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 (by Joe):
Jon Moxley vs Wheeler Yuta.
The match of the week was also one of the matches of the year so far. Jon Moxley vs Wheeler Yuta not only created 14 minutes of the most efficient entertainment I’ve seen this year, not only created a new trios team in AEW, but also created a new rising star player for AEW.
I know I said similar things when Wheeler Yuta faced Bryan Danielson, but this match was on another level. This match was special because it showed the audience why we should care about Wheeler Yuta, and it rewarded the AEW audience for paying attention.
We should care about Yuta because he is smart, as evidenced by the lessons he learned from his previous battles with Moxley. He had suffered from playing it too cautious in the past and letting Mox build up momentum. This time, he took the fight to Moxley.
We should care about Yuta because he is creative. He didn’t get the jump on Moxley with a forearm smash, a punch, a spear, a superkick, or a roll-up. Yuta got the jump on Moxley with an accurate dive to the outside.
We should care about Yuta because he is exciting. With that dive through the ropes and his dive onto Moxley off the top rope to the outside and through a table, Yuta showed he is willing to fly and perform high risk moves. However, it isn’t just the dives that showed off Yuta’s personality.
We should care about Yuta because he has a rare fire that he can channel to allow him to recover and power through pain. After his showings against Bryan and Moxley, I feel confident in saying that Yuta is in my top 4 in the category of babyface fire, alongside Kota Ibushi, Eddie Kingston, and Sting. That ability gives a protagonist that hero feel, that makes fans believe they are capable of the extraordinary when faced with dire circumstances and unfavourable odds.
The reason that this match also rewarded fans for paying attention, is that we first saw Yuta lose to Moxley in 1:11 on 10/26/2021 in a one-sided squash which positioned Yuta as enhancement talent. Then on 2/2/22, Yuta showed some skills and took the fight to Mox in a match that he still won decisively in 7:20. Then on this 4/8/22 edition of Rampage, Yuta took Moxley to the limit in 13:38, kicking out of multiple finishers, winning over the crowd, nearly winning the match, and giving Moxley his best match since his feud with Kenny Omega.
One thing sorely missing from mainstream wrestling this century has been the ability to join wrestlers on journeys of not just change but growth, and AEW, Yuta and Mox have given us that here.
Promo of the Week (by Sergei):
Eddie Kingston pre-tape on Road To.
This is the first week since taking on the “promo of the week” write-up that I finally really feel like singing the praises of a promo, and it’s no surprise that it’s for Eddie Kingston.
It was a simple premise: Kingston sits in a folding chair and delivers invective about Chris Jericho directly into a camera, flanked by Santana and Ortiz with blank, stoic, hard-guy looks on their faces. But as Eddie works himself into a froth over the worthless duplicitousness of Jericho, and all of the terrible and irrevocable things he intends to do to him, Santana becomes the avatar of the audience, because he can’t even help but grin at the extravagance of Eddie’s vitriol.
Kingston made the sort of outlandish threats, (that Chris wouldn’t be able to walk his daughter down the aisle,) that often make a character seem like all talk—because we know they can’t really follow through. But, (while it would have been nice if this had led to something other than another humiliating beatdown by the JAS,) at least for the time Kingston was speaking, the world stopped and I believed every word.
Story Beat of the Week (by Gareth):
CM Punk's Selling.
Usually for 'story beat of the week' I will pick something that furthers a storyline or gives us something to look forward to. But this week I'm using something from a match.
CM Punk's botch and, more importantly, his subsequent selling of said botch. Punk and Penta worked this botch into the story of the match so well to the extent that I started questioning; "did they do that botch on purpose?"
CM Punk is operating on a level so far above most other pro-wrestlers at the moment. Every action has a purpose that has been thought about and the way reacted to his "botch" was masterful whether it was planned or improvised. Something that could have ruined a match for another wrestler is a big reason why this match ruled so much.
Moment of the Week (by Peter):
Mox Shocked at Yuta Kick-Out.
In a week when the MJF getting counted out gave us a pop that wasn't rivalled and William Regal selling Danhausen’s curse (shown in an exclusive YouTube video) was the comedy moment of 2022 so far. It's the events in the Match of The Week that gives us our Moment of The Week.
When Mox hit The Paradigm Shift on Wheeler Yuta when Yuta attempted a top rope manoeuvre, that was surely the end. Yuta had made a mistake that you would expect a more inexperienced wrestler to make and no-one kicks out of the Paradigm Shift right? But Wheeler Yuta did.
That moment showed how far Yuta had come in the last 6 months. After being railroaded by Moxley in the autumn of last year and while more competitive, Yuta-Mox 2 was still a comprehensive win for Moxley in the end. But this time Yuta was not going to be pinned or submitted even if he was going to lose all the blood in his body in doing so.
In a world where “NXT shocked face” now gets the contempt it deserves from fans, Moxley’s “shocked face” actually worked because he wasn't the only one flabbergasted by the kick-out.
Maybe that was the moment that in storyline Regal decided to extend his hand to Wheeler post-match and while Yuta writing BCC in his own blood on his chest was a striking visual, it’s visual of Jon Moxley’s facials after Yuta kicked out of the move that he has perfected in the last decade that will resonate with me.
Move of the Week (by Dan):
Yuta Kicks Moxley’s Head In.
It’s no surprise to me that Wheeler Yuta’s performance on Rampage is writ large throughout this week’s Roundtable, and Yuta could potentially have a top 5 moves of the week on his own from just that match against MOX.
The one that stood out for me the most however was his use of what I have lovingly started to call the ‘Bryan Danielson Stomp of Certain Death’.
Up until this point in the match, Yuta had used primarily ‘wrestling moves’ when Moxley allowed him, and indeed this moment was preceded by a lovely Angle-Slam-esque manoeuvre from the relative rookie. But as Yuta smeared his own blood across his chest, it immediately felt like something was about to dramatically change in his life, and those stomps delivered exactly that.
Holding the prone Moxley by the arms, Yuta didn’t perform an accurate kick to the head. Instead, learning from Danielson’s destruction of Trent earlier in the night, he inflicted flailing kick after flailing kick to the cheeks, chin, neck, chest and shoulder of the Death Rider.
Basically if it was attached to Moxley’s upper body, Yuta was thumping his heel into it, and the arena rightly came unglued at the pure glorious violence of it all. Kindly but terrifying uncle William Regal could not fail to be impressed.
An honourable mention to Swerve Strickland hitting a bloody moonsault off Keith Lee’s chest, because something that awesome certainly deserves at least a mention, but really this week was about Wheeler Yuta. Long may his tenure in the Blackpool Combat Club continue.
MVP of the Week (by Trish):
Return of the Mox.
Jon Moxley’s return to AEW on January 19th may have been one of the most important moments in the promotion’s year so far. Arguably the company’s biggest TV draw then had to re-discover his way with what must have felt like an entirely new body; adjusting to his lower weight base without compromising on his hard hitting style. Now just three months into his comeback, the Cincinnati native is back up to his previous in-ring standard, delivering his signature captivating promos and making stars out of younger performers.
This week’s matchup with Wheeler Yuta felt like a throwback to the Darby Allin title defence of July 2020, where the match structure and the perfectly placed babyface comebacks given to the younger man meant that Yuta was only propelled forwards, even in defeat.
It is this type of selflessness from a current main eventer that is invaluable to a promotion whose long-term future will depend on the stars they build just as much (if not more) than capitalising on its current leading names. That’s why Jon Moxley is my MVP of the week.