All Elite Wrestling is an American wrestling promotion founded in 2019. It is seen as the first real competition to the industry leading World Wrestling Entertainment. Double or Nothing the promotion’s first official pay per view event. Held on May 25, 2019 the event promised to showcase some of the best worldwide talent from the independent wrestling scene with the intention of providing a true alternative to jaded viewers of WWE’s product.
The Selective Hearing staff have gathered to talk about AEW’s inaugural event and whether it lived up to the hype or not.
21-Man Casino Battle Royale (winner receives future AEW world title match against Chris Jericho)
Winner: Adam “Hangman” Page
There were quite a few familiar veterans and some young up and comers in this match. Who stood out the most to you?
Allen: MJF stood out most definitely. I love his character, the heel douchebag double talker that you want to punch in the face. They laid out his personality on BTE and it has transitioned well live. He’s going to be such a star.
Greg: I had to LOL at Glacier showing up. He just reminded me of my youth watching WCW after school. Outside of that Ace Romero (the man famous for pouncing his opponent out of the ring), Jimmy Havoc (saw him wrestle a death match at Korakuen Hall earlier this year), and especially MJF (like Allen said, total d-bag) stood out to me.
TOZ: MJF for sure. He looks like he’s gonna do some good stuff in AEW.
RJ: MJF is poised to be the promotions top heel and for good reason. He stood out a lot doing great character work. Also pretty impressed with Luchasaurus.
Not sure if you guys are familiar with Orange Cassidy, but that dude is a great and hilarious comedy wrestler, so I’m pretty excited for him too.
Which of the former underutilized WWE superstars under the AEW banner do you think will flourish the most?
Allen: Shawn Spears, the old Tye Dillinger. Everyone popped well for his appearance and the Perfect 10 shtick. Looks like he put some time in the gym too.
Greg: Tommy Dreamer and Billy Gunn. Nah. I’m just playing Obviously the man formerly known as Tye Dillinger Shawn Spears. He looked to be in great condition.
TOZ: Would it be a cop-out to say Cody?
RJ: I mean, Shawn Spears and Cody are probably the only 2 that are actually going to be doing a lot of wrestling for the company. Dustin will probably only do a few of the first big shows until they get their TV show up. Billy’s mostly a producer. And all the other legends were probably just filler/surprise pops.
Tl:dr: Shawn Spears.
RJ: I thought the BR did a good job of showcasing a lot of the talent the company has but were unable to book full matches for. A lot of them got to do their popular spots or show off their strength/agility/character a bit. The concept itself was a little messy, but I get them trying to bring something new to the tried and true BR rundown.
The arena was pretty behind just about everyone in the match. STRONG heat for MJF, huge pops for established names and indie darlings finally making the big time. Pretty sure everyone cringed hard at Janela’s table spot, especially when they replayed it in slow-mo on the trons.
Match Rating: ***½
Kip Sabian vs. Sammy Guevara
Winner: Kip Sabian
Was this your first time seeing these two wrestle? If so, did you like what you saw from both men?
Allen: Yes it was my first time seeing both of them. Nice spots but not too much flippy. I like the name of Sabian’s finisher, Deathly Hallows.
Greg: This show was my first exposure to them as well. It was pretty good. Both men had some athletic flippy shit maneuvers along with some interesting technical moves. The suplex spot out of the ring was something I have not seen before. Nor was the SSP Guevara hit on the outside that followed.
TOZ: This was my first time as well. Frankly, it was nice to see some restraint on the big spots.
RJ: Yeah, never seen or heard of these guys before. I’d echo the sentiments here, good showcase of the flippy shit that most people (including myself) pop for, but still good tech wrestling. I think it was a good precursor to how The Elite want people to view AEW as a whole.
Match Rating: ***
Socal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky) vs. Strong Hearts (Cima, T-Hawk and El Lindaman)
Winners: Socal Uncensored
The first match on the card was an action packed one that got the crowd hyped. Did you get hyped?
Allen: Always gotta be hyped for SCU! This was my first time seeing anyone from Strong Hearts.
Greg: From what I have seen of SCU in the past it was indeed hype time.
TOZ: Maybe not all the way hype, but excited.
RJ: SCU is a great opener for PPVs. They usually put on a great match and their opponents were no slouches either.
Did you dig the match?
Allen: I very much liked how Strong Hearts always like to block SCU members coming in to make the save. I like small details like that. However, they do go crazy on tandem offense, even their tag rules don’t really matter. It’s a nice start, reminded me of Takeover tag matches that open the show, just not as hyped.
Greg: Strong Hearts were a group of wrestlers I also saw perform in Korakuen Hall earlier this year. I enjoyed their match at that time and I didn’t think I would see them again until going back to Japan. But here they were facing SCU.
The match was very fast paced that kind of had the Japanese clusterfuck tag team rules where everyone just goes balls out and does spots until the designated “legal” people somehow end up back in the ring.
Still, it was an exciting opener to show.
TOZ: I did, but I was more focused on the NBA Playoffs for the good part of this card, lol.
RJ: I was pretty into it. I’m a big fan of Japanese wrestling and this match was definitely pulled off in that style. Both teams were great and SCU did a good job of helping #Stronghearts show off to a crowd that probably was very unfamiliar with them.
Match Rating: ***¾
Britt Baker vs. Nyla Rose vs. Kylie Rae vs. Awesome Kong
Winner: Britt Baker
This was originally a 3 way match until the surprise introduction of Awesome Kong as the fourth member. What was your reaction at seeing Awesome Kong?
Allen: WELFARE QUEEN! I was very surprised to see Awesome Kong, she has always delivered in her matches for what seems like forever.
Greg: Well that was certainly a surprise. Every division has to have a dominant monster and it it seems that Awesome Kong is the one to fill that role for AEW’s women’s side.
TOZ: DUDE! So excited. Between GLOW and AEW, looks like she’s in an amazing point in her career.
RJ: The arena EXPLODED for Awesome Kong’s reveal. I lost it too, despite never really caring about any of her runs in TNA or WWE. This kind of surprise was just one of those things that we were all kind of hoping for at the show. Loved the swerve of Brandi coming down in her gear, too.
Besides Awesome Kong who else caught your attention in the match?
Allen: Kylie Rae probably stuck out to me more as she showed some great strength, she didn’t look strong to me at all. Britt Baker is super fine!
Greg: Other than Kong? Well Nyla Rose, simply because I remember her from Tofu Pro Wrestling as Debbie Kong, the scary foreign wrestler who posed the biggest challenge to Hollywood Jurina during the first season of the show.
I agree with Allen’s assessment of Kylie Rae. She did not look like a powerhouse but she whipped out some power moves during the match.
TOZ: Britt Baker. I liked her work during the Mae Young Classic, so it was cool to see her get a nice win on the show.
RJ: Definitely Smilie Kylie Rae.
RJ: This was my least favorite match of the night, honestly. I don’t think the addition of Kong, besides the enormous pop, did much for the match, and in fact adding a 4th took away from it. Baker and Rae carried the match for me and looked great, but still I don’t think they got the chance to shine the way they should have, and obviously even less so for Rose.
I’m pretty sure Baker is supposed to be the stand out babyface of the women’s division, but her win didn’t really feel all that great here. And I think either Kong or Rose winning with the faces having that giant hill to climb up would’ve been a better booking decision.
Match Rating: **½
Best Friends (Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor) vs. Angelico and Jack Evans
Winners: Best Friends
Men who should be familiar to New Japan Pro Wrestling and Lucha Underground viewers were in the first traditional tag team match of the night.
Allen: I haven’t seen Angelico and Jack Evans ever since Lucha Underground ended. It kind of caught me off guard when they were playing the heels, but it fit when facing the Best Friends.
Greg: More familiar faces as the show went on. For me it was weird to not see Beretta as a New Japan guy.
TOZ: Can’t lie, I got real caught up on the NBA game by this point.
RJ: Pretty familiar with Best Friends, being a NJPW mark and having watched enough ROH as well. Never seen Angelico and Evans before though. Having said that, pretty excited to see more of them.
AEW promises to make tag team wrestling relevant in their organization. Do you think this was a good start?
Allen: I thought it started off well paced but then it felt very ROH where it had too many pin falls and false finishes around the last third. I kind of felt it was a bit wasted, especially for what happened after the match.
Greg: This was a bit of a contrast in styles. I agree that the match did kind of go sideways for a bit leading up to the end but it didn’t really hurt it in any manner once it came to the finish. It at least showed that AEW’s tag division is going to be something to watch rather than ignore and have playing in the background.
As a side note, I found it funny how the camera zoomed out whenever Trent and Chuck hugged in the ring. LOL to that quick wink to Kazuchika Okada.
RJ: I think it’s shaping up pretty well. I think they used the contrast in styles well and all 4 guys were working pretty well. I actually really enjoyed the match as it had a nice a share of different styles of wrestling and as a first official tag match for a company promising to make tag wrestling relevant again, it was a nice showcase.
Match Rating: ***¾
Did you have any idea who those guys were at the end of the match? Or were you screaming “Who are you?” along with the crowd?
Allen: Nope, didn’t know who those guys were. I do like the fact they they had nameless masked minions. They can be bodies to deliver beatdowns and fodder for finishers in the future.
Greg: I had to look up who those dudes were after Double or Nothing Ended as I was also asking “Who are you?” after the match.
From what I understand the team who showed up at the end are the Super Smash Brothers. A tag team comprised of Player Uno and Stupefied. They have appeared in Chikara, ROH, Dragon Gate and PWG.
That is my bit of edumacation on the mysterious team so far.
RJ: Nah. Neither did the guy sitting next to me who I struck up a brief friendship with, and he was super knowledgeable of just about everything and everyone there (including pointing out wrestlers’ families that were sitting near us in a special VIP section). A guy behind us though did mention the name Super Smash Bros., but I didn’t realize what he was talking about until later…
Hikaru Shida, Riho Abe and Ryo Mizunami vs. Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki and Emi Sakura
Winners: Hikaru Shida, Riho Abe and Ryo Mizunami
Is this the women’s match you were looking forward to the most?
Allen: Besides Aja Kong, this was my first time seeing the other five and I only knew them by name. I have seen Aja Kong beat up people and idols for so long, I was super hyped to see her here.
Greg: It’s nice to see Aja Kong back in a North American promotion. The other women I was not familiar with. At first look I was immediately struck by Hikaru Shida. She just had a badass type of presence out there before the bell even rang. Riho Abe looked like an undersized idol compared to the other women in the ring.
But yes. I was looking forward to this more than the other women’s match.
TOZ: Fully admit I was completely focused on the NBA game by this point.
RJ: By far. I’m a huge Joshi mark and Hikaru Shida and Sakazaki Yuka are some of the best. I was beyond hyped for this match.
Joshi style wrestling is very different from the typical American style? Do you expect this to be a staple of AEW’s women’s division going forward?
Allen: I would hope so. It’s always good to keep some variety. I like how expressive and how funny joshi style can be and that they can switch to a strong style in seconds. They showed that range and gap and I like it.
Greg: Having a few joshi’s go all out (rather than be suppressed like on the main roster of WWE) would immediately make AEW’s women’s division something different from the norm.
TOZ: I hope so. Gotta diversity your bonds.
RJ: I really hope so. Again, love Joshi style so I’m hoping the girls that AEW have signed actually have a good place in the company and make a strong enough impact. Omega is a big Joshi fan too, and is the reason AEW is pushing them, so I have high hopes.
What did you think of the match?
Allen: Loved how they were able to keep the crowd involved in the match despite the language barrier. Riho is so small, I felt like she was getting crushed in there especially against Aja. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see too much from Hikaru Shida. The mistimed ringbell kind of threw me off, but the botch didn’t linger as they were going towards the finish anyways.
Greg: To me it felt like each woman who was not signed to an AEW contract got an equal amount of time to show what they can do.
TOZ: Missed most of this as well. Dude, the Raptors won!
RJ: Loved it, probably biased. The botch (or was it a work?) with the ring bell, would have hurt, but they were able to keep it rolling. I felt like Shida didn’t get as much time as I was expecting her to get, but everyone did a great job. A fantastic preview and taste of Joshi style wrestling.
Match Rating: ****
Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes
Dustin Rhodes looked to be in really good shape. It seemed like this is the start of his retirement run. What do you think?
Allen: He has been in good shape for the last few years. That’s what doing DDP Yoga and staying sober will do for you.
Greg: Everyone get your DDP Yoga subscriptions now so you can look as good as Dustin Rhodes when you reach his age. Also, say yes to sobriety.
TOZ: I came back for this one. I was looking forward to this match the most. Dustin looked great.
RJ: Dustin looked great.
Dustin pulled off some unexpected moves. Did you see any of that coming? Speaking of that. How about Brandi spearing Dustin?
Allen: It has been so long since we saw Dustin wrestle, it did surprise me. Brandi had to be ejected somehow but she did pull off a mean spear.
Greg: When was the last time Dustin wrestled on TV for the fed? It must have been ages ago. Anyway, he looked to be way more motivated to put on a great performance. Brandi spearing him like she was Goldberg was great.
TOZ: Loved all of this. The powerbomb they did was great. Brandi with the spear was good too!
RJ: Plenty of good spots and unexpected stuff from Dustin. I think it just goes to show how limited he was by Vince in WWE.
Plenty of color in this match with Dustin bleeding hard. Do you feel that added or subtracted from the drama?
Allen: At first it looked pretty cool because he was dripping blood, he could have filled a few buckets. But then when it got everywhere, Cody’s hair was red and Earl’s arms were covered, I just wished they would have stopped the bleeding the way they do for boxers.
Greg: Even though there was a lot blood I don’t think it really took away from the overall drama of the match. It added to Dustin’s story of not giving up and taking all that his younger brother was giving him until the bitter end.
TOZ: It really worked for me. I gotten so used to not seeing blood that when it happened it got me to really invest in the match.
RJ: While the color wasn’t necessary, I think it added a ton of emotion to an already emotional match. It played way better on TV than it did in the arena, but even live it was freaking insane just how much Dustin was bleeding. Me and the aforementioned guy next to me were in awe the entire match just how hard Dustin continued to go after the color, and just how much he was bleeding.
The story of the match was Cody trying to end the attitude era by defeating his brother. Do you think this accomplished that?
Allen: Nah, I would have just left it as brother vs brother and “Dad liked me better” story. The attack on the attitude era and HHH references were just tacky and added nothing at all to the match.
Greg: I thought the pot shots at HHH were funny. Anyway, I don’t know if the promise of the storyline was met. It seemed to veer off into something better once Dustin started to bleed all over the place.
TOZ: Didn’t need that part.
RJ: This was probably the only hitch in this match. I get what they were trying to do, but it didn’t really pay off that way. Okay, Cody won and he smashed that throne etc, but in the end he didn’t retire his brother, in fact he wants him to team up with him. The whole idea of that part of the match was that Dustin was the embodiment of this era that Cody hates, but now they’re going to work together. Whatever, still a phenomenal match.
Match Rating: *****
AEW Championship Belt Reveal
Bret Hart was revealed to be the man to unveil the AEW Championship. What did you think of him showing up?
Allen: Loved it! Always great to see Bret and it provided a sense of legitimacy to the new title. Also loved that he was a good sport for letting MJF joke about the fan attack. It just sucked hearing that he fell off the stage on the way back.
Greg: It’s not like Bret was doing anything else for the fed at the time right? So yeah, it was pretty cool.
TOZ: Hell yeah Bret! I bet there is a part of him that connects with the spirit of that night.
RJ: Pretty great surprise and a nice grab for AEW.
What are your thoughts on the look of the belt?
Allen: If a NJPW got gangbanged by the AEW logo, this is it’s offspring. I dunno, I’m not a huge fan. I don’t like the AEW logo embedded multiple times throughout the leather belt. I hope the side plates can be changed as well. Less AEW logos, the better. I do like the fact that it seems to be a legit heavy belt. Overall, definitely better than the 24/7 title belt that WWE just introduced.
Greg: It looked like the big gold WCW belt to me. Which is perfectly fine. I would rather it be a traditional kind of belt without silly interchangeable side plates. The less gimmicky the belt the better. It definitely is a much better looking than the 24/7 title.
TOZ: Agree that too many AEW logos, but I do like the belt. Just a giant gold piece on the front.
RJ: Besides the excessive logo usage, it’s a decent belt. If it just had the center AEW logo, that’d fine.
Adam Page appears to be the man who will be the face or future of the company. Do you agree?
Allen: I have seen some of Adam Page’s matches and he is definitely good. I just hope they can develop his character a little more to make me think he’s a champion.
Greg: Adam Page will be top babyface for AEW. Have him lose his chance to be first ever AEW champion and build a good chase for gold story for him and he should be able to build fan support for when he is ready to be crowned the man.
TOZ: Man, it’s so early to call that. They just had their first official PPV, lol.
RJ: Adam Page is a legit talent, so I’m not unhappy with his push. Interesting and well done by AEW to not just automatically push Omega as The One. There are plenty of talented guys on the roster though, so like TOZ said, it might be too early to call. Something The Elite has said they wanna do is just let things happen organically. While they have things planned out and booking in place, they’ve said that if the fans really respond to something they didn’t plan for, they’re open to running with it.
Having said that, the fans love Page.
The Young Bucks (Nick and Matt Jackson) vs. The Lucha Brothers (Pentagon Jr. and Fenix)
The only championship match of the night was for the AAA tag team championships. There was flippy shit a plenty here. What were your thoughts on this match?
Allen: This match has fulfilled the flippy quota for a championship match. Still had some great details like Matt’s back and arm being hurt. I really like the Lucha Bros so seeing them fight the Young Bucks was my most anticipated match before the show started.
Greg: Lots of exciting flippy shit mixed with some good ring psychology. I was satisfied.
TOZ: It was a Young Bucks match, for sure.
RJ: I mean, this is what you’d expect from a Bucks/Lucha Bros title match. I love both teams, arguably two of the absolute best at what they do. It was exciting and memorable, a great talent show.
Was this a better example of the potential of tag team wrestling in AEW or was there too much of a good thing here?
Allen: I feel once they introduce a tag team championship tournament, we will see some classics. In the meantime, if the Young Bucks and Lucha Bros are going to fight for the AAA tag titles more, it just means we will see some better matches than the one we saw here. I’m all for it.
Greg: I don’t know if this was a better example of the direction of the tag team division or not? I think I’ll wait and see what the other teams in the division can do before giving a verdict on whether the promise of great tag team wrestling coming back to national television is fulfilled.
TOZ: Yeah, I’m not sure how indicative that match is to what the tag team division of AEW will be, but they can keep matching good matches.
RJ: I’m hoping that this isn’t ALL the tag division is going to be. They have a handful of teams and it’s a relatively diverse group with contrasting styles, so while this may be indicative of something to expect from these two teams, the division as a whole should be much more varied.
Match Rating: *****
Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega
Winner: Chris Jericho
Jericho (or jair-wreck-ko as Marv Albert says) seems to have lost some of the dad bod for this event. Much like Dustin Runnels he appears to be in great shape. Your thoughts?
Allen: DDP Yoga extending the careers of all the older wrestlers. Gotta keep making that money.
Greg: Yup. Thanks to DDP Yoga you too can be a top performer like Chris Jericho. Listen to Talk Is Jericho for your discount code and get 20% off your subscription price.
TOZ: Jericho knew he had to be in shape and he was.
RJ: Yeah, I think Jericho knew he had to look good for AEW’s first show.
Kenny Omega has also appeared to lean out a bit, not looking as big as he was in New Japan. Do you agree?
Allen: Nah he just skinny compared to Jericho lol.
Greg: I think he is not as ripped as he was when he was doing his thing in New Japan.
TOZ: I think both Allen & Greg are right, lol. But I think having the time off allowed Omega to reset and get his body to what it should be.
RJ: I think he’s had some time off, and not to say he’s just been sitting around, but I think he took that time to rest and as TOZ said get to where he wants to be bodywise.
Jericho evened up the series after winning this match. Did this live up to Alpha/Omega 1 at Wrestle Kingdom?
Allen: No. Their first match was better. They kind of botched a DDT counter to the One Winged Angel. I felt their first match was better even though it was no DQ.
Greg: Their first match was way better. This one had some rough moments and it didn’t feel as cohesive as their initial matchup. Jericho winning was a surprise as I was expecting Kenny vs. Page to fight for the right to be the first AEW champion. But hey, Jericho vs. Page will also be good.
TOZ: This second match suffers from the fact that the WK match was an unknown, so it’s hard not to have that first match in mind. But for me, I think it did. I agree the WK was better, but this one had me all the way through.
RJ: Their first match is better by far. I’m not sure what it was, but this match just didn’t feel as grandiose. Also, taking away nothing from these two, it just wasn’t worked as well or cleanly as their first meeting.
Match Rating: ****½
The man formerly known as Dean Ambrose (Jon Moxley) has made it known he is part of AEW at the end of this match and looks to be in embroiled in a feud with Kenny Omega moving forward. Are you hyped?
Allen: Absolutely. I always liked Dean Ambrose and from what it sounds like, he gets to be back to his normal creative self with Jon Moxley. Fueding him with Omega is the right move. Wrestling fans get to see a fresh rivalry, fresh matchup, and this will test Moxley to see if he can hang with the Elite Kenny Omega.
Greg: Yes. Hyped I am. Dean Ambrose ran his course in WWE. Much like Shawn Spears, Moxley looked re-energized to be free of the shackles that held him back. Pairing him with Omega should generate some fun matches.
TOZ: Absolutely, I am.
RJ: I lost my goddamn mind when he showed up. While we all might have speculated it was going to happen, I doubt we thought it would go down like this, and seeing it happen is just something else entirely.
Overall event impressions
What were your expectations before going into this show? Did you have high hopes or were you just curious about the product AEW was presenting?
Allen: I was always going to watch DoN, I wanted to see what months of planning and what AEW’s first outing was going to turn out. They had a lot of variety, old school wrestlers, familiar current talent from all over the world, joshi style, blood, and surprise debuts. There was something for everyone to like here.
Greg: I was willing to give AEW a shot. Going as far as actually attempting to pay for the PPV (which thanks to my cable company I never got to watch, so I had to go back to my usual viewing methods)
I was curious about whether this could meet the massive hype. I think it met expectations as the roster was diverse, there was more action, less talk and each match felt different.
TOZ: I got really excited about a week out just cause it was something new. I didn’t have much expectation, but I was intrigued on what it would look like.
RJ: I was down since day -1, so you could say I had pretty high expectations. I’m really hoping they can stay the course and have the long lasting success they deserve.
The obvious thing to do is to compare AEW to WWE. So how do they compare in regards to presentation and wrestling content after seeing this show?
Allen: Presentation wise, I feel AEW may have troubles when it comes to camera work because they are either making too many quick cuts when the action is slow, or that the wrestling action can get too fast that the cameras will miss some stuff.
They did a great job with some of the behind the scenes and documentaries that they put on youtube to hype the PPV. They would need something similar in between matches to get the crowd in the arena ready.
Commentary is going to need more work. We know JR is great but he’s had the Marv Albert effect where his voice lends a lot to the broadcast but he will flub up and make mistakes that stand out. He started off rough but got in a great stride in the Cody vs Dustin match. Alex Marvez needs the most work, he came off sounding flat with no passion and weird on commentary. Excalibur is amazing. He’s going to make everyone look good.
The matches of course were they highlight of the show. I felt this overall was better than All-In. I would give Double of Nothing a B-. They have so much more potential to put on amazing PPVs once they get proper stories and titles in place.
Greg: The presentation level was very good. I agree with Allen’s comment on the camera work and partially with the commentary team. JR is good when he knows the wrestlers and the stories behind their feuds as exemplified by his work in the last 3 matches. When he has to go in cold? Well, we all hear what happens.
I enjoyed not having been hammered with replays of action we just saw, endless pointless backstage segments and lame catch phrases from the announcers. It was refreshing.
For their first show I give them a B+. I will wait and see what happens once AEW gets their footing under them to see if that grade improves or gets worse.
TOZ: By the end of it, it felt like something changed in wrestling. It felt curated. Like Allen said, it had all kinds of styles and matches, but on top of that the show as a whole felt complete. It felt like DON distilled wrestling to the essentials. Not the best show, but it’s gonna be fun to look back on this show in the future to see how much AEW evolves.
I also wanna give props to AEW for learning from NJPW and having credentialed media members after the show to question the performers. Wrestling as an artform is arguably more accepted for what it is than it has ever been (due to people understanding that even reality TV is scripted) and to accept that kayfabe isn’t much of a thing now is really cool on their part.
RJ: The Elite have a clear idea of what they want to do with their product, and that is too be everything that WWE isn’t. They’ve taken all this little pieces from other promotions and sports that they feel are done right and brought them to AEW in order to make it something, not new persay, but different.
The after match interviews, the very lowkey backstage VTRs (there were 2 the whole show?), the tales of the tape–all done very well and lent a more sporting feel to the whole show. Premade video packages might have been repeated a little too often (in arena, at least), but they were very well produced and not overly long.
The wrestling, where honestly it really matters, was never going to be a problem. Despite my feelings for the women’s 4-way, I can’t say there was a bad match on the card. So many styles on display. So much talent to showcase. Plenty of surprises that we were all waiting for. Interesting booking.
The show wasn’t perfect, still a few kinks to work out, but it was good. The most work needs to done on commentary. Excalibur was fantastic, my god was he good (which is funny cus I didn’t really care one way or the other for him when he did a few NJPW shows with Kevin Kelly recently). But JR took almost the entire show to get rolling, he was fine the last 3 matches, but if he doesn’t know the competitors in the ring, it’s like he’s checked out (and can’t be assed to do some research apparently?). And that Marvez guy was pretty much useless. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt since it was his first ever time calling wrestling, but I hope he can catch on quick.
The presentation is there. The Wrestling is definitely there. Hopefully they can push this into a long lasting thing. They want to change the world and I hope they can.
Will AEW be a viable national product to watch outside of the WWE come fall?
Allen: They already are winning the hearts of critics and fans for a great first outing as an alternative. I feel like if they continue to focus on being a great company without trying to dig at WWE all the time and play the long game, they can produce a very attractive alternative for wrestling fans to tune in to.
Greg: I hope so. It’s hard to watch WWE programming outside of NXT these days. The main roster product is just spinning its wheels with few things to actually care about. Hopefully AEW does follow through on their intentions to make their show a more sports oriented one to differentiate them from what people are used to.
TOZ: Hopefully. As long as they avoid taking those potshots at WWE and truly just focuses on matching the storytelling with the in-ring performances.
RJ: God I hope so.
Lastly, what was your match of the night?
Allen: Cody vs Dustin followed by Lucha Bros vs Young Bucks
Greg: Storyline wise? Cody vs. Dustin. Action wise? Lucha Brothers vs. Young Bucks.
TOZ: Cody vs Dustin. By a lot.
RJ: We’re all in agreement. Cody v Dustin & The Young Bucks v The Lucha Bros