Jon Moxley is AEW’s new face as Revolution misses being great

Jon Moxley took the next step in his rise to the top of the wrestling world.

The former WWE star, who left the company last April, pinned Chris Jericho to become the All Elite Wrestling world champion at the Revolution pay-per-view in Chicago on Saturday night. It ended a show that was less about amazing wrestling and more about AEW proving no bit of storytelling is too small not to include and continuing to build its younger stars. An excess of outside the ring shenanigans kept this from being an even better show. Here are five takeaways:

The Eyes Have It

Moxley was playing Jericho all along, pretending to be blind late in the main event only to reveal the eye “Le Champion” had injured was fully healed. Jericho, who had a choir sing his entrance, didn’t sell the surprise enough before being hit with a Paradigm Shift to end it. Moxley, who considered himself misused in WWE as Dean Ambrose, is now the champion of the opposing company as well as the U.S. champion in New Japan Pro Wrestling. What a year it has been.

Jericho’s title matches continue to be filled with everything, but wrestling. Early on, he continually tried to get Moxley counted out or considered knocked out — busting him open by dropping him on a ring-bell-carrying table in a brawling affair.

Moxley was continually fending off Inner Circle attacks before the majority of the group was thrown out after a right hand from Jake Hager to Moxley. It gave Sammy Guevara time to hit Moxley with the championship belt, but he predictably kicked out of Jericho’s pin attempt. Jericho gauged Moxley’s eye, leaving him more visually impaired — or so it seemed. Moxley ducked the Judas Effect before revealing the health of his eye with a smirk before the finish.

Don’t be surprised if there is a rematch with a stipulation, but it was time for AEW to give a babyface a run at the top and change the feel of its main events.

Ring his bell

Cody Rhodes didn’t get his happy ending again, and it was the right call as he lost to Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) — leaving the crowd stunned. MJF used his Dynamite Diamond ring to level Rhodes and get the win. The blow came after Rhodes, who debuted a huge neck tattoo, tried for a third straight Cross Rhodes attempt. The victory continues to build the heat around a young star in MJF and added more sympathy to Rhodes because he was screwed. This was a huge night for one of AEW’s top heel.

Rhodes, after such a long and emotional build, did get some retribution. It was him this time using his weight belt to whip MJF. Afterward he started to yell, “You were by friend dammit!” to MJF, who went crawling and crying at Rhodes’ exposed foot — even giving him a hug before spitting in his face. MJF, who was bloodied earlier in the match, had taken off Rhodes’ right boot to expose the broken toe that was hurt on the moonsault Cody hit off the steel cage two weeks ago.

Brandi Rhodes at one point tried a splash from the apron onto Wardlow, but was caught. Rhodes talked Wardlow out of hurting her, but his kick connected on coach Arn Anderson instead of the big fella.

They were part of a large Nightmare Family contingent during Rhodes’ entrance that included a so-so live performance of his theme “Kingdom” by Downstait and the entire Nightmare group, including “Arrow” star Stephen Amell. While Rhodes got the big entrance it was MJF then left even better than he came in.

Family still feuding

Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page versus The Young Bucks for the AEW tag team championships didn’t have the combustible moment we thought we might get. After retaining their titles, a Page attack on Omega was teased and the Cowboy refused to mend fences with Matt and Nick Jackson. So the tension continues.

What the match did supply was masterclass in storytelling for both the casual and hardcore fans.

The Young Bucks wrestled as heels and had the crowd turned on them after hitting Page with a Meltzer Driver on the ramp and followed that with Super Kicks and two Golden Triggers (his New Japan move with friend Kota Ibushi) to Omega. They attacked the shoulder injury Omega suffered during his ironman match with PAC on “Dynamite,” bringing all the elements together Page even hit former Elite member and Ring of Honor star “The Villain” Marty Scurll’s Chicken Wing submission..

Page, who easily could have been seen as the heel in this Elite family feud, garnered the majority of the cheers. The crowd’s investment in him has come a long way since his championship match against Jericho at All Out. AEW can’t go wrong with whatever direction they choose for Page.

Main squeeze

Orange Cassidy made his singles debut in AEW against PAC. Cassidy “tried” and it was fantastic fun. PAC sold and went along with all of Cassidy’s slow and hand-in-pockets attacks early and even had a good laugh when Cassidy twice rolled out of the ring to thwart his top-rope attack attempts.

It eventually got serious and Cassidy began moving at the speed as a normal human, acquitted himself well with a variety of powerful DDTs. AEW even protected him a bit when a run in by the Lucha Brothers distracted Cassidy and led to PAC putting on the Brutalizer for the tap-out win.

All in on Allin

Much of this match occurred before the bell rang as Darby Allin dove past the ring post into Guevara on the outside. Allin fell short on a suicide dive — which appeared by design — to open the door for Guevara to hit a wild 630 senton from the top rope through a table. Then the bell rang and Allin crawled into the ring with the crowd fully behind him.

They traded athletic offense before Allin was able to land a Coffin Drop in the middle of the ring for the win. Allin, whose momentum keeps growing, was unable to use the storyline-centerpiece skateboard on Guevara, who was pulled out of the ring by Hager.

Other matches

Jake Hager over Dustin Rhodes

The match introduced Hagers’ wife, Catalina. He kissed her aggressively prior to his AEW in-ring debut and she was later kissed by Rhodes after slapping him. The babyface kissing the heel’s wife added more confusion than anything to the match. Rhodes was able to draw emotion out of the crowd when he put Hager in a cross-arm breaker. The MMA fighter, used his signature knee to the groin to turn the tide and ultimately ended the solid heavyweight fight by putting Rhodes to sleep like he predicted. Not sure this match raised Hager’s stock.

Nyla Rose over Kris Statlander to retain the AEW women’s championship

They did the most they could with a match that had little build and story behind. Statlander was positioned well enough, even kicking out of Rose’s finisher, the Beast Bomb. Rose finally won when she capitalized on a mistake and turned it into an avalanche Beast Bomb. This felt like a “Dynamite” match, but didn’t waste Statlander a viable challenger.

Dark Order over SCU

Good lead into the show from the Buy In. Evil Uno broke a Scorpio Sky pin and Stu Grayson was able to score the fall. The tease of the long-awaited Exalted One began with Colt Cabana coming out. Christopher Daniels, was not at ringside appeared in a Higher Power-like cloak (which he nearly was in WWE) before revealing himself and attacking the Dark Order. But there was sign of Matt Hardy, who was scheduled to be a free agent on March 1.

AEW announced its tri-state area debut at Prudential Center on March 25 will be a “Blood and Guts” themed episode of “Dynamite featuring the company’s first wargames-style match.

Biggest winner: Jon Moxley
Biggest loser: Jake Hager
Match of the night: Hangman-Omega vs. The Young Bucks
Grade: B+

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