HELLO EVERYONE!! Lenny Mouse here and I am making my long-awaited return for the resumption of everybody’s favorite competition review section: Wrestling with Lenny!
It’s been a long near-six months since our last installment and I must sincerely apologize for my absence. Been spending the better part of that time away trying to help find out what is going on with my youngest sibling, Benjamin. Even so, while I was away a great deal has happened in the world of wrestling and I intend to delve right into all of it here in a new approach to this opinion series: The Top Ten of Wrestling.
First and foremost, let’s begin this assessment of the industry outside of Mmouse Enterprises at the bottom of the list of things that made it into the scope of my radar; number 10.
10. No Longer a Punch-line: Cody Rhodes
Long gone should be the days of Ric Venom’s competition articles mocking the supposed erratic broadcast signal of Cody’s famously big ears, as Cody’s career since the 4th Era of 2008-2010 has been – how should we say – rejuvenated. It should come as no surprise that Cody (like everyone else in the industry) capitalized on the gap between the mainstream eras to explore his talents in the independent circuit and that he caught the attention of every promoter since.
Cody was a top target of the Board at Mmouse Enterprises, but BWM Inc. is as determine to shield Mr. Rhodes from the draft as Mickey is with respect to the likes of Teo and Dragonfly. While we have hardly had a chance to see what this kid can do thanks to the afore-referenced erratic nature of BWM Inc’s participation, there were some glimmers of what he has to offer both in his brief ill-fated team-up with his older brother Goldust and since the debut of AEW.
Rhodes and Sammy Guevara stole the proverbial show on the debut of Dynamite almost two weeks ago and the revived drama between Goldust and him promises to add a new exciting layer between these siblings.
9. Matt Riddle: The Original “Higher” Bro
At the outset of HLW’s incredible and critically-acclaimed debut back in August, Matt Riddle was announced as the first official signing of the new upstart company under the leadership of CEO Camden Cross. He then went on – much to the chagrin of Matt Cardona – to become the first HLW/AXW Champion.
This massive fan favorite even borrowed PWI Star Jesse Hash’s signature talk show “420” with little resistance from Mr. Hash, as the two share a…common interest.
Sadly, however, since the rebranding of HLW as the AXW a month or so ago, Mr. Riddle has experienced a bit of a backslide after dropping the title to Cardona Halloween week. I have faith, though, that the Original Bro will be back to his awesome winning ways in no time.
8. MJF still doing MJF
Confession alert here: I’m an MJF mark. OK! There, I said it. Few in the employ of PWI were as disappointed with the trade decision which sent MJF to AEW than I. Maxwell is a top tier talent with world champion written all over him, and it was a terrible mistake for Mickey to send him away just as he was really beginning to pick up steam here in PWI. Hell, he opened up Motivation this year, for CHRIST’S SAKE!
Breathe Lenny, BREATHE!
Ok, I’m ok. Anyways, MJF has wasted no time with the minutes he’s been given by Megan to shine. He has washed his hands of his former bodyguard Vader and has hired a new muscle bound freak to guard him: Wardlow. Wardlow proved to be quite the asset on the most recent episode of Dynamite, taking the brunt of a 6-1-9 from Rey Mysterio, which allowed MJF to nail a Heat Seeker and secure a victory. I’m telling ya, any time this guy (MJF) is on the screen, he is money…guaranteed. (DAMN YOU, MICKEY!!)
7. What is Chris Jericho up to?
Another superstar of whom I’ve been a big fan for decades: Chris Jericho. My brief time working with Jericho in the Fourth Era in the last incarnation of the UWA was great, as he was always entertaining to watch. Jericho has spent the bulk of his career, however, working under the BWM Inc. or ECW banner going all the way back to the late-1990’s. His contract was secured by Benny at the outset of this era and we had been teased with his debut for each of the handful of shows that the company has put on since.
Well, that wait was finally over on the debut episode of Dynamite when Jericho showed up (getting a pop from me) and providing some needed advice to the young Sammy Guevara. He then, alongside MMA star Jake Hagar, sat amongst the crowd and watched Sammy tag with Proud & Powerful. Jericho seemed pleased with what he saw and I can’t help but feel as if Jericho has something in store for the young man…and maybe Santana and Ortiz as well?
6. Matt Cardona’s Reign of Terror
Camden Cross really hit a homerun with the sleeper signing of Matt Cardona over the summer, hasn’t he? Cardona reminds me of a younger Dragonfly – just like MJF (still fucking pissed, yes I am) – and he has leapt into prominence to appropriately lead this new promotion. Part of me felt that it made since for Matt Riddle to be the company’s first champion, especially since he was the first signee thereto, but Cardona is the right man to establish the legitimacy of their top prize.
Coming into this run with HLW-AXW as some kind of warrior for “real wrestlers” like himself, Cardona has the right move set and attitude to make casual fans of the business lean in and stay a while when flipping through the channels. He commands your attention, and he has earned a great deal of respect. I don’t expect his great reign to end any time soon.
5. Asuka shocks the world
Watching this past Monday’s broadcast of Dynamite, I went in expecting to see either Ronda Rousey recrowned as champion or Sasha Banks finally given the gold she deserves. However, this fun battle royal actually gave us a great decision from out of left field: Asuka as the first champion for the women in AEW!
With that, Asuka just became the first superstar this era to win the main single’s championship of either division in two different promotions: after having defeated Living Dead Girl for the PWI Women’s Title in 2020 and now winning the AEW Knockout’s Title.
We are definitely going to see more of the other women involved in this match, with special emphasis on Rousey and Sasha. Victoria and Athena Starr – the veterans in this match – deserve special praise as well for going out there and putting on a stellar performance and putting over the younger talent. Natalya and Charlotte, too, were also great, and I would be remiss to not give credit to AJ Lee, Nyla Rose, and Britt Baker. It was a truly special assortment of talent where anyone could have realistically won and earned acceptance from the crowd.
4. Massacre 6 Mayhem and the Aftermath
I will note that part of the immense success of the debut episode of Dynamite was that it was the first BWM Inc. standalone show in over two years, it only had three primary segments, and it had a pay per view caliber main event (more on the debut later)!
This main event, though, had everything that you could possibly want: former world champions, numerous possible rivalries, intense violence, and surprise outcomes!
I was on the edge of my seat through the whole thing and stood up in shock when Lesnar was defeated and Styles was crowned the first AEW Champion. Lesnar losing do to interference by a fellow MMA star was appropriate, but Styles – as he noted in his promo on Monday – has been deserving of this moment for the better part of the last 15-20 years, and he finally had his moment.
I was also pleased to see the booking of this past Monday’s main event pitting the former PWI Champion Kurt Angle against the AEW Champion Styles in a barnburner of a match. Angle still has what it takes, and I don’t think he received anywhere near enough respect for his incredible reign as PWI Champion. I don’t know how much more time we have with him competing, but I am happy to see him still steal the show!
3. Aiden English
No top ten of modern wrestling could justifiably keep Mr. English – the self-proclaimed PWI Hall of Famer – out of consideration. Well, Aiden, you’re going to get some respect here! Aiden has consistently been the most entertaining part of HLW-AXW and wrestling overall since this new upstart company debuted four months ago and I can’t express enough how much I jump for joy when I see him on my screen!
I don’t know if we will ever see English wrestle, but I almost don’t think it is ever necessary. He doesn’t need to do anything other than demanding his place on the show for me to ever be satisfied! Hey Aiden, can I get your autograph??? #JusticeForEnglish (not to be confused with some plea for the nation of England)
2. AEW’s Arrival
Yes, you heard Megan Mouse correctly this past Monday in her interview: Dynamite’s debut episode was the third highest rate show of all time (behind on Retro Revolution at number 2 and Motivation 8 at number 1) and it was both the highest rated debut of all time and the highest rated regular weekly event of all time. If there was any lingering doubt about whether Megan could effectively take the reins from her father, she obliterated those doubts with that statement of a ratings explosion!
Dynamite’s arrival onto the scene brought the industry a much-needed injection of energy, and rumor has it that some friendly mockery by executives at AXW may have had a hand in AEW aggressively moving forward with this return of BWM Inc.! So, thank you Camden?
1. The HLW-AXW Miracle
If you had told me during the 2022 Draft that we were going to have a three promotion dance for supremacy this season, I would have laughed at you. Yet, here we are, and it is actively a THREE promotion battle! No single promotion deserves more credit for bringing back this intense competitive energy as much as Camden Cross’s promotion. Whether it is “Higher Level” or “eXcellent”, the revival of the great wrestling war must be credited in large part to Mr. Cross, who has brought us an exciting new day in wrestling with his own brand of straight to the point and in your face action!
This reminds me of the Third Era interjection made by Jeff Murrey’s LWF and how he stole the show with his unique approach to booking in the first half of 2004. Makes me wonder if Murrey is playing some kind of advisory role in this new company. Hmmm.
Anyways, that’s it for this installment of “Wrestling with Lenny”, I thank you for reading!