At the genesis of AEW, Adam Page declared he would be the very first AEW World Champion. We are over two years on from that announcement, and the history of AEW World Champions reads: Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, Kenny Omega. Since losing to Chris Jericho at All Out 2019, Adam Page has spiralled in and out of depression on screen. He has stayed out of the World Title scene, seemingly out of a sense of trauma around his failure—until a couple of weeks ago.
The prospect of the culmination of Adam Page's journey was met by fans with giddy excitement. AEW knew to expect this and spared no expense, time or effort in their presentation of this match.
This presentation of both teams is my favourite framing of a professional wrestling match ever perhaps, with the only exception being Kenny Omega's video previewing his entrance at Dominion 2018.
The story of this match is one of crushing defeat, and it is an appropriate story. We are brought up on fairytale endings and I do believe Hangman will eventually get there. But real life is a struggle—a painful struggle of intermittent ups and downs. The Dark Order beating the Super Elite may have been a stretch too far when looking at the sporting landscape of AEW. Read on to see how this story was constructed using in-ring statistics...
In-ring Statistics - Dark Order vs Super Elite
What jumps out here is a monumental amount of total offence utilised in the ring in this 25 minute match. Over 250 Strikes, 40 Grapples, 13 Dives and over 60 reversals. A grand total of 315 offensive moves were used (271 Strikes + 30 Grapples + 13 Dives + 1 Submission hold). All of this in 25:34 equates to an average of 12 moves per minute or a move on average every 5 seconds.
The Dark Order had numerical advantages in Strikes, Strikedowns, Grapples, Dives, Submission, Reversals, use of Pin Attempts and Big Offensive move usage. They also had 59% of the total offence, a better portion of their Strikes resulting in Strikedown and they countered over a quarter of the Super Elite's offence.
The Super Elite had fewer move volume advantages, with those coming only in Fouls, Taunts, Finishers, Tags and Double Teams. They had less than half the match offence, a smaller proportion of Strikedowns, and Reversed a relatively smaller portion of the Dark Order's offence.
The story is a simple one, instead of attributing certain metrics to the winners or the losers. Often the inferior team or wrestler leads in simple Strikes and Dives but the stronger force achieves a larger portion of Strikedown and hits more Grapples. However here, Dark Order dominated the numerical use of almost all offensive metrics.
Instead of offence, the Elite's strategy come through, narratively, in Fouls, Taunts, use of Tags and Double Teams. In essence the Elite stayed fresh, they made the most of any numerical advantage in the ring with Double Teams, they fashioned these through taunting and manipulation and they bent the rules at any opportunity.
Flow of Offence - Dark Order vs Super Elite
Here we have four different ways of looking at the Flow of Offence in this titanic match. What all of these graphs show is that the Elite had to weather the storm. They played counter-attacking wrestling. They absorbed everything that the Dark Order had to offer and struck when opportunity presented itself. Jose Mourinho would be very proud.
The Dark Order buckled under the pressure of the Super Elite's ability to strike at any time when the loss of Evil Uno brought the match down to a 3v2 in favour of the Super Elite. At this point the match became a see-saw affair with the Super Elite managing to dominate the offence as much as the Dark Order did in these remaining 13 minutes.
In fact, the loss of John Silver actually swung the usage of offence and control of the match into Hangman's favour as he dominated all three of the original Elite, even achieving an unlikely pin on heated rival, Matt Jackson—until Kenny hit one last and vital counter attack.
Minute by Minute - Dark Order vs Super Elite
0-1m - Feeling out, Hangman hits Strikedown and Grapple.
1-2m - All 10 men brawl, Dark Order hit 4 Suplexes.
2-3m - Reynolds Suplexes Nick onto a pile. Then Anderson takes control.
3-4m - Double Team action from Silver/Reynolds gets near fall. Anderson with opportunistic trunks pull Roll Up. Reynolds eliminated.
4-5m - Anderson abandoned and Double Teamed by Greyson/Uno. Eliminated.
5-6m - John Silver throws Matt Jackson around.
6-7m - Greyson then Silver take apart Matt.
7-8m - Uno/Stu Double Team on Matt, then Stu hits Matt with Strikes.
8-9m - Stu over-powers Gallows with Strikes.
9-10m - More Stu and Uno offence. Melee of traded offence.
10-11m - Stu hits crazy Sky Twister Press. Seems to hit head.
11-12m - Stu/Gallows counted out. Uno hits Omega with End of Days.
12-13m - Omega pins Uno with OWA. Silver pummels Matt.
13-14m - Matt and Nick cheat to take control of Silver.
14-15m - Nick hits huge Leg Lariat. Then bounces a basketball.
15-16m - Bucks hit Double Team on Silver and Powerbomb Page onto apron.
16-17m - Back and forth between Silver and Bucks.
17-18m - John Silver runs wild. But the Elite take control die to numbers.
18-19m - Super Elite hit a Super Indytaker while Nick misses a slam dunk at the same time. BTE Trigger and 1,2,3 in the ring. Silver gone.
19-20m - Page and Omega jaw-jack. Omega spits in Page's face
20-21m - Omega and Page have Strike-off, Page comes out on top.
21-22m - Elite take control with numbers. Nick hits 450 with help.
22-23m - Hangman reverses and hits all three with Strikedowns and a Moonsault.
23-24m - Many reversals but Page in control and hits big offensive moves. Eventually hits Double Buckshot and pins Matt.
24-25m - Omega kicks out of Deadeye. Nick grabs Pages leg. Delays Buckshot, Omega ducks, uses belt.
25m+ - V-Triggers, OWA. 1,2,3.
Flow of Offence Periods
Here we can see that the Dark Order dominated 4/4 of the first four 3 minute chunks. In this time they lost three men and pinned two. They then won 3/5 of the last five 3 minute chunks losing two men and pinning one.
The use of 5-minute periods shows clearer trends. The Dark Order are in decline throughout the match, until the late Page flurry. Whereas the Super Elite are more consistent and purposeful. The Dark Order burn themselves out without enough control whereas the Super Elite do nothing without surgical precision.
The Cumulative Flow of Offence serves to show how egregious the Dark Order's wastage is. From around halfway onwards the Super Elite close the gap almost halving it before Page's late match explosion. This paints the Dark Order as particularly wasteful and the Elite as tight-fisted. No action for action's sake, no showing off. Just purpose, perhaps due to Callis?
This all reminds me of Liverpool's devastating loss to Chelsea in 2014 with Don Callis as Jose Mourinho and Adam Page slipping at the last, a la Steven Gerrard.
The Elite played the long game. They soaked up the Dark Order's plentiful offence, held their big players back as long as possible and struck whenever a gap appeared. As did Chelsea against Liverpool in 2014; with only 27% of the possession they somehow won 2-0. Hopefully Adam Page's story is more Liverpool FC with their glory still to come rather than that of Steven Gerrard who bowed out of football as the Premier League's biggest never man.
Other Match Stats from Fight for the Fallen include:
- Proud and Powerful vs FTR
- Lance Archer vs Hikuleo
- Christian/Luchasaurus/Jungle Boy vs Angelico/Private Party
- Thunder Rosa vs Julia Hart
- Chris Jericho vs Nick Gage