AEW talked a big game for their Double or Nothing PPV event (May 23, 2020), and they delivered big time. The show featured Cody slaying the Murderhawk Monster, a feel-good title change for Hikaru Shida, two bad dudes beating the stuffing out of each other with Jon Moxley and Mr. Brodie Lee, and a ridiculously fun cinematic style Stadium Stampede between the Inner Circle and the Elite.
Get caught up on all the Double or Nothing details with the excellent live results and play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.
Jon Moxley is one BAMF
The first of two main events was Jon Moxley defending his AEW World Championship against Mr. Brodie Lee. My hopes weren’t that high for this contest. Both men have been fine in AEW but not special yet. That changed at Double or Nothing. Moxley and Mr. Brodie put on a fantastic fight, with emphasis on fight.
Moxley and Mr. Brodie beat each other up in physical fashion. There was no cosplaying here. This was two grown men laying lumber leaving bruises and blood in their storm of violence.
The action fired off early with a suicide dive from Moxley. Mr. Brodie rebounded with a suplex on the floor. That set the physical tone for what was to come. Mr. Brodie dropped Mox on a leaning guardrail with a pumphandle suplex. Moxley used a back body drop to send Mr. Brodie crashing through the ring announcer table. Mr. Brodie hit a release suplex to toss Moxley into set piece props. The big moment came when Moxley attacked with an elevated Paradigm Shift to break through the entrance ramp.
That moment made me lose my mind. It caught me by complete surprise. If that wasn’t cool enough, the finish was even better.
Moxley rose first out of the hole. Mr. Brodie followed as a bloody mess. Mr. Brodie charged with a discus lariat, but Moxley countered into a Paradigm Shift. Mr. Brodie kicked out at 1 on the pin. Moxley exploded with a violent flurry of strikes and a second Paradigm Shift. Mr. Brodie kicked out again.
Moxley hooked in a bulldog choke then transitioned into a rear naked choke. Mr. Brodie passed out, so the referee called for the bell.
What a fight. This was my favorite match from Double or Nothing and one that I look forward to re-watching. What made this match so good was the constant pace of attack. It didn’t feel like there were any rest breaks in this one. Big shot after big shot after big shot. The finish was exciting as a pair of badasses. Moxley lived up to his word of putting Mr. Brodie to sleep, and Mr. Brodie would not quit. Moxley showed he is a badass mother... shut your mouth. But I’m talking about Mox.
The thought going in was that a loss so soon by Mr. Brodie would be very damaging to his reputation and the perception of the Dark Order as well. After that performance from Mr. Brodie, he comes out looking better in my eyes. Mr. Brodie put Moxley through such a beating that I would believe him as a legit World Champion.
The second main event was the Stadium Stampede. This one closed the show with 40+ minutes of cinematic silliness. Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, Santana, and Ortiz fought Kenny Omega, Hangman Page, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, and Matt Hardy all over the Jacksonville Jaguars stadium.
Even though there was a wrestling ring at the 50-yard-line, the match could be won anywhere in the building. Both teams had separate introductions for each member. Hangman didn’t appear when his name was called. Omega seemed okay with it as if a plan was being hatched. The match kicked off as both squads ran toward each other like it was medieval combat. In my favorite moment of the bout, Hangman arrived riding on a horse.
After some actual wrestling, the match broke down in separate brawls. Highlights include a moonsault off the crossbar from Matt Jackson, Hangman wandering into a bar, Omega powerbombed through a suspended guardrail, Hardy being drowned in a pool and resurrecting as his different personas, Hangman and Hager sharing a whiskey before fighting, and Matt Jackson doing a 100 yard suplex train (with the aid of camera cuts).
In the end, Sammy was left all alone. Ortiz was duct-taped to a wheelchair, Santana was locked in an ice cooler, Hager had 4 bottles smashed on his head then ate a V-Trigger and a Buckshot Lariat in the bar, and Jericho was crushed by a huge flying splash through a table.
Omega cornered Sammy on a balcony area for a One-Winged Angel leaping down onto a crash spot.
That was the move to win the match.
The Stadium Stampede was a boatload of fun. It was full of creative spots for both comedy and action. There was so much going on that it requires a second viewing to absorb it all. The match really did feel like watching some crazy movie. The transitions between scenes were done well.
The story did a good job of eliminating Inner Circle members in humorous ways. This felt like a definitive win for the Elite. This feud will never be over, but I think it is time to move on for now. The Stadium Stampede was a satisfying conclusion.
One thing I watched intently was Hangman’s reaction after the win. It appears that he squashed his beef with Matt Jackson, at least for this one night. It could easily be revisited when the Young Bucks want a rematch for tag team gold. We know that it will only be a matter of time before they are #1 in the rankings again.
Cody Rhodes crowned TNT Champion
Archer finally got his hands on Cody. Archer struck immediately with a Black Out, but Cody was able to roll out of the ring to safety. Archer dominated much of the bout with his power and ferocity. He tortured Cody while preening for the cameras. Archer controlled the first 15 to 20 minutes. Later, the two had a moment of taunting each other’s coach as Cody hit Archer with a DDT then Archer came back with a spinebuster.
The match was fairly clean until it was time for Cody’s big match style of super shenanigans. Arn cheated to knock Archer off the ropes so Cody could connect on a super reverse suplex. A backup referee came out to tattle on Anderson. The prime ref looked over to Tyson for confirmation. Tyson gave the heave hoe motion. The referee decided to eject both Roberts and Anderson.
Roberts tried to come back out with his snake, but Tyson chased him off. That distraction allowed Cody to hit two Cross Rhodes to win.
I was digging that match until the end. It felt like Cody squeaked out the win through circumstance instead of being the better wrestler. All the extracurriculars of the finish were kind of unnecessary. At least it all made sense this time. Even tough Tyson didn’t punch anyone, he did more than enough to earn his appearance fee. His reactions to the action were funny.
This is a rematch I’d like to see. Perhaps inside a steel cage to keep everyone else at bay. Cody and Archer have good chemistry together. I enjoy the way Archer uses his force, while Cody uses strategy to overcome.
Hikaru Shida pulled off the upset by defeating Nyla Rose to win the AEW Women’s Championship in a no DQ, no count-out affair. Despite my rooting for Shida, I didn’t think she had it in her to take down the Native Beast. Shida’s win provided the feel-good moment of Double or Nothing.
The fight spilled to the outside early with Nyla often in control. Shida came back with a big running knee strike stepping up off a poker chip prop to fly through the air.
The end had several close moments that made me believe the match was over. Nyla powerbombed Shida through a table leaning against the corner, but Shida got her shoulder up on the pin. Shida rebounded with a super Falcon Arrow, but Nyla kicked out of the pin. I thought for sure in that particular moment we were getting a new champ. The slam was huge. Yet, the fight continued.
Shida grabbed the kendo stick to hit a home run alongside Nyla’s head. Shida nailed Nyla with another running knee strike for the three count. That moment of Shida’s victory got an empathic, “Ohhhh!” out of me. She is such a pure babyface and easy to root for. Likewise, Nyla is a big bully and easy to root against.
The Machine is All Elite
The big story coming out of the Casino Ladder Match is Brian Cage joining the AEW roster as the mystery man. Even more shocking is that Cage was accompanied by Taz.
The Casino Ladder Match had 2 minutes between entrants. The goal was to climb the ladder and retrieve a hanging poker chip. The prize is a future world title shot. The order of entrants were Frankie Kazarian, Scorpio Sky, Kip Sabian with Jimmy Havoc, Darby Allin, Orange Cassidy, Colt Cabana, Joey Janela, Luchasaurus, and Brian Cage.
SCU members were first, but they didn’t go full tilt on each other. Sabian appeared to be at a 2-on-1 disadvantage, but his pal Havoc came in to equal the odds. Allin came out as a firecracker of action. Cassidy didn’t understand how to win and was not excited about having to spend energy climbing a ladder. Cabana had his fingers crushed by a ladder. Janela ran out for a cannonball off the stage. Luchasaurus powered his way through everyone. Cage destroyed anyone who stood in his way.
The craziest move came from Darby Allin. He leaped off a tall ladder in a skateboard stunt to crash into a horizontal ladder. It looked like a legitimate injury to Darby’s leg. The best moment was everyone ganging up on Cage to pile ladders and heavy props on top of him.
In the end, Taz ordered Cage to make an example out of Darby. After a Drill Claw piledriver, Cage gorilla pressed Darby with a ladder out of the ring down to the floor. No one was left in Cage’s way to climb to the top to win.
One of the questions coming out of this match are the rules for cashing in the poker chip for an AEW World Championship spot. That was never explained.
I’ll give credit to AEW for trying to make this ladder match different. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. All the comedy from Cassidy was amusing. As were all the random run-ins from Marko Stunt and the Best Friends. However, I felt it stifled the momentum of action. It all became a little too cute for its own good.
If you wanted a big player as the mystery entrant, then Cage fits that bill. He has all the tools to thrive in the AEW environment. Add in Taz as his manager, and now his story is hot as a feud with Allin. I love that move by Taz. We know this will lead to a match between Cage and Allin. Too bad Allin is going to lose again.
Let’s jam through the rest of Dynamite.
MJF defeated Jungle Boy. I think this was the best bout of the evening. This match had a classic story of babyface in peril against a rotten heel. MJF was rude and crude while breaking the rules. He focused heavily on hurting Jungle Boy’s arm. That strategy paid off as Jungle Boy couldn’t hit all his moves or get clean pins, such as after an avalanche Liger bomb. MJF won in the end using a modified European clutch pin.
Much like we talk about Darby Allin and Sammy Guevara as being career opponents, MJF and Jungle Boy are in that same realm. Their characters mesh so well together as good guy and bad guy. This was a star cementing effort from MJF. One critique has been that he isn’t that exciting in the ring. MJF pulled out his big moves to earn your PPV dollars. He also showed versatility in technical prowess to win with a sly pin. As far as I’m convinced, MJF has proven that he can go in the ring.
Dustin Rhodes defeated Shawn Spears. Spears came out dressed in a suit. He didn’t think Dustin would show up, so he trolled us with Dustin’s entrance music. No one came out. Spears demanded that the match begin and the referee start a count-out. Dustin’s music hit again. Brandi came out to provide a distraction for Dustin to enter the ring from behind. Dustin won with Final Reckoning in under five minutes. The comedy was Dustin ripping Spears’ clothes off to reveal of picture of Tully Blanchard’s face on the crotch of Spears’ underwear.
This was an amusing little segment but not worthy for this PPV. It would have been perfect for Dynamite. I think one drawback to the drama is that I never questioned Dustin was going to return. I didn’t realize we were supposed to.
Dustin is back and he can continue his career as the tag team partner of QT Marshall. Dustin can resume this mini feud by connecting back to the story of Spears’ search for a tag team partner.
Kris Statlander defeated Penelope Ford. Solid performance from both women. This match was better than I was expecting for a last-minute replacement bout. It was a gymnastics fight with lots of grunting and screaming. Statlander won in the end by catching Ford’s back handspring strike into a powerbomb then executing Big Bang Theory.
Dr. Britt Baker DMD health update. AEW’s doctor informed us that she has a tibia fracture and knee ligament tears. The injury is not as bad as the high-maintenance patient. As a role model, Baker wanted to announce her return timetable herself. That will happen Wednesday night on Dynamite.
Best Friends defeated Private Party. This bout was on the pre-show. The winner earned a future tag team title shot. It was hard-hitting despite such fancy moves. Private Party had a nice moment by hitting the G9 Samoan drop & running front flip neckbreaker combo to salute Shad Gaspard of Cryme Tyme. For the finish, Chuck Taylor smashed Kassidy into the ring post then the Best Friends hit Strong Zero to win.
I’m glad Best Friends triumphed. They have been putting in major work during these coronavirus shows. That team deserves the reward of a title shot. Plus, I want to see more of Trent versus Kenny Omega.
Last thought. Three minor things I loved were Lance Archer shattering a toilet with a sledgehammer in the pre-show, Jimmy Havoc’s blood-stained print for his suit jacket, and Kip Sabian using crutches and being bandaged on his thigh, knee, ribs, neck, and shoulder to sell the pain from the Casino Ladder Match.
AEW specializes in having fun wrestling shows. Double or Nothing was close to four hours, and I rarely stopped smiling. I enjoyed most stories told in each match. The little touches for scouting and referring back to past moments enhanced the viewing experience. I also appreciate that there was relatively minimal interference during contests. AEW gave us definitive finishes for these PPV feuds.
Share your thoughts about this episode of Dynamite. How do you rate it? Which match was your favorite? Who stole the show?