Fleet Files #22: Winter is Here

With only three Fleet Files ahead, ‘The American Dragon’ looks to secure his lead, entering perhaps his biggest match yet. Taking on Hangman Adam Page for his AEW World Title, Bryan Danielson is battling for wrestling’s greatest prize: the one and only Fleet Files victory. Elsewhere, multi-man matches lead the way while Dante Martin and MJF close out Winter is Coming, vying for the Dynamite Diamond Ring. Clearly, there are many titles to claim but as Fleet Files nears its conclusion, only one that truly matters.

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. World Title: Hangman Adam Page (c) vs. Bryan Danielson – Dynamite: Winter is Coming 2021

One of the greatest matches in AEW history, this was pro wrestling excellence, a simply beautiful 60 minutes of magic. Bryan Danielson’s latest masterpiece, this was also Hangman Adam Page’s finest showing yet, battling the full distance in an epic world title bout. Naturally, the result itself will be polarising but the work beforehand was undeniable, two of the world’s finest at their absolute best. If nothing else, a draw ensures the eventual sequel and based on this effort, that can’t come quickly enough.

2. Hikaru Shida vs.  Serena Deeb – Dynamite: Winter is Coming 2021

The rubber match after their first two enthralling entries, this lived up to the high expectations. It’s been great to have Hikaru Shida back on AEW television and matches like this are exactly why, again combining seamlessly with Serena Deeb. Still the division’s best worker mechanically, Deeb is at her best in matches of this ilk, building things neatly and opposite Shida, impressively regaining this audience’s previously wavering attention. Another strong match, perhaps only a closing stretch and finish away from the promotion’s absolute top tier.

3. CHAOS vs. Bobby Fish & The SuperKliq – Rampage #20

The natural next step in The Elite’s war with Best Friends, this was almost certainly just a bridge to the presumed destination. Thankfully, that’s still very much minutes to maximise for the performers involved, guaranteeing this as unquestionably worthwhile television time. It was great to have the original trio of Chuck, Trent and Orange back together but with Rocky Romero alongside them too, this is an immense quartet, perhaps only outdone by their opposite here. Another Bucks multi-man match, another hit.

4. Dynamite Diamond Ring: MJF vs. Dante Martin – Dynamite: Winter is Coming 2021

One of Dante Martin’s longest singles matches in AEW so far, this was an interesting case study. As expected, the eventual results were encouraging, even if not without an asterisk or two. Ultimately, Martin shined, producing his usual thrills opposite MJF. Unfortunately, it did appear that Martin tired some as the match neared its conclusion but all things considered, this has to be deemed a success. MJF was a good leader here, producing something solid even if slightly messy at times.

5. 2point0, Daniel Garcia & The Acclaimed vs. Santana & Ortiz, Eddie Kingston & Lucha Bros – Rampage #20

The wild alternative to Rampage’s aforementioned 8-man, this show of range was certainly appreciated. With that being said, it did result in something weaker, even if clearly still worthy of top five placement. Honestly, the finish’s execution knocks this down a notch or two for me, almost undermining Daniel Garcia’s upset win by surrounding it with such clunky chaos. Everyone performed well here though, even if they combined for a lesser version of what I had personally imagined.

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. Riho & Ryo Mizunami vs. Emi Sakura & Mei Suruga – Dark #121

I very much enjoyed last week’s match between Emi Sakura and Ryo Mizunami but honestly, this was a level above. Riho made for a fabulous face in peril here early, building to a strong hot tag from Mizunami and setting the stage for an awesome closing stretch. Standout Dark match, one of this era’s best.

2. Kris Statlander vs. Marina Shafir – Dark #121

Dark’s strongest opener in some time, this was a real statement on Marina Shafir’s part. Greatly outperforming prior projections, Shafir looked completely at home against Kris Statlander, who continues to cement herself as one of AEW’s strongest in-ring performers.

3. Daniel Garcia & 2.0 vs. The Dark Order – Dark #121

Nothing ground-breaking here, just six solid pros doing their thing, with Daniel Garcia unsurprisingly stealing the show. Ideal Dark main event, getting some time and relatively speaking, featuring some star-power 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. Joey Janela – Dark #121

Indeed, I questioned this one too but after honest review and rethink, I’m pretty sure it’s real. Yes, Joey Janela produced this week’s best promo, setting the stage for his upcoming clash with Sonny Kiss. This wasn’t just believable content delivered well, but it was a genuine triumph in the sense that Janela had a clear task to complete: reminding fans of this feud. After a down month or so, Janela got things where they needed to be with an impressive pre-tape promo.

2. Griff Garrison – Dynamite: Winter is Coming 2021

I know, this is pretty weird huh? Well, I’m sticking by it, as Griff Garrison conveyed palpable fire and emotion in this throwback babyface promo. Granted, Dynamite was really about one match but even still, this was the A-Show’s strongest verbal offering and that feels worth crediting. Garrison has always been the star of The Varsity Blondes in my view, and this only made that more obvious.

3. Malakai Black – Dynamite: Winter is Coming 2021

I have to be honest, my enjoyment of this promo probably isn’t totally sincere. I mean, it was well done and all but I did chuckle, which I’m not sure was the intention. Seriously though, I did like this and always admire Malakai’s conviction, bringing standout confidence and delivery every time. In addition, this seemingly set up something genuinely exciting, so obvious bonus points for that.  

4. Austin Gunn – Dark #121

Must say, Austin Gunn’s raw energy certainly captured my attention earlier this year, but I never truly considered its actual greatest strength. Now as a heel though, I see that Gunn’s whole personality works best as an obnoxious, grating antagonist. Don’t get me wrong, the content was throwaway but Gunn’s comfort was striking, easily creating a conflict with Brock Anderson and Lee Johnson.

5. Eddie Kingston – Dynamite: Winter is Coming 2021/Rampage #20

Neither of these were anything much really but Eddie Kingston spoke twice on AEW TV and so here he is, closing out the promo category on an admittedly quiet week in that regard.

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. Matt Sydal – Dynamite: Winter is Coming 2021

It’s always hard to ignore an A-Show squash, especially considering Wardlow’s always expanding expertise. This is an obvious choice for the top spot but honestly, I found myself slightly disappointed, quietly hoping for an extended version of this matchup.

2. Nick Comoroto vs. Dean Fleming – Dark #121

Though I understand that Nick Comoroto is probably rightly slotted at a certain level on the card, I do wish that we got more of these squashes. They’d probably be a waste of time in truth but I don’t care, this fella has elite squash match potential.

3. Anthony Ogogo vs. Jaden Valo – Dark Elevation #41

This was hilarious, flat enough that not only were the announcers surprised, but so was Jaden Valo based on him inexplicably fighting off the three count. I don’t know if Ogogo is actually good, but I appreciate his return’s range of results thus far.

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. Bryan Danielson

Generally, I’d drop Bryan Danielson down a spot here as if we’re being honest, his performance couldn’t have been less surprising. On Wednesday, Danielson went sixty minutes with ease because of course he did, still seemingly performing within himself, as he’s the greatest wrestler of all time. Greatness is the norm though and so perhaps, this was more about Hangman but in my mind, Wednesday was the last line of a historic chapter for Danielson, the perfect conclusion to his award-worthy year.

2. Hangman Adam Page

Second or first, Hangman Adam Page’s performance warrants the same extensive praise, an all-time great babyface showing. On Wednesday, Page stepped up in a major way, producing a showing that frankly, I wasn’t totally sure he was capable of. That’s not a slight either, I knew he was great but this was something different and Hangman emphatically rose to the occasion, completing mission impossible and somehow matching Bryan Danielson over sixty spectacular minutes.

3. Hikaru Shida

If this was a one-match week for AEW, Hikaru Shida and Serena Deeb certainly came the closest to standing directly alongside Bryan Danielson and Hangman Adam Page. There’s going to be obvious overlap in these next two selections, but Shida gets the nod for me as this triumph simply felt more vital for her career. After all, Shida entered 2021 as champion and this feud has brought her dramatically closer to regaining that status, recovering from an almost silent summer.

4. Serena Deeb

What’s left to be said about Serena Deeb? Perhaps the greatest AEW recruitment of all considering the circumstances, Deeb continues to shine. This career revival has been an absolute treat to watch and with this feud seemingly complete, we can only hope that Deeb finds another rival in the coming weeks. If not, there’s a clear destination now anyway, as Deeb’s inevitable TBS Title reign only gets more enticing with each and every match.

5. Trent? Beretta

Scoring the win in a match filled with effort and creativity, Trent? Is the obvious choice for a placement here. After almost eight months off, the Best Friend’s workhorse was back and looked better than ever, performing admirably in his return to the ring. In addition, Trent? got the well-earned victory and better yet, he even got his last name back too. Don’t get me wrong, the other seven men deserve credit but for me, this was about Trent?

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 – 107 Points
  2. Eddie Kingston – 91 Points
  3. CM Punk – 78 Points
  4. Miro – 70 Points
  5. Dax Harwood – 64 Points
  6. Jon Moxley – 63 Points
  7. Penta El Zero Miedo – 63 Points
  8. Nick Jackson – 62 Points
  9. Rey Fenix – 59 Points
  10. Kenny Omega – 58 Points
  11. Hangman Adam Page – 56 Points
  12. Matt Jackson – 55 Points
  13. Adam Cole – 54 Points
  14. MJF – 52 Points
  15. Jungle Boy – 49 Points
  16. Cash Wheeler – 49 Points
  17. Darby Allin – 49 Points
  18. Pac – 46 Points
  19. Christian Cage – 44 Points
  20. Orange Cassidy – 43 Points

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s