Fleet Files #11: Sammy! Sammy! Sammy!

Finally arriving in Rochester, New York, it’s an emotional week for the All Elite Fleet. Paying tribute to the great Brodie Lee, AEW looks to produce a show worthy of the 18-month wait while elsewhere, the All Elite Zone hosts another anticipated studio clash. Bryan Danielson’s second match is on its way and Adam Cole’s biggest bout yet is already here but at core, it’s about Brodie and even with all this immense talent on display, I don’t think we’d have it any other way.

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. Bryan Danielson vs. Nick Jackson – Rampage #8

This week’s Rampage opener, Bryan Danielson scored his first AEW win, submitting Nick Jackson after 15 minutes of immense pro wrestling. At some point within that runtime, I think it dawned on everyone that indeed, we’re going to be getting these matches almost weekly. ‘The American Dragon’ is back and opposite him here, Nick Jackson reminded the wrestling world of his own singles qualifications, producing another magnificent solo effort. Jackson doesn’t appear often in this genre but when he does, he remains can’t-miss.

2. Adam Cole vs. Jungle Boy – Dynamite #104

Continuing the incredible start to his AEW run, Adam Cole hit another home run on Wednesday, producing another enthralling television opener opposite Jungle Boy. More than perhaps any other signing in the promotion’s short history, Cole just feels at home, an absolute player on arrival. As for Jungle Boy, his progression continues to stun me, showing an improved execution in every outing. Sense that these two are going to wrestle relatively often over the next few years and based on this showing, I’m all for it.

3. TNT Title: Sammy Guevara vs. Miro (c) – Dynamite #104

The perfect conclusion for a show dedicated to Brodie, this TNT Title match certainly delivered. Miro’s reign has been critically acclaimed and rightly so, one of the belt’s best and considering it’s brief, but prestigious history, that says more than you’d think. After a quiet few months, Sammy Guevara has to match this title’s famously high standards, catapulted into action with his triumphant victory here. Strong match with an electric finish, hooking an audience that seemed initially weary, a very effective main event.

4. Cody Rhodes & Lee Johnson vs. Dante Martin & Matt Sydal – Dynamite #104

Though the graphic itself earned a groan from me, I actually loved this, especially on first watch. The ongoing Cody Rhodes discussion is certainly earned, but I still enjoy what he brings once the bell rings and thankfully, he was surrounded by absolute talent here. Matt Sydal is one of the promotion’s most efficient pros and of course, Dante Martin and Lee Johnson could feasibly battle for the next three decades. Really exciting stuff and best of all, a finish that stunned me too. Good for Shotty Lee, I loved this presentation for him.

5. The Dark Order & Orange Cassidy vs. The Hardy Family Office – Dynamite #104

The elusive 16-man tag, this was wonderful. With so many bodies, it was inevitably messy at times, but this match was basically beyond analysis or critique. It was for Brodie, a piece of television to mark this occasion and in its own quirky way, AEW at its wholesome best. That’s a strange thing to say about any pro wrestling promotion, but it fits here and frankly, anytime that AEW’s babyfaces unite. For obvious reasons though, this particular example connected even more than usual. It goes without saying but indeed, Brodie Lee forever.

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. Ricky Starks vs. Darius Lockhart – Dark #110

The week’s C-Show standout by a distance, this match almost felt like a formal try-out. Armed with nearly ten minutes, Darius Lockhart was framed as genuine competition to Ricky Starks, absolutely shining along the way. If this didn’t get Lockhart signed, it certainly didn’t hurt his chances, assisted by another stellar performance from Starks.

2. Dante Martin & Matt Sydal vs. The Factory – Dark #110

The Dark main event, this was a neat addition to Dynamite honestly, as Dante Martin and Matt Sydal scored a respectable win before battling Cody Rhodes and Lee Johnson on Wednesday. Aaron Solo and QT Marshall are a nice team, unsurprisingly sound opposition for Martin and Sydal’s usual excitement.

3. Private Party vs. Carlie Bravo & JDX – Dark #110

Though a touch too competitive to be deemed a squash, this was a fabulous Private Party performance. I don’t say that to dismiss their dance partners either, as both Bravo and JDX delivered but wow, this was honestly one of my favourite Private Party showings yet. The spectacular tandem offence is still there, but it now comes with all the heel trimmings too.

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. Ethan Page – Dynamite #104

Taking a backseat in their Dark Elevation pre-tape, Ethan Page watched on as Scorpio Sky cut the promo of his life. His response was obvious, genuinely fired up by the passion of his tag team partner. Well, that felt present on Wednesday, as Page produced perhaps his finest effort yet, absolutely refusing to relent as the ‘WHAT?!’ chants commenced. Page halted those chants in an instant, talking without pause or hesitation and confirming this segment as much more than merely worthwhile. Brilliant villainy from ‘All Ego.’

2. Scorpio Sky – Dark Elevation #30

Though his Dynamite promo was good in its own right, this was the week’s big hit for Scorpio Sky. On Wednesday, he was trying to pull them out of the hole that Dan Lambert had dug but on Elevation, he was working with a clean slate. Pacing furiously, Sky unlocked a level of intensity that had seldom been seen before, visibly impressing Ethan Page as he stood alongside him. These two already deserved more promo time but after this week, it’s requisite and would immediately position The Men of the Year as top contenders.

3. Bryan Danielson – Dark Elevation #30

What a treat Bryan Danielson has been since arriving in AEW. In his Elevation pre-tape, Danielson continued to cement this increasingly serious side of his persona, offering an almost sport style post-match promo. With a red chest and forehead, Bryan was seemingly in heaven, talking about the magic of pro wrestling before setting the table for an inevitable sequel. His Dynamite offering was fun, but also easy for a star of Bryan’s calibre whereas this was perfectly American Dragon, a simply wonderful piece of business.

4. CM Punk – Rampage #8

Looking forward after his scrappy Grand Slam victory over Powerhouse Hobbs, CM Punk did CM Punk things, producing yet another impressive pre-tape promo. Though Punk’s main focus was the potential excitement of what’s next, he enhanced Hobbs in the process. Punk said that he simply survived the Team Taz destroyer, using his experience to catch a quick victory and little more. It’s hard not to be intrigued by Punk’s next move, especially when he’s been so consistent thus far, elevating foes as he goes.

5. MJF – Dark Elevation #30

As his continued reliance on cheap heat proves increasingly divisive, MJF’s talent remains unquestionable. In a brief post-Grand Slam promo on Elevation, MJF proved just how easy this is for him, cutting a strong promo in barely a minute. Granted, it still had the cute VKM chatter which is very on-brand but nonetheless, this thing was focused, assisted by its brief runtime. MJF’s delivery remains elite, it’s just the content that concerns me and that’s a shame, as he’s clearly capable of so much more. Either way, I very much liked this promo.

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. Darby Allin, Eddie Kingston & Jon Moxley vs. Anthony Green & Bear Country – Dynamite #104

An unusually late addition to the Dynamite line-up, this was a perfect piece of pro wrestling television. Three of the top babyfaces, well four including Sting, looking awesome and beating dudes up. Nothing complicated, just a simple formula that was actually assisted by its brief runtime. I don’t know what the endgame is with this trio, but I’m absolutely along for the ride.

2. Paul Wight vs. CPA, RSP & VSK – Dark Elevation #30

On a promo-heavy Elevation, Paul Wight was the marquee match, battling three men and nine letters. This was about what you’d expect, and not an unfamiliar concept for Wight I’m sure but in this setting, I couldn’t have had more fun. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not ‘good’ but it wasn’t supposed to be, it was Paul Wight being treated like a legend at Arthur Ashe Stadium. All hail.

3. Thunder Rosa vs. Kayla Sparks/Nikita Knight – Dark Elevation #30/Dark #110

Opening both C-Shows, Thunder Rosa’s squash match formula stayed steady, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Rosa’s YouTube bouts have a real roughness to them, seldom flowing as we’re used to these days but in many ways, that’s the charm. Rosa just sort of systematically beats these victims up, eventually ending things with a sudden jolt, all consistently to a raucous reaction too.

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. Sammy Guevara

The new TNT Champion, Sammy Guevara has now reached the first accomplishment that so many previously predicted for him. Guevara always felt like an inevitable fit for this belt and after a strong main event, he’s perfectly positioned to make this reign special. With forbidden door openings seemingly on the way, Guevara’s future is brighter than ever but for now, he seems already secure as one of AEW’s major players. On paper, a potential babyface turn once seemed vaguely challenging but yet, the switch couldn’t have been easier. Sammy is the story this week, and that’s well-deserved.

2. Bryan Danielson

With a classic already under his belt, Bryan Danielson is now in the thick of things, claiming his first victory in my personal match of the week. In a promotion filled with in-ring brilliance, Bryan still stands out with ease, swiftly reclaiming his standing as one of the world’s absolute best. Danielson’s match with Nick Jackson was immense, the perfect sequel to last week, relatively restrained by comparison but yet still completely compelling. Pair that with his wonderful Elevation promo and you have another outstanding week for ‘The American Dragon.’

3. Miro

Though naturally, he took a selfless backseat to the new TNT Champion, Miro deserves his own headlines this week. His title reign may have ended, but those memories aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, the run that officially steadied this ship. It was as TNT titleholder that Miro truly found his AEW persona, shaping it perfectly over his almost five-month reign. It’s a credit to Miro that I honestly believe bigger things are coming but in the meantime, it’s worth acknowledging this reign, one of the promotion’s most captivating, unique efforts yet.

4. Nick Jackson

Stepping up to the plate for Bryan Danielson’s second AEW match, Nick Jackson couldn’t have been more worthy of that role. Prior to Friday, Jackson was without a singles match in 2021 but yet, he delivered in grand fashion, absolutely belonging opposite Danielson. The Young Bucks are an all-time great duo and so naturally, their potential as singles stars isn’t highlighted often. That’s understandable and on this roster, even logical but as a result, it’s easy to forget just how capable these two are in this setting. For Nick, this week was a reminder.

5. Adam Cole

The winner of this week’s Dynamite opener, Adam Cole stole another show in my view. Gelling seamlessly with Jungle Boy, Cole maintained his already solidified status as an industry mega star, coming across like a polished pro as he outsmarted the still inexperienced Jungle Boy. That was the obvious story here and they told it neatly, establishing a dynamic that can extend to AEW’s main event scene in the coming years. I’m repeating myself weekly but it’s the truth, Cole couldn’t have transitioned more smoothly, with this match just the latest example.

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. Nick Jackson – 42 Points
  4. Jon Moxley – 41 Points
  5. Eddie Kingston – 38 Points
  6. Kenny Omega – 37 Points
  7. Miro – 36 Points
  8. Jungle Boy – 35 Points
  9. Matt Jackson – 35 Points
  10. Darby Allin – 34 Points
  11. Christian Cage – 32 Points
  12. CM Punk – 32 Points
  13. Bryan Danielson – 29 Points
  14. Orange Cassidy – 28 Points
  15. Dax Harwood – 25 Points
  16. Adam Cole – 25 Points
  17. Luchasaurus – 25 Points
  18. Dante Martin – 23 Points
  19. Daniel Garcia – 21 Points
  20. Britt Baker – 20 Points

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