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 Gareth [@Gareth_EW] covering match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promos, Saul [@SaulKiloh] exploring a key story beat, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week, and Joe [@GoodVsBadGuys] giving us the MVP of the week.
We've been doing this #AEWeekly article for well over a year now and our very own Sergei has compiled a historical archive to document the history of all the awards we've ever given. Check out the Google Doc HERE if you'd like to delve deeper.
Match of the Week: Gareth.
Rush vs. Jungle Boy
There were a lot of matches of a similar level in AEW this week. Roderick Strong vs. Chris Jericho was a fun bit of “sports entertainment”. Jay White vs. Ricky Starks was fantastic until what I felt was a flat finish.
But, for me, ‘Jungle Boy’ Jack Perry vs. Rush just pips it this week and it’s mostly for the performance of Rush. ‘El Toro Blanco’ has a real intensity when he’s wrestling and it just really draws you in. His match with Bryan Danielson is one of the best TV matches of the year, and just as he did then, Rush felt 10-feet-tall against Perry.
Jack Perry had his moments also, some lovely comeback sequences, fire-up spots and then best of all taking a gnarly bump to the outside. It really felt like he had something major to overcome as opposed to another routine TV match.
The finish was interesting too. After being trapped in the Snare Trap, Rush escaped thanks to Jose the Assistant and shoved the referee to the floor. Presumably El Toro Blanco was hoping to open up a spot to cheat here, but Perry saw the opportunity and rolled Rush up for the 1-2-3.
In doing this Perry himself held the tights of Rush to gain an illegal advantage, a detail that Taz was quick to point out on commentary. Which leads you to question what the purpose of that was? Jungle Boy has said multiple times that he won’t use the same shortcuts as MJF to become champion. But just there we saw a willingness to use a shortcut.
What does that mean? I don’t know, perhaps a red herring detail, a total accident or perhaps a tease for something to come in the future. For the record, I think Hollywood-born Jack Perry would make a fantastic, entitled, brat heel should that be the long term vision.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
Silence is Golden
Back in 2005, Eddie Guerrero cut a legendary silent promo segment. Two weeks prior, he had lost the tag championship and turned on his partner, Rey Mysterio, attacking him unprovoked and stretcher-ing him out until the upcoming monthly Pay-Per-View. Two years prior, he had attempted to turn heel on a tag partner in Tajiri, and the fans had rejected the intended plotline utterly, embracing Eddie regardless of his treachery or cheating. Guerrero seemed intent on proving this time that he could turn the fans against him, that he could still work in an antagonist role, and on showing off his dramatic chops.
He stalked out to the ring with the bloodstained trophy of Mysterio's mask in his hands, and a disturbingly affectless look in his eyes . The commentary team highlighted this expression, segueing into how unapproachable he had become recently. He glowered out at the crowd, at first blankly, and then with a building rage. He slowly raised the microphone to his mouth, then seemed to have second thoughts and lowered it again. Then he raised the grisly luchador mask in his other hand to eye level and emoted at it like an enraged Hamlet at his Yorick. He seemed on the edge of shouting at the mask, as if Mysterio were there, but evidently he had said all he had to say to the bloody piece of cloth in his "Why, Eddie, Why?" promo the prior week. So the only way he had left to further express his disdain was to drop the mask to the canvas and grind it under his alligator boot like a spent cigarette, and then stalk away wordless, expressing how he no longer felt that Rey or the audience were worth any more of his breath.
This past Wednesday, Max Friedman also cut a silent promo segment. It was relatively brief, and I am not, by any stretch, suggesting that it is as noteworthy or will be as legendary as the Eddie promo that I just described. However, MJF exhibited many of the same dramatic virtues as Eddie in pulling off this effective silent segment.
Maxwell started by using his face and eyes effectively. The frustration in his eyes and body language over his three challengers ending up on the same page (the "anybody but Max" page) in spite of all his machinations was palpable. Also, both men used the microphone as a symbol of their rejection of communication: Eddie lowering and dropping his mic forgotten, whereas Maxwell swats Renee's mic away in a boiling-over of resentment.
Another noteworthy aspect of this segment: rumor has it that it replaced a much wordier and worse segment planned and abandoned as inferior. Supposedly, there was a concept for a segment where all of his challengers interrupt him in sequence, and mock him for his plans going agley, capped off by Britt Baker indicating that if he somehow survived all that, he would still have Adam Cole around the corner.
I don't know for sure who advocated for the pithier and better segment. But I like to imagine it was Friedman himself, because he comes across as a young man who gets it: understands his own value, and how protecting that value is not only important for himself, but also for everyone he interacts with.
The segment as aired made it clear that, while the champion was trapped in a corner with enemies on all sides, he remains dangerous like a cornered animal. The abandoned draft made MJF look like a comic foil who was about to move on to the "finding out" stage, which would only serve to makes his challengers look foolish if they (as most expect) fail to topple the buffoon next weekend.
Story Beat of the Week: Saul.
The Elite Reunite
It was just over 4 years ago that AEW was announced on Being The Elite. Given the name of the company, it is hardly surprising just how foundational The Elite has been to its success. While we all know how hard each member of this faction can go in the ring, they have been far more important in providing much of the company's storytelling weight. Kenny Omega. ‘Hangman’ Adam Page. The Young Bucks. These men have been involved in many of the most important stories and moments in the ongoing history of AEW, with this week adding another rousing chapter to the tale.
Don Callis came out to explain his betrayal of Kenny Omega last week. It was clear that something big was going down as AEW rarely have a promo placed in the main event segment, and only do so when a major story-beat is going to take place. He barely got into his villainous spiel about how Kenny pushed him into this decision before Omega had heard enough. He came out to confront the man who he had previously thought of as family but the Blackpool Pleasure Beach Club came out to spit in his soup. Kenny stood on the entrance ramp. Alone. Beaten down. Facing down the BCC by himself much like Steve Rodgers standing tall against Thanos and his army. Much like Cap, he wouldn't have to wait long for reinforcements, as the Young Bucks came out with plunder in hand, even handing Omega a trash can lid to use as a shield (I didn't even realise this similarity when I started this analogy). However, they were also left hurting after an earlier beatdown from Regal's violent boys and the trio were still outnumbered. That was until a final portal opened. The Hangman's music played and the crowd erupted.
The four men who had formed a crucial part of the foundation of AEW ran off the BCC and stood together in the ring. Punished Adam Page passionately declared that they were The Elite and challenged the BCC to an Anarchy in the Arena match. The four men then raised each other's hands, confirming the reunion. The Elite is whole once again. The harsh words, the betrayals, the bad blood, it is all behind them. They have a common enemy to fight. But more importantly, Kenny realised his answer when he asked who he could trust. He could trust his friends. He could trust Hangman, because despite all the turmoil, their bond is inescapable.
Moment of the Week: Peter.
Hangman Grows into his Boots
I'll be honest, I expected to be writing about the billion dollar deal that was due to be announced concurrently with the announcement of Collision.
Turns out that one of the unwritten rules of up-fronts along with don't mention sports leagues that you are having negotiations with (that's why you saw no mention of WWE in the NBC Universal or FOX events this week) is that you don't announce dollar numbers of deals that you've just signed. Also turns out black clouds over wrestling companies are hard to deal with. So it was down to the talent of AEW and one in particular to give us some memorable moments and did they deliver?
I need to give love to Satnam taking the best table bump ever. Karen Jarrett turned up on my television (If she doesn't get an ..... Is All Elite render, I'm rioting) and any other week I'd talk about the Jericho/Strong match and try to compare it to the final hole of The 2019 Masters but on this night only one Moment can take the honours.
It was a Moment that a lot of people had been waiting for. Since that night that Hangman Page cost The Young Bucks a shot at tag gold on a humid August night in 2020 and was kicked out of The Elite, we have been waiting for the reuniting of The Elite. It had been teased for months from Hangman saving Matt and Nick from an attack from Undisputed/Paragon or whatever their name was, to the now traditional standoff between Page and the rest of the Elite and the moment when the opening chords of Hangman's theme hit, the pop told you the wait and the teases were worth it.
There were so many moments in the bigger moment that made the last 3 years worthwhile not just for us the viewer and the Elite fan but for Hangman Page himself.
First off, Pirate Cowboy Adam Page is the best Adam Page, but seeing Kenny hand over the barbed wire broom as if it was a metaphorical torch, Hangman leading the charge to the BCC, Hangman telling the world that The Elite were heart and soul of AEW (timing can be accidentally wonderful) Hangman making the match announcing that Double Or Nothing's annual alliteration match which involves The Elite and The Blackpool Combat Club showed that the version of Hanger whose act of sabotage that August 2020 night fuelled by insecurity, imposter syndrome and jealousy which lead to the split had been laid to rest. This Hangman was every bit the leader that Hangman was teased he would be even from the announcement of All Elite Wrestling. This night was bigger than Full Gear for Adam Page. This night showed the truth in the phrase "you don't need a hat to be a cowboy".
It was on this night, on the day that was supposed to be a very important day for AEW, that you can show you can grow from a moment of self-sabotage and be a leader. Some people should take notes.
MVP of the Week: Joe.
The E of AEW
Correct me if I’m wrong - and given my subjects - I know somebody will, this is the first time in the history of AEW Dynamite that a unified angstless Elite have closed out the show, and boy did it feel special and cathartic. This is the group that started the movement that created All In, and now they’re back together just in time for All In 2. This is the group that forms one third of the company’s name, and now they’re back whole just as this company is splitting in two.
For any early adopters of AEW, this is a big deal. You wouldn’t have been checking out this product if you weren’t a fan of Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, or Hangman Adam Page. This is a case of what’s old is new again, and this is giving Dynamite some clear branding, which is especially valuable with Collision on the Horizon. We don’t know what a healthy, happy, and whole Elite could do for AEW, because we’ve never seen it, and I’m pumped to find out.