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The Descent of Sting | AEWeekly #108

Updated: Mar 3


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 it covers last week's Rampage and then the most recent episodes of Collision and Dynamite.


This week’s contributors are Joe [@GoodVsBadGuys] covering match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering interview and MVP, Saul [@SaulKiloh] exploring a key story beat, and Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week.


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



Sammy Guevara & Powerhouse Hobbs


" Super Strong Fight on Saturday Night..."


by Joe.



This match matched the feud. This action made me react out loud and hit the replay button on my remote. The result was surprising, and leaves me wondering what is next for the parties involved.


With the Don Callis family mocking Sammy Guevara and poking fun at his family, it supplies the fuel and justification for a hardcore match, particularly on Sammy’s end. One of the common weaknesses of plunder matches is the substitution of spots in place of stories, but that wasn’t the case here. The backstory helped the aggression feel earned and genuine. If you’re GOING to break a beer bottle over someone’s head, it helps to have it be in defense of a greater purpose like your family. If you’re going to break TWO beer bottles over someone’s head, it’s helpful to have a really good reason. Those spots were surprising and exciting, and they helped logically explain why Hobbs would be laid out on that table long enough for Sammy to Swanton off a VERY high ladder onto Hobbs, driving him through the table and to the ground. That sequence alone would have been enough to make the match memorable, but no, there was another insane table spot.


Powerhouse Hobbs hit his Spinebuster off of the apron through two tables and into the floor. I should say that is normally Hobbs’ finisher, but that wasn’t enough for this Saturday Night Fight. Sammy was too strong for that. Speaking of strong, Sammy hoisted Hobbs up on his shoulders and hit him with the GTH, which got a great impressed crowd reaction. That was a significant show of strength, but it was not the world’s strongest display of strength. That was left to the Powerhouse, as Hobbs hit the World’s Strongest Slam off of the second turnbuckle, through the table, and pinned Sammy for the 1-2-3.


This was a very exciting opener that was the best match on Rampage or Collision or even Elimination Chamber this weekend. Sammy Guevara is compiling quite the library of high quality matches for his eventual "Best Of" playlist on a future AEW streaming platform.





Bryan Danielson


"The inadvertent acknowledgement of a hater..."


by Sergei.


One of the secret weapons of a heel is to say something that people know is true, or that there’s some truth to it, but that they hate to admit. Nothing else sticks in people’s craw and makes them resent you like that! But what if, instead, you are spewing absolute bullshit? It brings to mind, for me anyway, Michael Cole’s heel days when his constant shitting on “Daniel Bryan” made all too many classic matches impossible to watch except on mute. Many would call that the ultimate heel heat, but my take is that the purpose of heat is to get the audience to boo the heel and root for their comeuppance, not to change the channel or mute the tv. This brings me to Brian Danielson on Collision. ICYMI:



Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t some truth to that. I may be one of Kingston’s most ardent fans, but even I have criticized his over-reliance on “pointing to the wires” in his search for verisimilitude. And Eddie would be the first to admit that he’s been his own worst enemy in his career at times. But the idea that any of that makes the King of the Bums not professional or not worthy of respect?! Well, that just rides the edge of that line between good heat and bad, for me at least. But then… something very, very small but very important happens—as the Dragon rants about the incredible potential that he believes that the Mad King had been wasting for the twenty years he’s known him, he throws in an almost inadvertent-seeming caveat: “...until the last year…”



So, in other words, Danielson just tacitly admits that the first and current Continental Triple King has lived up to that amazing potential in the last several months, meaning that Bryan is now merely… peeved that Eddie didn’t do so sooner? I guess? THAT is the kind of fallibility that every heel needs to stay on the “I want to see somebody kick your ass sometime soon” side of the line, and not drift over to the “I just never want to see your stupid face ever again” side. And in this case, the “somebody” is Eddie Kingston and the “sometime soon” is Sunday night and I absolutely cannot wait!




Hangman Adam Page


"Liar..."


by Saul.


“Hangman” Adam Page came out to the ring on crutches after getting an injury during last week's main event and told us that he wouldn’t be able to compete at Revolution. As this was the match I was most looking forward to, this was a heavy blow and dampened my excitement for the coming PPV… but it’s okay because it turned out to be a LIE!!!!


Did you enjoy that? How I started off the recap by acting like it was real??? Well, that can give you just a tiny smidge of the feeling of “Hangman” using this as a way to get a psychological advantage over Swerve.


Some people have pointed out that this took a lot of effort on Page’s part for what surmounted to an average beatdown that he could’ve just done with way less hassle. In the immortal words of Tony Stark, not a great plan.


I think it’s possible that he maybe had some sort of longer ruse in mind, before Swerve flippantly brought up his infamous taunting of Page’s child. This could also be a sign of “Hangman” not being as adept at mind games as his rival. 


(I apologise for this upcoming, only tangentially related ramble) In a later season of The West Wing, Josh Lyman explains that winning a presidential election isn’t about winning a debate about any particular topic, but instead ensuring that the things that are being debated are the things that will be preferable for your candidate. Swerve has pushed Adam Page to a place where he feels the need to try and beat him at his own game, but has maybe shown that he isn’t quite as good. 


Or this could be me trying to justify a bit of pro wrestling bullshit. You decide.


However, that is really a moot point. “Hangman” not only lied to Swerve to attack him, but he involved us, THE FANS, in his deception. He put on a theatrical display of injury, leveraging people’s worry and disappointment, just to get a slight edge on his opponent.


Excalibur himself even labeled “Hangman” a liar. Not the kind of language used by the straight play-by-play announcer to a wrestler who used to be the biggest babyface in the promotion.


AEW has been best when “Hangman” has been its protagonist. Well, it appears were in the “hero falls” part of that narrative. Equally compelling as it is tragic.





Sting


"Out from the rafters, a Sting descends..."


by Peter.


On Sunday we say goodbye to Sting but in the sadness that I will feel when we see him wrestle that one final match, the past week seeing the tributes, the music video played on the countdown show (I wasn't crying, you were) and the memories of Sting's finest moments have been a joy for this little Stinger. 


From Surfer Sting to The Crow to Joker Sting to the Over 60 and Crazy Sting that we've enjoyed in the last few years, Sting's Hall of Fame career has been a shining light in a business that can be dark and gloomy.


 If you were to debate what Sting's greatest year was it comes down to 1992 and 1997 as the final decision. 1992 had the two Vader matches (watch them on the WWE Network before Netflix ensures they become lost to the ether) and the Dangerous Alliance feud which culminates in the War Games that should be the template for all future similar matches but 1997 had all sorts of memories for this 11 year old.


Without saying a word and with baseball bat in hand, Sting was probably the most popular he was. Every time he entered an arena, the pop was huge and not just because he was Sting. To see a man descend from the heavens before kicking ass was a thing of beauty to this pre-teenager. It was the literal definition of the Johnny Cash song "God is Going To Cut You Down"


Cue 27 years later and in the retirement tour from winning one last title, the chance for the most famous cities of Sting's career to say goodbye and we even had to tolerate Ric Flair turning up but there were some memories left untouched. We are yet to hear the awesome original WCW theme that accompanied Sting pre the WCW Slam Jam album, we got a brief glimpse of Joker Sting at All In but nothing was seen of Main Event Mafia Sting and we had yet to see Sting bring back memories of 1997 and descend from the rafters. Until this past Dynamite


There are reasons to why we were yet to see the Stinger in a harness going down from the rafters in AEW. In a company that has brought Owen Hart's name back to the fans consciousness and let Martha have the peace that she deserves, to have Sting put himself onto a harness and descend from the ceiling felt wrong. Tony Khan making the call to Owen's widow to ask permission for the company to have a person do the stunt that took Owen away from us was a necessary but also a nice touch.


As for the Moment itself, yes you could make the quibble that Sting let Darby get beaten so he could hotdog and grandstand with his entrance. First off, if any wrestler would be willing to sacrifice himself in this situation, it would be Darby. Second, it's the final week of Sting's career. The man is entitled to do as much grandstanding as possible. As a Moment, it was defining. No matter what happens on Sunday night, Sting got to go out on his own terms in his final appearance on Turner Television. Coming down from the heavens to beat multiple people up, that's the nostalgia I can ride with.





Sting


"A man called Sting..."


by Sergei.


Sting is the obvious MVP of the week, but it goes far beyond that. I’m not saying that he’s the obvious MVP of the year or anything—Danielson, Swerve, Hangman, Kingston and more each have a strong early case for that. But Sting was the focus last week as well, we only chose Daniel Garcia as our MVP because everything had already been said about Sting because his story made a run on all the other categories, besides “Match”. And Sting is already the clear early lead candidate for MVP next week! If so, he will be joining exalted company: we’ve only given MVP to the same performer in consecutive weeks three times: to Jon Moxley in the summer of ‘22 when he was holding AEW together in crisis, to Danielson during the Continental Classic back in December, and just a few weeks ago to the compelling disintegration of the Hangman.


But Sting is far more than just the most compelling performer and aspect of one of the greatest builds to a supershow we’ve ever seen. He’s also, by all accounts, simply a marvelous human being: a great coworker, an amazing mentor, a wonderful friend, and even (the toughest test, I assure you) a great dad. Just the kind of person that everyone around them feels lucky to have had them as even a small part of their life.


People will say that Sting was blessed to have had the opportunity—through Tony Khan’s respect for his legend and flexibility as an employer, and through Darby Allin’s encouragement and openness to trying things as a great partner—to go out on his own terms. But that goes far more so in the other direction. AEW has been blessed with Sting as a featured performer, and Darby Allin has been blessed to have Steve Borden as a partner and a mentor. And I think we will see the fruits of that as the weeks and years flow on—that rather than his retirement leaving a Sting-shaped hole, that instead his influence will continue to send ripples forward that will make AEW and Darby Allin even better, even in his absence. And that’s the finest legacy any of us can hope to leave behind us.







 


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