Hello everyone, and welcome to Double or Nothing week. Before we get started with our recap of last week’s action, I’d like to thank those who joined me, Justen, Charlie, and Mikey for our first episode of RingCrashers Live (final title pending) on the GateCrashers Twitch page. We had a good time discussing our picks for the then-unknown Jokers for the Owen Hart Foundation Tournaments, as well as what goes into a good gimmick match.
If you missed out on the fun, you can catch an encore presentation here. We’ll be back next Tuesday with our post-Double or Nothing show as we’ll look back at what went down in Las Vegas. Do join us then.
In the meantime, however, let’s dive right into our recap of last week’s Dynamite and Rampage, which saw the aforementioned Jokers being revealed, as well as an incredible Adam Page/Konosuke Takeshita match.
Match 1: Samoa Joe vs. Men’s Joker (Owen Hart Foundation Tournament Quarterfinal Match)
Fans didn’t have to wait long to find out who Samoa Joe’s “Joker” opponent would be in this Owen Tournament quarterfinal match as it kicked off the action on Dynamite last Wednesday. Joe’s opponent would be a wrestling Johnny… just not the ones fans were expecting.
“Johnny Elite” (fka John Morrison, Johnny Mundo, Johnny Nitro, and a whole host of other monikers) stood revealed as Joe’s quarterfinal foe and gave as good as he got, but it was Joe who prevailed here, thanks to his patented Muscle Buster that put Johnny away.
Jay Lethal and friends appeared after the match to beat down Joe in a three-on-one assault. Sonjay Dutt and Satnam Singh brought the pain to Joe up until the Best Friends (Chuck Taylor, Trent Beretta and Rocky Romero, albeit without Orange Cassidy) made the save.
Young Bucks/Hardy Boyz Standoff
Ahead of Jeff Hardy’s Owen Tournament semifinal match versus Adam Cole later in the evening, he and brother Matt were confronted by the Young Bucks, who had some mean words for them.
Match 2: “Hangman” Adam Page vs. Konosuke Takeshita
With CM Punk on commentary (and wearing a very fantastic shirt), the AEW World Champion faced off with Konosuke Takeshita in this tuneup match ahead of his match with Punk at Double or Nothing.
In what was the best match of the evening, Takeshita & Page went to war and back to give fans something to cheer for. Takeshita hung tough with Hangman, managing to leave the Champ reeling on several occasions. He nearly scored the upset victory with a powerbomb that got a very close near-fall, followed by his signature sliding knee that yielded similar results.
The ending sequence saw Hangman counter a Takeshita springboard dive with an elbow to the face, to which Takeshita responded with a fierce clothesline. Page endured the attack and set Takeshita up for the Buckshot Lariat before hoisting his opponent up for a GTS to send a message to CM Punk with a victory.
If this was someone’s first exposure to Konosuke Takeshita aside from his previous appearances in AEW and his work in DDT Pro, they were treated to one hell of a match. Even though it was all but a formality that Hangman would win here, Takeshita’s performance was excellent from start to finish, perhaps giving fans hope of a possible upset in the making. Tangling with the AEW World Champion is no small feat, and it’s something Takeshita passed with flying colors, despite the loss.
Punk and Hangman had a standoff post-match, with the AEW Champion leaving in a huff as Punk taunted his Double or Nothing opponent.
Match 3: Keith Lee & Swerve Strickland vs. The Workhorsemen (JD Drake & Anthony Henry)
The glorious duo of Swerve and Lee made short work of the Workhorsemen in a 2:24 long match after they rocked Anthony Henry with the double-stomp/Spirit Bomb tandem move they’ve referred to as “Fall from Glory”.
The real story came after this match when Swerve and Lee’s promo was interrupted by the Team Taz duo of Powerhouse Hobbs & Ricky Starks. As the rival teams exchanged heated words with one another, the AEW World Tag Team Champions Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus – flanked by mentor Christian Cage – joined in the proceedings.
Christian threw down the gauntlet for a three-way tag team match for the AEW Tag Titles at Double or Nothing, with his Jurassic Express friends taking on Swerve & Lee and Team Taz in this contest. He also issued the challenge for a triple threat match with Jungle Boy versus Starks versus Swerve on the go-home Dynamite.
Wardlow’s 10 Lashes
As part of the conditions to be met in order to earn a match with MJF at Double or Nothing, Wardlow had to face ten lashes with a belt from the braggadocious villain… which didn’t seem too much of an issue.
Maxwell had first dibs on the whippings, which Wardlow essentially laughed off. The big man’s no-selling of the lashes frustrated MJF more and more until Shawn Spears stepped in to finish off the whipping.
The bad guys got the upper hand here as MJF hit Wardlow with a low blow, then whipping him repeatedly and getting in his foe’s face. Spears joined in on the assault with a C4 to set up the big cage match.
With MJF and Spears getting the last laugh ahead of the cage match on Dynamite before Double or Nothing, it’s all but a formality that Wardlow gets his revenge on the two heels – even with MJF as the guest referee for this cage match.
This segment was great from start to finish, with Wardlow looking like a badass for shrugging off the lashes and MJF getting more heel heat for his dirty attack on his opponent. This storyline has been done so well and it’s looking like they’ll be sticking the landing when we get to Double or Nothing.
Match 4: Rey Fenix vs. Kyle O’Reilly (Owen Hart Foundation Tournament Quarterfinal Match)
We got another fantastic bit of in-ring action on Dynamite with the high-flying Rey Fenix looking to overcome Kyle O’Reilly in this Owen Tournament quarterfinal matchup.
The contrasts between Fenix’s explosive offense and O’Reilly’s meticulous technical prowess were made quite clear in this match, which helped elevate the stakes in this contest. Kyle targeted Fenix’s arm to gain the upper hand and that limb targeting would end up helping him pick up the victory with an armbar.
Fans were hoping to see Kyle O’Reilly at his best as a solo wrestler and got that in spades with this Owen Tournament match. Fenix was the best possible opponent to bring out the best in O’Reilly, who now faces Samoa Joe in the semifinals.
Blackpool Combat Club & Jericho Appreciation Society Faceoff
The advertised confrontation between William Regal and Chris Jericho – both of whom were flanked by their respective factions – turned into a bitter war of words between two veterans of the ring. Jericho had some pointed remarks aimed at Regal, stating that he never could reach his full potential because he was (in Jericho’s words) a “world class addict”.
Regal responded in kind by sharing stories of how he’d do unspeakable things with Jericho’s toothbrush whenever the two performed on the same show.
Jericho attempted to challenge BCC to Stadium Stampede, but Jon Moxley said that they wouldn’t be doing “that shit”. Instead, a challenge for something that was billed as “Anarchy in the Arena” (presumably being a five-on-five street fight) was made. With the challenge issued, Jericho tried to bring some discord to the BCC/LAX alliance by playing up Bryan Danielson and Eddie Kingston’s hostilities with one another, which they seemed to brush off at first.
However, tensions seemed to intensify when Kingston wanted to start the fight, but was stopped by Danielson as an argument broke out between the two.
This segment did not need to go for as long as it did, as it seemingly threw off the timing for Dynamite’s final hour. That being said, the wrinkles introduced into this story with hostilities between Kingston and Bryan Danielson does add some tension heading into the “Anarchy in the Arena” match at Double or Nothing.
Match 5: Dr. Britt Baker DMD vs. Women’s Joker (Owen Hart Foundation Tournament Quarterfinal Match)
While speculation for Britt’s Joker opponent ran rampant from names like Athena and Nixon Newell, it was a familiar Joshi face who would do battle against the former AEW Women’s World Champion.
The enigmatic Maki Itoh would be Baker’s opponent in this six-minute Owen Tournament quarterfinal encounter, and gave the DMD all she could handle. Itoh attempted to get the win early by feigning a surrender to Baker to get a close roll-up pin. From there, Itoh got in her greatest hits, so to speak,
Toni Storm stared down her Owen Tournament semifinal opponent after the match.
Airing Your Grievances
Serena Deeb interrupted a hype segment for Double or Nothing to express her anger at Tony Schiavone and Dustin Rhodes for picking Thunder Rosa to beat her in their AEW Women’s World Title match at DoN. Serena’s tirade eventually brought out the Champ herself, but it would be the challenger who took advantage, as she hit Rosa with the AEW Women’s World Title while Dustin was holding Rosa back.
This segment was not very good at all. The issue of once again essentially the top woman in AEW on the backburner by having her show up for fifteen seconds aside, Serena’s promo seemed to just go on and on, which seemed to dilute the point of what she was trying to say. The limited time of this Serena/Rosa feud hasn’t helped matters at all, which has left this feud feeling quite lukewarm at best heading into Double or Nothing.
Match 6: Adam Cole vs. Jeff Hardy (Owen Hart Foundation Tournament Semifinal Match)
The aforementioned timing issues caused by the JAS/BCC segment going long seemed to affect this main event match more than anything else, so much so that this match kicked off in earnest when Cole attacked Jeff during the latter’s entrance, with the match going from there. The match having to accommodate the final 10 minutes of Dynamite (which included a picture-in-picture break) meant that there wasn’t really any time for this to truly get going.
This Owen Tournament semifinal match ended with Cole advancing to the finals after he avoided a Swanton Bomb and felled Jeff with the Boom running knee to get the 1, 2, 3 for the win.
The Undisputed Elite laid a beating on the Hardys after the match, Darby Allin and Sting attempted to make the save, but it would be Adam Cole’s super-group that would stand tall at the end of the night, with a Pillmanizer spot on Sting with a steel chair to cap us off.
5/20 AEW Rampage Recap
- The House of Black (Malakai Black, Brody King, Buddy Matthews) def. Fuego del Sol, Evil Uno and Preston “10” Vance via pinfall (10:30) after Brody King got the pin on Fuego.
- Death Triangle taunted House of Black after the match with a gravestone that bore their name on it.
- The Gunn Club and The Acclaimed discussed having a big “scissor party” once Anthony Bowens returned from injury.
- Shawn Spears def. Big Damo via pinfall (2:00) with the C4, in a showcase to prove that he was “The Giant Killer”.
- The Young Bucks challenged Matt & Jeff Hardy to a match for Double or Nothing, with the match being made official later on in the evening.
- Kris Statlander def. Red Velvet via pinfall (8:30) to advance in the Owen Hart Foundation Tournament by reversing a roll-up into a pinning combination of her own.
- Jade Cargill and The Baddies tried to attack Statlander after the match, but Ruby Soho and Anna Jay evened the odds.
- A brief video of HOOK-Hausen & Tony Nese/”Smart” Mark Sterling training for their match was shown.
- Men of the Year threatened Sammy Guevara to bring Scorpio Sky’s TNT Championship back to them. Sammy appeared on the big screen with Tay Conti and Frankie Kazarian as they destroyed Sky’s TNT Title.
- Jon Moxley & Bryan Danielson def. Dante Martin & Matt Sydal via pinfall (12:30) after Mox pinned Dante with a Paradigm Shift for the victory.
- The Jericho Appreciation Society attacked Mox & Danielson as a brawl broke out with Eddie Kingston, Santana and Ortiz joining in on the fight to play us out.
- In exclusive post-show footage posted by AEW on their YouTube page, the JAS/BCC brawl continued for a bit longer after Rampage went off the air until Danielson’s leg got caught in a gap between the elevated ramp and the ring. Bryan was not seriously injured in this incident, thankfully.
As it stands, here’s how your Double or Nothing card is shaping up to be for the May 29th live extravaganza:
- Owen Hart Men’s Tournament Final: Adam Cole vs. Winner of Kyle O’Reilly/Samoa Joe
- Owen Hart Women’s Tournament Final: Winner of Dr. Britt Baker DMD/Toni Storm vs. Winner of Ruby Soho/Kris Statlander
- AEW Women’s World Championship: Thunder Rosa (c) vs. Serena Deeb
- AEW World Championship: “Hangman” Adam Page (c) vs. CM Punk
- TBS Championship: Jade Cargill (c) vs. Anna Jay
- AEW World Tag Team Championship: Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus (c) vs. Ricky Starks & Powerhouse Hobbs vs. “Swerve” Strickland & Keith Lee
- “Anarchy in the Arena”: The Jericho Appreciation Society vs. Eddie Kingston, Santana, Ortiz, and Blackpool Combat Club’s Jon Moxley & Bryan Danielson
- The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) vs. The Hardys (Matt & Jeff Hardy)
- The House of Black (Malakai Black, Buddy Matthews, Brody King) vs. Death Triangle (Penta Oscuro, PAC, Rey Fenix)
- Wardlow vs. MJF (pending result of Wardlow vs. Shawn Spears cage match on 5/25 Dynamite)
- The Buy-In: HOOK-Hausen (HOOK & Danhausen) vs. Tony Nese & “Smart” Mark Sterling.
Stay tuned to RingCrashers later this week for our comprehensive Double or Nothing preview.
Marc Quill is the editor of RingCrashers, GateCrashers’ home for all your All Elite Wrestling and indie wrestling needs. He’s also the web novelist behind Skye Emery: Bluebird, which you can read here. You can chat with him about wrestling, comics, and stuff in general on @MarcQuill on Twitter.