Re: Presenting AOW: Art of War Wrestling - The Greatest Affair
I was expecting a full-on promo from Heyman to maybe get his personality across and further the Foley/Heyman angle, but the chilling way that you went with this was actually very effective. Foley under investigation is also something I'm a fan of, because it means we can continue along this road towards having Foley become more involved in the show, hopefully leading to that Jericho/Foley bloodbath somewhere down the line. Cold start to the show, and it works nicely.
Cracker of an opening match. You had some really nice spots in there (the Monkey Flip to Dropkick was something I would have loved to see, same with the Aero Star Press on Noble's Dragon Sleeper on Danielson, crazy stuff) and you kept Danielson's eye injury as a focus as well. The main thing I liked was how well Noble came off, too. He hit Tiger Drivers on both his opponents and there were moments I genuinely thought the title was going to change hands in his favour. In the Cruiserweight division it's easy to see Danielson as a threat because he's the champion, and it's easy to see Aero Star as one of the highlights because of his style, but Noble really raised his stock with this performance. Great, great opener, and I'm very interested to see where you go with this division from here on out; I'm also glad Danielson retained, seeing as he hasn't spent all that long with the title in his actual grasp (thanks to Helms), so I think he'll benefit from keeping a little longer. Unless I missed it, I don't think Aero did the No-Handed Tope, so that might have been something I wanted to see, but otherwise you used all the moves necessary and filled it with the right kind of action to heat up the crowd and get the show started with a bang. Oh, and Danielson-Aero's back-and-forth pinfalls was cruiserweight action at its finest. Bon.
Liking the backstage promo with RVD. This is just about what I was hoping for, with the 'RVD is AOW' metaphor being his downfall. The promo itself is very powerful, with RVD's breakdown being painted brilliantly by him staring at that screen and replaying it. The Miz, as I've said recently, is also a character you've characterised nicely, and having him taunt Van Dam really builds the idea that we've got to pity him. My only concern is whether you've gone for the complete breakdown a little too soon, but if there's two things you're known for, it's wacky tag team names and your ability to convincingly write characters having mental struggles. I have faith it can only get more interesting from here.
If it's a Puerto Rican flag flying, I'm guessing it's Carlito, just in a more classy, less 'spit an apple in your face' role, or maybe Eric Perez. Definitely think there's room for more talent in the mid-card, although you don't really have a mid-card as much as you have a series of different divisions - maybe a challenger for Punk in the Dynasty Title chase? We'll see.
Small thing here with Jericho - you didn't mention him going to the ring, so I just assumed he and Lashley had stayed on the ramp, then I read him leaving the ring, so I was confused for a moment. Jericho's characterisation was good, as you got all the usual phrases from the Worthy Man in there, but I'm going to agree with one of the above peeps (I think it was CP) and say I don't know if it was wholly necessary to have him talk. Regardless, the promo itself was good, and you got the anti-Foley agenda and enough self-praise to make it worthwhile. I'm not entirely keen on Lashley as a 'protégé' when he was tearing it up already without Jericho, but the Worthy Legion is undoubtedly a strong stable and they'll provide a good challenge for any babyface chasing the World Title for a good underdog angle. Maybe a multi-man tag team match in the future with Christian returning ala Daniel Bryan at Summerslam 2010 as the final member against the Worthy Legion? Lots of possibilities with your roster at the moment.
A Very Merry War about a month away now - should be a great show if the first supershow or World Ablaze are anything to go by.
While I understand that Doane 'saving' Lashley is his way of trying to join the Worthy Legion, having him thrown out in 30 seconds really undermines any success he had last week, which is a real shame. You continued the running theme of Joe desperate to beat up Lashley, which is good continuity, as was the previously-unseen American Made dumping out WGTT to give us this week's closure for the Tag Team Title feud. I feel maybe two guys as talented in the ring as Benjamin and Haas could have been given longer to pull off a few more spots to fire up the crowd, but I have no qualms with the booking of their exit, which is a nice way to put a bit more heat in their feud. Again the angle takes precedent over the wrestling with Hassan eliminating Punk illegally, which is fine as long as it doesn't get overdone, and having Punk overcome the 3-on-1 bit was nice, seeing as it shows how he's always managed to overcome the odds, even with Hassan promising to screw him over in the previous newswire interview. Hassan's Camel Clutch leading to HBK's non-elimination is absolutely genius - up until this point it felt a little like it wasn't a Battle Royal as much as every feud had separated into its own little match, so it was good to see more than one feud cross over by having Hassan's Camel Clutch steal the referees' attention and allow HBK to steal his place back. Really nice thinking. I'm surprised that Kendrick and London lasted so long when they could have gone well before Punk/Hassan/WGTT, all possibly more important guys, but it was still a strong moment to solidify how cruel and opportunistic the Mercs are. The action after this (especially Samoa Joe's double suplex on the Mercs) was well-written and well thought out, and the entire sequence leading to Lashley's elimination was perfect, from Jericho's involvement to Lashley's accidental Spear to HBK getting rid of him. A very dramatic end to the Battle Royal, although having Burchill eliminate Albright deliberately before HBK hit the floor seems like a bit of dick move, rather than because he's teaching his apprentice a lesson. Surely he could have consolidated Albright's involvement to help him win the Fatal Four-Way, as well as watching a major threat in HBK eliminated? Not entirely sure, but as always, I like that you're differentiating your tag teams so it's not just two clones teaming together.
On to the Final Four Battle - the HBK-Finlay sequence was nicely written (I know I've said it before, but your matches are always easy to read) and Joe came across as exactly who you'd want him to be, as an incredibly talented and proficient wrestler as well as brawler; this was evident in his submissions on Burchill, the transitions between STF to Ankle Lock, and then the power game with him throwing Burchill into the others, and then even his high-flying elements with the Elbow Suicida. Always a good thing to present your top stars in such a positive light. Surprised we got no covers before the commercial break, but it made it more fast-paced, which is fine. I remember watching Finlay do the old catch-them-in-the-apron spot on Dolph Ziggler years ago, so I enjoyed seeing it in use again here; just as you made Samoa Joe look like a badass before, Finlay comes across like a similar BOSS by being able to no-sell HBK's offence beforehand, and being such an effective brawler in this sequence with Burchill. I'll admit I thought the Island Driver to HBK would be the finish momentarily, but Lashley's reappearance was ideal, just to further that angle. Again, there's the danger of your main event becoming overbooked, but this was probably the one run-in that had to happen after Lashley went from the bout, and also solidified in my mind that HBK was going over, which is what I had assumed before. Burchill taking advantage of HBK was a beautiful sight, because I love to see the under-card talents shine against the main eventers (see: Justin Gabriel in my thread) and Burchill showing his opportunistic streak here made for great reading. The Double A Spinebuster wasn't something I've ever seen HBK use but it showed that he was willing to go to any lengths possible to win, which was perfect. Burchill was always going to take the fall and the finish was one for the crowd to enjoy, so again, no complaints. This is the result I was hoping for, leaving us with HBK/Jericho, Joe/Lashley, leaving the door open for Finlay/RVD if you want to use it, and even making Burchill look damn good in the process. A strong main event. The aftermath was an emphatic exclamation point to conclude the night with, and gives HBK some real momentum to make Jericho even more frustrated for next week. Undoubtedly we'll see Michaels' ghost elimination brought up, and I'm assuming Wright will be back, too, so it should be explosive in the new AOW Title feud. Excellent.
Overall, a real cracker of a show. As always, your characterisation in terms of promos was spot-on, and the wrestling itself was top-drawer, especially in that opening Triple Threat and the closing action of the Four-Way Battle. The main highlight for me remain your feuds - as mentioned just above, the potential at the top of the card is great, while there's reason to be excited in the Dynasty and tag team divisions too. The Cruiserweight division now has an almost blank slate to work with after Danielson's victory, so you've got a lot to work with there too. All in all, a meaty show which got everything in there that needed to be done - as I said, my only worry was the possibility of overbooking your main event with all the run-ins, i.e. Hassan's antics, American Made, Jericho's involvement, Lashley coming back, HBK's ghost elimination. You can argue a case for all of them being necessary, and I would agree, but it's just a line to be careful of crossing, especially after last week. Otherwise, I got what I tuned in when it came to RVD and Heyman's involvement, and the show delivered on all fronts, bar maybe Doane's recovery being stunted a little. Very good stuff, can't wait for next week. King's stamp of approval - BAM. There it is. Bon. Kirby approves.