Home AEW ‘Double or Nothing’ preview: A couple of good matches, but otherwise, meh

AEW ‘Double or Nothing’ preview: A couple of good matches, but otherwise, meh

swerve strickland aew champ
Photo: AEW

I don’t know that I’ve been less underwhelmed going into an AEW pay-per-view as I am on the eve of the fifth-anniversary “Double or Nothing” show set for Sunday night.

It’s probably because Swerve Strickland just isn’t working out as the world champ, Mercedes Mone has yet to get over with AEW fans, and we’re getting another multi-person gimmick match involving The Young Bucks.

Yahoo, whoopee, et cetera.

Everything is wrong with AEW creatively right now, which is being reflected in poor ticket sales – there were 2,292 people on hand for last night’s “Dynamite” emanating out of Bakersfield, Calif., according to WrestleTix – and low TV ratings.

I think the biggest current issue is the decision to put the world title on Strickland, then putting him in a program with Christian Cage that should, on paper, work, but the booking has had Strickland getting beat down by Cage’s stable week after week, which makes absolutely no sense.

It’s just never a good look to have a world champ who is constantly getting pummeled by mid-card heels like Killswitch and Nick Wayne.

AEW desperately needs to get MJF back, book him as a heel, and build everything at the top of the card around him, stat.

Next, to The Young Bucks: look, I’ll give them credit for trying to lean into the heel heat they’d been getting when they were being booked as babyfaces, but this EVPs vs. Tony Khan rewrite of The Authority storylines from WWE in the mid-2010s just isn’t resonating.

The bulk of AEW fans are, at the least, smart marks, and thus are in on the fact that wrestling is a work, and that Matt and Nick Massie aren’t really fighting Tony Khan for real-life control of AEW.

And even with that said, putting The Bucks with Kazuchika Okada and Jack Perry in a schmoz match with a makeshift “Team AEW” consisting of FTR, Bryan Danielson and (checks notes) Darby Allin is just … lazy.

Perry could have been booked solid off his real-life heat for his role in the incident that led to the firing of CM Punk last summer, but instead, what, he’s going to break off from this eight-man match into a feud with Allin?

Say it ain’t so.

And then there’s Mone, the latest big-money signing of Khan, who is at least being presented to us as a heel now, but only because her stupid “CEO! CEO!” gimmick wasn’t getting over with fans, and made clear that she didn’t get over in WWE because of her mic work.

There are matches on this show that I think will be good: Roddy Strong defending his International title against Will Ospreay being one, the barbed-wire cage match between TNT champ Adam Copeland and Malakai Black being another.

I’d be more excited for the Jon Moxley-Konosuke Takeshita match if not for it not only not being an IWGP title match, but also, man, that Takeshita interview in which he said his time in AEW has taken away the “joys of wrestling” for him, that’s just not good for business.

Seriously, I’d have had the kid on the next red-eye to Tokyo after that one.

This “Double or Nothing” has the feel of, let’s just get through this show with nobody getting hurt, and maybe we can regroup for the summer.

We can hope for the returns of MJF and Britt Baker, better booking for Copeland, Okada and Ospreay in the men’s division, for Mone in the women’s division, maybe some semblance of common sense with regard to the use of FTR.

That might be asking a lot, unfortunately.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].