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Monday, September 25, 2023

AEW Five Fingers of Death 9/18 - 9/24 Part 1

AEW Dynamite 9/20/23

Eddie Kingston vs. Claudio Castagnoli

MD: It seems silly to even write about this. You know. You all know. This goes up Monday night. The match was Wednesday. People tweeted and made podcasts and wrote their initial thoughts on other blogs and message boards and in discords. Everyone knows that Claudio wore green and Eddie wore yellow. You know what, though? I'm going to do it anyway, because the match and the moment deserves it. I'm going to remind everyone five days later what we all know, because by writing it, by reading it, by thinking about it, we memorialize it. And this match, this moment, this sheer impossibility that could only exist in pro wrestling, deserves it.

Eddie Kingston wears his heart on his sleeve. It's a big heart but don't tell him that. I don't have the right to tell him that. You probably don't either. We'll say it anyway because it's undeniable. The myth... and yeah, he gets to have a myth. You don't get a myth. I don't get a myth. He gets one though. The myth of him is that he had a hard road, a hard time of things, could have ended up as a lost life that fell through the cracks but he found Japanese wrestling. He found the pillars. He found Kawada. So he became a wrestler. That's the myth. Wrestling saved him. He found salvation in this thing we love so much. Not every wrestler gets a myth. Hogan gets a myth. Rock gets a myth. Dusty got a myth. Kingston gets a myth. Like Jimmy Valiant or Jackie Fargo or Sputnik Monroe or Wild Bull Curry.

There are lots of stories about Eddie Kingston the wrestler, stories about Chris Hero or Low Ki or Homicide or Ian Rotten. We have a Complete and Accurate full of those stories. This story is about Claudio, but most of all it's about Eddie. It's a story of betrayal and disrespect about missed opportunities and opportunities taken, of a life left behind and about a life never achieved, about an opportunity that ought to have been lost forever. I won't recount the specifics. You've seen Joseph's video. Even if you didn't live it, you know.

Years further down the road, Eddie's story had him hit bottom, had him run out of chances, not through any fault of his own, but through the simple, sad state of the world. Everything was hanging by a thread and when things are hanging by a thread, all it takes is one shock to make that thread snap. So Eddie, as he was want to do, let out one last primal scream into the void.

And someone heard. And a door was open. And that's all it took. And Eddie did what he did and what only he could do, all with no one to watch. They all had to watch at home. And they did. And they saw. And when the time came for them to be back, they were there for him, through an explosion that did not explode, through near-miss after near-miss, through fire that was not allowed to burn, through a whole bunch of Evolution tags where he lost his cool for no good reason.

But it was all worth it. See, the thing was that for the first time ever, Eddie was in a place that understood. The fans understood. The wrestlers understood. The owner understood. And there were resources. There were opportunities. Eddie was able to stand across the ring from, to battle, to best, the heir to the pillars himself, a wrestler one degree away from the world that he had dreamed of, Jun Akiyama.

And it was with that behind him that he, through the miracle of this company that should have never been, through being this wrestler that should never had made it this far, he was able to have Claudio in his sights once more. He had to fight beside him in the name of friendship and greater vengeance, but animosity was what it was and what was Eddie without his animosity? Claudio's life had become grand. He had lived as a king and stood tall as a champion. He didn't want Eddie and old grudges pulling him back down to Earth. But pull Eddie did. Challenge him Eddie did.

Yet even with as far as Eddie had come, it wasn't enough. Old wounds nagged at him. Claudio was simply too good. Eddie strove, he fought, he failed. He left in defeat, accepted a long-needed surgery. And then, instead of trying once more, he recentered himself, found himself where he truly belonged. He competed in the G1, the closest thing left to the world he had idolized. He took pilgrimage to the restaurant of the retired master. Kobashi bandies about with his smile and his pose. Kawada is an old dragon in his dusty lair, no longer part of the world he helped to make, a world that got away from them all. But he met with Kingston, heard his tale, imparted wisdom: The Power Bomb. Not the Northern Lights Bomb. No. The Power Bomb. One last sword forged, one last secret told, one last order given.

So, close to his home, with family nearby, with ten thousand people chanting his name, Eddie came out for one last definitive battle. Claudio may not adapt to every moment, but he understood this one, understood what his role was to be, met it with strength, fury, intensity. His arms were treetrunks as he cut Eddie off with strikes and blows. His head was a boulder able to stop Eddie's greatest weapon, the backfist. He could heave Eddie up at a moment's notice and drop him mercilessly to the mat. Eddie chipped away at him, found weakness in the leg, used that as a wedge to harm the body. Most of all, though, he didn't quit, he didn't stop, he didn't hold back. For every indignation, ever feeling of disrespect that gnawed at him, from Claudio and from himself, he struck out. Whenever it seemed like the tide was turning against him, he threw all of his power into his hand and struck without hesitation or doubt. Slaps and chops that could change an unfeeling world. He made it feel. He took everything Claudio had, all of his best offense, every bomb in his considerable arsenal (including the Ricola Bomb) and rose once again. But he couldn't put Claudio away either. The uraken didn't do it. The Northern Lights Bomb didn't do it.

Eddie had told Kawada but weeks before that the Power Bomb was beyond him. It was a technique simple and primal but it was never within his skillset. It required a power that in Eddie had manifested in other ways. Here though, in this moment, when all other options had been expended, at the end of his rope once again, Eddie let out yet another primal scream, one of the heart this time. The announcers had expected a pile driver. The fans didn't immediately understand the significance. But Eddie knew. He knew as he rotated Claudio up and he knew as he planted him down and he knew as he pressed forward into the pin. He knew. I knew. You knew. Not all of them in the crowd knew yet, but they would know soon enough as Eddie's old friend the referee counted three and they knew all the more as Claudio shook his hand and threw him the belt. Victory finally obtained. Respect finally given. In the post match interview, Eddie laughed at himself, at the world, for he knew that while his myth had reached its conclusion, this chapter of his story was just beginning, and there was nothing but struggle ahead of him. But if the referee was his friend and Claudio his now-respecting rival, struggle was his brother, and they were fated to walk this path together forevermore.

If you come to this blog, you knew every word of what I just told you. I couldn't give you an iota of analysis that would be new to you. I have no comparative advantage here, no great insight. Just this once, I told you what you already know and reminded you of what you just saw because it deserved one more telling, because we were all fortunate to be a part of it, because it was that special to us all. Most of us aren't lucky enough to have lived in the time of Bull Curry or Jackie Fargo or Johnny Valentine, but we live in the time of Eddie Kingston and we should all pause for a moment and remember how fortunate we are for that.

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Anonymous Bucky said...

Hell yeah dude. Beautiful words

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Nick P said...

Lovely writeup

1:30 AM  

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