What Revolution Said About AEW

Last night, All Elite Wrestling presented its Revolution pay-per-view, a card with a lot of depth and an event that showcased much of the best that the company has to offer. As repetitive as it might sound, it should still be mentioned that selling a $50 broadcast in the modern era is a tough and a difficult balancing act, but it was an aspect that the company mostly got right throughout this show.

The pay-per-view opened with Eddie Kingston vs. Chris Jericho and it was a great way to kickoff Revolution. This was a very physical and very entertaining match that emphasized the brutal strikes. In my opinion, as graceful as aerial wrestling can be, sometimes the fans only look for the high spot matches without realizing the drama that can be built through a physical bout. The selling from both performers was key here because there was a presentation that each maneuver played a role in the conclusion of the contest so it kept the audience invested in the match. A good example being that the start of the match saw Jericho dropped on his head with a suplex and it looked as though there was some legitimate question about if he could continue the match. Jericho didn’t look like he was a fan of taking a lot of chops and it’s usually not his type of contest at this point in his career, but he definitely worked more of a Kingston type of match to showcase him. That’s not meant as a jab against Jericho, either. He’s built up enough cache in his career to be able to avoid some of the more high risk stuff, it’s one of the perks of his status. However, while it wouldn’t be advisable for him to work this style too often, it speaks volumes about his ability as a performer to work this physical at this point in his AEW run. Speaking of physicality, the suplex off the apron to the floor was absolutely brutal. The contest also had some good false finishes toward the conclusion where it actually looked like it might be the finish of the match when Jericho hit the elbow. Too often, some claim a “false finish” is simply a near fall, but that’s not the case. The ability to convince the audience that it might be the actual end of the match is what makes it a false finish. Too often on All Elite shows, someone hits a shooting star press that looks absolutely devastating, but everyone in the building knows there will only be a two count from the referee. The finish of the match was rather awkward when Kingston won with a submission that he hasn’t used before so the victory was somewhat flat. That doesn’t take away from the in-ring stuff though, this was an entertaining segment that made Kingston look like a legitimate star. A side note, while I appreciate Excalibur’s All Japan references, most of them are too inside baseball for the majority of the viewing audience to know some of the niche details. AEW isn’t doing sports entertainment and that’s what sets the company apart, but the goal should still be to target as much of a main stream audience as possible.

Speaking of matches that don’t sell the concept of false finishes to the audience, that’s more or less exactly what happened in the three-way tag title match. Don’t get me wrong, the athleticism is amazing and this was the over-the-top high spot segment of the event, which is fine, but as I mentioned in a write-up last week, the fireworks show has to build to a conclusion or there will be flat points otherwise. The three-way had that problem because there would be wrestlers all of the place and then the contest would suddenly resemble a normal tag bout again. It didn’t build to the dives to have a more natural pace, and thus it had a more rocky presentation. This match was given nearly twenty minutes and I think that was the main problem with the pace of the contest because if a high spot segment goes too long then there will be a few flat points. The fact that tags didn’t seem to matter at various points, while they were used at other times was rather odd. That being said, the shooting star press spot from Jungle Boy was insane, and eventually Jurassic Express retained the titles.

The nature of multi-man ladder matches tends to be very clunky and the face of the revolution contest was no exception. There was some good stuff here, but after the very physical opening bout and the high spot tag after that, unless someone was going to take a bump from the golden ring in a Jeff Hardy type of spot then this wasn’t going to be able to follow everything else without a natural down point. The critical miss here and a key point that took a lot away from the match was after Wardlow took everyone out on the floor, instead of getting in the ring to try to win, he continue brawl outside to set up a rather pointless table spot for Keith Lee and Hobbs. Crusty veterans will rightfully point out that when you don’t go for the win, you tell the audience it’s not quite as important as it should be. The simple point though is that if nothing else, it creates a complete halt in any of momentum of the match. Also, the Danhausen cameo looked to be a little mistimed and there was probably a better use for it somewhere else on the show. Wardlow got the win to earn a TNT title shot, which was the right decision because he has major potential, but I don’t think this bout picked up steam again after the weird spot outside of the ring when everyone was on the floor.

Tony Schiavone announced the signing of Swerve, and don’t get me wrong, Shane Strickland is definitely talented enough to work for a national promotion, but it’s getting to the point that it’s almost comical with the amount of wrestlers signed to AEW. Tony Khan gives away contracts the way Oprah gave away cars. Strickland works a very similar style to many already under contract to All Elite so what exactly does he bring to the table that isn’t already there? Again, that’s not to say he shouldn’t work for a national group, but rather he would stand out in different organization that doesn’t have quite as many high spot wrestlers already on the roster. Maybe someone should locate Miro or Jay Lethal before more competitors are added to the roster.

While the tag title match earlier probably went a little too long, the TBS championship bout had more or less the perfect amount of time given to accomplish the narrative of the match. Tay Conti looked like a solid contender, and Jade was made to look like a dominate champion. It was an entertaining contest that checked all the boxes and went to the finish in about five minutes. Not everything on a pay-per-view has to be a 45-minute epic clash to be effective and this was a prime example of it.

On a stacked show, CM Punk vs. MJF in the dog collar match might’ve been the show stealer. Again in a contrast to some of the high spot wrestling that All Elite is known for, this bout was tremendous with a back and fourth drama that was built on selling and psychology. After the bloody segment on Dynamite to hype the pay-per-view, Punk had to bleed a similar amount here so that it wouldn’t look tame in comparison and he delivered with the criticism mask at Revolution. The throwback to the ROH music and the gear was another form of good psychology because the audience will remember the match based on the entrance alone. Something as simple as a retro outfit can add to the atmosphere of a segment. This was quality pro wrestling and despite there being a lot of potential for future stars on the roster, this is an example of why CM Punk is a level above the vast majority of them right now. Furthermore, this speaks volumes about Punk as a performer because he clearly didn’t sign with AEW to coast on his reputation and get paychecks from Tony Khan. Granted, Punk’s not going to bleed buckets for free and makes great money from AEW, but this type of performance will be legacy work when he completely retires from the sport. The story for MJF is the same as it was before, All Elite has a big money heel for the world title picture in the future. That being said, this feud has really cemented MJF as a star, far more than the previous Jericho angle. All things considered, it would be difficult to eclipse the dog collar match, but it would be great to see another Punk/MJF bout on pay-per-view.

In a vacuum, Britt Baker vs. Thunder Rosa was a very solid match, but nobody was going to be able to follow the dog collar match. It was one of those unavoidable hurdles of booking the card and it’s not really a reflection on either of them as performers. The crowd was drained and there was a noticeable lack of reaction. The air raid crash off of the ropes was impressive, the but Rebel interference was rather clunky and didn’t help with the already stalled momentum of the show. Baker retained, but hopefully there’s a rematch where the spotlight can be directly on the contest because these two deserve a featured stage.

On a card that would’ve been very easy to get lost in the shuffle, Bryan Danielson and Jon Moxley avoided it. The show already had the All Japan match, the high spot match, the ladder match, and the dog collar match so they decided to work a mat-based technical contest that could still stand out. The argument could be made that the blood was overdone on the show because of Punk already bleeding a lot, but the bout was very entertaining as the action titled back and fourth toward the finish. The actual pin fall didn’t get quite the reaction because Moxley’s boots were temporarily caught on the ropes, but the narrow victory gels with the storyline of the tag team. As I mentioned on Twitter, the addition of William Regal to All Elite is a huge acquisition and he can benefit the company on every level.

I would guess that the competitors in the six man tag knew that it was a bout with very little momentum compared to the other matches on the card so they went wild to make the segment count for something. I’m not sure how wise that was in the grand scheme of things though since it put the main event in an even more difficult position than it would’ve been had the six man match been used to pace the card. Sometimes, you have to structure a show to highlight what’s more important to the overall presentation of the company. Sting diving off the balcony was insane and he deserves credit for it. The baby face team won after about 10 minutes of a total brawl.

Similar to the women’s title match, the main event was a quality pay-per-view bout in a vacuum, but seemed very tame by comparison of everything else that happened on the show previously. If fans watch this match as a stand alone segment, it’s a quality pay-per-view main event, but after Sting just dove off the balcony through two stacked tables, is the spot where Page put Cole through a table that effective? I want to make it completely clear, this was a very good main event match, but some digression should’ve been used with the booking of the rest of the card because it put these two stellar athletes in a difficult spot. More specifically, I can’t emphasize enough that a longer show doesn’t automatically translate to a better show, and I really think a little thirty minutes could’ve been trimmed off the broadcast for an easier viewing experience for the show.

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

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta