AEW didn’t have a ratings war to win last night. They had a pay-per-view to promote.
And they had done so very effectively over the five weeks prior. Chris Jericho Vs. Cody is a big match. Jericho is the most entertaining heel in the game right now, and Cody has managed something even more impressive, in that he has excelled at a role once thought unrecoverable: the universally-liked, old school babyface. The tension engineered felt authentic—which is the effect of using cheap heat as a sub-thread, and not on-the-nose fakery—and manifested in a series of tremendous, evenly-structured angles.
Jon Moxley’s promo last week was so fire—a level of violence “not seen in decades,” is what he promised—that it created a tone of deep unease. Knowing what we know about those two performers, the prospect of their Lights Out match is terrifying. As it should be: it’s the blow-off to a blood feud.
PAC Vs. Hangman Page was more functional and less exciting in contrast, though the importance of win/loss records is a neat mechanism with which to build the importance of the midcard attractions. The same is true of the Young Bucks Vs. Proud-N-Powerful, though the sight of pulverised, decrepit wrestling royalty is one of wrestling’s bizarre, shameful joys.