Segunda Caida

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Monday, January 16, 2023

AEW Five Fingers of Death 1/9 - 1/15

AEW Dynamite 1/11

Bryan Danielson vs. Konosuke Takeshita

MD: Takeshita's raw physical abilities makes him sort of anything for anyone. Eddie Kingston had a very specific match that he wanted to have with him. Adam Page did as well. So did Mox and Claudio. I think his own pro-wrestling instincts are a bit much for my tastes, but I'd love to see what some of the other 5FoD like Punk or Dustin might do with him. I think it was pretty clear to anyone paying attention what Danielson wanted, someone to push him as far as possible so they could have a high octane, hard hitting match. That's exactly what he got. 

Coming in, knowing that, I was ok with the end product, give or take a few nitpicks, but overly impressed by a few points as well. For instance, I think they filled the time on the top rope during the commercial break and ending with that amazing lariat off the top exceptionally well. Timing was perfect; you didn't know where it'd end up and were happily surprised by the eventual place; it never felt cooperative; it always felt perilous. I liked the little bits of mat sections early. Takeshita's strength and flexibility meant that Danielson could really stretch, both in his own bridging and with the Romero special into the dragon sleeper. The one place where it fell apart was the ugly spot on the floor, and even then, Danielson recovered beautifully at first by selling his leg. It would have been even more beautiful if it was all a ruse and, after the knees up on the flipping senton in, he had dropped the selling completely. Instead, he dropped it conveniently, not selling it after that spot to set up the LeBell lock, selling it immediately thereafter, and then dropping it for the rest of the match, including after he landed on his feet after the German. It would have worked way better as a feint but obviously, it's a lot to keep track in the moment. Not every conversation about Danielson has to be about whether he's the best in the world or not, I suppose.

Instead, it was nice to see Danielson against a handpicked opponent, getting time and fully flexing his pro wrestling interests. On some level, I miss a more mat-based, hold-based, Danielson, one that would really dismantle an opponent, but it's still thrilling to watch him do what he wants to do most.  

AEW Rampage 1/13

Darby Allin vs. Juice Robinson

MD: This felt like the match needed for the specific moment. It was a reset after the ladder match with a big bloodbath to come. It was a nice little title match too. I've heard from a lot of people that Juice is better positioned as a babyface but I think he adds a nice bit of contrast and there's a real sense of escalation in his offense as the match goes on. They started out on the mat, giving it a bit of a title match feel, shifted with one huge bump by Darby, and then went into an extended control period by Juice which was constant and consistent. Darby is a guy who doesn't necessarily need to get in a lot of hope spots because the fans are behind him and because half of the joy of his matches is watching him take stuff. When there is a comeback and a cutoff, it means all the more for it. Juice started with the double axe handle building to the sentons (which he went for initially too early to start of the match and then paid off later) and ultimately the Harlem Sidekick. When he couldn't put Darby away, because who can, he went to the top, made a mistake, and Darby took the win. Just a good straightforward match which gave Juice a lot of room to stretch, gave Darby another win (a bunch in a very short period of time) and got the crowd recalibrated for what was to come next.

Malakai Black/Brody King vs. Eddie Kingston/Ortiz

MD: Lots of moving parts here. A lot like the Cassidy vs Sabian match from last week, they did a good job of playing out the story with the actual ringwork. AEW's roster is a dual-edged sword. You'll get Eddie wrestling relatively short enhancement tags on the webshows (even if sometimes the opponents have been great) and then you suddenly realize that you never knew you wanted him to face off against Malakai Black. This was more of a tease than a real payoff, but it was a hell of a tease, culminating with the drop into the seated position and King interjecting to lead into the commercial break and the heat. Eddie kept coming back, kept getting assists from Ortiz, kept refusing to tag. I'm not sure anyone in wrestling today could have portrayed this level of stubbornness, defiance, and toughness than Eddie. His face was visibly banged up; he kept throwing backfists wildly; he stood tall and foolish and prideful and people believed in him and suspended their disbelief and let themselves get frustrated at him and hopeful for him. That's what Eddie Kingston could do. Everyone else played their role perfectly, especially Ortiz who took it to Brody at the start and worked the apron like an all time tag worker and including Julia with picture perfect timing and a resonating scream when a lot of people were probably expecting the mist. I'm glad this is getting time and look forward to see how it all plays out.

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