By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Double Or Nothing Hits
MJF vs. Darby Allin vs. Jack Perry vs. Sammy Guevara in a four-way for the AEW World Championship: A fun four-way match with some really impressive work by everyone involved. There was no real mystery regarding the outcome of the match, but I think we’re nearing the point where MJF has held the title long enough that fans will start to buy into the possibility that he could lose the championship. I don’t expect him to drop the title in the near future, but the key is that fans think there’s at least a chance, which is tough for any promotion to sell fans on shortly after a strong wrestler wins a title. Perry being booed when he opted to throw down the chair was interesting, as was the broadcast team questioning whether he would do whatever it took to win the championship. Perry did the right thing in a classic babyface sense, but I could see the fans booing him for it being used by his character to justify a heel turn.
“The Elite” Kenny Omega, Hangman Page, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson vs. “Blackpool Combat Club” Jon Moxley, Bryan Danielson, Claudio Castagnoli, and Wheeler Yuta in Anarchy in the Arena: While this didn’t this live up to Moxley’s hype for it being the bloodiest match in AEW history, it was a crowd pleasing brawl. The Konosuke Takeshita turn wasn’t very surprising. There was no guarantee that it would happen during this match, but his relationship with Don Callis seemed to suggest it would happen eventually. I just wish the company had taken more time to establish a bond between Takeshita and The Elite members so that this would have packed more of a punch. I’m very curious to see how Takeshita works as a heel. He got over by having great matches and I hope he can continue to do that while also finding a way to earn heat rather than applause.
Wardlow vs. Christian Cage in a ladder match for the TNT Title: An enjoyable ladder match. Wardlow performed some impressive high spots for a man his size. Cage gets more heat than any wrestler in the company and I doubt that losing this match will change that. I’m not sold on the pairing of Wardlow and Arn Anderson. Perhaps they will grow on me. Either way, I could have done without the silly spot where Anderson bit the thumb of Luchasaurus and left it bloody.
Blackjack Battle Royale for the AEW International Championship: Good creative work in terms of coming up with some storyline driven eliminations rather than just going with a punch and kick battle royal with random eliminations. I’m not a fan of a wrestler defending a title in a battle royal and I hope it never happens again, but I get what they were going for when it comes to the ongoing story of Cassidy wearing down due to the grueling schedule he’s kept as champion. In fact, I wonder if this match will end up being the thing that finally breaks Cassidy and leads to him dropping the title on television this week. He had a really good final sequence with Swerve Strickland, who is a good candidate to take the belt from Cassidy.
Jade Cargill vs. Taya Valkyrie for the TBS Title: This was much better than their television match. Valkyrie was protected to some extent by getting a very close near fall after putting Cargill down with her Road to Valhalla finisher. Valkyrie works so effectively as a heel that I could see her being turned to serve as a challenger for the new champion.
Jade Cargill vs. Kris Statlander for the TBS Title: While it’s fair to question whether this should have been something the company built to, it made for a really nice moment on a pay-per-view that needed one. It’s great to see Statlander back and I’m curious to see where Cargill goes from here.
AEW Double Or Nothing Misses
Adam Cole vs. Chris Jericho in an unsanctioned match: The guy heading up the faction that pokes fun at sports entertainment worked a sports entertainment style hardcore match, complete with a fire extinguisher. The finish with Cole throwing punches while on top of Jericho felt tame considering this was billed as an unsanctioned match, and the boos from the crowd were telling. I get that they needed to save some things for the Anarchy in the Arena main event, but perhaps they should have structured the program in a way so that they started with a standard match and built to an unsanctioned match on a night where it wouldn’t be overshadowed by better hardcore style matches.
“FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler vs. Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal for the AEW Tag Team Titles: The match had its moments, but this just didn’t feel pay-per-view worthy on paper or in execution. This pairing felt like it belonged on television. FTR set the bar high with some terrific matches over the years, but it feels like they’ve cooled a bit while working with Gunn Club and now Jarrett and Lethal.
“House of Black” Malakai Black, Brody King, and Buddy Matthews vs. Billy Gunn and “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens for the AEW Trios Titles: They may have set a new record for the amount of time that a wrestler was isolated before he made a hot tag. HOB is doing their best to get the trios titles over and I appreciate the experimentation with the lighting and even the open house rules. But I’m just not seeing any indication that the titles are actually over with the fans. While the fans have invested in some of the trios titles matches, it seems like that was due to their interest in the wrestlers and/or the match quality, not because they truly care about who holds the titles. It also feels like the champions will face random challengers more often than not because there’s only so many stories the company can tell in attempt to build up actual trios teams.
Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, and Hook vs. Ethan Page, Colten Gunn, and Austin Gunn: A sloppy match with a tired stipulation of one wrestler taking control of another wrestler’s contract. On the bright side, AEW didn’t make the mistake of making the overall event feel like a marathon by loading up the pre-show with four matches.
Jamie Hayter vs. Toni Storm for the AEW Women’s Championship: An unavoidable Miss. Hayter clearly worked through an injury so that she could drop the title. It was an admirable move on her part and hopefully the injury won’t sideline her for long.