9 Ups & 0 Downs From AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam

8. An In-Ring Masterpiece

Bryan Danielson Kenny Omega
AEW

When Justin Roberts said there was just one minute of the 30:00 limit remaining, it didn't feel right. Danielson had five, referee, surely.

This wasn't the case. He and Omega had paced a classic so impossibly well that it rushed by quicker than virtually every pro wrestling match ever. By the climactic last 10 minutes, so electrifying that they felt like two minutes sprinting by almost cruelly, Omega and Danielson had realised every projected star rating.

The "Fight forever" chant still feels earned, in contrast to its bastardised cousin "This is awesome!" Those fans would have happily gone f*cking apesh*t at another half an hour of this. It was incredible; an easy *****.

Danielson's selling was unreal. He sold the struggle of a new breed of pro wrestling with phenomenal conviction. He looked agonised. His eyes looked more pained than his minced chest. He promised in the build that he was no longer Daniel Bryan; he was the American Dragon. He expressed this and in the process generated palpitations of drama by taking an absolute sh*t-kicking. These men are geniuses.

The ropes are an under-explored weapon in modern wrestling. Danielson, a genius, took a powerbomb onto the top rope and spilled dramatically to the floor. It was a frightening scene positioned in the match to convey the idea that Omega, not Bryan, was going to kick his opponent's f*cking head in. When Danielson fired back to kick Omega's f*cking head in, the atmosphere he generated was intoxicating.

The ferocity of the strikes; the intricate submission strategy; the cobwebbed look on his face when he took demented head drops: this was the Dragon.

The pulsating exchanges in the final third were why you watch this. Your friends shouldn't be asking you why you like wrestling; you should be asking them why they don't.

Danielson, in the urgent heat of a nearing finish, caught a V-Trigger and dropped Omega directly on his head with the Regalplex. The 2.99 kick-outs never once scanned as an obligatory trope. Each one, and they did not overdo it, resonated as a pro wrestling master using the last reserve of his stamina and spirit to overcome the challenge of their most daunting opponent.

A masterclass of pacing, selling, drama, psychology, and brutally physical ring work as a cool as it was convincing: Omega Vs. Danielson I was so great and still so restrained that the prospect of Omega Vs. Danielson V will feel just as anticipated.

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Writer, podcaster and editor. Deft Punk. Author of Becoming All Elite: The Rise of AEW, which is available to purchase at the following link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Becoming-All-Elite-powerful-Wrestling/dp/B09MYSNT71