Fleet Files #6: Linear Eyeballs

After the biggest week in their short, but eventful history, AEW has quite the task on their hands. Indeed, it’s now time to produce a worthy sequel to the week that was, by hook or by crook. I’m sure it’ll be fine, entertainment never struggles to maintain those high standards after a critical peak. Seriously though, you know the deal by the time you’re reading this, but you may not know the truth. This was week one of TK’s new initiative, prioritizing digital eyeballs over their linear counterpart, as the C-Shows take the shine.

Match of the Week

This speaks for itself, the week’s five best matches. 1 point for the five spot, 2 for the fourth and upward from there.

  1. The Lucha Bros vs. Jurassic Express – Rampage #3

With daylight second, this was the week’s best match by an unfathomable distance. In fact, this tag team tournament final was one of AEW’s best in-ring offerings since returning to the road, an absolute thriller. Opening Rampage, these two teams continued a trend, starting the Friday night show in a fashion that was almost impossible to top. Jungle Boy gets better every week and The Lucha Bros…well, when they’re on, they are a wrestling experience unlike any other.

2. Dante Martin vs. Anthony Bowens – Dark Elevation #25

Starting AEW’s week as the Elevation opener, Dante Martin and Anthony Bowens reiterated their recent message. Martin is obviously a unique talent, one for the promotion’s present and future while Bowens is quickly making his own case for a similar description. Since being forced into the role of singles wrestler, Bowens has really shined, unlocking a level that physically, I’d only seen hints of in AEW. His ceiling shouldn’t be slept on, especially in this current form.

3. Death Triangle vs. The Dark Order – Dark Elevation #25

When The Lucha Bros and Pac actually combine, it’s always a sight to see. Frankly, AEW should probably get far more out of this faction in trios matches, but I understand that circumstances haven’t helped on that front. The Dark Order were worthy adversaries here also, as Colt Cabana especially shined, really belonging opposite Fenix in particular. Best of all, this match advanced The Dark Order’s recent dissension, providing the perfect final note to an all-time episode of Elevation.

4. Best Friends vs. The Hardy Family Office – Dark Elevation #25

The first of a two match series of sorts on YouTube, this was the Best Friends better effort opposite The HFO. Though it took a little while to truly get going, Orange Cassidy went through the gears in an instant, ironically enough. His hot tag kicked this up a notch and they went into an incredibly fun closing stretch. I understand why folks don’t like the HFO, but they really are an enjoyable piece of these C-Shows. They don’t fit and that’s the point but bell to bell, I enjoy them all, especially Angelico.

5. Orange Cassidy vs. Matt Hardy – Dynamite #99

Speaking of The Hardy Family Office, they conclude our week’s top five matches here, as Matt Hardy again completely exceeded my expectations on Dynamite. This looked like a weird match on paper and in execution, it was even weirder, with house show antics early and then eventually, a gory scene as Hardy was busted open. The result was a legitimately good pro wrestling match though as for all of his physical struggles, Hardy remains ahead of the game enough to produce engaging television bouts. Not a classic by any means, but sound stuff in my view.

C-Show Stealer

With only three places as a lesser category, this is a nod to AEW’s more subdued C-Show titans. They missed out on match of the week, but entertained regardless.

  1. The Lucha Bros vs. The Factory – Dark #104

Indeed, what a week for The Lucha Bros! Battling Aaron Solo and Nick Comoroto, they were immense here again, allowing The Factory duo to really impress me along the way. Solo is sound obviously but Comoroto, he’s the money here. Don’t get me wrong, the big man remains incredibly raw but even still, unquestionably one to watch.

2. Best Friends vs. The Hardy Family Office – Dark #104

The lesser of these factions’ trios bouts, this was still an incredibly enjoyable C-Show bout. Matt Hardy isn’t The Blade in terms of aggression and intensity, but this United Center crowd loved him so that was an extra wrinkle to embrace. Other than that though, same deal really, just fun pro wrestling.

3. Dante Martin vs. Alan Angels – Dark #104

Frankly, this would very seldom rank at all but this week, the A-Shows were so weak inside the ropes, that I’m left seeking even more C-Show alternatives. I will say though that Alan Angels is legitimately good, which feels like an incredibly understated truth. He can really go, and was excellent here.

The Promo Pack

The second of our three A-categories, this award also quite literally speaks for itself, the promotion’s five best verbal offerings.

  1. CM Punk – Dynamite #99

Though nothing close to his debut effort, CM Punk remains one of wrestling’s best promos. In fact, he apparently remains one of wrestling’s biggest stars also, and is already truly at home in AEW. This was CM Punk on Nitro, and I loved every minute of it, standing alongside Tony Schiavone to once again explain his return to wrestling. Great stuff, I can’t wait for All Out.

2. Miro – Dynamite #99

I mean, it was around 30 seconds long but who cares? Miro said the line “bring me The Mad King before I burn this place to the ground,’ that’s enough for me.

3. Christian Cage – Dynamite #99

If you couldn’t already tell, this wasn’t a particularly strong week for AEW, neither in-ring or on the microphone. As a result, the mere charisma of Christian Cage is enough for me, continuing to sell his upcoming title match with a palpable confidence and conviction.

4. Jon Moxley – Dynamite #99

Though far from his strongest outing, Jon Moxley was still good on Dynamite even if admittedly, I sensed a noticeable difference in his delivery. It was almost desperate, trying to inject some substance into a match announcement that caught most off guard. That’s a shame, but I still liked the content.  

5. Britt Baker – Dark #104

Standard stuff here from Britt Baker, making a rare C-Show appearance and doing Britt Baker things. On this week, standard Britt Baker fare was enough to complete the top five and I must say, I’d actually like these segments to occur more often. Not with Britt necessarily, just top stars in general.

Squashes to See

Good television wrestling needs many ingredients, but it never forgets the squash matches. Here are the week’s three funniest showcase bouts.

  1. Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Shawn Dean – Dark #104

Losing an all-time sprint, poor Shawn Dean’s homecoming was short-lived, flurrying briefly before Powerhouse Hobbs’ inevitable destruction. I love Hobbs in these matches, as they only make me more excited for his fleeting A-Show outings. Job done.

2. Malakai Black vs. Brock Anderson – Dynamite #99

Though completely misplaced as the Dynamite main event, this was a compelling, effective squash match. Perfect? No, not quite but it served its purpose and Black was certainly vicious, legitimately busting Brock up before swiftly closing the show.

3. Dark Order vs. Isaiah Moore & Kal Herro – Dark #104

Giving Dark Order a big man/little man dynamic, the rare combination of John Silver and Preston Vance was a treat here. In a brief showcase match, both parties shined, spotlighting their contrasting styles but showing some overlap along the way.

The Fleet Five

Our third and final A-category, The Fleet Five is simple, the promotion’s five best performers of that particular week. All the above decides this, so it’s a big one.

  1. Rey Fenix

The star of four different matches this week, it’s fair to say that Rey Fenix is now well and truly back. Before his injury, Fenix was becoming AEW’s standout in-ring performer and with a few more weeks like this, he’ll quickly reclaim that title. Fenix is special and though that’s not news, it was great to get a reminder as emphatic as this.

2. Penta El Zero Miedo

Though not quite Fenix, Penta was certainly present for all of the above. Especially on the C-Shows, Penta is far more picky than his partner, but that doesn’t make him any less entertaining. Penta is a presence regardless and when the time comes, he can be seriously exciting in his own right. A great week for The Lucha Bros, an all-time effort in Fleet Files history honestly.

3. Orange Cassidy

Not dissimilar to the two men above him, Orange Cassidy had his own standout week. With three straight days of match-stealing showings, Cassidy reiterated his case as one of AEW’s genuine top guys. Any doubts about Cassidy’s in-ring range were misplaced anyway, but weeks like this only further silence those increasingly muted concerns.

4. Dante Martin

Pairing the strong Anthony Bowens bout with a nice sprint opposite Alan Angels, Dante Martin continues to build momentum across AEW’s programming. You can see and feel his progression, it’s palpable, both in terms of skill as well as his standing with the audience. Martin is a case of when, not if at this point.

5. Jungle Boy

Compared to those above him as well as his own high standards, it was an unusually inactive week for Jungle Boy. With that being said, he certainly didn’t miss in his sole opportunity, producing an incredible performance in this week’s match of the week. Jungle Boy is such a sure-fire option for AEW at this point, it really is a sight to see.

League Leaders

Updated weekly, this is the result of our above categories. Below is your current top 10, the All Elite Fleet’s league leaders thus far. Tiebreaker is my preference, grow up.

  1. Jon Moxley – 33 Points
  2. Penta El Zero Miedo – 25 Points
  3. Rey Fenix – 24 Points
  4. Jungle Boy – 22 Points
  5. Christian Cage – 22 Points
  6. Orange Cassidy – 21 Points
  7. Kenny Omega – 21 Points
  8. Miro – 17 Points
  9. Dante Martin – 17 Points
  10. Darby Allin – 17 Points

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