Of all the fascinating arcs to follow in All Elite Wrestling (AEW), the in-ring trajectory of Jungle Boy is near the top of the list.
Thus far, the company has handled the five-year pro’s progression as a wrestler masterfully, as they have put him in big spots against more seasoned and more polished workers such as Chris Jericho and Maxwell Jacob Friedman, and thus far, he has more than held up his end.
There’s no way anyone can look at how AEW has booked Jungle Boy over the last two years and not view it as a success. It’s clear that he’s going to be a significant part of the young promotion’s future, and his match with FTR’s Dax Harwood provided fans another example of this inevitability.
On AEW Dynamite, Jungle Boy got another chance to show out in his match with FTR’s Dax Harwood, and he didn’t disappoint.
The Jan. 27 episode of AEW: Dynamite saw Jungle Boy and Harwood battle in a match that also carried the stipulation where Cash Wheeler and Tully Blanchard were handcuffed to Luchasaurus. The added conditions ensured that Jungle Boy would receive a fair chance at beating Harwood.
On a show that also featured an intense opening bout between Eddie Kingston and Lance Archer and a great eight-man tag team main event, Jungle Boy vs. Harwood stood out as the highlight of the show, in-ring wise.
Once again, AEW followed the smart formula of matching the 23-year-old up with a seasoned veteran. As a result, we saw cool stuff like this:
All of this great action built nicely to the finish, which saw Harwood submit to Jungle Boy’s Snare Trap submission hold (the ending also highlighted the importance of the handcuffs stipulation, as Blanchard and Wheeler tried to interfere to save Harwood from tapping out, but the restraints and Luchasaurus’ strength held them at bay). And while the win over a multiple-time tag team champion boosts Jungle Boy’s credibility in the short term, the performance also indicated the heights he could reach in the near future.
Look, we all know this match isn’t leading to an immediate push to the moon (as Cameron Grimes would say). With wrestlers like Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega still operating at the top of their respective games — not to mention wrestlers like Cody Rhodes, Eddie Kingston, MJF, and PAC — there’s no need to rush anything, and nothing AEW has done in their brief history indicates they would.
Since opening up shop, AEW has done a nice job using the equity from their top names to establish some of their younger wrestlers, and as we’ve seen with the likes of Darby Allin and “Hangman” Adam Page, this strategy has worked (it would be nice to see them do this with more of their non-white talent, too, but that’s for another piece).
Consequently, AEW now has a handful of guys ready to carry the company at the top of the card when the time comes for their current stars to transition into part-time roles or step away from the ring altogether. As this match proved, Jungle boy will be one of those guys.