5 Talking Points From AEW Double or Nothing 2022

Credit: AEW

AEW Double or Nothing 2022 has finally come and gone and it did not disappoint. Indeed it was a solid show, and while it was perhaps not quite as consistent in terms of in-ring quality as Revolution, it still had plenty to offer—when the main criticism of a show is that it was perhaps too long, with too many matches, then it would be churlish to say that AEW didn’t deliver on the night.

Here are the top five talking points coming out of the big show:

1. CM Punk Is Your New AEW World Heavyweight Champion

Well, he actually did it! Part of me wondered if it might happen, but as you saw in my predictions, I plumped for Adam Page to win at Double or Nothing. Thinking about it, I thought they might try to elevate Page further, after a hit and miss title run, by having him beat someone of Punk’s stature. Punk did say he wanted to help the young talent, after all.

Whether you’re happy about Punk winning the belt or you think Page should have kept the title (me? I think they should have given Page until All Out and had Punk beat him then instead), you can’t really argue that Punk still has the star power to be a relevant and popular figurehead for the company. Would I have preferred a better build-up to the match? Sure. But a Punk run on top has got a lot of potential, especially if they pull the trigger and turn Punk heel (something he excels at, to be honest, and has already been teased with Page’s comments about protecting AEW from Punk and Punk’s comments about his relationship with the roster backstage).

The match itself was good but didn’t seem to hit main event-level excitement until the last five minutes or more. There seemed to be something missing, a little bit of a lack of chemistry between the pair. Actually, I think I preferred Page’s last PPV encounter when he beat Adam Cole at Revolution; that was certainly a better match from an in-ring point of view. Where Page and Punk get the edge is in terms of the story, setting up Page to be a victim of his own morals, refusing to clock Punk with the title belt when he had the opportunity, allowing Punk to steal the win.

If nothing else, this has made me want to tune in to Dynamite on Wednesday to see what happens next. Mission accomplished.

2. MJF Turns Up

It’s sad and almost feels a little trivial that this is one of the talking points coming out of Double or Nothing, but it became such a news item over the weekend that ultimately it has to be included.

MJF’s no-show of the fan fest on Saturday, the fact that he had been uncontactable for AEW higher-ups and that he had booked a plane out of Las Vegas has been well-documented, but further questions were raised on Sunday when, as it got closer to show time, MJF was said to not have arrived at the T-Mobile Arena. Would he show up or wouldn’t he? It created a genuine tension and frisson heading into the show that AEW certainly didn’t need but was grimly compelling to everyone else.

As it happened, MJF did turn up and put Wardlow over as planned, but that wasn’t the end of the story. The match itself went on first, a strange choice for such a big contest. Not only that, but the bout only went a bit over 7 minutes long and half of that was taken up by Wardlow’s Powerbomb Symphony. The rumour is that the match was supposed to go longer but was cut shorter once MJF got to the arena—whether that is true or not and whether that was down to MJF or down to Tony Khan is speculation at this point.

Intriguingly, MJF was stretchered out after the match, and it’s being rumoured that he will be taken off the road for at least a few weeks, either as punishment or as an opportunity to resolve the problem between MJF and the company. According to Sean Ross Sapp, MJF told him that he turned up just before the show started and left shortly after his match and that he has a lot of thinking to do. Double or Nothing? Let’s see what this all achieves for MJF.

3. AEW Brings Forth More Debuts

It’s well known now how expanded the AEW roster is compared to this time 12-18 months ago. While that has raised concerns that AEW is reaching peak-WWE levels of roster bloat, an argument that could be backed up by the fact that Double or Nothing was a thirteen-match, four and a half-hour show that tried to fit as much talent on as it could, at the same time, if Tony Khan is trying to build up the roster with the aim that a good chunk of that roster is going to move over to ROH once firm plans are put in place for that promotion, then the new signings make a lot more sense. The bigger question is what you do with all that talent to keep them hot until ROH properly relaunches, but the constant expansion of the AEW roster makes sense if the idea is to stock ROH when the time comes.

Double or Nothing did not feature any earth-shattering debuts in the way last year’s All Out did, but it did make some pretty shrewd introductions. Perhaps the most notable was the appearance of Athena, the former Ember Moon, who confronted Jade Cargill after her victory over Anna Jay. Athena is much respected by both her peers and the fans and is most certainly a talented performer; alongside the likes of Thunder Rosa, Serena Deeb, Britt Baker, Jamie Hayter, Ruby Soho and Toni Storm, as well as the aforementioned Cargill, the addition of Athena to AEW’s women’s division only strengthens a roster that has been criticised in the past for being weak.

There was also the appearance of a couple of new managers, one being Stokely Hathaway, the former Malcolm Bivens, and more intriguingly, former ROH World Heavyweight Champion RUSH to manage Andrade El Idolo. Now, should RUSH decide to wrestle as well as manage, he might be a fine addition to help lead the newly Khan-owned ROH, considering his past history with the company. That’s certainly something I could get behind.

4. Shit Really Did Hit The Fan With ‘Anarchy In The Arena’—And It Was Brilliant!

Perhaps one of the best matches of the night was also one of the wildest. I really didn’t know what to expect from Anarchy in the Arena but I suspected it might have been a bit of a clusterf**k. Thank god I was wrong because this was perhaps one of AEW’s most fun and batshit crazy hardcore-type matches in the company’s history to date. You know a match is going to be good when the ring announcer introduces it by saying that “shit is about to hit the fan”!

Partway through, Tony Schivone made a comparison to the infamous Tupelo Concession Stand brawl in Memphis, and I get where he was coming from. This wasn’t a well-choreographed spot fest, this was a wild tangle of fists, blood and anything goes, and it was all the better for it. The highlights are too numerous to list but I will draw special attention to Santana and Ortiz’s creative ways at people through tables, the bulldog viciousness with which Daniel Garcia rained fists down on Eddie Kingston before dragging the ‘Mad King’ along the floor by a belt around his neck, Chris Jericho smashing the soundboard to get them to turn off ‘Wild Thing’ after one and a half plays of the tune, and Jake Hager urgently running across the ring to push Moxley off the apron and through a barbed wire board laid on a table!

But it was perhaps Eddie Kingston and Bryan Danielson who stole the match. Near the end, Eddie emerged from the back and—wow! He looked like a cross between a car crash victim and a zombie extra from The Walking Dead, stumbling as he did down to the ring with his eyes rolled back, covered in blood and carrying a gas can. It was a terrifying image and one that has been memed several times in the intervening hours. That Kingston tried to set Jericho on fire, only to be stopped by Danielson, was shocking. Danielson then passing out after landing several KILLER kicks on Jericho, after being trapped in a Liontamer by Jericho whilst Hager choked him out with a loose ring rope was also shocking.

Match of the night? Quite possibly.

5. Was The Show Too Long?

This point has been debated across social media, with some fans appreciating the length considering it was a major show, Tony Khan in the post-show media scrum claiming it was a good commercial move, and a lot of fans claiming fatigue from sitting through a four and a half-hour show, not forgetting an hour-long buy-in show before it.

In all honesty, this is just an example of a much larger argument about the length of major wrestling shows which has been running for a while now: how long should a wrestling show be? This topic of debate has led to the likes of WWE and NJPW spreading their marquee shows, WrestleMania and Wrestle Kingdom respectively, across two nights although, if the most recent ‘Mania is anything to go off, WWE are just using the opportunity to present two four-hour shows, rather than one event across two reasonably timed instalments.

For my tastes, the sweet spot for wrestling PPV’s is three hours: not too long, not too short either. Obviously, this is subjective and your mileage will vary, but ultimately does the length of a show affect whether I would rate a show as a good or bad one? Unless it was ridiculously long or short, then no, it won’t. It might impact my ability to watch shows live as they happen though, especially with being in the UK.

Written by Chris Flackett

Wrestling obsessed since '91. Lived through the Monday Night Wars and is still here to tell the tale. Major fan of Strong Style, technical and Super Jr. Wrestling, as well as big versatile hosses smacking the hell out of each other. Lives in Manchester, England.

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