Segunda Caida

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Monday, June 13, 2022

AEW Five Fingers of Death: Week of 6/6 - 6/12

AEW Dynamite 6/8

Casino Battle Royale

MD: I went and looked back at some of Eric's AJPW Battle Royal write ups to see how he's handled them in the past, because who has the first idea how to write about battle royals? I'm not even sure if I want to call them battle royals or battle royales here (the promo material AEW put out all has the "e" so we're going with that). For the record, Eric has traditionally run through the narrative of them in a way that I'm actually more apt to do with a regular match than he is. 

Instead, let me go with this. As a kid, the joy of things like the Royal Rumble and Survivor Series, as well as just your random Coliseum Video battle royals was seeing guys that don't usually interact get a chance to interact. In 1991 WWF, that's because how stultified the roster pairings were. Barbarian and Bret would be married for six months on house shows. Warlord and Davey Boy would feud for the entire summer (and a bit of spring and a bit of fall). Did you want Davey Boy to interact with Flair? Or Dibiase? Tough luck. And probably not with Bossman or Duggan either. Battle royals broke down those silos.

On the other hand, AEW gives us weird match-ups all the time. Maybe it's not as much as some people might want, but you never know what you're going to get Wednesday afternoon as that last match or two added to the card. But the roster is still huge and face vs face and heel vs heel matches are at least a little bit rare, though less so due to rankings and tournaments.

So then, what did this give us? Fenix and Dante jousting, Takeshita going after everyone on the roster since he has no programs. Darby and Kingston having a moment of swiping at each other. The fun Archer/Nese moment that reminded me of Larry Z teaming with El Gigante in Battlebowl. Lee and archer having a faceoff. Then there were the established plot beats: Team Taz up against Dante; Garcia and Kingston fighting and then Garcia waving Hager down with Yuta, when he came in, charging right right into that mix; Darby and O'Reilly continuing their fighting from the PPV. And some of the new plot beats: Andrade and O'Reilly working together ("Amigo!"); Swerve swerving both Lee and Darby. They maybe had a few too many people in the ring a bit too long and when they started eliminating guys sometimes the marks came too quick on top of one another (missing Kingston and Garcia going out together and Hager going out immediately thereafter was a problem). Andrade felt like a deflation of a surprise, especially as he wasn't winning the thing. If he had won, it might have been different. To be fair, the crowd didn't seem bothered by it. If you go back a few months, it's impressive that O'Reilly and Yuta worked for the crowd as the last two, with O'Reilly definitely boosted on paper due to his Owen tournament performance and beating Darby clean on PPV. Yuta drew chants down the stretch, the second most over guy past Kingston (who drew chants AGAINST Darby, which is saying something). There are some inherent issues with the structure of the Casino format when it comes to timing things like new wrestlers getting their shines and eliminations but this primarily gave me what I wanted, Ricky Starks interacting with a lot of wrestlers I don't usually get to see Ricky Starks interact with.

AEW Rampage 6/10

Eddie Kingston vs. Jake Hager

MD: At times this felt a bit like Kingston was wrestling John Studd, not in what Hager did necessarily, but in how desperate Kingston was to get that exploder. He went for it three times, paying for it each time, including right at the start, before finally hitting it, which turned the tide of the match and opened Hager up, ultimately, for the backfists. I haven't seen Hager in any focused performance in a very long time. He just doesn't get singles matches often. Here, he worked well as a big, bullying goon, with the match being as much about cutoffs on Kingston as anything else. He was quick to get a driving knee up, but also to lean on Kingston with one so that he could paintbrush him in a way you don't really see. Or he'd just shut Eddie down and toss him halfway across the ring. The other half of the equation was Kingston's openings: grabbing a crotch during one of those knee grinds, drawing Hager in by giving him his face to punch so he could poke the eye. And of course Eddie's selling to give everything Hager did weight and meaning. I swear he sold getting tossed to the floor between the ropes more than probably anyone else in wrestling sold anything this week. As that's not something people usually sell, the grimace of pain all over his face really stood out. Maybe Hager being used so sparingly helped here, but he does seem like someone who brings a lot of raw potential for the table in any match so long as someone can make use of it. Kingston absolutely could.

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