The SmarK Rant for AEW Double or Nothing 2020 – 05.23.20
Live from Jacksonville, FL
Your hosts are Jim Ross, Excalibur and Tony Schiavone.
We get a combination tribute to first responders and Shad Gaspard to start, which is kind of a bummer. But good on them.
Casino Ladder match: Luchasaurus v. Kip Sabian v. Scorpio Sky v. Kazarian v. Joey Janela v. Orange Cassidy v. Colt Cabana v. Darby Allin v. ????
We start with Kazarian and Scorpio and they both grab ladders, but then decide to just do a match. There’s a giant timer on the screen behind them, which the announcers hilariously lampshade. “We’re calling attention to the timer, in case you didn’t notice it.” They trade wristlock attempts and avoid each other’s big moves, but then collide mid-ring as the first 2:00 timer runs out. Kip Sabian is #3, but Jimmy Havoc also joins in and they double-team Scorpio. Havoc puts a ladder in the corner and tries to takes Kazarian off the top with a rana, but he somehow misses and lands on the ladder before Kaz throws him out of the ring. Kaz gets the first ladder in the ring for a climb, but Sabian pulls him down as Darby Allin is #4. He takes out everyone and sets up a ladder bridge on the floor, then throws a skateboard at Kazarian’s face and climbs a giant ladder before trying the OLLIE OF DEATH off the top and missing, breaking the ladder bridge. That was a needlessly crazy spot. Orange Cassidy is #5 and he has to go over to the announce desk to get the rules explained to him (“Dude, Tony Khan explained it to you like 200 times before the match!”) and he tries to reach the poker chip by standing under it without a ladder, but this sadly does not work. So he tries to set up the ladder but can’t quite figure out how a ladder works in general and just kind of gives up. That’s a wonderfully different type of spot. Colt Cabana is #6 and he just throws Orange out of the ring and sets up the ladder himself, but SCU teams up and dumps him over. And then they drop Sabian onto the ladder to smash Colt further. Orange comes back with the devasting shin kicks and puts SCU on the floor with a dropkick and follows with the tope. And the sunglasses don’t even move! Joey Janela is #7 and he dives onto anyone that moves and comes in with a missile dropkick on Colt, but Colt tosses him out again and makes a climb. Joey saves with a chairshot and then Sabian makes a go of it, but Kazarian hauls him down as Luchasaurus is #8. He runs wild and beats on everyone, then powerbombs Sabian out of the ring and onto the pile of guys. Kaz gets chokeslammed onto the ladder, bounces up, and takes another chokeslam off that. Darby finally comes back from the floor and comes in with a Code Red off the middle on Luchasaurus, and BRIAN CAGE is #9. With Taz as his manager. He immediately kills Darby with an F5 and powerbombs Kip, then throws Sky with a german suplex and suplexes Joey into the ring. He climbs for the chip with Orange Cassidy on his back trying a sleeper, but everyone else pulls Cage down and beats him down. SCU teams up with a ladder to Cage’s head to put him on the floor and then they bury him under a pile of ladders and prop chips for good measure. Even Orange Cassidy helps to carry it, which is the most unbelievable thing in the match thus far. Sky puts Cabana into the corner with a ladder and sets up for something, but Sabian gets rid of Sky and does a missile dropkick into the ladder instead. Sabian climbs for the chip, but Orange finally wakes up and sprints up the ladder, then slugs it out with Sabian and knocks him off. Penelope Ford also climbs up to stop him, but he knocks her off as well. And then Jimmy Havoc finally pulls him down before the Best Friends chase off the Sabian/Havoc team and brawl with them outside. Luchasaurus comes in to try a chokeslam on Orange, but Orange wants his own chokeslam. That doesn’t go well, but Marko Stunt runs in with a fun-sized ladder and teams up for a chokeslam of his own. Janela takes out Cassidy with the short ladder and then puts him through the giant poker chip on top of Brian Cage to get rid of him. Joey climbs for the chip, but Scorpio brings him down with a TKO and does his own climb, but now Kazarian follows him up and they have to fight it out over the chip. And then Luchasaurus shoves them over and makes the climb, but Brian Cage emerges from the wreckage and slugs it out with the dinosaur. Cage escapes a chokeslam and lands on his feet, then powerbombs Lucha onto the ladder and makes the climb all alone. But Darby Allin is still alive, so Cage destroys him with a lariat and hits him with the Drill Claw, which is like a Steiner Screwdriver. So this brings Taz out again while Cage puts Darby on a ladder and presses him out to the floor, before grabbing the chip at 28:37. This was definitely different and interesting, although it started slow and was super-sloppy and dangerous a lot of the time as well. But the good outweighed the bad by far with crazy bumps and really creative spots. They also made Cage into an instant star tonight, for sure. ***1/2
MJF v. Jungle Boy
MJF tosses him down and offers some classy sportsmanship via his crotch. Jungle Boy chases him out of the ring, and back in for a double wristlock and bridge spot, and then they bridge into headstands and slug it out from there. JB wins that one, but MJF “lands wrong” on a leapfrog and claims knee injury. And then of course he pops up and lays out Jungle Boy from behind for the heat. MJF with a chinlock and then he gets a head and arm suplex, but Jungle makes the comeback before walking into a back elbow. JB with a victory roll for two, but MJF puts him down with a backbreaker for two. He snaps JB into the corner with a wristlock takedown and goes to work on the arm as the “crowd” starts a chant for Jungle Boy. It’s great that a bunch of wrestlers still understand exactly how to be wrestling fans and how to make the matches fun. Jungle Boy fights back with chops, although he’s only got one arm, and he rolls into a double handed chop for good measure. MJF dumps him and talks trash to the crowd, so Jungle Boy fights back with the trio of dives to wipe him out on the floor. Back in with a tornado DDT, but it only gets two. MJF fights him off with a back elbow and then jumps on the bad arm with a double stomp, but JB keeps fighting him off and they trade chops again. “The magic of youth” notes JR as they just hit each other HARD. And then MJF hits him in the ARM to be a dick, so Jungle gets all fired up with more chops until MJF hits him in the throat. They trade superkicks and Jungle Boy gets a Canadian Destroyer and moves into a crossface, but the arm is too hurt and he loses the grip. And then MJF BITES THE ARM and hits him with a package piledriver for two. What a DICK! They fight on the apron and Jungle Boy hits him with a reverse rana, ON THE EDGE OF THE APRON, and the only reason why I’m sure MJF is still alive is because he takes a comedy bump off it. So JB somehow gets him into the ring with one arm and then he decides to go up top, but MJF manages to shake the ropes and crotch him. They fight on the top and Jungle Boy brings him down with a powerbomb for two. Jungle Boy tries a deadlift but the arm gives out and MJF takes him down for an armbar attempt. But then MJF’s back gives out and JB reverses him into a bridge for two. MJF with a backslide for two and he keeps trying for the armbar, driving elbows into the arm, but JB rolls him up for two. MJF goes with a rollup with the tights for two, reversed for two by Jungle Boy, and then reversed again by MJF for the pin at 17:34. This was an incredible match for both guys, with Jungle Boy selling the arm the whole time and MJF doing every dick heel move in the book trying to steal a win against the kid who won’t die. Just fantastic professional wrestling with two young stars trying to be the future of the sport. ****1/4
TNT Championship finals: Cody Rhodes v. Lance Archer
So apparently they didn’t get a chance to finish the gold plating on the belt due to the virus, which leaves it looking a little lacking. Archer immediately attacks and hits the Blackout, but Cody rolls to the floor to escape. Back in, Archer wants the CLAW, but Cody counters with an armbar attempt and Archer shrugs him off. Cody throws chops and Archer LAUGHS at him, so Cody tries the cutter and Archer just knocks him out of the air with a shoulderblock. Archer goes to pull up the mats, but Cody hits him with a dive and they fight into the crowd, where Archer tosses him onto the concrete off the railing. JESUS. Back to ringside as Archer tosses him into the railing and gets into a yelling match with the ladies, who let him know that “he ain’t shit”. Gonna have to disagree there, he’s pretty awesome. Back in, Archer overpowers Cody again and just paws at his face like a grizzly bear, then goes up with the ropewalk into a moonsault for two. Archer continues torturing Cody while Mike Tyson laughs about it at ringside, apparently enjoying himself greatly. Archer with a delayed suplex, but Cody escapes with a knee to the head and does his own suplex. And then Archer just throws him with his own suplex and rips the turnbuckle off, but Cody sends him into it, injuring the ribs, and goes to work on them. Cody goes up and gets slammed off, but he lands on the concrete instead of the ring, as he’s just taking incredible bump after incredible bump tonight. Archer chokes him out as he continues his war of words with Big Swole and the other women. What a great touch, with Swole basically playing the angry granny on Crockett shows. “He just punked you out, bitch” notes Jake. Back in, Archer with a pumphandle slam and he beats on Cody and then follows with a pump splash out of the corner for two. Archer grinds him down with an armbar and Iron Mike is having a BALL cheering on Cody here. How can you not love this guy? Archer runs him into the railing again, but Cody has had enough and fights back, until Archer just rears back and WALLOPS him down and out. WHY WOULD YOU ANGER THIS SCARY, SCARY MAN? Back in the ring, Cody fights back again and counters a rollup into a crossface, using Archer’s own hair as a weapon, but Jake draws him over. Cody manages to hit a DDT on Archer as a kiss-off to the Snake, but Archer hits a spinebuster to send his own message. But AA gives Cody a peptalk and he comes back with a springboard cutter, which gets ONE. Cody makes the comeback and slugs away with the Flip Flop and Fly, but Archer won’t go down, so he gets the Crossroads for two. And then it’s the Stinger Splash, but Archer shrugs him off and chokeslams him for two. He goes for the EBD Claw, but can’t make the cover because he’s actually hurt for once. Archer with another ropewalk while Jake takes the ref, so Arn trips Archer up to crotch him in the corner. Cody brings him down with a reverse superplex, but referee Paul Turner comes out and stooges out AA, resulting in him getting tossed out of the match. And also Jake. Well that’s fair. Archer gets a release german suplex while Jake tries to sneak back in with his snake, but Mike Tyson chases him back to the dressing room and then gives Archer a warning for good measure. Archer tries another Blackout, but Cody escapes and reverses into the Crossroads, then rolls into another one, and that finishes at 21:00 to make Cody the first champion. Hell of a hard-hitting match with Cody just KILLING himself for Mike Tyson’s amusement, but that belt is uglier than Cody’s neck tattoo. ****1/4 Also Big Swole as the angry black stunt granny added at least a quarter star on her own.
Meanwhile, the AEW doctor discusses Britt Baker’s injury, but notes that Britt is a terrible patient who is a pain in the ass.
Kris Statlander v. Penelope Ford
Ford takes her down with a headscissors, but Statlander throws her around a bit and does some cartwheels. She tries the boop, but Ford grabs the finger and slaps her to reject first contact. Ford bails and hides behind Kip Sabian and his comically overdone crutches, then catches Statlander with a draping DDT on the way into the ring for two. Ford with a suplex for two. She goes with a sleeper and throws chops on the ropes, but Statlander puts her on the floor with a forearm and follows with a dive to wipe out Ford and Sabian. Back in, they slug it out with forearms while Vickie Guerrero yells at Ford from ringside, and Statlander comes back with the Michinoku Driver for two. Ford with an inverted DDT for two. Statlander makes the comeback with a clothesline and they head to the top, but Ford brings her down with a rana and tries the handspring cutter. Statlander catches her, and finishes with the Big Bang Theory at 8:08. This was an OK TV match with both of them trying hard, but they weren’t gonna touch the spectacle of the previous match. **
Shawn Spears v. Dustin Rhodes
This one probably doesn’t need to be on PPV. Shawn is so confident that Dustin is retired that he doesn’t even change out of his suit. And then we get a classic Joker reference out of him before he fakes out the crowd by playing Dustin’s music and acting all freaked out. But he was just lying and demands that Aubrey start the count. And then Dustin really does appear this time and attacks from behind, ripping off Shawn’s nice suit. Spears cuts him off and uses his belt to wrap his fist, but Dustin powerslams him and pulls the pants off. “Spears thinks he’s auditioning for a prison movie” notes JR. Dustin smacks his ass as he learn that Spears has a picture of Tully Blanchard on his crotch, and Dustin finishes with the Final Reckoning at 3:25. Definitely didn’t need to be on PPV, this was a Dark main event at best. ½*
Coming September 5: All Out 2020.
We get a nice graphic for Hana Kimura and wise words from Excalibur: Be nicer to each other.
AEW Women’s title: Nyla Rose v. Hikaru Shida
I’m assuming Shida’s gear is in tribute to Kimura. Nyla comes out swinging with the kendo stick, but Shida kicks it away and they fight over it. Nyla wins that battle and goes to work with the stick for a bit before hitting a slam for two. Nyla misses a blind charge, and Shida beats on her from the floor and follows with a kneelift. Nyla sends her into the railing, where Angry Granny Big Swole gives Rose more verbal abuse, but Rose slams Shida onto the poker table in the crowd and adds a quality Wesley Snipes shoutout. Nyla chokes away with a chair and dumps her back to ringside, then follows with a sideslam in the ring and big splash for two. Shida reverses the powerbomb and comes back with a running knee, but Nyla fights her off with a suplex. They head to the floor and Shida comes back with a crossbody and running knee to the head. They fight into the crowd again, where Shida throws her into the giant poker chip prop and then follows with a high knee off the chip. She retrieves her kendo stick and gets some revenge with that in the ring, then hits a brainbuster for two. Running knee to the head gets two. Shida slugs away with forearms, but walks into a wind up powerslam. Nyla suplexes her onto the top rope and goes up with the guillotine kneedrop for two. Nyla sets up a table in the corner but can’t get her move, as Shida escapes and then walks into a clothesline. Nyla follows with a powerbomb through the table. Why are they letting her continue to put people through tables? That gets two. Nyla with the death valley driver and she gets the stick back for more beatings, but Shida tosses the stick at her and they fight on the top until Shida gets a falcon arrow off the top for two. She tries the running knee, but Nyla hits her in the knee with the stick, so Shida fires up again and hits another one for two. Nyla gets up again, so Shida hits her in the head with the stick, adds one more running knee, and finishes her off to win the title for Hana Kimura at 16:32. This was a very nice moment, although hopefully we’re done with Nyla Rose for a long while. Shida was absolutely working her ass off and Rose was her usual self, so it ended up pretty good. ***
AEW World title: Jon Moxley v. Mr. Brodie Lee
JR notes that Brodie Lee hates sneezing and yawning, just in case you weren’t 100% certain who he’s a parody of. Mox dives in with a knee but Lee catches him and beats on him in the corner. They fight to the floor as Moxley hits a tope, but Brodie suplexes him out there. Back in, Brodie with a rolling suplex and they head to the top, but end up on the floor again as Lee gets his own tope. They slug it out and Mox uses the beard as an offensive weapon, but Lee runs him into the railing and then adds a pumphandle slam into another piece of the railing. Back in, they trade elbow strikes and slug it out until Lee hits a backdrop suplex. Moxley gets a piledriver for two and they head to the floor again, where Mox sets up the stairs for something, but he charges and walks into a boot from Brodie. He tries a powerbomb, but Mox backdrops him through a table and fights back. Back in, Brodie gets a superplex, but Moxley reverses to a cradle for two. They head to the floor again and Lee suplexes him through the giant novelty playing cards and slams him on it. Back in, they fight over a suplex, but Brodie just levels him with the big boot and adds a powerbomb for two. So they both get pumped up in opposite corners, but Moxley needs another moment on the floor to recover further. So it’s out to the stage, where Mox tosses a poker chip at him and then hits a Paradigm Shift through the stage and land on the floor. The doctors all check on them, but Moxley makes it out of the wreckage first and Brodie follows with a crimson mask. I don’t feel like guys blading is the best idea right now. Back in, Paradigm Shift only gets one, so Moxley just destroys him with forearms, follows with the Death Rider…and that gets two. So Mox just goes with a bully choke and puts his lights out at 15:32 to retain. Felt a bit long for what they were trying to do but they were using all the smoke and mirrors and it was a hell of a match. ***3/4 Didn’t really hurt Brodie here at all, I don’t think.
Coming this summer: AEW action figures! SEND ME ALL OF THESE, PLEASE!
STADIUM STAMPEDE: Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, Jake Hager, Santana & Ortiz v. Matt Hardy, Kenny Omega, Hangman Page, Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson
So we get football style introductions, and there’s a ring in the middle of the field, which is an amazing visual. Everyone charges in with their weapons and we get a huge brawl, although Hangman still hasn’t joined us yet. But then he rides in ON THE HORSE and runs Sammy down and out to the backstage area. WHAT AN ENTRANCE! I’m dying here. Poor Sammy. What a month he’s having. Santana and Ortiz double-team Matt Jackson with a powerbomb in the ring, but Kenny saves and hits them both with snapdragons. Hager cuts him off and the Inner Circle gain control, while Sammy returns from his cowardly escape and comes into the ring with a shooting star press on Hardy. Which misses. The Bucks hit Sammy with a buckle bomb into a Twist of Fate from Broken Matt. Jericho cuts off Kenny’s V-Trigger and they all fight to the turf again and Santana moonsaults everyone. Sammy adds a shooting star press and that nearly misses completely somehow. So they all pair up and slug it out across the field, with both Bucks getting rammed into the goal posts. I wonder if they MOVED? I said, I WONDER IF THE GOAL POSTS WERE MOVED?
HIGH FIVE! Anyone?
So a ladder gets involved and Matt Jackson manages to climb up the goalpost, then hits the Circle with an insane moonsault and gets two on Jericho. Omega fights with Santana and Ortiz up the stairs and onto the next level. Meanwhile, Hangman Page is still riding the horse around the concourse looking for Sammy, but then tells the horse to “stay” and goes to the bar instead. Back to the action, as Kenny and Hardy get beaten with the TUBE SOCKS OF DOOM for a bit, but Kenny steals it and runs Santana into the railing. He tries a suplex onto a railing bridge, but Ortiz throws SALT in his face in a hilarious spot and they team up with a double powerbomb through the railing. Luckily Broken Matt is there to bust some balls and make the save, but Santana runs him into a wheelchair and it’s time for a trip to the pool. Sadly, Ortiz can’t swim, but he fights his fears and goes into three feet of water to try and drown Matt. But then he pops up as MATT HARDY VERSION ONE while doing the hand signal underwater, and we get a pop-up Matt Fact before he comes back as Broken Matt again. I don’t think I have enough stars in my keyboard to properly rate this. This might break the scale all over again. Broken Matt backdrops Santana onto Ortiz to break a table and then sticks his head under the giant bell and rings it. Ortiz gets put in the CHAIR OF WHEELS with the TAPE OF DUCT, but Santana cuts him off with a wet floor sign and fights with Hardy to the back. Santana wants the powerbomb into the ice chest, but Matt escapes and shoves him into it before locking the door.
Next up, Hager stalks Hangman Page, but finds the horse (Crowd: “HORSE! HORSE! HORSE!”) before heading to the bar to share a drink with Page. And then they fight, as Hager tosses him over the pool table, but Page backflips off the bar and then jumps off the pool table. But Hager catches him and chokeslams him onto the pool table and then does the classic Western “cleaning off the bar” stunt using Page as a projectile. I’m DYING. Hager powerbombs him through another table for two as Kenny Omega saves his partner and breaks a pitcher on Jake’s head, followed by A BIT OF THE BUBBLY. Several bottles of it, in fact. Omega follows with the knee strike and Page springboards off his partner with the Buckshot Lariat to send Hager flying over the bar, and the champs stop to have a drink and finally settle things.
Back to the field, Sammy and Matt Jackson trade suplexes on the turf while Nick tries to send Jericho into the smoke machine, but Jericho hits him with the chains and stops to cut a promo with the megaphone. So Nick tosses footballs TO THE GROIN, while Matt takes Sammy up the field with rolling northern lights suplexes. Jericho is so pissed that he knocks out the mascot with the Judas Effect, but stops to wear a cone on his head and gets superkicked into the netting. He manages to grab Floyd, the Bat, and puts Nick down for two. But Jericho CHALLENGES THE CALL and Aubrey calls for an instant replay. “You’re a shitty referee!” “It was two!” Add another star for that, why not. Matt Jackson takes Sammy into the end zone for a touchdown and does the Alex Wright dance, so Rick Knox gives him a 15 yard penalty and gets superkicked. The Bucks reunite and put Jericho onto a table, as Nick goes up the stadium stairs, then runs down and dives off the railing with a splash through the table. And then Hangman brings the line marker and rolls over him with it.
Poor Sammy rolls up the field, but lands on a sprinkler and that revives him, as he thinks he’s won the match, but then it’s his arch-nemesis…THE GOLF CART! So, amazingly, we recreate the meme from the same angle, but this time Sammy dives into the stands to escape and throws chairs at the Elite to get away. Matt gets up there first and Sammy chokes him out…but Vanguard One RETURNS in his new form as NEO-1 and distracts Sammy long enough for Omega to hit a V-Trigger and One Winged Angel from the seats and down through a table to finish this beautifully batshit crazy spectacle of awesomeness at 34:00. SHUT DOWN THE WRESTLING BUSINESS, BECAUSE WE’RE NEVER TOPPING THIS ONE. They went over the top and then JUST KEPT GOING. *******
That was your $50 and then some. Doesn’t even matter what the rest of the show was, this was the slam dunk thumbs up crazy match to end all crazy matches, like a tribute to everything from the Attitude Era and their own short history and whatever movies and sports clichés they could cram into half an hour of insanity. I laughed non-stop start to finish and this was everything RIGHT about wrestling in one package.
Anyway, most of the early part of the show was great anyway, but the Stadium Stampede is seriously a legendary brawl to go out of your way to see and is 100% worth ordering the show just to watch it. The gauntlet for wacky cinematic wrestling has been thrown down and then some and this one is probably going down in history.
THUMBS WAY UP!