Just like to stress here that when critiquing wrestlers I’m referring to the way they’re booked and used, not the guys themselves. Saves repeating this throughout.
Best Friends & Storytelling
No, not Trent & Chuck.
The best stories take viewers, readers, fans on an emotional ride and make them guess what’s coming next. Last night MJF & Adam Cole did this with aplomb. The champ’s explanation of past actions made it hard not to root for the guy; his big cheesy grin made it impossible not to consider that he was playing us – and Cole. At several points it seemed he was about to drop the façade.
None more so than when he told his ‘best friend’ he didn’t deserve ‘a title shot’… because he deserves ‘the title shot’! It also explained why Cole was so willing to give MJF a chance, he sees a lot of his former self in Max. Between this and the way Cole openly acknowledged the chance of MJF turning on this past Saturday, they’ve done a nice job mitigating the ‘How the hell could you let this guy sucker you?’ question.
The announcers also played it well – even Schiavone acknowledging that it was hard to rail on MJF. Without saying he was totally convinced by the ‘new’ man.
Unfortunately, I’m still not the least interested in seeing them wrestle. I’d rather they went after the tag titles again. But it was very entertaining while deepening the story and the relationship.
AEW also made absolutely sure that even if fans didn’t catch Collision, they knew what’d happened. More of that needed.
Aussie Open vs Komander & Vikingo
This was loads of fun. The teams worked really well: it was slick, it was fast, it had some killer spots and moments of breathtaking athleticism. Used this line before but there are NBA stars who’d like Vikingo’s vertical. And Komander’s learning to use his rope walking to best effect rather than coming off as more trapeze artist than wrestler.
Guevara & Garcia
These two have a really nice dynamic. Sammy’s the charismatic, high-flying sports entertainer; Garcia’s the (mostly) no-nonsense technical wrestler. Would enjoy seeing them get a push. Sammy was even cheered last night after an excellent ‘hot tag’.
In just the last few weeks there’ve been good performances from FTR, Bullet Club Gold, Cole & Max, Martin & Andretti. Tonight Guevara & Garcia, Aussie Open, Komander & Vikingo added to that number.
FTR could have fun with any of these guys.
Making things Special
When they finally got round to announcing their 200th show last week, the announcers repeatedly used the phrase ‘landmark episode’. Yet when it came, nothing particularly landed or made its mark. There was nothing wrong with it. But nothing felt special either. It was just another episode.
Nor did it feel like the company was going anywhere with about a month left before back-to-back big shows. There weren’t any hot feuds or angles which screamed pay-per-view. (Max & Cole is a popular act, not a popular feud.)
Following up and planning ahead: Elite Edition
So last night the Elite came out and had a good match but nothing more: celebrating new deals by doing the same thing they always do. There was no mention of them winning Blood & Guts, no mention of their handshake with the BCC, no mention of what might be next.
Ahead of two pay-per-views, coming off a victory over another top faction, neither of the two ex-world champions wanted to go for gold. Neither did the ex-tag champs want to get back into the chase. They were just out there to be out there.
Kenny didn’t even have cross words for Callis & Takeshita, that fire’s been left to go out.
(On the plus side, is it possible Omega’s throwaway line about Collision means the Bucks might hit the scene to challenge FTR? By all accounts they’re the most entrenched against Punk, so it’s unlikely. Be fun though.)
Token Gestures & Equality
It’d be nice to believe that a women’s title match between two good competitors would’ve main evented regardless of last week’s fuss. But last night wasn’t anything other than ‘evidence’ to throw at people next time they complain about the lack of women on the show.
It had no build and the two hadn’t appeared on tv for weeks. While Storm’s reign was one of the worst in history (to be clear – not at all blaming her – she was left to rot). It’s hard to remember her doing anything outside of her match with Willow at Forbidden Door.
If AEW want to prove this isn’t the case, then next time the women main event – if there is a next time – the match’ll feature competitors who’ve cut promos, been featured regularly on tv or have a story behind them. I.e., they’ll be treated equally to the men.
The Nick Wayne package the night of his debut was very good. It effectively told the sad story of a kid losing his father but continuing to pursue his dream in tribute. For once, AEW told the story ahead of time too.
And Swerve’s final line last night about how easy it is to make a phone call linked back beautifully to AR Fox’s complaint about Darby not helping him out. Unfortunately, somewhere in the middle they broke a framed photo of Nick and his dad over the youngster’s head.
Forget the fact that it’s tasteless, AEW have now made an angle out of a deceased relative so frequently that I’m completely numb to it. (Jungle Boy, Wardlow and Arn Anderson in the last year alone.)
It always seems a cheap way to try convincing us a feud is more heated than the average: Those guys over there might be arguing about who’s better at powerbombs but this guy’s dad really died.
Similarly, the pool of blood meant nothing. It happens every week.