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Shibata 'Strikes' Again | AEWeekly Review #41

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 Craig [@CraigPWMusings] covering match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promos, Gareth [@Gareth_EW] 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: by Craig.

The report that Katsuyori Shibata has asked for matches against Bryan Danielson and Orange Cassidy is an incredible compliment to Cassidy from one of wrestlings legendary figures of the last 20 years. This match was doubly interesting because of the unique dynamic and the fact this was Shibata's first match since Wrestle Kingdom in January.

The match it's self was intriguing if only a snapshot of the Shibata of old. The Cassidy schtick went back and forth between both competitors as Shibata navigated Cassidy's mind-games. He brought the intensity from the beginning cutting Cassidy off straight away and was pretty vicious on the outside.

We got strike exchanges and Shibata strike barrages. However it just didn't quite feel like the Shibata of old and that's okay, it seems he may be working in AEW to ease back into wresting away from the hyper-tough working environment of New Japan. He even took a Beach Break, but noticeable very safely to the back and nowhere near his head.

Statistically, Shibata nearly doubled Cassidy's output, was noticeably stronger in terms of strikes and utilised the vast majority of the submission in this contest. The taunting/showmanship numbers are significant as this was used to add character and action to this match without too much need for the two to indulge in Shibata-esque heavy strike exchanges.

Definitely not a triumph, but an encouraging sign for Shibata if he does how to return to the ring in a more competitive fashion.

Promo of the Week: by Sergei.

Some of the greatest ever on the mic are currently on the AEW roster, ranging from the virtuosic intensity of Eddie Kingston to the subtle ambiguity of Max Friedman. So when I say that Jeff Jarrett had the best and most memorable promo of the week by debuting with basically the same serviceable heel promo he’s been cutting for over forty years, that’s not praise of Jarrett, but an indictment of AEW not giving their talkers a chance to talk and of Ricky Starks not knocking it out of the park with his opportunity to impress on Rampage.

Story Beat of the Week: by Gareth.

So this isn't much of a story beat, but rather a question of direction. With the brackets for the AEW World Championship eliminator tournament being announced, and the final at Full Gear, it begs the question; who wins?

The first thing to say is that depends who wins between MJF and Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship at the pay-per-view. Most people would say MJF, but there is a possibility Moxley retains. But for the sake of simplicity, let's say MJF wins. You then have the question about whether he will be a babyface or heel after Full Gear. This we simply do not know. Which makes this tournament nice and unpredictable in terms of the bracket and for the winner.

Many fans are clamouring for a Ricky Starks push, and if MJF is going to be a heel champion after Full Gear, then I think Starks vs. MJF for the championship in Texas (a market where Ricky is insanely over with fans) at Winter is Coming would be a VERY wise booking move. (And is my official prediction).

But if MJF isn't going to be a be a heel, then Starks makes little sense and instead someone like Ethan Page, who seems to be being primed for a bit of a push could be another option. And not one I would HATE. But a really strange prospect to think about just six or seven months ago.

Eddie Kingston is always going to get fans clamouring for a push, regardless of what story he's currently involved in. I don't expect this. And whilst I do feel like he will lose to Page in the first round, I wouldn't rule out a run to the final to put over someone like Starks. He's an established name and someone Tony Khan likes giving PPV matches to.

Elsewhere in the tournament we have Rush taking on Bandido, Lance Archer facing Starks and Brian Cage fighting Dante Martin. You could conceivably see these matches going either way, despite certain results making most sense. So, regardless of who wins, this should be an exciting tournament.

Moment of the Week: by Peter.

In a week where Chris Jericho pulling a face while wearing Ian Riccaboni's glasses almost won the Moment of the Week (try writing 500 words about this) it was a pawn in the power struggle behind the scenes of AEW then lead to Brawl Out and his emotional return to AEW that won the week that was.

With a mystery surprise opponent for Chris Jericho advertised for this past Dynamite, speculation arose as to who it would be with ideas on twitter ranging from the interesting to the absurd when it comes to actual booking ideas (maybe if Elon Musk wants to save twitter, he should close the accounts of those who suggested it should have been Adam Cole who was Jericho's opposition) but when Colt Cabana music came up, you felt that the AEW world might by healing itself in this moment

The falling out of Colt and Punk is sad when you've followed the pair in their time in ROH. From the podcast that led to the court case to the aftermath which saw the pair fall out, the story of Chicago's finest's divorce was in the background of the wrestling gossip wheel in its everlasting rotation. Even in the euphoria of the First Dance, Colt would still loom in the background with fans wondering if Punk had made references to his former friend in his speech that night and David Bixenspan would ask a question about Colt at the media scrum afterwards which ended with a stern answer from Punk.

But then the Punk/Colt saga became of national interest thanks to the events of the media scrum at All Out. Its aftermath on the night has been discussed ad-nauseum but in the weeks after Colt has been forced to defend himself of accusations from his former friend that which purpose was to wound, showing dignity in his responses and potential awkward moments that have arisen in the past two months and that is why Colt deserved his moment on Wednesday night. It was a routine title defence for Chris Jericho as it should have been in booking but that isn't that point. Dave Meltzer might written in the past few days that Colt's cameo was something to show "the boys" that TK had picked a side (and judging by some of the boys reaction, they were happy about it) and Meltzer might have written that this was a one shot deal and that Tony Khan's version of ROH is where Colt's future lays but on this night, Colt got his moment of glory. He got the moment of dignity that he deserved and it mattered to him judging by the emotion he showed as he came out of the tunnel. Sometimes the babyfaces do win in wrestling

Move of the Week: by Dan.

The art of selling is arguably the most important skill in professional wrestling. From the glory days of Bret Hart and Mr Perfect through Kurt Angle and on to modern day geniuses like Danielson, Omega and Tanahashi, the sell is often what makes the move.

No-selling a wrestling manoeuvre is therefore very risky business and is often associated with arrogant/stupid wrestlers like The Ultimate Warrior and more recently Austin Aries. Yet when delivered expertly and with everyone on the same page it can create a glorious moment…and that’s exactly what we got on Dynamite this week.

So welcome to the ‘No-Selling Hall of Fame’ (existing members include Sting, Tomohiro Ishii and Kota Ibushi) Satnam Singh! Yep…you read that correctly…Satnam Singh is the winner of Move of the Week. And you just have to accept that.

Firstly though credit to the man on the receiving end of this glorious lack of reaction. Knowing what he was leaping into, Darby Allin made no concession to his standard bonkers approach to his own safety. Catapulting off the ropes at speed and hurling himself head first through the ropes at Jay Lethal’s resident giant, it was exactly the same sort of attack that would normally result in Darby’s opponent crashing to the floor.

It’s fair to say though that the word ‘normal’ and Satnam Singh don’t readily go together. Sure enough, even though Darby found his target squarely across Singh’s mountain-range-like chest and chin, the big man was magnificently un-moved.

As Darby crumpled to the floor as if he’d just dived head-first into a particularly stocky rhinoceros, Satnam shrugged it off like Tony Khan shrugging off a question about Mike Tyson. He looked down at the mangled stunt-boy and raised his arms as if to say, “you could throw a tank at me and it would be the same result…you puny humans.”

It was truly an awesome visual, only ruined by the fact that Singh was then ejected from ringside despite having simply stood his ground whilst being attacked by an unhinged-goth. VAR should have intervened, but even-so this is exactly the way to use someone like Satnam Singh.

Just. Be. A. Giant.

MVP of the Week: by Trish.

In the midst of the first three years of AEW (and all the drama in that time), it's easy to forget that Orange Cassidy was the first breakout star of the promotion. The charismatic quiet man racked up astronomical YouTube views in the weeks after their TV debut and inspired adults and children alike to arrive at arenas sporting sunglasses and a Canadian tuxedo.

It is also fair to say that in the 15 months which followed his participation in the World Title Triple Threat at DoN 2021, Cassidy has not been as heavily utilised as he could of been. Even in the aftermath of his excellent encounter with Will Ospreay for the IWGP US Championship at Forbidden Door and with crowd reactions as loud as ever, he was still the setup man for TNT and Trios title challengers rather than a man chosen to carry a flag for the company. With the events of All Out and somewhat of a reset of the company this has now thankfully changed.

Having picked up the All Atlantic Championship from PAC in Toronto "Freshly Squeezed" is back to being featured across AEW programming on a much more regular basis. He's proving to be a fearless champion, challenging potential opponents to compete in three ways for the title (putting himself at a deficit). Carrying his title in his rucksack, Cassidy is also proving himself as a fantastic media ambassador for the company. His dedication to his character and his method of interaction in these situations leaves news presenters and audiences enthralled. In a median of revolving guests, OC always manages to stand out.

Perhaps the part we never give enough credit too though is his in ring abilities. Cassidy isn't new to all this, he's a 20 year veteran with a style which helps to ensure the continued longevity of his career. In a similar way to Minoru Suzuki, he is not someone who needs to break out suprising offense in order to draw reactions from the crowd but is more than able to do so if the situation requires. He's also an incredibly safe worker with the trust of his compatriots.

The man who was widely praised by Hiroshi Tanahashi in the wake of June's cross promotional PPV was entrusted by Katsuyori Shibata to have just his second full match since his Ill fated headbutt he against Kazuchika Okada at Sakura Genesis in 2017. 'The Wrestler' had already found himself sporting Cassidy's trademark shades at Forbidden Door and had now requested to face him and Bryan Danielson as matches he wished to have from within a roster of over a 100 and having previously only faced less then 5% of the current roster. It is a massive vote of confidence from of one of the world's most respected names.

The match itself lived up to it's billing. Cassidy was careful in his offense (but not in a way which took away from the bout) but also fiery and not afraid to include some big offense. His character based offense gave Shibata something to play off outside his standard ground based or striking returns. It may not have been perfect but it was another step up for Shibata following on from Ren Narita earlier this year.

Orange Cassidy is a veteran of the new age. He is an expert in character development and ensuring your in ring motions form part of the story. Three years in, he's still one of the most valuable pieces in the AEW collection and fully deserves his current position and Championship. In a world traditionally full of egotists and arrogance, an Orange Cassidy is much needed in every wrestling company.

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