Red's Pro-Wrestling Digest no.109: Finally looking at AEW Double or Nothing 2023

They went bold, starting the show with a massive clusterfuck. Numerous storylines were included and it was balls to the wall action. A perfect way to start the show, though also a fair way to remind fans watching at home that AEW's live production team can be B-level.

The eliminations felt important. The belt got some added luster behind it. Orange kept his great reign running. Some of my favorite midcard programs had new moments. Yeah, not much to complain about here. Get-people-on matches can be fun when they have some effort behind them, folks. A car-crash that kept crashing, planting seeds, showcasing feuds, and teasing throwaway matches as it went.

Trent saving Orange was awesome, by the way. I love that shit! Oh, and Big Bill...sigh, that fucking name...anyway, that fucker finally got to showcase just how damn good he is here. I was sold on him after his sick Impact run, which was very underrated, and am happy to see him breakout here. Hopefully Tony didn't drop the ball after this.

No one tell me.

Oh, and the finish was fun as hell.

Anyway, props to whomever agented this one and to everyone involved!

I need to watch these back.

The solution for Jericho versus Cole? Run this as an empty arena match that airs on YouTube prior to any of the "official" streams that day. In that position, it would have succeeded. Here, on an AEW special event that people pay big money to see, no. Just no. The worst part is that the build to this one was actually pretty damn good television. Maybe that's the answer, in fact; allow shorter pay-per-views and keep some programs like this one exclusive to TV.

Part of my #MakeRampageGreatAgain campaign. Someone make some shitty hats, quick!

Anyway, Sabu worked enforcer in this one which basically meant he was a second for Cole. This was just the JAS and Undisputedly Suicidal (that's what I'm calling 'em, at least) tearing shit down. Placing it right after the Blackjack match was a bad idea, folks. Refer to above again for elaboration.

Oh well.

In a vacuum, it was a good match, though one that perhaps didn't need the full time it was given. Just a bit of fat in need of trim. It was also just a weaker version of something in the same genre that came right before it. Make it main event Rampage and folks are far happier, like I said. 

Baker going fucking nuts was an awesome moment, by the way. Felt worthy of mention.

Oh, and I have to say the finish was very appropriate for this match and I was all for it. 

Thanks to those that enjoy my writing style, by the way. I've been told the "rambling" style shows a passion, a desire to please, and generally relaxing. I've also been told I suck. Thanks to those that consider me their cup of coffee.

Note I have a cheap plug coming at the end. I hate doing it, but I also know it helps and I want more people to see my stuff. I get okay numbers and am actually proud of what I do get, but I also would absolutely love even more.

I basically skipped the build to the next one. I know there were cheap finishes and shit, but that's about it. Pretty sad that the tag division, as stacked and loaded as it is, continues being this tame. FTR are a damn good team, too. One of the best ever. Oh well. Mark Briscoe was the guest referee here, which was fun. I feel that the stuff involving Jeff seems to be booked by Jeff. I haven't checked and could be wrong, but it smells of him. Don't get me wrong, because I liked TNA more than most of y'all, but there were bad programs and terrible periods and he had fingerprints on that shit, people.

I liked this far less than Davey boy and a bit less than Cagematch. In fact, I know the crowd gets some shit and, to be fair Vegas is an iffy venue, but they reacted pretty on par with my own general lack of interest. It was fine for what it was, but in no way did I need to see this classic WCW match in 2023. Mid stuff, though it was mid stuff done decent if that makes sense.

Does that make sense? I mean, we did get a fun guitar shots and Steam chants.

Since I had to watch that, it's time for...

...yeah, it's cheap plug time, but I have a new show on my YouTube channel called Main Event Magic. The first season is almost done and will be four episodes long. They're short episodes, focused on a vision I have of mixing pro-wrestling style television with the beautiful game that is Magic: The Gathering. I include friends and fellow players and feature storylines along the way. I'm always seeking folks wanting to be included and have so far featured a custom card designer with a fun Gollum impression. I have an icon of the RPG community coming on soon and more in the works, too. If you're interested, head over to The RW+B Channel and give it a look. There's a lot of content there for you to look at and more programs being developed.

If you'd like to, and are able, to support these ongoing projects under the RW+B umbrella, please consider sending a buck or two. I'll give you a shout out as a supporter and will find ways to plug you a bit in my content. HERE is my PayPal. Shoot me an email at if you want other options.

Also, check out RW+B Toys on eBay if you wanna check out some of the stuff I have for sale.

Starks was beaten down by Bullet Club Gold backstage after. FTR eventually made the save and ran them off. Jericho and Saraya bitched backstage after. The tag match that was proposed could've actually been of better use on this card with the match they did run being on...well, Friday.

The Wizard!

Moving on, we have Captain Charisma in a ladder match taking on Goldberg for a title that AEW has done a lot of damage to. The build was some of the weaker stuff from the general road to this show and the payoff was...okay. Cage is still a great worker and is capable of killer promos. He's been attached to some bloated programs and not always used as well as he should be, but the dude still gets my respect. 

Wardlow is fun, but the division hasn't been booked super well and he's suffered for it.

Here, they did at least keep the dinosaur away for a bit. Luchasaurus, too. I'm not gonna lie, but this felt a lot like TNA, too. This needed trimmed down because there was a far better match hidden in here than the full thing turned into. Mileage will vary, but I enjoyed it decently enough and thought the card placement was fine at this point. Just don't expect anything revolutionary out of a dude that's already given us enough of that already?

I didn't mind Knox holding the ladder, for the record. It made sense.

A very promising rematch ran in the five spot. The Outcasts beat down the champ before the match because they are nWo. I'm all for this, to be honest. I feel the women's division needs a lot of love and am actually enjoying this unit's contributions to it. Baker would run down and resume her brawl with Saraya during this. Shida would come out to dance with Ruby. It was overbooked with ref bumps and circus stuff and all. And I loved it. I think the toss into the corner spot was a bit weak, but the sudden finish worked for me and I am all for Storm holding this belt right now. Is she Kevin Nash in this group? Anyway, Hayter was hurt, which is why the WarGames match didn't happen, so I'm also fine with the short run-time that nearly made this unrateable.

A Draft Kings ad ran next.

House of Black defended the World Trios Championships next. More Hart on screen is never a bad thing and I'm all for more and more opportunities for the unit in general. I love these fucking dudes. The Acclaimed and Daddy Ass had been clearly positioned as the challengers ahead of this and were indeed the choice they ran with.

Here's some amazing metal for my metalheads out there.

Caster referenced Dom and called House of Black racist emos. The lights were down for the fireflies and the match was something really more made-for-tv. It also felt like something that perhaps didn't need to booked to begin with. The right dude ate the L, at least.

Did I miss it somehow or did they skip the teaser video for the next one?

Meh. Jade and Taya is admittedly another build that I skipped most of. I like Taya. I think Jade is okay at times and is trying, but is also very green and easily exposed. I just didn't care much about the program, to be honest. Their match here wasn't very surprising, either.

The two television divisions aren't really must-see, are they?

Neither Taya nor the undefeated champ came off looking better than they did when they walked out and that's not helpful to either. I almost fell asleep. I have nothing else to say about this snore of a title defense. You can make it look okay if you clip it down to about 20-seconds or so. Now I have nothing else to say.

A reminder, but I am overweight (working on it) and haven't taken a bump in years.

Kris returning after was sweet, at least. Her winning actually gives me hopes for the belt, too. If you're going to end Jade's reign at this point, this was the way to do it, too. 

Apparently, right now AEW is a few matches away from having more five-star matches from Dave than he's given WWF/E and WCW combined. A fun fact for folks that care that much about stuff like that. I present thoughts on content and commentary on rumors and include a few leaks along the way but never take my ratings too seriously. We all dig different things and that's fine. Life can suck but wrestling helps. Never let opinions of others in situations like these matter enough to you that you feel the need to complain about it or whatever, either. Live life. Breathe. Drink some water because god knows you're dehydrated and eat an edible or something.

"Pillas" time. Fans seemed torn on this build but the ratings for this match itself had decent numbers. I thought the content from the road to Double or Nothing, following Battle of the Belts, was fine. I've rambled enough on that HERE so I'll refrain from adding another chapter. In regards to this, the semimain, I would indeed say we got a truly awesome title defense either way.

Are we really sure Perry and Sammy are pillars? Sammy, maybe. Perry, though?

Jungle Boy even had the worst entrance.

Sammy did bring back the cards to announce he had a kid on the way, which was a cool moment.

Darby's newest short film ran here. What drugs did Allin take here? He came out dressed like fucking Elvis. I will just not make the obvious jokes here. They're too easy.

MJF's entrance was completely over the top in the best way possible and the best of the bunch, too.

These shows net a lot of $. That and the love of tradition is why Tony keeps running here for these gigs, supposedly. It tracks.

They followed a trusted formula for this one, playing it safe in a way, but it's a trusted formula because it's easy to make for an entertaining watch when used. The talent level ensured it landed well. MJF was a proper dick at times, which was glorious. Darby was a car crash. Sammy was an athletic beast that brought some of that Eddie fire. Perry added bits and was present. His in-ring work does tend to be with far more effort than the rest of his output, to be fair.

Little that could be called a lull with loads of action and bits of nearfall drama that really added to things nicely. The "what the fuck" line was especially well done.  I also loved the call-outs they all made to their mentors, which felt like a very fitting spot. MJF trying to get Sammy to take the L made for a cheap bit of screentime, but was fine, too.

I get what they were aiming for but it didn't need to be included, did it?  

They got "fight forever" chants during a period I thought that was the weakest section, so I'm sure some likely enjoyed this more than I did. I did really enjoy this, either way. Lots of poetry attempted and in all it was fantastic. I do feel it could've been a MOTYC, but it's hard to whine about something that was still this freakin' good.

MJF hit a damn Awesome Bomb then won via side headlock takeover, by the way. What a damn king! 

We close with a new Anarchy in the Arena. I was psyched to finally see this. Violent Idols played Wild Thing live on repeat which was a nice touch. The single eventually ate a superkick to finally end the jam. Exactly as insane as I hoped it would be, this felt like a complete fever dream in all of the right ways. I consider this the match of the night and an absolute must-see. If you missed it, give it a look. If you saw it, consider a playback. Brutal in a way to really set itself apart from their biggest corporate rival. Mileage will vary but I don't see many people that enjoy pro-wrestling not enjoying this.

Takeshita's turn was the cherry.

Don choked out Omega after while the heel unit celebrated.

This started strong, dipped gradually, then ended on a strong note. I've called AEW a variety show before and this was very much a variety event. Not everything landed well, though, and it was a weaker PPV for the company than usual. Considering the price tag, I can see why some were disappointed. In all, it was a good show bookended by excellent content. Sometimes that's enough, though I hope this doesn't become the norm.

AEW has set a standard that they have to live up to.

Match Ratings

  1. Blackjack Battle Royale, International Title ****1/4
  2. Unsanctioned: Jericho vs Cole ***1/2
  3. AEW Tag Titles: FTR(c) vs Triple-J ***
  4. Ladder, TNT Title: Wardlow(c) vs Cage ***
  5. AEW Women's Title: Hayter(c) vs Storm ***1/2
  6. AEW Trios Titles: House of Black(c) vs The Acclaimed, Daddy Ass **3/4
  7. TBS Title:
    a) Jade(c) vs Taya **1/4
    b) Jade(c) vs Kris NR
  8. AEW World Title: MJF(c) vs Guevara vs Darby vs Jungle Boy ****
  9. Anarchy in the Arena ****1/2

Overall Rating: 75/100%

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