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AEW Revolution preview: Jericho-Moxley is the title match we want & need

Image: AEW

Editor's note: This preview column was submitted before the Dark Order/SCU match was added to the pre-show. Also, because this is a column, this reflects the views of the author.

Improvement comes through change and change is necessary in the pursuit of perfection. Perfection is impossible to achieve, but you get the idea.

The most promising thing about AEW (besides it being extremely non-WWE) is its willingness to make changes if something isn’t working. The Dark Order was floundering as a weird supernatural group, but seems to have found their footing since being presented as an actual cult that actively recruits more members. The Nightmare Collective and happy dentist Britt Baker don’t exist anymore.

Those changes show that AEW is listening to their audience and tailoring the product to what the audience actually wants. This isn’t WWE ignoring their audience screaming about another King Corbin match just to run another King Corbin match. They respect their audience and don’t always pretend to know more than them. 

It helps that the guys running AEW seem to truly love professional wrestling. The entire company is a love letter to the aspects of pro wrestling that they grew up with. They love this insane thing so much they started their own company. 

With all that effusive praise out of the way, it’s important that I publically and emphatically declare my undying love for NXT. It is the superior in-ring product and doesn’t do anything approaching some of the corniness that AEW has. That corniness can be fun., but a lot of it just isn’t for me. Nothing about the Jurassic Express is remotely appealing to me and Luchasaurus remains the dirt worst.

Anyway, this card looks good with lots of belts and lots of good matches! Let’s run through them!

Jake Hager vs. Dustin Rhodes

This has been a nice little undercard feud. Hager feels like an actual big strong boy and Dustin is doing impossibly good work for a 50-year-old. For comparison's sake, The Undertaker is 54 years old. They are contemporaries. Imagine Mean Mark attempting a destroyer four years ago and not disintegrating into a million tiny pieces. Bill Goldberg was 52 when he concussed himself BEFORE a match. Whatever well of wrestling excellence the Rhodes family has been drinking from for the past needs to be bottled for every wrestling school in America.

What is there to say about Hager at this point? According to the indisputable cagematch.net, he wrestled four matches in 2019, none on television. The last mainstream exposure he had outside of AEW was getting disqualified from an MMA fight. Short of that, he had an unremarkable run in Lucha Underground that ‘captured’ the world’s attention. I just don’t really know what to make of him. I do know that his role as the heavy of the Inner Circle has played to his strengths: standing around and looking real jacked, baby.

I’d like this story to continue further beyond Saturday. The feud between the Rhodes Family and The Inner Circle still has more meat on the bone, so large Jake goes over here, but not cleanly.

Darby Allin vs. Sammy Guevara

Allin is one of the delightful cases in pro wrestling where if you describe what he is and what he looks like, people probably aren’t going to get it. But once you see him, it is immediately clear that he has it, especially the indescribable that is impossible to define. Once you see it, you know it. I’ve got more texts from non-wrestling fans about Darby than I have just about anything or anyone else. Anytime someone transcends wrestling fandom and makes normal people notice, they are a star.

Speaking of transcending wrestling fandom, Guevara is the opposite of that, aka Entirely Replaceable Indy Wrestler #47 or whatever. There is nothing remarkable or overly special about Guevara. He is perfectly acceptable and extraordinarily average. If Finn Balor was the extraordinary man who does extraordinary things, he is the ordinary man who does slightly above average things. The posterboard gimmick is actually really great though. I wish that was his only method of communication.

I can’t help but think Allin loses here, though. Guevara will get help from The Inner Circle, and anyone that might help Darby (like Cody) are busy with other things. Most of my predictions have the faces going over, so Guevara takes this one by dastardly tactics as Allin can afford the loss.

PAC vs. Orange Cassidy

AEW, please stop adding matches to pay-per-view cards at the last minute when I haven’t had enough time to think about them. This, at least for me, became the match that I am most excited about on the entire card. Is Cassidy actually going to wrestle? Will non-fans understand the appeal? Is he really going to beat PAC? I have questions and hopefully, AEW has answers.

The outcome of this match could show us what AEW has planned for the Juiceman. If he pushes PAC to the limit, or somehow wins, does that start his ascent up the card? Cassidy is a very unique talent, but what’s the ceiling? Does the gimmick have an expiration date? All logic would tell you yes, but AEW is real weird so who actually knows. As good as Cassidy is at what he does, PAC is essentially a perfect wrestler. He should be at the top of the card, not filling it out on late notice. I have no idea, so I’ll say Cassidy wins and adds some more weirdness to AEW.

MJF vs. Cody

Give Cody all the accolades that exist. The man is a chef in Hell’s Kitchen in his apron and a hairnet cooking up some of the best character work done in years in any company. The fundamentals of persuasion are ethos, pathos, and logos. Cody hits all the credibility, emotion, and logic beats here. His hatred is believable because he has made us feel it with his actions and explained it with his words. The man is a master storyteller whose emotion-fueled matches fill us up while most wrestling just feeds us empty calories.

Is it even a hot take to say that Cody has carried this feud? Not to knock the talents of MJF (which are vast), but has he really done anything dramatically different from the "you people stink" stuff that 99% of wrestling heels do? Other than truly living the gimmick, is there anything he has done that has pushed the envelope of what a bad guy in wrestling can do? While Cody is hitting those beats perfectly, Max is:

  1. Saying he is rich and we are all poor
  2. Saying he is handsome and we are all ugly
  3. Saying he has sex with others and we have sex with ourselves (self love is still love!)

That’s the standard heel trifecta. That isn’t to say he’s not great because he has everything a 23-year-old wrestler could ever dream of having. But, let’s not be afraid to try something new. Let’s dream a little bigger, darling.

The heroes in a story don’t go through all these trials and tribulations not to come out on top. It’s kind of wild that the guy who runs the company and books the matches is still this massively popular hero, but here we are. Regardless of what happens here, the careers of these two are linked forever in AEW. Cody gets the win and proves that all the pain was worth it. 

AEW Women's Champion Nyla Rose vs. Kris Statlander

The AEW women’s division is certainly an interestingly booked one. There have been missteps and mistakes throughout, but as I mentioned up top, they deserve some credit for pulling the plug on things that aren’t working. The presumed face of the division, Britt Baker, was extremely not it, so they did a 180 and turned her heel which is working out better than anyone could have possibly imagined.

The whole Nightmare Collective was rushed, sloppy, bad, short-sighted, insert your own bad adjective, so that was mercifully ended. Riho, while being an incredibly popular performer, was never given screen time to develop much of a character to casuals other than "she’s small." If that was the plan for her usage all along, why was she the first choice to carry the division?

Even this match, which is probably the right one, got here in a weird way that somehow got Big Swole involved for 15 seconds. Don’t needlessly overcomplicate something that’s right in front of you. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and let the talent shine.

Statlander is that talent. She is a shockingly good performer for someone with her level of experience. The handling of her, again, has been an issue. It’s pretty clear that they didn’t expect her to get so popular so quickly which led to the scheduling snafu that prevented her from wrestling Riho when she was originally supposed to. I don’t think anyone could have reasonably assumed she would become a star so fast, even while still needing a fair bit of fine tuning.

This match could be great or it could be two performers slightly exposed on a stage they aren't fully ready for yet. To that point, Rose’s best matches have been with Riho who could probably carry Jimmy Havoc to a watchable match but probably not. Since Nyla just won the belt, she isn’t losing it here, not even against the galaxy’s greatest alien.

AEW Tag Team Champions Hangman Page and Kenny Omega vs. The Young Bucks

What happens when ego and success meet? Success at the highest level.

The level the Young Bucks have reached rarely comes without a fair bit of ego. You have to think you are the best, the funniest, the smartest. When your life is nothing but a chorus of how great you are, how can you not believe it? That’s where the problems with the Bucks begins. Their success has indeed led them to believe that no one is better and no one is funnier. If you are watching Being The Elite and howling with laughter, I just don’t know what to tell you. That is the corniest of the corny.

The battle royal on the Feb. 19th episode of Dynamite is a perfect example of the Bucks' problem. Why do Santana and Ortiz, a supremely gifted tag team, need to job out in service of Matt Jackson? What purpose does this serve? To get the Bucks into yet another high profile main event match? Do we really need more storylines about how The Elite are in turmoil? I sure don’t.

In the middle of all this, Hangman Page messed around and became, by far, the most enjoyable member of The Elite and one of the most enjoyable wrestlers in AEW itself. His natural ability was never a question, but it was the ability to connect with fans that don’t wait in line to get their 27th black t-shirt autographed. The current gimmick -- a guy who loves to drink and may have a drinking problem -- is a serious home run. He has been helped tremendously by spending so much time with our man Ken Omega who, while still being on his bullsh*t, has toned it down since spending more time in the tag division.

I would throw up in my mouth if The Bucks win here. AEW should really lean into the idea of Nick and Matt being entitled a-holes who can’t understand how two guys who never teamed together can all of a sudden beat some of the best tag teams in the world. They kind of started doing that during last week's episode of Dynamite in the Jim Ross interview segment even if the announcers didn't sell it that way. I’d really love to see it. I’d hate to see the Bucks leave Chicago with the straps. Page and Omega retain.

AEW World Champion Chris Jericho vs. Jon Moxley

My one issue with this match is that it illustrates the gap between the top wrestlers in AEW and everyone else. I’m not talking the usual upper card, midcard, undercard type stuff, but the guys who are pretty good at this and the guys who are great at this. Mox and Jericho are as good as it gets. They can do it all. They don’t feel out of place in front of a big crowd, they own their characters, and they perform in the ring. In short, they’re polished, finished products.

Sure, the rest of the roster has the chance to get there in due time, but until then, this class disparity is going to continue to exist, putting the pressure of the haves to carry the company until the have nots can improve.

Like most people, I love this, a match that touches on the past of the two performers but doesn’t rely on it, a match that has realistically been built from the moment Mox made his debut in the company. They kept these two apart until it was time to bring them together, making us want something we had already forgotten about. It’s things like this that bring people back for more. Anything that leads to a wrestler wearing an eyepatch in and out of kayfabe is perfect. I’m invested in this and that is all that anyone can ask for in a world title match.

So who leaves Chicago with the big boy belt? Mox is still one of the hottest things in *extremely wrestler voice* this business, but Jericho is still doing the Lord’s work and making the belt feel kinda like a big deal and I have no problem with him keeping it. I just can’t help but think it’s time for Mox to show that he can carry a company like we always knew he could. 

Mike DellaCamera is probably trying to decide between eating two donuts or three in a conference room somewhere. Feel free to yell at him on the Internet.