AEW Revolution Review
All Elite Wrestling might only be in its second year of existence, but the nascent promotion is making waves, consistently beating WWE’s NXT show in the ratings each Wednesday night with a headlock on the 18-49 demo. The wrestling promotion has been on fire as of late with the last four episodes of Dynamite gracing fans with some of the fastest, most furious, and entertaining wrestling matches ever broadcast on cable TV— and tonight, millions of fans were treated to AEW’s latest PPV with eight hotly-anticipated matches and all AEW titles on the line. Ladies and gentlemen, AEW did not disappoint. In fact, they knocked it out of the park in what was a thrilling show from start to finish.
Revolution is the second Pay-per-view since AEW launched Dynamite last October (following Full Gear which took place on November 9, 2019) and for my money, it was an all-around better event. Not only did they have plenty of time to expand on most of the storylines leading to the PPV, but most of the matches were great— and I do mean great! In fact, watching Revolution on the heels of WWE’s dreadful show in Saudi Arabia, made it seem like the greatest PPV in decades. Of course, it’s not that good, but it had plenty of highlights that made the reasonable $20 price tag (via Fite TV) well worth my investment.
Let’s look at the good, the bad and everything in between.
The Exalted One is a No-Show
Before the PPV kicked off, fans were treated to a tag team match between Evil Uno and Stu Grayson vs. Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky. As expected, the so-called “Exalted One” was nowhere to be seen which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the mystery behind the leader of the Dark Order has been bubbling under the surface for so long that there was no way that AEW would be foolish enough to let the cat out of the bag during the Buy-In Pre-Show.
Which begs the question, why did AEW book this match in the first place? There’s plenty of other talents in the locker room that could have also used this spot to strut their stuff.
The match itself was fine. It wasn’t spectacular by any stretch of the imagination, but it was also far from a dud. The highlight, however, came after the match when indie star Colt Cabana made his AEW debut! After receiving a huge hometown ovation from the Chicago fans, Cabana began taking apart each member of The Dark Order until it became a little too overwhelming. Luckily for him, Christopher Daniels ran out to help even the odds, but not before appearing dressed in a long black hooded cloak— a clever nod to the Higher Power from the Attitude Era. His appearance did a great job in momentarily teasing fans that AEW might just reveal him to be the “Exalted One”. Thankfully that didn’t happen as Daniels put to rest any rumors that he is the leader of the sinister faction.
Having the Dark Order wrestle in Chicago tonight and not announce the “Exalted One” seemed unnecessary and in some ways, it sort of deflates the tension leading up to the big reveal. At this point, it seems obvious that the reveal will indeed happen this Wednesday night on Dynamite— and if AEW chose not to do it on a pay-per-view event, it’s most likely Matt Hardy, whose contract with WWE ends March 1st.
The entire spot seemed unnecessary and I personally would have rather seen Jungle Express in action. That said, we at least got to see Jungle Boy, Marko Stunt and Luchasaurus make a brief appearance during an interview and later sitting ringside as ticket holders.
You Can Steal a Kiss But Not a Win
Jake Hager vs. Dustin Rhodes
Considering this was technically the first match of the PPV, I was surprised how good it was. Initially, I was worried it would be a quick match in which the younger and stronger MMA fighter Jake Hager would beat the 50-year-old Dustin Rhodes in a short time. Despite Hager winning, Dustin did have plenty of moments to shine, hitting a power slam on his opponent and stealing a kiss from Hager’s fiance who was standing in attendance. The biggest highlight here was watching Jake flip over the ropes and land his head on the steel steps, although watching Hager apply an ankle lock on his opponent was a close-second.
I can see some fans being upset over the finish, but ending by having Jake put Dustin to sleep in a chokehold was a smart move since it protects Hager’s reputation as a dominant force in AEW. Also, how often do we see someone put a wrestler in sleeper these days?
All in all, it felt like a good ‘ol fashion wrestling match that respected both men and continues to prove Dustin Rhodes can still compete and put on a good show despite being way past his prime. It was also a great showcase for Hager making his in-ring debut here at AEW. Given his MMA experience and his sheer strength, I’m guessing Hager will sooner than later be the number one contender for the belt.
Blink and You Might Miss it
Darby Allin vs. Sammy Guevara
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Darby Allin in action no thanks to Sammy Guevara who assaulted Allin with his skateboard a few weeks back and crushed his windpipe during an episode of Dynamite. Tonight, was Allin’s moment to get revenge on the Spanish God and that he did— but not without taking a few major bumps along the way.
This was one of my most anticipated matches of the evening and I’m happy to report it did not disappoint. Two of the youngest stars on the AEW payroll went head-to-head in a fast-paced, non-stop action-packed match that included Guevara doing a picture-perfect 630 splash onto Darby through a table at ringside as Jurassic Express watched in horror. I also love how it took forever to get the match started since Allin and Guevara spent a good five minutes outside the ring brawling before the bell rang. Other highlights included The Spanish God pulling off a Spanish Fly and Darby Allin hitting a stunner before climbing the ropes and crashing down on Guevara with his finisher: The Coffin Drop.
The build-up for the match was great. I especially love how in lieu of being able to speak, Darby took a page out of Sammy’s playbook and used signs to communicate during his promos. Overall, this is classic storytelling and a great way to position Guevara as a top heel and Darby as a fan favourite.
It’s the first time these two have faced off and I’d love to see these two guys battle it out in a TLC match on the next pay-per-view event since not only do their styles suit one another but they clearly have great chemistry. Here’s hoping this feud is far from over!
Darby Allin and Sammy Guevera didn’t quite steal the show like I was hoping they would, but it was an opportunity to cement themselves as future superstars who can help lead the company to bigger and better things.
They Say These Dudes Can’t Wrestle?
Tag Team Championship: Kenny Omega and Hangman Page vs. The Young Bucks
I read somewhere that this match would end up being AEW’s equivalent of the Mega Powers exploding. All signs certainly pointed to all four members of the Elite turning against each other, but it also seemed a little too obvious. After all, AEW has done a superb job thus far in making fans believe one thing and throwing us a curveball, a minute later. Take, for instance, the multiple red herrings surrounding the identity of the “Exalted One” or the sudden appearance of Jeff Cobbs; or even the company surprising us time and time again with how they choose to end their matches.
What I didn’t expect, was that this would be the best match of the night. I knew it would be good; I just didn’t think it would be this great.
I’m always baffled when I hear someone say Kenny Omega isn’t a good wrestler and even more confused when people criticize the Young Bucks for lacking the talent to tell a good story in the squared circle. Either there’s a secret vault of recorded matches featuring these competitors doing bad work— or these critics are delusional – or they’re working for the WWE. Whatever the case, they are all wrong, and this match proves why.
Straight off the heels of his outstanding Iron Man match with Pac, Kenny Omega once again proved why so many fans consider him one of the best wrestlers working today. He might not have had the biggest moments here, but because he was torn between his three friends, I’d argue he was the maestro and mastermind behind almost every decision, spot, and action happening in the ring.
This match is nothing short of astounding with way too many highlights to list, but I should quickly mention a few:
Despite his injured back, Matt Jackson landed a double northern lights suplex on Omega and Adam Page. Not too long after, Nick Jackson pretty much stole the show with a series of high-flying offensive attacks, culminating with him placing Hangman Page in a Sharpshooter. In my favourite spot, Hangman Page transformed into a one-man wrecking crew; climbed the top ropes, performed a somersault and came crashing down on the Young Bucks outside the ring. At one point, Matt Jackson hit three straight bridge suplexes on Adam Page and shortly after, Page powerbombs Nick through the table. And let’s not forgot the moment when Adam Page locked the chicken wing on Matt Jackson who then reversed and moves out of the way just in time for his brother Nick to land a 450 splash on The Hangman.
Sure, there were plenty of big moves and maybe one too many near-falls after a finisher (I really hated watching Kenny Omega kick out after three superkicks)— but a big reason for its success is the storytelling these four men were able to implement into the match thanks to Adam Page being gradually more irritated with the cocky attitude of the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega desperately trying to play the voice of reason. After seeing Adam Page spit in Matt Jackson’s face, I was convinced right then and there that all Hell would break loose and these men would become the worst of enemies before they left— but as per usual, AEW pulled the rug from under our feet and gave us a completely different finish.
It was great to see the Young Bucks nearly turn heel and have the crowd fully in support of Hangman Page who emerged as the biggest babyface in the end. Let’s hope that moving forward, Adam Page will drop the drunk cowboy gimmick and that these four men will continue their feud leading up to a rematch at Double or Nothing.
My only complaint here is the officiating. Not only did the referee allow multiple double-teams but they went on for so long, it turned into a handicap match at several points. That aside, I think it’s safe to say that this is one of the five best matches in AEW history so far.
It’s Hard to Wrestle When You’re Sick
Nyla Rose (c) vs. Kris Statlander
AEW Women’s World Championship
After her exhilarating match with Rioh which won her the Women’s Championship— and her killer promo a week later— Nyla Rose has quickly become a fan favourite and it’s easy to see why. She’s worked hard to advance her character and has become a dominant force in AEW and with Revolution, fans would get a chance to see her defend the title for the first time.
Unfortunately, it was announced before the event that Kris Statlander had fallen ill and if you didn’t hear the news prior to the event, it was obvious as soon as she walked out that she wasn’t feeling well. Because of this, the match didn’t go as fans had hoped with Statlander clearly unable to focus and Nyla Rose having to hold back. It didn’t help either that the match was scheduled after the tag team championship match— a tough act to follow given the performance by Omega, Page and the Young Bucks who pretty much stole the show. In the end, Statlander makes a critical mistake by climbing to the top rope where Nyla is able to powerbomb Statlander on the mat for the three-count. Hopefully, Statlander will get another shot at the title soon when both women are %100 healthy.
How to Build the Momentum and Write a Great Story
Cody vs. MJF
Next on the card was MJF versus his former best friend and mentor, The American Nightmare Cody Rhodes.
The MJF character arc really started to take off with his descent into scumbag-mode after he threw in the towel during Cody Rhodes title shot against Jericho at Full Gear— a match that just so happened to have a stipulation that should Cody lose, he would never be able to challenge for the promotion’s top title ever again. An apologetic Friedman tried to convince Rhodes he was looking out for his best interests but in good old fashion wrestling storytelling, it was all a ruse as MJF attacked Cody with a low blow, putting an end to their alliance.
If that wasn’t enough, Friedman would only grant Rhodes a match should he agree to the terms he laid out over the course of the past four months. Prior to squaring off against MJF at Revolution, Cody had to receive 10 vicious lashings, refrain from laying a hand on MJF up until the pay-per-view and defeat MJF’s bodyguard Michael Wardlow in a steel-cage match.
As it stands, this is the best-written storyline in the history of the company thus far and with MJF a top heel and Cody positioned as one of the promotions top babyfaces, anticipation was extremely high leading into tonight’s match.
It kicked off with a live performance from Downstait who performed Cody’s theme song. Unfortunately, they sounded terrible but that is neither here nor there since what followed was a truly great match. Cody arrived sporting a brand-new tattoo along with his entire entourage while his former protégé MJF waited patiently in the ring standing alongside his monstrous bodyguard. After a few minutes teasing the start, the bell finally rang, and it didn’t take long for the action to pick up as chaos unfolded inside and outside the ring. There’s plenty to like here such as MJF’s crimson mask; Cody accidentally kicking his coach Arn Anderson and the referee allowing Rhodes to strike MJF one additional time with his belt strap. It was a rather long match with an old school feel and plenty of outside interference from both parties. MJF’s game plan, however, paid off in the end as he defeated his former mentor.
Other highlights included MJF throwing a beer at a fan; MJF going to work on Cody’s weak shoulder; Cody having to bite on to the ropes to break a submission and MJF biting Cody’s injured toe (there was a lot of biting in this pay-per-view).
In typical Cody fashion, this match was overbooked and ran a little too long, but I did enjoy the story being told throughout. The only real problem was that it was hard for fans in attendance to see MJF slip on the diamond ring which he used to knock Cody out.
After months of buildup consisting of some tremendous promos, and one insane moonsault from atop a steel cage, Cody Rhodes could not get revenge against former protégé. Some fans may be upset over the finish but I truly think it was the best way to end the match.
MJF is not just one of the best heels in AEW— he’s one of the best villains in any wrestling promotion and having him lose so soon, would betray the months of work put in to building his character and establishing him as a real threat. It’s also worth noting that he didn’t pick up a clean win, so in the end, Cody still walks away with some dignity.
Because AEW only runs four pay-per-view events a year, storylines get more time to breathe with considerably longer builds. This gives the company the advantage of building the momentum over the course of a few months and making each PPV feel special— not unlike a season finale of a scripted television series.
How Fun Was This Match?
Orange Cassidy vs PAC
Love him or hate him, Orange Cassidy is one of the most popular wrestlers in AEW and his match at Revolution proves just how popular he really is.
His match with PAC arguably got the loudest and best a reaction from the crowd, thanks to Cassidy’s hilarious antics and the genius booking.
This might not have been the best match of the night, but it was hands-down my favourite for how entertaining it was from start to finish. Obviously, nobody was expecting Cassidy to win but it shows he’s indeed a quality competitor with a fresh gimmick— and sometimes, that’s all you need.
Yes, he’s skinny and sure he won’t ever likely compete for the top title but I can easily see him being a cruiserweight champ (let’s hope they introduce a new belt soon). As it stands, it was a coming-out match for the young star who put to rest any doubts about his in-ring abilities as a wrestler.
AEW World Championship: Chris Jericho (c) vs. Jon Moxley
From the moment Moxley declined Jericho’s offer to join the Inner Circle and smashed a champagne bottle over Jericho’s head, I was confident he would beat Le Champion and win the championship.
Jericho is one of the greatest wrestlers who ever lived, and he has already given so much to the company but having him lose the belt was a wise decision. For starters, we needed a change and Moxley is a deserving champion. Not only is his popularity on the rise but his persona is reminiscent of Stone Cold Steve Austin from the Attitude Era— and anyone who knows a thing or two about wrestling will tell you that sort of rebellious all-American brawler is going to bring your wrestling promotion a lot of money. Secondly, Jericho is way past his prime. I won’t go so far and say he’s out of shape since he can still do a lionsault and work a twenty-minute match, but he’s not the same man we saw kick ass in WCW or WWE.
This wasn’t my favourite match but there was plenty to like, from the opening live performance with the choir singing Jericho’s theme song “Judas”— to the final moments of watching Moxely pick up the mic and thank the fans. It played out like an old school street fight as the two men took the match into the crowd and proceeded to beat each other, using whatever objects they could get their hands on. The bit when Jericho grabbed the camera and showed a point of view of him flipping the bird to Moxley, is comic gold!
Come to think of it, the entire match seemed like an old school match with Moxley’s Goldberg-like entrance and the constant interference from his Inner Circle goons. Even referee Aubrey Edwards managed to include herself in the story as she proceeded to ban Jericho’s entourage from ringside in the most hilarious and over-the-top way.
Other highlights included Moxley biting Jericho; Jericho power bombing Moxley through a table; and Sammy Guevara sneaking into the ring like a thief in the night and nailing Moxely across the forehead with the championship belt. Just when it looked like the match was over, Moxley weathered the storm and even fooled the champ by ditching his eye-patch to reveal his eye had healed. Again, another moment that seemed lifted from early WWE and WCW storylines.
Not much else to say here other than Moxley is a talented performer and I’m looking forward to seeing who his next challenger will be?
Revolution is one of the best pay-per-view wrestling events I’ve seen in quite a while. AEW did a fantastic job of putting an end to several storylines while also setting up future rivalries. The event encapsulated everything that I love about the company, highlighting AEW’s diversity; its sense of humor; and of course, the talented roster. The PPV delivered a match-of-the-year contender and introduced a new champion to help move the company forward in the upcoming months. More importantly, Revolution was fun— something sorely lacking in many of the other pay-per-view events in recent memory.