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The Devil (MJF) is in the Details| AEWeekly Review #34

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 Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering match of the week & promos, Gareth [@Gareth_EW] exploring a key story beat Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week and Trish [@TrishSpeirs48] reflecting on the best move as well as giving us the MVP of the week.

Tag Teams Dazzle by Sergei.

“Swerve in Our Glory” is an odd team to be World Champion in the AEW tag division. A “can they co-exist” partnership of singles stars, they seem almost a parody of the type of teams the competition is criticized for. But it can’t be denied that their moves and style are dazzling! Their opponents this night –two-thirds of the newly-crowned trios champs– are the direct opposite, singles standouts, yes, but actual brothers bound by blood and moving in perfect tandem using a secret language of whistles as their cues.

Sandwiched between two matches with the Acclaimed– the sleeper favorite of the PPV, and the highly anticipated rematch next week at Arthur Ashe, it wouldn’t be surprising for these competitors to “leave something on the table” on this night. But that did NOT happen, as the two teams burned the house down with innovation, athleticism, and drama!

Maxwell Projects all of his Insecurities and Trauma onto Jon Moxley by Sergei.

Maxwell Jacob Friedman is obviously and self-evidently one of the great young prospects in pro wrestling today, and that’s in all aspects: in-ring. character, and on the mic. His delivery is unquestionably top-notch. However, his content often uses cheap shock as a crutch. There was a moment of that in this week’s promo, when Friedman mocked Moxley’s very public and widely admired stint in rehab. When you’re cribbing from Bully Ray’s notes, you know that’s some lowest-common-denominator heel work.

However, Maxwell turns around this questionable start quickly by admitting that it was brave, admirable, and impressive that Moxley successfully tamed those demons, and moving on to his real point: that Moxley is the one of the two playing a character…

Now, getting all meta might normally be something that would annoy me about a promo, but young Mr. Friedman wasn’t breaking the fourth wall, Jen Walters-style… Quite the contrary, he was proposing a kayfabe for why fans and commentators might use the phrase “playing a character”– he explains that he meant it in the sense of “putting on a front”...

And why does Moxley put up a front? And how is Maxwell so sure he “knows” Moxley, as he claims? Well, he read Moxley’s memoir! (Cheap plug!) And in it, Moxley talks about having been bullied as a kid. Maxwell “knows” that a kid who gets bullied will create a character to project toughness that isn’t necessarily real to the world. This is where MJF shows his hand…

Maxwell has revealed his own bullying stories and dealing with anti-semitism as a kid. If you’ve been paying attention, it couldn't be clearer that he’s actually projecting his own insecurities onto Moxley. But MJF doesn’t play this broadly to make sure every rube gets it! One of the truly remarkable things about MJF’s character work is that it actually rewards a close and careful reading. To me, this harbinger of an all-timer feud to come between the two men.

'What Does MJF Have Up His Sleeve?' by Gareth.

Above Sergei has examined MJF's promo. But the question I was left with after it was "why is MJF shooting for Moxley?" Considering that at the time Chris Jericho or Bryan Danielson were yet to decide who would face Mox next week for the AEW World Championship.

Many people have theorised that perhaps MJF is going at Mox to set up a potential world title feud after Grand Slam. After all, MJF is the number one contender in waiting, and Mox could be the new world champion after next week.

Before the tournament almost everyone predicted Danielson would be the new champion. Now, there's nothing wrong with a predictable outcome. Often that is the best way to go. However, what you don't want is a match where everyone knows the result.

So, I wonder if MJF calling out Mox is more of a red herring, along with Danielson's knee injury sustained in his match against Jericho. Are they trying to misdirect the audience into thinking Mox is the choice? Or am I thinking too much into this? Are they simply doing Mox vs. MJF?

Time will tell, but whichever it is they have successfully made me doubt myself, and that's what good storytelling does.

A No-Selling Taunt, by Peter.

What is worse than a no sell?

Probably what Jon Moxley did to Sammy Guevara in their semi-final match in the Tournament of Champions this past Dynamite, showing contempt for Sammy's chop by pretending to lie down and sleep for a second before unleashing a stinging chop of his own. But was it unprofessional? Was it something akin to Bruiser Brody no-selling Lex Luger in a Cage Match in Florida in the mid 80s? Don't be silly. Jon Moxley and his homage to Nick Diaz and his "lie down" moment against Anderson Silva worked perfectly in the story of the Jericho Appreciation Society vs Blackpool Combat Club and here's why.

We know the premise for the JAS vs BCC feud. Sports entertainers vs Professional Wrestlers. Philosophies are at war with both sides entrenched in their view, or are they?

We know about Daniel Garcia and his dilemma but without wanting to take a massive detour away from my Moment of the Week, for someone who wants to dominate AEW with his sports entertainment philosophy, Chris Jericho sure does like harking back to his 90s roots before he joined the New York territory. It might just be that the most sports entertainey person in JAS is Sammy Guevara.

With a wife who is also his valet, a pretty boy attitude that would be loved by some in New York and as revealed on his vlog a very obvious obsession with Dave Meltzer's star rating, its very apparent that Sammy Guevara is the prototype for a 2022 sports entertainer and Jon Moxley might know it too hence his contempt when Sammy tried to make the final four match into a chopping contest. By his brief lie down, Mox told Sammy one simple thing, to be one of the top guns in All Elite Wrestling, you're going to need more than one game plan and your striking isn't going to cut it when it comes to world championship contests in AEW and with the finals of the Tournament of Champions in Arthur Ashe stadium being an-all Blackpool Combat Club contest, the BCC way might be the winning philosophy in AEW right now.

Danielson, the Magician, by Trish.

Perhaps the greatest magicians are the ones who can get the most out of the simplest of tricks. In wrestling, is there a greater magician than Bryan Danielson?

In this week's match it's not a technical hold or a high impact move for 'Move of the Week' but a simple elbow. An elbow to the neck that Danielson used repeatedly to destroy all of the Dark Order in the lead up to his one hour draw with Adam Page back at 'Winter is Coming', a flush of elbows that were then used against him in his losses to Page at the TBS debut and at Revolution. He still chose to use the same series himself once more in an attempt to defeat Wednesday's opponent Chris Jericho at the PPV the week previous-only to be defeated by another elbow in the form of the Judas Effect at the end of the bout. On this night though, it wouldn't work against him.

As Jericho reigned down the hammer and anvil elbows to the neck of the American Dragon he showed no effect of the blows. His eyes were focused solely on the AEW World Championship and had aligned with his mind and body in his pursuit of the title. He'd turned something which had been used against him, that had been designated as a weakness into a way of illustrating just how heavy his endurance and desire to be the man standing on top of the mountain was.

Sometimes it's the simplest things that can be the most effective.

Bask in Who's House? by Trish.

Of all this year's additions in AEW it's arguable that Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland have been the most successful, and yet, have gone somewhat under the radar. Their debuts were overshadowed by William Regal and Jay White respectively and most of their first few months was spent opposing Team Taz on Rampage away from the view of half of the regular AEW audience.

Even when they picked up the Tag Team Championships back in July by outsmarting both Hobbs & Starks and the Young Bucks, their immediate celebrations were followed by swift criticism that it had denied an FTR- Bucks match and that it was two singles wrestlers winning the belts once more. A lot of this noise is significantly misguided.

What Swerve and Lee have put together in this run is a story with similar depth to the signature tag run of 'Hangman' Adam Page and Kenny Omega. It explores their relationship between the two characters in physical form, with Swerve's loyalty often coming into question but, up to this point, always coming through in the end. They have each shown more depth than a number of their other counterparts in reacting to each event they encounter and keeping their story progressing, which is not an easy thing to do with how unfocused AEW has been in the past six months outside of its World title picture.

Their matches have been exciting and energetic and full of tandem offense which has been innovative and under appreciated. At All Out they stole the show with the Acclaimed and took the crowd reaction in their stride, playing into it further this week in their encounter with the Lucha Bros. It's a sign of strong instincts and their durability when faced with such conditions that nothing went untoward or felt out of place in either match.

It's likely that at next week's Grand Slam show that they will relinquish the Championships to the Acclaimed and will likely do so by ensuring that the change gets as strong as a babyface reaction as possible. The setup for the story to continue between the two competitors is already there and that should help to ensure they do not fade into the background in the aftermath.

Some people spend a lot of time shouting about what they have done in the Tag Team division this year, and perhaps rightfully so, but this run by Swerve In Your Glory has been successful in all its aims and shouldn't be downplayed when it is looked back upon in the years to come.


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