Preview: AEW – Double or Nothing (5/25/19)

Double or Nothing
Credit: AEW

All Elite Wrestling started with a dream, a hope from a group of wrestlers who had become close friends, to change the world together. Today, that dream becomes a reality. After a little under six months of waiting, ever since the New Year’s Day announcement, it’s finally time for the first show held under the All Elite Wrestling banner, Double or Nothing, to take center stage. So spin the wheel, make the deal, and get ready to enjoy the first official chapter in AEW’s wrestling revolution.

Date: May 25, 2019
Time: Starting at 8 PM EST/5 PM PST/1 AM BST (The Buy In pre-show, which you can read our preview for here, starts an hour earlier)
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV
How to Watch: Watch Double or Nothing on B/R Live in the U.S., Fite.TV and ITV Box Office

SoCal Uncensored (Christopher DanielsFrankie Kazarian, and Scorpio Sky) vs. #StrongHearts (CimaT-Hawk, and El Lindaman)

Double or Nothing
Credit: AEW

When All Elite Wrestling first became official, Cody, the Young Bucks and Hangman Page signed the first set of contracts. That wasn’t much of a surprise given they were the leaders of the movement and would serve, not just as contracted talent, but as Co-Executive VPs as well in the case of Cody and the Bucks.Beyond the core group however, AEW’s first announced signing, made at the Double or Nothing opening presser, was that of the trio that had come to be known as SCU (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky).

Three veterans of the industry, with more combined experience and championships than most of AEW’s roster, SCU was a huge get for the new company. In addition to his role as a wrestler, Daniels has also taken on the position of head of talent relations. At the Double or Nothing rally in February, Daniels challenged CIMA to find two partners to take on SCU at the PPV and his challenge was accepted. Daniels and CIMA had previously met once before, in a tag team match in 2006 in ROH. As Daniels observed however, that was prior to both men coming into their own and achieving their greatest career successes. It was later announced that CIMA would be joined by T-Hawk and El Lindaman.

The 41-year-old CIMA has been wrestling for 22 years and is an incredibly accomplished singles and tag team wrestler. He’s won 40 titles. In 2018, following the departure of El Lindaman, Takehiro Yamamura and T-Hawk from Dragon Gate to wrestled for CIMA’s Oriental Wrestling Entertainment, #StrongHearts was born. The faction features a mix of established and up-and-coming stars as CIMA has used it to help train and gain international exposure for some of his students. At Double or Nothing, CIMA will be joined by T-Hawk, a 29-year-old pro since 2010, and El Lindaman, a 24-year-old pro since 2014. Both have gotten incredible praise in their careers and for many, will serve as the first introduction to the world of OWE.

Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazawi and Emi Sakura vs Hikaru Shida, Riho Abe and Ryo Mizunami

Double or Nothing
Credit: AEW

One of the things about AEW that instantly got fans talking was how the company was structuring its women’s division. Featuring some top American indie stars, AEW, behind Brandi Rhodes, head of the women’s division, and Kenny Omega, Co-Executive VP and liaise for Japanese talent, opted to focus their roster with a strong joshi presence. For that reason, it’s not surprising that Double or Nothing features an all-joshi match, with six of the top names among them. Much like how #StrongHearts are prepared to introduce the world to OWE’s style of wrestling, these six Japanese female wrestlers are set to do the same for the world of joshi.

The match pits legendary names Aja Kong and Emi Sakura alongside Yuka Sakazawi as they face young rising star Riho Abe, underrated freelancer Hikaru Shida and a hard hitter Ryo Mizunami.  For anyone that knows these six talents, this is an insane match that crosses various joshi companies and showcases veteran talent as well as young talent on the rise.

Make sure to check out our match point, written by LWOS’ resident joshi expert, Alex Richards, to learn more about the six women involved, with full career backstories and matches.

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

Double or Nothing
Credit: AEW

While much of the focus as far as tag team wrestling in AEW, has been, and rightfully so, on the blockbuster AAA World Tag Team Championship match between the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) and the Lucha Brothers (Pentagon and Fenix), one shouldn’t sleep on this huge contest. Beyond just those two marquee teams, AEW is building a strong tag team division and this Double or Nothing match is proof of that.

Best Friends (read their full career bios here) joined AEW early on and have spent the last several weeks, on Being the Elite, which has served as the biggest mover of storylines in advance of AEW’s TV show set to debut this fall. The two, initially set to appear in the Casino Battle Royale, have been lobbying for a better opportunity and sure enough, they were granted it, when it was announced that Jack Evans and Angelico, formerly known as Los Gueros del Cielo aka The White Boys from Heaven, (read their full career bios here), had joined AEW.

The team of Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta first joined up in 2013, wrestling for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Comprised of two rising indie wrestlers, the two only tagged sporadically over the next six years as their careers took them in different directions. The 32-year-old Berreta began his career on the local New York indie scene before joining WWE as a developmental wrestler in 2007. Berreta remained with the company through 2012, mostly wrestling for Florida Championship Wrestling. In 2013, Berreta made his debut for New Japan Pro Wrestling, becoming a major player in their junior tag team division in the years to come. Alongside Rocky Romero, Berreta is a four-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion. He was also a member of CHAOS. The 33-year-old Taylor, who had built his early career in IWA-Mid South, Combat Zone Wrestling, EVOLVE and CHIKARA to name a few, maintained somewhat of a lower profile, not joining his first major or televised company until 2017. Teaming with Berreta in both NJPW and ROH, Taylor began to show the world what followers of his early career had already known.

A wrestler for 18 years, Jack Evans receiving training in the Hart Dungeon, spending his early years with Stampede Wrestling. In 2004, Evans joined the newly established ROH, spending parts of the next six years with the company, while also wrestling throughout the Canadian indies. From 2006-07, he traveled to Japan, wrestling extensively for Dragon Gate. By 2008, Evans had traveled to Mexico where he joined AAA Lucha Libre and later, Lucha Underground. He’s won 11 titles in his career, including the AAA World Tag Team Championship four times, thrice with Angelico. The 32-year-old Angelico, a native of South Africa, began wrestling in 2007. His career began in Europe and Mexico, where he wrestled primarily for International Wrestling Revolution Group. In 2013, Angelico debuted for AAA and the following year, became part of LU, where he became known for his high-flying acrobatics and crazy stunts. In addition to Mexico, Angelico developed a strong presence among the UK indie scene, wrestling for Defiant, International Pro Wrestling, Revolution Pro, PROGRESS, Fight Club: PRO and more. In his career, he’s won 11 titles.

This is a huge showcase match for both of these teams and will no doubt be a great example of what tag team wrestling in AEW is going to look like, now and for years to come.

Britt Baker vs Nyla Rose vs Kylie Rae

Double or Nothing
Credit: AEW

In addition to the joshi match, AEW will be featuring three of their top female talents at Double or Nothing in a triple threat match. Britt Baker, Nyla Rose and Kylie Rae have all come to AEW to make a statement and to continue showing why theirs are names that wrestling fans will definitely want to know.

Kylie Rae – A background in softball and soccer, the Chicago native began her wrestling career in 2016 with Booker T‘s Reality of Wrestling in Houston, Texas. Trained by Booker, Rae quickly became a focal point of ROW’s women’s division, winning the Diamonds title three times. In 2017, just a year into her career, Rae began to break out, wrestling for RISE, AAW: Professional Wrestling Redefined, SHIMMER, Queens of Combat and CZW. In 2018, she added Beyond, IWA: Mid South, GCW, IMPACT, International Wrestling Cartel and Stardom to her resume. Rae has won seven titles in her just three-year career.

Nyla Rose – A 6-year pro, Nyla Rose is a full-blooded Native American (Oneida tribe) by way of Japan. The Washington, DC native started off in the Mid Atlantics, but in 2016 began working with Meiko Satomura‘s Sendai Girls and Marvelous. In her career, Rose has won six titles including the Warriors of Wrestling women’s championship twice, of which she is currently in her second reign. It’s also worth noting that Rose is a transgender athlete, making her the first to compete for a major promotion.

Britt Baker – Relatively new to professional wrestling, the 28-year-old Britt Baker didn’t make her pro debut until August 2015, while a college student. Baker began training in 2014 while still working on her degree. She graduated that same year but decided to pursue a degree in dental medicine, enrolling in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Dental Medicine that fall. Now a full-fledged dentist, Baker has worked for Absolute Intense Wrestling, Ring of Honor, WSU, QOC, SHIMMERWrestleCircus and Bar Wrestling. Additionally, she currently holds two titles and is the first-ever winner of the IWC women’s championship and a former winner of the WrestleCircus Big Top Tag Team Championship.

Cody vs Dustin

Credit: AEW

When Cody (read his full career bio here) and the Young Bucks first announced their plans for All Elite Wrestling, many had wondered and even speculated if Cody’s older brother, longtime WWE veteran, Dustin Rhodes aka Goldust (read his full career bio here), would join the venture. Rhodes essentially slammed those rumors, telling fans he was still contracted to WWE. And it seemed that was that, until an episode of the Road to Double or Nothing revealed that Cody’s mystery opponent for Double or Nothing was none other than his decades-older half-brother.

The story leading up to Cody vs Dustin in some ways goes back to WWE, where they both wrestled with and against each other on various occasions, and are former tag team champions. In other, more meaningful ways however, the story goes back even further. Dustin and Cody’s story goes back to their family, their different upbringings, the relationship they had with the other as a result. Both have made it clear that they love each other, but in Cody’s mind, this match isn’t about beating Dustin Rhodes, it’s about putting an end to the Attitude Era and all it stands for. And to do that, Cody has to beat his brother, someone whose career spans decades and whose name carries incredible weight in the industry in a way that up until recently, Cody’s hadn’t.

But now, both brothers, revolutionaries in their own right, are set to face each other for what could be the last time. And there is no doubt that with emotions high and a well-built story, this match at Double or Nothing will supersede anything the two have done before.

Lucha Brothers (Pentagon and Fenix) vs Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson)

Young Bucks vs Lucha Brothers
Credit: AEW

When Double or Nothing was first announced, several months prior to the event itself, most wondered how AEW would build to the storylines that they had first introduced at the press rally. One of these stories was that of tag team dominance as the Lucha Brothers (Pentagon and Fenix) arrived at AEW staking their claim as the best tag team in the world, a distinction that had previously belonged to the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson). The Lucha Brothers established their position early on, attacking the Bucks at the rally. But the Bucks weren’t ones to take the fight lying down as through various independent shows the team crashed, they continued to build to this angle against the Lucha Brothers.

Everything came to a head at AAA, where after the Lucha Brothers regained their tag titles, the Bucks showed up and were granted an impromptu match for the belts. For the first time in their illustrious, successful careers, the Young Bucks became AAA champions, much to the chagrin and anger of the Lucha Brothers. Thus, the story behind one of AEW’s most anticipated matches was born because now, not only would it be for tag team dominance, it would be for the AAA World Tag Team Championship.

A team for over 15 years, the Young Bucks (read their full career bio here) have pretty much worked everywhere and for everyone. They are known primarily for their time in PWG, ROH, NJPW, TNA/IMPACT and various indies where they have won 35 tag team or six-man championships.

A newer team, the Lucha Brothers have been tagging together for just two years, but in that short time, have accomplished a great deal and have surged to the forefront as one of the best teams in the indies. In 2017, the brothers wrestled extensively in the Crash, PWG, where they won their first tag titles, Fight Club: PRO and more. Thanks in large part to their roles on Lucha Underground, where both Fenix and Pentagon are both former Lucha Underground champions, the two became household names. As a tag team, they began to separate themselves from the pack, winning titles in the Crash, MLW, AAA, AAW and IMPACT over the past two years, and becoming top draws in those and many other promotions as well.

Kenny Omega vs Chris Jericho (winner becomes #1 contender for AEW World Championship)

Omega vs Jericho
Credit: AEW

While this is a match that has been done before, to the tune of five Dave Meltzer stars even, it’s no doubt worthy of a main event slot at Double or Nothing. Also, with two names such as Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho, names that are immensely well known and well respected within the wrestling industry, it’s also a match worthy of helping to determine a #1 contender for the vacant AEW world title.

It came as a shock to many when longtime WWE veteran, future Hall-of-Famer, and Vince McMahon loyalist, Chris Jericho, showed up at NJPW to challenge Omega and his claim of being the best in the world. This led to a fantastic feud between the two that ended in a brutal Wrestle Kingdom showdown. Only, it wasn’t the end. Jericho again shocked the world when he donned a Pentagon mask, and attacked Omega following All In. The two once again were involved in a match on Jericho’s cruise but seemed to put aside their differences at the end. A few months later, Jericho joined AEW and upon Omega’s own joining of the company, after his contract with NJPW expired, the man who beat the Rock and Steve Austin on the same night to become undisputed champion, immediately re-invigorated his feud with Omega, attacking him before Cody and Daniels could pull the two apart. Shortly after the confrontation, the Wrestle Kingdom rematch was made official for Double or Nothing.

Omega and Jericho are two of AEW’s biggest marquee names. Omega (read his full bio here), the Canadian by way of Japan, made a name for himself in NJPW where he became the Best Bout Machine. As NJPW’s popularity grew so too did Omega’s and it was no coincidence why. Omega, as leader of Bullet Club, was the top gaijin star the company had and served as the face of NJPW’s plans for U.S. and international expansion. Jericho (read his full bio here) meanwhile, made his star in WWE, where his accolades are too many to count. A professional wrestler of 28 years, Jericho’s name is associated with some huge moments in WWE and will continue to make new moments as he now represents AEW in this landscape altering shift.

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