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AEW Double or Nothing 2022 recap & reactions: Best in the World

AEW Double or Nothing (May 29, 2022) emanated from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The PPV featured CM Punk winning the AEW World Championship, sports entertainment stealing the show, a handful of surprise debuts, and so much more.

Get caught up on all the Double or Nothing details with the excellent play-by-play from Claire Elizabeth.

Let’s run down the card from top to bottom.

AEW World Championship: CM Punk won the title from Hangman Page. The cowboy set out to destroy, annihilate, and embarrass Punk. He was on that path early with bruising offense. Punk calls himself the Best in the World for a reason, and it showed by preventing the Buckshot Lariat in crucial moments. Punk played possum to charge forward and knock Hangman off the apron on the first attempt. Other Buckshot attempts by Hangman were blocked or countered. Punk managed to hit a Buckshot of his own, however, his knee gave out on the landing so there wasn’t enough force behind the lariat. Hangman dipped into his arsenal for a Deadeye piledriver, but that couldn’t keep Punk down. Hangman connected on a GTS. That couldn’t keep Punk down either.

Down the stretch, both men suffered knee pain to the extent that they hobbled like senior citizens. Hangman clotheslined Punk out of the ring and tossed him over a table. Hangman grabbed the title belt to shout that Punk would never have it. Referee Paul Turner snatched the gold to place in the corner of the ring. Hangman went for the Buckshot one more time. Punk countered for a GTS pickup. As he swung Hangman around, the cowboy’s boots cracked the referee in the head. Ref down! Hangman wriggled free and flattened Punk with a lariat.

With the referee incapacitated, Hangman picked up the title belt with bad intentions. He reared up for clobbering time but had second thoughts. Hangman dropped the foreign object. Instead, he took flight for a Buckshot Lariat. Punk countered for a GTS to win. CM Punk is the AEW world champion.

Great match until the weak and unsatisfying finish. I appreciate how the flow fit right inside the lead up in the feud. The Buckshot and GTS moments throughout added intriguing drama.

It’s too bad the finish was overdone in a bad way. Hangman was in control. He didn’t need the object, and it’s not like Punk was cheating to deserve it. Punk wrestled a clean fight. Hangman’s private reasons for hating Punk haven’t been established well enough for it to make sense. With Hangman’s extended hesitation, it allowed Punk precious recovery time to counter with a GTS. Instead of feeling like the era of Punk has begun, it leaves me feeling like Hangman beat himself. I would totally favor Hangman in a rematch for that reason. I do like how Hangman declined to cheat as a babyface cowboy. That makes me still want to root for him. Credit to Punk though. He adapted to the situation to earn the win.

AEW World Tag Team Championship: Jurassic Express retained against Ricky Starks & Will Hobbs and Swerve Strickland & Keith Lee in a three-way. Christian Cage was ringside, and his presence was valuable by preventing two cheats from Starks. In the end, Jurassic Express hit Thoracic Express on Swerve to win.

This bout was wild and woolly. It delivered as expected with fast-paced action and believable close pinfalls. I thought for sure Swerve and Lee were winners after connecting on their finisher to Jungle Boy, but Hobbs broke the cover. That’s the chaotic nature of so many participants. The powerhouse showdown from the hosses brought me joy. Lee took it up a notch with an overhead toss to send Hobbs out of the ring then a running cannonball leaping over the ropes to the outside.

I’m glad Jurassic Express were victorious. They’ve put in the work during their reign, and they deserve matches against the prime players in the division, such as FTR, Hardys, Blackpool Combat Club. I’m curious to see how Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus stack up against those elite squads.

Anarchy in the Arena: Jericho Appreciation Society defeated Eddie Kingston, Santana, Ortiz, Bryan Danielson, & Jon Moxley. Absolute insanity. Justin Roberts set the mood with his introduction by saying shit is about to hit the fan. Indeed it did. Rules were anything goes with a win by pinfall or submission in the ring. Moxley’s music played on loop as the brawl began. The tunes only stopped when Chris Jericho destroyed the soundboard. Early highlights include Santana and Ortiz with a Street Sweeper through a table, Daniel Garcia with a jumping piledriver off the apron onto ring steps, and Santana and Ortiz jumping off a tall ladder for splashes through tables.

Kingston fulfilled his promo by pouring gasoline on Jericho and trying to burn him alive. Danielson wasn’t having that and knocked the lighter out of Kingston’s hand. Those two teammates beat each other up while Moxley tried to separate them.

Jericho and Hager took advantage for a trip to pound town. Hager trucked Mox off the apron onto a barbed-wire board. Jericho blasted Kingston with a Judas Effect. Danielson had fighting spirit to hit a running knee on Jericho, but he couldn’t last the numbers game.

Earlier, Jon Moxley made a mess ripping the top rope apart from the ring. That played a role in the finish. Hager turned to the tide toward victory when he used a turnbuckle wrench to violently smash Danielson’s knee. Jericho hooked a single-leg crab while Hager used the ring ropes to choke Danielson. Referee Aubrey Edwards called for the bell when Danielson passed out.

That sports entertainment spectacle was a blast. It wasn’t an easy viewing experience to start with so much going on all over the place. Once everyone got close to the ring, it was smoother to digest. The action lived up to the name of the match, however, it was the stories within the story that elevated it. Kingston going psycho was a nice tease for this evening. Even though he didn’t get his revenge, it was enough to keep us salivating for a singles rematch with Jericho. That may have to wait though. The tussle between Danielson and Kingston is the match I want most as soon as possible. After that, Danielson can target Hager and Jericho. I like that Jericho’s crew were victorious. They needed the win to establish themselves as a strong unit. JAS are goofs no longer.

AEW Women’s World Championship: Thunder Rosa retained against Serena Deeb. The gritty match was a technical battle early. Down the stretch, Deeb took control with a chop block to apply a figure-four. Thunder sat up, and the two threw furious blows. They rolled the submission across the mat to fall down to the floor. Upon reentry, Deeb seized for a dragon screw in the ropes. Deeb hit a Detox slam then went for a Serenity Lock. Thunder was too feisty, so Deeb powerbombed her instead. That set up a cloverleaf from the Professor. Thunder reached the ropes for the break. The champ dug deep to rally for a superplex. Thunder didn’t waste any time for a Fire Thunder Driver to win.

Very good match. I think it would fit in the classic Intercontinental Championship workhorse scene. The action was smart, intense, and exciting. Both excelled in their strengths. Deeb was highly efficient picking Thunder apart. Thunder wrestled with passion to remind us why she grew in popularity. Being in the ring is Thunder’s strong suit, and AEW needs to get back to that for her title reign to become memorable. The result felt like Thunder escaped with victory rather than showed she was better than Deeb. That leaves room down the line for an interesting rematch.

Kyle O’Reilly defeated Darby Allin. Allin first focused on taking out the leg as payback for injuring Sting. O’Reilly was too skilled and schooled Allin on the mat. Allin had to rely on what he does best, which is throwing his body around with abandon. Allin rallied with a Code Red, Scorpion Death Drop, and suicide dive. On a second suicide dive, O’Reilly caught him for a guillotine choke. O’Reilly’s ankle lock was reversed into a Scorpion Deathlock. Once both men were on their feet, the match erupted into a slugfest. O’Reilly gained the advantage with three penalty kicks. He connected with a flying knee drop to the back. O’Reilly made the pin to win in a surprise.

This bout was an afterthought for the PPV, and yet Allin and O’Reilly went out to put on a banger. It is one to seek out if you haven’t seen it. Allin seemed like a lock to win, but O’Reilly served him a beating. I was shocked that O’Reilly emerged victorious. It makes sense when analyzing the gameplan. O’Reilly used technical prowess to counteract Allin’s emotional fighting.

Scorpio Sky, Ethan Page, & Paige VanZant defeated Frankie Kazarian, Sammy Guevara, & Tay Conti. The story was Kaz not getting along with Sammy and Tay. The lovers built ill will by tagging themselves in over Kaz and kissing with cocky celebrations. Kaz had enough and bailed for a bit. He picked his spot to tag himself in and come back for a slingshot cutter to Sky. After Sky kicked out on the cover, Tay got in Kaz’s face. Sammy charged for a superkick to his partner. Kaz ducked and Sammy clobbered Tay.

Kaz dumped Sammy out of the ring. Men of the Year took advantage of the situation. Page walloped Kaz with a roundhouse kick. Sky finished Kaz with a TKO. Per Sky’s stipulations, that win means Kaz and Sammy can no longer challenge him for the TNT Championship.

VanZant was the draw for many in this match. She did well for a beginner. Big moves were a handspring elbow, a whirling DDT, and a Michinoku Driver. The sample size is small, but I do believe VanZant can have a bright future in professional wrestling. The match overall was entertaining in a goofy way with Sammy and Tay hamming it up. It was nice to see Kaz get fed up. That should set up a good match against Sammy. It was also nice to see the Men of the Year win, because Sky can now move on to fresh challengers. The team feud as a whole may not be over just yet. There is still meat on the bone for a singles bout between VanZant and Conti.

Shout-out to Conti for her exaggerated expressions in this match. It was so over-the-top that it was hilarious.

Owen Hart women’s tournament final: Dr. Britt Baker DMD defeated Ruby Soho. Soho started with intensity for a flying dropkick to the outside and a suplex on the floor. Baker was too tough to go out like that. She regrouped to punish Soho’s ribs with pain. Soho came back for a superplex and a flying senton bomb. Her ribs were visibly affecting her performance after that landing. Soho managed to nail a No Future kick. After a kick out from Baker, Soho slapped on an ugly Sharpshooter. Soho’s rib pain was the excuse for the unexcellence of execution. Baker reached the ropes for the break. Soho went for a victory roll. Baker reversed to earn the three-count.

This was a hard-fought, competitive match with good drama and intensity. It went down to the wire not knowing who would prevail. I don’t have any issues with Baker winning the tournament. Some will say Baker didn’t need the victory. To that I say, the tournament needed Baker to win. Baker as champion makes it a bigger deal than Soho as champion. Respect to Baker for keeping it classy. No cheating, no interference, and she shook Soho’s hand afterward. It will be interesting to see where Soho goes from here. She was well-prepared to escape the Lockjaw and still came up short. Based on her promos, she might enter a pit of despair.

Owen Hart men’s tournament final: Adam Cole defeated Samoa Joe. Mike Chioda was the special referee. Joe chopped Cole with his strength advantage. Cole relied on attacking Joe’s tender shoulder to grind down the Samoan. Joe had momentum when he caught a superkick and delivered a powerbomb. Joe transitioned to a submission, but Cole reached the ropes for the break. Bobby Fish ran out as a distraction. Joe was savvy enough to duck Cole’s knee strike finisher. Joe countered for a sleeper. Joe then inexplicable took the bait to let go of the sleeper and punch Fish. Cole capitalized with kicks to the head and lowered the boom to win.

The match held my attention with the strategy between Joe and Cole. Too bad the finish was whack. Cole was earning my respect through this tournament, then AEW pulls that tired old garbage distraction finish. This one didn’t even make sense from Joe. That finish leaves a stinky smell on the whole men’s tournament, and Cole is back to being a high-class jabroni in my eyes. Cole can make up for it by shouting, “I am not a nugget.”

Owen Hart champion celebration. After the wins from power couple Cole and Baker, Dr. Martha Hart gave a speech in honor of Owen and presented the trophy cup and championship belts to the winners. It was a respectful conclusion to the Owen Hart tournament.

House of Black defeated Death Triangle. Crazy action all the way through. Down the stretch, Penta hurdled over Fenix for a Mexican Destroyer to Buddy Matthews on the apron. Penta held Brody King hanging off the apron for a flying stomp DDT combo with Fenix. PAC and Malakai Black tussled in the ring with PAC gaining control for a Black Arrow. Lights out! Lights on, and Julia Hart was in the ring to spit black mist into PAC’s face. Black finished with a head kick to win.

If there is a case for an official trios championship, this match was it. It was electric the entire time. AEW is deep enough with their factions that it would be easy to keep the division rocking. The action delivered as expected with all that talent in the ring. As for the finish, I didn’t like it. It is cool that Hart aligned with the House of Black, however, this was not the place for it. The feud between Death Triangle and House of Black has been going on so long that we deserved a definitive winner to know which group is better. We didn’t get that with Hart’s black mist. Nothing was settled, and the war should rage on.

TBS Championship: Jade Cargill retained against Anna Jay with debuts from Malcolm Bivens and Ember Moon. Jade powerhoused to start, then Jay rallied with a superplex and flying neckbreaker. Red Velvet and Kiera Hogan tried to interfere, but Jay pounded them with a double DDT on the floor. Inside the ring, Jay escaped Jaded to deliver a thrust kick. Mark Sterling limped down to slide his crutch in the ring. Anna intercepted to use it for a side Russian leg sweep on Jade. John Silver ran down for a brainbuster to Sterling on the floor.

Jade took advantage of the distraction for an Eye of the Storm slam. Jay escaped Jaded again to counter with the Queen Slayer choke. Jade backed into the corner to get free. That’s when Stokely Hathaway (fka Malcolm Bivens) arrived. That distraction allowed Jade to hit a super Jaded off the turnbuckles for victory.

Afterward, Kris Statlander ran in the ring to protect Jay. They were still outnumbered by the Baddies. That’s when Athena (fka Ember Moon) arrived on the scene to help the goodies. Lines were drawn, a staredown ensued, but no fisticuffs erupted.

There was a lot to like and some not to like about this match. All the chaos and debuts were exciting. The surprises of Hathaway and Athena will have fans with visions of sugar-plums dancing in their heads as they dream in anticipation of Dynamite. The in-ring action was solid to present Jay as an actual threat.

The not-so-good was that Jade was completely overshadowed as champion. That’s not a knock on her. Going in, this was one bout that fans can agree didn’t belong on the PPV card. The matchup was shoved together with not much story. It’s like AEW realized this and overstuffed the segment with so much extras. When looking back on this match, Jade winning will be like the fifth thing remembered. Also, she shouldn’t need that much help to beat Jay at this moment in time. Jade needs to be a strong champion in her own right, so her first loss will be impactful. All this trifling has Jade falling into the same pattern as Kenny Omega and Dr. Britt Baker DMD as cheap cheater champions.

Hardys defeated Young Bucks. The bout began with one-upmanship in taunts. The pace picked up for signature spots. The Bucks tried to embarrass the Hardys with a Twist of Fate and Swanton to Jeff, but Brother Nero kicked out on the cover. That lead to a superkick party on the Hardys. Matt and Jeff got up demanding more superkicks. The Bucks obliged with rapid-fire style. The Hardys still wanted more, so the Bucks delivered a pair of double superkicks to each. Jeff kicked out on the cover.

The Bucks set up the ring steps with bad intentions, but it backfired when Matt Hardy powerbomb Nick. Jeff rallied with a swanton onto Matt Jackson on the steps. Inside the ring, Matt hit a Twist of Fate on Nick. The Buck still had life for a backslide, so Matt flattened him with a Side Effect and Twist of Fate. Jeff sealed the deal with a swanton onto Nick for the win.

The Hardys and Young Bucks rocked the ring with high-energy. I’m not a big fan of the Bucks, but their PPV matches always have me oohing and aahing in the end. I enjoyed the gamesmanship during the contest, especially Matt Hardy fulfilling his promo about eating superkicks. It was the right call for the Hardys to win. They showed they are still a top tag team in AEW. Whether or not the Hardys win gold, the chase will be fun. For the Bucks, they are in a spot where high-profile losses don’t diminish their appeal. A quick streak of wins, and they can easily be back in the championship conversation.

Wardlow defeated MJF. Wardlow was kept in a holding cell prior to the match. MJF’s plan was evasive maneuvers to stall, but Wardlow eventually picked him up for a powerbomb. MJF bit Wardlow on the head to get free. When Wardlow roared, MJF poked him in the eye. On a hurricanrana pin, MJF claimed to damage his knee. It was a ruse to pull out the Dynamite Diamond Ring. Referee Bryce Remsburg was standing over MJF’s shoulder and immediately confiscated the foreign object. MJF tried to weasel out by offering to increase Wardlow’s pay fourfold. Handshake to seal the deal, except Wardlow did not let go.

Let the powerbomb symphony begin.

Wardlow hit five. He put his foot on MJF’s chest for the easy pin. 1, 2, Wardlow stepped off to deliver five more powerbombs. Wardlow finally ended MJF’s misery with a pin to win. MJF was taken out on a stretcher. Per the stipulation, Wardlow is a free man from MJF’s contract. Post-match, Wardlow was announced as All Elite.

Fantastic way to wrap up this story. And a star is made in Wardlow. Seeing Wardlow powerbomb MJF multiple times was the draw, and I like that AEW didn’t waste much time giving the people what they want. MJF set up it well with his antics, and Wardlow sold the powerbomb satisfaction excellently.

Hook & Danhausen defeated Tony Nese & Mark Sterling. Hot tag to Hook, who tossed Nese around the ring. Sterling accidentally tagged in, so Hook beat him up. Hot tag to Danhausen to step on Sterling’s chest for the win.

The pre-show contest did its job as fun comedy to warm up the crowd. Hook brought the action, but I thought he was a little too invincible against the #5 ranked Nese. That can be overlooked though, since this bout was more about a good time than a proper wrestling match.

Notes: Andrade brought in Rush as his new business partner. Ingobernables unite. Hopefully Dragon Lee and Dralistico are not far behind.

Dante Martin challenged Scorpio Sky for the TNT title on Dynamite.

Stud of the Show: Kyle O’Reilly

O’Reilly stepped up to make a name for himself with the biggest win of his AEW career.

Match of the Night: Anarchy in the Arena

When the PPV started, I never expected this would be my pick. The madness was off the charts in a way that made sense. Plus, it was entertaining from start to finish. That’s hard to do for a fight with so many moving parts. Chris Jericho truly is the master of sports entertainment.

Grade: B+

A for action, surprises, special entrances, big-fight feel. AEW makes PPVs a party experience. The grade lowers due to the handful of lackluster finishes.

Share your thoughts about Double or Nothing. How do you rate it? Who stole the show?

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