AEW Double or Nothing
May 25, 2019
MGM Grand Garden Arena
Las Vegas, NV
Watch: PPV & B/R Live
Meet Our Reviewers:
Kevin Wilson: I am excited to announce that I just signed a new exclusive two year deal with Voices of Wrestling, so I hope everyone enjoys my always accurate star ratings. You can follow me on twitter @JoshiPuro if you want to learn more about the wonderful world of Joshi women’s puroresu wrestling from Japan.
Steve Case: I guess I’d be considered a freelancer, with a strong allegiance to VOW? I don’t know, I’m just pumped for this show. Helping me with my match ratings and reviews will be my father, who will be referred to as Big DC. He’s a stickler for kayfabe. You can follow me @Coachcase44 for nonsense about wrestling, basketball, music, this wacky world we live in, and college admissions. No, I do not take bribes.
Adam Page Wins The 21-Man Casino Royale Battle Royal
Steve: Seeing Excalibur in his AEW suit makes me smile. This concept isn’t that hard to understand. I actually like it for this since not everyone would get great reactions individually. MJF going after No Legs and calling him Lieutenant Dan made me laugh too hard. This was a solid, exciting, and action-packed way to kick off the show. We got introductions to a lot of wild and different characters, while some older mainstays like Dreamer, Gunn, and Glacier also had moments to shine. Big DC asked me “Who is this guy?” at least twelve times. The biggest pops went to Shawn Spears, who looked like a star in his time in the ring, and Adam Page, who was lucky 21. MJF, who lasted from the start and is clearly being positioned in a top tier role, tried to pull the oldest trick in the battle royal book by laying low on the outside until Page eliminated Luchasaurus. Page skinned the cat for a great Buckshot Lariat and eliminated MJF for the win. This went about as good as you could hope for. There were a lot of fun spots (Janela going face first through a table on the outside) and many others got their chance to shine. A very fun introduction to the roster. Big DC’s Rating: A solid **** Steve’s Rating: ***1/2
Kevin: I was hoping with this format they would do eliminations somewhat quickly so the ring wouldn’t get too full, but they did not. My least favorite aspect of battle royals is when there are 10+ people in the ring and half are just lying around the apron, yet they wasted no time getting to that point here. Glacier’s spots were funny at least so the early portions weren’t without some worth and there were some cute segments with MJF and Pillman. Janela’s elimination was memorable and Havoc added some variety, so there were some spots throughout that I enjoyed. The “Joker” being Page was a flat reveal, not sure how long that was the plan but it wasn’t the big surprise that many (myself included) were hoping for. It was fine for a free match and had some moments to get the crowd excited, plus it was a good way to introduce fans to a lot of new wrestlers. A good match by the end, but it did nothing to solve the usual battle royal issues like I was dreaming it would with the new rules gimmick. **3/4
Kip Sabian def. Sammy Guevara
Steve: Congrats to Kip Sabian. You are the answer to a trivia question! I told Big DC this should be a really flippy match with cool moves. What we got was a fine, yet unspectacular cruiserweight-esque style match. It was every TV match you’ve seen until the impressive suplex over the top rope, suplex on the floor spot. The shooting star from Guevarra to Sabian draped over the guardrail was also very impressive. Guevarra definitely came out of this match looking the better of the two, despite his 630 catching Sabian’s knees leading to the finish. BIG DC’s Rating: **½ Steve’s Rating: Gentleman’s ***
Kevin: I was familiar with Guevara coming in but this was my first time seeing Sabian in action. Guevara is a bit of a try-hard, he has some good ideas and is very athletic but a lot of his spots looked slightly off. He’s still young, he’ll be fine. This match is what it should have been though, lots of flash and high spots to get the crowd excited and pump up social media before the real show started. I was kinda glad that Sabian won due to Guevara taking way too long to do his moves, it’s nice to see a wrestler going down partly due to their cockiness and slow move setup. This felt like a Guevara showcase, but by having him lose it gives him a chance to climb up the ladder even as he is the focus of the matches. I don’t think anyone will leave this match remembering much about Sabian, not sure if that was the goal but that was the end result. I’d rate this higher if Guevara stuck more of his offense but overall it was entertaining mindless fun, I am down for a spotfest sometimes and I think they achieved what they were going for. ***1/4
SoCal Uncensored def. #Stronghearts
Steve: Big DC just said Scorpio Sky looks like Tiki Barber. Not Ronde, but Tiki. This is my father. He’s also impressed with all the action, which was non-stop. The #Stronghearts were very impressive. CIMA was CIMA, T-Hawk was silky smooth and hits like a truck, and Lindaman showed a lot of power despite his statue. This is the kind of match I might have had on the pre-show, though I know SCU pulled that duty on ALL IN. SCU is so good at keeping the crowd engaged, and their chemistry as a trio is wonderful. Very strong match. Big DC’s Rating: **** Steve’s Rating: ***3/4
Kevin: This match was fire, I loved it. It reminded me of wrestling back in the late 90s, when WCW would frequently start shows with a fast paced non-stop affair to fire up the crowd. All six looked great, with Scorpio Sky and Lindaman in particular having a lot of memorable spots. Everything was smooth as butter, and even though JR was confused a few times I think in general he sounded better here than he did on the last live New Japan show. I was surprised at the winner as I thought they’d use this to start building up Strong Hearts, but in the end it probably doesn’t matter since they are still new to the bulk of the audience and can be built up. Really enjoyed it, lacking in substance but with more than enough style to make up for it. ****
THEY SHOWED OUT. I LOVE STRONGHEARTS. pic.twitter.com/euFoqqzuD6
— t-hawk stan account (@jonmoxIeys) May 26, 2019
Dr. Britt Baker def. Nyla Rose, Kylie Ray and Awesome Kong
Steve: I was cool with Brandi entering the match just because she’s helped start this thing. My dad is a BIG Brandi fan. But then she introduces AWESOME FREAKING KONG!!!!! Outstanding move for AEW if she’s full time. That definitely got the crowd hot quick. This was a very strong introduction to the women’s division. Kong was able to show her power, and the other three did some good work keeping her on the outside for the duration of the match. Nyla wasn’t given a whole lot here, but she definitely has the presence and strength to be a monster heel. This was the best I’ve ever seen Baker look and Kylie was silky smooth and very impressive. Kylie looks to be the top of the heap. Can not wait to see her and Kong go at it. Good for them giving Baker the win. She was the first, and if she continues to look like that, might have a higher trajectory in the promotion than I thought. BIG DC’s Rating: **½ Steve’s Rating: ***1/2
Kevin: I’m ok with Awesome Kong coming down and being inserted into the match, wonder if she is a full time roster member or just a fun surprise. If she has recovered from some of her injury issues, she could be a good foil to put over Nyla Rose down the road. This was more of a “real” match than I was expecting, and all four were given at least a bit of a chance to shine. I’m not a big fan of Fatal 4 Way matches just by default so they have a ceiling for me, but Kylie Rae in particular looked great and put on a memorable performance. Nyla felt like the forgotten wrestler as Awesome Kong got most of the power spots, so it will be interesting to see where the division goes from here. Solid match, a few issues here and there but overall a good start to their women’s division. ***
— TDE Wrestling (@tde_wrestling) May 26, 2019
Best Friends def. Angelico & Jack Evans
Steve: The action on this show has been GREAT so far. This match was no different. This was the The Best Friends vs Jack Evans in a lot of ways. Angelico looked lost at times but not so much to take away from the match. The Best Friends looked really good with their double teams and Jack Evans takes a beating like no other. Evans backflip off of Angelico to the outside was outstanding. The Best Friends hit Evans with a Double Stomp assisted Cruchie for the win. Another strong match.
The post match we are greeted to the Super Smash Bros after the place goes dark. Not sure what their minions (goombas?) were, but they looked good destroying everyone in the ring. The crowd chanting “Who are you?” isn’t ideal, but still a good debut. Big DC’s Rating: ***½ Steve’s Rating: ***1/2
Kevin: I don’t think any wrestler in the world gets beaten up as well as Jack Evans does. He makes everyone he is against look so good and this match was no exception, I’m not the biggest Best Friends fan but they looked great here partly due to Evans bumping around like a mad man. For as good as Jack Evans was, Angelico didn’t look as into the match, which may be why Evans did the bulk of the work. They did the crowd pleasing spots and went home without taking up too much time, since this match was more about the post-match than anything else. An enjoyable match but with the bigger story happening with the debut of Super Smash Bros. ***
Hikaru Shida, Riho and Ryo Mizunami def. Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki and Emi Sakura
Steve: The Aja Kong/Manami Toyota matches are incredible matches. Seeing her in this match is really cool. Yes, she’s far removed from that level, but she still brings a level of mystique amongst many of theses relatively unknown Joshi wrestlers. This started out slow, but picked up towards the end. I had to explain to my dad how a 21 year old could possibly have 13 years experience, so that was fun. Not the balls out Joshi match many were hoping for, but gave us enough to feel excited about things moving forward. This did have lots of action, but wasn’t as smooth as I’ve seen in a lot of Joshi matches. BIG DC’s Rating: *** Steve’s Rating: **3/4
Kevin: As a self-proclaimed Joshi expert, I think this was a great introduction to new fans of what some of the best Joshi wrestlers currently on the scene have to offer. I generally disagree with fans that talk about “Joshi style” as Joshi wrestling has a wide range of styles, and I think in this match they showed this with a good mixture of strength, speed, and high flying spread throughout. The crowd started quiet but got into it really quick, especially with Aja Kong being Aja Kong. A true legend. Even though these six do not usually wrestle each other as most come different promotions, you wouldn’t know it as they worked well together. The bell ringing botch wasn’t their fault and the wrestlers recovered pretty quickly even if it did hurt the flow for a moment. A great display by all six, with Kong being the standout but Riho and Emi Sakura leaving their mark as well. With Shida signed up long term and Riho short term, I’m looking forward to where the Joshi wrestlers go in AEW from here. ****
— TDE Wrestling (@tde_wrestling) May 26, 2019
Cody def. Dustin Rhodes
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) May 26, 2019
Steve: Cody taking a sledgehammer to the throne was cool and hokey all in the same. The “Dusty” chants to begin and Dustin almost choking up was chill inducing and fantastic. The was an epic strait out of 1988 that Dusty would have been proud of. He might have told Dustin not to blade so deep, but my god what gorgeous brutality it created. Once Brandi was thrown out, this went next level. Dustin gave everything he had in this match. He was always the cleanest, but the drive and heart he showed had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Dustin is 4 years younger than my dad and doing flips to the floor. Cody was an unbelievable prick in this. The prodigal son was getting booed out the building by his own followers. The near falls at the end were incredible. Cody had to kill him dead to finally put away his older brother. I loved this. The post match with Cody choking up, sent it home for me. Beautiful stuff. BIG DC’s Rating: ****½ Steve’s Rating: ****1/2
Kevin: Up to this point, most of the matches on this card have felt like exhibitions or introductions. That is to be expected on a promotion’s first event, there is nothing wrong with it, but this is the first match that felt like a real struggle. Nothing flashy for the sake of being flashy, but a more methodical match with meaning behind what they were doing. Dustin clearly still has something in the tank and Cody playing the heel role was definitely the way to go. I hate to say a match is “old school” as it sounds like an insult but to me it isn’t – between the blood, Brandi being sent to the back, the slow beat down to the comeback it all felt like something Dusty would have participated in during his prime. I really loved this, I love the style and the atmosphere. It may have gone a smidge long with the 2.999s at the end but I am willing to overlook that in a battle like this one, a must-see match and an effort for the ages from Dustin to put on a great show. ****1/2
"I don't need a partner… I don't need a friend… I need my older brother!"
— TDE Wrestling (@tde_wrestling) May 26, 2019
AAA World Tag Team Championships
The Young Bucks (c) def. The Lucha Bros
Steve: So do you think these guys might be able to appeal to a larger audience? Do you think this could catch on? My dad had no idea who these dudes were but was out of his chair at least 4 times during that insanity. This match was all sorts of bananas. The story at the beginning was the Bucks being a little rusty. They did look a step slow, but they are so freaking good at this pro wrestling stuff that they probably meant it that way. Both teams emptied the tank on this one and the crowd was absolute fire for every second of it. There may have been too many near falls at the end, but that’s a minor nitpick. The Bucks retain after the Meltzer Driver. I guess we will wait for their new finisher. Also worth noting, JR has been GREAT on this show. The matching of him and Excalibur has been outstanding. BIG DC’s Rating: ****¾ Steve’s Rating: ****¾
Kevin: I am picturing a fan watching this having never seen the Lucha Bros before and having their minds blown. As one of the few Lucha Underground fans in the world I am very familiar with Pentagon and Fenix, and this was them at their best as The Young Bucks are the ideal foil for their type of offense. After a fast start they were smart to slow it down some, but it didn’t last long as it turned into a spot fest (at least both teams have fantastic spots). The piledriver on the apron got me out of my chair, some crazy stuff here. The pacing felt off, especially towards the end as it went longer than it should have, but the actioned stayed on point. Even though I’ve seen most of it before I am still in awe of how good both teams are at what they do. If you love their style you’ll love this match, I’d recommend seeking it out for its insanity and innovation if nothing else. ****1/4
— TDE Wrestling (@tde_wrestling) May 26, 2019
— 𝓜𝓮𝓷𝓰𝓮𝓽𝓼𝓾 (@MattsLegacy) May 26, 2019
Chris Jericho def. Kenny Omega
Steve: The faces of Jericho entrance was a nice touch. Fozzy still stinks. My dad during Omega’s entrance, “What do you know about this guy?” Let me tell you sir….
So this was a great match, but after the two matches that preceded it, it needed to be all time great. It wasn’t. There was a lot of good stuff here. Kenny looked good despite the long layoff. Jericho did very well, but probably shouldn’t be having many 20+ minute non gimmick matches anymore. His age krept up at times, but he still delivered the goods. That finish though? I get that he’s a known commodity, but i don’t know if you want to have Kenny Omega lose clean on your first show.
And then JON MOXLEY pulls a Scott Hall and enters through the crowd to an Austin like pop. DDT’s Jericho, DDT’s a ref, and brawls with Omega through the crowd, leading to a DDT on the poker chips. A STAR is born. A company is born. This is going to be fun. BIG DC’s Rating: ****¾ Steve’s Rating: ****
Kevin: What a way to end the show, even though I don’t think it reached “epic” status it was still an entertaining match. In a way this felt like a combination of the last two matches, with the drama/layout of the Dustin match but with some of the big spots from the Lucha Bros and Young Bucks sprinkled in. Or at least that is what they were attempting. Anyway, I loved the strikes by Omega and how he never could quite hit his big finisher to put Jericho away, but they got a bit sloppy towards the end and by the last few minutes the match had started to wear out its welcome. Some spots such as anything with the tables looked cool but were ultimately meaningless, at times it felt like they had two different styles of matches going on at the same time. I’m glad I knew about Jericho’s new finisher or I would have been really confused, the ending came out of nowhere and was a bit flat but since he had talked it up beforehand at least it wasn’t completely out of left field. It didn’t peak as high as the last two matches and the last five minutes or so just didn’t click with me, but overall still an enjoyable match and a fine way to end AEW’s first official event. ***3/4