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.
Bryan Danielson vs Wheeler Yuta.
This was Danielson’s 3rd match against prospective protégés after facing off against Daniel Garcia and Lee Moriarty, and he saved the best for last.
One issue you can run into with a heel with a resume like Danielson who has been the tippy top babyface in the world before, is it can mess with the good vs bad guy ideal recipe for crowd reactions. Yuta was able to rise above it, fuelled by the babyface fire he showed against Danielson, that has certainly led to a rise in his star level and perceived value amongst AEW fans.
Yuta had the crowd cheering his name loudly several times at different points in the match, for a crowd that was not an easy get. The crowd for tonight’s show would pop big for entrances and surprises and the beginnings of segments, but would end up falling into lulls (such as during the LAX vs JAS brawl + the Darby vs Andrade main event). However, Danielson vs Yuta kept them engaged the whole way through.
Yuta’s reversal of Cattle Mutilation into his own elbow barrage on Danielson got massive support from the audience, and you could feel excitement for Yuta’s near falls. Danielson’s strikes were nasty and violent, which made the fact that Yuta was able to power up and walk through them even more impressive. Yuta had already shown off how smooth he can be, tonight he showed how tough and brave he can be. With that final defiant loogie into Danielson’s face, he proved that he’s not just a good professional wrestler, he’s also a badass.
Promo of the Week: Sergei.
When I took on talking about the best promo in All-Elite Wrestling each week, I pictured myself waxing rhapsodic about the amazing, fiery, insightful, or inciting words of our favourite microphone warriors. I didn’t really picture those weeks when nobody really stands out.
Not that the promos weren’t good – particularly, Thunder Rosa and Nyla Rose each had a major improvement over their embarrassment of a segment last week. I even gave serious consideration to giving it to Fuego for last week’s Rampage. But, really? Everybody was serviceable to good; nobody stood out.
Story Beat of the Week: Gareth.
FTR Stepping Up.
FTR have been slowly turning babyface for the last few weeks. Wrestling more babyface styles, firing Tully Blanchard, speaking about their children and standing up to heels.
Early in Dynamite Dax and Cash told MJF that Wardlow was their friend and they wanted no part in their rivalry. This was a really nice story beat because MJF always uses FTR as protection against his enemies. So now, will MJF try to force Dax and Cash to attack Wardlow? How will FTR respond if, or when, he does?
But that all came before FTR openly challenged the Young Bucks to a re-match for their brilliant bout at Full Gear 2020. This was a fantastic and unexpected development on Dynamite. Showing not just that FTR were no longer going to do MJF's bidding, but outlining their ambitions moving forward as characters of their own.
I'm unsure whether this means Bucks vs. FTR at Double or Nothing, or perhaps Nick and Matt duck Cash and Dax for a few months? Who knows exactly what direction they will take this. But we know this match is in the pipeline and that is something to get very excited about.
Moment of the Week: Peter.
Keith Lee Yeets Mook thru Banner.
Keith Lee throwing the member of Ricky Starks’ entourage through the banner and the subsequent zoom in to show Keith was my Moment of The Week.
Keith has a quality to make moments memorable from his Godzilla-esque rising from the floor into the shot to pouncing Adam Cole to Row E when in NXT. It’s moments like Friday night that make me think. They made that guy “Bearcat"?
The brawl that followed accomplished its aim and that’s for us to eagerly await a tag match between Lee and Swerve Strickland against Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs and some singles matches with Lee versus Starks and Hobbs so a win on all counts.
Some honourable mentions; the ovation that Toni Storm got was so cool as someone who adored her work in the UK indies before Toni went to UK branch of NXT, Wardlow going all Streets Of Rage on the security guards was fantastic and Hook no selling Danhausen’s attempt to curse him is another example of why Hook is just wonderful.
Move of the Week: Dan.
Wheeler Yuta Fires Up.
But the move of the week according to Mr Dan was Wheeler Yuta escaping Bryan Danielson’s Cattle Mutilation before firing in some very Danielson-esque elbows.
It was the positioning in the flow of the match that made this little sequence so mesmerising. Danielson had largely killed Yuta throughout the match, and just before attempting to lock on his cow-murdering submission he had bludgeoned Yuta into apparent oblivion with those horrendous looking elbows.
But as he floated over to finish it all off, Yuta deftly escaped the hold and fired up into some vicious shots of his own, leaving Danielson stunned and William Regal audibly impressed.
It was a move that underlined Yuta’s motivations. It was a move that justified Regal’s interest. And it was a move that got the crowd absolutely vibrating in favour of Wheeler Yuta.
And that was just in one move… Christ these guys are good.
Honourable mentions? I’ve got’em. Whilst it remains a bit of an underwhelming finisher generally, in my humble opinion, seeing Toni Storm back in the ring and hitting her Storm Zero was a great moment on Dynamite. Also, for a variety of reasons that I won’t go into here, I thoroughly enjoyed MOX lariat-ing the face, neck, head and soul out of Jay Lethal. Ouch really doesn’t do that one justice.
MVP of the Week: Trish.
It's somewhat crazy to think that only one year ago, (and pretty much to the week) felt like the first time Wheeler Yuta's name was widely mentioned in the world of wrestling. It feels even more insane to say that one year on he'd have gone from competing on IWTV indie shows to wrestling one of the greatest performers in the world on a national network and looking very much like he belonged; and yet this is exactly what happened this week.
Yuta's offense in the match with Bryan Danielson, as well as he timing and displays of babyface fire had many in the arena on their feet and in his corner. This was no mean feat considering there was a large segment of the crowd who were unfamiliar with a lot of the home-made AEW wrestlers, let alone someone so new to appearing on Dynamite and the calibre of his opponent.
The dynamic between Wheeler and the Blackpool Combat Club, and in particular between William Regal and himself, is one of the most intriguing stories on Dynamite at this point and will only become stronger if he continues to put in this level of performance across from his thoroughly more experienced compatriots.