IN LAIMAN’S TERMS #449
Support: Donate here
Thoughts on AEW: Grand Slam 2023
1. It’s Wednesday night, etc. It’s Grand Slam, so hopefully another huge, vocal crowd. And may neither company add fake crowd noise as bad as when the Rock got in the ring on Friday night. You know you’ve gone too far when during likely the biggest pop of the year, you feel the need to add sound mixed so terribly that it drowns out the music and is eight times louder suddenly, Or at least that’s the clip I saw. But I’ve seen enough recently to know that the recent need to add fake crowd noise to live shows is awful.
2. Claudio and Eddie are opening the show?
3. Claudio’s warmup is punching the shit out of Wheeler Yuta, as it should be. May we all be so lucky in our workplace.
4. Now, the question will be, will they once again let the moment pass by to give Eddie the big win? If we’re going to go back to the second half of 2022 where so much Ring of Honor was infused into AEW programming, at least give us the payoff.
5. Eddie gets that goodgood when he comes out, although someone in the front has to be ironic and different with a sign trashing him. There’s always one. I’ll even admit it took a while for him to grow on me, but his authenticity with his character is unmatched.
6. I can’t hear the city name of “Yonkers” without thinking of a Midwest mall. IYKYK.
7. Even though I hope this title reign is coming to end, Claudio deserves endless props for how he’s been used in AEW. It got depressing to see him in the later 2010s because you knew he was losing and it was just sad. I was covering WM30 for this site at the time, and I thought the battle royal win was the true sign of his imminent push. Oh, to have optimism again… Seeing what happened to Nick Chubb was a harsh reality bitchslap reminder too.
8. I wonder if Claudio’s trousers were made out of spearmint gum wrappers. They feel so festive and shiny.
9. Can you believe the DISRESPECK, kicking gently in an annoying fashion? Who does Claudio think he is?
10. Hey, Low-ki and Homicide got a mention in relation to past champions for ROH. Been a while since I’ve seen them.
11. Claudio no-sells the machine gun chops, but then gets punched right in the fuck as a receipt. That legit looked like he bit his tongue on that shot.
12. Seeing a few people in the front row just remind me how much fun it is to watch a show or a concert through someone else’s phone. Why see it right in front of you when you can watch a shaky video with the three people near you mic’d louder than anyone else? It’s not like there’s a replay available or anything…
13. Eddie’s kickout gets a massive “Eddie” chant, probably the loudest I’ve heard since I was at the 1995 World Series and Maddux threw at Eddie Murray’s head and a fight broke out. He seems to have Orange Cassidy syndrome, as his hands are too hurt for the backfist to have its full effect.
14. Eddie hits another, and he finally gets that big win! What a massive pop too! I say again, whatever they have in the main event must be other-worldly if this is leading off.
15. Finally, Eddie shakes Claudio’s hand, and he holds up both titles to bask in the moment. Good for him.
16. Meanwhile, Roddy is in a hospital bed while the Kingdom read him messages of hope and support. This is almost as HAMmy as the Cole/MJF segments.
17. Speaking of whom, there’s A-DAM! Roddy very slowly raises his seat up just to tell him to leave. Everyone playing this straight knowing full well that he’s full of shit just makes it even better.
18. Christian’s turtleneck somehow looks like an 18th century Civil War soldier’s uniform, and it just makes him even more awesome. Christian saying the quiet part out loud just accentuates the character so well. Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a local sports team dig, but what can ya do?
19. Hey, it’s time for the “when will I start to actually give a shit” match. Somehow going back and forth between sort of sniping and then teaming up amicably like nothing’s wrong hasn’t made it that engaging.
20. Sammy gets a full blackout and several seconds of silence before his music hits. Damn, he gets both a live performance and the vintage Y2J Christmas lights jacket. Though, it’s kinda weird that it’s a live performance over the regular track so we’re hearing both versions? They couldn’t get the instrumental version? Also it sounds like the mic cuts out mid-sentence. That was awkward.
21. And my feed has given me the spinning circle of doom already. Yay 2023 internet. At least it’s during this match.
22. The ten punch into the Frankensteiner by Jericho was really smooth, gotta give credit where it’s due. I think it happened in PiP though, figures.
23. Is that a Vampiro cosplay up there in the right corner of the screen?
24. Another sign: “Matt is mid.” Cool, glad we all know that.
25. Sammy does a moonsault off the top turnbuckle to the outside, and mostly eats the floor as a result. Yeah, I don’t imagine that felt great on the knee. It then follows up with Jericho springboarding out of the corner and Sammy attempting the kick, but… I don’t imagine the knee was feeling any better a few seconds later because it wasn’t close. It also unfortunately was on the worst possible camera angle to cover it up.
26. Jericho ends up getting the win out of countering a shooting star press into a codebreaker. That had “RKO on Bourne” levels of timing. I still don’t care about the storyline, but there were a few great moments in the match itself.
27. They shake hands and hug afterward, but they’re holding on it way too long, something’s gonna happen. Oh, Sammy kicks him and that… makes him a heel? Oh snap, it’s Don Callis, that’s what it is. I was gonna say, people have been cheering for him to do that for months now. But now the Family has Guevara, which is a perfect addition for someone (like Takeshita did at the time) who needs a shot in the arm.
28. MJF shows up, pissed off at Joe for both trying to take his title and hurt his best friend. Adam still looks torn between letting him say things and wanting to object. Oh shit, Roddy is calling him again with the “I’m gonna die” line, like he’s Triple H after a rattlesnake bite in 1999. I miss when these two were going on adventures.
29. Video packages were playing through the commercial, and then the show comes back to a split second of Justin Roberts. Then, Callis interrupts Renee before an interview can even take place, but also keeps Sammy from attacking Daniel Garcia because “this kid’s money.” Hmm.
30. This spot on the show feels odd for an International title match, but it’s good to mix it up from time to time.
31. Spinny circle again, WTF internet.
32. The rampway looking like the road at the Dead Sea ruins in Chrono Cross, it’d be even better if someone broke through it and they had to fight a HIghwayman as a punishment.
33. I suppose there has to be a cooldown match in terms of the crowd, and this just happens to be the one tonight.
34. For a moment, I thought Rey Fenix was calling for the Diamond Cutter. It’s never a bad time to get a good lower back stretch in.
35. I swear I just saw Jason Lloyd in the crowd, but I can’t imagine what he’d be doing there.
36. Fenix comes off the top turnbuckle for the RVD-ish leg drop with Mox propped on the barricade. To say the least, I don’t think he got all of it. That looked about as painful as Guevara’s earlier.
37. They call Grand Slam “in the shadow of New York City.” Felt like I was watching WrestleMania 29 there for a second. Does it count as the “shadow” of the city if you’re actually in it though?
38. Did the crowd start doing the Seth Rollins song? I know Mox was in the Shield but that’s an odd choice. EDIT: I didn’t catch the curbstomp. I miss things while trying to write live sometimes.
39. Rey makes a fiery comeback and hits… a Rikishi Driver, I think. But I also think they botched the count because everyone reacted surprised, and the commentators tried to cover for it by saying he twitched. Fenix does it again and Fenix wins. I should’ve known that would happen when they were sure to mention how many defenses Mox had already. I wonder if that was an audible, as Mox is suddenly being attended to off-screen by a doctor. Another bad night for the BCC. It’s good to have a show where more than the main event isn’t a foregone conclusion.
40. Samoa Joe, not to be outdone by Roddy, shows you how you tauntingly yell someone’s name in a terrifying way. This is a very ROH-heavy show.
41. Now THIS is a fitting theme for Toni Storm, and a great reception to go with it. Complete with the black and white slow frame rate, this is absolute perfection.
42. I struggle in remembering how excited I was to see Saraya last year at this show, before I knew about the allegations, before I could hear the lyrics to that garbage song she comes out to or who sings it. It is helped by having Toni going full 50s diva, and also Ruby being anywhere makes anything better.
43. Toni makes a comeback, then… rolls under the ring, presumably to start running the show anonymously through Excalibur as a proxy. Ruby pulls her back out, and she’s got shoes to hit them with. I love it. Toni almost gets a win out of it and almost starts to have a Christian circa 2002 fit about it.
44. During PiP, Toni does the ropes-DDT on the stage. They’re really playing up the neck injury thing, which is uncomfortable. She does it again back into the ring, because it’s great seeing it small in the corner while you hear insurance commercials try to out-non-sequitor each other. #ThankYouFITE
45. The spraypaint distraction only gets a nearfall, so Toni learned at least a little bit from every single Outcasts match that ever happened. Saraya hesitates to throw her old friend’s head into the exposed turnbuckle. Toni gently sets down Saraya’s boot and then… goes full snog. Damn, I can safely say I wasn’t expecting that!
46. Toni’s quick turn into the best character in the division shows that the ability is there to make a compelling women’s division with consistent TV time and more than one slot a show. Now TK just has to actually fucking do it already.
47. Saraya gets the win after utilizing the turnbuckle, and I guess she had to win. Toni needs to further descend into the Monroe-esque madness, so winning the title back would stop that just as it’s getting started. Shida could’ve kept the title and this feud could’ve been an additional one to whatever had the title on, but then we’d have more than one match a show and that can’t happen.
48. Third time the feed has frozen, FFS.
49. Speaking of second half of 2022, the Rampage card. A few of those Collision matches look pretty good though. I wonder what RVD will be doing this time, given the context of his first appearance.
50. A JBLdamn contract signing next week? Some things never fucking change. At least it means Swerve gets mic time and Prince Nana gets dancing time.
51. The storyline needs a shot in the arm, since the Cole/MJF segments have been pretty much non-existent since Wembley, and that’s what made the team so over in the first place. Cole’s behavior is reason to suspect some shenanigans, as is it main-eventing over Eddie.
52. Did MJF just do the Mean Joe Greene Coke commercial? Though he spiced it up a little bit with telling the kid he’s adopted. That tracks. EDIT: It was a parody of a Bret Hart thing that I clearly didn’t get, although I’m willing to bet the Bret Hart thing was also based on that Coke commercial, because there are so many versions of that one too, but still. Correction noted.
53. Let’s see what MJF has on his jacket… Ah, all the teams.
54. I admit, I’d really like to see Joe win the world title. After how many times he’s lost main event feuds since his call-up from NXT and the languishing in that time, I want him to have one more. I do love how they tied in the famous shove on an NXT show and brought it to this. Who’da thought at the time?
55. We’ve seen every week for a long time how over MJF is, but it is still surprising just how consistent and loud that support is. I expect some kind of sympathetic comeback story to come out of either this or the thing with Cole and/or Roddy, because I think MJF could pull a Sammy and kick Cole to the moon and his reaction wouldn’t change at all.
56. I’m really surprised that (so far) we haven’t seen a surprise debut/return. Wembley didn’t have that either. They were kinda famous for those for a while, and the crowd reactions that came with them. With notable departures heading (likely) to the other place, it could help the momentum come back a bit.
57. They’re really playing up the neck injury angle, and the toss into the barricade sounded a lot worse than it probably was.
58. The feed completely blacks out for a few seconds, because why not? It’s been going so well to this point.
59. The Kangaroo Kick gets teased, and hit. The crowd goes absolutely nuts, but then he hurts his own neck by doing the WARRIOR on the ropes. YOU DO NOT DO THE SHAKES WHEN YOUR NECK CANNOT HANDLE THE G-FORCE, HOAK HOGAN! THE DESTRUCITY IS NOT ON THE LEVELS IT NEEDS TO BE FOR SUCH A MOMENT! BASKETBALLS HOLD GRUDGES BUT THEY DO NOT FIX NECK INJURIES, FAKE OR OTHERWISE, HOAK HOGAN! IT IS A SHAMEFUL THING TO INJURE YOURSELF WHILE TRYING TO SUMMON THE MASAMUNE FOR MAXIMUM DAMAGE POINTS, SAMOA JOE HAS TOO MANY URANAGIES TO SPARE! SKROOONK!
60. A piledriver on the floor looks devastating enough without the neck injury being worked. Samoa Joe’s glee face is reminiscent of Bubba Ray Dudley from 2000. Joe starts beating up trainers and security, because they’ve never seen the show before and don’t know what happens.
61. Joe tells him to give up, and gets the gloop of the night in return. That alone takes a master level of courage, work or otherwise.
62. MJF pulls the refgrab backkick and gets out the Diamond Ring. He gets caught with it because he’s as subtle as a trainwreck. It gets taken away, but Joe hits the Muscle Buster. You know Joe thinks highly of you if you kick out of the Muscle Buster. I still remember seeing Ray Rowe kick out of one in IWC in 2007 and it stunned the place.
63. So many near-falls, so few shenanigans, something’s gotta be up. Hey, there comes Adam Cole, finally convinced that Roddy isn’t dying from a rattlesnake bite to the face, I mean neck injury. Adam provides a slight distraction, and MJF calls back to the first Punk match by choking him out with some tape. MJF wins a really good match. I did want to see Joe get a title run, but MJF continues having an amazing story. And these two win the HAM again by the subterfuge to cover up the cheating gimmick.
64. Joe offers the handshake, which has gone well one of the two times it’s happened tonight. Interesting decision considering the circumstances, but fine. This show still feels like something is missing though. This ending is going way too long.
65. This show is better than it has been in weeks. Weird what happens when all the matches don’t have obvious endings, the building is full, and compelling characters are allowed to show out. The good wrestling part can only take you so far.
1/4/23 – The Gunns
1/11/23 – Daddy Magic
1/13/23 – Danhausen
1/18/23 – Sonjay Dutt
1/20/23 – Stokely Hathaway
1/25/23 – Tony Schiavone
1/27/23 – Danhausen
2/1/23 – Jade Cargill
2/3/23 – Ethan Page
2/8/23 – MJF
2/10/23 – STIIIIIIING
2/15/23 – Ruby Soho
2/17/23 – Dustin Rhodes
2/22/23 – Chris Jericho
2/24/23 – Matt Hardy
3/1/23 – Big Bill
3/3/23 – Jungle Boy
3/5/23 – MJF
3/8/23 – Anthony Bowens
3/10/23 – Riho
3/15/23 – MJF/Darby Allin/Jungle Boy/Sammy Guevara
3/22/23 – STIIIIIING
3/29/23 – Juice Robinson
3/31/23 – Eddie Kingston
4/5/23 – MJF
4/7/23 – Darby Allin/Julia Hart
4/12/23 – STIIIIIIIIING
4/14/23 – 2.0/Biff Hager
4/19/23 – Sammy Guevara
4/26/23 – MJF
5/3/23 – Triple J/Mark Briscoe
5/5/23 – The Firm Deletion – All of it
5/10/23 – Chuck Taylor and Trent Baretta
5/17/23 – Toni Storm
5/24/23 – Jay White
5/28/23 – Darby Allin
5/31/23 – Juice Robinson
6/7/23 – MJF
6/9/23 – Ethan Page
6/14/23 – The cardboard cutout of Saraya
6/17/23 – CM Punk
6/21/23 – Adam Cole/MJF
6/23/23 – Anthony Bowens
6/24/23 – Powerhouse Hobbs
6/25/23 – Will Ospreay
6/28/23 – Keith Lee
7/1/23 – Andrade
7/5/23 – Adam Cole/MJF
7/7/23 – Daniel Garcia
7/8/23 – Samoa Joe
7/12/23 – Jack Perry
7/17/23 – Ricky Starks
7/19/23 – MJF and Adam Cole
7/22/23 – Ricky Starks
7/26/23 – Jeff Hardy
7/31/23 – Samoa Joe
8/2/23 – Swerve
8/4/23 – Kris Statlander
8/5/23 – Christian Cage
8/9/23 – MJF and Adam Cole
8/11/23 – Orange Cassidy
8/12/23 – Ricky Starks
8/16/23 – MJF and Adam Cole
8/18/23 – Ruby Soho
8/19/23 – Toni Storm
8/23/23 – Billy Gunn
8/25/23 – Kris Statlander
8/26/23 – Eddie Kingston
8/27/23 – Nigel McGuinness
8/31/23 – Toni Storm
9/1/23 – Claudio Castagnoli
9/3/23 – Samoa Joe
9/6/23 – Roderick Strong
9/9/23 – Cardblade
9/13/23 – MJF
9/16/23 – Prince Nana
9/20/23 – MJF/Adam Cole