AEW FEUD TRACKER: Assessing and grading the fallout from Double or Nothing including return of MJF, ongoing Elite Hostile Takeover, Storm-Deeb, Hook-Jericho, Copeland-House of Black

By Zach Barber, PWTorch contributor


Two quick pieces of housekeeping this week…

• Mark Henry’s AEW contract expired on Monday and both sides mutually agreed to part ways. Henry was more of a presence backstage than onscreen during his time with the company. Here’s wishing The World’s Strongest Man best in whatever his next chapter is.

• Speaking of contract news, Becky Lynch’s WWE contract is set to expire on Friday at midnight and as of right now she hasn’t signed a new deal. Though I don’t believe she ends up in AEW, it will be something to keep an eye on until The Man makes a decision about her future.

Well, Double or Nothing 2024 is in the books and it was a wild one from start to finish. It featured everything from a big return, to fire, to (unfortunately) broken bones, to the women of AEW showing up and showing out, to the appearance of wrestling’s most famous (legit) vampire.

MJF returned to AEW after a five month absence on Sunday. Ditching his trademark suit and Burberry scarf for a Triple H circa 2002 jean jacket, he quickly dispatched of former BFF Adam Cole and then delivered a spirited promo. He disavowed everything that happened at the end of last year and vowed to go back to hating and focusing om being the best. He also cleared up all the rumors about his future by revealing an AEW tattoo on his ankle and emphatically declaring he’s not going anywhere.

It’s so good to have MJF back. It’s a good shot in the arm for AEW. He’s almost certain to find his way into the Hostile Takeover angle. His previous frustrations with Tony Khan would seem to provide material with which the Bucks could use to recruit him. Given the reception he got on Sunday, it would be a huge mistake to make him a heel right now though. As is typically the case with post-PPV fallout episodes, there’s not a ton advertised for the show. The two things that are we’ll discuss as we go along. I do expect MJF to make an appearance, though.

Elite Hostile Takeover

Dynamite concluded last week with the returning Tony Khan driving Darby Allin to the arena to get around the ban imposed by the Bucks. Allin arrived Bryan Danielson’s aid wielding a flamethrower. Incidentally Darby already happened to have the necessary permits to possess a flamethrower. The Anarchy in the Arena lived up to its name. It was utter madness and chaos. The match started with different songs playing in the background, first Darby’s music, then the Bucks’ theme, and finally “The Final Countdown” at Bryan’s request. Maybe it’s my personal love of ’80s “The Final Countdown” was a great backdrop for the craziness of this match.

Just some of the insanity:

Darby Allin attempted to drown Jack Perry in a metal tug of ice water used to keep water bottles cold, Bryan Danielson ate a TK driver on the stack of giant poker chips, Jack Perry attempted to run over Darby with a tour bus, and Okada hit a Rainmaker with a thumbtack laced arm sleeve, oh and Darby lit Jack Perry on fire. Yes they paid off the flamethrower. In the end the Bucks strung Darby up by his legs upside down and superkicked him with tack spiked tennis shoes.

Danielson attempted to come to his aid but fell victim to an EVP trigger and then a running knee from Perry who scored the pin.  What did the Elite win? That’s the question been asked in various places. In the history of these angles in wrestling the heel faction almost always wins the first match just to maintain their stranglehold. Control of the company isn’t on the line until the blowoff match so this in line with that.

With Tony Khan back in the picture it’s going to be a more direct power struggle. It’s going to be interesting to see if TK silently fight back against the Elite attempting to exert control. I just hope it doesn’t get too messy. I expect a Bryan Danielson/Jack Perry match in the near future.

Grade: A

Swerve Strickland vs. Christian Cage

Swerve defeated Nick Wayne in a really fun match on last week’s Dynamite. When Swerve turned his attention to Christian the Patriarch attempted to flee after carjacking an SUV only for the returning Prince Nana to cut him off. Swerve and Christian fought atop the SUV before Christian finally made a getaway. As for the match on Sunday, it was very good, but it was a little too long especially for where it was on the card.

Cut out all the interference from the Patriarchy and that would’ve shaved at least five minutes off. Swerve was extremely impressive hitting not one but two Swerve Stomps from a standing position as well as intercepting a spear attempt with a House Call out of midair.

In the end, he claimed victory with a Swerve Stomp from the top and another House Call. Looking ahead, one the two matches announced for Dynamite is a Casino Gauntlet for a shot a Swerve’s title at Forbidden Door. I hope they clarify how many potential entrants there are off the bat. Given its for Forbidden Door I expect to see AEW, New Japan, and possibly CMLL talent in this match which should make for a really fun time.

Grade: A-

Mercedes Mone vs. Willow Nightingale

Mercedes run in AEW has been marred by the fact that she debuted two months before she was cleared to wrestle and was left to cut promos for weeks which is not her strong suit. And then the bell rang. The match between Mercedes and Willow earned its billing as one-third of a triple main event. After a year out of the ring due to injury, Mercedes looked like she hadn’t lost a step. She proved that she is one the greatest women to ever to do this. Willow rose to the occasion, more than holding up her end of the deal. In the end, Mercedes defeated Willow for the TBS Title.

While Kris Statlander didn’t directly cost Willow the title, she and Stokely Hathaway did distract the referee when Willow had the CEO beat. After the match Statlander turned on Willow as expected but not before an unnecessary interlude in which she feigned still being Willow’s friend.

A Willow-Stat feud works for me because I’m all for non-title women’s feuds and this has been built for weeks now. My only other gripe with the match was the video that preceded Mercedes’ entrance which compared her to other female trailblazers like Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Billie Jean King, Sally Ride, and Serena Williams. For someone who was entering the night solidly the heel, this was unnecessarily confusing.

Grade: A-

Toni Storm vs. Serena Deeb

“I’m fighting for my life against a woman who thought twitching on the floor was a sign from the universe that she should keep wrestling.” That was a line from Toni’s searing promo aired on Collision that was recorded after Serena attacked her on Dynamite last week. Going into this feud, I thought the juxtaposition of Toni’s zany persona and Serena’s no-nonsense, dry Bret Hart like persona would be interesting, but unfortunately Toni totally overwhelmed her. The match they produced was really good, though.

Serena worked her scientific style working over Toni’s leg and softening her up for the half Boston crab. Once applied, Toni struggled to get to the ropes leading Mariah May to attempt to throw in the towel, just like Toni did for her, except Luther prevented Mariah from completing the act. He wound up holding the smoking towel, if you will, as Toni saw him with it in his hands and assumed he was the one contemplating ending the match.

In the end, Serena attempted an uncharacteristic move from the top and Toni made her by attempting to murder her with an avalanche Storm Zero from the top. She hit a second Storm Zero for good measure. Now Toni can move onto furthering the story with Mariah May within the context of the presumed match against Mina Shirakawa at Forbidden Door.

Grade: B+

Adam Copeland vs. Malakai Black

Following his warm-up match against Kyle O’Reilly last Wednesday night, Black was the victim of a bloodbath from Copeland who then told Black to be careful what he wished for. Speaking of bloodbaths, the barbed wire steel cage was as bloody as expected. Copeland entered to Slayer’s “South of Heaven” in a Brood-style entrance. Both men battered each other with the cage as well as weapons inside the cage that were wrapped in barbed wire.

Copeland laid Black on a table and basically tied him to the table with a coil of barbed wire. He then climbed to the top of the cage and jumped off, strangely attempting to hit a modified elbow drop where he landed largely on his feet before hitting Black. Later in the match Black was in control and kicked Copeland so hard he snapped the chain and crashed through the cage door. (Wrestling companies really should invest in stronger chains for cage doors.)

Once outside the ring the other members of the House of Black walked down the aisle. They briefly teased joining Copeland in what appeared to be payoff of his promo from Collision the night before, before attacking him. Black looked to have the match won when the lights flickered and Gangrel emerged from under the ring spraying blood in the face of Buddy Matthews. The vampire hit both Matthews and Brody King with Impaler DDTs before being dropped with a The End kick from Black.

Copeland speared him and then awkwardly placed a barbed wire crown on his head before forcing him to pass out in a crossface. Copeland won the match but unfortunately it was a Pyrrhic victory. The leap off the cage proved to be his undoing as he announced yesterday that he broke his tibia and requires surgery to fix it. That means that the TNT title will likely be vacated. I think the smart play here is for Tony Khan to set up an interpromotional ladder match for the belt. I think Daniel Garcia would be the top candidate to win the title and re-establish it as an up-and-comers title.

Grade: B

Will Ospreay vs. Roderick Strong

Strong left Ospreay bloodied on Dynamite last week which only served to motivate the Billy GOAT. On Sunday he and Strong opened the show. The match was unsurprisingly really good. These two worked so well with each other. Some of the sequences Ospreay hit were just unreal. Callis tried to convince him to use the Tiger Driver ’93 but Ospreay refused and instead finished Strong off with the Hidden Blade and the Storm Breaker. Will Ospreay is now the AEW International champion and hopefully the Undisputed Kingdom is on the way out. I expect nothing but fantastic matches and I hope Ospreay is allowed to be more international with the title as well. Depending on Kenny Omega’s availability for All In, I could see a match between Ospreay and Okada to merge their respective titles into an AEW Intercontinental championship which I would not be opposed to.

Grade: A

Chris Jericho vs. Hook

Because he refuses to go away, we were subjected to an FTW title match at Double or Nothing featuring Jericho defending his title against Hook and Shibata. This match was what it was. FTW rules means Jericho doesn’t have to try and wrestle a full real match which he doesn’t seem to be capable of these days. After Dynasty I called him an 80s rocker who can’t hit the high notes anymore. Well instead of retiring, he’s glommed on to another band’s tour and is coming out and performing two songs instead of an entire concert. That’s basically the equivalent of what Jericho’s doing. This match was constructed in such a way, with Shibata involved and taking the pin after interference from Bryan Keith, so that the Hook/Jericho issue could be stretched out longer. Honestly, it needs to end ASAP. Just get Hook back his family property and allow him to move on. The one positive that could come of this is Samoa Joe mentoring Hook the way Taz mentored Joe back in the day in TNA.

Grade: C+

Orange Cassidy vs. Trent Baretta

OC had a good match at Double or Nothing. Trent wanted it to be a straight up wrestling match and that’s what it was. In the end Orange outwrestled Trent, reversing his attempt to apply Undertaker’s Hell’s Gate submission into a leverage pin. Trent was visibly frustrated after the match. Later in the night Don Callis implied that he was going to offer OC a Callis Family contract tonight on Dynamite. I readily expect OC to decline at which point Trent shows up, wipes him out, and gets offered the contract himself. I don’t know why Callis would want Trent but that’s the situation.

Grade: B+

Deonna Purrazzo vs. Thunder Rosa

Deonna and Thunder opened the Buy In pre-show and immediately set the tone for the evening. These two women to the fight to each other. Deonna went after Rosa’s arm, Rosa lit her up with strikes. In the end, Deonna reversed Rosa and then grabbed the ropes for extra leverage for the pin. This is issue is clearly not settled and I’m ok eith that because these two women work really well together and I’m all for seeing more.

Grade: B+

Bang Bang Gang vs. Triangulo de la Muerte

PAC and the Lucha Bros reunited on Dynamite, the Lucha Bros defeated the Gunns on Collision to make the trios match at Double or Nothing for the titles, and the Bang Bang Gang retained on Sunday. The match was good but not spectacular. Juice Robinson made his return from injury to help BBG win the match. Honestly this match and the Jericho match could’ve been left off the show and it wouldn’t have made a difference in quality. Now the Bang Bang Gang have to face the Acclaimed one more time. Hopefully that match is just a backdrop for the break up of the Acclaimed because that group is now past its expiration date.

Grade: B-

RECOMMENDED NEXT: 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

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

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