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    Sunday, February 6, 2022

    Reviewing The Elite (2/2/22): I'm Best in the World, and You Know It!


    Okay, CM Punk vs. MJF was amazing.

    As the great Zendaya said once in a popular movie about some spider dude, "If you expect disappointment, then you can never really get disappointed." I didn't really expect much from this match. Don't get me wrong, the promos were fantastic, but I could see the outcome from a while away. Of course MJF will pick up the win and of course he'll use some cheap trick to do it. I'm not saying that's bad, I'm just not that excited about it. What I didn't expect was for them to surpass "Hangman" Adam Page vs. Bryan Danielson I. If you expect disappointment, you'll end up enjoying it more. 

    Yes, you heard that right: this week's Dynamite main event is better than AEW's first 5-star match of the year, at least for me. For one, CM Punk vs. MJF actually had a winner. That's already a win for our favorite loudmouths. Plus, this week's main event didn't try to waste our time with time-padding antics disguised as mind games. They didn't waste any time and if they did, they strategically hid it in the three commercial breaks this match got. For a match that almost went an hour, it didn't feel like a chore to watch and I actually was at the edge of my seat every time a big move or a near-fall happened.  

    While Hangman and Bry-D gave us a clash of epic proportions, Punk and Max went old-school and mashed together classic wrestling tropes into one instant classic of a match. While the AEW World Champion and the American Dragon gave the crowd what they want by exchanging hard-hitting blows, PG Punk and Needle Prick made them part a huge part of the match. Aside from spilling the fight into the crowd, one guy even got to chop MJF from ringside (who turned out to be a former UFC fighter, hilarious). And when MJF tried to choke Punk with a rope, you could see everyone trying helplessly to tell the ref what was happening. Everyone was so into the match and I loved it. 

    This resulted in a lively match that didn't have to rely on blood and death-defying spots. At first I thought booking the match in Chicago was just another red herring to make everyone think CM Punk is going to win, but now I see the brilliance of it. Sure, it's still a red herring, but that's beyond the point. If you want someone to be the biggest heel of all time, the oldest trick in the book couldn't be any more effective: have him beat the beloved hometown hero. CM Punk + rowdy Chicago crowd + dirty tactics to finish off the match = MJF getting the most heat possible. It's genius booking!

    While this match didn't try to re-invent the wheel, it did perfect pro wrestling at its finest. It's all characters and drama, people. CM Punk excelled as the hero of the story and MJF killed it as a conniving villain everyone wants to see decimated. Punk did put all the stops to try and beat MJF. He even dished out his hidden Pepsi-inspired signature moves for the first time in years! That probably popped old ROH fans. But alas, even a Chicago-backed Punk couldn't stop MJF from cheating his way to yet another victory. Cue the thunderous boos. NitPickRichter Scale: Magnitude 10!

    As if putting over MJF wasn't enough, this match even had enough room to sneak in the brewing MJF vs. Wardlow storyline. The frustration in Wardlow's face as he watched his boss achieve something he himself should have weeks ago was just too palpable to not include here.You think MJF vs. CM Punk was the endgame here? Nah, fam, it's basically just a stepping stone for an even more satisfying rivalry in the future (hopefully, don't fuck this up, Tony). Now this is something I'm more excited to see. Wardlow is going to thumb down MJF and powerbomb him through a table someday. Trust me. 

    Show Grade: A-

    Dynamite Debris That Also Want to Be Part of Bryan Danielson's New Faction

    • Bryan Danielson and Jon Moxley teaming up? Nah, these two are going to slug it out. Bryan Danielson looking to form a no-nonsense faction? Now that's what's up. It would be interesting to finally see Lee Moriarty and Wheeler Yuta get some relevance on Dynamite. And Daniel Garcia under the tutelage of Danielson? Perfection. Give me this faction, stat! 

    • Also, why is Danhausen hanging around with Orange Cassidy? I get that he got involved in Cassidy's match last week, but I didn't think he'd join him instantly. We don't need two internet darlings hogging the spotlight in one faction. Let Danhausen be his own person! Give him a faction of goofy-ass villains! You don't have to add every new guy to Best Friends, you know.

    • Again, why is "Hangman" Adam Page not being booked to wrestle a match on Dynamite? I'm pretty sure he's not injured since he can take crazy bumps on steel steps. What's the deal here? We can't just have him get beaten up by Lance Archer every week. At least have Page beat someone first before he gets ambushed. Also, I really hope Archer drops Dan Lambert soon. C'mon, people. You heard how Jake Roberts cut his promos. That should be menacing enough! 

    • Yo, PAC had me for a second there. I really thought he was going to wrestle with a blindfold throughout the match! But at least we still got it, even for just a short while. Also, still not loving House of Black's tag finisher. And what's up with their name? House of Black and they're also called Kings of the Black Throne? That's entering Lance Archer-levels of redundancy. Pick a name and stick to it! 

    • We got a fun match from Ruby Soho and Nyla Rose this week, mainly because it actually had a rather satisfying conclusion. I really thought Ruby would somehow escape with a rollup or something and I'm sick of those types of finishes. So yes, give me a beast not falling for the underdog tricks anytime. I will gladly eat it up.

    • What, Dan Lambert and Brandi Rhodes are arguing again? Why? Pass. 

    Header image taken from @AEW

    *****

    Ricky Publico (@nyamnyamgarbage) is Smark Henry's seasoned veteran and resident SmackDown free agent reviewer. He's a sucker for well-written promos and fast-paced matches. While he enjoys nitpicking shows, he now prefers enjoying wrestling for what it is instead of stressing himself over things he can't control. He's anxious about the future, now more than ever. His potential haunts him.

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    Item Reviewed: Reviewing The Elite (2/2/22): I'm Best in the World, and You Know It! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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