All Elite Wrestling
Double or Nothing 2023
May 28, 2023
Watch: PPV, B/R Live & FITE
Meet our reviewers
Sean Sedor: Well, with NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 postponed to tomorrow due to weather, that freed me up to watch Double Or Nothing live, right from the start. A silver lining in every dark cloud, I guess! You can find me on Twitter @SASedor2994. If you’re interested in some of my other escapades, you can watch me play the Formula 1 games on YouTube (just search my name), and you can also go to the Be The Booker forums if you’d like to check out my EWR Diary, where I play as WCW (started in 1998, currently in the Autumn of 2001).
Jesse Collings: I’m prepping for a momentous Game 7 between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat by watching Double or Nothing. I’m the host of The Gentlemen’s Wrestling Podcast and co-host Wrestlenomics.
The Hardys & HOOK def. Ethan Page & The Gunns
Sean: Second AEW PPV in a row where we’ve had only one match on The Buy-In with the rest of the hour being taken up by a panel and video packages. Not sure how I feel about that. Anyway, if The Hardys and HOOK win this match, then they take ownership of Ethan Page’s contract. The babyface were in control during the early moments of the bout until The Gunns managed to isolate HOOK for a bit. He eventually made the tag to Matt Hardy, who ran wild until Ethan Page and The Gunns went after the injured Isiah Kassidy. Jeff Hardy then tagged in, and took a nasty fall on a Whisper In The Wind attempt after he appeared to hurt his ankle. The match broke down from there, and when the dust settled, HOOK submitted Ethan Page for the win. This was a below average match for sure. Jeff in particular was just bad out there. Couple that with a feud and a stipulation that pretty much nobody cares about, and it’s pretty hard to get excited for a match like this. I guess we’ll see what shenanigans will come out of this with Ethan Page’s contract now being owned by The Hardys. A giant pile of MEH all around. **1/4
Fred: This lasted 15 minutes and it felt like 30. Of all the matches I’ve ever seen, this was definitely one of them. At least the pre-show gave us M’lady Khan. *1/2
AEW International Title – Blackjack Battle Royal
Winner: Orange Cassidy
Sean: Pretty much the entire field got to have their entrances during the final minutes of The Buy-In. Right off the bat, we’ve got several wrestlers who refused to enter the ring once the match got started (most notably Swerve Strickland and Brian Cage who were just standing on the ramp), which was annoying. The first portion of the bout gave the luchadores in the match a ton of shine (though this did include a horrible comment on commentary from Jim Ross). After several minutes, Swerve FINALLY entered the match and tried to go after Keith Lee. That program (along with the Ricky Starks vs. Bullet Club Gold feud) were continued in this match, as one would’ve expected.
After a multitude of eliminations, the final four were Big Bill, Pentagon Jr., Swerve Strickland, and Orange Cassidy. Big Bill tossed out Penta, leading to the heels double-teaming the AEW International Champion. It appeared that Swerve was going to let Big Bill take care of Cassidy, but Swerve….well….swerved him, and sent him over the top. This led to a GREAT sequence between Orange and Swerve before Orange scored the final elimination in the most Orange Cassidy way possible (lazily kicking Swerve’s arm as he was hanging on for dear life). On the whole, this was a super entertaining battle royal with a strong closing stretch. Once it got down to the final two (and I guess this is partly due to Swerve being a believable winner), the crowd was very hot. They were really living and dying with those exchanges between Orange and Swerve in the final moments. It wasn’t the perfect AEW Battle Royal by any means, but it was entertaining for sure. Orange Cassidy’s lengthy (and awesome) reign as AEW International Champion continues. ***1/2
Fred: Jim Ross opened this show by rapidly trying to get himself canceled by declaring that all luchadores are related.
This show continued a lot of storylines with Kip Sabian pursuing Orange Cassidy specifically until the Best Friends took him out; Ricky Starks and Bullet Club Gold continuing to have issues; and Trent Beretta taking a bullet for Orange Cassidy. Swerve Strickland waited forever to enter the ring before immediately going after Keith Lee, hopefully reigniting their feud and giving them the opportunity to reclaim all their momentum from their great tag team run. Highlights included the other luchadores letting Bandido do a stalling vertical suplex by fighting off heels, Ricky Starks’ massive bump on his elimination off a Big Bill big boot, and Dustin Rhodes hitting a destroyer on the apron on Brian Cage.
The final four of Big Bill, Swerve Strickland, Orange Cassidy, and Penta was great. The crowd was extremely invested in Orange Cassidy’s attempts to retain, and his slow kicking Swerve’s away from the rope was nice. ***1/2
Jesse: AEW has a lot of wrestlers who are not always featured each weekly on television, but remain over with the live audience and are very talented. That means that the battle royal, which typically has a lot of roster filler making up the ranks, ends up having a lot of really good people in the match. This was really a star-studded affair with a lot of overqualified names showing out.
Orange Cassidy’s International title run is perhaps my favorite current storyline in wrestling. Each week he comes out, wrestles a great match, and narrowly squeaks out a victory while selling his ass off and telling the story that he is being worn down to a nub defending the title each week. His victory tonight, needing the referee to prop himself up after barely being able to eliminate Swerve, was perhaps his most impressive so far.
The closing stretch of any battle royal can be challenging. The rest of the match is fairly easy to lay out, with wrestlers taking turns hitting their signature moves and getting tossed from the ring. But adequately setting up convincing near falls when the match can only end by getting tossed over the top rope and both feet hitting the floor can be hard. This match was able to really get there, with Swerve and Orange having an extended final stretch with both guys convincingly selling potential elimination before Orange finally finished off Swerve in trademark fashion. ***3/4
Unsanctioned Match – Special Guest Enforcer: Sabu
Adam Cole def. Chris Jericho
Sean: I’m curious to see how these guys are going to be able to differentiate this from Anarchy In The Arena. This one pretty much starts off as a five-on-three handicap match with Sabu, Roderick Strong, and The Jericho Appreciation Society brawling with Chris Jericho and Adam Cole at ringside. This early brawl sees Sabu come off the top rope to put both Matt Menard and Angelo Parker through a table at ringside (that man is 58 Years Old and just had a health scare not that long ago). Sabu and Strong sent the rest of the JAS to the back, leaving both Cole and Jericho alone in the ring.
Jericho took a nasty spill to the floor at one point when Cole sent him to the outside. It appeared as though Jericho might’ve been hurt, but he continued the match, so I guess he’s more-or-less alright. After the two battled with a fire extinguisher, Jericho went to hit Cole with a kendo stick. However, he was cut off by Britt Baker, who ran down and smashed Jericho with her own kendo stick multiple times (she also chased off Saraya with the kendo stick when she tried to get involved). Jericho regained control after sending Cole through a table on the floor, and followed this up by bringing out a chair with cuffs on each end. Cole was able to hit a couple of superkicks, The Boom, The Boom with the chain (which didn’t look great), and then some ground-and-pound which didn’t look that good. Aubrey Edwards called for the bell, and that was it.
I’m someone who will always appreciate effort, and the effort was definitely there, but this just did not come off that well. The crowd seemed quiet at various points, the action was generally on the slow side, and the finish in particular was weak (that might’ve been the worst part). In many ways, it felt like the type of hardcore match you’d see either on main roster WWE or in NXT (main roster WWE would probably do a better one on a big stage with the right guys….and they actually did put on a better one at Backlash in a match that involved a world famous musician). Not a great night for either guy. Cole winning seems to put an end to this feud, so I guess we’ll see where both him and Jericho go from here. A very disappointing match. **1/2
Fred: I cannot believe Sabu and Adam Cole have ever had a conversation about anything ever. It is very unfortunate that Jim Ross does not know who the referee is in this match, with a person in the ring with a ref shirt that is notable for not being Sabu.
Sabu doing a splash through a table was unexpected. Unfortunately, he had the most energy of anyone in this match until Britt Baker came running out with a kendo stick and laid them into Jericho & Saraya.
This was slow as hell and felt like it would never end. The two people in the match had absolutely no energy. The stoppage finish with Cole’s ground and pound was ruined by Cole’s weak looking punches. Plus JR is on his way to one of the worst announcing performances ever. I would have to be given a really good hamburger to make up for this thing. Skip this. *
Jesse: I was higher on the build for this match than most; so I was really surprised the crowd wasn’t into this at all. Right from the start, the crowd was dead and barring Britt Baker’s brief appearance, they never seemed to get into the match. I believe that Adam Cole and certainly Chris Jericho are among the biggest stars in the company, but the crowd had no interest in either of them.
The match was slow and melodramatic, in the style of Cole’s more polarizing NXT work. This was hampered by Jericho just being slow in a way he rarely has been in big matches, struggling to take moves and move around the ring in the way people have come to expect from him. Jericho goes out and takes every bump a younger man would take, but maybe it’s time for him to tone it down a bit because he was really off his game trying to work this kind of match.
The finish in theory I like; Cole beating Jericho to a pulp, so badly it ends via referee stoppage. But Cole’s strikes at the end looked fake, and there was no heat from the crowd as he pummeled Jericho. When the referee called for the bell, nobody popped for Cole winning. This was a complete disaster if you are high on Cole being a future world champion in AEW. *½
AEW World Tag Team Titles – Special Guest Referee: Mark Briscoe
FTR (c) def. Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett
Sean: I love Mark Briscoe’s custom referee shirt. Awesome stuff. The first portion of this match was a pretty basic affair as Mark called it down the middle. All of the wrestling was solid, but unspectacular. The bout finally took a turn when Mark ejected Sonjay Dutt and Satnam Singh. Jarrett went to hit (I think) FTR Bald with a guitar, but he hit Mark with the guitar by accident. FTR appear to have the match won after hitting the Shatter Machine, though with Mark down, there’s nobody to count. Aubrey Edwards tries to run down, but Sonjay blocks her, which leads to Karen Jarrett hitting Aubrey with a guitar shot! That woke the crowd up big time. Some more exchanges in the ring led to a nearfall with Jarrett once Mark recovered, but FTR survived. Jarrett argued with Mark, and Mark retorted with a shot of his own, which led Jarret right into the Shatter Machine, and that was it. While this by no means great, it was relatively solid, and definitely a step up from the previous match. The wrestling throughout was decent, though things definitely picked up in the final few minutes. The shenanigans actually enhanced the match, which isn’t something you see very often. I’m hopeful that with this feud finishing up, we can get back to having stronger matches for the AEW World Tag Team Titles. I guess time will tell on that one. ***
Fred: Mark Briscoe’s has cutoff sleeves and camo stripes, what an absolute king. Sonjay Dutt’s jacket is astonishing as well.
This was a mixed bag. Several spots were really ugly, but the closing sequence was a fantastic trip to the circus, with all kinds of Memphis nonsense getting the crowd really invested in this match. Karen Angle did a great job on the outside in particular. But this was too much of a mess early on to really make this great. ***1/4
Jesse: After the tag titles were on The Gunns, we had to accept that the titles were on an unserious team for the first time. FTR winning the titles back seems to ensure that the tag titles were back on track, going back to the main event-level matches that established the titles as a major prize in AEW.
Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal have more credibility than The Gunns, but at the same time they are not the workrate tag team like FTR, The Young Bucks or The Lucha Brothers are. Having this match be the PPV tag title defense is not the kind of direction I want the division to go in; and this is now the third straight PPV Jarrett has managed to get booked on, and while I’ve enjoyed the Jeff Jarrett run in AEW more than I thought I would, that is probably too many Jarrett PPV appearances.
That being said, the sports entertainment shenanigans that Jeff and Karen Jarrett provided during this match really popped the crowd and turned a cold match into a match with a good near fall and a hot finish. After the crowd had been pretty dead during Cole/Jericho, this match managed to peak and FTR got a great reaction for retaining. ***
TNT Title – Ladder Match
Wardlow (c) def. Christian Cage
Sean: Christian Cage is wrestling in a sleeveless turtleneck, which rocks. A few minutes in, Wardlow set up some tables on the floor, and tried to put Christian through them with a big senton off the top rope, but Christian bailed before Wardlow had the chance to connect. Christian then crotched Wardlow on a ladder bridge that was set up between the ring and the barricade. The two did more spots with the various ladder, but a major turning point occurred when Wardlow tried to leap from the turnbuckle to a ladder in the ring while Christian was still on it. The ladder couldn’t support them, and they crashed and burned in a pretty nasty way.
While both were down, we got a weird spot where Arn Anderson bit the thumb of Luchasaurus. This would set up a HUGE moment on the floor where Wardlow did the Jeff Hardy WrestleMania 2000 spot as he took Luchasaurus out with a senton off a ladder through tables on the floor. Christian tried to capitalize in the ring, but Arn tipped the ladder over, sending Christian to a waiting Wardlow, who caught him and hit a powerbomb before ascending the ladder to capture his title. This was a very violent match when all was said and done. A number of insane and dangerous spots involving guys who you wouldn’t exactly expect to be doing spots like this (Wardlow is a bigger dude and Christian is a guy who’s been through A TON of ladder matches and was retired for a number of years). This was far from a great match, but they worked pretty hard and put their bodies on the line. I thought there was a chance we might see a title change, but I have no issues with Wardlow retaining. ***1/2
Fred: We have a tactical turtleneck.
This was a mixed bag of a match as well, with some long pauses between spots,a pretty contrived spot with Arn Anderson biting Luchasaurus so hard he “drew” “blood”, and a broken ladder completely derailing things for a bit. But there were some really impressive spots with Wardlow hitting a swanton off a ladder through a table onto the dinosaur man and Christian Cage getting knocked off a ladder into Wardlow catching him and powerbombing. I think the good outweighed the bad here, but this still felt like it was a disappointment. ***1/2
Jesse: For all the talk about AEW doing too many ladder matches; singles ladder matches are pretty rare. There have only been two prior singles ladder matches in AEW, and there hasn’t been one in more than a year. The psychology and lay-out of a singles ladder match is very different than the typical multi-man scramble style match, and it was refreshing to see that kind of match performed here.
I thought this was great. If the goal was to make Wardlow look awesome, which it almost certainly was, they did a great job. Wardlow got two hugely memorable moments, hitting a giant swanton dive from the top rung of a ladder, and the cool powerbomb finish after catching Christian off the ladder. He looked cool as fuck. ****
AEW Women’s World Title
Toni Storm def. Jamie Hayter (c)
Sean: Coming in, I had a feeling that (while Jamie Hayter’s injury status), we might get a situation where the match is more of an angle that served to just get the title off of Jamie without stripping her or doing the interim title nonsense. Well, that’s exactly what we got. The rest of The Outcasts, Britt Baker, and Hikaru Shida all got involved, though in the end, Toni Storm won the title in a few minutes with her Storm Zero piledriver. Just before that, Jamie took a bump into the exposed turnbuckle that looked awful (she basically ran into it, making her look like a foot in the process). Really can’t effectively rate this since it was essentially an angle described as a match. Could’ve been pulled off better, certainly, but that’s what it was. Hopefully Jamie won’t be out for too long (fingers crossed on that one). I would hate it if she wasn’t on the Wembley show. N/R
Fred: They made a big deal out of Jamie Hayter’s arm, it was constantly targeted, and despite very late “saves” by faces, the heels stuck around and cheated to let Toni Storm win. This was an angle disguised as a match. What they did was good, but it was extremely rushed. If you were expecting the match these two should give you, you’d be extremely disappointed. *3/4, but that’s more on the time limitations than anything to do with actual work.
Jesse: This was less of a match and more of an angle to get the title off of Jamie Hayter and on to Toni Storm. That could be considered a disappointment, since the ceiling for this match is that it could be the best women’s match in AEW history. Instead, we got an interference-laden match, where Hayter fought valiantly but was ultimately beaten fairly quickly by Toni Storm.
The finish of the match was pretty cold, as fans live in attendance probably figured they were cheated out of what should have been a really good match. Despite Hayter losing the title, there was hardly any heat for Storm and the rest of the Outcasts celebrating in the ring. That being said, this is all likely setting up to a huge climax where Hayter regains the title in front of 65,000+ fans in London in a few months, which should be amazing. **
AEW World Trios Titles – Open House Rules
The House Of Black (c) def. The Acclaimed & Billy Gunn
Sean: As we all expected, The Acclaimed answered The House Of Black’s open challenge. We got an awesome rap from Max Caster which featured some very spicy lines. The rap ended with Max declaring that they didn’t need to add their own special rule. This was very similar to the FTR match in that the wrestling was fine, albeit basic for the most part. However, this one did tell a nice story with House Of Black working over the leg of Anthony Bowens. That part of the match ended up being very effective, as it got the crowd really into Bowens going for the hot tag to Billy Gunn (which was cut off a few times). Daddy Ass eventually made that tag, and the crowd went nuts as he ran wild. That rally was short lived, however, as he was cut off and pinned shortly thereafter. Another fine, but unspectacular match on this card. Not much else to say about it. A very weak AEW PPV up to this point. **3/4
Fred: Thank God The Acclaimed are here to wake the crowd up. Unfortunately, they decided to work a very long limb work segment on Anthony Bowens in front of a crowd that had not reacted to that all night. This was absolutely the wrong style of match to work, and was frankly boring with a dead, bad crowd. An utter disappointment. *
Jesse: The Acclaimed rap at the start of the match was great; go try and find it if you didn’t listen to it live. After that though, the fun ended, as unlike most Acclaimed matches, there wasn’t a lot of fun or joy. Outside of a brief Billy Gunn hot tag, and an early exchange between Malakai Black and Anthony Bowens, this match was almost all limb-work, with House of Black wearing down Bowens and teasing a hot tag.
This match underachieved, and kind of hammered home a theme with most of the undercard matches on this show. **1/2
Jade Cargill (c) def. Taya Valkyrie
Sean: Jade Cargill came out dancing with AKA, which is a very famous African American sorority. Pretty cool, I guess. This one got some dueling chants early on, which I did not expect to hear in this particular match. At one stage, Jade connected with a very nice spinebuster, but Taya would respond by countering a springboard from Jade (yes, Jade tried a springboard). This led to Taya hitting the Road To Valhalla, which Jade managed to kick out of in a great nearfall. Jade would recover and successfully hit Jaded to score the victory. Without question this was one of Jade’s better title bouts to date. For whatever reason, she and Taya work well together, and they were able to produce some solid drama near the end. Not a ton to complain about with this one. ***1/4
Fred: No one would have predicted that Jade Cargill & Taya Valkyrie would save this show, but that’s exactly what they did. Their match wasn’t picture perfect, but it had something that nothing else on this show has had which was energy. They went for it the entire time and easily had the best match of the night. A highlight was Taya hitting a codebreaker on a springboarding Jade Cargill. Jade is now 60-0. ***3/4
Jesse: Almost against all odds, this match completely delivered. A mostly lukewarm crowd was into the match from the get-go, and the fact that both women came out and wrestled a pretty traditional match was a welcome contrast from the gimmick-heavy matches that had filled up the undercard.
I was not a fan of signing Valkyrie, I don’t rate her very highly and she is older and has limited potential to get better. That being said, she has proven to be a good opponent for Jade and she did a good job getting her strength and physicality over as a true challenger for Jade, putting Jade in serious trouble for what felt like the first time ever. ***
Kris Statlander def. Jade Cargill (c)
Sean: After the Taya match, Jade and Smart Mark Sterling issued another open challenge (like they’ve been doing), and it was answered by none other than the returning Kris Statlander! The crowd went nuts when the bell rang, and within about two minutes, Statlander hit the Friday Night Fever to capture the TBS Title! This whole match/segment produced what was easily one of the best reactions of the night. The crowd was excited to see Statlander back, and they went crazy when she captured the title. Very happy to see that she’s finally back, and I’m intrigued to see where this title goes now that it’s finally held by someone other than Jade. N/R
Fred: This was the loudest the crowd got all night. We had the surprise return of Kris Statlander after Mark Sterling issued an open challenge, and the crowd lost their mind. They had an awesome little 2 minute sprint which ended when Stat hit her finisher for the win. No rating, but this and the previous match were the highlight of the night so far. NR
Jesse: This was a spontaneous and great moment. The crowd popped big for Statlander’s return, and once the bell rang the crowd came more alive than for anything else up until that point. It felt wild, out of control, unexpected, and everything good about a pro wrestling show. The fact that it happened with a Jade Cargill match was incredibly unexpected.
It was time for Jade to lose, her title reign was going nowhere and Statlander getting a big push and setting up a real feud with Jade should be beneficial for both performers. One thing I hope isn’t forgotten though is how good Taya Valkyrie did in pushing Jade earlier, that helped sell the match as a bigger deal. NR
AEW World Title – Four-Way Match
MJF (c) def. Darby Allin, “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry, & Sammy Guevara
Sean: Tay Melo came out with Sammy Guevara during his entrance, and they used Sammy’s old cue card gimmick to announce that they’re expecting! A shame that Tay will be out of the ring indefinitely, but wonderful news for them obviously. Darby had one of his signature videos before his entrance, and MJF’s entrance featured him in a throne that came down from the ceiling.
The action was fast and furious to start. All three challengers hit a series of big dives to the floor, which culminated with Sammy hitting a Shooting Star Press off the top. We got to see Sammy run wild some more before MJF finally hit his first sustained bit of offense during the match (he was also swearing a lot when people were hitting offense on him, which was pretty funny). He tried one more time to bait Sammy with the bribe, and Sammy only accepted so he could catch MJF with a small package. Thankfully, the action picked back up again from there. Four-Way submission spots, multiple Canadian Destroyers, Darby clotheslining guys over the barricade, MJF powerbombing Darby off the top rope….it’s pure insanity.
Towards the end of the bout, Jack Perry contemplated using the AEW World Title as a weapon. He decided against it, and it led to Darby getting a nearfall on Jack with the Last Supper. After getting rid of Sammy, Darby went for the Coffin Drop, but MJF put the World Title on Jack. Darby landed on the title, MJF tossed Jack to the side, and MJF pinned the injured Darby with a side headlock takeover and retained his title. This bout was the shot of adrenaline that this show desperately needed. The first (and so far for me, the only) notebook match on the entire card. They went a million miles an hour with every crazy move that you could imagine. While the outcome was never really in doubt, the action throughout was nothing short of excellent, and made up for the fact that we all knew MJF was retaining. After how most of this PPV has gone so far, I was in desperate need of a wild match with tons of MOVEZ, and this was it. ****1/4
Fred: We finally had the match this crowd was looking for, which was a lot of energy. There were some really goofy spots, but this was much more satisfying than minutes of leg work in front of a dead crowd. There was a ton of cool stuff in this match, all of which I can’t list. My writing of this has bled into Anarchy in the Arena, which is absolutely impossible to keep up with on its own. Just know that this was a lot of stuff, and it was more fun than it wasn’t. A very fun watch. ****1/4
Jesse: With the exception of the battle royal that opened the show, this was the first match on the show that was really wrestled in the typical AEW house style. While the card was filled with plodding, drama-heavy matches, this was the match that best represented what made AEW’s in-ring so compelling when the company first started. Incredible pace, tons of big moves, great athleticism, it was all there, and the crowd responded by being into it every step of the way.
Sammy Guevara has been the most maligned performer in the build for this match, and rightfully so. Guevara’s identity crisis caused him to turn TWICE in the build, and his awkward babyface promos were one of the things that hurt the momentum of the story AEW was attempting to tell by having four AEW originals wrestle in the world title match on PPV.
Guevara though, was the star of the match. MJF is always the star of the show, but Guevara wrestled with a point to prove, pulling off the most daring spots and unloading the best looking offense as he risked life and limb in what was easily the biggest match of his career. Allin and Jack Perry also held their own doing cool stuff, but Guevara, who felt completely dead as a babyface, likely earned some respect from fans with his performance tonight.
MJF of course, retained the title, and he used his intellect to not only win, but pin Darby Allin with a headlock-takeover, a callback to their previous feuds. The finish was fitting, and also creates another chapter in what has been a brewing lifelong rivalry between the two wrestlers. Eventually Darby will beat MJF, and he will do it with a headlock takeover. ****1/4
Anarchy In The Arena
Blackpool Combat Club def. The Elite
Sean: Thankfully, Tony Khan made the right decision and put this match in the main event. It’s been easily the hottest feud over the last few months, and it absolutely deserves to be in this spot.
So the rendition of Wild Thing this time around was done by a band called Violent Idols, which features a lead singer with a getup that looks suspiciously like black face (pretty sure it’s a black mask with paint on the bottom half of his face, but still….maybe a little too close to blackface for comfort). The initial part of this wild brawl went through the stands and back to ringside before The Young Bucks cut the band off after superkicking the lead singer. The brawl started to get bloody at this point. Rick Knox got busted open at one point, and Moxley wasn’t far behind. Moxley and Omega battled by a giant poker chip covered in barbed wire, while Claudio battled with (I think) Matt Jackson in the concourse area. Eventually, Claudio and Matt brawled to a pickup truck, and Claudio delivered a piledriver in the bed of the truck.
Somehow a leaf blower was used as a weapon, while Omega took a trash can lid and pretended to be Captain America for a second. Matt Jackson returned to the ring and hit a literal exploding superkick. The chaos continues. The BCC take off Matt Jackson’s shoe and drop him foot first into thumbtacks. Nick Jackson eats a cutter into the tacks courtesy of Moxley. Uppercut to Matt with tacks in his mouth. Omega and Page teamed up again for the first time since they lost the tag team titles and ran wild. Everything culminated in Don Callis (who was on commentary) finally getting involved, and just as it looked like Omega was going to get his hands on him, Konosuke Takeshita came in from out of nowhere and struck Omega. This allowed Yuta to come in and strike Omega with the screwdriver, and he followed up with the seatbelt pin to score the win for The BCC. Callis and Takeshita stood tall with the rest of The BCC to close the show.
Of course, this wasn’t nearly as great as the first Anarchy In The Arena Match (certainly didn’t have the same amount of blood). However, this was still a wild and entertaining brawl that featured some great action throughout. Everyone had opportunities to shine, and when it came time for the finish, we got the turn that most of us were expecting to happen (especially after the Callis heel turn). Everything seems to be falling into place for a potential Blood & Guts Match very soon, and the question now is who will be the fifth man to even the odds for The Elite now that Takeshita has turned? Fairly certain we all know who we want that person to be, but time will tell on that one. ****1/2
Fred: First things first, if you ever have anything that looks like blackface, you should immediately stop doing the thing that looks like blackface. The lead singer of the Violent Idols was wearing a mask, with the lower third of his face covered mainly in black face paint (with a touch of red). This was a massive screw up that could have easily been avoided.
This may shock you, but Anarchy in the Arena was extremely anarchic. There were wild brawls everywhere and crazy spots. I think every wrestler bladed by the end of it, Rick Knox bladed a minute in, we had fighting with the band playing until the Young Bucks said no to racism and superkicked the lead singer. Claudio piledrove Matt Jackson in the bed of a pickup. Nick Jackson was locked in a double submission forever while waiting on Matt to return to the arena to make the save and he superkicked Moxley with an exploding boot. I’m just listing the insane stuff that happened. Matt got dropped with his bare foot into a pile of tacks.
The big story is the end of the match has Konosuke Takeshita show up and turn on Omega, hitting him with a jumping knee and allowing Wheeler Yuta to finish off Omega with a sliding screwdriver shot and a pinfall with the Seatbelt. All in all, this was a very fun match that provided a satisfying cap to what was a disappointing show. ****1/2
Jesse: They brawled, they bled, they delivered what was promised.
AEW does a lot of hardcore style matches, including multiple matches on this show. So a lot of thought has to go into Anarchy in the Arena, to advertise one match as THE definitive match of chaos in an inherently chaotic promotion. Leave to Jon Moxley, Bryan Danielson and the Blackpool Combat Club, who came up with a series of bloody spots to do with the members of The Elite, in a rollicking match that started hot and never let up.
Exploding superkicks? Bare feet getting slammed into thumbtacks? Spots onto a barbed-wire covered poker chip, inexplicably a call back to the very first AEW PPV event? Moxley promised carnage like you have never seen before on the go-home episode of Dynamite and Moxley is not a liar; this gave fans exactly what was advertised.
The first Anarchy in the Arena has taken on a legendary status, so it’s hard to think this match topped the first one, but it’s pretty close. The first match was perhaps more organic, and had the benefit of not having to live up to a lofty standard the way this match did. I’d probably rate the first one slightly higher, but this was a worthy successor to the original.
Really, the match is about visuals, and seeing the members of both sides covered in blood, battered and broken but yet still fighting on in a way unique to AEW. WWE has nothing even remotely close to this, and whenever AEW can say that it’s almost always a good thing. ****¼