After lots of anticipation, Kenny Omega has won the AEW Championship from Jon Moxley in a match that was both held back by and took advantage of it airing on Dynamite.
This might be a bit of a surprise, but there was an AEW Championship match with a title change Wednesday night.
I know, I know, it’s kind of hard to remember with what else went down on the Winter is Coming edition of Dynamite, but sandwiched between the breathtaking debut of Sting and crazy announcement of a potential AEW and Impact partnership – whatever that will ultimately mean – there was a title match between Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley.
I’m kidding, of course. Even with the return of a legend on TNT and AEWxImpact fantasy booking going into overdrive – I personally want to see Omega show up in part 2 of Wrestlehouse – the match itself had plenty of hype and is absolutely worth talking about.
Despite my personal excitement that I’m sure was shared by many dedicated AEW fans, the buildup to this match was kind of strange. Technically, this match has been building since Full Gear 2019 with the unsanctioned match, and a lot of what happened with The Elite and Moxley’s rise to glory is connected to this feud.
More from Daily DDT
- It’s time for Adam Cole and MJF to drop the ROH tag team titles
- Tom Lawlor talks MLW return, AEW opportunity, CM Punk’s WWE return and more
- Eddie Kingston stands to gain the most from the AEW Continental Classic
- Trish Stratus on WWE NXT would help elevate that women’s division
- Randy Orton signs with SmackDown to go after The Bloodline
However, there wasn’t too much explicit buildup on AEW programming, only a couple promos and a backstage attack on Moxley that hasn’t been resolved as of yet. There weren’t any campaigns or extended eye injury angles or even personal stuff exchanged between the two like with Moxley versus Eddie Kingston – which had an amazing build-up despite not having much time to do so. At least the promos that the two did have were excellent, and that contract signing beatdown from Mox did raise the stakes.
I have argued time and time again that when Moxley’s title run ends, he deserves to lose it in the best way possible to the best opponent possible. I personally believe that Omega was that opponent, but was this the best way to lose it?
Well, and hear me out on this, the match wasn’t without its setbacks, mostly due to its timing and TV format.
On paper, Winter is Coming could be looked at as a stop-gap. With the space between Full Gear and Revolution – complete with the holiday season breaking things up- AEW wanted to do something big so as not to lose all momentum.
While the work in the match itself was quite good, with plenty of Moxley brutality and Omega explosiveness, making the big title match where the writing was kind of on the wall for Omega to win go on TV lessened the sense of gravitas that a pay-per-view appearance would have given it.
The other major negative about the match being on TV was not one, but two picture in picture ad breaks.
Look, I do completely understand that they were probably required to do breaks, and it was admittedly a pretty nice touch for them to guarantee that they would stay on the air if the match went past 10 pm. However, like the similarly memorable Dog Collar Match, it still did break up the action and lessened the sense of immersion.
There was also the post-match escape that robbed any kind of celebration or even a chance to process this title change, but I’ll touch more on that later.
With these factors, this main event felt different than what was to be expected of such a big match with a year of anticipation. In some ways, it could be seen as a disappointment. However, the same format that marred the match was something they ultimately capitalized on, and to great effect.
Despite some setbacks, AEW took full advantage of the format of a TV show title change.
If pay-per-views are designed to end a chapter, TV is meant to keep things in motion; to have a sense of continuity. It’s important to have a quality product each week on Dynamite, but it’s not a one-time event that people explicitly paid money for, as there was an episode last week and another episode coming next week. What Moxley vs. Omega was designed for – and what it ultimately excels in – is that sense of continuity.
Sure, it being on regular TV with two picture in pictures and a cliffhanger ending seems abrupt, but just look at all of the potential that the promotion now has.
By breaking his ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with Moxley via a mic shot to the head, Kenny Omega has finally turned heel and reached the top of the AEW singles’ division. After going through an admittedly excellent arc as a tag-team wrestler with Adam Page, and while I personally feel that he’s never really stopped being an amazing wrestler, he’s finally in a position to dominate in singles’ competition. Omega has continued to prove that he is a very captivating character in and out of the ring, and this development should add plenty of compelling angles to his overarching narrative. And with AEW’s roster, especially with a heel champion, there should be plenty of amazing matches to come.
One of those matches has to be Jon Moxley, right?
Despite my earlier complaints about the lack of direct buildup to this match, it isn’t actually too much of an issue because it’s probably not the end of their feud. Even with the first match being unsanctioned, the score between them is technically 1-1, and with that finish, it’s all but certain that Moxley will want to try and get his belt back. There’s also a certain pay-per-view happening called Revolution that is far enough away to have some great buildup to that third match. It would be the first time a former champion has challenged for this belt, but it’s a great opportunity to do so.
However, it’s almost hard to even think about that because of the Impact situation. What a crazy twist to bring up while literally on the run. It’s as if they were saying that Omega may have finally struck gold, but there’s no time for celebration; there’s work to do.
Honestly, having the match end in a cliffhanger fashion would probably feel cheap if it were to end a pay-per-view. I could just see people thinking something along the lines of ‘So I paid 60 bucks to watch Omega get the belt, jump in a car with an Impact Exec, and now I have to find out if I have AXS TV or if I have to use Twitch for Tuesday?’. The possibilities of the partnership might offset the way it was presented, but if you’re not a fan of Impact – or aren’t super familiar with the promotion formerly known as TNA – it probably wouldn’t be a very satisfying conclusion.
It’s pretty perfect for a free weekly TV show designed to get you to tune in next week, however.
Between this ending and other reveals from the night, AEW – and now Impact – should get a pretty big boost for this coming episode, and I’m personally excited for the futures of both promotions in a way that I admittedly wasn’t before.
Remember when I said that Winter is Coming felt like a stop-gap? Well, it turned out to be more of a launchpad.
Ultimately, Winter is Coming was successful in a way that few could have predicted. It wasn’t just an inflated ‘pay-per-view lite’ show; there was a sense that AEW actually cared about continuing storylines in a big way and introducing new game-changing elements, and despite some slight issues, the main event ultimately succeeded by focusing more on setting up a bright future for the promotion rather than making a big flash that fizzles out.