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NXT Year in Review: Awards!

Brad Abel continues his look at (most of) 2021 in NXT with his personally chosen special awards!



Brad Abel continues his look at (most of) 2021 in NXT with his personally chosen special awards!

I’ve got some random accolades to give out before we get to the main event.

️ Women of WWE — Kay Lee Ray vs. Meiko Satomura - NXT UK Women's...

Rivalry of the Year: Meiko Satomura versus Kay Lee Ray

Talk about quality over quantity. They fought two times, and both are MOTY candidates. Normally I would want more from such a flawless pairing, but in this instance I’m happy with those two matches frozen in time.  

Mama Mia! Award: Bronson Reed flattens Santos Escobar through the security wall at In Your House

Reed is the first and only repeat winner of the Mama Mia, given to the one moment I could watch on repeat. He actually squished Escobar through a wall on two separate occasions. Does that make him a three time winner? It’s fun watching big guys throw their weight around.

Cameron Grimes Reveals How Much Money He Threw In The Ring on WWE NXT - Wrestling Inc.

Self Burn of the Year: Cameron Grimes

“I’m so rich I live under two bridges!”

WWE NXT UK Results: Meiko Satomura Defeats Aoife Valkyrie With Scorpio Rising - The Overtimer

Most unappreciated match of the year: Meiko Satomura versus Aoife Valkyrie, NXT UK Television 04-29

In general, unless your name is WALTER, NXT UK doesn’t get the love it deserves. This featured some absolutely amazing ground work from both women. It’s easily Valkryie’s best showing yet, which is to be expected against a pro like Satomura. The end was a bit disappointing as each woman spent extended time in submission holds that they no-sold, but once you’ve checked out the typical top 10 this match is very much worth your while.

Karrion Kross 5 potential feuds AEW

Actual Burn of the Year: Adam Cole

“You know what they do to make Adam Cole feel special? They ring the freaking bell!” In hindsight, that line might have been the one to seal the fate of Karrion Kross.  

Photos: Shawn Michaels & Triple H React To The Way Dressing As The Kliq At NXT Takeover - Wrestling Inc.

Faction/Stable of the Year: The Way

I could not in good conscience have a superlatives list without Johnny Gargano. Hit Row came on strong but got 2.0’ed. Legado Del Fantasma had their moments. Overall, no group was as consistently entertaining as The Way. It’s a shame Gargano never got to pass the torch to Austin Theory, but we’ll always have the No-Look High Five.   

2021 WWE NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day Results - Live Updates, Summary, Ratings, Cards, Matches, Start Time - SportsBeezer

Best Takeover: Vengeance Day

It feels like this happened a lifetime ago. I am so sad that we’ll never get this again from NXT, but so happy that we got what we did. Five matches, and four came in at 4.3 stars or higher: Kai & Gonzalez/Blackheart & Moon, Gargano/Kushida, Balor/Dunn, GYV/MSK. And it ends with Adam Cole throwing a one-man superkick party! Oh wrestling, I’ll always be your bitch.

WWE NXT UK: March 25, 2021 | WWE

The Most NXT Match of the Year Ilja Dragunov versus Sam Gradwell NXT UK TV 03-04

This is not the best match of the year. It is the match that best exemplifies what NXT is (was) all about. In 2021 NXT UK absolutely perfected the one-week storyline, and this match is a master class. It started out with really interesting grappling and broke down to a savage brawl. Post-match, Gradwell is laughing because he got knocked out and Dragunov is attacking a ref. Top notch action. Beautiful characters. Insane drama. This was as good as a mid-week match could be with minimal build and nothing bigger on the line. Good. Things. Happen. When. You. Let. Wrestlers. Wrestle! 

Next Up: Wrestlers of the Year

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Cook’s AEW Double or Nothing 2022 Gambling Picks



AEW Double or Nothing 2022 Gambling Picks

It’s Memorial Day weekend, you know what that means! AEW is presenting its annual Double or Nothing event. 13 matches for you good people! Most of them have odds via BetOnline. Let’s win you some money! For entertainment purposes, of course.

Buy-In Match
Hookhausen (-2000) vs. Tony Nese & “Smart” Mark Sterling (+700)

Hook is the future of the wrestling business. Danhausen is a popular meme. Tony Nese is here because he impressed somebody. “Smart” Mark is here because he can properly annoy people. This is the right dark match for this type of show. Hook will kill somebody, the crowd will cheer. Hookhausen wins of course.

TBS Championship Match
Jade Cargill (-1800) vs. Anna Jay (+700)

I’m a big Anna Jay fan. But I’m also an honest man, and there’s no reason for me to tell you to bet on Anna Jay in this match. If she actually wins they’ve lost the plot. Jade Cargill is a woman among girls and there’s no reason to have her lose anytime soon. So let’s move on.

Mixed Trios Match
Scorpio Sky, Ethan Page & Paige VanZant vs. Sammy Guevara, Frankie Kazarian & Tay Conti

One of the things I liked about AEW when it started was their concept of booking matches a week in advance. It was nice to see them run the card down for next week’s Dynamite, you knew what to expect next week! Sometimes they’d even advertise stuff for two weeks later, which was downright mind-bending. Unfortunately, AEW’s been getting away from that in recent months. Now they tend to wait until Rampage before announcing anything for Dynamite, and announce matches the day of the show just like everybody else does. It’s a darn shame.

I’m pretty sure that back when AEW started, a match like this wouldn’t have randomly been announced two days before the PPV. Considering it’s PVZ’s very first wrestling match, and the stipulation is fairly important (Guevara & Kazarian can’t challenge for Sky’s TNT title if their team loses), this could have used more than two days of build.

I’ll be rooting for American Top Team here since I’d like the current TNT title feud to end. That’s not what I expect to happen, so roll with Sammy, Frankie & Tay.

Kyle O’Reilly vs. Darby Allin

Speaking of somewhat random last minute matches. Kyle injured Sting during a beatdown at the end of Dynamite a couple of weeks ago, and Darby has taken exception. This should be a pretty fun match with two guys that’ll be looking to prove they should have been booked on this card earlier. Expect Darby to win here, as Kyle’s still working his way up in AEW.

Men’s Owen Hart Cup Final
Samoa Joe vs. Adam Cole

Women’s Owen Hart Cup Final
Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. vs. Ruby Soho

We’ll talk about these two together. Adam & Britt have been the popular choice in most circles since the brackets were announced. It’d be cute for them to win the Owen together, right? Joe’s a tough row to hoe, especially now that his rivals Jay Lethal, Sonjay Dutt and Santam Singh have been barred from ringside. Cole still has ten other people to interfere on his behalf, so I don’t think it’ll be a big deal.

Ruby could use a big win here, but it’s tough to bet against Britt. I won’t!

AEW Women’s World Championship Match
Thunder Rosa (-1500) vs. Serena Deeb (+600)

Get these two in the ring, and they’ll give you something you want to see. Thunder & Serena are two of the best female wrestlers in the business, and I’m pretty interested to see what they give us on this show. The only issue with this feud? Serena can’t cut a promo, and Thunder is only slightly better. Giving them microphone time is just asking for bad reviews from critics like me. I don’t like to point these things out, but when they stare me in the face I have to.


Fortunately, they won’t be talking much if at all at Double or Nothing. T’ll be in the ring where they excel. Potential show stealer here. I’m tempted to pick Serena, but the state of AEW’s women’s division tells me that Thunder Rosa should retain, largely because I figure the winner of the Owen Hart Cup gets the next shot at the title. That’ll probably be Britt Baker, and the Good Doctor deserves a re-match with her arch-nemesis. If I was betting on this, I might throw a couple of bucks Serena Deeb‘s way, on the off-chance they decide to turn Britt face since she’s the most over woman on the roster.

AEW World Tag Team Championship Match
Jurassic Express (-130) vs. Ricky Starks & Powerhouse Hobbs (+200) vs. Keith Lee & Swerve Strickland (+250)

It’s probably not polite to mention this, but I will anyway. Jurassic Express is the least interesting team in this match. I know Jungle Boy is one of the vaunted Four Pillars and he’ll be a megastar one of these days, but nobody can tell me with a straight face that Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus are the best team in the business. They’ve teamed long enough to prove if they are or not, and they aren’t. Starks & Hobbs could have that potential. Keith & Swerve could have that potential. I can see either of those teams lighting the world on fire for the next year or so.

Jurassic Express will probably win since that’s how things go. You won’t make much money off of that though. If you’re looking to make money, I’d take a shot at Keith Lee & Swerve Strickland. You won’t find many people in the know that don’t think those two guys are awesome. They’ve proven to have pretty great chemistry. I’d put the belts on them and see where it goes. Perfect opportunity for a face to face switch too since it’s a triple threat with heels involved.

Anarchy in the Arena
Jericho Appreciation Society (+225) vs. Eddie Kingston, Santana, Ortiz, Bryan Danielson & Jon Moxley (-350)

Yep, this is going to be a complete clusterfuck. It’ll go forever, it’ll go all over the building and there will be crazy spots that these people probably shouldn’t be doing. It’ll probably be fun to watch! This is also one of the few matches where I think the underdogs have a pretty good chance of winning. The Jericho Appreciation Society is on the same page, it remains to be seen if their opposition is. Some type of miscommunication with the good guys makes sense to me.

House of Black (-200) vs. Death Triangle (+150)

My most recent 411mania article was inspired by the House of Black, Death Triangle & other factions trying to be spooky these days. Let’s be honest, HOB hasn’t had a lot of success in wooing people to their side. Any spooky faction worth their weight would have already gotten a young, impressionable lass like Julia Hart by their side months ago. Whether she does her heel turn to join them at this point or not doesn’t really matter. The fact it took this long makes them look pretty darn ineffectual.

As for Death Triangle, it’s tough to get them all healthy and in AEW at the same time. Pac’s been gone a lot, Fenix has been injured a lot, and Penta does Penta things. When they are together, it’s pretty cool. I have no doubt this match will be really good, whether we’ll care more about the situation afterward remains to be seen.

I’d expect House of Black to win simply because they’ll definitely be around.

The Hardys (+200) vs. The Young Bucks (-300)

Here’s the thing. At one point, this was one of those vaunted dream matches. The Hardy Boyz in their prime were one of the most popular tag teams in the history of wrestling. Their prime was 20 years or so ago, but extended a bit because they were smart at working the gimmick. Here in 2022, their tank is on E. I’ll get yelled at for pointing that out, but anybody watching Jeff or Matt Hardy on AEW Dynamite in 2022 knows I’m right. Matt was exposed last year, Jeff’s been exposed in the last few weeks.

Oh, and this match already happened in ROH several years ago when people were more interested in it. I have no defense for this. I can only assume the Hardys will be putting the Young Bucks over again, since nobody has any interest in this feud going on longer than this show outside of the immediate families.

Also, after watching the BTE footage of this feud I care even less about it. I might be in the minority though, WWE has done good business off of senior tour feuds for years.

MJF (+400) vs. Wardlow (-700)

Put Wardlow over.

I could make a real interesting argument for having MJF win here, and having the War Dog eventually getting his AEW contract through other means, and maybe Vince Russo & other folks would say that would get Wardlow over even more than actually earning his contract by stomping the shit out of MJF. But that’s a little too cute & complicated when you’re trying to build somebody like Wardlow into the future of your company. Just let him beat the shit out of MJF.

No reason to worry about MJF, he’ll get his heat back the second he has a microphone. Things don’t always need to be complex. The best booking is often the simplest. Don’t overthink this thing.

Put Wardlow over.

AEW World Championship Match
“Hangman” Adam Page (+130) vs. CM Punk (-170)

Adam Page would like us to know that CM Punk is not the good person he’s portrayed himself as since returning to pro wrestling last year. This flies in the face of how Punk has conducted himself on AEW television and various media appearances, but it’s not something that would come as a surprise to most wrestling fans. Throughout his career, Punk has gone through these phases where he acts like a nice guy & says & does the right things. Eventually, Punk reverts to his true nature. Has he reached that point again?

As for the Hangman, his title reign has produced some quality matches, but the story hasn’t been as compelling as one might have hoped. It’s tough to produce a compelling babyface champion. The last one longterm face champion of a mainstream promotion I can remember not getting blowback from the fans for not being interesting enough? Hulk Hogan from 1984-88. And I’m sure if there was an IWC back then somebody would have said that wasn’t interesting.

As much as AEW likes to avoid rematches, hopefully this will be just the beginning of a feud that will give folks the CM Punk we love to watch most and give the Hangman something compelling to do. I feel like CM Punk‘s the pick, but Page’s got a real shot at it and would be a better financial windfall.

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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classic: Andrew’s 2019 AEW Double or Nothing Ratings & Analysis

Take a look back at AEW’s first PPV effort, the 2019 Double Or Nothing in Andrew’s Retro Ratings and Analysis!



AEW Double Or Nothing 2019AEW Double Or Nothing 2019

Take a look back at AEW’s first PPV effort, the 2019 Double Or Nothing in Andrew’s Retro Ratings and Analysis!

With AEW Double Or Nothing–the 2022 edition–on the horizon, enjoy this trip down memory lane as Andrew Balaz reviewed the inaugural Las Vegas AEW pay-per-view…spectacular?

Well this is history boys and girls. Good, bad or indifferent, it’s the first show of the IWC’s favorite t-shirt company. What becomes of Hangman since he’s injured and PAC cancelled? What surprises will we get?

We all sit here with bated breath. Some want it to fail, many want it to succeed. Me? I just want it to not suck.

Let’s see what we got!


  • Casino Battle Royal: Hangman Page wins @10:45 – **
  • Sammy Guevara vs Kip Sabian: Sabian wins Argentine Facebuster @9:55 – ***
  • So Cal Uncensored vs Strong Hearts: SCU wins via Best Meltzer Ever @14:00 – *** 1/2
  • Britt Baker vs Nyla Rose vs Kylie Rae vs Awesome Kong: Britt Bakers wins via Kneecap Brainbuster @11:05 – ***
  • Best Friends vs Angelico & Jack Evans: Best Friends win via Strong Zero @12:55 – ** 1/2
  • Riho, Hikaru Shida &  Ryo Mizunami vs Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki & Emi Sakura: Hikaru wins via Three Count @13:10 – *** 1/4
  • Dustin Rhodes vs Cody Rhodes: Cody wins via Crossroads @22:35 – *****
  • AAA Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks (c) vs Lucha Brothers: Bucks retain via Meltzer Driver @25:00 – *****
  • Kenny Omega vs Chris Jericho: Jericho wins via Judas Effect @23:50 – **** 1/4


This was definitely a mess. A few spots, a bunch of messy spots and just generally awkward moments. Flying Brian Jr had a few decent spots, Luchasaurus looked good and Orange Cassidy is awful. Hangman being the 21st entrant made a lot of sense, but probably already upset a few people since it wasn’t CM Punk or Jon Moxley. Of course Page won. He can fight with a bum leg, cause he has three of them. So yeah, not an awful match, but it had a lot of issues.

Sabian looked tremendous in this match. Guevara definitely did too much. Shooting Star onto Sabian draped over the outside barricade, a bad double Moonsault and standing Shoot Star hurt the match a little. But Sabian’s technically proficient, charismatic and can hang in the air a bit too. So Sabian was the star here. Solid match.

Well now, this was great. Strong Hearts trio pulled off some great fluid offense and SCU did fantastic. This was just a great match, I can’t really accurately describe more than great match. Best Meltzer Ever is a little dumb when it comes to names, but damn was this a good match.

So Brandi comes out in her gear to swerve us that she’s adding herself to the match, but instead she adds Awesome Kong! So the Triple Threat turns into a Fatal 4 Way and it’s not bad. A lot of the early portion is focused on taking out Kong, then Nyla becomes the target. Britt and Kylie are the ones left in the ring after the collateral damage. Kylie looks to be firing up for a finish, but Britt catches her in a Kneecap Brainbuster (Adam Cole’s Last Shot in ROH).

Excessive spots, excessive near falls, I knew to expect it to a degree with these four, but that doesn’t make it better. This was definitely an ‘Indie style” match, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it. There was a lights out attack on both teams from…some team, with masked minions. The “Who Are You” chant kicks up and commentary doesn’t lend any information. So that’s really not helpful.

Everyone got their stuff in, we got to see a lot of personality from the different women and the action was solid. I also appreciated Emi Sakura trying to rally momentum doing We Will Rock You stomps (since she was dressed as Freddy Mercury). Save for the big mess up with the bell ringer calling the end of the match when the referee obviously held up 2 and said 2, just messed up the flow and gave away the finish since Hikaru’s music played. Not bad, just the ending did kind of take the air out of a pretty good match.

Wow. Dustin and Cody brought it, Dustin bladed pretty deep, I think even Dusty would’ve blushed. New moves from Dustin like the Misawa style Apron Senton, a Code Red and a few classics. The blood, the desire to keep fighting, this was everything wrestling should be. It made sense for Cody to win the match of course, but wow after the match was a beautiful moment. Also call of the night might have to go to Excalibur when Cody hit a Pump Kick aka Bicycle Kick and you hear him say something like ” He hit him with a BICYCLE”.  In a huge homage to Dustin and Dusty’s Heart to Heart promo, Cody tells Dustin he can’t retire, because he needs a partner. He doesn’t just need a partner, he needs his big brother. This was a great way cap off such a hard hitting personal match. Wow.

Belt reveal with a few extra curricular and Bret Hart. Much like Bret Hart, the belt doesn’t do anything for me. It looks a lot like Big Gold, but it’s so ostentatious it’s hard to love it. Just too shimmery or whatever. It’s not bad, but I in no way love the belt.

I’m very happy there was the unveiling ceremony between the Rhodes match and this one. Cause this was a great match and moving it out too quick could’ve hurt the crowd immersion. Great tandem moves, a decent thread of the ring rust playing a part against the Young Bucks early on and just generally great spots. There definitely was a lot of stuff, big spots and it was “spot monkey” style, but it all worked. The Lucha Brothers pulled out crazy moves to try and get the AAA belts back and the Bucks were trying to prove they still had it with most of the year off. Just really really good.

Well now Jericho and Omega pick back up where they left off. Referee Paul Turner allows for a lot of out of the ring shenanigans. Jericho busts Omega open, tries to use a table as a shield, but Omega still throws himself at Jericho.Jericho focuses on Omega’s face with the Triangle Dropkick, a Lionsault went high and this was pretty damn solid. A few missteps and Jericho not countering the first One Winged Angel was car crash worthy, but aside from that, this was nice. Multiple Codebreakers followed by the new Judas Effect, leave Omega laying for the 1, 2, 3.

Jericho says AEW is for him not for fans, and he deserves a thank you. When the crowd pops, Jericho thinks it’s for him, but Jon Moxley makes his debut through the crowd! Almost as if it were a reference to Lex Luger showing up on the first Nitro, it looks like Jericho basically says “You don’t work here”. Dirty Deeds to Jericho, Dirty Deeds to referee Paul Turner and Omega manages a burst of energy to brawl for a little bit. They end up on the poker chips, Moxley hits Dirty Deeds and then just dumps him off, onto some other stage item.

Overall Score: 8.5/10

Well damn, I was skeptical since All In didn’t rate as highly for me as other fans, but this was great. Aside from a few personal gripes, and not really enjoying the cluster that was the Battle Royal, this was one of the better shows of the year thus far. Good surprises like Awesome Kong, Bret Hart and Jon Moxley. Jericho winning the main event breaks up The Elite getting the clean sweep, so that shows it’s not as predictable as All In.

Oh and yes, I can’t express how good the Rhodes match was. The match itself, the story it told, the promo after, everything was just beautiful. That is my number 1 match of the year personally, cause it was just too damn poignant.

Good job AEW. Great show, and the symbolic moment where Cody used the sledgehammer to break the replica throne Triple H used for his WrestleMania 22 entrance. It was awesome.

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