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It sounds like an obvious statement, but professional wrestling is supposed to be fun. Nobody got interested in wrestling because they dreamed about debating booking decisions, or complaining about angles online. Fans got into pro wrestling because they watched it and it was fun.
AEW Revolution was not a flawless show, there were certain things that I think could have easily changed, such as the layout of the matches, which seemed to peak and valley instead of slowly building through bigger and bigger matches. Although some people may tell you otherwise, wrestling fans don’t demand perfection though. They simply want to be entertained and have fun, and Revolution was a lot of fun. The matches for the most part were very good, with one match emerging as a possible Match of the Year and several of the supporting matches being very strong contests. The angles executed on the show were well-done, following up the last several weeks of strong episodes of Dynamite.
When you become accustomed to watching WWE, you become used to their inconsistent booking, their predictable faults and their occasional disdain for their own fanbase. Whether or not you like all of AEW’s wrestlers or the angles that unfolded, the consistency in storytelling and the attempts to give the fans something that they will feel good about, are a useful contrast to WWE’s regular programming. That isn’t to say that WWE is incapable of producing good angles and solid matches, but so much of watching WWE is inherently spent thinking about what they could do rather than what they are doing, that watching a show with a consistent level of execution and an engaged crowd with the correct decisions being made, makes for a fun show.
Not everything needs to be a comparison, but watching Revolution on the heels of WWE’s disastrous show in Saudi Arabia, which appeared to be an attempt to try and punish the WWE fanbase who watches their product each week, there is no surprise that there has been an opening in the industry, allowing AEW a chance to gain a foothold. AEW isn’t the greatest thing in the world, but it does produce shows that are easy to watch and rewarding to the fans who follow the product week-to-week.
Jon Moxley vs Chris Jericho: ***3/4
Moxley would become the second AEW World Champion in history by pinning Jericho in an interesting match. The match started pretty slow, Jericho was in control from the start and did a lot of the same stalling, heel tactics that he would do during his matches in NJPW. The crowd, which had been loud for the better part of three hours and had just been really hot for the previous match, took their time getting into it. By the end though, they told a reasonable story with Moxley outsmarting Jericho and winning the title, with the crowd popping big for the title change.
Moxley is a really talented performer, and a deserving champion. I can’t help but think that Jericho though has given so much to the company as its first champion. He was the biggest ratings draw for the company and helped establish a lot of the younger names on the card. Moxley will be a really good champion, but Jericho in some ways is irreplaceable. I’m very interested to see who steps up as a challenger next; Jericho could do for a rematch and Moxley has unfinished business with Omega, but I will be interested to see if he can make younger talent, the way Jericho helped guys like Darby Allin and Jungle Boy.
The Young Bucks vs Adam Page and Kenny Omega: *****
A good litmus test for someone who likes to talk about wrestling is if they say something like “Kenny Omega is overrated and hasn’t been good in AEW” or “The Young Bucks don’t sell or know how to tell a story in their matches.” I can’t imagine anyone could seriously watch a match like this one and believe those things; Omega over the past four days has been tremendous, having two legit MOTYC, and The Young Bucks were excellent in their performances, telling a story about the divide between the two teams.
The disillusionment of Page was actually supposed to turn him heel, and yet he emerged as the biggest babyface in this match. Fortunately, it appears that AEW is rolling with it as it looks like Page is set as a babyface, with The Young Bucks actually working as the heels in this match. I really liked the storyline between the Bucks, with Matt kind of taking things more personally and Nick trying to reel him in. When AEW first pushed Page, I thought he had potential but he didn’t quite have that star quality. With this drunk/cowboy stuff, he does feel like he has that quality.
I can understand if some fans thought this match was too much. I thought that the Cole vs Gargano/Ciampa matches, which were similar in some ways, trended in that territory. There were a lot of big moves and kick-outs, although I don’t think there were quite so many finishers kicked out of in this match. I think the major difference is that in a tag match, you can have break-ups with the pinfalls which protect the finishers a bit more, and there was just such a strong story between the two teams that I think that really negates any negatives this match may have.
Cody Rhodes vs MJF: ***½
They had a long match that had an unconventional layout, with a lot of outside interference and a slow-pace. The entire feud is really about the angles and the promos, and while the match was fine, it is not the money-drawing aspect of the feud. The finish was probably unclear to the fans in the arena, and I thought it could have been executed better. However, there is way too much heat and juice in this feud to end it after one match, so having MJF score a big win over Cody is the right call if you want to see more out of this feud.
Darby Allin vs Sammy Guevara: ****
There will be many matches this year that will be better than this one, but to me, this was maybe the perfect combination of old and new wrestling. On one hand, you had a clear babyface and heel dynamic, with a vintage-style angle to set up the match that gave the crowd some substance. On the other hand, you had two smaller guys who the old days of the business would have never been given this kind of opportunity, and you had them doing all sorts of crazy moves and high spots. The key part is that the crowd loved the match because of ALL of that stuff, not just for one reason or another. When you do something well, it will always get over.
Orange Cassidy vs PAC: ***¾
So if a wrestling match is really about getting a reaction from the live crowd, this was a clinic. Some fans may not love his gimmick, but Orange Cassidy has discovered something and perhaps nobody understands the modern audience the way he does, as incredible as it sounds. The crowd absolutely loved him, and this isn’t a crowd of 200 indie fans, it is a crowd of 12,000 fans who paid a lot of money to watch the match live. I don’t know what his ceiling really is, but it is substantially higher than what most people probably think.
Nyla Rose vs Kris Statlander: *½
This match was put in a terrible position coming in right after the tag team match that exhausted the crowd. I think a mistake was made in the early stages of this match, with them working really slow with Nyla in control, and the crowd just didn’t care enough about the match to spend five minutes on that kind of segment. Once Statlander came back and did some of her offense the crowd got into it, but both women are still fairly green and without a steady, veteran hand to guide them, the match has a pretty low ceiling.
Dustin Rhodes vs Jack Hager: ***
I thought this match overachieved, and the reason for that was that Dustin Rhodes is a great babyface. While he still wears the face paint, his character now is basically just an angry old Texan, and it has really gotten over. The fans have a lot of respect for a guy who was underrated during most of his career and ahead of his time with his gimmick. The finish was always going to be flat with Rhodes getting choked out, since the fans really wanted to see him win, but it was the right call to protect Hager.