Card Sharks

Conventional wisdom in the world of professional wrestling is that most people start at the bottom and move their way “up the card” on the way to hopeful Main Event and World Championship spotlight. This belies the fact that being in the Opener is often considered the second-best place to be. Consequently, being labelled as a mid-carder is usually a term of derision.

However, a quick look at the overall match totals reveals that, perhaps obviously, most matches are mid-card matches, with the proportional amount increasing year over year. This is owing to the fact that once we entered the Pandemic Era, the cards for Dark (and later, Elevation) expanded to regularly include matches with 15 or more matches.

A few notes:

- The final column [-] refers to all matches that aired on AEW programming but are not considered official AEW matches, thus having no bearing on Career Win-Loss Records. This includes all Lights-Out matches, the Mixed Tag won by Omega & Riho from the 2020 Jericho Cruise and the Exhibition Match between Cody Rhodes and QT Marshall.

- The reason there is one additional Main Event match is because Omega’s Title vs Title victory over Rich Swann at Rebellion was a Main Event match. As it was simultaneously a World Championship Defense, it has counted as an official AEW match since it happened.

This column aims to take a deeper dive into the Men’s Singles Division, specifically focusing on all the individuals who have been in World Championship matches on PPV. What we find is that there are many different and, at times, divergent paths, to success.

Quick takeaways: Moxley is unbeatable in opening matches and in the middle of the show. He has almost double the Main Event victories as Omega. (For further comparison, Darby Allin is 14-5.) Current World Champion/AAA Mega Champion Kenny Omega has spread his three official Singles losses around: to Jericho in the show closer at Double or Nothing (2019), PAC at All Out (2019) and, most recently, on the very first match on Rampage. Jericho’s win distribution has leveled off substantially since he was dethroned in early 2020 with only a single Main Event win for the remainder of that year, against Orange Cassidy at Fyter Fest 2020 – Night 2. Further, the Five Labors of Jericho series all took place in either first or last match on the show. PAC has reached the summit but he doesn’t seem destined to remain there full time. Rest assured, you will always be entertained and rewarded for appreciating the details of his craft. Rhodes has an unmatched perfect record in Openers including the premiere episode of Dynamite and two TNT Championship Defenses. However, he has vowed never to challenge for the World Championship again. Playing the semantics card, does that mean the title holder can challenge him? Cassidy’s tops the table when it comes to the middle of the card. I’m confident he’d just shrug this off with his customary ‘Whatever’ attitude and I’ll do the same.

Kingston’s record in Openers stands out in surprising contrast to the others in this field. Three of those losses were in fairly prominent spots including his recent Tournament loss to Daniel Bryan and a TNT Championship PPV match with Miro.

Mr. Brodie Lee (RIP) never lost a Main Event Singles match in AEW as Stadium Stampede went on last at Double or Nothing (2020). A technicality, yes, but perhaps also a fitting tribute. Oh, and #JoinDarkOrder.

MJF’s relatively few show closing matches, as well as the fact he has had exactly zero matches on Dark and Elevation, seems to be a very conscious effort to keep him special. If it is, it’s working. Plus, Moxley cheated at All Out (2020).

Page’s win in the Casino Ladder Match was, to at least my surprise, his first Main Event Singles match victory. Moreover, it was his first time ending the show as a solo act since falling short to become the inaugural champion at All Out (2019).

Cage’s ascent to the top of the card was controversial in the eyes of some fans but at least he got to become IMPACT World Champion along the way. Personally, I’m enjoying his current role as a mentor to Jungle Boy.

Anyone with questions or comments is encouraged to respond here or on Twitter @AEWmetrics.

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