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Over the Edge | AEWeekly Review #95

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 Gareth [@Gareth_EW] covering match and MVP of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promos, Saul [@SaulKiloh] exploring a key story beat, and Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week.

Match of the Week: Gareth.

Battle of the Kings

Tournaments in wrestling are great as they throw up so many unique match-ups, such as Jay White vs. Swerve Strickland which we’ll get this coming week. But equally, sometimes it’s the classic “babyface takes on a monster” dynamic which shines brightest.

As was the case last week as Brody King and Eddie Kingston tore the house down. A brutal match which saw plenty of heavy-handed strikes, chops and a masterful selling display from ‘The Mad King’ from Yonkers.

A victory for Brody came after a devastating powerbomb, which leaves Eddie to face an all-time great in Bryan Danielson next week in a match that feels do-or-die.

Another example of why tournaments are great as the results have immediate meaning and consequence. Because if Kingston loses to Bryan, then every match truly will be “must win”.

Brody King also provides one of my favourite tropes in tournaments as “the monster”. Everyone who faces him will come up against a huge challenge. Some will fall short, some will overcome, but this was the PERFECT performance to set-up exactly that dynamic.

By no means the best match of either man’s career and nothing was overly complex. However, it was the best opening match for both characters in the context of the tournament and a brutal ‘Battle of the Kings’ on the night alone.

Promo of the Week: Sergei.

Riding the Edge of Villainy

On Saturday Night, in a backstage segment where he immediately dismissed the interviewer and delivered a passionate rant right into the camera, Adam Copeland delivered his best, most passionate mic work since his recent debut with AEW. The aspect that I found fascinating was how it was just barely different from the approach he might take as a heel–the only real difference being a heel would be overreacting or manipulating the situation to make it sound like his enemy is more to blame than he is, whereas Christian Cage has genuinely done some awful stuff to his childhood friend.

But even so: Copeland starts off by putting the blame on Cage for the fact that he had harmed Cage’s allies, typically a heel move. As he compiles his list of Christian’s offenses, he says that he has a “short fuse,” that Cage has been repeatedly trying to light, which, while true, also sounds a lot like gaslighting. He goes on to say that he's “hunting” Cage and his allies and already has two heads on his wall. And then he claims that he's going to haunt Christian’s nightmares due to the pain he's going to put him through. Finally, he says he's going to win the TNT title, not to prove how good he is, but just for the sake of taking away what Christian cares about most. All of which is very typically villainous. But at the same time, he has been provoked beyond reason, so when he makes these vicious threats, the fan reaction is one of vicarious identification, which can be very powerful, as we've seen with many anti-heros on the vengeance highway.

Poorly handled, grimdark antihero stuff can feel like a guy who thinks he is too cool to just be a good guy, and sometimes like muddying the waters. But some performers need some sharper edges to avoid coming off as gladhanding pablum–a little injection of darkness as an antidote to anodyne. This week feels, not like too-cool-to-be-nice, but like the beginning of a story of Copeland perhaps going astray. Now that could lead to a heel-turn down the line, but it could equally lead to a moment of clarity where he realizes he crossed a line (went over an Edge?) and needs to redeem himself in some way. Either possibility sounds absolutely fascinating– I can't wait!

Story Beat of the Week: Saul.

Patriarchy Killed the Dinosaurs

In a moment where many are questioning the output of AEW, one thing that has almost universal approval is “The Patriarch” Christian Cage. So powerful is he that he has taken a championship that was COMPLETELY IN THE MUD, and provided it with a prestige it hasn’t had since mid-2021.

The joy this run has given me is difficult to fully articulate. The Cageless Christian World Heavyweight Championship run he had in 2011 WWE awakened my young wrestling self to enjoying heel shenanigans. Flashback to me asking my dad if I can have just one more ice cream.

Speaking of fathers, Christian is using some classic bad dad maneuvers. As a young footballer, I have witnessed many soccer dads (and mums) that much like the TNT Champions, were EXTREMELY STRICT and CRITICAL when their children underperformed in athletics. So while Christian is falling into classic parental mistakes, this one is more deadly because he ripped the identity away from the last living dinosaur.

He has also picked a favourite son. Something tells me this doesn’t bode well for the Cage household in the future. We’ve already seen the newly christened “Killswitch” stand up to his father, and with Uncle Copeland coming gunning for him and his championship, could this domestic discord cause misery in Montreal for Papa Christian?

(I was going to make a joke about Christian leading Adam Copeland to the EDGE of a heel turn but Sergei beat me to it. Still, I think it would be cool for Kjetill Flatnose to join The Patriarchy and get an epic Cage/Copeland run on top of the tag division.)

Moment of the Week: Peter.

The con-chair-to that might change everything...

No matter what you disagree with how your flesh and blood has decided to progress with his life, you still love them. No matter how much you disagree with the choice of mentor that person has made, something happens that makes you think "who is the actual bad guy here"

Sat in the corner of the ring, just moments after being knocked out after the actions of Christian Cage, Shayna Wayne comes to, but the first thing she sees is Adam Copeland with a chair in his hand over the prone body of her son Nick.

It's a picture she has seen multiple times having been round wrestling for 20 years+ being the husband of Buddy Wayne, whose life revolved around wrestling, she would have seen Adam hit the Con-chair-to on multiple occasions while Buddy was watching tapes, putting together modules for his training and organizing the shows he would promote but now just 8 feet away from her, her son was about to be another victim of a con-chair-to.

It was an act so vicious that even the person who tries to see the most good in people flinched but the person who saw and heard the act at its most vicious was the mother of the victim. For every misdeed Christian committed in the 10 minute block that this moment happened, ironically Adam doing the right thing saved us from seeing Shayna being the victim of the con-chair-to herself, Adam might have done the wrong thing in his tunnel vision, oblivious to the person behind her, the clash of chair on skull might have done Christian's work for him.

From the outset, Christian has wanted Shayna. He wanted the phone call from her. Every family needs a matriarch and sometimes when even the man you despise might have not done the worst act on you or your family in a 10 minute span in your own mind, it might be that moment that convinces people that Christian's family might be the best option. It's moments like what happened on Dynamite that might convince people that whatever you think of him, that Christian isn't going to do to your son what Adam did.

On another note, I hope in the event that Nick Wayne's mom joins Christian's family that her new name will be "Has Got It Going On”!

MVP of the Week: Gareth.

Reach for the Sky, Boy

It’s fair to say that the first week of Continental Classic failed to write any

headlines, despite two very good matches in Eddie Kingston vs. Brody King and Jon Moxley vs. this week’s MVP, Mark Briscoe.

Tournaments in wrestling are so fun, in part, for the multiple storylines they conjure up, and ‘the Classic’ has already established a few.

Daniel Garcia searching for a victory as he battles with his identity as a wrestler/entertainer. After losing to Brody King, almost every match is “do-or-die” for Eddie Kingston now.

Meanwhile, Mark Briscoe enters this tournament as the only wrestler to never win a singles championship in a major company. (His only one being the JCW Light Heavyweight Championship in 2002). And he competes less than a year after losing his life-long tag team partner, his brother Jay.

The story here isn’t one that necessarily ends in this tournament, but more something that could potentially build into something bigger, as Mark tries to establish himself as a singles star.

This isn’t the story anyone wants Mark to be telling, in an ideal world. But it’s one that has the potential to grip fans like no other, and the reaction to Briscoe’s match with Moxley proves exactly that. Despite losing, it was the hope spots that Briscoe crafted in this match that really stood out on an uneven episode of Dynamite.

Mark Briscoe has a unique connection with the AEW fanbase and, whilst nobody expects him to win the Continental Classic, plenty are hoping that he will and will be cheering him on every step of the way.

Some even criticised the lack of courage to book an upset like Briscoe beating Mox. Perhaps he should have. Not only to establish the idea of “anyone can win”, but also to further this feeling of hope in Mark Briscoe’s story.

On the flip side, this is how tournament wrestling can work so well. Not everyone can win the tournament and it’s about finding those characters who can take losses along the way whilst building that into their wider character arcs.

For now, Briscoe can keep reaching for the sky, as it’s exactly his trying effort within the matches which capture people. Longer term, however, this could build into a really compelling babyface story where perhaps we do see him win his first singles championship.


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