The Disputed Elite | AEWeekly Review #28
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] exploring match of the week as well as the weekly MVP, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promos, Gareth [@Gareth_EW] covering story beats, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week and Dan [@WrestlingRhymes] reflecting on the best move.
Match of the Week: Joe
The Acclaimed vs The Ass Boys.
From a strictly “wrestling” or “rasslin’” perspective, the best match of the week would be ThunderStorm vs Team DMD. That match was very valuable because the women’s division is AEW’s biggest area for growth, but the match that offered the most that is missing from wrestling today was the most FUN match of the night, The Acclaimed vs Gunn Club aka The Ass Boys.
Long-Term Mid-card Feud: Now, you could argue that The Ass Boys are not even mid-card, they might be lower than that, which would only further prove my point. When is the last time we have seen a months-long build like this featuring wrestlers who are never featured in the main event scene? This kind of investment rewards fans for paying attention and adds depth to the card and the roster. This is the kind of thing The Dark Order, Varsity Blonds, Butcher/Blade and others should be shooting for.
Vignettes Supporting the Feud: The story here was not just told in matches or backstage promos, the Acclaimed made a music video to freshen things up (something they’ve done for previous opponents like Sting and Darby, but never for a feud this substantial). This is the kind of thing you saw more often 20 years ago.
A pay-off gimmick match that matches the Feud: They didn’t have a dumpster match because this was the specific month of the year that AEW presents Dumpster Day sponsored by HEFTY, the Acclaimed started calling the Ass Boys Trash Boys, which fit the theme of a Dumpster match. A match made famous by Gunn Club/Ass Boys/Trash Boys’ Dad, Billy.
HomeGrown Heat: Outside of the small part played by Billy, this match didn’t feature stars built anywhere outside of AEW.
Character Growth: When Max Caster cut his promo on the way to the ring, he didn’t trash talk the fans, and he didn’t trash talk their city. This shows some maturity from Caster’s character, but he didn’t lose his edge, he just directed the sharp parts at his opponents (and Vince McMahon). This helped to establish the babyfaces and the heels for any new fans. Which leads me to my next point.
Beauty in Simplicity: Even if you never watched AEW before, and you just watched the entrances and this match, you could leave having a good idea of who these 4 wrestlers are as characters. When you know who someone is, it’s easier to form an opinion on who you want to win, and it’s easier to invest in the action and the outcome. This is something that the indies tend to do better than WWE or AEW because they don’t assume the fans have seen the previous show.
Now, those are the things that are missing from today’s action, but they also featured some good things that are more commonplace. There were some big bump moments to build sympathy for the babyfaces (Bowens getting powerbombed into a dumpster, getting tossed onto a bed of trash cans), and a big risk to show off more character development from Caster with a leaping elbow drop off of the entrance tunnel through a table and onto the ramp, showcasing courage previously not seen from him. There was some comedy, with the cookie sheet shot prompting a “Cookie Sheet Jones!” call from Taz. I also appreciated a hardcore match that delivered impact without spilling blood. To cap it all off, There was a dumpster dump off of the stage that looked nasty, but hopefully didn’t injure young Sir Colten Ass or Sir Austin Ass. If they are hurting, hopefully they will feel comforted by the knowledge that this match helped their careers and they did their honorable part in making sure that The Acclaimed have arrived, and the journey was FUN.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
There are many words that pro wrestling uses very differently from the general public, and even very differently from other types of show business. Among those words are “gimmick,” “fake,” and “prop.”
Fakery and trickery are important aspects of all sorts of show business, and since it’s all for the sake of the enjoyment of the ticket-buyer, it doesn’t have the negative connotations as in real life. But few performers take “commitment to a bit” quite as far as pro wrestlers often do!
In pro wrestling, the word “gimmick” is generally used as a synonym for “persona” or “archetype”. But in other forms of show business a gimmick is some trickery or bit of business to add novelty or rivet attention.
“Prop” is a word unjustly maligned in pro wrestling because of its strange love-hate relationship with fakery. Wrestlers and fans often say that they want a Championship to be more than “just a prop”. But in other show business, a prop is ANY object used in a performance, whether functional, (a “practical prop”) or fake.
I told you all of that to tell you this: the intimation by Darby Allin that he tattooed a message to Brody King on his hand while speaking about their upcoming Coffin Match was a jaw-dropping, gasp-inducing gimmick. One of the most effective examples of adding value to a performance with a prop.
And faking that would not be terribly hard: a sound effect, a camera angle, some words on skin in black sharpie. And I hope to God that’s exactly what Darby Allin did. But what’s NOT so easy is the commitment to character that makes me wonder if that might not’ve been fake at all.
Story Beat of the Week: Gareth.
The Disputed Elite.
With the trio's tournament around the corner it seemed inevitable that The Undisputed Elite would implode. And with that came a lot of questions:
How would that implosion come around?
Would that leave the door open to a Hangman and Young Bucks reunion?
Where would that then leave Kenny Omega?
Rumour had it that AEW were waiting for Kenny to be cleared before going ahead with the trio's tournament. Yet, here we are, with the tournament looming and Kenny's absence as big a question as his presence would.
I can't answer what we don't know. But that question around Kenny only makes this more intriguing. Will he return next week, or will he return to an AEW where Hangman and The Bucks are Trio's Champions? Both are intriguing possibilities.
However, we now do seem to be on a collision course of Undisputed Era (or Paragon, as we may come to know them) against The HungBucks at All Out.
The handshake itself between Matt Jackson and Adam Page was beautiful. Not the complete reunion fans have been speculating over. But a nice nod and progression from The Young Bucks reaching out. Hangman recognising, and matching, that effort is a vital story beat in their relationship.
But in terms of moving forwards, there's more questions than answers. And that is always exciting.
Moment of the Week: Peter.
From a critical point of view, did they do the Undisputed Elite turn on the Young Bucks too early? In my opinion at first watch, yes but maybe not in hindsight. In a segment that those that are into Elite lore will never forget, the moment that we all knew was going to happen happened, plus the reactions during and afterwards the latest twist in the story of the Elite is my Moment(s) of the Week.
As I mentioned before it felt like they pulled the trigger very early when I saw Adam Cole and his Undisputed friends turn on Matt and Nick Jackson but in thinking about it, it actually wasn't. When Adam Page and The Young Bucks bumped into each other backstage at last weeks Dynamite and exchanged pleasantries, while it felt as awkward as bumping into your ex in a Wetherspoons for the trio concerned, you just know Adam Cole was watching at home and when he talked about loyalty before his betrayal of his Superkliq friends, like every wrestler that thinks and is sure he's a natural leader, a position he was in when at NXT he felt slighted and not for the first time. Remember the Dynamite after Full Gear when Kenny Omega publicly put Cole in his place when he offered to hold the fort while Kenny was announcing his sabbatical from AEW.
Instead of going the Christian route and biding his time, he went in two footed and hacked the Young Bucks in an act of petulance, he changed the shape of AEW and the road to the Trios Title Tournament and that's when one of the two moments of the week comes to fruition.
The kid crying while the Bucks were being beaten down has become a meme already in the social media world that we live in today. Hell, I'm guilty of it myself. I texted a friend quoting the running gag from the OSW Review vodcast "Making kids cry, brah" with a pic of the kid. But that moment was the epitome of what wrestling should be. Wrestling will always be about getting people to react and care and everything from this particular segment got people reacting all different emotions. 12 months on from the crying fan at CM Punk's return, when the fan was mocked by certain elements of twitter, that young lad showed that there is nothing wrong in caring about what you like and being emotional about it too. Admit it, you've shed a tear at least once in your wrestling fandom.
Apparently his state of despair would change when Hangman Page saved the day and while there's plenty to write about that particular moment, it's what happened in the hours after that constitutes the second part of the moment of the week.
One of the Young Bucks characteristics in their heel run in AEW has been their use of social media. The Bucks have substantially decreased their presence for personal reasons but one characteristic has stayed consistent.
The new bio tweets from the Bucks twitter account with a ever changing bio have been a source of entertainment for those that follow the team but in AEW Canon, it showed a resentful, bitter side to the team who felt that they haven't been given their due and need to point out that they are innovators in the ever changing world of wrestling. So, in the hours after Hangman saved the Bucks from the clutches of their betrayers, the new bio was an emoji of a smiling cowboy. It looks like The Bucks are finally truly happy again and sometimes in life, your real friends were in front of you all along when you needed them at your gravest moment.
P.S. OK, I actually need to write something about the Hangman Page run in. Those butterfly jeans!!
Move of the Week: Dan.
I love the ‘Sports Entertainer’ gimmick that Chris Jericho currently embodies. It fabulously lampoons a company that thoroughly deserves to be lampooned and it has proven to be a great platform for the rest of the Jericho Appreciation Society.
Yet with a highly anticipated match against interim AEW Champion Jon Moxley on the horizon, this week we needed to see the potential threat that Mr Judas brings to the table. AEW could have gone down the route of the risk to MOX coming from the other members of the JAS. Indeed that was exactly what I was expecting. But once his gaggle of bastards had been ejected by Aubrey Edwards, Jericho needed to show his own personal menace against Moxley’s pupil Wheeler Yuta. He did that emphatically with the Lion Tamer.
It is of course fitting that he broke out this move from his list of 1001 holds as he seeks to revive ‘Lionheart’ Chris Jericho. Yet potentially because we simply haven’t seen it for a long time, this version of the Lion Tamer felt particularly vicious.
Even before completing the manoeuvre Jericho was putting some extra spice on it by stomping at Yuta’s head, but that was just the prelude. Once it was cinched in, Wheeler became an immediate vision of pain. With his body contorted horribly and Jericho’s knee wedged into the side of his agony-stricken face, it is no surprise that Yuta tapped out immediately. On commentary William Regal brilliantly underlined the seriousness of the situation as he stated, “this isn’t the Walls, this is the Lion Tamer.”
The move brutally underpinned that whilst Jericho largely seeks entertainment, when he needs to, he can still dish out pain with the best of them…maybe even including Jon Moxley.
MVP of the Week: Trish.
It's easy to say that there is no one in AEW (or perhaps even in wrestling) quite like Orange Cassidy. The former Fire Ant is a blend of comedy and athletic ability who draws huge reactions in arenas throughout the US and often TV numbers to match and yet, still finds himself the target for abuse and slander from critics and retired wrestling personalities.
What most of the talking heads have failed to realise though is that Cassidy has evolved. No longer is he the silent man who the audience wondering if he was "gonna try", nor is he solely wrestling with his hands in his pockets during entire matchups or displaying solely a "cool" persona regardless of what's happening around him. The Cassidy of 2022 is smart, can matchup in the ring with athletically acclaimed wrestlers such as Will Ospreay and shows a varied of emotions during his matchups.
In this week's Dynamite opener he combined his pockets based offense with swift counters in order to take control early, kept the crowd lifted throughout the matchup (whether through his famous taunts or them willing him to fight back) and then used Lethal injuring his knee to ensure his opponent looked a viable threat for his upcoming TNT title match; rather than the victory appearing as somewhat like a fluke. It was a selfless performance that achieved everything it set out to.
Since Cassidy's return from injury he has once again become a staple of AEW television and has wrestled more matches then any of his similar counterparts on the men's roster. No matter the outcome of these bouts he remains one of the performers with the strongest reactions weekly and is incredibly popular with AEW's younger fanbase- who often still attend shows dressed as their favourite. It is this that leads to the question should he be doing more?
Whilst elevating phase two talent is honourable, it's hard not to suggest that OC is more then capable of holding a championship himself or even should be placed in higher level programs in and around the main event scene. It's often hard to see where such opportunities could emerge from with the top of the men's roster being very much a crowded field but it is definitely worthy of discussion.
Orange Cassidy brings an energy and a sense of enjoyment to AEW that few are able to match and might well be in the form of his life. It's in everyone's best interests to make the most they possibly can from it.