AEW Double Or Nothing Review
Has it been that long already? It’s the third iteration of AEW’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view and we’re back with a capacity crowd to boot.
So let’s not delay any longer and get straight into things.
Brian Cage vs Hangman Page
As far as I could tell the FTW title was not on the line, it wasn’t made too clear -not that it means anything.
The crowd was alive from the get-go. It was lovely to see after so long of empty and partial capacity shows. They did not disappoint. Excellent decision to kick off the main card with Hangman Page. The fans love him so the atmosphere was electric.
It was interesting to see AEW in the daytime. Seeing the sunshine on the early matches gave off Wrestlemania vibes. It had a ‘Mania atmosphere too as the crowd was fully invested, making it seem like a bigger venue than it was. You could tell they were just happy to be back at a wrestling event because they popped for everything.
The match itself was sublime. Brian Cage dished out the brunt of the offence with Page often mounting a brief comeback. It was the resilience of Page that kept the pace high. Exactly the kind of exciting bout you want to kick off your show. There was a nasty looking Superplex on the ramp too.
Page utilises the distraction to turn the tide, hitting Brian Cage with the Buckshot for the win. Hangman celebrates with a beer with the crowd. What a way to start the main show.
AEW Tag Team Championships – The Young Bucks (C) vs Mox & Kingston
Mox timed his crowd walk-out to the second as “Wild Thing” kicked in and it was a thing of beauty. The crowd reaction to the chorus as he powered the door open, chef’s kiss. What a moment that entrance was, really made the return of fans feel special.
Mox and Eddie play to the crowd as they brawl with the Bucks early on. Everything got a response in the opening moments as expected and got the match off to a lightning start. Unfortunately, it all went downhill from there.
The Bucks’ new trend of in-ring references is unbearable. From them mocking the HBK-Flair ‘I’m Sorry, I Love You’ moment that they did a few weeks back to them referencing The Shield and Hogan here, terrible. We get it, you don’t like WWE. Be your own thing.
As the match progressed the messier it got. It was like both teams were playing to different tunes. Mox and Eddie were wrestling a straight-up brawl while still playing by the tag rules. The Bucks were doing their same routine of constant double-team moves.
Here lies the problem. Through quite a sizable portion of the match, Kingston was waiting on the ropes for a tag while both Bucks were working over Moxley in the ring. Tornado tag matches are great if that’s the stipulation, but it was like both teams were playing to different rules. Why didn’t Eddie just get involved? I can see why JR gets so annoyed.
There was the obligatory run-in -because of course there was, this is AEW- but it was nicely countered by a Kazarian appearance. Kaz looks like he’s doing an ‘Elite Killer’ gimmick now. Considering he already looks quite like Randy Orton, he might as well parody the ‘Legend Killer’ too, but I digress.
There was a hot tag to Eddie after a long Mox beatdown, the crowd went wild -for some reason. Both Bucks were still in the ring the whole time leading up to and afterwards, rendering the whole thing pointless. From then on, both teams were consistently involved, though by this point the match had long overstayed its welcome.
The finish came as Mox no selled the double Superkick which may have been the best moment of the match -because the Superkick can piss off at this point. Disappointingly, the Bucks retain pinning Mox after a series of BTE Triggers. Boo. You’ve got to feel for Mox and Eddie for having to put up with this.
Casino Battle Royale
AEW’s Casino Battle Royale is basically the Royal Rumble but with convoluted entry rules. I listened to the explanation and still don’t understand it. Something about randomly selecting from a pack of cards and they come out in suit order? Then who decides who comes out first in each group? They all get their own entrances. I’m looking far too much into this for a Battle Royale.
In fact, no. How do they expect to have us believe it’s random if Max Caster has a pre-written rap for each of the first few entrants? Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but no one in their right mind is believing that that was freestyle. Battle Royales are the worst.
Still, in this particular contest, AEW really showed off the quality of their tag division. The entrances of Jungle Boy, the Dark Order, and the Varsity Blondes all got big reactions from the crowd. They were probably the best part of it too, alongside Private Party.
The big surprise of the evening was Lio Rush appearing as the surprise entrant. He has a great, yet brief, showing. Lio was on it, darting around the ring like only he can -before getting lamely thrown out after a few minutes.
The final three came down to Jungle Boy, Christian Cage, and Matt Hardy. A quick switcheroo on the part of Cage has ‘Money Matt’ tumbling over the top. After a cracking exchange between the final two, ‘Jungle Jack’ gets the win and is set for an AEW Championship match down the line. They leave it at a pass-the-torch moment where Cage gives Jungle Boy a hearty hug. Isn’t that lovely.
It was perfectly fine, which for a Battle Royale is pretty good.
Cody vs Anthony Ogogo
If Ogogo loses we riot.
To summarize why it was silly to see Ogogo take the fall here, let’s put it like this: The build to this bout was basically Apollo Creed vs Ivan Drago in Rocky 4. The cocky, narcissistic American vs the domineering foreigner. Now, how short of a film would Rocky 4 have been if Creed knocked out Drago? That’s why Ogogo should have won. Hangman Page would’ve made a great Rocky down the line. Ah, well.
The match went a surprisingly long time with Ogogo getting in far more offence than anyone expected. The consensus was that Ogogo should’ve floored Cody within a minute or so, but that wasn’t the case.
Cody took multiple of Ogogo’s one-punch finishers and kicked out, pretty much burying that move and any threat from Ogogo going forward. While Ogogo did do some decent wrestling moves, that shouldn’t have been the message they were trying to get across.
Cody got the pin in an almost comfortable fashion and celebrated with the crowd like he’d not just taken a walloping from an Olympian. Again, boo.
TNT Championship – Miro (C) vs Lance Archer
Miro’s second defense of the TNT Championship had the unfortunate disadvantage of getting that mid-card lull. That spot on the card where the crowd have lost their luster and are waiting for the main event(s).
They did well enough. Two explosive big men battering one another with power moves, but overall the match can be described as: decent.
Miro retained as expected and Archer can go back to being that guy who stands behind Jake Roberts looking menacing until a champion needs someone to pin.
AEW Women’s Championship – Shida (C) vs Britt Baker
I really wanted to love this match. Though, much like the one before, it was the curse of mid-card stagnation.
They started things off in quite a messy fashion. The first half was much like the Buck’s match from earlier where both competitors seemed to be wrestling different matches, not quite jelling.
Just about everyone expected Shida’s reign to end here, and it did. Thankfully, the closing minutes of the match was excellent. Starting from a near-fall involving a curb stomp on the title belt that got a genuine reaction from the crowd, the pace quickened from there. A few alternating-near-falls later, Baker got the submission victory and became the new champ.
The right decision that helped refuel the weakening crowd.
Darby and Sting vs Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky
You may agree or not with this, but Sting driving a car looks weird. To clarify in case you missed it: Darby and Sting’s promo package was a gorgeous mini-film of them in black and white. Darby was skating about the place like the pesky youth he is and Sting rolled up in a classic car. He ushered Darby in for a lift like a disappointed dad who’d just caught his underage son drinking in a local park. Ah yes, the match.
A nice touch with Darby wearing Sting-style makeup, a slight variant of his own.
Things kick off quickly with Darby’s massive suicide dive on to Ethan Page and Sting no selling a drop on the ramp -followed by a dive of his own off the set. A big pop from the crowd.
As expected, Darby bumps like mad for a while ready for Sting to come in as the hot tag. That did happen, the surprising thing was that Sting was involved in a lot of the action going forward. Most people would’ve assumed that it would’ve been all Darby up until the finish -Sting’s few moves of doom and we all go home happy. That was not the case. While he wasn’t as spritely as the other members of the match -obviously- Sting didn’t look out of place.
I should also mention the excellent work by Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky. They came across as classic, detestable baddies, really complementing Darby and Sting in the process.
A great match all round and a perfect spot on the card for it too.
AEW World Championship – Kenny Omega (C) vs Pac vs Orange Cassidy
There was a really great dynamic between the three of them. Lots of fast, frenetic action that at no point seemed to slow its pace or grow tiresome. They pulled off exactly what you want from a triple threat match, that being consistent alternation. When two are in the ring, the other is out and when they join back in, another exits. It’s what keeps it at a constant pace.
At one point, JR said Pac was from Wales. I’m sure half of the North East of England were blinded by rage before, thankfully, Excalibur came in to correct the mistake. Close one there, JR. You don’t want to incur the wrath of the Geordies.
The variety of ways Cassidy can do the hands-in-pocket spot is a joy to witness. This time, breaking a hold on the top rope -you should find a video above. Orange has a natural affinity with the crowd that took this bout to the next level. While Pac and Omega one-on-one match would’ve been great in its own right, Cassidy’s mannerisms are something special.
Much like the end to Shida vs Baker, the penultimate run is built upon a series of alternating near falls. The best one was when Pac hit an Avalanche Falcon Arrow on Omega, only for Orange to throw Pac out of the ring and get a two-count for himself. Beautifully executed.
Another great moment came when Omega couldn’t break up a submission by Pac on Orange. He kicked Pac in the head but Pac just shook it off. Omega hit the ref instead.
Another unique Omega moment led to the finish. He hit Pac with all of his many belts individually, one at a time. Orange sideswipes Omega with the orange punch and Aubrey sprints to the ring for the count. Kenny reverses the pin at two into a crucifix pin of his own for the win. Probably the match of the night.
Stadium Stampede – Inner Circle vs The Pinnacle
The major criticism for what was an otherwise very enjoyable match is that it shouldn’t have gone on last.
Jericho’s Inner Circle rappel into the stadium after a brief MJF promo. It did look a bit silly to see them dangling there at the start, but if they are going to do a rappel spot, I’d rather see it be done safely.
This version of Stadium Stampede was almost episodic. After an initial brawl, they all split off into their expected pairings -that being Jericho & MJF, Sammy & Spears, Hager & Wardlow, and the tag teams. The camera would stick with a pair while they did their bit before cutting to the next mini-battle.
Really excellent prop work from Jericho and MJF. They used hot coffee, a telephone, a megaphone, bins, a non-slip sign, an American football and helmet, a laptop, an office chair, tables, a white board, a cardboard cutout of Tony Khan’s dad, a stapler, and, of course, Floyd the Baseball Bat.
Between them they brawled through offices, storage rooms, a walk-in freezer, a bar, a kitchen, and a room full of chairs eerily arranged like a cult ceremony -one of these things doesn’t quite fit.
Sammy runs Spears down with the cart from last time. As the pair make their way to the ring for the final sequence. Guevara gets the pin. Sammy is the best.
The ending signaled that The Inner Circle are staying together and that Sammy really does have top-babyface potential. This looked to be designed for the making of Guevara with Jericho looking on afterwards like a proud dad. A wholesome ending and good match to close the show, but it still should’ve been the triple threat even if it would’ve meant finishing on a heel victory.