Double or Nothing 2020 is around the corner, and despite no fans in attendance it will still be a celebration of the company that has now been holding events for a year. In this article, we will rewatch Double or Nothing 2019 with or takeaways and the benefit of hindsight to learn what worked and what didn’t.
AEW was launched on January 1st. The event sold out within 4 minutes of tickets going on sale. Originally Hangman Adam Page was supposed to face Pac, but Pac pulled out due to wanting to protect his status as the Dragon Gate Champion. There was a rally and a road to series that built up the event.
The first thing that strikes me is how shaky the commentary is. IT’s really improved, but it was very rough. They are going through the matches and if you knew nothing going in they aren’t exactly pumping you up. But it should be said it is miles improved now.
Looking at the Casino Battle-Royal I’m surprised it hasn’t become a yearly thing (or at least hasn’t yet). Dutin Thomas, MJF, Sunny Days, Brandon Cutler, and Michael Nakazawa start off. MJF had so much heat already. He called Dustin Thomas (who if you aren’t familiar with him, has no legs) ‘Lt. Dan’. They said they were going to randomly shuffle the deck but the commentators say the diamonds are next before the actual draw. The announcement wasn’t very emphatic, it sounded like an announcement of how long is left in the match.
The Diamonds enter, it’s Issiah Kassidy, Jimmy Havoc, Joey Janela, Brian Pillman Jr., and Shawn Spears. Pillman is over, and Shawn Spears gets a huge pop when he comes out. MJF is the star of the match so far, he is getting such a loud reaction. Shawn Spears gets a huge ’20’ chant. It’s a shame they didn’t play any entrance music, playing 15 seconds of entrance music for each entrant would have given the wrestlers more identity and a chance to get a bigger reaction.
The Hearts are next, Billy Gunn, Glacier, Jungle Boy, MArq Quen, Ace Romero. Nakazawa is the first eliminated. Glacier went through the middle rope, nobody reminded us he wasn’t eliminated. Glacier blows mist at Daze and eliminates him, before he’s eliminated by MJF. Havoc stables a lit cigarette onto Janela’s head, but the cameras don’t do a great job at showing it.
The spades come out, Luchasaurus, Marko Stunt, Sonny Kiss, Tommy Dreamer, and Orange Cassidy. The production isn’t great because the announcements and the camera aren’t in sync. Ace Romero does a dive through the middle rope, I don’t know how he fit. Tommy Dreamer brings in a trash can to a huge ovation.
Hangman Adam Page comes out as the Joker Card. He’s got his knee taped. He gets a big ovation. If you remember he was getting go-away heat before the title match but was over here. I’m glad he’s back on track.
The match is fun but a bit messy. The crowd are into it but we probably should have had more eliminations by now. The bump Marko Stunt took when getting eliminated was impressive, and Jungle Boy eliminating Romero got a huge reaction.
Dustin Thomas was really over, as was Brandon Cutler. Orange Cassidy did his stiff kicks and got a big pop. His hands in the pockets stuff is over. For some reason the commentators call him the 22nd man even though he was one of the spades.
The final 4 are MJF, Luchasaurus, Jimmy Havoc, and Hangman Adam Page. Luchasaurus could be a future maineventer. MJF thinks he’s won but Hangman eliminates him to a huge reaction. The match itself was fun but the production was very messy. I’m glad to say a year on that has improved.
Winner: Hangman Adam Page
After the match Kylie Rae was being interviewed but it turned into a Librarian segment. The Librarian stuff was terrible, truly bad. I’m glad it didn’t continue to get a high profile spot.
Kip Sabian v Sammy Guevara
For the first ever singles match in AEW Sammy Guevara enters first. He had different music, his new theme suits him better. I don’t know if anybody realized how big a name he would be a year on. Being associated with Chris Jericho has done wonders for him. Kip Sabian comes out next. He’s not really in the character he has taken now. He seems more comfortable nowadays than in this match.
Winner: Kip Sabian
Both competitors did a really good job of drawing the crowd into the match and making it feel important. The finish was exciting.
The Elite come out to end the Buy-In. They are really over. The crowd are really into this event.
SoCal Uncensored v Strong Hearts
SCU get a huge reaction. There’s confusion on commentary when JR asks Ecalibur to explain the rules but Excalibur points out Christopher Daniels is going to say something. SCU were the right choice to be inaugural tag champs. They are experienced enought to have given the belt legitimacy, but at the same time they weren’t hurt when they eventually lost the belts.
It’s surprising we haven’t seen more of the Strong Hearts or other OWE talent on Dynamite. Daniels got the pin after the Best Meltzer Ever. The crowd were really into it.
Britt Baker v Kylie Rae v Nyla Rose v Awesome Kong
Allie joins commentary. She is much more bubbly then she is now as The Bunny. She keeps saying she’s so excited. Kylie Rae enters. It seems like Kylie was going to get a big push. She probably would have been in and around the title picture. Britt Baker was really over, but she is much better now as a heel. When Awesome Kong’s music hit and she was announced for the match the place went wild. It’s such a shame she got injured, she could have been huge in the women’s division.
Winner: Britt Baker
Baker seemed like she would be a really great face, but she is doing much better as a heel. I’m glad the whole Nightmare Collective thing ended, it wasn’t getting over.
Best Friends v The Hybrid2
You could tell from this match that tag team wrestling was going to be taken seriously in AEW. What I like about these tag matches is that they aren’t all the same formula. This match has a really good pace. It looks like Best Friends could get a push towards the tag titles. Their hug was over here and still is, but nobody said “Got to give the people what they want”. Best Friends would be a good choice to take the belts off Omega and Hangman. They’ve had run-ins with Omega recently, and Hangman and Omega look like they will break up and feud soon. Maybe Double or Nothing 2020 is the beginning if Best Friends win the no.1 Contenders match.
The Hybrid 2 were really impressive here. They haven’t been prominently featured in AEW so far, but I think they’ll be good hands in the tag division.
Winners: Best Friends
Watching the Dark Order attack after the match you wouldn’t have thought a year on they would be in a main event angle. Brodie Lee is the best thing to happen to them. The crowd were kind of into it but also chanted “Who are you?”.
Hikaru Shida, Riho, & Ryo Mizunami v Aja Kong, Emi Sakura, & Yuka Sakazaki
Riho comes out first with very different music. She seemed like the right choice at the time to be the first Women’s Champion, but looking back she wasn’t around enough during her reign. Yuka Sakazaki’s theme music is incredibly stupid and if somebody could show me how to make it my ringtone that would be great.
The match is going down great. “This is wrestling” chants. Aja Kong did a STIFF kick to Riho and he crowd ate it up. The bell rang for a two-count, not sure if it was intentional or not. Shida wins with a knee on Sakura. I’m glad to see Shida in the women’s title picture, even if she doesn’t win the title just yet.
The match gets a standing ovation.
Winners: Hikaru Shida, Riho, and Ryo Mizunami
We go to the commentators and JR didn’t know where we were supposed to go. It’s been a great show but these production issues take away from the viewing experience.
Cody v Dustin Rhodes
This is one of my favorite matches of all time. It’s amazing how both Cody and Dustin are somehow more over now than they were here, because they both got a huge reaction. The crowd are so into both of these guys.
The tone drastically shifts when the blood starts flowing. ‘A Waterfall of blood’. Every piece of Dustin offence gets a huge pop. This match has perfect psychology. The blood is everywhere.
In the final stretch every move gets the crowd off their seats. Cody winning was the right choice, he had to win at the first ever AEW event. He’d be the right choice to be the first TNT Champion. Dustin would be worthy of an AEW Championship reign. He can still go, it wouldn’t have to be long. He could be the kind of Champion that’s a survivor rather than dominant.
AEW World Championship Reveal
Bret Hart gets a huge ovation coming out to reveal the AEW Championship Belt. It’s the first time we ever saw it. Hart flubs a line and says “It’s been a while”. Hangman comes out and gets a big cheer. It’s a shame he started getting go-away-heat before the title match. I think that was unfair. I’m glad he’s over again as a face. MJF was incredibly over as a heel even back then. He is such a good talker for somebody so young. Loud ‘asshole’ chants. He is incredible at being at a massive dick. If you didn’t know who he was before this, you knew all about him now. “I’m no horse professor” is a great line.
JungleBoy comes out and gets a big cheer. It’s coole that MJF and JungleBoy are facing eachother at this years Double or Nothing having had a run-in yesterday. Jimmy Havoc comes out. This was a good way to get a few people from the preshow on the main show and introducing some midcarders/future stars. A camera man nearly walked into Hangman.
The camera missed the reveal of the championship belt at first but got it afterwards. It’s a beautiful belt. It looks like a World title, it looks like a big deal.
AAA World Tag Team Championships:
The Young Bucks v Lucha Bros
It really added something to the card to have a title match on the show. They were right not to have any AEW titles on the line yet, because they needed more times to build contendership. Having the AAA titles on the line helped boost the partnership between the two companies. Particularly now that Kenny Omega is the AAA Mega Champion.
The Young Bucks won with the Meltzer Driver. It was an exciting match. What you would expect. I’m really glad the they haven’t run this pairing into the ground and have kept them somewhat separate. They can have a great series for the tag titles at some point soon, and Rey Fenix and Pentagon could be big stars in the main event scene.
It was smart not to have the Young Bucks monopolize the tag title scene so early in AEW. They should probably go win the titles soon, maybe after Blood and Guts happens. But it makes sense that they have let other teams get some attention.
Winners: The Young Bucks (Retain)
Chris Jericho v Kenny Omega
Always the right choice to main event the first AEW event. Two of the biggest stars. Chris Jericho has defined AEW in it’s first year. He was the right choice to legitimize the World Championship by being the first star to hold it.
The match was full of counters and kickouts with some big bumps. Crucially they protected both finishers. The Judas Effect got the win, and has since been a killer move.
Winner: Chris Jericho
After the match there was a huge reaction in the crowd. Jon Moxley appeared, laid out Chris Jericho, and brawled with Kenny Omega. Moxley was the right choice to take the belt from Jericho, and Omega should beat Moxley eventually to finally rise to the top of the mountain to bring things full circle.
AEW has had a successful year, and Double or Nothing helped by being an incredible event. There were production issues, but that side of thing has drastically improved. A year on, AEW has fulfilled it’s goal of becoming an alternative in mainstream wrestling.
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