AEW Double Or Nothing 2023 (5/28/2023)- Las Vegas, NV
21-MAN BATTLE ROYALE FOR THE AEW INTERNATIONAL TITLE: Orange Cassidy(c) vs. Lee Moriarty vs. Chuck Taylor vs. Trent Baretta vs. Bandido vs. The Butcher vs. Keith Lee vs. Dustin Rhodes vs. Ricky Starks vs. Jay White vs. Juice Robinson vs. Kip Sabian vs. The Blade vs. Komander vs. Penta el 0M (w/Alex Abrahantes) vs. Rey Fenix (also w/Alex Abrahantes) vs. Brian Cage (w/Prince Nana) vs. Shane Strickland (also w/Prince Nana) vs. Tony Nese (w/Mark Sterling) vs. vs. Ari Daivari (also w/Mark Sterling)– 5/10
So they got rid of the “traditional” dumb rules… but they still kept the battle royale on this PPV. They did their dumb thing where everyone starts on the outside so they’re not legal yet. Komander made it even worse by doing his big spot where he runs across the ropes and does a dive, but it didn’t count as eliminating himself because he hadn’t set foot in the ring yet, because apparently the ropes don’t count.
Stuff happened. Shane Strickland waited forever before getting into the ring, because you’re allowed to do that. Trent Baretta took a Bullet for Orange Cassidy and got eliminated instead of OC because I guess he doesn’t care about winning this apparently prestigious title. And don’t tell me that he didn’t want to take the title away from his friend, because the storyline to set this match up was that all twenty challengers had come to Tony Khan to ask about a shot at this specific title.
The final four were Penta el 0M, Big Bill, Shane Strickland, and Orange Cassidy. Bill eliminated Penta, then we got a great final three segment (which was mostly a final two with OC and Strickland), but it was nowhere near worth having to sit through the first twenty or so minutes of this match in order to get to it. Why was this on the show instead of a Jay White vs. Ricky Starks match?
UNSANCTIONED MATCH WITH SABU AS THE SPECIAL ENFORCER: Adam Cole (w/Roderick Strong) vs. Chris Jericho (w/the Jericho Appreciation Society)- 7.25/10
How the f*ck can you have an enforcer in an unsanctioned match? There are no rules for him to enforce! Or is he enforcing the fact that the match is unsanctioned, and there is there a time machine somewhere that Sabu is going to be guarding to make sure that Tony Khan or the Nevada State Athletic Commission can’t hop in it, go back in time, and sanction the match?
Wait… apparently Sabu is on Cole’s side? Then why is he the Special Enforcer and not just at ringside with Cole the way Roddy is?
There was a little brawl at the beginning, and everyone other than Cole and Jericho disappeared. Are you telling me that just Roddy and Sabu managed to subdue the entire JAS for fourteen minutes?
Eventually Britt Baker came out to save Cole by assaulting Jericho with a Kendo Stick. Wasn’t the point of so clumsily getting everyone else away from ringside in the beginning of the match to create a situation where the babyface could win one-on-one?
Jim Ross tried to tell us that Britt Baker was “traumatized” by the Outcasts assault on her that set this feud off. If that’s true, she’s hiding it really well, because at no point in the two months since that happened has she acted like she was traumatized by it on TV.
Saraya came out to get Britt’s attention, and Britt chased her to the back. Jericho and Cole resumed hitting each other with things. There were some decent nearfalls. Cole used handcuffs and a chain that Jericho had brought, and he chained himself to Jericho so Jericho couldn’t get away. Cole won by referee’s stoppage, which is odd in an unsanctioned match, because the reason for referee stoppages is so the wrestler doesn’t sue the promotion if he or she gets hurt because a referee let a match continue while he or she was defenseless. The crowd didn’t like this at all.
AEW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH WITH MARK BRISCOE AS THE SPECIAL GUEST REFEREE: FTR(c) vs. Jeff Jarrett & Jay Lethal (w/Satnam Singh, Sonjay Dutt, & Karen Jarrett)- 6.5/10
They did stuff until it was time for the shenanigans to start. Mark saw Sonjay Dutt interfere, and merely ejected him from ringside rather than disqualifying his pals. He also ejected Satnam Singh from ringside despite Satnam not doing anything. This happens with alarming frequency in AEW. It’s like the AEW rulebook makes ejecting Indians from ringside an all-or-nothing proposition. I’m starting to feel bad for poor Satnam.
Jarrett accidentally hit Mark with a guitar. Aubrey came out to make a count, but Sonjay blocked her way. This was after he had been ejected from ringside, so why the f*ck didn’t she just disqualify Jarrett & Lethal because Sonjay stayed at ringside after getting ejected?
Aubrey got taken out by a guitar shot from Karen Jarrett… and I guess there are no more referees in the back, because none came out to replace Aubrey. The heels cheated some more while the referee was down. Mark recovered and made the count (because I guess he doesn’t think being hit in the head with a guitar should be a DQ). Then Jeff Jarrett started shoving Mark so that Mark could get fed up with him for the obligatory spot in these sorts of matches before FTR hit the Shatter Machine and got the win. This was an overly-long TV match that became a contrived and overbooked mess.
BULLET CLUB GOLD ATTACK RICKY STARKS DURING A BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW- snore
This is the sort of thing that belongs on TV. FTR made the save.
CHRIS JERICHO & SARAYA INTERVIEW- bad
They want a tag team match against Adam Cole and Britt Baker. They were both over-the-top buffoons. Jericho started to break stuff. An AEW employee asked him to not break random things, so Jericho threw a fireball in his face. This is about the third or fourth backstage employee whose face Jericho has burned, so at this point I doubt he will suffer any consequences, so why even do it? So the fans can gasp and then pop because the heel did something cool and got to say a catchphrase? How is that productive? Excalibur laughed about this poor innocent man getting his face burned off. That’s your babyface play-by-play man right there.
Even more annoying to me is that the whole reason that Jericho is angry here is that he lost a match that everyone thought was going to be so violent that both wrestlers had to agree not to sue the company. So we’re supposed to think that a professional wrestler might sue the company for injuries sustained during a professional wrestling match, but that a backstage worker wouldn’t sue to for injuries sustained in an unprovoked assault by one of the wrestlers? It’s yet another sign of the complete and total lack of care Tony Khan takes when trying to make sure that his shows are internally consistent. And this isn’t me saying “four months ago when they had this same situation, the rules were different.” This is in a segment that is happening as a result of the match that is causing this logical problem!
LADDER MATCH FOR THE AEW TNT TITLE: Wardlow(c) vs. Christian Cage- 7.25/10
Christian sent Luchasaurus to the back before the match started. Wardlow similarly sent Arn Anderson to the back. Arn eventually did come out to cheer Wardlow on. Also, Luchasarus showed up at some point.
They did some really great stuff, with the story being that Christian was more experience in Ladder matches and knew how to use the ladder as a weapon better. They did a spot where Christian was about to win, but Wardlow leapt onto the ladder… and Wardlow’s leap broke the ladder. I’m sure that wasn’t the plan, but it wound up looking a million times more awesome than whatever their original plan was. Referee Rich Knox held the broken ladder for Wardlow. That was bad. Fortunately, this cheating didn’t help Wardlow win because the ladder still broke.
Luchasarus interfered. Arn tried to make the save. He bit Luchasaurus’ finger and they had some goofy gimmick blood. It looked silly. Wardlow eventually picked up the win. I’d already seen so many weapon shots and big bumps on this show that it was quite the accomplishment that these two got me to care about the punishment they were taking.
AEW WOMEN’S WORLD TITLE MATCH: Jamie Hayter(c) vs. Toni Storm (w/the Outcasts)- 2.75/10
The other Outcasts dragged Hayter out from backstage and beat her up on the outside before the match, working over her injured arm. Where’d Britt Baker go? Or any of the fifteen babyfaces who have been attacked by the Outcasts?
Britt eventually showed up to brawl with Saraya. Only once those two were safely gone from ringside did Hikaru Shida come down to attack Ruby Soho. This sort of crap is so choreographed it’s painful.
The referee got sent into an exposed turnbuckle and didn’t go down. That’s a f*cking finish! And Paul Turner barely sold it.
Storm worked over Hayer’s injured arm a bit. They made sure to give Hayter a false finish. Storm won in a little over three minutes.
Before the match there was a video package about how much it would mean to Hayter to walk into Wembley Stadium as the champion and about how Toni wanted to deny her that moment. I don’t remember that being mentioned in any of the build, so showing us that video package and then switching the belt in a quick, dirty match makes it feel frustratingly obvious that the whole reason they changed the title here was so Hayter can win it back at Wembley. And that wouldn’t have jumped out at me if they had just changed the belt and hadn’t hit us over the head with that idea out of nowhere. It’s the booking equivalent of a magician with bad dexterity, who has to slow down every time they’re moving a palmed object. Sure, we don’t actually see object being moved until you’re ready to reveal it, but the skill is in the finesse.
Even if this was a day-of call because of Hayter’s injury, it would have ben better to just not air the video package and only start talking about Wembley when Hayter is ready to return, as the way they’ve done this makes every challenger Toni has until Wembley feel like they have no chance. As you might recall, Britt Baker and Kenny Omega’s title reigns spent a long time suffering from this same problem, although this one is much more due to the video package hitting us over the head with something rather than just the way things were booked.
OPEN HOUSE RULES MATCH FOR THE AEW WORLD TRIOS TITLES: The House of Black(c) (w/Julia Hart) vs. the Acclaimed & Billy Gunn- 7.5/10
The Acclaimed didn’t want a special rule. The announcers told us that Julia Hart is crazy. I have seen no evidence of this. Weird? Perhaps. But no less weird than the rest of the stable, and no one called any of them crazy.
This was a great six-man tag with the classic babyface in peril formula. Just lots of fun. Billy no-sold a chop from Brody King, flipped him off, then hit him with a Fame-Asser. Then Buddy Matthews came at him and Billy took him out, too. I assume that was what everyone else had to give in order for Billy to consent to getting pinned cleanly with Fade to Black right after that.
AEW TBS TITLE MATCH: Jade Cargill(c) (w/Leila Grey & Mark Sterling) vs. Taya Valkyrie- 6/10
They got some dancers in goofy outfits for Taya’s entrance. Jade got a much more conventional dance troupe for hers (and some to “sing” the spoken-word part of her entrance). Apparently, all of them were Jade’s sorority sisters. I didn’t think that doing their dance with them made Jade look good. It made her seem like a lesser star to participate in their thing.
They had some cool spots. Jade won cleanly. Mark Sterling grabbed the mic and cut a promo saying that Jade would defend the title any place, any time. Kris Statlander came out. She wanted a match right now, and Jade agreed, so we got another…
AEW TBS TITLE MATCH: Jade Cargill(c) (w/Leila Grey & Mark Sterling) vs. Kris Statlander- 1/10
Statlander won in under a minute. Yes, really. They just ended Jade’s winning streak and title reign with ZERO BUILD in a match where Jade was tired and her babyface opponent was fresh. This decision is completely baffling to me.
AEW WORLD TITLE MATCH: MJF(c) vs. Darby Allin vs. “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry vs. Sammy Guevara- 9.75/10
They played a stupid video of Darby beating up a mannequin in an Elvis-themed wedding chapel before Darby’s entrance. MJF also got a fancy entrance. Sammy Guevara announced that he and Tay Melo were expecting a child.
This was an extremely choreographed match. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t inherently dislike those. What I need from them, however, is for the execution to be crisp and timely, so as to not make it appear like the wrestlers are working together (it’s essentially the difference between the Matrix and a poorly-choreographed martial arts movie from the seventies), and the vast majority of the time, these guys did that. There were a few moments where their execution was a little too slow, but the four-way punching circle was the only major problem spot for me. That being said, I also don’t think that “does Jungle Boy have the necessary killer instinct?”/ “Will Jungle Boy stoop to using a weapon?” spot worked artistically because weapons are legal in this match. I could have done without the spot where MJF tried to convince Sammy to lie down for him, but it didn’t hurt the match me, either.
This was a mixture of exciting action, cleverly conceived and beautifully executed complex multi-wrestler sequences, and some great character spots. The best match I can compare it to was the main event of NXT TakeOver: In Your House 2021 (the five-way between Karrion Kross, Johnny Gargano, Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and Pete Dunne). If you liked that match, then you’ll like this one, too. That one was just a bit better because this one had a few moments where the illusion of combat rather than cooperation fell apart for me, but that didn’t stop this from being the best match in AEW history.
ANARCHY IN THE ARENA MATCH: Blackpool Combat Club vs. The Elite (Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks, & Adam Page)- 6.75/10
Don Callis joined the announcers for this match. At one point during the match, Excalibur claimed that “Bryan Danielson has never beaten Kenny Omega one on one.” That’s actually not true. Danielson and Kenny have wrestled two singles matches. The most recent one was the draw in AEW, and Danielson beat Omega in the first one… which Excalibur really should have known because it took place at PWG 100.
The BCC got a live musical entrance. This was not the right match to do that in, and having the band keep playing when the brawling started was an event worse idea. It all set entirely the wrong tone. Then they kept f*cking playing. For, like, five minutes!
Adam Page came out with his eye-patch on and spent the however-many minutes of the match brawling all around the arena with his eye-patch on… and then, when he got into the ring with Bryan Danielson, he revealed he didn’t need it. So why was he wearing it in the first place? Was his thought process really “I’ll start this dangerous eight-person match wearing something that will severely restrict my vision, and when I get Danielson alone in the ring, I’ll dramatically remove it? What a f*cking moron!
And, of course, whatever drama that moment would have had was killed by this terrible knockoff band playing Wild Thing in the background. The band finally stopped a few minutes later when the Young Bucks took time out of this dangerous brawl against people they hate and want revenge against to assault the lead singer, who had done absolutely nothing to them.
I am constantly astounded by the Young Bucks. They seem to have a complete and total inability to not do something that makes them come off like complete and total douchebags, even when they’re supposed to be the good guys.
Anyway, they hit each other with weapons and bled everywhere. Like with last year’s match, too many things were going on at once for me to be able to keep track of anything for most of the match. There were also way too many times where someone was too late making the save, but they kept going anyway. Matt Jackson’s bare feet got slammed sole-first into thumbtacks.
At one point, Moxley and YUTA had Nick Jackson in a double-submission when Matt came hobbling down to the ring. Matt superkicked Moxley… and an explosion happened, like that goofy match between Moxley and Bray Wyatt in WWE with the exploding TV. Despite having something explode on his face, Moxley was up and active about a minute later.
The BCC won when Don Callis distracted Omega and a masked man interfered. The masked man then unmasked himself, revealing that he was Konosuke Takeshita. If they wanted to hurt Omega, why did they wait until twenty-six minutes into this no DQs match to do so? And why did Takeshita put on a mask and jump the guardrail. It’s not like he’s not allowed to be in the arena. All wearing a mask and jumping the guardrail does is increase the chances that security would try to stop him from getting to the ring, because for all they know he’s a fan. Callis choked Omega with a belt after the match.
I’ve seen people making a big deal out of the match Wheeler YUTA was given a pin on Kenny Omega, but I don’t understand why. The interference finish means that it wasn’t a clean win and nothing was resolved. This isn’t a big win for YUTA. It’s just something that the BCC can go on TV and talk about and it’s supposed to get heat because we know it’s bullsh*t and YUTA didn’t earn the win.
The heel groups celebrated, but not together. Then again, the fact that the BCC didn’t attack Callis and Takeshita is notable because the BCC just like attacking people and have attacked both of these guys in the past (and I don’t think the fact that “you helped us two minutes ago” would prevent the BCC from attacking someone).
This was as close as you can get to having a bad show with a match that is 9.75/10 on it. There were bad decisions made putting the card together by Tony Khan and bad decisions made by the wrestlers during the show. Far too many of the matches left me with the feeling that nothing was resolved, and that’s a big problem for a promotion that only does five PPVs a year. This is what happens when a promotion who bases itself pretty much entirely on in-ring work fails to deliver in the ring on a big show. You’re left with nothing.
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FIP in 2005
PWG All-Star Weekend V: Night 2
DGUSA Open the Ultimate Gate 2013
ROH/CMLL Global Wars Espectacular: Day 3
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