Thursday, May 25, 2023

AEW Double or Nothing 2023 Preview & Predictions

This Sunday it's AEW's fifth(!!!!) edition of Double or Nothing!  Hard to believe this company has already completed high school....

Well it's been a tumultuous few months in the land of the Elite, with ups and downs and ups and downs.  On one hand they've amassed one of the largest crowds in wrestling history for their upcoming All In spectacular at Wembley Stadium (without a single match having been announced, mind you).  On the other hand their domestic ticket sales, including for this PPV, have been struggling.  One one hand they announced a second two-hour weekly show in Collision, centered around the returning CM Punk, on the other, the relationship between AEW and Punk continues to be one of hurdles and strained communication.  We'll see how that all plays out; my wife for one has set the over-under for Punk in AEW at one year, meaning he won't be used on television anymore by then.  I'm hoping for the best of course, but Phil's track record of remaining drama-free since All Out hasn't been great.

But enough about that, let's look at this lineup, which as usual is very strong on paper.  Not the strongest card they've ever assembled but there's plenty here to be excited for and this show should deliver some great matches as AEW's PPVs always do.

AEW Trios Championship: House of Black vs. The Acclaimed/Billy Gunn (presumed)

This hasn't been officially announced yet but they've been teasing it for weeks and I'd be surprised if they left it off the show.  House of Black is pretty much being booked just as I said they should be, as a dominant group of monster heels that doesn't need to cheat to win, hence they crush all competition like monster babyfaces.  A modern-day trio of Road Warriors essentially.  The Acclaimed are a good, over, fan favorite team to challenge them here and put up a really good fight with tons of hope spots.  But in the end HOB will retain, and should continue to do so for a good long while.

Pick: House of Black retains

Matt & Jeff Hardy/Hook vs. Ethan Page/The Gunns

I'd be fine if they bumped this one to the pre-show; not much going on here for me.  I do like the addition of Hook to Team Hardy though, and Jeff is still a star so I get why they felt the need to add him to the lineup.  I'm glad this is a nice easy match type for him - keep Jeff away from ladders and tables for the rest of his career.  Page and The Firm are unfortunately not a hot act at all right now; I'm not sure what they need to be seen as a threat again.  They split that group from MJF pretty damn quick.  Anyway this is really a showcase for the reunited Hardys and Hook, who should be moved into a title program very soon.  Kid's over and has the goods.

Pick: Hardys & Hook

TBS Championship: Jade Cargill vs. Taya Valkyrie

These two didn't deliver the first time around but hopefully they'll do so here.  Jade's title run/undefeated streak has really run its course and we need a change, but I'm not sure Taya is the one who should do it.  For my money Kris Statlander is absolutely the one who should end the streak, so what I'm hoping for is Jade squeaking past Taya only for Kris to make her long-awaited return.  They've been doing the open challenge thing so maybe that could even happen immediately after the Taya match.  Regardless I'll stick with Jade to keep the belt till Kris comes back.

Pick: Jade retains

AEW Tag Team Championship: FTR vs. Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett

Man, this company really loves Jeff Jarrett, huh?  Don't get me wrong, the guy is an expert at working a crowd and his matches have all been very entertaining, but he must be the best self-promoter of all time to be featured this much at 58 years old.  Mark Briscoe is the special referee for this match and they've done a solid job of building animosity between him and both teams.  In the end though it seems obvious he'll call it down the middle and the champs will keep the straps.  Let's hope we get FTR vs. Aussie Open once Mark Davis is healed up.

Pick: FTR retains

TNT Championship Ladder Match: Wardlow vs. Christian Cage

Well this is Wardlow's biggest match since last year's Double or Nothing and between the stipulation and his opponent being an expert in matches of this type, hopefully he'll be able to deliver a signature match.  They desperately need to make this guy a hot star again; I'm still holding out hope we'll eventually see Wardlow dethrone MJF for the big belt and thus become a crossover star.  This match could be a big step in that direction.  Should be quite enjoyable.

Pick: Wardlow retains and moves on to Luchasaurus

AEW International Championship Blackjack Battle Royal

This is a weird one.  Orange Cassidy's International Title run has been pretty spectacular so far; any doubts that this dude can work his ass off have been thoroughly squashed.  But a battle royal is usually a lame way to have a title defense.  It's obviously a way to get Starks, Hobbs, Swerve, Lee and others on the show.  That said, AEW battle royals can be a lot of fun.  I'm assuming this will be structured like a Casino Battle Royal, with Cassidy in the Wild Card spot at the end?  The champ should obviously get some kind of advantage.  I could see Jay White winning here but that's not exactly a great way to have him win his first AEW gold, and having such a fun title reign end in a battle royal would be pretty weak too.  I'm hoping Cassidy keeps it and this is just to set up a new challenger, such as White.

Pick: Orange retains

AEW Women's Championship: Jamie Hayter vs. Toni Storm

I assume this is still happening; they announced it on the show but Hayter's also got a may-or-may-not-be kayfabe arm injury.  If it happens it should be fantastic - probably the two best women's wrestlers in the company head-to-head once again.  However I assume they'll work the injury into the story of the match.  Do they use this as a way to give Storm the title and set up a rubber match?  Perhaps.  Still seems like Hayter vs. Baker is the ultimate destination but it should be a while before that happens.  I'm still hoping for a 5-on-5 women's Blood & Guts match before then.

Pick: Eh, I'll stick with Hayter to retain

Unsanctioned Match: Chris Jericho vs. Adam Cole

This one should have nuclear heat.  Cole is the company's hottest babyface right now and this feud has had a great build.  Jericho's buddies are basically a lock to get involved but Cole has his own backup in Roddy Strong and surprise ringside enforcer Sabu.  That still leaves the good guys outnumbered; I wonder if we'll see reDRagon make a return to even the odds.  At any rate, Cole is being groomed to challenge for the World Title so he's gotta be going over here.

Pick: Cole

Anarchy in the Arena: Blackpool Combat Club vs. The Elite 

This should be amazing.  The two best factions in the company beating the piss out of each other.  One thing though, protect Bryan Danielson at all costs.  This match concussed him last year and it cost us Danielson vs. Zack Sabre at Forbidden Door.  Can't have that happen again!  This could go either way, as Bryan and Mox's team lost last year, but the reunited Elite should probably win their first match as a quartet.  Also Kenny is likely having a rematch with Will Ospreay next month.  Wheeler Yuta can always take the pin I suppose.  

Pick: The Elite

AEW World Championship 4-Way: MJF vs. Sammy Guevara vs. Darby Allin vs. "Jungle Boy" Jack Perry

There's no suspense about who's winning this one, but man is it gonna be a lot of fun.  The Four Pillars are finally colliding for the company's richest prize!  I suspect Sammy will either tease that he's gonna screw the two babyfaces over and lay down for MJF, or he may actually do it.  He's been swearing up and down that he won't, which in wrestling often means the opposite.  But since Sammy came off as a likable dude on All Access maybe he's really turning babyface.  Side note: When was the last major PPV main event where all the participants were under age 30?

Pick: MJF retains obviously

It's a good slate of matches and should produce some insta-classics.  Hard to complain about that, but I'll bet Forbidden Door upstages it handily.

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