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AEW Revolution 2023 recap & reactions: MJF achieves excellence

AEW Revolution (Mar. 5, 2023) emanated from Chase Center in San Francisco, CA. The PPV event featured MJF outlasting Bryan Danielson in a 60-minute Iron Man match, Hangman Page hanging Jon Moxley, a heel turn from Ruby Soho, two title changes, and much more.

Get caught up on all the Revolution details with the excellent play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.

Let’s run down the card from top to bottom.

AEW World Championship: MJF retained against Bryan Danielson. The main event of the evening was a 60-minute Iron Man match. The rules were as follows:

  • Whoever has the most falls within 60 minutes wins.
  • Falls decided by pinfall, disqualification, countouts, and submission.
  • No time between falls. Action resumes immediately after a fall is completed.

MJF and Danielson entered in fantastic physical shape. Staying true to the story, Danielson remained cool under cardio pressure, while MJF sold the grueling marathon by drinking numerous bottles of water throughout the bout.

Danielson schooled MJF on the mat early, so MJF would exit the ring to stall. The first super move came at the 15-minute mark with an avalanche sunset flip powerbomb by Danielson. MJF’s first super move was a dope pumphandle cradle driver.

It took 26 minutes for the first fall. After an exchange of lariats, both men were down. Danielson rose first to hit the Busaiku Knee. 1-0 in favor of Danielson.

The next three falls quickly followed. MJF sacrificed a point on a blatant low blow to score two quick pins and even the tally at 2-2. The key was rule number 3 with the fight resuming immediately after falls. MJF went for a third straight pin, but Danielson recovered enough to kick out.

The action picked up from this point forward. MJF landed a flying elbow drop through the timekeeper table. Danielson barely beat the count back into the ring.

Returning to the outside, MJF used a tombstone piledriver to plant Danielson through the a piece of table wood. MJF added a Heatseeker piledriver through the ropes to take the lead 3-2.

MJF proceeded to shout insults and disrespectfully slap Danielson. The American Dragon fired up, but he was still damaged goods at that point. Danielson did eventually find his second wind for a spider suplex out of the corner and a flying headbutt. Danielson hit the Busaiku Knee and applied the Regal Stretch submission. MJF tapped out for a tie score at 3 apiece with 10 minutes remaining.

Tense submissions and dramatic escapes led to all-out fisticuffs. A double blow knocked both men down slumped together. MJF cried in anguish, while Danielson laughed at the joy of pain. Under 3 minutes to go. Corner fighting on the turnbuckles led to an awesome avalanche tombstone piledriver from MJF.

Unfortunately, he landed rough on his knees and failed to capitalize with a prompt cover. Once MJF did crawl over, Danielson sprang a trap for the single-leg crab. The hold was locked in for a full minute. MJF was in agony, but he showed true grit to survive as time ran out. The score was deadlocked at 3-3.

AEW milked the crowd reaction to turn chants of bullshit into raucous cheers. Justin Roberts informed the fans that Tony Khan ordered sudden death rules for one more fall. Danielson bounced on his toes as chipper as can be, while MJF laid flat with an oxygen tank.

MJF was irate and shoved referee Bryce Remsburg. Remsburg shoved right back into a roll-up from Danielson. MJF kicked out. MJF landed a mule kick out of sight of the ref. Danielson kicked out. MJF grabbed the title belt. Remsburg blocked his path and snatched it away. MJF went to his trusty backup plan for a Dynamite Diamond Ring punch. Danielson ducked and countered for a reverse rana. Busaiku Knee! 1, 2, MJF kicked out! Holy shit!

Danielson applied the single-leg crab. MJF reached the ropes and tapped out loudly on the break. Danielson thought he won. MJF went into his bag of tricks again on the outside. When Danielson leaned through the ropes to retrieve his opponent, MJF walloped him with the oxygen tank. MJF aimed to add insult to injury to using the LeBell Lock. Danielson was practically out cold already. The referee did the arm check. 1, 2, Danielson showed life at 3! Holy shit!

MJF cranked tight. Despite the rush of energy, Danielson couldn’t escape and tapped out in defeat. Holy shit!

MJF was victorious 4-3.

Hot damn, what a finish. If you went for the ride, the pay-off was worth it. The match took a little time to heat up. Once it did, the action was full steam ahead. Strategy was creative. Drama was expertly executed down the stretch. As far as I’m concerned, MJF and Danielson over-delivered on the storytelling. Selling the difference in cardio levels was consistent with the talking points of the feud. Those are the little details that elevate the entire experience. That was the performance I’ve been waiting for from MJF. Even though he cheated to win, I’d say this victory makes him legit as world champion. He showed maximum intestinal fortitude to survive the time limit and also kick out of the Busaiku Knee in sudden death. That’s the spirit champions are made of.

I do have to say that the referee shove shot was bullshit. Imagine if MJF lost after being pushed by Remsburg. The illusion of sport would have been flushed down the toilet.

AEW World Tag Team Championship: The Gunns retained against Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett, Orange Cassidy & Danhausen, and the Acclaimed. This match was crafted with spots to pop the crowd. For example, Santam Singh suffered a superman punch from Cassidy, a groin punch from Danhausen, and a Fameasser from Billy Gunn in succession. There was also plenty of scissoring.

The booking for the finish was a crock of stupidity. Jarrett had his guitar in the ring in plain view of referee Aubrey Edwards. Swing and a miss at Max Caster. When Caster had the guitar ready to strike, Edwards grabbed it out of his hands. When Edwards back was turned, Lethal struck Caster with the Golden Globe award. Jarrett hit the Stroke on Caster. 1, 2, kick out by Caster! Jarrett argued over the count and got into a shoving match with Edwards. In the hullabaloo, Danhausen and Austin Gunn tagged in. The Gunns flattened Danhausen with the 3:10 to Yuma finisher to win.

Overall, the spirit of the match was fun. On the positive, that Jarrett pin with the Stroke had me hook, line, and sinker in thinking we would have new champions. On the negative, the match was dragged down by the referee malarkey. It didn’t make any sense why Edwards didn’t stop Jarrett with the guitar but did stop Caster. Then she exacerbates the issue with the shoving exchange. As for the Gunns, they had no respect coming in as legit champs, and then they pinned the weakest person in the match. A win is a win, but that didn’t help build them up at all. Not that that matters much now. Their days with gold are clearly numbered with the return of FTR.

That’s right. FTR made their return to AEW amidst contract status rumors. Renee Paquette interviewed the Gunns, FTR interrupted, and Ass Boy asses were kicked. FTR had white hot intensity, and it appeared that Dax Harwood was bloodied the hard way from the eyebrow.

TNT Championship: Wardlow defeated Samoa Joe to win the title. Hoss fight! The story was the rear naked choke. Joe sunk one deep. Wardlow put his foot on the rope for the dramatic break. Joe lifted Wardlow onto the turnbuckles. Wardlow slipped down low to counter for a powerbomb. Wardlow rolled Joe over for the powerbomb symphony, but Joe shot up for a haymaker lariat. Joe mocked the symphony setting up a powerbomb of his own. Wardlow escaped and thumped a headbutt. The contact dazed Joe for a split second. That’s all it took for Wardlow to jump on Joe’s back and secure the rear naked choke for victory. Joe went to sleep, and Wardlow is the new TNT champ.

Hard-hitting big boy bout. I was not expecting the match to finish like that. It was a surprise in execution. The way the ending played out makes me wonder if it was inspired by Alexa Grasso choking out Valentina Shevchenko to win the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship on Saturday night. Wardlow and Grasso pounced in similar styles. If Wardlow’s second reign as TNT champion is a long one, then this win was a strong step toward reestablishing his greatness.

Texas Death Match: Hangman Page defeated Jon Moxley. This bout basically amounted to a Last Man Standing barbed wire match. Barbed wire weapons were scattered about. There was also a fork, bricks, chairs, and a heavy chain. Close calls were Hangman with a Deadeye piledriver onto a barbed wire chair, Moxley countering the Buckshot Lariat for the Paradigm Shift and a curb stomp to boot, and Moxley with a rear naked choke.

Hangman was back in the game by choking Mox with a chain. The cowboy smashed a brick on Moxley’s head. Buckshot Lariat! Moxley stumbled backward. Hangman charged for a standard lariat to knock Moxley tumbling over the ropes. Hangman grabbed the chain to hang Moxley over the ropes. Moxley shockingly tapped out.

Texas Death was as violent as advertised. I winced several times at their pain. Mileage will vary on enjoyment. Barbed wire matches are a stretch too far for me. I was turned off with things like Hangman wrapping barbed wire around his torso for a moonsault. It was certainly creative, but it’s not something that I have interest in watching. The finish was interesting. I have mixed opinion about it. On one hand, forcing Moxley to tap out is an impressive feat. It was also a badass visual. Hangman can hang his hat on that one. On the other hand, I’m on the fence if it was a good finish for the story. Hangman did a lot of tough talk, and then he didn’t win by his own hand. It was the chain that did the work.

AEW Women’s World Championship: Jamie Hayter retained against Saraya and Ruby Soho. Dr. Britt Baker DMD and Toni Storm meddled a little bit, but it didn’t affect the result. Hayter went for a ripcord lariat to Soho. Soho ducked, and Saraya stepped in to get clobbered. Soho and Hayter exchanged roll-ups with Hayter winning on a crucifix pin.

Business picked up in the aftermath. Storm smashed Baker into the ring steps then stomped Hayter. Soho sat idly by distraught about defeat. Baker entered the ring and was beatdown as well. Soho finally stood up to toss Saraya and Storm from the ring. Swerve alert! Soho shouted that AEW is her home. As Hayter raised Soho’s arm in support, Soho turned for a No Future Kick. Soho attacked Baker with Destination Unknown. It wasn’t entirely clear yet if Soho was a woman alone or part of the outsiders. Her status was confirmed when Saraya handed over the spray can for Soho to paint the losers.

Solid match. In the moment, I thought the finish was a little lackluster. However, a roll-up allowed Soho to stay mentally coherent for the post-match scene to play out. I’m very glad that the heel turn didn’t occur during the match itself. If Soho had helped Saraya, then that would have buried her as a lackey. Soho had been the one worthy babyface to root for, but I don’t have a problem with the heel turn. She played her hand, it didn’t work, so change in plans. It’s understandable. Bottom line is that I’m interested to see how this story continues to play out.

AEW World Trios Championship: House of Black defeated Elite to win the titles. Kenny Omega hit two snap dragon suplexes on Malakai Black. Julia Hart stepped onto the apron to block the runaway for a V-Trigger. That sequence did not end well for her when Omega accidentally hit her with the V-Trigger as Black moved. Omega turned around into a spinning back heel kick from Black. Nick Jackson made the save to break the pin. Omega was also victim to Brody King’s Dante’s Inferno piledriver. The Young Bucks made the save on that one. Down the stretch, the champs rallied for a superkick party. They had Black in their sights for the Meltzer Driver, but Buddy Matthews intercepted Nick Jackson with a jumping knee mid-air. King took care of Matt with the Dante’s Inferno for Black to earn the pin. New champions were crowned.

Level 90 on the excitement scale. The action was pure chaos. The false finishes were lively. There was too much ‘illegal’ movement at times. It is a tag team match, after all. Everybody was running in and out footloose and fancy-free. I’d compare this match to a popcorn movie. Sit back and enjoy. The Elite even managed to fold in a little comedy that fit the flow, such as Matt calling out King then backing down. Omega’s shrug reaction to hitting Hart was comical. That was an appropriate response.

The individual showdowns between Omega and the House of Black members have me salivating at potential future singles bouts. Omega versus Black has that big-fight feel. I like that King was treated as a monster throughout the match. He was the difference maker. I can’t wait until King enters the hoss fight division.

The Final Burial: Jungle Boy defeated Christian Cage. Casket match rules. The casket was located on stage. JB had Christian down, however, he was hesitant to swing the chair. Christian kicked him in the groin. Christian loaded Jungle Boy into the casket. JB put up a fight to prevent the lid from closing. Christian hit the Kill Switch on stage. He aimed to finish the job for good, but he missed the Conchairto. Jungle Boy trapped Christian in the Snare Trap using the shovel handle to choke him out. This time, JB did not hesitate and unloaded a violent chair shot to smash Christian’s skull on stage. Jungle Boy dragged Christian into the casket, said his prayers, and slammed the lid shut. The casket dropped down underground.

That was an emphatic finish as a fitting end to this feud. Jungle Boy literally closed the lid on this drama. I appreciate that the anger in the action matched the story that was told to get here. The angle of Jungle Boy pulling the trigger was a nice callback to previous events in this feud. Christian shined as his usual sleazy self by blowing kisses to Jungle Boy’s family, whipping Jungle Boy with a belt, and gouging Jungle Boy’s eyes. Christian was also fashionable with a sleek sleeveless turtleneck. He should market that shirt for gravediggers across the world. Functional and fancy. Jungle Boy continues his ascent into Jungle Man. AEW really needs to put a focus on elevating his promo game. Jungle Boy is ready in the ring for main event status, but his wrestling skill alone can’t carry the company as world champion.

Ricky Starks defeated Chris Jericho. Per the stipulation, JAS was banned from ringside. Jericho targeted the injured ribs. Starks’ first spear was countered into a Codebreaker. Starks did manage to hit the spear on his second attempt, but that didn’t keep Jericho down. When Jericho was trapped in a single-leg crab, Sammy Guevara trotted down the ramp. Boom! Action Andretti hit a blindside tackle on Sammy. Jericho used the distraction to grab his baseball bat to hit Starks in the ribs. Jericho loaded up the Judas Effect. Starks blocked with his signature pose. Starks hammered Jericho to set up the Roshambo for victory.

Rowdy match to start the PPV. Fisticuffs were flying from the opening bell. I consider Starks more of a finesse wrestler, but he was getting physical throughout. Starks blocking the Judas Effect was so slick. That was some Mr. Miyagi shit. Absolute on, Absolute off. Starks is now 2-0 against Jericho. If this feud is to continue (I’m not saying that it should), AEW better come up with a great hook. JAS feuds have a reputation of dragging on far past their expiration date.

Sammy Guevara needs to be sanctioned with either a lengthy suspension or an obscene monetary fine. The punishment has to be strong enough as a deterrent for future violations. Otherwise, what’s the point of making these stipulations if they aren’t enforced? If the excuse is that he didn’t make it to ringside, then that’s treating viewers like idiots.

Mark Briscoe & Lucha Bros defeated Tony Nese, Josh Woods, & Ari Daivari. Trios action for the pre-show. Briscoe set up the Jay Driller, so Mark Sterling caused a distraction for Daivari to strike with a foreign object. Varsity Athletes executed an Olympic slam neckbreaker combo, but Briscoe kicked out on the cover. The brothers rallied for Briscoe to land a froggy bow on Daivari to win. Afterward, Pentagon planted Sterling with a package piledriver.

Hot action to start the evening with a wild pace and creative moves. The interference on Briscoe was convincing enough to hook me on the kick-out. The froggy bow finish was a feel-good babyface moment.

The pre-show was hosted by Renee Paquette with RJ City on the red carpet. The best bit was Daddy Magic and his soft nipples. Daddy Magic was not hard due to the stipulation of JAS being banned from ringside for Jericho versus Starks.

Match of the Night: MJF vs. Bryan Danielson

They went over 60 minutes for a hell of a ride.

Stud of the Show: MJF

MJF rose to the occasion to be the man. This performance showed the excellence he is capable of reaching.

Grade: A-

Heck of a fun show. AEW always delivers inside the ropes for PPVs. The majority of matches felt like closing the chapter. Whether or not AEW tries to milk the feuds dry is a topic for another time. As of this moment, several stories reached satisfaction.

Share your thoughts about Revolution. How do you rate it? What were your favorite moments and matches from the show?

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