Everything you need to know about AEW: Double or Nothing on Saturday
This Saturday sees the official beginning of the All Elite Wrestling era
For the first time in nearly two decades, WWE faces a competitor with the financial backing to actually challenge Vince McMahon’s monopoly. AEW is the brainchild of former WWE star Cody (nee Cody Rhodes), and indie tag team darlings Nick and Matt Jackson (aka The Young Bucks), and is backed by Tony Khan, the billionaire owner of both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham FC.
On Saturday night, after months of hype, AEW finally has its first show: Double or Nothing, live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. And it looks like it will be a banger.
Since they purchased WCW in 2001, WWE has been stagnated without any proper competition. TNA/Impact had a stab it, but squandered it focusing on elderly stars like Hulk Hogan who could hardly move instead of exciting new talent.
But while the ‘E got stuck in a holding pattern, indie wrestling has boomed. Streaming video has opened fans up to a whole world of grappling, not just what is shown on network TV. Talent independent wrestlers can become international stars via just a handful of great matches on YouTube and a strong Twitter presence.
Cody Rhodes was stuck in the WWE midcard when he left the company in 2016 – now he has made himself one of the biggest names in wrestling off his own back. And The Young Bucks didn’t even have to go to WWE to do that, remaining independent their whole career.
Last year, Cody and The Bucks independently promoted an event called All In, which was the first non-WWE wrestling show to sell over 10,000 tickets in the United States since 1999. Now, with the backing of the billionaire Khan family, they look set to actually challenge WWE dominance.
A weekly show set to air on TNT in the US and ITV4 in Britain in the Autumn – but before that, the inaugural AEW pay-per-view Double or Nothing takes place on Saturday night, May 25th. Whether you are a lapsed wrestling fan or someone who goes to WWE shows just to chant “CM PUNK,” here’s what you need to know.
How can I watch it?
Double or Nothing starts at 1am on Sunday morning, UK time. It is airing on ITV Box Office, which is available on Sky and Virgin Media. If you don’t have either of those, ITV Box Office is also on TV Player, a third party streaming service for mobile and connected devices. It cost £14.95/€17.95, and more info is on the ITV Box Office website. The PPV is also available on Fite.TV.
The PPV will be preceded by a one-hour pre-show, starting at 12am, which will air free on ITV4.
What are the big matches?
The main even is Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho. If you have ever watched wrestling, you probably don’t have to be told who Chris Jericho is. However, in the last year or two, he has reinvented himself, appearing in New Japan Pro Wrestling, as a foul-mouthed angry goth dad having a mid-life crisis. He wears awful trilby hats and scarfs and kind of looks like Robert Smith from The Cure got swoll. It is kind of wonderful.
Kenny Omega, on the other hand, is a Canadian weeb who loves Street Fighter and moved to Japan to wrestle blow up dolls and a nine-year-old girl. He also took part in wrestling’s most high-profile same-sex love storyline, and somewhere along the line became the best wrestler in the world.
This is a rematch from their encounter from NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom two years ago, and will almost certainly be a banger.
The co-main is The Young Bucks vs. The Lucha Bros for the AAA Tag Team Championships. The Bucks are the quintessential indie darlings, who do ridiculous flips and super kicks and have a moveset peppered with in-jokes and fourth-wall-breaking. The Lucha Bros are masked Mexican brothers Fenix and Pentagon Jr. Fenix is the maybe the most flippy wrestler in the world, and Pentagon is a zombie skeleton ninja who likes to break people’s arms. This one with be a ridiculous spotfest.
The other big match is battle between two real-life brothers, Cody vs Dustin Rhodes. Dustin is better known as Goldust in WWE, but this brother vs brother match has been build up with some wonderful, intense video promos. This won’t be as physically or technically impressive as the other two big matches, but it will be an old-school, emotional story-based contest.
What else is on the card?
The pre-show includes a 21-man Casino Battle Royale for a shot at the AEW title, which includes a mix of indie stars like Joey Janela, MJF and British deathmatch special Jimmy Havoc, alongside legends like Billy Gunn. Other things to look out for include a six-man tag featuring the crazy-acrobatic stars of China’s OWE, a six-woman Japanese joshi match, and a women’s three-way match featuring Nyla Rose, the first transwoman to sign with a major American wrestling company.
What’s next for AEW?
Two smaller show in June and July, followed by a weekly TV show later in the year. And then, world domination, probably.