AEW Double Or Nothing is now a part of wrestling history, and Greg DeMarco chimes in with his reaction to the inaugural All Elite Wrestling event.
As a wrestling fan, we get to witness a lot of firsts, but many don’t pan out. On Saturday we got to witness the first event promoted by the Tony Khan led All Elite Wrestling, AEW Double Or Nothing. The company is already forever etched in history, now it’s up to them to decide how they are remembered. If I had to make a bet today, I would say that in 10 years we are reliving how WWE won the war after becoming the fans’ favorite once again, but we will also remember the amazing times we had watching both companies compete.
That’s not a typo, and not a “hot take.” Wrestling is cyclical, but the only constant is WWE. WCW changed the world, as it gave us the Attitude Era and forced WWE to change. WWE will change if it means survival, and Vince McMahon is, and has always been, and will always be, a survivor. But now we are on the precipice of a war, even if so many are simply afraid to call it that. Shots have been fired, and we are about to embark on one hall of a ride. May it be long and prosper!
But for now, I want to discuss AEW Double Or Nothing, the event that truly started it all. If you don’t know, or you haven’t accepted, let me establish a baseline. ALL IN was a Ring Of Honor event. They own the footage (you saw none of it during Double Or Nothing), they probably own the name (ALL OUT, anyone?), and they put the event on with Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks serving as the front men. It may not have been their idea, but it was their event.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about All Elite Wrestling’s history making night, AEW Double Or Nothing! I am going to be brutally honest, because AEW deserves that–and so do you. You won’t care if I am brutally honest about WWE, so you shouldn’t mind here. But I loved this show…please don’t lose sight of that.
Don’t forget to check out some other reactions to the show, as well:
- Andrew’s Fantastic AEW Double Or Nothing Star Ratings and Review
- JKJ’s Outstanding AEW Double Or Nothing Review
- Mitchell’s On Point AEW Double Or Nothing Results & Report
AEW Double Or Nothing Kickoff – The Buy In
Hangman Page Wins The Casino Battle Royale
- 21 men entered at set intervals (groups of 5 every three minutes, 1 man at #21)
- The winner will go on to face the winner of Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho to be named the first ever AEW World Champion
- Adam Page last eliminated MJF to win the match
The concept probably looked great on paper, but it wasn’t so great in the execution. The first entrances were sloppy, but they got better at them. Probably just best to give each person their own entrance, as that’s their moment. That was why the Women’s Battle Royal at WWE Evolution worked so well. But once we got everyone in there, it was a battle royal. Adam Page was the obvious winner due to the controversy involved in his match with PAC. But this also set the stage for MJF’s show stealing performance later in the night.
As for the stipulation, it should now be obvious that we originally would have had the winner of Page/PAC facing the winner of Omega/Jericho for the championship. The company had to call an audible. It feels rushed, but I am sure they have their reasons. This probably wasn’t the best way to kick off your company, but it accomplished it purpose.
Kip Sabian beats Sammy Guevara
- Sabian defeated Guevara in the first ever singles match in AEW history
- Both men delivered a youthful, athletic style that fits in with the dynamic set by AEW
- Sabian comes off as “the bigger star,” but both showed they belong on this stage
I was familiar with Sammy Guevara going back about three years, when I was researching talent for PHX Wrestling. We was going to work the first event, but travel difficulties (he had a booking Mexico) got in the way. He’s obviously done just fine for himself since! I’ve never seen Sabian before, and that’s a shame on me comment. He’s fantastic.
I felt like the right guy won, and as I said above both guys belonged. The promo that followed with The Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes, Brandi Rhodes, and Kenny Omega was terrible. It was the type of self-fellatio that has plagued them. Take all the shots you want, but don’t jerk each other off on television. We know it’s your company. Also get your timing down, because the last image we got here was Cody posing like The Rock with a microphone.
AEW Double Or Nothing PPV
SCU (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, & Scorpio Sky) beat Strong Hearts (CIMA, T-Hawk, and El Lindeman)
- The first of two six-person tag team matches on this card, and both delivered
- Christopher Daniels scored the final fall
- Daniels, Kazarian, and CIMA all proved to be ageless
The perfect choice to open the show, as SCU is well known and their opponents come in with a great reputation (CIMA is well known to many, as well). I first saw CIMA in 2006, but he’s a 22 year veteran–and not the most tenured person in the match! Christopher Daniels is a national treasure, and seeing him will never get old. Frankie Kazarian is one of the most underappreciated workers of all time. Scorpio Sky remains, to this day, the most underrated talent in the entire world. It’s about time he gets the attention he deserves.
I wasn’t as familiar with T-Hawk and El Lindeman, but after the match I can say I’m a fan of both, but really want to see more of–as I call him–Al Linda Man. Give me Sky vs. Linda Man on the first AEW TV broadcast and I will be a happy man.
Dr. Britt Baker, DMD beat Kylie Rae, Nyla Rose, and Awesome Kong in a Four Way Match
- Much like ALL IN, the 4-way women’s match proved to be a poor choice
- All four women tried hard, but this would have been better served as a singles match (Baker vs. Rae) or total destruction by Kong
I know it’s unpopular to hate on women’s wrestling, but this is the second time they’ve gotten this wrong. It was better than ALL IN, but that match sucked. However, I enjoyed the performers. Brandi Rhodes is a necessity, so I just have to deal with her being there. Kong was a fantastic surprise, but I almost wish she came out at the end and destroyed people. Granted, that would have made the post match surprise element a bit repetitive.
This is my first time seeing Nyla Rose, and she did nothing for me. What she did offer (size and strength) was immediately negated by Awesome Kong. It was also my first time really seeing Kylie Rae, and she is phenomenal. As the match wore on I actually felt like the gimmick hindered her natural charisma, which she has a seemingly unlimited amount of. As good as she is now, I feel like she’s only scratched the surface.
I know we’re staying away from traditional faces and heels, but Brandi as a heel leading the division makes sense (I assume she won’t actually wrestle Allie in their match, but will have Kong do it instead), and Britt Baker is a natural heel. She’s a legit doctor (of medical dentistry), and should always be referred to as Dr. Britt Baker, DMD. I expected her to win, as loyalty is big to this crew and she was the first women who wanted to be a full time part of AEW (despite an obvious WWE in-road thanks to her relationship with Adam Cole, BAY BAY).
Best Friends beat Angelico & Jack Evans
- This will be the first official tag team match in AEW history
- All four men delivered a great tag team match, and “the right team won”
- The Super Smash Brothers (not by name) debuted after the match, to much confusion
If there’s one thing AEW already does better than WWE, it’s tag team wrestling. And as one of the people behind #SaveTagTeamWrestling, I am so glad they’re doing it! I enjoyed the match, although Trent Barreta passes the eye test as a singles star. He may not want that, we’ll see. But I am all for these pairings going forward.
Riho, Hikaru Shida & Ryo Mizunami beat Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki & Emi Sakura
- Many weren’t familiar with all six women, although Aja Kong has some notoriety in the States
- Hikaru Shida got the win for her team, and also established herself as my new favorite
- This match set the standard for women’s wrestling in AEW
My live Twitter thread during the event featured my emotions throughout this match. Early on I fell in love with Riho, but she was soon replaced with Hikaru Shida, who still has my heart. But in all seriousness, the match delivered (sensing a trend, yet) and was highly entertaining. I don’t know the frequency these performers will have in AEW, but I hope they are prevalent.
Apparently there were rumors that this match was off the card? I am glad those were unfounded, because this added an element we otherwise didn’t see. This wasn’t a great women’s match, it was a great match.
Cody Rhodes beat Dustin Rhodes
- The Brothers Rhodes put on a storytelling clinic, complete with a ton of blood from Dustin and the big win for Cody, plus a reconciliation at the end
- Cody destroyed a throne complete with a Triple H cross and did so using a sledgehammer
- Dustin and Cody will team against The Young Bucks next
It was already apparent after ALL IN, but now it’s official: Cody Rhodes is one of wrestling’s greatest showmen, ever. He gave us an amazing performance, and has mastered the middle-of-the-card main event style classic. He might scoff at this notion right now, but he’s basically AEW’s Triple Hin so many ways. That’s a compliment. I am a huge Cody fan after these two matches.
Dustin Rhodes claims that this was the best night of his career, and that just drives home how important this was to both. It’ll be interesting to see if ALL OUT features “the Cody Rhodes match,” but I was in charge, I’d make sure it did.
Bret Hart presents the AEW World Championship
- Bret Hart presented the first ever AEW World Championship
- Adam Page was part of the presentation, having won the Casino Battle Royal
- MJF intervened, and cut the promo of a lifetime, cementing himself as a bonafide star
This was a bit of a cluster, but everything can’t be perfect. They never got a great shot of the Championship, which is really a beautiful belt. The real story is the performance put on by MJF, who in a few years could be a heel world champion for this company. It may sound strange to say today, but MJF vs. Hangman Page might be a WrestleMania main event in 8-10 years (both guys are in their 20s).
AAA Tag Team Championships – The Young Bucks (c) beat Pentagon Jr & Fenix
- This match was the lone title match on the card, and The Bucks retained
- For those keeping score, The Office (Daniels, Cody, The Bucks, likely Page) are undefeated so far on the card
This match has received universal praise, with our own Andrew Balaz giving it five stars. I don’t see it that way, I can’t go above 3.5 stars for the simple fact that it was a spot fest that was, at times, too hard to believe. There was so much wrestling match in this wrestling match, much in the way that Avengers: Infinity War was so much movie in one movie.
On Twitter I likened it to a Money In The Bank Ladder Match without the ladders, which would be 8 guys moving from spot to spot without reason. Add in the fact that this didn’t have 8 guys, it had 4, and that fuels my fire. It wasn’t a bad match, but it was overdone in a way where I couldn’t suspend my disbelief. That’s not the standard for tag team wrestling. Take Matt Jackson for example: he took a Canadian Destroyer on the ring apron, and was back on his feet less than 30 seconds later. Pentagon popped his arm after that, and he still held position for the Tombstone portion of the [Redacted] Driver. 🙂
Again, this wasn’t bad, but it was too far into the spotfest category to make me throw all my weight behind it. It was also enough to make it so Pentagon and Fenix couldn’t travel, leading to the cancellation of an event on Sunday.
Chris Jericho beat Kenny Omega in the AEW Double Or Nothing Main Event
- Jericho picked up the win with his Judas Effect, a spinning back elbow
- Kenny Omega is an unsung hero of the match, nearly killing himself to deliver a main event deserving of this event
- Jon Moxley (the former Dean Ambrose) made his surprise debut after the match, attacking everyone, and throwing Omega from the poker chip setup by the stage down to the staging itself (which Omega did not go through)
One hell of a fight in the main event, which I appreciated. Kenny Omega has always been a warrior in that ring, but tonight he delivered on another level. He wasn’t in there with one of the best in the world, he was in there with one of the best of all time who happens to have passed his prime.
Now a past-his-prime Jericho is still better than most, but Omega carried this match. You can tell how important it was to him to deliver. Shows are remembered for their main event, and he made sure this would be remembered.
The appearance of Jon Moxley was perfect, as it solidifies that AEW truly intends to compete, and they are in position to do so. This is like Razor Ramon signing with WCW, which opened the door for others. This opens the door, and makes them a real alternative to the talent. Sasha Banks can be Mercedes, The Revival own the trademark to FTR, and Luke Harper can be Brodie Lee. You don’t need everyone from WWE, but there are talent who would fit well and who would carry fans over with them.
Commentary was hit or miss for most of the night, with Alex Marvez being totally miscast in his role, Jim Ross not having the current knowledge to call play-by-play for this generation of stars, and Excalibur proving to be one of the best commentators in the game. If I was calling the shots (I’m not), I would simply move Marvez onto something else, make Excalibur the lead, and have Jim Ross provide color. When they held something close to this set-up, commentary was fine.
Overall Impression of AEW Double Or Nothing
I don’t think you can ask for a better debut if you are AEW. It wasn’t perfect, but it was fantastic. They promised something big, and they delivered. I guess I am a real fan afterall, Brandi. The challenge facing AEW is keeping the momentum going, as they don’t have another event until June 29. Contrary to what Wrestling Twitter wanted it to be, this wasn’t designed to draw in new fans. It was done to satisfy the current fanbase, which makes sense since new fans drawn in don’t have anything to watch after this show. ALL OUT should be used to draw in new fans, and AEW might need to pull off another surprise as it gears up for the TNT debut episode.
I mean…they ARE in Chicago again!