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 Joe [@GoodVsBadGuys] covering match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promo & moment of the week, Saul [@SaulKiloh] exploring a key story beat, and Gareth [@Gareth_EW] giving us the MVP of the week.
Match of the Week: Joe.
A Wake Up Call and a Swan Song
“Jaded: Adjective 2: made dull, apathetic, or cynical by experience or by having or seeing too much of something. [For Example] Jaded network viewers” - merriam-webster.com
Jade Cargill is a very special talent, who was great at everything in the world of pro wrestling except for the wrestling. Unfortunately, for many spoiled AEW fans and AEW haters, they hyperfocused on the one thing Jade wasn’t doing well.
To borrow a term from Jade’s husband’s line of work, Jade’s interview segments had an excellent slugging percentage to them. What I mean by that is they never overstayed their welcome, and always delivered in some form of entertaining fashion. Now, I think she was maybe a little too hard on Uncle Tony Schiavone, he didn’t really seem to have started that much sh–. Speaking of entertaining, Jade’s Baddies Section idea is something that AEW should’ve embraced the way they have embraced the Scissoring movement with the Acclaimed over the past year plus.
That’s why Jade’s match against Kris Statlander on Collision could easily make AEW’s front office simultaneously proud and scared. Jade has 29 matches scored on Cagematch, and this match - her last match - was her highest rated by over 1 full point. I’m sure there are many that feel proud of Jade’s match on Saturday, including Bryan Danielson, Tony Khan, and from the looks of that heartfelt hug, also Kris Statlander.
However, I’d guess it’s a safe bet that someone else who is quite proud of Jade right now, is WWE’s Cody Rhodes. That is why AEW’s front office could very well be scared. That performance was not a carry job by Kris Statlander. Jade’s movements, her pacing, her timing, her crowd engagement, and her intensity were all dialed in properly at their best ever balance.
Something AEW as a company is not short on is excellent in-ring action. Something AEW is short on as a company is compelling segments in their women’s division. Toni Storm’s reinvention plus Kris Statlander’s return have revitalized the group, but the fully actualized version of Jade Cargill could’ve been a centerpiece anchor that would’ve elevated the excitement and relevance of the women’s division on one of AEW’s now 3 primetime shows. Few stars in wrestling scream primetime mainstream talent like Jade Cargill, and I for one am wishing her the best, while also wishing AEW had been able to make more of her run.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
Built in the Misery
The Mad King gets the nod for promo of the week based on a pretape played on Collision. He starts it off explaining the grudge between him and Castagnoli going back so many years. Then he moves on to concessions—admitting to the things that Claudio has said that are true: that he pushes people away and then blames them, (“that’s the sickness in me,”) that Claudio is a great wrestler. And then he turns around and points out what he has on his side: he has always had “home.”
New York has his back, no matter the borough. This is the last match, win or lose, and there is no way he’s going to let Claudio end this with his shoulders to the mat, not in New York. Then he gets to my favorite part: “We’re built in the cold. We’re built in the misery! Can you?” It feels like lyrics to my favorite song I’ve never heard.
I don’t know what the plan is for this match—it seems odd that they are selling it as a final chapter, when there’s no stipulation. However, Eddie has done his job, and I'm sold!
Story Beat of the Week: Saul.
The Brush is Mightier than the Sword
"Instruct him in the matters of loss and pain. Make him suffer, make him wish he were dead. And then grant his wish. The cunning warrior attacks neither body nor mind. The heart. First, we attack his heart."
Those are the words of respected entrepreneur and renowned scientist, Norman Osborn (aka Green Goblin). The level of contempt that the owner of Oscorp holds for the webslinger is unmatched. The only man in wrestling who can contend in terms of hating is Don Callis. (Tell me you couldn't see Callis as a Spider-Man villain. I think this creative decision could completely rejuvenate the MCU.)
I have been very clear in my pieces about my admiration for Takeshita, and that comes with constant anxiousness about him getting lost in the shuffle. AEW have sometimes struggled to give satisfactory follow-up to big booking decisions, which has caused a halt in momentum to many wrestlers. So I was happy that this week provided a logical and exciting next step for the Japanese supernova.
Callis teased a painting reveal last week, and on this week's Dynamite, the covering was pulled off to reveal the beautiful oil painting underneath. It depicted a strong and majestic Takeshita as he leered over a pitiful Kota Ibushi. I want to mention that I LOVE how it has become a trend from Don Callis to reveal his big story-beats through art. (I'm going to start learning how to paint so I can use this move in my own life. Imagine quitting a job by revealing a painting with you holding the decapitated head of your boss. It's a baller move.)
This match is exciting even without the Omega angle, as it seems like it'll be the first Ibushi singles match we get in AEW. Ibushi has also thrown some public heat in Takeshita's direction, so Takeshita has double motivation for this match. To shut up Ibushi, and to take it to Omega's paramour to continue to prove that he deserves his spot.
Don Callis is truly a next level hater. Takeshita pinned Kenny Omega in the Trios match at All In, then beat him definitively at All Out. In theory, he has already proved his point. He could move on to new business pastures, but it seems he just can't let go. Much like a Spider-Man baddie who can't move on with their life and dedicate their life to the destruction of their nemesis.
Moment of the Week: Sergei.
Joe is Going to Kill You (Emotionally)
Ever since Max Friedman and Adam Cole have had such a hit storyline based on portraying deep and tender friendship, it seems like everybody wants to offer them the sincerest flattery. You have Jericho and Guevara scheduled to face each other at Ashe, while reassuring everyone that they will remain friends afterward. And Don Callis using the original rivals-to-beloved story in pro wrestling, the Golden Lovers, to continue his vendetta against Kenny Omega by promising to destroy his "heart" in Kota Ibushi at WrestleDream. However, it seems that Samoa Joe didn't want to wait that long to use the same tactic on his own current nemesis, MJF.
After clinching his challenge for the World Title at Arthur Ashe by beating Roderick Strong in the main event of Dynamite, Joe immediately grabbed a mic and promised to take everything away from Max, with the word "everything" repeated for emphaisis. And then he walked out leaving Roderick Strong laying in the ring. This brought out the Kingdom and Adam Cole to argue about who is or isn't genuinely a friend to Roddy. As a clearly-faking Roddy gets strechered out, the argument works its way up the ramp until Cole is right by the entrance tunnels, and Joe pops out and ambushes him while shouting "Everything!"
Joe crouching over the limp, choked-out figure of Adam Cole is my moment of the week because of the way it emphasizes Joe's astounding ability to evoke legitimate fear. But also because it demonstrates the value that genuine vulnerability and tenderness bring to pro-wrestling storytelling. Once we see who the good-guy truly cares about, the villain going after the metaphorical "heart" of the protagonist is a great way to tug at the heartstrings of the audience.
MVP of the Week: Gareth.
Since beating Jade Cargill for the TBS Championship in May, Kris Statlander has had an uneven title reign. You’d do well to remember most of her matches, not through any fault of her own, but because the title has been booked like somewhat of an afterthought.
However, that appears to be changing, and it seems to be largely because of Statlander’s phenomenal ability as a babyface. Her selling against Jade Cargill and Britt Baker made them both seem like the biggest stars and biggest threats they’ve felt in a long time!
To prove this we can look at the match ratings on Cagematch. It’s not a flawless system, but it does show us the general perception of a match. Stat’s match with Jade on Rampage was Cargill’s highest rated match ever. Meanwhile her match with Britt on Collision was Baker’s second highest ever.
Now, whether you agree with that is besides the point. I don’t, I think Britt had a better match with Kris at All Out a couple years ago and I personally preferred Jade Cargill vs. Anna Jay also. But these were undoubtedly top 5 matches in both women’s careers, and they have Kris Statlander to thank for that.
I would argue both Jade and Britt actually gained from losing to Kris Statlander, and that’s exactly what you want from a babyface champion.
After a highly praised sprint-fight with Emi Sakura, hopefully this is the start of Kris Statlander having a really memorable, dare I say Orange Cassidy-esque, title reign.
The first couple months of her reign really underwhelmed. But this week proved that there’s gold on the table for AEW if they keep gold around Statlander’s waist and keep booking her like this.