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Monday, June 06, 2022

AEW Five Fingers of Death: Week of 5/30 - 6/5

AEW Dynamite 6/1

CM Punk/FTR vs. Max Caster/Gunn Club

MD: Obviously, it's hard to watch this one back and not be on the lookout for how Punk is hurt. They really build to him coming in the first time and he's there for the hot tag at the end, so there's not a ton of it but it was a little striking how often he went up to the top in that short time he was in there, a double axehandle to start, the body block back off the ropes, the elbow drop on Caster, the springboard attempt that goes wrong on his way in. The Gunns, Austin especially, with his manic energy, have a lot of potential, but they're not there yet. I've come around on Austin's chop block to take out the legs. The first times I saw it, it felt inadvertent, a move of opportunity that shouldn't come up every match, but now he seems to look for it more, as part of his overarching strategy. He's great at reacting when he knows something is coming, when it's a planned spots, but you never know when the crowd is going to start an ass boys chant and he's not always so great at organically working that in. Punk, on the other hand, old pro that he is, can switch a facial expression or little appeal to the crowd mid-sequence depending on how they're reacting. Most of the match was the heat on Dax, and it was good, with a great cut off to lead into the commercial as Dax knocked two of his opponents out of the ring only to have them rush around to take out Punk and Cash off the apron. The fact he put them in position to do so made it even better. Having Billy to sneak in a punch and Bowens to use the crutch only helped matters. Any issues with the match down the stretch were due to Punk's foot, and the internal feeling in your gut that we'll be missing out on what this pairing might have been the start of.

Matt Hardy/Christian Cage/Darby Allin/Jurassic Express vs. Hikuleo/Young Bucks/ReDragon

MD: This was the homecoming match for the Bucks and was going to showcase them while also theoretically giving a little attention to Hikuleo in advance of Forbidden Door, given that Cole is apparently banged up. It wasn't going to be for me but I thought the structure was generally effective for what they were trying to do. Here, there the sort of shine where everyone got to get their stuff in before the dives were all to set up the transition, by clearing the ring so that you were left with Christian and the Bucks. The most interesting moment in there was Christian interacting with Matt Hardy for a moment. Anyway, it meant that Christian worked as face-in-peril during the commercial which is always where they stick the heat, and even though it was a fairly pro-Bucks crowd, by the end of it, there was a chant for him because he's one of the best traditional babyfaces in the company. I know people are itching for the Express to lose the titles and Christian to turn on Jungle Boy but I've always much preferred Christian as a face and there's about another thirty match-ups I'd like to see him have in the company before such a turn. After the hot tag to Luchasaurus it all broke down like you'd expect, an extended, chaotic finishing stretch leading to the Bucks ascendant. Hikuleo got to show a few things here defensively, jamming the chokeslam attempt, catching a dive, no selling Hardy's slams into the corner, but he didn't do much of anything on offense which seemed like a bit of a missed opportunity. This wasn't anything I was particularly looking forward to but it gave the crowd things that they wanted and had enough good things that it did me no lasting harm.

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