After WWE’s two attempts of putting on pay-per-view style events, it was All Elite Wrestling’s turn to put on a show in this era of the COVID-19 pandemic. Saturday night’s Double or Nothing event was the culmination of a full year since the beginning of the wrestling promotion with their first Double or Nothing event that will turn 365 days old on Monday. As someone, whose love for professional wrestling faded away in the mid-2010s, I am proud to say that with NXT and their phenomenal Takeover events, and the early beginnings of AEW, that love for pro wrestling has returned. Saturday was reaffirmation of that sentiment.
The evening kicked off with a solid, technical tag team match between Best Friends and Private Party. Nothing too insane, but the four men did their job in providing an entertaining match to grasp the attention of the audience. My only complaint was the YouTube stream’s frame-rate throughout the 30-minute pre-show. I might as well have just viewed photos of the match; that’s how slow it was.
The actual pay-per-view kicked off with the Casino Ladder Match for a future AEW title match. The match featured the likes of Orange Cassidy, Joey Janela, and Darby Allin. We also had a mystery opponent that would later be revealed as newcomer Brian Cage. There were some great spots in the match. Janela delivered a “Death Valley Driver” to Orange Cassidy onto a giant poker chip. Darby Allin did a bump off the top of a ladder with his skateboard and slammed into a ladder down below. Unfortunately, that would be the most we would get from him in the match. It would be the absolute unit in Cage who would be victorious in the end. I did think this match dragged on a bit. It was the longest of the live matches that occurred Sunday night, and I am not a big fan of giving giant pushes to wrestlers in their debut. However, we will get Jon Moxley vs. Brian Cage for the AEW Championship at Fyter Fest later this year.
Speaking of Moxley, he and Mr. Brodie Lee had a hell of a match for the AEW title. Moxley utilized some actual mixed martial arts techniques that he learned in his role for the recent film Cagefighter: Worlds Collide. Brodie Lee also proved that he can hold his own in a singles match.
MJF and Jungle Boy stole the show Saturday night with an incredible singles match. MJF knows how to generate heat, even with no crowd, and Jungle Boy has a perfect fit in the underdog, babyface role. Both of these men are under 25 years of age and have an absolutely bright future in wrestling no matter where it takes them.
In the inaugural match for the TNT Championship, Cody and Lance Archer battled it out with Mike Tyson being Mike Tyson ringside. The production crew would capture Tyson yawning, which would be one of a few mistakes made by the crew throughout the night. Archer is able to pull off moves that no 43-year old should be able to do, and Cody continues to utilize his athleticism to the fullest extent.
The women of AEW showed out Saturday night. While Kris Statlander and Penelope Ford’s match was short, both of them let it rip in terms of what they can do. It was up-tempo and they did everything at 100 percent speed. The shocking result of the night would be Hikaru Shida defeating Nyla Rose to become AEW Women’s Champion. Shida’s buildup was slow, but the payoff would be worth it in a highly-thrilling showdown with Rose. These two were a mixed bag for me over the last few months, but they have improved vastly in the ring, and Saturday was a showcase of those improvements.
The only aspect of the event that was off-putting was the Shawn Spears’ fighting Dustin Rhodes with his butt showing for a majority of the match. His underwear also had his manager, Tully Blanchard’s face on the front, which was just odd. Rhodes won in what was practically a squash match, and it really felt like filler.
Now the main event. Oh my goodness. The Stadium Stampede match was one of the most entertaining pro wrestling matches I have ever seen in my life, and easily the best of 2020 so far. It takes special talent to pull off something this great, and these 10 men all possessed that talent. Matt Hardy is an absolute treasure whenever he makes an appearance, and his “Broken” gimmick belongs in its own Hall of Fame. Chris Jericho was hilarious as ever, and Kenny Omega…..my God. All 10 men delivered excellent bits. Matt Jackson suplexed Sammy Guevara across the entire Jacksonville Jaguars’ field, and jumped off the goalpost. Adam Page and Jake Hager at a highly entertaining bit inside the stadium lounge, and Hardy would showcase his former gimmicks in the stadium’s pool with Santana and Ortiz. The immaculate match with lead up to the incredible ending of Omega hitting the “One-Winged Angel” on Guevara and falling about 20-25 feet into oblivion.
After one of the toughest weeks in recent pro wrestling history with the tragic, heartbreaking deaths of Shad Gaspard and Hana Kimura, AEW was able to ease our minds for a few hours and honor their legacies with an incredible night of entertainment. In just one year, AEW is in the elite class of pro wrestling promotions, and it is here to stay for a long time.