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, 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.
Chris Jericho vs. Bandido by Joe.
Bandido didn’t wrestle a Chris Jericho match, Chris Jericho wrestled a Bandido match, which was must-see TV.
Jericho turns 52 in 5 weeks, and he held his own with an Elite athlete in their prime at 27 in Bandido. Jericho is a wrestler who likes to work very long programs with wrestlers and tends to save things in a first meeting, but he went All Out here to show that Bandido has arrived and that he is still here. Jericho has prides himself on reinvention & he is revamping his in-ring ability in the twilight of his career. This match was filled with memorable moments in a Dynamite that desperately needed them. The sixty second suplex is something I’ll recall forever, and the one-armed press slam & the top rope moonsault powerslam on a sturdy Jericho are GIFs that will keep on giving. There were near falls that actually hooked me & made me wonder & almost believe that Bandido’s visit might be more than a one night stand.
This match is currently scoring a 3.95⭐️ rating in the GRAPPL app, meaning I have a lot of company in thinking it was great. This is right in line with his rematch with Bryan Danielson on Dynamite and just below the scores for his singles matches with Eddie Kingston @ Revolution & Jon Moxley @ Quake by the Lake.
To put this in perspective, let’s compare the fan reception of this match against other high profile Jericho matches of recent years that it outscored on the GRAPPL.
Vs Kenny Omega @ DON 2019 (3.87)
Vs Kazuchika Okada @ Dominion 2019 (3.48)
Vs Adam Page @ All Out 2019 (3.6)
Vs Moxley @ Revolution 2020 (3.76)
Now compare against Jericho’s prime:
Vs Benoit vs Angle @ WrestleMania 16 (3.76)
Vs Benoit @ Judgment Day 2000 (3.93)
Vs Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero vs X-Pac @ No Way Out 2001 (3.91)
Vs Benoit vs Steve Austin @ King Of The Ring 2001 (3.67)
Vs Rob Van Dam @ Unforgiven 2001 (3.73)
The night he won the Undisputed World Championship:
Vs The Rock (3.92)
Vs Austin (3.26)
Vs The Rock @ Royal Rumble 2002 (3.82)
Vs Triple H at Judgement Day 2002 (3.77)
Vs Christian @ WrestleMania 20 (3.63)
Vs John Cena vs Christian @ Vengeance 2005 (3.79)
Vs Edge @ WrestleMania 26 (3.57)
Vs AJ Styles @ WrestleMania 32 (3.57)
Vs Kevin Owens @ WrestleMania 33 (3.39)
Ok, Joe, that’s a lot of numbers, but what does that mean? It means that pulling up to 52, Jericho’s days of in-ring quality aren’t as numbered as science would have us believe. It means we might be in store for one heck of a run through the ROH rolodex of World Champions that could breathe some extra life into ROH as a promotion worth living on as a separate and interesting entity worth investing time into. Jericho has built a legacy off of reinvention, will he now pad that legacy with a revival? That’s an exciting prospect. Speaking of prospects, the most difficult aspect of this might be finding storyline ways of holding off on the showdown between Jericho and Garcia until Jericho has completed this run.
Anthony Bowens has a Message by Sergei.
Road To, as usual, was full of gold this week, and the best part was getting to see the behind-the-scenes in-the-moment reaction from the Acclaimed right after winning their first titles last week. And, as great as Max Caster and Billy Gunn are, the highlight of that was Anthony Bowens’s impassioned and tearful speech.
I think we’ve all seen wrestlers who use cloudy eyes as a manipulative actor’s trick in promos. So it was really moving to see Bowens’s undeniably genuine emotions on his sleeve. He starts by addressing the fact that he doesn't make a habit of talking about his sexuality and his insecurities, but at this moment he needed to make the point on behalf of anybody struggling, no matter what with, that they are living proof that it gets better. It was an authentic and lovely moment.
Pillar vs. Killer by Gareth.
In the build-up to Jon Moxley vs. Bryan Danielson at AEW Grand Slam people were wondering what the next AEW champion's reign might look like, considering MJF was already the number one contender in waiting.
However, a perfect distraction has appeared in the form of Wheeler Yuta, one of the young talents in AEW looking to make a name for himself.
In mid-late 2021 four technical wrestlers appeared in AEW. Daniel Garcia, Hook, Lee Moriarty and Wheeler Yuta. The ruthless nature to these four wrestlers meant that some fans dubbed them 'the Four Killers' of AEW. The next generation of wrestlers after AEW's four pillars (MJF, Darby Allin, Jungle Boy and Sammy Guevara), who AEW dedicated to building in the early years.
There wasn't a huge amount of story development on Dynamite this week, besides Daniel Garcia's ongoing story which I've already written about in previous weeks. But I thought the choice to elevate Yuta in this feud with MJF, to essentially act as an obstacle for MJF on his road to champion, was an inspired one. And the fact that one of the Pillars is already being used to elevated one of the Killers in a proper feud is fantastic!
Chris Jericho's Mission Statement by Peter.
One of the more interesting aspects of pro wrestling is the week after a World Title change. There are similarities to a change of government or head of state in the crowning of a new world champion. The same questions arise. What is the vision of the new champion? Will he be a defending champion, will he take full advantage of a 28-day rule and defend the belt sporadically. Does the title reign inspire social change and or will the title holder act like a dictator? A week after Chris Jericho's ROH title win at Arthur Ashe Stadium, we got see the Jericho's mandate as Ring of Honor World Champ and its one that will be unique in the belts lineage
Let's get one thing out of the way. As of right now the ROH World Championship is AEW's version of the International Title that was part of WCW from the summer of 1993 to the unification match between Ric Flair and Sting in June 1994. The similarities between both titles is striking. The International belt was from the lineage of the NWA World's Heavyweight Title, a beloved title that was struggling to find relevance in the wrestling landscape of its time due to the changing times around it. The ROH belt has similar problems. It has gone from the third most important title in wrestling west of the Pacific Ocean to the world title in what was a promotion on life support that is now an IP owned by Tony Khan and while Tony's end game seems to a television deal for ROH, options that seem to be limited with Warner Brothers Discovery prioritising cuts rather than growth and media companies looking elsewhere for content. ROH needed a champion to lead them in uncertain times.
Claudio Castagnoli seemed to be the man, whose mandate as champ was about growth and making Honor mainstream but Chris Jerichio in his first week as champion post-Grand Slam set his stall out and based on Wednesday night is all about one thing, dishonor
Chris Jericho since his defeat to Eddie Kingston at Revolution went back to the drawing board and came up with a new game plan, reimagine himself as a sports entertainer and with that unleashed his philosophy on pro wrestling on the "AEW Galaxy" and in the "entertainment portion" of AEW Dynamite held a celebration that was definitely not seen in the days of a Davey Richards title reign (Lo-Ki might get along with Luigi Primo though judging by the latter's AMA) but it was post-victory over Bandido that we saw Jerichio unleash his mandate, to prove that a sports entertainer is better than anything that came out of ROH and in the process crashing the legacy of ROH before any phoenix can rise and in doing so cement his place on wrestlings Mount Rushmore while the remains of Honor burn but it seems that this crash is not due to incompetence by ROH's head of state but an intentional stripping of legacy from Jericho the dictator.
Now That's Sport Entertainment.
Bandido Impresses on AEW Debut by Dan.
At times we really are spoiled as AEW fans. There are certainly fair questions about the size of the AEW roster, but what that immense depth of talent means is that there is never a shortage of incredible wrestling to talk about. Yet not content with relying on arguably the most impressive group of wrestlers that any company has ever assembled, Tony Khan also gives us some extra-curricular activity by bringing in stars from other promotions around the world.
Flying onto our screens this week was a new face, or at least a new masked-face, in Bandido, and good gravy did he not disappoint.
Those of us who had seen or heard of the pointy-masked marvel previously may have mainly been focusing on his aerial ability before the match. Yet with a one handed press-slam on Chris Jericho followed by a ONE MINUTE LONG vertical suplex, Bandido proved that he is also an incredible specimen when it comes to brute strength.
That glorious melding of strength and high-flying wonderment was on show as the match moved into its closing stages, with the Ocho perched precariously on top of the ropes. Bandido, bleeding through his mask like some sort of wounded ghost, climbed up to meet the ROH champion and most of the world readied themselves for the almost weekly example of the superplex.
Bandido however is no ordinary cat. As far as I can tell he’s not even an ordinary species of any kind. So he grabbed Jericho for a slam, and whilst holding Le Champion, moonsaulted off the top ropes to execute what I would like to officially rename the ‘Holy F**K’. In slow motion it looked both absolutely beautiful and absolutely savage, a combination that very few wrestlers are able to pull off.
Credit to Jericho for his positioning in all of this as well, and indeed he was superb throughout this match. But the move of the week rightly belongs to Bandido. And whilst the roster is definitely too big…sign him up TK!
The Bandit Steals the Show by Trish.
There are some wrestlers that have to grow on you before you can find yourself fully investing in them, there are others that are instantly memorable. Bandido very much finds himself in the second category.
I remember the first time I saw him live; tagging with Silver King against Hijo del Santo and grandson Santo Jr just as he was becoming more prominent internationally a half decade ago. In front of a crowd which had mostly gathered in a celebration of Mexican culture rather than to see individual lucha stars, he was able to generate incredible reactions and
above those of his more experienced counterparts. I've seen this replicated at multiple events since so it came to no surprise to me that his energy was able to capture a Philadelphia crowd this past Wednesday night which hadn't seemed lively for much of the in ring product put in front up to that point.
What Bandido had early on (and that has been fine tuned since those first international tours) is a physical charisma which won't allow you not to be pulled into the action. He can illustrate it in bursts of speed, his ridiculous strength or in high octane aerial moves. It is in the way he combines this that made him such an exciting prospect post 'All In' and continues to mean that no company should stop short in their attempts to sign him in 2022. AEW should do everything they can to sign him up after this performance as you can guarantee it will have drawn interest from other parties instantaneously.
A further note that I do feel is worth speaking about this week: once more this could easily have been Chris Jericho in this slot. Jericho has been in his element in recent weeks and is putting in some of the best work of his career. He did everything he could in this match to highlight the vastness of Bandido's offensive repertoire and was the key man in this week's episode.
It's understandable that AEW are relying so heavily on Jericho, Danielson and Moxley during this period but it also brings with it concern as well. There are a number of people on that roster who could shoulder alot more of the load on a consistent basis and have been successful previously but aren't finding the opportunity to do so currently.
I hope that as time progresses more trust is put into the rest of the roster in the way it was in AEW's first two years and we can see people progress forward so that the base is solid when the current "stars" begin to wind down their careers.