AEW spent weeks promoting tonight’s (Apr. 15) Empty Arena No Holds Barred match between Jon Moxley and Jake Hager for the AEW championship. The fight took up (roughly) the final 35 minutes of the show, with Jim Ross performing solo commentary. So did it live up to the hype, or was it just as much of a slog as a 30 minute match in an empty arena with one commentator and Jake Hager sounds like it might be?
Grunting, forearm strikes, and dripping sweat were a common theme throughout this match.
Things picked up about ten minutes into the fight when the action spilled out onto some concrete behind the unnecessary security rails. Moxley channeled his inner Bret Hart by applying a figure four leglock around an immovable railing, but Hager refused to give up.
They fought their way back to the ring, where Moxley dodged a Vader Bomb and countered with a running knee.
Moxley hit Hager with his DDT, but Hager then quickly caught Moxley in his head and arm triangle choke on the mat. Moxley crawled over to the rope to break the hold.
Top rope attack by @RealJakeHager is reversed into the #ParadigmShift by @JonMoxley then shifted into the arm triangle by Hager! #HAGERVMOX— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) April 16, 2020
Watch #AEWDynamite NOW on @TNTDrama 8e/7c #AEWonTNT @AEWonTNT #WatchingAEW pic.twitter.com/4jMLZXaIc7
Frustrated, Hager decided to drive a steel chair into Moxley’s abdomen. It’s No Holds Barred, after all. Hager then targeted Moxley’s ankle with the chair and slapped on his ankle lock. Moxley was screaming in pain and told Hager to break his damn ankle.
Shortly after escaping that hold, Moxley stunned Hager with a steel chair to the face, and took advantage with a Paradigm Shift onto the steel. That was enough for the pin.
Moxley retained the AEW championship in his first defense. And just like we saw with Edge vs. Randy Orton at WrestleMania 36, it was once again evident that 30+ minute matches in an empty arena are just not a good idea.
What did you think of the fight, Cagesiders?
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