Austin Aries has lost his killer instinct.
Whether it’s due to his time off healing a fractured orbital bone, his current honorable demeanor, or simply his time coming and going, I cannot say, but it’s clear that the Aries of 2017 WWE is not the A Double that became the first two-time Ring of Honor World Champion or the one that held the TNA X Division Championship for a record-setting 301 days before trading it in for a (successful!) shot at the world title.
He himself will tell you this, albeit in circumspect fashion. For months on commentary on 205 Life he stressed the importance of doing whatever it takes to win a match, including frequent reference to the strategic value of poking the eye. And yet, on the grandest stage of them all, at WrestleMania, how did Neville keep the title away from him?
A rake of the eyes followed up with his signature Red Arrow.
The King’s Court
And, making matters worse for Austin, Neville is beginning to round himself up a posse. He’s already swayed Cruiserweight Classic winner and inaugural Cruiserweight Champion TJ Perkins to his way of thinking. TJP presents a threat to Aries’ title aspirations in his own right, as surely, Neville wouldn’t be above forcing a DQ if it meant keeping his crown.
Plus the former champion has connections that could widen the self-proclaimed King of the Cruiserweights’ sphere of influence. One of the original expansion members of Catch Point, it’s not a stretch to imagine him roping former leader Drew Gulak into cahoots, especially given the way Neville’s own recent reservation of his high flying maneuvers for only the biggest moments jives with Gulak’s Campaign For a Better 205 Live.
Or perhaps Brian Kendrick can be convinced to get past any possible issues from the way Neville rebuffed an alliance earlier, as Akira Tozawa is closer to being a threat to the title than ever. A “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” situation is eminently reasonable for the Man with a Plan.
Bananas: The Decider?
In the ring, as WrestleMania showed us, they are very well matched. Both men fill out what I think of as the triangle of in-ring skills well, being skilled flyers, grapplers, and strikers. Aries, perhaps, has the edge in striking, with his deadly rolling (never roaring!) elbow, while Neville’s flying is unmatched by anyone in WWE, albeit diminished by his recent reluctance to actually use it.
A point to consider as well is A Double’s love of bananas. He can hardly be seen without one or more of the convenient yellow fruit to hand, but is too much potassium a bad thing? Now, Dr. Wikipedia tells me that hyperkalemia is unlikely among otherwise-healthy people who aren’t taking dietary supplements, but what if fondness has turned to obsession?
What if Austin Aries is eating so many bananas as to spike his potassium to unsafe levels? Malaise, palpitations, and muscle weakness make it kind of hard to win a wrestling match, folks. And, as far as I know, Neville has no such potential food issues on his proverbial plate.
Is it A Double’s time at last or will the King still reign over 205 Live?
Who will win?
This poll is closed