AEW Double or Nothing is this weekend marking one year since All Elite Wrestling’s first-ever pay-per-view. To mark the occasion I’m going Double or Nothing on today’s column counting down part 2 of the Top 10 Moments in AEW’s first year and also doing a quick preview for PPV as well.
If you missed part 1 of the countdown, the honourable mentions and number ten to six, you can see it here, but without further ado, let’s get stuck in.
5. “A Little Bit of the Bubbly”
All Out Post Show 31/8/2020
The meme that set sail to a thousand more. After becoming the first AEW champion at All Out, Chris Jericho kicked off the post-show by picking up a microphone as he walked through the curtains and casually insulting everyone within earshot as he walked through the backstage area. The promo was brilliant by itself but the cherry on the cake was his final line about having “a little bit of the bubbly,” when referring to his post-match champagne. The delivery of the line immediately became iconic, getting shared around social media like lightning, a t-shirt was made, sold out and eventually, Jericho even launched a line of champagne based solely off the catchphrase.
That alone is impressive, but the thing that makes this moment so iconic was that it became a template for Jericho, who would make these kinds of over the top comedic lines, delivered with complete conviction, a huge part of his character. Nine months later we have had “I’ve got a ticket”, “Le Champion”, “you’re welcome”, “Le Sex Gods”, Pineapple Pete and his latest just from Dynamite two weeks ago, a cackling “He, He, He, He” delivered while wearing a traffic cone like a witches hat. All of them instantly become memes within the wrestling community and all of them contribute to the narcissistic, washed-up rock-star character of Chris Jericho that AEW fans have learnt to love to hate, like no one else on the show.
4. The Lashing of Cody Rhodes
In the first year of AEW, no one embedded themselves in the hearts of the AEW faithful more than Cody Rhodes. On the fifth of February, 2020, AEW did everything they possibly could to try and break those hearts, as the most beloved wrestler in the company was forced to endure ten lashes delved out by his former protege, MJF.
It was brutal and gut-wrenching but the true brilliance of the segment was how it spoke so deeply to the characters of the two men involved, raising the emotional stakes of the story to a fever pitch and even furthered the story of other wrestlers on the periphery of the segment.
Cody went out to prove he had the resilience and perseverance his father spoke of when he talked about the hard times that blue-collar America was going through in the 80s. Cody’s triumph was simply in persevering despite the physical and emotional pain he was going through and his performance from determined, to angry, to despairing and ultimately to triumphant, was one the crowd rode with him. MJF on the other hand, who saw Cody Rhodes as a man of the same ilk as him, all fancy suits and false swagger, went from sauntering around the ring full of arrogance to boiling with rage at the end of the segment as his belief in Cody’s weakness was proved wrong. Thinking Cody was just like him, MJF believed his rival would quit in the face of the humiliation and pain of the lashes so was left furious when Cody proved he was cut from tougher steel than him.
In the folklore of AEW, I firmly believe that this segment will go down as one of the most legendary moments of Dynamit’s history, a moment akin to Stone Cold Stunning Vince or CM Punk dropping The Pipebomb. It will be something that is more than just a great segment, it is a moment in time where the company fundamentally stuck its flag to the mast and forged its identity.
3. Jon Moxley Debuts
Double Or Nothing 25/5/2020
The cherry on top of Double or Nothing, the final knockout punch for one of the greatest PPVs in modern wrestling history, the surprise debut of Jon Moxley. To say this blew the roof off the building is an understatement, people in the crowd reported the arena literally shuddering with the fan reaction, as Moxley made his entrance down the steps of the arena, through the crowd, towards the ring.
The brawl that followed was utterly electric with Moxley hitting both Jericho and the referee with his signature DDT and then fighting through the crowd with Kenny Omega before throwing the former New Japan star off the set, to end the pay-per-view.
In a promo filmed immediately afterwards, Moxley said the moment felt like a paradigm shift and I could not have put it better myself. While Chris Jericho had been operating in the orbit of The Elite for the year leading up to the company’s launch, Jon Moxley/Dean Ambrose is a genuine star in the industry, previously one of the top guys in the WWE, and up until that point, he hadn’t had anything to do with the wrestlers everyone knew would be linked to AEW. Seeing the former Dean Ambrose march to the ring, DDT Jericho and then brawl through the crowd with Kenny Omega felt both completely surreal and like an emphatic statement of intent by a company looking to make a dent in the wrestling zeitgeist.
2. The Elite v The Elite
At some point in AEW The Elite was going to end up fighting one another and anyone who had seen the 2018 Bullet Club Civil War knew it would be good. That said, I don’t think anyone would have guessed it would be quite this good.
Firstly came the setup, which saw a hungry for success Hangman Page and Kenny Omega win the tag team titles before their more fancied stablemates and life long tag team, The Young Bucks. The tension within the group was palpable, particularly for Hangman, who felt that his friends were acting jealous instead of happy for him and his first-ever title win. The group would have multiple segments showing the complications in their relationships and the differences between The Elite members was put on full display. Throughout Hangman got more and more popular with the crowd even as he refused to stand beside and celebrate with The Young Bucks. Poor Kenny Omega was left in the middle trying to mediate, a job which soon wore thin on him as well.
Then at Revolution, when the two teams met, the four men put together what many have called the greatest tag team match of all time. While I haven’t seen enough to go quite that far, I would say it is easily amongst the very best matches I have ever seen. The beauty of the match is in how it served every facet of the audience, from the new to AEW, to the long term fans, there was breathtaking action, great psychology and an incredible depth of emotional storytelling. The number of callbacks to each performer’s history was a particular treat for die-hard fans of The Elite and weaved together a complex story as each team tried to get the upper hand on their stablemates. The ending had the crowd exploding with disbelief and then, holding their breath as each faction teased a heel turn.
If you haven’t seen AEW and want to know what the fuss is all about then look no further than this match. Well, this or the next one….
1. The Rhodes Brothers Bleed Together
Double Or Nothing 25/5/2020
Throughout AEW’s first year, Cody Rhodes has been the emotional heart of the company and it all started at Double or Nothing 2019, with this incredible match between Cody and his brother Dustin.
When this match was announced it had its share of sceptics within the community. Dustin was well into the twilight of his career and Cody has never been known as a ring general. It was no secret that the two brothers wanted to do this match at Wrestlemania but were knocked back by the WWE, so the stakes were inched just that much higher by a desire to prove their former employer wrong.
However, the compelling build-up, centring around the different childhoods each man received at the foot of their famous father, soon eased those doubts and it became clear the two men were working to their storytelling and character strengths.
On the night though Dustin and Cody blew every expectation out of the water, with the greatest performance of each man’s career in a bloody fight that would have been at home in the territories of yore. Both men came in amazing shape and even pulled out some new moves to the delight of the crowd. It was in the story that this match truly shined through. As far as emotional pathos goes in wrestling, it doesn’t get much more powerful than two brothers bleeding together in the ring and beating out all their unresolved issues until all that was left between them was their brotherhood.
This was all capped off with the victorious Cody taking the mic and extending his hand to his brother to partner him in an upcoming tag match. As the pair embraced fans openly wept in the crowd. It takes a very special moment to get a response like that and it’s why a year later, it is still the number one moment in AEW’s history.
Double or Nothing Preview & Predictions
Jon Moxley (c) v Brodie Lee – AEW World Championship
It is a real shame for Jon Moxley that the start of his championship reign has felt like almost an afterthought. He wasn’t part of the majority of the taped shows over March and April and then came back with four weeks to build a feud against a newcomer to the company. However, despite those issues with the build-up, I expect that this weekend is where things pick up for him. I have seen Moxley and Brodie Lee cross horns before, in the WWE and even before their time there, and every time they have done so it has been compelling. Both men know how to hit hard and have a lot to prove in this championship match.
Moxley should absolutely take the win but hopefully, both men will be elevated with a hard-hitting affair.
Prediction: Jon Moxley
Cody v Lanc Archer – TNT Championship
The build-up to this match, with firstly the championship tournament, and now the promos and brawling has been fantastic and really exemplifies what Cody can do creatively. With the inclusion of Jake Robert and Arn Anderson as managers/coaches and Mike Tyson presenting the new championship title to the winner, I’d even go as far to say that this feels like a real world championship match.
The feud itself has been very heated so I expect Cody to pull out every bell and whistle in his arsenal to get this match to pop. Expect Brandi to run in and attack Jake, expect Arn to get involved, look out for snakes and even watch for Dustin and QT Marshall coming in for some payback on Lance too.
As far as predictions go it is much harder to tell. Even though Archer is a great monster, I’m going to pick Cody as he is the bigger star of the two and would be the perfect person to carry this new belt.
The Elite v The Inner Circle – Stadium Stampede Match
If you thought the WWE MITB match was something else, baby you ain’t seen nothing yet. This match is going to be absolutely balls to the wall insanity and while I would normally be hesitant when it comes to such a reality-bending style of match, I trust in The Elite’s track record to pull off something like this. Every time they have done a crazy match type, be it Matt v Nick Jackson on BTE or the Street Fight on Dynamite, they have threaded the needle to perfection so I have my faith they will pull this off.
AT Dynamite this weekend it was fun to see them continue to tease the tension between Adam Page and the rest of The Elite, part of me thinks it could possibly be the deciding factor in the match. However, despite that nagging feeling I’m going to say The Elite reign supreme here and give us the happy ending we need in these times.
Prediction: The Elite
Nyla Rose (c) v Hikaru Shida – No DQ Match – AEW Women’s Title
This is a rough one for me. Anyone who has read my AEW columns knows that I am all in when it comes to Hikaru Shida in AEW, to me she has been the MVP of the women’s division since its inception. However, as good as she is, she has no chance of winning the title this weekend.
This is Nyla Rose’s second major defence and I get the feeling she is being set up for a long, dominant run. With the No DQ stipulation, expect the match to be brutal with plenty of kendo stick, chair and table spots, it will probably even end with a Beast Bomb through a table. Rose still has a lot to prove as a wrestler so I’m hoping she brings her A-game to match it with the women’s A-player come Saturday night.
Prediction: Nyla Rose
Darby Allin v Rey Fenix v Orange Cassidy v Colt Cabana v Kip Sabian v Luchasaurus v Scorpio Sky v Frankie Kazarian v T.B.A. – Casino Ladder Match
Ahhhh, the ladder cluster you-know-what. As with the Stadium Stampede, I’m not normally predisposed to like this kind of match but I trust AEW’s booking so am happy to give it a chance. There are certainly more than enough people in it to create either a very exciting spectacle or a complete mess, depending on how things pan out. PArt of me even hopes that someone wins the match before the final combatants come out, just to add an edge of unpredictability to the match type going forward.
As far as who will win it, any time there is a mystery combatant they have to be right up there with a chance, I’d also say Darby Allin would be a good pick as he is probably the most popular competitor in the match. However, I’m going to pick Rey Fenix, he has mostly wrestled as a tag team competitor so far in AE but the company has always made a point of mentioning that he is equally adept as a singles wrestler and I think that will pay off this weekend when he wins here.
Prediction: Rey Fenix
Private Party v Best Friends
A pair of tag team contenders. This match on the PPV is a nice reward for Best Friends after the hard work they have put in working just about every week of the Dynamite lockdown shows. As for Private Party, they have been around a lot less but have been doing some interesting pieces on BTE over the last couple of months that are well worth checking out.
I expect that Best Friends will get the win to cement themselves as the next number one contenders to the tag team titles, however, Private Party will do everything they can to remind people how exciting they can be.
Prediction: Best Friends
Dustin Rhodes v Shawn Spears
Talk about tacked on at the last minute! This match barely even made the cut and will almost certainly be used as a cool-down match midway through the card.
This match won’t have much effect on anything in AEW but I’ll go with Shawn Spears as he’s been slyly been picking up wins on AEW Dark over the past few months. Come to think of it, with a win here, he may well be the first contender for Cody’s newly won TNT Championship.
Prediction: Shawn Spears
That wraps it up for this week, what do you think have been the best moments in AEW’s first year and what are your Predictions for Double or Nothing? Let me know in the comments below. You can also chat to me further on Twitter @Sir_Samuel or in the AEW section on the LOP Forums.
Missed my last AEW column? Check it out here.
The Top 10 Moments of AEW’s First Year (Part 1: 10-6)