I was never huge on PAC. Missed his indie run in PWG, didn’t seek out his NXT Title reign, and I wasn’t a big fan of his King of the Cruiserweights. None of this is to say that PAC is a bad performer but never did I ever find myself seeking out his work or emotionally investing him. Even last year, as I was exposed to him on my weekly Dynamite viewings, I never truly saw the Wrestler of the Year contender that many others have pegged him as (important to note at this point that I didn’t follow his Dragon Gate or indie runs).
In contrast, Jon Moxley placed highly on my Wrestler of the Year list. He was an absolute highlight of my 2019 wrestling fandom and has continued to be in the New Year with prominent roles in both AEW and NJPW.
Together, these two put together a very strong TV main event to close out this week’s episode of Dynamite. And a lot of it is built on one of the rarer bits of selling psychology that is rare to come by in wrestling: eye psychology.
The whole match is built around PAC attacking Moxley’s injured eye which Jericho spiked the week before. His laser focus on the eye comes across well and really puts over the brutality of PAC’s strategy. Moxley on his part, sells the injury well, using his expressive and large movements to put over how difficult it is to wrestle half-blind. So many little touches like clinging to the referee to reorient himself, using the ring apron to guide his path, they all come together to really make the narrative of the match shine.
But Moxley’s selling would be entirely worthless if PAC didn’t bring his A-game in terms of dishing out the offense. He more than excels at that though, even sneaking in a quick detour to attack Moxley’s surgically repaired elbow to set up a Brutalizer for down the stretch. The attention that PAC gave to the layout and structure of this match really highlighted to me for the first time the praise that many have been heaping upon him since he left the WWE. Only now did I buy into the hype.
However, this match has an uphill battle to climb. A cruise, while visually striking on television, encourages some of the worse habits in a wrestling crowd. Specifically, it gives plenty of room for short attention spans to wander and that it does during this match. Though both men keep the crowd hooked into the action enough to get decent reactions, the kind of layered, detailed storytelling they were doing in the ring just didn’t translate to the live audience. That sadly makes the match suffer. When a passing cruise ship draws more heat than the heel in the ring, something is wrong.
Still, this is a very good television main event that you should seek out if you have the time. One that has me turning the corner on being indifferent to PAC to making me want to see him do more.