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Monday, June 27, 2022

AEW Five Fingers of Death: Week of 6/20 - 6/26

AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 6/26

Chris Jericho/Sammy Guevara/Minoru Suzuki vs. Eddie Kingston/Wheeler Yuta/Shota Umino

MD: Hot crowd, some real stakes, a lot of personal issues, and guys stepping up, so there was a lot to like here. The biggest issue was Eddie vs Jericho, obviously, but Eddie had reasons to get his hands on Sammy after what happened to Ortiz and Suzuki was in the match to be the anti-Kingston weapon (to great success as we'd see). So they delayed Jericho vs Eddie until the time was right. The AEW house style is all about setting up spots and paying them off later, or alternatively, hitting spots and then inverting them on a second attempt. Here, after Yuta started off with Jericho giving him a ton of shine (albeit shine leading to an easy enough kick out for him) and the subsequent brawling around the ring, they gave the crowd a Kingston vs Suzuki chop off. Suzuki walked into the machine gun chops, completely negating them. He took the advantage and Jericho came in to take advantage of that, only for Kingston to comeback and then hit the machine gun chops on Jericho, who sold all over the place. That, right there, was a nice little bit of set up and payoff. Suzuki was able to get Kingston's arm as he tried to knock him off the apron, though, and that gave us a bit of a heat. Just a bit though. The match would break down shortly thereafter and stay broken down for the rest. It worked more often than not and most often when there was a big character impulse driving it, like Umino getting Jericho in the Crab and then enduring shots from everyone or when the hit the dive train with Suzuki teasing his or the triple submissions or, I suppose when they hit one rapid fire spot after the next ending with Sammy's cutter and Yuta's splash, though that last one felt more choreographed than opportunistic. Some of the choices between break-ups and nearfalls towards the end were a little dubious, most especially the tornado DDT/brainbuster combo. The dynamic between Kingston and Suzuki, where Suzuki kept getting in his way and slowing him down but not ultimately stopping him from getting a shot in here or there was effective. Yuta and Umino stepped up appropriately; no one can say that Yuta isn't taking full advantage of his opportunity. Sammy looked like he belonged in there. I'd say the finish followed from the story of the match well enough too, as the cumulative damage was ultimately too much for Kingston's side. I would have maybe liked more extended heat before everything broke down though. 

Bullet Club (Young Bucks/El Phantasmo) vs. Dudes with Attitudes (Sting/Darby Allin/Shingo Takagi)

MD: By the time this match started, it'd been non-stop multi-wrestler action since that little heat segment on Kingston's arm, with maybe a small respite when Clark Connors was getting beaten on. The action was good and I'd argue even at times smart, but it was all a little much. If they had shuffled the Ospreay/Cassidy match earlier on the card maybe? On paper, a match with a bunch of comedy spots would have been a good palette cleanser but it was still a multi-man spot-laden thing, so while being different in one way, it was more of the same in another. That said, in a vacuum, all of these things worked. Sting hit the big dive to start and then got to hit his first ever senton. Darby unsurprisingly fed into all of the Bucks' stuff well and they fed for his comeback. Sting got to get a bunch of superhero moments and the crowd went up for all of them. When everything really went crazy at the end it occasionally got a bit disjointed, which sometimes makes things feel more organic but maybe not here. I thought the finish felt a little flat maybe because Shingo had a bit too many things and the fans weren't as familiar with them as they might have been? Or maybe it was because it was a bit of an anti-climax due to the couple of minutes before it. Still, it's amazing how natural and meaningful Sting felt on this card, which is a testament both to him and his opponents.

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