SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
AEW Double Or Nothing 5/29/22
Hook and Danhausen Defeated Smart Mark Sterling and Tony Nese – HITHAUSEN
Not much to this. This was always going to be a comedy match that was meant to get the fans ready for the show to start. If you care about AEWs rankings it should raise an eyebrow that Hook ran through #5 ranked Tony Nese as easily as he did, but I’m sure that’s looking too much into it. Danhausen and Hook were quite over and appeared to be working together well.
Wardlow Defeated MJF – MAJOR HIT
This match felt weird. On the one hand, I’m thankful that it wasn’t booked too complicated, but on the other hand, it just felt weird.
If you take MJFs actions over the weekend prior to the show into account, whether they were kayfabe or not, whether they were his attempt at channeling the senior Brian Pillman or not, this whole thing reminded me of the play in Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok, where the story portrayed was an exaggerated one that we’ve seen prior with a skewed point of view showing Loki as the hero. MJF put on a play of an MJF match, whereas he was playing the bad guy, but he was seeing himself as Wardlow. In his mind, he was the hero getting cheered. In his mind, he was the one being offered four times the worth of his contract. And then reality came back, as Mr. Low treated MJF to a Powerbomb Symphony times 10. A quick formality of a pin sealed the opener, and MJF was stretchered out by the most hapless of EMTs. The match felt like MJFs skewed view of reality, but hopefully time off screen will get his mind back to reality.
Post Match Angle with Wardlow – HIT
Not much to this, as Tony Schiavone announced (without a clipboard) that Wardlow was now #AllElite. The crowd loved it, and after an incredible match and story, and after Ward-low earned the two syllable chant that made Goldberg seem even larger than life, there’s only one question left to ask:
The Hardy Boy’s Defeated The Young Bucks – MINOR HIT
This worked well from a story perspective but as a fan it was tough to get over seeing Jeff Hardy having issues in the ring. It was clear that part of his boot had broken, but it was difficult to tell whether there was something else going on. Jeff’s dive to the outside was fantastic. He has a habit of overshooting those dives in the ring and hitting the opponents body with his head, making the move seem visually stunning but not as effective. Seeing the stairs get set up and Jeff eyeing them immediately made me nervous, but he judged the distance perfectly, landing with his body and rolling through most of the damage. The Bucks did well making the Hardy’s look good, though the pace was quite slow to start. The Buck’s outfits were confusing, as they made a parody music video of “Viva Las Vegas” as made famous by Elvis Presley but seemed to come out in outfits paying homage to Siegfried and Roy, with Brandon Cutler in a tiger outfit.
The Acclaimed/Ass Boys Segment – HIT
Easy goofy fun with both groups mimicking The Hangover films, and Father Ass cracking jokes at the various Ass Sons in different stages of drunken stupors.
Jade Cargill Defeated Anna Jay – MINOR MISS
Fun match, but you can tell they were aware at the lack of build and the fact that Jay’s last TV match was a loss against Cargill, and thus they tried to overbook it. Jade doesn’t really need the overbooking and it felt like it messed with her normal performance flow. Her selling to Jay was fine, and if it was a straight match, it probably would’ve given some credibility to Dark and Elevation, being Anna Jay’s training grounds in getting to the match.
Post Match Angle with Kris Statlander and Athena – HIT
This provided the main new wrestler pop of the night, as Stokely Hathaway made the match saving distraction and appears to be aligned with Cargill. Excellent pairing and should be able to play off of Jade’s energy perfectly. Introducing Athena provides a jolt of talent to the women’s roster. Her, along with Toni Storm, really round out the women’s division. Now if only they could allow someone other than Baker to be featured.
Forbidden Door Video – MINOR HIT
Standard video package reminding the viewer this show is coming up. Nice to see added to the show.
House of Black Defeated Death Triangle – HIT
This was a hard hitting match that did a great job showcasing the different styles amongst all the performers. Thankfully, they gave a proper pay off to the Julia Hart story and she is now aligned with the House of Black. Let’s just watch out if she starts communicating through a corporate agreed upon creepy doll.
Adam Cole Defeated Samoa Joe – MINOR MISS
Fine match in the ring, but the distractions by this point in the show are feeling like a booking crutch rather than a storytelling tool. Nothing inherently wrong with Cole winning, but it feels like with the respect they’ve shown the Hart family in portraying Owen in a nice light, they could’ve finished the mens match clean.
Forbidden Door Video – MINOR HIT
Part III of the same video package shown before. There’s something impressive about editing the same footage in different ways. It’s like in school when you hear about fellow students taking an old essay, changing it around and resubmitting it as new.
Britt Baker Defeated Ruby Soho – MINOR MISS
The entrances were fun, with Rancid playing Ruby’s theme song for her and Britt once again having the Fozzy guitarist pantomime playing her out to the ring.
This match was fine. In terms of Britt and Ruby matches the action went well, but Baker didn’t need this win. She didn’t need to beat Toni Storm either. AEW will need to tread lightly. It’ll be easy for fans to feel like Cole and Baker are going to be portrayed in a similar way as Sammy and Tay, but with AEW seeming to try and turn Baker face in recent weeks, that could blow up in their faces.
Owen Hart Cup Ceremony – MAJOR HIT
This was fantastic, and it was wonderful to see Dr. Hart have so much happiness and emotion come over her. Her speech was nice and seeing the cup and belts was cool. Making this a yearly thing should be easy and a welcome part of the build to Double or Nothing each year.
Ethan Page, Scorpio Sky and Paige VanZant Defeated Frankie Kazarian, Sammy Guevara and stay Conti – MISS
The goal of this should’ve been putting over VanZant as a new act, but the antics of Tay and Sammy and the friction between them, Kazarian, and the Men of the Year all trying to play heel just muddied this whole thing up. None of it worked and it seems fans treated this as a bathroom break match with how quiet it got. Hopefully both groups can reinvent themselves following this program.
Kyle O’Reilly Defeated Darby Allin – MISS
This just felt scary. I’ve never been one to feel that Darby’s spots have been overly reckless. He is a skateboarder after all and knows how to fall safely. Some of these spots just seemed like they were more for Darby rather than the fans. Pain for pains sake. If that’s what they wanted then fine, but the build did it warrant that, especially since O’Reilly pinned him clean in the end.
Thunder Rosa Defeated Serena Deeb – MINOR MISS
This match was good, but the pacing never really clicked and the fans never quite got into it. Deeb and Rosa are both fantastic performers, but may have needed more time to build up chemistry and flow. I fully expect a rematch to be much better.
Jericho Appreciation Society Defeated Blackpool Combat Club, Eddie Kingston, Santana and Ortiz – HOME RUN
Oh man. This match tapped into a core memory for me somewhere. As the off mic kerfuffle with Justin Roberts subsided, I popped open a fresh beer right as he proclaimed “the shit was about to hit the fan” from then through the next 12 or so minutes I couldn’t stop giggling, as both teams walked down to the ring and began fighting to Moxley’s “Wild Thing”. It felt right out of the 1990’s. It felt like Al Bundy and his former Polk High football teammates walking down for a brawl on Married…with Children. Just dumb entertainment. The action was frenetic, chaotic and non-stop. The worst part of this for me was when Jericho unplugged the mixing board and the music shut off, Moxley didn’t climb behind the table after incapacitating Jericho and plug the board back in, restarting the music. The pop and laugh would’ve been massive.
This wasn’t perfect by any means, but it didn’t need to be. Sure, the “good” guys lost because Kingston’s emotions got the better of him, but it didn’t bring him down as a character. If anything he might be more relatable to fans. We all make actions off of emotions and reap the results, good or bad. They could’ve done a better job switching from scene to scene and making clear who and what was going on. In the end, this was fun, and felt like Jonathan Good’s love letter and evolution to the Stadium Stampede match that Jon Moxley got to perform.
Andrade Video Segment – MINOR MISS
From a story perspective this was a fun reveal, with Rush being introduced as his new partner. In terms of possibilities for Forbidden Door, this is fantastic and could open quite a few possibilities. For the rest of AEW, it just feels like another good performer added to a roster with a myriad of good performers. It’s starting to feel like, rather than new signings feeling like a brick in the building built open the four pillars, new signings feel like a new crack in a dam, where the balance of the booking is starting to leak through.
Men of the Year Segment – MINOR HIT
Not much to this. Sets up a future TNT title match with Dante, but mainly just took up time to repair the ring following the Anarchy in the Arena match.
Jurassic Express Defeated Keith Lee, Swerve Strickland, Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs – HIT
This was a fun match with a nonstop pace, but paced in a way to showcase everyone. Having specific moments to feature each big man and different combinations of different wrestlers was fantastic, and felt like in an Avengers movie where each character needs to get a spotlight.
CM Punk Defeated Hangman Adam Page – MAJOR HIT
All throughout the show, I had this feeling like the show was missing that pop that took the show over the top. This felt like it, but a longer pop rather than a pop pop. The action was everything it needed to be. The storytelling was fantastic. Both men suffering knee injuries was a fantastic wrench thrown in. Page’s actually worried me for a second. Anyone who watches football regularly will have seen ACL tears and ruptures that looked like that. Giving Page the option to turn, but avoiding it was a fun wrinkle in the character while keeping him true. Not having Punk suggest a heel turn at all was even more surprising and impressive. I do take issue with criticism of Punk’s inability to hit the flip over the ropes for the Buckshot. It’s easy for fans to say he lacks the athleticism needed to be the Best in the World. That was never his style to begin with. Overall, Punk’s win will put the title in a much more visible spot on TV each week than it was, and that’s a good thing.
Overall – HIT
This show had a weird build over the last couple weeks, and it did result in a weird show. Weird isn’t always bad. Bad is bad. Weird is quality agnostic. Bad is the Katie Vick thing. Weird is the announcer telling fans the shit is going to hit the fan. The action was mostly great, and nearly every storyline was wrapped up with some new ones starting, but some won’t be able to look past the weird. Wrestling is better when you do. Keep wrestling weird.