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The Return of Omega | AEWeekly #117


Welcome to the #AEWeekly review discussion where PWM contributors reflect on the highlights of the last week in AEW. The eligibility week always includes the most recent episode of Dynamite, but is more flexible in terms of Collision and Rampage, to account for busy folks not always being 100% caught up, so can include this week OR last week’s episode.



This week’s contributors are Joe [@GoodVsBadGuys] covering match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promos, Saul [@SaulKiloh] exploring a key story beat, Greyson [@GreysonNation] with the moment of the week, Sam P. [@BigBadaBruce] with Throwback of the week, and Gareth [@Gareth_EW] giving us the MVP of the week.


 A page of links to prior installments may be found here: #AEWeekly



Trent Beretta X Chuck taylor


"Such a shame our friendship had to end..."


by Joe.



Trent vs Chuck is the match of the week because of the backstory it was built upon, the mayhem it was made of, and the emotions it elicited.


Trent vs Chuck have a backstory that was built to be blown off on pay per view, not buried on an out-of-timeslot episode of Rampage…. Trent & Chuck are a team that predates AEW. I don’t mean that Trent and Chuck were together before they were in AEW, I mean, Trent and Chuck were together before AEW existed. As far as featured teams go, that placed them alongside only the Young Bucks & The Lucha Bros. Trent & Chuck weren’t just together, they were BEST FRIENDS. They shared a bond that was outwardly closer than the brotherly bonds of the Bucks or Bros. That bond was so strong it extended out to the audience. The crowd pop for a Best Friends Hug often out-decibeled the pop for any finisher on a given night. 


So from the elation for embraces, we transition to the madness and mayhem of a bromance gone bad in a Jacksonville parking lot packed with history, particularly for this pair…. This parking lot is where Trent & Chuck had a match of the year candidate & COVID-era classic against Proud & Powerful’s Santana & Ortiz in September of 2020 (5⭐️ from Dave Meltzer & 8.97/10 on CageMatch), and where they battled the Blackpool Combat Club combination of Claudio Castagnoli & Jon Moxley in August of 2023 (4.5⭐️ from Meltzer & 8.6/10 on CageMatch). In these matches, they were ushered in by Trent’s Mom Sue in her minivan, and supported by their 3rd Best Friend—Orange Cassidy, the person at the center of their break-up. This 3rd entry in a now-tragic trilogy featured so many memorable moments per minute in a short match. Trent shoved Chuck off the roof of a truck through drywall into the truck bed. Trent used a spike to scar Chuck’s bloody forehead. Trent press slammed Chuck off of a truck bed onto a bed of light tubes stacked on knocked over trash bins. Chuck Powerbombed Trent onto the windshield of a car, shattering the glass and slicing the skin of his former bestie. We had a flying elbow drop onto the hood of a car. The way it ended developed the devious traits of Trent, as he used a low blow to buy enough time to piledrive Chuck onto the roof of a car & lock in a gogoplata chokehold, causing the referee to call the match. Trent found a way to cheat in a match without rules. That’s not where it ended, though…. Trent broke our hearts when he broke Chuck’s ankle beyond repair. 


After the referee called the match, Trent could have walked off with his tainted victory, and made some claim that he had to do whatever it took to win, in a match that Chuck challenged him to. Orange Cassidy would later state he had hoped that moment was the end of this bad blood. He hoped that it would be out of their system and they could move on or make up. Orange Cassidy still had hope for their trio as a future, even after the attacks and abuse he received from Trent. Maybe that future could include a tag team title for Trent & Chuck. They are the most beloved AEW originals to never hold gold. Maybe that gold could be Trios gold, with all three of Orange, Trent, and Chuck. There was so much love amongst them, and so much love for them, that we could find a way to move forward. That was at the heart of the plea from Orange Cassidy after the bell. Trent is too blinded by envy & resentment over a push to the top of the card he feels Orange got in the way of. Trent felt pushed aside. Trent’s response was one that pushed away accountability, pushed away history, pushed away loyalty, pushed away friendship, pushed away love, and shattered hope, as he shattered Chuck’s ankle with a wrench. 


To understand how truly despicable this was, you need to understand that Chuck was already injured before this fight started, and that is why it could only be a fight, and not a match. Doctors would not clear Chuck. Chuck was willing to suffer through pain in the name of loyalty, was willing to risk his health in the name of friendship, and willing to sacrifice his career in the name of love for Orange Cassidy. That sacrifice is what has come to fruition, as Orange Cassidy confirmed that doctors told Chuck he will never wrestle again. In a season of wrestling where there has been a lot of talk about finishing stories, Trent took that away from Chuck, and finished his story for him.


Chuck is not the only one left lost and cheated, as Orange Cassidy stated for the first time he feels truly alone. Orange Cassidy, now alone and angry, was seen being ushered away by an older toxic male influence in the form of Don Callis. We’ve seen in society what happens when lonely young men are taken under the influence of toxic masculinity (Andrew Tate, for example). It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the world of AEW.


Can you imagine this much depth from a 10 minute match on a misplaced episode of Rampage? Another reminder that wrestling is an art form.





Kenny Omega


"The gentle Art of Lying..."


by Sergei.


Presumably nobody missed it, but here it is anyhow, the segment we all are talking about:


There are a few very specific artforms that I consider very strongly related because of the way that the artist lies to their audience. Stage magic, stand-up comedy, rap, pro wrestling…. An actor—as a counter example—isn't lying, they're pretending. There is no blurring of the role and the performer. The actor might be Lear one week, Willy Loman the next. "Kenny Omega" isn't the name Kenny Omega was born with, but it is the name he's best known by. Is "Kenny Omega" a role that happens to span a whole career? Or more just a stage name? Blurring the lines between the two is one of the foundational lies on which the fun and the artistry of pro wrestling is built.


I work in the evenings, and I do my best to avoid Twitter on Wednesdays to stay unspoiled until I've watched Dynamite, but sometimes I mess up. This week, I accidentally caught a glance at a tweet claiming that we shouldn't be surprised at Kenny's promo, that he's always been underrated on the mic. So I was thinking about that, about Kenny's promos historically and whether he's good, actually. Because I'd agree with the rap against him that he's relatively weak on the mic, and yet I've awarded him promo-of-the-week multiple times over the years. So why is that? I was thinking, perhaps, that Kenny sometimes outdoes himself when he's delivering material he feels strongly about—like the Elite reunion promo, or the passing the torch to MJF promo—where kayfabe was a thin veneer over something true and real that really cut to the heart.


As I was watching Kenny's promo this week, and hearing him choke up over the deadly time bomb in his gut, I thought to myself that, yes! this was clearly of a piece with his other excellent promos. Kenny can deliver something truly evocative on the mic when he's talking about something that is true to life rather than just a storyline. So I would never have guessed that Kenny was lying to our faces.


Sure there was plenty of truth mixed in. Kenny genuinely battled diverticulitis for his life and survived by the skin of his teeth. Undoubtedly, he is on a long, tough road of recovery. But when Kenny looked right at you and me and all of the fans and friends and family in his hometown and told us with a catch in his throat and with a TEAR IN HIS EYE that he has a time bomb in his gut that could kill him if he were to take any contact to the midsection… Well, there are only two possibilities: either Kenny and AEW played a real round of Russian Roulette to get heat? Or Kenny is a FAR better liar than anyone gave him credit for.


And the effect of that lie is the fundamental reason that I call pro wrestling the Art of Lying. Pro wrestlers lie with EVERY word and action. The way that they stand, the way that they walk (selling), the tone in their voice, the slap of the leg… But the best lie is when you convince me that something is impossible, just to turn around and give me that impossible thing.


I completely bought that, although Kenny Omega was present in the ring, that there would be no physicality whatsoever, that he was cleared for ZERO contact. So, when Jack Perry gave him a steel-chair gut shot, for just one second my shock was not just that a surprising thing happened in a pretend story… for one second I was legitimately shocked at the actions of the human beings on live television—I can only compare it to hearing a gunshot while watching a live press conference or seeing something like the Hindenburg or the Challenger live.


Only for that one second, and then the likelihood of "oh, these fuckers really got me this time" reasserted itself. But that second raised the whole segment to a different level, and it could only happen because Kenny was such an entirely credible and convincing liar.




Kenny Omega X the Elite


"The Fastest Gunslinger..."


by Saul


A cowboy strolls back into a town he used to call home. Despite only having been gone for a short while, everything was alien to him. Old friends had become corrupted. The rival gunslinger he thought long defeated has returned and seemed as strong as ever. Many people were vying for the title of fastest gunslinger, an honour that the cowboy used to hold definitively. He was still hurting, and even though it may have been an unwise decision, he loaded his revolver and decided that he would reclaim what was his.


What can be said about this promo that hasn’t been said in the days following or even in this very article? Genuinely, I don’t know, I’ve been very offline this week. It was one of Omega’s best, forgoing his usual theatrical tone and was much more naturalistic. It falls into the promo category of retirement (or at least retirement-adjacent). Where the real and the fictional meet. These are all too common, and often are some of the most memorable due to their strong emotional core, reminding us of the serious physical toll that often comes with reaching the top of this industry.


It's a feeling I had upon seeing Omega back in a ring, and one that was elevated when the coin dropped. Rivals become an inextricable part of each other’s stories, especially iconic ones. The combined weight of history and the pasts wars these men had waged struck me as they stood toe to toe. Their rivalry helped each man achieve wrestling immortality, with matches that have stood the test of time. With the sheer volume of matches and wrestling there is to CONSUME nowadays, to simply be remembered is significant.


It also made the attack from The Elite, Kenny’s former friends and allies, all the more devastating. Siding with his famed rival, then taking him out to preserve their power. They felt a tad bit bad, but business had to be done. Given that the Bucks have been inspired by Succession, I did think that Kendall probably should’ve just super kicked his dad, or maybe even given him a Canadian Destroyer. Would’ve saved him a lot of heartache.


Kenny Omega was injured, and the Bucks sent him out to pasture. This attack really cemented the new Elite as the top heels in the promotion. I imagine they’ll be running roughshod until the return of Omega, where the Elite vs AEW battle can start in earnest. One must also consider what Hangman will have to say about all this, and if this could be leading to a rematch of one of AEW’s all-time bouts. The possibilities are exciting and has left the world itching for the day when Omega will come back for vengeance.


The cowboy was driven out of the town, the collective forces too strong for him in his current weakened state. But his eyes still gleamed with pure determination. In his heart, he knew he was still the fastest. He just had to bide his time and wait for his chance to prove it…





Kenny Omega


"Kenny Omega is not done yet..."


by Greyson.


Kenny Omega’s return has already been covered quite a bit here, and any one of a number of moments Kenny had this week could very easily take this spot, but there was a very clear moment within his promo that I feel was a turning point towards Kenny regaining his dominant position in AEW and it connects back to the theme of purpose in professional wrestling I spoke about a couple weeks back with Angelo Parker. Omega showed far more emotional vulnerability than we are used to seeing from him on television, admitting that at one point he was so scared that could not even bring himself to watch wrestling; his hands would even shake each time he watched. However, Kenny says “but that’s life, we’re all scared of something” and that “the reason why I was shaking was because I was going through withdrawal.” He continues that he “needed to be back in this ring” and “being called the best is what fueled me.” He also expressed that he felt he’d been forgotten in the conversation of who was the best. It was here that Kenny’s desire for victory overcame his fears and doubts and led him to make a commitment to “exhaust every option” possible to overcome his very serious health circumstances to return to the ring even if it only had a “1% chance” of success.  


There was also something even deeper than that personal desire for achievement. He continued that he “made a mission statement to Change The World” and then he went in on his former friends, EVPs Matthew & Nicholas Jackson, whose recent actions have continually betrayed this mission. He even reclaimed the mantle of leadership as an EVP that he appeared very reluctant to hold based on remarks on a prior Twitch stream, where he said he was “nothing” and a “terrible EVP.” 


Then Kazuchika Okada appeared, a ghost from Kenny's past and he made a further commitment, telling Okada to "give him a couple of months" so that they could get himself physically ready to renew their old rivalry, considered one of the greatest of all time. But rather than accept that Okada gives way to a Pearl Harbor attack from Jack Perry to his deadly vulnerable midsection, and then his former friends, the EVPs join in.


Here we now have an internal drive to perform, the combination of a specific desire for the goal of being the best wrestler, and the loss aversion of fearing he would be left out, specifically proving himself against his greatest rival in Okada, the motive of revenge aimed at the nasty sneak attack of Jack Perry, and a purpose beyond himself in the AEW mission, a purpose that he feels Matthew & Nicholas are not presently serving. Kenny Omega now has every form of motivation possible to return and be the best, so if it is in any way physically possible, we will be seeing more of Kenny Omega sometime in the near future. I hope Kenny makes a full recovery and returns at the right time to show everyone that he really is still the best and to help AEW on the path to Changing The World. I believe his story will set an example of how, even for a reluctant leader, this powerful confluence of factors can shift the odds against insurmountable challenges towards success.





Christian Cage


"Outwork Everyone..."


by Sam P.


With the huge return of Kenny Omega, and the vicious battle between the former Best Friends, one moment that deserved more attention was the reveal that Swerve Strickland would be defending his AEW World Title against Christian Cage. The leader of the Patriarchy made his first appearance since losing the TNT Title, but to my surprise, some fans seemed underwhelmed at the choice of opponent, especially shocking considering the tremendous work that Christian has put together in singles competition since joining AEW. And with that in mind, let’s take a look back at some.


The first that comes to mind was the red-hot debut of AEW Rampage on 13th August 2021, where Kenny Omega defended his Impact World Title against Christian in the lead up to their AEW World Title match at AEW All Out later that month. Both matches are underrated for the chemistry between both men, the Rampage match featuring Omega’s first loss in 23 months, and the PPV match was the culmination of possibly AEW’s best PPV ever. Both times, Christian rose to the occasion and reminded fans why he was one of the most underrated main eventers of the last twenty years.


The following year, the 6th April 2022 iteration of AEW Dynamite kicked off with Christian taking on Adam Cole, who debuted at the aforementioned All Out. Cole was preparing for a shot at the AEW World Title the following week against ‘Hangman’ Adam Page in a Texas Death Match, so while the result in this match was never in question, Christian was a relatively large scalp that gave Cole some great momentum. At the age of 48, Christian was still as smooth as ever, the psychology of a dastardly Cole trying to bait Christian failing until Cole desperately attacked the eyes and hit a Kneepad-less Boom for the win.


At AEW Revolution 2023, Jack Perry attempted his revenge against Christian in a Final Burial Match, where the turtleneck-wearing Cage and the former Jungle Boy had an aggressive, hard-hitting, physical battle around the ring and up the ramp. The final third was tense and had the audience on edge, as both men attempted to throw the other into a coffin, and the other desperately scrambled to escape. While Perry’s momentum was unfortunately derailed that year with the backstage clashes, the learning he gained from Christian was a major reason for his current success.


Later that year, on the 19th August edition of AEW Collision entitled Fight For The Fallen, Christian appeared again in another cracking match, as he portrayed the underhanded, crafty veteran accompanied by Luchasaurus, trying to defeat the fiery risk taker known as Darby Allin. Despite Allin being one of the quickest and unrelenting paced members of the roster, Cage kept up with ease as the two battled, and the success of the match likely being why the two ended up main eventing AEW WrestleDream later that year in a 2 Out Of 3 Falls classic.


And finally, one of my unexpected dream matches that occurred on the 14th October 2023 episode of AEW Collision, where Christian Cage defended his AEW TNT Title against possibly the best living wrestler today, Bryan Danielson. Mixing the technical brilliance of the challenger and the nefarious attacks of the champion, who focused his offense on Danielson’s arm (which had previously broken earlier that year against Kazuchika Okada), this features two of the best ring psychologists and sellers in the business. The finish is unfortunately tainted slightly, but for 20+ minutes, you are watching excellence. 


Looking back at some of Christian’s biggest matches, what excites me is that when facing some of the best, like Omega and Danielson, he rises to equal them, and when facing younger talents like Perry or Allin, he makes them look like a million dollars. Considering that Swerve is already a great talent ala Perry and Allin, and has recently proved himself one of the best with his matches against ‘Hangman’ Page, this could be a possible classic waiting to happen






Kenny Omega


"Change the World..."


by Gareth


As already spoken about in this article, Kenny Omega’s appearance on Dynamite was undoubtedly the talking point of the week within AEW. Despite still not being cleared to compete, ‘The Best Bout Machine’ did three things which individually stand out as three of the best of his AEW career.

 

Firstly, his promo. One thing I feel needs to be considered is that it might be his best promo… maybe ever? It’s always been the weakest part of his game, something people have routinely poked fun at him for.

 

Now, I’ve always felt that was unfair. Kenny’s style is different from what is typically considered to be a great promo. However, he is unique and that is, in my view, a good thing. For me, Kenny has many good promos, a few great ones. But this really ticked every box of what he needed to do. But Sergei has already covered the promo above.

 

Secondly, the face-to-face with Kazuchika Okada. A “moment” that undoubtedly ranks near the top as one of the most exciting in Kenny’s AEW run. The thought of rekindling that rivalry was sacrilege for many fans because it was so perfect, that no amount of fantasy booking could seemingly do it justice.

 

However, the moment Okada stepped into AEW you knew this was coming. Especially as about 20 seconds after that moment he aligned with Kenny’s best friends, The Young Bucks. You knew this was coming. The question was more “when and how?”

 

Kenny gave a hint to that with his line “give me a few months”. Possibly hinting at their fifth match taking place later this year at WrestleDream or perhaps even All In. Regardless of then “when?” one thing this confirmed is we are now living through the “how?”

 

Finally, the beatdown and angle that followed. After Jack Perry jumps Kenny from behind, Omega battles back, hitting a snap-dragon suplex, before Okada distracts Kenny and allows Perry to hit him in the abdomen with a chair. We then have the Bucks come out and hit the EVP Trigger onto their former friend.

 

Yet that still was not the end. When Omega was about to be put into an ambulance the Bucks attacked him again, saying “it’s just business”, a nice nod to the fact they’re playing what is effectively AEW’s version of ‘Authority’ Triple H, and “we gotta change the world, right?”

 

This attack from ‘The New Elite’ had all the gravity that the attack on Tony Khan last week did not. Where there were split opinions on that, here there was a much more popular view. Speaking personally, I felt it in my stomach. That is all only possible because of the bond Kenny has with the AEW audience and the great promo he cut beforehand.

 

A simply brilliant 20-minutes of pro-wrestling TV where ‘The Best Bout Machine’ showed he is so much more than just the in-ring. This will drive legitimate heat for ‘The New Elite’ for a long time and sets up some super exciting matches to come. A perfect note to move forward from after a few up-and-down weeks for the company.







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