There are a lot of positives and negatives with AEW having a quarterly pay-per-view schedule instead of the monthly schedule that wrestling fans have gotten used to over the last 25 years.
On one hand, you’re able to let feuds build and potentially breathe a bit. However, on the other hand, it makes things a lot harder to predict. When a pay-per-view ends and there’s another one in three weeks, you can generally piece together the next card right away. This title match had a screwy finish, so we’ll get a rematch on the next show. Wrestler A continues to rack up the victories, so they appear to be next-in-line for a title shot. That type of deal. You can’t really do that when the next pay-per-view is three months away. That same title match with a screwy finish? Infinitely harder to keep the rematch off for three months, and you’re a lot more likely to have the rematch on television instead. Wrestler A keeps winning? That’s great. Here’s a title shot on television.
Barring some sort of surprise announcement, AEW’s next pay-per-view will be Revolution. Nothing about the show has been announced yet, but it has been the company’s first PPV of the year for the last two years. In 2020, the show took place on February 29th, and this year, it happened on March 7th. That’s a long time from now. There’s so much that can happen between now and that time of year in 2022. New champions, new contenders, new signings, injuries (hopefully not, of course), and so forth.
There’s a lot on my mind when it comes to the journey and possible build to Revolution. I’m not going to be making any predictions. Again, there’s way too much that can happen between now and then to do any predictions this far out. These are merely ten things I think (I think) about the upcoming journey. It’s a mix of things I feel we need to see happen and other random thoughts. As is always the case when I do these columns, these will be listed in no particular order.
The Inner Circle Has Run Its Course: This is a group that was formed on the debut episode of Dynamite over two years ago. They’ve had a heel run and a face run, and have seen multiple group members hold a title. From the beginning, they have been a focal point of AEW programming. With that said, I think it’s time for the group to move on. I’m not saying we need some crazy split with two members turning heel on two members, and the fifth member not wanting to pick sides. That’s not necessary. With Sammy Guevara as the TNT Champion, it’s easy to focus on him as a true solo act. Chris Jericho remains one of the biggest stars in the company, so it’s also easy to focus on him as a solo act. Jake Hager is a bit of a mystery. He’s only wrestled three singles matches so far in 2021, so there would need to be a newfound dedication to making him a solo act in the company. As for the other two members of the group…
It’s Time For Santana & Ortiz To Get The Spotlight: In the two-plus years that Santana and Ortiz have been in AEW, they have had exactly one AEW Tag Team Title shot, and that’s when they lost to The Young Bucks on an episode of Dynamite nine months ago. One title shot in two-plus years? When they signed with AEW, they had a strong claim to being the best tag team in the business. For the majority of their time in AEW, they’ve almost been reduced to background players in a stable. That needs to change. The duo has won their last nine straight up tag team matches, and are 14-2 in those same straight up tag matches in 2021.
Santana and Ortiz have had a pretty good rivalry with the current AEW Tag Team Champions, Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fenix, through the years, facing off against each other in seven different promotions and four different countries. The problem is… they haven’t faced each other in AEW, unless you count all four men being in the Casino Battle Royale at All Out 2020 as “facing each other.” I don’t. There is no doubt in my mind that a Lucha Brothers vs Proud & Powerful match for the titles has all the makings of a Match Of The Year type of classic.
No More Dan Lambert, Please: We’ve had our weeks of “Old Man Yells At Cloud” promos, and we got him getting his comeuppance at Full Gear. Now, for the love of Joe Pesci, can we move on from this nonsense now?
Let’s Have Some New Cities & Venues: I really enjoy the look of Daily’s Place. It comes across well on television, and I’ve heard that it looks even better in person. Obviously, for a lengthy stretch of time, AEW had no real choice but to have all of their shows there, but that time has come and gone, hopefully never to return again. Would I like to see Daily’s Place remain in the rotation for future shows? Yes. I just don’t want to see it happen too frequently, and I don’t think that will be too big of an issue.
Chicago is a legendary pro wrestling city. You’d be a fool to deny that. I completely understand why a company would want to hold shows there. The fans in Chicago are going to give you a lot to work with, even if the product they’re being given isn’t always great. I also understand the connection between AEW and Pro Wrestling Tees, headquartered in Chicago. That’s cool and all, but AEW is leaning HEAVILY on Chicago recently. The last time they were there, or in the surrounding suburbs, was at the beginning of September, when they had an episode of Dynamite, an episode of Dark: Elevation, an episode of Rampage, two episodes of Dark, and All Out over the course of five days. Less than two weeks before that, Chicago got an episode of Rampage and two episodes of Dark, all done on the same day. They’re going to be back in Chicago for next week’s episodes of Dynamite and Rampage, as well as the taping of Dark, Dark: Elevation, Dark: Light, Dark: Roast Coffee, Dark 2: Electric Boogaloo, Dark: Souls, and Dark: Wing Duck. That’s quite a lot.
I know that it’s easier to stay in the same area for a week. I’m not arguing against that. I just want to see some new cities get their fix of AEW. This week’s episodes take place in Norfolk, Virginia and that marks the Virginia debut for the company. Dynamite on December 8th and Rampage on December 10th will be in Long Island, New York, marking the company’s debut in Long Island. Two weeks later, the shows make their Greensboro, North Carolina debut. On January 10th and 12th, Dynamite and Rampage come to us from Raleigh, North Carolina and will be the first time the company hits that city up. On April 13th and 15th, AEW might be making their debut in New Orleans, Louisiana. Only time will tell, as their New Orleans show has been postponed three different times now, twice due to COVID and, most recently, due to a scheduling conflict. At this rate, New Orleans will never see AEW.
My point is that it’s a good start. There are plenty of places in the United States that have yet to get their AEW fix, and that’s not even counting possible trips to places like Canada, Mexico or the United Kingdom in the future. I want to see more and more new markets as the promotion continues to expand.
There’s No Need To Rush Adam Page vs Bryan Danielson: Last year, Kenny Omega was the winner of the Championship Eliminator Tournament, giving him a future shot at the AEW World Title. He would get that title shot 25 days later, when he would turn heel to defeat Jon Moxley and become the new champion.
This year, Bryan Danielson is the winner of the Championship Eliminator Tournament, giving him a future shot at the AEW World Title. I’ve already seen a lot of people assuming Danielson will get the shot in a similar time frame, giving AEW a big “hook” to either close out 2021 or open up 2022, but to that, I say…
What’s the rush?
This is a different scenario than the one we had with Omega and Moxley. First and foremost, Moxley’s title reign ended at 277 days, while Adam Page obviously just won the World Title four days ago, as of the time this column goes live. Can the man take a breath first? On top of that, it would put AEW in a weird spot where the challenger probably shouldn’t lose, but the champion probably shouldn’t lose yet, either. Imagine a multi-year, multi-layered story finally culminating in “Hangman” Adam Page becoming the AEW World Champion, only for him to lose the title less than a month later? To another face, no less?
There’s a major problem with this “don’t rush it” scenario, though, and I freely admit it. Look at things from a kayfabe perspective. This isn’t like a Money In The Bank cash-in, where the briefcase holder is waiting for the champion to be at their weakest. For Money In The Bank, it doesn’t matter if the briefcase holder gets their shot in an hour, a week, a month, or 364 days. They pick their spot, and they pick it wisely. For Bryan Danielson, what sense would it make if he didn’t want his title shot as soon as possible? I get that Danielson has a laid back personality and all that, but imagine if, say, MJF cuts a promo and says he deserves a World Title shot, and Danielson’s reaction is like “Yeah, you’re right. Go ahead. I’ll get my title shot later on.”
One solution to that is something that may not even be possible for a little while. I think many of you are in agreement that Jon Moxley appeared to be building to some sort of a heel turn before he went on hiatus to enter an alcohol treatment program. We have no idea how long he’s going to be in the program, and I’m not going to speculate on that whatsoever. What I will say, though, is that there’s a believable and natural scenario for that heel turn to take place if Moxley is going to return to the ring sooner than later. Mox was in the Championship Eliminator Tournament, but was removed when he needed to go away for a bit. It makes perfect sense for him to come back and go after Bryan Danielson on some “you took what was mine and only won because I was gone” thinking. Depending on Moxley’s return date and the writing around the entire storyline, you could even push it so that we get Danielson vs Moxley at Revolution, pushing Danielson’s title shot back even further. Hell, I know someone who has already predicted something similar, except he thinks Moxley should goad Danielson into putting his title shot on the line and then win the title shot for himself.
Whatever they wanna do, there’s just no need to rush things. While we’re at it…
If Danielson Isn’t Next, There Are A Few Choices: Just for the sake of the argument, let’s say Danielson does take on Moxley at Revolution. What do you do with Adam Page then?
(Writer’s Note: This paragraph was written before the rumor broke of Omega possibly heading off to get shoulder surgery soon. Any future mentions of Omega in this column were also done before the report surfaced.) The easy/lazy/safe (depending on how you view it) would be a Kenny Omega rematch. The problem with that are the reports that Omega’s body is worn down. He’s dealing with a major issue in his shoulder, and has been suffering from vertigo for a few years now. He has had such an insane last several years in the ring, and he’s paying the price for it. Maybe he’ll end up needing to take some time off. The beauty with AEW loading up their roster the way they have is that they can lose people like Jon Moxley and maybe Kenny Omega for an extended period of time and they still have plenty of big names who can step in for them.
I mentioned him earlier at random, but MJF is another option. He’s one of the top heels in the company, and he’s coming off of what was, in my opinion, the best match of his career in a victory over Darby Allin at Full Gear. He doesn’t wrestle singles matches that often… only six of them in 2021… but they’ve all come in the last four-and-a-half months and are the only type of matches he’s worked in that time. It’s not exactly a huge stretch of the imagination to picture MJF stepping in and saying that he deserves to be the World Champion, blah blah blah.
Adam Cole? Christian Cage? Jungle Boy? Chris Jericho? CM Punk? Send Hook! There are short-term options that can be done on television between now and Revolution, and there are longer-term options that can be done at Revolution itself. I’m just saying that there’s a possibility, however big or small it may be, that Danielson isn’t next. If he is, though…
If It Is Danielson, We Don’t Need A Turn: I saw it all over Twitter when Danielson defeated Miro to win the Championship Eliminator. Danielson, a face, winning must mean that a swerve was going to happen in the main event, allowing Omega, a heel, to retain. The thinking was that AEW wouldn’t go with big-time face against big-time face. Then, when Page, a face, won the World Title, a lot of those people started to fantasy book a heel turn for Danielson.
WWE generally tries to avoid faces going against each other in main event feuds, but… this isn’t WWE. AEW tries to do their own thing, and AEW fans aren’t going to have problems just because two faces in the ring. There will be fans chanting for “Hangman,” there will be fans chanting for Danielson, and there will be fans just chanting and being excited for both.
Could a heel turn happen? Yes, especially one for Danielson. It just isn’t a necessity.
There Are Lots Of Intriguing Options For Britt Baker: When you look at the bracket to crown the inaugural TBS Champion, there are eight women left in the tournament. Of those eight women, you could easily envision six of them winning the whole thing… Thunder Rosa, Jade Cargill, Nyla Rose, Hikaru Shida, Kris Statlander and Ruby Soho.
Could you see any of the five that don’t win the TBS Title feuding with Britt Baker over the AEW Women’s Title? I sure could. There’s also someone like Serena Deeb, who would probably have the best overall match with the champion of any of the names mentioned.
Since winning the title back at Double Or Nothing on May 30th, ol’ Doc Smiley has defeated seven different opponents in one-on-one matches, including three (Rose, Statlander and Soho) still remaining in the TBS Title tournament. She has looked like she is in line for a dominant, lengthy title reign after getting past Soho, who had a lot of people predicting her as the new champion.
If you were to ask people to be honest, I think many of them would say they’re waiting for the big rematch between Baker and Thunder Rosa. Their unsanctioned “Lights Out” match back in March was one of the best matches in AEW history. Thunder Rosa came out victorious in that one, but what’s the one thing you remember most from that match? Britt Baker’s face being a bloody mess in an absolute star-making performance. She would win her next six singles matches and win the Women’s Title in the next match after that. Right now, the rematch is where the money is. The build to Baker vs Rosa at Revolution would be a lot of fun.
There’s a point to be made in having Rosa continue chasing the DMD, though, too. For example, the finals of the tournament are going to be on January 5th, when Dynamite makes its debut on TBS. Let’s say Thunder Rosa makes it to the final match, only to lose. She could then try to turn her sights on the Women’s Champion, only for Chief Teef to be all “nah, b” and go in another direction. Someone else gets the Women’s Title shot at Revolution before Thunder Rosa eventually gets it. The only problem with that scenario is that the Rosa rematch would probably need to happen on television. Short of something unpredictable like an injury or new signees to the women’s division, it would be pretty difficult to stretch this story out until Double Or Nothing, which is six whole months from now.
Turn Cody Rhodes: Stop wasting everyone’s time. AEW crowds have made their decision. This isn’t a John Cena situation where AEW is worried that a Cody heel turn is going to be some sort of relations nightmare when it comes to all the charity work with children that he does. It isn’t even a John Cena situation where the company is afraid that Cody’s merchandise sales will be affected by a turn.
Be like Nike. Just do it.
Some Elite Drama Incoming: The Young Bucks didn’t exactly turn on Kenny Omega at the end of Full Gear, but they didn’t exactly show complete solidarity with their fellow Elite member, either. After seemingly giving Adam Page the nod of approval to finish the match, that’s exactly what “Hangman” did, winning the AEW World Title.
What was that about?
It was another layer of the story that has been told over the last couple years. Page, of course, is a former member of The Elite himself. As of right now, there are four official members of The Elite… Omega, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson and Adam Cole. That group takes a bit of a hit if Omega is going to miss an extended period of time to deal with his injuries. What will Cole have to say about the nod of approval? Does it matter?
Furthering the potential drama is the Cody Rhodes heel turn that could be on the table. A lot of you have already assumed that Cody would rejoin The Elite if he were to turn heel. What happens then?
Let’s take it to another level. New AEW signee Bobby Fish is listed as an “associate” of The Elite thanks to his pairing and history with Cole. Well, it is rumored that the WWE contract of Kyle O’Reilly is set to expire at some point next month. With an expired contract, there isn’t going to be a no compete clause, and there’s certainly a lot of speculation that he would be AEW bound once he’s done in NXT. O’Reilly, of course, has spent years working with Cole and Fish. What happens then? Lord knows I’ve seen plenty of fantasy booking that features Cole/Fish/O’Reilly vs Omega/Bucks feuding against each other.
There are so many questions, but not a lot of answers right now. Lots of directions that things can go in. Plenty of twists and turns. Oodles of chess pieces that can move all over the board.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Kenny Omega vs “Hangman” Adam Page: I’ve already discussed the Full Gear matches in my Running Diary column, so I don’t need to say too much about it here. This match isn’t going to make my year-end Match Of The Year list, but it was everything that it needed to be. When I say it won’t be in my Match Of The Year finalists, that’s not to say it was bad. In case you didn’t see my Running Diary, I gave the match 4.5 stars. Honestly, I’m thinking that a healthier Kenny Omega would’ve put this over the top. As I said, though, this was everything it needed to be, from the in-ring action to the story being told. Really, really good stuff.
- Darby Allin vs MJF: MJF’s best match? Darby’s best match? A look at a future AEW World Title feud? Yes, yes, and yes.
- Bryan Danielson vs Miro: A lot of people said they were slightly disappointed in this match. I certainly wouldn’t say that. The match did have some slower spots, but that’s fine. This is Miro we’re talking about here, folks. Whether you love him or you hate him, his in-ring work isn’t going to be confused with 1996 Rey Mysterio Jr. The match was paced well, slowing it down when necessary and speeding it up when it was called for.
- CM Punk vs Eddie Kingston: Oddly enough, this was another match that I saw people were disappointed in. The match was ugly, but it was supposed to be ugly. It became a blood feud very quickly, and that showed in the match. They were far more interested in beating the shit out of each other than putting together pretty strings of moves.
- Lucha Brothers vs FTR: It would be really difficult to find two tag teams who are as different in the ring as these two, but they’re so, so good at what they do.
- Christian Cage, Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus vs Adam Cole & The Young Bucks: It was a wild brawl that really stood out on the Full Gear card. It’s difficult for me to complain about anything. All six of them got a chance to shine at points, and honestly, it was the perfect ending with Jungle Boy finally feeling the need to cross a line and deliver the Con-Chair-To to Matt Jackson. Even better was the fact that he did it, but still seemed conflicted about it.
- Kenny Omega & Adam Page’s Contract Signing: One of my only complaints about Kenny Omega is how campy he can be in his promos and vignettes. He can be very hard to take seriously when he’s going too far over the top. This contract signing featured him being far more serious than we usually get to see him be, and it made the whole thing ten times better because of it. He’s so good at it, so it’s a shame that he doesn’t do it more often.
- Becky Lynch Effortlessly Floating Between Heel & Face In Her Raw Promo: She started her promo by responding to Charlotte Flair, continuing their shoot/work/worked shoot story, and she showed all the fire that a top babyface would show in a big money promo. It was focused, intense, and believable. Then, when Liv Morgan came out, Becky immediately slipped into snarky heel mode, taking shots at Liv’s WWE career. Real good stuff from The Man here.
- Dante Martin & Lio Rush vs Matt Sydal & Lee Moriarty: I’ve said it before, but AEW really loves putting these types of matches out, whether on television or pay-per-view, and it makes me eternally thankful that I’m not doing play-by-play review columns. There’s no way to keep track of these matches like that, unless you’re not doing a “live” column and are able to pause, rewind and take breaks to write. So much fun to watch, though.
- Randy Orton Set To Break The WWE Record For Most Matches On Pay-Per-View: Orton is set to team with Riddle at Survivor Series this weekend, battling The Usos in the usual Champions vs Champions match that the event has become known for in recent years. Barring some sort of swerve that takes him out of the match, it will be his 177th match on WWE pay-per-view, which breaks his tie with Kane for most in company history. That’s an insane statistic. The only other active WWE wrestlers in the top ten of that list are Edge (135 matches), The Miz (121) and Kofi Kingston (117). As of right now, none of those guys are scheduled for a match this weekend. If you scroll through the top 50, the list is full of wrestlers who are either deceased, retired or wrestling for AEW. It’s going to be VERY difficult for someone to break Orton’s record. Someone like Roman Reigns, who is a big enough star that you can pretty much pencil him in for a match on every pay-per-view card, is currently at 93 matches. That would mean that if Randy Orton announced his retirement on Raw the night after Survivor Series, Reigns would need to wrestle on every pay-per-view until October 2027 just to tie Orton’s mark. Reigns would be about halfway between the ages of 43 and 44 then. For reference, Orton is a little more than halfway between 41 and 42 right now. I’ve already said too much here, but kudos to Orton on his Hall Of Fame career.
- Big E, Randy Orton & Riddle vs Seth Rollins & The Usos: We already know it’s not possible for there to be a bad match featuring any sort of combination of New Day members and The Usos. What I liked about this match is that it was a different take on that legendary feud. E teaming with RK-Bro? The Usos teaming with Seth Rollins? I really dig it.
- King Woods vs Roman Reigns: I could do without the “bend the knee” stuff, but hey, that’s a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things. Woods has really had a lot of big matches and moments as a singles wrestler over the last year or two. I’ve joked that he’s going to win the WWE Title in 2023 to follow Kofi Kingston winning it in 2019 and Big E winning it in 2021, but damn, maybe we really are going to see that.
- Pac vs Dax Harwood: Go back to what I said about the Lucha Brothers vs FTR match, and change “tag teams” to “wrestlers.” That’s my entry for this match.
- The Street Profits vs Alpha Academy: Random statistic time. This was the longest match Chad Gable has participated in since March 12th. On that night, he teamed with Otis, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode to face The Street Profits (you know WWE loves their long ass feuds with rematches galore) and The Mysterios on Smackdown. If you want to narrow it down to matches that featured four or less competitors, you have to go back to the July 24th, 2020 episode of Smackdown, when he faced Gran Metallik, Lince Dorado and Drew Gulak in a Fatal Four-Way to crown a new #1 Contender for the Intercontinental Title. Does this mean Gable (and, in relation, Otis) is set to receive a push? Probably not. This is WWE we’re talking about, after all. I just like random statistics.
- Finn Balor vs Kevin Owens: Speaking of random statistics, Kevin Owens beating Finn Balor cleanly is the first clean win for a heel in WWE since 1975. Wild.
This Week’s Playlist: “Leave The Door Open” by Silk Sonic… “Fly As Me” by Silk Sonic… “After Last Night” by Silk Sonic & Bootsy Collins… “Smokin Out The Window” by Silk Sonic… “Put On A Smile” by Silk Sonic… “777” by Silk Sonic… “Skate” by Silk Sonic… “Blast Off” by Silk Sonic… “Outlawz” by Rick Ross, Jazmine Sullivan & 21 Savage… “My Paper Thin” by KXNG Crooked… “Magic” by Pretty Shy, Gangsta Boo & Yelawolf… “Start The Healing” by KoRn… “Housing Authority” by Joell Ortiz & KXNG Crooked… “Sincerely Yours” by Joell Ortiz… “Love Is Love” by Joell Ortiz & Sheek Louch… “Darkness To Light” by Damon Albarn… “Song 2” by Blur… “Sour Times” by Portishead… “Wandering Star” by Portishead… “Glory Box” by Portishead… “6 Underground” by Sneaker Pimps… “Teardrop” by Massive Attack & Elizabeth Fraser… “Running Up That Hill” by Placebo… “Ruby” by Kaiser Chiefs… “Human” by The Human League