Turns, Returns... and Exits? | AEWeekly Review #45
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] covering match of the week, Craig [@CraigPWMusings] covering promos, Gareth [@Gareth_EW] exploring a key story beat Peter [@PeterEdge7] with the moment of the week, Dan [@WinsDANlosses] reflecting on the best move and Trish [@TrishSpeirs48] giving us the MVP of the week.
Match of the Week: Joe.
By my count - and this time I tried to count in the spirit of our PWMusings stats - this match had 13 superkicks, 12 dives (3 from Penta and 0 from Omega, by the way), 4 cutters, 4 moonsaults, 3 dives off of stages, 3 northern lights suplexes, 3 dropkicks, 2 powerbombs onto ring aprons, 2 tilt-a-whirl backbreakers, 2 Fear Factor package piledrivers, 3 V Triggers - but only 2 that actually were strikedowns because PAC is a beast, and it all ended with hardly a wrestling move, and yet it was a satisfying conclusion, because that was the peak of the emotion being shown in the match.
The action was super fast paced as you would expect, but it was different from the 1 other matches enough to be worth trotting out there for the third consecutive time. Starting the match on the ramp and stage gave it a fresh feel, and having no foreign object shots was even more refreshing. We saw tension between Fenix and Penta begin tor rise, while we watched Kenny writhe, desperately reaching out to help his good friend Matt at the end. Kenny wasn’t able to break free to save Matt from the Black Arrow, but Matt was able to save himself, and then Kenny was able to protect Matt while he covered PAC for the 1-2-3, leading to The Elite’s first win since their return, and to Kenny’s first goodnight promo in quite some time.
This match reminded me of the All Out main event, because it seemed like AEW let their time management get away from them again, leaving this match with a shorter window than expected, but more harmful, an absurd amount of commercial break time. Yet, these 5 stellar stars succeeded in spite of that. Really good match.
Promo of the Week: Craig.
Moxley’s response to Adam Page making his triumphant return to AEW Dynamite by going nose to nose with him was excellent. A very short but sharp further insight into the AEW version of the Jon Moxley heel character. We saw it in late 2021 and versus MJF in Chicago, but Moxley’s trolling of Page’s previous encounter with him was salivating.
Let’s not beat around the bush, Moxley simply reminded Page of their previous physical encounter before landing a very heelish if a pretty small jibe; “if you can remember…” It was delivered with sneer the kind that Moxley can deliver with ease. He revelled in his de facto heel role in Chicago and this felt similarly convincing. A tantalising suggestion of what may be to come.
Story Beat of the Week: Gareth.
Craig has alluded to what I was going to allude to, but this is the line Moxley walks. Is this the start of a heel turn? I hope so. But equally it could just be Moxley doing what he does. Walking the line.
It was great to see Hangman so soon after we all sat there worrying and wondering what state he was in physically. But it was even better to see him return here, because as Moxley said in his promo... who can actually go head-to-head with Moxley? What does he do?
Hangman confronted and subsequently attacked Jon Moxley. Which really felt needed because after losing that title, Mox felt in state of limbo, to an extent. So much so that people questioned if he'd take a little time off. "What does he do next?"
Well here we are. An accidental feud that feels hot, has clear motives for both men and provides real conflict. Not just for the characters, but for the fans as these two fan-favourites clash. Naturally Hangman returning from injury is easier to root for. But Mox has his die-hard fans also.
Obviously this all comes off the back of a concussion which is something none of us want to see. But out of that negative AEW have spun a positive and now we'll get to see that match that we all wanted to see. The battle for the heart and soul of AEW.
And just to address the online complaints that they were too subtle and some more casual fans might not have got the reference. The commentary team laid it out perfectly clearly. It's fine.
Moment of the Week: Peter.
It was a segment that divided opinion (mainly Meltzer vs the World) and while there were flaws with the segment regarding its length and how MJFs "dastardly" actions might have made him come across as the babyface MJF and the creative power of AEW do not want him to be and also that ghastly belt, Maxwell's power of the punch set off a chain of events that look like shaping AEW for the next few months.
In the midst of Regal's "why Regal why" moment, we saw the inner conflict of Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson as to how Regal should be dealt with for his traitorous actions with Danielson finally convincing his BCC colleague not to inflict a level of violence that would put their mentor on the shelf for awhile despite the wishes of the Chicago natives who even called bullshit when Danielson talked openly about his father's struggles (Chicago gonna Chicago). Despite everything that happened at All Out and the fragmentation of the Blackpool Combat Club that has followed, Danielson still cares for his mentor and the man who was there for him when life all round him was changing and that's why the moment he found out about MJF's attack on Regal, with one shoe missing and his hair still wet from his post-match shower, Danielson came to William's aid before MJF did anything else to Blackpool's favourite son.
While Ricky Starks will be the first contender for the world title at Winter is Coming, AEW's debut in Seattle looks likely to see Bryan Danielson face MJF for Triple B (I actually shivered while writing that one down) and with Danielson's pursuit of revenge for MJF's action as the main focus point for Bryan's second chase for the world title and with Jon Moxley an interesting factor in the background with MJF managing to do something that he wished he had done along with Adam Page who still has a claim for a title shot with his rematch for "Big Platinum" having ended in an unexpected fashion, the World title picture looks to be very fascinating in what is AEW's biggest corridor between PPV's.
Move of the Week: Dan.
AR Fox is better than The Undertaker. There….I've said it.
Oh you want some evidence for that claim? Well look no further than Exhibit A from Dynamite this week.
One of the most iconic moments of the behind-the-times Dead Man's career was at Wrestlemania 25. In that match Taker famously launched himself over the top rope in the vague direction of Shawn Michaels, missed both he and Sim Snuka, and landed on his bonce. It was the sort of move that those idiotic troll accounts would laugh at as a 'mega-botch' if it happened on AEW television, but in WWE it is praised as being a Wrestlemania moment.
Now put the video of Mean Mark head-planting himself side by side with AR Fox in his match this week with Samoa Joe.
Not only did Fox clear the top rope with ease as he propelled himself towards Joe, but he also threw in a somersault for good measure. And…this is the bit that the Undertaker should learn from…Fox decided not to headbutt the floor and instead landed gracefully on his feet, rolled through like an Olympic gymnast, and was back on his feet in the blink of an eye.
Meanwhile Samoa Joe, who had nonchalantly side-stepped this aerial attack, was busy wagging his finger and mugging to the cameras (his facial expressions here were an absolute treat). Presumably he assumed that his opponent had plummeted to a Phenom-style puddle of bones, but when he turned around he was instead greeted by surprisingly upright AR Fox. AR used that moment of incredulity to boot Joe right in the mush to briefly take control of the encounter.
All joshing aside, AR Fox was excellent in this match and I think he'll make an excellent addition to the AEW roster. Maybe next week he can teach another lesson to WWE's much-vaunted Grim Reaper. Perhaps how to do a Tombstone Piledriver to Goldberg.
MVP of the Week: Trish.
Mox on a mission
Jon Moxley could have taken a vacation. With the returns of the Elite, House of Black and after Adam Page had been cleared in Chicago, he could have asked to take some time away before returning with a big impact;- an action which may well have benefitted his character after a gruelling nine month run under the main event microscope. Having shed the AEW World Championship to MJF at Full Gear through William Regal interference he could have pushed to continue the program straight away and perhaps for a TV rematch in early January. Jon Moxley is currently doing neither of these things. Once more, he has chosen to put his company over himself.
These last few months have meant he hasn't been able to avoid taking a hit to his personal brand either. Having been pinned clean for the first time in order to put over CM Punk at All Out, his second title run this year didn't have the aura of the first and being entrapped within a lacklustre story (that was made for someone else) was a contributing factor to the reaction he received at Full Gear. Moxley didn't try and fight it on that night either, playing into the crowd response and making it part of the match. It was the behaviour you would expect of a company ace; a term that feels more and more apt to describe the Cincinnati man as the months go by.
The promo he opened the show with this week wasn't by itself particularly memorable by his standards but it had a distinct purpose- continue to undo the damage CM Punk has done to the character of Hangman Adam Page. He started out by listing where they want to go with this program:
"There is nobody that can outwork me, out-hustle me, out-wrestle me out-fight me, out-bleed me or out-sweat me!"
Before following it up by stating there wasn't anyone within a 100 mile radius (an interesting distance) who had the "balls'' to challenge these statements. A 'coward' certainly couldn't. It was a clever device which created an instant change in viewer perception on Page with his swift arrival in response. With the Anxious Millennial Cowboy now nose to nose Moxley delivered the lines of the night;
"Are you sure you want to do this after what happened last time?
"Oh I'm sorry, do you not remember?"
The accompanied look meant that it was more than enough to be the cause of the ensuing brawl that then broke out between the two men. The exchanges sent the crowd insane and drove even louder responses when they cut back to them fighting through the backstage area later on the show. AEW immediately had a hot program that can benefit both men at a time it badly requires one.
There is a saying;
"There are merch movers and people who get pops and then there are main eventers"
Creating the first two can be as simple as a new theme or a catchphrase, but establishing wrestlers in the third category is perhaps the hardest thing to do in all of wrestling. After the last 18 months Adam Page sits on the cusp, Jon Moxley has decided he is absolutely determined to get him over that line and everything he does in their feud will be fuelled by that ambition.