Whereas All Elite Wrestling does so many issues properly, it has its faults (no person’s good). Certainly one of them has been an lack of ability to heart the roster round its youthful expertise, one the corporate can construct a basis off of for years to return. That shouldn’t be a problem after final night time’s Full Gear PPV, and particularly Swerve Strickland and Adam Web page placing on fairly presumably one of the best match the corporate has ever produced.
I’m not a deathmatch man. They definitely have their place within the wrestling world, and if achieved properly, they are often the right capstone to any story. However they’ll additionally simply be empty gore for the sake of it, which is simply shock worth. If I’m allowed yet one more shot at my favourite goal, and I’m as a result of that is my present, assume Cody Rhodes superplexing Andrade by a flaming desk for actually no purpose apart from to have fun himself. There are lots others, however I’m at all times itching for a sideswipe. Usually, they’re only a sideshow.
Web page and Strickland was every part a few deathmatch that any fan might have requested for. Oh, it had its ridiculous spots that made everybody flip away from the display. There was barbed wire, cinder blocks, staplers, and anything to make using easy tables and chairs appear nothing greater than a tea set. And of course blood, as a result of that’s what AEW does, and the picture of Web page not solely letting Swerve bleed onto his face but forcing him to would possibly find yourself being the enduring picture of the present, if not AEW’s 12 months.
However this wasn’t empty gore. This was the fruits of a narrative that had develop into very private, a blood feud in each the figurative and literal sense. Swerve, jealous of the alternatives Web page has needed to the purpose of a house invasion angle, and Web page in an utter rage over Strickland’s overstepping of bounds. When Web page turns as much as this stage, there could also be no different individual within the trade higher at taking a narrative to the red-hot stage.
Strickland was taken to a brand new stage that he thought he might duck out of by his shortcuts, dishonest, and deviousness and nonetheless get forward. Web page introduced him someplace we hadn’t seen him in AEW earlier than, each in story phrases and now in star-level on the roster.
And none of this works and not using a connection to one thing, to a narrative that followers can get into. This one had it in spades, due to the work of each males. Web page’s rage and Strickland’s evilness had been clear as day and supported by what had come earlier than, giving each spot that additional 5-10 % of spice and pop that they should go from simply eye-catching (if not abdomen turning) to strident bullet factors in a plot. It meant that a lot to each males to undergo this gauntlet, and thus it meant that a lot to the followers.
AEW has tried to pivot to its youthful facet of late, however not with full effort. MJF is the champion and unquestioned face of the corporate. However apart from him, AEW has gotten lots out of Bryan Danielson, who will likely be retiring from full-time wrestling subsequent 12 months. Earlier than that, the corporate hinged on CM Punk, and whereas his volatility won’t have been completely predictable (it was totally predictable) he was nonetheless in his 40s and positively not a long-term fixture. MJF has feuded with Samoa Joe, additionally in his mid 40s and unclear how for much longer he’ll be wrestling. The signing of Adam Copeland didn’t do a lot to assuage these fears. Chris Jericho is 50. Kenny Omega has lengthy hinted he didn’t know the way for much longer he might carry out. In AEW followers’ darkest moments, they questioned if this wasn’t all a fort within the sand that the ocean would come for earlier than too lengthy.
Strickland and Web page, each of their early 30s, at the moment are the corporate’s largest stars behind MJF, even simply after that one match. Final night time’s unveiling of Will Ospreay (though not without some apprehension from lots of corners) is one other step in that path, and he’s coming off probably the greatest years a wrestler has put collectively in a very long time. Tony Khan didn’t even shy from doing so on the ladies’s facet and creating some momentum there, with each Toni Storm and Julia Hart being allowed to capitalize on their latest runs and recognition with title wins. Whereas this could solely be the 497th opportunity for Khan to make the ladies’s division one thing greater than only a box-checked, followers are completely in on “Timeless” Toni Storm and the goth queen Hart. Each are of their 20s and don’t have any much less potential to be massive stars.
All of those strikes on the present final night time had been sufficient to beat a wonky (at finest) predominant occasion story that was overbooked in a manner that will have made even Bruce Pritchard blush. MJF and Jay White delivered a superb match, which they need to have been allowed to do and not using a faux cancellation of the match early within the present and MJF arriving in an ambulance and tease of Adam Cole that by no means paid off, not less than not fully. There was nonetheless no reveal of the Satan that had popped up on TV just lately. A easy damage angle for MJF to insert some jeopardy right into a match nobody thought he would ever lose would have sufficed.
However that’s how good Strickland-Web page was. With the topping of the remainder of the present, all that silliness will likely be an afterthought. AEW is heading into its round-robin “Continental Traditional” section for the subsequent six weeks, which implies it could possibly have each of those guys on TV each week to capitalize on their new standing. Everybody’s going to wish to see their matches from right here on out, and Khan can’t cross their spots off to another person.
The corporate lastly has the pillars for the long-term put in, those that Sammy Guevara and Jack Perry simply weren’t ever reduce out to be. AEW doesn’t have to fret concerning the waves for fairly some time in the event that they don’t wish to.
Observe Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky @felsgate.bsky.social