Eddie Kingston vs. Bryan Danielson (AEW Revolution 3/3/24)

Scott Lesh

In my recent conversation with him, Chris Hero spoke about the difference between “less is more” and “getting more out of less.” The way I understand it, Eddie Kingston and Bryan Danielson put on a clinic of how to accomplish the latter. The core concept we have here is one we’ve seen a million times: the arm work match. In the hands of two masters like this though, small details get to rise to the fore that would just elude lesser people.

Take how they get into the arm work to begin with. “Chop the ringpost” is something we’ve seen a million times, but these two put a new twist on it here. Danielson absorbs Eddie’s chops on the apron, allowing himself to back up into the corner and set up Eddie to catch the turnbuckles when Danielson ducks a chop. After that, it’s just a masterclass of selling from Kingston. Having a basically useless hand has big effects like weakening his spinning backfist, but it’s there in the tiniest moments too like struggling to pull his straps down to fire up. The arm work too speaks to a continuation of the themes of their rivalry: this time Danielson’s laser focused, he’s picked the body part and he’s working at it instead of playing his mind games with Kingston.

And Eddie still endures. The spirit is too strong, the strength in one hand just enough to knock the Dragon’s lights out for that big powerbomb. No more questions left, a decisive answer: Can Eddie Kingston beat the GOAT? Yes, quite simply, yes.

Rating: ****1/2

Sting & Darby Allin vs. The Young Bucks (AEW Revolution 3/3/24)

Joey Kirkman

Euphoric. In most every aspect, one of the finest things that AEW has a ever produced. Beyond just the in-ring of it all, it’s the gorgeous and heartfelt video of Sting reliving his career in a cinema, the licensing of “Seek and Destroy” for his theme music, his sons coming out dressed as past versions of himself. All of it just feels so goddamned right and earned, that sort of special, true moment in wrestling when all the theatrics and indulgence feels earned and correct.

But in terms of the in-ring too, my God.

First, The Bucks. This is the closest we get in close to a decade of touching that sweet Reseda magic. They do in this match what they’ve always done best: die. It’s all about eating shit for these villains, and few do it quite so well. Then there’s Darby, of course. His dedication to death is noteworthy as well, with him nailing one of the craziest dives we’ve seen all year through that real glass (cry me a river). But of course, the magic is with the Stinger himself. After spending years as the hero working up against the scum of the earth, he earns every bit of indulgence and sweet vengeance here: no selling a good chunk, powering through all the suffering, finally having Flair come to his aid, and then going out on top.

Sometimes, wrestling rewards us for having heroes, and we said farewell to one of the great ones here.

Rating: Long live Sting

Bryan Danielson vs. Shane Taylor (AEW Collision 3/9/24)


Shane Taylor has quietly put together a strong year for himself as one of AEW’s most reliable TV workers. It’s worth highlighting his performance here first given just how easy it is to get lost in talking up Bryan in these matches. Taylor plays a perfect TV villain here: using his size and boxing experience to establish himself as a credible threat against history’s greatest pro wrestler. It’s a performance characterized by a loud mouth brashness, stiff strikes, and even a surprisingly credible amount of selling. On that last note, watch how his leg seems to fling and flail when Dragon is laying in the kicks to the thigh. But also, my god, it’s Bryan Danielson. He brilliantly puts over Taylor as a threat by emphasizing how much of a struggle it is to get even the smallest things done. He can’t even get an ankle pick without having to wear down Taylor’s leg with his signature kicks. It forces on the fly adjustment from Dragon, like taking his classic comeback sequence and punctuating it with a dropkick to the knee instead. Classic example of an undersized worker chopping down the redwood, but performed by the best to ever do it.

Rating: ****+

Bryan Keith vs. Anthony Henry (DPW Live 5 3/10/24)


Just a straight up slugfest. I’ve found that Bryan Keith seems to really excel in scenarios where he feels like he’s working from under a little more. A little bullying always brings out an extra spark, extra bit of energy from the guy. Luckily, there’s few better in the world at just being a total prick bully in the ring than Anthony Henry. From his swagger to his truly vicious striking game, Henry’s just a delightful antagonist. It’s a joy seeing BK have someone to really push back against, and what results is a striking bombfest that really comes close to earning some of the touches of excess in its back half. Not always a perfect thing on that structuring front, this could have maybe shaved off a minute or two, but too much of it just flat out rocks to deny. Can’t imagine producing something this cool and being fired for it.

Rating: ****1/4

Yuki Ueno vs. HARASHIMA (DDT Judgement 3/17/24)


Time ends all beautiful things. In 2024 especially, that feels like a theme permeating so much of the year’s best wrestling. In this match, we get a classic generational clash as reigning KO-D Openweight Champion Yuki Ueno takes on the defining ace of DDT’s 2010s, HARASHIMA. It’s far from perfect, with Ueno often letting his end of the things down. Most notably, he’s just not quite an offensive match to HARASHIMA and some strikes graze more than they land true.

But HARASHIMA puts in a truly magical performance here that overcomes the weaknesses on Ueno’s end. It’s a simple story being told here, the once ace seeking to turn back the clock, and finding his attempts insufficient in the face of a younger, stronger talent. HARASHIMA feels immaculate in this match. The body work is vicious, those signature kicks and even his elbows all land with a thunderous crunch, and he’s also canny enough to constantly cut off Ueno’s momentum in the most disgusting ways. But at every turn, when Ueno’s given even an inch, the younger champion makes the most of it. Ueno endures, forcing HARASHIMA to grow increasingly desperate with moves like the poison rana off the ropes and then again off the floor, only to find even these big bombs ineffective. By the time Ueno sinks that choke in on HARASHIMA, the tables fully turn and now it’s the old guard left in the do or die position.

And the beauty of it is that HARASHIMA believes. I’ve known every time I’ve seen this match who the winner will be, but for three to five minutes, you let yourself get swept up in the vision of the miracle anyway.

Rating: ****1/2

Mascarita Sagrada NG vs. El Hijo de Fishman (Riba Auditorio CeCuCo 3/22/24)

One of the year’s most purely enjoyable brawls. Much of that, I credit to Fishman, but it’s worth noting one thing that Sagrada delivers in bucketfuls: his own blood. Sagrada comes through here with one of the year’s better bladejobs, one so deep that within seconds, the man is leaving pools of himself on the ring canvas. Outside of that, I’d refer to Sagrada’s performance as more serviceable than anything else, but Fishman himself is wonderful. Fishman’s brutal, chaotic, and gives zero fucks. He’s hoofing around trash cans, attacking referees, and punching with and around the chain and it’s just so much constant fun that it compensates for the match losing some steam as it enters the finishing stretch. Lots of blood and lots of fun, worth the time.

Rating: ****

Mike Bailey vs. Nicole Matthews (LWP x CWS #12 3/22/24)

A neat little twist from the participants here, and it is for the better. In the 2020s, the Mike Bailey touring match formula is pretty well known: Mike gets their leg worked over, does those big kicks, the big spots get the win. Fortunately, with a vet like Nicole Matthews, these two together create something a little more interesting than just the tried and true. In this we get Bailey as the controlling force in a more antagonistic role. He works over the arm, and Nicole sells it well, and she’s believable and cool as more of an underdog figure trying to work her way back towards a victory. Real effective stuff all around here from both.

Rating: ****

Mad Dog Connelly vs. Camaro Jackson (SLA Battle of Spaulding II 3/29/24)

These two hit fucking hard, man. I’m not going to bullshit you and talk about if there’s any deep, complicated nature to this match. It’s two broad dudes crashing into each other and hitting hard, god bless they even give us one of the most solid lock ups of the year to open up too. But for so much of this, it’s just a straight up goddamn scrap with punches and elbows and chops, and there are few wrestlers in the world who make that feel as good and as real as Mad Dog Connelly. Even a screwy finish here can’t do too much to detract from how much this whips ass.

Rating: ****

Mistico, Blue Panther, Ultimo Guerrero, & Volador Jr. vs. Bryan Danielson, Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, & Matt Sydal (CMLL Homenaje a dos Leyendas 3/29/24)

Alexis Salazar

There’s something in the air at Arena Mexico. That special sorcery that seems to be built into the walls itself, hallowed ground on the level of a Korakuen Hall or a Madison Square Garden. For the last twenty months or so, Arena Mexico has been the home of the most consistently great pro wrestling anywhere in the world. Take the BCC, a group whose presence is anchored by Bryan Danielson, and drop them into this cathedral of professional wrestling, and it’s just the most beautiful thing.

Danielson and co. skip the “dream” part of this dream match and skip right to the heart and soul of lucha libre: the tecnicos and the rudos. Danielson’s early skirmishes with Blue Panther play out as a setting of the trap: BCC spring out with the ambush and lay in one of the most exciting rudo control segments in years. They batter our heroes, bump them into the barricades, drop them on their asses, and rile up the Arena Mexico crowd. It really awakens something in Danielson who gets to lean farther into being an out and out heel than he has in months (even in comparison to similar performances against the likes of Eddie Kingston).

It’s not just Danielson showing out either, Claudio Castagnoli is stunning in this. The way he tosses those luchadores around rocks, sure, but the real beauty is the way he shows off why he’s one of history’s great bases. There’s such fluidity to how he makes all of the tecnico offense look stunning. And while much has been made of the Danielson/Panther pairing, an understated part of all this has been Claudio talking up how much of an inspiration Ultimo Guerrero has been for him of late.

Rating: ****1/2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *