Top Takeaways from AEW’s Double or Nothing

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All Elite Wrestling promised a new vision and presentation of professional wrestling, and they delivered upon that at Saturday’s Double or Nothing pay per view.

Highlights included Cody Rhodes taking a step further to becoming the face of AEW, Jon Moxley retaining the world title, and The Elite standing tall in a uniquely distinct Stadium Stampede match. Another exceptional part of the show was Hikaru Shida overcoming Nyla Rose to win the AEW Women’s Championship, a match that instantly elevated both wrestlers to a new level in the company.

The show opened with Brian Cage making his AEW debut, winning the Casino ladder match and adding himself to the list of future challengers for Moxley. And the undercard was enhanced by MJF-Jungle Boy, a back-and-forth encounter that showcased Jungle Boy but also allowed MJF to show he is constantly a step ahead of his opponents.

But this show will be remembered most for Rhodes’ victory against Archer, making him the first-ever TNT Champion, Shida’s title victory, and the wild main event that took place throughout the Jacksonville Jaguars’ football stadium.

Here are the results:

-- Best Friends defeated Private Party on the pre-show to become the number one contender for the tag team titles

-- Brian Cage won the Casino Ladder Match, earning him a future shot at the AEW World Championship

-- MJF defeated Jungle Boy

-- Cody Rhodes defeated Lance Archer to become the first-ever TNT Champion

-- Kris Statlander defeated Penelope Ford

-- Dustin Rhodes defeated Shawn Spears

-- Hikaru Shida defeated Nyla Rose to become the new AEW Women’s Champion

-- AEW World Champion Jon Moxley defeated Brodie Lee by submission

-- The Elite and “Broken” Matt Hardy defeated The Inner Circle in a Stadium Stampede match at TIAA Bank Field

And here are my takeaways from Double or Nothing:

**** Hyperbole aside, the Stadium Stampede match was unlike anything ever before on display in wrestling.

There was no doubt it was over-the-top, but that was to be expected in an empty NFL stadium match. This will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I enjoyed the creative approach. I would have felt differently had this been a world title match, but this was a forum for The Elite and The Inner Circle to entertain the wrestling world in an innovative fashion. The timing is simply not right for WarGames, but the Stadium Stampede idea worked.

There were plenty of highlights. There was a Matt Jackson moonsault off a field goal post, and he later hit 100 yards of Northern Lights suplexes on Sammy Guevara before being hit with a flag in the end zone for excessive celebration. Ortiz and Santana tossed Matt Hardy into the stadium’s mini pool, which immediately turned into the Lake of Reincarnation for Hardy. Chris Jericho was his brilliant self, knocking out the Jaguars mascot with the Judas Effect and objecting to calls, even after seeing them on instant replay. And fueled by whiskey, “Hangman” Adam Page had a fantastic fight scene alongside Kenny Omega against Jake Hager at the stadium bar.

Of course, nothing is perfect, and neither was this. With so many different wrestlers involved, the match moved in multiple directions, complicating the viewing experience with so many different stories. At times, the video replays were also too fast and furious, reminding viewers that this match was taped ahead of time. But for all the nitpicking, it was an outstanding display of creativity and athleticism.

At times, it was easy to forget you were watching a wrestling match. The ring was not necessary, but that isn’t necessarily a negative in a spectacle like a Stadium Stampede match.

Hardy and Omega chased after Guevara in a golf cart, which he escaped momentarily by jumping into the stands. And that set up the finish, as Guevara took a vicious One-Winged Angel from Omega from the seats to punctuate the madness.

**** Cody Rhodes defeated Lance Archer to become AEW’s first-ever TNT Champion.

Archer is new to the company and it is awfully quick for him to lose, but the story saw him lose direction once Jake “The Snake” Roberts was banished from ringside. Even in defeat, Archer looked tremendous, presenting himself as a monster.

Unfortunately, Mike Tyson did not punch anyone out. But he stopped Roberts from bringing the snake to the ring, and his presence alone added to the moment.

“It was a privilege to have that moment in the ring,” Rhodes told Sports Illustrated after the match. “Look at this from the perspective of what is happening in the world. People are losing their lives. There needs to be happiness, wrestling needs to endure, so that was a great moment to share.”

Rhodes continues to have captivating, compelling matches. Even without the world title, he is the face of AEW. And he now has a fantastic opportunity to establish the new TNT Championship before eventually dropping it to an emerging star, like Darby Allin or Sammy Guevara.

**** Double or Nothing will also be remembered for Hikaru Shida’s breakout performance.

Shida capped off an emotional week in wrestling by defeating Nyla Rosa for the AEW Women’s Championship. The no disqualification, no count-out stipulation played into the match perfectly, allowing Shida to show off her resilience and take down Rose by any means necessary.

The match resonated so strongly because Shida showed off further dimensions of her wrestling ability. Her Avalanche Falcon Arrow was brilliant, and she wore down the bigger, more dominant Rose with shots from her kendo stick.

Giving Shida an opportunity atop the women’s division adds a lot of potential for AEW, and hopefully she continues to receive the time necessary to succeed on television.

**** The show opened with the Casino Ladder Match, which combined one of the best elements of the WWE’s Royal Rumble–a countdown for the next competitor–with the promise of a future title shot like at Money in the Bank. Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky started the match, then a new challenger came to the ring every two minutes. Unlike the Royal Rumble, the timer was on the screen and we actually had legitimate two-minute intervals (WWE is often far more creative with its timekeeping).

Brought to the ring by Taz, the mystery entrant was Brian Cage. A former Impact Wrestling world champion, Cage is a physical specimen and immediately adds depth to the AEW roster. He won the match after gorilla slamming Darby Allin off the top of a ladder to the outside of the ring.

There was no shortage of effort on display, but unlike the Money in the Bank ladder matches, there was constant outside interference–from a combination of Jimmy Havoc, Marko Stunt, Trent, Chuck Taylor, and Penelope Ford–that detracted from the already crowded match.

At just under 30 minutes, the match ran too long, especially without the benefit of a packed house full of fans. Without that electricity, and missing some defining moments atop the ladder that we are accustomed to seeing in WWE, the match struggled to find its rhythm. I also would have preferred to see Cage more dominant, but he was the right choice to win.

Over the past couple weeks, Taz had attempted to offer advice to Allin, but he chose not to listen. Taz introducing Cage to AEW, and then preventing Allin from winning the match, leads to a compelling first program for Cage.

**** Jon Moxley and Brodie Lee were in the unenviable position of being in a world title match that did not take place in the main event.

With the nature of the Stadium Stampede match, it simply wasn’t possible for Moxley to be in the last match. The broadcast team highlighted that there was a double main event, but it is a tough look whenever the champion does not close the show.

The match stood out for its nonstop punishment and physicality. Since Lee is still establishing himself in AEW, the match required a creative finish to protect Lee while still cementing Moxley’s place as champ. That moment occurred when Moxley hit the Paradigm Shift on Lee through the entrance way ramp. Moxley emerged unscathed, but Lee came staggering back into the ring covered in blood.

Moxley still wasn’t able to pin Lee, but he was announced as the winner by submission after choking out Lee.

AEW President Tony Khan announced during the Double or Nothing post-media scrum that Brian Cage will receive his title shot against Moxley at FyterFest later this summer, so it will be worth watching to see if Lee is still presented in the title picture moving forward.

**** MJF showcased another side of his character with an excellent in-ring performance in his victory against Jungle Boy.

The story of the match was centered around whether Jungle Boy was on the same level as MJF. The verdict was clear, as Jungle Boy delivered a tremendous performance. This was the 22-year-old’s best moment thus far in pro wrestling, and he has nothing but unlimited potential as he develops into a bona fide star.

Selling an injured left arm, the story of the match saw Jungle Boy give a valiant performance. But the match was laid out well, ending with the resourceful MJF constantly being one step ahead, pinning Jungle Boy with a modified European clutch. Whether or not he is ready for a main event program with Jon Moxley is a different story, but it will certainly be worth watching.

**** Wrestling is currently stuck in the middle of a transition period. Empty arena shows are presented every week, which is beginning to feel normal, and even pay per views have taken on a different feeling without fans. But AEW did its part to add intensity, energy, and entertainment with a diversified showing at Double or Nothing.

None of the top matches felt alike. Rhodes-Archer was filled with intensity, while Shida-Rose was a story of triumph that played perfectly into its stipulation. The Casino ladder match introduced a new concept to the promotion, and the world title match was physical. A tag team title match would have enhanced this show, but the tag champs were part of the multi-man main event.

Double or Nothing will long be remembered for its Stadium Stampede match. It was a well-placed blowoff between The Elite and The Inner Circle, while also adding the presence of Matt Hardy. Now the question is what happens moving forward. Omega and Page now resume defending their tag titles, Jericho continues his battle with Hardy, and the Young Bucks will keep enhancing the product with each match. But there are plenty of opportunities for the rest of the roster to stand out, as the year-old company continues to seek new stars.

Overall, Double or Nothing was an entertaining show, adding another dimension to AEW.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.