Segunda Caida

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Monday, January 30, 2023

AEW Five Fingers of Death 1/23 - 1/29

AEW Dynamite 1/25

Darby Allin vs Buddy Matthews

MD: The AEW house style special. You had a full 1998 length match, something to disrupt (House of Black, Ortiz, Sting), and then a full match after it. The story here, as much as anything else, was struggle. There was a moment or two, especially before the disruption, seemed to be about Darby's leg, but you have to think of the whole show when putting together a match like this, and not only did Darby have a match the previous week against Juice which was all about his arm, but there was Cage going after Danielson's shoulder ahead of them. So it was an entry point to some offense some Buddy control, but it wasn't about the match, and frankly, it doesn't need to be. Darby is the guy on the roster who can make it about full body cumulative damage. And here, both guys had a lot of stuff and a lot of counters, and a way of making things that were just a bit contrived feel earned. Even when he was working from underneath, Darby didn't just give Matthews anything. He had to work at it, had to pry away a limb, had to get some extra shots in. Excalibur covered for some of that with the mid-match sleeper, but so much of it was just Darby's resilience against an opponent who was bigger, but not quite as big as we're used to, and how personally he was taking this, since he was the one who called for the match. And as such, it felt different than a lot of other Darby matches where he ends up taking and taking and taking, building sympathy and inspiring awe. That's one of the real positives of this last run of Darby's, though; the matches feel different, even when he, by the nature of who and what he is, is working from underneath more often than not.

Bryan Danielson vs Brian Cage

MD: One of my favorite things about Bryan Danielson matches are the entry points. How does a match start? What's that initial lock-up like? What's the early strategy? How does he first test himself against another wrestler? I can think of other wrestlers over the years where that's one of my favorite parts too. I'm a big Nick Bockwinkel guy and he always came in with an interesting kayfabe strategy or story beat against his opponent. He might do something underhanded immediately against Wahoo since he was so wary of him. He might try to humiliate Chavo Sr in Houston since he was a local hero who felt beneath him as AWA champ. GAEA Aja has a bunch of relatively short matches which are a lot of fun because of how her outclassed opponent tries to start out by solving the problem of her. You know what match that people stand by which I didn't like at the time? Danielson vs Lesnar. Then again, most 2010s Lesnar matches have terribly entry points. The big exception is the Joe match (which then has a rote back half). I liked this a hell of a lot more. The first few minutes of this were all about Danielson outwrestling Cage, out maneuvering him, having answers for not just his strength, but also his speed and agility. More accurately, it was Danielson forcing Cage to be unable to rely upon his speed or agility, forcing him to rely entirely upon his strength, and then having an answer for every attempt to use it. It was Bryan Danielson wrestling a perfect match. He was playing cat and mouse, but a mouse with fangs, and it was everything I would have wanted the opening to that Lesnar match to be.

When Cage caught him, he really caught him, sending him tumbling brutally upside-down into the corner. From there, it was everything that makes Cage interesting and everything that makes him kind of painful to watch. Lots and lots of stuff. Here though, it was redirected and honed through the lens of attacking Danielson's shoulder. It meant that he pulled from his almost endless repertoire of "stuff" to use a shoulder breaker or a bearhug with the arm hammerlocked, or a big arm driver. He wrestled with purpose, with focus, both offensively and defensively in cutting Bryan off, That allowed Danielson to take advantage of that focus to wrestle wounded, to sell his arm as he was throwing kicks, to utilize leverage in a way he might not normally, using an anklelock where you can utilize your own body to support the hold, turning it into a German with the ankle still hooked, and then selling the overall story by winning far less decisively as he had the previous few weeks, with a banana peel finish that let him just barely survive and left him open for the post match beating. So instead of a Danielson vs Cage match where they really went all out and gave us endless fireworks, or something somehow more restrained which was a giant vs an underdog, we got something in the middle: Cage was still himself, full of stuff and enjoyable ideas that may or may not hold up under scrutiny; Danielson was wounded, masterful, dangerous, his back against the wall. I don't think this will be the match in the series that people will remember, but I wonder if it won't be the one that will hold up the best years down the line.

Jay Briscoe Tribute and Celebration of Life 1/26

Eddie Kingston vs QT Marshall

MD: House show/amusement park Eddie is a thing of beauty. There's a world where stumbled his way into FCW in 2011 and basically became the WWF Jim Duggan for the mid-2010s. It's not all that different, not really. He's still going to kneel down and ask you to punch him in the face repeatedly. He's also going to have the crowd hold you so he can chop you. QT, is, of course, a perfect foil for this. Maybe, just maybe, he takes a little too much for a guy who is a player/coach as a character, but as mentioned before, AEW needs credible mid-level heels that can lose. That's the value of Jay Lethal, and they'd be worse off without QT in that role. He's smarmy and confident enough that he can transform every bit that he takes into value for when he ultimately shows ass. Maybe someday he can be (a relatively tall) version of the Bobby Heenan that still worked, but Heenan was 40 in 1984 and Marshall's only 37 now. This was a celebratory night and a celebratory match so the finish just having one rotation around the airport before landing instead of two or three matched the mood. If you're going to have a tribute match to Jay Briscoe, being as much of yourself as possible seems like the absolute best way to go, and they nailed that here.

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