged to write about an actual wrestling move so I'll try and elaborate.
In the week of the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Screwjob, Mr Dogg decided to say he was better than Bret Hart…an assertion about as accurate as Elon Musk saying he has greatly improved Twitter. Normally this could and should be brushed off as a bit of banter, but it doesn't take much googling of Road Dogg to see why he absolutely does not deserve that benefit of the doubt.
I was therefore absolutely delighted to see an actually talented wrestler mock this nonsense on national television in a move that showed more creativity than Jeff Jarrett's lackey has ever even dreamed of. It was always likely to be Dax Harwood who stepped up to this particular plate, being as he is a worshipper at the alter of Bret Hart, and step up to the plate he did.
His partner in crime in this well-deserved Michael-taking was also an inspired pick with Austin Gunn being the son of Road Dogg's far more talented long-term tag team partner. Austin also impersonated the Dogg's unearned sense of his own brilliance as he bopped and weaved about hitting the utterly stupid 'Flip-Flop and Fly' that was, for so long, part of Road Dogg's limited move-set.
Not taking either the move or the slight on his hero lying down, Dax leapt into action. He easily disarmed Gunn-Dogg and within a flash had his opponent caught up in Bret's iconic Sharpshooter finisher. A move that Dax executes very very well it should be noted.
It was all over very quickly and yes there were more impressive moves across both Dynamite and Rampage this week. Yet sometimes it's good to take the piss out of people who deserve it, and it's wonderful when actually done with a sense of finesse and creativity.
So huzzah for Dax Harwood. Two fingers firmly in the air to Road Dogg. And all hail Bret The Hitman Hart.
MVP of the Week: Trish.
MVP of professional wrestling?
MJF believes he is a "generational talent". This isn't just a phrase belonging to his character, it's something which has become key to his development in AEW and in a lot of his actions on the business side during this past year as well. During this past week's podcast appearance on "Pardon My Take" (aptly adapted for television to ensure his voice remains a presence in the build to Full Gear) Maxwell went even further; proclaiming that the forthcoming PPV could be one of the most important moments in wrestling history. Is he right in this estimation?
In AEW, it has traditionally been difficult to ascend to being a star above the brand itself. It's ensemble format has been one of the strengths of the group but can also be restrictive when propelling wrestlers to the next level. Attempts to make a particular wrestler the face of the company, as we saw with CM Punk, are not without risk and don't occur without devaluing others around them. The last experiment, as such, failed to raise ratings in a sustainable way as well.
The most recent experience hasn't stopped AEW from making Max the complete focus of this cycle. His presence was made to feel greater than World Championship matches between Jon Moxley, Bryan Danielson and Hangman Adam Page respectively. He's been given the prime slots on the show and his numbers protected with clever tricks only previously afforded to the likes of Jericho and Punk. His crowd reactions, from his return at All Out onwards, have been strong and almost face leaning.
Friedman has rewarded the investment made in him as well. The promo exchange with William Regal on October 18th was one of the finest segments in AEW history and offered more depth to his character on top of what was revealed earlier this year in the build up to Revolution. He's also been an excellent representative of the company during media appearances and is gathering increased recognition from outside of the traditional fanbase.
Is this enough for him to lead them into a new era? Truthfully, it's hard to tell. His numbers are somewhat mixed in regards of the many key indicators and don't hold quite as much momentum as their last attempt at elevating a homemade star just a year ago. What is clear, though, is that there is enough there that they definitely should take the shot.
MJF is a captivating performer who grabs attention every single time he's on screen. He's an instinctive talker who can lead a crowd wherever he wishes (something he'll need to employ post Full Gear to ensure the audience doesn't eat up everyone he faces in the upcoming months). He's a strong in ring wrestler who can adapt his style to his opponent and often under recognised in that element of his game.
Maxwell is right to point out that a number of his biggest moments have been overshadowed (although he is also not without crime in that area) but he's also the homemade talent who has had the most invested into him since AEW'S inception. With some of the potential darkness removed, it may well be time for him to step firmly into the spotlight all by himself and see if what he believes can become a reality.