All Elite Wrestling’s second Double or Nothing pay-per-view has come and gone and the question is, did the show deliver? With the pay-per-view setting U.S. fans back fifty bucks, it best deliver and then some. Sit back as I look at the show and share my thoughts.
The Buy-In (Pre-Show)
#1 Contenders for the AEW World Tag Team Championship Match:
Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent) vs. Private Party (Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen): Good back and forth by these two talented teams. For whatever reason, Private Party was botching moves left and right, but they still managed to make this one a fun opener. Best Friends hit Storm Zero for the win.
Winner: Best Friends (Now #1 contenders for the AEW Tag Team Titles)
Casino Battle Royal: Frankie Kazarian vs. Scorpio Sky vs. Kip Sabian (with Jimmy Havoc and Penelope Ford) vs. Darby Allin vs. Orange Cassidy vs. Colt Cabana vs. Joey Janela vs. Luchasaurus vs. Brian Cage (with Tazz): Joey Janela replaces the injured Rey Fenix and Brian Cage is your mystery entrant, with the former IMPACT World Champion managed by Taz. Cage destroys the competition until they team up against him, burying him under a pile of plunder (if you will) including a giant casino chip. Given the talent here, it’s the spotfest you’d expect and for some time, it looks like anyone (except Colt Cabana) could win it. Once Brian Cage escapes the mountain of plunder though, it’s an entirely new game as he plows through Luchasaurus and Darby Allin, climbing the cage with the ease most people change a lightbulb with.
Winner: Brian Cage
Maxwell Jacob Friedman with (Burt) Wardlow vs. Jungle Boy Jack Perry: This one was the sleeper of the night. Tremendous back and forth as both wrestlers look great and it’s really anyone’s match—that is until MJF counters a pinfall and gets the win.
Both men looked fantastic and MJF won this without any outside interference. AEW’s top ten system is puzzling at best, but MJF’s undefeated streak proved useful as Jungle Boy almost beat him, looking strong in the process.
TNT Championship Tournament Finals. “The Murderhawk Monster” Lance Archer (with Jake “The Snake” Roberts) vs. Cody (with “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson): Archer hits “The Blackout” as soon as the match starts but Cody is ring savvy (and lucky) enough to somehow get out of the ring, avoiding a certain loss. Cody seems incapable of mounting any offense other than Archer toys with him, letting “The American Nightmare” get in a hope spot or two before “The Murderhawk Monster” beats him down again. The story of this match is that Jake Roberts and Lance Archer want to humiliate and punish Cody before beating him, but their strategy backfires as Rhodes holds out until he can figure out a way to come back. Some interference from Arn Anderson helps, but ultimately Cody has more gas in the tank (and more heart) than Archer, finally hitting two Cross-Rhodes to get the win.
Winner: Cody (Inaugural TNT Champion)
Lance Archer was booked strong and while some fans are justifiably upset that Archer’s monster push seemed to end last night, that doesn’t have to be the case. Archer could easily defeat Cody in a rematch or even move up to challenging Jon Moxley in the future. Mike Tyson didn’t knock anyone out but he did scare Jake “The Snake” Roberts off when Jake came out with the snake after he and Arn were ordered to the back.
Penelope Ford (with Kip Sabian) vs. Kris Statlander: Dr. Britt Baker was supposed to fight Statlander—that is until her injury on the May 20th Dynamite. The lovely and talented Penelope Ford gives it her best, but she proves no match for the wrestler billed from the Andromeda Galaxy. Statlander’s Big Bang Theory gets her the win.
Winner: Kris Statlander
Nothing fantastic but much better than your average AEW women’s match. Kip Sabian calling Statlander “an alien freak” had me laughing.
Shawn Spears vs. Dustin Rhodes: Spears comes out in a suit and seems confident Dustin won’t be wrestling as he’s still suffering the aftereffects of the beatdown inflicted on him by Lance Archer. Spears teases Rhodes showing up by having his music play but when it plays a second time, Spears is confused. Brandi Rhodes shows up and now Spears is more confused than fans who watched the Firefly Funhouse match the first time. Dustin is standing behind Spears and proceeds to beat him down, stripping him of his clothes until all that’s left is underwear with Tully Blanchard’s face near Spears’s spear. Dustin puts Spears out of his misery with the Final Reckoning.
Winner: Dustin Rhodes
No idea where this program is going but this was a fun match that didn’t seem like filler.
No Disqualification No Count-Out Match for the AEW Women’s World Championship. Nyla Rose (Champion) vs. Hikaru Shida: The champion enters the ring with a kendo stick which proves to be a bad start for the challenger. Shida tries her best, hitting a string of moves including multiple running knees. Just when it looks like Rose is invincible, Shida hits one more running knee, covering Rose to become the new champion.
Winner: Hikaru Shida (new AEW Women’s Champion)
I haven’t been a big fan of Nyla Rose as champion, simply because it doesn’t make for much variety in her matches. Since Rose is the only wrestler her size (gargantuan) the only real matches are your David vs. Goliath battles which gets old quickly. Shida should allow better matches if AEW can continue improving its current women’s roster and bring in a few more talents.
AEW World Heavyweight Championship Match. Jon Moxley (Champion) vs. “The Exalted One » Mr. Brodie Lee: The good thing with this match is that both men have wrestled each other numerous times and it shows as the match has a good feel to it, with the two brawling in and out of the ring. Moxley puts a hurting on Lee, but “The Exalted One” seems capable of taking everything Mox has in his arsenal. A Paradigm Shift on the entrance ramp sends Lee and Moxley crashing through. The two men get back in the ring and Moxley hits a Paradigm Shift with Lee kicking out at one. A second Paradigm Shift only gets Moxley a two-count. Moxley goes to Plan “B,” locking Lee in a rear chinlock/rear-naked chokehold hybrid, leading to the referee stopping the match.
Winner: Jon Moxley (referee stoppage)
This match was a let-down but going in, I had low expectations as AEW didn’t give it the build-up it deserved. Brodie Lee should not have gone straight into a world championship match so early on as he has no where to go but down. Lee and Moxley put in a good, but short brawl. The best part of the match was seeing Moxley shift gears to a submission hold after he realized his finisher wasn’t getting it down. Unlike the WWE where wrestlers will hit their finisher 48 times to show how powerful their opponent is, Moxley showed brains in trying a different tactic.
Stadium Stampede Match. The Inner Circle vs. the Elite: I’ve been watching wrestling for 40 years and I’ve seen some crazy stuff ranging from the Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl in Memphis Wrestling and exploding ring matches in Japan, but somehow those crazy kids from AEW found a way to make this one a match for the ages. AEW really played up the football motif, with the Inner Circle coming out in football jerseys and both teams entering like they were starting an NFL game. This match combines non-stop brawling with numerous comedy spots including “Hangman” Adam Page chasing Sammy Guevara down on a horse then getting distracted by a fully-stocked bar. Matt Hardy goes through several incarnations as Ortiz and Santana try to drown him in a pool. This is the type of match that has to be seen to be believed and no description will do it justice. It runs nearly 35 minutes before the Elite take out each member of the Inner Circle except for poor Sammy Guevara. Matt Hardy and Kenny Omega chase Sammy down in a golf cart but fortunately for him, he escapes into the stands, avoiding a vehicular assault charge for the Elite. Guevara does his best to fight off the Elite, but eventually, Kenny Omega hits the One-Winged Angel on Sammy from in the stands, crashing through a roof. Aubrey Edwards makes the count and the Elite win.
Winners: The Elite
Again, no words can do this justice. Some people complained that this match was played for laughs too much but in the end, it was thoroughly entertaining and worthy of being in the main event.
$50 is a lot of money to drop for a pay-per-view, but Double or Nothing delivered and featured excellent matches with strong in-ring work. While Penelope Ford vs. Kris Statlander was filler (largely due to Dr. Britt Baker’s injury), the rest of the card forwarded storylines and didn’t seem like a glorified episode of Dynamite. The AEW World Championship match was a let-down, but Moxley and Lee made the best of it. The Stadium Stampede Match was the perfect way to end an excellent show and if you have the chance to catch a replay, order it.
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