Welcome to the #AEWeekly review discussion where PWM contributors reflect on the highlights of the last week in AEW. The week runs Monday through Sunday covering the most recent Dynamite, Rampage, and Collision.
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, and Gareth [@Gareth_EW] giving us the MVP of the week.
Match of the Week: Joe.
You’ve Seen It Before, But It Still Leaves You Wanting More
Nick Jackson vs Rey Fenix is a matchup we have seen in trios form (7+ times), tag form (famously at All Out 2021), and singles form (early days Dynamite classic), yet the chemistry between these 2 is so good, that I’ll still be excited for the next one. The creativity and cardio of both of these men are in a tier almost to themselves, and knowing their dance partner can keep up allows them to hit their best and fastest moves.
In addition to the action and athleticism, the selling here was so good that I was genuinely concerned for Fenix, and thinking we might see another abrupt end to an International Championship run. In the end, Fenix was able to just barely hold on long enough (literally) to eke out the win. This match didn’t just leave me wanting more Nick vs Rey, but more Nick Jackson singles matches as well.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
A Timeless Interview
When somebody does a sit-down interview with good ol' JR, the expectation is you might get something genuinely special, maybe some new revelations about a character that might inform their storylines going forward. When the sit-down is instead with RJ City—the Zach Galifianakis of wrestling interviewers—the expectation is a little different: perhaps we'll get something silly, something amusing. With the last segment of an ongoing serial of an RJ City interview with Toni Storm that aired on Dynamite, we got both!
Toni Storm's new character is undeniably funny and entertaining as hell. And kind of silly and ludicrous, sure. But underneath that, there's a core of hard reality. Toni Storm isn't actually an aging Hollywood former starlet, no. But when she grabs RJ by the collar and says: "when you lie awake at night, wondering: do I have 'it'? Or am I just lucky? When every match, every minute, every pay-per-view is just a roll of the dice to see if it'll all be taken away!" it doesn't feel like someone simply playing an outrageous character. This new presentation of Toni Storm is all Sunset Boulevard, but her actual words make perfect sense for a competitor in a field where you don't see many active 50-year-olds, not of her gender, anyhow.
And when RJ tries to insert some logic, ("okay, but you're not even old!") Storm misunderstanding—taking it not as "you are delusional, talking like you are desperately staving off time when you're actually in your prime," but instead as "you are some kind of goddess beyond the grip of time"—it's the sort of classic moment a whole characterization can be built around. Which seems to be exactly what they are doing, with "Timeless" now added to Toni's billed name.
Story Beat of the Week: Saul.
Where’s The Sauce?
Everyone, we can rejoice! FTR have finally dropped the AEW Tag Team Championships. Now, is that previous sentence in bad taste given that the title loss was seemingly due to an injury? ABSOLUTEly. Am I gonna apologise? ABSOLUTEly not.
I wouldn’t characterise myself as an FTR hater, despite the tone of the opening paragraph (although, I think I was the only person in my section at All In cheering for the Young Bucks). They are certainly talented wrestlers. Their matches are almost always good and sometimes truly great. However recently, they have left me colder than a person on Hoth who is unwilling to cut open a Tauntaun.
I’m glad that Ricky Starks has won his first recognised AEW championship. Even more so for Big Bill, who has been called underrated so often that he is now properly rated. But I can’t lie, I was more happy that FTR lost. This was made clear to me because even with Dax in the most babyface position possible, fighting 2-on-1, I was still cheering for the ‘baddies’.
In a world where 5 star matches are as commonly accessible as true crime documentaries, it just isn’t enough to be a good wrestler. You need to be something more. I’m not saying that FTR aren’t capable of reaching this level, but they haven’t been doing it recently and we live in a what have you done for me lately world.
At the moment, FTR is like a plate of plain chicken wings. I could enjoy them, but the whole time I was chowing down there would only be one thought crossing my mind. Where’s the sauce???
[Ed. comment from Sergei: I feel exactly the same... except about the Bucks, lol]
Moment of the Week: Peter.
When 3 words change a friendship
On the Wednesday after the WrestleDream before, we finally got to hear from Adam Copeland and why he switched to AEW. Amongst the names that mentioned that will be dream matches when billed by AEW and the ambitions such as winning the AEW World Title, one name stood out, Uncle Jay.
While hearing Christian Cage being named by his "shoot name" was jarring and not in a good way, it told of Adam's wishes for his AEW run. When Cage came to the ring and with some very cold body language to his friend, Christian would hear Adam out.
After the past year and a bit of Christian being one of the biggest jerks you could possibly imagine with the heinous actions he has committed, hearing Adam talk about his fears that Luchasuarus and Nick Wayne were taking advantage of the person he had known for over 3 decades felt very jarring. But Adam sees the man he calls his best friend very differently than everyone else. Christian is that guy that everyone else in the friendship group thinks is a jerk yet you are 100% sure you're right about him and in Adam Copeland's case you get it.
The pair have won tag belts together, revolutionized wrestling together, Adam had forgiven Christian for turning on him in their hometown, Adam was ringside when Cage would win the big gold belt in one of the most emotional scenes in wrestling history. The pair have presented media projects together in the past decade when they thought they would never wrestle again, so with fate going into business for itself and another chance for both to wrestle again, Adam told his mate that he wanted amongst the dream matches and chances to win a World Title that in a company that houses legendary tag teams that he put the team that made tag wrestling cool back together again.
And he thought he had the dream come true until he found out that the friend whose good he could still see has lost any sense of goodness.
Hearing the f-word in wrestling felt jarring to the fan even if it's been done before on TBS and it felt extra jarring for Adam. To hear his closest friend tell him to GFY was the last thing he expected. Even a conchairto would have been less surprising and while we will know the reasons why Cage said those three words on Title Tuesday, those reasons might not be good enough for why his brother from a different mother said those 3 words
MVP of the Week: Gareth.
Coping in a Cage
I’ve struggled to decide this week’s MVP, rocking back and forth, day and night, deliberating over this decision. Because for some people they might just see Edge debut, cut a great promo and begin an incredible, career-defining feud and immediately give the ‘MVP of the week’ to Adam Copeland.
But Christian Cage told him to “go f*ck” himself. Three short words, but ones that reverberated around the wrestling world and even into my private DMs with friends who are very much casual fans.
“Gareth, have you seen this?”
“Yes, I watch every week. It’s really good, you should watch.”
“Ah, I’m just getting into this new show called SmackDown Live. Dean Ambrose is world champion.”
“Wait… do you have time travelling abilities?”
“Cool. Can you tell me who is going to take the title off MJF?”
“Yeah, hang on.”
*5 minutes later*.
“Christian Cage beats MJF because he’s the f*cking best! And you’re right, AEW is awesome. This Jon Moxley guy rules too! I’m gonna watch it now.”
But back to my point… it would be easy to give the MVP “award” to Copeland, but quite frankly Christian is on the run of a lifetime and it’s far from over. For me the most notable thing about Edge’s arrival in AEW has been those three words from Cage.
But because I’m a fair man I’ll let the two of them share the MVP “award”, and they can fight it out at, presumably, Full Gear?