If you promise people explosions, you better give people explosions.

It’s hard to condense any wrestling pay-per-view down to a single-sentence lesson, but AEW Revolution ended up deserving that kind of summary. A solid to spectacular night of wrestling was capped by an Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match between Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega, which was not only exactly the kind of brutal, bloody spectacle it promised to be, but the culmination of a subplot that has been woven into the fabric of AEW almost since its birth.

The issue was not with the way Moxley and Omega performed — not that there was much chance of that, given that they are two of the top professional wrestlers on the planet. Nor was it the way the match was booked, as Omega needing assistance to pull out the win as very much in line with the way his current heel persona has evolved.

Instead, it was a stipulation within the larger stipulation that let AEW down. Throughout the night, viewers at Daily’s Place in Jacksonville and at home were told that 30 minutes after the main event began, any undetonated explosives connected to the barbed wire around the ropes or out on the floor would go up in one big blast. It was meant to create a sense of impending doom and urgency.

Of course, the deadline ended up as part of the match’s story. Unfortunately for AEW, the promised blast was more of a fizzle, and fair or not, that’s what people were talking about on social media as soon as Revolution ended.

There’s no denying the entertainment value was high before we got to that point. As Moxley made his way to the ring, Jim Ross recalled how Terry Funk called him the night before to say he felt sorry for these kids, and they needed to get past the fear of the barbed wire. No one could blame Moxley for taking a swig from his flask as he walked to help with that tall task.

Referee Bryce Remsburg held the belt aloft wearing a fireproof suit and face shield as Don Callis joined the announcers to call the action. He cackled as Excalibur reminded viewers that any explosives that had not denotated by the time the match reached 30 minutes would all go off at once, though he noted that the champ had no plans to have the match go that long.

The two men traded chops in the middle of the ring, with Omega sitting out to avoid taking the first trip into the barbed wire. The fans in attendance shouted for every close call, which came in quick succession as each combatant worked overtime to try to maneuver the other into danger. The one side without barbed wire was the stage, where Omega ended up — though it wasn’t safe, because Moxley hit him several times with a barbed wire baseball bat and a kendo stick.

A handful of powder to Moxley’s eyes stopped his onslaught, with Omega hurling him into the barbed wire and setting off the first blast. Mox kicked out of the first pinfall attempt of the match, leading Omega to batter him with a kendo stick and drop him leg-first on a trach can. A Kotaro Crusher on the trash can resulted in a second near fall, bloodying Moxley even as he was able to kick out.

Stuck in a Figure Four, Mox ground a chair covered in barbed wire across Omega’s knees, only to be hurled into a barbed wire-laced table in one corner. Carefully avoiding any explosives, Omega went up top to his a moonsault, making a halfhearted cover. Moxley made him pay for his arrogance, sending him into the ropes twice to feel his first blasts.

With blood now completely covering Moxley’s face, he hit a shoulder capture suplex and a second throw that sent Omega sideways into another wired table. The damage to Omega’s shirt was starting to show, and it wasn’t helped by Mox dropping him onto the wire-wrapped chair. Recalling what he did in his match with Eddie Kingston earlier in the year, Moxley wrapped barbed wire around his own arm, and a brief burst of offense left both men on the canvas.

“Less than 15 minutes until the ring explodes,” noted Tony Schiavone before Omega powered Moxley back into the ropes, asking Remsburg for water to rinse out his eyes. The fight went out to the apron, where both men traded strikes and struggled to hurl each other into the “Triple Hell” device on the floor, a combo of barbed wire and fireworks. Naturally, they ended up heading there courtesy of a Moxley Paradigm Shift, with Omega going in headfirst but Moxley laying amidst more of the barbs.

Blood was now flowing from Moxley’s face as well, and as the wrestlers returned to the ring, the 10-minute warning sounded. Mox hit a piledriver and tried for several covers, trying to end things quickly. Omega responded in kind, softening Mox up with a low blow and getting another near fall with a powerbomb.

A pair of V-Triggers set up the One-Winged Angel, which no one in AEW had kicked out from to date. Moxley didn’t either, but he escaped the pin by hitting the ropes with his foot, detonating another blast that blinded Omega. With Mox in need of help, the Good Brothers arrived, providing enough help to set up a shot from an exploding barbed wire bat. Incredibly, Moxley kicked out again.

What would it take to end the carnage? Omega looked at the chair and put it to use, driving Moxley through it with a One-Winged Angel and finally getting the three count. Callis rushed to the ring to get Omega and the Good Brothers clear of the impending explosion, only to discover that they wanted to get more shots in on Mox, handcuffing his hands behind his back.

Returning to the announce table, Callis called the continuing abuse “the end that Jon Moxley deserved.” A one-minute countdown clock signaled the explosion time, with Eddie Kingston rushing in vain to try to rescue Mox. Out of time, Kingston resorted to throwing his own body over Moxley’s, but all that happened was a couple of sparklers from each ringpost and a short bang from the floor. The announcers tried to sell it as a big bang even though it was anything but, with Kingston likely earning his eventual induction into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame for selling the less than explosive finale. It was an anticlimactic ending to an encounter that had lived up to the hype to that point, and certainly should stick around in the memory banks of all who saw it for quite some time.

The next AEW pay-per-view is Double or Nothing on May 29, 2021.

The Buy-In Results

With Rebel unable to compete — she’s been ruled out by the Jacksonville Jaguars team doctor, apparently — Dr. Britt Baker needs a new partner for tonight. She finds one in Maki Itoh, who treats the fans to some singing and dancing before the match gets underway.

Dr. Britt Baker and Maki Itoh vs. Thunder Rosa and Riho

As the announcers point out once the match is underway, the rivalry between Baker and Rosa is one of the better things the AEW women’s division has going. Itoh is also a treat for anyone who hasn’t seen her wrestle before, both in terms of ability and psychology. Also, just because Rebel isn’t in the match doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a part to play, and she delivers a vicious shot with her crutch to the face of Rosa. Baker and Itoh get the victory, but that doesn’t mean the bad blood between the doctor and Rosa is over.

Winners: Dr. Britt Baker and Maki Itoh by pinfall

AEW Revolution 2021 Full Results

Chris Jericho and MJF (challengers) vs. Young Bucks (champions) – AEW World Tag Team Championship Match

Referee Aubrey Edwards has her hands full right from the opening bell, as all four men are willing to brawl inside and outside the ring. The Bucks have righteous anger on their side and use it to rule the opening minutes, but the heels are able to get their feet under them with some timely assistance from Wardlow on the outside. There are also a record number of middle fingers shown, for whatever it’s worth. MJF likely owes the DX crew some royalties now too after all his crotch chops. Wardlow attempts to lend an even bigger hand but gets wiped out by an errant Judas Effect, and after a number of close calls both ways, the Bucks hit the Meltzer Driver to retain their belts. Good way to kick things off.

Winners … and still AEW World Tag Team Champions: Young Bucks by pinfall

Rating: 7.5/10

Casino Tag Team Royale

This is very much like a tag team version of the Royal Rumble, as two teams will start in the ring and another will join them every 90 seconds. Both members of a team must go over the top rope and have their feet touch the floor for that team to be eliminated. Among the more amusing entries are the Gunn Club and multiple duos from the Dark Order. QT Marshall eliminates the Gunn Club, which isn’t cool since those guys are his teammates, then eliminates himself and spits at Dustin Rhodes on his way out. If you care about midcard feuds, there’s some drama to keep in the back of your mind. Death Triangle’s Pac and Rey Fenix end up as the only two-man squad left standing, facing off against John Silver and Jungle Boy. Fenix proves worth the price of admission once again, coming up with unique ways to get other wrestlers to the floor. He and Pac have an advantage against a solo Jungle Boy, but that goes away once Pac gets chucked out. Jungle Boy hits a nice sequence of offensive moves, but we’re not going for pinfalls here, and Fenix is able to finally finish off Jurassic Express. Looks like Pac and Fenix will get the next title shot.

Winners: Death Triangle (Pac and Rey Fenix)

Rating: 7/10

Backstage, Paul Wight is asked who the big AEW signing is going to be. Wight chuckles about how Tony Schiavone usually has the scoops and offers a hint: He doesn’t think anyone in AEW can outwork him. Place your bets, folks.

Ryo Mizunami (challenger) vs. Hikaru Shida (champion) – AEW Women’s World Championship Match

The back story here is that these wrestlers have met three times before and fought to a draw every time. The announcers note that it’s possible again tonight with a 60-minute time limit, but given how much of this card is still to come, I’m hoping that isn’t the case. Could there be the very beginnings of a Shida heel turn in progress? The way she seems to be reveling in some of her more devastating blows and showing Mizunami very little respect, it makes one wonder. Mizunami absorbs all the punishment and lands her top rope legdrop, but Shida barely manages to kick out before three. The hard hits and near falls keep coming, but Shida eventually prevails. After the bell, it’s time for hijinks: Nyla Rose attacks Mizunami, and when Shida comes to the aid of her foe, Baker and Itoh run in to attack as well. Rosa’s music hits and she sprints to the aid of both combatants, sending all the heels scurrying.

Winner … and still AEW Women’s World Champion: Hikaru Shida by pinfall

Rating: 7.5/10

Backstage, Alex Marvez tries to get a word in with Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy, but he never gets a chance before Miro smashes Taylor’s head into the glass portion of a door. He orders someone to play his music and drags Taylor out to the ring.

Miro and Kip Sabian vs. Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy

Miro offers a chance for Taylor to stop the pain even before the match begins, but his reply is as simple as it is defiant: “Ring the damn bell.” Shaking off the backstage assault, Cassidy limps his way down to the ring and smashes the gas on the tempo. The Best Friends have Sabian in a lot of trouble, but Miro slides in with a punch to break up the pin. We see how determined Miro is to win when he sends Penelope Ford crashing off the apron by shoving Cassidy into her, then tags himself in to apply the Camel Clutch to Taylor, who taps out fairly quickly.

Winners: Miro and Kip Sabian by submission

Rating: 6/10

Marvez has to deal with an angry Jericho and MJF after their unsuccessful attempt to take the titles from the Bucks. The Demo God promises some changes to the Inner Circle that will be announced this week. MJF agrees and says a change could be good for the group. MJF making his move to depose Le Champion, perhaps?

A video package walks us through the setup for the Big Money Match between Adam Page and Matt Hardy. Not quite as many double-crosses as a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but it’s in that vein.

Matt Hardy vs. “Hangman” Adam Page – Big Money Match

Hardy’s strategy seems to be to destroy Page’s right hand, though I’m not sure that’s going to prevent Hangman from pulling off the Buckshot Lariat since he … doesn’t hit people with his fingers to do it. The problem for Page, as always, is his lack of friends, which comes into play when both members of Private Party interfere. Hardy counters the Buckshot with a Side Effect and a Twist of Fate, but Page manages to kick out at two. Private Party prepares to intervene again but is neutralized by the full power of the Dark Order, who even assemble to catch Page when he gets knocked off the apron. Page hits the Buckshot on his second attempt and earns himself all of Matt’s Money through the end of March.

Winner: “Hangman” Adam Page by pinfall

Rating: 6.5/10

Max Caster vs. Lance Archer vs. Scorpio Sky vs. Penta El Zero Miedo vs. Cody Rhodes vs. “All Ego” Ethan Page – Face of the Revolution Ladder Match

This is going to make some of my friends really happy, as Page was a popular pick to be the surprise entrant. Also, big props for AEW using a literal brass ring as the item the wrestlers are trying to climb up and grab. That’s meta commentary of the fun variety. It doesn’t take long for Caster to call for assistance from Jack Evans, who in turn is taken out by 10 of the Dark Order. Not sure if a match like this needs outside interference since the action is likely to speak for itself. The question now is who’s going to take the most ridiculous ladder spot, and it might be Cody, who is on the business end of a Canadian Destroyer by Penta onto a ladder laid out between the apron and the barricade. One yike for that. Sky is the first person to get his hands on the ring, but Archer sends him crashing from the ring down through a ladder with a nasty knee strike. Penta and Page do battle atop the ladder as Rhodes returns from getting medical attention to start dishing out shots to anyone in sight. Archer gives him a superplex for his trouble, and Caster drops an elbow on him as well. Maybe not the best idea to return to this scene. Archer topples a ladder with both Penta and Caster near its summit, then starts wrecking all of the other competitors one at a time. Caster takes the Blackout on a ladder, easily moving him into second place on the pain index. Who’s left to stop Archer? Page gives it a shot, hitting him with a low blow and a Razor’s Edge before he gets clotheslined by Jake Roberts. After Penta disposes of The Snake, he is taken out by a Cody Cutter of sorts. Penta retaliates with a chair shot to Cody’s already injured arm, then feels the steel himself as Sky has finally had enough time to recuperate. Sky and Rhodes ascend one more time, and Sky is able to bash Cody’s arm off the top of the ladder and push him to the canvas. Sky unhooks the brass ring to earn himself a title shot against Darby Allin, possibly this coming week by the sound of it.

Winner: Scorpio Sky

Rating: 9/10

Sometimes conventional wisdom is wrong, so even though Kurt Angle is the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter as the guess for the Hall of Fame talent signing with AEW, it’s not Angle who comes out to sign a contract — it’s Christian Cage. Look, I love Angle, but Christian is also awesome and likely has more left in the tank. This works for me.

A video package hypes up the Street Fight between Allin and Sting and Team Taz. Not that the return of Sting to active competition really needed any more buzz. It’s going down from an undisclosed location, which is 2021 code for “cinematic match.”

Darby Allin and Sting vs. Brian Cage and Ricky Starks – Street Fight

The production values are kind of halfway between mid-budget action movie and 1990s music video. It’s also weird to have the announcers calling it like it’s happening live. Conveniently, whatever warehouse they are fighting in has a ring, and Starks kindly keeps his fight with Sting in-between the ropes as Cage and Allin beat each other up elsewhere — with Cage tossing Allin through a set of doors into an adjoining room. Starks and Sting make their way out into the warehouse, where Starks goads the Icon into throwing away his bat. It doesn’t save him from continuing punishment. Meanwhile, Cage walks up a flight of stairs with Allin in the vertical suplex position. As one does. Starks finally gets some momentum only to get accidentally bashed in the head by his teammate, who is trying to hit Sting. A blast from a fire extinguisher slows Cage, who gets hit in the head by a bottle and slammed through a table. Of course Team Taz has reinforcements it can summon, and both Powerhouse Hobbs and Hook arrive to put the numbers firmly in their favor. Cage and Hobbs both grab some of Allin’s limbs and swing him through a large glass window, and I did not make that up. If anything can tilt things back in favor of the faces, though, it’s Sting’s bat, which he finds and uses just as Allin jumps off something quite high and drives Cage down several stories. Sting and Starks find their way back to the ring, where Sting connects on a Scorpion Death Drop as the dramatic music swells to bring this film noir hardcore bout to a conclusion.

Winners: Darby Allin and Sting by pinfall

Rating: 8/10

One more video package sets the stage for the main event, and while you’ve likely seen it already if you’re a regular watcher of AEW Dynamite, it has a logistical purpose here as well since the ring needs to be set up with barbed wire and stuff that blows up. It’s a little more than the typical ring crew duties anyway.

Jon Moxley (challenger) vs. Kenny Omega (champion) – AEW World Championship Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match

Rating: 9/10 (actual match), 2/10 (booking and execution of the finale)

AEW Revolution (2021) 03/07/21

Daily's Place, Jacksonville, Florida

Sometimes wrestling cards just don’t come off live the way they look like they might on paper, and Revolution was one of those nights for AEW. The talent worked hard, the arrival of Christian was welcome, and the storytelling was logical. But not everything fired on all cylinders, and in the case of the ending of the show, that turned out to be literal. Those are the hazards of live TV and pinning your main event to anything that could be torpedoed by a mechanical failure. On to the next one, and maybe with less stuff AEW needs to rely on to blow up.