Becky Lynch solidifies her status as a legend; AEW signs a new legend; a new partnership forms; and let's talk tribalism.
1. A Signing They Had To Make: Adam "Edge" Copeland debuted after the main event of AEW's WrestleDream show which saw Christian Cage retain against Darby Allin after a heel turn by Nick Wayne at the horror of Mrs. Wayne. Most observers that are familiar with Khan's booking (and pro wrestling in general) probably saw the Wayne turn coming, and as the rumor mill started to turn, Copeland's debut was increasingly certain.
After WWE got a few headlines for signing former AEW women's star Jade Cargill, AEW managed to snag one of the biggest stars in the industry of the past 20 years in Copeland. Copeland will be full-time in AEW, which will be an enormous shot in the arm the company that has been lagging in domestic ticket sales in the wake of steep admission prices.
AEW is more susceptible to being affected by bad dirt sheet headlines due to the nature of its fanbase, AEW needed good news and this is probably as good as it gets. The company now has a seasoned veteran that can work high-profile bouts, tell very compelling stories, and give a valuable boost to the brand.
The tough part is giving him adequate television time.
2. Happy She Got The Match, But It Wasn't Necessary. Julia Hart is, without question, AEW's most improved performer. The 21-year-old former cheerleader has turned into a very good all-around talent. Since working with Malakai Black and the rest of the House of Black crew, Hart has become a can't miss performer and her work the past couple of weeks has been deservedly well-lauded.
Which is what irks me that she's got increased television time, acknowledgement of not having lost a match in nearly a year and a half, and a special entrance at the WrestleDream event—only to lose to the workhorse Kris Statlander. Statlander and Hart had a very, very good match and it was easily Hart's best match of her career to date. However, I cannot help to feel that this match really should have not been booked. Hart's character in its current iteration deserved more than just 2 weeks of higher-profile television time and I fear that she's going to regress into the background.
3. Bryan Danielson and Zack Sabre, Jr. Had A Masterpiece. I'm not a workrate snob by any means. Honestly, I couldn't give two shits about workrate or technical wrestling. But an enthralling performance is an enthralling performance, and the artistry displayed by Danielson and ZSJ is something to behold. It was like seeing Rembrandt and Van Gogh paint an impeccable collaboration; wizardry on the canvas.
It was a half-hour sprint of beautifully choreographed violence. The real skill in matches like those is to give the illusion of violence while keeping their dance partner safe. You couldn't ask for a better match between two in-ring performance artists. It was the showcase of the ages, and it may vie with Kenny Omega & Will Ospreay's Forbidden Door match as the North American Match of the Year. We'll see.
4. The Swerve For International Champion (at least at first) Has Officially Begun. Swerve Strickland and Hangman Adam Page had an intriguing performance at WrestleDream. For one night only, Swerve was the babyface and Page was a heel; Page had not performed as a heel since his Ring of Honor/New Japan days, but he knew that he had to play to the Seattle crowd and he did an excellent job. This was less about moves and more about a fight. The finish was very well done.
I'd like to see Swerve win the AEW International Championship sooner than later and let him cook as the midcard final boss on Dynamite for about 6 months. Swerve is in excellent shape and his character work over the past few months has been spectacular. I'm going to assume the feud with Hangman will continue for the next few weeks—as it should. Those two are money together in front of the cameras.
5. The Tiffany Stratton Coming Out Party. It may not have been "Tiffy Time" at NXT No Mercy, but the Buff Barbie had an incredible outing with the biggest women's wrestling star of all time in Becky Lynch. While I will get to Lynch momentarily, I want to put over how well Stratton has done in the past two years.
Starting out, Stratton was a very athletic and fit performer who couldn't quite put a match together, but absolutely nailed her character as a spoiled, rich brat. In fact, her version of it just might be the best I have ever seen. In any event, Stratton deserves the spotlight and her moonsault vies with Julia Hart's for the title of the best moonsault by a women's wrestler currently performing in the United States.
6. Becky Lynch Adds To Her Legend. No one works harder at trying to elevate an up-and-coming act than Becky Lynch. She is as unselfish as it gets, and she worked really hard to make Stratton look great in defeat. Lynch & Straton's match was probably as violent as it's going to get between two women in WWE; it was a much milder hardcore match as compared to the two notorious bloody carnivals that took place over in AEW. The Barbie doll bits was kind of hokey, but the ladies made it work.
Lynch is a true genius of a performer, and probably understands what it means to wrestle in character better than most. Once again, she may not be as smooth as Charlotte Flair or have the repertoire of Mercedes Moné, but Becky excels at the biggest and smallest things that puts her at the top of the mountain when it comes to women's wrestling in the Western Hemisphere.
7. It's the Czar's Era in NXT. Ilja Dragunov and Carmelo Hayes absolutely killed it in their NXT Championship match at No Mercy. Dragunov finally got the best of Hayes, after a super H-Bomb forearm smash turned out to be the golden move. Dragunov has been NXT's best in-ring artist since Gunther moved up to the main roster. If I had to guess, Baron Corbin, who won his match against Bron Breakker, is going to be his first feud as Carmelo Hayes is probably bound for the main roster.
8. Mission Accomplished For Dominik Mysterio. [Editor's note: This FanPost was submitted prior to the Oct. 2 Raw] Dominik Mysterio's NXT North American title reign served two purposes: for one, to add a championship to Judgment Day's increasingly complex storyline and for two, to build a new midcard babyface. Both goals were accomplished with flying colors.
Mysterio holding the title made Judgment Day much more formidable villainous characters. It also added to his legend as a chickenshit, yet talented heel. It also made a new midcard star out of Trick Williams, who defeated Mysterio to win the belt. I look forward to seeing with Trick Williams does with the opportunity as the crowd loves him and the "going his own way" storyline that he has going has been fairly well done.
9. A New Partnership. So what? The most exciting thing about the new partnership between Major League Wrestling, CMLL, and New Japan Pro Wrestling is that it will lead to a bigger role for the recently returned Salina De La Renta, who is the best heel in women's wrestling by three miles. Politics are in full swing here, and this means that MLW's relationship with AAA is all but kaput.
This will present a great deal of fresh new match ups for MLW's show Fusion. What won't change is that you really, really have to love pro wrestling to really get into MLW, because there's a significant barrier of entry thanks to its level of campiness and its tendency io take itself too seriously at times. Nevertheless, the shows are more decent than corny, and did I mention Salina De La Renta is back? Curious to see how this partnership goes.
10. Brand Tribalism is Stupid & Immature. I get having a preference for a particular brand—i generally prefer wrestling on Wednesdays & Saturdays in lieu of Mondays & Fridays, but I find brand tribalism to be stupid. In fact, I find any kind of consumerist tribalism to be dumb, whether it is DC Comics versus Marvel, Ford versus Chevrolet, or in this case, WWE versus AEW.
This is a new Golden Age of Wrestling, where performers have to the opportunity to choose where they work and fans have the power to choose what brand and how much of said brand they wish to consume. The industry has had this many options since the territory days. There is no need to chastise another person about their taste in wrestling, let alone criticize a performer because they opt to work for one company over another. A particular brand may not be your cup of tea, but some fans taking it to the extremes that another brand should be consider an enemy or a "cancer" to wrestling is nothing short of crackpot.
Wrestling is fun. It's enjoyable. I may have written well over 1,500 words in this post, but it's for fun. It's not serious business, or at least serious enough to spew vitriol. No one promotion, whether it is WWE, AEW, New Japan, AAA, Impact, CMLL, MLW, or Ring of Honor, is objectively better than another. It is a matter of your personal taste. Let's keep tribalism out of pro wrestling fandom, shall we?