AEW All Out 2020: Predictions & Analysis

It’s been a while since we’ve had one of these, but it’s time for AEW’s next Pay-Per-View! I’ll admit, with all the hype surrounding NXT Takeover, Summerslam & Payback, I’ve let my AEW viewing fall short somewhat. However, I dedicated this past week to catching up on the past month & a half of Dynamite, and I’ve got to say, I’m really enjoying the shows they’re putting out. Almost every week, there’s at least one match that feels like a big deal, and I can’t say that about Raw or Smackdown these days. Even NXT seems to be cramming its weekly shows with more and more filler (the past couple of weeks not included).

Regardless, there are nine matches on this show, and I’m going to predict them, because if I don’t do it, then you will? You know…other than any wrestling fan with any kind of minor online presence. If you saw my predictions for Double or Nothing, earlier this year, you’ll know that I got almost every match wrong, let’s see if I’ve learnt anything since then.

Britt Baker vs Big Swole
(Tooth & Nail Match)

Britt Baker’s injury was certainly unfortunate, but I’ll be damned if she hasn’t turned it into one hell of a positive for her character. It’s allowed her to play a properly slimy heel that can never seem to get her comeuppance because she’s hurt. Sort of like what MJF has been doing, but in a different way. Baker has been using it to take shot after shot at anyone she feels like dissing, and no-one can seem to do anything about it. Which is why I think there’s going to be some serious shenanigans at play during this Tooth & Nail match. Looking towards Big Swole, for one thing, that’s a dumb name, I don’t care what you say, but when it comes to her wrestling, she’s definitely got ‘future star’ written all over her. At the moment she’s not much more than a no-nonsense babyface who wants to kick people’s arses, and that works for her. It might not work forever, but that’s a problem for future Homer.

I’m curious as to what the Tooth & Nail stipulation entails. On Dynamite, it was implied that this is going to take place at Baker’s dentist surgery, and Tony Khan confirmed a few days ago that it would be a cinematic match, so honestly, anything could happen. Given that Big Swole picked the stipulation though, it seems an odd choice to give Baker the home-field advantage, but whatever.

I’m struggling to pick the winner though. Big Swole should definitely be being built up as a star, but I don’t think it’s going to be her time for a good 6-8 months or so. Meanwhile, Britt Baker is a ready-made opponent for Hikaru Shida already (spoilers), so provided she’s healthy, I don’t see any reason to delay that feud. Plus, as much as she’s been promoted as one of the spearheads of AEW’s women’s division, Baker isn’t a point yet where she can take innumerable losses and not suffer, she still needs big wins. So that’s why I think Britt Baker is coming away victorious in this one.

Casino Battle Royale

So, normally in big multi-man matches like this, I run down the possible candidates that I think could win the thing, but realistically, I think there are only two in this one.

I’m of two minds with AEW’s strategy for running a bunch of number 1 contender matches on their PPVs. It’s an excellent opportunity to give someone the spotlight who might not have received it otherwise, and I like that it gives the world title scene a constant sense of direction. However, I’m not sure a bunch of one-and-done title shots are doing much to elevate the contenders. I don’t know about you, but Brian Cage’s match against Moxley didn’t really do much to elevate him in my eyes. However, it’s a fun battle royal, and I like fun battle royals.

So, the two people I could see winning this thing (other than a surprise entrant) are Lance Archer & Darby Allin, and to be honest with you, which one I think is going to win mostly depends on the result of the main event. Lance Archer would be a great next challenger for Moxley, they’ve got recent history from their time in New Japan Pro Wrestling, and I would be down for a really brutal feud. Meanwhile, Darby Allin would be the perfect first opponent for MJF. From a character perspective, they’re perfect foils for one another, they’ve got in-ring styles that should mesh amazingly, and it would be a great showcase that AEW is willing to invest in its future with young stars.

Other factors that have played into my decision to pick Darby Allin as the winner though. For one thing, Allin’s been on the brink of breaking through for ages now, and they’ve got to do something with him before the fans stop giving a shit. Also, Lance Archer has plenty of options without needing to go after the world title. I would sure as hell like to see Archer vs Cage, even if it was heel vs heel.

The Dark Order vs Matt Cardon, Scorpio Sky & The Natural Nightmares

That TNT title sure has been going strong, hasn’t it? I still think the belt looks a bit boring, even with it’s improved look, but that doesn’t matter, because the booking team have been treating it very prestigiously. A series of open challenges is an excellent way to get me interested in any title/champion, and the run Cody had with the title was fantastic. Then, to have Brodie Lee come along and absolutely eviscerate Cody was the perfect next step. For one thing, Cody is easily one of the most sympathetic babyfaces out there, for another thing, it reestablishes Lee as a massive threat following his high-profile loss to Moxley. Not to mention, it’s given The Dark Order the credibility it’s been lacking, meaning I’m now a hell of a lot more interested in what they’re doing than I was before.

Given how close Lee winning the title has been to All Out, I don’t mind there not being any kind of title match on this PPV, because his presence around The Dark Order should be enough, especially if there’s an angle going down. As for the faces, I couldn’t care less. I’m happy to see that Cardona is making waves after leaving WWE, but unless he’s going to be a permanent fixture on AEW TV, then I’m not going to bother getting invested. I like Scorpio Sky, but this is not how I want to see him being used, he should be having high-profile singles feuds with anyone and everyone. I like Dustin, no complaints there, and QT Marshall is alright, but I haven’t really found a reason to like him yet.

Regardless, The Dark Order are winning this one, in fact, this is by far the predictions I’m the most confident about. They’re riding a huge wave momentum right now, and it’s way too early to hand them any significant losses. Combine that with the fact that the faces aren’t in a position to be hurt by taking a beating here, The Dark Order should absolutely wipe the floor with them.

Jurassic Express vs The Young Bucks

Yes, this is a match with nothing on the line, no build and is pretty much just ‘for the hell of it’, but it’s going to be excellent.

I’ve got very little to say about this match, other than that I’m really looking forward to it. Jurassic Express have been on fire ever since AEW began, and The Young Bucks have always been able to go with the best. The only there is to discuss is who I think is going to win. I think it would be nice for Jurassic Express to take it, but The Young Bucks have been jobbing themselves out like crazy since AEW began. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy they’re not going the exact opposite way and overbearing the whole show, but they’ve got to win big matches sometimes.

So I’m going with The Young Bucks, but really, I’m going to invoke the ‘we, the fans, win’ cliche in regards to this match.

Matt Hardy vs Sammy Guevara
(Broken Rules)
(If Matt Hardy loses, he must leave AEW)

I don’t know why this pairing works so well, but I’ve been enjoying this feud a great deal since it began. Sammy’s sign schtick has been wearing a bit thin, but it worked for this feud and allowed for some cool moments. Not to mention, it made great use of the picture-in-picture aspect of the ad breaks. Their matches have been killer too, after recent events, Sammy was always going to have to earn his way back into a prominent role in AEW, and I think his matches with Hardy have done just that.

Apparently, a ‘Broken Rules’ match just means a Last Man Standing match, which admittedly, does take away from my hype for the match somewhat. I honestly can’t remember the last Last Man Standing match I actually enjoyed, but I do think it’s the logical progression given where they’ve gone with the feud so far. If nothing else, I think it’ll serve the story perfectly, even if the action suffers as a result.

If the ‘Matt leaves AEW’ stipulation wasn’t on the match, I’d pick Sammy Guevara without a second thought, but that’s really thrown things into the air. It’s entirely possible that Matt Hardy could be going away for a little while, many on the internet have already theorized that he’ll just come back under a different gimmick. The only problem there is that AEW has already acknowledged Matt’s multiple gimmicks to be the same guy, so I don’t think the logic would hold. Ultimately, I’d prefer to Sammy win this one, but as it stands, I’m going for the safe pick, Matt Hardy.

Chris Jericho vs Orange Cassidy
(Mimosa Mayhem)

This match is going to be an absolute blast.

The in-ring action probably won’t be world-class, but in terms of pure entertainment value, this could easily be the most enjoyable match of the show. Jericho has proved time and time again that he’s one of the best comedic wrestlers when he wants to be, and Orange Cassidy is an absolute master of comedic timing in wrestling matches. Will it be over-the-top and a bit stupid? Probably, yes. Will that make it incredibly fun to watch? Hell yeah.

This feud as a whole has been really entertaining too. I love how dedicated AEW has been to getting Cassidy over as a real main-eventer, even despite his highly comedic persona. Jim Cornette and his screaming piss-babies will be forever crying about how comedic wrestling is the work of the devil and is ‘killing the business’, but it’s time to leave them behind and embrace the entertainment value of a guy like Cassidy for what it is.

The interesting thing about picking a winner is how the stipulation of the match is actually going to work. The way I see it, there is absolutely no way that Cassidy is going in the vat of mimosa. His character is one that can bounce back from any beating you give him, but humiliating him like that is insanely damaging to his persona. However, the match can also be won by pinfall or submission, so it’s entirely possible that Jericho could win the match via pinfall, only for Cassidy to push Jericho into the mimosa after the match to get the last laugh. Ultimately, I think that if Jericho’s going into the mimosa regardless, you might as well give Orange Cassidy as big of a boost as possible by giving him the win.

Hikaru Shida(c) vs Thunder Rosa
(AEW Women’s Championship)

AEW really need to get their shit together when it comes to the women’s division because this match has not been hyped or built nearly as much as it should. Shida is the kind of wrestler that you can build a division around, with her running strong at the top, and yet she’s barely on TV, and even when she is, it’s almost never in the ring. The treatment of the women’s division has been AEW’s biggest problem since the company began last year, and it’s incredibly frustrating to see that they’re not learning their lessons.

However, the one thing they do at least do well, is that they give the matches plenty of time on the shows, which is why I’m still very excited about this match. I don’t know a lot about Thunder Rosa, but what I’ve seen of her, I really like. As much as AEW hasn’t been pushing her personality properly, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve got of it so far, and I think she’ll click really well with Shida in the ring. I just think AEW has been leaning too heavily on Rosa’s status as the NWA Women’s Champion to sell her to the audience when really, that should be secondary to her character.

Now, I don’t know anything about what AEW’s agreement is with the NWA, but I don’t think AEW would be willing to put their women’s title on someone who isn’t under contract with them. It’s certainly not unheard of, but I’m pretty confident in my belief that Hikaru Shida is going to retain.

Kenny Omega & Hangman Page(c) vs FTR
(AEW World Tag Team Championships)

I didn’t think anything from this year could top Omega & Page vs Young Bucks, but if any team can do it…it’s FTR.

The build for this one has been excellent. I don’t like how absent Omega has been from a lot of it, but it’s a case where the story works fine without him; in fact, you could argue it shrouds the dynamic between him & Page in even more mystery. Everything Page has been doing all year has been great, and it finally feels like things are coming to a head. FTR has been masterful heels, manipulating Page to get him to screw over The Young Bucks and cause a rift between him & Omega, while not being so overbearing that they can have deniability about the whole thing.

I mean, come on, you don’t need me to tell you that this match is going to be amazing. FTR were one-half of one of my favourite tag team matches of all time (vs #DIY at NXT Takeover: Toronto), and Omega & Page were one half of the other of my favourite tag team matches of all time (vs The Young Bucks at AEW Revolution). With guys who can go in the ring like these and a story as hot as this one, I’m expecting a match of the year candidate.

Funnily enough, I think the outcome is fairly obvious. FTR are coming away with the titles. There’s definitely still a route for the story to go if Omega & Page retain, but I don’t think it’s the right way to go. We all know that FTR vs Young Bucks is where we’re headed, and while you can argue that match doesn’t need the titles, it should absolutely still have them involved. Tully Blanchard said it himself, if you haven’t got the titles, how can you truly say that you’re the best?

Jon Moxley(c) vs MJF
(AEW World Championship)

This is a real toughie. The thing is, this is the moment that MJF’s AEW career has been leading towards ever since he first showed up. There’s no way he isn’t going to hold the AEW Championship at some point in the next year or two. The thing is, is it actually going to happen now?

The feud has been great. MJF is the epitome of a clever heel. He knows that Moxley’s attitude is ‘fight first, talk later’ so he’s taken every opportunity to prevent Moxley from resorting to violence. The whole campaign to ban the Paradigm Shift has been a wonderful satire of the political landscape, without diving too deep to feel like a straight-up parody. Moxley’s bounced off it perfectly too. I adored his performance in the contract signing, where he just sat there and let MJF shoot his mouth off for ages, his facial reactions, the little comments he’d make were terrific. I honestly think Moxley could do very well for himself as an actor if he really wanted to.

I’m interested to see what direction the match will take. MJF can absolutely go in the ring – just watch his match against Jungle Boy at Double or Nothing if you don’t believe me – so they could wrestle a largely technical match. MJF touched on the idea that he was going to do everything in his power to keep Moxley from taking the match out of the ring, so I think there could be a great story to be told with Moxley wrestling a technical style in the ring. Alternatively, this could be a huge story-based match, with lots of excitement, big spots and interferences. I think either way would be equally as entertaining, provided they’re done well.

I’ve got to pick a winner though, and I honestly don’t know. As I said, MJF is getting his hands on that title eventually, I’m just not sure if now is the right time or not. It’s one of those situations where I’d be happy with either result, I’d love to see Moxley continue the absolute tear he’s been on as of late, but MJF at the top of the mountain would make for some incredible TV. It’s a tough call, but I’m going to go for MJF. I don’t know why. It was just my gut feeling.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you think is going to happen tonight, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo! Finally, make sure to come back this time next week, where I’ll be running down my favourite tracks from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise!

9 Best Title Reigns That Followed a Money in the Bank Cash-In

A few weeks ago, I discussed the worst of what the Money in the Bank briefcase had to offer us, today we do the opposite.

The Money in the Bank briefcase is often seen in WWE as something that could potentially make someone’s career, giving them their long-awaited big break. As we discussed last time, that isn’t always the case, but these people are the ones who succeeded to at least some small degree. These are the people who ultimately benefited from having used the briefcase to their advantage, rather than becoming little more than a footnote with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it title reign.

9 – CM Punk – 2009
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: Extreme Rules 2009
Won Title From: Jeff Hardy
Days As Champion: 42
Lost Title At: Night of Champions 2009
Lost Title To: Jeff Hardy
World Titles Since: 4

After the indisputable failure that was his first world title reign, WWE gave themselves a do-over a year later when Punk won the briefcase for the second time. This reign went better in just about every conceivable way.

Punk started out strong, coming out victorious in a triple threat match on Raw a week later, retaining the title over both former champions, Edge & Jeff Hardy. His next title defence was at The Bash against Jeff Hardy, and that one didn’t go as well. Although Punk did retain, it was via disqualification when he attacked the referee. As is always the case when these things happen in WWE, a rematch was booked for the next Pay-Per-View, where Hardy would regain the championship from Punk in a really good match.

By this point in the list, you may have noticed a pretty consistent pattern with the bottom-half entries, which is that the new champion only gets a month or two with the title before dropping it back to the exact same person they’d won the title from in the first place. This is because WWE often likes to use the Money in the Bank cash-in as nothing but an extra hurdle for a babyface to overcome once they finally think they’re in the clear. Or even worse, sometimes it will simply be used as something for the current champion to do for the next few months while they wait for the next major Pay-Per-View to roll around.

That said, this title reign did actually have a pretty big upside for Punk. For one thing, he would quickly win the championship back from Hardy, but more importantly, he struck upon his “straight-edge saviour” persona. This was a persona that allowed Punk to showcase his incredible promo ability on a week to week basis and can be widely credited for a lot of the great success he’d see later on in his career.

As much as the statistics aren’t anything overly impressive in this instance, looking towards the long-game is where this title reign really earns some positive points.

8 – Dean Ambrose – 2016
(WWE Championship)

Cashed In At: Money in the Bank 2016
Won Title From: Seth Rollins
Days As Champion: 84
Lost Title At: Backlash 2016
Lost Title To: AJ Styles
World Titles Since: 0

The case for Ambrose’s spot on this list is actually the exact opposite to what I discussed in the previous entry. As it’s what happened during the title reign itself that elevated this entry’s position.

Winning the briefcase at Money in the Bank 2016, Ambrose would cash-in that very same night on long-term rival Seth Rollins after he had just won the championship from Roman Reigns. This created the wonderfully poetic moment of all three former members of The Shield holding the WWE Championship on the same night. Immediately following Ambrose’s title win, the focus on WWE shifted towards the newly established brand split. Ambrose’s first title defence took place a week before the draft, and it ended in a draw when both men’s shoulders were down for a three count, the rematch took place the next week and, after being drafted to Smackdown, Ambrose put Rollins way with a clean victory.

A few weeks later at Battleground, Ambrose once again defended his title in the fabled “Shield Triple Threat” match as all three former members of The Shield faced off for the first and only time ever. It was a great match (even if it didn’t quite live up to some people’s expectations) and Ambrose came away with the win, taking the championship over onto the newly established Smackdown roster.

His first feud on the blue brand was against Dolph Ziggler in a forgotten feud for a forgotten Summerslam. Ambrose came away with a clean victory, but the match wasn’t good, and the memory of it quickly faded. Backlash was up next for the champion and this time it would be AJ Styles stepping up to the plate after having just gotten a clean victory over John Cena to end their feud. Against all odds, AJ Styles, a man who had only joined WWE earlier that year and was known across the wrestling world as “Mr TNA” would succeed in claiming the WWE Championship for his own after kicking Ambrose square in the balls.

Ambrose spent the rest of 2016 chasing after Styles to get the title back, but was unsuccessful and eventually found himself winning the Intercontinental Championship to close out the year instead. While on-paper, Ambrose was treated relatively well as champion, on a week to week basis he was treated more as a comedy character than anything else. WWE had always leaned a bit too hard to the “unhinged” aspects of Ambrose’s character and not in a good way. As it stands, he still rises up to the top half of this list purely by virtue of being treated like a credible wrestler who can win matches. However, he would never see world title success again in his WWE career, eventually leaving for the greener pastures of AEW, where he currently reigns as a much more successful world champion.

7 – Edge – 2007
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: Smackdown 11th May 2007
Won Title From: The Undertaker
Days As Champion: 70
Vacated title At: Smackdown 17th July 2007
World Titles Since: 8

Much like CM Punk, it turned out that the second time around was the winning one.

Once again staying true to his “ultimate opportunist” moniker, Edge cashed-in his briefcase on The Undertaker after he had just won a Steel Cage match with Batista and was attacked by Mark Henry, winning the title with ease. Edge would immediately enter a feud with Batista that would last for several months; however, Edge would come out victorious at every turn. The methods of which included a roll-up at Judgement Day; just beating Batista to the ground in a Steel Cage match at One Night Stand and finally, getting Batista counted out at Night of Champions.

Next up for Edge was Kane, who was announced as the number 1 contender and had a match scheduled for The Great American Bash. Sadly, that match would never take place as Edge legitimately tore his left pectoral muscle on an episode of Smackdown and was forced to take several months off to have surgery.

Although he had to relinquish the title after only a short time with the title, the reign held a series of victories for Edge that consistently made him look like a guy deserving of being on top as a heel and it left a lasting impression on his career after that. By the end of 2007, Edge would be back in the ring and would claim the World Heavyweight Championship once again, which led him to him getting a main-event match against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 24.

As much as the title reign itself could be argued to be a bit naff, it can’t be denied that Edge was always in a main-event position for the remainder of his career following it. While this cash-in and title run was just one factor in a laundry list of reasons as to why Edge was put into that “top guy” position, I think it’s clear that this was a landmark turning point for the future legend.

6 – Carmella – 2017
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Cashed In At: Smackdown 10th April 2018
Won Title From: Charlotte Flair
Days As Champion: 131
Lost Title At: Summerslam 2018
Lost Title To: Charlotte Flair
World Titles Since: 0

When Carmella won the first-ever Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match, everyone was a little bit confused. Carmella was a decent wrestler at the time, but she didn’t feel like someone who would hang with the top of the women’s division. However, that is what Money in the Bank is supposed to be about: elevating someone who hasn’t had their chance in the main event yet. So we waited…and waited…and waited. It took almost a full year, but Carmella did eventually cash-in her briefcase on Charlotte Flair, just after she had been attacked by The IIconics.

The reign itself is a bit of a hard one to judge. This is because, while the match quality was often lacking, it wasn’t always Carmella’s fault. A lot of the things fans had a problem with, such as James Ellsworth constantly interfering, is down to the booking. Booking that, it must be said, did a pretty decent job of getting heat onto Carmella. It wasn’t all good heel heat, of course, there was an amount of “go away” heat in there as well but, I think a lot of the character work she did during this time was excellent and let her show her skills more than she’d been able to up until then (including her run in NXT).

Looking to the nuts and bolts of it, Carmella got herself a relatively clean win over former champions Charlotte Flair at Backlash, winning via a roll-up. She then entered a feud with Asuka that was…terrible. As I said, Carmella’s character work was enjoyable, however, the matches were awful and were a clear statement following Asuka’s Wrestlemania 34 loss that she wasn’t someone the company had any interest in investing in. This feud went on for several months.

Once it was over, we were on the road to Summerslam, and Becky Lynch had been gaining a ridiculous amount of popularity over the past 6 months. A title match was set for Summerslam between the two; however, Charlotte Flair would eventually muscle her way in and make it a triple threat. During this match, Charlotte would take advantage of Lynch and pin her to win the title, meaning Carmella didn’t get pinned but lost the title anyway. This is what would eventually spark Becky Lynch to become the single hottest property in the entire industry for the next year or so, but that, unfortunately, meant that there was never any room for Carmella to reclaim her spot.

Instead, Carmella entered the mixed-match challenge and partnered with R-Truth to eventually win the tournament. Unfortunately, this saw no title success for her, as she spent the next year or so being Truth’s back up as he ran around the country, playing out whacky antics with the 24/7 Championship. In recent months, Carmella has been teased to challenge for the Smackdown Women’s Championship once or twice but is yet to actually get her shot.

While it clearly hasn’t done many favours for Carmella in the long-run, the title reign itself saw her being treated as a credible heel, who wasn’t afraid to resort to underhanded tactics. While it might not have felt like all that great of a reign at the time, looking back with the power of hindsight, I think it was a rather entertaining role for Carmella to fill. I just hope she has a chance to fill it again sometime soon.

5 – The Miz – 2010
(WWE Championship)

Cashed In At: Raw 22nd November 2010
Won Title From: Randy Orton
Days As Champion: 160
Lost Title At: Extreme Rules 2011
Lost Title To: John Cena
World Titles Since: 0

While today, The Miz is a widely respected member of the WWE roster, that wasn’t exactly the case when he won the WWE Championship at the tail end of 2010. The look of utter fury on that little girl’s face was a surprisingly accurate analogy for the wrestling fanbase’s reaction to the title change at the time. However, sitting here almost a decade later with all the power of hindsight in the world, I think it was ok.

Just one week after winning the title, The Miz was forced to defend the belt in a TLC match against Jerry Lawler of all people. He won, which was good, but he very nearly didn’t. Jerry Lawler was genuinely just an arm’s reach away from becoming WWE Champion until Michael Cole interfered in the match and prevented Lawler from winning. Not the best of looks for the new champion.

As it so happened, immediately following this was the TLC Pay-Per-View in which Randy Orton got his rematch for the title in a Tables Match. While he was on the back-foot for the majority of the match, the finish got to make him look like a cunning and intelligent heel. While the referee was knocked down, he took a broken table (initially broken when Alex Riley was sent through it) and placed Orton on top of it to convince the referee he had put him through the table. This was brilliant as it was frustrating for the audience in just the right way and didn’t quite feel like WWE just throwing away yet another Pay-Per-View match…but that isn’t actually where things ended. Instead, WWE decided to make The Miz seem like the world’s biggest moron when the referee discovered Miz’s deception after he watched the replay that played on the arena’s ‘tron.

These kinds of flukey retentions were the running theme throughout Miz’s championship reign, as almost every win came thanks to some form of interference. He beat Orton again at the Royal Rumble…after CM Punk interfered and he battled Jerry Lawler for a second time at the Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View. It looked like he had lost again, only for the decision to be reversed after it was revealed Miz got his foot on the rope during the pinfall.

His greatest humiliation was yet to come, however, as his Wrestlemania main event against none other than John Cena was on the horizon. The match itself was fine, but no-one actually remembers the bulk of the match. Instead, what we all remember was the absolute clusterfuck of a finish. Initially, the match – which, let me remind you, was the main event of Wrestlemania – ended in a draw when Cena clotheslined Miz over the barrier and neither man could make it back to the ring before the 10-count (this move legitimately gave The Miz a concussion as well). It wasn’t over though. The Rock, who was hosting the show, came out and demanded that the match be restarted, so it was. Unfortunately, Miz’s aforementioned concussion meant that very little of substance was possible. However, it was all undermined anyway, when The Rock came down to the ring, hit the Rock Bottom on John Cena and gave Miz the pin to retain the title.

After becoming the least important person in his Wrestlemania main-event victory, the writing was on the wall for Miz’s reign, and sure enough, just one month later, John Cena would take the title from The Miz clean as a whistle.

Despite not looking like all that dominant of a champion, there are plenty of things that rule in The Miz’s favour. For one thing, the pure number of days he held the title is more than most on this list, and he did get actual wins over his opponent; even if they were thanks to outside interference.

The most significant point in his favour, though is what has happened to him since. Although he’s never won another world title, he has taken the wealth of knowledge and experience he’s gained over the years to become a legitimate star in WWE and beyond. He’s seen reasonable success on the silver screen with several high-profile film roles, became one of the best talkers in the company today and is arguably the single most consistent and reliable wrestler WWE currently has under their belt.

4 – Daniel Bryan – 2011
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: TLC 2011
Won Title From: Big Show
Days As Champion: 105
Lost Title At: Wrestlemania 28
Lost Title To: Sheamus
World Titles Since: 4

In 2011, Daniel Bryan was far from what we would know him as just two years later, but that doesn’t mean he was any less amazing of a performer. He had captured the hearts of the audience right out of the gate, appearing in NXT and sticking it to his “mentor” The Miz. This popularity continued well into 2011, and he was rewarded with Smackdown’s Money in the Bank briefcase. Bryan had promised his friend and then World Heavyweight Champion Big Show that he wouldn’t sneakily cash-in on him while he was vulnerable, but if you need me to tell you what happened next, you must be new to wrestling.

Sure as the sun rising each day, Daniel Bryan took advantage of a weakened Big Show following a successful title defence with Mark Henry and became the World Heavyweight Champion, cue a massive celebration from both the fans and Bryan himself, who milked the moment for everything it was worth. Although Big Show attempted to remain true to their friendship, Bryan’s arrogance got the better of him, and he quickly found himself facing challengers on all sides; all of whom were significantly larger than him.

This is where the critical difference between Bryan’s and Miz’s reigns come in. Many of Bryan’s title retentions indeed came through interference or other forms of misdeeds, but in these cases, the story was written in the right way so that these non-finishes were compelling, rather than cheap. Situations arose where Bryan would spot the perfect way out and do everything in his power to make it happen. For example, during his first title defence against Big Show, Bryan did everything he could to provoke Mark Henry into attacking him, thus retaining the title via disqualification.

Bryan developed this aura around his character of being the weaseliest little weasel you could possibly imagine. He looked beatable all the time but still managed to come away looking relatively favourable after he finds yet another ingenious way to worm his way out of losing the belt. I daresay that with most other wrestlers this wouldn’t have worked (in fact, I can point to numerous examples over history of exactly that). Still, there was just something about Bryan’s portrayal of his characters that meant everything just…worked. Even losing the title in 18 seconds at Wrestlemania 28, while absolutely infuriating, somehow made perfect sense for his character. Oh, plus he also got a title defence in the Elimination Chamber where he actually came out of it looking pretty strong and competent as a champion; novel concept, I know.

Daniel Bryan’s career following this reign speaks for itself. While 2012 was pretty rocky for him, 2013 was where he became an undeniable megastar in WWE. He became the single most popular wrestler on the planet. SO popular that WWE was forced to have him win the world title in the main event of Wrestlemania 30 to ensure that the entire building wouldn’t boo the show into oblivion (a lesson they unlearned a couple of years later, but hey-ho).

I’ve praised Daniel Bryan almost too much on this blog in the past. However, it’s title reigns like this one that prove that he is one of the most versatile wrestlers on the planet and can slip seamlessly into almost any role he needs to fulfil, while still being able to whip great matches out of the bag whenever he wants.

3 – Kane – 2010
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: Money in the Bank 2010
Won Title From: Rey Mysterio
Days As Champion: 154
Lost Title At: TLC 2010
Lost Title To: Edge
World Titles Since: 0

Despite most people coming to love the big red machine in the years following his 1997 debut, Kane actually saw very little success in regards to world titles during this period. Despite being involved continuously in high-profile feuds throughout his entire career in the late 90s and early 00s, Kane’s world championship achievements amount to little more than 24 hours at WWF Champion in the summer of 1998. It seemed the further his career progressed, the less likely it was that he’d ever have the world title run that many fans believed he deserved.

Then came Money in the Bank 2010. There was already a lot of intrigue surrounding Kane going into this match. It was revealed that he had found his kayfabe brother, The Undertaker, in a “vegetative state” just a month earlier (in reality, Undertaker had to take a few months off to deal with an injury). Kane was on the hunt for whoever was responsible. Luckily for him though, he had the spare time on a Sunday to take a break from this hunt and win a briefcase. It seemed like there could be some interesting things on the horizon for Kane. It all came to a head sooner than anyone expected. Less than an hour after he had won the briefcase, Kane appeared following Mysterio’s successful title defence over Jack Swagger and dispatched of him in short order to become champion.

Kane’s run went surprisingly well pretty much the entire run. Things kicked off with Kane retaining cleanly over Rey Mysterio at Summerslam until, surprise! Turns out it was actually Kane that attacked The Undertaker and now he’s seeking revenge. This took the form of a No Holds Barred match at Night of Champions, which to everyone’s surprise, Kane won clean as a whistle, reversing a Tombstone Piledriver from The Undertaker into one of his own and getting the pin.

After wallowing in self-pity for a little bit, The Undertaker decided it was time to return to 1997, as he brought back Paul Bearer to assist him in conquering his brother. The match came at Hell in a Cell, and Paul Bearer decided it really was 1997, as he turned on The Undertaker to hand the win to Kane. This lead to the natural climax of their feud, a Buried Alive match at Bragging Rights where, to everyone’s surprise, Kane retained once again over his brother. Although it is worth mentioning that this win was a less impressive look for Kane, as it only happened thanks to The Nexus attacking The Undertaker at the climax of the match.

After all that was over, the time came for Kane’s title reign to draw to a close in a pretty weird feud with Edge. In a twist not many expected, Kane turned face after Edge kidnapped Paul Bearer and taunted Kane about it every single week. Edge would then win the title from Kane in a TLC match at TLC, and that would be it.

On its own, you could argue that this title reign may be worthy of the top spot on this list, but the problems for Kane come with what happened after he lost the title. Looking back now, this title reign really was the ‘last hurrah’ for Kane as a singles competitor. He lost a rematch to Edge in January and spent Wrestlemania 28 squashing in The Corre in under two minutes in a match that not one person in the area cared about. Including the wrestlers.

Kane then regained his mask in yet another storyline no-one had much interest in, and he just floundered around the lower midcard until teaming up with Daniel Bryan. Even though their pairing was compelling and led them to them winning the tag titles, it wasn’t much more than a midcard novelty in the long-run. Then Kane joined in with The Authority and slowly faded into obscurity from there.

Last hurrah or not, Kane’s run with the World Heavyweight Championship was still a great one that saw him take on the role of a dominant and robust heel, putting away high calibre opponents month in and month out.

2 – Bayley – 2019
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Cashed In At: Money in the Bank 2019
Won Title From: Charlotte Flair
Days As Champion: 140
Lost Title At: Hell in a Cell 2019
Lost Title To: Charlotte Flair
World Titles Since: 1

Another same-night cash-in here and one of the most recent on this list, 2019 is when Bayley really grasped her full potential on the main roster, and she has Money in the Bank to thank for that.

Winning it in rather frantic fashion, following Charlotte reclaiming the Smackdown Women’s Championship from Becky Lynch, Bayley immediately got to work doing what she does best with the title, which is wrestling and winning. Bayley’s first test with the title was Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross, where she would face the pair of them in a handicap match at Stomping Grounds (where we kick ass and take names, didn’t you know?) and put on a solid – if not as good as expected – match against Ember Moon at Summerslam.

Then, following these strong wins, Bayley teamed up with a freshly returned Sasha Banks to turn heel and attack both Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair every week. Suddenly, the somewhat stagnant Bayley face character had new life breathed into it as Bayley went all-in on the persona. She tore down everything she used to represent and built up a brand new character that has been so much more entertaining than anything she’s done since her days in NXT.

Here’s where things may get a bit controversial because following this heel turn. Bayley lost the title back to Charlotte Flair. Which seems like it should land her down in the lower half of this list, losing her title suddenly and unexpectedly to the same person she won it from, BUT, I’d argue the circumstances with Bayley are different because of what happened following this reign.

For one thing, Bayley would get the title back just 8 nights later, which is always lovely and since then, she’s been on an absolute tear. Her heel persona has only grown in both scope and complexity, with the reignition of her legendary feud with Sasha Banks seemingly just around the corner. She’s had solid wins against the likes of Charlotte, Naomi & Lacey Evans and I think her title reign still has a long way to go

Of course, this begs the question, why didn’t I give Randy Orton the same credit given that he did something very similar? To which the answer is that I think the circumstances are quite different. Orton was already set-in-stone when it came to his WWE career, the extra months he had after winning the title back did little to bolster his career or revolutionise his character. Now, look back to Bayley and you realise just how much the Money in the Bank cash-in has done for her. I still liked Bayley’s face character, but it was undeniably stale, and audiences had totally tired of it. What she’s done since turning heel has totally turned that around, I’m incredibly interested in what she’s doing on a week-to-week basis because of what this title reign did for her. So that’s why I’m letting that bolster Bayely’s position here and not Orton’s in the previous list.

1 – Seth Rollins – 2014
(WWE World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: Wrestlemania 31
Won Title From: Brock Lesnar
Days As Champion: 220
Vacated Title On: 4th November 2015
World Titles Since: 3

When The Shield broke up in May of 2014, everyone knew that within a year, at least one of these guys would be a world champion. Ambrose could talk with the best of them, Roman had everything WWE wanted from a ‘face of the company’, and Rollins had all the natural in-ring talent in the world. Being the man who betrayed his brothers, Seth Rollins was the focal point of WWE TV in a big way throughout most of the year following the break-up of The Shield. Being groomed by The Authority as ‘The Future of WWE’, that nickname was cemented when Rollins retrieved the Money in the Bank briefcase a month later.

As Wrestlemania 31 rolled around and Roman Reigns looked to be closing in on his first world championship, it seemed pretty clear that Rollins would cash-in sometime in the spring after WWE have tested the waters with Roman as champion. Then, it happened. The single greatest Money in the Bank cash-in to ever take place (and my personal favourite moment in WWE history) took place as Rollins interrupted the main event of Wrestlemania, cashed-in his briefcase and ran away with the title.

What we saw over the remainder of 2015 was the making of a career-long top star in WWE. The booking of Rollins could be a little lacking at times, but for the majority of his title run, I believe WWE struck a stable balance of Rollins getting solid wins over credible stars, while still feeling like a beatable champion that would only ever just squeak away with his title in tow.

Things started out with The Authority in-fighting, and at Extreme Rules, Rollins retained over Randy Orton when Kane got in the ring and attacked just about everybody in sight; distracting Orton long enough for Rollins to hit an RKO and escape the cage to retain. Moving into Payback, we saw more of what we were hoping to see with The Shield members as singles competitors, where Rollins defended his title in a Fatal 4 Way against Orton, Reigns and Ambrose. Once again, Rollins retained thanks to well-timed interferences by other members of The Authority and pinned Orton once more.

Next up with Elimination Chamber and Rollins’ re-ignited feud with Dean Ambrose, which is where Rollins was made to look a bit weaker than I would’ve liked. In the absolute height of Dusty finishes, Ambrose actually pinned Rollins, and it seemed like he had won the WWE Championship. However, earlier in the match Rollins had pulled the referee in the way of an Elbow Drop from Ambrose, causing them to collide, so the decision was reversed, so Rollins actually won by disqualification, thus retaining the title. Then, during their ladder-based rematch at Money in the Bank, Rollins retained the title by accident as he and Ambrose both unhooked the title at the same time only for them both to fall to the ground and Ambrose to lose his grip on it, making Seth the winner.

Battleground was next, which brought with it Rollins’ lowest moment as champion when the previously suspended Brock Lesnar was reinstated and got his rematch for Rollins’ title. Rollins spent 90% of the match being tossed around like a piece of meat by Lesnar, and he didn’t even get to finish the match as things ended when The Undertaker appeared to attack Lesnar, making Rollins vanish in the process.

Luckily for Rollins, he would go from his lowest low to his highest high over the late summer when he entered a feud with John Cena. For a start, nearly every match the pair had was a great one, the first of which took place at Summerslam where Cena would put his United States Championship on the line against Rollins’ title. Although the fact that former host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart, cost Cena the title isn’t the greatest of looks for Rollins, he came away from it as a double champion, and it did wonders for his heelish swagger.

Rollins would then have to defend both his titles on the same night at Night of Champions. He lost his US title back to John Cena before defeating Sting in a match that will forever be marred by Sting’s genuinely terrifying injury. However, a clean win is a clean win. Rollins’ last title defence came at Hell in a Cell, where former Authority member Kane (now in demon form) challenged Rollins for the title. The match was boring, but Rollins did at least win the match clean as a whistle.

Rollins was then set to defend the title against Roman Reigns at Survivor Series where, if the dirt sheets are to be believed, Rollins was going to lose the championship. Unfortunately, we never got to find out as at the start of November where at a house show in Dublin, Ireland, Rollins landed awkwardly off of a Sunset Flip and his leg basically imploded, tearing his MCL, ACL and Meniscus. Rollins would be forced to vacate the title and wouldn’t be back on WWE TV until May 2016.

On its own, this title reign was a genuinely great one, but when you consider the ridiculous levels of success Rollins has had since then, there’s no way this could be anything other than the number 1 entry. When Rollins returned to TV, he immediately beat Roman Reigns to regain the WWE Championship (even if it was just for a few minutes thanks to Ambrose’s cash-in, which we talked about earlier). He won his feud with Triple H at Wrestlemania 33, floundered for a bit throughout 2017, but came back strong in 2018, spending the majority of the year having fantastic matches at every Pay-Per-View, defending his Intercontinental Championship.

This culminated in 2019, where Rollins became world champion once again, beating Brock Lesnar to become Universal Champion, not once, but twice before losing it to The Fiend. Rollins has since become a heel again and has taken his character in a new direction that is just as good as, if not better than, his original heel run.

One thing that is for sure though is that Rollins will be a main eventer in WWE for the rest of his career, and he had Money in the Bank to thank for that.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you thought of these title reigns, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back here this time on Wednesday, for the next part in my 100 Favourite Games series!

AEW Double or Nothing 2020: Predictions & Analysis

That’s right! I’m finally covering one of these shows.

In truth, I’ve been trying to watch more of AEW ever since the start of the year, but going into Revolution in February, I didn’t feel like I knew enough about many of the characters and the storylines going in. So I decided not to make predictions as I’d lack anything worthwhile to say. However, since Wrestlemania season I’ve dived back in and have done my best to follow the goings-on with Dynamite every week. Today I’m going to see how much I’ve learnt as I predict the outcomes for every match on Double or Nothing.

Private Party vs Best Friends
(#1 Contender’s Match for the AEW Tag Team Championship)
(Buy-In)

After making waves in the early days of AEW, it feels like Private Party have cooled down a lot since then. They got their upset victory over the Young Bucks in the tag team title tournament (which was great), but since then I can’t quite pick out anything particularly special that they’ve done. Best Friends, on the other hand, have seen themselves treated to quite the prominent role on a week-to-week basis, mostly thanks to their affiliation with Orange Cassidy.

Naturally, this match is almost certainly going to rock. I’ve always loved tag team wrestling, and AEW has really made a point of letting their tag teams run absolutely free and do incredible things. Even though this is on the pre-show, I don’t think that will lessen its quality in the slightest. I’m expecting lots of fun, fast-paced action and one or two hundred over-the-top dives that make the whole thing an absolute blast to watch.

As for a winner, I’m kind of torn. On the one hand, Private Party has felt like they’re just one match away from breaking through as a permanent fixture of the AEW tag team division and a match against Omega & Page would absolutely be that match for them, win or lose. Then you look at Best Friends and realise that if they’re not going to be challenging for the titles, then what else is there for them to do? With the Dark Order out of action for the foreseeable future, there really isn’t anything else for them to be involved with other than being Orange Cassidy’s backup. It’s a tough call, but I’m going to go with Private Party as I think they have more to gain from a match against the champions.

Dustin Rhodes vs Shawn Spears

Spears is a slightly curious case in AEW, as I’m not entirely sure what his role his compared to all the other wrestlers in the company. He came in with a head of steam and had a tremendous high-profile feud with Cody which he, unfortunately, came out on the losing end of, but he’s not really done much of note in the 6-8 months since then. The thing with Tully Blanchard looking to bring someone else into their faction seemed to have promise, but the pandemic killed those plans dead, and Spears has just been largely forgotten about since then. Lance Archer coming in and taking his spot as a top monster heel didn’t help things either.

Then we have Dustin Rhodes, who is putting arguably the best pure-wrestling work of his career right now. He has a clearly defined role in the company and does it very well. He’s a wrestler with a decent amount of credibility thanks to his longevity and has been consistently using it to help make new stars. Do I think these two will be able to put on a good match? Probably yes, although I doubt it’s going to be a match that we’re all shouting about come Sunday morning.

The winner of this one is a pretty easy pick for me. I don’t see any reason Shawn Spears shouldn’t win. He’s just come off of yet another loss to Cody in the TNT Championship tournament, and it’s not like Dustin has anything to gain from a win here. I just hope AEW can find a proper place on the card for Spears soon. Otherwise, things are going to start to look very similar to his time in WWE.

Britt Baker vs Kris Statlander

I’ll be honest, I don’t quite ‘get’ Kris Statlander yet. The whole alien thing is going a bit over my head at the moment, I don’t really see much difference in her performance or behaviour than any other woman. It feels like it needs to be more noticeably ‘out there’ to actually work; something along the lines of what Velveteen Dream is doing. In addition, I’ve yet to see her put on a match that puts her in line with the rest of the AEW Women’s Division. So hopefully, this will be that match.

Britt Baker meanwhile, has absolutely hit her stride in recent months. In the build-up to AEW’s debut show, it seemed like Baker was going to be the woman they pushed to the top right out of the gate, but instead, they held back and found something interesting to do with her character first. The role model idea is a great one to run with and fist in perfectly with her existing elements as a dentist. I know people are drawing parallels in Bayley’s current character in WWE. However, I think Baker has taken it in a very different direction, focusing more on being a brutal heel, rather than a schoolyard bully, which is what Bayley is doing.

Thankfully, I think this is a much easier pick than the previous match as I have very little doubt that Brit Baker is walking away victorious on this one. Statlander already had her title shot at Revolution, and I don’t see her getting a rematch anytime soon. Regardless of that, AEW has clearly decided that now is the time to get behind Baker as a dominant force in the women’s division.

MJF vs Jungle Boy

MJF is just the best. He’s everything that WWE likes to think Baron Corbin is. He’s smarmy, he’s a jerk, he’s in your face and can draw genuine heel heat from just about any situation. His performance is incredible, and the way he’s grown that bravado since beating Cody is absolute perfection. Jungle Boy and the Jurassic Express are also some great characters. Admittedly, I haven’t been quite as behind them as everyone else seems to be, but I still enjoy any and all of their matches.

I’m going to cut right to the chase here, MJF is winning this thing, no question. Jungle Boy is great, and I’m sure there’s a future in AEW for him someday, but MJF is the hot property in the men’s division right now, and nothing is going to stop him. The match will probably be a good one, I can see Jungle Boy getting the advantage with some quick action early on, only for MJF to try and recalculate and slow things down. There will almost certainly be some form of collision between Luchasaurus and Wardlow, and I have no doubt MJF will do something underhanded to get the win.

I don’t know how far a match with the champion is in MJF’s future, but I can almost guarantee that it’s some point before the end of the year. So this is the perfect place to continue to build him up.

Darby Allin vs Colt Cabana vs Orange Cassidy vs Rey Fenix vs Scorpio Sky vs Kip Sabian vs Frankie Kazarian vs Luchasaurus vs ???
(Casino Ladder Match)
(Winner gets an AEW World Championship Match in the future)

I’m starting to feel like WWE have hoarded all of the worthwhile gimmick match ideas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this will still be an entertaining match, mostly due to the people involved, but the format seems somewhat convoluted. It puts me in mind of when WCW would come up with over-complicated gimmick matches just for the sake of it.

This one’s sort of a Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank hybrid, where competitors have to climb a ladder to retrieve a casino chip which grants them a future opportunity at the AEW World title. The catch is that only two people start in the ring at once, with more competitors entering as the match goes on. Which means that it’s technically possible that one of the first two people could win the match before the other competitors even get a chance to enter…which seems dumb to me.

Still, it’s a multi-man gimmick match, so let’s run through each participant’s chances.

Colt Cabana – While I know that he’s a guy who’s been around forever in the indie scene, I don’t actually know all that much about Colt Cabana. I’m not as well versed on indie wrestling as I should be and Cabana is one of those names that I’ve heard all over the place, but never actually seen all that much of. Since coming to AEW, he’s not done all that much of note, he can undoubtedly wrestle in serious situations when needed, but he seems to be more of a comedy guy than anything else. It doesn’t seem like AEW have any interest in building him up to the main event, so I don’t think he’ll be winning this one.

Kip Sabian – Sabian is a guy will all the potential in the world right now, but I don’t think AEW are looking to capitalise on that potential just yet. The main event scene in AEW is one that’s very crowded with all the factions and top guys being signed from all over, and it doesn’t feel like Sabian has a place amongst them at this time. He’s not had enough high-profile wins over guys on his level yet to be considered for a title shot if you ask me, so I think he’ll come up short on Saturday.

Luchasaurus – As I mentioned earlier with Jungle Boy, I’m enjoying the gimmick of the Jurassic Express, even if they seem a bit too gimmicky for my liking. Luchasaurus is by far the standout of the group though, and I think he’s got all the makings of a mega-star given the right circumstances. Much the same as with Kip Sabian though, I don’t see him getting into the main event any time this year. It’s for the same reason too, it’s a really crowded scene, and I don’t see a place for some like Lucharsaurus until some more room has been made at the top.

Rey Fenix – Another competitor I sadly know very little about, unfortunately. I really enjoyed the lengthy feud that The Lucha Brothers had with The Young Bucks last year, but there was very little in there to do with character and almost entirely to do with how many flips they could do. As such, I’m unfamiliar with Fenix as a singles wrestler and don’t have much reason to expect him to win. The only justification I could think of for Fenix winning this is because of how The Lucha Brothers aren’t doing anything right now. I don’t know if that’s because Pentagon can’t travel thanks to the pandemic or just booking, but it’s still the fact of the matter.

Scorpio Sky & Frankie Kazarian – Lumping these two together because they’re a part of the same faction and this is the time that I have to confess…I don’t really care for SCU very much. Don’t get me wrong, as wrestlers they’re great, and Scorpio Sky has all the potential in the world to be AEW’s top guy in a couple of years. However, their gimmick goes right over my head. I watched their segments on Being The Elite, and while the joke was funny at first it got old really fast, and now it just seems like they’re holding onto it for no real reason other than it pops a crowd. I think it’s possible that Sky could win this, but I don’t think it’s likely.

Orange Cassidy – I know that saying this could get me in a lot of hot water with Jim Cornette and the fun police, but I really like Orange Cassidy. His style of comedy wrestling is something that I’ve never seen before, and it’s absolutely fantastic. Not only that, but he’s proven in matches like his Revolution bout with Pac that he can definitely make it work in a dramatic and ‘proper’ wrestling match. Do I think he’s got the AEW title in his future? I’d say the jury’s still out on that one, but I certainly think he’ll be getting a title shot at some point over the next few years. As for Saturday, I don’t see it happening. Cassidy getting a title shot would only work with a heel champion and (spoilers) I don’t think we’re going to have one of those for a while yet.

??? – AEW has decided to keep us in the dark as to who the final participant in the match could be, which means they have a pretty damn good chance of winning the thing. As for who it could be, I honestly have no idea. The 90-day no-compete on the recently release WWE wrestlers is still active, so it can’t be any of them. I’ve seen a few people throw around Sting as a potential candidate, which I guess is possible, but quite the stretch. I think MJF or even Wardlow is reasonably likely, especially if MJF vs Jungle Boy goes on earlier in the night, which it probably will. What I think is most likely though, is that it will be one of AEW’s younger stars that haven’t quite gotten the spotlight they should’ve yet…or Sammy Guevara, that’s a possibility too. I can’t really give you a reliable name as to who I think this will be, but I think their chances of walking away victorious are quite high.

Darby Allin – It’s gotta be Darby, right? Ever since he had his match against Cody at Fight for the Fallen last year, Darby Allin has been waiting to breakthrough as a main event star. I had him pegged as one of the top contenders for the TNT Championship, but this is a good substitute. He’s got everything AEW needs in a top guy. He’s young, he’s athletic, he’s got a definite character and the crowd love him. A match against Moxley would be a perfect way to raise his stock to that of a main-eventer in the company, even though I don’t think he has a chance in hell of winning the title during that match. Much like with Private Party, I think there’s the most to be gained from Allin winning this thing, so he’s my pick.

The Inner Circle vs Matt Hardy & The Elite
(Stadium Stampede)

Again, what’s a Stadium Stampede match? Who knows? Who cares? I’m sure it’ll be fun, though. Given that Matt Hardy’s involved, I imagine it’ll involve a lot of pre-taped and ‘cinematic’ stuff like that of what we’ve seen from WWE recently. Although I think they’re probably going to mix it in with standard wrestling stuff too, around the stadium and such like.

Speaking of Matt Hardy, I’ve loved his work since joining AEW. I know a lot of people wanted him to be The Exalted One, but I much prefer the way things have turned out. The star of this feud has undoubtedly been Jericho though. His promos that he’s cut against Hardy, The Elite and Vanguard One, in particular, have been amazing. They’ve been comedic in just the right way so that it doesn’t take away from the intensity of the match being promoted. Hardy’s gimmick is an inherently ridiculous one, so trying to play to it entirely straight would never have worked, and it’s clear Jericho understood that and helped to create an enjoyable and unique build.

I’m quite torn on a winner though. On the one hand, this is Matt Hardy’s PPV debut, and Omega & Page are the tag champs, so they probably shouldn’t be losing a big match like this. On the other hand, The Inner Circle have been loosing A LOT recently. Guevara has lost just about every high-profile match he’s been in since joining the faction, Hager is coming off of a loss against Moxley, as is Jericho. I’m going to go with The Inner Circle. I think a single match between Hardy and Jericho could easily be built from this match. Meanwhile, Omega & Page are going to be defending their tag titles in what will undoubtedly be a fantastic match, so I don’t think they have much to fear from taking a loss here.

Nyla Rose(c) vs Hikaru Shida
(AEW Women’s Championship)
(No Holds Barred)

If I had to level one major criticism against AEW in its debut year, it would be the handling of its women’s championship. While I love Riho as a wrestler, the fact that she was barely ever on TV while the champion was a catastrophic move that severely harmed my interest in the title. Even though the few title defences she had were generally great matches. Thankfully, since resting on Nyla Rose’s shoulders, the belt has seen a lot more prominence week-to-week, but not as much as it should have.

It’s evident here, as there’s minimal story behind this title match. Hikaru Shida got the title shot purely because she’s been winning a decent amount as of late and that’s really it. I know several of the men’s title feuds have started because of that, but with the men’s division, they make match early on in the build cycle and then form a story around it. Instead, this title match was only made official last week, and realistically, there’s only been one week of build between the two women. I have a vague idea of both of their characters – I know who I should cheer and who I should boo – but I don’t know why. I have no concept of any character motivations other than “X wants the championship”.

I’m also not entirely sure what the match is going to be like. I know that both Rose and Shida are good wrestlers, but I’ve yet to actually see a performance from either of them that makes me sit-up and put them on the level with the best women’s wrestlers in the world. Hopefully, this will be the match that convinces me, though.

I’m pretty confident in picking Nyla Rose to win this one. She’s been at the forefront of the women’s division even before she was champion and given how relatively short of a time she’s been champion so far, I don’t see AEW taking the title off of her just yet. In addition, I think the best way to build the women’s championship up as a title to one that people care about is to give Rose a long and prestigious reign, where she has a whole bunch of strong and entertaining title defences.

Cody vs Lance Archer
(TNT Championship)

Not counting the two men who have been AEW World Champion so far, I think Cody has easily been the best member of the AEW roster for this initial year. I know there’s some criticism to be had about him pushing himself so hard when he plays a large part in the booking of the shows, but I don’t mind at all because he absolutely justifies his high position on the card with every high-profile match he has. Cody’s stories are almost always the most well-written on any given show, and they always lead to some standout matches. I don’t think this match is an exception to that statement either.

The entire tournament for the brand new TNT Championship has been fantastic. Week after week there were great matches as the tournament progressed and it means that this new title already has a whole heap of prestige going into the match to crown the inaugural champion. It was also paced very well so that we knew finals a few weeks out from the show and there was time to build some story and tension between Cody and Archer too. Jake Robert’s initial promo to Cody where he claimed he was just coming for Cody’s slice of the pie was amazing, and the chemistry he’s had with Archer had been fantastic.

Roberts was always a great heel promo, but he’s proven over the past month that he hasn’t lost a step. He says horrible and uncomfortable things, and it works so perfectly to confer all of that heat onto Archer, who has been a total monster every time he’s stepped in the ring. This is one of the things AEW has been very good at because I had absolutely no idea who Lance Archer was before he signed with AEW, but in the space of a month and a half, I’m totally invested in him as a wrestler.

What I know for sure here is that Lance Archer needs to win this match and have a totally dominant reign with the TNT Championship. Not only will with make the title an extremely prestigious prize for whoever is challenging him, but it will cement Archer as an unstoppable force in the company. If this title reign goes well for Archer, I could absolutely see him claiming the world title for his own before 2021 is finished.

Jon Moxley(c) vs Brodie Lee
(AEW World Championship)

What a difference a year makes…

I don’t think many people would disagree with me when I said that, since leaving WWE, Moxley has been one of the hottest wrestlers on the planet. Going on a tear in New Japan Pro Wrestling and winning their US title was just the first step in Moxley reinventing himself to show everyone that what they saw of him in WWE was just a taster for the amazing stuff he can really do when he’s let loose. He came into AEW with a head of steam and put on a great match with Kenny Omega at Full Gear and has flourished creatively, showing every interesting facet of his character. I thought the match where he won the title from Jericho at Revolution was brilliant and has kicked off a title reign that has so far been really enjoyable.

Brodie Lee is a very similar story, although since he only left WWE very recently, we’re yet to see the full potential of what he can really do. His character work since revealing himself as The Dark Order’s Exalted One has been really enjoyable. The skits that were definitely not poking fun at Vince McMahon (wink, nudge) were fun and didn’t overstay their welcome either. Once it was time for Lee to get down to business and build a story with Moxley, he did a great job of it. It can be hard for heels to seem credible in the face of Moxley’s heated attitude, but Lee decided to formulate a character that is almost the perfect opposite of Moxley. He’s calm, collected and authoritarian, every word he says is dripping with this inherent heelish hypocrisy that just boils my blood and makes me want to see Moxley get his hands of him.

I really think this is going to be the match of the night and maybe even a match of the year contender for AEW. Moxley has already proven himself as a top-level wrestler, and we’ve seen enough glimpses of what Lee can really do during his WWE run that I have all the faith in the world that he’s going to put on a stellar performance here. While I think it’s possible they could hot-shot the belt over to Brodie Lee, I think keeping it on Jon Moxley is the right call for now. He’s only just won the title, and I don’t think it would be overly exciting TV if we went straight back to a heel faction on top of the company. Brodie Lee should look fantastic in defeat here, and he will absolutely come away from the match looking like a credible top heel for AEW, even if he loses.

So there you have it! Those are my predictions for AEW Double or Nothing. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, please let me know what you think will happen, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back this time on Sunday, where I’ll be giving you my review of the show!