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 Joe [@GoodVsBadGuys] exploring match of the week, Sergei [@SergeiAlderman] covering promos, Gareth [@Gareth_EW] covering story beats, Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week, Dan [@WrestlingRhymes] reflecting on the best move and Trish [@TrishSpeirs48] giving us the MVP of the week.
Match of the Week: Joe.
The match of the week did not get the placement in either of Dynamite’s prime slots, opening or closing. The match of the week didn’t have a long term build to support it or a history between the performers. The match of the week didn’t use outside interference or tables or ladders or chairs.
The match of the week used the audience’s built in investment in Dax Harwood and Will Ospreay, and their clearly defined babyface and heel roles to generate interest and excitement before they even locked up. Once the physicality started, the physicality & intensity kept building, starting with chops that garnered bigger reactions than most powerbombs get. As the physicality and aggression increased, so did Ospreay’s displays of historically and globally elite athleticism.
This match included some spectacular moves, but the action still felt very real and authentic. It did not feel like a safe cooperative show between co-stars, it felt like a dangerous competition between competitors. Competitors from different schools and different styles. It felt like a fight between a black belt in the school of Bret Hart / Arn Anderson and a black belt in the school of Shawn Michaels / AJ Styles. The chemistry that Ospreay and Hardwood had this early on is special and rare. Dax always has exemplary selling, bumping, and timing - but in this match, his offense was the best it has ever looked - and Ospreay deserves a lot of credit for that.
The only problem with this match from the end of the performers, is that it will be a challenge for them to top it in their respective matches at Forbidden Door.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
Nothing especially to write home about this week, promo-wise. If I had to pick, I suppose I’d give it to Ethan Page.
On Dynamite, Tanahashi had a little three-word special, and Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley put a lot of effort into setting that up for him, and working around his language limitations, but while the result was fine, it wasn’t anything special.
Ortiz and Eddie Kingston also cut a brief in-ring promo, and while it was of course passionate and authentic, I have to grade those guys on a curve, and by their standards it wasn’t extraordinary.
On Road To there were a couple of noteworthy pre-tape promos to build anticipation for the All-Atlantic tournament match. While Miro’s brand of insanity is always hilarious, it’s gotten to be rather rote at this point. Ethan Page, on the other hand, really brought something different, playing off of Miro’s religious obsessions to say some pretty attention-grabbing things that for the first time made “All-Ego” sound like a real character beat and not just a catchphrase. My favourite moment was when Page claimed that Jesus has a little statue on a chain around his neck of Ethan Page, and Sky gave him the “you really went there?” double-take.
Story Beat of the Week: Gareth.
I was going to speak about Christian Cage's heel turn this week, but Peter has done a fine job of that below. So instead I will speak about something that happened just before that. The Young Bucks winning the AEW Tag Team Championships for the second time.
I don't know what the plans were before Jeff Hardy's incident this past week, but I am so happy that The Bucks have become the first ever two time champions, and I'm excited for their next run.
Besides of the obvious run of great matches we will undoubtedly get, it sets up the possibility for AEW to hold the biggest tag-team match in wrestling history. The Young Bucks vs. FTR for all the titles. And I mean *ALL* the titles. Indulge my fantasy booking for a moment.
Have FTR run a "belt collectors" gimmick. FTR already hold the ROH and AAA tag team championships and have legitimate beef with the IWGP Champions from the United Empire. It wouldn't even be far-fetched the even send FTR to NWA or Impact Wrestling and have them win their titles.
I am well aware that this is very dependent on a LOT of collaboration, and maybe it is somewhat unrealistic. And I know, belt collector gimmicks usually aren't great and lack any real meaning. However, in this context it perfectly builds into the story of "greatest tag team in the world". A title which both FTR and The Young Bucks claim.
After conquering the world, FTR come out on Dynamite and call out The Young Bucks, wanting to claim the last piece of the puzzle. The AEW World Tag Team Championship.
And that, right there, is a perfect first ever tag team main event for an AEW pay-per-view.
The possibilities are endless, as ever in wrestling. But the opportunity to really pay-off that promise of "tag team wrestling can be the main event" which the Young Bucks made in 2019. That is too good to pass up and with various of these pieces already in place, I am hopeful that it can happen.
Does it need all those championships? No, not really. But it does further emphasise that idea of "best in the world" which is the heart of this feud in the first place.
Alternatively, if it just the AAA, ROH and AEW titles on the line, then a 2-out-of-3 falls with a championship per fall sounds like another great way to do it.
Essentially, this is just a very exciting development which opens up various possibilities for the FTR vs. Young Bucks story and the AEW tag division as a whole.
Moment of the Week: Peter.
There were two moments that stood out for me on what turned out to be a better episode of Dynamite than what was presented last week.
While Ortiz shaving his own head whilst shouting Blood and Guts was a very effective conclusion of a hair vs hair match while also effectively building us to the big 5 vs 5 match in a couple of weeks it just falls short of the top spot.
That spot goes to a moment that we have been waiting for awhile.
Due to family reasons, I couldn't give my Moment of the Week last time around but after eventually getting to watching Dynamite last week, Christian Cage making the three way ladder match would have been my Moment. It felt at that time the long wait for Christian to turn on his protege was going to come to an end sooner rather than later and while a Jeff Hardy arrest meant that 3 became 2 in Dynamites main event, the match was incredible in a week where the decision for Match of the Week could have been a long deliberation for my colleague Joe
While Jurassic Express losing the tag belts to The Young Bucks is a noteworthy event, it was the most predictable betrayal since Rose betraying Chris in Get Out that will help shape AEW in the summer months to come.
Christian will give his "WHY CHRISTIAN WHY" speech next week. Hopefully he doesn't blame the fans. But you have to presume this moment was waiting in Cage's mind for over a year since Jungle Boy eliminated him in the Casino Battle Royal to win a shot at Kenny Omega's AEW World Title. You may say "But Christian eventually won a shot at Kenny's belt and he even beat him for the Impact World Title" and you'd be right but that is why Christian's turn works so well. It's the classic face vs heel program in which the heel while in his own mind has a legitimate point is quite frankly full of it and the face, already the classic prototype of a baby face is the legit wronged in this story. I for one can't wait to see where this story goes. It's basic wrestling storytelling down to what should be a Jungle Boy victory at the end of the feud and could break Jungle Boy out as the Pillar that shines brightest in a couple of years time
Move of the Week: Dan.
At its very best All Elite Wrestling is capable of telling incredible, within the confines of wrestling at least, long-term stories. Yes those stories may go over the heads of the likes of Booker T and Bully Ray, but subservient bootlickers aside it’s something that really does make AEW stand out from its competition.
When such a tale has been dangled in front of us for so long, sometimes it only takes one move to really ignite it into life, and that’s what we got this week with Christian Cage. That’s what we got with THAT ConChairTo to poor young Jungle Boy.
Whether his motivation is jealousy, revenge or a self-centred sense of disappointment in his protege is still to be fully explained but this wasn’t a split second decision from the better half of Edge and Christian. He had checked to make sure Luchasaurus was as down as a dinosaur could be. He had waited for Doc Sampson to get out of the ring. Hell he’d even waited until Jungle Boy’s family were in attendance.
And Christian absolutely ploughed every second of that waiting time into his vicious shot on the already wounded and prone crowd darling. Sliding chair number one under JB’s head like he was a ragdoll, Cage then stood above his victim like an executioner. He raised the chair, delayed for just a second to prolong the horror, and then absolutely thumped chair number two into our hero’s skull.
Something splintered off and rolled away, and whilst I think it was part of the chair, it could equally have been part of Jungle Boy’s brain considering the ferocity with which he was pulverised. Credit to JB as well for selling this shot properly. It’s something that knocks you out, not something that makes you writhe around like a drunk anaconda.
It’s a real talent to really convey a heel turn in just one move. Christian Cage has that sort of talent in abundance…and he proved that unquestionably on Dynamite this week.
MVP of the Week: Trish.
It's become a bit of a running joke just how much can be fitted into an episode of AEW Dynamite some weeks; episodes are somewhat of a brisk tour-de-force that can leave you exhausted by the final quarter. The downside to that though, is sometimes things don't always get the build they deserve in such an environment.
You could, therefore, be somewhat bemused to find yourself in a hair Vs hair match to open this week's show with not a lot of build beforehand; alternatively you could use it as an opportunity to shine a light on yourself that has generally been put on others around you. This was exactly the choice that Ortiz made this week.
Having moved from standing behind Chris Jericho to backing up Eddie Kingston over the last 12 months and having to watch from the side whilst teammate Santana received critical acclaim for his promos during the 2020 Chris Jericho-Jon Moxley feud, it must have felt a lengthy wait before he finally had an opportunity to stand solely for himself, regardless of if circumstances were not ideal. on this occasion he would also have to use his body rather then his words to do it.
After an initial offensive flurry, driven by his anger over Jericho's recent disloyalty, Ortiz found himself fighting from the bottom, doing just enough to stay alive and counter wherever possible against the crafty veteran Jericho. With little periods of sustained offense of his own it was left more to his reactions then his actions to display his heart but this was enough as the crowd responded to him, backing him in this battle against a recognised star.
The match won't win any awards, it won't be remembered as a 5 star classic, but it displayed that he can perform in a bigger setting and could achieve higher then his current role if a singles run was to come in the future. Ortiz made the commitment to lose his hair in order to put further heat on this feud as they build up to 'Blood and Guts' but in doing so he was able to show that he's never lost his heart. It meant that the segment ended on a powerful final image; with this man still defiant despite his loss and wanting revenge and a crowd who are maybe emotionally invested in him for perhaps the first time in AEW.