Ho-lee shit. What a lineup AEW has on tap this week, a mega-awesome-super episode of Dynamite and a two-part PPV-quality card emanating from Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, NY. It's two hours on Wednesday, followed by two hours on Friday, and there are big matches up and down the card.
It's an exciting time to be a pro wrestling fan. Defections, surprises, dream matches, and as we learned this week, new relationships forged between organizations. That's right, AEW is partnering with Dr. Martha Hart and the Owen Hart Foundation to honor the memory of the late, great Owen himself, tragically taken from us at the age of 34. Not only will new Owen merch be created (I assume some of the proceeds will go to the Foundation), but AEW will hold an annual Owen Hart Memorial tournament. Love it.
Anyway, we're here to talk Grand Slam, and this Wednesday's show especially is STACKED. So let's pick some winners....
MJF vs. Brian Pillman Jr.
MJF has been ON FIRE on the mic since his loss to Chris Jericho at All Out, and his first target was the family of Brian Pillman in the latter's hometown of Cincinnati. Pillman Jr. took issue with MJF's scathing promo and a new mini-feud was born. This is obviously designed to give MJF a high-profile win after his PPV loss, but it will also no doubt elevate Pillman as a rising babyface star. One thing I love about AEW is the thought that goes into feuds like this; in wrestling you want both the winner and the loser to get more over than they were prior to the match, and AEW has been working very hard to make sure that happens as often as possible. Pillman will get plenty of room to shine but ultimately MJF and his ruthlessness will win the day, likely with further teases of an MJF-Wardlow feud. This should be a fine match.
Sting & Darby Allin vs. FTR
I'm not quite sure how you book this. I think FTR really needs a big win as they've been sort of treading water since the Inner Circle feud ended. Then again, Allin is also coming off a major loss. Sting could certainly stand to eat a pin here, though maybe the company wants to save that for a bigger moment. It sounds like they're building toward a Sting-Tully match of some sort, which is odd. I dunno, I guess you never bet against Sting and Darby. Should be decent.
Pick: Sting & Darby
Malakai Black vs. Cody Rhodes
This feud has so far been booked not unlike Cody's feud with Brodie Lee. Brodie and Malakai each got a short, decisive win over Cody, leading to a big rematch several weeks later. I'm not sure the time is right to beat Malakai yet; I feel like he should have a fairly long undefeated streak. But then again, does it make sense to beat Cody twice in a row? Either way, this should be a helluva fight - they've done a great job of hyping it with intense pull-apart brawls and this has a big-match feel. I guess I'll go with Cody to win round 2; they can always have a blowoff match later with Black getting the final win.
AEW Women's Championship: Britt Baker vs. Ruby Soho
These two had a fantastic promo segment last Friday, selling everyone on the match in the span of five minutes. Ruby is an experienced hand who should be able to help accentuate Britt's strengths and get a new definitive match out of her. Britt is white-hot right now, so there's no way they do a title change here, but it'll be a lot of fun to watch. I have to think Britt vs. Thunder Rosa is still on the docket for Full Gear.
Pick: Britt retains
Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson
Holy fuckin' crap. This is a match I've been waiting for since 2016, when we all thought Danielson's career was over. Now he's debuting in a new company under his real name, against the Best Bout Machine. Just sit back and watch the fireworks. This needs to go 20-25 minutes but also needs to leave some stuff on the table for a rematch. If I'm booking this, Bryan wins the non-title match and they build to a Full Gear main event over the next eight weeks, Kenny haunted by the loss. Yes I know that's similar to what they did with Christian Cage, but so what? With the Cage loss, Kenny had an out - Cage hit the Killswitch on a chair. Bryan should get a clean win here, maybe with his dreaded small package, so Kenny is so vexxed he offers to put his title on the line for a chance to even the score. Either way, this will be spectacular. I have one demand: Bryan Danielson must resurrect "I have till five!"
Pick: Bryan Danielson
Anna Jay vs. Penelope Ford
This match seems a bit out of place since it's not PPV-quality, but whatevs. This will be short, and just a way to keep re-establishing Anna Jay.
Chris Jericho & Jake Hager vs. Men of the Year
Dan Lambert's promos are goddamn gold. Channeling Jim Cornette and WWE loyalists alike, Lambert is a heat magnet and should be offered his own AEW stable of wrestlers. I think this match should be booked to get Men of the Year over, since it feels like the beginning of a push. Jericho and Hager can stomach a loss since Jericho's coming off the MJF win and Hager's last major match was Stadium Stampede. It can be a tainted win but Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky need this.
Pick: Men of the Year
Lucha Bros & Santana & Ortiz vs. Private Party & Butcher & Blade
This will be a wild eight-man tag, the champs and their likely next challengers fending off a common enemy. I imagine this will be on the shorter side, a chaotic, athletic sprint of a match, but at the end maybe we'll see a tease between Lucha Bros and P&P. That would make for a pretty amazing Full Gear matchup. Anyway this will be fun.
Pick: Luchas and Santana & Ortiz
Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston vs. Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer
This one is of course the makeup match for Moxley and Suzuki's criminally short bout a couple weeks ago. AEW is pretty skillful at turning lemons into lemonade, and they built the timing snafu into a storyline where Suzuki felt disrespected at having his music cut off. So here we are, and I expect they'll give this match plenty of time to breathe. I also expect it will be unruly and violent, much to the delight of the crowd. I think I'd book Suzuki-Gun to win here, getting a pin on Kingston, and thus setting up a final Moxley-Suzuki match with no disqualification.
Superkliq vs. Christian Cage & Jurassic Express
This match should be super fun. I love that Jurassic Express is getting an extended feud with the Bucks. JE is maybe the most likable tag team in wrestling right now and I fully expect them to get a tag title run at some point. I'm also looking forward to a big eight-man tag with these six plus Kenny and Bryan. Anyway, this will be fast and furious. I think Team Cole probably gets the win here since Cole is still brand-new. JE should probably be protected though.
CM Punk vs. Powerhouse Hobbs
This match could go on first for all I know. Since Rampage starts at 10pm it would make sense to hook viewers from the start. But as it's the highest-profile match on the show I'm putting it last. Punk's first cable television match since early 2014 is against another young up and comer, but a very different opponent than Darby. Much like the MJF-Pillman match, this will be designed to give the favorite a win but also help build the young star. It should be interesting to see how Punk's style meshes with someone so different, and Hobbs has a chance here to make a defining early-career moment for himself. But Punk will ultimately triumph and perhaps move on to Ricky Starks.
It's gonna be a helluva couple nights for AEW. Wednesday's show is definitely PPV-quality, while Friday's is more about restaurant-level TV matches. But the sold-out Ashe crowd will be electric and the wrestling should be great. Enjoy!
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