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Reflections on AEW Revolution '24


Months ago, Sting announced that this year’s edition of AEW Revolution would be his Swan Song and in his old stomping grounds of Greensboro, North Carolina. This all raised expectations to lofty heights that hardly any wrestling show could live up to. But this was that show. Let’s break down some thoughts on a show that will be on our minds for a long time to come, match by match…



 

TNT Championship match | Daniel Garcia challenges Christian Cage



by Samuel



The show kicked off focusing on two of the strongest aspects of AEW over the last five years: utilising a well-known or even legendary figure to give legitimacy to a title or match, and the gradual building of a new, younger wrestler into a beloved figure for audiences. Christian Cage has been a consistently excellent competitor since his debut three years at the same PPV where he was now defending his TNT Championship—a title he has helped restore to prestige after its slight stumble in 2022—and, in his gimmick as ‘The Patriarch’, has developed into one of the best heels of the last decade. In comparison, Daniel Garcia’s debut since 2021 has seen him develop a reputation as a tremendous wrestler who is now conflicted over his previous actions as a villain, but on Sunday had an opportunity to become a champion in AEW.


Both men are great wrestlers with realistic characters that have connected with audiences, and it made this match the right choice to kick off the PPV, as audiences cheered on the dancing Garcia to defeat the nefarious and cruel Christian for the title that matters so much to him. Christian’s old-fashioned heelish tendencies (running out of the ring, faking injuries, poking eyes) allowed him to offset the determined attacks of Garcia, but ironically became a self-fulfilling prophecy as Garcia focused his attack on the leg that Christian had previously faked injury with. The momentum seemed on Garcia’s side as he eliminated Nick Wayne, kicked out of a Killswitch Chokeslam, had a shock Matt Menard appearance to attack Killswitch and even the numbers, and built to a brilliant false finish as Christian’s leg gave way on a Spear, allowing Garcia to hit a massive Piledriver for a close two-count.


With the audience invested, and another nearfall from a Roll-Up that suggested Christian’s reign was seconds away from ending, a sudden return from Nick Wayne as he attacked an unsuspecting Garcia allowed Christian to hit a Killswitch and escape with his ill-gotten title. Considering Christian still generates some of the biggest heat from the audience, this is a decision that does make sense. Garcia came out of this match demonstrating that he is no longer just a strong challenger for tuning up the main eventers, but now instead a future champion in AEW, with a growing sympathy from audiences that have come to appreciate his skill and ability. This match set a good standard for the rest of the show as both competitors seemed determined to add to what was already an important and emotional night with Sting’s retirement, by also getting a hyped audience rocking from the jump, as Greensboro enjoyed a strong start to the show.




Continental Crown match | Danielson challenges Kingston



by Samuel


A match that could honestly main event probably 99% of wrestling events in the world, was somehow just the second match on a PPV that was aiming to blow the world away. You had Bryan Danielson, one of the possible greatest wrestlers of all time, a technically proficient and vicious competitor who is entering the last year of his full-time career, wanting to fulfil his promise to his daughter to retire by 2024. You had Eddie Kingston, the ‘King of the Bums’, the ultimate underdog who smashed into the audience’s hearts with raw promos about his mental health, his failures over the previous decades pushing and destroying him simultaneously, until last year when he began to finally conquer his demons. He featured in the G1 Climax, paying homage to the ‘Fighting Spirit’ that inspired him so much as a kid, he met his idols like Toshiaki Kowada, he vanquished his fiercest rival Claudio Castagnoli to win the ROH World Title, and he defeated Bryan Danielson on his way to winning the first ever AEW Continental Classic, winning the Continental Crown in the process.


These two men had a deep seated hatred, Danielson regularly lambasting Kingston for his wasted potential and refusal to improve, while Kingston cited Danielson as an elitist who looked down upon him for being different. Three years ago, Danielson made Kingston pass out in a tournament Semi-Final, Kingston defiant as he flipped Danielson off while caught in the Triangle Choke Hold. Last year, Danielson defeated Kingston in the Continental Classic with pure arrogance, only for Kingston to come back and defeat Danielson for the first time in the Semi-Final, shocking the ‘American Dragon’ and driving his resentment in the lead up to AEW Revolution. This match was beyond titles; it was about respect, with Kingston determined to get Danielson to shake his hand.


Very quickly, Kingston seemed to have a game plan, sacrificing his legs for Danielson to kick to allow Kingston to get close and utilise his dangerous chops and strikes. Due to this, Danielson tried to focus his attacks on the right hand and arm of Eddie, simultaneously weakening his opponent for the LeBell Lock and negating Kingston’s Spinning Backfist. The psychological and physical focus on the right arm would create a back and forth battle that represented Danielson’s prime attack and Kingston’s determined ‘Fighting Spirit’ powering through the anguish and pain. This helped build to an awesome third act, as Danielson again attempted to make Kingston pass out with a Triangle Choke Hold, only for Kingston to refuse to quit, escaping and even kicking out of a Running Knee, to the shock of Danielson. In a subtle moment that I loved, Danielson even borrowed from Kingston his tactic of a stacked pinfall—the same pinfall style that helped Kingston vanquish Castagnoli—but it was not enough for Danielson as Kingston kicked out. This small moment demonstrated Danielson’s level of desperation, reluctantly utilising the same method as the champion, only to fail.


In the end, Kingston was able to cut off a Danielson Knee and hit the Kowada-inspired Powerbomb, cementing his victory as he stacked Danielson for the all-important three count. A love letter to 90’s Japanese Wrestling and emotionally engrossing, at no point was the winner of this bout obvious, with duelling chants for both warriors throughout. However, the best moment was the culmination of their story, as (despite a brief fake out,) Danielson officially shook and raised the hand of his rival, with Kingston still selling that right arm. This was the fitting climax of a multi-year feud that audiences had followed and loved, featuring a brilliant match that demonstrated the strengths of both competitors. In a wonderful moment later in the show, a video was released showing Kingston admit that the respect of his peers had always mattered to him, and that was all he had wanted, with Danielson telling him “you fucking earned it”, then as Kingston walked away, Danielson admitted that he had allowed himself to be consumed by hatred and it had been his own fault all along that he had failed to appreciate the work Eddie had put in and to give him is earned respect sooner. On a show that would include one of the best AEW matches ever and one of the best-ever retirements of a beloved figure, this match could be easy to overlook, but it exemplified AEW as a company perfectly, and it deserves its own respect.





"All-Star" 8-Man Scramble | HOOK X Wardlow X Jericho X Hobbs X B Cage X Dante X Magnus X Murderhawk



by Sergei


This match to determine a new number-one contender after the three-way match later on in the Men’s Singles division was definitely the least well-received match of a night fans were otherwise mostly delighted with. But, in a way that’s not so bad, as it was the match that had the lowest expectations and had the least it needed to accomplish. It was added to the card mostly as a last-minute afterthought to get a few more guys a match. In fact, the original premise was “Meat Madness” a match that would have just pitted a few super-heavyweights against each other. Building, one may presume, on the excellent reception and “meat” chants evoked by the Miro X Hobbs match a few months ago. Presumably the kibosh was put on this concept because a certain Rock Star / Wrestler asked “what about me?”


However, the Greensboro crowd didn’t have to wait long to get a taste of the mad meat they had originally been promised, as the first thing the four big men in the match do is dump the other four to the floor and indulge in a staredown and a (TRULY silly) posedown to zero reaction. But, when they move on to a more relevant stereo knockdown challenge, it prompts the return of the fan-fun “meat” chant. Eventually Wardlow comes out on top of the four of them, but as he celebrates alone in the ring, Jericho returns and suddenly hits the codebreaker, prompting the rest of the four smaller men to also return and take their turns battling it out.


The majority of the match is just a perpetual motion machine of hitting moves, breaking up covers, getting kicked out, and repeat. Fun, but ultimately meaningless. One fun but logic-bending moment had Jericho come up to Wardlow in the “Redrum” naked choke from HOOK, and rather than breaking it up, also putting on the Walls. Amusing and all, but if Wardlow HAD tapped, who would have been awarded the match?


In the end the main purpose of this match is to remind us that, as annoying as he can be on the mic, Wardlow has some pretty entertaining moves, and, lest we forget, can leap into a rana from flat footed. And to establish him as the next contender for (as it turned out) Joe’s World title. And to give a little bit of a breather in an otherwise rather serious show. It wasn’t anything memorable, but it accomplished what it set out to do.





International Championship | Roddy Strong challenges Orange Cassidy



by Peter


Sometimes you just run out of energy. Sometimes there's just nothing left. Sometimes you’ve just given everything you've got and you’ve got nothing left to give.


That's what happened at Revolution with Orange Cassidy, with the perfect storm coming towards him. A man trying to shred the joke that was “Adammmmm!,” a man who is trying to get back to vintage Roderick Strong, on a night where the tornado-tag main event ended up ripping up the whole show, the twisting inferno that is the back-breaking genius of Roderick Strong was just too much for what has been AEW’s workhorse champion. 


The championship that Orange has made into the secondary title in AEW is now in the hands of a man who will not shrink from his workhorse duties, if only because Roderick just likes breaking backs. The old Roddy just liked breaking backs, and after his 2023 was defined by the funny way he said a name, judging by Sunday night, Strong's 2024 will instead be defined by the backbreaker. Just like the old days.






Men’s Tag-Team division | BCC X FTR



by Samuel


FTR have been an integral part of the Tag Team Division since their debut, helping contribute to the growing importance of the titles, including classic title defences and regular main events on AEW Collision. In comparison, Jon Moxley has been the Ace of AEW, the only three time AEW World Champion and having gained the reputation for being a leader of the locker room, being champion during three of the biggest challenging periods that AEW has faced (entering the pandemic with no audiences, being interim champion during CM Punk’s injury, and being champion in the aftermath of ‘ Brawl Out’). Claudio Castagnoli meanwhile had entered AEW as a surprise new member of the Blackpool Combat Club, becoming an integral part of major feuds with the Jericho Appreciation Society, The Elite, and Eddie Kingston, including two successful reigns as ROH World Champion. And yet, the last few months had seen Castagnoli and Moxley venture into the tag team division, taking a step back from the main event scene to face new challenges.


One of those major challenges was answered by FTR, with a featured match on AEW Dynamite surprising many by going to a twenty minute time limit, but with FTR inches away from a Shatter Machine victory. A rematch was unsurprising, and this time played into the faster paced first match by announcing the PPV match with a thirty minute time limit. This announcement by Justin Roberts set the tone for the match, the slower start reflecting the more marathon nature of the 30 minutes to the sprint style of the previous match.


Despite Claudio’s nineteen separate title reigns as a Tag Team Champion in multiple promotions (including alongside Sheamus, Tyson Kidd and Chris Hero), and Moxley’s nine (including alongside Sami Callihan and Seth Rollins), the two men entered as underdogs against the division aces FTR, but quickly dispelled any notion of an easy win as they took control of Wheeler, utilising strikes and strong suplexes to keep him grounded. The physicality increased as Harwood would get busted open, blood spreading over his face, and it intensified further as a cannibalistic Moxley bit into the busted wound.


Every time FTR would start getting momentum and hit a double team move such as the Spike Piledriver, the durability of Moxley and the long reach of Castagnoli would save them, and some unique double team moves (such as a Springboard Uppercut into a Doomsday Device) kept the Combat Club in the match. Even the Shatter Machine would fail to win it for FTR, with Castagnoli dragging Wheeler out for a Neutraliser on the concrete floor, and Moxley taking advantage with a Death Rider / Choke combo to finally defeat Harwood for the victory. The match may have started slowly, but it built to a hell of a crescendo, and retrospectively seemed to preview the upcoming tag-team tournament that Tony Khan has announced.


There seems a possibility that Moxley and Castagnoli will be featuring in the tournament, and possibly even winning the AEW Tag Team Titles, a move that will continue to add to the legitimacy and prestige of the tag team division. FTR and Blackpool Combat Club will likely have a rematch in the future, but more than that, there is a possibility for some unique, smash-mouth tag team matches in the vein of the Road Warriors (those shoulder pads weren’t just for appearances), that could allow a new tag team to gain credibility from defeating Moxley and Castagnoli for the titles, akin to Omega, Orange Cassidy, MJF, and Kingston in previous years. An underrated match for the night that could become the beginning of something special over 2024.







AEW World Championship (Women’s) | Deonna Purrazzo challenges Timeless Toni Storm



by Sergei


This was not the match some maybe had hoped for, and it certainly didn’t exactly rock the Greensboro crowd, but for me, at least, it was a lot of fun. I think, perhaps, that the appeal of it, for me, may have also been part of the problem. Toni Storm as part of her over-the-top “Timeless” character does almost a parody of a (VERY) old-school heel (landing on her posterior and kicking the ropes in frustration) that is fun and funny, but doesn’t actually do much to garner heel heat in 2024. So you got the awkward (if amusing) spectacle of the Timeless one doing an extended heel heat segment to mostly silence, and her mugging to the crowd meant to provoke booing instead prompting cheers. But even if the crowd wasn’t on board and the alignments were probably backwards, it was nonetheless some entertaining and technical graps.





Men’s Singles division | Konosuke Takeshita X Will Ospreay



by Samuel

In 2011, a young Konosulke Takeshita debuted for DDT Pro-Wrestling, and over the next ten years grew to become a former five-time KO-D Openweight Champion (with the second longest combined reign in history) and multiple-time tag-team champion, cementing his role as the Ace of DDT. Meanwhile in 2016, New Japan Pro Wrestling debuted a young Will Ospreay, who over the next eight years became one of the best wrestlers in the world, with multiple title reigns as US Champion, Junior Heavyweight Champion, and even the IWGP World Champion, cementing himself as one of the biggest gaijins in New-Japan history. The closest the two came together were as members of the Don Callis Family team, working together to help defeat Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi at AEW WrestleDream, intentionally kept separate during their time in Japan.


In November 2022, Takeshita signed with AEW, having impressed over the previous year, and turned heel in 2023 when he attacked Kenny Omega at AEW Double Or Nothing, achieving two huge pinfalls over Omega at both All In and All Out. Meanwhile, Ospreay would announce at AEW Full Gear ‘23 that he was leaving New Japan and signing with AEW from February 2024 onwards, requesting to meet the very best competition when he arrives. With the build-up for Ospreay to feature at AEW Revolution, Don Callis decided to pit two of his team against one another, with Takeshita challenging Ospreay. On the night, with fans already rocking and loving the show, the anticipation was high, as Ospreay entered to a huge reception, coming across as a true star.


Both men would go on to exceed all expectations, Ospreay seemingly wanting to plant a pole as the newest biggest star of AEW and a future World Champion, while Takeshita took the opportunity to remind fans that he was a true talent, as they created a physically demanding, high flying, wince-inducing battle that left both competitors battered and bruised. Takeshita’s selling was next level, at one point selling a Spanish Fly like a concussion, his hands cramping and his face dazed, eyes glassy enough to worry the referee, but refusing to give up. Exchanging some gorgeous German Suplexes and Tiger Drivers for close falls, the tension continued to build as Ospreay attempted his vicious Hidden Blade, and Takeshita hit a horrendous-looking El Generico-esque Brainbuster that had Ospreay hitting the turnbuckle back first, leaving a gigantic bruise down his back, worryingly in the liver region. The idea that either man was willing to easily lay down was undoubtedly dispelled as they attempted to destroy one another for a victory that would give the winner tremendous momentum for the future.


A reversed Running Knee, a successful Poison huracán-rana, a Stundog Millionaire and a beautiful Wheelbarrow German Suplex (legitimately, Takeshita hits German Suplexes like Meryl Streep collects Best Actress awards, to the highest of damn standards, you could have balanced a tea tray on Takeshita he was so perfectly formed) had Greensboro on their feet chanting ‘AEW’ with love and appreciation. It took two Hidden Blades and a Tiger Driver ‘91 for Ospreay to finally fell Takeshita, but in the process, both men put on an undoubted Match Of The Year contender—hard hitting, fluid, engrossing, full of near falls and amazing sequences—that has set a high bar for the rest of the year to measure up to. Most people may disagree, but if I were Don Callis, I’d be putting Takeshita and Ospreay together as a tag team, as they just proved they could blaze a trail of bodies behind them. Just imagine both men able to wrestle single matches as well, while also having blistering tag-team battles against Moxley and Castagnoli in the style of the original Four Pillars from AJPW, elevating the Tag Team Titles while allowing the singles main event scene to focus on new individuals such as Swerve Strickland and Darby Allin as AEW World Champions. It may not happen, but regardless, Takeshita and Ospreay just demonstrated that the AEW roster might very well be stronger than ever.








AEW World Championship (Men’s) | Hangman Adam Page X Swerve Strickland both challenge Samoa Joe



by Sergei


This was very different from your typical three-way match, because not every competitor was equally focused on winning for themself. Hangman Adam Page said many times leading up to this match that he did, in fact, want to be AEW World Champ again. But those words seemed hollow every time compared to what he was truly passionate about: preventing his deeply despised nemesis, Swerve Strickland from being World Champion…EVER. I’d go into the rationale and the story behind that much more deeply, but I think I need to save that for a standalone piece on the Hangman X Swerve blood feud. But one competitor acting as spoiler puts the other challenger in an almost impossible—and we come to see, in fact impossible—situation.


As the bell rings, the Champion starts out dominant with the nope spot on Swerve, then a great head-and-body fake where he seems to be running the ropes with Hangman but then surprise switches his attention to Swerve on the outside and hits him with the elbow suicida. And when Hangman tries to follow him out, cuts him off with a kick in mid-leap. But when his two challengers combine to dump Joe to the outside, his head bounces off the floor, writing him out for some time, so that the heated rivals can fight one-on-one for a time. Hangman gets the first cover of the night with a belly-to-belly suplex, when Joe finally struggles back to the ring just in time to break it up. In a neat bit of storytelling, Joe is standing in the corner on the second rope and each man in succession attempts to powerbomb but get fought off. Only THEN do they work together to succeed in the double-powerbomb. But rather than any temporary alliance, this leads to a hate-fueled staredown and a vicious strike exchange between the two nemeses. This sets up a pattern that repeats throughout, of one or the other or both challengers pushing the champion to the side so that they can focus on the man they hate rather than the man they are trying to take the World title from.


After hitting a series of moves on Joe while Page is staggered on the mat, climaxing with his house call kick, Swerve turns to the Hangman rather than going for a cover on Joe. He hits the house call on Hanger as well, and in one of the few covers where Joe is not able to get in position for a breakup, Page kicks out in a dramatic two-count. After which a dazed Hangman rolls out, leading to an exchange between Joe and Swerve again. The champ seems to be getting the better of Strickland at first, but when Swerve takes over with a devastating sequence—a pendulum DDT in the corner, a 450° splash, then the Swerve Stomp—Hangman isn’t in position to break up the cover, so he stops the three count by interfering with the official, pulling Paul Turner out of position by the foot, and going on to pull him all the way out of the ring, slamming his back to the floor outside.Page’s doesn’t hesitate a millisecond to take this extreme of a step nor to immediately follow up by taking a shot at Swerve with the Championship belt, a tactic he vacillated over like he was Hamlet when he was defending the title against CM Punk all those months ago.


Page knocks Swerve out of the ring ranting that he will never have the belt he is beating him with. By this time Joe has just finally staggered to his feet, setting him up perfectly for Hangman to hit two Buckshot lariats in a row. At this point, Page is hung by his own petard. The lack of a referee that he caused himself leads to a long cover with no count, until replacement ref Bryce Remsburg rolls in for the delayed kick-out at two. Joe reverses Hangman’s attempt at a third Buckshot into a rear naked choke, which Swerve breaks up with a Sky-Twister Press. Then, Strickland’s cornerman Prince Nana hands his client the crown that had been key to Swerve’s first victory over Hangman that had started all this. Swerve hesitates and rejects the foreign object JUST the way Hangman had once done, which leaves him vulnerable and distracted for Joe to grab him in the choke from behind, but Strickland drops down to reverse the hold into a roll-up cover, but the possibility of Swerve earning the championship here makes Page FULLY snap, not only pulling Remburg out of position for the count but wailing on the back of his head with strikes and tossing yet another official to the outside. With no official present to count a decision, Swerve is at this point fighting more for his life than for a title, and holding his own against both men. But when he tries to dump Hanger out of the ring in order to focus on Joe, Page skins the cat into his finish and hits the Buckshot again. But then Joe gets involved again in a fast-paced three-man segment that sees each man hitting multiple finishes, including Swerve hitting an amazing version of his enemy’s Buckshot from the top turnbuckle. But when he tries to follow up, Joe grabs him up from behind and hits the exploder, leaving the weakened Page for him. While Swerve is struggling to get back into the mix, the very moment Page sees that the original ref is back in position, he taps out. Losing, yes, but more importantly ensuring that Swerve cannot win.


I intend to go into FAR greater detail soon about the storytelling and symbolism in Swerve and Hangman reversing roles here. But there are two points I want to leave you with. One is that this is all incredibly compelling and one of the most intriguing “double turn” situations I’ve ever seen. However, we have seen two other characters truly grapple with the sins of their past in Daniel Garcia and Bryan Danielson earlier tonight, but even though Swerve seems to have changed, that aspect—regret and attempting to make amends—of any redemption story is so far missing.




AEW World Championship (Tag-Team) | Matthew & Nicholas Jackson challenge Darby Allin & Sting



by Peter


If you look far back enough on this site, you'll see on the #AEWeekly edition of the Dailys Place Dynamite when the Young Bucks staked their claim for being in Sting's Last Match and my opinion that Matthew and Nicholas should win said match. Well, that was a Freezing Cold Take lol. But I'm so happy it was 


Very rarely do we see an actual happy ending in wrestling. Even when someone "finishes his story" in a matter of months another roadblock comes their way and new challenges await and when it comes to the end, many don't go out the way they dreamt of. 


Some legends like Mitsuharu Misawa took their last breath in the ring, Justin Liger lost in their last match because that's what tradition dictates, same with Kurt Angle. Ric Flair's last match ended up being voted worst match of 2022 yet Sting's will be in conversation for the best Match of 2024.


Not many can say that they ended their wrestling career with a 5-star match (if Dave gives anything less we riot) Only Art Barr could claim that privilege before Revolution and even then Art's passing was a month after When Worlds Collide in 1994. Sting went out on top in more ways than one. 


But for all the love Sting got in the 48 hours before Revolution from Twitter with even WWE alumni sending their love to the icon even the night after the PPV on RAW, flowers need to be sent to The Young Bucks. The perfect send off needed the perfect antagonist and in Matthew and Nicholas they were the perfect duo for Sting's happy ending. The team that have been the template for the "party match" set up the perfect farewell do for the Stinger. 


Diabolical heels for Sting to vanquish has been part of his career and the EVPs were the final bad guys for Sting to beat in a match so good that Pat McAfee had to tell the world how great it was.






 

Thank you for being a part of three wrestling fans processing a high moment in our collective wrestling fandom, and, of course: THANK YOU, STING!

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