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The Brutes and Imperium Brought Their No-Frills Brand of Violence to Philly

Elsewhere, Danielson and Garcia faced Jericho and Guevara, and a battle for the ACTION title went down in Georgia

WWE/AEW/Ringer illustration

There’s more great pro wrestling in 2022 than we know what to do with. So The Ringer brings you a regular cheat sheet with the three best matches of the past week—one from WWE, one from AEW, and one from the rest of the immense wrestling world.

Bryan Danielson and Daniel Garcia vs. Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara

AEW Dynamite, October 5

Japanese pro wrestling is frequently booked around the senpai and kohai relationship. It is a concept based on Confucian teaching and deals with a relationship between an older mentor and a younger student. Frequently, tag matches in Japan will pair a big star with his mentee to face off against an opposing star and mentee. It Is a great way to tell a number of different stories in one match. Tony Khan is a longtime fan of Japanese wrestling, and he booked his version of a senpai/kohai tag for the main event of Dynamite.

The match expertly weaved together a bunch of disparate story lines. First you have Jericho and Danielson matching up again the week before their rubber match for the ROH World title. Daniel Garcia teaming with his childhood hero and former enemy (Danielson) to face off against his previous mentor who he had become disillusioned with (Jericho). They even threw in all-purpose agitator Sammy Guevara, eager to troll his way to another victory. Earlier in the night, Sammy got into a backstage scuffle with Andrade, which stemmed from them going back and forth on social media a couple days before—another log on the out-of-control bonfire that has been the AEW backstage in the past couple of months. Sammy has been straddling the line between being a despicable pro wrestling heel and someone legitimately hated by his coworkers and the fans. Passion is passion, though, and as unprofessional as his past month has been, Sammy can definitely capture a crowd’s attention. You could tell they wanted to see Garcia and especially Danielson shut his mouth, and if it took breaking his jaw, it took breaking his jaw.

They went back and forth early, with Danielson especially leaning into the opportunity to torture and beat on Sammy until Jericho landed a plonking sucker-punch right hand to Garcia’s head while he was standing on the ring apron, knocking Garcia to the floor. This gave Sammy and Jericho an opportunity to double-team and work over Danielson. The Dragon was able to make the hot tag to Garcia, but instead of coming in like a house of fire, he just went right into a staredown with his former mentor Jericho; there was a great semi-comedic moment during that staredown, with Sammy trying to interrupt it with a dive from the top, only to get laid out with a Garcia right hand. Jericho and Garcia dropped the metaphorical gloves and started brawling—Garcia was able to get the advantage and lock in his Dragon Slayer sharpshooter only to see Sammy break up the hold—and give Garcia a receipt—with a stiff superkick.

The end of the match was focused around Guevara vs. Garcia, as Jericho took out Danielson with a spinebuster on the side of a table (which had to suck for Danielson’s back), and then a suplex through said table. Sammy hit a brutal-looking Go To Hell knee, which compressed Garcia’s neck at a weird angle, but because he took too long to go for his Phoenix splash, Guevara got caught with knees and put in the Dragon Slayer. Jericho, however, clocked Garcia with the belt, which let Sammy get the pin, much to the dismay (and disgust) of the crowd.

There were some really great interactions between Guevara and Garcia; I can see that being a tremendous ROH Pure title match down the road. Say what you will about his extracurricular behavior, but Sammy has hit on a loathsome heel persona, making him a more compelling performer. In many ways, he is a 21st century Gino Hernandez, the good-looking, cocky punk kid you can’t wait to see get punished. I was never an enormous Jericho fan; I thought his runs in WAR and CMLL were him basking in the reflective glory of all-time greats like Último Dragón and Negro Casas, and his WCW and WWF stints were similar. However, I can’t say enough about the role he is on now: Jericho, Jon Moxley, and Danielson have stepped up huge and are righting the AEW ship. Jericho’s in great shape, has embraced his character fully, and is putting on great matches every week. I didn’t love Jericho vs. Danielson 1 (although it had its moments), thought Jericho vs. Danielson 2 was excellent, and think Jericho vs. Danielson 3—in Canada, for the ROH World title—has a chance to be truly special. I would be really surprised if I’m not writing it up next week.

Anthony Henry vs. Adam Priest


This was the third match between Anthony Henry and Adam Priest, two of the top independent wrestlers in the Southeast. The pair had split their previous two bouts, and Priest was coming into this match defending the ACTION Championship (a title that has had some stellar defenses in the past several years and is one of the best-booked titles in indie wrestling) for the first time.

There was a real sense of familiarity breeding contempt in this match. It was aggressive, the way the sixth game of a tightly contested NBA series would be. Henry and Priest have wrestled each other enough to be pretty sick of the other guy’s bullshit. Both are really well-rounded performers, two hard strikers who can work the mat and hit big moves. Henry has more of an MMA base with kicks and submissions, while Priest is more of a next-generation Southern-style wrestler (think of him as a souped-up Arn Anderson), and the match was a nice combination of those styles.

The early section was worked on the mat, with both guys ripping off some nasty submissions, including Henry bridging back on an Indian deathlock in a way that looked like it ripped Priest’s ligaments. Both guys soon started teasing big moves on the floor—Henry trying for a piledriver and Priest attempting an Alabama Slam. They then fought to the ring apron where they exchanged hard shots until Henry was able to hit a gross neckbreaker right on the exposed ring bolt. Henry followed that up with a jumping piledriver in the ring, continuing to target the neck. Priest hit a fast backslide, but then a baseball slide attempt got countered, and Henry then dropped him with a neckbreaker on the ring apron; overall just great use of the ring as a weapon by Henry. Priest seemed on the way out, but he was able to bait Henry into a great toe-to-toe strike exchange. Lots of indie strike exchanges are just a bunch of mediocre New Japan forearms, but these guys were mixing in inside leg kicks, chops to the knee, and a double headbutt with their forearm strikes, all delivered with force and velocity. Priest then got a ton of momentum, speed running the ropes before hitting a lariat. It was a fun variation on a babyface comeback, where it wasn’t just Priest going off and Henry bumping for him, but Henry matching him shot for shot but just falling a bit short.

They then exchanged big moves in the ring which led to a suplex over the top rope with both men landing on their feet on the floor. Henry then was able to snatch a DDT on the floor, which was a move that Priest had used to get a win in one of their earlier matches. Henry got a close two-count with a Gotch-Style Piledriver, but then in his frustration he pulled off the turnbuckle pad, which is a tactic he used to get his previous victory over Priest. Henry tried a reverse Razor’s Edge into the exposed turnbuckle, but Priest squirmed away, driving Henry’s chin into the buckle, but spilling Priest to the floor.

Really clever finish, which saw Priest counted out while Henry was down in the ring. I really liked how both guys tied in moves from their previous encounters, and while Priest got to keep his ACTION title, losing by count-out clearly sets up a future rematch. Henry has been working AEW as part of the WorkHorsemen, but it would be fun to see him mixed into the Garcia/Yuta tier of guys. Priest has had some AEW Dark matches as well, and has been wrestling since only 2017; he feels like the next guy to really break out of the Southern indie scene into a bigger role, and I am really looking forward to watching what he can do with a title run.

The Brawling Brutes (Butch, Ridge Holland, and Sheamus) vs. Imperium (Giovanni Vinci, Gunther, and Ludwig Kaiser)

WWE Extreme Rules, October 8

The presence of the internet has allowed mainstream entertainment products to become extremely complex. A show like Andor can put an artifact in the corner of a shot, and it can tease all sorts of crossovers with books and non-canon animated series and launch a thousand blog posts. We see this level of complexity in wrestling these days, too, whether it is AEW sprinkling in spots and references from decades-old matches, or the WWE dropping QR codes and hidden videos referencing the previous variations of Bray Wyatt’s gimmick leading to his return. Wrestling can be complex, and it is fun when it is complex, but sometimes, wrestling is at its best when it is very simple.

Gunther and Sheamus are two of the biggest, meanest bullies on the block, eager to smack each other into oblivion. They have some running buddies also eager to get into a scrap tagging along with them (Imperium and the Brawling Brutes, respectively), so those guys are going to jump in as well. The story of this match goes back to when the first caveman didn’t like the looks of a fellow caveman on the other side of the fire and decided to test his chin. No QR codes, no callbacks—just a bunch of mean loons trying to beat each other silly.

Sheamus and Gunther were coming off a brutal singles match on SmackDown the night before Extreme Rules, and you could still see the welts and bruises on their body; they wasted no time adding a bunch more. This was billed as a “Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook” match, which basically meant there were no rules and no tags, with a bunch of props set up around ringside, including a bar and a bunch of oak barrels. As soon as the bell rang, everyone laced into each other, with Imperium getting the early advantage, laying out Butch and Holland, and pinning Sheamus’s arms to the bar while Gunther lacerated him with hard chops. It sounded like oak-tree limbs snapping in a storm, and you could watch each shot raise up the welts and bruises on Sheamus’s ghostly white canvas of a chest. Holland got dropped by an Imperial Bomb on the floor, which led to Butch in the ring facing off against Imperium, three-on-one. Butch, who has embraced his yapping-puppy-with-sharp-teeth gimmick, of course just jumped into the fray swinging, but unsurprisingly got flattened. This led to Imperium posing triumphantly in the ring. Sheamus, however, rose from the dead and dropped Kaiser and Vinci, leading to Gunther in the ring screaming at him to engage. They did an amazing job at building to those one-on-one Gunther vs. Sheamus sections, giving the crowd a moment to anticipate the explosion and delivering on that anticipation.

Sheamus had the advantage in the first of their face-offs, locking Gunther in the Texas Cloverleaf—which is a move that led to a controversial possible tap-out on SmackDown the night before—only to have Kaiser split a shillelagh over his back to break up the move. The shillelagh didn’t seem to have worked at all, and it sounded like a broken-bat single to center field. This led to another wild six-man brawl, which ended with all six men lying prostrate on the mat; Gunther and Sheamus rose from the scrum head-to-head like a pair of rams and lit right into each other again. The match then spilled to the floor, where Kaiser and Vinici attempted to drop Sheamus through a table, only to be cut off by Holland and a moonsault off a barrel by Butch. Sheamus then planted Gunther through the table with a Celtic Cross (a move that must have smelled like mothballs), which led to a huge Brogue Kick to take out Vinci for the win.

So much of wrestling discourse is focused around the next step. “Where are the wrestlers going from here? What is next in the story?” I hope there is no next step; I just want some variation of these guys to beat on each other every SmackDown and then some variation of these guys to beat on each other a bit longer without commercial breaks on premium live events. I don’t need the story to progress or for any of them to evolve, or someone to turn on someone else. This is perfect wrestling, and I will never get tired of seeing it.

Phil Schneider is a cofounder of the Death Valley Driver Video Review, a writer on the Segunda Caida blog, host of The Way of the Blade podcast, and the author of Way of the Blade: 100 of the Greatest Bloody Matches in Wrestling History, which is available on Amazon. He is on Twitter at @philaschneider.