AEW has always given dream matches to its legions of pro wrestling fans. Today we’ll be looking at 5 of the very best that had a part in shaping where the company was headed in later years.
As I write this, AEW’s highly anticipated event in London at Wembley Stadium, All In, is on its way to getting started, and really, you can feel the anticipation online by many in the pro wrestling community.
And despite concerns that the card isn’t exactly all that it could be, that excitement is still there and for very good reason: Because despite feuds in the company and storylines at times being a tad weak, what AEW always delivers on is an epic caliber of matches, and rest assured that the matches will be primo at this event, as they always are.
And so what of the matches that built up that reputation? There have been many and how can you pick just 5? Well, I’ve been challenged to at least try, and I accept the challenge to showcase 5 that were indeed perhaps a tad better than most and had a part in establishing for the company the reputation they now have.
Britt Baker vs. Thunder Rosa – Unsanctioned Lights Out Anything Goes Match – March 2021, St. Patrick’s Day Slam
Regardless of how these two women feel about each other right now, this match was indeed a masterpiece. It had the right build, the right storyline to back it up, and the right performers. In Baker you had someone that wanted to lead the division and had ideas of how that should go and at the time she was highly motivated and passionate, putting on great matches like this one.
Since though, her momentum has definitely slowed and she seems to be more interested in being good at backstage politics than at putting on a good match, if you believe all the hype on social media, while Thunder Rosa, we haven’t seen in a spell due to injury and other circumstances, but she is spectacular in that ring. Regardless of what went on between them since then, Rosa holds that match near and dear.
"“It was my first time bleeding ever on a match…It was my first time in a lot of things. I’ve never, ever done a match like that. I remember we were planning the stuff, and in my head, I’m like, ‘Man, I can’t mess up. I just can’t. This is very important for the future of women’s wrestling.’ And I honestly didn’t know how much was going to impact my career. But, to me, that was very, very important…I think what made it even more impactful was, one, how they developed the story between Britt and I, because it wasn’t like a week (long) buildup…I think it was October 2020, after my match with Serena Deeb for the NWA Championship that I lost. She got involved, and I lost the match. So it was a development. It grew into March, and I wasn’t signed either. So the fact that I wasn’t signed, that I won the match … I mean it didn’t count, but I still won the match, everything else, it just built up to that.”-via Busted Open Radio / Wrestling Inc. (Transcription)"
The First Stadium Stampede match at Double or Nothing – 2020
The match had some heavy hitters in it at the company at the time and was just what the doctor ordered, so to speak, in the time of the lockdown and pandemic. It was hard for many during that time, but the pro wrestling industry and any other live event sporting promotion also suffered greatly.
We all know what pro wrestling companies went through to still put on shows and it was definitely less impactful without the audience, but this match right here was special and perhaps for the better part of an hour, most forgot about the ills of the world at that time, and at the end of the day isn’t that what wrestling is all about…escaping?
The match featured Matt Hardy with The Elite—Kenny Omega, Hangman Adam Page, and of course, The Young Bucks, competing against The Inner Circle—Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, Santana, and Ortiz. There were some epic spots that were extraordinary in terms of athletics, but the match was also hilarious…they took us from watching Hangman ride on horseback, to a pool of water, to the inside of a freezer and beyond…
At All In, another Stadium Stampede match is set to go down and Santana and Ortiz have been brought back for the action, which many would say is appropriate seeing that they were in the inaugural match of this kind.
Cody Rhodes vs. Dustin Rhodes – Double Or Nothing, 2019
This was a special match as well, and all because of the rich family history behind it. Of course, Cody and Dustin are the legendary Dusty Rhodes’ sons, and there’s nothing better in pro wrestling than fabricated (and sometimes based on reality) family drama, and there was plenty of it here to play off of.
They even had a few spots calling back to memory the time in which they worked together in WWE as Goldust and Stardust—a gimmick that Cody didn’t at all appreciate at the time. But of the match, it was indeed a clinic, put on by two exceptional second-generation wrestlers.
Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson – AEW Dynamite Grand Slam, 2021
A masterpiece here. The truth is, the better wrestlers are at AEW. That’s a hard fact. Do we always get the matches we want or the feuds we want in AEW? No. But in the end, with wrestlers like Bryan Danielson and Kenny Omega in a match like this, we get a gift we’re rarely given over at WWE.
The only unfortunate thing here is that we only got this match once, and usually in pro wrestling we get a great match a few times over…as with the Samoa Joe and CM Punk feud happening right now; perhaps we should have gotten this with these two as well. Food for thought, dear readers.
CM Punk vs. MJF – Dog Collar Match at AEW Revolution, 2022
To my estimation, the absolute greatest match and feud put forth by this company. The build, the execution, and the conviction shown by both men were through the roof. Pro wrestling had never been more interesting since the times of Austin vs. McMahon and later Edge vs. Cena.
This was quality pro wrestling TV and when it came down to the match, both men (MJF and Punk) delivered in the same way Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro delivered every time they shared the big screen. I could watch the two in a paper towel commercial and be entertained.
These two men here in the aforementioned match could have been wrestling in some church basement and I would have been absolutely enthralled.