After months of rumors, speculation, and announcement’s AEW’s first PPV, Double or Nothing, is happening on Saturday. This is the first of three (that we know of so far) live events (along with CEOxAEW in June and Fight For The Fallen in July) that the company is putting on this summer, and they’ll have a TV show on TNT and ITV this fall. We’re finally getting to see the wrestling part of All Elite Wrestling!
How much of an idea you have of what Double or Nothing will be like probably depends on how much independent and/or international wrestling you watch. In addition to the Elite (initially Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks‘ name as a trio when they became their own sub-section of the Bullet Club in New Japan Pro Wrestling that they also used on the indies; eventually, everyone in Bullet Club featured on the Being The Elite web series (Omega and everyone who worked mainly in Ring of Honor)), the card features wrestlers with decades of experience, recent breakout performers from the independent circuit, and more.
Some of the bouts on the show will be rematches, some first-time matchups. Some have had storylines built up on BTE and The Road to Double or Nothing, at AEW’s rallies, and through their appearances at various indie promotions, while some have little to no backstory.
While the show features a lot of young talent and has been advertised as the beginning of a new era for pro wrestling, the go-home episode of The Road to Double or Nothing, using clips from the ITV documentary about AEW, Before the Bell, depicts it as a return to the good old days. Company president Tony Khan thinks, “we can rekindle a love of wrestling internationally and it’ll be like it was twenty years ago.”
“I think AEW’s demo is almost entirely, like, the lapsed fan,” says Cody. He says this refers to the group of people who, when WWE monopolized the American market, said, “Oh, I want that type of wrestling again. Where’s a little bit more violence?… Why is everything so watered down?… and that demo has sat through it because they didn’t have an alternative, and now they do.”
But one of AEW’s slogans, along with “change the world,” is that “AEW is for everyone,” and Brandi Rhodes interprets this as, “I feel like if you’re not satisfied at the end of Double or Nothing, you’re not a wrestling fan.”
From the marketing campaign, it seems like this show is supposed to be just about everything! But even if it ends up only being, like, one or two things, it has a really promising card featuring talented wrestlers. Let’s break down what these matches are, how they came about, and who’s in them.
But First, How Can I Watch Double Or Nothing?
The pre-show for Double or Nothing, The Buy-In, starts at 4 PM Pacific/7 PM Eastern and airs for free on AEW’s YouTube channel and Bleacher Report Live. The main card starts an hour later and costs $49.95 to watch in the U.S. as a PPV online at Bleacher Report Live or through cable services. It’s available to watch outside of the U.S. on Fite TV for prices that vary by region, including $49.99 Canadian dollars. In the UK, Double or Nothing is also available as a PPV through ITV Box Office. AEW has all the relevant links to where you can buy the show on their website here.
Casino Battle Royal
The Casino Battle Royal was initially going to be a regular get-everybody-on-the-card battle royal. Now it’s more significant in two ways. First, it was recently announced that the winner of this match will face the winner of Jericho vs. Omega in a match to crown the first AEW World Champion. Sucks to have gotten on the main card for this show, in kayfabe! Second, this is a new type of battle royal. The first twenty entrants will enter in waves of five every three minutes, with the lucky twenty-first entering on his own.
So far, only seventeen out of twenty-one wrestlers have been announced for this match (Shawn Spears, Dustin Thomas, Sonny Kiss, Luchasaurus, Joey Janela, Michael Nakazawa, Jungle Boy, Billy Gunn, Sunny Daze, Jimmy Havoc, Private Party (Marq Quen and Isiah Kassidy), Glacier, Brandon Cutler, MJF, Brian Pillman Jr., and Ace Romero), leaving room for surprises.
Kip Sabian vs. Sammy Guevara
The pre-show also features a battle of the up-and-comers when British wrestler Kip Sabian faces Sammy Guevara. Guevara has worked in better-known independent promotions than Sabian, been featured on Lucha Underground, and been AAA Cruiserweight Champion, so he’s come up a little further at this point. One could say “expect high flying!” about a lot of these matches, but still, expect high flying in this one!
Best Friends vs. Angèlico and Jack Evans
Over in NJPW at the beginning of this year, Beretta of the Best Friends challenged for the U.S. Championship out of frustration about he and Chuckie T being on the pre-shows for All In, ROH Final Battle, and Wrestle Kingdom 13. Then when they went to AEW, they were placed on the Double or Nothing pre-show!
Fortunately for Dustin and Greg, this insensitivity was part of a storyline in which they anonymously threatened bad things (but definitely not murder!) would happen if they didn’t get moved to the main card. They ended up getting a prime matchup on the main card too, against the reunited Jack Evans and Angèlico, aka Los Güeros del Cielo, known for their work in AAA and PWG from 2013-2016.
AAA World Tag Team Championship match: The Young Bucks vs. The Lucha Bros
The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) and the Lucha Brothers (called Fenix and Penta El Zero M on AEW’s roster page) are undoubtedly two of the top tag teams in the world and the premise of this match is that they’re fighting to be number one. They’re also fighting for the AAA World Tag Team Championships, which the Young Bucks underhandedly won from the Lucha Brothers after showing up unannounced at Rey de Reyes. They also cost them tag titles in AAW, but Pentagon piledrivered Matt in Las Vegas before that, so I think they’re both supposed to be morally gray? I don’t know; I think the Bucks are the heelier team here.
Anyway, these teams have faced off before in the Crash and PWG as well as in that unannounced AAA match, but expect them to make this higher-profile match special. It’s also worth noting that it’s already scheduled to be one of a series – Bucks and Bros will battle again in AAA on June 16 (source may contain a Double or Nothing spoiler.)
Britt Baker vs. Nyla Rose vs. Kylie Rae
This match doesn’t have as much of an angle behind it (Rose stepped up to Rae at AEW’s previous Vegas event; Baker asked for a match; Brandi Rhodes told each woman she thinks she’ll win in other to inspire confidence), but it does feature three wrestlers who were bound to get signed somewhere soon. Kylie Rae especially has been tearing it up all over the indies and could easily be the standout in this match.
Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki, and Emi Sakura vs. Hikaru Shida, Riho Abe, and Ryo Mizunami
The second women’s match on this show was announced on May 13 and doesn’t have any feud or angle attached. However, it does feature some of the biggest and best names in joshi wrestling past and present, some of whom Kenny Omega worked with on the Japanese indie scene. AEW has said some of these performers are on their roster, but all but Shida aren’t on AEW’s roster page on their website and some have been reportedly signed for five-show deals.
Aja Kong is one of the most memorable figures from All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling in the ’90s, one of the greatest female wrestlers of all time, and still a prolific performer. Emi Sakura is another great veteran with an over twenty-year career working in promotions like FMW and Ice Ribbon, and currently runs the promotion Gatoh Move Pro Wrestling. Their teammate Yuka Sakazaki, a ray of sunshine with a “Magical Girl” character, is one of the best wrestlers in DDT’s sister promotion Tokyo Joshi Pro and currently one half of the Tokyo Princess Tag Team Champions.
Their opponents are also all experienced wrestlers. Riho is only twenty-one but has been wrestling since she was nine years old. Ryo Mizunami originally debuted for GAEA Japan in 2004 and has since worked for just about every notable joshi promotion. Hikaru Shida is an actress as well as a wrestler and has been wrestling since 2008, first for Ice Ribbon, then as a freelancer. This should all make for a banger of a trios match.
SCU vs. #STRONGHEARTS
SCU (Christopher Daniels, Scorpio Sky, and Frankie Kazarkian, who hate every town they’re in if it isn’t in Southern California) challenged CIMA and two tag partners of his choice to a match, basically in the spirit of friendly competition. CIMA chose T-Hawk and El Lindaman, two wrestlers who left Dragon Gate with him for Oriental Wrestling Entertainment. You can read more about this team here.
But as great as these three #STRONGHEARTS guys are, SCU might have gotten off lucky given the athletic beasts currently at the OWE training center. How do you not just lose immediately to people who can do the stuff in that video with that much coordination?
Cody vs. Dustin
Cody’s opponent for this show was a mystery for a while, then revealed to be his real-life brother Dustin Rhodes (fka Goldust) with a very well-done promo about their family, their relationship as brothers, and nearing the end of his career. Cody added in the video above that he wants to kill the Attitude Era by beating his brother. While other matches on this card promise more exciting athletic feats, this one has the most history and underlying emotion.
Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega
If you saw the build to the first Jericho vs. Omega match at Wrestle Kingdom 12, you saw the blood-included version of the build to their second. Ahead of this match, Jericho has shown up to provoke Omega at the Double or Nothing ticket announcement party, leading to a pull-apart brawl, then at an indie show. Both Winnipeggers claim to be the best wrestler in the world and they have beef about it! Also, we recently learned the winner of this match will get in the match to crown the first AEW World Champion.
As one of the most acclaimed wrestlers in the world, Kenny Omega is the guy you have to assume will be the first ace of AEW and maybe their first champion. WWE and WCW veteran Chris Jericho has been going around antagonizing his coworkers on their web series (when he isn’t challenging for another company’s top title) and doesn’t seem like he wants to be the ace of anywhere. They will definitely try to top their previous match and might steal the show while they’re at it.
Also, Hangman Page Isn’t Wrestling Anybody
Hangman Page was scheduled for a match with Pac until that all fell apart earlier this week, and now he’s off the show completely with a kayfabe knee injury after Pac’s chair attack. So… surprise battle royal entrant? Surprise battle royal winner? Don’t be surprised if one of the surprises at Double or Nothing is Page riding again, probably with a heroic limp.