The Hits & Misses of AEW Revolution

All Elite Wrestling’s latest pay-per-view offering, Revolution went off the air just hours ago after being a very hyped event for the organization. The promise of a Hall of Fame level signing and a mystery opponent in a ladder match for the number one contendership for the TNT title were just some of the things promoted by Tony Khan ahead of the broadcast. In addition, the main event was advertised as an exploding barbed wire match, with landmine explosions outside of the ring, a gimmick that a few groups have tried over the years, but All Elite was the first to do it on a full-scale in America. Obviously, the major question is, did Revolution live up to the hype?

In truth, it depends on how you look at it, and what your expectations were going into the show. If Tony Khan planned to hit a home run, he might’ve secured a double at best.Right now, not long after watching it live, I’d say Revolution was somewhat of a mixed bag because some aspects of the event delivered, while some of the misses on the show might overshadow the good things that happened.

The Young Bucks beat Chris Jericho and MJF in a solid opener. It lacked the intensity of a bout where the heels pummeled the baby face’s dad a few weeks before, but it got the job done in terms of a good way to start the broadcast. I understand why they booked the tag team battle royal, as it gives The Bucks another feud to build around the tag titles, which definitely makes sense, but this particular format made for a nearly 30-minute battle royal in just the second bout on the card so it dragged at certain points. Perhaps, giving the match about half the time would’ve suited it better. That said, Pac/Fenix vs. The Bucks for the tag titles should be some tremendous matches. As far as Jericho and MJF, I think this title shot gets about as much mileage out of the team as they can reasonable get from a booking perspective. Still, I think this can ultimately be used for MJF to become the new leader of the Inner Circle and a feud against Jericho. Considering all that Jericho has done in his career prior to this, a baby face run in AEW would be a fresh chapter for him since he was a heel at the start of the company.

The Women’s title match just didn’t seem to click and went too long. Hikaru Shida has done well in her role as champion and has consistently had quality matches, but this missed the mark. I don’t know if Ryo Mizunami was the sole reason for that or not, but for a title match that had an entire tournament used to build up the challenger for the championship match, it fell very flat. I understand the logic of a tournament adds credibility to the prestige of the title, but there were better women’s title matches on episodes of Dynamite prior to this so it had a rather lackluster conclusion. That said, Thunder Rosa, Serena Deeb, and Brit Baker provide some much needed depth in the division and can be used as potential challengers for Shida in the future.

Another rather flat match was the Orange Cassidy and Chuck Taylor vs. Kip Sabin and Miro contest. Chuck Taylor was more or less in a handicapped match until Cassidy made his way to the ring after a pre-match attack. Miro and Kip won a roughly five-minute match that didn’t really stand out at all.

The Face of Revolution ladder match was risky and had its moments. At around 25-minutes, this one also went a little too long, but there were several memorable spots. Each competitor had their time to shine without getting lost in the shuffle, which is difficult to do in these types of matches. Ethan Page is a great signing for the company because he’s a talented athlete in the prime of his career, which adds very valuable depth to the roster. Page got himself in great shape in recent years and he was arguably misused during the latter stages of his Impact run so I’d expect him to become a key play for the organization in the next few months. Scorpio Sky winning might not jump out immediately as anything too stellar since he hasn’t been featured on Dynamite regularly in recent months, but if this ladder match was simply a way to add something special to the PPV card while getting another challenger for Darby Allin than it was successful. Plus, Darby vs. Sky should be a good match on Dynamite as well, assuming that Sky isn’t hindered with an injury.

Adam Page vs. Matt Hardy was a solid in-ring bout, and Page getting the win gives him momentum to work his way up the card. This isn’t meant as a knock against Matt, but considering he had to shift gears on a few occasions with his character from the time that he signed with AEW, along with the many times he successfully reinvented himself before, I’m not sure how much there is left for him to do as an active wrestler. Don’t get me wrong, Hardy deserves a lot of credit, but just his stint in AEW saw broken Matt, a baby face turn after the scary bump during the match with Sammy, and then a heel turn as the carney so I don’t know what else he can do from a character perspective, simply because he’s already so accomplished. Matt Hardy would be a great agent to help the younger roster develop and get some solid guidance from an established veteran, but it might depend on what direction Hardy wants to take his career.

I have to be honest, as great as Christian Cage is and as great as it was to see him return to the ring at the Royal Rumble, the “mystery competitor” to sign with the company was somewhat of a disappointment. That’s nothing against Christian, he had a great career and deserves more credit than he got for the majority of it, but this is one of the reasons that promotions must be careful when they hype major surprises. It’s a harsh reality, but the logistics of those type of situations lead to it being underwhelming about 95% of the time. At 47, Christian can have some good matches with many on the AEW roster, but he doesn’t have the mega star power to live up to the type that Khan put around it. The type of hype AEW went for had many people speculating it might be CM Punk or Batista, two stars that had a level of main stream star power. Christian just doesn’t, and if he hadn’t been seen already at the Rumble, at least there would’ve been the pop for his return to wrestling, but that was done a month ago.

As far as the tag team cinematic match, I’m just going to say what I’ve said about these types of matches before. I’m not a fan of them and I think they stretch the limits of logic even too much for professional wrestling because the nature of the match is that it looks blatantly staged. If Sting accompanies Darby to ringside going forward, it would be great to see him in a mentor role, but at a specific point, smoke and mirrors make the whole situation too convoluted. Nobody should expect Sting to have matches or take bumps at 61, but then maybe it’s better off if he isn’t booked in those scenarios.

As far as the pay-per-view being hit or miss, the main event exploding barbed wire match was a perfect example of this. I wrote after this contest was announced that the company had to be very careful with how this type of gimmick match was presented because there’s a fine line between spectacle and a flop. If the match was going to work, it had to look visually impressive and have a sense of danger, which is how Onita drew big crowds with the gimmick in the 90s because FMW exploding barbed wire matches were a violent spectacle. Yes, there’s a risk with these types of matches, but if that’s too much of a risk then you’re better off not booking the match. They way they promoted it, AEW made the right call because they used FMW footage to give viewers a look at the concept, and they had Onita cut a promo, which added to the aura of the gimmick.

When I saw that the ring ropes were still in place before the match started, I immediately had doubts because even the visual presentation isn’t the same when the ropes are there, especially with some of the barbed wire set up about a foot outside of the ring ropes. Depending on the angle, some of the explosions spots looked good, but other times, you could see a clear distances from where the competitors were and where the pyro was at that point. Still, the match had it’s moments with barbed wire board spots, and both wrestlers made a great effort in the main event. The “landmine explosion” on the floor looked hokey when Moxley landed the DDT, and it wasn’t anywhere near some of the previous FMW style matches. Again, if you can’t do the match as fans expected with the footage you used to promote it then it might’ve been a better decision not to present it at all. I also found it somewhat puzzling and another reason I had doubts when the match started that it was being held in the same place as the rest of the show. I honestly thought, they would use the stadium next to the venue to host the match so that they could do more with the pyro and it would still be safe for the production.

Eventually, The Good Brothers interfered and Omega retained the championship. The post-match beat down went on way too long and lost most of its steam for any heat it might’ve generated. The conclusion saw Eddie Kingston run to the ring to try to shield Moxley from the explosions, which is a classic Onita spot, but the “exploding ring” looked like a very cheap, very underwhelming fireworks show in someone’s driveway with sparks from the ring post and small pryo on the floor.

The bottom line is, AEW overplayed its hand and the conclusion was quite literally a dud. It doesn’t matter what happened during the rest of the show, this pay-per-view will be known as the event with the lame fireworks at the end. I don’t want this to be misinterpreted, All Elite Wrestling has an absolutely stellar roster, but when the company promotes an exploding ring match, and the “explosions” are way less than the pryo for entrances on the same show, it’s going to be memorable for all the wrong reasons. The organization has its critics because the style isn’t for everyone and it doesn’t have to be, but a situation like this reflects poorly on the company because even the most dedicated of AEW fans will acknowledge this was completely flat.

At the post-show presser, Tony Khan claimed the storyline is that Omega built a faulty explosion, implying that the dud was a part of the angle, but let’s be honest here, that’s nothing more than the promoter with a weak attempt to try to cover for a very underwhelming spot. In a situation like this, Khan could’ve just said “hey, mistakes happen” and there’s a chance the fan base would more willing to forgive than to try to sell them that the Big Bob’s fire works extravaganza was somehow part of an elaborate plot in the storyline at the event.

If the botched explosion was supposed to be a part of the storyline then why did Kingston, Moxley, and the announcers sell it like it was a major explosion? Kingston and Moxley were motionless as the show went off the air, why did they sustain damage if the angle was the explosion was a dud? Tony Khan’s ambitious approach helped rejuvenate the industry when he launched AEW, but the conclusion of the pay-per-view was TNA-level terrible so let’s hope that he learns from the mistake at the end of the show.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

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