AEW needs to turn Jon Moxley, Blackpool Combat Club heel

The Post’s Joseph Staszewski brings you around the world of professional wrestling every Tuesday in his weekly column, the Post Match Angle.

It’s time for AEW to follow through on a major switch with one of its top factions, and it may already be happening.

The Blackpool Combat Club should turn full heel as we already saw what seemed to be a shift from Claudio Castagnoli, Jon Moxley and Wheeler Yuta last Wednesday on Dynamite. It started in the opening match with Castagnoli coming out as Yuta faced former friend Orange Cassidy for the All-Atlantic championship. Castagnoli slapped his teammate outside the ring, telling him to stop with the pretty wrestling and get nastier in the ring. When the match was over, Cassidy extended a handshake to Yuta, Castagnoli ordered Yuta back to his side like a lapdog — demanding he not do so.

Then in the main event, it was Moxley’s turn to start turning the audience against him and the group. The three-time AEW champion beat the lovable Evil Uno of the Dark Order to a dripping, bloody pulp in the ring after ripping his mask early on and then refusing to break the choke submission hold after his 100th win. By going that route, anyone criticizing putting Uno in the main event just didn’t get it. There were chants of “Let’s go Uno!”

Moxley’s actions drew loud boos from the Phoenix crowd. The rest of the Dark Order came to Uno’s aid and the audience’s displeasure only grew after the rest of the BCC hit the ring. It was all to set up the big babyface reaction for “Hangman” Adam Page’s arrival ahead of his Texas Death Match with Moxley at Revolution. But it felt like AEW hit a nerve — at least with Moxley — that shouldn’t be ignored.

It’s seems all too easy and right to keep the BBC going heel beyond this feud and turn them into a compassionless group looking to impose their will on the company. Moxley as a babyface has run its course. The shift could open up some fresh matches in the process. Bryan Danielson could come out of his feud with MJF and try to be the one to set them straight, only to get pummeled by them or eventually break off with Yuta. Maybe BCC adds new members to replace them? If FTR teaming with a returning CM Punk isn’t going to happen, then the BCC against The Elite might be the best trios story AEW can tell right now as they are the kings of “pretty” wrestling.

AEW has done a decent job in the past listening to the audience. It’s time they do so again with the Blackpool Combat Club.     

Relationship Status Check

It looks like MJF chose to make a potential split with fiancée Naomi Rosenblum the basis of his heated promo on Danielson during Dynamite. The two have unfollowed each other on Instagram, Rosenblum took down their engagement photos and Fightful confirmed they had split. Though it’s MJF, so it could all be an elaborate work as Rosenblum, a super-talented artist, was pushing some of her MJF paintings.

Hopefully this is all a storyline because the promo itself played perfectly, showing MJF as a desperate man with only the championship left and willing to mangle Danielson and send him home to his kids for good. He even tried to guilt the American Dragon, saying he is putting wrestling before his family, taking them for granted and “spitting” in his face because he will never have a family. MJF calling Birdie and Buddy by name was a nice touch – though MJF deciding to get in the ring after doing so fell like a dumb – but needed logistically – move for him. Danielson seemed to rock him pretty stiff with an elbow outside the ring for good measure.

Damage CTLed — now what?

What a special moment to close Raw as Lita and Becky Lynch defeated Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai with help from Trish Stratus to become the new women’s tag team champions. Lita getting to score the pin and her reaction was priceless. It makes Lynch a triple crown champion in WWE and is Lita’s first title in the promotion in 17 years. Add in the fact that Bayley, who Stratus took care of, wore an outfit that felt like a tribute to Lita, and there was so much to like. Now, the hard question: Where is this going and will it actually help the division?

A lot of it depends on how long Lita plans to stick around. You’d figure we are heading for a trios match at WrestleMania, which would bring Stratus out of “retirement” for a second time — taking the tag titles out the company’s biggest event. If so, where does that leave Shayna Baszler and Ronda Rousey for WrestleMania? Ideally you’d like to stretch a potential Lita/Lynch vs. Rousey/Baszler feud to at least Money in the Bank in July. You could also have them drop the belts to them on the Raw after WrestleMania and then have Lynch and maybe Bayley chase them this summer. As cool a moment as Monday was, it didn’t leave a lot of clarity for the direction of the women’s tag division.

The 10 Count

Omos is the best WWE can do for Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania? Maybe Triple H let Vince McMahon book one match or Lesnar is looking for a short night in the ring? I’m sure it will be a spectacle as it’s based on whether Lesnar can F5 the giant, but Omos’ current standing feels so below Lesnar. That is unless this is a catalyst for restarting The Hurt Business as Bobby Lashley and Lesnar’s feud still needs a proper resolution.   

As cool as the little details of the Chris Jericho-Ricky Starks’ segment were, it felt flawed at its core. Why would someone as smart as Chris Jericho, after running from a match with Starks for weeks, fall for a dumb open-challenge ploy and give Starks everything he wanted without reading the contract? That being said, Jericho’s spike jacket was a sight to see, “The List” pen click was great and so was Starks’ Cheshire Cat grin at the end.

It’s been fun to watch Mickie James have the run she is having in Impact, now as Knockouts champ, and still leave the younger talent she is beating better off. No Surrender was another example of that as it took a sneaky counter for her to beat the mostly dominant Masha Slamovich. Also, thought the six-man tag between Motor City Machine Guns plus Kushida vs. Ace Austin, KENTA and Chris Bey stole the show a bit. Joe Hendry vs. Moose was a lot of fun and Josh Alexander and Rich Swan told a solid story in the main event.

Ava Raine, The Rocks’ daughter, could be headed for her first televised match very soon — maybe on WrestleMania weekend at NXT Stand & Deliver. This week’s segment between Chase U and The Schism made it pretty clear Thea Hail has an issue to overcome with her abductor, Raine. Thought Duke Hudson telling Andre Chase not to baby her was a nice touch.

As good as the match between The Young Bucks and Aussie Open was on Rampage, I thought listening to it highlighted an issue Eric Bischoff raised recently on his “Strictly Business” podcast. With the lack of story for the contest it felt like Jim Ross, Excalibur, Chris Jericho and Tony Schiavone were all doing a form of play-by-play instead of having a color guy to fill in the gaps and add context and meaning to the match. Taz, however, does an excellent job adding color on Dynamite.

While it didn’t get a huge audience reaction, having a babyface Charlotte Flair do a promo with the hated Dominik Mysterio felt like a smart move. I thought Flair’s reference to Andrade was good, but again didn’t get a pop. When Ripley did come out, she did feel a little small staring down Flair.

Actually got a kick out of Ronda Rousey asking Shayna Baszler who Tegan Knox was and then calling her Skittles. It felt realistic for Rousey’s character to not know who the newly returned Knox was, heat or not and still not use it.

It’s becoming pretty clear that Sami Zayn may get a win over The Bloodline at WrestleMania, but if anyone is anyone is going to bring the group down it will be Jey Uso. Jimmy, Jey and Solo are real brother and Sami’s plea about Roman Reigns’ manipulation continue to fall on deaf ears for now.     

Not really sure what’s going on with the direction for Johnny Gargano, but having him go over the lovable Otis — which got what felt like a negative crowd reaction — seemed like a bad idea for a babyface. The same would be true with a short feud between he and Dexter Lumis and the Maximum Male Models. What I do want to see it Gargano, Lumis and Candice LeRae vs. The Judgement Day.

Minus the cheesy/fuzzy technical difficulties, I though the segment of Mance Warner running over Real1 — formerly Enzo Amore — was jarring to watch in a good way and added some good spice to their feud.

Extra: Really hope this is where Jeff Hardy turns things completely around for good after his was not sentence to a prison stay in his DUI case. Wrestling is better with Jeff Hardy involved if he choses to return to it.

Wrestler of the Week

Steve Maclin, Impact Wrestling

The 35-year-old Maclin has had very few world championship opportunities in his career and has been running his mouth on screen for more than a year about wanting to finally challenge for one on Impact. The former Marine and New Jersey native earned a shot at champion Josh Alexander by defeating PCO, Heath and Brian Myers in a four-way match at No Surrender on Friday to punch his ticket to the main event of Rebellion on April 16. Maclin has earned this chance to prove himself at the top of the card.

Match to Watch

MJF (c.) vs. Bryan Danielson, 60-minute iron man match for the AEW world championship at Revolution (Sunday, 8 p.m., Bleacher Report)

While the outcome seems a given, this one is about the ride to get there. We have never seen MJF have to wrestle for 60 minutes against someone with the in-ring skills of Danielson. He has rarely disappointed in a big match, but this is a chance to silence anyone who doubts his skills between the ropes. Just how vicious will this get by the end after MJF brought Danielson’s family and kids into it this week? My gut tells me we get a creative finish, maybe a new ally that helps add a new twist to MJF when this is over.  

MJF attacks Bryan Danielson

Around the Ring

AEW announced the un-scripted, hour-long show “AEW All-Access” will debut after Dynamite in March. The follow-doc will also coincide with Adam Cole’s in-ring return as he and Britt Baker as a big part of the show.

The first ROH TV main event under Tony Khan on March 2 will be world champion Claudio Castagnoli vs. AR Fox.

Sonya Deville and girlfriend Toni Cassano announced their engagement last week. Congrats!