The Dragon Turns on the GOAT | AEWeekly Review #62
Welcome to the #AEWeekly review discussion where PWM contributors reflect on the highlights of the last week in AEW. The week we are predominantly focusing on AEW Revolution, as well as the week leading up to it.
This week’s contributors are Craig [@CraigPWMusings] writing about match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promo of the week, Gareth [@Gareth_EW] with move of the week, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week and Trish [@TrishSpeirs48] giving us the weekly MVP.
Match of the Week: Craig
Jeff Cobb vs Kenny Omega
Kenny Omega wrestled a match that is currently rated as the greatest match of all time on the Grappl app against Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom 17, so it may seem odd that I found his match last week to be the most heartening display of where he is physically at 39 years of age after a laundry list of injuries. However the match against Ospreay saw him wrestle a power move based villain, superbly, but it was a style somewhat removed from his previous work in New Japan.
What made his performance against Jeff Cobb heartening was the dipping into the reversal exchanges that were performed at such pace in the 2016-18 New Japan peak. Omega still isn’t bursting across the ring at the same speed and he likely won't be getting close while maintaining features of the bruising display he utilised against Ospreay would be interesting.
What are the next steps for my very selfish enjoyment of Kenny Omega the wrestler? I’m hoping the eventual rematch against Ospreay will see him having to dip into his athletic reserves. Thus that drop step around his opponent before running the ropes at at least 2018-esque speed in the midst of reversal sequences built around struggle is my personal hope.
Nevertheless, this living legend of a performer finds himself lined up against wrestlers the quality of Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli and, most poignantly, Bryan Danielson. That’s incredible foil for the man I consider to be the greatest of all time for my own personal tastes to figure out what he can do at this stage of his career and he’s got the perfect dance partners to do so.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
I really wanted to give “Promo of the Week” to Jack Perry this week. He’s trying so hard to improve, and Maxwell wins all the time. There were two bits that were excellent that Perry did in his exchange with Friedman Wednesday night:
He was self-effacing and calm at the beginning in a really appealing way, while calling back to hip-hop classic “I Wish” in admitting to those things he admits that MJF has over him, like speaking ability and confidence, and agreeing that he once thought they might have been friends.
While the build to a shout at the end of his speech was sort of histrionic and cliche, he finished on a put-down that genuinely prodded at Maxwell’s one weakness: self loathing.
I grade Max Friedman on a curve in these things, but I have to give it to him mostly because of all of the amazing seeds for future stories he planted throughout. Not only seeds hinting at a career rivalry with Jack Perry going forward, but also seeds of temptation, (befitting his styling himself “the Devil” of AEW,) of a future heel turn and alliance. Seeds like:
Claiming that Perry was the one wrestler he thought he could have respected
Pointing out that the fans had never thanked him for his blood, sweat and tears
The unspoken elephant hinted at that all of the allies Maxwell claimed Jack was a fool for trusting and relying on had, in fact, abandoned or turned on him since
Hinting that if things had been different they could have run the place together as allies
There are all kinds of mind games in the physical chess of professional wrestling, but the kind where a tempter leads the hero away from the strait & narrow with rational and reasoned deceptive truths is one we haven’t seen in a while, and I am fascinated to see where it all leads!
Moment of the Week: Peter.
Danielson Returns, Makes Mission Statement
Let's go back a year and to Revolution 2022. Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson just had a barnstorming match but despite Jon's win, Mox and Danielson would carry on fighting and it took William Regal and a couple of slaps to get them on the same lane. "Let's sort this place out" was what The Gentleman Villain said to the pair. It was consistent with Bryan Danielson's original promos on the Road to Revolution where he asked Moxley to join his side to make AEW a better place.
Let's be honest, the recruitment of Wheeler Yuta and the match on April 8th aside, The Blackpool Combat Club have been a disappointment in their first year as a faction. Chris Jericho will do that to you (good luck Adam Cole) but the rivalry with JAS wasn't the only reason for that feeling of disappointment in BCC's first year. Some of it was unfortunate, (CM Punk will do that to you,) some of it felt like putting a square peg into a round hole.
The Bryan Danielson disconnect from the other three members brought on by Regal's departure and the story that was told by it felt evident on AEW television. Yuta and Claudio were hanging out doing ROH things, Moxley had his issue with Hangman Page whilst Danielson fought against MJF. But in the last few weeks while Danielson went home the other three in the BCC went to work on their second album which looks like it won't be difficult.
The return of Bryan Danielson and his attack on Kenny Omega finally sets the wheels in motion for the Blackpool Combat Club vs Elite feud. Our combatants have been drawn up and the issues that divide them are clear. What started out as a rivalry between Moxley and Hangman that escalated now brings into focus the differences between the two groups that are about to wage war.
One simple line “you’re everything that’s wrong with wrestling” has us knowing the state of mind of Bryan Danielson and why the disconnect with his faction is no more.
The Blackpool Combat Club and The Elite's philosophies on wrestling couldn't be more different, the way they present themselves to the public couldn't be more separate and bruised and battered from tapping out to someone who he was supposed to hand a humiliation to at Revolution, Danielson's time at home made him realise what was next for him, and through a series of events, Danielson is back with his Combat Club teammates with his original mission statement needing to be executed and it's the team derided by some for their way of entertaining the masses that is the first in The American Dragon's sights.
Story Beat of the Week: Gareth.
Who Will Help Kenny?
The previous week on Dynamite 'Hangman' Adam Page made a heroic return to save Kenny Omega from a BCC beatdown. This is something the Blackpool lads couldn't have predicted, but this week they took him out and targeted Omega once again.
As Peter has explored, Danielson came out to Kenny's rescue only to turn on him and side with his BCC brethren. However, this begs the question. As the weeks roll by who will come to help Kenny Omega?
With Matt Jackson out for at least a matter of weeks we can rule out The Bucks. Hangman may be back this week, but also could potentially sell the beatdown. Don Callis is out also, not that he'd be making any physical interventions. So, who?
In the short term there are a couple of exciting options. Don could make a call to his new project Konosuke Takeshita. A man who has expressed respect and admiration for Kenny. Konosuke has previously shown he is happy to help out others when he prevented MJF from intervening in Bryan Danielson matches.
Another option is Kenny's former 'Golden Lover', Kota Ibushi, who made his return to wrestling after an injury and leaving NJPW over WrestleMania weekend. Kota and Konosuke could even team with Omega to form a 'Dramatic Dream Team' to take on the BCC in the short term.
Jay White is also a free agent and has a lot of history with Kenny. Mainly in going against Omega, but he could come to his former stablemate's aid. At least in the short term because if this story is headed towards 'Blood & Guts' as many have guessed then BCC may need a fifth teammate.
In that case we could see The Golden Elite (Kenny, Kota, Bucks & Hangman) vs. The Blackpool Combat Club (Mox, Danielson, Yuta, Claudio & Jay White). With Jay turning on Kenny and the Elite further down the line to stick it to Omega one more time.
Equally people have speculated that Konosuke Takeshita could be in that role. My point here is that we don't know exactly what will happen, but the various possibilities are tantalising.
Move of the Week: Gareth.
Innocent Don Assaulted Again
Violence isn't funny... but sometimes it is. Don Callis extending his hand as the BCC lay out 'Hangman' Adam Page was comedic enough. But then for Jon Moxley to turn around and smash Callis in the face, whilst Claudio picked up Don's glasses, who lay in a pool of his own blood, was pure hilarity.
'The Invisible Hand' did suffer a serious cut on his head as a result of this. A real life issue which isn't as funny. But in the moment it happened it was brilliant and a move that seemingly ruled out a fan theory that Don Callis was behind the attacks on the Young Bucks and now Hangman.
However, is this the case? Don has shown he will go to extreme lengths for his manipulation in the past. Could that theory actually have legs to it? I guess we'll find out.
MVP of the Week: Trish.
The Comeback Cole
This week was a busy week for Adam Cole. Wednesday night saw his in-ring return after 8 months out following a string of concussions last summer. The journey back had not been guaranteed; there had been month after month full of anguish and frustration before finally relief that he would be able to return.
The AEW audience has been able to gain an insight into his ordeal because of the new reality show, "AEW All Access" which also debuted on Wednesday night, with Cole and girlfriend Britt Baker very much the central characters in the replacement series for "Rhodes To The Top." Cole's story, as well as his natural likeability, mean it is easy for the audience to connect to the 33 year old and sympathize with him. Getting an audience to emotionally connect with him will be key if he is to be the babyface main eventer AEW see him as.
His return match, against technician Daniel Garcia, had some feeling out moments early on but swiftly became a strong return outing which was nicely supported after the finish with a full golden streamer moment before Chris Jericho arrived to remove his fallen charge (without, somewhat hilariously being able to clear the streamers).
A PPV program with "The Ocho" is likely the right move for the former NXT Champion. Jericho is a low risk worker completely in-tune with the crowd who will help as Cole adapts to his new babyface role; in both promos and in-ring. His moveset and physical attributes are more in line with a babyface but it is still an adjustment period after a long period as a heel.
It is clear that AEW are looking to make Adam Cole the top babyface in AEW. Cole has always received big reactions to his entrance and did strong rating and merchandise numbers in the early months after his arrival in September 2021. He will have strong competition from former Bullet Club teammates in Kenny Omega and Adam Page but is tied up long term (unlike the others) and much more comfortable being a public figurehead than his counterparts.
Regardless of how things develop, returning to the ring has been an achievement in itself for Adam Cole and should be celebrated in its own right. Whatever he achieves from here is a bonus.