For the first time ever, mainstream wrestling fans witnessed an Exploding Barbed Wire deathmatch when Kenny Omega battled Jon Moxley at AEW Revolution on Sunday night.
The bout delivered on the explosions and the barbed wire, but thankfully, nobody left with any serious injuries. There was, however, a lot of blood and a few close calls.
The match had been building ever since Omega won the title from Moxley on December 2. This was supposed to be Mox’s home turf due to his history with hardcore stipulations, but Omega tried to tip the odds in his favor by helping with the construction process.
What we saw was a brutal encounter that had its highs and lows. When a countdown began to signal the ring was going to explode, Omega and The Good Brothers handcuffed Moxley and left him all alone.
Eddie Kingston came out to shield his friend from what ended up being a much smaller explosion than anyone was expecting. That one moment was talked about almost as much as the rest of the match on social media.
Let’s look at how people reacted to various aspects of this match and determine whether or not it was a successful venture for All Elite Wrestling.
The Early Moments
Kenny Omega @KennyOmegamanX
-3 sides of the ring ropes wrapped in barbed wire.
-contact with barbed wire triggers explosives on corresponding side.
-‘Triple Hell’ (3 zones on the floor wired to explosives)
-30 minute countdown timer until all explosives in and around the ring detonate. https://t.co/vK1cZjSfHF
A crude drawing from Omega on Twitter gave us some idea of what the ring would look like for the bout, although it couldn’t properly prepare us for what was about to happen.
Three sides of the ring were covered in barbed wire and small explosives. There were wooden boards, chairs, bats and platforms around the squared circle that were also covered in barbed wire. It was designed to draw blood, and it didn’t take long for both men to get their first cuts.
Early reactions during the match ranged from curiosity to amazement. Some people were fully on board for what was about to happen, while others questioned how it would go over with fans who have never seen something like this before.
As the brutality unfolded, two camps began to form. Some fans thought AEW might be going overboard, while others were enjoying the bloodbath and the story being told by the competitors.
Moxley and Omega were both bleeding profusely by the halfway point. They had both endured some of the explosions we were promised in addition to injuries caused by the barbed wire.
Omega took an explosion to the eyes, and Moxley ended up tangled in wire when the two rivals crashed into one of the platforms at ringside.
Reactions to the Finish
This is where things took a turn. As the countdown played and Kingston covered his friend to protect him, fans were glued to their screens awaiting the final explosion.
What we got was a few sparks in the corners, some light pops near the ropes and a few small explosions at ringside. It was immediately called anticlimactic by many viewers.
During the post-show media scrum, Tony Khan addressed the ending from both a kayfabe and non-kayfabe perspective.
The AEW president said the storyline explanation had to do with Omega being responsible for building a dud for the final explosion but in reality, the decision was due to the wrestlers’ safety more than anything else.
This is a promotion with a national television deal and talents from all around the world. There are things to worry about like insurance, making sure both men do not suffer serious injuries and not upsetting younger fans with anything too violent.
The explanation was not going to satisfy some fans, but AEW did post a video of Moxley from after the match to place Omega’s creative failure in their storyline.
All Elite Wrestling @AEW
.@JonMoxley didn’t regain the belt tonight but he regained a friend in Eddie Kingston! King came to save Mox from the final blast, which wasn’t enough to keep Mox & Eddie down for good!
“Kenny Omega may be a tough son of a b____, but he can’t make an exploding ring worth a s___!” https://t.co/AHJCYVu3pw
In the end, AEW’s first Exploding Barbed Wire deathmatch was met with mostly positive reviews during the match and some criticism once it was over.
Alex McCarthy @AlexM_talkSPORT
That was legit an amazing pay-per-view for my money.
Omega & Moxley went balls out in the main event to cap it off, but that final explosion and Kingston kinda forced to sell it was straight up terrible. Not the conclusion a great PPV deserved. I feel for them.
Omega and Moxley put their bodies through the wringer during the fight. Nobody is going to deny that they gave everything they had to make this something unique for the audience.
Are we going to see another match like this in the future? It’s highly likely considering how much praise it received outside of the final explosion. It won’t be shown on TNT, but AEW has a lot more leniency on PPVs when it comes to how much violence can be shown.
What did you think of this match? Did it live up to the hype? Did the final explosion hurt your overall review?