Fleet Files #20: Cody’s Back?

Another week, another Fleet File, even if a touch later than usual. Sorry folks, was rather poorly over the weekend and so, this project momentarily suffered. Better late than never though of course, so let’s get this thing’s final chapter headed in the right direction, locking in as we near the year’s close. We aren’t without major events on that path either, with an almost certainly blockbuster ‘Winter is Coming’ fast approaching. The league table is heating up and there can only be one Fleet Files victor, so let’s get to it.

Match of the Week

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

  1. Cody Rhodes vs. Andrade El Idolo – Dynamite #113

I’m sorry, but I just loved this. For better or worse, this was Cody Rhodes at this most Cody Rhodes, bleeding everywhere and brawling around the building before going through literal fire. It felt forced at times, unearned at others but ultimately, I can’t pretend to care. Simply put, this was an enthralling television main event, featuring Cody’s craziest antic yet alongside a spectacular Andrade El Idolo performance. Flawed? Certainly but this won’t be forgotten anytime soon, an absolute blast in truth.

2. Tony Nese vs. Sammy Guevara – Rampage #18

In many ways, this was a Tony Nese showcase and so, your mileage may vary. For me, it ensured that this’d be a hit, as Nese finally got the spotlight that frankly, he’s deserved for some time. Though not a top guy, Nese is a truly dynamic in-ring performer, a stylistic hybrid that perfectly encapsulates the modern junior heavyweight. It helped that he was opposite Sammy Guevara too of course, the TNT Champion who again, hasn’t missed in a title defence yet.

3. FTR vs. Death Triangle – Rampage #18

As the great Oracle of Wrestling has pointed out before, TV FTR are different from PPV FTR and in my view, this was the latest case of exactly that. It’s a likely divisive adjustment as in this setting, FTR produce a more restrained effort, colouring within the lines of a much tighter structure. Pac co-signed that approach too, really committing to the sell of his injured eye and setting the stage for a typically explosive Penta hot tag. Not a classic, but unsurprisingly strong TV wrestling here.

4. Ruby Soho vs. Kris Statlander – Dynamite #113

I’m frustrated with my own ranking here, as I really did love this match live but after a rewatch, this is where it’s staying unfortunately. With a couple more minutes, this could’ve exploded into something truly special but as is, it was still one of the TBS Title Tournament’s standout matches. Ruby Soho is at her best when paired with a powerhouse and Kris Statlander fills that role seamlessly, launching Soho around on the way to a superb finishing stretch.

5. CM Punk vs. Lee Moriarty – Dynamite #113

Visibly taking some time to adjust early, CM Punk eventually got this where he wanted it to be: emphatically spotlighting Lee Moriarty. On sheer talent alone, this could only fall so far and indeed, they produced something very much worthwhile here, even if slightly round around the edges. Moriarty really is a special talent and that’s what this was about, even if the commentary somewhat muddied those waters. CM Punk’s selflessness continues and that debate rages on but personally, I’m just glad that we got this one in the books.

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. Adam Cole vs. Anthony Greene – Dark #119

I don’t want to say this was surprisingly competitive as I definitely expected a real match here but even still, this nearly touching ten minutes did catch me slightly off guard. Anthony Greene made the most of that time though, delivering again as Adam Cole eased his way to another engaging television bout. Strong C-Show main event.

2. Ethan Page vs. Fuego Del Sol – Dark #119

In some ways, see above as this itself went almost nine minutes, it wasn’t far behind in terms of quality either. Ethan Page really is made for this setting, which I mean as an absolute compliment, just a wonderful heel who happily interacts with every fan filling a seat. Fuego Del Sol’s part in this deserves credit too, really the perfect talent for this particular role.

3. The Pinnacle vs. Bear Country – Dark #119

A neat television tag, this match jumped off the page and ultimately, delivered as Dark’s opening bout. Nothing crazy or must-see, but sound stuff between two teams I like. Must say, wish we got more of Shawn Spears and Wardlow in major tag matches but honestly, that window seems set to close in the coming weeks. Oh well, glad we got this one at least.

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. Miro – Dynamite #113

Renewing his already iconic feud with god, Miro was in purgatory this week, finally responding to his Full Gear defeat. I remain truly fascinated by this direction and its wrestling endgame but on delivery alone, Miro earns the top ranking here. Few segments this year have been a more consistent hit than Miro armed with a brief pre-tape promo, a Dynamite centrepiece honestly.

2. Christian Cage – Rampage #18

Really just an extension of the prior week’s offering, this was delightful. In his most intense promo since joining AEW, Christian Cage continued to speak on Jurassic Express’ behalf, only further alarming anyone on heel turn watch. Cage’s range as a promo is immense and though nothing that’ll be remembered down the line, this really was quite the effort.

3. Bryan Danielson – Dynamite #113

More of the same from the unparalleled ‘American Dragon,’ as Bryan Danielson continued his masterful heel work on Dynamite. Following a neat opening match with Alan Angels, Danielson built on his already impressive groundwork, talking trash and further heating up his eventual title match with Hangman Adam Page. Danielson’s content isn’t ground-breaking but his confidence is absolutely palpable.

4. Pac – Dynamite #113/Rampage #18

Nothing outrageous here but on a relatively quiet promo week, Pac’s double dip earns him the fourth spot. Pac’s delivery isn’t always my favourite but I know I’m alone in that sense, so this could probably warrant a higher ranking in truth. Either way, his intensity speaks for itself and with two backstage efforts, Pac helped bridge the gap between his match and the originally advertised version.

5. Eddie Kingston – Rampage #18

By Eddie Kingston standards, this was an incredibly understated promo but it did reiterate a familiar message: no one needs as little time as Kingston to stay over. 30 seconds will do the trick, just let ‘The Mad King’ be and on authenticity alone, he’ll stay special.

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. Wardlow vs. AC Adams – Dynamite #113

An absolute destruction, this was again Wardlow at his fleeting best, swiftly battering poor AC Adams. This is headed to the major moment we’ve been waiting for in my view but honestly, I’ll always accept these squash matches in the meantime.

2. The Butcher vs. Michael Martinez – Dark #119

Bless The Butcher, wrestling’s love letter to a simpler time. He’s clunky and messy, rough in every way but yet, it’s charming because frankly, he doesn’t move and work like everyone else. Instead, The Butcher feels genuinely wild and this singles squash was an absolute treat as a result.

3. Infinito vs. Ray Jaz – Dark #119

I don’t need to explain this, earns a point through insanity alone.

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. Andrade El Idolo

This is far from an objective pick as honestly, Andrade El Idolo wasn’t exactly in the headlines on Wednesday night. Indeed, the story was Cody and his flaming back but on rewatch especially, my appreciation for Andrade greatly increased. He was incredible on Dynamite, once again showing his almost unparalleled versatility and in my view, making a real statement as to his status. Andrade El Idolo is a player folks, and his recent showings deserve a massive 2022.

2. Cody Rhodes

Though not the standout half of his main event match, Cody Rhodes could only fall so far here, fighting through literal frames on Dynamite. Cody Rhodes is self-indulgent to say the least, an obviously flawed top guy but yet, an immensely entertaining one nonetheless. I don’t know where this whole thing is going and frankly, don’t even care anymore but I can only judge him segment to segment and this week, Cody Rhodes hit an absolute homerun.

3. Tony Nese

While his signing may have caused some debate, I never questioned whether or not Tony Nese belonged. Quite the opposite in fact, as Nese had proven himself as an absolute workhorse on 205 Live, simply waiting for an opportunity exactly like this. Nese shined on Rampage, showcasing his most varied skill-set against Sammy Guevara. I don’t know what Nese’s ceiling is in AEW and honestly, my guess it that it’s probably not far above this but that doesn’t lessen his performance here, stealing the show in my mind.

4. Kris Statlander

It always felt obvious to me that unfortunately, Kris Statlander’s time in the TBS Title Tournament would be short-lived. With her performance on Wednesday though, Statlander reiterated what most already believed: that she’s an undeniable main event player in this division. After all, Statlander was the other half of Britt Baker’s best title defence yet, delivering again here as she powered Ruby Soho around to a strikingly positive reaction. Long pencilled in as a star of tomorrow, Statlander is proving herself as one of today.

5. Lee Moriarty

Though the bout with CM Punk didn’t quite match my admittedly high expectations, this was still an almost unfathomable week for Lee Moriarty. Not even two months removed from officially signing, Moriarty went over ten minutes with Punk, taking much of the match and even scoring an onslaught of near-falls. Moriarty isn’t quite there yet but that’s the point, as matches like this will only accelerate his ascension. AEW’s rampant rotation has strengths and weaknesses but matches like this are undeniably the former.

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. Bryan Danielson – 95 Points
  2. Eddie Kingston – 89 Points
  3. CM Punk – 74 Points
  4. Miro – 70 Points
  5. Jon Moxley – 63 Points
  6. Dax Harwood – 59 Points
  7. Kenny Omega – 58 Points
  8. Penta El Zero Miedo – 57 Points
  9. Nick Jackson – 56 Points
  10. Rey Fenix – 53 Points
  11. Adam Cole – 51 Points
  12. Matt Jackson – 49 Points
  13. Jungle Boy – 49 Points
  14. Darby Allin – 49 Points
  15. Hangman Adam Page – 47 Points
  16. Pac – 46 Points
  17. MJF – 46 Points
  18. Christian Cage – 44 Points
  19. Cash Wheeler – 43 Points
  20. Orange Cassidy – 40 Points

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