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Hawke’s AEW Double or Nothing Review

May 26, 2019 | Posted by TJ Hawke
Jon Moxley Photo Credit: AEW
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Hawke’s AEW Double or Nothing Review  

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May 25, 2019
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Commentators: Excalibur, Alex Marvez, Jim Ross


Battle Royal

Billy Gunn vs. Ace Romero vs. Adam Page vs. Brandon Cutler vs. Brian Pillman Jr. vs. Dustin Thomas vs. Glacier vs. Isiah Kassidy vs. Jimmy Havoc vs. Joey Janela vs. Jungle Boy vs. Luchasaurus vs. Marko Stunt vs. Marq Quen vs. Michael Nakazawa vs. MJF vs. Orange Cassidy vs. Shawn Spears vs. Sonny Kiss vs. Sunny Daze vs. Tommy Dreamer

This was a battle royal to determine one of the two competitors to crown the first AEW Champion.

This was okay. There were definitely some moments where it came across as very minor league, but it was a pre-show battle royal at the end of the day so who cares. Page winning was the right call given who else was in there, and the spot at the end where MJF almost stole the match was well done.

Introducing a bunch of newer guys to the All Elite Cinematic Universe in a pre-show battle royal was probably a questionable decision at the very least, but it’s nothing that can’t be recovered for each dude depending on the followup. In fact, the presentation of Page and the reaction he gets every time out bodes well for everyone new coming to the company over the next few months. (**)


Sammy Guevara vs. Kip Sabian

The match never really felt like an actual match but instead felt like each guy taking turns to get their shit in. While cool moves are obviously a tremendously important part of professional wrestling, too many performers forget the significance of looking like a badass. You gotta do both. They did at least save their coolest moves for the final minutes of the contest to make it end on a high note. [Kip Sabian won with Deathly Hallows] (**1/4)


#STRONGHEARTS (Cima, El Lindaman, & T-Hawk) vs. SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Kazarian, & Scorpio Sky)

This was fine. There were some sluggish and awkward moments in the first half, and it seemed like this match was going to completely under-deliver. The second half had a lot of fun stuff though and compensated for the early issues enough to make this a just-good-enough opener.

It also should be noted that Daniels and Cima were both moving pretty gingerly at times and were – if nothing else – picking their spots (Daniels in particular). That Cima vs. Kenny Omega main event in the summer is going to be very enlightening in regards to figuring how just beat up he is after all these years. (**3/4)


Awesome Kong vs. Kylie Ray vs. Dr. Britt Baker, DMD vs. Nyla Rosa

Four-ways can often be dicey unless they get enough time to organically play out or are just relatively quick spotfests. This was somewhere in between those two paths, and it predictably ended up being quite dicey.

The match ended on a sequence between Baker and Ray, and they clearly proved that this just should have been a singles match between the two of them. It would have been easy enough for Rose to debut right after the match, or….just a thought…have two singles matches with women on the show (which would have been an actually funny way to take a shot at HHH).

The Awesome Kong surprise was a really cool idea and came across very well (even if she seemed very rusty in the actual match). It would be nice though if Kong just inserted herself instead of Brandi getting that goodwill pop for being the one to bring her out. That will be something to keep an eye on going forward. The more the wrestlers of AEW are portrayed to have agency and not revealed to pawns in the game only being played by the royal family, the better off everyone in the company will be. (**)


Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent?) vs. Jack Evans & Angelico

This match was a series of cool moments and ideas mixed in a fairly awkward contest. That feeling is not uncommon with the Jack Evans and Angelico as their tag team matches. Evans is fantastic, and Angelico obviously has all the physical talent in the world, but they really struggle together when it comes to structuring their matches. It was all fun and inoffensive enough for the spot that it was in. [The Best Friends won after killing Jack with the Doomsday Sexy Chucky Knee] (**3/4)

After the match, the Super Smash Bros. debuted and destroyed both teams. They were greeted with “Who are you?!?” chants. Shades of Akira Tozawa making his triumphant return to PWG in 2015 and no one in Reseda caring.


Aja Kong, Emi Sakura, & Yuka Sakazaki vs. Hikaru Shida, Riho, & Ryo Mizunami

This was a fine trios match that benefited from being paced well and not overstaying its welcome. There was not a ton of energy to it compared to what it could have been, but it felt better executed than a lot of what came before it on this night. It’s also literally always cool to watch Aja Kong work. [Shida managed to pin Sakura to win.] (**3/4)


Cody Rhodes vs. Dustin Rhodes

In 2013, Cody Rhodes went on his honeymoon. The Raw writing team freaked out about it for some reason, because they did not know it was happening. They decided they had to WRITE OUT Cody for two weeks as if continuity in WWE matters in any way. It accidentally led to Dustin Rhodes’ 300th run with the company, and it somehow started a chain reaction of events that led us to Double or Nothing.

The Rhodes Family vs. The Authority et al was the best story in modern WWE history, and it was essentially all due to Dustin Rhodes and Cody Rhodes coming together to make one hell of a tag team. It was the first time that Cody had done anything truly meaningful in professional wrestling. It was the first time he was a part of something Actually Good.

It was the WWE though, and that means that it had to end terribly, slowly, painfully, and in the least satisfying way possible. While playing armchair therapist is stupid, there really is no doubt in my mind that if Cody never got to be a part of this experience of discovering how emotionally satisfying wrestling *could* be, then he never would have left WWE and looked to create something better.

Jump forward in time, and Cody Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes finally get to have the contest they wanted years ago. While Cody talks in the video package about how the match is about the new wrestling generation taking on the old generation and that it is *NOT* about brother vs. brother, that is obviously full of crap. This match was about a brother vs. a brother, and that is the most interesting lense in which to view the contest.

This match was about the undeserving prince of professional wrestling doing such a good parody of Triple H that the fans don’t even recognize that it’s happening. This match was about one of the most naturally gifted professional wrestlers who pretty much defines the idea that the best wrestlers just “get it.” This match was about Cody Rhodes being all smokes and mirrors while his older brother Dustin had to do all the substantive work to actually make the match work.

And that’s okay!!! That’s what professional wrestling is supposed to do!! Take whatever you’ve got and do whatever you have to do to make it work. That mentality was the genesis of Cody’s first and only real artistic success in the WWE, and it is the type of mentality that will be required to keep Cody doing good work going forward.

It was fitting then that Cody ended the post-match segment by announcing that Cody’s next match in AEW will be Cody teaming up with Dustin vs. The Young Bucks. As long as Cody is tied to his infinitely better older brother, there’s gonna be a chance he does something memorably good. (****)


Bret Hart came out to present the AEW World Championship. It led to Adam PageMJFJungle Boy, and Jimmy Havoc came out. MJF got beat up. Getting Page in the ring with Bret was a great idea.


The Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson) vs. Pentagon Jr. & Fenix

This was for The Young Bucks’ AAA Tag Team Championship.

This match played out in a somewhat unexpected manner. The story was essentially that the Bucks were a little rusty because they have been so inactive in 2019, and the Lucha Bros. were extra sharp because they have worked SO many tag matches this year. As a result, the Lucha Bros. were able to get firm control for a decent bit of time. Then the Young Bucks scrambled to get controls themselves, and the teams proceeded to alternate periods of distinct control until the Bucks managed to win with a Meltzer Driver. It was not the *most* interesting story, but it was done well and offered a lot of room to deliver fun action. It was also possibly more importantly a good way to establish how important tag team wrestling will be in the company. (***1/4)


Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho

This was aight. It came across like an amalgamation of NJPW and WWE main event style. It had that forced extended match time of NJPW along with the more basic type of in-ring storytelling of WWE. That sounds like a brutal combination obviously, but it can be lead to salvageable main events based on who is in the ring (which is important if this becomes the house style). Chris Jericho is just not (and probably never has been) the kind of performer who could pull that off though.

To pull off this kind of match instead of doing any kind of grudge feud, you really need two performers who really can convey a sense of urgency and physicality throughout such a lengthy contest. While Omega is probably capable of that, Jericho really should be saved for more “personal” feuds and brawls that allow him to take shortcuts. Jericho cosplaying as a super serious main eventer is a recipe for tedium or at the very least uninspired action which was mostly what this was.

If there was one moment that really captured the weaknesses of this guys in the ring, it was when they repeated a botched spot late in the contest. Omega was going for a One-Winged Angel, and Jericho attempted to reverse it into a DDT. It was ugly as fuck, but Jim Ross actually managed to show some value and covered for it beautifully on commentary. He explained that it it looked ugly, but Jericho still managed to drop Omega on his head in the process!

After that botch of a One-Winged Angel getting reversed into a DDT, they decided to redo that very same reversal spot. Omega went for a One-Winged Angel, and Jericho this time successfully reversed it into a DDT. If you can’t recognize how corny it is to immediately redo that specific reversal spot, then you are probably not the best candidate 26-minute main events in 2019.

In a slight surprise, Jericho ended up winning the match shortly after that galaxy brain sequence. He hit the RUNNING BACK ELBOW OF DEATH to earn his spot in the All Out main event against Adam Page to crown the first AEW World Champion. That match will probably have a better chance of being good because Page has been elevated so well, and the crowd will rally behind him real hard. (**1/4)

Jon Moxley showed up at the end. He took out Jericho. He attempted to take out Omega, but Omega fought back. They brawled onto the stage area, and he then destroyed Omega with a DDT on the giant chips before throwing him off the stage and through a setup.

The final score: review Good
The 411
As the first show for the first genuine WWE rival in the United States in almost twenty years, you would have to call this a success. The show definitively presented the company's vision of professional wrestling, and the sold out crowd was actively supportive and receptive of it. That may seem like a low bar, but it automatically makes the company better than the WWE. The question going forward will be what else is there to their vision? Right now, the company feels like someone is just trying to make WWE Actually Good. Now, that is obviously much better than the actively Actually Bad WWE, but professional wrestling can be so much more. Let's hope they've got something for us.

article topics :

AEW, AEW Double or Nothing, TJ Hawke