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Monday, September 26, 2022

AEW Five Fingers of Death: 9/19 - 9/25 Part 1

MD: Hopefully the second half of Grand Slam on Weds. Just night one today.

AEW Dynamite Grand Slam 9/21

Bryan Danielson vs. Jon Moxley

MD: I burned through this one a second time today. Initially, I thought I might talk about Danielson working the arm and how he potentially made just enough inroads there to keep control but not enough maintain it down the stretch and how going back to that at the very end allowed for Moxley to counter him on the ramp and ultimately win. Maybe there would have been something in there about how Moxley targeted the leg, trying for the same thing, but ultimately won by keeping his eye on his ultimate goal, on the end and not just the means. On the second watch, though, I wasn't feeling that narrative as much. It was there but that's not what I want to talk about after all.

This, more than any other match I've ever seen, was presented as a match between two training partners. Sometimes that might show up in an overwrought, spot-laden sort of way, guys trying to dropkick each other at the same time, signature moves deftly countered with winks a'plenty. It might get hammered down your through. Despite Regal talking about it on commentary, that wasn't this. Instead, there was a visceral, real, subtle yet obvious sense of familiarity. Regal put it best. For every hold that each wrestler used, they trained for the counter. Moxley tried the LeBell Lock on Danielson and Danielson turned on his side to avoid it. Danielson went with the Cattle Mutilation and Moxley whipped his hips around to get out. Moxley had a sense on when he could goad in Danielson to avoid a dropkick in the corner. Danielson knew just how much of Moxley's stuff to absorb before firing back. 

We know these guys spend hours upon hours training. Or, if we don't know it, we're led to believe it through podcasts and interviews and stories about getting to the arena early and setting up shop. There's no reason not to believe it. You watch this match and you saw it from bell to bell. Moxley didn't eat up Danielson with his strikes. Danielson didn't eat up Moxley on the mat (I'd argue that Jericho as Lionheart did that more so, in fact). At key points, Danielson had Moxley's number but when it counted down the stretch, Moxley had Danielson's. The moment where Moxley went for Danielson's Achilles tendon and the way that Excalibur reacted, as if something profane and forbidden, against every code, had just occurred, a way that Tony Schiavone wouldn't necessarily have known to react, that you or I wouldn't, felt like the ultimate way to escape from that balanced paradigm. It's what it would take to push past the familiarity of their training, something accepted by Regal, accepted by both wrestlers. The finish felt symbolic to signify the post-Punk world, the reversal used to defeat Piper and Austin reversed and smothered, the dying gasp of Neo-Bret-ism. Instead, the hammer-and-anvil ethos of the Blackpool Combat Club and of Moxley's Neo-Hansen-ism reign supreme.

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