The Right Time For a New World Champion: Takeaways from AEW’s ‘Revolution’

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Jon Moxley promised to ignite a paradigm shift in pro wrestling after he debuted last May in All Elite Wrestling. Tonight, his revolution continued.

Moxley defeated Chris Jericho in the main event of Revolution pay per view to become the new AEW world champion.

Jericho dropping the belt marked the only title change of the night, enhancing the significance of the Moxley win. After Jericho established the AEW title over the past six months, the timing was right to crown Moxley as champ.

Other highlights included the continuing rise to stardom for Hangman Page, who led the action in the tag team title match with Kenny Omega against the Young Bucks, as well as subtly hinted at an inevitable turn on Omega. The resourceful MJF also picked up the win of his career in a defeat of Cody Rhodes, and Nyla Rose gained momentum in her reign as women’s champ with a victory against Kris Statlander.

Another breakout performance took place in the match just before the main event, as Orange Cassidy continues to shatter expectations. He electrified the crowd in Chicago in his match with PAC, making a lasting impression that will result in more high-profile opportunities. It may shock some sectors of the wrestling world, but Cassidy is destined to play a significant role for AEW.

Here are the Revolution results:

• Dark Order defeated SCU on the pre-show

• Jake Hager defeated Dustin Rhodes

• Darby Allin defeated Sammy Guevara

• Kenny Omega and Hangman Page defeated the Young Bucks to retain the AEW tag team titles

• Women’s Champion Nyla Rose defeated Kris Statlander

• MJF defeated Cody Rhodes

• PAC defeated Orange Cassidy

• Jon Moxley defeated Chris Jericho to become the new AEW world champion

And here are my takeaways from AEW’s first pay per view of 2020:

1. Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley wrestled an entertaining main event, which was a tall task following everything that had already taken place on the card.

Both main event entrances were spectacular. Moxley entered from outside the building, while Jericho had a choir sing an a cappella version of his “Judas” theme.

Moxley bled early in the bout. It was surprising that the Cody Rhodes-MJF match earlier in the card also featured blood and a live rendition of entrance music, as both of those features were planned for the main event.

Jericho was perfect in his role as a villain, taunting Moxley and using outside interference from The Inner Circle. But none of it could derail Moxley, who took off his eye patch in the closing sequence of the match to show that his vision was not impaired, proving he could outsmart the cerebral Jericho.

Moxley hit back-to-back Paradigm Shifts on Jericho, then hooked the leg to cover Jericho and become the new champion.

There are many interesting layers to Moxley becoming world champ, but one in particular is that he is also the IWGP United States champion for New Japan. It is impossible to imagine Brock Lesnar wearing the WWE title in addition to a secondary title in another promotion, but a distinctly unique approach is part of the Moxley appeal.

Much to the crowd’s approval, Moxley cut a promo to close out the show before exiting through the crowd. Jericho’s future is also now a major topic. Will he work with a different part of the roster? Move to the tag ranks? Or maybe he has one more reign forthcoming as world champ? As proven over the past six months, Jericho can certainly lead this company.

2. MJF was on the receiving end of the biggest moment of his career as he defeated Cody Rhodes.

The finish was a little flat. It was not immediately clear that MJF used his Dynamite Diamond Ring to knock out Rhodes. Overall, the match was gritty and hard-fought, moving in multiple directions and seeing MJF’s face covered in blood. The broadcast team, especially Jim Ross, did its job of selling the importance of the MJF upset win.

In the nitpicking department: Rhodes entered to a live rendition of his theme song while surrounded by his entourage. Considering this is such a deeply personal feud, I would have preferred Rhodes enter the ring alone. The band wasn’t needed, nor was the posse—just Rhodes with his wife Brandi and coach Arn Anderson would have sufficed. After that, each additional person, of which there were many, simply watered down what should have been a very personal moment for Rhodes.

Sporting a new tattoo on his neck, Rhodes controlled much of the beginning stages of the match. The story took a turn when Rhodes accidentally knocked out Anderson, which ultimately played no role in the outcome but likely set up a future issue between the two.

Rhodes appeared to have the match won with a Cross Rhodes, but his lust for revenge allowed MJF an opportunity to kick Rhodes as he set up another Cross Rhodes—a wonderful nod to MJF saying he knew all of Rhodes’ moves—and then he went to his trunks and hit Rhodes with the Dynamite Diamond Ring for the finish.

Even if the closing moments left more to be desired, the key to success is how MJF sells the victory this Wednesday on Dynamite. He is one of wrestling’s best talkers, but he needs to drop one of the best promos of his career this Wednesday. Moving forward, MJF should be on the short list of challengers for Moxley’s world title, with Rhodes never too far removed from MJF.

3. The stage was overwhelmingly for Hangman Page last August at All Out. That was certainly not the case at Revolution.

Page was the star of the tag team title match, where he partnered with Kenny Omega against the Young Bucks.

The majority of the match was built around Page, and he delivered an outstanding blend of intensity, physicality and action. The decision to highlight Page makes sense, considering he can be a major, top-of-the-card star for years to come for AEW.

The story saw the Bucks struggle to maintain their friendship with Omega and Page while still doing everything possible to win the tag team titles. Matt Jackson worked more like a heel, attacking Omega’s injured right shoulder throughout the match, and there were occasions when Nick Jackson had to remind his brother to not go too far to win the match.

Another highlight was Page’s One-Winged Angel on Matt Jackson. Omega’s injured shoulder from this past week’s Iron Man match prevented him from delivering the move, but Page hit a beautiful version of it, which could be part of the story following an eventual split from Omega. A possible split was teased again in a subtle manner after the match where it appeared Page was setting up an attack on Omega.

The match ended after a Hangman lariat onto Matt Jackson, which is good news for fans of The Elite–as this program is set to continue. The Bucks should chase the titles for as long as possible before finally winning gold.

The match was outstanding, and an even bigger success because Adam Page took a critical step toward his climb to becoming one of the top acts in AEW.

4. Nyla Rose and Kris Statlander had the unenviable task of following the brilliant tag team title match.

Their story highlighted the dominance of Rose, who withstood all of Statlander’s offense and intelligence to retain the title.

It was widely expected that Rose would win, so the challenge here was to make the crowd believe that there was a realistic shot of a title change while still reminding viewers of Rose’s dominance.

If given more time to develop their rivalry, Rose and Statlander could be the first signature program of AEW’s women division.

5. There is so much to like about Darby Allin, from his athleticism to his authenticity in the ring, but he also possesses an intangible that makes him even more captivating in the ring.

Allin worked a very entertaining match with Sammy Guevara, one that was nonstop motion. Guevara’s 630 senton from the top rope through a table was breathtaking, and the match ended exactly as it should have, with Allin delivering a coffin drop for the victory.

Allin’s rise to stardom has been steady ever since a fire was lit under him after being left off November’s Full Gear pay per view. He is one of the top candidates for breakout stardom potential, and if AEW introduces a second singles title for the men’s division in 2020, Allin is a prime candidate to wear that piece of gold.

6. Dustin Rhodes and Jake Hager opened the card.

I thought the show would have opened with PAC-Orange Cassidy, but starting with the two hosses turned out to be a different way to start the show.

Hager and Rhodes were given time to battle, and it was interesting to see two men that were written off by WWE deliver an entertaining match on pay per view. Hager needed to win in his in-ring debut, and there is plenty of potential for his AEW future, especially as long as he is aligned with Chris Jericho.

Rhodes is a physical marvel at 50 years old. Twenty-four years after his “Hollywood Backlot Brawl” against Roddy Piper at WrestleMania 12, Rhodes is still capable of delivering a compelling story in the ring. Although he would add a lot to the Dark Order as their leader, Rhodes plays an important role as an early card babyface for AEW.

7. PAC is one of the most outstanding performers in wrestling and has presented himself in a main-event fashion since leaving WWE.

Imagine a scenario where the artist formerly known as Neville would have been on the top of the card in WWE? There were never any plans for that to happen, but PAC has rewritten his narrative in AEW.

Despite PAC’s win at Revolution, the focus from the match was entirely on his opponent Orange Cassidy.

Cassidy’s character is far more complex than it first appears. An outstanding athlete and gifted wrestler, he has the ability to work a body part, brawl and fly through the air. Cassidy also blends comedy into his matches, doing so in an unorthodox fashion that none of his peers have mastered. The result thus far has been a massive outpouring of support from the AEW fan base.

After a stretch where Cassidy dominated, PAC regained control after Pentagon and Fenix emerged from the back for a few high spots with Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta. PAC won the match, and he is now likely to challenge Jon Moxley for the world title. It will also be very interesting to see where the company goes next with Cassidy. A program with Chris Jericho could really establish Cassidy as a major player in AEW.

8. Where do we go from here?

The Revolution pay per view only makes the upcoming episodes of Dynamite even more appealing. The show will look different with a babyface champion in Moxley, and it will also be worth watching to see if Jericho receives a rematch or if AEW moves in a new direction for a top challenger. After successfully guiding the promotion for the past six months as champion, it could also benefit Jericho to be kept off television for a period of time before making a grand return.

MJF and Cody Rhodes are far from finished with their program, and MJF needs to cut a memorable promo this Wednesday to capture the significance of his pay per view win. And we will see the next step in the story for The Elite, which will be especially noteworthy for Kenny Omega, Hangman Page and the Young Bucks, who are coming off a match of the night performance at Revolution.

There are also questions unrelated to the Revolution pay per view. Lance Archer debuts on this Wednesday’s edition of Dynamite. Where does he factor in the storyline? There is still a void in leadership for the Dark Order. And is it time to split Pentagon and Fenix into singles wrestlers? Pentagon would make a fantastic opponent for Moxley.

AEW also announced a War Games match—entitled Blood & Guts in honor of Vince McMahon’s description of AEW following last spring’s Double or Nothing bloodbath between Cody and Dustin Rhodes—set for Dynamite on March 25. Is that where the long-rumored debut of Brodie Lee, formerly Luke Harper in WWE, makes his AEW debut?

Revolution successfully moved AEW’s storylines forward, as well as delivered the first world title change in company history. Timing is a precious commodity in wrestling, but the timing was right for a title change—and AEW capitalized on that with Moxley, who is the right choice to take the belt from Jericho.

After a disappointing run of only 84 days as WWE champion in 2016, Moxley is now presented with the opportunity to prove he belongs in the discussion of wrestling’s most elite performers. It all begins this Wednesday, as he takes the lead role in AEW’s Wednesday night competition against NXT.

Much was accomplished at Revolution, but nothing bigger than this: the Moxley Era in AEW has officially begun.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.