Welcome to another edition of The Main Event. I am your host, Don Franc, back with another column that you will all hopefully enjoy. Long introductions aren’t really my thing, so let’s get right to…
– Matt Jackson’s wife recently confirmed on Instagram that he worked the Stadium Stampede Match with a broken rib. That’s mighty heroic of Matt and he should be applauded for that. Of course he’s not the first wrestler to work a match with a broken body part, but it’s significant as his presence was much needed. Fenix and Britt Baker were already sidelined in their respective matches, but luckily they were replaceable. However, as part of The Elite, Matt was not. He played an integral part in the main storyline of the Dynamite Era and nobody could have taken his place in the match. So kudos to Matt Jackson for working the match in the condition he was in.
– A couple of days ago Jon Moxley stated how the success of Double or Nothing felt like winning the Superbowl; such was the atmosphere backstage. That is a fantastic story to hear as it shows comraderie as a team looking to make their show the biggest in the business. This feeling will motivate them to continue working hard and put their best foot forward. I presume nothing beats a locker room whose morale is high. Motivation is the driving force of success and if the roster is motivated then the matches and segments will be all the better for it. I fully expect this wave to continue as long as they’re doing well. However, they shouldn’t allow any form of failure to get them down as that could destroy the momentum and motivation that they’ve built.
– Whatever happened to Riho? I’m not complaining that she’s gone but I’m certainly curious. As the inaugural Womens Champion you would think she’d feature more on the show – or at all for that matter. I can’t remember when last I saw her though. Then again, even when she was champion she wasn’t on the show every week; so it’s not like this is anything new. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if she popped up on Dynamite out of nowhere this week to challenge for the title. Look, Riho can stay gone for as long as she wants because I’m not a fan of her work, although I know of many who are. It’s just interesting to note how she has been missing from Dynamite these past two months. Very strange, no?
THE MAIN EVENT
AEW Double Or Nothing Review
As I mentioned in my AEW DON preview column I wrote last week, I felt like this show was a tad rushed in some aspects but I ultimately gave AEW the benefit of the doubt considering I have yet to watch a show that left me disappointed. I’m hoping AEW keeps that streak alive and I’m intrigued as to what may transpire at this event.
A heartwarming tribute to the first responders segues nicely into highlights of the events that would culminate at this show. That opening video packaged got me amped up and my excitement level is rising. Not a bad set design, although I’d think they’d have put in more effort if there were fans in attendance. We’re opening the show with the Casino Ladder Match and that should be a fun opener. Nice touch with a few pre-recorded videos of the competitors or their affiliates providing their motivations for winning the match.
The Casino Ladder Match was as fun and entertaining as I expected. This MITB/Royal Rumble hybrid didn’t suffer from an over-reliance on over the top spots, which was surprising yet refreshing. Instead, the match focussed on more nuanced dynamics. Each wrestler played their part extremely well. Brian Cage debuts as the mystery competitor and it’s safe to say he made an impact (get it?). Despite the match not relying too heavily on spots, that’s not to say that it was void of any.
Great spots, great action, great character work and a great debut make for an overall great match, despite not being overtly stunt-based as we’ve become accustomed to from AEW. You know it’s not the true definition of a spotfest when the highlight of the match is an in-ring spot and weapons free exchange between Cage and Luchasauras. It’s certainly a nice change of pace. Cage unhooks the chip for the victory and he’s already asserting himself as a major player.
MJF vs. Jungle Boy was a fantastic match. I’m sure you’ve heard it a hundred times by now but MJF is absolutely brilliant. He is the definition of a heel and that was on full display in this match, with MJF harkening back to many classic heel tropes throughout this match. However, his athleticism is nothing to be scoffed at either, thus being a great dance partner for Jungle Boy who brought his A game and delivering a sick apron spot. These two men have great chemistry together, although I’m a bit perturbed that there was no video package highlighting the history between these two men to provide some context to the match. Nevertheless, MJF wins a fantastic match and he’s only getting bigger.
A really good encounter between Cody and Lance Archer. The Murderhawk Monster is a tremendously talented big man and he’s a lock to become a mainstay in AEW. This was a really good match that highlighted the exceptional qualities that both of these men possess. I’m surprised at the placement of this match on the card but that’s another notch on Cody’s (weight) belt. He does appear to put aside whatever selfish desires he may have for the betterment of the show. Cody winning the incomplete TNT Championship was the right choice and I think Lance Archer will easily be able to recover from this loss. I suspect Cody has an intriguing run with the belt ahead of him and I – for one – am excitedly looking forward to it.
We go backstage where Dr. Sampson explains the nature of Britt Baker’s injuries and this segues perfectly into the next match which features Baker’s replacement for her scheduled match: Penelope Ford vs. Kris Statlander. This match was solid if not unspectacular yet still contained some good manoeuvres. No match that includes Statlander can ever be bad though. Penelope still needs some more work but she’s far from green. I think she could be a major force in the Womens Division. But for now the right woman won, with Statlander picking up the victory in a more than watchable bout.
Shawn Spears vs Dustin Rhodes was a pretty standard affair preceded by a bait and switch of “Is Dustin going to show up?”. This match featured alot of comedy which is ironic considering Spears’ career is pretty much a joke right now. He couldn’t cut it in WWE and now he seemingly can’t cut it in AEW. I guess this proves that it’s not always WWE holding wrestlers back, but their actual capabilities as well. To those people crying about Spears being misused in WWE, well, if he can’t become a featured performer in two different promotions then we surely know where the problem lies. Anyway, Dustin picks up the win to get some heat back.
All Out is coming to us on September 5th and they’re promoting that event as the show that will feature the biggest matches on the card. I guess we now know which show AEW considers their version of Wrestlemania. I thought it would be Double or Nothing, what with it being AEW’s inaugural event.
The No Countout/No Disqualification contest between was a good showing by the two women, yet I am left slightly underwhelmed knowing that they could do better. Nevertheless, the match was good and was bordering on great territory; perhaps a live crowd could have pushed it to that level. The outcome of this match was very confusing. Shida winning was bittersweet for me. On the one hand, she makes for a worthy champion. However, with the way Nyla was portrayed you wouldn’t be blamed for assuming that she’d hold onto the belt for quite a while. I wonder if there was anything specific that prompted this title change. This is a head scratching development indeed.
A well put together video package highlights the AEW World Championship match. Normally I’d prefer the main title match to go on last, but this match was billed as one of two main events. Despite the rushed nature of this feud, Moxley and Lee put on a fantastic match. This match was filled with the intensity Moxley’s promos leading up to the contest warranted. I was wondering how they’d make Lee look strong in defeat, but the pass out finish and the big spot that immediately preceded it made Lee look like a beast. Moxley picked up an emphatic win and is still undefeated for 2020. What a great match and one well worth seeking out!
The main event is the Stadium Stampede and to say this match was amazing is and understatement. This was pure and utter chaotic, nonsensical fun. So much happened in this match that it’d take me an entire column to review it. Everything about this was absolutely fantastic. If you haven’t seen this spectacle yet I implore you to check it out. Trust me, you will not regret it. This match was the ultimate feud ender to a story that began on the debut episode of Dynamite. The Elite wins the war and what a way to bring this arch to a close. You would do yourself a huge favour by checking this one out!
Overall this was a brilliant PPV capped off by an outstanding main event. The run time of the show is fifteen minutes shy of four hours yet it didn’t feel that long at all. This would certainly serve as an exhibition of what AEW has to offer. I would definitely recommend that you check out this event at the soonest. What a show!
One of the more exciting stories coming out of Double or Nothing was the debut of Brian Cage. On a related note; I was even more excited upon realising that the mystery Casino Ladder Match competitor was not a former WWE guy, but that’s neither here nor there. Cage made an immediate impression when he was announced as the final entry. He came in like a house on fire and if he didn’t make you take note of him then I’m afraid you weren’t watching.
I first heard about Cage when many fans were raving about his work in Lucha Underground. However, I did not have access to the show so I could only read about how good he was. I managed to find a few of his matches online and on Impact Wrestling and his skill set instantly stood out to me. He looks like a body builder yet he can almost move like a cruiserweight. Yes, many big men on the independent scene move like that now, but not as fluidly as Cage. He is a true hybrid athlete.
He also clearly has some friends in AEW considering that he won a World Championship opportunity in his very first match for the company. That may not be unprecedented but it’s a telling sign that AEW may be intent on pushing him. Look, I’m all for it but I hope they don’t rush him to his title shot like they did Lee. They should play their cards well with The Machine as they could have a potential star on their hands.
Not only that, but he is another big man with a high level of talent that AEW have become known to be lacking. Cage is a good prospect and AEW need to be careful of his handling. He has the size, look and ability to make it any promotion; although I don’t know how good he is on the mic. I’m sure we’ll find out in the coming weeks though. All in all I think Cage is a fantastic addition to their roster. I’m intrigued with how he’ll be booked moving forward. Let’s so how uncaged Brian can become.
And that does it for another edition of The Main Event. Did you enjoy Double or Nothing? What was your favourite match? How do you feel about Brian Cage? Feel free to leave a comment below. You can also pop me an email at [email protected] or follow me on Twitter @donfranclop. But until next time folks…
This is Don Franc signing out.
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