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Weekly TV Roundup, Catching up on AEW Television (end of Jan.-end of Feb.)
Red's Pro-Wrestling Digest #92
Welcome to the latest edition of the Pro-Wrestling Digest, this time focused specifically on AEW TV content that I missed. There's a lot here, so how about I jump right in...
Up first, Mascara Dorada showed he still has some of that VKM brand rust. He and Henry had essentially a good match, but it was far from what it could've been.
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JAS bested Starks and Action is a good, but admittedly forgettable, tag match. The heels would go over.
Buddy's more bulked up self is perhaps why he's not working as well as I am used to. That's my theory at least because the dude found ways to shine on 205Live and, while he's still good, he's not showing the same amount of spark in AEW and feels a bit lost in the bloated roster shuffle.
Joe made his intentions to reclaim his lost gold after.
JungleHook rolled on and looked good. I didn't watch enough to review, though. The fun energy of Matt and Page from the YouTube stuff seems to not be translating to TV as well for some reason.
Weirdly enough, the next two didn't get any love on the official AEW YouTube channel and were skipped completely.
Danielson and Cage was pretty good but far below the abilities of both men, especially Dragon.
Storm and Ruby was far too sports entertainment in nature and something that failed to catch enough of my attention for a proper rating.
Family Therapy was a segment that certainly happened. I get what they were aiming for here, but didn't care for the delivery (very WWE in nature) and I don't care much for the program in general.
Mark Briscoe and Jay Lethal had a great and emotional singles match main event well worth checking out for the situation attached as well as the quality.
A mixed bag episode of Dynamite.
Modern Scorpio Sky, Wheeler Yuta, and Adam Page had a great one keeping Handman's angle going. Rampage that week also featured a great eliminator match between Emi and Hayter that I really appreciated. A better selection of content than usual, of late especially, from AEW's throwaway show that few watch.
Claudio's defense against Blake Christian on Elevation #100 was fun. It started hot, kept a nice pace, had some underdog spark shit from BC, and served as a nice throwaway title defense. Nothing to complain about here and I'm sure this will sadly get skipped by many who'd enjoy it had it been on Dynamite or Rampage.
Next, Dynamite no.174 kicked off with a fantastic battle between Mox and Hangman to keep their excellent program rolling. Blood, table spots, a flashpin finish, and some drama after as BCC told Page to fuck off all added up to make for truly must-see TV.
I always try to include some scoop sprinkled in these, preferring doing so in this way instead of the clickbait shit most wrestling sites run. So, with that said, note that Komander's AEW appearances weren't the original plan. In fact, Tony wanted a larger lucha libre name but conflicts with schedule changed things up and now Komander will continue his quick rise of late with another major booking pick up. Good for him, sincerely!
Next, Soup continued his streak of awesomeness (showing the world what he's been showing puro fans for years) against Brian Cage. Plans on pushing Takeshita are apparently in store and a second L for Brian apparently was part of that. It is kind of funny that Cage is finally getting something to do again and it's to eat L's and then pick
Danielson and Thatcher had a good match, though one that was far below my expectations. I considered Timothy to be my favorite worker around a decade ago, but he's so inconsistent. It didn't help that this doubled as a pusher to continue shit between Takeshita and MJF. Very good, could've been better.
Wardlow returned to lay out Samoa Joe after the latter reclaimed the TNT Championship and further established himself as indeed being the King of TV. That title defense was a fantastic match that utilized the stipulation nicely.
To Rampage we go.
Kuh-kuh-kenny and the Buckssssssssssssss had a throwaway defense against The Firm next as a reward for their entertaining shit they've been giving us on YouTube, I guess. A very good, perhaps borderline great even, trios match with a nice pace. Very much what some call "indyrific" or whatever, but entertaining for what it was for sure.
The main women's program is up next. Extended squash and spray paint heel stuff. Meh.
Remember when Cole came back and then was gone again? He's back again via an aired package.
I only caught the tail end of Swerve's match but I did see Mogul Affiliates beating Pillman up. Dustin made the save and made me think momentarily that this had aired from Cedar Park.
Rush and Daniels was promoted as a battle of two former Ring of Honor World Champions but it certainly didn't feel like one. Instead, this felt exactly like the type of match that I'd expect from modern Rampage. I feel that TK has flirted increasingly with sports entertainment leanings, starting largely last year, and I disagree with that choice. There are better ways of placing character work on TV and better ways of using story building blocks, too. A fine enough match but both dudes are capable of far more, even Chris in his current state.
Whatever, Rush got a nice win in a main event so I must rejoice!
Dynamite: Championship Fight Night was the latest special edition of All Elite's flagship program and it started with a sweet eliminator battle between Konosuke and MJF. A good intensity, some solid pacing with decent spots mixed throughout, and nice storytelling added together nicely and made collectively a fantastic contest that felt like a big match main event.
Takeshita took the L but continues to lowkey be the star of AEW right now and MJF got something he really needed right now.
The champ would continue to attack in post, drawing some color, before Danielson would run him off.
I haven't cared much about the current JAS program to be honest but I was curious to see what they'd do with it. I want to like it. I really do. This week they ran a gauntlet with Starks besting 2point0 separately in short ones before falling to Red Death Garcia in one with a bit more meat on it.
Note that I rated the entire gauntlet as one match. It was okay. Jericho would help Garcia get the W.
MJF came out to be a dick to Edwards and El Paso. The latter I'm cool with. A fun crowd response helped make this a fun segment. MJF would attempt to get a countout victory for Rush but some backstage circus drama would end that non-option from happening. Takeshita helped.
The American Dragon would spill blood and Rush would finally get a chance to really show off in AEW. A fitting final match in this series. I haven't loved everything they've done in the program, but it's been pretty damn fun regardless and this was a fantastic clash and perhaps the best AEW match of 2023 so far.
After, the champ would attack Bryan and put on some arm work while Takeshita and BCC were nowhere to be seen. LIJ kind of friends.
Fox and Top Flight challenged The Elite for their straps next, building off of the recent Bucks/TF bout. Fox/Omega would be sick but I think visa issues kept that from happening for now. Top shelf, high octane. They should've saved this for Revolution and built it up a touch more but it was a true treat either way.
The World Tag Team Titles defense main evented and saw the Gunns take the belts. A ref bump led to a tease that Daddy Ass was going to turn heel. That and everything that followed was super overbooked. I don't care for this program in the slightest and it just got worse. How the fuck do you book that?
BCC's Claudio, Jon, and Wheeler got a records padder, as we move to Rampage, again as they'd best Sabian, Butcher, and The Blade. Fine for what it was but forgettable nonetheless. Claudio should've said, "Hey Chris, fuck you" to Jericho randomly during this one.
Ruby and Shafir was decent enough from what I saw of it. AEW Homegrown (Hayter and Baker) and the heel side of Storm and Paige would brawl after on the ramp. The program is okay, but lacking.
The episode had an Impractical Jokers segment where Q and Murr mocked Jericho for having a small bat. JAS came to handle Chris' small bat and then beat down the Jokers. I haven't seen much of the recent stuff but I used to love that show.
Seeing Murr get powerbombed onto Q through a table was pretty fun.
The main saw Cassidy retain against Lee Moriarty and Excalibur sounded like a fucking auctioneer dude as he ran down future cards. It had sprinkles of comedy and decent action that moved along at a good rate. Fairly good shit in all. I wouldn't have hated a shock title change but appreciate the result.
Lethal and crew would attack after taking out the champ and his pals. The Acclaimed and Daddy Ass would make the save.
Time for the Dynamite that had dips screaming about falling skies.
Lethal, Jeff, Dutt, and Singh lost to Orange, Gunn, and The Acclaimed. I apparently hate myself and Tony is showing us what AEW house shows will be like.
Mox and Claudio would take on Rush and Vance next in a Texas Tornado for some reason while Page watched wearing leather. Lots of color, as expected. Jose's interference actually worked nicely here and Yuta's response did, too. Sick endstretch especially. Kip and crew would attack Page backstage after before Dark Order ran them off. Pretty good, borderline great level stuff.
I see Mark went to 2-0.
Perry Boy would beat Cage in a decent one and then Christian returned and sprayed shit in his eyes and hit his finish on the stage. His arm's fine, too. Meh.
The women's three-way main evented. A bit clunky and Saraya got involved a few times. Storm took out Hayter at one point. Some spraypaint on the ass of Storm led to the finish. This was okay but wasn't executed as well as it could've been.
I see why folks walked away unimpressed with this episode. The fact that it was on par with almost anything WWE puts out each week, better at times (yes in my opinion) means nothing thanks to the standard expected from AEW.
Just how I see it, at least. That's not to say the company is without flaws, either.
Soho picked up the win and Saraya got in her face after.
The episode also featured MJF talking shit about Laredo (fair) and Bryan (not there). Their ironman match is gonna be pretty awesome and I really have no issue with either possible result. He also tried to pay off Chris who instead told the heel champ that Bryan was gonna force him to rape the earth like his name was Chevron.
What crime would that technically be?
Daniels' plug of Dragon was enjoyable.
Adam Page was told by Mox, with BCC, that he has no friends. Uno and the Beaver Boys came out. I dug Evil Uno finally getting something with some teeth. Largely a good segment. A Texas Death match between Page and Jon sounds delightful.
The Elite bested Fox and Friends once more, this time in a match meant to tie-in with the NBA All-Star stuff, to start another Rampage. It was admittedly below expectations, especially versus the last one with these folk, and rather disappointing as a result.
House of Black would appear after to continue teasing a match that neither team really should drop right now.
Starks and Garcia's rematch was a good one that gave Ricky a clean win. Simple, smart, largely sweet. Sammy wants to do some butt stuff or something.
I caught the end of Strickland versus Dustin as the heel and his Lesnar-ish buddy beat up Goldy until Keith Lee returned for the save and run off. Someone turn on some Rancid.
Dark was better than usual, it seems, because I have a bit to watch from the latest next. I think that show has the best tone some weeks and the best commentary team in AEW in general but it tends to be disjointed and randomly tossed together most weeks alongside a very random and inconsistent run time which tends to serve more as a bad thing than the antonym. A few tweaks and I promise Dark could be a great show.
Alas, Tony only barely knows I exist and my chances for such a job to make my ideas relevant are seemingly slim. I kind of appreciate my little bubble though and will just continue to do side gigs for small indies like usual.
Sydal and Slim J made it seem like ROH was a new thing again as they kicked us off with something that would of made far more a splash during that time than it did in the modern era where most people won't even see it nor seek it out. It perhaps says a lot about the shifts and evolutions to the art in the past decade.
Good, short, videogamey.
The Trustbusters are a unit that I wouldn't mind seeing a minor push for but they seem to be frequent YouTube workers and little more as it stands right now.
Top Flight and Fox ran off the heels after.
I saw the last three seconds of Hart's win. Gotta love seeing her get W's.
Emi and Starkz was respectable and respectful and a nice gem stored away on a show seen by thousands instead of millions. An injustice, perhaps. Pretty good shit. A bit of color from the vet made for, I believe the second instance on this Dark as I think I saw JD bleeding a bit earlier while I fast forwarded.
Nese and Trent main evented the episode. Promoted as a grudge match revisited, which was fine, this felt like a nice reminder that this program should always have a main event with some meat. This even had a package prior, that should've ran earlier in the episode perhaps, that worked nicely.
Borderline great content that reminded that both dudes are talented and capable of still providing for some hits. Tony actually even seemed to have more charisma for once.
Apparently Hook was "suspended" or something. Meh.
A decent Dark, obviously.
All-Atlantic Champ, Orange Cassidy, put it up against ROH Pure Champ, Wheeler Yuta for some reason in our opener. Fantastic stuff to kick us off for sure with nice nearfall drama, intensity, pacing, and technicallity. Interestingly enough, Claudio seemingly told Yuta to be a good pup in the post, keeping the people from getting what they wanted.
I didn't watch the next two outside of the final few seconds of each, but the first saw The Acclaimed best The Firm's Lee Moriarty and...sigh...Big Bill. The other saw Saraya beat Blue then a bunch of chaos.
I did tragically watch the battle royale. I say often that I don't care much for this specific kind of match and that there are few exceptions to that otherwise rule and this was one of the worst ones I have take the time to watch in a long time. Also, I still can't understand the reason to have Jarrett on TV this fucking much.
Match-wise, after that sick opener, this has been very basic and boring.
Mox and Uno was great, at least. A physical battle of personalities and the brawl after between Dark Order (with unofficial member Page) and BCC was a nice moment, too.
Outside of the matches, this episode did feature a few noteworthy segments.
Starks outsmarting Jericho to get a match at Rev. was decent I suppose.
Jungle Boy got some payback on Christian, but then wouldn't go for the kill and got fucked up again for it.
Most importantly, MJF and Bryan had an amazing segment that really should've ended the show. One of the hottest promos of the year and, of course, it's from MJF.
Last week's Rampage is where I'll end things.
The Young Bucks and Aussie Open, the latter of whom recently outraged fans when they revealed that they were free agents, had a banger throwaway. Somehow AEW has one of the best tag team divisions in the world, if not the best, and yet their title program right now for the division sees the nepotistic assholes holding the straps and Jeff Jarrett as half of the team with a shot.
I'd arguably prefer Aussie Open in Impact.
Storm and Willow was fine and largely served to be a decent example of Toni being a heel. Chaos after.
Last, Action looked perhaps his best yet against Sammy in a pretty dang good match.
Archer is back after he reminded Tony that he was still under contract.
This one was a bit clunky. Sorry.
Oh, and AEW really should run an old school style ad promoting merch featuring Sting and a stoner dude or something.
This edition is dedicated to my recently deceased dog, Aria. Rest in peace. I hope I woke you from your worst of nightmares, gave you enough bones, and are now truly at peace. I miss you.
Match Ratings Roundup
Henry vs Mascara Dorada **3/4
Starks, Action vs JAS ***
TNT Title: Allin(c) vs Matthews ***1/4
JungleHook vs The Firm NR
Danielson vs Cage ***1/4
Soho vs Storm NR
Lethal vs Briscoe ***3/4
Page vs Yuta ***3/4
Eliminator: Emi vs Hayter ***3/4
ROH World Title: Claudio(c) vs Blake ***1/2
Page vs Moxley ****1/4
Takeshita vs Cage ***1/2
Danielson vs Thatcher ***1/2
TNT Title, No Holds Barred: Darby(c) vs Joe ****
AEW Trios Titles: The Elite(c) vs The Firm ***1/2
Knight, Storm vs Renegade Twins ES
Rush vs Daniels ***
Eliminator: Takeshita vs MJF ****
Gauntlet Challenge **1/2
Danielson vs Rush ****1/4
AEW Trios Titles: The Elite(c) vs Top Flight, Fox ****
AEW Tag Titles: Acclaimed(c) vs Gunn Club *1/2
BCC vs Kip, Butcher & Blade ***
Ruby vs Shafir NR
AEW All-Atlantic Title: Orange(c) vs Moriarty ***1/4
The Acclaimed, Gunn, Orange vs Lethal, Jarrett, Dutt, Singh **1/4
Texas Tornado: BCC vs LFI ***1/2
Cage vs Jungle Boy ***
Ruby vs Storm vs Baker **3/4
AEW Trios Titles, All-Star Slam Dunk: The Elite(c) vs Fox, Top Flight ***1/4
Starks vs Garcia ***
Slim J vs Sydal ***
Emi vs Starkz ***1/2
Trent vs Nese ***1/2
AEW All-Atlantic Title: Orange(c) vs Yuta ****
Revolution Tag Team Battle Royale *1/4
Moxley vs Uno ***3/4
Young Bucks vs Aussie Open ****
Storm vs Willow **1/2
Sammy vs Action ***1/2
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