A lot happened in the time between the ALL IN pay-per-view (PPV) and AEW’s Double Or Nothing. Included in that span is my own shift of mood, from utter skeptic to guy who’s actually rooting for them. Which leads me to where I am today, ready to talk about why the All Elite Wrestling’s first card has my interest, and probably my money - and a few things that have me... concerned.
I’m looking forward to...
What Omega, The Bucks and Lucha Bros can do without being rushed
The biggest flaw of ALL IN, all things considered, was how rushed its six-man main event (The Golden Elite vs Rey Mysterio Jr., Fenix & Bandido) felt. Here at Double Or Nothing, there is no time limit - or at least, one that Team Elite has known about for a while and could plan out to the second for the whole card, so it stands to reason there will be nobody in their way of going as long as they need to.
And I’ll be honest, I really need to see what Kenny Omega, the Jackson boys and the Lucha Bros can do, because they’ve been so ... withholding. It’s clever, really, a trick that dates back beyond this show: to raise interest, build anticipation by not giving us what we want (maybe this is why WWE’s pre-PPV TV “go home” episodes are trash?). For so many months, I’ve watched Penta wrestle matches that feel paint by numbers, and both Kenny and the Bucks have just been doing those run-ins and teasers for a while. The last time we’ve seen full length matches from them was at Wrestle Kingdom, and even those felt abbreviated — possibly because they were leaving.
We know all of these guys are talented and can build a match properly, and I’m eager for a reminder.
Seeing Dustin Runnels on his own
During my fandom, I’ve never watched a live match where Dustin Runnels got to be his own wrestler. But here, out of the Golddust character, out of Vince McMahon’s hands, and possibly in the twilight of his career, the older Rhodes brother will get to define his future. It’s one of the opportunities, I think that makes me most hopeful about the AEW ethos that’s all about giving power to “the boys in the back.” Adjacently, though, I think this match will do a lot more for me than Cody/Aldis at ALL IN, because Dustin has charisma, instead of being a black hole for same, like the current NWA champ.
The new biggest match in Best Friends history
Chuck Taylor (aka Dustin) and his Best Friend Trent Barreta (aka Greg) have gone to war with and against each other, but thanks to the persistence we’ve seen the duo display on Being The Elite, the dumbnamic duo have a match against the newly AEW-signed pair of Angelico & Jack Evans, who hilariously went by Los Güeros del Cielo (The White Boys From Heaven) in AAA.
My big question, which I’m sure I share with most Best Friends fans, is can the pair’s bond even survive this match? They teased a breakup during their last weeks in New Japan. That story never really pushed to fruition, even though it got close.
What’s a Hangman to do?
Hangman Page lost his opponent due to creative differences and lost his AEW World Championship title shot match due to ... well, I’m not sure. On BTE they claimed it was due to a leg injury, but this is wrestling and that could very well be a storyline. Either way, Page is still a top stallion in the AEW stable, and I’m curious as to what he does next.
Seeing Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy F***ing Havoc, Sonny Kiss and the rest of the Casino Battle Royale
A well-executed Rumble or Battle Royal will create a ton of new stories and rivalries, so I’m eager as heck to see how two of my favorite AEW signings, The UK’s Jimmy Havoc and NYC’s Sonny Kiss, fare in this clusterfuck. I don’t know who will win (though more on a hunch below), but I just want to see it all go down. Watching your faves thrive — yes, Bryce Remsburg, ref those big time matches! — is the best.
I’m worried about:
How will OWE present?
I’m not exactly sure what we’re going to get from the Oriental Wrestling Entertainment trio, CIMA and T-Hawk and El Lindaman, who take on SCU. So far, AEW has marketed the guys of OWE as flippy dudes, and as someone who’s seen CIMA and T-Hawk live (last fall at Fight Club Pro: Project Mayhem 7), I don’t think we’re going to get that experience.
Twitter’s Dan Pierce explained this to me earlier today:
Yeah I know. But there have been interviews talking up the OWE talent as being crazy acrobats (which they are) but these are the Japanese dudes CIMA brought with him when he went to train them. Chris Jericho for example is under the impression these are the flippy guys.— Dan Pierce (@DanIsAYeti) May 24, 2019
A bit of optimism kicks in, though, when I think about the AEW crowd and how it will probably want to love everything. From what I heard about ALL IN, the crowd was largely positive.
Jim F’n Ross
I’m sorry, but good ole J.R. reminds me of the Black Knight from Monty Python: he’s lost more than just one step. I hope the guy’s done his work to be familiar with the talent, because that was part of his downfall calling matches at NJPW.
Fortunately, Excalibur, one of the best call-men in the business, will be there to carry him.
How fast are they going to push MJF?
When it came time to think about who wins the Casino Battle Royale (of the announced contenders), it didn’t take long for me to remember who’s getting all the attention on Being The Elite. If that show is anything to go by, Maxwell Jacob Friedman is a top prospect for the company, and will likely be getting his big shot as a result of this match.
I just ... am not sure if he’s ready yet. Is he a number one contender for the AEW World Championship, really? The guy is hateable, but he’s not main event material right now.
One thing is for sure... there’s a lot to consider heading into AEW’s first show.
What are you looking forward to? Worried about?