Welcome one and all to the debut edition of 'An Elite Perspective'. I am Daniel A.J Barker, a returning columnist here at WNS, as a matter of fact, I am currently the only one. Ben has kindly given me the opportunity to write for this website after a long absence. With this column, the idea is to give a summary of the past week for All Elite Wrestling.
For this edition, to find one's groove, here are three topical areas for your enjoyment.
Last Tuesday on AEW Dark, I took note of an interesting development. A change of pace. In the main event, we saw Jon Moxley compete against Robert Anthony. At face value, it appeared to be a squash match. Brian Cage stood at the announcers' desk while Taz commented and plugged the championship bout at Fyter Fest.
Robert Anthony is in fact an old adversary, dating back when he and Moxley were in the CZW promotion. Robert defeated Moxley to become the heavyweight champion. What I love about AEW is that they take such details on board and use that to enhance the performances.
This main event was not a squash match. It lasted around fifteen minutes and told a great story. The champion had a tough time getting the better of an opponent of equal stature and seemingly ability. Watching on, the number one contender analyzing every move and motion. Not particularly impressed as it continued to go on longer than he and his manager Taz anticipated.
In the early goings, Taz's involvement with Brian Cage didn't fit right with me. He can be a great talker but at the start, there were plenty of stuttering moments, which killed some of the messages he tried to execute with infliction. On the other hand, that has seemed to have improved each week. You got to give the guy a chance to settle into a grove after all.
Is there a downside to this? Well, it appeared on Dark and not Dynamite. That's a criticism, as this really sold the PPV championship match up better than anything that came before it. All it took was Taz breaking down everything the champion was doing and making counterpoint as to why that won't work against his man, Brian Cage.
Moxley had his recent training in working on a technical ground game brought up. This scene sprinkled details amidst a decent in-ring performance, giving Robert Anthony a defeat, but a great showing that will hopefully lead to further television exposure.
Moving onto Dynamite, we saw the classic scene where a manager distracts an opponent for his client. Taz setting up Moxley for an ambush outside. The altercation ending with Brian Cage smashing his soon to be opponent into the back windshield of a car. Let's just hope it isn't Jim Cornette's car (queue the drums and symbol).
This pairing for Fyter Fest I didn't feel high on at the beginning. It is progressing at a decent pace and picking up interest. I don't foresee Brian Cage becoming champion, not yet. He is certainly bankable by look and ability. I'm sincerely hoping AEW book a moral victory where he has the match won, but not burdened by a quick rise to the top.
Perhaps a lot may disagree with that statement. I don't see the benefit at the moment for crowning a new champion, while the world is adapting to a new sense of normality. I'd like Brian Cage's first AEW title win to be among a live audience. And believe he should continue appearing to be portrayed as a legitimate threat for the gold over a substantial period of time. Is that fair? I think so.
FTR has arrived, a traditional tag team that draws inspiration from what many consider the golden era of pro-wrestling. I'm overjoyed to see this happening. When looking across elsewhere, I don't see another tag division coming close to what's coming to fruition under the AEW banner.
They had their debut victory against Butcher & The Blade, who interrupted an interview with Tony Schiavone last week, where Dash and Scott commented on a number of teams in the promotion. Leaving the Young Bucks out the equation of course.
Once FTR made a solid first impression, the unfolding drama with the Young Bucks transpired over a confrontation. I may lose a few readers by saying this, Matt Jackson wouldn't make a bad singles heel. Nothing crazy, but there's something about his attitude that screams out. His chemistry with 'Hangman' Adam Page is impossible to ignore. I'd happily buy a PPV that featured those two just slugging it out.
The Young Bucks get plenty of criticism, referred to as "spot monkeys" by a portion of fans. FTR represents the opposite. They're more psychology-based, which is an element audiences are really craving to see. All Elite Wrestling has a tendency to arrange spots that just do not make logical sense. The effort and acrobatics going into them can be appreciated, yet distracts rather than draws a viewer into believing what's transpiring before their eyes.
Mixing these two teams together in a future match is going to be immensely interesting. The Young Bucks had a five-star performance at Revolution with Adam Page and Kenny Omega for the belts. Neither brother is a slouch, they can certainly go and are capable of delivering at an exceptionally high level. When you introduce FTR, the chances for a similar result is almost a certainty.
Following the encounter between these teams on Dynamite, Butcher and the Blade triggered a brawl, where the champions entered the ring and had a three-way stare off. It is clear that we've not seen the last of the contention within 'The Elite' over the titles. A triple threat title looks to be teased at this point.
Despite this tense moment, Kenny Omega and Adam Page are looking to defend either against 'The Best Friends' or 'Le Sex Gods'. Chris Jericho's feud with Orange Cassidy has led to Trent & Chuck Taylor to put their opportunity at the tag titles on the line, to get their hands on Jericho and Sammy Guevera. The Inner Circle is dipping another toe into the tag scene. It is interesting, but isn't this really where Santana and Ortiz should fall into the picture?
The Natural Nightmares are looking to fall apart with QT Marshall with his new love interest, Allie, causing distension between him and Dustin & Brandi Rhodes. This is going ahead only on Dark it seems, panning out to be pretty intriguing to see when the dissension will come to play.
We saw what looked like a unity between Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela teased on Dynamite as well. If you factor this new addition with Hybrid2, Private Party, SCU, and Lucha Brothers to name a few, the competition is only getting better each passing week. This division is undoubtedly one of AEW's strongest assets.
As you've probably read, Kris Stadtlander is out with a knee injury. On Dynamite I didn't realize it even happened. Granted she vanished off-screen following a dive onto Kip Sabian, I presumed the camera intended to keep a key focus on the current champion, Hikaru Shida, and now number one contender, Penelope.
It was bad enough seeing Britt Baker suffering an injury, to have another person hurt and so soon, is this division cursed?!
Kenny Omega is in charge of booking these matches, he's of course received criticism since the early goings. I personally haven't found anything that stands out which I felt needed to be vocalized, up until this point. I will say this may be a sign to slow the pace down. He cannot afford anyone else to join the sidelines. They're both tragic accidents and a sign to limit the pace for a while until the division has time to recover.
I guess the same could be said for the rest of the locker-room. Rey Fenix is injured, an unfortunate landing that took him out of the Double or Nothing PPV, he's still absent from television now. Spots are fun, they're also dangerous. Going to the well too often can prove disastrous, which we're seeing.
From AEWs perspective, fans these days appear to be all about thrills. They're desperate to ensure their audience is in awe of what is happening. An old school mentality would point out that such an attitude is better placed at a PPV or larger scale event. Do the big stuff where it matters the most. A straight forward logic. If you're going to risk your health doing a spot, it is better to take that gamble at a position you're supposed to be in, following a build rather than in the middle of it.
Now, of course, tragedies happen. They can happen anywhere at any time. You can, on the other hand, use precautions that put the odds in your favor.
Britt Baker is continued to be featured, which is keeping her character alive and relevant in the audiences' minds. Her heel persona doesn't cease to impress, she keeps getting better and more arrogant every week. When the time comes and she's cleared to wrestle, there's no real loss of momentum. I do see a bright future as women champion down the line.
What of the number one contender, Penelope? The teamwork displayed with her and Nyla Rose on Dynamite made me believe a women tag division needs to happen. They worked great together and she scored a huge victory. She cheated, yes, but a wins a win, right?
I find Penelope is finding herself in the ring. There's an extra something coming together during her matches. A whole repertoire in terms of style isn't fully there it seems. That isn't to say she's not far off. The champion, Hikaru Shida, looking the stronger out of the two. Rightfully so, Shida is champion. But in a non-title affair, a clean victory by Penelope I'd see as an upset under any circumstances.
That's not meant as negative criticism. The division like every other is developing and AEW is giving Penelope a fantastic opportunity here to elevate her status. Working with Shida is going to do wonders for her and that title match, which I believe takes place at Fyter Fest, is going to hopefully slot the final piece of the puzzle for Penelope once it is all said and done.
With that final statement, I must say, it has been a pleasure to write this debut piece for you all. I do have questions, for you, the reader.
What do you think?
Why don’t you tell me what you think?
Or do you have a question in mind?!
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, find my new Twitter profile @danielajbarker1 or track my Facebook page @danielajbarker.
Until we meet again next week, take care.