All Elite Wrestling: Double or Nothing – Review

One of the potentially most historic shows in modern day professional wrestling took place overnight in Las Vegas, Nevada. In front of a record attendance at the MGM Grand a show more hyped than any in the business outside of the top promotion that I can ever remember had an awful lot riding on it. If the show went well it really could change the business…

The broadcast of the Buy In pre show opened with a very American style video package promoting the PPV, with loud “AE-DUB” chants coming before commentators Alex Marvez and Excalibur introduced the show and went through most of the matches on the main card later on. Ring announcer Justin Roberts then introduced the rules of the Casino Battle Royal…

“Hangman” Adam Page won the 22 man Casino Battle Royal match to earn a future match for the AEW World Championship 

The first set of entrants were the ‘clubs’: Dustin Thomas, MJF (who was booed a lot), Sunny Daze, Brandon Cutler (who was cheered) and Michael Nakazawa who was also cheered. Fun exchanges featuring a baby-oiled aided Nakazawa against Daze and MJF vs Cutler as Thomas lay in the corner came before the next set of entrants came into the match, this time it was the diamonds: Brian Pillman Jr, Isiah Kassidy, Jimmy Havoc, Joey Janela with Penelope Ford alongside him and finally a man called Shawn Spears… for some reason the crowd chanted “10” and he was very popular… MJF targetted Thomas and Daze to Nakazawa. The Hearts were next out: Billy Gunn, Glacier, Jungle Boy, Marq Quen and Ace Romero. The match was pretty much chaos up to this point but very fun to watch with Nakazawa (via Sunny Daze), Daze (via Glacier) and Glacier (via MJF) the  eliminations so far… The Spades came out next: Luchasaurus, Marko Stunt, Sonny Kiss and Tommy Dreamer. Stunt opened up immediately on the cocky MJF, and Ace Romero did a tope through the ropes which given his giant size was something else to see. Apparently before this Joey Jenela had a cigarette he had lit put out on his head by Jimmy Havoc  via him stapling it on him so that was kind. Tommy Dreamer then bought a load of weapons into play and smashed a load of people with a trash-can lid. Then was time for the final entrant, the person who had drawn the Joker card… it was HANGMAN ADAM PAGE! Naturally the crowd went wild for this as Page limped to the ring, selling the attack previously from PAC during their match. The action then really picked up the pace, the highlight being no-legged Dustin Thomas doing a 619 then a 450 splash on Joey Janela! Thomas eliminated Spears which shocked me, Cutler eliminated Gunn then was put out by MJF for the heel heat. Luchasaurus then chokeslamed Joey Janela out of the ring and through a table I think he himself had earlier set up, which to the displeasure of Penelope Ford. Dreamer eliminated Kiss and then Orange Cassidy then came in to the match and did his ‘slow motion’ gimmick to Dreamer delivering the lightest kicks in the world whilst having his hands in his pockets and looking completely dis-interested to Dreamer (it’s an odd yet fun gimmick trust me). Dreamer then threw out Cassidy with ease after seconds. Havoc then used the staple gun on Dreamer and tossed him out after, Havoc then bit the fingers of Jungle Boy to make him go over the ropes. The final 4 were MJF, Luchasaurus, Havoc and Adam Page. The 3 babyfaces targeted MJF and the crowd loved it, MJF escaped to the outside before Havoc and Page teamed up on the taller Luchasaurus, Havoc then went for Page but not long after was eliminated by Luchasaurus before he went at it with Adam Page. Page sold his knee again before eliminating Luchasaurus and the bell rung as if Page had won but of course MJF was still in the match. He ran in and tossed Page over the ropes but Page didn’t touch the floor and MJF thought he had won. Page cameback with a huge bug-shot Lariat before eliminating MJF to win the match to a huge pop. This was an at time chaotic and messy match but fun. It really picked up when Page came in and booking wise it is both sound and logical. Good stuff all round.

***3/4

Backstage interviewer Alicia Atout was backstage talking with Kylie Rae. She played her usual very excited self before Peter Avalon in his Librarian character came in and “SHUSHED” her before the other Librarian Leva Bates came in and did the same. The crowd loved it, I’m not sure how much it’ll get over long term but hey… We were then shown a video package for Cody V Dustin which was great.

Kip Sabian defeated Sammy Guevara 

These two worked really hard and put on a decent match, pretty much a solid pre show match. They did plenty of flips and dives so the crowd enjoyed all of those. At one stage there was a suplex spot which saw both men fall to the outside which led to “AE-DUB” chants. The craziest spot saw Guevara place Sabian across the top of the guardrail stomach first, and then hit a shooting star press off the apron on to him. Back in the ring not long after Guevara went for a 630 splash but Sabian got his knees up. Sabian then capitalised hitting his ‘Deathly Hallows’ finisher for the win. As I said it was a fun, solid pre show match.

***1/4

We had a hype package for AEW women’s roster member Sadie Gibbs. And then they made a big deal of Jim Ross walking backstage towards the commentators area. He got a big pop as his music played and a standing ovation. A car then pulled up backstage and we saw Pharaoh the Dog who got a big pop, Brandi Rhodes then stepped out followed by Cody, then we cut to Kenny Omega in front of a laptop who then got up and walked off, Matt Jackson seeing Michael Nakazawa in a corridor of the arena, before he bumped in to his brother Nick Jackson and eventually the two superkicked an AEW employee when he asked them to present their ID credentials. The Being The Elite intro package then played as the cast all made their way into the arena to massive reactions. They traded turns trying to say welcome to the show before Kenny got the honour. They cut a bayface promo between them to hype the crowd up, although we missed the later part as they went over the pre show time so the show cut off as they were talking. But you got the idea of what they were saying. A funny moment saw Cody brag about an attendance of 20,000 (the gag being in pro wrestling people always lie about attendances), before Brandi made a point of saying what is factual was that the show was the first ever Sensory inclusive event which was nice.

The main show began with Justin Roberts introducing the Mother-Father-Daughter family that sung the American national anthem.

We had the video package that was shown at the beginning of the pre show followed by Jim Ross welcoming us to the show before running through some of the match card order.

SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) defeated Strong Hearts (Cima, T-Hawk and El Lindaman)

SCU made their entrance to a big pop and the match was announced as having a 30 minute time limit (I think it was all but the final 2 matches which had 60 minutes that had this time). SCU cut a fun promo before their opponents came out. After being cut off just before my Alex Marvez when he tried to do so Jim Ross was able to set up Excalibur to explain that in tag matches AEW would have a 10 count in the ring for other people to get out as opposed to the usual 5 count (I presume this is so they have more time to do spots). The match started at a solid pace but got good towards the end and was a good match when it was over. The crowd were split throughout. Kazarian got nearfalls on Cima after a roll up and T-Hawk after a Nothern Lights suplex. Daniels also hit a Tope onto Lindaman. Towards the end the action was really good as Kazarian hit a hurricanrana from the ring apron to the outside and then Scorpio Sky hit a Finn Balor-like dive over the ropes which looked amazing. Daniels and Kazarian then hit the ‘Best Meltzer Ever’ (Kazarian with a tombstone assisted by Daniels coming down with a moonsault) onto Lindaman for the win. Really decent PPV opener and the crowd loved all of it.

***3/4

AEW women’s roster member and future opponent of Brandi Rhodes, Allie joined the commentary team for the next bout.

Dr Britt Baker defeated Kylie Rae, Nyla Rose and Awesome Kong with Brandi Rhodes 

Kylie and Nyla came out followed by Baker who has a banger of a theme song and was the most popular of the three with the crowd when she came out. Before the match could be started Brandi Rhodes came out as commentary pointed out she had her wrestling gear on so teased the idea she could insert herself into the match. She said the match was looking good but she wanted it to be AWESOME… and then out came former TNA legend AWESOME KONG to a massive pop. This was a huge moment, and came across as big as intended. Kong dominated the start of the match before Rae and Baker had a fun exchange that ended with Dr Baker doing her ‘smiley’ pose back at her. The wrestling was really really good throughout here and everyone looked good in their role. Kylie Rae hit a sunsetflip on Rose which looked great but Britt Baker broke up the pin. Then in a great spot with Baker and Rae on the top rope with Rose… Awesome Kong came underneath them all and hit a Powerbomb as they came down in a superplex which the crowd liked a lot (I could see Noelle Foley in the crowd at this point having earlier seen Bryan Alvarez and Vinny Verhei from the F4W shows with Meltzer). Baker hit superkicks to Kong on the apron before Rae did the same, and to add to her misery Kong was then speared into the ring steps by Nyla Rose. In the ring for the finish Baker got a nearfall after a spinning neckbreaker on Rae, and not long after hit another superkick followed by an Adam Cole special in homage to her boyfriend to pick up the win. This made logical sense as she’s been pushed as the biggest star of the women in the companies earlier days. The match was really good in-ring wise and Baker came off as a big star with the win.

***3/4 

Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho were shown backstage with both getting big reactions.

Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent Beretta) defeated Jack Evans & Angelico 

Evans and Angelico had horrific looking gear that was luminous green and black coloured. The in-ring stuff was maybe the best of the show so far. Best Friends were in control and went to hug to celebrate but Evans and Angelico broke it up which got booed. Trent hit a spinning DDT and Taylor a dive to the outside which looked great, Evans and Angelico hit a back suplex/foot stomp combo and then in a really cool spot Angelico boosted Evans up to hit a standing shooting star press for a nearfall. The action was very fast paced throughout with both teams getting close pin attempts. The Best Friends eventually got in which made Jim Ross laugh. There ‘this is awesome chants’ towards the end which saw Angelico miss a dive to the outside before Taylor hit one of his own. Best Friends then did a stomp-crusher combo move on Evans for the win. The crowd applauded. After the match Best Friends wanted to hug it out with Evans and Angelico but the lights in the arena went out. When they came back on the Super Smash Bros were in the ring with a load of guys in masks and they attacked both the teams. The crowd didn’t really react to well or much to this and booed. The lights went out again and we cut to a video. As flat as the pre match angle kind of was given I don’t think too many knew who the attackers were the match was the best of the show so far.

****

It was announced that on Saturday August 31st ALL OUT will take place in the Sears Centre in Chicago. This will essentially be ALL IN 2.

Hikaru Shida, Riho & Ryo Mizunami defeated Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki & Emi Sakura 

This was SOMETHING ELSE!!! The pace didn’t slow down at any point, all 6 women were really good and the in-ring work was fantastic. At one point Riho and Sakazaki had a great exchange of moves that lead to Riho escaping a pin attempt before Sakura came in and smashed Riho before launching her half way across the ring, a chant of “Women’s Wrestling” greeted this. Towards the end Aja Kong hit a suplex to Riho and Mizunami at the same time before Yuka Sakazaki hit a great looking crossbody to the outside. Sakura then hit a moonsault on to Shida for a really close nearfall but the bell was rung despite the referee making it clear it was only a 2 count. The fans weren’t happy but it was definitely a 2 count as the replays confirmed. Aja Kong went for a big back fist on Shida but hit Sakura instead, and then not long after Shida hit Sakura with a running knee for the 1, 2, 3. This was really super fun and way above the usual level of women’s multi-person tag matches you will see.

****

Cody with Brandi Rhodes defeated Dustin Rhodes

They played the cool video promoting the match from earlier again. Dramatic music and lighting played and a big golden throne was shown on top of the entrance ramp. Cody then came to a giant ovation. As they got to the ring Brandi handed Cody a sledgehammer and then ran back to the chair and destroyed it with the sledgehammer… This was so awesome and a clear dig at ‘The man with the 3 H’s’… Commentary was silent throughout this which really added to the big-fight-feel. Dustin came out to a massive ovation as well. Earl Hebner was the referee and there were loud “Dusty” chants before the match started as Dustin pointed to the sky. They had a really fun exchange to begin with, Cody did a Tope and Dustin not long after did a flipping senton off the apron to which the crowd told him “you still got it”. Dustin did the Stardust pose as he rained down strikes on Cody stood on the apron, Brandi got a cheap shot on Dustin leading to Cody to hit a gutbuster for a nearfall. Another near pin came after the classic Rhodes powerslam. The crowd seemed pretty split and I must point out that Dustin looked in really great shape physically given he’s 50. It looked as if Dustin would hit the Shattered Dreams but Cody managed to rip the middle turnbuckle pad off and then eventually drop Dustin into the buckle. Soon after Brandi hit a great Spear on Dustin on the outside and as a result Hebner banished her from ringside. She was not happy about this and eventually Diamond Dallas Page came out to carry her to the back. It appeared then that Dustin Rhodes was bleeding, and when I say that it was by no means a papercut. Think Eddie Guererro Judgement Day 2004 levels of blood GUSHING out his head. Cody took advantage and hit him in the head, clawed at him and then rubbed his brother’s blood across his own chest. Cody got a couple of nearfalls as the blood was absolutely everywhere by this point, Dustin cameback with a Rhodes Powerslam of his own for a nearfall. Cody then got a figure 4 leg lock in which whilst the crowd was going crazy Dustin managed to reverse the pressure of the hold until both men got to the ropes. Cody took off his trouser belt but Hebner got hold of it before Cody could use it, eventually though it was Dustin who SPANKED CODY’S BARE BACKSIDE WITH THE BELT and Dustin got a nearfall with a great-looking Canadian Destroyer. The crowd noise throughout the match was really loud and only increased when Dustin hit the Cross Rhodes for a nearfall. Cody hit a low blow and a kick for a nearfall that the crowd cheered thinking Dustin may not be able to kick out. The crowd chanted “fight forever” as Dustin again hit the Cross Rhodes for another nearfall. By now it was like a butchers with the levels of blood all over both men, the ring mat and the ref. They manged to get lots of fans in the crowd looking concerned which was a great visual aid for the story. They exchanged strikes with Cody being booed and Dustin cheered, Dustin got another nearfall and then at long last Cody picked up the win after a Cross Rhodes. The crowd gave a standing ovation at what was an amazing match. The Blood only added to the drama as well. After the match Cody left the ring but then went back in, a wounded Dustin backed away sat on the floor in the corner, Cody got the microphone as the crowd chanted “THANKYOU CODY”. Cody told his brother ‘hold on… you don’t get to retire here… I need a favour… I put my name down for a match in Jacksonville… I need a partner against The Young Bucks… I don’t need a partner or a friend, I need my older brother’. With both men in tears the crowd gave this a giant pop as both men embraced and left the ring together. There were chants of “Dusty”. This was an amazing emotional moment to follow what was an amazing match that more than lived up to and even surpassed all the hype. I think you will struggle to find a better match than Dustin has had for YEARS and with that given the magnitude it may have been one of Cody’s best too.

****3/4

The commentary team appeared very emotional after that. They then recapped the Casino Battle Royal from earlier. Jack Whitehall (no really) was then in the ring to introduce the presentation of the AEW World Championship belt. He introduced BRET HART who came out with the belt in a bag. Hart as a shock got a HUGE ovation and is one hell of a get for AEW to do this. Bret cut a promo that included a funny moment when he said it would be Page vs Omega/Jericho next month, before quickly correcting himself that it’d be at some point in the next few months stating he was a bit rusty, which made the crowd laugh. Bret introduced Adam Page but he was quickly interrupted but MJF. The crowd called MJf an Asshole, but MJF cut an amazing heel promo slagging of Page, the fans and Bret which included a reference to Bret’s incident when he was jumped at the Hall of Fame ceremony. It’s clear AEW want Maxwell Jacob Friedman to be a big star and he absolutely hit a home run here. He demands Page relinquish his title shot to him but as Page goes to strike him MJF backs away only for Jungle Boy and then Jimmy Havoc to come out and corner MJF. They chased and brawled with him through the crowd and it was really fun to watch. Bret then held up the title belt and although the camera focus on the belt wasn’t exactly putting the big close-up shot we all wanted the live crowd liked the look of the belt, and having seen it closer up it looks good.

Apparently they changed the ring canvas whilst the next video package played. A red cover was on the mat during the belt segment and they replaced the previously blood soaked canvas ahead of the final 2 matches.

The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) (C) defeated The Lucha Bros (Pentagon and Fenix) to retain the AAA World Tag Team Championship

Both teams got megastar ovations when they came out. Pentagon lead the crowd to chant “Cero Miedo” which means zero fear. Both teams got in each others faces as the match begun, but not before referee Rick Knox outlined via a mic the rules to both teams ala boxing which really gave it a big occasion feel. This was exactly the sort of match you would expect from these two teams and they did so many moves I couldn’t keep up. It was amazing the spots and exchanges they were having time after time and the match didn’t slow down at any point for a notable length. The main spots I did note about were when Fenix dropped Nick Jackson on the top rope, and then used Matt Jackson to balance as he walked across the ropes and hit Nick with a hurricanrana which got a nearfall. Then later Nick hit a slingshot facebuster to Fenix followed by a moonsault off the apron to Pentagon outside. In another crazy spot Pentagon used his brother Fenix’s back as a springboard into a viscous looking Canadian Destroyer on Matt on the ring apron. Fenix got a nearfall after a swanton on Nick but after going to the top rope after he flew into double superkicks from The Bucks. Matt gave Fenix a brainbuster off the top turnbuckle which looked nasty to take. The Young Bucks hit their old More Bang For Your Buck move for a nearfall, after an assisted package piledriver got a 2 count they then set up for the Meltzer Driver but not before Fenix could break it up. Then Pentagon got Matt in an armbar and snapped his arm back. He followed this up with a Pentagon Driver (a variation of a piledriver) for a 2 count. Fenix ran at Matt but was caught with a Tombstone position that Matt had to hold him up with one arm given the attack by Pentagon. Nick came off the ring ropes to assist for the Meltzer Driver to give the Bucks the win. A Crazy match full of all sorts of mad spots, and it was of the high level of quality you’d expect.

****1/2

Chris Jericho defeated Kenny Omega to earn a future match against “Hangman” Adam Page for the AEW World Championship

Jericho’s entrance began with someone having a spotlight on them dressed as all his old gimmicks; firstly as Lionheart, then with the List of Jericho and finally with the light-up jacket. His Judas theme song then hit and the crowd gave him a big ovation. Omega came out with cool gear and a good new theme song. This was a really great match. Jericho was on top in the early parts, on the outside Jericho tried to launch Omega into the guard-railing but Omega stopped himself beforehand and jumped on the rails as if to set up for a moonsault but Jericho shoved him into the fans instead. He then grabbed a camera from a nearby cameraman and filmed Kenny until Omega spat water at him. Jericho got a table from under the ring and tried to use it to block Omega but Kenny hit a sliding dropkick and then a dive over the ropes so the table flattened Jericho. It was clear by this point that Kenny had hurt his nose really bad and was bleeding with many saying it maybe broken. Kenny though didn’t let this deter him and hit a series of offence that included a double foot stomp from the top onto the table that was on Jericho on the outside, then a V-Trigger knee strike, a back suplex off the top ropes but after he went for another V-trigger Jericho managed to hit him down and came off the ropes for a Lionsault only for Kenny to get his knees up. Kenny then went for his finisher the One-Winged Angel but Jericho got out of it, and followed up with a couple of Lionsaults for a nearfall. In a mad spot Omega was sent flying to the outside and through the aforementioned table with a backdrop. Omega did a flip after a springboard dropkick from Jericho and Kenny landed on his head on the apron, he jumped off the top turnbuckle but Jericho caught him in mid-air with a Codebreaker that got a 2 count. Later Jericho tried for the Walls of Jericho, but Omega fought out. Omega again went for the V-trigger after only for Jericho to get the Walls locked in this time with Omega almost getting to the ropes only for Chris Jericho to haul him back to the middle of the ring. Eventually though Omega got out and hit another brutal-looking V-trigger knee strike. Not long after Jericho tried for another Lionsault but Omega was able to catch him and tried to go for the One-Winged Angel only for Jericho to counter to a DDT. And then Jericho hit his new finishing move called ‘the Judas Effect’ (a back-spinning elbow strike) for the victory. This bought what was a great match to a close and was no less than the quality a main event match between two of the very best would be expected to put on. People loved their first match from NJPW in 2018 but I preferred this one personally. The live crowd seemed to appreciate the match too.

****1/2 

Jericho got on the mic as Omega lay flat-out in the middle of the ring. Jericho called the crowd ungrateful jerks for booing him, he said his time is now and AEW is Jericho. He said all of AEW’s success was down to him and he twice demands a thank you from the crowd. Suddenly people in the crowd began to look to the side and people began to scream… and then…. JON MOXLEY (fka Dean Ambrose) appeared in the crowd and made his way to the ring as the fans in the arena went absolutely APE SHIT!!! The streamers rained down in the ring as Moxley hit a underhook-DDT (aka Dirty Deeds) to Jericho. He then did the same to the ref as the crowd chanted his name. He then turned his focus to Omega and Kenny charged him out of the ring and they brawled into the crowd area as the fans chanted “AE-DUB” and continued to go crazy for Moxley. With both men stood on the giant stack of Poker Chips at the front of the stage area Moxley hit his finisher on Omega, before hitting a knee to Omega’s injured nose and then he lifted him up in a fireman’s carry position and threw Omega crashing to the floor below. And the show closed with the crowd going crazy, and Jon Moxley standing tall having taken out both Jericho and Omega. INCREDIBLE STUFF. This came off as just as big a moment as it was intended to be. An amazing moment to close and amazing show.

My overall thoughts were that this was an EXCELLENT show. AEW hit this one out the ballpark with a series of incredible moments, really cool surprises and great wrestling throughout. There was not one bad match on the show and every match met it’s expectations. It was a great starting show for AEW and if they deliver more of the same then they will continue to be a huge success. The booking of the show sets up many many stories for the future; Page winning the Battle Royal was predicted by some but a good call and the crowd loved it, all the undercard matches were good in ring, the shock arrival of Awesome Kong came across as a huge deal and got a big reaction, Britt Baker winning is the obvious call as it’s clear in hindsight that they see her as a star. And she can pull it off because she’s just really good. Cody vs Dustin was everything and more than expected, the Bucks tag match was as good as predicted and the main event the same. The angle with Moxley at the end will rightfully get a lot of headlines and they booked the segment to present him as strong as possible right away having him beat up the two biggest names in the company on night one. It was a fitting end to one of the best wrestling PPVs of recent years and one regardless of what the future holds for All Elite Wrestling will surely be looked back upon very fondly indeed.

Josh. 

 

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