AEW just gives you Bryan Danielson-Adam Page for free

Last night “Hangman” Adam Page and Bryan Danielson gave you a 60 minute draw.
Screenshot: AEW

As I’ve said a few times, I’ve only been a wrestling fan again for about six years. So even though I’ve done my fair share of research and rewatching, my hold on wrestling history isn’t as strong as many people’s.

However, I know there are only a handful of games that have passed a full hour, or at least the ones worth discussing. The first mentioned at the top of each discussion is Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels’ Iron Man Match a WrestleMania XII. Many think it is one of the best ever. Some will tell you it’s overrated. Whatever is true has its place in the annals. It is an important landmark, if not THE main landmark.

Another is HHH and The Rock at Judgment Day in 2000. Nobody really talks about it because it has some very McMahon ripoffs. I’m sure it was fine, I’ve never sat down for the whole thing honestly.

The other one you will hear is Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada who scored 60 and tied. Some will tell you it was the best match of all time anywhere. If not, their first match a Fight Kingdom it could have been, and that lasted more than 50 minutes. The common theme in all of these is that they were on a pay-per-view card. In Omega-Okada’s case, it was on a Japanese PPV, which meant not only did you have to stay up until dawn, you had to pay to do it.

AEW just gave you one of these on TNT last night.

Hangman Adam Page and Bryan Danielson opened last night Dynamite with a 60-minute draw that can withstand any of the aforementioned matches, and in fact featured a good chunk of callbacks at Omega-Okada. A one-hour masterpiece between two guys who are among the best in the world at what they do. Right there on TV. Any customer with a portion of the dinner hanging from their mouth could have tripped over it. This is how happy AEW wants you to be. They will give away what any other promotion would consider a gem.

There was something for everyone in last night’s game, and of course there had to be, with a full hour to fill. If you wanted stunts, Page was happy to provide them. If you were looking for technical brilliance, well, that’s basically what “Bryan Danielson” means these days. Brutality your game? Danielson pushing Page’s face into the tensioner to squeeze more blood from a wound on Page’s head like a damn sponge is probably for you, you fucking asshole.

Storytelling? Danielson hasn’t hesitated to consider himself the best in the world since he changed his mind (and he is), and his growing frustration that he couldn’t solve Page was palpable. The months of Page being the guy who just couldn’t make it and always found a way to doubt himself, just for those trust issues that were wiped out with his title win over Omega last month, yeah they are poured onto the screen here as he accepted everything Danielson had to offer and rejected it. Adam Page, before winning the title, would not have been able to. They pushed each other into anger, and then exhaustion, and then again into anger combined with exhaustion. I’m pretty sure each of them came up with 132 different moves.

The biggest compliment you can give is that it didn’t feel like nearly 60 minutes. Maybe this is where the commercials actually helped, to give everyone a breather at home. And then, after about the second or third commercial break, you could feel yourself turning inside. “They won’t really last a full hour, will they?” You were looking forward to it, yet you were looking forward to seeing how they would swerve right at the end to get to a winner. Which they teased, as both men hit a finisher, but Page’s was too close to the bell to complete a pin.

And it’s the kind of thing you never, ever see on television. Is this the kind of thing that a casual fan engages in? I’m not sure, and I don’t really care, because I’m not a casual fan. He got me. The balls of thinking you can put it on TV, and still be sure you’ll have something better when the next PPV appears, along with the confidence of knowing your viewers will eat it … I can’t even imagine it. This is why AEW creates such a buzz. They are willing to try such things. They have Page and Danielson at the top of their game, so why not let them completely off the hook? Why subvert it with clunky finishes or by dancing around each other. Give people what they want. Which doesn’t sound like much of a risk, but it is!

I don’t know where AEW takes this story now, because it would be damn hard to find a clause that somehow turns up the volume on a 60-minute draw. Still, they probably will. But frankly, the result doesn’t matter. That’s what got us there. Which is what AEW has focused on to establish itself.

Danielson has been with the company for just three months. It reminded everyone why Omega was considered the best in the world. It showed everyone why Minoru Suzuki is so revered. He took Page to the top of the mountain. And everything was on TV for free.

There is good in this world. Sometimes it’s just on TV.

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