My first publication was in 2015, a feature on John Smoltz the day before the Braves legend was enshrined into Cooperstown, and since I’ve worked for a number of different sites, covering a myriad of topics across sports and professional wrestling. Never once have I wanted to headline a piece “let’s talk about [insert topic here].” I didn’t understand why sometimes headlines are written that way, but as I sit here pondering how I want to word this, I’m not sure how to headline it. Thus, we’ll go with “let’s talk about,” even if it’s not really talking if you’re just reading one fan’s perspective on the happenings of last night’s AEW Revolution.
Emanating from Daily’s Place, yours truly once again attended an AEW show, as I’ve regularly been doing since they opened up to a minimum capacity. The show, as usual, was solid from the first match to the final match, and full of surprises. Whether the surprise was a former World Champion such as Christian or a 25-year-old, international sensation such as Maki Itoh, nothing on the show disappointed, until the last three minutes of the program.
For weeks, AEW had been hyping the exploding barbed wire deathmatch, a match so callous that it had never been televised in front of a North American audience until last night. The program between Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley had gotten so personal that there was no other way to settle this. It’s right up Moxley’s alley, as long before he captivated audiences as WWE’s Dean Ambrose, he was making a name on the independent circle in deathmatches. Kenny Omega, however, has been dubbed “The Best Bout Machine” because he’s more of a traditional purist.
The match itself was as brilliant as it was violent, exceeding any and all expectations set. The little details they added to the story, such as every time the performers had to go against their natural instinct to not hit the barbed wire, was a magnificent piece of storytelling. When Kenny Omega hit the one winged angel and Jon Moxley put his foot on the rope out of desperation, setting off the pyrotechnics into the face of Kenny Omega, it was one of the best false finishes that I’ve ever seen.
The finish, keeping the heat on both competitors, was near perfect. Bell-to-bell, it may be the best match that I’ve ever seen in person and I’ve been to well over 100 live wrestling events. Following the match, it was Eddie Kingston who came out to protect his old friend after Kenny Omega and the Goodbrothers tied him up and left him to fend for himself in a ring about to explode. Against the judgement of the Butcher and Blade, Eddie Kingston seemingly turned face, putting himself over Moxley’s lifeless body.
It’s what happened next that will leave everybody hating the program, despite being excellent for three hours and fifty seven minutes of the four hours that AEW gave us last night.
When the ring was supposed to explode, sparklers went off like somebody went to fireworks section of Dollar General to surprise their kids on Independence Day. Presumably technical difficulties, almost all of the pyro AEW had ready to explode did not detonate, as Eddie Kingston had to sell it was a legitimate life-threatening situation when it was clearly none of the sort.
As the show went off air with Kingston and Moxley’s motionless carcasses sitting in the ring, every fan in the venue and watching on pay-per-view was left in stunned disappointment. The serial-position effect is real, and all of the goodwill built throughout a tremendous pay-per-view had suddenly vanished. The crowd went haywire. I was sitting with five of my closest friends, two of them actually previous PSE contributors, and one of them had to turn around and yell at a fan who was blaming Jon Moxley for this.
This was out of the control of Moxley and Omega, who put on what was probably the best match of the year so far across any company anywhere in the world. These are two of the consensus top five workers in the industry and they went to a place where nobody would’ve ever asked them to go, by choice, and left with bodies that were most certainly pierced all over and perhaps burned in some areas. Yet, because of a technical difficulty with production, all of that is now forgotten.
Eddie Kingston should’ve called an audible. After the show went off air, Moxley cut a promo for us thanking us for being there and that “Kenny Omega may be a tough son of a bitch, but he can’t explode a ring for shit.” This, in story, would clarify that Kenny Omega messed up the explosion by accident, as they’ve built the story that everything that goes on in AEW has Kenny Omega’s hands all over it. This would work…if Eddie Kingston hadn’t sold the explosion.
I feel bad for Eddie Kingston, because he was in a lose-lose situation. Clearly, things did not go according to plan. Yet, he was doing exactly what his boss told him to do. Should he have called an audibly? I think so, but I’ve also never been in and probably won’t ever be in his situation.
At the end of the day, the technical difficulties are going to take away from a magnificent story and put a match that deserves to be at the highest of echelon all of the way down to the same tier as the Bray Wyatt vs Seth Rollins fiasco in 2019. The difference between Revolution 2021 and Hell in a Cell 2019 is that the problem was a bad match made even worse by bad booking in the case of the Universal Championship contest. In the former scenario, Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley put on one of the best shows you’ll ever see and something that had absolutely nothing to do with what they could control or the booking is what was wrong as the show went off air. Unfortunately for Moxley, he had to hear all of the negativity in the moment, in what will likely be his last AEW appearance for a good minute, assuming this was a way to write him off of television.
At the end of the day, this is now on Tony Khan and AEW to pivot, retcon the idea that they were in serious jeopardy, and not insult the fanbases intelligence the same way other wrestling promotions have in the past. However, it’s kind of disheartening to realize that the despite the effort that two all-time great artists put into last night’s contest, it’ll be remembered for something that they had nothing to do with in the first place. We shouldn’t allow the worst pyrotechnic dud in pro wrestling history be a detriment to what happened from bell-to-bell.
As for AEW, they certainly need to figure out what went wrong and make sure that this does not happen again. It seems as though every pay-per-view so far has had at least one production mishap, They have arguably the most entertaining roster in the world, with tremendous storytelling. Yet, pitiful direction (granted, still better direction than WWE, but that’s a tangent), regular audio issues, among other things can be a detriment to the overall product, and that’s coming from somebody who watches every show, has most certainly dropped far more in merchandise than the average viewer and regularly attends. If AEW had half the production value of New Japan, the product would be untouchable.
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