Steve and Andrew take a look at All Elite Wrestling’s historic Double or Nothing event from Las Vegas, NV on May 25th, 2019.
AEW Double or Nothing Pre Show: The Buy In
Andrew: The show started off with a shot of the crowd chanting AEW. Excalibur and Alex Marvez are shown from the commentary booth above the arena. Excalibur’s mask had gold trim on it. They went over the card for the show while the entrants for the Casino Battle Royal entered the ring. Excalibur sounded like a pro here. Can’t say the same about Marvez, who sounded a little awkward. After that, it was time for the first match.
21-Man Casino Battle Royale – Winner receives a future AEW World Championship match against Chris Jericho or Kenny Omega
Sonny Kiss vs. Brandon Cutler vs. Ace Romero vs. Glacier vs. Brian Pillman Jr. vs. Sunny Daze vs. MJF vs. Joey Janela vs. Dustin Thomas vs. Billy Gunn vs. Jimmy Havoc vs. Michael Nakazawa vs. Jungle Boy vs. Isiah Kassidy vs. Marq Quen vs. Luchasaurus vs. Shawn Spears vs. Orange Cassidy vs. Marko Stunt vs. Tommy Dreamer vs. Hangman Page
Andrew: This match was full of shenanigans and antics. MJF went after Dustin Thomas, who has no legs, and called him Lt. Dan. He got some heat for this from the crowd. Nakazawa did a bunch of stuff with baby oil. That was just weird. Joey Janela smoked a cigarette during the match, and then had it put out on his head by Jimmy Havoc.
Weapons were also involved in this match, which was a nice addition. It kept the match from being a typical battle royal. Hangman Page being the surprise “wild card” entrant was a nice surprise. He got a really good reaction from the crowd. Marko Stunt’s elimination was pretty awesome, as he was pounced out of the ring by Ace Romero. Luchasaurus dumping Joey Janela on his head through a table to the outside of the ring was also cool. I thought that was a really creative match. The pacing and layout were a little rough, but the final moments of the match were good. Overall, King it.
Steve: I don’t have a lot to add here. It will cool to see Brandon Cutler be the first out, and therefore the first wrestler to appear on an AEW show. The guy has such a great positive story. I also liked the idea of having five wrestlers come out at once, as there were some wrestlers who probably wouldn’t have gotten much of a reaction on their own. Right off the bat, AEW set itself apart from WWE with the use of staple guns and piledrivers. This was fun.
Andrew: Following the match, highlights of some of the more notable moments from the Casino Battle Royal were shown. We then got a backstage segment with Alicia Atout interviewing Kylie Rae. She was loud and smiling a lot. Peter Avalon interrupted her before Leva Bates interrupted him. The two librarians proceeded to shush each other while Kylie watched. This sort of reminded me of a bad WWE skit. Sting it.
A video hyping the Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes match was played. I thought this was a very solid video package that showcased the emotions behind this match.
Kip Sabian vs. Sammy Guevara
Andrew: I felt like this should’ve been the opener. The crowd seemed flat for this on video for the most part but were lively for the bigger spots in the match. While this was solid, I felt like it could’ve been better if a few minutes were cut from this. Despite that, Sammy Guevara had a really good performance in this. The finish where his 630 was countered leading to Kip Sabian hitting his finishing move was really cool. Even though this dragged a bit at times, I liked it.
Steve: Apparently there was some build up at the weigh-ins for this, but while it was briefly mentioned on commentary, it wasn’t ever shown. This was a fun spotfest. It seemed like Guevara was the focus of the match for the most part, but having him lose was a good way to keep him strong while still giving Sabian the win.
Andrew: After the match, a video package showcasing Sadie Gibbs was played. I thought this made her look like a star. Following the video, Jim Ross was introduced and shown backstage making his way to the arena. A pick up truck with Cody, Brandi Rhodes, and Pharaoh arriving. We then got some BTE-style skits with Kenny Omega, Michael Nakazawa, and the Young Bucks. Then they played the Being The Elite intro as Brandi, Cody, Kenny, and the Bucks made their way to the entrance ramp to greet the crowd.
AEW Double or Nothing
Andrew: The show started off with Chris Jackson from Hamilton singing the national anthem with his wife and daughter. Then an intro video played. After the video, Jim Ross welcomed the audience to the show. Excalibur and Jim Ross on commentary. I can’t believe this is happening. Ross, Excalibur, and Marvez went over the card for the show.
SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, and Scorpio Sky) vs. Strong Hearts (CIMA, T-Hawk, and El Lindaman)
Steve: This was the perfect match to start the show. It was fast-paced with non-stop action. Everyone looked great in this, especially Scorpio Sky. He’s great in SCU, and while hopefully, SCU is forever, he’s a guy I can see being a World Title contender down the line. There was some really fun stuff between Christopher Daniels and CIMA too. It’s amazing how they are both wrestling at such a high level still in 2019. This whole match was fire.
Andrew: I really enjoyed this match. This was a really fun sprint that had a good amount of spots and a really good flow. It also had a lot of nice triple team spots throughout the match. The crowd seemed really into this as well. Strong Hearts were excellent in this and worked very well with SCU. Scorpio Sky really shined in this one for SCU. I thought his performance stood out. I really hope he becomes a huge singles star in AEW. As I said, I really enjoyed this match. Lots of fun spots and it had a good pace. What a great way to start off the main card. It can almost make me forgive Frankie Kazarian for blatantly stealing my gimmick for BTE.
After the match, the broadcast team was joined by Allie to call the next match.
Britt Baker vs. Nyla Rose vs. Kylie Rae vs. Awesome Kong
Andrew: This was supposed to be a Triple Threat, but before the match, Brandi Rhodes came out and teased putting herself into the match. Instead, she brought out Awesome Kong, who was added to the match.
Kong and Rose had a face-to-face before Kong took her out. Kylie and Britt tried to go after Kong, but she was able to overpower them as well. As this progressed, there were several one-on-one sequences between the various women. There was also an obligatory tower of doom spot involving all four women in this in the later stages of the match. Moments later, Nyla Rose hit Kong with a spear outside of the ring into the ring steps. This led to Kylie and Britt having a one-on-one sequence that saw a few near falls. Britt Baker would get the win with a Kneecap Brainbuster. This was pretty good and much better than I expected it to be.
Steve: Awesome Kong was a great addition to the show. I hope this leads to her and Aja Kong reuniting as a tag-team again like in early 2000s GAEA. The only downside to Kong being added is I thought she got a lot of the power offense Rose would have gotten, and it made Rose feel kind of lost in the shuffle. Rose is really good so I’d have liked to have seen her showcased more. This match was good.
Andrew: After the match, we see shots of Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho in their locker rooms.
Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta) vs. Angélico and Jack Evans
Steve: Jack Evans was the star of this match. He went all out on taking a beating from the Best Friends and made everything they did look great. Angelico, on the other hand, seemed to be just there. I was waiting for him to do something big, and it just never came. Best Friends looked good. Even their hug spot, which gets over huge in PWG, got over here. The Best Friends hit a Double Stomp assisted Cruchie on Evans to get the win. This was good.
Andrew: If you’re a fan of tag team wrestling, you’ll really enjoy this. There were several cool double team spots throughout and a lot of creativity. I thought Angélico and Evans had a great showing here. The Best Friends also had a good showing in this match. Both teams blended really well with each other, which made for a very fun match. All four guys had great performances in this. This was a great match. AEW has been hitting it out of the park so far.
Andrew: After the match, the lights went out and the Super Smash Bros appeared in the ring. Nobody had any idea what was going on or who they were. The lights went out again and came back on. When the lights returned, a bunch of masked men attacked Angélico, Jack Evans, and Best Friends. Even though this was a good angle on paper, it didn’t seem to get over well.
Steve: I liked the angle but as the Super Smash Brothers, who will surely have a different name in AEW to avoid issues with Nintendo, hadn’t really been on BTE and any U.S. independent shows in a long time the crowd didn’t know them. Then again, aside from Excalibur, who didn’t say their names, neither did the announcers.
Andrew: Following the angle, a hype video for All Out in Chicago was played.
Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki, and Emi Sakura vs. Hikaru Shida, Riho Abe, and Ryo Mizunami
Andrew: While I didn’t think this was as good as the opener, I thought this was a really good trios match. Emi Sakura really came off like a star here. She had tons of charisma and personality, and the crowd seemed to like her a lot. Aja Kong’s back drop driver onto Riho Abe looked really sick. Hikaru Shida would get the win after pinning Emi Sakura. This was solid, but not great. The timekeeper ringing the bell after a near fall hurt it a little, but it was still a fun showcase.
Steve: I loved this match. So far every match on the show has been different than the match before it, and this was something unique from most wrestling shows in the United States. While promotions like New Japan have had exposure here, for Japanese women’s pro-wrestling fans still need to actively seek it out. The bell ringing on the two counts was bad, but the referee Aubrey Edwards did an excellent job handling it. AEW did a great job on their referee choices. Riho, Emi Sakura, and Aja Kong all really stood out. This was a ton of fun.
Andrew: After the match, we headed back to the broadcast booth. Jim Ross wasn’t sure at what point in the show they were in. It was time for the Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes match. The video package from the pre-show was played again. After the video, a throne was on the rage for Cody’s entrance. During his entrance, Brandi pulled out a sledgehammer from under the ring. Cody then used it to smash it. It then exploded. I really thought this was lame. Sting it.
Dustin Rhodes vs. Cody w/ Brandi Rhodes
Steve: Going into the show I think this was the match I was looking the least forward to. Not that I thought it would be bad, but the rest of the card was so great on paper.
Well, this ended up being the match of the night for me. Right at the start there were “Dusty” chants and both wrestlers looked like they legitimately teared up. The simple story of who was the favorite son lead to some incredible emotion in this. Dustin Rhodes was bleeding like crazy in this. The visual of the blood pouring off of him and Cody being covered it in took this to the next level. Cody Rhodes is one of the EVPs and clearly a fan favorite, but the brutality of this match turned the crowd cleanly in Dustin’s favor. The near falls at the end were great. The entire match was really well done. Cody won with the Cross Rhodes.
Rating: **** 3/4
Andrew: A lot of people never realized how good Dustin Rhodes was as a performer inside the ring. Sure, his legacy will always be about his ability to play interesting characters, but he was always underrated as an in-ring worker. This match was very different from the other matches, as it was more “old school” and driven by storytelling. There was a spot where Cody ripped off a turnbuckle pad and drove Dustin’s head into it. This caused Dustin to bleed badly in the ring, which looked awesome.
The in-ring story centered around Cody dominating Dustin, and Dustin trying to mount comebacks despite being a bloody mess. There wasn’t much action here, but this was masterful storytelling. At one point, Dustin hit a Code Red on Cody, which looked really awesome. The final stretch of the match had several near falls, and the fans were super into this. They were emotionally invested in this and really got behind Dustin. You could tell he put his heart and soul into this performance, and it was amazing. Cody got the win here in what was probably the first “classic” match in AEW history. Go out of your way to see this.
Andrew: Following the match, Cody got on the mic. He said he made a match for AEW Fight for the Fallen for him and a partner to face the Young Bucks. Cody went on to say he didn’t need a partner, he needed a brother. The two hugged in the ring with tears in their eyes as the crowd chanted their father’s name. What an emotional moment. Goddamn, this was great. If this didn’t get to you emotionally, I don’t know what would.
Steve: The post-match stuff was great. I guess the Young Bucks will be facing teams primarily comprised of brothers in AEW, and that’s OK with me.
— Bleacher Report Live (@brlive) May 26, 2019
Andrew: Dude, when he said: “I need my older brother.” Man…
Back at the commentary booth, the broadcast team recapped the Casino Battle Royal from the pre-show. Inside the ring that is now decked out with a red carpet over the canvas, Jack Whitehall introduced Bret Hart to present the AEW World Championship. Bret cut a quick promo and introduced Hangman Page who came out to the ring. Once he entered the ring, MJF’s played. MJF cut a promo and got a lot of heat from the crowd.
After a few moments, Jungle Boy came out MJF tried to leave but was stopped by Jimmy Havoc. They. along with Hangman Page, began to attack MJF before Bret Hart revealed the title. Following the segment, a hype video for the next match was played.
Steve: This was good. MJF is a great heel and having Brett Hart there definitely made the title feel like an even bigger deal. AEW wants to capture lapsed fans, and those fans won’t know Hangman or MJF, but they know who Bret Hart is.
AAA World Tag Team Championship Match: The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) (c) vs. The Lucha Bros (Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fénix)
Andrew: I’d like to note that at this point in the match, my neighbor Christina decided it was time to act like a psychopath and cause issues. Before the show, I was worried another one of my neighbors’ were going to ruin my viewing experience because of their kid always acts like a feral child. I would’ve much rather have had the kid going nuts in the background than Christina. She always does that, and I speculate she could be mentally unfit. That woman is the absolute worst. I ended up having to call the cops because she just got to be too much and I was distracted during this match and the main event during the live airing. Yay me.
As for the match, I have to re-watch it because of my neighbor’s drama. I thought this was a well built match. The Lucha Brothers had a really good showcase, and the Bucks came off like real stars. Part of me expected this to be a wild match from start-to-finish, but this was paced well. After the opening portion of the match, the action really began to pick up. Matt Jackson busting out El Generico’s Turnbuckle Brainbuster was pretty awesome. It was cool to see the Bucks do tributes to Steen and Generico in this. The Young Bucks got the win after hitting a Meltzer Driver on Fenix. While this wasn’t as crazy as I thought it’d be, it was still very good.
Rating: See Below
Steve: I bet Christina is really a good person!
Andrew: Christina once accused one of our neighbors of faking her son’s mental disorder to collect government welfare. Yeah. She’s a saint. Back to the match.
Steve: This match was fantastic. I loved the story they told with the match of the Bucks being rusty from not wrestling much and having to get the rust out throughout the match. Both teams went all out and the crowd was great for this. The crowd was great all night. Penta El Zero M hurting Matt Jackson’s arm and Matt’s selling of it was great. The one-armed Meltzer Driver for the finish looked great too.
Rating: **** 1/2
Andrew: After re-watching it this afternoon, I’ll have to amend my thoughts. The pacing was very good, and everything worked well. I didn’t really care for Matt’s arm spot. I’ve seen people legit break their arms, so it didn’t come off good here. He needed a bone sticking out of his skin to make it work. Despite that, I really liked this match after a second viewing. Originally I had this ***3/4, but the second viewing earned a higher rating. This almost as good as Dustin/Cody.
Andrew: After the match, a hype video for the main event was played. At this point, I was missing the show cause of said neighbor drama.
Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho
Steve: This match was really good, but it followed two great matches. The match started really good and there was a lot of good action, though towards the end it broke down in parts and seemed to go on a bit longer than it should have. Omega kept trying to hit the One-Winged Angel but could never quite get it. Jericho hit his new finisher for the win.
Rating: *** 1/2
Andrew: During the live broadcast, I got to see the entrances for the match. But I missed the match cause of my psycho neighbor. I bought this show on B/R Live and had to wait until this afternoon to see this match. You people have no idea how genuinely disappointed I was over this. Christina legit sucks and is an awful person.
People were saying this wasn’t as good as the other matches on the show, but I thought it was excellent. It was structured like an actual world championship match, and the storytelling was very good. Steve said it broke down in parts, but I thought it held together just fine. As a fan of MMA and combat sports, I really liked and hated the finish. What I liked was that it was a legitimate finishing move that could convincingly end a fight. What I hated about it is it more looked like a basic back elbow strike when Chris Jericho did it rather than an actual finishing move. Besides that, I really liked this match.
— Bleacher Report Live (@brlive) May 26, 2019
Steve: After the match, while Jericho was cutting a promo, Jon Moxley, the former Dean Ambrose, came through the crowd to a huge pop. He DDT’d Jericho, then the referee. He tried to get Omega but they brawled to the outside before Moxley got the upper hand and eventually threw him off a stack of giant poker chips. This was great and what a way to end a show.
Andrew: I was never really a huge Moxley/Dean Ambrose fan, but this was a great angle. Everything about it was done really well. It didn’t establish Moxley as a heel or face by having him attack everyone, and it was smart to have Kenny Omega fight back to keep him looking strong. While there is/was the storyline with PAC and Hangman, Omega/Moxley came off like it will be AEW’s first major feud. This could be a great move for them when they debut on TNT to draw in viewers if they go this way. Ending the show with Moxley was also a great touch.
Steve: From top to bottom every match was good or better. There were a few minor production issues, but those are easy fixes. Excalibur was great on commentary and I thought he worked well with Jim Ross. I didn’t think Ross had been very good in New Japan but he had a new energy here, and I think Excalibur’s energy is contagious. Marvez needs work on commentary, as he was by far the weakest link. He wasn’t irredeemably bad though and he’s a pro so I’m sure he’ll learn from his performance.
AEW has stated they want to get lapsed fans, and while this show was clearly aimed at existing fans, it was a great start and should get a large percentage of wrestling fans excited. Excitement is contagious. When people are excited about things, they talk about it. They recommend it to their friends. Things start to get bigger. The NWO starting wasn’t the high point for WCW, it’s one of the things that got wrestling fans excited and lead to incredible growth in the industry. AEW has a real chance to help pro-wrestling grow again.
Andrew: I really felt like Excalibur shined on commentary. He was knowledgable, articulate, enthusiastic, and genuine when calling the action. Jim Ross really came off like Gordon Solie here. While I didn’t mind JR, I felt like Excalibur would’ve done much better on his own. I also don’t want to shit on Alex Marvez, but he really came off as nervous here. He can do good reads and stuff, which is important in broadcasting on actual networks, but the dude needs some shows under his belt before anyone can really judge him. I just hope he’s ready before AEW’s TNT debut.
The production also hurt the show a bit. While the production values were top-notch, the directing was the only thing that needed improvement on. This is something a lot of people tend to complain about when it comes to WWE programming. During some matches, some spots were completely missed because of angle switches. Much like with Alex Marvez, this was the promotion’s first show. They’re going to go through growing pains, so hopefully things are worked out before their TNT debut. I will say that I loved the use of replays in the show that allowed fans to see what they missed.
As for the show overall, it gave me so much hope for AEW’s future. The structure of the show was really good, and all the matches were really good. Cody vs. Dustin was a classic, and it showed just how diverse AEW is when it comes to how they present their product. I told Steve last night that I thought this was one of the best major North American pay-per-view events ever. It ranks up there with ECW One Night Stand 2005 as my personal favorite show. I highly recommend everyone check out All Elite Wrestling Double or Nothing.
If you’re a jaded viewer like I am, you’ll be reminded why you were a fan of pro wrestling after watching this show.