All Elite Wrestling made its long-awaited debut on Saturday with its inaugural pay-per-view, Double or Nothing.
Still coming off the heels of a stellar PPV in last year’s All In, the company continues to be on a roll with the announcement that their weekly show will air on TNT.
If Saturday’s card from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas provided a glimpse into what that weekly programming will look like, wrestling fans are in for a treat!
I’m not going to pretend that I know much about many of these wrestlers. Most of them I only know their names because my indie brother, Prep, follows their work and I heard him discuss them on the Mat Madness Podcast. What I found impressive about the roster on this card was the lack of WWE rehashes. AEW did their best to highlight wrestlers they felt wrestling fans needed to know.
AEW Double Or Nothing Pre-show: The Buy In
21-Man Casino Battle Royale
The winner of the Battle Royale will receive an opportunity to wrestle for the AEW World Championship at a later date.
The Battle Royale started with 5 men in the ring. MJF ran his mouth calling Dustin Thomas “Lieutenant Dan” and Nakazawa covered himself in baby oil. I was a big Tye Dillinger mark from his NXT days. Nice to see Spears out there. Not a fan of how he was eliminated.
A couple takeaways here… I want to see more from Luchasaurus. The guy has an awesome build and one helluva a gimmick! MJF should put together a masterclass on how to cut a promo.
The final four consisted of Jimmy Havoc, Luchasaurus, Hangman Page and MJF. Page thought he had it won when he eliminated Luchasaurus with a low bridge, but MJF was laying in wait. Page took out MJF after some back and forth with a Buckshot Lariat.
Fun way to start the show. Not sure if I fully understood the format and the winner was expected after PAC quit the company and Page was left without a match on the card.
Grade: 3.5 Stars
Kip Sabian def. Sammy Guevara
This was my introduction to these two. This match was a bit of a spotfest. Sabian won after catching Guevara with the knees after an attempt at a 630. Sabian picked up Guevara and hit him with the Deathly Hollows for the win. Nice match. Good glimpse into what to expect from AEW’s cruiserweight division.
Grade: 3 Stars
AEW DOUBLE OR NOTHING
SoCal Uncensored def. #StrongHearts
Really nice way to kick off the main card here. Great showing from all 6 men here. I know Daniels from WWE and TNA. I remember Kazarian from TNA. This is my first time seeing them as SCU and my first time seeing Scorpio Sky. SCU won after Kazarian and Daniels hit the Best Meltzer Ever on El Lindaman.
Grade: 3.25 Stars
Britt Baker def. Kylie Rae, Nyla Rose and Awesome Kong
Brandi Rhodes, AEW’s chief brand officer, came out to introduce a fourth competitor in the match, Awesome Kong. I popped for Kong. She and Gail Kim carried women’s wrestling during a dark time where no one else (namely WWE) cared to showcase women’s wrestling. Her size and strength was a welcomed addition to the match. There were some nice spots with her matching up against Nyla Rose. There was a really nice Tower of Doom spot that left Awesome Kong standing tall in the ring with the other 3 girls laid out. Kong and Rose took each other out on the outside. Britt Baker and Rae looked really strong during the finish. Really quality introduction for the AEW Women’s Division.
Grade: 3.5 Stars
Best Friends def. Angelico & Jack Evans
This was the first look at AEW’s Tag Team Division and, oh man, was it awesome! Evans and Angelico wowed the crowd with their high flying assault and tandem offense. Chuck Taylor had some nice moves. He hit a Falcon Arrow on Evans for a two count. “Nobody kicks out of the Falcon Arrow!” He caught Angelico on the outside with a Sliced Bread. Trent hit Evans with a top rope DDT. I love how the match was built around the Best Friends going in for a hug and getting cut off. Trent and Chuck finally get that hug and the crowd went wild. The Best Friends won with a Tag Team Cruncher on Evans and scored the pinfall.
The two teams went in for a hug as a sign of respect before the lights went out and the two teams were attacked by a mysterious heel faction. I could have done without this. Save it for the weekly show, guys.
Grade: 4 Stars
Hikaru Shida, Riho & Ryo Mizunami def. Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki & Emi Sakura
Speaking of could have done without this. The match was fine. It went on way too long during a time where the show was starting to feel a little long.
Grade: 2 Stars
Cody def. Dustin Rhodes
Brother vs. Brother. This was the Wrestlemania match everyone wanted to see, but were not given. Cody came out to see a throne with skulls and crosses and tore into it with a sledgehammer.
These two went at it. Dustin Rhodes is timeless. The guy can still go even at 50 years old. The two made some no so subtle nods to their previous personas.
The story of the match, though… the color. So much blood! Dustin’s head was pouring blood. I’m surprised they didn’t call it. The ring was covered in Dustin’s blood, Cody was covered in Dustin’s blood. Earl Hebner’s shirt was covered in Dustin’s blood.
Cody wins with the Cross Rhodes and the pin. After the match Cody asked Dustin to be his tag partner at the next AEW show against the Young Bucks.
Grade: 5 Stars
The Young Bucks def. Lucha Bros. – AAA World Tag Team Championship
This was the only title match on the card and what a match it was! Pentagon Jr. won me over at All In with his great match against Kenny Omega. This was my first time seeing he and Rey Fenix together. For me, this was match of the night. To see how WWE is mistreating it’s tag division and to see AEW have two of the best tag teams in the business today put on such a clinic, it made my heart sing. I love tag team wrestling and this was some quality stuff.
Matt’s selling was impeccable. The Bucks teamed on Rey for a Meltzer Driver for the win. Spot-fest or not… give these guys all the stars!
Tag. Team. Wrestling. 😍pic.twitter.com/MKQT34pXF3
— Eddie ✊🏼🇵🇷 (@EddiePotatoes) May 26, 2019
Grade: 5 Stars
Chris Jericho def. Kenny Omega
Winner earns a future world title shot.
Jericho’s entrance was great as he appeared multiple times in different versions of himself over the years. Jericho is 48 years old and he went step for step with me of the Top 5 wrestlers in the world today. These two gave each other stiff shots and didn’t let up. One of my favorite spots Jericho used to do was declare himself the victor when the ref broke the Walls of Jericho after the opponent reached the rope for a break. You saw shades of that in this match with Jericho ringing the bell and walking off with his hands in the air. Jericho won with the Judas Effect, which while not as ridiculous as Cena’s Lightning Fist, it is just as believable. Jericho will go on to face Page some time with the winner becoming the inaugural AEW Champion.
Following the match, Jon Moxley (fka Dean Ambrose in the WWE) came down through the crowd and laid out Jericho, Omega and even the ref with a Dirty Deeds. The show went off the air with Moxley standing tall above the poker chips at the top of the ramp.
Grade: 4.75 Stars
AEW Double or Nothing 2019
AEW’s first pay-per-view event and debut was a successful one. The show went a little too long for my liking. They could have done away with a match or two, but I respect they wanted to give fans a taste of what’s to come. For what’s to come, I hope they work out some production issues and rework the commentary team, because some of that was brutal to listen to. All in all, really good show guys. I’m excited for the future of the industry. AEW just changed the landscape in a monumental way.