Best AEW Moments of 2023 (So Far)
2023 Moments of the Year: AEW TV
AEW stepped up in 2022 with regard to stories told outside the ring. From a longstanding anti-hero arc to a controversial World title scene, to an integral co-founder shockingly bidding goodbye. The promotion has proven capable of wowing audiences weekly in the ring, as well as long-term with promos and worthwhile surprises.
In 2023, which of these moments will be etched in AEW history? Will feel-good stories outweigh its counterpart this go around?
Adam Cole Returns (Dynamite)
Adam Cole was an almost weekly fixture on Dynamite and Rampage prior to a serious head injury at Forbidden Door 2022. Which all the more made his 6-month absence feel like ages ago.
In January of 2023, Cole would make his surprise return to AEW, to a great ovation from the crowd and the commentary team, all of whom were kept in the dark about this return and had clearly missed this entrance routine. Cole returned, self-admittedly, with a new lease on life and pro wrestling, promising that he’s only scratched the surface in AEW.
Beyond wrestling announcements, he gave a most heartfelt thanks to the fans for wishing him well when his spirits were deteriorating. “I don’t care if Adam Cole ever wrestles again, I just want him to be okay.” That about sums it up perfectly.
MJF: “My sweet Liv” (Dynamite)
Some promos create anticipation for upcoming matches. Some promos introduce new sides to certain wrestlers. And some promos just really make you think about those wrestlers a lot.
The story of MJF and Liv, suffice it to say, belongs in that latter category. In it, MJF recalls a girl named “Liv” that he was driving to prom. After some friendly “distraction” from Liv, MJF couldn’t help but be the speed demon that he was. He quickly crashed into a telephone pole, but the two ultimately survived. As he woke to the sound of police cars approaching, MJF knew right then the kind of man he really was, when he switched seats with Liv.
In the face of adversity, I’m willing to do whatever it takes, screamed the World Champion. Including confess to crimes he may or may not have committed. To rent space in the head of all challengers. To prove the monster exists.
The Gunns win the World Tag Team Championship (Dynamite)
The Acclaimed versus the Gunns capped off a loaded Championship Fight Night edition of Dynamite. But make no mistake about it, the big story here was the Gunns winning the World Tag Team titles.
On the one hand, shocks like this in AEW are shocks like nothing else. You feel them creeping, you deny them, and you drop them. Then then eat you alive anyway. On top of that, it’s been refreshing to have champions nobody looks forward to seeing, and I do mean that as a positive. There is no strong divisiveness about the Gunns, and that makes them unique and this title win so special.
On the other hand, let’s admit that apart from the win over FTR, the Gunns never had a championship resume. Some people also feel that the win itself didn’t translate well on TV, being that the arena fell silent for it. I like to think that these factors and that reaction actually made this as memorable as it was.
But hey, winning the title is one thing. Let’s see where it goes.
MJF: “Hey, Birdie” (Dynamite)
Count on MJF to be our first double-entry in this category.
It took about two months since becoming World Champion, but it looks like his so-called Devil Worshippers didn’t really know what they signed up for. Gone are the crowds madly in love with MJF throughout entire segments. In their place is a high-pitched burst at the sound of his entrance, followed by post-nut clarity.
Fittingly, MJF cuts a promo about how unlovable he is, having been left in the dirt by his fiancée, and everyone who ever claimed they loved him. “But you people love Bryan Danielson,” wah, wah, we know how this goes. Then, MJF claims (or is it admits?) he is jealous of Danielson’s family life—Danielson’s actual life outside of wrestling. He berates Danielson for continuing to wrestle despite all the head trauma, for prioritizing wrestling over his own wife and two young kids, for taking it all for granted. And honestly, what do you even say to that?
Maybe nothing. Turns out, as MJF looked straight into the camera, he had one more thing to say, and one more person to address…
- Tributes to Jay Briscoe (Jan)
- The Gunns and The Acclaimed attend family therapy (Feb)
- Max Caster disses Big Bill (Feb)
- Eddie Kingston attacks Ortiz (Jan)