By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Don’t get me wrong. No feeling bad for me. Being able to cover one of AEW’s best shows (maybe ever?) live and in person was and is both a thrill and an honor. But, as it goes, if you attend a pay-per-view on behalf of a website and you don’t write about your experience … did you really attend a pay-per-view on behalf of a website?
And so, in typical McGuire’s Mondays fashion, here are five talking points I came away with after Sunday night’s extravaganza. Because five is the formula ’round these Internet parts and I don’t think my eyes will stay open for six. Let’s go.
All right, so all joking/whining aside, Revolution was long. As I discussed with Jason Powell on today’s Pro Wrestling Boom Live, AEW has a tendency to opt against brevity when it comes to its shows. Now, I know that might make me sound like an old, out-of-touch softie (because, well, I probably am an old, out-of-touch softie), but you don’t need to hear me whine to know that there’s merit to the point.
Instead, look at Sunday night’s crowd. Without the help of a wild (and needless?) tornado tag-team match that saw a 62-year-old jump from the rafters and the novelty of having a main event featuring two guys with the same first name, I’m not so sure the crowd in Orlando would have rebounded after the first three matches … and then after that dog-collar match that is kind of/sort of universally regarded as the match of the night.
For as hot as the crowd was for a lot of the night, there were also times when it was significantly cooled — and it’s hard to think that didn’t have to do with the length of the show. That main event feels a lot different if we’re only three hours and eight matches into the night, instead of eleven matches and four hours into the night, counting the pre-show. This isn’t a function of being old and cranky; it’s more a lesson in moderation and how valuable it can be when used properly.
Case in point: We all love wrestling, but we love it more when Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson do their thing in front of a crowd that isn’t exhausted. And make no mistake about it — we’d all be talking about how flat that match (and finish) came off if it weren’t for the William Regal appearance after the fact, which to be fair, blew the roof off the place. Of all the matches that suffered due to the length of the show, theirs and the main event took the brunt of the blow.
A major wrestling show under four hours used to seem like the norm; now, it’s a novelty. Just imagine how good AEW’s bigger events can be if they just learned to pull back a little. The results could be that much more memorable. Now, with that said …
TALK THE TALK
The main players in AEW deserve praise for their willingness to give the access they give in situations like Sunday. Adam Page was hardly out of the ring, giving his post-match promo, when us media types were corralled into the scrum room, where Sting was already ready to take questions. From there, we got Jungle Boy, CM Punk, Adam Page, and then Tony Khan. When it came to Punk and Khan, they repeatedly shooed away efforts from their handlers to end the question-asking time.
By the time it was all said and done, it was about a quarter after two in the morning.
And that was after a nearly five-hour show. There are not a lot of companies of AEW’s stature that would allow for these things to happen, let alone have the owner make himself as available as he was (even if he did seem a tiny bit miffed that so many Ring Of Honor questions were coming his way at first). I get it — and Khan even talked about it — the importance of the media to the growth of AEW.
He’s right in some respects, but he’s also an outlier in that he believes in it as much as he says he does. Why? Because nobody believes in the media anymore. The public doesn’t trust it and, for that matter, the media itself implodes every five minutes with mud-slinging, in-fighting, and constant criticisms of one another. The pro wrestling media is immune to that, but it is refreshing to see how much AEW seems to value the pull of the media in a time when the media has had perhaps the least amount of power or influence it’s ever had in the history of the medium.
So, kudos to AEW for opening a door and extending a hand. Now, as for what happened when we walked through the door …
The headline of the post-event media scrum came in the form of CM Punk’s time at the table. He opened his remarks by saying he was going to cry and he didn’t waste much time before he did just that. It came as he talked about Khan buying Ring Of Honor, ensuring that Punk’s legacy will be intact and his past will be preserved appropriately.
He also touched on how his dog-collar match with MJF earlier that night served as a sort of tribute to himself. Between the match, his gear, and his old theme song, the night was clearly a heavy one for him and he wasn’t shy about it. There’s nostalgia, and then there’s reflection, and then there’s the full-on recreation of memories, and Sunday night afforded Punk that opportunity. Imagine the best day of your life 20 years ago, and imagine being able to relive it. That’s how it seemed to feel for the guy.
And yet there was an undertone of somberness to a lot of what he said. At one point, when he was asked about why he made the championship belt gesture after winning the dog-collar match, he touched on how it wouldn’t make sense for him to not go after the AEW title at one point. But as he said it, he kind of/sort of began mentally wrestling with his own future in the business.
It was odd because since Punk came back to the business, it’s felt like he’ll be here forever. That’s a dumb outlook, I know, but he seems to be having so much fun, and there’s so much of this that is him making up for lost time, and he seems to have the creative freedom to do everything he wants to do, and … and … I don’t know, man. It just seems like it will never end.
But his demeanor toward the end of Sunday night served as a reminder that someday, it will end. Will that come after he holds a belt in AEW? Will it come sooner than any of us thought it would? Will he follow in Sting’s footsteps and jump off an overpass onto a million tables in his 60s? Will he transition into another role within AEW?
Nobody knows the answers to any of those questions, but for the first time since CM Punk came back, something sparked something that led to them being asked at all, which is notable in its own right.
Tony Khan was asked about Ricky Starks late Sunday night after the bump he took in the ladder match. Khan said Starks was OK. That sparked another question about if AEW would be interested in putting together a list of injured wrestlers for its events moving forward, both after the show and maybe even before it, so fans can know if their favorite wrestlers will be on the card or not before they come to the building.
Khan responded by tip-toeing around it for a minute before ultimately landing on the idea that if a wrestler doesn’t want people to know about his or her status, then he essentially doesn’t want to betray his or her trust, and he won’t make the information public. I’m not so sure I agree with that, if only because there are people out there who will attend a show or buy a pay-per-view based largely on one or two wrestlers alone, but that’s a conversation for another day.
Instead, there are two potential injuries that I was hoping to learn more about before leaving the building early Monday morning. The first was Orange Cassidy, who, after taking that long, high dive from the ring to the outside, low-key removed himself from the match as he moved to the hard-cam side of the ring and essentially laid near the ring apron until doctors could attend to him.
It’s since been reported that he suffered a shoulder injury, but I do wonder how long he’ll be out for (if he’s out at all). There was a good bit of time between when the injury appeared to happen and when the match ended, and it sort of looked like they had to call an audible on Danhausen’s appearance because Cassidy was nowhere to be found when Danhausen appeared, and that’s typically not how that goes down. Whatever it is, I hope Cassidy’s OK.
The other notable spot came in the tornado tag match when Sammy Guevara and Isaiah Kassidy (not a good night for K/Cassidys) went for that insane Spanish Fly off the top of the entrance set. Once they landed, it took a long time for Kassidy to even move an inch, and if you watch it back (Twitter took my video of it down, those bastards!), you can see that he got the worst of it. Why Khan didn’t address it after the show is beyond me, but here’s hoping Kassidy is OK because that was gnarly.
ODDS & ENDS
It’s impossible to fit everything from Friday to Monday morning into a piece like this, between Rampage, Revolution and the post-event media scrum. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t find space for at least a few things that didn’t make it into the first four sections of this week’s piece. So let’s have at it.
– I don’t know if there’s a lot of people who know this, but Leva Bates deserves a high five and a handshake for her work at the media scrum. She does a great job running around, getting people the microphone and essentially playing traffic cop to a roomful of journalists vying to get their question heard. She was definitely one of the low-key MVPs of Sunday night.
– During his time at the table, Jungle Boy noted how much of a help FTR has been to him as he’s grown as a tag-team wrestler in AEW. He also said he was excited for AEW to come to the west coast because, as he said, “flying back and forth to Jacksonville, I think, took more years off my life than wrestling has.”
– “I don’t know of any,” Sting said when asked about pessimists out there regarding his age and the fact that he’s still wrestling. “I don’t mean that in a prideful way … there’s always going to be people out there who hate you no matter what. … The wrestling fans seem to be respectful and they see that at my age, I’m taking risks out there and I want it to be good and I’m having fun. So what would I say to the pessimists out there? You can just tune me off.”
– I’m not so sure that Rampage was even half-full on Friday. That made for an easy in and out, despite the venue having only one entrance for the public. Sunday night, however, with a sold out crowd? Yeah, a lot of people missed a lot of the Buy-In.
– William Regal had the pop of the night. Where that story goes from here is anybody’s guess, but man, they have something hot on their hands.
– I loved seeing Kingfish out there, playing in Jade Cargill. The dude is a prodigy blues guitarist, and if you don’t know who he is, it’s about time you check him out.
– Tony Khan didn’t seem particularly happy that the majority of media members afterward wanted to talk about Ring Of Honor. He was nice enough about it, but I don’t understand why he wouldn’t have just waited to make the announcement if all he wanted to talk about Sunday was the Revolution show. So it goes, I suppose. Also, he confirmed he will be the booker of ROH.
– Hangman Page talked earnestly about catching up with the Dark Order after his time talking to the media. When that story ends, nobody knows.
And now it’s on to Las Vegas for Double Or Nothing … maybe …