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Thursday, September 16, 2021

2021 Ongoing MOTY List: Coffin Match

6. Darby Allin vs. Ethan Page AEW Dynamite 7/14

PAS: These two had a series in EVOLVE I had a lot of time for. It was what really made Darby into a name guy, mainly because of the shellacking he would take. This was as good as those matches, although worked a bit differently because of Allin being a bigger star than Page at this point. It is pretty hard to show me new things in a street fight at this point, but this had a bunch of pretty cool unique spots. Loved Darby coming in with the metal back brace to make his senton's nastier. I thought the Scorpio Sky and Sting section worked well, Sky popping out from the casket was fun and Sting showed some real verve cleaning house. Page using the ring post hook to yank off Allin's chain was really nasty looking, as was the revenge Darby fishooking. Your pair of monster Darby bumps, a couple on the floor and the Splash mountain on the stairs were appropriately huge Darby bumps and the post match Coffin drop through the coffin was nuts both for Darby doing it and Page taking it, and feels like the kind of iconic thing which will be part of video packages for years.  I imagine it is unavoidable at this point, but having Darby take such big bumps in picture in picture during commercials kind of sucks. I hope eventually AEW has some sort of network where we can watch these matches in full. I also would have liked to see Page bleed more. Either blade big or don't, but Darby's Pirata blood mist would have been way cooler if he had been able to get more of a mouthful. Still those are minor quibbles for an otherwise excellent match, one of my favorite AEW bouts to date. 

ER: This was tremendous, the perfect amount of chaos and escalating violence. I really can't believe Darby Allin is still in tact enough as a human to be giving us matches like this. I keep waiting for him to be sidelined with a broken torso but at this point he just feels like the kind of guy who tries to jump off the roof into a swimming pool at a party, lands fully on concrete, doesn't remember even jumping, and is totally fine. Page is a true goofus, does dumb stuff like talking to weapons, but will always be reliable for being in the ring while Darby Allin murders himself to a great match. Darby wearing the metal body brace is the most Fury Road he's ever been, and it made his corner body attacks look even more painful. But nothing is ever going to look more painful than 5 of the bumps Darby takes in this match. His tope is probably the best in wrestling because it is the most "body as weapon" dive we have, where the wrestler doing the dive clearly doesn't care about the damage done to his body as long as he's damaging his opponent. 

I really liked the Scorpio Sky/Sting involvement, as it came very early in the match and the surprise of Sky in the coffin was handled well. Sting was really landing hard stomach kicks to buckle Sky (there are literally over 150 people on this roster who should be asking Sting how to throw a kick to the stomach) and the crowd brawl building to Sky getting crotched on the barricade was great. A Darby plancha off the second level gets caught by Page, and Darby gets swung violently into railings and walls. And, the best Darby matches will always see him swung violently into railings and walls. Allin's bumps have such thud and snap to them, he really sends himself to the mat quicker and harder than anyone. His splash mountain bump on the stairs was disgusting, and the way he whipped the back of his head into the mat when Page hooked and snapped his chains looked neckbreaking. 

The most incredible thing about Darby's bumps might not be how eagerly and painfully he takes them, but how unexpected he makes them look. There is no person better in wrestling at making a planned crash landing look like a man who was not expected to crash. Chris Hamrick took body breaking bumps and you knew he was going to take them, but he *always* looked like a man who expected to hit a move, not a man planning how best to take this dangerous fall. When Page yanked Darby to the mat by his necklace it looked like Darby had no idea the spot was coming. Nobody makes his dangerous bumps look as unanticipated as Darby, and the number of wrestlers in history who you can say that about is less than 10. Darby landing an ollie off the top rope off of Page's back is such a sick way to lay a guy out. A full skate deck with trucks is deceptively heavy, and the spot itself looked like a graphic the evening news would show during a Dangers of Backyard Wrestling piece. 


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