Sunday was, AEW's first pay-per-view in 2021. It was a stacked show that delivered some fantastic matches, particularly the opening tag title bout and the six-man ladder match. Yet despite these successes, the show is likely to be remembered for its lacklustre post-main event angle, which was meant to barrage Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston in deadly explosions but instead went off like lousy pyro.
In the match before that, Kenny Omega defeated Jon Moxley to retain his AEW Championship. Sting returned to action, kind of, and won a tag match with Darby Allin over Brian Cage and Ricky Starks. And the major star teased by Tony Khan? It was none other than Christian,.
Kenny Omega retains his AEW Championship
After a catastrophic, borderline preposterous exploding barbed wire deathmatch, Kenny Omega pinned Jon Moxley to retain the AEW Championship. He did so with the help of The Good Brothers, as well as an exploding baseball bat.
Both Omega and Moxley wrestled in jeans and sleeveless T-shirts. Moxley took a shot of whiskey before the bell rang, a nice touch. There are ropes on only one side of the ring: the rest were barbed wire. Tables wrapped in more wire were kept at two corners. Explosives are tied to the barbed wire, so collisions mean explosions. Both began the match by working around avoiding the wire at any cost.
It was explained that the entire ring would go off with explosives after 30 minutes, so a winner was needed by then.
The first "explosion" came when Omega blinded Moxley by throwing powdered chalk at his face then running him into the barbed-wire ropes. The "explosion" was really pyro blasting in the direction away from the ring, so it's not as gnarly as it sounds. Wouldn't exactly call it "safe" though.
Omega would get his, with Moxley eventually throwing him chest-first into the barbed-wire ropes for an explsion -- and then shotgun drop kicking him in for another round. Amid the chaos we got some very strong wrestling, with Omega countering a barbed-wire-explosion attempt with a dragon suplex. Moxley recovered but was caught with a V-Trigger. But as the wrestling got exciting, the barbed wire came back into the equation.
Omega tackled Moxley into the ropes, causing an explosion, but something got caught in his eye in the process. The ref poured water over his eyes, and he rolled to the apron to recover. Moxley followed, and hit a Deathrider DDT off the apron onto more exploding barbed wire. As they got back into the ring, music started playing denoting there being 10 minutes remainin until explosion time.
After some more actual wrestling, Omega hit a One Winged Angel. Moxley got out of the pin not by kicking out, but by kicking nearby barbed wire to cause an explosion. The Good Brothers then interefered, but Moxley faught them off. Distracted, Omega then hit him with an exploding barbed-wire bat -- for a two count.
Omega and the Good Brothers setup a chair, which Omega crashed Moxley through with a One Winged Angel for the win.
Omega and The Good Brothers continued beating on Mox after the match. They handcuffed him and knocked him out. The clock kept running down, with a timer coming up with one minute left. The trio then sped out of the ring, leaving Moxley literally to die. None other than Eddie Kingston came to try and save Moxley, but couldn't lift him out of the ring or wake him up. Instead, Kingston covered Moxley's body to save him.
Then, a catastrophic botch. The "explosions" went off, but it was little more than some benign looking pyro. Less pyro than you'd see during a big entrance. Moxley and Kingston they acted like they were passed out from the damage. Very unfortunate ending to an otherwise strong pay-per-view.
Rating: 3 stars. The barbed wire was gruesome and dangerous, causing lots of blood, but the explosions were weak and beggard belief. There were some exhilerating moments, but the stipulation undoubtedly made this less exciting rather than more.
Sting and Darby Allin beat Team Taz
This street fight wasn't live, but rather was a cinematic match filmed like. The main difference was that the commentators were announcing over it as though it was live, which didn't work too well.
A ring was setup in an abandoned building, and the four began by wrestling in there. Before long, Darby Allin and Brian Cage brawled on the outside and into the upper levels of the abandoned building. Sting and Ricky Starks remained inside the ring for a while.
Allin and Cage's brawling led to a cool spot, where Cage got Allin in a vertical suplex position and walked him up a flight of stairs.
Darby Allin climbed up a steel beam and got a Coffin Drop on Starks, but then Powerhouse Hobbs and Hook, Team Taz's two other members, ran in out of nowhere. They then threw Darby Allin through a sheet of glass. He recovered moments later completely unscathed, and jumped out of a window to crash onto Cage, who had been hit by Sting's bat and a shovel. With his bat in hand, Sting took out Hobbs and Hook, and found himself back in the ring with Starks.
Sting hits a Stinger Death Drop for the pin.
These cinematic fights are too subjective to give a rating to. Personally, I found it absurd and too hard to suspend disbelief to really get into. Darby being thrown through glass only to pop up moments later without a scratch was a bit much for me.
Christian Cage is All Elite
Tony Khan and Paul Wight promised a "major, Hall of Fame" star would be signing with AEW at Revolution. That star turned out to be former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Christian.
He's going by his old NWA/TNA name of Christian Cage. There was no promo or any word uttered by Christian: He came out, signed the contract and showed off his new tee that reads: "Out. Work. Everyone."
You may justifiably bristle, since AEW has signed two Attitude Era (read: older) guys in The Big Show and now Christian. However, I give this decision 5 stars because Christian rules.
Scorpio Sky wins Face of the Revolution ladder match
This bout for a shot at the TNT Championship was scheduled to be Cody Rhodes versus Lance Archer versus Penta versus Max Caster versus Scorpio Sky versus TBA. TBA turned out to be former Impact tag champ Ethan Page, who is now All Elite.
The ladder match started out a little disjointed, which is hard to avoid with this many bodies. The first super-big spot was Penta hitting a Destroyer on Cody, pretty much crashing him through a ladder. This led to a story where Cody was out of the match, with doctors advising him to stay out. He was walked off -- but we knew he would return, and he sure did.
He wasn't the only one to crash through a ladder either, as Lance Archer hit an acrobatic knee strike on Scorpio Sky, causing him to break a ladder in half.
In a later memorable spot, Ethan Page managed to carry Lance Archer on his back for a Scott Hall-esque powerbomb -- only for Page to then be taken out with a clothesline by Jake Roberts. I question having the young and athletic Page being demolished by the much older Roberts, but the crowd loved it.
Cody eventually returned, as he knew he would, and made a fiery comeback. He and Scorpio Sky ended up on the top of the ladder, but Sky knocked Cody off and grabbed the brass ring.
Rating: 4.25 stars.
Hangman Page pins Matt Hardy
Hangman Adam Page defeated Matt Hardy with a Buckshot Lariat following a lengthy, average-to-good match.
Not a lot to say about the bulk of the bout. Matt Hardy worked over Page's arm and hand so he couldn't take advantage of the Buckshot Lariat. That would play a part in certain spots, but not the finish. After a solid but unremarkable match, Page was getting the better of Hardy when Private Party interfered.
Page took out Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen, but then Hardy got a great counter, turning the Buckshot Lariat into a Side Effect. Once Private Party got back involved, The Dark Order came down to more than even the odds. The finish was cool: Page was on the apron but was knocked off by Hardy. Dark Order caught him and pushed him back on the apron, from which he hit the Buckshot Lariat.
Rating: 2.75 stars. Fine but nothing special. Good to see Page get the decisive win.
Miro and Kip Sabian vs. Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy
Miro and Sabian attack Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy in the back before the match. Cassidy is taken out, and Miro drags a bloody Taylor to the ring. He tells Taylor to give up, but a defiant Taylor slaps Miro and tells the ref to ring the bell -- with no Orange Cassidy in sight.
After a few minutes of Taylor being beat down, Orange Cassidy limps his way to the ring. He plays dead then surprises Miro with an Orange Punch. He then gets a tag in and makes a comeback. He can't get the win though, and is eventually taken out by Miro. Penelope Ford was distracting the ref, and Miro pushed Taylor into her then clocked Cassidy with a big kick. He then hits Taylor with a roundhouse kick and then a jumping kick. He then gets a Camel Clutch for the win, submitting Chuck Taylor.
Rating: 3 stars.
Hikaru Shida retains women's title
Hikaru Shida and Ryo Mizunami were hampered here, since there was little in the way of compelling story going into this match. Mizunami has been on one Dynamite, so the crowd wasn't invested from the outside. That said, they worked up to a strong bout. In the end, Shida won with a wicked knee strike.
The two began wrestling a straightforward match, but ended up on the outside. Shida hit a skull-crusher type move on the outside, and from that point Mizunami played the part of a plucky underdog. Despite Mizunami's size advantage, this dynamic worked very well.
It largely worked because the two worked a snug, hard-hitting match. It ended appropriately, then, with a corkscrew knee strike.
Rating: 3.5 stars.
Fenix and Pac win Casino Battle Royale
The Casino Battle Royale is essentially a tag-team Royal Rumble. Two teams (that's four people) start off, with another team being added every 90 seconds. This is an issue at first: There's so many people in the ring that it's essentially just a spotfest every 90 seconds. A team comes in, clears house, rinse and repeat.
So for most of the match, it was just things happening. But then we got down to the final four teams. It was Jungle Boy, representing Jurassic Express, Pac and Fenix, John Silver and Alex Reynolds of The Dark Order, and SCU. That's when things got good.
When it got down to the final four people, things got great. John Silver was eliminated by Fenix in spectacular fashion (see above) after a great exchange with Pac, which left Pac and Fenix against Jungle Boy. Jungle Boy got Pac out, and the final few minutes of Fenix versus Jungle Boy was outstanding. Ultimately, Fenix clocked Jungle Boy with a superkick and then eliminated him.
The Death Triangle have earned a shot against The Young Buck's tag titles.
Rating: 3.5 stars. A 2.5 star match with a 4.5 star final few minutes.
The Young Bucks beat Jericho and MJF
Revolution's main show opened with a strong match in Chris Jericho and MJF versus The Young Bucks for the latter's tag titles. After around 18 minutes, the Bucks scored a decisive win by killing MJF with superkicks and pinning Chris Jericho following a Meltzer Driver.
With Jericho and MJF assaulting Nick and Matt Jackson's dad on the Dynamite leading to Revolution, the bout started appropriately aggressive. The Bucks took down both MJF and Jericho and brawled with them on the outside. Once back in the ring, we got a well-paced tag match with some great spots.
Highlights include Jericho copping a double superkick mid-Lionsault, a strong false finish after Jericho clocked Matt with his baseball bat, and Jericho interrupting a Meltzer Driver attempt by catching a mid-air Codebreaker.
The finish came after MJF was caught in between the Bucks, being ping ponged by superkicks between them. The cynic in me wondered why he didn't just fall down, instead of getting blitzed by a dozen kicks, but that's the Bucks' style. He was hit by so many kicks he started dribbling, a nice touch. With MJF out, the Bucks got a Meltzer Driver on Jericho for a clean win.
Rating: 4 stars. Very strong opener.
The preshow match was scheduled to be Britt Baker and Rebel versus Riho and Thunder Rosa. That was changed, however, when Riho was replaced by Maki Itoh.
After an idol performance by Itoh, she and Baker got the W when Rebel hit Thunder Rosa with a crutch, leading Baker to get a pinfall.