Paradigm Shift: AEW Revolution Recap & Review

A long time ago, I was a very serious history major at a very serious college. I never thought about muscles or suplexes or anything cool like that. And then I dropped out, and now I write about muscle photos. It’s a lot more fun. Like, when you’re writing about history, it’s a huge bummer that, as Marx said on the frustrating topic of cyclical revolutions, “all great world-historic facts and personages appear…twice…the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” But in pro wrestling, everything appears infinite times, and tragedy and farce are often the best parts.

More Pro Wrestling:

At Revolution, last night’s AEW PPV, we saw quite a few things we’ve already seen: SCU opening a show, Darby Allin on a bed of splinters, an Elite civil war tag team epic, the suffering of a member of the Rhodes family—not to mention Jon Moxley feuding with Chris Jericho (remember Mitch the Plant?) And it was mostly things I’m happy to see again and again. We had some tragedy (betrayal! strife!), we had some farce (eyepokes! low blows!), and, since this is pro wrestling and not history, it was a lot of fun. There were some low points, sure. But the high points? Magnificent. Delightful. I don’t know if a regime was overthrown, but several things came full circle.


The Buy-In: Dark Order def. SCU

For all that stuff I just said about liking when history repeats in wrestling, I am pretty sick of SCU. There’s only so many times I can say that Scorpio Sky and Frankie Kazarian are very athletic and competent and smooth and that their match was fine. I’m sick of saying it. Scorpio Sky and Frankie Kazarian are very athletic and competent and smooth. Their match against the Dark Order was fine.

Chicago’s own Colt Cabana ran to the ring to defend Sky and Kazarian from a post-match beat down, and then they were all saved by Christopher Daniels dressed up in a spooky cape pretending to be the Exalted One. So I guess he’s not actually a secret member of the Dark Order. Unless he is.

Verdict: Fine, like I said. It’s fine.


Jake Hager def. Dustin Rhodes

Ok this? This sucked. Jake Hager stopping to do a gross makeout with his wife before the match seemed like some fun wife guy stuff, but then they kept returning to her. Dustin did like a forced face nuzzle fake kiss thing to her? And the cringe wife stuff was actually the most entertaining stuff in there. Jake Hager has been this silent cold guy all along, and now we’re supposed to buy him as being suddenly horny? Nuh uh, that’s not how it works! He licked Dustin Rhodes’ face for literally no reason. That’s an advanced, Hideo Kojima villain ass move, and you can’t just pull it out on your very first try at being sexually menacing. You’ll look like a fucking joke. Which he did. I felt embarrassed watching it. Hager choked Rhodes out to get the win.

Verdict: Maybe tragedy and farce can be bad in pro wrestling.


Darby Allin def. Sammy Guevara

Let’s take a moment. Let’s take a deep, cleansing breath. Did you know that wrestling is, in fact, good? Well, in case you forgot, which I had, Darby Allin and Sammy Guevara showed up to remind you. Sammy Guevara has been good for a while, but this was the match he needed to really put on display what an absolute piece of shit flippy fuccboi perfect heel he can be. Guevara’s ability to be absolutely detestable while being a hot guy who does cool, acrobatic moves is a testament to his fundamental punchability. With a high flying show-off like Guevara and an absolute madman like Darby Allin, this was obviously going to be a little bit of a spotfest. Like, Sammy Guevara put Darby Allin through a table with a 630 splash from the top turnbuckle before the match had even officially started. But everything had room to breathe, everything had impact.

As I have said over and over and over again, and will continue to say, Darby Allin is a star. This was an almost perfect match, with Darby hitting a coffin drop and getting the pin, but Guevara getting rescued by Jake Hager before Darby Allin could get his skateboardy revenge. I’m still not satisfied!!!

Verdict: I want more!


AEW Tag Team Championship: Hangman Page & Kenny Omega (c) def. The Young Bucks

I was really optimistic about this match heading in, with the Young Bucks actually getting booed by the crowd for their passive aggressive, backhanded compliment insults of Page and Omega. I really enjoy the Young Bucks as a couple of nasty, weaselly heels. They really set themselves up nicely to be the bad guys in this match on Dynamite, and I was excited to see them finally be bad again.

Full disclosure: I recently started taking a new medication that has some pretty annoying side effects. Like it makes me really tired and dizzy sometimes. This match went on way too long. So long that I genuinely couldn’t tell if I was spacing out because I was bored or for a medical reason. So long that when my extremities swelled up and my eyes stopped being able to open all the way, I wondered if I’d developed some kind of Young Bucks allergy.


Here’s the thing: this was beautifully wrestled. There were parts where I did get excited. But it was way too long for the middle of the card. Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson are great at being shitty heels or comedy guys, but I can’t get into them as complex, nuanced characters. Just let me chant “fuck the Young Bucks” and cheer for the cowboy with the nice smile. Or give me the jovial dumbasses. But not Matt Jackson staring at the tape he tore off his friend with a “why am I so violent” face. I don’t want that.

Quiet resentment is great for promos, but it’s hard to pull off in a 30 minute wrestling match where you’re trying to get your opponent in position so you can piledrive him while your brother does a flip. Apparently people are calling this match of the night, match of the year, the greatest tag team match of all time. I mean, I’m happy for them. I’m glad they had fun. I started having a good time towards the end, and have to really commend Hangman Page for his performance throughout, but I think I do actually have some kind of Young Bucks allergy.

Verdict: Not the greatest tag team match of all time.


AEW Women’s World Championship: Nyla Rose (c) def. Kris Statlander

When a women’s match is sandwiched between an overly long intra-Elite melodrama and the culmination of a major storyline feud that’s been months and months in the making, it’s hard not to notice the crowd losing interest. The AEW women’s division does not have storylines yet, not the way the men’s division does. Now that they’ve abandoned the Nightmare Collective thing, which was barely a storyline, all they really have is Britt Baker being mean to Tony Schiavone. Which, don’t get me wrong, is great. But the women’s title picture narrative doesn’t even approach the mid-card men’s storylines in terms of legibility and time. Add on top of that the difference in experience and star power between AEW’s top male stars and their top female stars? It’s a recipe for trouble.

Watching this match I couldn’t help but feel like it should have been better than it was. Something didn’t click. There was some cool stuff once they got into it, but yeah. I guess Statlander has the flu, which couldn’t have helped.

Verdict: Kind of disappointing.


MJF def. Cody

I’m incredibly grateful to the always brilliant Colette Arrand for addressing the absolute insanity of Cody’s new neck tattoo in her column this week, so I can just dive into the match itself.

Cody’s big matches have these creative decisions that are so weird, so operatic, so over-the-top, and so baffling that I can’t help but be completely engrossed. Nowadays when we say a match was “nuts,” we’re often talking about things like high flying spots and risky maneuvers. This match was nuts because MJF put Cody in a very Zack Sabre Jr-esque submission hold, and Cody broke it by dramatically brushing his lips against the bottom rope. It was nuts because MJF tore Cody’s boot off, lifted his sock-covered foot to his mouth and bit into it. It was nuts because Cody beseeched the referee to let him whip MJF with his weight belt as revenge, and the ref said okay.

This was the best MJF has been in AEW thus far, by a wide, wide margin. It wasn’t just that the blood running down his very tan face looked great, or that he wrestled well, it was that his baffling energy made the entire feud make sense in retrospect. Why would he want to whip Cody ten times? Who would want that? Revolution’s match answered: this guy. This guy biting into a sock-covered broken toe live on Pay Per View would want that.


It was so stupid. From the stupid Burberry entrance coat to Cody’s stupid neck tattoo to the stupid not very good live rendition of Cody’s stupid song. From Cody’s CW-ass line reading of “you were my friend damnit” to MJF fake begging for forgiveness so he could spit in Cody’s face. The absurdity of walking around in one boot and one sock, MJF hiding the stupid diamond ring he won in that battle royal that made no sense, but clearly only existed so he could use it here in this match, to cheat and win, Cody nailing MJF with a low blow even though he’s the good guy, Brandi tearing off her belt in frustration when Cody lost and throwing it onto the floor. Stupid. It was all stupid. And yet it was somehow still sad to see Cody sit in the ring after losing, his face in his hands.

I relate to Cody, I think, because I also have big ideas that don’t really make sense, but I admire him because I can’t ever commit to mine. Cody has become one of my favorite wrestlers to watch because he makes these absurd decisions and then commits to them with complete sincerity. Look at that neck tattoo. He overcommits to his absurd decisions. I have to applaud it.

Verdict: Absurd, over-the-top, bloody, and unnecessary. I had fun!


Pac def. Orange Cassidy

Orange Cassidy has been so good for so long, and I’m thrilled that AEW knows what a treasure they have on their roster with him. Yes, he technically lost this match against Pac, but the point here was showing the world what it looks like when he actually wrestles, and I think it was a great introduction to Orange Cassidy: Legitimate Threat.

There couldn’t be a more perfect foil for Orange Cassidy than this iteration of Pac, who is so serious, so angry, and feeling extra menacing and powerful after that fantastic iron man match with Kenny Omega on Wednesday. I really don’t have a single complaint about this match. The funny moments were funny, the serious moments were gripping. Orange Cassidy frustrating Pac was delightful, and I was crestfallen every time his offense failed to deliver. And god, can Orange Cassidy ever take a move. The way he got thrown into the ringpost head first? Beautiful stuff. Pac was only able to win because the Lucha Bros ran out and attacked the Best Friends, distracting Orange for long enough that Pac was able to get him in the Brutalizer. Everyone came out looking strong and compelling, plus—does this mean a Best Friends/Lucha Bros feud? I certainly hope so.

Also, a great call in placing this match right before the main event to flood my brain with the good chemicals and keep me going for the big title match. That’s smart booking.

Verdict: The most invested I was throughout the whole show. A genuine delight.


AEW World Championship: Jon Moxley def. Chris Jericho (c)

The Judas Era may be over, but at least its ending was heralded by a choral rendition of “Judas” by Fozzy. Chris Jericho might not be a brain genius on this round planet we call earth, but on the flat earth where he lives? He’s the smartest man alive. Jericho is fantastic at being a pro wrestler. Moxley is fantastic at being a pro wrestler. They’ve both had matches this year that I’ve liked more (Jericho vs Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom and Moxley vs Suzuki at New Beginning in Sapporo), but this main event felt massive. They brawled into the crowd early, raising the stakes immediately and feeling so chaotic and exciting. By the time they got back into the ring, Moxley had had bit Chris Jericho in the forehead, Chris Jericho had already commandeered a video camera, and Mox had already had to bow in apology to referee Aubrey Edwards. Jericho had brought a sign from the stands with him around his neck that read “connecting people through reggae.” Like I said: chaotic!


Powerbombs into tables, blood, Boston crabs, and incessant interference from the Inner Circle—none of it could stop Jon Moxley. I spoke on the latest episode of the Fanfyte podcast about how much I love supporting characters interfering in a wrestling match, and this was a great example of what I’m talking about. When Sammy Guevara came running out in grey skinny jeans, sunglasses, a backwards hat, no shirt and visible pink underwear to smack Mox in the face with Jericho’s title? I ascended. With Mox essentially blinded, Jericho went for the Judas Effect. Jon Moxley, whose heart was not in question, reminded us all that he’s smart too, ducking Jericho’s elbow, hitting a Paradigm Shift and removing his eyepatch to reveal a perfectly healthy eye.

One more Paradigm Shift was all it took to… get this… shift the paradigm and give us a new AEW World Champion. Le Champion is dead. Long live Moxley Two Belts.

Verdict: Two of the best doing it at the top of their game doing it together. Wonderful stuff.