By Nolan P Smith
It was a gamble, hence the name of the PPV and the setting in Las Vegas. All Elite Wrestling, a brand new wrestling organization founded by Tony Khan, co-owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, with vice presidents being professional wrestlers Cody Rhodes, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson and Kenny Omega. The group, also known as The Elite from their days in New Japan and Ring of Honor, look to bring an alternative to professional wrestling to the mega-powers of the WWE. With this inaugural show, we get to see just what kind of impact AEW had and if the gamble paid off.
The Battle Royale kicked off the show with a variety of talent from around the world. With AEW standouts like Hangman Adam Page and MJF, to throwbacks to pro wrestling history like Billy Gunn and Glacier, it was a balanced mix and served as a great introduction to some. I saw Luchasaurus for the first time thanks to this battle royale and was thoroughly impressed, same goes for many of the entrants. Hangman Adam Page took the match, setting himself on a collision course for the AEW Championship.
Other standout matches for me on the card would have to be the solid tag-team division. From the Best Friends v. Angelico and Jack Evans potential show stealer to SCU taking on the trio #StrongHearts, the tag division is one of the strongest around. Throw in the insane AAA Tag Title Match as the champions The Young Bucks put their belts on the line against the insanely talented Lucha Bros, and you will see that there is no tag division like this in the world. I still can’t get over how amazing the Lucha Bros are, as they set the bar repeatedly for the match of the night with the hometown heroes, The Young Bucks. Seeing these two talented young guys since they started out at a skating rink for wrestling shows in the desert to now being arguably the best tag team in the world, it was a fantastic feeling to see them tear the house down in Vegas.
Another stand out match for me has to be brother against brother, the American Nightmare Cody vs. the Natural Dustin Rhodes. I have followed both of these guys since they broke into the business. Seeing Dustin throwdown with the Black Top Bully back in WCW and then his long run as Golddust in the WWE, and seeing Cody go from Cody to Stardust to the American Nightmare, I am a big fan of the Rhodes family. The two paid homage to their late, great father Dusty Rhodes plenty of times in their blood-soaked match, and gave us one of the most entertaining matches in years. Cody also took a symbolic stab at WWE and Triple H, showing that AEW is ready to break the mold.
The main event was a show stealer in its own right, seeing the legendary Chris Jericho take on one of the best in the world, Kenny Omega. This is a rematch to a New Japan main event, which saw Omega take the win. This time, it was the newly reinvented Jericho that would take the win in a hard fought, fast-paced slugfest that now lands the former Lionheart in a match against Adam Page, where the winner becomes the first ever AEW Champion. But all was not over as Jon Moxley, the former Dean Ambrose from the WWE, made his presence known as he attacked both Jericho and Omega after the match, setting up a feud with Omega.
Were there missteps? Sure, I felt the two women’s matches were ok but had the potential to be stronger. Both featured some talented women from around the world, yet only two or so in each match shined for me. Also, the second match on the preshow didn’t leave much of an impact on me, but that could be for several reasons. This was the first ever show and PPV for AEW, in front of a sold-out crowd at the MGM Grand. For many performers, this was the biggest show of their lives, and nerves could have played a considerable part.
The show itself, the production quality, the announce team, it all felt amazingly high caliber. This did not feel like an indie show one bit, but rather on par with the WWE’s productions, which is a huge compliment. I loved Double or Nothing, and I feel that AEW is going to work off the success of this show and create a brand that stands for inclusiveness, for diversity, and above all else, for another form of professional wrestling. Job well done to the entire team, I cannot wait to see what is next.
Rating: 9.0 out of 10.