The SmarK Rant for AEW Double or Nothing – 05.25.19
Live from Las Vegas, NV
Your hosts are Jim Ross, Excalibur & Alex Marvez
Christopher Daniels, Kazarian & Scorpio Sky v. #Stronghearts (T-Hawk, CIMA & El Lindaman)
CIMA has certainly been around for a minute. Not familiar with T-Hawk or Lindaman. CIMA and Daniels do some tumbling to a stalemate as the announcers give the background on the OWE promotion and detail how tag matches here have a 10-count from the ref to get illegal men out of the ring. Duly noted. T-Hawk comes in with some chops on Kaz, but Scorpio comes in with a dropkick off a blind tag, but he tries a rana and gets spiked with a powerbomb for two. Lindaman with a standing frog splash for two, but he gets caught in the SCU corner and triple-teamed. Kaz with the corner dropkick for two and Daniels with a flipping neckbreaker for two. Lindaman gets the tag to T-Hawk and the OWE crew cleans house and then goes to work on Daniels. CIMA and T-Hawk double-team him with a double hiptoss slam and Lindaman pounds him in the corner, into a rolling leglock from T-Hawk before Scorpio saves. Daniels fights out with the STO and makes a hot tag to Sky. He blocks a backdrop by jumping in the air and stomping on CIMA’s back, which is amazing. But then the Stronghearts suddenly fire off suplexes on him in succession, with Lindaman getting a german suplex for two. Lindaman with a sunset flip, but Scorpio rolls through into a dropkick and brings Kazarian back in. Kaz tries a rollup on T-Hawk, but CIMA breaks it up, so Kaz suplexes CIMA while holding the rollup on T-Hawk and that gets two. And then we go nuts with everyone firing off their big moves one after another until Daniels and T-Hawk clothesline each other for the double down. They slug it out and Daniels hits the Angels Wings, but Lindaman deadlifts him into a german suplex to save and gets two. CIMA flies in with a meteora for two, but Kazarian throws them out and Sky hits them with a dive. This leaves Lindaman alone in the ring for the Best Meltzer Ever to finish at 13:47. Hell of an opener! ****
“Smiley” Kylie Rae v. Nyla Rose v. Dr. Britt Baker
The dynamic is pretty easy to handle here, I think. Rose is the monster, Rae is the member of the Wiggles, and Britt is a dentist. So Rose can knock out Kylie’s teeth and then Baker can fix them. But then Brandi Rhodes interrupts to tease joining the match, and gives us our first surprise of the night…
Kylie Rae v. Nyla Rose v. Dr. Britt Baker v. Awesome Kong
I’m gonna be disappointed if we don’t get a “Welfare Queen” chant. Everyone attacks Kong and that goes pretty badly. Baker manages to put Kong on the floor and Kylie rolls her up for two off that, but Baker ducks a superkick and gets her own rollup for two. Rae misses a blind charge, but Kong pulls Baker out of the ring and Rae hits them both with a dive. Nyla Rose returns and beats on Rae in the ring with a legdrop for two. Kylie fights back and walks into a spinebuster, which gets two. Baker comes back with the sling blade on Rose for two, but Nyla gets a samoan drop to put Baker on the floor again. Powerbomb on Rae is reversed into a sunset flip for two. Everyone kind of collides in the corner as this gets pretty sloppy, and Rose goes up to set up the first ever AEW Tower of Doom spot as Kong powerbombs everyone. She wallops Baker outside and tries the powerbomb off the apron, but Britt escapes and kicks her to the floor, followed by Nyla spearing her into the stairs. So that leaves Kylie and Britt in the ring, and Kylie rolls into a superkick before taking a neckbreaker for two. Kylie blocks a rollup with a deadlift german suplex for two, but Rae walks into a superkick that knocks the bow off her head, and Baker hits the ushigoroshi for the pin at 11:10. Hard work from everyone despite the messiness. *** JR snarking about how they can actually say the ref’s name in AEW is pretty funny. Yeah, well, no one cares about referee names anyway.
Trent Baretta & Chuck Taylor v. Angelico & Jack Evans
I really liked Angelico in Lucha Underground and I’m glad to see he escaped from there without legal trouble. Man, THAT was a promotion that ended ugly. Baretta overpowers Evans and the Best Friends double-team him, but go for the hug and get jumped. They double-team Baretta with an Evans stomp onto an Angelico suplex, and kick him down into a standing 450 from Evans for two. Angelico slams Baretta into a half crab, but Taylor saves. Evans cuts off the tag, however, and Baretta fights back with a lariat out of the corner and makes the hot tag to Chuck. He suplexes Angelico into Evans and hits Jack with the falcon arrow for two. This contradicts his saying that “no one kicks out of the falcon arrow”, unfortunately. Taylor hits Sliced Bread on Angelico outside and Baretta DDTs Evans into a Taylor flying stomp for two. They double-team Evans and stop for the BEST FRIENDS HUG, complete with Okada zoom-out, and hit Evans with a crucifix bomb into a cutter for two. Evans gets rid of Taylor and fights back with a flying kick off Angelico’s back for two and then flies off Baretta’s back and dives onto Taylor outside. Angelico hits Trent with a buckle bomb into a 630 from Angelico for two, but Chuckie saves. Trent cradles Evans for two and the Friends regroup with a Doomsday Device on Evans, and then finish him with a stuff piledriver variation at 12:50. The Friends want a group hug, but then the lights go out and, uh, some guys in masks appear in the ring and lay everyone out. The crowd chants “Who are you?” so at least I’m not alone on this one. Maybe they signed the remains of the Aces & Eights? A great crazy tag match but that followup was pretty lame and a rare misstep from this show. ****1/4
Coming in August: All Out!
Riho & Ryo Mizunami & Hikaru Shida v. Aja Kong & Yuka Sakazaki & Emi Sakura
Can’t believe Aja Kong is still going. Aja overpowers Mizunami, but gets knocked down and recovers with strikes. Sakuka spins into a rollup on Riho and Sakazaki flies in with a seated senton and dropkick for two. Sakura beats on Riho and puts her in the surfboard, and then Kong comes in and kicks Riho HARD in the back. Elbow drop gets two. Aja with the piledriver while her teammates hold back the other girls, but it only gets two. Sakazaki with a rollup on Riho, but she rolls into a double stomp to escape and makes the tag to Mizunami, the power wrestler on the team. She spears Kong and beats on Sakazaki with chops in the corner and then follows with a corner clothesline. Deadlift german and lariat follow, but Aja comes back in and Riho hits her with a 619. Aja cuts her off again and MURDERS her with a backdrop driver, but that only gets two. Aja goes up and misses an elbow, and Shida comes in with an enzuigiri to set up a can v. stick showdown. Aja hits Shida in the knee with the metal can behind the ref’s back and it’s back to Sakura for a diving bodypress in the corner and they slug it out with forearms. Everyone is in and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA as Shida superplexes Sakura into a Mizunami legdrop for two. And then Aja just suplexes everyone out of the ring and Sakazaki hits them with a dive. Kong with a brainbuster on Shida and Sakura follows with a moonsault that gets a very close two that fools the timekeeper into ringing the bell. Kong accidentally backfists Sakura and Shida hits her with the running knee for the win at 13:05. Well, in keeping with Marvez’s theme of the night, there’s the first botched finish in AEW history! Still a hell of a joshi match and a lot of fun. ***3/4
Cody v. Dustin Rhodes
Cody gets the kiss-off of a lifetime, bringing out a familiar-looking King of Kings throne and then taking a sledgehammer from under the ring and smashing it. Funny how everyone in the match gets to be Rhodes except for Cody. Dustin, at 50, continues to look ageless except for the half of his face without makeup. This immediately has the big fight feel right away and they milk it with “Dusty” chants from the crowd while Cody preens around the ring. Cody grabs a headlock and hits the sliding punch before dumping Dustin and following with the dive. Cody throws Dustin into the ring, but Dustin swings back with a kick and then follows with a senton off the apron! Back in, Dustin with a bulldog and he slugs away in the corner, but Cody runs away with the flip flop and fly. Cody stops for some water outside, which allows Brandi the chance to interfere and Cody to take over with an abdominal stretch. Legwhip gets two. Powerslam out of the corner gets two. Dustin comes back with clotheslines and sets up the Shattered Nuts, but Cody pulls off the turnbuckle behind his back and runs Dustin into the STEEL. Dustin bails and Brandi spears him on the floor, which prompts Earl Hebner to throw her out of the match. Why would you punish the viewers like that? She won’t go, so DDP makes a cameo and carries her back to the dressing room himself. Meanwhile, Dustin is of course bleeding and Cody goes to work on the cut and stomps him down for two. To quote There’s Something About Mary, WE GOT A BLEEDER! Cody beats on him in the corner and Dustin is a gory mess, so Cody whips him into the corner and follows with a curb stomp for two. And we get a horrifying shot of Dustin gushing blood onto the mat. Cody goes up with a double axehandle, but Dustin comes back with a powerslam for two, only for Cody to take him down with the figure-four. Dustin reverses the hold, but Cody makes the ropes as we get an incredible shot of Dustin’s bloody face. Cody tries for the weightlifting belt, but Dustin steals it and gives Cody a spanking, then hits a Code Red out of the corner for two. Where is this coming from? Dustin takes him to the top for a superplex, into his own Cross Roads for two. Cody goes low to set up the Disaster Kick, and Cross Roads gets two. Dustin continues gushing blood somehow and headbutts Cody into another Cross Roads for two. They slug it out and the crowd is 100% behind Dustin now, but Cody hits him with the bicycle kick and then Dustin counters a slam for two. Cody with a vertebreaker and he finishes with Cross Roads at 22:30. An amazing and brutal classic and quite likely Dustin’s best ever match outside of the Steamboat tag match in 1991. ****3/4 And then Cody stops Dustin from announcing his retirement, instead asking him to be his partner and brother against the Young Bucks in July. Aw man, all the feels.
Meanwhile, on the pre-show, Hangman Page wins the battle royal and earns a title shot.
And then BRET HART makes a surprise appearance, bringing the AEW World title with him. Holy shit, how did they pull that one off? So Bret brings out Hangman Page, but MJF interrupts and trolls Bret (“Look out, a fan’s coming!”). Friedman does an obnoxious heel promo, which he’s quite good at, and he wants Page’s title shot. And he’s going to be the best there is, etc. MJF decides to leave without a fight, but Jungle Boy and Jimmy Havoc cut him off and Page chases him into the crowd as Bret unveils the title belt.
AAA tag team titles: The Young Bucks v. Pentagon & Fenix
Pentagon immediately tries the Penta-driver but Matt reverses out and they’re at a stalemate. Over to Fenix and he puts the Bucks on the floor with a double armdrag. Nick and Fenix battle to a standstill on the floor with kick attempts off flips. Back in, they slug it out and Fenix hits Nick with the dropkick and they double-superkick Matt to the apron. Double splash onto Nick gets two, but he comes back with a headscissors and brings Matt in. He hits Fenix with a press slam and spears Pentagon, and the Bucks go to work on the arm in their corner. But then, of course, Nick accidentally hits Matt’s back with a double stomp and Matt is selling the back. That doesn’t last long in this case. Matt misses a charge on Pentagon and Nick dropkicks him in the back by mistake again, and Pentagon monkey-flips Nick into his own brother. There’s a lot of family drama on this show. Fenix then does an amazing sequence with a springboard wristlock into a headscissors and then a cutter on Matt for two. Incredible timing! Pentagon tries a stunner on Matt and gets reversed, however. Fenix comes in and Matt hits three northern lights suplexes into a Sharpshooter, but Pentagon saves. Nick hits Pentagon with a dive to the outside and then springboards in with an X-Factor on Fenix, and the Bucks roll into stereo Sharpshooters on the Lucha Bros. Nick hits Fenix with a 450 for two and Matt runs him into the corner with a buckle bomb into a Nick enzuigiri. And then they pull out a powerbomb and shiranui combination that gets two. Pentagon comes in for the comeback, but it’s a SUPERKICK PARTY and everyone is out. Matt and Pentagon trade kicks on the apron, setting up an insane Canadian Destroyer on the apron, while Fenix hits one on Nick in the ring for two! The Bucks retreat to think it over and Fenix dives off Penta’s shoulders. Back in, Penta with a crazy double Penta Driver on the Bucks, and Fenix follows with the swanton on Nick for two. Pentagon pounds away on Nick, but Matt saves with a superkick and then gets a hot tag. Double superkick for Fenix and they head up for a crazy move where Matt hits a brainbuster onto the top turnbuckle. HOLY SHIT. More Bang For Your Buck gets two on Pentagon. Matt with a spike package piledriver on Penta for two while Nick hits Fenix with a springboard dive to the floor. Fenix breaks up the Meltzer Driver and Pentagon snaps Matt’s arm to set up a Michinoku driver for two. Fenix puts Matt on top, but runs right into the Meltzer Driver and that finishes at 25:15 to retain the titles. This was just non-stop crazy shit for the entire match and it once proves that TAG TEAM WRESTLING IS AWESOME. ****1/2
Chris Jericho v. Kenny Omega
Jericho’s entrance is something else, running through his greatest hits of gimmicks with people dressed as himself before finally ending with the real entrance and ring gear. So there’s a Cracker Barrel conspicuously at ringside again. They fight for the lockup and trade slaps, and Omega throws chops but misses a V-Trigger. He tries a rana and Jericho blocks it with the Walls and Kenny has to bail to the floor to escape. Jericho hits him with a baseball slide and rings the bell to declare himself the winner. I know they’ve got some crazy rules in AEW but I don’t think that’s one of them. Jericho dumps him into the crowd and grabs a camera to literally shoot his own angle, but Omega spits water in his face and dropkicks him. Back in, Omega with the fireman’s carry into the moonsault for two. Jericho reverses him into the turnbuckle and chops away to take over, then follows with a missile dropkick for two. Omega fights back with chops, but walks into a lariat that gets two. The crowd does the “2 sweet” stuff to Jericho, who stops to flip them off, but that allows Kenny to come back despite a bloody nose. Jericho bails and pulls out a table while Omega sets up the dive, so Kenny dropkicks it at Jericho and then follows with his dive anyway. And then he dumps the table onto Jericho and follows with a flying double stomp onto the table. Yikes. Amazingly, the table is still intact, so Omega sets it up and quips “I am the table” for your Metallica reference of the show. Back in, bulldog gets two and Omega kicks him into the corner for a V-Trigger. They fight to the top and Omega brings him down with a backdrop suplex, which gets two. Jericho blocks a V-Trigger and follows with a Lionsault, but that hits knees and Kenny tries the One Winged Angel. Jericho escapes that and hits the Lionsault this time, then a second one gets two. Kenny tries the Tiger Driver, but Jericho backdrops him over the top and through the indestructible table, which finally breaks this time. They slug it out on the apron and Jericho hits the springboard dropkick, and they fight to the top. Omega brings him down, but dives and lands on a codebreaker, which gets two. They slug it out and Kenny snaps off the dragon suplex, but Jericho tries for the Walls and they reverse off that into Omega’s Tiger Driver for two. V-Trigger is blocked by Jericho and he reverses into the Walls and then turns it into the Liontamer. Kenny manages to fight out and hits the V-Trigger, but Jericho reveres the Angel into a DDT and Omega falls on top for two. That was a bit ugly. They slug it out again and Jericho gets an enzuigiri, but Omega blocks the Lionsault and tries another Angel, which Jericho turns into another DDT and hits it square this time. Codebreaker sets up the hyped Judas Effect back elbow, and that gets the surprise pin at 26:42. That’s one way to get a finisher over. Not as awesome as their Tokyo Dome classic, and the crowd was getting a bit tired by this point as well, but it was still a great match. ****1/4
Afterwards, Jericho cuts a bitter promo on the crowd (“Lighten up, marks!”) and stresses that AEW is not a company for the fans, it’s a company for him. TV deal, sellout, PPV…all him. So Chris demands a thank you, and here comes
Dean Ambrose Jon Moxley through the crowd for the big moment to end the show as he lays out Jericho and the ref, but Omega cuts him off and they brawl into the crowd and fight on top of a stack of giant poker chips to set up the next big program.
So without even a week of TV, we now know that the next programs are Page v. Jericho for the AEW World title, Omega v. Moxley, and Young Bucks v. The Rhodes Brothers. Badda boom.
Overall, I’d call it the best show of the year. It had the hype behind it and it delivered massively, feeling like a real alternative and a shot across the WWE bow. You could argue for the WM Takeover because it was a little bit tighter, but this one set lofty goals and mostly achieved them. And I appreciate when shows swing for the fences and get there. On the scale of Burn It / Avoid It / Skim It / Watch It / Binge It, this is clearly BINGE IT. Check out the replay on B/R Live or Fite.TV as the case may be, and welcome to the AEW Era!