Fleet Files #9: The Go-Home Week, Again

With Arthur Ashe only days away, AEW has some work to do. Well, to put it more simply, they have some matches to make. Luckily, they certainly aren’t short on options though, so perhaps they’ll produce the greatest television line-up in recent memory. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll tape a four hour block of wrestling excellence, splitting the footage into two episodes of enthralling action. Well, guess we’ll have to wait and see in that regard but first, it’s off to New Jersey for Adam Cole or something.

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. Adam Cole vs. Frankie Kazarian – Dynamite #102

Continuing the flawless start to his AEW stint, Adam Cole delivered again, this time producing Dynamite’s best match opposite Frankie Kazarian. Cole feels like a major star in this setting, finally surrounded by a degree of spectacle befitting his physical charisma. In-ring, Cole may not be for everyone but he’s consistently for the crowd in attendance, which was again the case here. Credit to Kazarian also, who remains an immense pro that’s absolutely perfect for these particular scenarios.

2. Daniel Garcia vs. Lee Moriarty – Dark Elevation #28

AEW’s first entry in a rivalry that could define the next decade and more of pro wrestling, this was wonderful. With only six minutes or so of ‘TV’ time, Garcia and Moriarty made the most of their opportunity, combining beautifully for a standout C-Show bout. Now seemingly signed, Moriarty joins AEW’s increasingly impressive line-up of prospects, quickly taking his place at the top of that list. Alongside him? Garcia, which says it all honestly.  

3. Leyla Hirsch vs. KiLynn King – Dark #108

The first main event of AEW Dark’s studio era, this match overdelivered and then some. Leyla Hirsch is steadily cementing herself as one of the division’s most dynamic, versatile performers. There’s a palpable sense of competition to her every move, it really packs a punch regardless of opposition. KiLynn King was no passenger here though, once again proving that she very much belongs in matches of this variety. This was Dynamite-worthy pro wrestling, plain and simple.

4. FTR vs. Dante Martin & Matt Sydal – Dynamite #102

After a weird year or so, it’s great to have FTR back in the picture. To me, this is currently the ideal usage of Harwood and Wheeler, using them to produce compact, engaging television bouts that keep the show moving seamlessly. Granted, I’d rather they just be champions but in AEW, they are somehow equally awesome options for that role, so I’m content with this. The whole Dante Martin – Matt Sydal dynamic is tremendous by the way, just a perfect fit that helps both parties.

5. Tag Team Titles: The Lucha Bros vs. The Butcher & The Blade – Rampage #6

The first title defense for AEW’s new tag team champions, this was Rampage’s latest marquee match. Though not an exactly natural clash stylistically, these two teams have history and actually gelled quite well, with The Lucha Bros getting their reign off to a steady start. A contrast from one another mechanically, The Butcher & The Blade have a real charm, with the former adding a roughness that’s sometimes absent in the champions’ work. Good match, even if nothing more.

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. Best Friends vs. The Hardy Family Office – Dark #108

The latest version of an increasingly familiar match, this bout at least had the new studio setting to set it apart. Other than that, more of the same really but that’s enough to earn a placement, especially with the focus on the less established Wheeler Yuta, and especially Jora Johl. Fun match.

2. Nyla Rose vs. Skye Blue – Dark Elevation #28

This week’s Dark Elevation main event, Skye Blue’s recent emergence continued here, even in a slightly different fashion. On paper, this looked like another squash match victory for Nyla Rose and at less than four minutes, I suppose it almost was but in execution, Blue again made the most of her time.

3. Shawn Spears vs. Khash – Dark #108

Previously impressed by his effort against Darby Allin, Khash delivered again here, sharing a nice little studio bout with Shawn Spears. This was compact, sound pro wrestling and on a week without too much A-Show excellence, these two earn the final spot, as actual C-Show standouts belong in the category above.

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. Ruby Soho – Rampage #6

The first babyface to truly trade insults with Britt Baker, Ruby Soho not only belonged here, but she truly thrived. Granted, the content may not be for everyone, well not all of it at least but Soho’s delivery alone spoke volumes. On arrival, Soho’s scouting report positioned her as one of the division’s most well-rounded talents and after just two weeks, that already feels undeniable. Strong promo, and a major triumph for this programme with Grand Slam only days away.

2. Britt Baker – Rampage #6

Though probably not the headline due to the segment’s sheer importance for Soho, Britt Baker was still excellent on Rampage. The other half of this week’s standout segment, Baker’s confidence and conviction remained palpable, not wavering at all opposite verbally, her most dynamic rival yet. As always, Baker had some snappy verbiage to share, again owning the increased spotlight and ideally, ensuring that this kind of segment becomes far more commonplace moving forward.

3. Bryan Danielson – Dynamite #102

Setting the stage for next week’s blockbuster match with Kenny Omega, Bryan Danielson had a simple task to complete. Opposite Omega for an in-ring promo, Danielson had to make sense of the champion’s eventual willingness to fight. Basically, he had to not-so-obnoxiously bait him into battle, maintaining his identity along the way. Oh, he also had to capture the gravity of this moment, making a genuine dream match feel like exactly that. Suffice to say, he did all that with ease, because that’s what Bryan Danielson does.

4. Powerhouse Hobbs – Rampage #6

In what was, effectively, a mere recap of his attack on CM Punk, Powerhouse Hobbs absolutely shined on Rampage. Hobbs always carries himself like a star, exuding the aura of a destroyer at every turn but here, he provided the promo to go with it also. Though nothing elaborate or extensive, Hobbs was immense here, once again maximizing a major moment. In truth though, this is his biggest moment yet and frankly, one that could define the next year and change of his career.

5. Christian Cage – Dynamite #102

Though it was effectively just two shots at ‘the other channel,’ this was good TV. In around thirty seconds, Christian Cage made some headlines and added a little heat to his part in this whole thing, which was necessary in my view. Best of all though, Christian also cut off Jungle Boy, planting the seeds for his inevitable turn that frankly, could be coming sooner rather than later. Either way, it’s been great to see Christian re-find his old charm and charisma, he’s been a great get for AEW.

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. The Butcher & The Blade vs. The Outrunners/Hunter Knott & Rosario Grillo – Dark Elevation #28

Cheating again here, but whatever. This Monday and Tuesday, The Butcher & The Blade murdered four men, somehow emerging from the crimes as number one contenders. Honestly, it’s just great to have Butcher back, but the immediate reminder of his status as an elite squasher only makes it sweeter. Two matches, maybe three minutes of action, all hail.

2. Penelope Ford vs. Layna Lennox – Dark Elevation #28

As of late, there’s been a real uptick in aggression from Penelope Ford. For awhile there, Ford had all the tools athletically but didn’t quite project the villainy that she seemed capable of. That’s changed in recent months, with the process only accelerated by this current pairing with The Bunny. Everything was sharp and snappy here, good stuff.

3. 2point0 vs. Erik & Andrew Lockhart – Dark #108

I think that we‘ve all loved the addition of 2point0, but C-Show viewers will know that they’ve really become an underrated squash match act. They aren’t killing local lads like Butcher and Blade, but they’re so wonderfully obnoxious, almost always making momentary babyfaces of their opposition. Good pro wrestling, plain and simple.

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. Adam Cole

Entering to another raucous reaction, Adam Cole is an obvious choice for this spot, validating the hype with my personal favourite match of the week. His post-match promo didn’t make the cut for that category, but it certainly didn’t hurt his case either, as Cole set the stage for next week’s blockbuster trios match. Once again, Cole feels completely at home in this setting, picking up exactly where he left off and quickly cementing himself in AEW’s main event scene.

2. Leyla Hirsch

Stealing the show with KiLynn King and guiding Jade Cargill in one of her longest matches yet, Leyla Hirsch again proved her value here. Though not always the first name listed when pondering the future of this division, Hirsch absolutely belongs in that conversation. Hirsch isn’t the conventional choice perhaps, but that’s what makes her so intriguing, bringing genuine ‘role model’ potential to these ranks. A wonderful babyface, Hirsch should be a real priority moving forward.

3. Ruby Soho

On a relatively quiet week, Ruby Soho earned her place and potentially more with just one promo. More than anything, that segment just felt like a statement for Soho, reiterating the immediate impact of her Casino Battle Royale win. After all, this category is increasingly intended to capture the names most on your mind at the week’s close, and Soho certainly managed that. Again, the segment in question may not have been perfect, but it sure packed a punch.

4. The Butcher & The Blade

With two squash match triumphs and an engaging title match loss, The Butcher & The Blade have officially returned after this week’s efforts. This is a fun team, even if one that I don’t expect to appear especially often in this particular category. With that being said, this was a strange week and after three matches that all earned some rank or another, this feels like a deserving nod in my view. Simply put, it’s great to have them back together.

5. Powerhouse Hobbs

An unconventional choice on an unconventional week, Powerhouse Hobbs barely beats out Britt Baker for the fifth spot here. I know, I know, Hobbs’ only offering was that sole promo on Rampage but honestly, that says it all. By hook or by crook, Hobbs leaves this week’s TV at the forefront of my mind, perfectly setting the stage for his Grand Slam bout with CM Punk. The intangibles matter and on confidence, intensity and sheer physicality, Hobbs continues to climb the ranks.

League Leaders

Updated weekly, this is the result of our above categories. Below is your current top 20, the All Elite Fleet’s league leaders thus far. Tiebreaker is my preference, grow up.

  1. Penta El Zero Miedo – 45 Points
  2. Rey Fenix – 44 Points
  3. Jon Moxley – 38 Points
  4. Matt Jackson – 33 Points
  5. Nick Jackson – 33 Points
  6. Eddie Kingston – 32 Points
  7. Christian Cage – 30 Points
  8. Jungle Boy – 29 Points
  9. Kenny Omega – 28 Points
  10. Darby Allin – 28 Points
  11. Orange Cassidy – 27 Points
  12. Miro – 26 Points
  13. CM Punk – 23 Points
  14. Luchasaurus – 23 Points
  15. Britt Baker – 20 Points
  16. Dante Martin – 19 Points
  17. Chuck Taylor – 19 Points
  18. Adam Cole – 18 Points
  19. Daniel Garcia – 18 Points
  20. Santana – 16 Points

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