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Monday, November 14, 2022

AEW Five Fingers of Death 11/7 - 11/13

AEW Dynamite 11/9

Eddie Kingston vs Ethan Page

MD: Page is the guy getting the push, though I could have sworn they were going to have Eddie lose his cool and get DQ'ed. In fact, with the Akiyama tag (and maybe singles?) coming, I'm not quite sure what the endgame for the current anger management storyline is. It gave them a clear out here and they didn't take it, instead going with the classic 1988 WWF Manager-On-Apron-During-Submission (or, you now, after Tito hit the flying forearm) distraction finish, with the modern AEW twist of a struggle-laden top rope Splash Mountain instead of a roll up or whatever else. You do have to figure that Kingston was ok putting Page over given their background, a series of matches from years ago that were really all about Page becoming a man. Now Eddie was there to take him to the next level on his way to (presumably) being in the tournament finals.   

The match itself worked for me, as Page's mannerisms, actions, reactions, all oozed with familiarity. He took the fight to Kingston because he knew that if he didn't, he'd get dragged under. That meant throwing his own body at Eddie repeatedly, inside and outside the ring, and it meant trying to lean on him whenever he could. Even that wasn't going to be enough. Page wasn't going to win strike exchanges with Eddie and those suplexes were always waiting under the surface ready to emerge at a moment's opportunity. Eddie would catch him with a butterfly suplex on the way back in the ring or, in what should have ended it all, on the second attempt of an exploder. But Stoke was there, proving his worth at ringside for the first real time for one of his charges; Eddie gets the phantom win behind the ref's back, Page scores the real win and moves on, and Eddie gets his reward in his dream match next Friday. I don't know if they wanted to avoid the predictability of the anger management angle or what but that did feel left on the table here. Sometimes the shortest path between two dots is the best, though. If you've got an out due to an ongoing story, it's almost always best to take it.

Bryan Danielson vs Sammy Guevara 2/3 Falls

MD: In a lot of ways, Sammy really feels like the perfect 2022 Danielson opponent. Or, let me put it this way, the perfect opponent for what Danielson wants to do. There may be a couple of other guys on the roster, like Pac for instance, that might be just a bit closer to the ideal, but Sammy's extremely close. Danielson wants to go as hard and as fast as humanly possible. He wants to leave it all out there. He wants to bleed and sweat and grind and scrap. He wants to feel as alive as humanly possible, as alive as pro wrestling can make someone feel. I'm not making this up. He's on record. When Danielson came back in 2015, he didn't adapt in the least. When he came back in 2018, he barely adapted (flipped out on the corner dropkicks instead of landing on his skull). Danielson is skilled enough and good enough to wrestle like Jerry Lawler. He could be a modern day Jose Lothario and control the center of the ring. He could let his opponents create motion and still find ways to have compelling, brilliant matches. He likes challenges and no question, he'd rise to that one. That's not what he wants though. That's not why he's here. That's not what he wants to do with the years he has left in the ring.

So we end up with matches like this, and while it may not be exactly what I'd want to see from Danielson, it's a hell of a thing and as good as almost anything else out of AEW this year. This one had two special advantages: the time and possibilities inherent in a 2/3 fall match and the ability to build off of their previous match. Last time, Sammy ambushed Danielson. This time, Danielson is right there to meet him, and they trade early advantages as Sammy's able to force Danielson out, but then gets jammed on the dive. That leads to Tay, absolutely relishing the role, getting in between them and the brutal chair toss for the DQ. I'm going to guess that this was a Khan request, having lived through the Rude/Steamboat Ironman match with that endlessly clever moment than no kid into WCW during the Dangerous Alliance era would ever forget. It set the tone for the match, though, with Danielson bleeding and reeling and Sammy pushing forth. It let Sammy go back to the eye, jamming his finger into the wound, for cutoffs. It introduced blood early, blood that was doubled down upon later on as Danielson ended up bleeding from the nose as well, giving additional weight and drama to Sammy's crossface. Danielson's comebacks were as high impact and high octane as they'd come. Sammy can take all of his stuff, including the reverse 'rana that no one else is taking (and likewise, Danielson was there, picture perfect, to base for the Halloween Havoc 97 DDT). He'll lean in extra hard on the knee off the apron and then hit his own later on. Both of them are physically adept enough to move into each other's submission counters. The limit was their imagination and the confines of what was reasonable and believable (because, as AEW goes, and as potential Sammy opponents go, Danielson's one of the better possible editors). In the end, the Danielson/Garcia 2-3 falls match was probably more of my sort of match, but I have a hard time not admitting that this one was probably better. No matter what I feel or think I know, whenever you give Bryan Danielson exactly what he wants, you end up with something absolutely spectacular.

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