Segunda Caida

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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

AEW Five Fingers of Death 11/14 - 11/20 Part 2

AEW Full Gear 11/19

Eddie Kingston vs Jun Akiyama

MD: It's not every day you get to watch a guy live out his dream. We hear about dreams a lot in pro wrestling. Stuff like the Hardy brothers or Edge and Christian growing up to be tag team champions, Shawn Michaels with the boyhood dream fulfilled, Sasha Banks learning about Eddy passing in the arena, that sort of thing. And then there's Eddie Kingston, with a different life and a different dream. He'd been pushing for this match through social media and interviews and just wishing on a star, and we live in a pro wrestling world in 2022 where sometime wishes and dreams can sometimes can sometimes come true. That's the joy of AEW more than anything else, the dream of TWA and ROH fulfilled. And on this night, we got to come along for the ride.

Look, I'll be totally transparent here. If you read me talking about Eddie and Ishii and Eddie and Takeshita, you know that Eddie vs a Japanese guy isn't always my favorite Eddie Kingston. It can bring out the worst and the most excessive and all of the things that I, personally, don't love about the style. And yet, I loved just about every second of this. Some of that was Eddie, who put his heart out there, who wanted the perfect match, who threw his face into every forearm, who let out a scream, one of the many screams on this night actually, that was primal and true. It was, in part, Eddie going for a killshot on the apron so early or outright biting his hero to get an edge, completely unafraid to leave his mark on his idol's flesh. So much of it, however, was Akiyama, genuine, the real deal, no degrees of separation, with just enough grit and age to make the real even realer. So much of it was how much he threw himself into this, the way his knees buckled as Eddie lit up his chest, the bump he took the outside, the steel in his eyes as Kingston met his gaze, the amazing way his feet flew up on the DDT's impact. When he rolled through on the half and half and ducked under to hit the first exploder, the sort of thing you doubt again and again or at least that I do, that takes me out of a match each and every time, I bought it, or at least I let myself buy it, just this once. Call it a Thanksgiving week miracle. Call it yet another thing Eddie Kingston willed into the world on this night. 

As good and visceral and true as the match was, the post-match was all the more so. If you're here and reading this now, you probably got choked up a bit. There's nothing I can write that's more meaningful than that. When wrestling makes you feel, there's nothing better. He shared his dream with us, through pain and sweat and effort and persistence and hope, all from a guy who self-admittedly doesn't find that last bit so easy. The stuff pro wrestling dreams are made of.

Chris Jericho vs Sammy Guevara vs Claudio Castagnoli vs Bryan Danielson

MD: Maybe I'm feeling particularly forgiving due to the magic of Eddie Kingston's wish, but I'm going to go out and forgive most of the inherent failings of a 4-way here. Yes, at one point Claudio was out on the floor for a bit too long. Yes, Jericho really shouldn't have kicked out of the G2H/Shooting Star Press; someone should have broken it up instead, as is the point of having other guys in there. In general, though, this was really good and it was because all four wrestlers brought the best of what they could do and it was all pretty structurally smart, more focused on story than spots, or at least having the story drive the spots. I've said recently that Sammy is, in a lot of ways, the perfect opponent for 2022 Claudio and 2022 Danielson, but they're his perfect opponents as well. Danielson's able to make use of Sammy's agility and speed and intensity and creativeness. No one in the world can catch Sammy better than Claudio; the basing on the shooting star to the floor was like very little I've ever seen. Against these two, things that Sammy does that shouldn't work, whether it's his Snuka tribute leapfrog/backflip/standing Spanish Fly or the bonkers cutter followed by a Spanish Fly in rapid succession, simply work. The reason why we value execution in pro wrestling, whether it's great punches or incredible agility is that it allows for suspension of disbelief and when put against Danielson and Claudio, a new level of such suspension is unlocked for Guevara. 

Anyway, they quickly went into the story here, with the BCC pinballing the JAS and then facing off against one another. Later on, when they faced off against each other again, it was like two masters of a fighting style knowing exactly how to counter one another as they switched through the hammer and anvil elbows. Jericho and Sammy rained small slights upon one another before outright going at it to the crowd's delight. Jericho was astoundingly opportunistic here, channeling the most craven villains imaginable (full Bobby Heenan, really) and not paying for it and paying for it again and again until he made a daring leap during the giant swing, what felt like such a dangerous spot, whether it was or not, and then capitalizing for the victory. All four ways have the decked stacked against them and therefore, just by the sheer level of difficulty involved, this was better than it had any right to be.

Sting/Darby Allin vs Jeff Jarrett/Jay Lethal:

MD: I had some misgivings about this one because Jarrett being there made Sting seem a little older and you didn't want that given how many other main acts he's gone over in the last couple of years, but between Jarrett's condition and the fact that the first half of the match quite smartly saw young paired with old as they brawled around the arena, it worked out pretty well overall. I had wanted Singh in there or maybe a Sonjay/Singh/Lethal handicap, but at his stage of his development, it was probably better to just have Satnam in there for a few big moments, and what big moments they were, the two almost impossible catches, Sting's dive, the chokeslam, and the missed splash into the combo Death Drop/Coffin Drop which had been set up previously, but never hit as no one was quite big enough until now. Jarrett added a lot too, with reactions for the last row as he encountered Sting for the first time at the start, bouncing appropriately between Sting and Darby on punches, and then beating down Darby with fairly credible stuff when it was time for it.

I, and Taz along with me, thought that they steered off course when they took about three minutes to shift to more conventional tag rules. Immediately thereafter, Sonjay and Satnam just walked into the ring casually, so building to a hot tag for the sake of it was dubious at best. Sting couldn't quite land the finishing spot, but I was okay with this, as it was set up by Darby basically hulking(Stinging?) up after the just nuts guitar shot and there was a sense that maybe the student is becoming the master finally. Despite some grumblings about either Lethal or Jarrett from various quarters, this felt like it belonged on the card, no question.

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