Welcome to another edition of The Main Event. I am your host, Don Franc, back with another column you will all hopefully enjoy. Long introductions aren’t really my thing, so let’s go right to…
– Britt Baker recently made comments about Adam Cole not being allowed to go to All In. However, the really interesting part was how she made mention of her hopes that Cole can reunite with The Elite in the ring. I don’t think it would be a smart move for Cole to jump ship anytime soon. He has reached the highest level of NXT and has stayed there for a very long time. WWE are likely aware of Cole’s connection with The Elite, which is why he is such a prominent figure on the NXT roster. But surely reuniting with his friends will forever be etched into the mind of Cole. Therefore, I’d think Cole would relish at the opportunity to jump ship at the first sign of troubled booking. Although, I doubt WWE wouldn’t do everything in their power to keep Cole on NXT. Nevertheless, the allure of being on the same show as his girlfriend and close friends is surely there and I wouldn’t be surprised if Adam Cole ends up in AEW somewhere down the line.
– Rey Fenix, Britt Baker and Matt Jackson have suffered injuries on this past episode of Dynamite. While Fenix has been cleared to compete, the jury is still out on Baker (who may have blown out her knee) and Jackson (who may have suffered a broken rib). I’m hoping for the best here as this show needs Baker and Jackson. Jackson is reportedly likely to wrestle, but Baker still remains a concern. An injury will not be a good thing for Britt whose heel turn has only started picking up any real steam so an injury would set her back quite a bit. As it stands, the show is to go on as per normal and I’m hoping that continues to be the case, although with Baker possibly having a torn ACL it isn’t looking good.
– According to Cody, the TNT Championship will not be involved in the ranking system and will instead become an entity of it’s own. I think this is a great idea while they establish exactly what the title means to their promotion. The TNT Champion won’t be ranked in contention for the World Championship so that separates the two entities and perhaps creates another division, although Cody didn’t label it such. In fact, Cody doesn’t know what to label the title as of yet. That should make for interesting television, especially considering that AEW are venturing with the belt into the unknown. Yes, this can cause booking mishaps, but I’m confident in their ability to deliver something special with the belt.
THE MAIN EVENT
Double Or Nothing Preview
For the first time ever I’m left feeling a little bit disappointed with what AEW is offering. Normally AEW goes about the right way (more or less) of doing things. A good example of this being inserting wrestlers around the ring to serve as fans so that a certain atmosphere can still be prevalent throughout the show. This was a great idea to combat the lack of attendance due to COVID-19 and it certainly made a difference; opposed to WWE’s completely empty arena.
So with me naturally being happy with what AEW puts out on a week-to-week basis, imagine my disappointment with the build to Double Or Nothing. I watch AEW Dynamite every single week (and have since it started), so it’s pretty easy for me to say that the show feels rushed. COVID-19 screwed up whatever plans AEW may have had and it now culminates in a show that gives off the feeling of not being well thought out. A lot of matches feel forced, like it didn’t happen organically.
And for an event like Double Or Nothing – the very first AEW PPV – that should not be the case. This is AEW’s marquee event but it feels more like nothing than double. Look, it’s not fair to judge AEW for how the build of the show came across as thrown together (for the most part) during the pandemic. But with that being said, they could have prevented this by simply pushing the PPV back and first allow for their stories to be fleshed out. So what I’ll be doing is going through the entire card and see exactly which matches were rushed and which matches actually have an engaging story attached to it.
Private Party vs. Best Friends (#1 Contenders Match For The AEW Tag Team Championships)
This match makes sense. There’s not much need for a story to push this match forward. The Tag Team Division in AEW is highly coveted so the division speaks for itself. This is a bout that has high stakes and future implications. Despite these teams not being in a feud, the prize that is up for grabs is more than sufficient. Private Party is a team I’ve missed on Dynamite, so because of their lack of television time of late I’m thinking Best Friends take the win. They’ve been prominent figures in the Tag Team Division so they probably deserve to win too.
Casino Ladder Match (Darby Allin vs. Rey Fenix vs. Orange Cassidy vs. Scorpio Sky vs. Frankie Kazarian vs. Kip Sabian vs. Jimmy Havoc vs. Colt Cabana vs. Luchasaurus vs. TBD)
This match serves as a good way to get more bodies on the show. This is another one that doesn’t need a story as the prize on the line is good enough to be the driving factor. There are two tag teams in this bout and three other members of tag teams, so the options for who wins are limited, yet that doesn’t really matter to AEW. However – whether it’s the obvious choice or not – Darby Allin needs to win this match. I don’t care which WWE reject will be making their debut (I hope I’m wrong!) but for all Darby’s hard work since Dynamite’s inception, I don’t think there’s anybody more worthy than him for the win.
Shawn Spears vs. Dustin Rhodes
This match is the definition of thrown together. This match came about in a strange manner: Spears anchors a news bulletin saying Dustin retired, then challenges him to a match and a few minutes later the match is made official for no rhyme or reason. Spears is desperately trying to get over but his efforts are not having a great effect. Not much to say on this one what with it only being added onto the card three days before the event! Spears should pick up the win and AEW will just continue to try and get this guy over.
Britt Baker vs. Kris Statlander
With the Womens Division being somewhat of a shared universe with a shared history, no womens match is really out of place when booked. However, this is likely due to lack of storylines in the division, although AEW have been making concentrated efforts in bettering that aspect of the division. I enjoy the work of both these women, but I’m going to choose Baker for the win as this would add some much needed steam to her good character work as a heel. Statlander will be just fine with a loss as Baker is in the upper echelon of female talent on the AEW roster.
MJF vs. Jungle Boy
Another match that feels thrown together despite these men having history. I feel like MJF deserved a bigger match at AEW’s biggest show, but I digress. I feel underwhelmed with this contest. Perhaps that is because in the short build-up to this match, AEW didn’t effectively showcase the history between these two men. That’s the reason why I feel this match was just placed on the card so that MJF has something to do. There’s no way MJF loses this bout and I’m hoping AEW provides us with a video package highlighting the history between these two men to provide some context to this match.
Nyla Rose vs. Hikaru Shida (No Disqualification, No Countout Match For The AEW Womens Championship)
As I mentioned with Baker/Statlander, any Womens Division match seems like it belongs. This one even more so. Shida has been the number one ranked contender for twelve straight weeks so this encounter has been brewing for quite some time. These women are fine athletes and I’m confident that they’ll put on a great match. As good a fight as Shida is going to put up, there’s only one winner here so look at the champion retaining.
Cody vs. Lance Archer (Tournament Final To Crown An Inaugural TNT Champion)
Now this is what you call a fantastically built feud. You know the story is damn good when the final two participants are already a given but you still heavily invested. Archer sending a warning to Cody upon his debut was the precursor for this match. Then the tournament took place and things were civil until Archer bloodied Dustin. Eventually Brandi got involved and the heat level rose exponentially. This showcased AEW’s ability to have a feud slowly escalate until it reaches boiling point. I’m expecting a great match befitting of this feud. I think Cody squeaks out the win considering he can’t compete for the AEW World Championship.
The Inner Circle vs. The Elite (Stadium Stampede)
This match has been coming since the inception of AEW. What a rollercoaster ride these two groups have had. They encapsulate what AEW represents and their power struggle was a treat to watch. This encounter fittingly takes place at AEW’s biggest show of the year and it should be a fun affair. I’m mostly expecting brawling with a few guys jumping off high stuff and Damascus shenanigans sprinkled in between. Booked fascinatingly, this has been the premier feud of AEW. I’m sure these two supergroups will cross paths again down the line, but for this blowoff match I’m going with The Elite for the win, unless Hangman Page finally betrays them!
Jon Moxley vs. Brodie Lee (AEW World Championship Match)
If ever there was a feud that happened too soon, this would be it. If you look at it from a storyline perspective, you could argue that it makes sense for Lee to go for the title so soon considering his aim is to dominate AEW. However, with that being said, you have to criticise AEW for not allowing more time for The Exalted One to be built up. Lee is involved in the title picture way too soon. With the two weeks of build that we got it’s evident that if given more time they could have crafted a really good story. Nevertheless, this is the match we’re getting and I’m hopeful these two wrestlers can put on an entertaining match to wash away the bad taste of the premature nature of their encounter. It’s way too soon for Moxley to lose the title, so I’m hoping that with him retaining the belt it sets up more time for this feud to really develop.
From a storyline perspective I think Double Or Nothing is lacking. However, I’ve no doubt that the actual matches on the card will deliver. It’s a shame the Moxley/Lee feud couldn’t develop more to make the match really feel special. Another letdown was MJF not being in a more important match. It’s also worth noting that a few prominent stars such as Pentagon Jr. and PAC won’t be involved in show, although the latter might be the surprise entry in the Casino Ladder Match. Overall, I’m not excited for this show as I’ve been for previous AEW shows. Yet I do believe that my favourite promotion will find a way to make this show memorable. And at the end of the day, that is all that one can really ask for.
And that does it for this edition of The Main Event. What are your thoughts on Double or Nothing? Which match are you most looking forward to? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. You can also pop me an email on [email protected] or follow me on Twitter @donfranclop. But until next time folks…
This is Don Franc signing out.