AEW Revolution 2021: Every Match Ranked

AEW’s first Pay-Per-View of 2021 is behind us, and honestly, I think this is one of the rare times where a show perfectly matched my expectations. It was a good show that I had a fun time watching, but I wouldn’t rank it among AEW’s best. There were some surprises, some great matches, some…interesting decisions and a whole lot to talk about, so let’s do that.

9 – PAC & Rey Fenix won the Casino Tag Team Royale
(Winner gets a match for the AEW World Tag Team Championships)

In my predictions video, I described this as a ‘tag team Royal Rumble’ and…yeah, that’s pretty much what it was, although I don’t think it lived up to the prestige of that name.

This wasn’t a bad match, and I’ll talk about what I liked in a moment, but I think there were some major flaws with this one. For one thing, the pacing felt way off, especially around the middle. There were spots and people doing wrestling moves, but there weren’t any ‘moments’ to tide us over between entrants. On top of that, the entrants should’ve been given a lot more fanfare. For one thing, I didn’t even know how far along we were or when the last entrant had come in until the commentary team told me.

On top of that, I didn’t like having the countdown visible for the whole 90 seconds. Firstly, it’s really distracting when it’s in the centre of the screen; it was what my eyes were naturally drawn to rather than the in-ring action. Secondly, it meant they had to very strictly stick to it, which isn’t the worst thing, but I would’ve preferred it if they had ‘kayfabed’ the timer (like in Royal Rumbles) if it made the flow of the match feel better and made moments go off with more of a bang. There were a couple of times in this match where a significant spot/elimination was overshadowed by a team entering the match, or vice versa.

That brings me to my other issue, which is that none of the eliminations felt like they had any real impact; they all just sort of…happened. Not to mention towards the end of the match, they were happening so quickly that I barely had time to digest each one.

However, there was still stuff I liked, most of it was in the final few minutes, though. Using John Silver & Jungle Boy as make-shift partners against the heels made for a compelling finish, and they teased the final eliminations just enough to keep me going until the end. It was just a bit of a rough journey getting there.

8 – Miro & Kip Sabian def. Best Friends

I liked this match, it was just a bit short. It’s not that big of a deal; on a show with 9 matches – 3 of which went over 20 minutes – there was going to have to be a short one. As such, it felt like it started halfway through, with Best Friend having been beaten down off-camera before the match started. I actually thought it was a good way to start things, and I like that not everything has to be on camera in AEW, they give us enough credit to work out what happened when the cameras weren’t there.

The bulk of the match was fun, it just didn’t have any unique pop to it. Orange Cassidy did his thing and hit his moves. The two teams traded momentum for five minutes, and then we went to the finish. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. As I said, it has its place on the card, it’s just not going to make me all that hyped.

Miro getting the win was the right decision, and there’s the threat of Miro causing Penelope Ford to take a tumble that they can pull on and hopefully pull Miro away from his pairing with Sabian.

7 – Hikaru Shida(c) def. Ryo Mizunami
(AEW Women’s World Championship)

Every now and then, I get a match like this where I can watch it and analyse it and see that it’s a great match. It hits all the right beats and has technical workings in there that I enjoy. And yet…I just don’t connect with it. For whatever reason, be it the story, or the placement on the card or some tick in my mind, I didn’t get invested in this match despite being able to see that it was good.

Shida & Mizunami had evident chemistry, which is no surprise given their history in Japan. I’d say the middle portion was this match’s strongest point. With the face vs face dynamic, neither woman was ever going to dominate the other, and the middle is where I think the flow of momentum was the best. It took a little while to get going at the start, and I think it really petered out by the finish. For some reason, all of the passion and brutality between the two women we saw in the middle evaporated by the finish. Shida hit a move…then another move…then another move, and that was it. The result was that despite going for 15 minutes, I came away from the match feeling underwhelmed.

6 – Britt Baker & Maki Itoh def. Riho & Thunder Rosa

There’s really nothing complicated about this one. It was a really good tag match between four women who will hopefully be much bigger stars in the weeks and months to come.

Bringing in Maki Itoh was a good move here. Despite being eliminated in the first round of the women’s tournament, people really connected with her, and I can’t say I blame them. Her style plays differently from what most of the other Joshi wrestlers have to offer, and she’s exceptionally charming on social media…in a very sweary way. I’m glad AEW stuck to their guns and are keeping her as a heel, though. It would’ve been easy to just make her a face, but you’ve got to play to people’s strengths and to turn her face might’ve made her get lost in the sea of face women’s wrestlers AEW currently has under their belt.

That’s all I’ve got to say, the match was very enjoyable to watch, but there isn’t anything particularly special to talk about. I’m just waiting for the day when AEW finally stop spinning its wheels with Britt Baker and put her in the title scene.

5 – Sting & Darby Allin def. Team Taz
(Street Fight)

I didn’t realise this match would be pre-taped when I wrote my predictions, but I’m happy it was. My biggest worry was how exposed Sting could look if he had to wrestle a full-length match in front of a crowd like this, but the controlled setting in which this match was set was perfect.

The dingy setting of the abandoned warehouse was the right choice as it made the whole thing feel extremely back-alley. It played into Allin’s gimmick and aided many of the spots they had planned for the match. The action did lull in certain places, but it kept me engaged for the majority of its runtime and the high spots were definitely worth it. Allin going through the glass was visually fantastic, and the elbow drop through the hole in the ground was a wonderful exclamation mark on the match that made Allin look brilliant.

One thing for which I’d really like to commend this match is having Taz commentating over the thing. Many of these cinematic matches forgo commentary entirely, but this match showed the benefit of using it when you get it right. Taz’s input really helped tell the story of this match, which could be a little murky at times without commentary on it, and his emotion felt really genuine, which sold the match wonderfully.

This match is a good summary of this show, on the whole, now I think about it. It wasn’t the best cinematic match ever, but still very good and a worthy entry into the history books.

4 – Kenny Omega(c) def. Jon Moxley
(AEW World Championship)
(Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch)

So let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first: the closing ‘explosion’ spot was shite. In an interview, Tony Khan said it was the best they could do without actually blowing up the ring, but that just isn’t true. I’ve seen exploding deathmatches before, and it’s not that difficult to make the explosion look good. Just shoot up a bunch of smoke and sparks ALL THE WAY around ringside, so the ring is momentarily covered by the smoke & sparks. It still won’t look like a real explosion, but it’d at least look like they tried. It seems they’re going with the narrative that Kenny (in kayfabe) just did a shitty job of rigging up the explosive, which I guess works, but it really left the show – which was a good show – on a crappy note. I did like Eddie Kingston coming out and doing what he did though, I really felt the emotional impact of that moment.

So what about the match itself? As I said, I went into it with an open mind as I really didn’t know if I’d like this kind of match. Now it’s over, and I can conclusively say…I think I liked it? I definitely didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t like this amazing revelation of a new style of wrestling I love either. It had ups and downs. As far as spectacle is concerned, it was great (except for the ending), the explosives having this constant presence in the match gave every move some level of tension, and it was always a bit of a shock when one went off, even if it was telegraphed. On the downside, when there weren’t crazy weapon spots or explosions going off, it was boring. Admittedly, that wasn’t very often, but there were periods where my interest waned.

I also wasn’t a fan of the booking of the finish. I get that Jon Moxley is one of the hottest properties out there right now, and you want to protect him, but having the Good Brothers show up and cost him just felt kinda cheap. I know that’s the point, to a certain extent, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. The exploding barbed wire bat was super cool, though. I’m happy Omega retained, but I want to see him do something different now.

3 – Hangman Page def. Matt Hardy
(Winner gets the 2021 Q1 earnings of the loser)

I’d say this is the best regular singles match Matt Hardy has had in…10 years? Maybe more?

It wasn’t the most technically incredible of matches, but the story was there to give it all the heat it needed. In the same way that I failed to connect with the women’s title match, I absolutely connected with this one. It hit all of the beats it needed to and never felt like it was outstaying it’s welcome. It favoured a very steady build with momentum going back and forth the entire time. Truthfully, I think both of these guys have very similar in-ring styles, which is a big reason as to why it worked so well. Both men can pick up and slow down the pace at will with a mixture of hard-hitting strikes and visually impressive manoeuvres.

Whenever Matt has a match these days, it seems to be a coin flip as to whether he’ll look rusty & exposed or as good as he always has, and you can never really tell which one you’re going to get until the match starts. Thankfully, we got the good one here. Page, meanwhile, continues to be one of the best and most easy to like wrestlers in AEW at the moment. You can tell he’s been around Kenny & the Bucks for ages because he has such a firm grasp of how to tell stories in the ring, even through subtle ways.

In my predictions, I thought Matt winning would be the more interesting story, but having seen how this one turned out, I think I was wrong to say that. It’s clear AEW isn’t handing Page a loss anytime before he challenges (and hopefully wins) the world title, and I’m on board with it, Hardy will be able to keep doing his thing regardless, and Page can move on to someone new.

2 – The Young Bucks(c) def. The Inner Circle
(AEW World Tag Team Championships)

Another excellent tag match by The Young Bucks…what more do you really want me to say? Admittedly this one didn’t quite live up to their other significant matches but, to be fair, that is a VERY high bar to clear. The actual story beats between the two teams were ok going in, but they really made something of them in the match. The Bucks came out of the gate with a much harder style than what we usually see from them. It didn’t last once things got going, but it gave the match a different feel in the beginning.

As expected, they did a good job of showing how the Bucks wrestle as a team compared to Jericho & MJF, who wrestled as individuals. The heels were very rarely working in the ring together, and when they were, Jericho was directing traffic. Conversely, you have the Bucks who work together at every opportunity and rarely even need to tell each other what to do. It’s this kind of dynamic that made their match with FTR work so well, and I’m glad they’re still putting an emphasis on it here.

The Bucks retaining was the right choice. The Inner Circle are only about half a step away from collapsing (we may even see it happen on Wednesday), so putting the titles on them now would’ve been relatively pointless. The Young Bucks will probably be champs for the better part of this year, and I’m all in favour of that decision as long as we keep getting matches like this.

1 – Scorpio Sky def. Cody Rhodes, Lance Archer, Penta El Zero Meido, Max Caster & Ethan Page
(Winner gets a match for the TNT Championship)

The one time I say Scorpio Sky doesn’t have an outside chance…

There was so much going on here, and all of it was brilliant. Ethan Page’s debut kicked things off with a bang. Like most new AEW signings, I know nothing about his prior work, but they’re treating him like a big deal, and I liked what I saw, so I’m willing to go with them.

Everyone got something worthwhile to do in this match, and no-one was ever forgotten. Page got the big spotlight as he debuted and established himself as a continuous presence in this match. Penta does what he does best and used the fast-pace to his advantage, doing something noteworthy almost any time he was on screen. Cody got the big story beat of getting hurt but fighting his way back. Caster got in on the biggest spot of the match with the elbow drop off of the ladder. Lance Archer, meanwhile, felt damn-near invincible, it always took a lot to get him out of the ring, and whenever he was in the mix, the spotlight was on him. As I said in my predictions, I think it would’ve been a bad idea for him to win, so booking him this way was the best option.

Then, of course, Scorpio Sky got the win. Like Penta, he was in the mix a lot and did a bunch of cool stuff as he did so, which helped this win feel earned. Not to say he hadn’t earned it before. He’s been someone waiting to break through for a while now. I don’t think he’s going to take the title from Allin, but I do think it’ll be a match worth talking about, and it’ll keep him around the upper mid-card until he’s ready to finally ascend.

So there you have it! Those are my thoughts on the show; thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what your thoughts were in the comments below or on Twitter @SStyleSmark. Finally, make sure to come back here this time on Saturday, where I’ll be running down my favourite Fall Guys levels!

AEW Revolution 2021: Predictions & Analysis

Despite the fact that there’s been a lot of wrestling over the past month, it feels like it’s been ages since the last AEW PPV. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s certainly better than the fatigue I get from WWE’s schedule some times, but there’s been a lot going on with their programming as of late, and it can be tough to keep track of it all sometimes with how spread out they are.

As for this card, it’s not looking like one of AEW’s best, but there’s still plenty I’m excited to see. Not to mention, it’s not like AEW have put on a crap PPV in their lifespan so far, so I don’t have really have much reason to worry.

Riho & Thunder Rosa vs Britt Baker & Reba

I’ll talk a bit more about the current state of AEW’s women’s division a little later, but the short version is, it feels like it’s on the upswing.

There isn’t that much story going into this match, but that’s ok; it’s more about showcasing the talent they have on offer at the moment. I think all four of these women could be in title contention soon, so giving them the chance to do their thing on the PPV stage is a good decision, even if it is only on the pre-show. AEW has shown before that they’re willing to give pre-show matches a proper amount of time rather than artificially cutting them short, which will absolutely be to this match’s benefit.

The result could go either way, as both teams would benefit from having a credibility boost. Since it’s a pre-show match, I will go with the default and say the faces, Riho & Thunder Rosa will win.

Miro & Kip Sabian vs Best Friends

This feud has been a bit hit or miss week-to-week on Dynamite. The overall presentation and through lines have been good, it doesn’t feel like a waste of anyone’s time. However, some individual segments, like the wedding segment, were just a bit much and outstayed their welcome.

That said, the match should be great. We haven’t really got much of a chance to see what Miro can do with the chains off, and Kip Sabian is just begging to break through in a big way. On the other side, the Best Friends have already established themselves as wrestlers that can be relied upon for great matches. I don’t think this will be a particularly long match, but I’m expecting a bit of a frantic pace and a whole heap of melodrama.

Again, I think the result could go either way. Miro should really be getting some big wins, as he’s been AEW for a while now and hasn’t got any. On the other hand, it’s Orange Cassidy who is one of the most over stars at the moment; he’s beaten Chris Jericho in singles competition more than once, so should be really be losing here? There’s a lot of outside elements in play here, and since it’s a tag match, Cassidy doesn’t need to take the pin, so I’m going to go with Miro & Kip Sabian to find a way to sneak a win.

Casino Tag Team Royale
(Winner gets a match for the AEW World Tag Team Championships)

So a lot is going on here, and about a thousand different ways things could go.

First of all, this is a Tag Team Royal Rumble, so sign me the fuck up for that. I’m excited to see how the different dynamics play out here, the ring will get pretty crowded at some point, and that should lead to a lot of enjoyable chaos. On top of that, I think there are a lot of possibilities for the winners.

All three Dark Order teams are in with a shout. Their character shift since Brodie Lee’s tragic passing has been exactly what it needed to be; there was no way that faction would ever be booed following that event. They feel like they’ve come together in a beautiful way and their presence on-screen almost always brings a smile to my face. If I had to pick one of those teams to win, I’d go with Alex Reynolds & John Silver. Silver has absolutely been the group’s breakout star, and I’d love to see him get a shot at the titles.

Santana & Ortiz would be an interesting choice for the winners, too, as you could go different ways with it depending on who wins the tag title match. If the Bucks retain, it’s a good opportunity to continue The Inner Circle vs Young Bucks feud. Meanwhile, if Jericho & MJF win, then it will push the narrative of The Inner Circle slowly falling apart.

Outside of those teams, there are a bunch of other teams with an outside chance. PAC & Fenix, Butcher & Blade, SCU and Natural Nightmares are all in with a shout. Private Party has potential too, but given that they’re currently going after the Impact tag titles, I’d doubt they’ll win.

It’s a really tough choice picking a winner, as all of them would make for good stories. In the end, I’m going to go with my gut and say Alex Reynolds & John Silver, it just feels right, and it’d work regardless of who the champs are.

Cody Rhodes vs Scorpio Sky vs Penta El Zero Meido vs Lance Archer vs Max Caster vs ???
(Winner gets a match for the AEW TNT Championship)

Once again, we’ve got ourselves a multi-man match where the winner is up in the air. Let’s run through the participants.

Max Caster – Caster feels like the kind of guy where, while I don’t have to say about him now, he could easily be a big deal a year from now. He’s got tons of potential and is a great upside as a wrestler; he’s just not quite at everyone else’s level in this match yet. Hopefully, this will be a great performance for him, and I’m glad AEW are giving guys like this opportunities, but he’s not winning.

Scorpio Sky – Sky is always in these ladder matches for title shots, and every time I say he’s got an outside chance and every time, he doesn’t even get close. Every couple of months, Sky has a fantastic match with one of the more prominent names and we all rave about how he’s a future star of the company, but then nothing ever comes of it. Hopefully, one day that’ll change, but I don’t think it’s happening on Sunday.

Penta El Zero Meido – Another wrestler who always feels like they’re in these ladder matches but never actually wins any. I don’t really know what to say, he may win, but I doubt it. The Lucha Bros feel like they’ve got a vague direction right now, but I’m hoping it’ll form into something more clear soon, but I doubt that direction will be the TNT title.

Lance Archer – If the champ was anyone other than Darby Allin, I’d probably be picking Lance. I didn’t expect Archer to work as a face so well, but damn, it’s so easy to cheer for this guy. He taps into that face-monster archetype really well, and AEW could have a fantastic champion on their hands in a year or so if they build this right. However, I don’t think he’s going to win. While I’m sure a match between Allin & Archer would be great, it doesn’t make sense for them to face each other right now.

As much as I don’t really care about size in wrestling, Archer should realistically destroy Allin in a match, and that’s just not going to happen. If Archer squashes Allin, then it throws all Allin’s build down the drain, and if Allin managed to beat him, it would be a huge blotch on Archer’s record. No-one would gain anything from it, so they shouldn’t do it.

Cody Rhodes – This just feels like the best pick. Given how their previous match ended, it’s felt likely that a rematch would be on the cards; it just so happened that both men go sidetracked by other ventures before it could happen. I wouldn’t call it a sure-fire thing though, Cody’s tied up with Shaq as well right now, so that could always rear its head here and mess with Cody’s plans. It just seems to me that, out of all the announced participants, Cody is the only one that makes sense.

??? – What about the unannounced participant, though? Well, I honestly have no idea. I’d say the money is on it being someone from Impact, but I really couldn’t say who.

Either way, I’m going to go with the safe bet and say Cody Rhodes will win the title shot.

Hangman Page vs Matt Hardy
(Winner gets the loser’s 2021 Q1 earnings)

This is a weirdly interesting story and one that I think only works because of Page’s current trajectory. The whole downward spiral he’s on is the kind of story that’s going to have an incredible payoff when Page eventually beats Omega for the world title, but in the meantime, you’ve got to find ways to keep it going.

This story has been a brilliant way to keep it going. The story of him getting involved with The Dark Order but refusing to officially join them was unique and endearing for the characters on all sides, and this story with Matt is the perfect highlight of Page’s current character flaws. To be clear, I mean the kind of flaws intended by the narrative, mainly Page’s drinking, as it’s what got him into this situation in the first place. The stipulation of the winner lifting the loser’s earnings is brilliant for this story, even if we do know it’s not real. There’s this real sense that if Page loses this, he might have nothing left to keep him going and bottom out, and that’s some proper narrative stakes.

As for match quality, I’m sure it’ll be great. Page is perhaps my favourite wrestler in AEW right now regarding his ability in the ring, and Matt Hardy has proved that he’s not slowing down any time soon. I’m expecting a little bit of shenanigans from Private Party and maybe The Dark Order, but I doubt it’ll have too much bearing on the match.

When you look at who should win, it really depends where you want Page’s narrative next. Do you want him to continue his downward spiral? Or do you want this to be the point where he starts to bring him back from the brink? Personally, I would continue the downward spiral and really push the character to rock bottom. However, I don’t think that’s what AEW is going to do. With the ranking system, I’d imagine that Page isn’t going to be losing many matches this year for his eventually world title match. So I’m going with Hangman Page to win this one.

Team Taz vs Darby Allin & Sting
(Street Fight)

This story’s been a bit of a wild ride, that’s for sure. Sting’s appearance in AEW was one of those things that was shocking but inevitable. I had my doubts as to whether he’d ever wrestle (and, to be honest, I still have my doubts about how much he can go), but AEW wasted no time getting him in the ring. Allin has been a big beneficiary of this feud, which is good because I doubt it will do Team Taz many favours. While Allin hasn’t been defending his title so much because of this feud, his association with Sting (and inevitable victory) will raise his stock like a strong title defence never could.

I’m not entirely sure what to expect from this match. The street fight stipulation was definitely a good choice. It’ll allow Allin to perform at his self-destructive peak, allow Team Taz to get really vicious in their attacks and will create a naturally slower pace, so Sting doesn’t look exposed. Not to disrespect Sting, of course, but it’s been over 6 years since he last wrestled, and during that last match, he quite literally almost died in the ring, so I think I can be forgiven for worrying over how well he’ll be able to wrestle in this match.

Darby Allin & Sting are winning this. This match is by far the one I’m most confident about, Allin is a new champion who needs some wins under his belt, and this is Sting’s first match in AEW and first match in 6 years; there’s no way that team is losing. It’s a bit of a shame for Team Taz, but they can bounce back from it if that’s what AEW want for them.

The Young Bucks(c) vs The Inner Circle
(AEW World Tag Team Championships)

The Inner Circle and their story has been fantastic ever since AEW began. After Jericho lost his title, it really felt like the group’s days were numbered, but they managed to turn it around and keep feeling fresh with their endeavours. Now we’re in 2021, and yet again, they’ve changed up their makeup, and we’re looking at yet another story in the group. MJF joining was perfect, and the writing surrounding this story has been incredibly compelling. The knock-on effect of MJF’s presence and Jericho’s unwillingness to bend for the good of the group has been slowly creeping in week by week, and the consequences are on the horizon.

In regards to what they’ve been doing with The Young Bucks, I’ve liked that too. It’s not been the most complex of stories thanks to what’s going on within The Inner Circle, but it’s had the impact it needed to. On top of that, the Bucks and the Inner Circle are so diametrically opposed characters right now that it just kinda works regardless. Plus, there’s the hype of the actual match. All four men are bloody brilliant wrestlers, and if the Buck’s previous tag title matches are anything to go by, there will be a properly engaging story told between the dynamics of each team.

I went back and forth on this one a few times, but now I’m writing it out, I actually feel fairly confident in picking The Young Bucks to retain. That idea of the Bucks being the most solid of teams while Jericho & MJF are two bastards that are just one bad day away from turning on each other will come in to play, and The Inner Circle just won’t be able to hang with the best. Not to mention, it finally gives Jericho a reason to doubt MJF, and the cracks in The Inner Circle can start to get bigger.

Hikaru Shida(c) vs Ryo Mizunami
(AEW Women’s World Championship)

Inarguably my biggest criticism of AEW over its small lifespan so far has been the abysmal treatment of the women’s division. This year, they’ve committed themselves to building the division up to the prominence it should have, and while there’s still a long way to go to get to where it should be, the trajectory is finally pointing upwards. This tournament has done a great job of highlighting just about every competitor who’s worth taking note of in AEW’s coming weeks and, now they’re going to have more open access to their Joshi stars again, we should start to see a much greater variety in terms of feuds and title contenders.

Regarding Ryo Mizunami, it took me a little while to come around to her, but with each match in this tournament, I’ve enjoyed her work more and more, and I’m really excited to see what she & Shida can do. Shida has always worked really well against larger competitors, and Mizunami is one of the best ‘big women’ I’ve seen in wrestling in a while.

I’m struggling to pick a winner, though. Logic says that Shida should retain. Ryo is still a new star to the AEW fanbase, and putting the title on her straight away might put people off. However, this women’s tournament has felt like a big restart of the whole division, and what better way to make that statement of starting fresh than giving us a brand new champion? It’s a tough call, especially because I’m a huge fan of Shida, but I’m going to take the risky option and predict Ryo Mizunami to take the title.

Kenny Omega(c) vs Jon Moxley
(AEW World Championship)
(Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch)

Kenny Omega’s run as AEW champion has been quite a wild ride so far. Kicking things off with the partnership between AEW & Impact was one hell of a bold move, but one that absolutely worked. It built the hype surrounding this new champion, and it made me care about Impact for the first time since The Final Deletion. Seeing Kenny as a heel feels out of place, which is weird considering that’s what he was for the majority of his time in New Japan, but I’m liking it. The dude’s clearly been given a lot of creative freedom with how he operates, and he’s producing a lot of entertaining TV because of it.

An Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch, though…I really don’t know how to feel. I’ve never really watched deathmatch wrestling, nor have I ever wanted to. I don’t consider myself to be all that squeamish, but some of the clips I’ve seen of deathmatch wrestling are just…a lot to look at. This isn’t going to be a watered-down version of it either, Moxley made his name in this style of wrestling, and Kenny is never one to be 1-uped, so you know he’s going to go all the way with it. That said, I did enjoy their unsanctioned match from 2019, which most people said was ‘too much’, so maybe I’ve got more of a stomach for it than I realised. As I said, I just don’t know whether or not I’m going to enjoy this, so I’m going to go in with an open mind and see how it hits me.

The one thing I am sure about, though, is that Kenny Omega is winning. Moxley was an amazing champion, and between AEW & NJPW, he’s one of the biggest stars in all of wrestling right now, but his time with that title is done. It’s time for us to see him do new and exciting things in AEW outside of the title. Similarly, Kenny’s reign is just beginning. It’s gone really well so far, and it has an extremely promising future, so he’s definitely holding onto it for a while.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you think will happen on Sunday, either in the comments below or on Twitter @SStyleSmark. Finally, make sure you come back here this time on Monday, where I’ll be publishing my review of the show!

AEW Full Gear 2020: Every Match Ranked

Full Gear is in the rear-view mirror and…what a show.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this was easily my favourite wrestling show of the entire year. Four of the nine matches on the show are must-watch material, and the other five are all worth your time too. I had such a good time watching Full Gear, and I just want to jump straight into talking about the matches.

9 – Serena Deeb(c) def. Allysin Kay
(NWA Women’s World Championship)

This is one of those situations where I have to clarify that ‘last’ doesn’t mean ‘bad’.

Admittedly, it’s noticeably lower in quality than everything else on the show, but I still got enjoyment out of watching it. The pre-show curse seems to prevail no matter what company it is, and this match felt like it lacked a little extra spice throughout. The thing is, knowing as little as I do about these two women, it’s hard to know whether this is actually just the best they could do, but I got the impression they didn’t give it their all.

That said, there were still things to enjoy. If you’re someone who doesn’t watch Dynamite, then this was definitely a good match for getting to know what Serena Deeb is like, and why she was able to beat someone on the level of Thunder Rosa. Also, if Allysin Kay is going to stick around in AEW, this was a nice place to get in on the ground floor for her character.

So, nothing special, but a lot of good.

8 – Orange Cassidy def. John Silver

A great match, I just didn’t care about the story.

Between this and his match last month against Jericho, we’re starting to see the potential of what Cassidy can offer outside of a comedy wrestler. Yes, his comedy stuff is still unique and funny, but now he’s showing his greater wrestling prowess more frequently, I can really see him as a world-championship level performer. I don’t see any titles in Cassidy’s foreseeable future, but whenever the time comes, I’ll be ready to get behind it.

It also did well for John Silver. Commentary really put him over as the breakout singles star of the Dark Order, and I’ve got say that there’s legitimacy to that claim based on what I saw last night. He played off of Cassidy’s antics really well and got the opportunity to show a lot more of his athletic ability than what we usually see in Dark Order segments. It’s matches like this that will give the members of the Dark Order long and fruitful singles careers whenever the faction inevitably disbands.

7 – MJF def. Chris Jericho
(If MJF wins, he joins The Inner Circle)

This is a match where the story made it enjoyable. If I’m being entirely honest, I don’t think the action was all that great. I know this is a hypocritical thing to say, as Jericho is still fitter than I’ll ever be in my entire life, but every month it seems like he gets more and more out of shape. Thankfully, he’s still Chris Jericho, so it’s not like he’s ever going to be bad, but I think this match definitely lacked something I was expecting.

However, I still really liked it thanks to the story being told. As great as Jericho is as a heel, it was fun to see him wrestling as a face in this match. He got to show off some of the greatest hits we haven’t seen very often during his AEW run, like the Lionsault. MJF was brilliant at controlling the direction of the match too, we all knew both men would inevitably try to cheat, but I didn’t expect it to go so well, and make MJF look like a galaxy-brain genius.

When you’ve got two characters like this, MJF outsmarting Jericho to get the win like that is precisely how it should finish, and just highlights what a perfect fit he’ll be for The Inner Circle. As I said in my prediction, this is a land full of rich storyline opportunities, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

6 – Hikaru Shida(c) def. Nyla Rose
(AEW Women’s World Championship)

Clearly, these two women just know how to wrestle each other.

Their match at Double or Nothing was one of the best of the year, and while this wasn’t quite as good, it built off of the story that match told and added a satisfying new chapter. The idea of Shida’s victory over Nyla being a bit of a fluke or upset wasn’t one that I bought going into the match, especially after how dominant Shida has been as champion, but they sold it well during the opening sections. While Nyla didn’t necessarily dominate it, you definitely got the sense that she was determining the pace of the match, and Shida was fighting from underneath, especially with Vickie skulking around.

They touched on the brutality that their Double or Nothing match contained, but adapted it interestingly to the confines of a regular match. Pretty much anything that happened outside of the ring gave the increased intensity and levels of violence that the match needed to really engross me in the action. The spot where Nyla wrapped Shida’s leg around the underside of the ring was especially great-looking.

As the match moved towards the ending, they played up just how much the two women hated each other, and the story finally felt like it was wrapping up satisfyingly. The mirroring of both Nyla & Shida pulling the other up from the cover to exact more brutality was brilliant, and it gave the finish that enjoyable exhale of relief once it was all over. Going into it, I thought Nyla should win, but as it turned out, I think Shida winning to close the book on their story was the better way to go.

5 – Matt Hardy def. Sammy Guevara
(Elite Deletion)

Alright…let’s go through this because there’s a lot.

When it comes to pre-recorded matches in 2020, I think that the rankings of quality are quite clear. WWE main roster does it the best, AEW is a close second, and NXT is shit at it; and I think this match held true to those rankings.

Going through the match section by section, I wasn’t into it during the opening. The golf cart getting crushed by the monster truck was a fun visual, but Matt coming out and using the word “orgasmic” wasn’t funny and just seemed like a deliberate attempt to create a meme, same with the “squash” joke. Once the action got underway properly, things picked up. As soon as Ortiz & Santana got involved, I knew we were in for a clusterfuck, which is what I was hoping for.

While I was worried it wasn’t going to be silly enough, once Matt got out the fireworks, I knew we were going to be ok. It was a bit weird how he just fired them into the air, and everyone acted like they were covering from an air-strike, but as soon as Sammy picked up his own tube, it got a lot better. From there, the comedy got into full-swing, and I actually found it all funny this time. Gangrel’s appearance was an unexpected piece of brilliance, along with the exchange between Matt & Shane Helms immediately afterwards, especially Matt’s quip about “long-term storytelling”.

Where I think the match was inarguably at its best though, was once they entered the warehouse for the finale. The brief back-and-forth gave us some good action, but the big spots are what we all remember the most. Sammy’s dive off the ladder through the table was great but got overshadowed entirely by the brutal-looking spear through the tables on the outside. The blood on the concrete (assuming it was deliberate) was a great callback to Matt’s injury at All Out and made the story feel eery and uncomfortable in the way I think they were going for.

I couldn’t help but feel like Matt’s actions were quite heelish at the end, so I wonder if that’s how it’s going to be played going forwards, it’s certainly how commentary played it in the moment. I don’t know how this is going to affect Sammy’s character, but it definitely has to be something big. It could be something like a substantial humbling, or maybe it will affect his relationship with Jericho, tieing into the storyline with MJF. I honestly have no idea which way they’re going to go with it, but Sammy is absolutely going to be one to watch going forwards.

4 – Jon Moxley(c) def. Eddie Kingston
(AEW World Championship)
(I Quit)

This was one of those matches that is relatively slow, but just built and built and built.

Do you remember the build to Wrestlemania 32? Moxley (then Dean Ambrose) was going to face Brock Lesnar, and WWE was heavily teasing that it would be a super hardcore match, then the match happened, and it was a fifteen-minute snooze fest. Well, this match with Kingston was essentially the match we were all hoping to see at Wrestlemania that year.

It was hard to watch, but in exactly the way you want. Things started out highly emotional, but the action set the scene perfectly for what was to come. The way both men just hit each other as hard as they could. No wrestling manoeuvres, nothing fancy, just absolutely leathering each other with chops & strikes, it was a fantastic way to set the tone. From there, things slowly got more and more violent, and every new spot/weapon felt earned.

As Kingston wrapped his hand in barbed wire, it was the kind of thing that makes you cringe as you watch, and yet you can’t look away. Then he digs it into Moxley’s already bleeding skull, and you can feel the desperation and hatred in what each man is doing to the other. I’ve never seen such violence used in such a purposeful way. It didn’t just give us some spectacle to watch, it helped to tell us the story, which I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a hardcore match like this do.

3 – Kenny Omega def. Hangman Adam Page
(Winner becomes #1 contender for the AEW World Championship)

I want to clarify that, from here onwards, I wish I could put every match in the number 1 spot, they’re just so good.

Here’s a match that understood precisely the role it played in the story it’s telling, because the fact is, this isn’t the end of the story between Omega & Page, it’s the mid-point. It was the perfect distillation of all the aspects in this feud so far: How well the two men know each other, both in the ring and generally; how Page has an inferiority complex when comparing himself to Omega, and how deeply that affects him; how Omega, while somewhat sympathetic to what Page is going through, doesn’t care enough to hold his own career back for Page’s sake. The line as to who’s really the bad guy here is so blurred because both of them have apparent and understandable motives, and I sympathise with both men’s perspectives.

The action in the match was absolutely superb. The strength with which Page hit Omega was genuinely impressive, and it put the extra notch of emotion into the match. Similarly, Omega’s way to wrestle quite reactively, yet still control the pace of the match is the kind of thing only he knows how to do. He seemed to be lying in wait for Page to make his move, and then find a way to turn it around on Page at every opportunity. It was only once the match broke down towards the end that Page got more sloppy, and Omega actually implemented a proactive strategy.

It’s the kind of match that, when these two inevitably wrestle again for the title in a year or so, they will be able to build from to tell a story and give us a match that will live in the memory forever.

2 – Darby Allin def. Cody Rhodes(c)
(TNT Championship)

I give Cody shit sometimes, but he really is a masterful in-ring storyteller.

I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that most people wanted to see Allin win this match, and Cody wrestled like he knew that. It’s been a pretty consistent factor in AEW’s stories that Cody has a bit of an ego, even as a face. To be fair, I’d have an ego too if I helped start a brand new wrestling company that was seeing huge success, but that’s not the point. The point is, here is where we see that ego fully manifest itself as the critical weakness that Cody’s opponents can exploit.

Everything about Cody’s performance in both the build and the match itself said that he knew he was going to beat Allin. He’d just taken down his most formidable opponent in the form of Brodie Lee, and he felt untouchable, but that’s why Allin seemed like a believable opponent. Every time they’ve wrestled, it’s felt like Allin had all the tools to beat Cody, he just made one or two key mistakes that cost him. Here, Allin had learned, and now it was Cody’s turn to make the mistakes.

The small touches here and there was all that was needed to make the story work. Things like Cody getting scolded by Arn Anderson for doing press-ups in the ring, or Cody’s bodyslams on Allin with a bit of extra stank on them. In essence, it’s a straightforward story, but when it’s told so well, you forget that and see deeper into what is happening between the two characters. I want to clarify that it wasn’t just the story either, the action was great too, as much as Allin wasn’t in control for the majority of the match, we still got to see all of the talent and ability that will make him a brilliant champion.

It was a match that analysed and understood the flaws of the characters involved and exploited them to tell the best story possible. What’s so great about it is how it can serve as both a self-contained story and one that can develop in the future. It seems like Cage & Starks are in Allin’s immediate future, but the door is definitely open for Cody to come at Allin again later down the line.

1 – The Young Bucks def. FTR(c)
(AEW World Tag Team Championships)
(If The Young Bucks lose, they can never challenge for the AEW World Tag Team Championships again)

It may not have been the greatest tag team match ever, but it was most certainly top 3. Which, given that both teams are in one of the other two, is quite the accomplishment.

This match was not only a brilliant tag team match in and of itself but a celebration of the history of tag team wrestling. I could sit around all day talking about the mindblowing action this match gave us. Sure, it wasn’t the flashiest affair ever, but it flowed so perfectly that every moment felt important. The opening was slow but meaningful, and the match slowly accelerated to a fever-pitch that gave us all the action we could ever have hoped for.

The thread of Matt’s injured leg was central to this match, but it didn’t overbear on the whole thing. When people complain that the Bucks don’t sell properly, this is the kind of match that proves that point wrong. Yes, he still did a bunch of leg-based offence, but he made sure to show the consequences of every time he did it in the slow deterioration of his movements throughout the match. As it goes on, he gets slower and less stable on it, and yes, he can still dropkick people, but it comes back to bite him moments later.

FTR did what they do best, and that is work smarter than any wrestlers have ever worked. How they divided, separated and prevented the Bucks from making a break at every turn was absolutely masterful and made the story of the match so incredibly compelling. In both teams, you truly felt the unspoken bond they share with their partners, there was no hesitation, no miscommunication at any point. Both teams always knew exactly where their partner was and what they needed to do to help out the team. It made the whole thing feel like it genuinely was the two best teams in the world, having the best match they possibly can. Which to be fair, it was.

They even included all of the callbacks, not just to tag team wrestling’s past, but to the personal history of both teams. Yes, it was cool to see the Bucks do the Dudley Death Drop or the Twist of Fate/Swanton Bomb combo, but nothing – and I mean NOTHING – made me pop bigger than FTR doing DIY’s finisher. Where WWE refuses the acknowledge the history their wrestlers have in other companies, AEW understands that embracing that and using it in your stories makes for the best possible version of those stories. A wrestler is everything they’ve ever done, not just what they’ve done in your company.

AEW have said they intended to make tag team wrestling main-event worthy for ages now, but it’s matches like this that put action to those words. Utterly incredible.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you thought of Full Gear, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back this time next Saturday, where I’ll be ranking every Raw & Smackdown Women’s Champion!

AEW Full Gear 2020: Predictions & Analysis

I hope you like wrestling because we’ve got a lot of it to talk about over the next month.

I don’t think I’m alone in believing that AEW produces the best weekly wrestling TV show out there right now. It’s miles better than Raw & Smackdown, and while NXT did have an excellent Halloween Havoc show a couple of weeks, ago AEW’s consistency is what puts it on top for me. As it stands, this actually makes Full Gear a very highly anticipated show for me, which is something I don’t often feel for WWE shows these days. Both companies have an exceptional depth of talent in their roster, but when you look at a show like this compared to Hell in a Cell, it’s clear which company is currently better at making use of all that talent.

Anyway, enough rambling, let’s predict some matches.

Serena Deeb(c) vs Allysin Kay
(NWA Women’s World Championship)

While I get that NWA have a working relationship with AEW, and NWA don’t have anything on TV right now, I find it a little odd that they’d allow their title to go on an AEW contracted talent like this. I’m not saying I dislike it, I never thought we’d see any wrestling companies playing nice like this, I’m just not used to it is all.

Either way, I think this is an excellent opportunity to showcase a bit more depth on AEW’s women’s division, which it is still sorely lacking despite how hard fans are trying to push for more. I had no idea who Serena Deeb was before she won that title, but I like what I’ve seen so far. As for Allysin Kay, she’s precisely the kind of talent the women’s mid-card could use in AEW to create some really compelling stories, with or without a title involved. I know she’s not signed any contract yet, but I really hope we get to see more of her on AEW soon.

As for the result, I think Serena Deeb is going to retain. For one thing, she’s only just won the title, and it seems like AEW/NWA are wanting to build her pretty big. For another, Allysin Kay has already had a pretty substantial run with that title, and I don’t think she needs another. Then, even if there is some sort of handshake agreement, I doubt either company would want to put the title on her before she’s signed anywhere. They’ve already lost one champion to NXT, they’re not going to risk another.

Orange Cassidy vs John Silver

I’m not entirely sure how deep Cassidy’s feud with the Dark Order is going to go, but I’m not sure the characters are going to be a good fit for one another. I love how Cassidy has been broadening his scope as a wrestler, but his character in promos and the like has still remained largely unchanged, and I don’t see it working against such a serious gimmick. Of course, if anyone can prove me wrong on that, it’s Cassidy & Brodie Lee, but that remains to be seen.

As for this match, I’m not expecting much, but it should be good while it lasts. Personally, I would’ve put this match on the pre-show instead of the NWA women’s title match, but given that they’re still trying to build Cassidy up as a star, I can see the reasoning behind it. Speaking of building Cassidy up as a star, Orange Cassidy is definitely winning this match. I know the Dark Order need to regain some momentum after the weird booking in the Cody feud, but you can’t have Cassidy beat Jericho and then take a loss like this. I don’t know what the plans are for Cassidy going forward, but a loss here would be a big blow.

Matt Hardy vs Sammy Guevara
(Elite Deletion Match)

I’ve had enough of this feud, but I don’t blame them for wanting to restage the match following the disaster at All Out.

Since All Out, they seemed to have upped the brutality of the feud rather than the weirdness, so I’d imagine we’re going to get a weapons-focused match rather than a cinematic one. As long as they don’t do anything as obviously risky as they did last time, this should be fine. I’m sure there will still be some shenanigans from the broken universe involved, it is Matt Hardy after all, but I’m expecting an overall more grounded affair.

I don’t really know who should be the winner here. Wrestling logic would determine it should be the younger star, but that just doesn’t feel like it works in this context. Sammy seems to be a wrestler who loses when it doesn’t feel like he should, but it’s ok because he’s got Chris Jericho around to bring him back up. Plus, there’s the element of Guevara going into Hardy’s world unprepared. I’m not confident here, but I’m picking Matt Hardy to take the win in this one.

Chris Jericho vs MJF
(If MJF wins, he join the Inner Circle)

There’s a lot unpack here.

This feud has just been Jericho and MJF flexing their creative muscles in just about any way they can possibly imagine. I know the “Me and My Shadow” segment divided people, but I enjoyed it for what it was, and the town hall segment the week later was brilliant. I think it really shows the strength of the character that MJF has created that he can hang with Jericho like he’s been doing it for years.

The match will hopefully be fantastic too. MJF has shown countless times now that he can hang with the very best, and they don’t get much better than Jericho, so we should be in for a treat. I’m expecting some shenanigans here and there, but I don’t think they’ll overwhelm the match.

For the story going forward, there are a couple of routes they could take. If MJF were to lose, he could mope around for a while and resort to violence rather than words to get himself into the Inner Circle. However, the far better option is MJF winning, clean or not, and having him continually butting heads with all the other members of the Inner Circle. He’s the kind of character that will absolutely hate not being the leader of the group and we’ll get all kinds of great segments out of the conflict between him and Jericho. Maybe he could even get on the good side of a couple of them and attempt to stage a coup. All kinds of entertaining things could come from it, which is why I’m picking MJF to win.

Hikaru Shida(c) vs Nyla Rose
(AEW Women’s World Championship)

As great as this match was the last time we saw it, I really think this just goes to show how little investment AEW has really put in their women’s division, as Rose feels like the only challenger still on her level.

Nyla alongside Vickie Guerrero has been a good pairing, and definitely gives Rose the credibility she needed to rechallenge Shida. The problem is that Shida is starting to feel like a bit of generic babyface champion. She still has an edge to her, but the way she gladly accepts any and every challenge is getting a bit dull and generic. On top of that, she’s so easily comparable to Io Shirai on NXT that she’s starting to slip into the territory of being an inferior version.

That said, I’m confident this will still be a great match. Their match at Double or Nothing is one of the best AEW has produced so far this year, and I’m expecting them to recapture some of that magic. Hopefully, Rose is going to come at this with a new fire under her, and instead of Shida fighting as the underdog, it will just be the story of two women who really don’t like each other beating the piss out of each other.

Looking at the winner though, as much as I hate to say it, it’s time for Shida’s reign to end. I still really like her as a wrestler, but she’s definitely lost something over this reign. I don’t think that’s Shida’s fault though, I’ve said it already in this article, but I will keep saying it until it changes; AEW really aren’t good at booking their women’s division, and it’s starting to show more than ever. Either way, I think putting the title back on Nyla Rose is the money move here. It’ll give the division a new dynamic with a heel at the top and hopefully bring it some greater prominence.

Kenny Omega vs Hangman Adam Page
(Winner becomes #1 Contender for the AEW World Championship)

AEW can make jokes about it all they want, but that tournament was quite the predictable affair. However, sometimes things are predictable for a good reason, and that reason is so we can finally watch these two go at it.

This story has been flaring and smouldering for large portions of the year, and this match promises to be where it will finally go off with a bang. While many people have criticised Omega’s more muted persona in AEW, I think he performs the role very well. I don’t want to see him be this way forever, but when he’s up against a character that’s coming out of his shell in a brand new way like Page, having Omega play the moderate straight-man is the best way to tell that story. Maybe I’m just used to how tactless WWE can be, but I think they’ve handled the ‘alcoholic’ plot thread quite well. They draw attention to Page’s drinking, but not so much as to glorify it, while Page can portray someone who’s mildly drunk in interviews quite convincingly. His interview with JR on Wednesday is the perfect example, it felt uncomfortable in precisely the way it should.

When we talk about action, I think this has all the potential to be the best singles match AEW has ever produced. We already know the kind of incredible matches Omega is capable of putting on, and if the pair’s run as tag champs proved nothing else, it’s that Page is more than capable of keeping up with him. This is one of those matches that has got such a perfect mix of wrestling talent and worthwhile storytelling that there’s almost no way it can’t be incredible.

This is one of the most challenging matches on the card to predict for me because there are legitimate explanations for both wrestlers to win; in terms of both booking and narrative. If Omega were to win, he could go on to face Moxley (spoilers), who he already had a long history with, and let’s be honest, Omega really should be sniffing around that title by now. I get wanting to put other people over, but leave a piece of the pie for yourself. It would also allow Page to continue the story of his downward spiral, potentially paving the way to an amazing redemption story a year or so down the line.

However, I’m going with Hangman Adam Page to win instead. I’m pretty confident that Page is going to be the next AEW champion, and beating Omega will give him a significant notch on his belt going forward. I see a future where he wins the title as a heel, only to eventually transition to a beloved face by the end of his reign, and it looks like a magical future. I think if AEW puts all their chips down on Page, they’re going to have lightning in a bottle, so he should win here.

Cody vs Darby Allin
(TNT Championship)

I must admit, I was a bit perturbed following the feud between Cody & Brodie Lee. The matches were good, and I definitely felt like the story was with Lee winning the title and going on a tear before Cody eventually gets it back, but it happened way too quickly. I see the value in Cody holding that title for a while, but it definitely didn’t feel like they got anywhere near the full potential out of Lee holding the title.

Still, that doesn’t change the fact that we’re here now, and Darby Allin is lining up to take Cody down. I’ve been picking Allin to make some kind of breakthrough in AEW in every Pay-Per-View on which he’s appeared, and I’ve never been right about it. Ever since his very first match with Cody, he seems to be waiting in the wings for the chance to be a star, and another match with Cody seems like the perfect chance to finally make that into a reality.

I’m not sure what kind of story they’re going to tell with this match, but my hopes are high. As I said, their previous encounter was fantastic, and I expect that to build off of what happened there. Naturally, building off of their previous work would imply that Darby Allin is going to win, so that’s who I’m picking. Maybe it’s a bit foolish, and Cody may hold onto the title for ages, but if Allin is going to make it, he needs something soon before he gets stale, and this is the perfect opportunity to make something of him.

FTR(c) vs The Young Bucks
(AEW World Tag Team Championships)
(If The Young Bucks lose, they can never challenge for the championships again)

As far as matches I’m excited about goes, this one is right at the top of the list.

I’ve talked about my love for FTR plenty of times before. Their run as The Revival in NXT is the best tag team run of the modern era, and since they’ve come to AEW, they’ve been absolutely fantastic. They’re nothing flashy, just men who stay true to their ideals and maybe do things a bit dirty here and there to get their way. On top of that, they wrestle great matches. Their match against Page & Omega was fantastic, but this is the one we’ve all been waiting to see.

The build has been great, it’s the kind of thing where we know where it’s heading, but they wanted to wait a bit to get there. Ever since the match has been official, the hype has been real though, I can’t wait to see how this one plays out. While I don’t have any specific spots in mind, I can definitely see how these styles are going to mesh well. The mix of classic tag team psychology mixed in with the craziness of The Young Buck’s matches should be quite the sight to behold.

I flip-flopped on the winner a few times too. The thing is, I feel pretty confident that this is going to be a multi-match feud. Initially, I thought that it would be similar to the story with The Revival vs #DIY, where the Bucks have to fail once or twice first before finally getting the big win and the titles. However, then they added the stipulation that if the Bucks lose, they’re done, and that changes things. Now, I think it’s going to go the opposite way, where the two teams trade the titles a couple of times before determining a final winner, much like with Young Bucks vs Lucha Bros last year. So I’m going with The Young Bucks.

Jon Moxley(c) vs Eddie Kingston
(AEW World Championship)
(I Quit)

As is the pattern with most new people who AEW bring in, I knew basically nothing about Eddie Kingston before he appeared in AEW, but now he’s here, I want more and more and more.

The man is absolute fire on the microphone. He speaks with a level of heightened brutality that I don’t see from anyone else at the moment. His passion is captured so beautifully in his words, but also in the way he carries himself. His segment where he talked off against Moxley on Wednesday was the perfect example of this. Moxley was also great in that segment, but Kingston’s performance, while talking and being talked to, is what made it into something special.

Speaking of making things special, it’s matches and feuds like this that have made Moxley’s run as champion so great. The I Quit stipulation was such a great one because I genuinely can’t see either man saying those words, and imagine the match is going to get so brutal, that even the loser won’t seem that weak. Honestly, I never thought I’d be hoping for a match with loads of weapon-based violence in it, but here we are, the year where anything can happen.

As much as I said I can’t see either man saying “I Quit”, I’m confident that Jon Moxley is going to win. I think there’s a world of potential in Kingston winning the title, I just don’t see it happening. Moxley has been such a dominant champion, that I think the story where he loses needs to be a bit grander in scope. It’ll be a proper passing of the torch moment, and I think a younger guy needs to be the one to pick it up.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you think is going to happen on Saturday, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo! Finally, make sure to come back this time on Sunday, where I’ll be giving you my review of the show!

AEW All Out 2020: Predictions & Analysis

It’s been a while since we’ve had one of these, but it’s time for AEW’s next Pay-Per-View! I’ll admit, with all the hype surrounding NXT Takeover, Summerslam & Payback, I’ve let my AEW viewing fall short somewhat. However, I dedicated this past week to catching up on the past month & a half of Dynamite, and I’ve got to say, I’m really enjoying the shows they’re putting out. Almost every week, there’s at least one match that feels like a big deal, and I can’t say that about Raw or Smackdown these days. Even NXT seems to be cramming its weekly shows with more and more filler (the past couple of weeks not included).

Regardless, there are nine matches on this show, and I’m going to predict them, because if I don’t do it, then you will? You know…other than any wrestling fan with any kind of minor online presence. If you saw my predictions for Double or Nothing, earlier this year, you’ll know that I got almost every match wrong, let’s see if I’ve learnt anything since then.

Britt Baker vs Big Swole
(Tooth & Nail Match)

Britt Baker’s injury was certainly unfortunate, but I’ll be damned if she hasn’t turned it into one hell of a positive for her character. It’s allowed her to play a properly slimy heel that can never seem to get her comeuppance because she’s hurt. Sort of like what MJF has been doing, but in a different way. Baker has been using it to take shot after shot at anyone she feels like dissing, and no-one can seem to do anything about it. Which is why I think there’s going to be some serious shenanigans at play during this Tooth & Nail match. Looking towards Big Swole, for one thing, that’s a dumb name, I don’t care what you say, but when it comes to her wrestling, she’s definitely got ‘future star’ written all over her. At the moment she’s not much more than a no-nonsense babyface who wants to kick people’s arses, and that works for her. It might not work forever, but that’s a problem for future Homer.

I’m curious as to what the Tooth & Nail stipulation entails. On Dynamite, it was implied that this is going to take place at Baker’s dentist surgery, and Tony Khan confirmed a few days ago that it would be a cinematic match, so honestly, anything could happen. Given that Big Swole picked the stipulation though, it seems an odd choice to give Baker the home-field advantage, but whatever.

I’m struggling to pick the winner though. Big Swole should definitely be being built up as a star, but I don’t think it’s going to be her time for a good 6-8 months or so. Meanwhile, Britt Baker is a ready-made opponent for Hikaru Shida already (spoilers), so provided she’s healthy, I don’t see any reason to delay that feud. Plus, as much as she’s been promoted as one of the spearheads of AEW’s women’s division, Baker isn’t a point yet where she can take innumerable losses and not suffer, she still needs big wins. So that’s why I think Britt Baker is coming away victorious in this one.

Casino Battle Royale

So, normally in big multi-man matches like this, I run down the possible candidates that I think could win the thing, but realistically, I think there are only two in this one.

I’m of two minds with AEW’s strategy for running a bunch of number 1 contender matches on their PPVs. It’s an excellent opportunity to give someone the spotlight who might not have received it otherwise, and I like that it gives the world title scene a constant sense of direction. However, I’m not sure a bunch of one-and-done title shots are doing much to elevate the contenders. I don’t know about you, but Brian Cage’s match against Moxley didn’t really do much to elevate him in my eyes. However, it’s a fun battle royal, and I like fun battle royals.

So, the two people I could see winning this thing (other than a surprise entrant) are Lance Archer & Darby Allin, and to be honest with you, which one I think is going to win mostly depends on the result of the main event. Lance Archer would be a great next challenger for Moxley, they’ve got recent history from their time in New Japan Pro Wrestling, and I would be down for a really brutal feud. Meanwhile, Darby Allin would be the perfect first opponent for MJF. From a character perspective, they’re perfect foils for one another, they’ve got in-ring styles that should mesh amazingly, and it would be a great showcase that AEW is willing to invest in its future with young stars.

Other factors that have played into my decision to pick Darby Allin as the winner though. For one thing, Allin’s been on the brink of breaking through for ages now, and they’ve got to do something with him before the fans stop giving a shit. Also, Lance Archer has plenty of options without needing to go after the world title. I would sure as hell like to see Archer vs Cage, even if it was heel vs heel.

The Dark Order vs Matt Cardon, Scorpio Sky & The Natural Nightmares

That TNT title sure has been going strong, hasn’t it? I still think the belt looks a bit boring, even with it’s improved look, but that doesn’t matter, because the booking team have been treating it very prestigiously. A series of open challenges is an excellent way to get me interested in any title/champion, and the run Cody had with the title was fantastic. Then, to have Brodie Lee come along and absolutely eviscerate Cody was the perfect next step. For one thing, Cody is easily one of the most sympathetic babyfaces out there, for another thing, it reestablishes Lee as a massive threat following his high-profile loss to Moxley. Not to mention, it’s given The Dark Order the credibility it’s been lacking, meaning I’m now a hell of a lot more interested in what they’re doing than I was before.

Given how close Lee winning the title has been to All Out, I don’t mind there not being any kind of title match on this PPV, because his presence around The Dark Order should be enough, especially if there’s an angle going down. As for the faces, I couldn’t care less. I’m happy to see that Cardona is making waves after leaving WWE, but unless he’s going to be a permanent fixture on AEW TV, then I’m not going to bother getting invested. I like Scorpio Sky, but this is not how I want to see him being used, he should be having high-profile singles feuds with anyone and everyone. I like Dustin, no complaints there, and QT Marshall is alright, but I haven’t really found a reason to like him yet.

Regardless, The Dark Order are winning this one, in fact, this is by far the predictions I’m the most confident about. They’re riding a huge wave momentum right now, and it’s way too early to hand them any significant losses. Combine that with the fact that the faces aren’t in a position to be hurt by taking a beating here, The Dark Order should absolutely wipe the floor with them.

Jurassic Express vs The Young Bucks

Yes, this is a match with nothing on the line, no build and is pretty much just ‘for the hell of it’, but it’s going to be excellent.

I’ve got very little to say about this match, other than that I’m really looking forward to it. Jurassic Express have been on fire ever since AEW began, and The Young Bucks have always been able to go with the best. The only there is to discuss is who I think is going to win. I think it would be nice for Jurassic Express to take it, but The Young Bucks have been jobbing themselves out like crazy since AEW began. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy they’re not going the exact opposite way and overbearing the whole show, but they’ve got to win big matches sometimes.

So I’m going with The Young Bucks, but really, I’m going to invoke the ‘we, the fans, win’ cliche in regards to this match.

Matt Hardy vs Sammy Guevara
(Broken Rules)
(If Matt Hardy loses, he must leave AEW)

I don’t know why this pairing works so well, but I’ve been enjoying this feud a great deal since it began. Sammy’s sign schtick has been wearing a bit thin, but it worked for this feud and allowed for some cool moments. Not to mention, it made great use of the picture-in-picture aspect of the ad breaks. Their matches have been killer too, after recent events, Sammy was always going to have to earn his way back into a prominent role in AEW, and I think his matches with Hardy have done just that.

Apparently, a ‘Broken Rules’ match just means a Last Man Standing match, which admittedly, does take away from my hype for the match somewhat. I honestly can’t remember the last Last Man Standing match I actually enjoyed, but I do think it’s the logical progression given where they’ve gone with the feud so far. If nothing else, I think it’ll serve the story perfectly, even if the action suffers as a result.

If the ‘Matt leaves AEW’ stipulation wasn’t on the match, I’d pick Sammy Guevara without a second thought, but that’s really thrown things into the air. It’s entirely possible that Matt Hardy could be going away for a little while, many on the internet have already theorized that he’ll just come back under a different gimmick. The only problem there is that AEW has already acknowledged Matt’s multiple gimmicks to be the same guy, so I don’t think the logic would hold. Ultimately, I’d prefer to Sammy win this one, but as it stands, I’m going for the safe pick, Matt Hardy.

Chris Jericho vs Orange Cassidy
(Mimosa Mayhem)

This match is going to be an absolute blast.

The in-ring action probably won’t be world-class, but in terms of pure entertainment value, this could easily be the most enjoyable match of the show. Jericho has proved time and time again that he’s one of the best comedic wrestlers when he wants to be, and Orange Cassidy is an absolute master of comedic timing in wrestling matches. Will it be over-the-top and a bit stupid? Probably, yes. Will that make it incredibly fun to watch? Hell yeah.

This feud as a whole has been really entertaining too. I love how dedicated AEW has been to getting Cassidy over as a real main-eventer, even despite his highly comedic persona. Jim Cornette and his screaming piss-babies will be forever crying about how comedic wrestling is the work of the devil and is ‘killing the business’, but it’s time to leave them behind and embrace the entertainment value of a guy like Cassidy for what it is.

The interesting thing about picking a winner is how the stipulation of the match is actually going to work. The way I see it, there is absolutely no way that Cassidy is going in the vat of mimosa. His character is one that can bounce back from any beating you give him, but humiliating him like that is insanely damaging to his persona. However, the match can also be won by pinfall or submission, so it’s entirely possible that Jericho could win the match via pinfall, only for Cassidy to push Jericho into the mimosa after the match to get the last laugh. Ultimately, I think that if Jericho’s going into the mimosa regardless, you might as well give Orange Cassidy as big of a boost as possible by giving him the win.

Hikaru Shida(c) vs Thunder Rosa
(AEW Women’s Championship)

AEW really need to get their shit together when it comes to the women’s division because this match has not been hyped or built nearly as much as it should. Shida is the kind of wrestler that you can build a division around, with her running strong at the top, and yet she’s barely on TV, and even when she is, it’s almost never in the ring. The treatment of the women’s division has been AEW’s biggest problem since the company began last year, and it’s incredibly frustrating to see that they’re not learning their lessons.

However, the one thing they do at least do well, is that they give the matches plenty of time on the shows, which is why I’m still very excited about this match. I don’t know a lot about Thunder Rosa, but what I’ve seen of her, I really like. As much as AEW hasn’t been pushing her personality properly, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve got of it so far, and I think she’ll click really well with Shida in the ring. I just think AEW has been leaning too heavily on Rosa’s status as the NWA Women’s Champion to sell her to the audience when really, that should be secondary to her character.

Now, I don’t know anything about what AEW’s agreement is with the NWA, but I don’t think AEW would be willing to put their women’s title on someone who isn’t under contract with them. It’s certainly not unheard of, but I’m pretty confident in my belief that Hikaru Shida is going to retain.

Kenny Omega & Hangman Page(c) vs FTR
(AEW World Tag Team Championships)

I didn’t think anything from this year could top Omega & Page vs Young Bucks, but if any team can do it…it’s FTR.

The build for this one has been excellent. I don’t like how absent Omega has been from a lot of it, but it’s a case where the story works fine without him; in fact, you could argue it shrouds the dynamic between him & Page in even more mystery. Everything Page has been doing all year has been great, and it finally feels like things are coming to a head. FTR has been masterful heels, manipulating Page to get him to screw over The Young Bucks and cause a rift between him & Omega, while not being so overbearing that they can have deniability about the whole thing.

I mean, come on, you don’t need me to tell you that this match is going to be amazing. FTR were one-half of one of my favourite tag team matches of all time (vs #DIY at NXT Takeover: Toronto), and Omega & Page were one half of the other of my favourite tag team matches of all time (vs The Young Bucks at AEW Revolution). With guys who can go in the ring like these and a story as hot as this one, I’m expecting a match of the year candidate.

Funnily enough, I think the outcome is fairly obvious. FTR are coming away with the titles. There’s definitely still a route for the story to go if Omega & Page retain, but I don’t think it’s the right way to go. We all know that FTR vs Young Bucks is where we’re headed, and while you can argue that match doesn’t need the titles, it should absolutely still have them involved. Tully Blanchard said it himself, if you haven’t got the titles, how can you truly say that you’re the best?

Jon Moxley(c) vs MJF
(AEW World Championship)

This is a real toughie. The thing is, this is the moment that MJF’s AEW career has been leading towards ever since he first showed up. There’s no way he isn’t going to hold the AEW Championship at some point in the next year or two. The thing is, is it actually going to happen now?

The feud has been great. MJF is the epitome of a clever heel. He knows that Moxley’s attitude is ‘fight first, talk later’ so he’s taken every opportunity to prevent Moxley from resorting to violence. The whole campaign to ban the Paradigm Shift has been a wonderful satire of the political landscape, without diving too deep to feel like a straight-up parody. Moxley’s bounced off it perfectly too. I adored his performance in the contract signing, where he just sat there and let MJF shoot his mouth off for ages, his facial reactions, the little comments he’d make were terrific. I honestly think Moxley could do very well for himself as an actor if he really wanted to.

I’m interested to see what direction the match will take. MJF can absolutely go in the ring – just watch his match against Jungle Boy at Double or Nothing if you don’t believe me – so they could wrestle a largely technical match. MJF touched on the idea that he was going to do everything in his power to keep Moxley from taking the match out of the ring, so I think there could be a great story to be told with Moxley wrestling a technical style in the ring. Alternatively, this could be a huge story-based match, with lots of excitement, big spots and interferences. I think either way would be equally as entertaining, provided they’re done well.

I’ve got to pick a winner though, and I honestly don’t know. As I said, MJF is getting his hands on that title eventually, I’m just not sure if now is the right time or not. It’s one of those situations where I’d be happy with either result, I’d love to see Moxley continue the absolute tear he’s been on as of late, but MJF at the top of the mountain would make for some incredible TV. It’s a tough call, but I’m going to go for MJF. I don’t know why. It was just my gut feeling.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you think is going to happen tonight, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo! Finally, make sure to come back this time next week, where I’ll be running down my favourite tracks from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise!