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The Coin Drops | AEWeekly #109


Welcome to the #AEWeekly review discussion where PWM contributors reflect on the highlights of the last week in AEW. The eligibility week ends with the most recent episode of Dynamite, so, since we’re running late this week, this covers last week's Rampage and Collision, then the Revolution PPV, and finally the most recent episode of Dynamite.


This week’s contributors are Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering interview of the week and key story beat, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week, and Gareth [@Gareth_EW] giving us the MVP of the week. Due to the shocking quality and variety of matches in the Revolution show, we’re going to be doing something a bit different for Match of the Week.


 A page of links to prior installments may be found here: #AEWeekly




Sting, Darby Allin, Matthew Jackson, Nicholas Jackson

Will Ospreay, Konosuke Takeshita

Bryan Danielson, Eddie Kingston


"YOU pick!..."


by Sergei.


Revolution 2024 was a super-show that truly lived up to the name, giving every sort of fan something truly amazing to love. Three of the matches in particular were, arguably, the quintessential epitome of what they were. Early on you had the Continental Crown defense, an amazing example of an old-school technical bout, starting with disdain and contempt but ending with hard-won respect. Then you had Will Ospreay’s debut as a full-time regular against Konosuke Takeshita, an amazing example of a hard-hitting, sports-oriented contest. And finally, the main event, Sting’s swan song, alongside daredevil Darby Allin against those hateable Bucks was the perfect dramatic, chaotic, violent, cathartic crowd-pleasing finale (both to the show and to Sting's career). Which of them was your match of the week says far more about what you watch pro wrestling for than about how good the matches were, and all of them are likely to be on many balloters' minds when the time comes to choose Match of the Year. For a deeper look at whichever was your favorite as well as the rest of the Revolution card, check out the PWM “Reflections on Revolution






Bryan Danielson TIE Daniel Garcia


"Regret is the common theme..."


by Sergei.


Revolution week was an amazing week, and not just for fantastic bell-to-bell matches and for immortal moments, but also for truly brilliant mic-work. I could very easily have gone with a five-way tie this week, but then I recognized a common theme running through many of the stories and many of the words this week, and was able to narrow down my scope to two interviews that handled that theme especially well, and, even in a week filled with memorable segments, two that may very well be the ones that will stand the test of time.


In the main event of Collision the night before Revolution, Daniel Garcia and a few other random protagonists lost a big 8-man battle against Garcia’s scheduled opponent, Christian Cage, and an assortment of other villains. And more importantly—to Garcia, anyhow—in the aftermath brawl, Cage’s muscle, Killswitch, took Danny’s cornerman Mike Menard out of action with a slam to a steel chair. We got a post-show reaction interview from Garcia that was genuinely something quite a bit different:



Danny starts out talking about how upset he is that Menard won’t be able to be in his corner for his TNT title shot the next night, not for tactical reasons, but because the biggest match of Garcia’s life meant as much to Menard as it did to Garcia. But it has him thinking about karma and about the terrible things he had done in the past, wondering if they had deserved that to happen because of the things they had done to trample the opportunities of others. He turns it around and ties it all together with his current feud by pointing out that Christian Cage is the man that karma has been hunting for a long time. But the truly noteworthy thing is the legitimate regret in his voice when he talks about his past crimes, like throwing a fireball in the face of Action Andretti. “He didn’t deserve that!”


A pro-wrestling character who has switched roles from antagonist to protagonist genuinely grappling with guilt and regret for the things he has done felt truly revelatory and refreshing. But Daniel wouldn't be the only one to tackle regret before the week was through. ICYMI:



Last week in a very, very different Interview of the Week, Bryan Danielson had said that his enemy Eddie Kingston believes that it would kill Bryan inside to shake Eddie's hand and say that he respects him… and that “he might be right!”


This week, after having gone through the fire had finally allowed Danielson to see the light, Bryan had finally, willingly, and, in the end, proudly shaken Eddie's hand. Now, backstage in the trainer's room, both getting worked on for the injuries they had just inflicted on one another, Eddie said a few words to Bryan about how much it meant to him to finally have the respect of someone he had always looked up to. As the Continental King walked away, Bryan looked into the camera and said some deeply wry and humble words about how he had been the one in the wrong all along for not giving Eddie the respect he deserved far sooner, and that it had been stupid, petty bullshit.


Then, in one of the biggest tearjerking moments of the night, (AND THAT'S SAYING A LOT: how about that “thanks for the memories” movie Sting watches sitting in an old-fashioned movie theater?) Danielson goes on to say that he's not only proud of Kingston for everything he's accomplished and everything he's overcome, but he's proud of himself for finally overcoming his own stupid, petty bullshit. Danielson’s retirement tour may end up less about winning some last honors or titles and more about winning some final insights and character growth, and maybe that's okay. In fact, maybe that's better!





Adam Page, Swerve Strickland


"Hangman, the Spoiler..."


by Sergei.


Leading up to the AEW World Championship three-way between champ Samoa Joe and his two number-one-contenders Hangman Page and Swerve Strickland, Page reaffirmed on multiple occasions that he genuinely wanted to become a two-time champion. But he never seemed as passionate about this supposed goal as he was about stopping his hated enemy, Swerve, from doing the same. When the Hangman would lose his cool, he would rant and rave to Swerve that “YOU WILL NEVER HAVE IT.”


Swerve Strickland is not the first competitor Hangman had expressed strong feelings that they should never be champion. He said the same about CM Punk two years ago. But when he had the opportunity to brain Punk with the championship belt to ensure he wouldn’t, he vacillated over his scruples as if he were the Prince of Denmark. But on this night, he smacked Strickland upside the head with that same belt with no hesitation whatsoever. Meanwhile, Prince Nana passed his crown to Swerve as he has done to clinch the win multiple times, but this time Swerve was the one to hesitate. In the end, Hangman tapped out to the champion without a struggle to ensure his enemy didn’t become the standard-bearer of AEW. But most shocking and uncharacteristic of all, Hangman put his hands on not one but two AEW officials along the way to ensure that they did not call the match in favor of Swerve.


We have seen some shocking and surprising changes from Page and Strickland over the last few weeks, especially this past week, and it brings to mind the perennial question: Can a person truly change? On one level the answer is obvious: we see people change all the time. It’s an amazing miracle to see a caterpillar metamorphose into a butterfly. But it would be quite another matter for the cocoon to open only to have a jet plane emerge, or a timberwolf. How is it that Hangman and Swerve seem to be on a trajectory to be the opposite of how they started? I have MANY, MANY thoughts on this and will be exploring them fully in my next Deep Dive, forthcoming Any Day Now™… (Cheap plug!)




Kazuchika Okada


“Re-Elite..."


by Peter.

.

While Sting's victory in his last match was one of the finest moments in AEW history let alone the Moment of the Week, it has been covered in the look back at AEW Revolution on this site so I have picked a moment that blew my mind on this Dynamite just gone.


Is it a debut if you've already appeared at your new employer's product on 5 occasions already?


Pedantic Pete moment aside, hearing the coin drop alone is a Moment of the Week just on its own. That sound alone confirmed what Fightful had broken in the weeks before. The hottest free agent in wrestling had chosen AEW. A candidate for wrestling's Rushmore is now All Elite. But it's what happened after that that's my Moment of the Week


12 years after the the "Rainmaker Shock" when Kazuchika Okada shocked the world to beat his future career rival Hiroshi Tanahashi to win the IWGP Title, we got a second one from Okada. People were expecting Okada to do the "happy to be here" and "spirit of competition" route in the first six months of his time in AEW, not to turn heel and to align himself with a team that he was rivals with during the peak of his career. The idea of Kazuchika Okada, the face of Chaos joining The Elite feels like Lamar Jackson joining the Pittsburgh Steelers, like Erling Haaland joining Liverpool but when go into the weeds, it isn't such a surprise. 


Back when Okada's excursion in TNA was going as well as any promising Japanese wrestler being booked by Vince Russo, Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan was always going to go, and The Young Bucks were in the “Generation Me” stage of their career, the trio were stuck in TNA's version of catering, the Universal Islands of Adventure, where a bond was forged that would pay off a decade later. The days when The Young Bucks were in the corner of Okada's second great career rival Kenny Omega are in the past, the fact that Kazuchika is replacing Kenny in the new and improved Elite is another victory over Kenny for Okada. But shaking hands with Matthew and Nicholas is also a case of Okada protecting himself in this new world he has stepped into.


The move from Japan to America hasn't proved successful for many a star of the puro game. Two lands where isolationism is part of the culture has never seemed an ideal destination swap, so for Okada to reacquaint himself with his Universal Studios buddies makes all the sense in the world, and while the manner of the Bucks wishing Kenny the best for his future endeavors has the tact of a New England Patriots trade announcement, this re-Elite is going to a captivating watch with all the potential match-ups going forward.


Okada/Omega V at Wembley, anyone?




Kazuchika Okada

 

"Making it rain..."

 

by Gareth.

 

I was very tempted to make Will Ospreay the MVP, after following up a MOTY contender with Konosuke Takeshita at Revolution with another great match against Kyle Fletcher, before setting up a dream match with Bryan Danielson. However, the arrival of ‘The Rainmaker’ Kazuchika Okada has just stolen the limelight, for me.

 

This isn’t just because he debuted and then had a squad 6-man tag. It’s not specifically about any out-of-this-world great work this week. It’s about AEW’s greatest strength since day one—it’s about how he created storyline possibilities and anticipation.


The other strength of AEW has always been match quality and Ospreay delivered that and he, arguably, deserves this. As maybe Sting also does. However, we made him MVP last week and it’d just be retreading that ground.

 

The reason I’ve gone for Okada is that this truly is one of the greatest angles of all time, in my opinion. With rumours of ‘The Rainmaker’ coming to AEW many people questioned “can they make it work?” Wrestlers who aren’t native English speakers have traditionally struggled in North American wrestling.

 

Obviously, Okada’s wrestling ability wasn’t questioned, and he does speak very good English also. Many would say it is silly to even question it in the first place. However, with an underwhelming run from Konosuke Takeshita, despite many great matches, I think that was a fair worry to have.

 

Even with that said, it seems AEW have found the perfect way to work around that by aligning Okada with The Young Bucks. Not only that, but to replace Kenny Omega in The Elite with his greatest career rival.

 

The decision to have Okada go after Eddie Kingston, a beloved babyface and a champion, is also the PERFECT one. In, presumably, taking that title from Eddie, Okada will solidify as a top heel in the eyes of anyone not familiar with his work. (From the TV audience this is a significant amount of the audience, although in the arena he’s already being treated as a star).


Booking aside, Okada will also draw heat through his cocky performances. Okada was, in my opinion, at his best as a cocky heel when aligned with Gedo. Now with the Bucks he has a similar, probably better, act and his mannerisms in his short match, beat downs of Eddie, and backstage segment with the Bucks, he showed how charismatic he can be without even talking. Not to mention brilliant lines such as “I am the best” which, in particular, popped me.


This will perfectly suit Okada from a booking and a performance standpoint, and I now have zero doubts Okada will be a success in AEW. That’s before we actually mention the storyline potential with Eddie Kingston, with Kenny Omega, even Hangman Page. Even with Will Ospreay as, once again, Okada has managed to make it rain on the ‘Aerial Assassin’s’ parade.






 


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