Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D, Sebastian, and other friends write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Monday, March 20, 2023

AEW Five Fingers of Death (And Friends) 3/13 - 3/19

ROH 3/16

Athena vs. Hyan

MD: There's a Kingston vs JVSK here, but the match was short, sweet, and exactly what it ought to have been to keep the build going for Kingston vs Claudio, so I don't have enough to say about it and no one needs me to write three paragraphs on Wooster and Jeeves and how VSK should be reading Wodehouse to figure out how to work more comedy of manners madcap antics into his matches. The big logical choice for the week is Jarrett vs Cassidy, but it's sort of self-evident and writes itself (Jarrett's mind games! Cassidy's punches! Crowd brawling through the commercial break! Do a blindfold tuexedo match next, Tony!). Therefore....

Let's talk more about Athena. She starts this with a bowing, over the top handshake, drawing a smile from Hyan, and then proceeds to hit the magic forearm and drop her. That forearm as an entry point is such an important part of Athena's matches. It sets the tone immediately and you go looking for it, but also there's the awareness that her opponent's looking for it too. While this wasn't a squash, it really shows why squashes are potentially important to a broader pro wrestling ecosystem (or dare I say "universe"). There are so many things that happen now in matches that are so distanced from their initial purpose. We had decades of dropdowns happening with no one ever getting tripped by them. I'm sure, as a kid, I had no idea what the purpose of a dropdown even was. It just felt like something done to get out of the way of a running opponent. There are a bunch of spots that are just apart of the lexicon of pro wrestling without unpacking the reason behind them (look at the old Waltman classic that starts in rocker dropper position and ends up with a flip). Point being, sometimes you actually need to hit the move instead of just having it countered in every match. Sometimes you want a mid-match move to look impactful enough that it ends a match. And in this case, you need Athena to hit that initial forearm half the time because then it actually means something when someone does duck it or reverse it or she has to work to sneak it in. You need to establish a baseline so that you can subvert expectations. In 2023, maybe that's a cooperative scenario where the crowd is just going to play along whereas in 1983, you were actually conditioning them, but maybe things have also been a certain way for so many years that laying these tracks might actually really, truly matter. Still, it's a hell of a forearm, right?

Hyan certain felt so as she spent the rest of the match selling it, disengaging after (shaky at best) kicks or pinfall attempts to rub at her chin. Athena, through coincidence or intent, stayed on it with a wrenching grapevine cravat and the crossface that she ultimately won with, so maybe it was all by design. Hyan had a couple of bursts of offense, but nothing seemed to be hitting hard. Moreover, Athena's worked in an incredible cutoff over the last few weeks, a Big Boss Man style choke drop off the ropes, just a perfect addition to her violent attitude, something that feels like a transgression and abuse that she can hit so suddenly in the midst of her opponent's offensive flurry. ROH has been a great show so far, two hours without any constraints (commercial breaks, quarter hour ratings to plan for, demos to aim at), a studio wrestling show, building to a PPV, but also very much great wrestling for the sake of great wrestling, and hey, if that means we get a couple more Athena matches a month, without limits and without restraint, I'm all for it. 

AEW House Rules 3/18

Darby Allin/Orange Cassidy vs. Butcher/Blade

MD: Look, I thought about not covering this because we're not supposed to see it and all, but we spend half of our time watching things we're not supposed to see between handheld footage and the entire 30 year output of pro wrestling in France. He may not like it, may not prefer it, but if anyone's going to understand it, it's a former tape trader. So there was a houseshow and someone went and fancammed it for us and you can probably find it on your own. And we thank that kind soul for his efforts. 

AEW is all about unique and interesting match ups. It's about things that a crowd knows they're going to see and no one else will get to see. You skip out on a house show and you never know what you're going to miss. That's the idea. Here, it's Cassidy and Darby teaming. They've been in some multi man matches before but had never teamed. Honestly, part of me just wants them to run with the idea you'll be seeing unique interactions and run house shows with the Deadly Draw/Lethal Lottery gimmick. This served more of a purpose though. Britt got to try out being a babyface in a low pressure environment. Anna got another match under her belt. Pillman, Jr. got to sit under Jarrett's learning tree. Hook was able to work from underneath against Ethan Page without worrying about keeping him perfectly protected. They dusted Pat Buck off for a unique crowd moment. 

And yeah, Cassidy and Darby got to team. It definitely hit the marks you'd want. Blade's an ideal Cassidy opponent since he's going to seethe at the antics. That's your shine, building to Darby doing running coffin splashes in the corner while Cassidy pinwheeled and got closer and closer. Darby just accepted it and leaned into it. Why not? And just as ideal was Butcher and Darby working together, where Butch was able to catch him off a spring back leap and takeover with massive power moves while Darby writhed and sold. The craziest bit here was when he just maneuvered him all over the place with a Texas Cloverleaf; unreal visuals. They made Darby work and work for the hot tag and then Cassidy brought it back down to tepid and they had a pretty active finishing stretch leading to a mousetrap finish. Post match, Butcher and Blade took some more licks and Darby celebrated with a kid which again, is one of those great moments people in that crowd would remember later and that kid will remember forever. There was a moment during the face-in-peril where Cassidy drew the ref away and was maybe just a little too animated for who he was (it let Blade use a chair), but otherwise, this was a pretty ideal house show tag.

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