Day 171: How To Ruin Everything [Wrasslin’ For Lunch]
Just by a show of hands, can anybody actually tell me what the 1992 film, The Crying Game, is actually about? Anyone? Okay, let’s make it easier. Tell me one thing that happens in Star Wars Episode 3 that isn’t Darth Vader yelling “no”. I’ll wait. Okay, you probably can, but I can’t. Everybody loves a good story. But that story becomes meaningless if the ending is garbage. I’m still dodging How I Met Your Mother because I know that the ending is epically horrendous. I would’ve totally forgiven Shenmue 3 for all of its flaws if it would’ve provided me with just a little morsel of closure. When you’re creating a story, you owe the audience a good ending, or else you’re not doing your job.
This rings especially true when it comes to wrestling. It’s an industry built around endings. Hulk Hogan bodyslamming Andre The Giant overcame 12 minutes of groan-inducing sloppiness and became one of the most famous and enduring moments in the sport. The same goes for Mike Tyson knocking out Shawn Michaels. In some pockets of the industry, ending writing has become an art. Every major New Japan main event has a good 5 minutes of near falls and reversed finishers, custom engineered for the audience to make primal utterances and sit at the edge of their seat. And obviously, endings work the other way in wrestling, too. Everybody hates Raw for its crap booking but also because hardly any of the matches have a clean finish. There’s plenty of near-classic matches that didn’t stick the landing. One that comes to mind is Austin vs Rock at Wrestlemania 17. It was a hard fought match that didn’t need Vince McMahon to come out and allow Steve Austin to do the ultimate heel turn. They could have done that before Wrestlemania or after. You can’t take one of the most hyped matches in the history of sports entertainment and have the ending confuse and infuriate the audience. It ruined the whole show and it’ll always be remembered as such.
Because after all, if you’re going for a 3 million point combo in Tony Hawk, it doesn’t count if you don’t stick the landing.
Last night, at AEW Revolution, not only did they not stick the landing, they fell off a cliff. [Because they were ballsy enough to attempt a 3 million point combo at Downhill Jam. That’s a Tony Hawk reference. Shut up, Troy.]
The match had been in the making for eons and I personally was frothing at the mouth just thinking about it. Jon Moxley vs Kenny Omega. Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch. No words had ever sounded sweeter to my ears. And for the most part, it was a damn good time. Not the best match ever, but as good as you can make exploding barbed wire look. I especially marked out when Moxley kicked out of the One-Winged Angel not by kicking out, but by kicking the explosive so that it would blow up in Kenny’s face. It was such a clever tactic that I believed in a fleeting moment that Moxley stood a chance. But of course, it had to end somehow. The “typical failsafe” was implemented in the form of having “the ring explode” after 30 minutes. Once it became apparent that the 30 minutes would be shortly up, everything fell apart. The Good Brothers came out to Kenny’s aid and to deliver an exploding baseball bat [which was also admittedly awesome]. The match ended in a 3 on 1 onslaught that left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouths. You hype a match for months, let the dudes tear each other apart and have it end on some bullshit. Not only was it in bad taste, it was also unnecessary. Kenny Omega is one of the best wrestlers in the world. He could believably beat Moxley and still maintain his top heel status. They took a good feud, turned it great and then shat all over it, leaving every viewer to wonder what they just spent 50 bucks on.
If they would’ve just ended the PPV at that, we would’ve went to bed disappointed. Instead, they made it much, much worse.
Because of course, the ring was still wired to explode. The assault continued to ensure that Moxley would not be able to escape in time. With seconds left, the heels ran backstage, as Eddie Kingston came out to make a futile attempt to get Jon out of the ring. The literal definition of too little, too late. He couldn’t get Moxley to budge, despite definitely being strong enough to do so. When the timer went down to zero, Eddie covered Jon with his own body and prepared for the worst. The worst happened.
Welp. That was…uhh…crappy. And what made it worse was that Eddie Kingston laid there unconscious for a good 2 minutes before they decided to end the show. Unconscious from what, I have no clue, but it seems like they stayed on the air to see if they were planning on doing something else. In the span of 10 minutes, they took a solid PPV and one of the biggest nights in the brands young history and made it one of the biggest jokes since The Shockmaster. They went from replicating 1997 WCW to replicating 1993 WCW. It boggles my mind how they thought this would work. They done sabotaged themselves.
Based on post-match interviews, it appears they’re going to go with the angle that Kenny wired the ring himself and did an awful job doing so. Even the owner of the company, Tony Khan, threw Kenny under the bus for that blunder. But then he went on to ask what the fans actually expected. Obviously they had to keep it safe, did we really expect Jon Moxley to blow up? No. No we didn’t. There’s a million ways they could’ve done this ending without alienating the fans. Here’s one I just thought of off the top of my head:
The match goes on the extra 6 minutes. The Good Brothers don’t come out. There’s one or two extra spots and the rest of the time could’ve been filled with brooding and recovering. The crowd would still be invested. That’s the bare minimum. Once the timer gets down to 30 seconds, Moxley starts panicking. He doesn’t know what to expect. Kenny, on the other hand, wired it himself and knew it was a dud. He uses that to his advantage and takes the distracted Moxley and gives him another One-Winged Angel onto a chair, one, two, three.
Not only is that a cleaner finish, it’s one that nobody can be mad about. Omega still wins in heel fashion, the safe bomb has a purpose and the show ends with nobody looking stupid. At the end of the day, this match told a good story, but nobody is going to remember that. Instead, they’re going to remember that Moxley got screwed and Tony Khan hired Gillberg’s pyro team to rig the ring. How this is going to play out in the grand scheme of things, we have no idea. But for a company that takes pride in learning from other’s mistakes, they made the biggest mistake of all. They attempted a 3 million point combo at Downhill Jam. Those silly bastards.