Going into this PPV I was hoping to finally get a show during this weird empty arena era that completely makes me forget what’s going on in the outside world. Was AEW’s big anticipated event – Double or Nothing that show? Let’s find out.

The buy in opens with Jake The Snake and Lance Archer hanging out in an abandoned building destroying tyres and toilets because you know… Wrestling

Best Friends vs Private Party

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Private Party so it was nice to see this talented young duo back in action. In a match where it turns out Trent’s headband is a separate entity after all, these four guys put on an entertaining enough match for a pre-show but Private Party unfortunately felt very rough around the edges in a lot of spots and not for the first time. Best Friends win which is definitely the right decision given the work they’ve put in over the last month or so. Note: I really enjoyed Excalibur and Taz discussing popular guys outside the promotion like Minoru Suzuki, more of this please! 2.25 stars for me.

We’re with Arn Anderson now and Arn makes a joke about Lance beating up toilets which I enjoyed. Decent promo by Arn building the Cody v Archer match, AEW know exactly how to use their legends.

The main PPV starts with a great opening package that doesn’t try to ignore the world’s current issues while also paying respects to Shad Gaspard who tragically past away this week. We then go to multiple promos building each guy in the casino ladder match which I loved. I actually preferred this to the WWE style brawl we had on Dynamite which did nothing for anyone other than injure one of the favourites. Jimmy Havoc in his blood stained white suit talking about making people suffer was a nice touch too for this old school Progress Wrestling fan.

Casino Ladder Match

What a fun opener, this is how you start a PPV. There was so much to love here including the all SCU opening, Kip Sabian being a smart heel by using Havoc as an extra man in a no DQ match, Darby Allin trying to kill everyone and himself with insane dives and of course Orange Cassidy not quite getting the rules and looking really put out that he has to climb a ladder.

Then you had Fenix’s replacement Joey Janela being Joey and Luchasaurus doing what our favorite dinosaur does best with a fun mixture of powerful and quick offense. The mystery man ended up being Brian Cage who was rumoured to have signed for AEW months ago, the big man led by new manager Taz made an instant impact (no pun intended) but I can’t help but worry about AEW getting yet another giant with Brodie Lee, Lance Archer and Wardlow all playing that role already.

Cameo appearances by Panelope Ford, Best Friends and Marko Stunt was a fun touch before the match descended into all out spot heavy chaos in the best way. Cage wins the match after Taz walks out to witness Cage nearly murder Darby with a nasty looking bump. I liked this because it made Taz’s uncomfortable relationship with Darby Allin make sense and Cage looked incredible. My only concern with this direction is that I can’t see Cage beating Moxley so he inevitably has to lose his next big match but we’ll see. Fun match, great opener. I’ll go 3.75 stars.

MJF v Jungle Boy

Where did this come from?! I’ve always heard talk about non-televised matches between these two being brilliant but before this PPV I’d never seen it for myself. Both guys showed exactly what they can do in a match which would have had a live crowd (especially the normal AEW audience) going crazy for this back and forth classic. MJF managed to have an exciting match while never straying from his dickhead character. Even the way MJF got the win played into his character without taking away from either guy. 4 stars.

TNT Championship: Cody vs Lance Archer

The match on the card with arguably the best build, this was pretty much everything I expected it to be. PPV Cody matches have a particular narrative formula which delivers 9 times out of 10 and this was another example of that. This was filled with cool moments like Archer opening with his finish, the DDT in front of Jake (even if JR did feel the need to make a dig about the DDT no longer being a finish) and the Stinger Splash from Cody was a nice touch given Sting’s teases on Twitter recently. All the outside interference from Jake, Arn and oddly Mike Tyson was hit and miss but didn’t take away from the match.

It would have been nice to see Tyson KO someone and that TNT title looks awful (yes I know it’s not finished) but the match was a classic Cody PPV match nonetheless. I didn’t expect Cody to get the win and was even more surprised not to see an MJF run-in. It will be interesting to see where Lance Archer goes from here as well. 4 stars 

Penelope Ford vs Kris Statlander

I felt bad for these two girls and even worse for Britt Baker who’s injury takes her out of this one. They were pretty much put in a death spot on the card but did well regardless. Sabian added a comedic element by being ringside and Penelope Ford continues to impress with her great athleticism. I enjoyed this for what it was and despite the placement, it’s nice to have two women’s matches on the card at least. 2.5 stars 

Shawn Spears vs Dustin Rhodes

This PPV ended up going nearly 4 hours. Personally I’d rather they stay closer to 3 hours during this empty arena era and one way to do that is to cut out garbage like this. I like Dustin but we didn’t need him back for this show and the whole match just made Shawn Spears look stupid with the humiliating way he lost. I don’t think this benefited anybody and was a waste of time. 0.5 stars

We get an advert for All Out where interestingly there is no mention of a location so I’m assuming it’ll be behind closed doors again which is a shame but it’s the world we live in right now.

We then get a small tribute to Hana Kimura and I just want to echo what the commentators said. At the age of only 22, Hana Kimura took her own life because of cyber bullying. Social media can be a horrible place and I often think people don’t understand how their comments can effect everyone differently. Just think before you comment or post and be nicer. Extinguishing someone else’s flame doesn’t make yours brighter, be better please.

AEW Women’s Title: Nyla Rose (c) vs Hikaru Shida

I really liked that this match got a cool video package to make it feel special, it’s a great touch but not as great as Hikaru Shida donning the Tifa look with her new attire, I love it! Shida turned up the intensity for this one while Nyla Rose continued to come off as a dominant badass. These two brawled all over the arena and made fun use of some of the cool props which brought the Las Vegas to Jacksonville.

These two worked a great match and I can’t get enough of the Nyla Rose flying knee spot. Both the table and kendo stick being used was both fun and made sense with the story they’ve been telling. That avalanche falcon arrow looked incredible to the point I nearly bought the near fall. My only issue was the finish, I like Hikaru Shida a hell of a lot and I understand why they gave her the win but this was not the right time to take the belt off Nyla in my opinion. It was a great match nonetheless and one of the best women’s matches AEW have had (not that there’s much competition). It was of course a lovely touch to mention Hana Kimura during the celebrations too. 3.75 stars.

AEW World Title: Jon Moxley (c) vs Brodie Lee

If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume this match has had a hell of a build given the way they presented this with a great video package and lots of security in the ring. It’s a credit to the booking on the night that they managed to make me feel this way after what has been a few weeks of mediocre story telling to get to this main event title match.

I said in my preview that I was worried that we’d get something boring here but thankfully that wasn’t the case! This felt like a main event match where these two guys wanted to destroy each other. The paradigm shift spot through the ramp was great move and I was fully invested from that point on. I do wish it went slightly longer after that but it was a strong finish to a really decent match. Having Moxley choke out Brodie for the win worked well as it didn’t make Brodie look too weak (especially given he kicked out of a paradigm shift at 1!) and I was left feeling pleasantly surprised by this brawl. 4 stars.

Stadium Stampede: The Elite vs The Inner Circle

AEW did a fantastic job all night with their video packages and this one was the pick of the bunch as it reminded me exactly how important this feud is and how it has pretty much shaped the entirety of AEW since the very first episode of Dynamite.

Where on earth do I start with this one? We’ve had a lot of pre-taped out of the ordinary matches across all of wrestling since lockdown, from the brilliantly corny boneyard match to the bore fest that was Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa. It’s difficult to rate these matches as they’re not really wrestling matches, they’re wacky TV shows featuring wrestlers. With that being said, I think the Stadium Stampede may be the best thing I’ve seen on all of TV over this lockdown period.

I genuinely had the largest ear to ear grin from the Inner Circle NFL style entrance all the way to Sammy taking a gigantic One Winged Angel off a 20ft balcony. Some purists will not like this at all, I mean it features Matt Hardy being drowned by Santana and Ortiz but what they don’t realise is that the stadium pool is another lake of reincarnation! Hardy is then transformed into all the different versions of himself through the years, all the while Hangman Page is wandering round on a horse until he stops at the stadium bar… yeah Jim Cornette may have an issue with this one.

Personally though I couldn’t help but laugh and smile trough the entirety of this spectacle. It’s the best use of an empty venue to date and that’s thanks mostly to the guys involved. If you give Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, Kenny Omega, Matt Hardy and the Young Bucks this much creativity in an empty stadium you get this – not a 5 star match but a 5 star piece of comedic art that I very much doubt will be topped until we’re back to sold out arenas. I was proper belly laughing from beginning to end and couldn’t of realistically asked for more. 5 stars, don’t @ me!

All in all AEW did exactly what I hoped they would with Double or Nothing, they managed to make me forget the horrible events happening right now around the world. This was escapism at its best and despite a few Shawn Spears shaped miss steps, this one of the only true triumphs in this new era. For that reason, I’m going to give AEW Double or Nothing…

8/10

What did you think of AEW Double or Nothing? Let me know in the comments or get in touch with me on Twitter @MikeyGalaszia or @RespawningUK. Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you next time.

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