Nearly 5 hours of AEW’s brand of professional wrestling on Sunday culminated with CM Punk pinning “Hangman” Adam Page to become the fifth AEW World Champion. AEW Double or Nothing emanated from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with a 13-match card.
It was a show of peaks and valleys with a hot opening, some less than stellar stuff in the middle, and a solid second half to celebrate All Elite Wrestling’s third anniversary. And, of course, it wouldn’t be an AEW PPV without a few new additions to the roster.
-Hookhausen Reigns Supreme
Hook & Danhausen defeated Tony Nese & “Smart” Mark Sterling on the Buy-In (pre-show). The match was exactly what it needed to be from beginning to end. Comedy with Danhausen and all business with Hook.
Sterling deserves credit here. It takes talent for a good wrestler to pretend they are not that good, considering his character is not a wrestler. Nese also did a great job making Hook and Danhausen look good.
-Wardlow Dominates MJF
All weekend, the big story going into Double of Nothing was if MJF would or would not show up for his highly anticipated match with Wardlow. MJF no-showed an autograph signing at AEW’s fan fest on Saturday and Fightful.com reported a plane ticket was booked for MJF out of Las Vegas.
No one knows who bought the ticket.
After AEW spent the afternoon removing MJF vs. Wardlow promotional material from social media, Sports Illustrated broke the news that MJF/Wardlow would open the show. However, before the autograph signing, MJF, in a now-deleted tweet, said, “F**k this place.”
Wardlow dominated MJF at every turn. He caught him trying to use the Dynamite Diamond ring, power bombed him five times, and put one foot on MJF’s chest for the 1-2…..
Wardlow removed his foot and power bombed MJF five more times and put one foot on his chest again, this time for the 1-2-3.
They milked the crowd for every ounce of heat, which ended with MJF getting stretchered out of the arena. Wardlow is free from his contract from MJF and “officially” signed to AEW.
I was hoping AEW wouldn’t play into the rumors, but they did. MJF took a long time to come out for his entrance, which was clearly planned. Also, AEW didn’t even alleviate fans’ concerns by announcing the match would go on as scheduled.
Sports Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer broke the news.
If the whole thing was a work and AEW was in on it, I must say bad form on Tony Khan’s part. A promoter should never work the locker room because once you do, their word will never be as good as it was before.
As for the match, Wardlow squashing MJF worked perfectly regardless of the backstage drama. Seeing how the match played out suggests MJF was being punished and that he’s either gone for a couple of months or written off television for good.
If you didn’t know anything about the backstage rumors, MJF got his comeuppance most satisfyingly. Many expected MJF to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at Wardlow, but AEW told a different story.
It was a big surprise for those not in the know, while those who did know were super happy seeing MJF look so bad. MJF deserves props for those ten power bombs he took. He started using his arms to pad the fall after the fourth one, which shows it’s not an easy bump to take.
MJF could have called an audible in midstream instead of continuing to hurt himself for a company he’s mad at.
-The Hardy’s Stop The Young Bucks
This match is a perfect example of many people watching the same thing and seeing something different. Some felt thing match was fantastic while others, well, not so much. I’m in the latter camp.
It was fine until Jeff Hardy’s right boot became loose, making it difficult for him to move around until someone helped fix his boot off camera. Matt took most of the heat until Jeff got the hot tag.
Jeff delivered a Swanton Bomb off the top rope and onto Matt Jackson, placed on the steel steps. Jeff didn’t get the height he usually gets on a Swanton, but the margin for error was wider.
The Bucks deserve credit for being the glue that barely held this match together. Still, it won’t be remembered as a classic outing for either team.
Bucks/Hardys was the beginning of a downward slide for Double or Nothing.
In an awful match, Jade Cargill pinned Anna Jay to retain the TBS Championship. It resembled two trainees putting on a practice match instead of world-class performers on a show that cost $50.00.
House of Black defeated Death Triangle in an action-filled roller coaster ride that never let up. Yes, the description is cliché, but the match was also designed that way.
Crazy spot after crazy spot. These types of matches are not my cup of tea, however, many people love them, and it served as an excellent example of the rumored Trios division coming to AEW.
After this match, the audience was exhausted and didn’t recover for a while.
Adam Cole defeated Samoa Joe to win the Men’s Owen Hart Foundation Tournament. There was Nothing wrong with the match, but the fans didn’t react much. Cole took advantage of the distraction from Bobby Fish and dropped Joe with the Boom to the back of Joe’s head.
The finish was flat as it came out of nowhere and felt like another transition spot more than the end of the match. Britt Baker defeated Ruby Soho to win the Women’s Owen Hart Foundation Tournament. Again, it was another fine match, but the audience was too tired to care.
Ruby Soho’s ever-expanding narrative of not being able to win the big one will be intriguing to watch with AEW’s long-term booking.
Cole and Baker were awarded his and her championship belts for winning their respective tournaments. The belts were styled after Stampede Wrestling’s North American Championship, which Owen held twice. A nice nod to the early days of Owen’s career and legacy.
MMA star Paige VanZant found herself on the winning end of her in-ring debut. She teamed with Ethan Page and TNT Champion Scorpio Sky to defeat Sammy Guevara, Tay Conti, and Frankie Kazarian in a six-person tag team match.
VanZant is not first match ready. She threw clotheslines and delivered body slams as if she was practicing them in wrestling school. There was no reason to put VanZant in the ring way before she’s ready. Plus, this match wasn’t announced until Friday on Rampage.
Guevara accidentally superkicking Conti got the biggest pop of the match. Sky delivered a cutter on Kazarian for the win. Per the stipulations, Guevara and Kazarian can no longer vie for the TNT Title as long as Sky is champion.
It was good but nothing to write home about.
Kyle O’Reilly pinned Darby Allin in another match that was made on Friday. This match hit all the right notes but failed to play any music as the fans were still sitting in their hands.
-Thunder Rosa Conquers Serena Deeb
Rosa and Deeb worked really hard to put on what is arguably the match of the night. It was a clash of styles that melded together just right. It’s a shame the audience was so quiet because, under different circumstances, the fans would have been on their feet from bell to bell.
The match’s closing moments saw Deeb deliver a powerbomb followed by a Texas Cloverleaf. Rose escaped and eventually delivered the Fire Thunder Driver to retain the title. Great outing by both women, and the first match that felt like a fight instead of a dance.
-Sports Entertainment Over Pro Wrestling
AEW channeled its inner ECW with a chaotic brawl that saw all 10 men fighting throughout the T-Mobile Arena. Jon Moxley’s “Wild Thing” entrance music played during the early moments of the bout in a nice homage to New Jack.
Blood, ladders, tables, street sweepers, freight elevators, and more blood were the specials on the menu. Five pairs of wrestlers brawling in different parts of the arena was too hectic to enjoy at first. Things began to focus once the key moments commenced.
Eddie Kingston poured a can of gasoline on Chris Jericho. Bryan Danielson stopped Kingston from lighting Jericho on fire. Kingston took exception and they began to fight. Jon Moxley tried to stop his teammates from fighting, but Jake Hager sent Moxley through a table full of barbed wire.
Danielson was trapped in the ring with Jericho and Hager. Jericho applied a half crab/lion tamer on Danielson while Hager choked him simultaneously with the top rope until he passed out, giving the Jericho Appreciation Society the win.
A lot of the match was violence for violence’s sake.
The prelude to the finish was brilliant. Danielson’s traditional sentimentality strongly objected to Kingston’s murderous intent. Meanwhile, Moxley was stuck between a rock and a hard place, trying to ease tensions between his friend and stablemate, ultimately costing them victory.
-Jurassic Express Retain the Gold
Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus defeated Ricky Starks & Powerhouse Hobbs and Keith Lee & Swerve Scott in one of the better triple threat matches you will find on a wrestling show. While it was a little sloppy at times, the pros outweigh the cons. Every wrestler got a chance to shine, which is challenging to do in a match with six people.
-CM Punk Dethrones Hagman
What made this match so special was how split the audience was going in and throughout the match. “Hangman” Adam Page was the top babyface in AEW until CM Punk arrived. Once the match was made, some fans had a tough choice to make.
While many were firmly in the CM Punk camp, others felt a sense of betrayal rooting against All Elite Wrestling’s homegrown star. After all, what’s not to love about Page? It came down to one thing. As much as the conflicted fans like Page, they like Punk even more.
The opening technical salvo between the two turned into a game of one-upmanship. Page and Punk traded big move after big move. Hangman hurt his knee after delivering a moonsault from the top rope to the floor on Punk.
It was the hidden nugget that changed everything.
The referee got bumped, and Page almost walloped Punk with the title belt. Conflicted with the choice, Page decided not to go through with it and win fair and square. However, he had allowed Punk too much time to recover.
Page went for the Buckshot Lariat and stumbled upon landing due to his injured knee, allowing Punk to duck and pivot the clothesline into the GTS. The entire audience counted with referee Paul Turner, 1, 2, and 3.
CM Punk wins the AEW World Title in Las Vegas, the same town where 11 years ago, he delivered the pipe bomb promo that made him a superstar.
Double or Nothing saw 3 new wrestlers enter the All Elite fold. Stokley Hathaway (the former Malcolm Bivens) is now managing Jade Cargill. It will be interesting to see how Jade officially gets rid of her “current” manager Mark Sterling.
Athena (formerly Ember Moon) made her debut, and it looks like she’s has her eye on Cargill’s TBS Title. Finally, former ROH World Champion and Mexican wrestling star Rush debuted on a pre-taped video seeing him join forces with his brother, Andrade El Idolo.
There are too many wrestlers on the roster with not enough spots to go around. All three signings are immensely talented. However, we know the story of new wrestlers in AEW. They have as much of a chance to succeed as much as they do to fade into obscurity.
Final Thoughts: Double or Nothing gets a B- in my book. It is undoubtedly not a wrestling event for the ages, but it had its moments. Putting the belt on CM Punk was the right call. Hangman’s reign was uneventful besides the Bryan Danielson matches. It was a combination of lousy booking and the realization that not all babyfaces are created equal.
Page is not meant to be a long-term champion, and in a wrestling promotion that needs to grow beyond the diehard fan base, CM Punk is the answer.