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AEW’s Top 25 of 2023 – #23 & #22

Welcome to Day Two of Wrestmas.  Let’s get right to it.

  1. ‘Did you win this…?’

Christian Cage has his daughter ejected, Collision, 08/05/23 

Meltzer: N/A

That little girl looks so uncomfortable.  Was my first thought as we headed backstage to Christian Cage one Saturday in early August.  Pinned tightly against his side, she looked like she wanted to be anywhere else.  As her father talked about realizing he’s a role model for children.

And proved himself the ultimate hypocrite not only in referencing Darby Allin ‘mentoring eighteen-year-olds who don’t deserve to be here’ (that’d be one Nick Wayne, more recently the son Cage ‘always wanted’).

But in what came next.

As the restless and uncomfortable child fixed her gaze on Cage’s gold and asked to hold it.  Presumably most wrestling parents would find great joy in such a question.  Not Christian.

‘Did you win this?’ he asked sharply while clutching Luchasaurus’ TNT Title.  ‘Nobody touches this title but me.’

Visibly irritated, he ordered her to go find her mom before yelling in the direction of security that she wasn’t credentialled.  As multi-time father Tony Schiavone looked disgustedly at just the worst P.O.S. he’d ever seen.

I can do without some of the cheap heat and most of the dead relative stuff, though even that’s become almost tongue-in-cheek.  But there’s no doubting the stellar 2023 Christian Cage had as a character.  And this might have been the pinnacle.

Or was it?  Guess you’ll have to come back each day to find out 😉.

  1. Bash his Nuts!

FTR vs Better than You Bay Bay, Collision, 07/28/23 

Meltzer: 4.25*

At the height of Double Clothesline Mania, Collision opened with the #1 contenders promising to do three things: bash Harwood’s nuts in (Max), Double Clothesline (both), then become the new champs.

And of all the things I might’ve disliked about MJF’s babyface character, his very simple psychology was not one of them.  He’d promise the crowd a bodyslam.  Ditto a dive.  He and Cole talked up the Double Clothesline, teased it in every match.  And guess what?  Fans went wild for all of these very simple things, because turns out they like to feel involved in the product.  It’s satisfying to route for your team/wrestler/side to do something then see them succeed.

‘Fun too,’ to quote Homer Simpson.

So when Max tagged in against Dax and vowed to ‘bash his nuts in!’, the crowd took up the chant as MJF tried a legsweep and elbow to the groin.  But missed.  And kept missing throughout.  It’s all about the anticipation.

As the action picked up after the break into a very good tag packed with cut-offs, hope spots, big moves, counters and near falls.  Until, finally… in a brilliantly orchestrated sequence, Harwood landed in a shattered dreams position in the ropes, the ref believably distracted – because if FTR are going to do this silliness they’re going to do it right – and MJF punted his nuts in.

Though it wasn’t the finish.  That came when the world champion sacrificed himself to save his new best friend from a Big Rig and was rolled up.  In one of the best pieces of storytelling the company did all year.  So well done that I’m thinking it’s too low on the list.  The lifelong loner finally had a friend except it made him ‘soft’, cost him a championship.  So how would he respond?

Not well.  At first.  Repeatedly yelling ‘I blew it!’ until Cole told him ‘they’ blew it and helped him up.  Even so, Max couldn’t fight his inner devil, he readied a belt shot, Cole offering his back, almost anticipating it – ‘Do what you gotta do’.

Instead, they hugged and the crowd cheered.

BtYBB was/is hit and miss.  But on this night the recipe was right.  A little silliness amid a serious clash and almost heavy post-match angle which added depth to both characters and their relationship.  And with the perfect foils in the ultra-serious FTR, holding tag belts given credibility after two stellar scraps in recent weeks.

It added some 200,000 viewers as the show peaked.

Thanks for reading.  Stay tuned for #21 and 20 tomorrow.

Paul Hemming
Paul Hemminghttps://h00kedon.weebly.com/
Paul Hemming got into AEW during the pandemic, lives in Liverpool, England, and is a huge Liverpool fan, Playstation player and history lover.

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