AEW DOUBLE OR NOTHING HITS & MISSES (5/25): MJF’s return promo, Willow vs. Mercedes, Moxley vs. Takeshita, Storm vs. Deeb, Ospreay vs. Strong, more

By Tony Donofrio, PWTorch contributor



Pre-show announcement on Owen Hart Tournament: The announcement that the tournament winners will get AEW Title shots at All In was a positive announcement. There was plenty of social media reaction to this saying that AEW is just copying WWE with its recent King of the Ring announcement. Perhaps AEW had this in mind before the announcement, perhaps they didn’t. It shouldn’t matter. Having big stakes to winning a tournament should always be a thing. It should provide more excitement for the Owen Hart tournament and also give us approximately six weeks of build towards All In for both the men’s and women’s world titles. I’m all in on this idea (pun intended).

Will Ospreay vs. Roderick Strong (International Title): This was arguably the best match on the show and it should surprise no one. AEW has found its new Kenny Omega. The bonus there is that if Omega can come back healthy they’ll have two generational in-ring talents. Having said that, the International Title is not something that Ospreay should be contending for, let alone holding in 2024. On a positive note, he’ll easily elevate the title just by holding it. As I stated on my column a few weeks back, I’m really hoping that Ospreay will go on to beat Kazuchika Okada this summer to unify the International and Continental Title and rechristen it as the Intercontinental Title. There’s too many titles in AEW and it’d be a huge step. On the other side of this coin and lost in this is that Strong is doing some of the best work of his career over the past 12 months. The Undisputed Kingdom faction, however, has been a flop. I believe it’s largely due to the absence of Adam Cole. Which leads to…

Adam Cole promo/MJF return: Cole returning (again) was a fun little surprise. But, from everything I’ve read he’s not quite ready for an in-ring return yet. His return led to the much anticipated return of MJF. The promo did run a bit long, in my opinion, but was still a ton of fun. When MJF basically dropped Cole with a low blow and brain buster and trashed his second half of 2023 it did give me reason to pause. Some took this as MJF is coming back as a heel. I think that’s TBD. Also, if we already got the payoff to MJF getting his hands on Cole, does that mean that AEW is cutting its losses with this and just moving onto other things with MJF? I’m also not so sure as Swerve Strickland mentioned that MJF has unfinished business with Cole in the post-show scrum. As excited as I was to see this come to a head six months ago, I also wouldn’t mind now if it just went away. Cole and MJF have been absent and, as mentioned, the Undisputed Kingdom has been a flop. A reset all around for all of those characters might be best.

Toni Storm vs. Serena Deeb (AEW Women’s Title): The back and forth build to this match didn’t hurt the quality of the in-ring work. I’m still not 100% sure who is the babyface and heel here but it was a good match. This feud and its build really blurred the week that they were in Edmonton and fans crapped all over Deeb’s heartfelt promo. Since that time, I’m not sure who the fans were expected to root for. Sometimes though that’s fine and I think it worked with this feud and it certainly didn’t hurt the match. It’ll be interesting to see where the Storm-Luther-Mariah May dynamic heads from here. May continues to get over more and more weekly. The time is certainly coming where they’ll have to pick a heel/face lane with Storm once the story with May comes to a head.

Willow Nightingale vs. Mercedes Mone (TBS Title): A very strong match with these two ladies and arguably the second best match on the show. My one gripe was the post-match angle. This easily could’ve been saved for Dynamite and would’ve gotten more eyes on it. Here’s hoping Mercedes can continue to elevate the TBS Title. Willow has done a very good job adding some prestige to the title the past few months after winning it from Julia Hart (who, in fairness, was injured for much of the run so this isn’t a shot at her). AEW has had trouble juggling more than two stories involving the women’s division at a time historically. It seems as though they’re making a stronger effort in ’24 to do more. Hopefully that effort continues because Willow has a ton of potential to shine even without a title around her waist.

Adam Copeland vs. Malakai Black (TNT Title): This was mostly an enjoyable car crash style match. I really thought it was time to run with Black as a singles champion but rumors still swirl around him not wanting to put others over. Black did take the loss here but with a pass out finish. The bigger story coming out of this match is that Copeland has a broken tibia (lower leg). I assume we’ll get a TNT Title vacation on Dynamite. With the Owen Hart Tournament coming, I can’t image we’ll see three concurrent tournaments. Perhaps the quickest way to crown a champion will be a battle royal? Can anyone persuade Tony Khan to just let the title slip into the ether considering they have too many titles already? Unlikely.

Swerve Stickland vs. Christian Cage (AEW Title): Even though the outcome of this was never really in doubt, it was a good match for Swerve’s first title defense. It worked well last month for Cody Rhodes when he faced AJ Styles and it worked equally as well here. Christian, like AJ, is a great foil for any champion to help gain some credibility and work a good match. With Forbidden Door and All In looming this summer, I’m interested to see where they go with Swerve from here.

The Elite vs. Bryan Danielson & Darby Allin & FTR: The annual ultimate car crash match delivered the way that many expected. Count me as shocked that a flame thrower was actually used in a wrestling match. That’s definitely not my cup of tea; I don’t care what the stipulations are but it popped the crowd. I don’t need to see any weapons used in a wrestling match where pulling a trigger is a necessity (or however a flame thrower is operated). That aside, The Elite winning was logical and should set up a Blood and Guts match at some point later this summer. I’m not sure exactly what the stakes will be but I’m hoping there’s some story put into it and it’s not just a Blood and Guts match for the sake of having it. That’s not to say there hasn’t been a story thus far but I’d like to see something actually at stake this time around for Blood and Guts.


Bang Bang Gang vs. Death Triangle (Trios Titles): First things first, are Jay White and the Gunns the Bang Bang Gang or are they still Bullet Club Gold also? Or is that just the trio name and the addition of Juice make them BC Gold? Anyway, I’ve digressed. While the match was very well worked and I was happy to see Juice Robinson back, this match didn’t belong on this PPV and could’ve been removed (more on that later). I was a huge advocate for Trios Titles being introduced back in ’19-’21. This is me going on record saying that it’s a failed experiment and they should just be defunct. I will continue to live on my soapbox screaming about how Jay White is being criminally underutilized. Being associated with the Trios Titles is just a small part of that argument.

Orange Cassidy vs. Trent Beretta: This was another match that didn’t belong on this PPV. On the surface, I don’t understand why Cassidy won this match. However, the post-match with Renee Paquette and Rocky Romero does have me intrigued and it feels like they do have something planned for Beretta. It’s possible that Beretta still factors into the Don Callis Family. Perhaps he’s going a different direction. I’m still invested in where this goes but this felt like a match and angle that should’ve progressed in the middle of Dynamite, not at Double or Nothing.

Chris Jericho vs. Hook vs. Katsuyori Shibata (FTW Title): Another match that shouldn’t have been on this show (sensing the trend here?) and another title that needs to disappear into a black hole. I’ve been an avid defender of Chris Jericho throughout his career and I still believe he brings value to AEW. However, this match didn’t belong on this show and also would’ve felt better being on Dynamite or Collision. The addition of this match also was one match too many when it comes to the hardcore/no rules docket. Three matches of that style in one show is way too much.

Jon Moxley vs. Konosuke Takeshita: This is a tough miss for me. Both of these guys can work and had a very strong match. However, Moxley was given an out for losing this match and still came off as Captain America on Memorial Day weekend (“I can do this all day”). Takeshita is also still stuck in the mud right now. Losing this match was just a poor booking decision. If the idea was for Moxley to win all along, it would’ve made more sense to make it a match for the IWGP Title and have not put him in jeopardy with the arm injury. I know politics with New Japan are involved but if it’s that complicated then just don’t do the match.


This is a tough one for me this time around. If you look at weighting of my Hits and Misses, you’d have to believe that this was a slam dunk as a great show. Having said that, it’s not quite that clear cut. I still mostly enjoyed the show and didn’t come out of it thinking that it was a poor show by any means. But, the show was overbooked in many ways and was definitely way too long. It was very un-AEW-like in that so many finishes involved interference at the end on a PPV.

The post-match angle after the TBS Title match would’ve played better on Dynamite. The one interference finish that did make sense was the return of Juice Robinson but beyond that there was just too much of it for one show. The biggest issue though was the length of this show. Sure, AEW PPVs typically are long. This one, though, was a marathon. I noted that 2-3 matches could’ve easily been cut from this show. If/when AEW ends up on Max (or another streamer), I really hope that they will realize that less is more. I can certainly understand Tony Khan wanting to give viewers more “bang for their buck” if they’re spending $50 domestically for AEW PPVs. That’s why I don’t come down as hard on Khan for this as some others do. But, if/when the time comes to move to streaming, less will be so much more.

With AEW up to 10 PPVs per year, having marathon PPVs is not ideal. If this show had cut 2-3 matches that I’d suggested, I think it would’ve graded out much better. Again, I still enjoyed it but was exhausted by the end and that certainly affects the grading. On a final note, if the shows are going to continue to run this long then I’d suggest not running a pre-show and having the main show start at 7pm EST here in North America.  Overall Grade: C+.

(Tony Donofrio is a Contributor for You can contact Tony at and follow him on X (formerly Twitter)/Threads @TonyDonofrio.)

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OR CHECK THIS OUT AT PROWRESTLING.NET: Powell’s AEW Double Or Nothing Hit List: Anarchy in the Arena, Swerve Strickland vs. Christian Cage for the AEW World Championship, Willow Nightingale vs. Mercedes Mone for the TBS Title

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