As the promotion celebrates its third anniversary, the most intriguing world championship match in AEW history is set to take place this weekend.
“Hangman” Adam Page vs. CM Punk for the AEW world championship will headline Sunday’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view in Las Vegas. It’s a match where predicting the winner feels like little more than a coin flip. For both the champion and challenger, it’s difficult to envision them leaving Las Vegas without the title belt.
Page’s title win against Kenny Omega in November was a perfect pro wrestling moment. It was the right time for Page to win the championship and Omega was the right opponent for him to beat. Page has had a good six-month reign as champion since then, defending his title against Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole, Lance Archer and Dante Martin. But it’s so difficult to capture the same magic that existed in the chase once you become champion. It still feels like there’s another level that Page’s title reign can reach. In defeating Punk, Page would fend off a challenge from the biggest signing that AEW has made since its launch. It would be Page’s signature moment as champion.
But every argument for Page winning can be met with a counter argument for why Punk should win. Nearly a decade since his last title win, Punk becoming a world champion in AEW would be a truly incredible story.
It was impossible to know what AEW would be getting when it signed Punk in August. When we last saw him in WWE, Punk was burnt out and had lost the joy he once had for his profession. Returning to the ring more than seven years later raised a lot of questions. Was Punk’s passion back or was he just returning for the money? How would his body respond to wrestling again? Would a 43-year-old Punk be able to keep up with a younger generation of wrestlers?
Punk responded to those questions by exceeding every reasonable expectation. Instead of getting the Punk of old, we’ve seen an updated version of one of this era’s biggest stars. Punk has evolved into an older, wiser and more grizzled version of who he was when he walked out of WWE in 2014. Punk knows that trying to keep up athletically with wrestlers 10 or 20 years younger than him would be a mistake. He’s instead adapted his in-ring style, leaning into his grizzled veteran persona and relying on his ability to tell a story.
Just having Punk around to mentor and work with younger talent would have been a huge benefit for AEW. But even on a roster with an embarrassment of riches, there’s something about Punk that makes him stand out from everyone else. He’s proven that he’s still capable of being the “Best in the World.” Whether it’s on Sunday or some time in the near future, it’s inevitable that Punk will be world champion again.
The Double or Nothing main card begins at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday. There will also be one match on the “Buy-In” preshow.
Here’s a full rundown of the lineup, along with predictions for each match:
“Hangman” Adam Page vs. CM Punk for the AEW world championship
The unpredictability of this match—and the crowd buying every near fall—should help make it a classic. Though picking a winner is so tough, it’s clear that Punk winning would lead to a more exciting next few months for AEW. The company has a big stretch of events coming up, including next month’s AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door PPV in Punk’s hometown of Chicago. Punk vs. a top NJPW wrestler like Kazuchika Okada or Hiroshi Tanahashi is the type of mindblowing dream match that deserves to headline such a historic show.
Prediction: CM Punk wins
Thunder Rosa vs. Serena Deeb for the AEW women’s world championship
Rosa and Deeb have a strong claim to being the two best in-ring wrestlers in the AEW women’s division. After only having one title defense since becoming champion in March, this is an opportunity for Rosa to really begin her title reign in earnest. Deeb is the ideal opponent for Rosa to have a great match with.
Prediction: Thunder Rosa retains
Men’s Owen Hart Foundation Tournament finals: Samoa Joe vs. Adam Cole
The finals of both the men’s and women’s Owen Hart Foundation Tournaments should be feel-good moments. It’s been incredible to see Owen Hart’s legacy properly honored in AEW. Hart’s widow, Martha Hart, will appear at Sunday’s PPV and present the Owen Hart Cup to each of the tournament winners. As she fought for justice following the preventable death of her husband, Martha was vilified by WWE and portrayed as someone who hated pro wrestling as a whole. Appearing in front of the fans—while celebrating her husband and the foundation that she created in his honor—will hopefully provide Martha with a moment of catharsis after all she’s had to deal with.
When Samoa Joe signed with AEW, he stated that his goal was to become a world champion. Winning the Owen Hart Foundation Tournament would help set him up for that title shot.
Prediction: Samoa Joe wins
Women’s Owen Hart Foundation Tournament finals: Britt Baker vs. Ruby Soho
Soho advanced to the finals with a victory over Kris Statlander on Friday’s episode of Rampage. Baker ran through the division when she was women’s champion, including retaining the title against Soho. She doesn’t need to beat Soho again. Soho could really use a high-profile win to regain some of the buzz that she had when she debuted for AEW last year..
Prediction: Ruby Soho wins
MJF vs. Wardlow
The crowd in Las Vegas is going to go ballistic when Wardlow finally gets his hands on MJF. The feud between the two has been textbook pro wrestling booking and has made Wardlow into a legitimate breakout star. After growing more and more frustrated with how poorly MJF treated him, Wardlow turned against MJF at Revolution in March. MJF then attempted to torment Wardlow and hold him to the “contract” that he signed with MJF.
Wardlow will be released from that contract if he defeats MJF on Sunday. If he loses, Wardlow can never sign with AEW. Everyone knows what the finish is going to be, but that’s only increased the anticipation for it. Wardlow is going to repeatedly powerbomb MJF into the mat until he finally decides to pin him.
Prediction: Wardlow wins
Anarchy in the Arena match: Jericho Appreciation Society (Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, Daniel Garcia, Matt Menard and Angelo Parker) vs. Eddie Kingston, Santana, Ortiz, Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson
It will be sports entertainment vs. pro wrestling in this 10-man tag match. The match was made after Moxley and Danielson came to Kingston, Santana and Ortiz’s defense and helped them even the odds against the Jericho Appreciation Society.
This is guaranteed to be a wild brawl. While the anything goes stipulation would seem to favor the team of pro wrestlers, the Jericho Appreciation Society being a more cohesive unit will lead to them getting the win.
Prediction: Jericho Appreciation Society wins
Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus vs. Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland for the AEW tag team titles
AEW has been slowly but surely building to Christian Cage turning against Jungle Boy. It’s possible that the turn happens on Sunday, but it would probably be better suited for an episode of Dynamite or Rampage rather than getting lost in the shuffle on this already loaded PPV card. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus will keep their titles for at least one more defense.
Prediction: Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus retain
The Young Bucks vs. The Hardys
Two of the greatest tag teams of all time will face off for the first time in AEW as The Young Bucks take on The Hardys this Sunday. The match has happened before in other promotions and is always such an easy story to tell. With The Hardys being one of The Young Bucks’ biggest influences, the two pairs of brothers are basically mirror images of each other. They will undoubtedly have one of the matches of the night at Double or Nothing.
The Hardys still have one more tag team title run in them. A win against The Young Bucks will propel them to title contention.
Prediction: The Hardys win
Death Triangle (PAC, Penta Oscuro and Rey Fenix) vs. House of Black (Malakai Black, Brody King and Buddy Matthews)
With Fenix injured, House of Black were victorious against PAC, Penta Oscuro and Erick Redbeard at Revolution. Fenix returning could lead to a Death Triangle victory, but a sustained winning streak for House of Black would give the group the momentum that it needs.
Prediction: House of Black wins
Jade Cargill vs. Anna Jay for the TBS championship
This will be the second straight PPV that Cargill has had a title defense on. There hasn’t been much build to the match, but it’s important that Cargill gets a featured spot on every PPV. Working PPV matches is an invaluable experience for Cargill and enhances her presentation as a star.
Cargill has recently taken another step forward in being paired with her “Baddies” Red Velvet and Kiera Hogan. There’s no chance that Cargill loses here.
Prediction: Jade Cargill retains
Mixed tag match: Scorpio Sky, Ethan Page and Paige VanZant vs. Sammy Guevara, Frankie Kazarian and Tay Conti
In the home city of her former employer, former UFC fighter Paige VanZant will have her first ever pro wrestling match at Double or Nothing. The six-person tag match will give VanZant moments to shine without forcing her to carry things.
The match has a stipulation where neither Guevara nor Kazarian can challenge for Sky’s TNT championship again if they lose. Kazarian has already issued a challenge to Sky for next Wednesday’s Dynamite, so Kazarian will likely win to make that official.
Prediction: Sammy Guevara, Frankie Kazarian & Tay Conti win
Darby Allin vs. Kyle O’Reilly
A late addition to the card, Allin vs. O’Reilly could steal the show at Double or Nothing. Allin challenged O’Reilly to the match following an angle where the Undisputed Elite tried to injure Sting’s leg on last week’s Dynamite. Allin said that if O’Reilly did not accept, he would interfere in Cole and The Young Bucks’ matches.
Allin should defeat O’Reilly, leading to a future tag match with Allin and Sting facing O’Reilly and Bobby Fish.
Prediction: Darby Allin wins
Preshow match: Hook and Danhausen vs. Tony Nese and “Smart” Mark Sterling
The odd-couple team of Hook and Danhausen is such a smart use of both wrestlers. Hook has been a sensation since he made his in-ring debut last December, but AEW can’t push him too far up the card until he’s ready for it. Danhausen is also one of AEW’s most popular acts, but he shouldn’t be too overexposed in the ring. Teaming up with Hook gives Danhausen the credibility he needs, while the partnership adds another dimension to Hook’s character as he protects Danhausen from being bullied.
Nese destroyed Danhausen in Danhausen’s AEW in-ring debut earlier this month. Hook will help Danhausen get some revenge on Nese and his manager Sterling here.
Prediction: Hook and Danhausen win
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