Unlike Raw, which I’ve done reviews for under the guise of “Monday Night Ryan,” AEW’s Double or Nothing doesn’t give me a clever pun name. So I’m taking a SNL approach and running with it. Here’s hoping I get to have Tuesday Night Ryanamite. Anyway, 12 hours removed from AEW’s first show, here’s my Ryview.
Saturday Night Ryan: AEW Double or Nothing Review
The Buy In
Casino Battle Royal (Winner gets AEW Title Shot)
Winner- Hangman Adam Page
I loved this battle royal. From the very beginning, it was just a ton of fun. Reportedly, the show did over 200,000 buys, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this sold a lot of people on dropping the extra dough. My favorite parts were MJF being a dick, Jimmy Havoc doing Jimmy Havoc things, and Shawn “Don’t call me Tye Dillenger” Spears getting his moment in the sun. The only reason I don’t drop more Woos on this bout was the production problems.
I felt like I was missing a lot of the action because of some poor camera work, and the announce team was clueless. Unfortunately, production issues would continue throughout the night, which you should expect from a debut show.
Sammy Guevara vs. Kip Sabian
Winner- Kip Sabian
I’ll confess, I hadn’t seen a Kip Sabian match before this show, and I was impressed. He’s very smooth, a lot of fun to watch, and very charismatic. Something about Sammy Guevara has never really clicked with me, maybe it’s that I think of Matthew Broderick every time I look at him.
Anyway, it was a good enough match. Didn’t reinvent the wheel, but was better than most WWE pre-show matches.
Double or Nothing
SCU (Christopher Daniels, Scorpio Sky, and Frankie Kazarian) vs. Strong Hearts (Cima, T-Hawk, and El Lindaman)
So I know SCU are synonymous with The Elite at this point, and they deserve to stand in the sun and enjoy the fruits of their labor, but at some point, the “worst town I’ve ever been in” spot has to go back to being sincere, right? They got over by burying every town, and the cheap pop feels… well… cheap.
As for the match itself, it was great. The OWE guys all shined, and Christopher Daniels just refused to put age over, looking as good as ever. I really like starting a show with a six-man tag because it’s fast-paced and gets the crowd warmed up. Fun bout, and I look forward to seeing more from OWE.
Dr. Britt Baker vs. Kylie Rae vs. Nyla Rose vs. Awesome Kong
Winner- Dr. Britt Baker
I’ll admit, I popped huge for the surprising addition of Awesome Kong, as I wasn’t expecting it at all, but the match itself left a lot to be desired. Neither of the monsters really dominated for a long enough period of time to be taken seriously, and the addition of Kong made Nyla Rose’s impact practically meaningless.
There were a few uncomfortably bad botches, but Baker’s superkick, which literally knocked the bow out of Smiley Kylie Rae’s hair, was fantastic. It was a solid match, but it didn’t send the message about women’s wrestling that Brandi Rhodes had promised us.
The Best Friends vs. Jack Evans and Angelico
Winner- The Best Friends
I enjoyed 80% of this match. Both teams are gifted, and I don’t think I’ve ever watched a match with Chucky T that didn’t make me laugh at loud at one point or another. However, towards the end of the bout, the no-selling got a little out of hand. There were two or three times when I thought the match was over, and too many false finishes waters down a match for me.
It would’ve been a solid 7/10, but then the Super Smash Bros appeared and attacked both teams at the end, and nobody on the announce team knew who they were. Why do you even have an announce team if they don’t know who the talent is? They’re supposed to be the ones walking the fans through the experience and they dropped the ball on what could’ve been a cool debut.
Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki, and Emi Sakura vs. Hikaru Shida, Riho, and Ryo Mizunami
Winner- Hikaru Shida, Riho, and Ryo Mizunami
I loved this match. The wrestling was so smooth, Aja Kong got the legend treatment, and Emi Sakura’s Freddie Mercury cosplay had the entire crowd singing “We Will Rock You.” I’ve seen a lot of negative reception to this bout, but I thought it might’ve been the best match of the evening. It wasn’t perfect, because surprise, surprise, there were production issues, including a premature bell-ringing. But I think the in-ring work was great enough to save the match.
Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes
Cody’s controversial sledgehammer-to-throne entrance rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but I thought it was poignant and hilarious. He came here to kill the attitude era, and apparently Cody takes it seriously if you call AEW a pissant company.
Beyond that, we got a match that was surprisingly emotionally charged. Callbacks to both men’s WWE tenures, some shockingly impressive action from the 50 year old Dustin Rhodes, and ton of blood elevated this match. When Cody finally won with Crossrhodes, covered in his brother’s blood, and he asked Dustin to team with him, one last time, against the Young Bucks, I may or may not have teared up.
“I don’t need a tag team partner, I don’t need a friend, I need a brother”
The Young Bucks vs. The Lucha Bros for the AAA World Tag Team Championships
Winner- The Young Bucks
And the Woo’s kept on coming, because two of the best tag teams in the world faced off in an absolute banger. We didn’t get to see the new finisher (though I really think it’s some combination of the Superkick and the Pedigree), but the Bucks did eventually retain by hitting the Meltzer Driver for the win. Everyone shined in this match, but it was Matt Jackson that really stole the match for me.
Nick has always been considered the more athletic of the Young Bucks, but it was Matt that really shined for me. I don’t know, I loved it. I expected nothing but the absolute best from these two teams and I wasn’t disappointed.
Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho (Winner gets AEW Title Shot)
Winner- Chris Jericho
In a rematch of their WrestleKingdom 12 match, the best professional wrestlers in the history of Winnipeg faced off in the main event of the very first All Elite Wrestling show. I don’t know, it was good. There were some great spots, and Kenny Omega did his crazy Kenny Omega things, but it felt like it was missing something.
Omega never landed the One Winged Angel, and Jericho did win clean, but even when Jericho won, I never really bought it. Jericho kinda hit his new finish, the Judas Effect, out of nowhere, but it fell flat to me. Maybe it was just the five hour wrestling show catching up to me, but I wasn’t crazy about this match.
Jericho winning makes sense, because a heel vs. babyface program to debut a new title always works best, but the most exciting part of this bout happened after the bell rung.
Y2J was pontificating about how great he was when Jon Moxley, formerly WWE’s Dean Ambrose came out of the crowd (swear I’ve seen that somewhere before) and attacked everyone. The last show of Double or Nothing is a crazed Moxley, smiling atop a stack of poker chips on the stage.
Woo Counter- 64/90 (71%)
Honestly, I would’ve rated a lot of these matches higher if I’d been there in person. The announce team, with the exception of Excalibur, was horrible. I love Jim Ross, but he buries the product while not even knowing the names of the wrestlers in the ring. At least Good Ol’ JR has a history of excellent announcing to make his performance excusable, Alex Marvez was dreadful. He was an incredible beat writer, and a respected sports journalist, but his performance on the microphone wasn’t great.
The actual wrestling was pretty fantastic across the board, and with the exception of a very twitchy bell-ringer, they didn’t have a ton of production issues. All in all, a very good show that exceeded all my expectations.