We’re getting to the business end now, dipping our toes into the top ten.
- MJF’s a great heel
MJF vs Konosuke Takeshita, Dynamite, 02/08/23
Didn’t appreciate this at the time. But having watched MJF as a babyface for six months, it was a vivid reminder that the dude is born to be a heel. He was so good here in making Takeshita look strong in a loss.
On the same night Danielson spent the whole match selling for Rush, the world champion did the same, taking a frogsplash which cleared 2/3 of the ring, a wheelbarrow German, big boot in the corner, occasional sneak attacks his only respite.
Building to an excellent rolling elbow/lariat sequence about eight minutes in, the champ beginning to target the arm for Salt of the Earth. Only for the import to come roaring back with big moves, Max only saving the match by getting his foot on the ropes after the best blue thunder in the biz and a massive knee strike.
Before bagging the win after dragging Takeshita back middle and applying some extra torque to SOE.
Two main conclusions. Max should be the Devil and go back heel. And if anyone reading has Tony’s number can you remind him Takeshita’s on the roster please? (Guess you could just tweet him since it’s nearly 2024.) He’s quite good. Cheers.
- Fighting Spirit
Eddie Kingston vs Bryan Danielson, Collision, 12/02/23
Eddie Kingston’s been the best thing in the Continental Classic so far. Because he’s the only person in AEW who seems to understand tournament wrestling. They aren’t just a cheap way to fill tv time so that you don’t have to actually book anything. They’re intended to show wrestlers on journeys.
Maybe they’re out of form at the wrong time. Or in it at the right. Perhaps they’re carrying an injury. Their finisher’s stopped working. They’re a youngster who got a big win and showed growth but isn’t quite there yet. Or a vet who might be on the downslide.
In Kingston’s case, he’s a proud wrestler who put his titles on the line and lost his opener. Ahead of facing possibly the best wrestler on the planet in Danielson, with the very real prospect of quickly being down 0-2. So was feeling the pressure, a little down until snapping himself out of it and vowing to fight.
Positioning himself as the struggling underdog. So that when his clash with Danielson began, we were sympathetic and had a reason to want to see him win. We were invested. A stark contrast with every other tournament match outside of ‘That’s the guy I like’.
And the storytelling continued into the match: Danielson protecting his injured eye by throwing kicks and applying holds, trying to keep Kingston’s dangerous strikes at bay. When they finally did throw hands, Eddie knocked the Dragon on his ass with a single chop.
In a match which felt like a fight, both trying desperately to win, a missile dropkick the closest we got to finesse. A frantic final few minutes involving suplexes, strikes, ups and downs, ending with Danielson kicking Kingston’s head in, leaving both so exhausted they collapsed to the mat.
Eddie unable to do more than ball his fist and scream a death cry at Danielson as he was put down with the match-winning busaiku knee.
More Danielson and some tag action tomorrow for Day Nine.