Jon Moxley vs Kenny Omega was AEW’s Biggest and Most Important Rivalry

Hamish Woodward


AEW fans have enjoyed some huge dream matches in the past three years, but none more so than the massive encounter between Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega.

Moxley vs Omega was the first big AEW vs WWE dream match that took place in AEW, pitting two former World Champions against each other in a series of blockbuster matches.

Their rivalry has been one of the most exciting in AEW history and they could revisit their matches in the future when Kenny Omega once again tries to take Jon Moxley’s AEW Championship, once he returns from injury.

Jon Moxley vs Kenny Omega was AEW’s first “Dream Match”

AEW was first conceived as a sort of “super-indie” promotion, bringing together the best stars from outside of WWE into one place for a number of dream matches. Some of the first unattached stars signed to the promotion were huge names on the indies, like Joey Janela, Best Friends Chuck Taylor and Trent Barretta and Jimmy Havoc.

Fans dreamed of fights pitting all of these wrestlers against each other for years, and now they finally came true. Adding in some of the big stars of WWE and NJPW signed to the promotion (which included Chris Jericho, The Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes), the opportunity for many once-in-a-lifetime was there and had potential for some of the best matches of all time.

One man who fans couldn’t wait to see wrestle was Kenny Omega. The former IWGP Heavyweight Champion had left NJPW as the best wrestler in the world, putting on five star matches with ease every night in New Japan. His rivalry with Kazuchika Okada drew huge praise, with their 2 out of 3 falls match particularly being regarded as one of the best matches ever (it was given an astonishing 7 star rating by Dave Meltzer).

He had already faced many of the top stars in AEW, however. He battled Chris Jericho already at Wrestle Kingdom, whilst he feuded with Cody Rhodes over the rights to lead the Bullet Club in New Japan. He had battled against and alongside The Young Bucks, Adam Page and the rest of the Bullet Club and had gone all across the world and facing all the top talent in wrestling.

However, there was a particular subset of wrestlers he had not faced – WWE Superstars. Despite having some big money offers to join WWE, he turned it down to form AEW. Having never wrestled for the promotion, he had not had the chance to step into the ring with the likes of John Cena, Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar.

When it came to main eventers, few ever left WWE, especially not in their prime. However Jon Moxley was not like other WWE superstars. He marched to the beat of his own run and was sick of the limited creative freedom afforded to him in the company. At the end of his deal in April 2019, he left WWE a free man and the former WWE Champion headed straight to AEW at Double or Nothing 2019.

At the end of the show, Jon Moxley attacked Kenny Omega to make his AEW debut and build to one of the most anticipated dream matches in years. Moxley totally reinvented himself after appearing in WWE for years as Dean Ambrose, and had a new edge that brought in comparisons to WWE legend “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

While the attack would take place on the first ever AEW show, the long awaited Jon Moxley vs Kenny Omega match would not happen until the end of the year, at Full Gear 2019.

Fans were torn on their violent “Lights Out” Match

Kenny Omega vs Jon Moxley
Jon Moxley took on Jon Moxley in the Lights Out match at AEW Full Gear 2020

Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega battled at Full Gear 2019, in a brutal and violent “Lights Out” match. While the main event of the show was Chris Jericho vs Cody Rhodes, Moxley vs Omega took place even after that.

The concept of the lights out match was that it is not sanctioned by AEW and the promoter has nothing to do with the match. The lights are dimmed and no titles are on the line (with wins and losses not being counted towards the ranking in this match). Their are no rules in the match and both men go out of their way to inflict as much damage on their opponent as possible.

They followed these directions and more. Both men brought the pain in a way that was unimaginable before, with weaponry, biting and general viciousness the order of the day. Jon Moxley walked out with the victory over Kenny Omega and all the momentum leading out of Full Gear, and the win cemented him as a top star in AEW on the way to AEW Championship victory.

They remained in the main event but were kept apart

eddie kingston vs jon moxley
Eddie Kingston battles it out with Jon Moxley at Full Gear 2020 over the AEW Championship (credit: AEW)

After beating Kenny Omega at Full Gear, Jon Moxley moved onto the pursuit of championship gold. He started a feud with Chris Jericho in his quest to become the second ever AEW Champion and take down Jericho and the Inner Circle once and for all.

The road was long and difficult, with Moxley suffering an eye injury that forced him to wear an eye patch for some weeks after a brutal attack by Jericho. Meanwhile, Kenny Omega began teaming with Adam Page, with the oddball team defeating SCU on the Jericho Cruise to win the AEW Tag Team Championships.

While Omega became a champion in his own right, Moxley would climb to the top of the mountain and win the AEW Championship at AEW Revolution 2020. However, his title reign got off to an awful start as the entire world shut down due to global pandemic and the Jon Moxley AEW Championship reign was performed entirely in front of zero fans.

Even though he carried the company throughout the toughest of times, Jon Moxley still managed a number of impressive title defences in a near-year long reign with the AEW Championship. His AEW Championship defences were against the following;

  • Jake Hager
  • Mr Brodie Lee
  • Brian Cage
  • Darby Allin
  • MJF
  • Eddie Kingston (x2)
  • The Butcher
  • Lance Archer

A varied list of opponents who each posed incredible challengers, especially without the roar of the crowd backing him in the ring. However he managed a legendary title reign which showed fans just what they had been missing out on when he was forced into a box in WWE and were witnessing the true greatness of Jon Moxley.

It seemed nobody could touch Moxley and the AEW Championship would remain in his hands. That was until Kenny Omega turned heel and cheated his way to championship glory.

The Incredible Championship match at Winter is Coming

The pair clashed again finally nearly a year after their last battle, at the AEW Dynamite special entitled “Winter is Coming”. The match took place on the same night that Sting debuted in AEW, on December 2nd 2020.

Both men had changed a lot over the past year. Moxley was not a battling champion, taking on all comers to prove he was the best wrestler on the planet. Meanwhile Omega had turned on his friend Adam Page, and recruited Don Callis en route to his AEW Championship victory. He had taken his eye off the ball while teaming with Page and was now on track to achieve greatness, as he did during his run in NJPW.

DID YOU KNOW? – Jon Moxley was voted as the best wrestler in the world in 2020, by the Wrestling Observer Awards

Jon Moxley vs Kenny Omega main evented Winter is Coming, putting on another 4 star+ classic to prove that their rivalry was the best in AEW so far. However, the finish was marred by the fact that Kenny Omega recruited Don Callis as his new manager, who attacked Moxley to help Omega win the AEW Championship and end the near year-long reign of Jon Moxley.

The Exploding Barbed-Wire Death Match Was Amazing…Until The Finish

The last match in the great Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega rivalry (so far?) was a first for AEW. Taking inspiration from some of the most bloody and brutal matches in Japanese wrestling history, they faced off in a match innovated by the great Atsushi Onita – The Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match.

The match brought the worst out of both Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley – the pair utilised barbed wire, chairs, trash cans tables and even massive explosions (well, more on that in a moment…) to beat each other black and blue and cover themselves with as much blood as is humanly possible.

Kenny Omega won the bout and the feud 2-1, after interference from Good Brothers Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows. The stipulation gained much intrigue from fans about how it was going to work, with the hardcore nature of the match being emphasised, but with the ending being down to interference it took something away from the “final boss” match-up.

After the match, Eddie Kingston ran down to the ring to protect Jon Moxley from the post-match explosion. However, as Kingston cradles his friend, the explosion malfunctioned and ended up being just a small “pop” and a few sparklers, making both Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega look like idiots.

This was disappointing as the pair had put on a fantastic 30 minute match prior to the ending botch which put a huge dampener on what was on course to be one of the most exciting AEW matches in the companies history.

The Rematch Is Going To Be Legendary

The fact that the final Jon Moxley vs Kenny Omega match ended with such a screwy finish meant that the door was left wide open for a rematch. The pair have supreme chemistry together and know each other inside-out inside the ring and their matches have grown in stature every time they step into the squared circle together.

The best match of their trilogy is debated and any one of the three matches can be considered their greatest, depending entirely on what style of wrestling you prefer and how you rank the ending of their matches.

They have only had one non-gimmick match against each other and the one that they did ended with a screwy finish. When Omega returns from injury, it is likely that we will see Kenny Omega vs Jon Moxley for the AEW Championship in the future to complete the quadrilogy and sign of the greatest AEW rivalry of all time.

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