Fleet Files #7: The Go-Home Week

The biggest PPV in promotional history is ahead, and AEW only have five shows to remind the wrestling world. I know right, a mere five shows, across six nights? Talk about pushing your luck. Well anyway, there’s some major matches along the way also, as a couple rivalries continue in their own lane while elsewhere, All Out continues to take shape. It’s a PPV dream card but this week, it’s all about the build, as some of AEW’s biggest personalities take center stage.

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. Santana & Ortiz vs. FTR – Dynamite #100

Though for a range of reasons, it still felt like a slightly lesser version of their ultimate match, this remained absolutely immense. Two of the best teams in wrestling, these two tandems combined for an excellent television tilt, even if not quite the heated conclusion that some expected. Perhaps that’s still ahead but as is, this was a hit, and one that’ll hopefully position both units to re-enter title contention. It’s been an unusually inactive year, but this was quite the reminder of their capabilities.

2. The Super Elite vs. The Lucha Bros & Jurassic Express – Dynamite #100

One of AEW’s most familiar plays, the go-home Dynamite concluded with an all action multi-man thriller. In some form or fashion, The Super Elite are usually present for these but here, they were opposite two of the promotion’s most beloved pairings. Those two teams stand alongside the Bucks in terms of consistency honestly, both delivering across all four of AEW’s shows. In a tag team territory, those three have claimed the top tier as of late, with the champions months removed from any miss at all.

3. Darby Allin vs. Daniel Garcia – Rampage #4

A clear improvement on their initial effort, this was some impressive TV wrestling. Granted, it was a little scary at times too, as Darby Allin unsurprisingly tempted fate with the PPV only 48 hours away. That’s to be expected though, and it didn’t make the match any less compelling, as Daniel Garcia produced his best performance since arriving in the promotion. Sprinkle some excellent CM Punk commentary along the way, and you have a strong Rampage main event.

4. QT Marshall vs. Evil Uno – Dark #105

This was just good pro wrestling, as I’ve come to expect from QT in particular. Question his usage, criticise his character but bell to bell, Marshall is smooth, a truly sound in-ring performer. To his credit, Uno is no slouch either and in truth, is probably underrated due to his partner’s more outward dynamism. In a rare singles showing here though, Uno certainly proved a point, really thriving opposite Marshall. Peak C-Show wrestling for AEW, so good that it (unfortunately) escaped that category.

5. Tay Conti vs. Penelope Ford – Dynamite #100

After a somewhat shaky start, Tay Conti and Penelope Ford were struggling for the audience’s full attention. Only minutes later though, they’d got the people onboard and then some, even earning a few ‘this is awesome’ chants. Though not exactly consistent, Ford is certainly capable and she showed that here but for me, this was all about Tay Conti. Her offence really is something to see, genuinely explosive and spiteful in a way that stands out a mile. Good match.

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. Pac vs. Matt Sydal – Dark #105

Hindered by circumstance and frankly, some incredibly shaky commentary, this was an objectively lesser version of what it could have and probably should have been. Even still, it was too well executed to fall any lower than this, as these are still two of the promotion’s best bell to bell performers. With that in mind, I’d really like to see them run this back when Andrade is in the rear-view mirror.

2. Red Velvet vs. Skye Blue – Dark #106

A complete C-Show anomaly, this was a match enhanced by its audience, as the Chicago crowd absolutely embraced Skye Blue. Thankfully, she was up to the task too, performing admirably in a match that truly maximized its minutes. Red Velvet’s swift adjustment helped also, embracing the role without losing her usual identity, just like she did in Brittsburgh. Good match, a potential career-altering one for Blue.

3. Diamante & Nyla Rose vs. Big Swole & Julia Hart – Dark Elevation #26

This programme has been a great usage of the C-Show setting but honestly, this match was an example of what’s been far too absent on TNT. There’s something to this formula, just an engaging tag match that got time without overextending itself, featuring four performer in their best light along the way. Everyone shined here, and I couldn’t be happier to type that.

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. MJF – Dynamite #100

Sitting alongside Tony Schiavone, this may have been MJF’s best promo yet. Wow, this was immense, scathing and spiteful, but still so grounded in raw reality. The Ali comparison was easy heat, but its execution couldn’t have been better, an absolutely perfect encapsulation of who MJF is. On an episode of Dynamite filled with promo brilliance, this claimed the top spot by a distance in my view. Incredible stuff.

2. Eddie Kingston – Dynamite #100/Rampage #4

In under thirty seconds, Eddie Kingston produced one of the wrestling year’s best quotes. “Take my hand, we’re gonna walk through hell together and then maybe, if you survive that, you’ll get to go to your god’s heaven.” Two days later, he also said “redeem deez nuts.” My point? I don’t even know really, those sentences should paint a good enough picture though, there’s really nothing more Eddie Kingston than that. Along with Miro, Kingston heated this thing up dramatically in just two segments.

3. Chris Jericho – Dynamite #100

Since turning babyface, Chris Jericho has actually been somewhat revitalised in my view. He’s working hard in-ring but physically, the limitations there are increasingly obvious, so Jericho is more and more reliant on his promo. Thankfully, that element has stayed strong, rebuilding after a few shaky moments earlier this year. Sharing the ring with Jim Ross, Jericho added the final touches to this build, providing it with exactly the emotional weight that was previously missing.

4. Dustin Rhodes – Rampage #4

After making the save and going face to face with Malakai Black, Dustin Rhodes reminded the wrestling world of exactly who he is. Even still, Rhodes is one of my favourite promos in AEW, an absolute throwback and by that I mean, he was actually there back then too. I was excited for this match anyway, but his promo sealed the deal, as Rhodes got all kinds of fired up, setting the stage for next Wednesday’s clash.

5. Malakai Black – Dynamite #100

Responding to Lee Johnson’s slightly bizarre save from the prior week’s Dynamite, Malakai Black continued to confirm my developing read on his AEW ceiling. Contrary to my initial belief, there isn’t one, he’s really clicking here and it’s honestly a sight to see. These promos are immense, still featuring their own unique presentation but not lacking in content or delivery, both of which have been absolutely top notch thus far.

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. Emi Sakura vs. Laynie Luck – Dark #105

Though her Elevation bout with Ashley D’Amboise just barely missed out on a C-Show ranking, this squash match was too good to ignore. Emi Sakura absolutely battered Laynie Luck here, to an almost uncomfortable degree. Sakura was physical in the most arrogant, nonchalant way, a perfect extended squash.

2. Tay Conti vs. Heather Reckless – Dark #105

After being jumped before the bell, Tay Conti absolutely mauled Heather Reckless, quite literally questioning her foe’s poor decision-making. Happy Tay is one thing but fired up, may actually murder someone via pump kick Tay? That’s a different kettle of fish altogether.

3. Daniel Garcia vs. Tylor Sullivan – Dark Elevation #26

There’s something truly sadistic about Daniel Garcia, and it’s perhaps his most intriguing trait. Don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed by the rest, immense technical acumen paired with a certain physical presence. That edge though, it’s palpable, a real nastiness that if handled carefully, can make Garcia special, all without losing his core identity.

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. Eddie Kingston

It’s impressive to have a top promo, but to produce two in one week, all while adding heat to a programme that previously, hadn’t featured any Kingston promo at all, that’s levels. Coming into this week, Kingston’s response was an obvious box to tick and with ease, Kingston showed why. There was some comedy, some action and beyond that, genuine substance that’ll help Sunday’s match. Kingston gained the most from this week’s AEW TV, and he didn’t even wrestle.

2. Santana & Ortiz

With a spectacular opening shine, Santana & Ortiz positioned themselves for a star-making performance on Wednesday. In the end, they probably fell a touch short of that acclaim but fortunately, felt like stars upon arrival anyway. It’s been a strange year for this team, turning babyface six months ago and having no real chance to capitalise in a tag setting. At long last, this was that for them and thankfully, it connected in a major way.

3. Daniel Garcia

Once again trusted in a major, main event match, Daniel Garcia looked more at home than ever this past Friday night. I think that sooner than later, Garcia will need to reset some and work his way up the card but for now, he couldn’t have validated Tony Khan’s confidence more. Over and over, he’s been given the chance to sink or swim and he’s consistently done the latter, going head to head with some of the promotion’s biggest stars.

4. FTR

Though not quite to the degree of their babyface counterparts, this was an important match for FTR also. Either hampered by Cash Wheeler’s genuine injury or to his credit, an impressive commitment to selling, they weren’t quite in full gear here but even still, this was a strong performance from the former champions. Also, yes I’m now just ranking almost every team together, simply seems like the correct play to be honest, obvious outliers aside of course.

5. Tay Conti

With a hilarious squash match on Tuesday, Tay Conti then made an emphatic return to Dynamite on Wednesday. Last Friday’s match with The Bunny wasn’t quite as impressive, but this was a tremendous recovery, both in performance and perception. With so much focus on All Out, this was a unique week, as most only offered a single segment, seldom ranking twice. Alongside Daniel Garcia, Conti was the exception to that rule, which earns her the final slot here.

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 – 29 Points
  3. Rey Fenix – 28 Points
  4. Jungle Boy – 26 Points
  5. Christian Cage – 22 Points
  6. Orange Cassidy – 21 Points
  7. Kenny Omega – 21 Points
  8. Eddie Kingston – 20 Points
  9. Darby Allin – 20 Points
  10. Luchasaurus – 20 Points

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