AEW’s Revolution was a rollercoaster of a pay-per-view, one which ended with a tense and gripping Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch, only to be sabotaged by a weak in-ring explosion that concluded the show.
The main event was set to end with a massive ring explosion. The story leading up to it was intricate and well-crafted, as a battered Moxley could not escape the ring before the explosion. Eddie Kingston arrived to cover him, but the moment was a complete whiff when the explosion hardly registered.
During the post-show media session, AEW President Tony Khan addressed the explosion, which was quickly turned into a post-show angle.
“Jon [Moxley] did a promo for the live fans at the event,” said Khan. “To paraphrase Jon, he said, ‘Kenny Omega might be a bad son-of-a-b----, but he can’t build an exploding ring worth a s---.”
Khan is confident that those who invested in Revolution will tune in to Dynamite on Wednesday for further detail on the Omega-Moxley story, including more on the explosion.
“We’ll address that, for sure,” said Khan. “We definitely addressed the construction of the chamber—you saw [in prior weeks] Kenny building it kind of crudely with a hammer and nails. When he released the rules, he did it in crayon, and it looked really cool and it looked like a great idea, but in the end… when it comes to building exploding rings, that is definitely not his forte.”
There were no title changes at Revolution, but there were surprises. Maki Itoh returned during the preshow, winning her first AEW match in a tag with Dr. Britt Baker. Ethan Page made his debut for the company as the sixth man in the Face of the Revolution ladder match. That match was won by Scorpio Sky, who appears poised to start a very successful singles run. Christian Cage was also revealed as the much-anticipated surprise, adding another legitimate star to the AEW roster.
The matches of the night were the main event, as well as the Hikaru Shida-Ryo Mizunami title match, which was a hard-hitting, physical presentation of pro wrestling that enhanced the meaning of the Women’s Championship, and the cinematic Street Fight that featured the wrestling return of Sting.
Here are the full results from Revolution:
— Dr. Britt Baker and Maki Itoh defeated Riho and Thunder Rosa on the pre-show
— The Young Bucks defeated Chris Jericho and MJF to retain the Tag Team Championship
— Death Triangle’s Fenix and PAC won the 15-team Casino Tag Team Royale, giving them an upcoming title shot
— Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida defeated Ryo Mizunami
— Miro and Kip Sabian defeated Orange Cassidy and Chuck Taylor
— Hangman Page defeated Matt Hardy in a Big Money match
— Scorpio Sky won the Face of the Revolution match, giving him a TNT Title match this Wednesday on Dynamite
— Sting and Darby Allin defeated Team Taz in a Street Fight
— AEW Champion Kenny Omega defeated Jon Moxley in an Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch
And here are my takeaways from AEW’s first pay-per-view of 2021:
The main event came exactly as advertised: barbed wire, blood and explosions.
Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega combined to deliver an extremely compelling Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch. There were some absolutely brutal spots, especially with the barbed wire. A phenomenal piece of storytelling took place late in the match when Moxley avoided losing after taking Omega’s One-Winged Angel finisher, escaping defeat by hitting the ropes with his foot and causing an explosion that broke the pinfall.
After Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson arrived, the numbers advantage was the difference, and Omega hit a One-Winged Angel on Moxley onto a chair to end the match.
The aftermath saw Moxley beat down by Omega, Gallows and Anderson, then handcuffed. There was a tense build to the explosion of the ring, even with a countdown timer. With Moxley unable to leave the ring, he was protected by Eddie Kingston, who covered up his longtime friend as the explosion was set to go off. But that moment was significantly hurt by a very minor eruption. Commentary tried to sell that Moxley and Kingston were hurt by the heat, but it made no difference. This was a major miss, hurting the ending of the show, which should have ended in a spectacular manner after a match like that main event.
Hopefully, the lack of an explosion does not overshadow the death match, which was an incredible display of physicality and storytelling by Moxley and Omega.
Less than two months after finishing in the final four of WWE’s Royal Rumble match, Christian Cage debuted as the mystery signing for AEW.
It is hard to believe that WWE did not do more to sign Christian—who is Jay Reso, a childhood friend of Adam “Edge” Copeland—especially considering that Copeland has the ear of Vince McMahon. But WWE’s loss is AEW’s gain and Christian immediately becomes a main-event player in his new home.
Sting returned to the ring for a cinematic match, pinning Ricky Starks to win his first pay-per-view bout since 2013.
This was extremely well done, highlighting Sting, Darby Allin, and all the members of Team Taz–Starks, Brian Cage, Powerhouse Hobbs and Hook. The format allowed the 61-year-old Sting to look like a conquering hero, and the presentation of the match fit perfectly into the card.
The fight was shot in an incredible manner, but the decision to include commentary from the live broadcast team did not fit. The match, which included footage that shifted from black-and-white to color, needed its own broadcast team at the venue, which could have been performed by Taz and Excalibur (and it would have made more sense to have Taz there for the fight). Or, similar to the Boneyard match with The Undertaker and AJ Styles at WrestleMania 36–AEW could have decided to have the action serve as its own soundtrack. I understand the decision to want commentary to sell the narrative, but there were points throughout the match where it just did not fit.
Moving forward, Sting needs to be used carefully and highlighted in the right spots, but this was a perfect use of the legend.
Hikaru Shida defeated Ryo Mizunami to extend her reign as AEW Women’s Champion.
In terms of bell-to-bell, in-ring action, this was the undisputed match of the night. Shida is a fantastic fighting champion, and she worked particularly well with Mizunami, who brings a very physical style to her work.
Shida and Mizunami need more television time to develop their story. And Shida, especially, needs more television time every week on Dynamite. She is an old-school, come-from-behind babyface, which was on display in this match with Mizunami. She always had a kickout or an answer, and the story of the match made perfect sense. The near-falls really helped, putting an even greater emphasis on the meaning of the title.
Following the match, Shida and Mizunami were attacked by Nyla Rose, Maki Itoh, and Dr. Bitt Baker, until the save was made by Thunder Rosa. Led by Shida, the women’s division is getting stronger. A one-on-one feud against Baker will go a long way, but I hope that Shida’s story against Mizunami is not finished.
Hangman Page defeated “Big Money” Matt Hardy in a Big Money match. The finish was creative—the Dark Order caught Page as he was knocked out of the ring, then pushed him back onto the apron as he propelled into a buckshot lariat to win the match.
Page won at approximately the two-hour mark of the pay-per-view, and that ending sequence injected some much-needed energy heading into the Face of the Revolution ladder match.
Cody Rhodes, Lance Archer, Scorpio Sky, Max Caster, Penta El Zero Mideo and Ethan Page were all part of the Face of the Revolution ladder match, which was won by Sky, marking a major moment in his career.
There were some dynamic spots in the match, and it did a tremendous job highlighting Archer as a monster. Although there were times when this match just never seemed to find the perfect pace or stride, all six wrestlers worked a physical style and put their bodies on the line.
Penta hit Rhodes with a Canadian Destroyer on a ladder, which was the storyline injury that caused Rhodes to exit the match. That narrowed the field down to five, and put on a spotlight on Sky, who showed some great offense until taking a brutal knee strike onto a ladder from Archer. Penta also worked in some standout offense, and the story then shifted when Rhodes—selling the shoulder injury—returned.
In the end, it came down to Rhodes and Sky atop the ladder. Sky won that battle, then grabbed the brass ring to win. My only issue was that Sky did not immediately cut a promo in the ring after winning the match, which had the potential to be incredible.
Sky is extremely talented, but he has not had nearly enough television time lately to showcase his ability, both in the ring or on the mic. That needs to change, beginning this Wednesday, where he should be booked to win the TNT Championship.
The Casino Tag Team Royale highlighted the depth of AEW’s tag division, though at 26 minutes, it did run long.
The finish, featuring Fenix and Jungle Boy, was spectacular. The decision to have Fenix win was the right call, as it keeps Jungle Boy in the underdog role—and starts a feud between Death Triangle and the Jurassic Express—as well as gives a new opponent for the Young Bucks, who defeated Chris Jericho and MJF in the show opener.
There is no understating the talent of Fenix. Pairing him with PAC is an explosive team, and they would benefit greatly from a run with the tag titles.
The top three parts of the show were the Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch, the Shida-Mizunami title match, and the cinematic Street Fight. AEW also revealed Christian as the mystery man, which has a lot of potential.
Expectations keep growing higher and higher for pay-per-views, and that was undoubtedly true for Revolution. Since AEW does not have a streaming service, the pay-per-view model is used, which is pricey for the fan base. Although this show did not hit its mark at every turn, it provided a very entertaining night of pro wrestling, albeit hampered by the end-of-the-show explosion.