#Preview: AEW Double or Nothing

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AEW Double or Nothing
Photo / All Elite Wrestling

When All Elite Wrestling was announced at the start of this year, one of the ideas behind the promotion was to change the professional wrestling scene. This announcement was strengthened by the positive reception of All In, the independent wrestling event that took place this past September, which showed that there was a strong demand for more. From the aforementioned AEW announcement came the news that the first pay-per-view event would be held under the AEW banner: Double or Nothing.

When Double or Nothing airs on May 25th, it will be approached with different frames of mind. Many fans will be eager, supporting the product as the wrestlers as they ply their craft. Others will be skeptical, wondering if AEW can sustain itself. Nonetheless, it will be the talk of the wrestling world this Memorial Day weekend. Before we get to this point, however, let’s run down the match card scheduled to take place, how these matches came to be, and predictions for who will come away victorious.

Photo / All Elite Wrestling

Pre-Show: Kip Sabian vs. Sammy Guevara

One of the goals of a preliminary match is to get the crowd warmed up for the show they’re in store for. To this end, Kip Sabian, best known for his work in World Association of Wrestling, will challenge former AAA World Cruiserweight Champion Sammy Guevara in the pre-show called “Buy-In.” Given both men’s statuses as junior heavyweight wrestlers, expect this match to feature a fair amount of high-flying technique. What may be even more prominent, however, is an attitude. Guevara has made it no secret that he believes himself to be a star in the making. On the other hand, Sabian regards himself as “The Handsome Hustler,” so there’s no shortage of confidence on his end.

In this battle of egos, these young talents square off to not only thrill AEW’s audience but catch the attention of executives as well.

Prediction: This match has been fairly overlooked, as it seems like most of the discussion is focused on other bouts that will take place later in the show. This will be a showcase of two of AEW’s up-and-coming talents. As far as the victor, I lean toward Guevara. He is a more established name in the independent wrestling scene, and I believe this will just be the beginning for him in AEW. Don’t count out Sabian, though, as his confidence and ability alike will take him far.

Photo / All Elite Wrestling

Pre-Show: 21-Man Casino Battle Royale (Winner Receives a Future AEW World Championship Match)

The second match that will take place during “Buy-In” will feature 21 hunger competitors, but by the end, only one will be considered truly lucky. The rules of the Casino Battle Royale differ from those of a traditional battle royal. The match will begin with five competitors; after every three minutes, a group of five other competitors will enter the ring. The final competitor to enter will be “Lucky Number 21.” Whoever stands last, overcoming 20 other combatants, will earn a match for the AEW World Championship.

The announced competitors are as follows: Sonny Kiss, Brandon Cutler, Ace Romero, Glacier, Brian Pillman Jr., Sunny Daze, Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Joey Janela, Dustin Thomas, Billy Gunn, Jimmy Havoc, Michael Nakazawa, Jungle Boy, Isiah Kassidy, Marq Quen, Luchasaurus, and Shawn Spears. The final 4 competitors have yet to be announced.

Prediction: This is one of the more difficult matches to predict the outcome of, mainly because the remaining competitors have yet to be announced. With that said, given the confirmed list, there is a fair amount of talent, ranging from up-and-comers like MJF and Brian Pillman Jr. to established veterans like Glacier and Billy Gunn. This may be a shot in the dark, but out of the list of confirmed participants, I’ll go with Jungle Boy. He was one of AEW’s largely hyped signees and though he’s still fairly young, he possesses an immense ability that could make for a fantastic AEW World Championship match in the future.

Photo / All Elite Wrestling

Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta) vs. Angelico and Jack Evans

If there’s one thing that can be said about AEW Executive Vice Presidents, The Young Bucks, it’s that twisting their arm can lead to interesting results. Through various shenanigans, Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta found themselves taken out of the Casino Battle Royale. This didn’t mean that they were off the show entirely, though. It was soon brought to their attention that Best Friends would take on two of the latest AEW signees: Angelico and Jack Evans!

Both tag teams are popular, but due to different reasons. On one hand, Best Friends are known for their comedic antics, keeping fans laughing throughout great matches. On the other hand, Angelico and Jack Evans, sometimes collectively known as Los Gueros del Cielo, are regarded as high-flyers, fully embracing the style of lucha libre. When it comes to tag team stylings, the pairing of Best Friends and Angelico and Evans may be the most unique.

Prediction: One of the reasons AEW has such buzz behind it is the quality of tag teams in its roster. We will continue to touch on tag teams throughout this preview, but the ability that Taylor, Beretta, Angelico, and Evans collectively bring to this match can’t be denied. Though Best Friends are incredibly entertaining, I see Angelico and Evans pulling off a victory here. Regardless of who wins, both should be in the discussion if the AEW Tag Team Championship is announced.

Photo / All Elite Wrestling

Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki, and Emi Sakura vs. Hikaru Shida, Riho, and Ryo Mizunami

In a recent interview with Tokyo Sports, EVP Kenny Omega expressed an interest in scouting Joshi Puroresu talent and showcasing them in AEW. To this end, it should come as no surprise that six of the best Japanese women’s wrestlers would receive a platform at Double or Nothing. Japanese wrestling legend Aja Kong will team with current Tokyo Princess Tag Team Champion Yuka Sakazaki and former five-time DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Champion Emi Sakura to challenge former 4-time International Ribbon Tag Team Champion Hikaru Shida, the first-ever Ice Ribbon Triple Crown Champion Riho, and former 2-time Regina Di WAVE Champion Ryo Mizunami.

One of the most notable aspects of this match is that it features wrestlers with varying levels of experience. Kong has often been regarded as one of the best women’s wrestlers, not only in her home country of Japan but around the world. Other talents in the match have been wrestling for comparatively shorter periods. Sakazaki, for someone so successful, has only been wrestling since 2013. Simply put, this match will be a showcase of legendary figures and up-and-coming talents alike.

Prediction: Like other matches on this card, this one will be difficult to predict. This match is less based on a feud and more based on presenting some of the best talents within Joshi Puroresu. Nonetheless, there must be a winning team and I believe that it will be the trio of Shida, Riho, and Mizunami. The main reason for this prediction is that Shida was one of the most widely reported AEW signings in the women’s division. Smart money is on her team winning and her seeing continued success in the future.

Photo / All Elite Wrestling

SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, and Scorpio Sky) vs. Strong Hearts (Cima, T-Hawk, and Lindaman)

On May 25th, Las Vegas will become the “worst town” that SoCal Uncensored has ever been in. This charismatic trio has been nothing short of popular with AEW fans, with attendees at rallies reciting their catchphrase with them. Ergo, SCU being on the Double or Nothing card should come as no surprise. What may have turned some heads, however, is the fact that they will team up to challenge three talents from an AEW partner: Chinese wrestling promotion Oriental Wrestling Entertainment.

The first opponent that was announced, for AEW Double or Nothing, was Cima. For those that don’t know, Cima is not only a multi-time championship holder, especially in Dragon Gate, but the president of OWE. Earlier this month, it was decided that Cima will partner with T-Hawk and Lindaman, both of whom won a tag team tournament to claim the spots. Given that T-Hawk and Lindaman have seen varying levels of success in Dragon Gate as well, SCU will have their hands full on Saturday.

Prediction: On paper, it would make sense to peg SCU as the winners of this match. They are not only popular in AEW, as previously mentioned, but they have more collective experience as well. With that said, I will take a different route and predict that Cima, T-Hawk, and Lindaman will come away victorious. The partnership between AEW and OWE is an important one, and if the competitors from the latter promotion win, perhaps we will see more wrestlers from there appear in AEW.

AEW Double or Nothing
Photo / All Elite Wrestling

Britt Baker vs. Nyla Rose vs. Kylie Rae

Efforts to build AEW’s women’s division began as early as the promotion’s initial announcement. At the first-ever rally that took place in Jacksonville, Britt Baker announced her signing with the promotion. At the Double or Nothing ticket announcement party the month after, AEW Chief Brand Officer Brandi Rhodes announced the signing of Kylie Rae. After speaking for a brief period, Rae was interrupted by Nyla Rose, who also signed with AEW. Rae and Rose stood off before being separated by various personnel. Shortly thereafter, a three-way match featuring Baker, Rose, and Rae at AEW Double or Nothing was announced.

As three of the earliest signees for the women’s division, this match featuring Baker, Rose, and Rae has been anticipated. While there have been no stakes announced – it will be a standard three-way match – this doesn’t mean that it can’t have implications moving forward. Who will come away victorious? Will the victor have a claim to make regarding any future women’s wrestling opportunities in AEW? Perhaps fans will learn more after Double or Nothing.

Prediction: At AEW Double or Nothing, this will arguably be the biggest showcase of AEW’s women’s wrestlers. What is perhaps most interesting about this match is the collection of styles involved. With techniques like the superkick and the Rainbaker, Baker is more strike-based. Rae’s babyface persona lends to her high-energy approach. Lastly, Rose is more power-focused, which makes sense given her presence. Speaking of, I believe Rose will win this match. She has the potential to be a dominant performer in AEW moving forward.

Photo / All Elite Wrestling

AAA World Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) (c) vs. The Lucha Bros. (Pentagon Jr. and Fenix)

The fashion by which The Lucha Bros. were recruited by All Elite Wrestling was interesting, to say the least. This past February, following a victory over SoCal Uncensored at McAloon Productions’ Come Hell or High Water event, Pentagon Jr. and Fenix were confronted by AEW EVPs The Young Bucks. The luchador duo was given the opportunity to prove they were the best tag team. From there, the two teams shook hands and it wasn’t long after that AEW formally announced the signing of The Lucha Bros. Matters became pear-shaped quickly, though, at the Double or Nothing ticket announcement party later in the month. The Lucha Bros. viciously attacked The Young Bucks, capped off by Pentagon Jr. executing a package piledriver on Matt Jackson on the stage.

It would be an understatement to say that this feud has bad blood, but there are title implications to consider as well. At AAA Rey de Reyes, which took place this past March, The Young Bucks challenged El Texano Jr. and Rey Escorpion in an impromptu title match. The Young Bucks shocked the world by winning the straps, becoming the 20th team in history to do so. As men that plied their craft in AAA as well, this World Tag Team Championship match at AEW Double or Nothing undoubtedly means much to Pentagon and Fenix. Will the masked men claim the championship, or will the EVPs continue their reign beyond this Saturday night?

Prediction: For many fans that will be watching AEW Double or Nothing, this will be the most hotly awaited tag team match of the evening. Not only has this feud been built throughout wrestling events, but the aforementioned ticket announcement party. I believe that The Lucha Bros. will continue their success in wrestling by defeating The Young Bucks. When it comes to events that fans will talk about, few do so as effectively as a title change following an excellent match, which is what viewers will most likely be in store for here.

AEW Double or Nothing
Photo / All Elite Wrestling

Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes

Depending on who is asked, this feud began either in WWE or even before. As the two sons of the late Dusty Rhodes, Cody and Dustin Rhodes had considerable shoes to fill. Following a period of being “The Natural” in WCW, Dustin took to WWE with an outlandish, cutting-edge persona in Goldust. Several years later, Cody would make his mark in WWE, winning various championships along the way. The Rhodes brothers would join forces and challenge one another, but there was no denying the legacy they were part of.

When Dustin left WWE in March, fans wondered if he would have a role in his younger brother’s upstart wrestling promotion. On the 13th episode of “Road to Double or Nothing,” it was revealed that Dustin would challenge Cody at Double or Nothing. Dustin claimed that his work in AEW was not a new beginning, confident he had more to offer, even sporting new red and black face paint. On the next episode, Cody hyped his match against Dustin as “generation versus generation.” His goal wasn’t to kill Dustin but to kill the Attitude Era his brother represented. Whether this comes to fruition will be seen at AEW Double or Nothing.

Prediction: It should be noted that this isn’t the first time that the Rhodes brothers squared off in singles competition. However, this will be the first time where it will take place with such emotional weight behind it. This battle of generations will be one of the main attractions of AEW Double or Nothing, and understandably so. The talent levels of both brothers speak for themselves. There must be a winner, though, and I predict it will be Cody. If his goal is to kill the Attitude Era, little will stop him from achieving it.

AEW Double or Nothing
Photo / All Elite Wrestling

Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega

The feud between Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega dates back to 2017. During November of the year, New Japan Pro Wrestling aired a video of Jericho, to the shock of viewers, who challenged Omega to a match at the Wrestle Kingdom 12. Leading up to the event, Jericho attacked Omega, strengthening the feud. Omega would go on to defeat Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom 12 in a no-disqualification match. The following September, at All In, Jericho attacked Omega following the latter’s victory over Pentagon Jr. These circumstances, as well as others, would lead to their second singles match at Double or Nothing.

Though their feud has been heated, Jericho and Omega are surprisingly similar. Their personalities are loud and bombastic. Wrestling fans have long regarded both as masters at their craft, able to put on matches that either challenge or outright break the traditional five-star scale. Perhaps most notably, though, they have succeeded in pushing beyond preconceived barriers, becoming world champions along the way. Nonetheless, this feud is built on animosity and it will be on full display this coming Saturday.

Prediction: Given Omega’s victory over Jericho more than one year ago, the Lionheart should feel more motivated than ever going into AEW Double or Nothing. Recently, on Instagram, Jericho showcased a new finisher: a spinning elbow called “The Judas Effect.” Though he may end up winning several matches down the road with this technique, I don’t believe it will be at Double or Nothing. I predict that Omega will defeat his rival once more, closing out AEW’s foundational pay-per-view event.