AEW Double or Nothing
May 25, 2019
Las Vegas, Nevada
MGM Grand Garden Arena
Watch: B/R Live & Pay-Per-View (Pre-show “BUY IN” streaming free on various platforms)
Meet our previewers:
- Mike Spears (@fujiiheya): Co-host of Everything Elite and host of Open the Voice Gate. Mike’s going to be in Vegas live for this which makes him both incredibly excited and incredibly anxious.
- Suit Williams (@SuitWilliams): Contributor to various projects on Voices of Wrestling and co-host of the Smark Sports podcast. Suit won’t be in Vegas, nor will he be able to watch live, but he is still very excited and optimistic to see AEW get started.
- Case Lowe (@_InYourCase): Voices of Wrestling’s young boy for four whole years now. Case, much like Suit, won’t be able to watch the show live as he will be working retail, but he can’t wait to catch all this action on VOD. He covers Dragon Gate and OWE’s Strong Hearts for the website.
Kip Sabian vs. Sammy Guevara
Mike: I think this is a pretty smart match for them to have on the “BUY IN” pre-show: You’ve got two guys who weren’t on ALL IN for a match that’s going to probably kick off the evening. I hope that this is worked at a pretty fast clip and gets the crowd amped for the rest of the show. Sammy’s been more featured on Being the Elite as the guy that everyone just hates for whatever reason when he tries to be a nice person, and Kip has been on the Road to Double or Nothing series, but that’s the extent of their involvement in the Extended Elite Universe. This is probably a coin flip match, but for North American familiarity reasons, I’m leaning Sammy. Prediction: Sammy Guevara
Suit: A match between two young, relatively unknown guys to get the pre-show started. I’ve seen Kip a few times around the BritWres scene, and he’s a nice guy to have around. I see this as more of a Sammy showcase match though, as he’s been getting the spotlight through Being The Elite. Prediction: Sammy Guevara
Case: For years now, I’ve been waiting for Sammy Guevara to catch on in the United States. I thought he was going to break out in EVOLVE a few years ago, then I thought MLW was going to be his place to thrive, but for one reason or another, he’s never meshed well with those promotions. All Elite is the next reasonable stop in his career and I have no doubt that he can tear it up here. I hope that this gives Guevara a chance to showcase his high-flying ability, as he’s someone who I could see meshing well with the Chinese acrobats from OWE or the Lucha Bros. I’m a fan of the concept for the “BUY IN” and I’m a fan of Sammy Guevara. I hope he pulls through here. Prediction: Sammy Guevara
Best Friends vs. Angelico & Jack Evans
Mike: Set up on the second to last BTE before DoN, this match came about because the Best Friends sent a “mysterious” video to the Jacksons, threatening to kidnap and murder their children if they remained in the Casino Battle Royale. So yeah. That was something. The match itself is something I find myself pretty excited about: both of these teams come together to be a sum greater than their parts (especially in the case of Los Gueros del Cielo), and are great at working a fast, if slightly comedic at times, style. I feel like it’s probably more important for Angelico and Jack Evans to win this first match as Best Friends are definitely a duo that can take falls without hurting their crowd reaction. Predictions: Los Gueros del Cielo (Angelico & Jack Evans)
Suit: This match feels like 2016 PWG, and that is a good thing in my opinion. Angelico works a lot better in this team with Jack Evans than he does on his own. Evans himself is such an underutilized talent, so I’m glad to see him on a stage where he can get some shine. The Best Friends are the best, and from the looks of Being The Elite, they’re going to be doing their “Dicks In Real Life” gimmick that they’ve done in the past. Both teams are going to be highlighted in the coming months, but for this first show, I’ll take the Best Friends. Prediction: Best Friends
Case: I’m all about this. I think the fact that Best Friends haven’t been pushed hard by a major promotion is criminal. Angelico & Jack Evans seemed like they were destined for big things a few years ago when Angelico was becoming an incredibly gif-able wrestler thanks to his ability to jump off of things, but have since then cooled off due to Jack Evans commitments in Mexico and Angelico constantly underwhelming on the indie scene. They work far better as a team, but even with that in mind, I don’t see them gaining a victory in this match. Best Friends will be far more over and have a greater upside. Prediction: Best Friends
Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki & Emi Sakura vs. Hikaru Shida, Riho & Ryo Mizunami
Mike: I’m someone who is still very much a beginner in terms of joshi (only actively started following it after Stardom’s NYC show), so I’m going to let much more experienced Joshi Fan, and Everything Elite Co-host, Aaron Bentley, take this one.
Aaron here! Thanks, Mike! Reportedly, AEW wants joshi to be for it what the cruiserweights were for WCW. If true, this is a hell of a first offering. Aja Kong may be here for name recognition, though she can certainly still go, but the other five participants make clear that AEW scouted the Japanese women’s wrestling scene for talent above notoriety. Importantly, Sakura, Shida, and Riho are already quite familiar with each other. Sakura trained Shida and Riho and they’ve each spent significant time in Sakura’s promotion, Gatoh Move.
Mizunami–whose home promotion is Pro Wrestling WAVE–and Sakazaki–who wrestles almost exclusively for DDT sub-brand Tokyo Joshi Pro–may not have the same chemistry with the other women here but they’re all well-rounded, excellent pro wrestlers. Because of Kenny Omega’s heavy involvement with this part of the roster, I expect this match to get ample time and be an undercard highlight. Since Shida is the only participant committed full-time to AEW, she’s likely to score the fall for her team. Prediction: Hikaru Shida, Riho & Ryo Mizunami
Suit: What Aaron said. Seriously though, I’m all for people I’ve never heard of (aside from Aja Kong) doing cool stuff that I’ve never seen before, in the same vein as the WCW cruiserweight tag matches back in the day. I’m going in with an open mind and high hopes. Prediction: Shida, Riho & Mizunami
Case: I pride myself in knowing at least a little bit about a lot of different things in wrestling, but I know absolutely nothing about Joshi. Please go back and reread Aaron’s wonderful guest preview. I’m excited for this match and I hope these wrestlers blow me away. Prediction: Hikaru Shida, Riho, & Ryo Mizunami
Casino Battle Royale – Winner Goes to the AEW World Championship Match
Mike: At press time, we only know seventeen of the 21 wrestlers that will be in this battle royal. We’ve got some stunt entries in Glacier, Michael Nakazawa, and Billy Gunn. Some psychopaths in Joey Janela and Jimmy Havoc. Also some names that will be brand new to this sort of stage in Dustin Thomas, of Wrestlemania Collective fame, Sonny Kiss, only really seen in NY independents and Lucha Underground, and Brandon Cutler, who was best known for his brother tag team being brought to PWG because of their friendship with the Jackson. The format is a bit interesting, with doing waves of five until the lucky last participant. That reads to me that this last participant will be a big name. What bigger name is available than Jon Moxley, the former Dean Ambrose? I think he wins it and sets him up as a main event player when the AEW World Championship is introduced. Prediction: Jon Moxley
Suit: I’m gonna split this into two picks, between the names announced and surprise names. Of the names announced, the big ones are Joey Janela, MJF, and Jimmy Havoc. My pick of those three would be MJF. He’s been hyped up big on Being the Elite as Cody’s best friend so I can definitely see him trying to stab his friend in the back at the first chance, should Cody win the title. Then there are the surprises. I figure a few legends will find their way into the match. Hell, Glacier already has. But the big name looming over this show is Jon Moxley, FKA Dean Ambrose. Having a special entrant come in last screams out a huge name, and now with the announcement that the winner enters the first title match, there isn’t anyone I can see being a better fit than Mox. Prediction: Jon Moxley
Case: The other two previewers went with a surprise entrant to get the victory, so I’m going to shake it up. I don’t think Jon Moxley will return to wrestling in this battle royal. I think the next time we see him will be at a NEW (North East Wrestling) show. I do think Mox is bound for AEW, but not until their TV deal starts. This match is going to be won by MJF. I certainly don’t think his stock is as high as others do, but he’s undeniably charismatic and has a character that can drive a main event story, even if he isn’t a main event-caliber wrestler. I think MJF’s promos can carry AEW throughout the summer and build up to an exciting title match, in which he will ultimately fall short. Prediction: MJF
SoCal Uncensored vs. Strong Hearts
Mike: Here is a match that’s completely in my wheelhouse, and honestly, the one I’m most excited for in Vegas. AEW’s relationship with China’s Oriental Wrestling Entertainment is bold and forward-thinking: OWE already has a leg up in China in both exposure AND government relationships versus WWE, and with CIMA in charge of talent, it is putting out wrestlers that is years ahead of anyone else in terms of innovation. But those kids aren’t going to be in this match. Instead, we have SCU against CIMA and his most notable current proteges, T-Hawk and El Lindaman, previously of Dragon Gate. Christopher Daniels and CIMA have a 20 year history, dating back to their Michinoku Pro days. T-Hawk came into his own after leaving Dragon Gate, but I think the surprise in this match will be El Lindaman, a 5’2” former Judo player with charisma that exceeds his likely 140-pound frame and the ability to convincingly throw people twice his size around with judo throws and suplexes. I have no illusions that this match will be as ahead of its time as 2006’s Dragon Gate mania appearance (and it could have been if the Chinese students were available), but I think this match will go a long way in solidifying the AEW/OWE relationship and introducing the greater world to the star wrestlers that T-Hawk and El Lindaman are. Prediction: Strong Hearts
Suit: Another fun six-man tag for the card, as SCU takes on CIMA’s team of #STRONGHEARTS. I know what SCU can do and what they’re capable of, so my eyes are gonna be firmly on Strong Hearts here. CIMA, T-Hawk and El Lindaman have been major names in the puro scene since leaving Dragon Gate, and I’m excited to see all three for the first time. Since AEW’s relationship with the OWE promotion in China is such a big deal internationally, I see the Strong Hearts guys winning this one. Prediction: Strong Hearts
Case: I got on this preview simply so I could talk about this match. Everyone reading this is going to be familiar with SCU. Christopher Daniels has been wrestling at a high level for almost 20 years now, Kazarian has helped Daniels stay fresh and innovative in this decade, and Scorpio Sky has helped round out an act that is bizarrely over. Strong Hearts, on the other hand, are probably unknown to most. I wrote a piece in January going in-depth on who they were and why they’re in AEW. When it was announced that this match was taking place, there was a lot of speculation as to who would be wrestling SCU. We knew CIMA would be a lock, most assumed that T-Hawk, who participated in last year’s Battle of Los Angeles for PWG and was stationed in America for part of his learning excursion in 2013 would be joining him, but the third participant was largely a mystery until recently. Most had guessed that one of CIMA’s crazy, Chinese acrobat friends would be joining him, but CIMA chose El Lindaman, which is one of the best things to ever happen to me as a wrestling fan.
CIMA, to use a sports analogy, mirrors the career of former Yankees outfielder, Hideki Matsui. CIMA’s work in Japan, much like Matsui’s is Hall of Fame level. At 40 years old last year, I named CIMA my Wrestler of the Year and went into detail as to why here. Every metric should lead you to believe that CIMA is in the post-prime stage of his career, but that could not be farther from the truth. Matsui raked in the Japan Central League for nine years before donning the pinstripes in 2003 and eventually winning a World Series MVP in 2009. AEW is CIMA’s shot to finish the mirroring of Matsui’s career. He’s an all-time great wrestler already. I truly could not list 30 wrestlers that I think are definitely better than CIMA, but he’s never gotten the recognition he deserves despite working at such an elite level (pun intended) since 1999. AEW is his 2009 World Series, and I have no doubt that he’s going to kick things off with a bang at Double or Nothing.
HIs two partners were hand-selected in the most literal way possible. When CIMA split from the company he helped create, Dragon Gate, in May 2018, he took two of their brightest prospects with him. Those men, T-Hawk and El Lindaman, have been on a tear through the Japanese independent scene ever since. When T-Hawk left Dragon Gate, he had a certain stench to him because he had never been able to live up to his true potential. He was, in a way, the Roman Reigns of Dragon Gate. People liked him, but they didn’t like him that much. He’s since shed that stigma and is now not only the heavyweight champion for Keiji Mutoh’s Wrestle-1 promotion, but he is one of the most well-rounded wrestlers out there.
Then there’s El Lindaman. Mike gave you his background already, but to reiterate, he’s a 5’2” wrestler with the meanest Judo Throw I’ve ever seen. He’s feared for his grappling ability universally, and in Japan, he’s a menace on the microphone as well. He’s young, cocky, and can put his money where his mouth is. Lindaman could very easily become a cult favorite in AEW, much like so many luchadores did in WCW two decades ago. I can’t wait to see what he does here. Prediction: Strong Hearts
Dr. Britt Baker vs. Nyla Rose vs. Kylie Rae
Mike: Sadly, this is a match that has felt like it fell a bit to the wayside during the build to DoN. It was announced soon after the MGM Grand rally, not not a ton has been done to develop it. It’s a shame, Britt Baker is the sole known returning women’s wrestler from ALL IN, Nyla Rose is a relatively unknown quantity and they could have used the content to help build her up, and Kylie Rae has a magnetic personality that has come through the scant segments with her. To me, this match feels incredibly important in how they are going to develop the women’s side of the roster. Britt Baker seems like a wrestler for “now,” but Nyla Rose and Kylie Rae feel like the “future.” Time to start building them up now. Prediction: Nyla Rose
Suit: Like Mike said, this one has really taken a hit from the hype perspective. These were the first three women signed for AEW, and I can see whoever winning this being a front runner for the eventual AEW Women’s Title. With that said, I’ll go with Nyla Rose. On the online shows, Brandi Rhodes has been building a feud with recent signee Allie. She’s got someone backing her up for their match at Fight For The Fallen, and my guess is that it will be Nyla Rose. I can see her being the Awesome Kong of this division, while either Allie or Kylie Rae grow into the Gail Kim role. Prediction: Nyla Rose
Case: I’m adding nothing new here. This match seemed to be an afterthought in the build, which I think is simply because there’s so much other good stuff on this card, and thus they’ll have to work extra hard to win the MGM crowd over. Nyla Rose is the biggest unknown of all, and it makes me think that she’s going to get the win. I look forward to seeing what these ladies are capable of. Prediction: Nyla Rose
AAA World Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks © vs. The Lucha Bros
Mike: The visible highlight of the AAA/AEW relationship, the Young Bucks won the AAA World Tag Team Champions on March 17th at the end of Rey de Reyes. The AAA crowd, as is their nature, didn’t know what to do with them. That happened after this match was announced, predicated on an attack by the Lucha Bros at the MGM Grand rally, and continued at various independent shows on BTE. I’m going to completely disregard the title implications here: AAA is already promoting a rematch at their big show in June, and you can’t trust what their card is going to be until the show has actually ended. The Bucks have been teasing a big new move in the most recent BTEs, and that makes me think they’ll retain. Prediction: The Young Bucks
Suit: This one is a big highlight of the show for me, and one that raises some questions. I’m going to disregard the booking of the AAA Tag Titles, as I’ve been told that AAA probably isn’t worried about it. This is going to be the tag team showcase that the Bucks are looking to have on these shows. I thought this would be a toss-up until the Bucks started building up this new move on Being The Elite. Now with that in mind, I think the Bucks will use it to get the win. Would it shock me if the Bucks lost on the debut show of their promotion? Not in the slightest, but I don’t think they would build up this super move unless they were going to win with it. Prediction: The Young Bucks
Case: Other than the 7-minute car crash that led to the Young Bucks winning the AAA tag titles in March, the Young Bucks have not wrestled a match since January 4 at the Tokyo Dome. According to the Young Bucks Cagematch profile, the last time they didn’t wrestle as a tag team at least one time in a month was April 2006. Two-thousand-and-six. I was barely 7 years old the last time the Young Bucks took a month off. While I’m sure this time before Double or Nothing has been mentally taxing for them, it has had to have done wonders for them physically. They’re going to go out there and kill it, because they’re the Young Bucks, and they’re one of the greatest tag teams in wrestling history. Who has a better resume? Are there five tag teams better than the Young Bucks? I don’t know if there are.
I assume they’ll be taking the fall to the Lucha Bros here, who despite now being tied to AEW, are still working more independent dates than almost anyone else. They don’t always give it 100% on the smaller shows, but here, I would expect them to go out there and kill themselves. God, this is going to be so great. Prediction: Lucha Bros
Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes
Mike: Leave it to the Rhodes to do the most compelling match build for this show through only two promos on Road to DoN. Dustin joining AEW was a foregone conclusion that seems that everyone tried to talk themselves out of, but in retrospect, we should have known it was going to happen when Brandi questioned Cody’s match flier. The only reason why I am hesitant towards this card is this match. I don’t listen to people who say that I should care about how someone wrestled for years on the random WWE show that exists just to fulfill their international television rights, so I question if Dustin is able to have the sort of match that’s expected on a show like this. My biggest hope is that this turns into a plunder brawl (but that could also be the best case scenario for the main event as well). Prediction: Cody
Suit: We all know that Cody can’t do the Kenny Omega/Young Bucks style match as well as they can. That’s just not where he fits in, and that’s fine. What Cody is good at is pulling at the emotions. He did that with Nick Aldis at ALL IN, and they were able to pull out one of the most memorable matches of the night. That’s the same direction he’s going in with this match with his brother Dustin. This is the match these two wanted to have at a Wrestlemania, so I have no doubt that these two are going to want to bring their A-game. The only question I have asks what Dustin Rhodes’s A-game looks like in 2019. His last match was a six-man tag in Champaign, IL. And no offense to Curt Hawkins, Mike Kanellis or Mojo Rawley, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Dustin’s working boots weren’t on that night. The build-up has been great, with simple promos stating both men’s intentions with this match. But now all we can hope is that they can stick the landing. Prediction: Cody
Case: Look, I’m not into this. I know there are people that are. There are people that have sung the praises of Dustin Rhodes for a long time. No matter what persona he’s in, I’ve never been attached to him as a fan. I don’t care of he comes or goes. What I’m afraid of is that on a show with talents like Kenny Omega, the Lucha Bros, and Strong Hearts, all of whom are pushing the envelope of what’s possible, that the Rhodes Brothers are going to grind things to a halt with a side headlock-infested bout. AEW should be about pushing wrestling harder and farther than it’s ever gone before, and I’m afraid this match isn’t going to be that. Prediction: Cody
Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho – Winner Goes to the AEW World Championship Match
Mike: I had this whole thing written out about how it feels like Chris Jericho is really feuding with Cody rather than Kenny, and that Jericho is about to have an IWGP title match, so they might try to reestablish goodwill with New Japan by keeping Jericho strong. But then they had to release their last Road to DoN video where they made the announcement where the winner of this main event will face the winner of the Casino Battle Royal at a later date (maybe All In 2 in Chicago? That makes the most sense to me) to decide the first-ever AEW World Champion.
I stand by my now deleted point that I feel like Jericho and Cody is the big match for them after this show, so unless they want to off the bat do “Jericho is champ and is going to make everyone else’s life a living hell,” I don’t think he advances. These two have good chemistry from their plunder-filled Wrestle Kingdom match, so I’m somewhat hoping for something along those lines. If they are going to build the promotion around an ace and their first champion, unless they want to take a hard left, it seems somewhat obvious that Omega’s the guy for that. Down the line, sure, build up Page as the future. But for now, and getting ready to be on prime time, you gotta go with your “guy,” and that “guy” is Kenny Omega. Prediction: Kenny Omega
Suit: Chris Jericho wants credit where it’s due. He wants credit for the Khan family getting involved in pro wrestling. He wants credit for bringing All Elite Wrestling into existence. He wants credit for getting AEW onto TNT in the fall. He can get it at Double or Nothing if he beats Kenny Omega. This has been a good story for this match, but a slight problem with it is that it has built Jericho/Cody as much, if not more than Jericho/Omega. For a winner, I was pretty strong in my belief that Jericho would win this one. The All Elite crowd doesn’t need a primer for Kenny Omega, and it’s not like one loss would kill his drawing power in this country. But then it was announced that the winner of this match would enter AEW’s first World Title match. That’s moved me to picking Omega to win this. I know both Moxley and Jericho would be under AEW contract, but having two ex-WWE guys fighting to be their first world champion feels like a bad TNA move. Omega vs. Moxley would be a fresh match, and to a certain section of fans, a dream match to an extent. Now watch Joey Janela win the battle royal and wreck all of this. Prediction: Kenny Omega
Case: I wrote off Chris Jericho as a high-level performer in spring 2016. At that point he was 45 years old, had been in-and-out of wrestling rings for twenty-five years, and was four years removed his feud with CM Punk, which felt like Jericho squeezing out the last ounces of the super-worker juice that he had in him. He had a storied career. It was, in all honesty, an epic career. Jericho had earned a place in any imaginary hall of fame that could have been constructed. He had held titles, he had drawn houses, and he had a resume of great matches that feud North American wrestlers could match. But in the spring of 2016, he was done. Former IWGP Heavyweight Champion, AJ Styles, had just burst onto the scene in WWE and his first program was with Jericho. The Winnipeg native seemed to have nothing left in that feud. His matches with Styles felt long and wound up being disappointing, and let’s face it, if you couldn’t have a good match with AJ Styles in early 2016, you were the problem.
Jericho’s shocking pivot to New Japan and his subsequent wars with EVIL, Tetsuya Naito, and his opponent here, Kenny Omega, made me rethink all of that. Not only is Jericho still capable of doing great things (even if it is quasi-lucha brawling that shouldn’t work on paper), but I’ve reevaluated my stance on Jericho as an all-time performer. He’s been wrestling for over 25 years now, and he’s been able to reinvent himself in multiple companies with multiple characters in multiple decades. Chris Jericho is a master of pro wrestling, and luckily for all of us, his opponent at Double or Nothing is follows a parallel path of creativity.
I never thought we’d see Kenny Omega work for a major US promotion, but I also thought Akira Tozawa would stay in Dragon Gate forever, KENTA would never leave Pro Wrestling NOAH, and WALTER would never sign with the WWE. I’m glad I was wrong about Omega…the others, not so much. But hey, Kenny Omega is a big league talent who is now getting a big league payday with a big-time American company. That is great for everyone involved. I have no doubt in my mind that Jericho and Omega, in front of a sold out MGM Grand Arena, are going to want to become the talk of the wrestling world for weeks and weeks to come. If there are any two wrestlers that are smart enough to lead AEW into the future as a force to be reckoned with, it’s these two, and it starts on this night with Kenny Omega planting Chris Jericho with a One-Winged Angel. Prediction: Kenny Omega