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] covering match of the week, Gareth [@Gareth_EW] exploring a key story beat Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week, and Trish [@TrishSpeirs48] covering promo of the week AND giving us the MVP of the week. Big thank you to Trish for putting in an extra shift this week.
MJF vs. Wheeler Yuta by Joe.
The best match of the week was between a guy who believes he is a cut above the rest and a man who had to bleed to make the cut for the BCC.
MJF vs Wheeler Yuta worked because it had a build-up, it was given a great time slot, the enjoyment of the match was not dependent on the outcome, the action kept moving forward, it rewarded the audience for paying attention not just to the feud leading up to the match, but also to the beats within the match, and it felt like it was important to the featured performers.
The spot that summed up the theme of this match the best was when MJF rolled away from Wheeler Yuta on the top rope for the 3rd time, and taunted Yuta. This showed MJF was three things: (1) smart (2) cowardly (3) a cocky jerk. When Wheeler Yuta decided to leap anyway, then soared through the sky and crashed down into MJF. This sequence highlighted Yuta’s courage, and the risk paid off. That leap by itself without the setup would have been cool, but it would not have been as satisfying or impressive without that setup. This builds off of their feud where even when MJF was running down Yuta’s personality, he was putting over his ability as a wrestler. MJF won, mostly clean, but not without Yuta getting some payback in the process, and leaving both wrestlers looking stronger coming out than they were coming in.
The post-match added layers to the MJF / BCC feud as well as a potential future face turn for Maxwell, which is something I would caution the creative team of AEW from flirting with too much too soon. Whenever that MJF title run comes, it works best as a heel. Getting chased by Darby Allin, Eddie Kingston, Adam Page, Ricky Starks, Daniel Garcia, Orange Cassidy, Jack Perry, Wardlow, and now Yuta - is where the richest stories can be told about the most spoiled brat in all of sports entertainment.
Mox the Redeemer? by Trish.
You can make arguments as to whether Jon Moxley is the best talker in the world right now, but what is not up for dispute is that he is definitely the most effective. The man who single handedly built his headline match with Hiroshi Tanahashi, who's stinging promos on CM Punk got him cheered in the traditional enemy territory of Chicago, was back on top form when he confronted Hangman Adam Page this week.
This might not have been his most passionate promo, or his most memorable; instead it was one of his cleverest. Adam Page is somewhat of a rehabilitation project right now. Whilst his numbers and crowd reactions have held up in the most part, his reduced usage post Double or Nothing and the repeated assaults on his character and him personally by CM Punk have no doubt scuppered some of his momentum. Having come to the October 18th title shot by way of a Battle Royale; it felt like there was a tonne of work to be done here to make the Anxious Millennial Cowboy and therefore, the match, feel important. This becomes a bit easier when you have Jon Moxley around.
Moxley, gets to work quickly- emphasizing how long he's waited for the match; all the while the men using their physical motion to back up his words on how they have been within each other's orbit without fully engaging. And then came one of the most important lines of the year which will have sat under the radar for most:
"Between the two of us we've beaten just about everybody there is to beat here in AEW-except each other."
With one line Moxley is putting Page on his level. He's emphasizing his achievements in AEW and reminding the audience what they are. The man who has "never done anything in this business" has beaten some of AEW'S best, and Jon Moxley wants everyone to know it. He's also added immediate stakes and tension to a match that most were viewing as a standard title defence (with Page simply arriving out of his wilderness of recent months into this matchup).
Moxley goes on with continually building up his opponent, relaying how much he respects his talents and abilities and how he "admires him as a person" but there will be no respect in that ring because he wants to be the "top guy" in AEW and the "Best in the World." Some might look at this as a straight shot, rather, it's an attempt to start owning the dialogue on this.
Having made his points Moxley goes to take his leave (handing Page the microphone with such a slight of hand that some people were led to believe the promo was over and the next line was the Hangman 'going into business for himself '). Page stops him in his tracks with,
"If you've been waiting for this for so long then where the hell are you going right now?"
It's the only line Page has in the promo but it achieves a fair bit by itself. It displays that this character is not a coward and also calls back to his promo with Danielson last November; where he asked Danielson for a fight after his opponent had wrestled a match. It was an answer to both occasions where his actions had been labelled "coward shit."
Moxley's final line, upon returning to the ring, is a straight put down that allows him to escape the challenge whilst lighting a fire under his opponent. Hangman is a character which excels when being asked to prove people wrong. The success of that insult depends on if Page is able to answer back. The man who normally does his talking in the ring should have a microphone in his hand next week in order to continue his own redemption, a project Jon Moxley had decided to speed up this week through his words alone.
W is for Willow by Gareth.
A wrestlers first big win in a company is always a great moment, but it's even better when it comes out of nowhere. When I saw Willow Nightingale booked into this match, my typical sceptical wrestling fan brain came on... "she's being booked to take the pin."
But I was pleasantly surprised when she not only was given the time and opportunity to be the stand-out performer in this match, but also get the pin over Penelope Ford.
On top of this Willow popped up again later in the night and was announced to be facing Jade Cargill for the TBS Championship. Now, let's not get ahead of ourselves. She probably won't win. But this episode of Dynamite was a huge step forward for Willow in AEW, and is music to the ears of fans of hers, like myself.
The first big win isn't a particularly complex story beat. But it is one of my favourites. It's just such an easy way to recognise "okay, they're getting behind this wrestler now. Daniel Garcia, for example, has been getting a slow push for around a year now in AEW. But his first big singles win on TV actually came against Bryan Danielson.
AEW have a good track record with this, and The Acclaimed are another good example of a team who have been allowed to get over naturally without being booked to the moon immediately.
You don't have to scissor up all your current plans to force every new hot talent to the top immediately. AEW rewards your patience. And, although I have impatiently waited for Willow's first big win in AEW. I felt so rewarded when it did come. And these are the moments
Scissor Me Daddy... by Peter.
"We put smiles on people's birthday" is a phrase that you have heard associated with other wrestling promotions in the last decade, a practice they would not preach with heavy heat angles with acts that have deserved go away heat standing tall as the credits roll. Thank god AEW don't practice this particular way of thinki..... Oh wait.
But on a day we celebrated National Scissoring Day, the originators of the movement (pun maybe intended) got the Washington Arena all to themselves for what was 15 minutes of non stop smiling and scissoring too
There were many moments in this segment that cut deep.
● Anthony Bowens saying the scissoring sign that has swept AEW is indeed a handshake that signified friendship (which is true. I mean who hasn't scissored a friend at one point in their life)
● Billy Gunn playing one of his greatest hits with the "millions and millions" line (I've got "four words for ya" must be copyrighted I guess)
● Billy presenting Bowens with the keys to Washington DC which apparently is a pair of scissors (I'm guessing that was President Van Buren's idea)
● Bowens proceeding to run with those scissors (Excalibur and Gunn saying the same joke 10 secs apart made me chuckle)
● Also, a shout out for the "paper beats rock" line from Mark Sterling.
However in all the fun that everyone had scissoring each other, Max took the podium and started to talk about greatness and talked about his father Rich who was part of the 1982 Washington NFL team that won Superbowl 14 and while Rich was a back up on that team, his three Pro Bowl appearances show how successful as a player he was.
Second generation athletes have always had the struggle to live up to their family name. Jordi Cruyff was a decent footballer but his dad was Johan, a contender for the sports Mount Rushmore. Mick Schumacher's struggles at Haas are compounded by the fact that he's the son of seven-time champion Michael. Wrestling is littered by sons of legends that flopped in the ring (Erik Watts, Shawn Stasiak, David Flair) a legends name more often than not has been an anchor for the son trying to make his name in sport.
So to hear Max talk about his father's prized possession, the Superbowl ring he won by being part of the team that lifted the Vince Lombardi trophy and also the greatness he achieved two weeks ago in New York it spoke of the son who lifted the weight of his father's greatness off his own shoulders. Like father, like son, Max like his father can claim a championship to his name and that pressure, a lot of it probably self-inflicted like many a second generation athlete on themselves inflicts on themselves evaporated quicker than a piece of paper falls to the floor when cut and while the bi-partisen scissoring felt very on the nose it still didn't take anything away from the beauty of this segment.
Fans being comfortable talking about scissoring something that wouldn't have been seen in wrestling in its past, a son talking about his father's success and now matching it and the talk of friendship and not being afraid to show it. There was no moment you can add to make this segment better.
Actually, maybe so. You could have had Arn Anderson turn up. Just saying.
Scissors Are For Everyone by Trish.
The Acclaimed right now are revenant. It's the perfect word to describe a team who have gained full control over the AEW audience and proved that the company can do sports entertainment in their own way and still be successful at it.
This week's segment, as Peter broke down so perfectly above, was heartwarming, fun and evoked genuine laughter. People in the arena turned to scissor their friends, their family and people they've never met before. It felt like the best rendition of 'Auld Lang Syne' I've ever seen.
What was most impressive though was their confidence. They had no problem leading a quarter hour. Bowens was funny and likeable whilst Max was more heartfelt then we've ever seen him before and Billy Gunn was having the time of his life.
It is segments like this that make people want to go and watch shows in the arena rather than watching from home, it gives Dynamite an energy about it which feels similar to Cassidy or Hangman in their early days. I can't help but feel that this is even more important after all the recent disruption then it would have been during previous eras.
If Tony Khan had any plans for the Acclaimed to lose their AEW Tag Team Championships in the near future he should rip them up and scatter the pieces. The Acclaimed are the epitome of everything AEW set out to be and every emphasis should be placed on that throughout the rest of their reign.