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AEW Double or Nothing 2023 Review: The Good, The Bad & A Bloody Classic

Poster for AEW Double or Nothing 2023
Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling

The AEW Double or Nothing 2023 pre-show (aka The Buy-In) saw The Hardys and Hook defeat Ethan Page and The Gunns. Not a bad match. Jeff Hardy appeared to twist his ankle on a missed Twist of Fate and then slipped and fell off the ropes trying a leap. Poor guy just can’t catch a break. Thankfully, Hook controlled the momentum and the winning submission. I’d like to see Hook go back to singles, as much as they could try to turn him heel, the fans like him no matter what. I also feel like The Hardys final run is not going to be as memorable as they had hoped. Just give them the match with FTR, lose, and ride off into the sunset with dignity. 

I like Ethan Page. Not just for the Toy Vlogs, but because he could do a five-minute match or a 25-minute match. The stuff with Dan Lambert was great. I enjoyed their pairing. Hopefully something picks up for him at some point. 

AEW Double or Nothing 2023 kicks off with Orange Cassidy retaining the International title in a 20-Man Casino Battle Royal. Most of the challengers were tag-team people, so none of those seemed believable winners. Except for The Butcher. I wanted Butcher. The final two came down to Cassidy and Swerve Strickland. This became a great singles match. So many close moments. The finish was spectacular, Swerve hanging on for dear life. Cassidy winds up for a big finish, but fakes out with a wimpy kick to the hand, sending Swerve flopping to the floor. 

Adam Cole defeated Chris Jericho via referee stoppage

Yep, Aubrey Edwards had to stop the match when Jericho appeared unable to defend himself and faded. Decent match. Either expectations was too high, or things didn’t click. The beginning was chaotic, Sabu and Roderick Strong clobber the other members of J.A.S. with chairs, culminating with Sabu diving off the top through a table on the floor. This was a brawl, not much wrestling if any. Jericho appeared gassed early. Could be wrong, but this was a sluggish brawl which never really clicked. In the end, Cole brutalized Jericho with a chain, then punched him senseless. 

During the match, kendo sticks came into play, and so did Dr. Britt Baker who cracked Jericho over and over with one. Saraya attempted to interfere, but Dr. Baker chased her off. 

Later in the night, Jericho and Saraya challenged Cole and Dr Baker to a mixed tag on Dynamite, and then Jericho spit fire in the face of a crew member. 

FTR retain the AEW World Tag Team Championships against Jeff Jarret and Jay Lethal

Great, great match. This felt old school NWA, early-WCW style wrestling. Double J heeled it up so well. You have to give Jarrett credit, if the crowd hates him, he makes sure they let him know it. Mark Briscoe, bless this guy, added to the mix, taking a bump and getting KO’d because this is what wearing a referee shirt does. The longer the match, the more intense it got, and also so much fun to watch. Some great interactions and exchanges, so many close calls. Things got crazy when Jarrett inadvertently busted a guitar over Briscoe, Dax doing “Oh, you done messed up now!” face, and then Aubrey Edwards runs down, only to get clobbered by a guitar thanks to Karen Jarrett! Finish saw FTR hit Shatter Machine on Jarrett for the pinfall win. 

Fun match, great finish. Perfect. 

Wardlow retains the TNT Championship against Christian Cage

Another good match. The live crowd seemed to struggle getting into it, but the action picked up the longer it went. Crazy moment with Wardlow leaping off the ropes to meet Christian on the ladder, and wound up breaking the ladder. Thanks to an assist by Arn Anderson, Christian falls off the ladder into the waiting arms of Wardlow for a a big time powerbomb, who climbed up for the win. 

Here’s a moment you don’t hear or read about, as Kane-A-Saurus interfered, choking Arn Anderson, the Horseman would bite the big Dino’s hand and then the camera zoomed in on Arn’s bloody mouth, and the bloody thumb of Luchasaurus. That was different. 

Toni Storm defeated Jamie Hayter to become the new AEW Women’s World Champion

Unfortunately, it was no secret coming into tonight’s event, Hayter was banged up from an injury angle which became a legit injury. They did the ol’ beat her up before the match, had some close calls, but eventually Hayter would lose thanks to more underhanded tactics, my guess to protect her, as Toni Storm would get help from Saraya to win the title. It’s a bummer it had to go down this way, but my guess is we weren’t going through with yet another “interim” champion.

House of Black defeated The Acclaimed and “Daddy Ass” Billy Gunn to retain the AEW Trios Championships

Boy was this a fun match. From the opening rap to the final pinfall, the house was on fire. Possible pun intended. The action was non-stop, flowed very well, and once more I have to call it out – We’re in 2023, and Billy Gunn still gets a huge pop. 

The Acclaimed and Billy Gunn were the best challengers they’ve had since winning the titles. Just an opinion. I figure we will see more of the open challenges and get a random assortment of trios, but I wonder where this will ultimately lead. I think the Trios Titles are perfect for House of Black, so I would worry what would be next for them when they inevitably have to lose. 

Jade Cargill retains the TBS Women’s Championship against Taya Valkyrie. 

It’s no secret I have not been a fan of Jade Cargill, nor have I been a fan of this feud. Taya is great, but the build to this match was fairly lackluster. However, this was a really good match and I have to give kudos to both. I was impressed with the bumps Cargill took, typically she doesn’t take many, and this time clearly sold more often. She has improved a lot. Taya did hit her Road to Valhalla, but Cargill kicked out, then hit her version of the same move, Jaded, for the decisive victory…

… Until “Smart” Mark Sterling made a not-so-smart comment how Jade is unstoppable at 60-0, and there is truly no competition left for her. In fact, Jade is so confident, she is willing to put the title on the line, anyplace, anytime. 

It was in that moment, we knew he messed up. The second those lines came out, you knew someone was going to challenge right then and there. Behold! The Return of Kris Statlander who challenges and in minutes defeated Jade Cargill to become the new TBS Women’s Champion. 

I called it. I called it. I called it. I knew once she came back she would be the one to take the championship, I just didn’t think it would all happen on the same night!

Kris Statlander defeated Jade Cargill to become the new TBS Women’s Champion

Jade’s streak, is over. 

MJF retains the AEW World Championship against Darby Allin, Sammy Guevara, and “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry

Everyone had some type of unique entrance, Darby more comical, Sammy bringing back the giant signs to reveal he and Tay Melo are expecting, MJF as royalty. By the way, Sammy’s reveal of the pregnancy catapults him right back to uber-face status. At least for a month until majority of fans forget. 

This could have been the final match of the night, but as evidenced later, it makes sense why it was “Part I” of a “Double Main Event.” Despite the awkward build, all four brought out their individual A-games for it. So many gorgeous moments which could never get replicated. Four-way submissions, the triple-team beatings on MJF, speaking of whom, had fantastic comedy/serious spots interspersed throughout. Yelling “Wait!” or “Holy S***” at pivotal moments added so much fun to it. Yes, I know, the Destroyers are as overused as DDTs nowadays, but the spots were enjoyable. Another classic, as MJF and Sammy are winded, the champ grabs a mic, telling Sammy the offer to lay down for the money is still on the table, because now he “has to think about the baby!” Sammy lies down just to fool and roll up the champ for a two. Darby and Jungle Boy also hit some big signatures for twos, and then the absolutely insane series of near-fall pin attempts drove the live crowd wild. I don’t even know how half of those physically made sense.

Other notable moments, and I apologize if not in order – MJF hitting the Blonde Bombshell on Darby (top rope powerbomb), where Taz credited the late-great Chris Candido, MJF teasing a rope dive but simply bounces back and forth, Sammy taking Darby off the top and to the floor with a Spanish Fly, also using the Walls of Jericho while Darby used the Scorpion Death Drop and Perry hit the Killswitch, all signature moves from their mentors, including MJF hitting the Cross-Rhodes. Late in the match, MJF brings both the championship belt and his ring, as there are no disqualifications, but failing to use either. Jungle Boy winds up in possession of the belt, and teases using it, only to forego using the heel tactic. However, this gives advantage to MJF who places the belt on top of Jungle Boy as Darby launches for a Coffin Drop. MJF with the facial expression of a greedy gremlin, uses a headlock takedown to pin Darby, calling back to their first feud. 

This. Was. Fantastic. I enjoyed it because it was fun. 

The Blackpool Combat Club defeated The Elite in Anarchy in the Arena thanks to an unexpected assist by Don Callis and KONOSUKE TAKESHITA

If you take to Twitter, many hope Takeshita never gets to eat a fresh Cinnabon ever again. 

I thought it was brilliant. 

The final match of the night delivered as promised. It was a violent, chaotic, wild brawl in and out of the ring and the arena as Violent Idols continuously played Wild Thing through the first half of the match, until the Young Bucks superkicked the lead vocalist, similar to last year how it played over the PA on loop. Somehow referee Rick Knox got busted open early on. 

With the level of talent in the main event, my MVP award goes to Wheeler Yuta. This is a guy, even on the graphic just does not look as though he fits in at all, anywhere here. However, looks can be and are deceiving. While everyone else had expected spots, Yuta would come out of nowhere with some great near falls and match-stealing teasing finishes. Claudio Castagnoli and Matt Jackson brawled throughout the arena and outside where Claudio hit a piledriver in the flatbed area of a pickup truck. Yuta hit people with a leafblower, Danielson and Mox uses their hands as weapons, then later Mox used a fork. An actual fork. Good grief. A casino chip with barbed wire and glass was used. Matt Jackson returning to the ring would hit a literal exploding superkick on Mox. Seriously, you could say it was… Dynamite! Later, thumbtacks in the ring where a shoeless Matt Jackson was dropped feet first, then Nick face first! Hangman Adam Page reveals his eye is healed, however temporarily as Yuta would surprise him with a Don Callis-supplied screwdriver attack. Callis, who was on commentary most of the match would later interject himself, leading to a shocking outcome. As Callis faced off with Omega, a masked man jumped in, hitting a kick to the face, then revealing himself as Konosuke! Wheeler Yuta slides in, striking Omega with the screwdriver, then wrapping him up in a Straightjacket Pin for the three count!

The uber-babyface Konoske Takeshita is aligned with Don Callis, and possibly with the Blackpool Combat Club as well?

Double or Nothing 2023 earns a solid B. Most of the undercard did not have the big match feel, however they all still were enjoyable to watch. A super-hyped match between Adam Cole and Chris Jericho didn’t deliver the anticipated impact, while a lesser hyped match such as the FTR vs. Team Jarrett and Trios Championship matches were better than expected. The unexpected return and victory of Kris Statlander was awesome. The battle royal was decent, but didn’t deliver until it was down to Cassidy and Swerve. The TNT title match was good for what was expected, and unfortunately the AEW Women’s Championship had to go down the way it did due to Hayter’s injury. 

However, the advertised and anticipated “Double Main Event” absolutely delivered. Both matches were fantastic. 

Now we see what happens going into a confusing schedule of upcoming PPVs and Supercards. Forbidden Door, All In, and All Out are taking place in a two-month span, and I can’t imagine AEW expecting fans to shell out $150 for three pay-per-views in a short period of time. I certainly won’t be. Forbidden Door has to hype up crossover matches, we already know will not include Mercedes Monet because of her recent injury. Right after this event there will need to be some rushed hype for both All In and All Out, and I am just not sure how they could pull it off. Let’s not forget AEW Collision will debut in less than a month as well. 

AEW has a lot going on, with a lot of curiosity as to who will be MJF’s next challenger. Are Jack Perry, Darby Allin, and Sammy Guevara all finished or do we get some singles bouts as follow-up? We got a tease of Bullet Club Gold and FTR, perhaps Dark Luchasaurus will challenge Wardlow next? Jade will get her rematch with Statlander, while Cassidy could literally face anybody and everybody again. Jericho’s feud with Cole now intertwines with Saraya and Dr. Britt Baker. It keeps them busy, but I am not sure this is a good thing. 

Strangely, I am very curious about the Trios Championships. My guess is we see House of Black face off against Okada, Tanahashi, and Ishii, which should be the main event of Forbidden Door. Yes, my opinion, but would love it to be fact. But what comes after? Acclaimed and Billy Gunn were the best challengers to date, unless a new trio is formed in the next month, will we continue to see random assortments challenge and fail? 

As always, AEW PPVs leave me anticipating and wanting more. 

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