Grading Every Match Result From AEW Revolution 2023

Welcome back to the grades. In this column, we do one thing, and one thing only: evaluate the booking decisions made at a major WWE or AEW event. Who won each match? How? Did each booking decision open up new interesting paths forward or close them down, and what might have happened if the match went another way? It has nothing to do with the match's overall quality and everything to do with the creative choices being made.


For the first time in 2024, it's time to grade an AEW event, Revolution 2024, which had about three times as many matches as WWE Elimination Chamber, several of which were actually hard to predict! Also, these grades might prove more controversial than most — not just because they're out a little later than usual, but because some of our opinions here might not align with the popular consensus. We look forward to reading all about it in the comments. For now, let's dive in like Darby Allin.

Bang Bang Scissor Gang def. Private Party, Jeff Jarrett, Jay Lethal, Satnam Singh, and Willie Mack

It's bad enough that Jay White was relegated to this Zero Hour match in the first place; it would have been intolerable if he'd lost it. Fortunately, not only did White's team pick up the win, but it was White himself who scored the deciding pinfall (on Mack, who was probably only in the match so he could take the deciding pinfall) which should just be the bare minimum needed to demonstrate booking competence once this match was in place. Still, it was the right decision; there's really no arguing that Private Party's team should have gone over.


Grade: A

Kris Statlander & Willow Nightingale def. Julia Hart & Skye Blue

In the absence of anything else going on with this one, you'd think the team with the TBS Champion on it should probably get the duke, especially since she hadn't wrestled in a couple months. Also, if we're ever going to take Dark Skye Blye (Night Skye?) seriously, she could benefit from stacking some wins, and her taking the pin in this one undercuts her big win over Statlander on the previous episode of "AEW Dynamite."


Beyond that though, it's bizarre that this match didn't play into the story of Stokely Hathaway and his chain at all. On the "Dynamite" before Revolution, Statlander lost because of the chain; on the "Dynamite" after Revolution, Statlander lost because of the chain. Seems weird to have this match in between those things with the chain not coming into play at all and the babyfaces getting the win just because they're better. The heels needed the win more and there was a built-in storyline that would have allowed them to get that win while still protecting Statlander; between that and the total lack of engagement with the surrounding storyline, this was a baffling choice.

Grade: D

Christian Cage def. Daniel Garcia (AEW TNT Championship)

Significantly more baffling than any decision on the pre-show was the very first decision on the main show, and even that decision pales in comparison to the broader bafflement of AEW refusing to do right by Daniel Garcia. This was the perfect time and the perfect opponent to end Christian's TNT title reign. He's gotten bigger than the title and he's dragging it down, not elevating it; it needs to be on midcard talent, preferably a young babyface who can wrestle his ass off and fill the role vacated by Orange Cassidy losing the International title. Garcia fits those qualifications, and he's somehow managed to become relevant again after AEW botched his storyline with the Blackpool Combat Club. Meanwhile, as we saw this past Wednesday, Christian is about to get back into things with Adam Copeland, a feud that does not need the TNT title whatsoever. Why would you not take this opportunity to give Garcia the biggest win of his career?


But no, Christian won, and while he did have some help from The Patriarchy, he also kicked out of Garcia's piledriver right before the finish (as we'll see, making older wrestlers appear superhuman was a theme of the evening). Meanwhile, it's presumably back to dance-ville for Garcia, who is consistently dragged down by AEW, not elevated.

Grade: F

Eddie Kingston def. Bryan Danielson (Continental Crown Championship)

For all the goodwill AEW leaked in the opening match, they made up for immediately thereafter when Eddie Kingston pinned Bryan Danielson clean as a sheet to retain the Continental Crown Championship. There was no other way to do with this one, and AEW deserves all the credit for not putting any doubt or controversy whatsoever into the finish. Kingston needed this win, it's incredibly meaningful that he got it, and Danielson fulfilling the stipulation and shaking Kingston's hand afterward was an incredible moment.


Could we have seen Danielson closing out his last year as an active wrestler with a run of amazing Continental Crown title defenses? Sure, of course. But it's about time for Kingston to be built up into the true main eventer we all know he can be, and this was an extremely effective step in that process. In terms of both AEW's future and Kingston's own, this was perfect.

Grade: A+

Wardlow wins the Eight-Man All-Star Scramble

The Wardlow victory isn't exactly inspiring, but it fits the story AEW is currently telling with the Undisputed Kingdom, and there weren't really any other options, particularly when you consider the winner getting a world title match against Samoa Joe at what turned out to be "AEW Dynamite: Big Business." Chris Jericho getting a title match would be a terrible idea, it seems too soon for HOOK to get another shot at Joe, and everyone else just felt a step down in terms of stature within the company. Nobody thinks Wardlow is actually beating Joe, but we can at least picture a universe in which it happens (especially if MJF is coming back soon). The same cannot be said of anyone else in this match. Again, there's nothing earth-shattering about connecting the obvious dots, but that doesn't make them the wrong dots to connect.


Grade: B+

Roderick Strong def. Orange Cassidy (AEW International Championship)

Roderick Strong winning the International Championship was the only title change to take place at Revolution, and it was a much-needed one. Orange Cassidy had been trapped in a bizarre holding pattern for six months, seemingly unable to escape the International title (despite losing it to Jon Moxley at All Out) following a strange situation in which a concussed Moxley changed the finish of a title match on the fly, unexpectedly handing the belt to Rey Fenix. Cassidy won it back from Fenix in October, and since then has essentially performed the same title run as his first, with numerous title defenses slowly wearing his body down until he was finally beaten up enough for someone to end his reign.


Strong's victory not only saves Cassidy (hopefully) from creative stagnation, but it also further bolsters the Undisputed Kingdom, a fact that was definitely in need of bolstering. And the fact that Strong was able to win clean, without outside interference, due to the damage Cassidy had already suffered, elevates Strong while protecting Cassidy. The post-match stuff with Kyle O'Reilly was strangely done, but there's no world in which Strong shouldn't have won this match.

Grade: A

John Moxley and Claudio Castagnoli def. FTR

You could make a case for FTR winning this and re-establishing themselves as the final bosses of the tag team division as it resets from the Darby Allin/Sting run, but it seems as though the goal here was actually to establish Moxley and Castagnoli as a dedicated tag team, and there's no way to do that better than having them beat Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler. It's a good idea — the tag division is a little short of big names at the moment, and a tag team run gives Mox and Claudio something to do while their BCC teammate Bryan Danielson finishes up his career as an active wrestler. It also keeps Moxley safely away from an absurdly crowded singles main event scene.


Either team could have won this and it would have been fine, but the Blackpool Combat Club was the right choice if the idea was to set up a new tag team title contender as quickly as possible.

Grade: A-

Toni Storm def. Deonna Purrazzo (AEW Women's World Championship)

We keep going back and forth on Toni Storm's title reign. On the one hand, her character is inherently less interesting when she's winning than it is when she's losing. On the other hand, her reign is still only a few months old, and it feels too early to start the presumably reign-ending feud with Mariah May, which seems like the natural way to go. More and more though, we're starting to come back around to the former position. Maybe it's not time to have May turn on Storm just yet, but that feud doesn't actually need the championship to be involved. With that in mind, the alternative to Storm retaining — Deonna Purrazzo winning the championship — is actually a pretty attractive idea, especially considering Purrazzo now looks like a loser for going down in her very first AEW feud. Having her win would have cemented her place at the top of the division, and Storm would have been fine. Instead, Storm is fine, but Purrazzo might not be.


All that having been said, there was something eloquent about Purrazzo — who spent the majority of the feud lamenting the loss of the old Toni Storm — losing the match after being distracted by May, who was dressed like Storm's old self. It was a finish that was much more creative and thematically sound than you typically see in AEW matches, so credit where credit is due. But we would have rather seen Purrazzo take the title, inadvertently sending Storm even further down the path of madness.

Grade: C+

Will Ospreay def. Konosuke Takeshita

This was basically just an exhibition match with no storyline behind it at all, so Will Ospreay was the right winner just because it was his first match as a AEW full-timer. It doesn't really get simpler than that. Even the slim potential of a story going in, with Ospreay potentially splitting from the Don Callis Family, didn't go anywhere; it played no role in the match on Sunday and no role in the Ospreay vs. Kyle Fletcher match on Wednesday (even though Fletcher is also a fellow Family member) and now it seems like Ospreay will be feuding with Bryan Danielson, which is a completely different direction.


This match gets a passing grade because it would have sucked to see Ospreay make his big debut and lose, but without any kind of storyline whatsoever to provide structure and resonance, it's going to get that passing grade by the skin of its teeth.

Grade: C-

Samoa Joe def. Swerve Strickland & Adam Page (AEW World Championship)

There were really only two things this match needed to do: play with the dynamic between Swerve Strickland and Hangman Page, and end with Samoa Joe retaining the title. Fortunately, the finish satisfied both requirements. They could have made it slightly more obvious, but we thought Page hung around in Joe's submission hold just long enough before tapping out — he didn't tap right away, because he does want to be champion, but he definitely tapped earlier than he needed to, because if he can't win the title, he'll be damned if he lets Swerve have the chance. So instead of digging down deeper and resisting the submission, he gives in, because he's still accomplishing his primary goal in doing so. Becoming champion again would have just been a bonus.


Great storytelling. Plus, Swerve's (hopefully) inevitable title win doesn't get overshadowed by Sting's retirement, Joe's reign gets to be more than two months long, and Page gets written out of stories for a little while due to his attacks on the refs. Chef's kiss.

Grade: A+

Sting and Darby Allin def. The Young Bucks (AEW World Tag Team Championship)

Okay, so unpopular opinion time: Sting should have lost his final match.

He should have, because everyone should. There's an entire phrase for it. You go out on your back. You put someone over on your way out the door. And Sting apparently wanted to do that, but Tony Khan fought against him and ultimately convinced him to retire a champion, undefeated in 28 matches in AEW. That's because Tony Khan is a mark. And that's fine. The live crowd in Greensboro certainly enjoyed Sting winning, as did many, many people watching at home. And normally we'd say something like "if pure sentimentality was the goal here, which it clearly was, then it was the right choice, mission accomplished."


Only it doesn't take creativity to generate sentiment. As Revolution proved, if you know what notes to play on fans' nostalgia, they'll forgive you anything. If you loved Sting and you loved this send-off, that's fantastic. But from a creative standpoint, Sting's victory is a disastrous missed opportunity. Those first 27 AEW wins represented an build-up of equity, like a savings account being built up to be passed down to your children. Now, the kids get nothing. That equity is gone, and nobody is any better for it. The Young Bucks would not have been our first picks to receive that equity, and they didn't exactly need it, but they could have benefitted from it. Imagine Wednesday's "Dynamite" if the Bucks had swaggered out to the ring to make their announcements, tag team title belts over their shoulders, confident in the knowledge that they retired Sting, that they are the only people who will ever be able to say they defeated Sting in AEW — and then Kazuchika Okada came out and joined them? They would be the biggest heel group on AEW programming, easily. Instead, Nick Jackson cut a whiny promo about how Sting cheated to beat them, and when he triumphantly shouted that "We ended Sting's career forever!" it felt completely hollow. They didn't end anything — they couldn't beat a 60-year-old man in what amounted to a handicap match and then he decided to leave on his own. If the idea is for the Bucks to be whiny heels with big mouths who can't back it up, fine, but we have to think their programs would be more lucrative if they felt in any way like a threat.


As for the finish itself, it was an utterly ridiculous sequence that involved Sting kicking out of multiple finishers, even at one. It wasn't enough that the Bucks couldn't beat him — he had to be made to look like a superhero. To do all that purely in the name of nostalgia is asinine, and it would have been far more respectful to let Sting go out the way all wrestlers go out, in accordance with his own wishes. This match, sad to say, felt like it was more about Tony Khan than it was about Sting. It set nothing up, it advanced no story, it elevated no one except the guy leaving. Again, it seemed like that was the intent, and it's okay if you loved it, but you can't objectively call it good booking. It was the exact opposite. AEW only had one chance to get this one right, and they missed it.

Grade: F-