How successful can a YouTube show where wrestlers dick around and do skits when they’re bored overseas get? Ask All Elite Wrestling, the new wrestling promotion owned by Shahid Kahn and run by the guys behind the popular YouTube channel Being the Elite.
Oh, are you totally new to the non-WWE scene? You’re not alone, probably! Cody Rhodes, Stardust from WWE and only called “Cody” on the indies because “Rhodes” kinda belongs to WWE, worked with Jacksonville Jaguars owner and billionaire Shahid Kahn to build a brand new wrestling federation called All Elite Wrestling. And yes, Cody is the real son of wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes. AEW has big names like Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho and the fed has been at the center of rumors about where post-WWE wrestlers might end up (like Dean Ambrose, though nothing is confirmed). They have a TV deal with TNT, prompting many to start talking about the Monday Night Wars again. It seems like a big deal because it might be a big deal! Cody and friends put on a PPV event called All-In last year and it was enough of a success to create a cascade of events leading us to the creation of AEW and their first event, Double or Nothing!
Double or Nothing will begin this Saturday, May 25 at 4 PM Pacific/7 PM Eastern. The show will feature mainstays from the international indie scene, ex-WWE talent, and wrestlers from AEW’s partner promotions AAA and OWE. Some, but not all of whom have signed with All Elite. Some, but not all of whom are beloved characters from the YouTube series.
Some of these matches are related to existing storylines from Being the Elite, Road to Double or Nothing (AEW’s other YouTube show) and partner wrestling promotions. Some of them aren’t. In the case of the Casino Battle Royale, some entrants have storylines and some don’t.
Who are these people? Why are they wrestling? Who will win? How tan will they be? I will endeavor to answer these questions and more in this card preview. If you still don’t understand what’s going on, don’t worry! The wrestling will be good. You’ll be fine. You’ll have fun! I promise.
The Buy In: Kip Sabian vs Sammy Guevara
“The Buy In,” Double or Nothing’s free to watch preshow, will feature one singles match and one battle royale.
Kip Sabian and Sammy Guevara are two up and coming high flyers from the independent scenes in the UK and the US respectively. They’re both hot in that way where you feel kind of annoyed by it. Like borderline fuckboi vibes. Sammy Guevara normally does kind of a bratty heel YouTuber thing, but his appearances on Being the Elite have made him seem more sympathetic. I don’t know much about Kip Sabian except that he’s English.
Prediction: It’s hard to say who will win this high-energy, fast-paced, high flying bout, which will probably serve more to introduce Sabian and Guevara to fans than to put either one of them over too much. It could go either way. I’m going to say Sammy Guevara.
The Buy In: Casino Battle Royale
The winner of this 21-man over the top battle royale will face the winner of Double or Nothing’s main event (either Kenny Omega or Chris Jericho) to become the inaugural AEW Champion. The entrants will come out in four groups at three minute intervals, depending on the suit of the card they are dealt. The suit order is random. Finally, the lucky 21st entrant (whoever is dealt the Joker) will join them.
Are you still with me? It’s kind of confusing. Sorry. 17 wrestlers have been announced, most of whom are well-known at least on the independent scene and a few of whom are relatively unknown.
We can expect plenty of stylish, charismatic acrobatics from AEW signee Sonny Kiss (formerly of Lucha Underground.) MJF will definitely be featured prominently in this match. He does a snobby rich guy heel thing where he wears a fake Burberry scarf and insults everyone— very simple and very well-executed. “The Bad Boy” Joey Janela, reckless backyarder turned charismatic indie darling, is another AEW signee to keep your eye on in this match.
It’s hard to say what AEW has planned for Brandon Cutler, an old friend of the Young Bucks since their backyard wrestling days, who has recently been featured prominently on Being the Elite. Kenny Omega’s old friend from DDT, however, Michael Nakazawa, can be more or less guaranteed to strip down to a thong. It’s part of his gimmick! It’s great. We can only hope that will lead to some ass-shenanigans with the Ass Man himself, AEW producer Billy Gunn, of Degeneration-X fame.
With up and coming high flyers Jungle Boy, Isiah Kassidy, and Marq Quen in the match, I have no doubts that we’ll get some high spots, even if they’re more than a little risky in an over-the-top battle royale. Viral hit and bilateral amputee Dustin Thomas got a lot of attention for his fantastic performance at Joey Janela’s Spring Break this year, so it’s cool to see him on such a big stage. Luchasaurus is a 7 foot tall dinosaur man formerly on Lucha Underground, WWE, and Big Brother. Glacier (yeah, the one from WCW), at 55 years old, is one of the oldest people on this card, but don’t count him out. I’m not sure what to expect from Jimmy Havoc, a mainstay of the international deathmatch scene, in an over the top battle royale. Maybe he’ll figure out a way to bleed a bunch anyways. Shawn Spears (the “Perfect Ten” Tye Dillinger in WWE up until recently), Major League Wrestling’s Brian Pillman Jr. (Brian Pillman‘s kid) and Ace Romero, and a guy named Sunny Daze, who I’ve never heard of before, round out the announced names.
That leaves four open slots. I will be shocked if two of them aren’t filled by Joey Ryan and Hangman Page (whose match with Pac was supposed to be the main event, but was canceled), two prominent members of the Being the Elite cast. My fingers are also crossed that tiny goth punk skater skeleton man Darby Allin will show up. He uses his skateboard in matches. He once lied to get on Sex Sent Me to the ER. He’s the best.
UPDATE: Another name has been announced and I could not be happier. Current IWTV Champion Orange Cassidy is beloved on the indie scene for his sweet shades, general disinterest in wrestling, general disinterest in doing anything, and keeping his hands in his (denim) pockets as much as he can. Technically he’s one of the most experienced and gifted wrestlers in this battle royale, but that won’t stop him from not trying, like, at all. Get ready to stan.
Prediction: Hangman Page wins.
Best Friends (Trent? & Chuck Taylor) vs Angélico & Jack Evans
Former AAA Tag Champions Angélico and Jack Evans are a showy, high-flying tag team capable of some pretty awesome stuff. Los Güeros del Cielo (as they’re known in Mexico) face the comparatively undecorated team of Chuck Taylor and Trent? If you know the Best Friends from their tenures in AIW, PWG, Ring of Honor or New Japan, you might be surprised to learn that Chuck and Trent got this match by threatening the well-being of Matt and Nick Jackson’s families. These aren’t nice boys anymore! They smoke cigarettes now and wear a ton of denim.
This is a first time matchup for these two teams, so it’s hard to know what to expect. If there’s a comedy match anywhere on this card, it will be this one. The only thing I know for sure is that Trent will be a contender for tan of the night.
Prediction: Best Friends win, possibly in an underhanded way. Trent’s tan will be INSANE.
Britt Baker vs Nyla Rose vs Kylie Rae
Kylie Rae and Nyla Rose first butted heads at the Double or Nothing press conference in February. Britt Baker, who joined AEW in the first round of signings, is a real-life dentist, and participated in the women’s match at All In, joins them in this threeway match. Expect power moves and aggression from “the Native Beast” Nyla Rose, athleticism and dentistry gags from Britt Baker. “Smiley Kylie” may be the least experienced of the three, but anyone who has seen her recent work knows that she’s a force to be reckoned with. (Hopefully she’ll be a force to be reckoned with who enters to the Pokémon theme song.)
Prediction: Britt Baker probably has this one. (I’ll still be cheering for Kylie Rae.)
Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki & Emi Sakura vs Hikaru Shida, Riho & Ryo Mizunami
Aja Kong is a legend who has been wrestling since the 1980s. Emi Sakura is also firmly in the veteran category. She’s been wrestling since the 1990s and trained 2/3rds of the opposing team. Their partner Yuka Sakazaki may seem like an odd person to team with, but don’t let her cute demeanor and super poppy entrance song (AYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY) fool you. She’s one of the best wrestlers in Tokyo Joshi Pro.
On the opposing side, you have Hikaru Shida, the only woman in this match who is actually on the AEW roster webpage. If you haven’t seen her before, you’re in for a treat. She’s a solid all-around talent. Her partner Riho may be tiny and covered in ruffles, but she’s quick. Finally, Ryo Mizunami rounds out the team with brute strength and striking skills.
Prediction: Hopefully this will be something of a starmaking match for Hikaru Shida, who has barely been seen at all by American audiences. That said, I have to go with Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki and Emi Sakura winning.
SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) vs Strong Hearts (CIMA, T-Hawke & El Lindaman)
This is one of those matches where someone challenges someone else because they respect them so much that they want to wrestle them about it. Admittedly, there are vets on both sides, but if you average out the ages on each team, you’ve got SCU at 42 and Strong Hearts at 31. T-Hawke and El Lindaman are young, agile, and tremendously talented. Led by CIMA, who has too many cool accomplishments and accolades to list, Strong Hearts is an intimidating force. It’s no wonder that SCU have been training hard (via montage) to get into good enough shape to beat them.
This should be a fun, competitive match. What I’m most looking forward to is seeing CIMA win over a crowd that will be going into the match firmly behind Being the Elite regulars SCU.
Prediction: SoCal Uncensored probably gets this one, as much as I’d like it to be Strong Hearts. I also predict some pretty powerful tans on Kazarian and CIMA.
Cody vs Dustin
If these last matches didn’t have enough drama and story for you, don’t worry. Cody vs Dustin is full on Biblical/Shakespearean/soap opera tragedy. Prince against prince! Brother against brother! For the future of wrestling! That’s what pro wrestling is all about. The official article/press release/blog post on the AEW website about this match quotes the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon. I’m not sure why, but it does let me know that this is serious stuff. People die in that book, after all.
Dustin Rhodes, who was Goldust in WWE until last year, has a lot to prove to an audience who knows him best as either a mid 90s vision of menacing gay sexuality or a guy doing his darndest to make being horny and gold feel less regressive. Cody, who by all accounts, really did receive all the love and attention from their father that his older brother was denied, is playing the heel here, promising not just to end his brother’s career, but to stamp out the very era that he stands for. Juicy! Meaty! Dramatic!
Prediction: Dustin wins. Come on! We all want to see that.
AAA Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson, champs) vs The Lucha Brothers (Penta El Zero M & Fénix)
The Young Bucks surprised the Lucha Brothers at AAA’s Rey de Reyes event in March and beat them for the titles that they had just won! Now Penta and Fénix are out for revenge, both for the championship and the bragging rights of who is really the best tag team in the world.
As much as I prefer the Young Bucks to wrestle as heels, who can be mad at this matchup? The two pairs of brothers have long since proven that they can work very well together. This is going to be pretty rad, and Matt Jackson is going to be so. fucking. orange.
Prediction: Lucha Brothers win. (Okay the Young Bucks will probably win, since this is their show and all, but I genuinely think it would be better storytelling if Penta and Fénix won!)
Kenny Omega vs Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho’s surprise appearance in New Japan to challenge Kenny Omega for the IWGP United States Championship at the end of 2017 was a huge milestone in Kenny Omega’s, and by extension, Being the Elite’s, journey to mainstream recognition. People loved that match, so they’re doing another one for AEW’s first official event. It makes sense, especially if they’re expecting an audience who didn’t watch Wrestle Kingdom 12. And if you didn’t watch Wrestle Kingdom 12, get ready to watch two dudes from Winnipeg with weird tans and questionable hair choices fuck each other up and pull out all the stops to be as entertaining as humanly possible. (I have my fingers crossed for the continuation of Jericho’s whole fedora clown deal.)
Prediction: Kenny Omega wins, has an absurd tan, probably some braids in his hair and an elaborately video game themed costume and entrance.