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The Week of Cero Miedo | AEWeekly #114


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, Peter [@PeterEdge7] 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




Penta X Komander


"Komander: King of the Buildless Banger..."


by Joe.



Komander doesn’t get promo time or packages or put into feuds, & in AEW his W/L is 7-32, yet—because of his athletic gifts & some “IT” Factor, too—he maximizes his screen time better than all but a few. 


Komander burst onto the scene with his performances in multi-man matches where he showcased his big spots. High spots are still his strongest unique selling point, but he has been developing his striking, submissions, and selling, as well—to the point where I not only see Komander as a future champion in AEW, but even as a future featured star for the company. 


Komander is leveling up his selling skill. After receiving what looked like a simple leg kick to the back of his thigh, Komander nearly doubled over and collapsed into an almost fetal position, holding his leg. Sure, he was able to access adrenaline and fight back with a torpedo suicide dive to the rampway, but after that he had to slam the ramp to fire up and push through the pain, which you cotld tell was still bothering him by the way he grabbed his leg again before climbing back into the ring. 


Komander has improved not only at selling the moves he receives, but at selling the moves he delivers. When he chopped PENTA, he looked like he was draining his energy bar and losing his balance. This selling of the little moves like chops and leg kicks is going to fill in the gaps not just in the matches, but Komander’s overall game. That selling of not just pain, but fatigue, made Komander’s Spanish Fly reversal (with a nasty landing for PENTA) & exhausted collapsing pin attempt feel like a major moment borne out of desperation.


Speaking of selling, it was an odd choice to have Komander still standing after receiving an apron destroyer, and able to deliver a back body drop to PENTA on the ramp, but I enjoyed it. 


Now, back to what brought Komander to the dance, the razzle-dazzle flippin and flyin! Komander hit a hands-free, no-look, climbing & diving & spinning splash off the top that is tailor made for a GIF. Then he not only climbed, but ran the ropes and connected with a dropkick, driving PENTA to the floor. The follow-up? Komander runs to the ropes, jumps and does a 180 onto the top rope, then springs upward and backward with a beautiful moonsault onto PENTA on the floor, actually making impact, while also landing on his feet!


After this showcase, Komander went to top it off with a rope running shooting star press but was caught with a lungblower by PENTA, which set up a nasty package piledriver to put away the prodigy.





Dax Harwood


"We will build this..."


by Sergei.


Last week, footage of CM Punk’s altercation with Jungle Boy was aired on Dynamite—in kayfabe terms this was done “by” the EVPs Matthew and Nicholas Jackson. Within the storyline, the brothers’ rationale for dredging this up was to make an excuse for losing to FTR in their last meeting at Wembley and to weaselly hint that FTR had put CM Punk up to it, specifically to take the Bucks off their game. This segment drew an immediate response from FTR, who angrily charged the ring to make a rebuttal, in a segment that commentary makes a point to categorize as “unplanned.” Cash Wheeler starts them out talking about how “sick and tired” he is of hearing about and talking about this incident. Personally, I find it a bit disappointing that TK had sufficient self-reflection to realize that the decision to air the footage would not be a popular one, but not enough to… just not? HOWEVER, Dax Harwood took this wobbly set-up and used it to craft a genuinely fiery and moving babyface promo, as he is surprisingly apt to do


I say “surprisingly” because, until their gradual turn two years ago, as they quit the Pinnacle and fired Tully, FTR had always seemed like “forever heels” to me: the kind of guys that, even if some booker foolishly wrote them as the good guys, I’d surely never root for them, would I? (Spoiler: I was wrong.) Dax himself still often seems surprised that anybody would even like him, a humility that’s ironically an essential component of his charm.That and the passion for what he does that burns through every time he is on the mic. In this specific case, ICYMI:



If it takes my last breath, on the backs of FTR, on the back of Samoa Joe, on the back of Swerve Strickland, on the back of uh, uh, uh… Daniel Garcia, Darby Allin, Willow Nightingale, every single man and woman back there who come to work every week and WANT TO BE HERE, on our backs we will build this. We will continue to build this place. And not just for us. It ain't just a selfish ambition. We're building it for the future of ALL professional wrestlers. So they have a choice, they can make a decision, they can make a living, but more importantly than that… we're building this for every single man, woman who goes … every day to work, week in, week out, and spends their hard-earned money on ONE TICKET… to get lost… To get lost in our drama, to get lost in our action. We are doing this for you. And if the Young Bucks don't want to be part of that AEW? Grab your ball… go home. We GOT this!

It's at this point that the FTR chants begin. A lot is made of wrestlers who have a gift for “making lemonade.” And I think it's definitely worthwhile to hold bookers and other creatives accountable to maybe give performers not so many lemons. Give them an apple or an orange once in a while! But it's an imperfect world full of miscommunication and ego and error. Even in the best of creative environments lemons are gonna pop up from time to time. And Dax Harwood taking a premise as marginal as the Jackson's showing the Punk footage as… an excuse for why they lost against FTR last time? and building from there to an AEW rallying cry? Now, that's impressive!







Kyle O'Reilly X Roderick Stong


"Subtitle..." "It’s of International Importance..."

by Saul


Sooo, slightly breaking eligibility rules here, but I’m going with the Kyle O’Reilly vs Undisputed Kingdom drama that took place just yesterday on Battle of the Belts X (not sponsored by Elon, no need to attract extra drama this week).


Injured in June of 2022, Kyle O’Reilly finally made his return from injury last month. A great thing to see, and props to him for making it through what must’ve been an arduous recovery process. It’s always sobering to remember the physical toll wrestlers endure, and puts into perspective the things that really matter. Stay healthy Kyle!


Another thing about wrestling this showcases is how fast things change. Reminder that when Kyle got injured, Roderick Strong was still in NXT. In that absence, not only did Strong join AEW, he had a full heel turn, joined a new faction and became International Champion. That stable is headed by two of KORs former stablemates, so it seemed a natural slot for him to slide into upon his return. 

That’s not how it’s gone down though. Kyle O’Reilly seemed hesitant to fully join the Undisputed Kingdom (maybe he wasn’t a fan of how the devil storyline played out), and Strong (much like Michael Jordan) took that personally.


This is an important matchup. Firstly, for the International Championship. There has been discussion over that amount of title gold in AEW, and it’s not a wholly unearned discussion topic. There are a lot of belts, so each one has to carve its place. The International Title avoided scrutiny (for the most part) when it was around the waist of Orange Cassidy, as that was a truly great reign. Now it’s time to see if that championship can remain important, when OC is no longer carrying its significance on his back.


Next, for the Undisputed Kingdom. Strong is a great wrestler, and a solid choice to hold the gold. However, myself and many others were worried about this faction's direction and that hasn’t proven to be a false concern. This group, which was formed in a massive World Championship angle, has quickly gotten a tad lost in the shuffle. It was a bit bound to happen with Adam Cole being out on the shelf, but a great PPV match could help give more life to the group.


Lastly, Kyle O’Reilly. It’s his first big matchup since his return. While it’s great to have him back, wrestling can be a cruel mistress. The AEW roster has only gotten more stacked in the time he was injured, so a great performance would be helpful to fully reassert his place in the company.


Dynasty is already shaping up to be a hell of a PPV, with many marquee matches. However, I’m going to be keeping my eyes on this match. It could have many different implications for the future.





Jack Perry


"Thriller in Gorilla..."


by Peter.


The most anticipated moment of “the week that was” was the premiere of the footage of the Punk/Perry “Thriller in Gorilla.”


As the week wore on, speculation was overtaking wrestling Twitter on what the footage would show, and while it showed that some of the things CM Punk said in his interview with Ariel Helwani may have been far from the truth, the feeling I got from it was: “was that it?”


In a week where WWE took shots at AEW in the build up to WrestleMania, a 20-minute stretch of AEW television saw All Elite Wrestling bite back and, depending on who you talk to, it was an act of self-defence or an act of petulance. The argument could be made that the Young Bucks segment had a semblance of nuance to it, with the idea that in AEW canon the Bucks blame the incident for their loss to FTR at Wembley, with the idea that this was a repeated tactic by FTR—that they also had used Hangman Page to cost the Bucks a shot at the tag titles which they swooped up at All Out. While Will Ospreay's interview had the nuance of a man running into a room full of enemies yelling "Leeeeroy Jenkins!"


But any reaction to Will's interview has been swallowed up by the segment before. Was I expecting more from it? Yeah, to be honest. Maybe that's the part of me that likes chaos, also the part of me that wanted a smoking bullet to prove my opinions correct speaking but the feeling post Dynamite was feeling of “meh”


The decision on whether the footage should have aired has seen split opinion and while the television rating saw an improvement over the week before, with the quarters holding ground after the footage airing, the long term objective of seeing ratings improve could have been harmed by a show that didn't feel focused.


But what was most interesting has been what happened afterwards from the AEW side of things. The YouTube video showing the segment involving The Young Bucks and FTR didn't show the All In footage and within 24 hrs of Dynamite, Tony Khan announced dream matches such as Ospreay/Claudio and Toni Storm vs AZM for the week and a 6-man with The Elite vs Kingston/Penta and Daniel Garcia. Matches which are interesting from a storyline perspective but also ones for wrestling sickos like yours truly. It feels like a sign that Tony looked at the segment with the Bucks and FTR and knew that without the ability to build a time machine that that segment couldn't be eradicated but that he could do what AEW can and should do best, what their USP is. Be the best wrestling around.


But with the reaction from Tony and AEW to that segment maybe they realised that the past reaction to the CM Punk interview was to do what people have done in wrestling in the past few decades. 


Just leak the footage to friendly media instead of airing it on your programming.





Penta El Zero Miedo In Singles


"Cero Miedo..."

by Sam P.


Penta El Zero Miedo (the man of many names) featured twice this week, whether battling Komander or challenging Adam Copeland for the AEW International Title. As an AEW Original, Penta has earned attention for his work as a tag team wrestler, whether his 122-day reign alongside his brother Rey Fenix as Tag Team Champion, or his 126-day reign with the Trios Championship alongside PAC and Rey Fenix. Of the three members of Death Triangle, Penta is the only one not to hold a singles title, with Fenix’s brief 20-day reign as International Champion, or PAC’s inaugural 108-day reign with the same title. Yet despite that, this week was a great reminder that Penta’s reliability as a singles wrestler is nothing new.


We roll back to 2020, where Penta was part of an AEW World Title Eliminator Tournament, firstly facing his brother Fenix on the 21st of October edition of AEW Dynamite. With tremendous chemistry based on years of facing one another, the Lucha Libre style suited two brothers in a friendly competition, exchanging Chops, Superkicks, and some lovely nearfalls, including Fenix with the Spanish Fly off the top rope, and a hard hitting Penta Powerbomb. It was in fact the usually clean Fenix faking an injury to the right arm that had a concerned Penta fall to a Destroyer for the three count. However the following week, Fenix’s injury turned out to be legitimate, and Penta replaced him in a chaotic match against Kenny Omega. Omega’s pre-match confidence gave way to a determined focus, surviving a Backstabber, Sling Blade, Top Rope Stomp, a Destroyer off the top rope and a Package Piledriver. Penta’s Destroyer on the entrance ramp and an arm snap nearly defeated Omega, but several V-Triggers and a One-Winged Angel felled Penta for the victory.


Two years later, Penta would get his chance at the AEW World Title, as he took on Jon Moxley on the 26th October edition of AEW Dynamite. As one-third of the Trios Champions, Penta El Zero Miedo had a hot start by Superkicking Moxley to the outside and wiping him out with a Somersault Dive. Moxley went more violent with a Crossface Submission and Elbow Smashes, with Penta reversing into his dreaded armbreaker for a close two count. Moxley escalated the violence again, this time with a DDT on the ring steps and a King Kong Lariat that had concussed ‘Hangman’ Page the week before. A desperate Moxley survived a Fear Factor Piledriver, and hit first a Paradigm Shift and then the Death Rider for the victory.


And finally, on the 30th August last year, Penta challenged Orange Cassidy for the AEW International Championship, with the champion facing the aforementioned Moxley at All Out 2023. Despite his tired state, Cassidy continued to demonstrate his intelligence as champion, placing his hand in his pockets to avoid Penta’s Armbar Snap, but  couldn’t avoid a throw into the barricade, a Superkick, Springboard Leg Drop or a Backstabber, leaving Orange in agony. An exchange of Canadian Destroyers had both staggered, and Cassidy’s injured right hand took the focus , until he nearly fell to the Fear Factor Piledriver. As a shocked Penta reacted to Cassidy kicking out at a close two count, Orange rolled him up in a Crucifix Pin for the three count.


His match against Copeland was another strong performance as a singles wrestler in AEW, and several champions have had some of their best matches against Penta. Sometimes, it’s good to be reminded of the level of talent on the AEW roster that we may have gotten too used to.






Will Ospreay


"On another level, bruv..."


by Gareth


It might surprise you to learn that since arriving in AEW Will Ospreay has never been given the “MVP of the week” award. I write this section every week and when I realised this even I thought “surely not?” Because during this time I would argue that ‘The Aerial Assassin’ has been the “MVP” of AEW.

 

Ospreay has consistently been one of the best things on AEW programming every week providing fantastic matches as we all expected. However, Will has also cut various captivating promos where he just oozes likability. Promos that are so easy to get behind merely by speaking about his real life situations as well as the goals for his character. It’s rare that a legitimate “best in the world” contender feels as relatable as Ospreay does right now and that really is an invaluable quality to possess.

 

In a not-so-veiled retort to comments Triple H made during WrestleMania weekend, Ospreay spoke about how much he loves “the grind” followed by a rather unnecessary, but humorous nonetheless, shot at why Paul Levesque is in the position he is in. Wink “grinding on the bosses daughter” wink.

 

Now some people will look at this and say it was unnecessary and petty, which it certainly was. But of all the petty things we’ve seen thrown about between AEW and WWE, this one was probably the most harmless, and regardless, it plays into the character Ospreay is portraying at the moment.

 

Because that’s really why I’m giving him this week’s award. Nobody really stood head and shoulders above the rest this week. In truth it was probably AEW’s worst week since November if not earlier. However, a simple graphic drop for Claudio Castagnoli vs. Will Ospreay next week got a lot of people to shift their attention back to what AEW does best.

 

Ospreay finished off his promo by talking directly to Bryan Danielson and explaining why beating ‘The American Dragon’ means so much to him—because once he does, he can finally truly call himself “the best”---before signing off by saying: “I am on another level,” and truthfully, he is. This is one of the key guys AEW will build itself around for the coming years and in a week where many people were looking backwards at what happened in the past… Ospreay reminded AEW fans to look forward.







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