Let’s Talk About Toni

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I love the “Timeless” gimmick…

When it started, “Timeless” Toni Storm’s hit rate in vignettes was well below the Mendoza Line. But the missed swings looked so promising and the hits were home runs. Thankfully Toni Storm and Tony Khan stuck with it because now it feels like every interaction gives us something we talk about in the days and weeks to come.

…I love Toni Storm’s in-ring work…

From an in-ring standpoint, I’d rate Toni Storm’s first AEW World (then Interim) Championship reign right up there with Hikaru Shida’s and Jamie Hayter’s. Toni is an incredible work-rate wrestler. Unfortunately, and it brings me no joy to say this, she couldn’t draw heat. AEW fans frothed at the mouth at Full Gear 2022 to get the World Title off this honourable upstanding do-gooder, and onto the waist of a cheating heel in Jamie Hayter despite utilizing multiple outside attackers and weapons shots.

…so why isn’t this working?

On paper, we should now have the best of both worlds: A Toni Storm who can go in the ring and draw crowd heat at will. But so far the title defences in the Timeless Era have fallen flat.

The build for the Timeless Toni Storm vs Deonna Purrazzo match was so well done it was one of the most anticipated matches on the card—and given the card, that is high praise indeed! But botching the landing with a cold, mostly unfeeling match makes the whole feud feel like something you’d rather forget and never revisit. Unfortunately, this has become the trend for the Timeless Toni Storm reign: Entertaining talking segments, interesting builds, disappointing blow-offs.

So what’s the disconnect? Some will blame the babyface/heel misalignment because people want to cheer for Timeless Toni Storm. But having a heel that the fans like doesn’t have to prevent a match from getting heat. It could be a combination of factors but the big overlying thing that’s not connecting in my opinion is that Tony Khan and Toni Storm want this character to wrestle a style congruent with the gimmick and they haven’t nailed it down yet. It’s a noble pursuit. Stone Cold Steve Austin didn’t throw up middle fingers, chug some beers, and then go into the ring and work like The Ringmaster or a Stunning Steve Austin.

I can see how trying to sync up Toni Storm’s in-ring style to a bygone era that most fans would consider boring could pose a challenge. But Tony Khan is going to understand they can’t go too two-footed in with it for that very reason. My hope is that in the same way they painted with broad strokes in Timeless Toni’s vignettes until they found their lane, that they’re gradually finding the guardrails for her in-ring as well.

I felt that with Deonna Purrazzo trying to coax the “old Toni Storm” out; Maybe if Deonna outclassed Toni in the ring, Toni would snap into her old form to even the the playing field before ultimately using some “Timeless shenanigans” to win the match. It would’ve made sense but it would’ve been a welcomed change in my opinion. Instead, it would seem that Toni and Tony want stick with crafting the Timeless in-ring style. Despite my reservations, I do actually hope they figure it out because the character will be all the richer for it. But I also just think that Timeless Toni Storm is so over that sacrificing a bit of the artistic vision for better matches is a trade off everyone can live with.

You can let me know what you think in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter (@aew_one). Thanks for reading and, as always, remember to let the women in your life know how much you appreciate them. 🙂

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