All Continental Classic 2023 reviews linked here.

Towards the end of the commercial break, Eddie Kingston chops Bryan Danielson so hard that it drops him to his knees. Eddie lowers the straps of his singlet, and stands tall in the middle of the ring. The crowd comes unglued, a full on rapture punctuated by chants of “Let’s go Eddie!” The entire match turns upon this moment. To this point, the crowd had been somewhat split. At Danielson’s prompting, a sizeable enough part of the crowd had begun chanting “He’s a bum!” at Eddie. But when Eddie knocks Danielson down with that chop, the doubters are convinced. The hate evaporates, all that remains is a true, sincere support for Eddie Kingston to win this goddamn match and move one step closer to the Triple Crown.

It’s in this moment that Bryan Danielson realizes he’s well and truly fucked.

At least, that’s when the reality of it sinks in for him. He’s actually been on the back foot for most of the match up to this point. It amazes me how adept both Danielson and Kingston are at conveying entirely different mindsets on any given night to match how their characters shift and change. The most obvious example is how Danielson goes from face to heel depending on his opponent on any night, but given that he’s played antagonist against Kingston both times in the C2, the shift from both men is far more subtle.

It starts with Eddie Kingston. This go around, he refuses to be bullied and lose his cool. As he does in his most successful ROH Title defenses, Eddie Kingston controls the center of the ring. Danielson tries to nag at the leg, pick at Eddie slowly to open him up, frustrate him by moving into the ropes. But this time, Eddie doesn’t fall for the trick. He doesn’t chase Danielson, he doesn’t rush in, he doesn’t instinctively fire back when Danielson swats at him with chops.

No, this time, Danielson has to come to him, and that’s not working for him. Eddie thrashes him, dives onto him on the outside, and controls him in the corner with his strikes. It’s Danielson who makes the first desperate move of the game: he claws at Eddie’s eye to finally regain the advantage back.

But note how Danielson spends his time in control. Instead of the measured step-by-step demolition of Eddie’s body, Danielson’s having far more fun tormenting his prey this time. Danielson’s bringing back the psychological warfare from the last match and ramping it up to ten, but this time without the actual physical work required to lay the foundation for his success in that bout. Danielson’s indulging himself here: verbally taunting Eddie constantly, taking his time to gloat to the crowd, lingering on that knee stomp instead of just going for it.

Not only is at a more overtly villainous performance from Danielson, but from a character perspective a far more careless one as well. And that’s what obviously ends up costing him.

At one point, both wrestlers find themselves down in each corner. They get to their feet and instead of Danielson rushing in to continue his attack, he meets Eddie on the latter’s own terms: he enters a pissing contest of blows. This time, it’s not Eddie retaliating from being poked at and antagonized, it’s Dragon trying to prove a point because his pride’s been bruised from being unable to put Eddie down.

And that’s what Bryan Danielson realizes when Eddie Kingston chops him so hard that he gets dropped to the mat. As he rises up slowly, staring down a determined Kingston, hearing the entire crowd turning on him, he realizes that this night isn’t like any other. He hasn’t done the work, and for the first time Eddie Kingston’s not falling into his traps either. 


No one has to say a word, but everyone realizes what’s going to happen. Most importantly, Bryan Danielson understands it too. He’s going to lose.

And that’s where Eddie’s performance comes in the back half too. Because it’s important to note that this isn’t just a match that Danielson loses by virtue of taking his opponent too lightly. Unlike Danielson, Eddie does do the work. He’s focused. Those chops are concussive and brutal, but it’s the smaller moments that set him up for success too. When countering the belly-to-belly superplex, Eddie lands his weight onto Danielson’s fractured orbital bone, softening up for later without going for a direct attack. Eddie’s not picking apart Danielson surgically, he’s just pounding him down repeatedly until there’s nothing left.

In the final moments of this match, Eddie Kingston earns his victory not just through sheer physicality but by turning the tables on the GOAT. Ever since the match against Zack, Danielson’s been using spitting as a psychological tactic: pissing off his opponent to get them off their game.

He does it repeatedly here, but Eddie never falters. Notably too, Eddie returns the favor in kind. He spits at Danielson late in the match, and it lures Danielson into eating shit. The final piece of the puzzle though is Eddie Kingston giving that middle finger in the last moments. For Danielson, it’s a concession, a sign that victory is in hand as it had been the last two times they’d wrestled in AEW.

It’s not a concession, it’s a trap.

Danielson gives Eddie space, but this time Eddie isn’t beaten half to death as he had been at the start of the block. So when Danielson charges in for that knee, Eddie has enough to catch him with the Urakens, and then the folding powerbomb for the win. 

In the same arena where Eddie tapped out a pretender to the GOAT title, he gains his first ever victory over the real deal.

IS IT BETTER THAN 6/3/94? As Kawada did in 1994, Eddie Kingston wins over a crowd that is predisposed to agree with one of the most efficient wrestlers in the world. Unfortunately for Kawada, he doesn’t get the job done. Instead, his successor does. That’s not the only difference, but boy is it a big one. Eddie once again outdoes his heroes.

Rating: ****3/4

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