AEW FEUD TRACKER: Assessing and grading Joe-Hangman-Swerve, Sting & Darby vs. Young Buck, Storm vs. Purrazzo, Copeland vs. Christian, more

By Zach Barber, PWTorch contributor

"Hangman" Adam Page (photo AEW)


Beignets, red beans and rice, and powerbombs are on the menu tonight as AEW returns to the Big Easy tonight. Also returning tonight are the rankings which should give us a clearer idea of the championship picture as we inch closer to Revolution.

I’m sure Sting will be on hand to build up his tag team title match next week. Also, the live crowd will be treated to some sensational lucha action via the stars of CMLL set to appear on Rampage. Hopefully, the crowd shows up and shows out tonight. We certainly don’t need a repeat of last week. With that being said, in the words of Olmec from my favorite 90s Nickelodeon game show Legends of the Hidden Temple, “Let’s rock”!

Samoa Joe vs. Hangman Page vs. Swerve Strickland:

Swerve and Hangman continue chasing each other to a world title match while Joe confidently awaits whichever challenger shall emerge. Hangman and Swerve are each 3-0 for the year as they enter Dynamite this week where they will play a little dealer’s choice, meaning they’ll pick each other’s opponent. Swerve chose Toa Liona as Hangman’s opponent while Hangman has opted to make Swerve wait to find out who his opponent is while heavily alluding to it being Rob Van Dam. It’s nearly certain that both men will be 4-0 at the end of the night and that will be reflected in the rankings. Given the rankings returning and the sports-like vibe being turned up again, it feels like the only solution to this dead heat between Hangman and Swerve is an eventual playoff of sorts between them. A triple threat feels counter to the approach Tony Khan is seemingly recommitting himself to. To that end I still expect some kind of one-on-one encounter resulting in Swerve earning the win and the right to challenge Joe. I will commend TK for at least making Hangman vs Joe (or a triple threat) feel like a realistic possibility.

Grade: A

Sting & Darby Allin vs. The Young Bucks:

It’s official! Next week in Phoenix, Sting and Darby will challenge Big Bill and Ricky Starks for the tag team title. They will almost certainly win, meaning that the match with the Young Bucks at Revolution will be for the tag titles thus adding another layer of intrigue to Sting’s final match. The Bucks continue to lean into their obnoxious heel EVP roles. While I think there is much potential in this version of the Bucks and their mission statement, I do think they would do well to tone it down a little bit. Right now it comes across as they’re not just leaning into the criticisms but they’re sort of mocking them by going so far into it. I don’t mind the idea of them flaunting their EVP status but there’s going to have to be a point where Tony Khan shuts them down if they cross a line.

Grade: A-

Toni Storm vs. Deonna Purazzo

Toni and Deonna had a very interesting promo segment. I appreciated the black and white/color split-screen. Toni did her normal promo however it, I think very intentionally, came across as more out of touch than usual when juxtaposed against Deonna’s more straightforward, serious promo. Deonna wants to face the old Toni Storm and went as far as pointing out their matching ankle tattoos to illustrate that there is another Toni trapped inside this “Timeless” body. Deonna trying to pull the old Toni out is an interesting direction to take. I don’t think the old Toni is reemerging yet because her story with Mariah May feels like it has play out while she’s still “Timeless” but it’s going to be fun to see Deonna try and Toni react.

Grade: A

Adam Copeland vs. Christian Cage

Copeland had hard-hitting match with Minoru Suzuki on last week’s Dynamite. After the match Copeland got on the mic and said he had never been hit as hard in his life and I believe it. He also made clear he has his sights set on Christian who was watching with a sneer somewhere in the back. I still wonder how much juice this feud has left, and I still think these guys would be better off feuding with other people. Imagine if Christian was available for Hook to feud with as way to capitalize on Hook’s momentum. Instead he’s still feuding with Copeland, who really shouldn’t be winning the TNT title and gains nothing in losing to Christian again. I suspect this feud culminates in a ladder match. These guys made their names in ladder matches. It seems only fitting that they would settle their score in one. For once a ladder match wouldn’t feel completely random. Christian could win and Copeland would be somewhat protected in the loss.

Grade: B-

FTR & Daniel Garcia vs. House of Black

FTR and Daniel Garcia’s feud with House of Black concluded in a very good, very entertaining steel cage trios elimination match. Garcia was discovered beaten and bloodied in the back early in the show, so he got the big “heroic babyface valiantly comes out to fight” spot. He was also the last member of his team to escape the cage, thus winning the match. I thought commentary handled the weirdness of the escape the cage rules well. Now I just hope that Garcia and FTR are figured into Revolution plans somehow.

Grade: A

Ruby Soho & Angelo Parker

On Rampage Ruby and Anna Jay had a match stemming from Saraya attempting to frame Saraya for Harley Cameron making a move on Angelo Parker. Prior to the match Ang asked Anna if she had anything to do with Harley. It was a pretty stupid question. Anna was justifiably offended and cut ties with 2.0 as result. Saraya has now destroyed a friendship as collateral damage in her manipulations. The match itself was fine. It started out hot with Ruby jumping Anna at the bell which was in keeping with the anger that Ruby entered the match with. In the end Anna won but not before screaming “it wasn’t me” prior to choking Ruby out. I have to wonder how long Saraya’s going to continue getting away with these manipulations and how long Ruby is going to look so slow on the uptake.

Grade: B

Orange Cassidy vs. Roderick Strong

Orange Cassidy had really fun title defense against Komander on Collision. Unfortunately, the looming match with Roddy at Revolution removed any intrigue regarding the finish. It’s the one drawback to announcing the match so early. The Undisputed Kingdom continues to struggle as a group to feel like the dominant heel faction. It’s disappointing given how menacing these guys felt while under masks.

Grade: C+

Chris Jericho vs. Konosuke Takeshita

Next week on Dynamite from Phoenix, Jericho finally goes one-on-one with Takeshita in America. First though he faces Kyle Fletcher. Honestly, I think it would be nice if Jericho lost to both guys. That way he will have lost to all of the Don Callis Family and Fletcher won’t be the odd man out. At this point Jericho doesn’t need the win and I think he would be better used putting over talent like Fletcher and Takeshita who both have a ton of upside.

Grade: B

Bullet Club Gold & The Acclaimed

Not much happened in this not-quite-a-feud-yet. Bullet Club Gold helped the Acclaimed retain their AEW trios titles against the Mogul Embassy by neutralizing Prince Nana via powerbomb through a table. Hopefully the turn comes quickly and get on the road to a unification match.

Grade: N/A

Kris Statlander/Willow Nightingale/Stokely Hathaway

I was real worried about this story as of last week. It seemed like Statlander was headed towards a illogical heel turn. They saved it in a big way with a promo that wound up only posted on Twitter here. The comedy was spot on. The idea of Statlander forcing Stokely to accept Willow is much more preferable than Statlander siding with Stokely and turning on Willow. Seeing these three attempt to co-exist will be a lot of fun.

Grade: B+

Bryan Danielson vs. Eddie Kingston

Well, it seems like these two are destined for one more match. Two weeks ago Danielson spat in Kingston’s face following a tag team match. Last week he flipped off Kingston who was sitting in on commentary for Danielson’s very good match with Yuji Nagata. Given this about who the better wrestler and for Danielson to prove Kingston’s win was a fluke, I think a 2 out of 3 falls match would be appropriate but we shall see. It’s Bryan Danielson, arguably the GOAT (or at least in conversation). Whatever he’s doing will be great.

Grade: A-

RECOMMENDED NEXT: AEW COLLISION RESULTS (1/20): Keller’s report on Moxley vs. Taylor, Kingston & Ortiz vs. Danielson & Claudio, Matthews vs. Garcia, Copeland Open Challenge, Thunder Rosa

OR CHECK THIS OUT AT PROWRESTLING.NET: Powell’s AEW Dynamite Hit List: Samoa Joe vs. Hook for the AEW World Championship, Christian Cage vs. Dustin Rhodes for the TNT Championship, Jay Briscoe tribute

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