AEW REVOLUTION RESULTS (3/3): LeClair’s alt-perspective detailed coverage of Sting & Darby vs. Young Bucks, Joe vs. Swerve vs. Hangman, Storm vs. Purrazzo, more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor


MARCH 3, 2024

Announcers: Excalibur, Nigel McGuinness, Tony Schiavone, Taz

-Excalibur welcomed the audience to the Greensboro Coliseum. Daniel Garcia’s music hit almost immediately.

Garcia danced to the ring to a strong reaction. Christian Cage was out next, flanked by the entire Patriarchy. Excalibur noted that “Daddy Magic” usually accompanies Garcia to even the odds a bit, but he was put on the shelf but Cage and his cohorts. Cage held up the TNT Championship, delaying handing it over to referee Aubrey Edwards. Daniel Garcia stole the belt from Edwards’ hands and held it up himself to a strong reaction.

Excalibur mentioned that former TNT Champion, Adam Copeland, was supposed to be in this match. He said there’s been no update given about the status of his injury.

(1) CHRISTIAN CAGE (c, w/ Nick Wayne, Killswitch & Mother Wayne) vs. DANIEL GARCIA – TNT Championship match

Christian Cage and Daniel Garcia locked horns immediately. The champion worked Garcia toward the ropes and broke his grasp, circling the ring arrogantly. Garcia ducked back between the ropes and grabbed another lock up. He and Cage jockeyed for position in the center. The challenger managed to grab a side headlock, then drop Christian with a shoulder tackle. Cage rolled to the outside and circled up with the Patriarchy to discuss strategy. He admonished the cameraman for trying to entire their huddle.

After a brief break on the outside, Cage returned for another lock up. He worked Garcia into the corner, but Daniel marched him out before Aubrey Edwards called for a break. The two continued to move one another back in forth. Cage went for a tackle drop down, but collapsed and grabbed at his ankle. Schiavone said he doesn’t believe anything Cage does. His intuition was correct. Cage poked Garcia in the eye the moment he approached. Cage pawed at Garcia’s jaw, then beat him down with stomps. Cage taunted the fans, who booed loudly. Excalibur said there’s over 16,000 in attendance.

The champion took down Garcia and covered him for a quick one count. He draped him over the middle rope and drove his knee into the back of the challenger’s neck. Cage continued to taunt the fans as the match approached 5:00. Cage gave him a Snapmare, then an elbow to the shoulder. Cage flexed and then raked at Daniel’s eyes. Garcia managed to returned to his feet and work Cage to the corner with a number of quick body punches. Cage recovered quickly and shoved Garcia over the top rope and to the floor. He climbed to the top turnbuckle and leapt onto Garcia on the floor. “There is nothing this man can’t or won’t do,” Nigel claimed.

Aubrey Edwards reached a count of seven before either man stirred. Cage tossed Garcia in and followed him at eight. He draped Garcia over the middle rope and choked him. “Make your father proud!” Cage yelled, giving him a slap across the head. He pulled Garcia free and set up for the Killswitch, but Daniel blocked it. He swept Christian’s leg out from underneath him and stomped on the ankle Cage tripped on earlier. Garcia looked for an ankle lock, but Christian fought it off and kicked Garcia to the floor. Garcia rushed back in. Cage tossed him out again, now favoring the ankle for real. Garcia returned to the apron at 8:30, but Cage knocked him to the floor again.

Garcia wasn’t phased. He climbed back onto the apron. Christian immediately guillotined him on the top rope, bouncing him back to the floor. Edwards counted again. Garcia answered at seven, but Cage was waiting to slam him head first into the ring post. Garcia used the ringside barrier to steady himself. Nick Wayne charged him, but Garcia hoisted him into the timekeeper’s area. Garcia returned to the apron once more and began trading right hands with the TNT Champion. He climbed the ropes to gain leverage, finally returning to the ring. Garcia hit the ropes and dropped Cage with a whole body clothesline.

Cage retreated to the corner. Garcia mounted him for ten punches, with a little dance just before the last one. Garcia pulled Cage to the mat by his injured ankle. He set up for a Piledriver, but Cage blocked it. Daniel turned it into a sunset cover for two. Cage caught Garcia with a punch to the gut, sending the challenger reeling into the ropes again. Cage slid to the outside to create leverage, but Garcia punched him. He walked Cage around the ring and tossed him into the steel steps. Garcia gave a menacing glance toward Killswitch. Cage rolled back in the ring, begging off his challenger. He He threw a kick, but Garcia blocked it. Cage pulled him for a reverse DDT anyway. He covered for two just after 13:00.

The leader of the Patriarchy climbed the turnbuckle and dove. Garcia picked him out of the air and applied the ankle lock. Cage fought free. Back to his feet, Garcia gave Cage a high angle spinning back body drop for a cover and two count. Cage regained control with a slingshot into the corner. Killswitch leapt onto the apron and gave Garcia a Chokeslam on the apron while Cage distracted Edwards. With Garcia now in position, Cage climbed the turnbuckle and delivered a frog splash for a cover and near fall.

Killswitch removed his vest and looked poised to enter the ring. Suddenly, Daddy Magic attacked Killswitch from behind, shoving him hard into the LED board on the ring. Mother Wayne stepped to Menard. She tried to slap him, but Daddy Magic caught her hand. Killswitch returned, battling Menard up the ramp and out of view. In the ring, Cage’s ankle give out. Garcia pulled him in and delivered a Piledriver for a cover and believable near fall just before 16:00.

“That was 3!” the Greensboro Coliseum echoed. Garcia rolled up Cage for a fresh count. Cage managed to grab the rope for break the fall. Mother Wayne leapt onto the apron, distracting Aubrey. Nick Wayne gave Garcia a rolling cutter onto the bottom rope. Cage immediately delivered the Killswitch for a cover and three count.

WINNER: Christian Cage in 17:00 to retain the TNT Championship

(LeClair’s Analysis: Daniel Garcia received a hero’s welcome as the first babyface out of the curtain on the main portion of the show. His performance helped elevate a solid opener that remained squarely within Christian Cage’s heel warehouse. The accompanying members of the Patriarchy were effective foils in their own unique ways. Garcia’s act has continued to improve and he held his own against a strong faction, even in defeat. I suspect that Adam Copeland’s return will be tied to Garcia’s struggle in an attempt to provide some further elevation for one of AEW’s brighter homegrown talents.)

Excalibur quickly turned focus to the Continental Crown title match.

-Backstage, Lexy Nair talked in front of Bryan Danielson, who was warming up for his match. Nair said that Danielson is focused and plans to defeat Eddie Kingston.

Bryan Danielson headed to the ring to a strong reaction. Excalibur tossed to Renee Paquette.

-Backstage, Renee talked in front of Eddie Kingston, who was also doing final preparation for his match. Eddie blew past Renee as he heard his music. As Kingston entered, Schiavone said that, despite claims to the contrary, Bryan Danielson looked very concerned about Kingston on his way to the ring.

(2) EDDIE KINGSTON (c) vs. BRYAN DANIELSON – AEW Continental Crown Championship

Eddie Kingston and Bryan Danielson circled the ring, neither committing to anything immediately. Kingston threw a shadow punch, Danielson a kick. They felt each other out with a lock up. Kingston walked Danielson to the corner, but the two broke amicably. The crowd engaged in a loud dueling chant. Out of the corner, Danielson threw a couple of kicks, feeling things out. He managed to catch Eddie in the knee. Kingston limped to the corner, needing a moment. He approached Danielson, asking for more. Eddie volunteered his left leg. Bryan kicked at it. Eddie used Danielson’s singular focus to pepper him with quick shots and work him to the corner. The referee broke it up quickly.

Danielson wrestled Kingston to the mat and kicked at the injured leg again. Eddie limped to his feet and gave Bryan a Snapmare. He kicked Bryan in the back. Danielson seemed to relish in it. He rolled to his feet and opened his chest, volunteering himself for chops. Kingston obliged. He rapid-chopped Bryan to the corner, then gave him a throwing Suplex to center. Bryan rolled to the outside. Kingston dove through the ropes onto him, immediately clutching at his knee. He worked Bryan up onto the apron, chopping the challenger toward the turnbuckle. It turned out to be a ploy from the Dragon. Danielson ducked the final chop, causing Kingston to hit the ring post hard. Danielson followed up with a Suplex to the floor just as the match crossed 5:00.

The American Dragon twisted the arm of the inaugural Continental Crown Champion and rolled him back into the ring. Danielson planted Eddie’s elbow in the air and stomped on his triceps. He gave Kingston a dropkick to the shoulder, then kicked his chest repeatedly. Danielson delivered a missile dropkick from the middle turnbuckle. Danielson continued contorting the champion’s wrist and fingers. He stomped on the triceps a second time. Danielson ascended the turnbuckles, looking for an axe handle. Kingston caught him and delivered a quick Exploder.

Both men struggled back to their feet. Kingston threw a chop with his injured arm, grimacing. He went for another Exploder, but Bryan grabbed onto the arm. Instead, Eddie pulled Bryan into a DDT for a cover and two count at 7:45. Kingston immediately positioned Danielson in a Stretch Plum. Bryan prevented it from being locked in fully. Kingston maintained control, delivering hammering elbows to the head and neck of the Dragon.

Bryan managed to roll Kingston toward the corner and deliver his signature running knee. Kingston crumpled in the corner, so Bryan hit it again. He slapped Eddie to bring him back to a standing position, then looked for the flying kick again. Kingston moved. Bryan still managed to hook Kingston up for a Dragon Suplex. He covered for a two count. Schiavone said Danielson is a master at “taking what his opponent gives him.” Bryan worked the champion to the corner and alternated between chops and kicks. The crowd chanted “woo” and “yes”, respectively. He hoisted Kingston onto the northeast turnbuckle. Eddie looked rocked. Danielson climbed to meet him, delivering a Butterfly Suplex off the top. Danielson immediately rolled him over, looking for the Labell Lock. Eddie sensed it and guarded. He struggled for several moments before finally reaching the ropes.

Kingston’s eyes looked glazed. Danielson gave him a flurry of hammer elbows to the neck. Eddie sprang to life with a spinning back fist, but he used his bad hand. He tried to shake it off. He pulled Danielson in for a Northern Lights Driver for a cover and near fall just before 14:00. Kingston went for a Powerbomb, but Danielson slid down his back. Eddie hit the spinning back fist again, but Bryan just shrugged it off. He led the crowd in a massive “yes” chant, then hit the Busaiku Knee. He stack covered the champion for a very close near fall. Danielson grabbed Kingston’s arms and stomped him mercilessly. He tried to apply the Dragon Sleeper. Kingston flailed his arms to avoid a complete application. Bryan withstood the initial storm and Kingston began to fade. Eddie gave a thumbs up, staying alive. His face was beet red. Eddie managed to move just enough to get a foot over the bottom rope.

Frustration began to creep across Danielson’s face. Another massive, dueling chant broke out. Kingston rose to his knees. Bryan began throwing his signature “yes” kicks. Eddie pulled his straps down. Eddie blocked the last kick with his forearms. Danielson gave him a Tiger Suplex. Kingston rolled right to his feet. He delivered a Half-Nelson Suplex to a massive reaction. Both men were down. The camera pulled back for Excalibur to reset the scene at 18:00. A big “this is awesome” chant filled the arena.

Champion and challenger traded rapid fire strikes. Kingston took control with open palmed strikes. Bryan was dazed. Eddie caught him with a knee to the face. Rather than put Bryan out, it woke him up. He slapped Kingston hard. Eddie pulled him in for a Powerbomb, but Bryan back-dropped him. Danielson called for another Busaiku Knee. Kingston dropped him with a clothesline. He picked Bryan up and delivered a Powerbomb with a stacked cover for a three count.

WINNER: Eddie Kingston in 19:44 to retain the AEW Continental Crown Championship

Eddie Kingston returned to his feet slowly, grabbing onto his three championships and taking a bow for the fans. Bryan Danielson was still laid out. The camera cut to his face as he came to. Danielson rose to his knees, clutching his neck and looking around at the crowd. “Shake his hand!” the crowd instructed. Danielson sighed, looking at the mat. Kingston shrugged him off and began to leave. Bryan stood up, asking for Eddie to wait. He offered his hand, then retracted. Kingston began to leave, but Bryan pulled him back. This time, they shook hands. Bryan raised Eddie’s hand. They bowed to each other. Danielson led an “Eddie” chant and left the ring to him.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Bryan Danielson is one of my favorite wrestlers, but I’ve been far from enamored with his path in recent months. I’m happy that he’s been getting exactly what he wants out of his final year as a full time wrestler, but admittedly, “I just want to wrestle good matches, story band record be damned” just isn’t for me. That’s why I was pleased with this break from that scene. Danielson and Kingston have strong history within AEW, and Eddie’s continued desire to achieve respect from the greats is compelling to me. I thought this match was excellent. Well, paced, hard-hitting, and emotionally charged. Danielson at his best. Kingston was no slouch, either, a master in the art of the scrappy underdog against one of the best to ever play that role. I thought the energy from the crowd was excellent, and I shared their sentiment of wanting Kingston to earn Danielson’s respect. Bryan teased dissent in the end, but lamented, ending in a great feel good moment and hopefully officially casting Bryan as the babyface he should be.)

-Excalibur tossed to a quick video package for the 8-man scramble.

Hook was out first. Excalibur mentioned that Nigel McGuinness had been replaced by Taz. Each wrestler received a full entrance, with Chris Jericho coming out last. The crowd sang along to “Judas” and the camera pulled back to show the impressive audience.

(3) HOOK vs. POWERHOUSE HOBBS vs. LANCE ARCHER (w/ Jake “The Snake” Roberts) vs. MAGNUS vs. BRIAN CAGE (w/ Prince Nana) vs. WARDLOW (w/ Adam Cole, Matt Taven, & Mike Bennett) vs. DANTE MARTIN vs. CHRIS JERICHO   – All-Star 8-Man Scramble match

The action got underway immediately. Powerhouse Hobbs and Wardlow worked together to beat down Chris Jericho in the corner and toss him to the outside. Wardlow, Hobbs, Lance Archer, and Brian Cage were left alone in the ring. The crowd immediately started a “meat” chant. Each of the four men took a brief opportunity to flex and star at themselves on the tron. All four men took part in some no-sell shoulder tackles and clotheslines. Each one brought a louder “meat!” from the crowd.

Brian Cage was the first to drop, taking a big boot from Lance Archer. Wardlow clotheslined Hobbs to the floor. “Meat forever!” the crowd exclaimed. Wardlow and Archer exchanged punches. Lance delivered a back elbow in the corner. He twisted Wardlow’s arm and walked the top rope, flipping onto Wardlow with a Moonsault. Powerhouse Hobbs returned and ate a boot from Archer. Lance ascended the turnbuckle again, looking for the same walking Moonsault. Hobbs pulled him back to mat level and gave him a huge Spinebuster. Brian Cage gave Hobbs a Death Valley Driver. Wardlow gave Cage a step-up ‘rana.

Chris Jericho entered the fray and gave Wardlow a Codebreaker for a cover and two count, broken up by Hook. Now, the four smaller men were left in the ring. They did the same exchange the larger wrestlers did to start the match. Brian Cage leapt onto the apron, but Jericho knocked him to the floor. He climbed the northwest turnbuckle and dove onto Powerhouse Hobbs on the floor. Dante Martin leapt through the middle rope onto Wardlow. Magnus dove onto Lance Archer. Hook was left alone in the ring. “Is Hook gonna dive?!” Excalibur wondered. Hook climbed the turnbuckles and gave Brian Cage a leaping axe handle.

Back in the ring, Dante Martin and Magnus traded kicks in the corner. Wardlow paired off with Lance Archer as the match crossed 6:00. Brian Cage slammed Hook into the ring apron on the outside. Jericho gave Hobbs a Superplex off the middle rope. Wardlow Superplexed Archer off the top turnbuckle. Cage Suplexed Hook over the ropes and into the ring. Martin gave Cage a massive splash for a cover and two count. Excalibur mentioned that the winner will receive a future shot at the AEW World title.

Dante Martin flipped over the ropes, barely averting disaster with the ring edge. He managed to still fall onto a cavalcade of wrestlers below. Back in the ring, he got caught with a rolling cutter from Magnus for a cover and two count at 8:00. He followed up with an under-hook Backbreaker on Martin, then double knees in the corner. Magnus tried to ascend the turnbuckles, but Archer caught him with a running knee. He gave Magnus a hip toss off the top rope, then a massive Chokeslam. Archer covered Magnus for a two count. “Count the three!” Archer pleaded with the referee. He set Magnus up for a Blackout. Jericho kicked him in the gut to break it up. Jericho worked with Magnus to give Archer a double team Suplex. The two hit stereo Lionsaults for double covers and two counts. Powerhouse Hobbs cleared the ring of Jericho and Magnus. He scooped Lance Archer and gave him a running Powerslam. Hobbs countered an Enziguri from Martin and gave him a Snap Powerslam for a two count.

Cage backed Hobbs into the corner, gave him an elbow, then a backdrop. Hook circled Cage, then ducked a punch. Hook went for a T-Bone Suplex, but Cage pulled him into a short-arm clothesline. Wardlow gave Cage a release German Suplex. He delivered one to Archer, then to Magnus. Dante Martin ate a Superkick, then a release German. Wardlow rolled Cage through for a Powerbomb. Hook climbed Wardlow’s back, looking for REDRUM at 11:55. He cinched it in. Jericho grabbed Wardlow’s legs and turned him over in the Walls at the same time. Cage broke it up with a Superkick to Jericho.

Jericho gave Cage a kick to the face, allowing Hook to deadlift him for a German Suplex. Jericho and Hook traded chops. Hook caught the Demo-God with a T-Bone, then a bridging Northern Lights for a near fall at 13:10. Hobbs tossed Hook to the floor. Jericho side-stepped Hobbs in the corner, then dropkicked him to the floor. Jericho followed him outside. Excalibur called it a tactical error. Hobbs gave Jericho a Powerslam on the floor. He charged at him, but Jericho threw liquid from a fog machine at him. A cloud of smoke filled ringside. Taz choked.

In the ring, Cage gave Hook an F5. He hit Wardlow with a rising knee. Wardlow shrugged it off and gave Cage a headbutt, then a Powerbomb. Martin rolled Wardlow up for a surprise two count. He kicked Wardlow in the face to take him out momentarily. Martin stacked Magnus for a two count, broken up by Archer. Martin managed to fly off the ropes with a Moonsault onto Archer for a cover and two count. He tried the same to Wardlow, but the big man just shoved him to the mat. Wardlow knocked Archer to the floor. Hook returned, looking for REDRUM on Wardlow again. Wardlow shrugged him off and gave him a big clothesline. He gave Martin a massive Powerbomb and covered him for a three count.

WINNER: Wardlow in 16:23

(LeClair’s Analysis: The opening stanza of this one proved entertaining, though it came very close to breaching the barriers of “too cute to be serious.” The smaller wrestlers copying the exchange was a bridge too far. From there, I admit, the flurry of action was intoxicating at times, but largely, this felt out of place. The rest of the card had been built quite well, and so to throw a match with little purpose together at the last minute felt like a disservice to the rest of the card. Ultimately, this was inoffensive, albeit a few minutes too long. Wardlow was the right winner, though I don’t believe he’s got enough momentum for anything more than a one-off TV match with Joe for the Championship. His promos on Collision have been good, but being saddled with the DOA-Undisputed Kingdom is a tough hill to climb.)

Excalibur said Samoa Joe, Swerve Strickland, or Hangman Page will have Wardlow waiting in the wings for a shot at the AEW Championship.

-The announcers immediately tossed to a video package for the International Championship.

Roderick Strong was out first, wearing a mask and flanked by Matt Taven and Mike Bennett. Orange Cassidy followed, going it solo. He removed his shirt, revealing that both of his sides were heavily taped.

(4) ORANGE CASSIDY (c) vs. RODERICK STRONG (w/ Matt Taven & Mike Bennett) – AEW International Championship match

Both Orange Cassidy and Roderick Strong went for quick roll ups right out of the gate, each achieving near falls. Strong tried to work the ribs of Cassidy, but Orange rolled to the outside. Roderick followed him, dropping him rib-first on the LED boards of the ringside barrier. Strong hoisted Cassidy onto the apron, then went for a Backbreaker on the edge of the ring. Orange battled free and into the ring, where he managed to launch himself onto Strong. They crashed into the crowd barrier.

Strong and Cassidy returned to the ring quickly. Roderick went right to work on the injured ribs of the International Champion. He gave him a number of quick Backbreakers over the knee. Strong covered for a two count. Cassidy grimaced just from the exertion of kicking out. Strong gave the champion a hard chop. Orange crawled toward the northeast corner. The crowd “woo”ed his chops. “Shut up!” Strong told them. Excalibur wondered if Cassidy ever even really recovered from the injuries sustained during his first reign. Schiavone said that Cassidy’s body and friendships have been depleted, thanks to Undisputed Kingdom.

Roderick Strong worked Orange onto the apron. The champion managed to block a punch and slam Roddy’s head into the turnbuckle repeatedly, finally creating some separation as the match approached 4:45. Cassidy climbed to the top rope, but Strong met him almost immediately. He gave Cassidy a Gutwrench, tilt-a-whirl Backbreaker onto the top rope. Cassidy’s body bounced violently all the way to the floor. The crowd gasped, justifiably. Taz called for help, but Orange persisted. He fought his way into the ring. Strong mocked him with weak kicks.

A violent chop left Cassidy bent over, willing himself to continue. Another drop brought him to his knees. Roddy talked some trash before throwing a third. Cassidy collapsed, saving himself involuntarily. Cassidy fought to his feet one more time. He tried for a spinning DDT, but Roddy caught him and gave him another Backbreaker. He set Cassidy up for End of Heartache, but Orange managed to turn it into Stundog Millionaire. Roddy shrugged it off, having taken no offense to this point. He dropped Cassidy and turned him over for a Boston Crab. The champion desperately lunged to the bottom rope, breaking the hold.

Strong wasted no time, pulling Cassidy to center and re-applying the Crab. Cassidy managed to roll through it, popping to his fit and finally hitting the Tornado DDT. Orange climbed to the top rope, still favoring his back and ribs. He hit Strong with a diving DDT for a cover and two count at 9:35. Orange Cassidy forwent his signature weak kick warm ups for more violent stomps, sensing urgency. He set up for, and delivered Panama Sunrise to his challenger for a cover and near fall. Orange stripped his elbow pad and called for the Orange Punch. Roddy caught it. Cassidy tried Beach Break, but Roddy countered into a rising knee. Orange fell back against the ropes, then launched himself into the Orange Punch. Cassidy followed up with Beach Break, but Strong landed close enough to the ropes to easily break the pinfall attempt.

Using the ropes to stand, Orange Cassidy looked to the crowd for support. He called for another Orange Punch, but Roddy picked him out of the air. He pulled him up and into End of Heartache for a cover and three count.

WINNER: Roderick Strong in 12:43 to win the AEW International Championship

Strong began to celebrate with Taven and Bennett. Suddenly, Kyle O’Reilly slid in the ring behind him. Strong spun around in shock. It looked contentious for a moment, but O’Reilly gave Strong a hug. Tave and Bennett celebrated, the latter removing his Undisputed Kingdom shirt to give to Kyle. O’Reilly handed it back. He left the ring, looking solemn. O’Reilly seemed emotional as he thanked the fans on his way up the ramp.

(LeClair’s Analysis: I thought this was an interesting break in format from the typical Orange Cassidy title defense. Strong, not usually one for dominance, was all over Orange in the early going. It took several minutes for Cassidy to even get any offense established. Strong’s variety of backbreakers are always wildly impressive. The one off the top rope that bounced Orange to the floor was particularly impressive. I’m not a believer in the long-term viability of Undisputed Kingdom, but having them show an ability to at least accomplish one of their established goals was pretty important, and Strong is probably best-suited. Cassidy’s second run as International Champion hasn’t proved as exciting as the first, and it felt like it was time to move in a different direction, if not just to give the guy a break.)

-Excalibur tossed to a video package for the BCC vs. FTR.

“Wild Thing” blared and Jon Moxley and Claudio Castagnoli were shown walking a hall of the Greensboro Coliseum. They were wearing Road Warrior spiked shoulder pads. The duo emerged from a tunnel on the floor and marched through the sold out crowd toward the ring. FTR received a big reaction from the Greensboro faithful. Excalibur called them the “hometown favorites.”

(5) BLACKPOOL COMBAT CLUB (Jon Moxley & Claudio Castagnoli) vs. FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler)

An “FTR” chant took hold as Dax Harwood and Claudio Castagnoli began the match. They traded a quick series of roll up counters for two counts. “I love going for the win early on,” Schiavone said. The FTR chant melded with a countered “BCC” chant. Excalibur said many fans traveled to Greensboro specifically for Revolution, apparently explaining the mix. Claudio worked Dax to the southwest corner of the ring and the two traded some quick punches and slaps. Claudio threw one strong enough to crumble Dax. He stumbled to his corner momentarily, but shook it off.

Claudio threw a number of quick slaps and chops to drop Harwood. Claudio slumped against the ropes, tired. He tagged in Jon Moxley. Dax Harwood tagged in Cash Wheeler. Wheeler delivered a shoulder tackle into a side headlock on Moxley. The two traded Irish whips to the corner, then Wheeler hit a quick back body drop and dropkick on Jon for a cover and one count at 4:05. Moxley stumbled toward the FTR corner. Wheeler gave him some chops, then tagged in Dax. FTR littered Moxley with rapid punches, overwhelming him. Moxley cut Harwood off with a toe kick. Dax sold it for a moment, but whipped Mox to the corner. FTR traded tags. Moxley managed to work back to his own corner to tag in Claudio. Castagnoli was quickly overwhelmed by Wheeler. He climbed the turnbuckles and mounted Claudio for punches. Castagnoli used his underneath leverage to dump Wheeler over the top to the floor.

Referee Paul Turner held Castagnoli back as he tried to check on Wheeler. Moxley used the opportunity to attack the reeling Wheeler. Castagnoli tagged out. Moxley beat Wheeler down on the outside, then tossed him back inside. He tagged Castagnoli. Claudio grabbed a front-facing headlock as the match ticked toward 8:00. Wheeler tried to lift Castagnoli out of the headlock, each time inching closer toward Dax. Castagnoli cut it off and tagged in Moxley. Jon applied the same front headlock, transitioning into a headscissor with a cloverleaf. Dax Harwood broke it up. Mox tagged out.

Blackpool Combat Club continued to make smart, frequent tags. Claudio stomped on Wheeler behind Turner’s back, drawing admonishment from Harwood on the apron. Moxley delivered a Superplex from the middle rope after taking Cash’s back. He held Cash’s arms out while Castagnoli stomped on his exposed stomach. Mox slammed Wheeler off the bottom turnbuckle and stepped on his head. “I don’t think you’re sh-t, I don’t think your partner is sh-t,” Moxley told Cash. Wheeler finally exploded out of the corner, quickly enough to reach Dax for a tag. Mox tagged out, too.

Harwood took it to both Moxley and Castagnoli. He gave Claudio a leaping cross body for a cover and two count, then a small package for an equal count. He set Castagnoli up for a Brainbuster, but Claudio slid free and looked for the Neutralizer. Dax fought free and tagged Wheeler. Claudio hit Cash with a massive clothesline for a cover and two count. Schiavone and Excalibur wondered if the tag came too quickly. Dax returned to a knee, bleeding heavily from the forehead after hitting both the ring post and steel steps. Wheeler tagged him in. Wheeler hoisted Claudio onto his shoulders. Dax dove for a Tower of Doom, but Claudio turned it into an arm drag in the air. Castagnoli covered for a two count just before 14:00.

Castagnoli lifted Harwood onto his shoulders and tagged in Moxley. Mox leapt in for a Clothesline with a simultaneous Air-Raid Crash from Claudio. Moxley challenged Harwood to stand. Blood dripped down Dax’s face, getting in his eyes and mouth. He and Mox traded hard right jabs. Mox hit the ropes, but Dax exploded with a Pop-Up Powerbomb and stacked cover for two. Dax hoisted Moxley up for a Piledriver. Wheeler came off the top to make it a spike. Cash dove onto Claudio on the outside. Harwood covered for a near fall just after 16:00.

Blood stained the mat as Dax Harwood lifted Jon Moxley onto the top turnbuckle in the northeast corner. Mox slid out from underneath Dax and lifted him into Electric Chair. Claudio came off the middle rope for a huge uppercut, a modified Doomsday Device. Mox covered, but Wheeler threw his body onto him to break it up. All for men were in the ring, trading blows. “One in, one out!” Paul Turner exclaimed, to no avail. Mox got sent to the outside. Claudio tried to fight them both off. He blocked the Shatter Machine. Moxley returned and hit Cash with a cutter. Claudio gave Dax the giant swing. Moxley covered him after multiple rotations, but Harwood kicked out.

Moxley and Harwood were left alone in the ring. Mox bit the bloodied forehead of Dax. He hoisted him onto the northwest turnbuckle, then elbowed him right on the cut. Mox bit him again, blood pouring into his mouth. Claudio joined the onslaught, but quickly got pushed to the outside by Wheeler. FTR slammed Moxley for a cover and two count. Mox popped to his feet. FTR gave him a Shatter Machine for a cover and two count, broken up at the last possible moment by Claudio.

Wheeler dove through the middle rope at Claudio. Castagnoli picked him out of the air with a massive uppercut. He gave Wheeler a Neutralizer. Harwood gave Claudio a piledriver on the floor then returned to the ring. Mox gave him a Death Rider. He covered for two. Harwood rolled him into a crucifix pin for two as well. Mox applied a sleeper. Wheeler tried to make the save, but Claudio grabbed his leg. He slid inside and applied the same hold to Cash. Harwood faded, eventually passing out.

WINNERS: Jon Moxley & Claudio Castagnoli in 21:50

FTR slumped against the ropes, dejected. The BCC flexed in the center of the ring as “Wild Thing” rang out again. They turned to stare down their adversaries. Mox and Claudio dropped to knees to meet their gaze. All four men rose slowly. There was no handshake, but the announcers sold an earned level of respect based on their glances.

(LeClair’s Analysis: I’ve been decidedly disappointed with the portrayal of Blackpool Combat Club for quite some time now. I think they’re the strongest argument one can make against tweeners in pro wrestling in 2024. The constant flip-flopping from match to match has made it hard to get or stay invested in any of their stories, and the budding rivalry with FTR has been no exception. With that being said, I thought these four wrestled an excellent match, as one would expect. Mox and Claudio out tag teaming the tag team specialists in the early minutes was a nice touch, and a fun spin on the tried-and-true formula of isolation and hot tags. Despite the lack of a committal hand-shake at the end, the announcers played up there being a level of respect gained by BCC. Hopefully, like Danielson earlier in the night, this was a move to firmly establish his cohorts a good guys going forward. I think all involved would be drastically better off for it.)

-Excalibur tossed to a video package for the AEW Women’s World Championship

After the video, the ring crew was still changing over the bloody ring mat. The camera focused on the commentary booth for a few moments as they set the table for the match.

Deonna Purrazzo headed to the ring first. Toni Storm’s old music played, and Mariah May marched onto the stage, wearing Toni’s old gear. She gave a sly smile toward Purrazzo, then turned back to the entrance way. The color cut to black and white, and “Timeless” Toni Storm skipped to the ring.

(6) TONI STORM (c, w/ Luther & Mariah May) vs. DEONNA PURRAZZO – AEW Women’s World Championship match

Toni Storm and Deonna Purrazzo stood in opposite corners, eyes locked. Purrazzo came out first, circling the champion and looking for a lock up. Toni Storm engaged and took her challenger to the mat. She posed to a big cheer. The crowd opened up a modest dueling chant that quickly faded as the two wrestlers locked up again. This time, Purrazzo won the exchange. Toni rolled toward the ropes and kicked the bottom one in frustration. She stepped to Deonna and grabbed a waist lock. Toni tried to transition into a headscissor takeover, but Deonna blocked it and the two returned to their feet in a stalemate.

A test of strength yielded wrist control for Toni Storm. Purrazzo quickly countered, using her powerful legs to work Toni to the mat and stretch her arm. Storm worked to her feet quickly. The two fought toward the corner. Purrazzo stepped over a slide attempt from Storm, then pulled her into an arm bar. Storm was close enough to immediately drape her leg over the bottom rope and necessitate a break. The two women began trading right hands as the match crossed 4:00. Storm caught Deonna with a knee to the mid-section. Purrazzo fired back with a clothesline. Storm rolled to the outside for a shoulder massage from Luther.

Purrazzo was in no mood for a rest. She caught the champion with a baseball slide, then tossed her back in the ring. Storm beat her to her feet and stomped her, returning her to the corner and catching her with a number of punches. The two got sandwiched in the corner against referee Aubrey Edwards. Storm got the better of the exchange, slamming Purrazzo to the mat and covering her for a quick two count. Toni draped Deonna over the middle rope and drove her knee into the back of Purrazzo’s neck. She grabbed a a seated chin lock, then flattened her with a stomp to the chest. Storm gave Purrazzo a headbutt, then an uppercut. She set up for a Suplex, but Deonna pulled her into a small package for a quick two count. Toni slammed her back to the mat and stepped on her head, throwing her arms out to will support from the crowd.

The champion grew too comfortable. Deonna threw a wild chop, catching Toni off guard. Storm weathered some quick chops, then succumbed to a takedown into an arm bar. Deonna tried to apply pressure to hip and shoulder, but the champion was rise to roll through it. Deonna pulled Storm in for a Powerbomb, but Toni blocked it. Purrazzo delivered a Flatliner instead, covering for a two count at 9:05. Purrazzo got a running start toward the champion in the corner. Storm tripped her up, setting her up for the hip attack. She nailed it, following up with a big DDT for a cover and near fall.

Storm snarled, frustrated. Deonna caught her with a float over cover for two. Toni rolled to her fit and picked the challenger’s ankle, applying an ankle lock. She dragged the Virtuosa toward center. Deonna fought free. She kicked Storm to the apron, then off it. Luther caught Toni, carrying her to (momentary) safety. Purrazzo came flying off the top, dropping both Storm and her butler. She quickly tossed the champion back in the ring and applied the arm bar. Storm got her knees under her and rolled toward the ropes. Deonna spun her body, regaining leverage. Purrazzo gained control of the second arm. Luther leapt onto the apron. Toni tapped, but Edwards didn’t see it. Mariah May jumped on the adjacent apron, causing Purrazzo to break the hold. Deonna kicked May to the floor. Toni pulled her in and delivered Storm Zero for a cover and three count.

WINNER: Toni Storm in 12:16 to retain the AEW Women’s World Championship

(LeClair’s Analysis: In a vacuum, it might be easy to feel a little let down by this one. In the context of the show, though, I thought these women did a really nice job of working a different style of match that set itself apart from the rest of the show, helping it to feel decidedly unique. Purrazzo got to show off her submission prowess while Storm continued to find how to best make her gimmick work within the confines of a serious title match. At first, I was an advocate for Storm holding the title long term, but I’ve since shifted my perspective. I like the gimmick and find it to be largely very entertaining, but I do think it creates some unnecessary headwind when trying to retool the women’s division and elevate the title to main event status. With that said, I wouldn’t have voted for a title change tonight. With Mercedes Mone on her way in, I think trying to establish Purrazzo as a newly minted champion while bringing in someone who is sure to big foot her would be a disservice. Purrazzo now gets her first taste of adversity, and a chance to build sympathy and continued interest from the crowd.)

The screen turned black and white as Toni Storm gave Mariah May a playful kiss on the cheek.

-Excalibur immediately turned toward a match presented courtesy of the Don Callis family. “I’m required to say that, it says it right here on the sheet,” he claimed. He tossed to a quick video.

Kinosuke Takeshita was out first. Don Callis had joined the announce team, replacing Taz. Excalibur said fans had started pelting them with trash as a result. Callis said this is a “match of the decade.” Will Ospreay entered to a big reaction.


Tony Schiavone said it was “big moment for wrestling” as Will Ospreay prepared to compete for the first time as an official member of AEW. The crowd gave a big cheer when the bell rang. Ospreay locked up with Kinosuke Takeshita right away. They worked each other into the ropes. Ospreay slid into a seated side headlock, but Kinosuke easily worked to his feet. Ospreay broke the hold with a stiff slap to the face. They traded quick shoulder tackles. Ospreay caught Takeshita with another stiff slap, then a huge ‘rana. He blew a kiss to the crowd.

Ospreay delivered a hard chop and walked his opponent to the corner. The crowd cheered him on. Takeshita stumbled out and delivered one of his own. The two traded quick chops, then Irish whips. Takeshita flew with a massive lariat, then hit a bit elbow in the corner. Ospreay leaped over the second one onto the apron. He jumped, but Takeshita picked him out of the air with an elbow strike. Will still managed to ascend the turnbuckle. Takeshita immediately rose to meet him, delivering a big Superplex for a cover and a one count just before 3:00.

Kinosuke grabbed a seated headlock, happy to slow the pace a bit. Callis said you can’t give Ospreay space to generate offense. Tony agreed. Excalibur plugged AEW All In. Takeshita gave Ospreay a Senton off the middle rope, covering for another one count. Takeshita grabbed a sleeper and settled in. He stuck Will under his armpit and hammered him across the chest. The crowd booed loudly. “You can’t teach the genetics that Takeshita’s got,” Callis concluded.

Will worked himself to his feet, delivering two incredibly stiff chops. Takeshita tried for a hip toss, but Ospreay countered into a tight abdominal stretch. Takeshita wiggled free. He leapt toward the bottom rope, but Ospreay picked him out of the air with a dropkick. Kinosuke stumbled to the outside. Ospreay leapt onto him, landing on his feet. Both wrestlers returned to the ring at a count of four. Ospreay delivered a high angle back Suplex for a one count. Ospreay stuck Kinosuke between his legs, but Takeshita dropped to his knees to avoid being lifted. He scooped Ospreay into the air for a modified Falcon Arrow driver, then kicked Ospreay right to the floor. Kinosuke connected with a Swanton over the ropes onto a waiting Ospreay below.

Bryce Remsburg reached a count of seven before Takeshita tossed Ospreay into the ring. Kinosuke climbed the southwest turnbuckles and went for a Senton. Ospreay got his knees up. He climbed the ropes himself, looking for a Sky Twister Press. Takeshita rolled inward. Will landed on his feet. Takeshita rolled to his feet and immediately hit Ospreay with a violent bridging German Suplex for a two count. Takeshita hit the ropes. Will went for a kick. He used his own momentum to flip himself into a spin kick. Both men popped up. Ospreay hit a Spanish Fly as the match crossed 10:15.

“This is awesome!” the fans chanted. Will and Kinosuke rose to their knees, gesturing toward each other for offense. They traded hard elbows to thunderous boo/yeah call-and-response from the crowd. Ospreay gained control. Takeshita looked out on his feet. a Swinging elbow took him down. Ospreay followed up with a rolling elbow. Remsburg checked Takeshita, who’s hands were in the fencing position. He shoved Bryce away and stood up. Takeshita fired off shots. Ospreay was stumbling. He kicked the ropes and flexed, trying to will himself to steady footing. Takeshita delivered a thunderous blow. Ospreay crumbled.

After a few moments, both men stood, trading more punches and counters. Each landed multiple kicks. Ospreay finished the sequence with a Tiger Driver for a cover and near fall. He went for the Os-cutter, but Takeshita turned it into a Blue Thunder Bomb for a cover and near fall. The crowd rose to their feet as the match approached 15:00. Both men were down in the center. Takeshita grabbed a waistlock and rolled Ospreay, looking for a German Suplex. Ospreay blocked it. He leapt off the middle rope, looking for an Oscutter. Takeshita lowered his center of gravity, but didn’t go down. Will wisely let go, hit the ropes again, and this time, delivered the cutter. He covered for a near fall.

Barely able to stand, Ospreay called for the Hidden Blade. Ospreay anticipated it and dropped Will with a massive clothesline. Takeshita fall on top of Ospreay for a cover. Will just managed to raise his uncovered arm at the last possible moment. Ospreay crawled to the southeast corner of the ring. Takeshita approached, hoisting him onto the top turnbuckle. The two traded punches Takeshita delivered a leaping headbutt to Ospreay’s chest. Will shrugged it off and slid between Kinosuke’s legs. He kicked him in the back of the head. Will went for a top rope ‘rana, but Kinosuke held on. Ospreay crashed and burned. Takeshita pulled Ospreay up and delivered a release Brainbuster onto the turnbuckle. Will’s body scraped the ropes on the way down. He immediately grabbed his back and pulled the referee toward him.

The camera showed a fresh contusion on Ospreay’s lower back. Takeshita caught him with a knee to the back of the head for a cover and near fall. He called for another one. Ospreay blocked it and stunned Takeshita. Kinosuke no-sold it, Tombstoned Ospreay and then held on to transition into a release German Suplex. Ospreay rolled right to his feet and caught Takeshita with a leaping elbow. He covered, but Takeshita kicked out at one.

Takeshita used the ropes to stand and charged. He went for the knee again. Ospreay blocked it and gave Takeshita a Styles Clash. He covered for a two count. Will pulled Kinosuke up and hit Tiger Driver ’97. Kinosuke’s neck crumpled  with awful force. Ospreay immediately delivered Hidden Blade for a cover and three count.

WINNER: Will Ospreay in 21:57

Don Callis rolled into the ring to check on his clients. The crowd booed him. Kyle Fletcher headed to the ring. Takeshita stood briefly, then collapsed at Ospreay’s feet. The two bowed to one another. Kyle Fletcher entered the ring, staring down Ospreay. Excalibur announced that the two will face each other on Wednesday’s Dynamite (the graphic featured the show’s new logo and color scheme.) Ospreay and Fletcher threw up their United Empire crowns. Fletcher helped Ospreay out of the ring and up the ramp as his music continued to play.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Wow. I had questions about how the AEW audience would take to Will Ospreay. Of course, they’d know him. But, would they view him as a breakout star? Or, like many free agent signings before him, would they seem content to watch him merge with the flow of traffic? I think that question was answered rather resoundingly. Ospreay felt like a big deal. A main event waiting to happen. He and Takeshita tore the house down in a brilliant, wildly athletic and at times scary display of acrobatic acumen. These two are simply too good to be caught up in the Don Callis universe for too long. Ospreay, in particular, needs to be established as a top level babyface as soon as humanly possible, distanced from Callis’ grips at all costs. It hurts both of them to keep them together. The only small knock I’d make here was Takeshita’s selling after one of Ospreay’s brutal forearms. When Kinosuke crumpled and the referee went to check on him, he was exhibiting signs of the concussive “fencing” position. I presume, given his ability to recover and finish the match without any visible signs of harm, that this was a selling technique. I’d simply not do that. It’s too real, too scary, and completely unnecessary. Like Bryan Danielson’s seizing, just leave it out.)

-After a brief video package, Prince Nana danced his way onto the stage to “Big Pressure.” He stepped out of the way to reveal the ultra-focused Swerve Strickland. Nana grabbed a microphone to ask, “who’s house?” The crowd responded, loudly. Excalibur welcomed Jim Ross to the announce desk. “Hangman” Adam Page marched to the ring, angrily. Strickland stared him down. Samoa Joe was out last. Excalibur noted that Swerve and Hangman are so focused on each other, that they seem to have forgotten about the champion.

Justin Roberts provided championship match introductions.

(8) SAMOA JOE (c) vs. SWERVE STRICKLAND (w/ Prince Nana) vs. “HANGMAN” ADAM PAGE – AEW World Championship Three-Way match

Excalibur talked over the opening bell, noting that Samoa Joe doesn’t need to be pinned to lose the Championship. The three men walked toward the center of the ring and quickly came to blows. Joe tossed Swerve Strickland to one corner, and Adam Page to the opposite. Strickland leapt to the top rope and dove at the champion, but Joe just side-stepped him. Swerve rolled to the outside. Joe dove onto him, giving no quarter. Hangman Page tried to take control, but Joe flattened him then walked him to the corner. He gave Page a huge chop.

Samoa Joe looked for a body slam on Hangman, but Page slid down the back and shoved him toward the ropes. Strickland was there waiting. He pulled the rope down, sending the champion tumbling to the mat awkwardly. Swerve Strickland whipped Page to the corner and stomped a mud hole in him. Page recovered quickly, rolling off of Swerve’s back and catching him with an elbow. Swerve leapt to the middle rope and hit Page with a cross body. Strickland noticed the champion beginning to stir on the outside, so he dove onto him. Strickland danced around the corner, then slid back in the ring to drop Page again.

Challengers Hangman Page and Swerve Strickland continued to trade counters. Page hit a quick belly-to-belly for a cover and two count, broken up by Joe at the same time Swerve raised a shoulder. The champion cornered Page and gave him his signature short jabs to the body. He scraped his boot across Page’s chin and then bumped Strickland to the floor. Joe gave Page a Powerbomb for a stack cover, earning a two count. The champion immediately turned Hangman over into a tight STF. Joe wrenched back, but the hold was broken by a dropkick from Swerve. Tony said Hangman’s only hope was for Swerve to break up the hold because of how tight Joe had locked it in.

Joe dropped Swerve with some punches as the match approached 6:00. He worked the crowd favorite toward the corner and set him up for a Muscle Buster. Swerve used the ring to keep himself fastened to the turnbuckle. Joe pushed him to the floor instead. Page came in from underneath Joe. Swerve returned, too. They briefly worked together to give Joe a double Powerbomb off the top. Hangman and Strickland turned their heads to stare each other down. They came face to face. Swerve gave Page a couple of friendly slaps to the face. He went for a kick, but Page ducked it and gave him a clothesline to the back of the head. Joe returned, taking Swerve down. He tossed him to the apron and joined him. Swerve managed to kick him to the floor. Strickland had a scrape forming below his eye.

Strickland returned to the ring to fight Hangman. He leapt off the middle rope, but Page caught him and dropped him with a Tombstone for a cover and two count. Samoa Joe returned, but Page tossed him to the corner. Joe went for a Uranagi, but Hangman telegraphed it and rolled through. He kicked Joe. Swerve and Hangman traded some quick counters. Strickland hit a spinning slam and covered for two, broken up by the champion. All three men rose to their feet. Joe gave both men short jabs, keeping them reeling. He tossed Hangman Page to the northeast corner and pulled him into a Muscle Buster. He got all of it. Swerve was already waiting on the same turnbuckle. He caught Joe with a Swerve Stomp before the champion could stand up. Strickland called for, and delivered the House Call the Joe.

Instead of going for a cover on Joe, Strickland called for Hangman to rise. He hit the House Call and covered, but Hangman kicked out at the last moment. Page rolled to the outside. Prince Nana shared some words with Swerve as the match crossed 13:00. Swerve tried to lift Joe in a Fireman’s Carry, but collapsed under Joe’s weight. The champion looked for the Coquina Clutch, but couldn’t lock it in all the way. Strickland dropped Joe and climbed the ropes again. He pulled off a 450 Splash for a cover and near fall. Swerve clutched at his ribs. He climbed the turnbuckles again. Swerve caught Joe with the Swerve Stomp. He hooked the leg, but Hangman Page pulled the referee out of the ring.

Page retrieved the AEW World Championship from the timekeeper’s area. He slid in the ring and clocked Swerve in the head. Schiavone said referee Paul Turner is out cold in front of the announce desk. Page hit Swerve with the title belt again. “You should’ve listened! You’ll never have this!” Page told Swerve. Meanwhile, Joe returned to his feet. Page saw him rise and caught him with a Buckshot Lariat. He went to the opposite apron and hit the move a second time. Page hooked the leg, but there was no referee. Bryce Remsburg rushed to the ring to count, but Joe kicked out. Page was incensed. “Your fault, dude,” Schiavone said.

Hangman set up for a third Buckshot Lariat. He flipped in the ring, but Joe had enough time to recover. He grabbed the Coquina Clutch and threw himself to the mat, wrapping his legs. Swerve was already positioning himself on the northwest top turnbuckle. He flipped onto Joe and Page, breaking the Clutch. Prince Nana handed Swerve a chain. Strickland refused it. Joe grabbed the Coquina Clutch on Swerve. Swerve rolled through into a cover. Remsburg counted, but Page broke it up by attacking him instead of his opponents. Hangman beat Remsburg senselessly.

All three wrestlers traded punches and clotheslines with no referee in site. Joe set Swerve up for the Muscle Buster, but Strickland fought him off. Joe turned around and got hit by another Buckshot Lariat from Page. Hangman popped up, just to immediately eat his own move from Swerve Strickland off the top rope. Strickland pulled Page into the JMLL Driver. Joe tossed Swerve to the outside. He applied the Coquina Clutch to Page. Hangman tapped out.

WINNER: Samoa Joe in 19:42 to retain the AEW World Championship

Excalibur and company wondered aloud whether Hangman Page tapped out immediately to the Coquina due to the pain, or because he knew he could prevent Swerve from winning the title. The camera focused on Strickland, realizing that the Championship escaped him by a mere moment.

(LeClair’s Analysis: I thought this was really well paced and, for the most part, soundly booked. Samoa Joe, as usual, played his role perfectly – weaving in and out of sequences where he showed mental acuity and embodying the “smarter not harder” mentality. They effectively told the story of Hangman and Swerve being too obsessed with each other to viably knock off the focused champion. Swerve’s expressions to all his near falls and just misses were top notch. I liked Hangman pulling the ref to the outside in a desperate attempt not only to save the match for himself, but to prevent Swerve from winning the title. The second referee attack, though, felt a little gratuitous. By that point, they’d pretty clearly established that Page had gone full heel. A minor gripe. Kudos to the announcers, too, for wondering aloud whether Page was tapping purely from the pain of the Coquina Clutch, or if he’d sacrificed himself early, knowing that it was a prime opportunity to ensure Strickland didn’t get the title. This was the logical next step in telling Swerve’s rise to fame.

I know there’s sure to be disappointment that Strickland didn’t win tonight, and I agree that it’s important to strike while the iron is hot and not on the eventual comedown. With that in mind, though, you want to be able to maximize the moment when it does come, and tonight wasn’t it. With Sting’s retirement match still on deck, and the bevy of emotions surrounding it, Swerve’s title win would have been lost to a bigger moment, and that simply wouldn’t have been fair. Joe getting the win, with Swerve being *this* close, was smart and effective.)

-A video package announced AEW Dynasty from St. Louis on Sunday, April 21st. Excalibur touted ticket info.

-After a video package for the main event, Justin Roberts introduced Ric Flair, and special guest timekeeper, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Both received strong reactions. The Young Bucks were up next, to a chorus of boos. Excalibur said they’re drunk with power. E.V.P. business cards were shot out of confetti cannons at ringside.

Darby Allin entered next, tossing his title belt into a spotlight on stage and making a slow walk down the ramp. He turned back toward the entrance as the lights cut out. J.R. said he expects Allin will do “anything” to retain the Tag Team Championships. A video package, a final farewell to Sting, played. It highlighted various moments of his career as the man himself watched on from an empty movie theater. When the video concluded, the camera cut to a close-up of Sting. “It’s showtime,” he said, contemplatively, “it’s showtime, for the last time. Let’s do this.” Cut to black.

Sting’s music hit. Surfer Sting appeared on stage first, followed by NWO Black & Red Crow Sting. It was Sting’s songs in his old gear. Metallica’s “Seek & Destroy” played and the real Sting emerged from the shadows. The crowd sung him to the ring.

(9) STING & DARBY ALLIN vs. THE YOUNG BUCKS (Nicholas & Matthew Jackson) – AEW World Tag Team Championship Tornado Tag match

Darby Allin didn’t wait for the music to fade. He launched his body into the ring, then straight at the Young Bucks, sending them crashing to the floor. Allin immediately tossed both Nicholas and Matthew back in the ring and Sting directed traffic to opposing corners. Sting’s sons joined the champions in the ring and gave the E.V.P.s some Stinger Splashes for their troubles. The crew downed the Bucks in the center of the ring, and Sting applied a double Scorpion Death Lock to both Jacksons.

Matthew and Nicholas managed to slide free of Sting’s grip and roll to the outside. Sting didn’t hesitate. He followed them to the outside and tossed Nicholas into the ringside barrier. Matthew gave him a gut punch. Sting no sold it, tossed him aside, and grabbed a steel chair. He cracked it across Matthew’s back. Sting tossed Nicholas into the crowd, then Matthew to the opposite side. Sting’s sons retrieved tables from underneath the ring. Darby Allin was carrying a ladder. Nicholas Jackson re-emerged over the barricade, but Sting tossed him to the floor. Matthew caught Sting with a sucker punch and pulled him for a Piledriver. Sting fought out of it and slammed Jackson.

Allin climbed to the top turnbuckle and delivered a big Coffin Drop onto both Bucks. Sting fished under the ring and found himself a large pane of frosted glass. J.R. said he’s taking things a little too far. Sting pulled out a second pane of glass. Darby and one of Sting’s sons carefully placed a pane onto a set of chairs.  Matthew and Nicholas intervened, taking out Sting’s sons with Sting’s bat. Nicholas Jackson came for Sting, who took the bat and nearly beheaded Nicholas with it. Sting bounced the bat off the steps, then broke a pane of glass to scare Nicholas. Jackson tried to leave through the crowd. Sting and Darby followed. They brawled all the way to the right side of the entrance, underneath it, then bonto the stage. Nicholas gave Darby a jawbreaker near the edge of the stage as the match crossed 6:00. He gave Allin a Falcon Arrow off the stage, through a pair of tables below.

On the other side of the stage, Matthew Jackson landed a trio of punches on Sting. The legend shrugged them off and pulled Matthew in for a Scorpion Death Drop. Matthew blocked it. He hoisted Sting in the air and Suplexed him off the stage, through a pair of tables covered with cables. The crowd booed loudly. A massive “f— the Young Bucks” chant overwhelmed the broadcast. Nicholas smiled as he walked Darby back to the ring, reveling in it. Nicholas propped a ladder in the corner. The brothers surrounded Darby and set him up for a Powerbomb. Matthew launched Allin right into the ladder. Darby bounced onto his feet, stumbling into the corner. Allin caught Nicholas with double boots, then the same to Matthew. He pushed the Bucks into each other. They cracked heads. Allin stunned Nicholas, then delivered Code Red to Matthew.

With the ring to himself, Allin re-arranged some furniture. He set up the ladder near the edge of the ring and slid outside to slam to Nicholas against the ring steps repeatedly. Darby returned to the apron and began climbing the ladder. Nicholas rose, teetering at the edge of the propped glass pane. Darby flipped off the ladder. Matthew pulled Nicholas to safety. Allin crashed through the glass pane, turning over on his stomach to reveal a multitude of cuts all over his back. Blood poured out of multiple wounds. A doctor rushed to check on him. Sting returned to ringside as the match crossed 12:00. Doc Sampson began applying some gauze to Allin’s back.

In the ring, Sting tried valiantly to battle both Bucks. They overwhelmed him initially, but Sting side-stepped a kick. Matthew hit his brother instead. Sting grabbed Matthew by the throat and slammed him into the mat repeatedly. The Bucks regained control, working Sting onto the ladder. They back dropped him through the table. Sting immediately popped to his feet. The Bucks tossed him through a pane of glass propped in the corner. Sting rose again. Matthew gave him the Scorpion Death Drop for a cover and near fall. Sting was laid out in the center of the ring as the match crossed 15:00. Excalibur wondered how much the Icon could have left.

Nicholas Jackson retrieved a tag team title from the timekeeper’s area. Ricky Steamboat ripped it from his hands. Matthew Jackson kicked Steamboat below the belt, crumpling him. Meanwhile, Ric Flair slid in the ring, trying to help his friend. Sting was still lying in broken glass. Matthew came at Flair with a title belt. Flair covered Sting’s body. The Young Bucks hesitated, then gave Flair tandem Superkicks. Ricky Steamboat leapt onto the apron. The Bucks Superkicked him, too. Matthew clocked Sting in the head with a tag title belt and covered him for a near fall at 16:50.

“Everything they’ve hit Sting with, he’s been able to persevere!” Excalibur exclaimed. “This is scary,” J.R. added. The Bucks gave Sting a pair of Superkicks. He teetered back, eyes to the ceiling, then returned upright. Sting pounded his chest. The crowd exploded. He dropped the Bucks. They fought to their feet, overwhelming the Icon again. He hit the E.V.P. Trigger for a cover and very close near fall. Matthew pleaded with referee Rick Knox. He forcefully confirmed a two count. The Bucks forced Sting in a handshake. “It’s been a pleasure doing business with you,” they said. They delivered a second E.V.P Trigger. Matthew covered for a one count.

Sting laughed as he rose to his feet. They gave him more Superkicks. The Bucks called for the T.K. Driver. Darby returned to shove Nicholas off the turnbuckle and through a table. Sting turned Matthew over into a Scorpion Death Drop for a cover and two count. Darby delivered a Coffin Drop onto Matthew. Sting turned him over into the Scorpion Death Lock. Jackson wavered, then tapped out.

WINNERS: Sting & Darby Allin in 21:00 to retain the AEW World Tag Team Championships

Darby Allin, covered in bandages and still bleeding heavily from his back and right arm, embraced Sting. They took their Tag Team Championships as “Seek & Destroy” played again. Allin dropped to his knees as Sting held the tag titles high in the air. Confetti shot off from ringside.

Allin grabbed a mic and said they have three minutes left. He turned the microphone over to Sting. The Icon thanked Greensboro and said he wanted to deliver a night the fans would never forget. The crowd chanted “thank you, Sting.” He said it is a night to give thanks. He thanked Darby and called him his best tag partner ever. He wondered how many stitches Allin would require. Darby said he told him he’d die, but he’s still breathing.

Sting said he’s still a risk-taker, even at his age. The crowd chanted “you still got it.” Darby whispered to Sting and he paused. “I’m getting cues, hold on.” The broadcast abruptly cut to black at midnight eastern.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Admittedly, I don’t have the connection to Sting that most do. Despite being a wrestling fan nearly three decades, I wasn’t much into WCW. I saw bits and pieces of Sting’s TNA run, but never connected with him fully. I watched the disappointing WWE stint and felt bad, because by that point, I certainly had a healthy amount of respect for him even if I lacked the reverence others had. I’ve been wholly impressed with AEW’s handling of The Icon. I think it’s one of their greatest accomplishments. I’ve found myself enjoying his final ride, despite having complicated feelings toward his partner and a general dislike for the recent involvement of Ric Flair.

All that is to say, this match didn’t mean to me what it undoubtedly did to so many. But, watching tonight, I could still feel the excitement. I could still feel the child wonderment and awe. I still got sucked in to the superhero script and the adrenaline fueled no-sells that whipped the crowd into frenzy time and time again. Simply put, this car crash of a main event had an exhausted crowd invested in every waking moment, hung with baited breath for the next death-defying spot or simple chest pound. Look, the glass stunts were brutal. I hope they don’t do them again. I also know that, hearing the way Allin spoke of his intentions going into the match, we’re probably lucky that that’s as far as they went. Somehow, it could’ve been more violent.

I was a big advocate for the Bucks winning this match. I thought it would be a great catapult into dramatic television where the E.V.P.s could soak in nuclear heat. I was wrong. It wouldn’t have been right to do that in his building with this audience. And, in retrospect, I think they’ll still be able to accomplish what I’d hoped for anyway. The Bucks are still going to have mega heat. They’re coming off the rub of a main event, competing in a legend’s final match, and they know how to run their mouths.

Sting wasn’t my guy, but it was incredibly fun to see what he meant to so many people, and to see him go out on his terms. A killer end to a killer show. It’s a shame, though, that they ran out of time. It makes the 8-way seem all the more detrimental in hindsight.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: I have admittedly been one of the more critical voices on AEW for the last several months. While many have touted dramatic improvement in the weekly television, I’ve been reluctant, feeling their issues still permeate much of the product. Generally, though, I’ve always thought the company has delivered in spades on PPV with very few exceptions.

My issues with the major events generally boil down to pacing and a lack of build. So frequently, it feels like they’ll wait until the 11th hour to build and announce a card they’ve had ten weeks to sell. Revolution 2024 was in stark contrast to that trend. There was a keen focus on announcing and hyping this card well ahead of time, and it aided the end result tremendously. Pacing got off to a rough start, with the opener having mere seconds to breathe, but after that, the camera lingered appropriately, selling the thrill of victory and agony of defeat while pressing the pedal at appropriate times to keep with time cues.

As I said in the immediately aftermath on Greg Parks’s “Wrestling Night in America,” I thought this was the best show in company history. It’s not a runaway. AEW has put on some absolutely stellar PPVs. If we want to parse out the best of the best, we’ve got to split some hairs. And in doing so, I think this show simply did the little things better than any other event the company has put on. The eight-way scramble was messy and unnecessary, sure. It’s a bummer that Sting’s speech got cut off. But this thing rode a brilliant wave of energy, emotion, and genuine joy from start to finish. I’d use this as the template, the standard, and the blueprint for the entire company going forward. I truly hope they can carry some of this momentum in weekly TV and beyond.


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