Winners, card predictions for Double or Nothing 2023
It’s no surprise the build toward Double or Nothing 2023 has been compelling. Between the conception of AEW in 2019, Stadium Stampede during the pandemic, and Page/Punk in 2022; DoN season tends to be the most interesting time of AEW’s calendar year, outside of signings and big announcements. And on paper — even imagined ones — this year’s card is looking promising.
MJF (c) v Jack Perry v Sammy Guevara v Darby Allin (World Championship)
The “Four Pillars” tournament is a very real, very official thing that happened, as opposed to the fill-in-the-blanks guesswork that drives early predictions. But something about this doesn’t feel right. Especially with the way the first match ended, it can’t possibly go that way.
This four-man story began at MJF’s Re-Bar Mitzvah celebration, following his 60-minute Ironman defense at Revolution. Since then, the story has been about how MJF was favored over the other three “pillars.” Which they have tried to make more layered by revealing beef sans-MJF. I for one have never been a fan of this contrived “pillar” talk, but I’ll be the first to admit that having it payoff with a simple 1-v-1 would squander a lot of excitement.
Wonder what Tony Khan thinks about MJF’s “No four-way” promise at the end of Guevara v Perry.
FTR (c) v Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal (World Tag Team Championship)
The only other title with a semi-clear path to Double or Nothing is FTR’s World Tag Team titles. The 2-v-2 tag team division isn’t looking too hot, especially after The Acclaimed dominated a stagnant scene for months, along with the recent focus on big faction tag matches. But one duo has become a consistent threat in the division, not just to the titleholders, but to the fanbase.
Many wondered what the deal with Jarrett and Lethal was until the two came nightmarishly close to beating The Acclaimed. Since then, some fans have developed an affinity for the chaos that is Jarrett and Lethal (and Sonjay and Satnam) as World Tag Team Champions.
Add to this the wrinkle that is Mark Briscoe’s friendship with both Lethal and FTR, and you have some real uncertainty as to where this is going. But when all’s said and done, there’s no way 2022’s tag team of the year is dropping this one.
Blackpool Combat Club v The Elite
The BCC/Elite feud began as an extension of the stellar Jon Moxley/Adam Page feud. On top of that, there’s Kenny Omega’s history with Moxley and Bryan Danielson, and naturally it has been a compelling and easy story to follow. It’s since evolved into Danielson seeing the Elite as “amateurs” in the pro wrestling business. But truth be told, the biggest point of interest here is who’s going to be on these teams come Double or Nothing.
On the Elite side, Omega and Page aren’t making further efforts to join up. Then, we have Don Callis — a wildcard enough by himself — bringing Konosuke Takeshita over to the Elite. If we take all these at face value, that makes five against four. What further turns will we see en route perhaps to another Anarchy in the Arena? This is the toughest one to predict.
Adam Cole v Chris Jericho
This was always going to happen. Adam Cole has never been shy to credit Chris Jericho’s influence on the wrestler Cole is today. What would have been an organic starting point for a first-time meeting between the two came off rather disorganized.
Even without getting into the Outcasts/Britt Baker stuff — and I’d really rather not — this is a messy rivalry to follow. Both men side-eyed the other, both men gave brief complementary words for the other, and next thing you know Britt Baker is getting “dramatically” attacked in front of Cole. I don’t get it. But in a Jericho rivalry, like I said, this was always going to happen.
Rest of the Card
Women’s World Championship
The Women’s World title has played second fiddle to the larger AEW Homegrown versus The World arc in the women’s division. It comes with both good and bad, but it doesn’t help that everyone that Hayter can reasonably headline a PPV with has already been beat — Riho, Ruby Soho, Saraya, and everyone else is injured. A rematch with Toni Storm makes sense, but Hikaru Shida began this whole arc and was never seen again. A sequel to Hayter and Shida’s classic December 2022 bout sounds fitting and superb.
This rivalry is the most engaged the TBS Champ has felt in months. Taya Valkyrie has been the exact threat that the Jade Brand needed. I can’t imagine all this build just ends with a single defense on a bog-standard Dynamite. In the title scene as it currently stands, this is the biggest match.
World Trios & International Championship
The tradition of the World Trios and International title being spiritually linked continues with House of Black and Orange Cassidy. The story we’ve been witnessing is that Cassidy’s grip on the title is starting to loosen, on account of his applaudable defense rate. Buddy Matthews has come the closest to unseating Cassidy, but Malakai Black doesn’t seem to be done with “people like Orange Cassidy.”
WINNER: HOUSE OF BLACK/MALAKAI BLACK
No word yet on when the Owen Cup returns, but it has been set to return this year. If Double or Nothing remains home to the Owen, names I can see playing a big part this year include Wardlow and Ethan Page, and Riho and the Outcasts. Jay White v Ricky Starks seems all but set for a big stage. Despite White’s Grand Slam status in NJPW, and Starks’ bigger matches in recent months, this bout will admittedly need all the build it can get, to feel as big as it sounds. Also, I think we’re finally getting Swerve Strickland v Keith Lee. It’s been long enough that it’s earned a big payoff, but it’s also just been long enough, period.