AEW Double or Nothing
Original Air Date: May 23, 2020
Event Date: May 23, 2020
Commentary: Jim Ross, Excalibur, Tony Schiavone
Ring Announcer: Dasha Gonzalez (1 – 7), Justin Roberts (8)
The stars of AEW give thanks to first responders, and they pay brief tribute to Shad Gaspard. When nothing is certain, anything is possible. We are all essential.
Earlier today Joey Janela, Kip Sabian (with Jimmy Havoc and Penelope Ford), Christopher Daniels (on behalf of Scorpio Sky and Christopher Daniels), and Orange Cassidy (with Best Friends), spoke about winning tonight’s Casino Ladder Match.
Casino Ladder Match
(outside referees: Bryce Remsburg, Rick Knox, Aubrey Edwards, Mike Posey; stipulation: the winner receives and AEW World Title match)
Result: Brian Cage wins
1. Frankie Kazarian
2. Scorpio Sky
3. Kip Sabian w/ Penelope Ford, Jimmy Havoc
4. Darby Allin
5. Orange Cassidy
6. Colt Cabana
7. Joey Janela
9. Brian Cage w/ Taz
Good match. As the rules of the match kind of dictate, it seemed like it took a little while for this to really get going. I don’t dislike the idea of having competitors come to the ring at intervals, but nothing much really happened for the first few minutes while a normal ladder match with this many people would be crazy right from the start. I think this style of ladder match can work though, and tonight’s was fine. The better moments were mostly all in the second half of this nearly 30-minute match though. At times it felt like they were doing a lot of work for not a lot of payoff, but other times I was really into what was happening. Regardless of all of that, I liked the match. This was a fine way to start the show.
Watch Dynamite Wednesdays on TNT.
MJF w/ Wardlow vs Jungle Boy
(referee: Aubrey Edwards)
Result: MJF wins via pinfall with a modified European clutch
This was fine. Maybe I’m not the best person to judge this match though, because I really don’t get the appeal of MJF. His shtick doesn’t seem original or clever to me, and his matches aren’t terribly exciting. This match with Jungle Boy is a great example. Jungle Boy is usually all over the place during a match. His offense is exciting, and he usually has to fight through serious adversity because he’s often the smaller guy in a match. Other than a few short bursts of offense from Jungle Boy late in the match though, this was a slowly paced bout with Jungle Boy falling for some really basic tricks.
MJF faked a completely unconvincing injury just minutes into the match, and Jungle Boy immediately fell for it. Jungle Boy is usually a smart wrestler, but tonight he didn’t seem to pay attention to where he was in the ring which allowed MJF to use the ropes to get out of pin attempts. Jungle Boy didn’t pay attention when he climbed the ropes late in the match which allowed MJF to shove the referee into the ropes. What I’m trying to say is, from my perspective, MJF’s tired shtick forced Jungle Boy to step his game way down in order to make MJF look “clever” and “devious.” On top of all of that, the fact that MJF almost never loses means the result of his matches are pretty much always anti-climactic. It’s one of those situations where I don’t care about seeing MJF lose, and I’d just rather see Jungle Boy wrestle someone else. But hey, maybe I just don’t see what other people see. I’m open to being convinced otherwise.
A look at the buildup to the TNT Title match.
“Iron” Mike Tyson heads to the ring, and he’s holding the TNT Title belt. Lance Archer comes out next, and he’s beating up some guy from backstage. Mike Tyson seems to enjoy that. Jake Roberts follows Archer to the ring. Tyson hands the title belt to referee Bryce Remsburg before going over to ringside. Cody comes out next with Arn Anderson.
TNT Title Tournament Final Match
“The Murderhawk Monster” Lance Archer w/ Jake Roberts vs “The American Nightmare” Cody w/ Arn Anderson
(referee: Bryce Remsburg; at ringside: Mike Tyson)
Result: Cody wins via pinfall after CrossRhodes
Good match, though it felt like it probably should have been about five minutes shorter. Archer started the match by hitting Cody with some huge moves, and that set up a methodical pace to the match where Archer would continue to slowly dominate while Cody struggled for any offense. I liked the ideas in the match, but I think it was paced oddly. There were also a lot of shenanigans near the end of the match that only sort of made sense. For instance, this is one of those 1-in-1000 matches where a second referee decides to watch in the backstage area and then come out to tell the official referee that someone cheated. I think that’s a lame crutch when it comes to inserting story stuff into matches.
It also seemed like they barely told Tyson what to do. He was watching from beside the timekeeper’s table, and he was cheering for Archer at first, chanting for Cody later, and even yawning at one point during the match. He sort got physical at one point, or at least he threatened to get physical, but that whole sequence played out pretty slowly. And unfortunately, that sequence was right before the finish of the match, so the final couple minutes weren’t as exciting as they could have been.
It wasn’t a bad match, but I didn’t think it was great either. It was good, and that’s fine.
Alex Marvez tries to get an update from Dr. Samson on Britt Baker’s condition. Samson says Baker’s injuries are bad, but the patient herself is worse. Samson says Britt Baker is high maintenance. He also says she will announce when she can return to action this Wednesday on Dynamite.
Penelope Ford w/ Kip Sabian vs “The Galaxy’s Greatest Alien” Kris Statlander
(referee: Paul Turner)
Result: Kris Statlander wins via pinfall after the Big Bang Theory
Good match. Statlander again showed her power in this match, but Ford was able to use some tricks and agility to give Statlander a nice fight. This felt like it could have been on Dynamite, but it was good for a last-minute match-up after Britt Baker got injured this past Wednesday.
Shawn Spears heads to the ring, but he’s not dressed to wrestle. Spears is wearing a suit, and he starts to gloat about Dustin Rhodes not even being here tonight. Rhodes’s music plays, and Spears turns to watch the entrance ramp. After a few seconds, Spears laughs. Spears says he couldn’t resist teasing everyone. He then tells referee Aubrey Edwards to start the match and count Rhodes out. Edwards starts the match, but Rhodes’s music begins to play again. Brandi Rhodes comes out from the backstage area, and Rhodes enters the ring behind Spears…
“The Chairman” Shawn Spears vs “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes w/ Brandi Rhodes
(referee: Aubrey Edwards)
Result: Dustin Rhodes wins via pinfall after the Final Reckoning
This was more of an extended comedy bit rather than a match, but I enjoyed it fine.
A promo for AEW’s All out coming September 5.
The commentators mourn the passing of Hana Kimura.
A look at the buildup to the AEW Women’s Title match.
No DQ, No Count Out AEW Women’s World Title Match
Hikaru Shida vs “The Native Beast” Nyla Rose (AEW Women’s Champ)
(referee: Rick Knox)
Result: Hikaru Shida wins via pinfall after a running knee strike, Shida becomes the 3rd AEW Women’s World Champion
Great match. I think this was the first match tonight where I was thoroughly entertained from bell to bell. There wasn’t really any down time in the match, and I thought Rose and Shida told a great story through their actions.
Shida came to the ring looking as serious as she’s ever been in AEW. Rose came into the match supremely confident in her own abilities (as she should), but Shida quickly showed Rose that she would be in for a fight tonight. There was a lot of fighting outside the ring, but it never felt like too much. It all made sense within the context of the match, and all the outside stuff worked to shift momentum and advantages that were then carried back into the ring. Towards the end of the match, Shida pushed hard and showed her fighting spirit, while Rose relied on her own size and strength to stay in the match. This was a great fight, and I’d love to see a rematch sometime.
Watch Dynamite Wednesdays on TNT.
A look at the buildup to the AEW World Title match.
AEW World Title Match
“The Exalted One” Mr. Brodie Lee vs Jon Moxley
(referee: Paul Turner)
Result: Jon Moxley wins via KO with a sleeper hold
Great match. This was a hard-hitting, physical fight that built up more and more as it went on. There was a lot of outisde action and a lot of broken furniture, and it all worked very well. Brodie Lee started the match strong, but Moxley’s perseverance paid off by keeping him in the fight. Moxley continued to build up his attack, but it took a huge moment late in the match to really break things open. At times it felt like Brodie Lee was unstoppable, but at the same time, it didn’t look like Moxley would ever stop. Something had to give, and when it finally did, the match ended in a very satisfying way.
Coming this summer, AEW’s first line of action figures, the Unrivaled Collection. Available August 2020.
A look at the buildup to the Stadium Stampede.
“Le Champion” Chris Jericho & Jake Hager & Santana & Ortiz & “Spanish God” Sammy Guevara vs The Young Bucks & Kenny Omega (AEW Tag Champ) & “Broken” Matt Hardy & “Hangman” Adam Page (AEW Tag Champ)
(referees: Aubrey Edwards, Bryce Remsburg, Paul Turner, Rick Knox, Mike Posey)
Result: Kenny Omega pins Sammy Guevara after the One-Winged Angel
Great match. Well, it’s difficult for me to call this a pro-wrestling match since it wasn’t really a match, but it was a very fun segment with pro wrestling in it. So, the rules of a Stadium Stampede are that there are no rules. There’s a ring in the middle of a football field, but it feels like it’s only there so it can technically be called a wrestling match. Everyone starts the match outside the ring, and they never even have to enter the ring if they don’t want to. Anything goes in the match, and falls count anywhere in the building. First fall on anyone ends the match.
The stampede started with a big brawl around the ring, then a few guys got in the ring to do some stuff. Pretty quickly though, everyone kind of split off and had their own fighting segments that were then edited together into one long match. The Young Bucks stayed on the field with Jericho and Guevara, Omega and Hardy battled Santana and Ortiz through the concourse and at a pool, and Hager went to go find Page who had decided to go have a drink at the bar. There was some crossover as the match went on and certain people joined other groups, but those were the basic match-ups.
Overall I really enjoyed this. One of the main issues I personally have with these big, elaborate matches is that often feel overly produced and edited. When I watch wrestling, I want to see wrestlers put on matches without the aid of movie-like productions and editing. For the most part, the individual segments in the Stadium Stampede did feel like mostly unbroken pro wrestling segments. I appreciated that a lot. It felt very different from some of the recent “cinematic” matches like the ones from WWE (i.e., Styles vs Undertaker and Money in the Bank), and that’s a very good thing.
My least favorite segment was probably Matt Hardy when he was forced to fight Santana and Ortiz by himself. There was too much magic for my tastes. Although, yeah, it’s fun and funny to see Matt Hardy change characters in the middle of the match, the obvious edits just took me too far out of any sort of pro-wrestling reality. Plus, having Santana and Ortiz point to the graphics that were inserted on-screen was too goofy for my tastes.
My favorite segment might have been Page and Hager in the bar. They had a really fun bar fight, and the addition of Omega near the end of the segment made it even better. I also enjoyed Santana and Ortiz versus Omega, Adam Page showing up late, and pretty much everything Sammy Guevara did. I liked the finish too, although I could have done without the big, wooden box clearly designed only to be broken. At least they did a good job of hiding it up until it was actually used.
Regardless of any nitpicks I have though, this match brought a smile to my face multiple times. It left me feeling good during a week when I definitely needed something like that. I’d definitely watch the Stadium Stampede again.
In my opinion, most of this show was just okay. The final three matches were great though, and they definitely made up for any negative feelings I had about the earlier matches. If I had to recommend anything from this show though, I’d say just watch the Women’s Title match, the World Title match, and the Stadium Stampede. The rest is fine, I’d be okay skipping it.
Match of the Night
Hikaru Shida vs Nyla Rose
Of course I can see why anyone would pick the World Title or the Stadium Stampede, but for me, the Women’s Title match was the most exciting. I got invested in it the most because Shida has been on a path for this title shot for a very, very long time, and I like her a whole lot. I like the guys in those other two matches as well, but the Women’s Title felt the most important to me in regards to who won and lost. Brodie Lee came into the title picture pretty recently, so the history behind it wasn’t as great. And the Stadium Stampede was a fun spectacle, but at the end of the day, I’m probably going to pick an in-ring match over a produced match-like segment.