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AEW Revolution 2021 recap & reactions: Cinematic Icon

AEW Revolution (Mar. 7, 2021) emanated from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL. It featured the Young Bucks earning satisfaction in retaining the tag titles, Hikaru Shida’s fighting spirit on full display, Sting looking as good as ever in his return to action, and Kenny Omega finding a sleazy way to outlast Jon Moxley.

Get caught up on all the Dynamite details with the excellent live results and play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.

There were two feature attractions driving this PPV. One was the headlining exploding barbed wire deathmatch, and the other was Sting back in the ring.


Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley came to settle the score once and for all in the main event. The rules of choice were an exploding barbed wire deathmatch. Three of the four sides had the ropes wrapped in barbed wire. Explosions erupted when making contact with those ropes. The floor had more barbed wire booby traps. After 30 minutes, the ring was rigged to explode.

The match began with both men trying to avoid touching the ropes. It did well to build the drama of anticipation for that first crazy boom in this spectacle. Moxley earned an advantage by clotheslining Omega over the ropes of the safe side onto the stage. Mox followed with a Russian leg sweep using a barbed wire bat. Mox then used a kendo stick for more pain. Omega was in trouble until he threw white powder into Moxley’s eyes. The champ then pushed the challenger into the barbed wire ropes. BOOM! An explosion with smoke and sparks popped loud against Moxley’s body.

Moxley was also first to bleed profusely when Omega smashed his head into a trashcan on a Kotaro Krusher bulldog. Omega slapped on a figure-four, but Moxley got creative to escape by using a barbed wire chair as a cheese grater on the leg of Omega. The champ came back by do-si-do’ing Moxley into a barbed wire table. The violent action progressed into Moxley hitting a Paradigm Shift off the apron down onto exploding barbed wire tables below.

The first moment close to a finish came when Omega clocked Moxley with two V-triggers and a One Winged Angel. Moxley put his foot on the ropes for a break, except that caused an explosion into the faces of both men. Omega was blinded as Moxley had a barbed wire bat in hand. That’s when the Good Brothers invaded the ring. They beat down Moxley enough for Omega to hit him with a special exploding barbed wire bat.

Omega made a loose cover, and Mox easily kicked out. Omega turned it up a notch with a One Winged Angel onto an open chair. That laid Moxley out for the three count. Omega retained the AEW World Championship.

The drama didn’t end there. Omega and the Good Brothers continued pummeling Moxley. They handcuffed him to prevent escape as the clock counted down to the huge explosion. All of a sudden, Eddie Kingston hit the scene. He tried to save Moxley, but there was not enough time. Kingston covered his friend’s body as best he could as the ring exploded.

Unfortunately, AEW completely botched the big explosion. Some sparkles went off in each ring post, and that’s it. At first, I thought maybe it was an intentional ploy by Omega for a mental advantage in combat. As everybody sold it like death, the more it became apparent that something failed. It was laughingstock fodder.

Deathmatches are not my thing. The action was a bit scuzzy. After ten minutes, I had the desire to fast forward for the big climax. That fell flat on both ends. There is the obvious lack of explosion. The other flat note was the Good Brothers interfering in the finish. It was a cheap way out that didn’t provide any satisfying answers for this feud. Surely Moxley would have a plan against the interference that was obviously coming at some point? Nope. Neither Moxley nor Omega came out looking better for a match of such magnitude. That’s a shame. They put their bodies through torture, and there is no momentum to springboard onto greater things.

One man whose stock did rise is Kingston’s. He just did a 100% babyface flip by coming out to protect Moxley from the final explosion. Even though the bang was a dud, it is the thought that counts. Give me Kingston versus Omega right now. That’s the feud I want. At least Kingston will have a plan with Butcher and Blade to neutralize the Good Brothers.

The return of Sting!

AEW went the cinematic route for the street fight of Sting and Darby Allin versus Brian Cage and Ricky Starks. It started cool as heck with slick scenes of each team driving to the ring. Team Taz came in style, while Allin was on his skateboard hitching a ride to the back of Sting’s truck. The match took place at an abandoned warehouse with a ring inside. The venue was large, and they used every inch to create a unique experience.

Sting was sharp early with a Stinger splash onto Starks. Cage and Allin brawled into the darkness as Cage held Allin in a vertical suplex position to march up stairs. The good guys had momentum when Allin scaled up a beam for a Coffin Drop. Will Hobbs and Hook ran in to provide an unfair advantage. Team Taz was dominating with the numbers edge as they tossed Allin through a window pane. Team Taz surrounded Sting, but Allin was able to recuperate enough to toss down Stinger’s trusty bat. Sting went to town swinging with bad intentions. He broke the bat over Cage’s back, for crying out loud. That set up an epic second-story elbow drop from Allin down onto Cage.

Back in the ring, it came down to Sting and Starks. Ricky slickly dodged a Stinger splash to pull off a turnbuckle so Sting would collide with the exposed steel. Spear by Starks. Kick out by Sting. The Icon prevailed in the end by blocking a back elbow and transitioning into a Scorpion Death Drop for the 1, 2, 3.

Sting is back, baby. He looked fantastic with the aid of cinematic magic. It doesn’t matter if there was editing, because it was a blast to see him again. I’m not deluding myself into thinking this means Sting can perform a live main event epic. If AEW can figure out more stories requiring special circumstance, then I wouldn’t mind seeing more in that vein for future Sting fights.

The stunts and story were lots of fun. As for the overall vibe, the street fight was off to a promising start, but the full package didn’t quite jive. Maybe it was the camera work being too fancy during the ring action. Or maybe it was due to a weird feeling of the presentation on screen as opposed to being there with the competitors as live sports. Commentary announced over the cinematic music, and the fan noise was kind of dead due to limited capacity. In comparison, I thought the parking lot fight with Santana & Ortiz versus Best Friends was a much better viewing experience.

Let’s jam through the rest of the Full Gear card.

Young Bucks retained AEW Tag Team Championship against Chris Jericho & MJF. The Jackson boys opened the card with anger and rage about the Inner Circle’s beating of Papa Buck. They turned it into a fight early. The Inner Circle duo slowed down the pace to gain control. That lead to the first close finish that had me an the edge of my seat.

MJF was continuously chopping his crotch yelling, “Suck it!” That lack of focus allowed the Bucks to sneak a Meltzer Driver attempt. Before the Bucks could go forth, Le Champion noticed the setup and swooped in for a Codebreaker to Nick. MJF rolled up Matt, but he couldn’t secure the three count.

The next close call came as Wardlow caused a distraction for Jericho to hit Matt in the back with Floyd the baseball bat. MJF connected on his Heatseeker piledriver, but Matt kicked out again.

The tide turned for the Bucks when Jericho accidentally blasted Wardlow with a Judas Effect. The Bucks were able to hit a BTE Trigger on Jericho. MJF was there to break up the pin. The Bucks took turns feeding feet to MJF with 10 superkicks. A double superkick and a Meltzer Driver put Jericho away for good. The Jacksons won it for Papa Buck.

These teams had two different styles that meshed well for a good match. I think it has a case for match of the night. The Bucks showed good anger at the start. I like how they got it out of their system early so the wrestling could commence. I was impressed by Jericho’s performance. He showed savvy ring awareness time and time again. Jericho had the Bucks well-scouted and it showed. That type of preparation is what can help extend his career.

Later in the show, the Inner Circle declared they will hold a War Council segment on Dynamite. Jericho stated that there will be changes in the faction as they change battle plans.

Hikaru Shida retained the AEW Women’s Championship against Ryo Mizunami. This was a hard-hitting slugfest. Both women had grins on their faces in finding pleasure through pain. They shared various striking exchanges to bludgeon each other throughout. Shida surprisingly pulled out a dirty trick leading to the finish. She ducked a clothesline then delivered an eye-poke. After an unsuccessful roll-up, Shida nailed Mizunami with the Tamashii knee strike. Mizunami refused to lose. It took a big slam, another Tamashii, and a spinning corkscrew knee for the champ to win.

Damn, that was a ferocious firefight. Shida continues to be the best bar none on the AEW women’s roster. Her fighting spirit is so easy to root for. That said, I don’t know what the deal was with Shida bending the rules. Mizunami brought her A-game, but it just wasn’t strong enough to dethrone the champ.

The aftermath was an overcomplicated flurry of activity. Nyla Rose ran in to attack both women. Dr. Britt Baker DMD, Maki Itoh, and Reba followed suit. Thunder Rosa made the save to set up a trios match for Dynamite.

Scorpio Sky won the Face of the Revolution ladder match. The winner had to grab a brass ring in order to secure a TNT title shot on Dynamite. Sky outlasted Max Caster, Lance Archer, Pentagon, Cody Rhodes, and mystery participant Ethan Page. This bout offered all the chaos and wild bumps you would expect from a ladder match.

Top moments include Page with a Razor’s Edge toss to Sky onto a ladder with Archer stuck between the legs.

As well as Pentagon with a Mexican Destroyer to Cody onto a ladder and Archer with a jumping knee to knock Sky through a ladder hanging off the apron.

Also, Jake Roberts with a short-arm clothesline to Page, and Roberts taking a superkick from Pentagon.

The finish came down to Sky and Cody. Both men climbed to the top. Sky smashed Cody’s injured shoulder then pie-faced him down to the mat. Sky grabbed the brass ring.

This ladder match lived up to expectations. There were plenty of oohs, aahs, and groans from the painful impacts. Cody had a mini drama that didn’t really add much to the contest. He came in with an injured shoulder. After the Destroyer, Cody had to be escorted to the back. He predictably returned running on adrenaline. Cody often has tricks in his bag for the big-time matches, but this one felt ineffective. However, he did do his share of the load by taking that Destroyer and a superplex from Archer off a ladder.

Sky is a good choice to win. This adds a signature accomplishment to his AEW singles career. He is a legitimate contender to dethrone Allin, but he’ll lose no luster if he goes down in defeat. As long as that match is entertaining, Sky will come out a bigger star no matter the outcome.

As for the surprise man, Page is a decent hand. I’d put him at that Shawn Spears level. I thought Impact was a perfect fit for him as a big fish in a small pond. It will be interesting to see if he can breakthrough on a larger stage. One thing in Page’s favor is that he has the ability to find a niche and ride it toward popularity.

Fenix won the Casino Battle Royale. Royal Rumble rules were in play. The winner earned a future tag title shot with his teammate. The final four were Death Triangle’s Fenix and PAC with John Silver and Jungle Boy. Silver and PAC were pounding each other with fury. Silver ended up on the apron. Fenix eliminated him with a dope tightrope soccer kick to the head. PAC was out next after Jungle Boy low-bridged the rope. Fenix and Jungle Boy finished with a sprint of crazy moves. Jungle Boy connected on a poison rana. As he was leading Fenix to the ropes for an elimination, Fenix swung back to kick him silly. Fenix clotheslined the dinosaur connoisseur out of the ring for victory.

The battle royale also saw a few story beats unfold. The Gunn Club were trying to eliminate Cezar Bononi when QT Marshall came up to dump all three. The Gunns went to the floor, while Bononi was able to stay safe under the ropes. Dustin Rhodes was angry at QT tossing fellow Nightmare Family members. QT wasn’t interested in taking any guff, so he eliminated himself and spit toward Dustin on his way out.

Butcher, Blade, and Bunny continued their beef with Bear Country. Jack Evans made an appearance to assist in the elimination of 10. That plays into the story of Matt Hardy offering bonuses for the Dark Order’s demise.

Overall, the battle royale was rock solid. It delivered exciting moments from the powerhouses as well as thrilling staying alive sequences at the end. The nitty-gritty action was fast and furious. Fenix and PAC are a quality choice to prevail. Their future match against the Young Bucks should be bonkers.

One thing that bugged me was inefficient strategy. Fresh duos would often come in to pop big moves and finishers, then they never even considered trying to eliminate the target. They chose to preen for the camera instead. It occurred on several occasions and made all offenders look bad.

The order of entrance was Natural Nightmares, 5 & 10, Santana & Ortiz, Sydal Brothers, Evil Uno & Stu Grayson, Gunn Club, Peter Avalon & Cezar Bononi, Varsity Blonds, Bear Country, Jurassic Express, Butcher & Blade, Private Party, SCU, PAC & Fenix, and Alex Reynolds & John Silver.

The order of elimination was:
1. 5 by QT Marshall
2. Mike Sydal by Santana & Ortiz
3. Matt Sydal by Santana
4. Peter Avalon by Austin Gunn
5 & 6. Gunn Club by QT Marshall
7. QT Marshall self-elimination
8. Stu Grayson by Bear Country
9. Ortiz by Jungle Boy
10. Cezar Bononi by Luchasaurus
11. Griff Garrison by Luchasaurus
12. Santana by Jungle Boy
13. Evil Uno by Marko Stunt
14. Brian Pillman Jr. by Butcher
15. 10 by Blade
16. Dustin Rhodes by Butcher, Blade, & Bunny
17. Luchasaurus by Bear Country
18 & 19. Bear Country by Butcher
20. Marq Quen by PAC
21. Blade by Fenix
22. Isiah Kassidy by Alex Reynolds & John Silver
23. Butcher by SCU
24. Christopher Daniels by Fenix
25. Alex Reynolds by Jungle Boy
26. Frankie Kazarian by PAC
27. John Silver by Fenix
28. PAC by Jungle Boy
29. Jungle Boy by Fenix
Winner: Fenix

Big Money Match: Hangman Page defeated Matt Hardy. The stipulation was the winner receiving the loser’s entire earnings for the first quarter of 2021. Hangman started with fire. Hardy extinguished that flame by focusing his attack on Hangman’s hand. Hangman fought through the pain to hit a Deadeye piledriver. Private Party came down as a distraction giving Hardy time to recover. The Dark Order evened the odds to take out Private Party. They even saved Hangman from falling off the apron. The crew pushed Hangman back up so he could execute the buckshot lariat to win.

This was one of those matches that gave the people what they want. The closing shenanigans played out predictably. Despite that, they didn’t disappoint. It was a nice moment seeing Hangman celebrate with his friends. I would caution Hangman not to open any bar tabs soon with Hardy’s money. I wouldn’t be surprised if the payout is close to nothing after it is revealed that Hardy hid all his cash in a shell corporation.

Miro & Kip Sabian defeated Orange Cassidy & Chuck Taylor. The action began backstage as Miro smashed Taylor into a glass window while Sabian slammed Cassidy onto a large box. Miro dragged Taylor to the ring for the official match to start, and Cassidy eventually hobbled his way in. When OC erupted, it was with a Superman punch off the stage to Miro. Heading to the finish, Best Friends were in control until Penelope Ford distracted OC. Miro shoved Cassidy into knocking Ford hard off the apron. Miro cleaned house with kicks and a camel clutch to submit Taylor. Sabian was more concerned about his wife’s well-being than Miro’s efforts of destruction, but there were no issues between Sabian and his best man.

This was the level of a TV match. It never felt like it belonged on the big show, and nothing happened to change that feeling. Miro was a destructive force, but he also took a lot of hits from those pesky pipsqueaks. This didn’t seem like a conclusion to the feud, so I’d expect more to continue.

Christian Cage! He was the mystery signing touted by Paul Wight. The man signed a contract in the ring without a promo. Christian wore an ‘out work everybody’ t-shirt. That makes me wonder if a feud with Cody is on the horizon, since Cody is known for doing the work.

Dr. Britt Baker DMD & Maki Itoh defeated Thunder Rosa & Riho. Reba was officially ruled medically ineligible to compete, so Baker picked a surprise partner. Maki Itoh! The finish came down to Reba using her crutch to clobber Rosa behind the referee’s back for Baker to pick up the pin. Baker had escaped a Fire Thunder Driver to explode with a thrust kick. Baker pushed Rosa into the ropes for Reba’s treachery to take place.

The Itoh surprise kicked off the night with good energy, and the action in the ring maintained that level of anticipation for the big show. The women had plenty of time to work with the finish coming as a surprise. I expected Reba to use her crutch, but it was a spontaneous flow to make it happen.

Stud of the Show: Hikaru Shida

Shida’s forearm blasts were awesome. There was one in particular that widened my eyes and riled me up. Shida cracked Ryo Mizunami so hard that she went down like a sack of potatoes.

Dud of the Show: No exploding ring

The big exploding climax was rather tame, which made it quite lame. The lack of payoff was Shockmaster bad. Oh well. The only thing AEW can do is take their lumps from all the jokes and move on.

Grade: B

Revolution was good fun that passed the time quickly. Each of the matches had it’s own style and flavor to set it apart from the others. I feel confident in assuming that any of the contests you wanted to see probably left you satisfied. Well, aside from the exploding ring. Unfortunately, a big part of the grade hinged on the weak win from Kenny Omega and failure of the ring to explode. Leaving a sour taste is never a good way to go out.

Share your thoughts about Revolution. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?

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