The SmarK Rant for AEW Revolution – 02.29.20
It’s LETHAL LEAP DAY.
Live from Chicago, IL.
Your hosts for the pre-show are Excalibur & Taz
Pre-Show match: SCU v. The Dark Order
Kaz and Scorpio give Daniels the SICK BURN in their pre-match promo, telling him to stay home tonight because they don’t exactly trust him. SCU attacks to start and they brawl, but SCU quickly double-teams Grayson with a german suplex combo to put him down. Kaz gets caught in the Dark corner, but backdrops both guys to the apron to escape and follows with a dive. Grayson actually catches him with a powerbomb and Uno sends him into the post, which allows the evil geek squad to put the boots to him. Back in, Uno gets two. Big boot gets two. The crowd chants “Spooky perverts” to distract the heels for a bit, but they continue beating on Kaz and Grayson chops him down for two. Clothesline gets two and Grayson works the count, but Kazarian evades them both and makes the hot tag to Sky. Atomic drop and dropkick for Grayson as he runs wild, and a sunset flip on Uno gets two. Kaz comes in with a DDT for two, but Grayson gets a Pele Kick on both SCU at the same time and it’s back to Uno. Grayson monkeyflips Sky into Kazarian for two, and Uno powerbombs Sky for two. They try the Fatality, but Sky escapes and then monkey-flips his own partner into them for a double clothesline! SCU Later is broken up by Uno and he sends Kaz into the stairs, but Sky rolls up Grayson for two, and then Uno clotheslines them over and Grayson gets the pin at 9:50. This was a decent opener. **1/2 Dark Order goes for the beatdown, but Colt Cabana makes a cameo for the save and cleans house on the masked geeks before they swarm him too. But then everyone stops due to the entrance of someone who might be the Exalted One, but turns out to be Christopher Daniels, who makes the save on his own and cleans house. Maybe the Dark Order needs a CULT leader with more PERSONALITY.
Meanwhile, Luchasaurus is glad to finally get some dinosaur representation on PPV. Wait, I thought Super Showdown was on Thursday?
To the main show! There’s a soundbite from Moxley in the opening video package where he says “One day they will all come to my funeral to make sure I stay dead…but today is not that day.” That’s GOLD. Shit like that is why I want him to be champion tonight.
Jake Hager v. Dustin Rhodes
Or as Jim Ross called him on the pre-show, “Swagger”. The Inner Circle do have a lot of swagger, I suppose. And who would have thought that people would be pumped to see Goldust facing Jack Swagger in a PPV opener with Dean Ambrose against Chris Jericho in the main event? Hager quickly drops Dustin with a backdrop suplex and drops a knee on his throat in disdain before slugging away in the corner. They fight in the corner while the crowd chants “Jericho’s bitch” at Hager and then head into the crowd to continue the brawl. Dustin sends the shoulder into the post and goes to work on the arm. Hager runs back into the ring to escape, so Dustin clotheslines him over the top and to the floor again. Hager catches him with a suplex on the apron, which is the HARDEST PART OF THE RING, and follows with a lariat on the floor. Back in, that gets two. Hager with the top wristlock and he controls with an armbar off that, but Dustin fights back until he walks into a clothesline. Hager with a surfboard, but Dustin fights up again and Hager knees him in the gut to put him on the floor. He gives Dustin too much time, however, and Dustin fights back for another hope spot until Hager sends him into the railing and stops to get some advice from his wife at ringside. So Dustin gives her a little love and makes the comeback in the ring with a bulldog. Powerslam gets two. Hager takes out the knee with a clip to cut him off again, however, and tries the pump splash, but Dustin gets the knees up for two. Hager slams him again and hits the pump splash on a second try, and that gets two. Hager keeps coming with corner clotheslines to set up the SWAGGERBOMB, for two. Or Hager-Bomb now, I guess. Jake kicks the leg in the corner again, but charges and gets backdropped to the floor, hitting the stairs on the way down. Back in, Dustin slugs away in the corner and sets up the Shattered Nuts, but Hager shakes free, so Dustin kicks him low and hits a Code Red for two. Dustin tries a cross armbreaker and locks it in, but Hager is too tall and rolls into the anklelock to MONSTER heat. Dustin teases the tapout like a babyface hero, but makes the big comeback and reverses out. But then Jake goes low behind the ref’s back and tries a head and arm choke, which finishes at 14:44. Heck of an opener compared to what I was expecting, with great babyface fire from Dustin and hard work from both. Not like a classic but I enjoyed it. ***
Coming March 25: AEW Dynamite presents BLOOD & GUTS. That’s a hell of an inside rib from Cody.
Sammy Guevara v. Darby Allin
Should have been the opener, obviously. Darby charges in out of nowhere and hits Sammy with the dive before the bell, and a dropkick into the railing follows. But then he charges and hits the railing himself, as Sammy beats on him, but Darby comes back with another dive and lands on his damn face as a result. Sammy hurls the skateboard at his FACE as the poor guy is just taking the beating of a lifetime here, and we get a table set up before Sammy puts him through it with a goddamn 630 from the top rope to the floor. WHAT THE FUCK MAN. Darby is dead, but pulls himself into the ring to officially start the match, and Sammy flies in with a running knee for two. Sammy chokes him out on the ropes for two. Darby comes back with a Gory Special while munching on his fingers, and then drops him into the armbar while using SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION on the fingers. Sammy finally breaks in the ropes and goes up with a double stomp from the top rope to the apron, and that gets two. Sammy stops to grab the skateboard, but Darby flies in with the Canadian Destroyer for two. Allin goes up and Sammy crotches him to set up a superplex, but Darby blocks it. So Sammy hits a Spanish (God) Fly off the top instead, for two. Sammy pulls off a turnbuckle, but Darby runs him into the steel, hits the stunner, and finishes with the Coffin Drop at 4:55. That was NUTS and a complete show-stealer, even though the actual “match” portion was pretty short. ****
Afterwards, I was so pumped that I went to ShopAEW.com and bought this t-shirt, to go along with my other three Appetite for Destruction shirts:
They’re a t-shirt company, you know. 20% off with code “Revolution” until Monday!
AEW World tag team titles: Kenny Omega & Hangman Page v. The Young Bucks
I have no idea where they’re going with this one and I love it. Kenny trades with Nick for the stalemate to start while Page looks on with thinly veiled contempt for this flippy shit. So it’s over to Hangman for some COWBOY SHIT against Matt as they take it to the mat for some grappling. Matt offers a handshake, so Page spits on him and now it’s ON with the slugfest on the mat. Omega actually pulls off Matt as tempers flare, but then Nick comes in and Page just TAGS him with a right. So the Bucks double-team him and knock Omega off the apron before hitting the double-team senton in their corner and a flipping neckbreaker from Matt. Page goes to the back to put Matt down, and then gives Omega a pretty aggressive tag and some conversation in the corner. So Omega hits Matt with a backbreaker for two, and Hangman tosses Matt and runs him into the railing to continue working the back. But then Kenny breaks it up, which is kind of a dick move. The man just wanted to do a piledriver on a ringbell! So they head into the ring and the champs take turns chopping Matt and beating on the back, until Matt fights back with the double northern lights. Nick gets a hot tag and throws kicks on both guys and a running knee on Page in the corner, and into a facebuster and moonsault on Kenny on the floor. Back in with the Sharpshooter on Page, but Kenny breaks it up with the Krusher and Nick bails to the floor. Matt breaks up the Terminator Dive, but Omega puts him on the apron with a rana and continues his dive, with Matt breaking it up AGAIN with a head kick from the apron this time. Nick slows it down with a facelock and knocks Hangman off the apron to continue annoying him, but Kenny escapes the superkick party and tries for the tag. This time Matt is the one who spits in Page’s face to really get him going, and then Nick pulls him off the apron to screw up ANOTHER hot tag attempt. Matt with the piledriver on Kenny for two. Back to Nick for another facelock, but this time Kenny sends Nick into Page’s boot and makes the hot tag. Hangman with a springboard lariat on Nick and a fallaway slam on Matt, and he follows with a dive onto Nick and then clotheslines Matt to the floor for good measure. The Bucks try to slingshot him in, but Page slingshots them OUT and follows with a moonsault onto them. Back in for a lariat on Nick and he disgustedly tosses him into the corner to tag Matt back in. The crowd offers “Fuck him up, Cowboy, fuck him up” since the Bucks have been complete dicks the entire match. They slug it out to a big reaction and Page boots him down, but Kenny makes the blind tag and tosses Matt into a suplex from Page that drops him on his head. Kenny with the Doctorbomb for two off that. Back to Page, but he gets caught in the corner with the kick from Nick, and Kenny eats a superkick as well for good measure. Page tosses Nick and he lands on his feet on the ramp, and back in with a Destroyer for two. The Bucks trap Hangman in the corner and double-team him with a powerbomb/blockbuster combo for two. Page counters a superkick and throws the foot into Matt’s face, and then calls for the CHICKEN WING on Matt as it’s apparently Marty Scurll night here. Nick breaks it up with a 450 for two. Page escapes More Bang For Your Buck, and Omega comes in for the You Can’t Escape moonsault on Matt before Page hits Nick with a top rope blockbuster suplex for two. Page with a powerbomb to follow, and V-Trigger from Kenny for two. GODDAMN THIS MATCH.
Omega sets up the V-Trigger again, but Nick reverses out, so Kenny hits it on the second try and then hits another one on Matt as well. Snapdragon suplexes on Nick and Tiger Driver 98 gets two. Omega with another V-Trigger in the corner on Nick and he goes up to try the Angel off the top, but Nick slugs out of it and brings him down with a reverse rana. Matt takes Page out on the ramp with the rolling northern lights suplexes and finishes with one onto the light-board portion of the ramp and that might be it for Hangman. They hit an Indy-Taker on Page on the ramp for MASSIVE heel heat, and Omega is probably screwed. So it’s time for the SUPERKICK PARTY on poor Kenny and hit a double V-Trigger, but Kenny is HULKING UP. So they hit another one and that gets two for Nick. The crowd is just going nuts for Omega, so Matt stomps the injured shoulder and beats him down, just going completely heel to win the titles. Finally Nick calms his brother down with a pep talk and they set up for the Meltzer, but Page revives and breaks it up, powerbombing Nick through the timekeeper’s table. TAKE THAT, FUCKER. The crowd completely buying into the Bucks’ de facto heel turn here is wild stuff. Kenny comes back with knees and the Buckshot V-Trigger on Matt, but it only gets two. Kenny hits another V-Trigger on Matt to set up the One Winged Angel, but the shoulder is out and Matt fights free with a superkick. Page makes the blind tag and does his own Angel, however, and that gets two as Nick makes the miracle save. Page with a buckshot lariat on both guys and that finishes Matt at 29:25. You know me, I love me some tag team wrestling, and this may have been the best match in the brief but wonderful history of this wonderful company. They just kept hitting higher and higher emotional gears like the cars in the old Fast & Furious movies endlessly shifting and hitting the NOS. ***** This is the best storyline in wrestling right now, with so many ways they can still go.
Afterwards, the Bucks make up with Kenny, but Page is still feeling alone and waits until Kenny is also alone, before quietly and ominously teasing the buckshot lariat and then helping Omega out instead. Man, the crowd’s collective GASP when he looked like he was gonna pull the trigger on his partner was some kinda amazingly subtle moment. What a fantastic bit of business this whole thing was, feeling like an emotional payoff without actually paying it off.
Still, good luck to any of these poor fuckers having to follow this.
AEW Women’s title: Nyla Rose v. Kris Statlander
Rose grabs a headlock as this is definitely gonna cool down the crowd. Rose powers Kris down, but she comes back with a standing moonsault for two. They fight to the floor and Statlander tries a dive to the ramp, but nearly pulls a Cody and lands on her face as a result. Nyla spears her back into the ring for two off that. Short clothesline gets two. Nyla suplexes her into the turnbuckles and Kris hits the floor off that, and the crowd even tries to fire up this boring match, bless them. They’re both just too green to be put in this position. They collide for the double down and Statlander fights back with an enzuigiri as Nyla bails to the floor. Statlander follows with a tope suicida as JR complains about kids these days and all their dives, and back in for a missile dropkick that gets two. Nyla comes back with a clothesline into the corner and hangs her on the ropes for a guillotine, but Statlander walks on her hands to escape in a unique counter, and boops the nose into a DDT for two. Nyla pounds her down into an STF, but Statlander gets a dropkick and then walks into the powerbomb for two. Rose does the bug-eyed NXT sell of disbelief off that, and hopefully we don’t get much more of that. Statlander fights her to the top and gets a superplex that nearly goes really badly, and that gets two. Rose boots her down, but they fight to the top again. Statlander tries a rana, but Nyla reverses her into a powerbomb, and that finishes at 12:45. Yeah, that was a swing and a miss, as they had a clumsy match that went too long for both of them. But they tried hard so I don’t fault them for that. **
Cody Rhodes v. MJF
This one is gonna bring the HEAT that the last match was lacking. Cody gets the live entrance music from Downstait, who aren’t great doing live entrance music, and Cody has what I HOPE is a temp tattoo on his neck of the American flag. MJF immediately runs away while the crowd hopes for MJF to be fucked up by Cody, and he heads into the crowd to go make friends and hopefully get counted out. MJF throws beer at some guy in the front row and continues avoiding the ring, but finally comes in and gets booted down. They slug it out and Cody wins that, into the Cody cutter for one. MJF escapes to the ramp this time, so Cody runs to the back and then flies all the way back with a clothesline into the ring for two. Sunset flip out of the corner gets two. MJF pokes the eyes and stomps the broken toe, but Cody gives him an airplane spin into the Alabama Slam for two. Cody picks him up and beats him down some more, but Wardlow pulls MJF out of the ring to save him. So Brandi gets a beer from the fans and throws it in Wardlow’s face, which suckers him into a dive from Cody because he’s a big dumb dummy. Back in, MJF snaps the arm on the ropes and Wardlow gets some revenge by sending Cody into the post. MJF with a powerbomb off a hammerlock for two. MJF flips him into the corner for two. MJF stops to strut before going to a top wristlock and there’s actually a portion of the crowd CHEERING for MJF! Cody tries a whip and hurts his arm as a result, which allows MJF to take him down with the Fujiwara armbar. Cody desperately fights to the ropes with his teeth, however, and breaks it up. So then MJF goes for the full heel and steals Cody’s boot before steeping on the broken toe and then BITING it. C’MON MAN. Cody fights his way back to the top with an inverted suplex and sends MJF to the floor, but Wardlow comes in to buy some time. So Arn chases him off with a chair and we discover that MJF is WEARING THE CRIMSON MASK. No wonder Wardlow had to buy time, that must have taken 2 minutes to carve him up like a turkey that way. Back in, Cody with a powerslam for two and he gives us an Orton pose before setting up a draping DDT. MJF reverses out of that into the Heatseeker piledriver, but he uses the ropes and gets caught. Meanwhile, Brandi dives onto Wardlow and Cody goes to save her, but accidentally boots poor AA down and out as a result. Back in, Cody is all distracted and MJF goes hard to the nuts and gets two. And they fight over a suplex and both guys take a crazy bump to the floor off that with neither guy letting go of the move. So everyone’s dead now, but they beat the count back in.
Cody demands SATISFACTION and throws the fisticuffs with aplomb to set up the Flip Flop and Fly, but MJF flops before the fly. But then Cody goes for the finish and MJF reverses to the Double Cross for two. And then the next moment we all saw coming, as MJF steals the weight belt and wants more shots with it, which allows Cody to go low and hit a Vertebreaker for two. Time for the LASHINGS as Cody delivers two of them and then throws the belt away, with the ref giving him lenience, while MJF cowers in the corner and cries. We get a tearful hug, but MJF spits in his face and eats a Crossroads as a result. But that’s not enough, so Cody does it again, but then tries a third one and MJF hits him with the DIAMOND RING OF DOOM and pins him at 24:38. So as I figured, Cody beats the hell out of him, whips him, busts him open, and kicks him in nuts repeatedly before getting screwed in the end to make MJF a bigger star. And no one had to turn on Cody, he screwed himself over by giving into hatred and the dark side of the Force in general. This was looking iffy to start but they kept amping up the hatred and violence and it ended up pretty good and leaving me wanting more. ***1/2
Cody, the poor babyface Executive VP still in desperate search of a father figure to give him approval, gets a peptalk from Arn and lives to fight another day. See, NOW you can go to the Arn turn to really turn the knife on him.
Orange Cassidy v. Pac
Time for the REAL MAIN EVENT. Sadly, Orange doesn’t get his own entrance music, but he is announced as “From…wherever, weighing…whatever”. So that balances it out. The crowd offers up a motivational chant of “He’s gonna try” and then “Holy shit” for the staredown after the bell. Orange immediately goes for the pockets, but Pac blocks it, so Orange takes him down and finishes the move. They trade horrifying leg kicks until Pac finally has had enough of the joke and puts him down while the crowd loses their shit. Cassidy with the dropkick and rollup for two, and Pac is stunned and runs away. Orange tries a dive and Pac cuts him off with a backbreaker and stomps him down, then throws him out and runs him into the railing. SEE? THAT’S WHAT EFFORT GETS YOU! The lesson is, never try. Pac smashes him headfirst into the post like an orange or other piece of squishy fruit, and back in for more punishment. Pac goes up with the missile dropkick and beats on him with actual kicks, and the powerbomb gets two. To the top while the crowd chants “No Pulp”, and Pac brings him down with the brainbuster for two before picking him up. So he drags the corpse of Cassidy to the corner to finish and goes up with the Black Arrow, but Orange casually rolls to the floor to escape. Back in, Pac tries it again, and Orange escapes again very slowly. Pac throws him in again, but Orange slowly rolls to the other side, where Pac heads over and cuts him off, and Orange actually breaks up on camera before firing up with a tope. Back in with a cross body for the comeback and he hits the tornado DDT for two, but Pac has had enough of this shit and puts him down with a lariat. Orange fights back with the vicious chops, but Pac puts him down again, so Orange uses POCKET POWER to come back with a superman punch and now it’s EFFORT TIME. Stundug millionaire and he goes up, but Pac cuts him off again and crotches him. And that sets up a top rope tombstone, but Orange turns it into a DDT in mid-air and then dives in with a DDT off the top. But then Pac turns it around on him and rolls out of the ring himself, so Trent throws him in and Orange hits an Air Raid Crash for two. This brings out the Lucha Brothers to run interference, so the Best Friends take them out, but that leaves Cassidy alone and Pac finishes him with the Brutalizer at 12:55. The underachiever overachieves with a legitimately great match to hopefully shut up the haters. I told you it was gonna be awesome! ****
AEW World title: Chris Jericho v. Jon Moxley
Mox actually makes his entrance all the way from the streets and through the crowd for a great visual. Jericho gets an actual choir to sing his song, which I don’t think the crowd is topping. Jericho brings LAX with him, which will hopefully pay off Chekhov’s Jurassic Express since they made such a big deal of them buying tickets at ringside earlier in the show. Moxley is announced as “Zero F’s Given” which has GOTTA be a t-shirt by Monday morning. They dive in for the slugfest right away and Moxley throws chops and chases him out of the ring. Moxley throws Jericho into the crowd and they brawl up the stairs while Aubrey pleads for sanity. So Jericho grabs a camera and films his own comeback, then throws a piece of the railing at him. That’s the OPPOSITE of sanity! They fight onto the ramp and Moxley follows with a double sledge to the floor and then bites Jericho’s stitched forehead open. But then Jericho sends Moxley into the ringpost to bust Moxley open more. Jericho powerbombs him through the table to add injury to insult, so that’s probably not gonna go well for Moxley. The crack medical team is like “Hey, here’s some gauze, go nuts” but Jericho hauls him in and drops an elbow on him before beating on the bloody eye socket. Jericho RINGS THE FUCKING BELL and declares himself the winner, but that only works when Vince Russo is booking and/or competing, so the match continues. Back in, Jericho catapults him under the bottom rope, but Moxley gets fired up with chops in the corner until Jericho runs him into the other turnbuckles. Moxley gets sent out for some punishment from Santana and Ortiz, who are now my t-shirt buddies I should point out, but Moxley keeps fighting back. So Jericho runs him into the stairs and then back in for a suplex on the top rope that gets two. Jericho with a corner clothesline and they head to the top, where Mox puts him down with a suplex and then comes back with a top rope clothesline. They slug it out and Moxley comes back with corner clotheslines and stomps a mudhole. But he tries a dropkick and Jericho catches him in an attempt at the Walls, which Moxley turns into a heel hook. Jericho bails, so Moxley follows with a tope into the railing. Back in, Moxley boots him down for two. But then Ortiz hits him with the TUBE SOCK OF DEATH and Jericho follows with the Lionsault for two and a clothesline out of the corner. Jericho tries the Walls, but Moxley reverses to his own Boston Crab and now Hager runs in and breaks it up. This allows Jericho to hit the Codebreaker for two. Jericho gets the Walls and walks it into the middle of the ring, but Moxley powers up and makes the ropes. Jericho goes for the ultra heat by shoving Aubrey around, but Moxley fights back with the lariat, and then Hager gets another shot from the floor. So Aubrey bounces them all, but now Sammy runs in and hits Moxley with the belt before running into the crowd. And that gets two for Jericho. Jericho slugs him down but Mox will not die and wants more, please. So Jericho pokes Mox in the OTHER eye and boots him down and even Aubrey is disgusted by this guy. So Jericho goes up and drops a knee on the eye, and that sets up the Judas Effect on the blind man, but Mox ducks it and hits the DDT. And then he pulls off the eye patch and reveals that THE EYE IS FINE. Or he’s got the eye of the tiger. Whatever. Paradigm Shift and Mox is LE NOUVEAU CHAMPION at 22:18. That’s what you call gutting one out. ***1/2 See, babyface faces adversity, overcomes the odds, wins the big match and sends the crowd home happy. This is what wrestling is SUPPOSED to be!
Moxley’s post-match promo is equally amazing, as he puts over the crowd and then gets cut of by own music before quipping “What the fuck?” on live TV and then admits that he’s just making it up as he goes along anyway.
I know lots of people thought Jericho should retain still, but Moxley had the momentum and you only get a few chances to pull the trigger when the guy is ready for his moment. Jerjcho can always get it back, but you don’t want to Luger the guy when you’ve got the chance to make a star.
Hell of a show overall, with a clear Match of the Year candidate in the tag title match and a couple of show stealing surprises to boot. This company makes me so, so, so very happy to be a wrestling fan and will hopefully continue to do so for a long time to come.
Thumbs way the fuck up.