All Elite Wrestling
March 5, 2023
San Francisco, California
Watch: PPV, B/R Live & FITE (Non-US)
Meet our reviewers
Sean Sedor: I just got done watching a big day of auto-racing (F1’s season opener in Bahrain, a crazy season opener for the IndyCar Series in St. Petersburg, and a fun NASCAR race in Las Vegas), and now I’m settled in for the 2023 edition of AEW Revolution. You can find me on Twitter @SASedor2994. If you’re interested in some of my other escapades, you can watch me play the Formula 1 games on YouTube (just search my name), and you can also go to the Be The Booker forums if you’d like to check out my EWR Diary, where I play as WCW (started in 1998, currently in the Autumn of 2001).
Jesse Collings: It just feels wrong to be doing an AEW PPV review during a work night. I’m so used to staying up until 2 a.m. watching the post-show press conference, you mean I’m now expected to be at work in six hours after watching Tony Khan spend 20 minutes retelling the same story about how he put The Acclaimed together? Anyway, excited to be here tonight. You can follow me on Twitter, @JesseCollings and check out my podcasts, Wrestlenomics and the Gentlemen’s Wrestling Podcast here on the VOW Network.
Tyler Forness: After a long weekend of watching the underwear olympics (NFL Scouting Combine), Tyler is ready for a more violent version of men in their underwear. Covering the Minnesota Vikings and the NFL for USA Today’s Vikings Wire, football is a good portion of my life, but I always make time for the grapes! You can follow me on Twitter @TheRealForno, @TheVikingsWire and listen to my podcast on the Voices of Wrestling Podcast Network The Good, The Bad, and The Hungee and follow the show on Twitter @GoodBadHungee.
AEW Revolution 2023 Zero Hour
Mark Briscoe & The Lucha Brothers def. Ari Daivari & The Varsity Athletes
Sean: I had such a big smile on my face when I watched that promo where Mark Briscoes introduced The Lucha Brothers as his partners for this match. Could there even be a more wholesome trio? Penta and Fenix were in 49ers colors, while Ari Daivari and The Varsity Athletes got a….pretty grandiose entrance (especially considering their spot in the pecking order) with Mark Sterling giving each an individual introduction. This was a pretty enjoyable trios affair. The heels worked over Penta for a bit after the initial opening flurry from the babyfaces, leading to both Fenix and Mark Briscoe running wild after their respective hot tags. Fenix took a couple of big bumps (no surprise there), including an unintentional one in the form of a botch when he went for a top rope rana. The crowd popped for a big nearfall after the heels broke Sterling’s clipboard over Mark’s head, and in the end, the babyfaces prevailed after Mark hit the Froggy Bow on Ari. Sterling then ate a Fear Factor from Penta following the bout. Again, this was a fun match from start to finish. Exactly the kind of match to help get the crowd fired up for the night ahead. ***1/2
Jesse: Mark Briscoe and the Lucha Brothers are two of the most over-acts in AEW right now and maybe they should have found their way onto the main card, although it’s obviously always a tight squeeze in AEW to make that cut. I like that they did do a trios match here and talked about both of these units as potential contenders for the trios titles, that is something that AEW doesn’t do a lot; they have the trios titles but don’t do a ton of trio matches outside of the title picture.
I dug the hokey intros Mark Sterling did for Woods, Nese and Daivari. It’s the right kind of dumb heat for this kind of team. All three guys are solid workers with good looks, and they are kind of unsung heroes in AEW as undercard heels that are competent enough in their roles to let the popular babyfaces really shine.
This was a typical AEW pre-show match in that it was really fun. The Varsity Athletes were given a decent amount of offense, but were clearly presented as inferior to the more popular babyfaces. Since there is no need to protect them, they were able to hit basically all of their key moves and it was okay for the babyfaces to kick-out of them. This led to some actually convincing nearfalls, which took the match to another level. ***½
Tyler: This was really fun. Even though the story wasn’t exactly Oscar worthy, all six individuals had a gripe with someone on the other side. You don’t always need a story for your matches, but it’s a nice touch. Smart Mark Sterling gave the Varsity Athletes a special entrance and it was every bit as hilarious as a smarmy heel should be. Once the bell rang, they got the energy of the crowd up immediately. The Lucha Brothers rocked San Francisco 49ers inspired gear and the Varsity Athletes all performed well. Not much to say about this match other than it was a great way to kick off the pre-show. ***½
JAS Banned From Ringside
Ricky Starks def. Chris Jericho
Sean: Ricky Starks comes out with his ribs taped up after that injury was recently reaggravated following a JAS attack. I wonder if Starks having injured ribs will become a running bit like Matt Jackson’s back did many years ago. The two started throwing hands immediately, and Starks had the early advantage after a big dive to the floor. Starks would then avoid an early Lionsault attempt, but Jericho soon turned the tables after targeting the ribs of Starks. Jericho would spend the next few minutes targeting the ribs while Starks would attempt to fight back. There were a couple of really cool spots involving Ricky’s spear (Jericho countered one attempt with the Codebreaker, while Starks responded with a flying spear a few moments later). The two traded submissions as Action Andretti blocked an attempt by Sammy Guevara to get involved (despite the stipulation). This gave Jericho the chance to use his baseball bat, and it appeared that he was about to win from there. However, Starks blocked the Judas Effect, hit an offensive flurry, and followed up with the Roshambo for the win. This was a pretty strong PPV opener with lots of solid action throughout and a hot crowd. Despite the stipulation, we did get attempted interference, but that was thankfully thwarted, and ultimately, Starks beat Jericho clean as a sheet once again. A great finish as Starks continues to have the number of both Chris Jericho and the JAS as a whole. I love how some people have complained about how feuding with Jericho is bad for Starks when it’s not only led to Starks being on TV every week, but it’s (again) seen Starks beat everyone in the JAS (save for Sammy who he hasn’t wrestled one-on-one yet), including TWO CLEAN PINFALL VICTORIES over Chris Jericho. Hopefully this result silenced some of those silly takes. Anyway, this was a great start to the PPV. It should be interesting to see where both Jericho and Starks go from here. ****
Jesse: Fairly no-nonsense match that was the climax of what has been, despite criticisms, a pretty basic, straight-foward feud designed to put Ricky Starks over. And that is exactly what happened, with Starks going over Jericho, strong with only one minor interference spot.
Jericho is looking kind of rough in the ring these days; at times he looks like he is just barely going to go over on certain moves, yet he manages to always pull the job off. He’s still got a great mind for crafting matches, and little things, like Jericho winning a match with the Codebreaker for the first time in a long time on Dynamite Wednesday, helped add extra drama to the match when Jericho got a near-fall off of the Codebreaker in this match.
The crowd was into Starks and Starks came across like a star, definitively beating Jericho for a second time, firmly elevating him into a stronger position in the eyes of AEW fans. The key for Starks will be what happens to him after he is done feuding with Jericho. There are few roles in AEW bigger than feuding with Jericho, so almost anything else may feel a step down. The logical opponent would be MJF, or perhaps a feud with Moxley with Moxley embracing a bigger heel role. ****
Tyler: The beatdown that Ricky Starks took on Wednesday’s Dynamite resulted in his ribs being taped for this match, which is perfect for him as a plucky babyface. Both wrestlers came out to a ruckus reaction and Starks is beyond over. He looks hyped to start the show but this is a very interesting match to start the show. It’s a story-based match that isn’t going to be a high-octane opener, which has been AEW’s style for most of their PPVs.
Once these two got going, it was awesome. It really picked up with Starks countered a code breaker and turned it into a power bomb. Right after, Starks went for a spear and Jericho countered it in midair with a code breaker. Just kick ass stuff from the hall of famer Jericho. Starks is such a great babyface for this company. We had the obligatory run-in from the JAS with Sammy Guevera and Action Andretti dropped him on the outside. What Guevera was able to do was put Floyd in the corner and he tried using it to his advantage. In one of the coolest counters I’ve ever seen, Starks countered the Judas Effect by blocking it with his right arm. He then beat Jericho’s ass until he could land a Roshambo for the win. A weird match to open the show, but it was great. ****
The Final Burial
“Jungle Boy” Jack Perry def. Christian Cage
Sean: So it was revealed during the Zero Hour that this is basically a Buried Alive/Casket Match fusion, where you have to toss your opponent into the casket and pour dirt on it to win. Both men are dressed for a street fight, and it starts off as a brawl as the two spill out into the crowd for a quick walk-n-brawl up the stands. Christian Cage briefly took control before Jack Perry connected with a huge dive to the floor. Jack would try to injure Christian on the steps again (like he did several months back), but Christian managed to avoid this and dropped Jack back first on the steps. At this point, Christian took off his belt and started whipping Jack right in front of his mom and sister (who always do a great job when they’re in spots like this). Christian was in firm control as they brawled towards the gravesite area. Even though Jack was able to dive off the stage onto Christian, a low blow allowed Christian to put Jack in the casket for the first time. Jack barely avoided defeat there, and utilized a shovel both as a weapon and as an assist to his Snare Trap. He then FINALLY destroyed Christian with the con-chair-to, and threw him in the casket before closing the lid. The casket then took a very sudden drop into the hole, which I didn’t see coming (must’ve been very uncomfortable for Christian).
This was a very fun brawl from start to finish. Very much exceeded my expectations. As far as the Buried Alive/Casket Match stipulation is concerned, I’m a believer that almost any gimmick match can be great if you’ve got the right people involved. In this case, I thought both Christian Cage and Jack Perry did a really good job here with the stipulation, particularly in the second half of the match. It had exactly the finish it should’ve had, with Jack finally hitting Christian with the con-chair-to and putting a definitive end to their story, which started nearly two years ago at the tail end of the Daily’s Place/COVID era. A strong start to this PPV with two excellent bouts that featured AEW homegrown talents defeating established veterans in a pretty definitive and decisive manner. ****
Jesse: There is an erroneous claim that AEW doesn’t tell stories, or doesn’t tell stories that make sense and have a purpose. The claim becomes downright comedic when contrasted with a match like this one, the culmination of a years-long feud that was designed to elevate a promising young star by working with the instincts of a veteran wrestling star.
Christian Cage was perfect in this match. He’s killed it throughout the feud, all the way dating back to when he was still the babyface manager of Jurassic Express when he would make veiled shots at Jungle Boy. His promos and cowardice regarding Jack Perry leading up to this match got the right kind of heat to help the babyface get over. Him coming out in a turtleneck to get a little extra heat was a great touch.
I don’t think Christian did a single traditional wrestling move in this match. Everything he did was just scummy, grimey, cheap heat offense designed to emphasize what a big scumbag he is. He wasn’t trying to get over doing cool moves, he was getting his shit in, he was just out there to take shortcuts and set up Perry’s comeback. At the end of the match, as his unconscious body was dragged through the dirt and dumped into a casket, which dropped into the ground suddenly like a drop tower at an amusement park, he was a battered, beaten heel who had given his all to the feud.
The challenge with Perry has been his lack of promo experience, and the belief that he could be a badass. The Christian feud was designed to improve both those weaknesses, his promos are still a work in progress but progressed a great deal during this feud. The image of him as a tough asskicker was helped greatly, both in this match and the cage match against Luchasauras at Full Gear went a long way in helping enhance that image. Perry came into AEW as a raw prospect, and he’s been brought along slowly, but he’s hit every benchmark put in front of him and this match was just the latest rung on the ladder to the top of the card. ****
Tyler: I love that Jungle Boy is trying to transition to being solely Jack Perry, but can someone for the love of god tell him that wearing his little Tarzan Boy booties doesn’t work with the aesthetic of a street fight? Either way, Christian coming out in all black is a nice touch. The gimmick of a Final Burial is kinda lame, but it fits and he’s playing it up.
Christian tries to run away, but realizes that he’s just running toward the casket. After some fighting, Jungle Boy tries to attack the injured arm of Cage, but it gets countered. The first real turning point of the match was when Cage opened the casket. It wasn’t something like Luchasaurus, but rather two steel chairs. The entire build up to the match has been around the conchairto. Jungle Boy ended up getting ahold of the chairs but it got him a kick to the balls. That led to Cage getting Jungle Boy into the casket for the first time.
After that, things got really heated. Cage started using cheating tactics by throwing dirt among other and Jungle boy gets a shovel which he used with the snare trap by geting it in Cage’s mouth. The match ended the only way it should have: Jungle Boy hit Cage with a Conchairto. Good match that delivered in multiple levels. Hopefully, this is the gateway to Jungle Boy competing for, and winning singles gold. ****¼
AEW World Trios Title
The House Of Black def. The Elite (c)
Sean: Of course the only way to get this match going was with Kenny Omega and Buddy Matthews squaring off. They had a fun little exchange to start before Malakai Black came in and had a quick exchange with Omega as well. The crowd is really fired up for this one. The Elite were able to connect with a series of dives, but Brody King kicking out of a Nick Jackson 450 Splash at one would set the tone for what was to come. The action was fast and furious at this point, which is exactly what you’d expect from a match involving these two trios. Julia would get involved at one point, but she wound up eating an unintentional V-Trigger for her troubles. The back-and-forth exchanges continued, with both teams coming close to winning. The Young Bucks would try for the Meltzer Driver, but Nick got taken out with a BRUTAL knee strike, and that allowed House Of Black to go on an offensive flurry before pinning Matt Jackson to capture the Trios Title.
I don’t have a ton of things to say about this one. It was an awesome match. The Elite always deliver in trios matches, while The House Of Black had easily the best outing yet in AEW as a group. It was fun seeing The Elite wrestling a very different kind of trios team after feuding with two teams (Death Triangle and AR Fox/Top Flight) that are made up of high-flyers. Additionally, I’m very happy that there was no spooky nonsense to be found. As far as the title change goes, I have no issues with the titles going to The House Of Black. It does free up Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks to do other things. Should be fascinating to follow what those three do going forward. ****1/2
Jesse: Long before the title was introduced, trios matches have always been a highlight in AEW. With so much of the roster influenced by lucha libre and the Dragongate style, lighting fast, action-filled matches with six great wrestlers has been a feature for AEW since the company debuted. This probably wasn’t the best six man in AEW history, but it was a perfect embodiment of the style.
Very few matches this year will have such a volume of high-impact moves, executed flawlessly. The pace of the match was outstanding, the kind of pace that separates The Young Bucks from any other tag team, and the four other wrestlers in the match were game. Brody King in particular, was given a ton of shine in the match with the storyline being that while The Elite have survived challenges from teams like Death Triangle, they didn’t have an answer for the hoss in King, who demolished The Elite and helped the House of Black win in a shocking upset. ****1/2
Tyler: All six of these men are dorks and I mean that in the best way possible. This match is one that I’ve looked forward to for a long time. Starting the match we get Kenny Omega finally squaring off with Buddy Matthews who wrestles like an Omega knock off and I don’t mean that as insulting. Excalibur said it best about The House of Black. They are three different athletes and not all cut from the same cloth. Honestly, that’s the main reason why I find them so interesting in the ring.
Words can’t do what we just saw justice. This ruled beyond reason. This was exactly what this division was meant for. Incredeible action and tremendous chemistry between these two teams. The best part: clean finish. Get Kenny Omega feuding with people for the US title and prepared to feud with MJF and the tag team division desperately needs the Young Bucks. *****
AEW Women’s World Title – Three-Way Match
Jamie Hayter (c) def. Ruby Soho & Saraya
Sean: This one got off to a very quick start, as the action spilled to the floor and into the crowd for a minute or two. Once they got back to the ring, we saw Jamie Hayter showing off her power as she was in complete control of both Ruby and Saraya with relative ease. Both women were able to fight back, and it became a more even affair from there. At one stage, both Jamie and Saraya appeared to have the match won, but their respective seconds (Britt Baker and Toni Storm) would take turns putting a stop to the potential winning pinfall. It eventually came down to Jamie and Ruby, with the former catching the latter with a flash pin to retain the AEW Women’s World Title. This finish helped set up the angle that followed, where Ruby teased siding with the AEW originals, but then turned on them, siding with Saraya and Toni Storm.
The angle at the end with Ruby Soho turning heel was one that most of us figured was coming eventually. As for the match itself, I would classify it as a pleasant surprise. The decision for this to be a fast-paced/go-go-go type of match was a good one. There was next to no downtime, and all three women did a solid job here, with Hayter easily being the best of the bunch. A perfectly fine match that exceeded the low expectations that most had for it going in, while also setting up the angle that followed. ***1/4
Jesse: This, along with the tag team title match, would be the one of the matches I was worried about on the card. Saraya has been really disappointing since coming to AEW, and the storyline which maybe had some potential, was dragging a bit and it felt like it was close to being a complete write-off. Coming on the heels of the superb trios match, there was even more cause for concern.
The women though, over delivered. The action was go-go-go which was the smart play, as there was little clunky connective tissue to the match, instead sprinting through a series of big moves and Hayter pinning Soho via roll-up. Hayter is a beast and it would have been a huge mistake to take the title off her at this point. Her beating Soho, but not hitting her finisher and winning super-decisively, might lead to a rematch, especially with the post match angle. I’m still not sold on the entire ex-WWE wrestlers vs AEW Originals storyline, but the Soho turn did get a big reaction and was surprising. ***
Tyler: The placement of this match should be no surprise. This match is rather cold in terms of build and with the fast-paced nature of these shows, With how rough Saraya has been so far as a wrestler in AEW, this had a real chance to be an adjunct disaster. It honestly was pretty good. We had a couple of interference spots with Toni Storm and Dr. Britt Baker, but that got expunged quickly. Ruby Soho and Jamie Hayter exchanged pinning combinations before Hayter got Soho with a crucifix. ***¼
The angle at the end was somewhat expected, but it was that convoluted bullshit where Soho beat up her new comrades before officially turning heel. I don’t know where this story continues, but at least we have a semblance of a conclusion. I can’t help but wonder if this is where we get Mercedes Mone.
Texas Death Match
“Hangman” Adam Page def. Jon Moxley
Sean: Adam Page coming out to “Ghost Riders In The Sky”, which was pretty badass, and once Moxley was close to ringside, Page immediately went after him to kick this one off. Moxley would bust out some barbed wire, but Page turned that against Mox as he grinded the barbed wire against his face, busting him open straight away. Mox would soon return the favor, and busted Page open with the barbed. Both men bleeding less than five minutes into the match, as we all expected.
Moxley would bust out a fork and just go to town on Hangman’s forehead. The blood is REALLY flowing now. Page would fight back, but then got sent head-first into a barbed wire wrapped chair in the corner. Moxley would deliver more punishment with the barbed wire chair before Page finally got his first major shot in by powerbombing Mox onto a chair. A barbed wire assisted moonsault to the floor (I can’t believe I just hyped that) followed, but Mox would increase the violence levels even more by crushing Page’s fingers between two bricks before piledriving him on a chain. Despite taking all this punishment, a determined Hangman would not give up. He managed to connect with a Dead Eye on the barbed wire chair before sending him through one of the barbed wire boards on the floor. The two would then battle to the top rope for a gnarly spot where they just grinded into each other’s backs with their fingers (and barbed wire), before Page was sent crashing through a barbed wire board on the floor. Page somehow recovered, and tried for a Buckshot Lariat before Mox hit a Death Rider and a curb stomp onto the bricks. Page barely survived yet again, and used the chain to pull Mox into a lariat. Page followed up with a Buckshot Lariat while a nearly dead Mox was flipping him off. To finish Mox off, Page returned to the roots of the Hangman gimmick as he forced Moxley to tap out while choking him over the ropes with the chain.
From start to finish, this match was absolutely incredible. The phrase “Beautiful Violence” is the best way I can describe this one. These two just beat the crap out of each other while also utilizing all of the barbed wire they could get their hands on. Moxley dished out so much punishment throughout, but Page continued to get back up to his feet and continued to fight back with everything he had. It was a brutal and bloody affair that saw the Hangman beat Moxley very decisively as he forced Moxley to tap out. I loved that finish especially. They could’ve had Moxley pass out, but having him actually tap out was much better, as he knew he was finished and had no other choice. It also puts Page over in a huge way, as Moxley tapping out in AEW is extremely rare. Another instance of a very definitive finish to a feud on this show, which was great to see. An awesome bout that gets full marks from me, and easily enters the Match Of The Year conversation. *****
Jesse: Jon Moxley bleeds in a lot of his matches. Does he bleed too much? Does the blood sometimes feel gratuitous and unnecessary? Probably. But the general concern about Moxley bleeding too much is that it cheapens the appeal of blood. If Moxley bleeds all the time, it’s not really special when the blood starts pouring in his matches right?
The first exhibit against that argument should be Texas Death. A wild, crazy, insane match filled with creativity, savage violence, and buckets of blood. In a match that felt like it might never end (in a good way), Page and Moxley wrestled like this match could be the last match of their respective careers. Both men were willing to completely maim themselves and take the proverbial “years off their careers” in order to gain a decisive victory over the other. Wrestling has always been and always will be based on these kinds of personal conflicts, exploding in deep, dark, graphic violence.
The finish was spectacular, both men had exhausted countless attempts to KO the other, but failed no matter how creative they tried. It took the Hangman, literally hanging Moxley via chain from the ropes after a flurry of finishing moves and counters, to secure the victory when he got Moxley to submit. A perfect display of pro wrestling drama and violence and another notch in Moxley’s WON Hall of Fame resume. *****
Tyler: Adam Page is an ace. This guy is so over and his special entrance which felt almost Red Dead Redemption like with the special music and the red lights. Moxley even came out differently. He was very stoic like he was about to go to war. What rocks about this match is that there is a reason for these two to be involved in a Texas Death Match. Moxley shoot knocked out Page, ending their world title match and Page gave Moxley a concussion in their second match.
It didn’t take long for these two to get bloody. The barbed wire was out within three minutes and there is ths beautiful shot of Moxley sprayed with Page’s blood. How did that happen? With Page in a triangle choke, he spiked Page’s forehead like Homicide in the cage of death.
These two did everything. Powerbomb through chars, moonsault wrapped in barbed wire, smashing Page’s hand in between two bricks, a deadeye onto a barbed wire chair, barbed wire boards, and a curb stomp onto a brick. The finish was an all-timer. Page got a chain wrapped around Moxley’s neck and draped him over the ropes and he tapped out. Phenomenal finish that doesn’t hurt Moxley one bit. This was a sadistic level of violence and the perfect way to finish this feud. I am still no coward. *****
Powered by RedCircle
Wardlow def. Samoa Joe (c)
Sean: Man, I do not envy these. Having to follow that Texas Death Match is a tough spot to be in. It’s actually the second time in as many months that Samoa Joe had to follow a very bloody and violent match (his ROH World TV Title defense against Juice Robinson at Final Battle after the Double Dog Collar Match with The Briscoes and FTR). Wardlow took the fight to Samoa Joe early, even managing to hit his version of Whisper In The Wind. Joe would take control shortly thereafter and slowed the pace down a bit before Wardlow was able to fight back with a big Swanton off the top. Joe would respond by locking in the choke, but Warlow managed to survive and worked his way to the ropes for the break. Powerhouse Hobbs was watching in the stands as all of this was unfolding. Wardlow would hit one powerbomb, but ate a lariat of Joe when he tried for another. Joe would then try for a Powerbomb Symphony of his own. However, Wardlow managed to avoid it, locked on his own choke, and forced Joe to pass out. Wardlow is the TNT Champion once again.
As I mentioned already, this was in a very tough spot (given what it was following), but this still a solid match for what it was. The crowd was on the quiet side at first, but they got into it by the end, which was good to see. Should be noted too that, once again, we got a match with a very decisive finish on this show, with the “AEW guy” going over the long-time established stars that were names well before AEW existed. Starks beat Jericho clean in the opener, Jack Perry firmly beat Christian Cage, Hangman beat Mox, and now Wardlow forced Joe to pass out to his own choke. Much like the three-way from earlier, this was a perfectly fine match for its spot on the card. ***1/4
Jesse: Very difficult spot for Wardlow and Samoa Joe, and kind of a victim of bad card construction. This match should not have gone on after the deathmatch, which should have been the main event or second-to-last match on the show. That’s on Tony Khan for putting these guys in a very tough spot.
This wasn’t a bad match at all. It had a solid build and they went out and had a solid-as-hell pro wrestling match that would have gotten over much stronger in a different environment. There is something to the fact that I don’t think the crowd is super into Wardlow matches. They like him powerbombing people, they like him tossing around security guards, but nobody seems interested in him selling or really having proper wrestling matches. It feels like there is a cap on his appeal and that might be as TNT Champion. ***
Tyler: The crowd is dead and nothing these guys can do will resurrect them. Wardlow comes out to a decent pop and looks like a badass. Samoa Joe comes out looking great, but this match never got off the ground. It was fine, but you could tell that the crowd was just not going to care about this after seeing two five-star matches. The finish was great though. Wardlow choked out Samoa Joe with the coquina clutch to win the title. He will go on to face Powerhouse Hobbs this upcoming Wednesday on Dynamite. Really unfortunate that these guys didn’t have a hotter crowd to work for because they were just dead. ***¼
AEW World Tag Team Titles – Four-Way Tag Team Match
The Gunns (c) def. The Acclaimed, Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett, and Danhausen & AEW All-Atlantic Champion Orange Cassidy
Sean: Jeff Jarrett started off the match doing his strut which….of course he did. Orange Cassidy and Danhausen would get some shine early on before both heels teams took over and started isolating Danhausen. Orange Cassidy would soon tag in, and he took out both Austin and Colton before Jay Lethal tagged in. This would lead to The Acclaimed coming in, and they got some brief shine before the two heel teams once again took control. This included a hilarious four-way strut by the heels (Jarrett is so good haha). The late stage of the match would see loads of shenanigans, as Satnam Singh would get involved. This led to a spot where Cassidy and Danhausen double teamed him (with a Orange Punch and a punch to the nuts) before Billy Gunn hit the Fame-Asser. Jarrett and Lethal then nearly won the titles after Lethal used the Golden Globe. Danhausen would then fire up with a late surge of energy before he got put down by The Gunns with the 3:10 To Yuma, and they retained the titles.
This was an entertaining bout that served as a nice change of pace before what’s set to be a very serious main event. By no means the greatest match in the world, but it was entertaining for what it was. Danhausen took the pin, as most probably expected, and The Gunns retaining set up the angle afterwards. FTR returned and made their intentions clear by taking out The Gunns and posing with the AEW World Tag Team Titles. One would think they are the ones to win the titles from The Gunns, but with their contracts coming due, who knows! Again, this was probably the weakest in-ring match on the card, though it was still enjoyable on the whole. ***
Jesse: This match made more sense as a cool-down match, since a lot of it was based on comedy and it was a simple, fun match with fast-paced action. Orange Cassidy deserves to get more credit than he probably does as a worker, he was the connective tissue in a match that had some questionable workers in it, and helped put everything together in an understated role.
The Gunns retaining the titles makes sense with FTR returning and now challenging them for the titles. The Gunns, who are chicken shit heel champions, have become an underrated working team. They work really hard and the boys are pretty good athletes. They’ll probably have a really good match with FTR, and them winning relatively clean tonight gives them a little more credibility, which they’ll need. ***
Tyler: On the indies, Danhausen was cringy. I don’t know what Tony Khan did to change things, but he’s cool and fun in this company. You could argue that he’s the most over wrestler in this match. He even has Orange Cassidy in black jeans for this title match. The Acclaimed had some great lines, including throwing Jeff Jarrett some Cialis pills.
This was just the right amount of chaos to keep this crowd engaged, but hte result just leaves you feeling unfulfilled. Are we really rolling with the Gunns as champs? They really should have belted up Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal. I will say that having FTR return after the match was great and that feud can finally continue. I get it, but I do think that they missed a 3indow with Jarrett and Lethal. ***
AEW World Title – Sixty Minute Iron Man Match
MJF (c) def. Bryan Danielson
Sean: Alright, here we go. Sixty minutes on the clock with MJF and Bryan Danielson battling for the AEW World Title. MJF had a very fancy entrance with a small orchestra performing the first part of his theme song as he came out with his devil mask. A relatively calm start before Bryan started trapping MJF in various submissions, with the story being right out of the gate that Danielson is calm and poised. MJF then did some stalling on the floor while taking time to look into the camera and namedrop Dave Meltzer (referencing the Bryan Danielson Award). Bryan would send MJF soaring with a series of backdrops before MJF finally took firm control for the first time in the bout when he targeted the injured shoulder of Danielson. While Danielson would fight back with a dive attempt, MJF was able to send him shoulder-first into the barricade, doing more damage to the shoulder. Danielson would hit a sunset flip powerbomb near the fifteen minute mark, and followed up with a number of his corner dropkicks, though MJF was quick to respond as he hit a powerbomb on the knee.
Around the twenty minute mark, MJF would tweak his knee on a springboard moonsault to the floor, which Danielson avoided before following up with a big dive. MJF would retort with a JML Driver/Muscular Bomb/whatever you want to call it, which led to a sequence of the two men trading flash pins (thought for a second we might’ve gotten a fall here, but no). Then, right around the twenty-five minute mark, Danielson hits his flying knee and gets the first fall of the match. MJF responded with a low blow (making it 2-0 Danielson), but then followed up with two quick and tight pins on a weakened Danielson to make it 2-2. With the match having reached the halfway point, the action spilled to the floor, with Danielson going on the attack with both running strikes and attacks on the knee of MJF. The two would then battle onto the apron, and this would lead to MJF putting Danielson through the timekeeper’s table with an elbow off the top rope. A crazy spot by MJF standards. He wanted a countout, but Danielson was able to beat it. MJF would go right back out and hit a tombstone piledriver on the floor onto part of the table that hadn’t broken apart from the elbow.
MJF dragged Danielson to the apron and hit the Heatseeker to take the lead 3-2. He would taunt Danielson as they neared the forty-five minute mark, but Danielson would finally fight back with a hard strike, a running knee to the floor, and a dive off the post to the floor. A spider superplex and a diving headbutt followed. This busted MJF open big time, and Danielson evened things up 3-3 with a running knee followed by the Regal Stretch. With both men exhausted, they would trade submission attempts, but neither could get a submission. We’re closing in on five minutes as the two trade strikes in the ring. Heatseeker only gets two with less than four minutes left. MASSIVE Avalanche Tombstone from MJF (a move he rarely busts out), but he only gets two after taking a minute to recover. Danielson locked MJF in a half-crab, but MJF was able to survive until the clock expired. Tony Schiavone then gets communication from Tony Khan, who relays to Justin Roberts that the match will continue under Sudden Death Rules.
Both men get quick nearfalls. MJF tried to use the belt, but dropped it when he realized he would lose if he used it. Danielson hits the running knee for two. Single leg crab and MJF grabs the ropes, but then taps out to make Danielson think he’d won. MJF then smacks Danielson with the oxygen tank and locks in the LeBell Lock, but Danielson survives…for only one more gasp. Danielson taps out and MJF retains. This was nothing short of an incredible match that took us all on a journey for well over an hour. Amazing wrestling from start to finish. Amazing storytelling from start to finish. Both men were just excellent and gave us an Iron Man Match that we’ll remember for a very long time. I had two main takeaways coming out of this. Firstly, they did an impeccable job making you think at so many different points that Bryan was going to win, right until the very end. Secondly (and this is a point I’ve brought up already), we got yet another finish where a homegrown AEW guy went over the established longtime star in definitive fashion. Much like his Blackpool Combat Club stablemate earlier in the night, Danielson didn’t pass out to MJF’s hold….he tapped out. That is powerful stuff and that’s how you put a guy over huge. Two instant classics on one show. A Match Of The Year Contender to close out the easy frontrunner for Show Of The Year. *****
Jesse: There is a certain spectacle that comes with the 60 minute match, not unlike the Texas Deathmatch. Sure, the spectacle is more based on time and the conditioning of the wrestlers, as opposed to incredible, bloody violence and barbed wire stunts, but there was some intrigue in just how this match was going to shake out. What would these guys do in order to entertain the audience for 60 minutes, coming at the end of a long PPV event that already had some amazing matches?
For anyone who has followed Bryan Danielson’s career, there was little doubt he would be able to deliver. Danielson is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and excels in coming up with creative ideas in matches, and spent a good portion of his career seemingly obsessed with matches of extreme length. MJF has long since earned his stripes as a worker between the ropes, shedding his image as merely a good promo early on during his career in AEW.
The two competitors wisely worked around the unique stipulation. Fans understood they were in for a long match, and the wrestlers built around it accordingly. There was no early fall, instead both guys exhausted each other before scoring their first pinfalls. From there it was a nervy battle, cascading over the remaining 30 minutes as each wrestler tried to figure out a way to give themselves an insurmountable lead. The crowd may have been quieter at times, but they never lost them and they were loud and standing for all of the key moments.
The match was in a lot of ways a referendum on MJF as champion; as he needed to prove himself as a wrestler in the ultimate challenge: outwrestle Danielson in a match specifically designed by Danielson to give himself an advantage. In true MJF fashion, he scraped, he clawed, he cheated, and while he left in a bloody, broken heap, he did leave as champion. That survivalist is what will define MJF, due to his character being one plagued with insecurities that someone manages to slip out of tight spots time and time again.
There were so many smart things in this match. Out of all of them, I loved Bryce Remsburg catching that MJF still had the diamond ring on his finger while in the submission hold, because that was the kind of thing a smark like me could see, and figured it would be the finish. Instead it was a clear red herring, which took the match towards a different, unknown conclusion to this savvy viewer.
The best thing I can say about the match is I came in relatively indifferent to who I wanted to win, but Danielson’s performance was so tremendous, I was pining for him to win the title and was disappointed when MJF retained. But that was all due to the great work, and it got the desired reaction from myself, who is normally a cold-hearted, cynical analyst when it comes to these kinds of decisions.
The commentary, with Taz providing a technical analysis of the battle, while Excalibur called the action and Schiavone provided proper gravitas to the action, was outstanding. *****
Tyler: Iron man matches are dumb in theory. As many falls as you can get in 60 minutes? That doesn’t leave a lot of room for drama. This match isn’t about drama. The iron man match is one that Bryan Danielson has competed in on multiple occasions and MFJ has never done so. If MJF wants to beat Danielson, he’s going to have to do it with the American Dragon having the experience advantage and knowing how to conserve energy.
The entrance for Danielson was relatively simple in nature. It was his standard entrance. MJF had a special entrance with an orchestra coming out in what looked like Batman style opera masks playing before and during. The mask that MJF wore when he won the Casino Ladder Match he also wore during his entrance.
The beginning of the match was relatively simple. You can tell that they are trying to conserve energy. After avoiding Danielson for a bit, MJF has a great line. “Is this gonna cost me a star Dave (Meltzer)? Maybe I’m not going to win the Bryan Danielson award.”
The first fall came about 25 minutes in after both individuals did a long series of pin attempts. Danielson then hit a psycho knee. It was then where we saw MJF use shenanigans and hit Danielson with a low blow right in front of the referee. He gets disqualified, but uses the rules of no rest time to his advantage and gets two quick pinfalls to even it up 2-2. On the latest The Good, The Bad, and The Hungee, I referenced this exact thing. Brock Lesnar did it to Kurt Angle in their September 2003 iron man match on Smackdown, except Lesnar did it with a chairshot and not a low blow.
The third fall for MJF was very well setup. He hit an elbow drop to the outside that sent Bryan Danielson through a table, hit him with a tombstone piledriver through the remnants of the table, then hit the heatseaker for the fall. He didn’t go for an immediate fall because the piledrivers and elbow drop did damage to his wounded right knee. Really well done.
The tying fall for Danielson came with just over 10 minutes left. Danielson hit a spider superplex and a diving headbutt before getting MJF to tap out with a Labell Lock. The grind out nature of this match is starting to take a massive toll on both competitors.
Right after that fall, they exchanged submission holds that ended with MJF doing his best impression of Zack Sabre Jr. That was a cool homage to ZSJ considering this past Thursday on the first episode of the new Ring of Honor television tapings he had called out Danielson after they were supposed to have a match at Forbidden Door.
In the final stretch, MJF hit another heat seeker for a near fall and went for his umteenth bottle of water. The crowd started chanting h2o and it was well deserved. Shortly after, he successfully hit an avalanche tombstone piledriver and did as much damage to his knee as it did to Danielson. It took MJF over a minute to get over to Danielson, who played possum and sunk in a single leg crab on that injured right knee. He locked it in with 1:11 left. MJF does the the Stone Cold rise up spot from his Wrestlemania match with Bret Hart. The crowd starts chanting down the clock and MJF doesn’t tap until after the bell rings.
As the crowd starts chanting bullshit, Tony Schiavone starts saying that he is being told something from Tony Khan and we get the announcement as MJF gets oxygen from the medical team that it’s going to be finished under sudden death rules.
After threatening to hit Danielson with the belt, MJF reluctantly give it up only to pull out the Dynamite Diamond and get hit with the psycho knee in the best near fall of the match. Danielson gets a sit down single leg crab on MJF and Bryce Remsberg takes off the Dynamite Diamond. He gets his finger on the top rope, then taps out to a blind Danielson confusing him. Then, MJF hits Danielson with the oxygen tank. They get a two count on a Labell lock and Danielson hulks up. After hulking up, Danielson eventually taps out in what was truly a brilliant all-time match. The biggest question I had coming into the match was how they would get MJF to win against Danielson in his match? The shot to the head with the oxygen tank was sheer brilliance and Danielson, who hasn’t tapped out in this company yet, did so for the first time, making it that much more impactful. That’s how you deliver a great finish. *****
Excalibur says as they fade to black “AEW is the home of professional wrestling.” He couldn’t be more right.