Thursday, September 28, 2023

AEW WrestleDream Preview & Predictions

This Sunday is AEW's first-ever WrestleDream PPV, set for October 1st to coincide with the 1st anniversary of Antonio Inoki's death, and once again the company has put together a stellar-looking lineup.  They may be struggling to sell tickets but holy jeez does this show look great on paper.

It's the first time an AEW PPV is emanating from Seattle, and somehow despite their top-three Seattle-native stars being heavily featured, only 5600-or-so tickets have moved for this show.  Hopefully they'll get a strong last-minute surge like they did for Grand Slam and end up with a respectable 10k.  Anyway this show by all rights should continue the streak of 9.5-or-better AEW PPVs that began with Forbidden Door.  I've rated two AEW shows 10/10 out of ten so far this year and I'd love to be able to do the same for WrestleDream.  But we'll just see, won't we?

Tony Khan has also promised this PPV will mark the end of an era, whatever that means.  ROH merging into AEW?  PPV streaming deal with Max?  Who knows?

ROH Tag Team Championship: MJF vs. The Righteous

Well, sadly Adam Cole somehow managed to shatter his ankle last week (That elevated ramp is evil) and will need surgery to fix it.  Thus what was meant to be a regular title defense is now a handicap match.  I'm wondering if the plan was originally Max & Adam vs. The Kingdom, and after Cole got hurt they called an audible to put The Righteous here instead, so Max could beat them 1-on-2; having a newcomer team lose to one guy isn't that big a deal, especially if the one guy is the champion.  Lots of questions surrounding this, like Will The Kingdom get involved? and Will Jay White make an appearance given it looks like Max had him attacked backstage?  Weird and unpredictable cliffhanger to end Dynamite on I'd say.  Anyway I'd book this match to be very short and have MJF win in delightfully underhanded fashion.  That way The Righteous aren't hurt much; they'll have lost due to cheating.

Pick: MJF retains

Ricky Starks vs. Wheeler Yuta

Ricky is coming off two excellent wars with Bryan Danielson and needs a get-back win, and Mr. Yuta will give him a fine contest.  Should be a very good undercard match to keep Starks' momentum going.

Pick: Ricky

The Young Bucks vs. Lucha Brothers vs. The Gunns vs. Orange Cassidy & Hook

This one's for a tag team title shot at the time of the winners' choosing.  If the four-way last night is any indication this should be a wild, wacky sprint.  Anytime the Jacksons and the Luchas are in the ring together they make magic.  I guess The Bucks probably win this to set up a fourth match against FTR at Full Gear, three years after their first meeting?

Pick: Bucks

ROH Championship/NJPW Strong Championship: Eddie Kingston vs. Katsuyori Shibata

This is gonna be a helluva fight.  Two stiff strikers who like to give and take pain.  No suspense over the result; Eddie's not dropping the title anytime soon.  But this will be gloriously violent.

Pick: Eddie retains

TBS Championship: Kris Statlander vs. Julia Hart

Damn, when did Julia get so good?  It feels like she came out of nowhere and suddenly her in-ring is as compelling as her character work.  I'd have held off on this match till Full Gear I think, to give Julia more momentum going in.  I'm very torn on what should happen here.  Kris has been great as TBS Champ and I'd love to see her keep the title longer, but at the same time Julia feels like a very hot new character and you want to capitalize on that.  Maybe Willow or Skye gets involved to cost Julia the match and keep that feud going?  

Pick: I guess Kris retains for now but I wouldn't be surprised to be wrong either.

TNT Championship 2/3 Falls: Christian Cage vs. Darby Allin

This is another one that's hard to pick.  Cage just won this title last week (in a great triple threat match) and he's been so good as the pretend champion he should get a real run as a legit champion.  Then again it's Darby's hometown.  Then again Darby's beaten Christian twice in singles matches AND won this title before in his hometown.  Plus they seem to be setting up Christian vs. Luchasaurus for the title later on.  And of course the obvious question mark is whether we'll see Adam Copeland show up and either help or hurt Christian.  I guess I'll go with CC to retain and maybe his best friend shows up post-match?

Pick: Cage retains

Kenny Omega/Chris Jericho/Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay/Konosuke Takeshita/Sammy Guevara

Oh man.  This is a monumental trios match.  The newly formed Callis family plus Ospreay (right now the best bell-to-bell wrestler in the world) against Kenny, his best friend, and his former archrival.  I hope Ibushi has been shaking off the ring rust so we can see the Golden Star we remember from 2021.  But regardless this will be epic and should set up numerous singles matches, including Omega-Ospreay III.

Pick: Heels have to win this one

AEW Tag Team Championship: FTR vs. Aussie Open

I haven't seen the first match these two teams had but I heard it was spectacular, and so should this be.  I never realized how tall Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher were until they stood face-to-face with FTR - those aussies are big dudes.  Not much else to say, FTR will retain but this match will be amazing.

Pick: FTR retains

Hangman Page vs. Swerve Strickland

How 'bout Page's sick burn on Punk last night?  "I've had a black cloud hanging over me the last year and a half and I couldn't talk about it, and now that it's gone you deserve my best."  Must've really chapped Fragile Phil's ass.  Anyway this match should be PPV main event-worthy.  Page is one of the best big match wrestlers out there, and Swerve is absolutely earning his spot as a future AEW Champion.  That WWE didn't see anything with this guy is fucking ludicrous - dude is exploding with charisma and carries himself like The Guy.  I'd go so far as to say he should be the one to dethrone MJF.  Make him the first African-American AEW Champion, put him all over the marketing, he's got IT.  This match should be great.

Pick: Swerve

Bryan Danielson vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

Finally we get this technical wrestling masterpiece originally intended for Forbidden Door 2022.  The two most accomplished grapplers of the last two decades.  Starting in 2005 only Bryan Danielson and ZSJ have won the Observer's Best Technical Wrestler award.  That's astounding.  And now we get to see them lock up for the first time on a big stage.  Time for Mr. Danielson to add yet another MOTY candidate to his GOAT resume.  Danielson has to be winning in his hometown and hopefully something will happen post-match to set up his next feud.  Regardless, get out some popcorn for this one.

Pick: Danielson

By my calculations no wrestling company in history has ever delivered two 10/10 PPVs in a single calendar year.  NJPW has come close a couple of times but they haven't done it.  AEW for me has done that in 2023 and may make it a trifecta if this show delivers on its potential.  We just need everyone in the Seattle area to bring a friend and pack this arena.

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