Maybe All Elite Wrestling viewers should have seen it coming.
AEW has always had an eye on the long-term picture. Its top stars—global sensations like Kenny Omega—have taken a backseat to others while building up the brand.
So it's only right that MJF took down Cody at AEW's Revolution pay-per-view Saturday night.
This probably wasn't what most fans had envisioned, not after Cody went through all of the stipulations to even get the match. He didn't touch the man who betrayed him, he bested his monster bodyguard in a steel cage and he took lashes on live television.
All to lose.
It was supposed to be a heroic moment for Cody, one that sent him triumphantly into different feuds and whatnot. MJF, finally getting his, would go back to defending the AEW diamond ring and doing more heel work, not really suffering at all from a loss.
But the upset, with MJF slyly using the diamond ring as a weapon at a crucial moment to steal the win?
Now that's building something special for the future.
These two aren't done with each other. MJF got the dastardly win to keep the heat from fans on him for a long time. And much, much worse for Cody, everything MJF said in the months before this long-awaited feud rang true. Rest assured that MJF is going to let the world hear it in the weeks and months to follow.
Cody is perhaps even more interesting here. We've seen flashes here and there of potential heel work from him in the past. Is this what pushes him over the edge? Does the good guy and face of the company end up stooping to MJF's level?
Either way, with how creative the buildup for this one was via MJF's stipulations, fans shouldn't have too many complaints about more between these two. And it works in tandem with still giving AEW a reason to keep them away from the title scene. Yes, Cody said he would never challenge for it again anyway, but we all know that's going to change at some point. For now, it works either way.
Cody's loss comes at a time when all the AEW big-time stars continue to take a backseat. Omega, for example, is technically a tag team champion, but it's a muted role for a guy who was single-handedly selling out massive arenas around the globe before AEW started. The Young Bucks haven't performed as expected while putting others over. Ditto for Lucha Bros. One could also apply this to Jon Moxley, who spent longer than expected away from the main title scene.
At this point, it wouldn't come as much of a surprise to see MJF tossed into the main event scene after this, perhaps shelving the Cody feud for a bit. Fans saw some fun hints of MJF interacting with Chris Jericho's The Inner Circle in the past, and his bouncing off them in a fun manner could make for an unforgettable feud.
Either way, it's hard to complain about MJF's fate. He's a guy fans will pay to see lose. He's one of the best talkers in the business and proved against Cody he can hang in the ring. He's generating perhaps more interest in the company than anyone else via the win, whereas a loss would have killed off interest in both him and the feud.
Which loops back to praise for Cody because it isn't all possible without the willingness to take the loss and keep things moving in this direction. He's one of many doing it right now, and enabling MJF makes the short term interesting (there are only so many pay-per-views per year) but the long term prosperous for all.
The fact AEW was able to keep this feud so interesting for so long and understand it still has oh-so much to give—and that MJF is a top guy—is a testament to the background work put into the promotion. While the anticipated Cody-MJF result probably didn't please every onlooker, it's a critical step in an important right direction when viewed from almost any angle.
And the most important of all is MJF's standing as one of the best in the world.