The Famous AEW Are Going to Wembley | AEWeekly Review #67
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 best promo, Gareth [@Gareth_EW] reflecting on the best move, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week, Trish [@TrishSpeirs48] giving us the MVP of the week and Saul [@SaulKiloh] covering match of the week and key story beat!
Match of the Week: Saul.
Ricky Stars vs. Juice Robinson
I was very seriously considering selecting the firm deletion for my match of the week. While I do think it would've been a good bit, I'm not sure it's worth the alienation the decision would create from my fellow contributors. Therefore, I decided to go with "Rock Hard" Juice Robinson vs "Absolute" Ricky Starks, despite its blatant lack of children delivering diving sentons.
The rivalry between these two competitors has been a bit tepid. Despite the injection of heat from the inclusion of the "Switchblade", the feud was still feeling a bit lacklustre, especially considering the talent of the men involved. It’s one of those rivalries where the people are fighting but you're not really sure why. I guess Juice wanted to beat Ricky to prove his superiority? If there’s anything deeper going on, it's gone over my head. I mention this as it seemed the two men realised this fact and it put a little bit more pep in their steps.
This was clear for the start, as Ricky jumped Robinson straight from the bell, barraging him with punches and brutally slinging him into the ringside barricade. Juice was overwhelmed and had to resort to eye gouging just to stave off Stark's momentum. However, Ricky would not be denied as he gained the upper hand in the ringside brawl, leading to a high impact suplex from the stairs to the floor. Juice made a harsh sounding splat noise as he collided with the floor. It gave me back pain just watching.
The second act of the match included a lot of back and forth. With this being the competitors second encounter in recent times, it seemed they were each prepared from what the other might throw at them. Realising this, each man decided to try and win the match quickly, with lots of sneaky roll-ups attempted.
The Juice turned sour, angry about his inability to finish off Starks after hitting a few big moves. This caused him to go for one last dirty tactic, a throat chop, to try and stay in control. However, Ricky was able to escape for just a brief moment which he capitalised on fully, hitting a spear which helped him gain the victory.
The match was a very fun and high octane affair. The men made the most of their time, proving you can have a great match in under ten minutes if you put in the work. Now, perhaps the feud could progress a bit in terms of story?
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
The Dragon takes on the Hitman
Generally speaking, an active wrestler taking a swipe at a retired guy comes across as terribly petty. But when Danielson pointed out the degree of egotism in the claim in Bret Hart's old catchphrase: "the best there ever will be," he came across just as logical and consistent with his faction's foundational premise of developing the next generation of their sport.
Danielson went on to claim to be better than not only any of the wrestlers today, but also all of the wrestlers of the past, but, unlike Bret, he said that he is confident that there will be better wrestlers than himself in the future. And specifically, if he has anything to say about it, he intends "this little shit" (referring to Yuta) to exceed him, in time.
It was then that he contrasted this attitude with the Elite, and it became almost unavoidable that we address the elephant in the room: the parallels between the BCC vs Elite feud in kayfabe, and the rumors and accusations between the Elite and Punk factions backstage. The BCC are portrayed as brutal terrors, attacking people backstage unprovoked. Whereas here in this promo, Danielson characterizes the Elite as more concerned about protecting their power and spot than about the growth and future of the sport as a whole. The parallels are clear… I might consider all a little too on-the-nose, except (unlike the similar, but limp Originals vs Outcasts feud) they've left in the ambiguity that makes for intrigue, that's made the Elite vs BCC feud their hottest factional feud yet!
Story Beat of the Week: Saul.
Friendship Fracture Causes Four-way
Friendship and wrestling is a relationship that goes together as well as comedy and The Big Bang Theory. That is to say that they don't. They really don't. It's almost sad, but it's a universal truth that whenever wrestlers form an on-screen friendship, most fans will instantly think about the blood feud they will have when they inevitably break up. With a few key exceptions (The New Day are true friendship goals), the rule is never ever broken. Friendship in wrestling is almost doomed to fail disastrously.
Look at the friendship formed between MJF and Sammy Guevara in the last few weeks of AEW television. While many heels in wrestling history have formed together as a means to an end, I can't remember one as blatantly transactional as this. Not since SpongeBob and Plankton has there been a friendship more ill-fated. However, much like the animated pair, that doesn't mean that it wasn't enjoyable while it lasted.
This falling out was made even more obvious because of MJF's friendship history. As he has stated many times, he is the devil and I'm sure the many men who once considered him an ally would agree. Cody. Jericho. Wardlow. Stokely. AEW is littered with people that MJF has stepped on to reach the pinnacle of the company. This is another reason the collapse of the friendship was as inevitable as Ethan Hunt having to defuse a ticking time bomb in a Mission Impossible movie.
This friendship was born of fear. MJF wanted to curb the chance of a four pillars four way, which seemed to be brewing when each man declared their intentions to challenge the young champion. If he could just pay Guevara to lay down for him, then he would surely remain champion. He could retain the title that helps him cope with the terrible things he has done. Help silence his inner demons and prove that he really is the best.
However, Darby Allin and Jungle Boy would not be denied. To quote the fake Alexander Hamilton, they are young, scrappy and hungry and they were not throwin' away their shot. If they were victorious in a tag match against the the makeshift friends of Guevara and Friedman, they would be inserted into the title match. Despite his wishes to not defend his championship in a fourway match, MJF couldn't contain his true colours and Guevara was unable to resist the urge to superkick Maxwell. The fracture in their partnership allowed the other two pillars the chance to grab the victory.
Sammy Guevara cost himself a one-on-one shot at the title. MJF was unable to avoid fate, and is now forced to defend his championship against three of his biggest rivals. I'm sure he'll attempt to manipulate the situation somehow to keep his beloved Triple B, because the title is his only true friend.
Moment of the Week: Peter.
You know a moment was so big, so monumental, so perception enhancing that it beat the brilliance that was Team Jarrett spending the day at the Briscoe Chicken Farm (seriously if you didn't like that couple of minutes of magnificence I'm just presuming you a WWE bot or a Nick Khan paid stooge) but on a week that also gave us Chris Jericho going down from a Britt Baker slap like a knocked out boxer in Fight Round 3, the happenings on Tuesday all over the UK and Europe and maybe other places around the world which would lead up to AEW's greatest ever day.
Tuesday May 2nd was circled on many people's calendars once they pressed the button to be on the pre-sale list with those who are subscribers to AEW Fite also joining the fun that is trying to navigate Ticketmaster. The first morning back from a Bank Holiday weekend would see AEW fans across Britain add another morning to their long weekend, looking at their phones or laptops waiting for the 2,000+ eventually whittle down to the hundreds with the blue bar below getting larger by the second and then one code and a couple of buttons pressed later and 36,000 people could claim that they were All In by the end of Tuesday.
In the hellscape that is twitter, for once British wrestling twitter was a joyous place with many people tweeting their happiness at getting a place at London's biggest party of 2023 (Coronation, what Coronation) and as news spread from Dave Meltzer at the magic number at the end of day confirmed by Tony Khan, the plaudits from many a person dominated twitter.
The achievement of Tuesday, while extraordinary, wasn't really a surprise. Us Brits love a big event. We sold the Handball out at the 2012 Olympics for goodness sake, we in Europe have had a healthy appetite for pro wrestling. The European market kept WWE borderline healthy in the mid 90s when the company were running RAW's in 3,000 seat arenas in Vermont. One of WCW's biggest mistakes (and there were a lot of them) in the Monday Night War era was to not tour Europe and us Brits love proving a point. The predictions for how many tickets would be sold were either safe predictions or doomsday predictions so to hear the wave of praise of the numbers of tickets sold has been something in the last 48 hrs.
Not even the attempt of Nick Khan's stooges (yes, I'm talking to you Nick Coppinger) to discredit the achievement of AEW on Tuesday didn't work. It even woke a lot of people up to the not much talked about thing previously of former/current CAA (Nick Khan's former place of employment) talent somehow becoming wrestling historians in the last 12 months.
Tuesday was a good day not just for those that watch and like AEW but for wrestling. In a fortnight where fans had been told that previous precedent states that a No. 2 wrestling promotion ends up struggling, that No. 2 promotion sold tens of thousands of tickets for an event in 48 hrs and as of Saturday night, the number is near 70,000 which tells you that pro wrestling and AEW is in a very healthy place going forward and that can only be good for us who love this game.
Now I just need to figure out how to get there and where to stay!
Move of the Week: Gareth.
I Knew You'd Cum
For the second week in a row I am going to Rampage for Move of the Week. And for the second week in a row, truly, I don't feel like any really deserve this spot. I suspect next week will be different but the matches, whilst still good, haven't quite been hitting as AEW usually does. With moves that aren't just athletically great, but also significant in their meaning within a match.
Isiah Kassidy did pop me this week though. Diving off the roof of the Hardy Compound barn having been laid out early in the match. A great move made better by Matt Hardy's "Orgasmic Isiah, I knew you'd cum". It is childish, I know. But it was just so unexpected for me and, frankly, I was desperate for a laugh by this point in this painful match.
Does that make the literal months of storyline worth it? With so much TV time dedicated to this strange feud? I don't know, probably not. But it's certainly one of the funnier moments in Rampage history.
MVP of the Week: Trish.
It has been a while since we have seen Hikaru Shida in AEW. The company's longest serving women's champion has been somewhat in exile since being overlooked by Saraya in LA; fulfilling a string of dates in Japan with Ice Ribbon, WAVE and Oz Academy. Most thought she had been written out of the Outcast vs Original story only for her to return in some style on Wednesday night.
The double turn was executed perfectly, with the audience reacting big to each part. They wanted to see the "Shining Samurai" aligned with the Original side and got behind her immediately when she began laying down kendo stick shots on her former acquaintances.
The return of Shida is well timed and adds another layer to this story which was beginning to tread water. It should also help in improving the division's in-ring level; being that she is arguably one of the two best wrestlers on the roster and last time out on TV was half of what a lot of people consider to be one of the best Dynamite matches of the last 12 months.
When Dynamite began touring in the fall of 2019 Hikaru Shida was one of the first freshly introduced names the AEW audience connected with and it led her to the Women's World Championship. I am hopeful that an extended run this summer will lead her to more success as well as more sustained TV time with the addition of two more hours of AEW television to perform on.