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 Gareth [@Gareth_EW] 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 Joe [@GoodVsBadGuys] giving us the MVP of the week.
Match of the Week: Gareth.
Moxley vs. Omega: Steel Cage
Match of the week was essentially settled with the match graphics alone. When Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega in a steel cage was announced, I already knew what I’d be writing about. However, Daniel Garcia vs. Orange Cassidy was also amazing.
Many felt these two still had another level in them, and a skewed finish always takes away from the match, even if the story makes it worthwhile. But it still broke the 4.5 star benchmark for most, with a rating of 9/10 on Cagematch and receiving a 4.75 from Meltzer.
The match itself was brutal with broken glass, fish hooks with ring parts, strangulation with the “ropes” and so on. But what really struck me was the quality of wrestling itself.
Mox’s attention to the rear-naked choke and Kenny’s selling of this, which lead him to more desperate (and more spectacular) forms of offence. Bryan Danielson on commentary really helped convey Moxley’s tactics and put over the danger and effect of the move.
Of course, the cage was broken with a huge V-trigger from Omega to Mox which saw both bodies go through the cage and hang over to the outside. Literally in Kenny’s case, as he got caught and somehow avoided injury. Usually the cage breaking feels gimmicky to me, but here it was truly a shock.
Not to mention it allowed for a natural entry for Don Callis. I won’t speak about the finish as it’ll be covered later in the article. However, I will say I was a fan of it. I am interested to see why Callis chose this moment as opposed to others, his justification and the fallout from this turn.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
Christian vs Detroit
Up until Revolution, Christian Cage had been feuding with Jungle Boy for approximately forever. During that time, Cage delivered several incendiary promos against Jack and the Perry family that were highly praised, but I never chose him as my promo of the week. I genuinely felt that the heat was pretty cheap, and sensationalistic, harping on Perry’s famous dead Dad. But judging by reactions, maybe I didn’t give the grizzled veteran enough credit.
The advantage to crossing the line is that the fans remember, and were telling Cage to shut his mouth before he had a chance to open it, and he only had to hint at crossing lines and getting personal about Wardlow’s dad or Arn Anderson’s son to make the Motor City crowd explode with rage.
The proof is in the results, and Christian has carefully chosen his words to make himself one of the most reliable heat magnets in the promotion.
Story Beat of the Week: Saul.
An Entertaining Defeat
It's been a while since Daniel Garcia has really been allowed to cook. He's had some decent matches sure, but lately he's mostly been playing the role of Jericho stooge, rather to his detriment. However, put anyone in the ring with Orange Cassidy this year and they'll cook up a whole gourmet dinner with a crème brûlée to boot.
This match placed Cassidy's possession of the International Championship in serious jeopardy. Despite still wearing his "sports entertaining" leather slacks and taking dancing pauses during the match, the dragon slayer was in top form. He dominated his opponent and came excruciating close to winning on many occasions. However, despite having Cassidy locked in a variety of submission holds for what seemed like a lifetime, Orange was able to slip out and pick up the victory with a quick pin.
Now, the storyline of Daniel Garcia suppressing his true nature as a pro wrestler has gone a bit off the boil. It gained a lot of traction when he was feuding with Danielson, but his reactions became more tepid when he doubled down on his sports entertainment ways. To be fair, it can be hard to believe in people when they continuingly decide to ignore their true nature. When their misguidedness causes them to go down the wrong path.
Despite his stubbornness, you have to wonder what is going through the young wrestler's head after losing this match which he was in total control of. In his post-loss glare, you could almost see him flashing back to all those moments in the match where he decided to taunt instead of staying focused. It can be extremely difficult for people to admit they have made a mistake (I am personally an expert on the irrational double down), so there may not be any immediate consequences. However, no-one could look at Garcia's post match reaction and not wonder if he will be reconsidering his identity as a sports entertainer.
Moment of the Week: Peter.
A Callis Betrayal
It's been awhile since I've yelled expletives at my television while watching wrestling.
When Don Callis hit Kenny Omega with the screwdriver, the feelings of shock, then anger and then disappointment at Don Callis were visible online and in the crowd. It was a genuine shocking moment. Yes, some people will tell you that they saw this coming but did you really see it coming? The patrons in Detroit definitely didn't. But once the shock was over, the boos reigned down on The Invisible Hand.
The fans had just seen a betrayal of a man by his mentor. The man who had known Kenny Omega since he was 10 when his trainer, The Golden Sheik introduced him to his nephew, who replaced Sheik as Kenny's family when he died in 2007. Don broke Kenny's skin and his heart with ironically one of the most handy objects to fix something, an object that has been the center of the beef between two of AEW's best factions also turned out to be the center of the dismantlement of the a bond that even the most unsentimental person could understand.
Don cried tears of joy on a mic when Kenny climbed his Everest when he beat Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight at the third attempt. He was part of a duplicitous plan to win Kenny the AEW World Title. Don was with Kenny Omega on his greatest high and his worst lows. Remember when the Young Bucks turned heel? They had to choose Kenny because Kenny was not picking Matt and Nick over Don. Kenny and Don were family in a business where family is part of its history.
The only redeeming quality that lifetime heel Callis had was his love of Kenny. It's a trait we admire in someone we want to trust and if you lose that quality what do you have. Only Don Callis can explain why he committed the act of betrayal. But while he refused to answer Alex Marvez's question, fleeing the scene of his crime. Kenny had words to say to Lexi Nair.
"If I can't trust my family.....who can I trust?
I can think of a cowboy who stood side-by-side with Kenny in between Kenny's two World Title reigns.
MVP of the Week: Joe.
The Juice Is Worth the Squeeze
Orange Cassidy is such a valuable member of the AEW Roster. He is a performer that is beloved by hardcore wrestling fans, immediately endearing to casual and lapsed fans, and instantly distinguishable from WWE. Orange Cassidy, like Darby Allin, are flavors of people and wrestlers that do not get showcased by the worldwide leader in wrestling. They are exemplars of Eric Bischoff’s theory that the challenger brand in wrestling should be “different than”.
Most wrestlers counter the drop-toe-hold by leaping over it, or striking their opponent. Orange Cassidy is different from other wrestlers, so - while being cool, calm, collected, confident, casual, creative Cassidy - he shoved his hands in his pockets, pivoted, and strutted away with all of the urgency, intensity, and energy of an employee attending a mandatory work training.
I have heard podcasters and prognosticators say you need to be careful with how you use OC, and to make sure not to overuse him. This would put a limit on his value but wouldn’t have rendered him invaluable. I tended to agree with that cautious and careful approach, but it turns out we were wrong. He wrestles every week, sometimes on more than one show. He does the rounds on Dynamite, Rampage, and even Battle of the frickin’ Belts, and I’m not sick of him. His hands-free kip ups and dropkicks continue to pop me no matter how many times I see that same trick. He’s also more than tricks. He’s one of the best sellers in major league wrestling right now. He doesn’t just sell for the match he’s in, but he’s selling accumulatively, for all of these battles he’s been in. On the nights he wrestles, he doesn’t just wrestle, he often makes saves for friends, or joins in for backstage segments, seemingly by accident. He is everywhere, and he scores every time. He has a 3 star-floor and a ceiling that goes higher. He has not only elevated his stock, but the stock of the International Title, which to me has become AEW’s equivalent to the Intercontinental Title, and has firmly pushed the TNT title down to TV title status. 21 successful defenses! It’s reached the point where his title match should either be opening or closing Forbidden Door, and I would like to see it be against Naito. SlackerMania.
When AEW started, and Orange Cassidy was signed, I was thinking “oh I’m happy for him to get his shot and get this exposure”, and now I’m thinking “man, I’m happy for AEW that they get to have Orange Cassidy. I hope this man gets his pay and will forever stay.”