With the return of live crowds to pro wrestling events still down the road at some yet to be determined future date, it’s been a time of adaptation for both promotions and fans. One thing the two top U.S. companies have done is to experiment more with less conventional matches, one of which closed the show at AEW Double or Nothing on Saturday night in Jacksonville.
Though the rest of the card was contested in fairly conventional fashion — and definitely aided by the presence of wrestlers without matches serving as a de facto audience, complete with the same cheers and chants you’d expect from AEW fans — the evening ended with a Stadium Stampede Match pitting Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle against The Elite and ally “Broken” Matt Hardy. Equal parts wrestling match, sporting event, action-comedy and pure spectacle, it was a wild ride that entertained throughout while also serving as a fitting escalation of a feud that’s been brewing since AEW first started.
Contested in the home stadium of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, the Stadium Stampede was ostensible a five-on-five falls count anywhere bout. It ended up featuring very little wrestling, which hardly ended up mattering because of the efforts of all involved.
The Inner Circle leaned into the football theme as hard as possible, coming out in football uniforms. The Jaguars cheerleaders and band were on hand as well, along with plenty of smoke and fire for the entrances. Hangman Adam Page did not come out when announced, but Kenny Omega was confident his tag team partner would arrive.
From the opening bell, it was immediate chaos, with all nine men brawling in front of the ring set up at the 50-yard line. A mask-wearing Page finally arrived riding a horse, causing Sammy Guevara to run in fear into the bowels of the stadium. “That’s a nice looking horse,” said Jim Ross, something unlikely to ever have been uttered on any prior wrestling pay-per-view.
The Young Bucks faced off with Santana and Ortiz between the ropes, and one by one, the other wrestlers all entered the fray. Guevara jogged over to ringside, knocking one of the Jacksons down with a knee but missing a shooting star press on Hardy. The Spanish God took move after move from The Elite, but Jericho saved him from a V Trigger that might have ended the proceedings. Several wrestlers took flight to the outside, with Guevara coming really close to a shooting star press that hit no one. That would have hurt a lot.
Both Jacksons got hurled into one of the goalposts as the brawls began splintering off in different directions. Backing up an earlier promise, Matt Jackson got a ladder and climbed onto the crossbar of the goalpost, hitting a moonsault that got his team a two count.
Elsewhere, Omega and Hardy battled with Santana and Ortiz up into the stands. Hager followed, but Page was still riding under the stadium searching for either Guevara or a beer. Trash cans and barricades came into play up on the concourse, and Omega got hit in the face with salt and then powerbombed through a barricade.
Hardy tried to come to the rescue but ended up in a pool, where he cycled through his different personalities every time he got submerged. In the end it was “Broken” Matt who emerged, smashing Santana and Ortiz through a table and duct taping the latter into a wheelchair. For good measure, Hardy also trapped Santana inside an ice machine.
The scene shifted back to Hager, who found Page at the bar in the club level — drinking, naturally. His spine may be a little worse for wear after Hager slammed him onto a pool table, then slid him face first down the bar as seen in many a movie bar fight for decades. Hager put Page through a table with a gutwrench powerbomb and covered, but Page kicked out at two.
Omega joined his partner in the bar, where bottles were smashed over heads and Page sent Hager over the bar with a Buckshot Lariat. While they celebrated with milk and whiskey, there actually were people back on the field, where the Bucks were tangling with Jericho and Guevara. The highlights included Jaxson the Jaguars mascot taking the Judas Effect, Jericho getting superkicked into the punters practice net, and Matt Jackson completing 100 yards of Northern Lights Suplexes on Guevara.
Jericho tried to pin Nick and challenged the call when Aubrey Edwards said it was only a two count (the call stood upon review). At the same time, Matt was flagged for excessive celebration after spiking Guevara in the end zone. Nick ran down the steps and leapt from the stands to smash Jericho through a table, and Page staggered out with the line marker and went “right down the crotch” over Le Champion.
Guevara was awoken by the sprinkler system, but turned to see Hardy and Omega running him down with a golf cart (again). He headed high into the stands to escape, but was distracted by a new drone, Neo 1. Softening Guevara up with a V Trigger, Omega decided to hurl Sammy down through a wooden platform a long way below, pinning him to finally bring this very unique main event to a close. All that was left was a Gatorade shower for the winners and fireworks behind the united-for-now Elite.
The Stadium Stampede was the kind of showcase that probably is best used sparingly, and undoubtedly there were some wrestling purists who felt it wasn’t for them. Still, it’s hard to imagine anyone saying the talent involved didn’t go all out in the name of entertainment, and in the end, that’s all we can really ask from this unique sport, especially at this particular moment in time.
The next AEW pay-per-view is All Out on Sept. 5, 2020.
AEW Double or Nothing 2020 — Full Results
Before we get to the action, there’s a tribute to both first responders during the pandemic and the late Shad Gaspard. Looks like we’re starting with the ladder match, but not before we hear from some of the competitors. Even Orange Cassidy, who wants to know if he can just put one foot on a bench to get whatever’s hanging above the ring.
Casino Ladder Match for Future AEW Championship Title Match
This is going to be too nuts to recap move for move, so I’ll stick to the highlights. Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky are the first two men in, and they do compete against each other before they’re joined by Kip Sabian — who also has Jimmy Havoc’s aid since there are no disqualifications. Darby Allin does not disappoint, going for a skateboard-enhanced drop from a ladder on the outside, except he crashes and burns when Kazarian moves. A confused Cassidy stops to ask the announcers how to win the match before entering, then seems totally perplexed by the whole ladder thing. The mystery man turns out to be Brian Cage, who enters last and is accompanied to the stage by Taz. The powerhouse wreaks havoc until everyone else joins forces, burying him under a pile of barricades and chairs, topped with one of the oversized prop casino chips. That isn’t the last we see of Cage, though, as he rises to survive a showdown with Luchasaurus and is literally the last man standing to be able to climb and grab the chip. Taz promises his new client is going to keep dropping bodies.
Winner: Brian Cage
Match Rating: 8/10
MJF (w/ Wardlow) vs. Jungle Boy
If you just want to watch two of the most promising young talents in the business for 20 minutes or so, this one’s for you. MJF fakes an injury early in the match to use as an advantage, but he takes a very real and dangerous bump later when Jungle Boy executes an inverted hurricanrana that crashes the back of his head into the edge of the apron. That fortunately turns out not to be an actual injury, and MJF survives a few close calls to score a clean pinfall. Both men figure to benefit from a closely contested bout like this one, though it does make sense for MJF to get the victory and keep moving forward.
Winner by pinfall: MJF
Match Rating: 8/10
Mike Tyson with the TNT championship title, won by Cody.
Lance Archer (w/ Jake “The Snake” Roberts) vs. Cody (w/ Arn Anderson) – AEW TNT Championship Match
Special guest Mike Tyson is on hand to award the belt, and he appears pretty amused by the spectacle in front of him. It gets off to the worst possible start for Cody, who has to roll out of the ring after absorbing a blackout right after the bell rings, but he gradually gets his legs under him and starts getting in some offense. The momentum swings back toward the Murderhawk Monster until Cody locks a submission on Archer using his own hair. A DDT delivered right in front of Roberts sure seems like a message, too. The response is appropriate, with Archer dropping Cody with a spinebuster and jawing with AA. Cody gets in tributes to darn near everyone, including Dusty and Sting, but Archer manages to slow his onslaught with the EBD Claw, slamming his opponent’s head into the match. Both Anderson and Roberts get ejected from ringside, and while Jake tries to return with his snake bag, Tyson takes off his shirt and flexes his own pythons to make him think better of it. Archer looks for a second Blackout, but Cody reverses it into a pair of Cross Rhodes, covering to become the first ever TNT Champion.
Winner … and inaugural AEW TNT Champion: Cody Rhodes by pinfall
Match Rating: 7.5/10
Dr. Michael Samson provides a medical update on Baker, who will announce her timetable for her return on Dynamite.
Penelope Ford (w/ Kip Sabian) vs. “The Galaxy’s Greatest Alien” Kris Statlander
Sabian is comically taped up after his experience in the show-opening ladder match. This would have been a lot more compelling if Baker was competing, but Ford getting a chance to move up the rankings isn’t the worst thing in the world. Statlander wins, however, probably putting her in position to get the next women’s title shot.
Winner: Kris Statlander by pinfall
Match Rating: 6/10
“The Chairman” Shawn Spears vs. Dustin Rhodes
Since Spears is in a suit, he must believe Dustin Rhodes is not going to actually show up. Jim Ross says no one has seen Dustin all day, and even though Dustin’s music hits, it’s just Spears messing with everyone. Spears tells Aubrey Edwards to count Dustin out, but his music plays for a second time, Brandi Rhodes walks out of the tunnel, and The Natural is in the ring behind him. We’re going to have a match here after all. Spears ends up in his dress socks, stirrups, and boxer briefs with a picture of Tully Blanchard in the groin. Um … OK. Dustin wins, so I guess he isn’t retired.
Winner: Dustin Rhodes by pinfall
Match Rating: 4/10 (with possible bonus points if you enjoyed Spears’ comedy)
Excalibur gives a short tribute to Hana Kimura, pleading with people to be a little nicer to each other. Amen to that.
Hikaru Shida (challenger) vs. Nyla Rose (champion) – AEW Women’s Championship, No Disqualifications, No Countout Match
Rose enters the ring with Shida’s trademark kendo stick, but the first foreign object that comes into play comes when Shida gets thrown through a poker table out in the crowd. Rose goes to town with a couple of steel chairs, then throws her challenger back into the ring. Shida rallies on the outside, smashing Rose into one of the upright poker chips and sending her toppling over. Some kendo stick work and a running knee earn Shida two near falls before a powerslam leaves both women on the mat. A powerbomb through a table in the corner seems like it could be the end for Shida, but she kicks out at two. All that gets her is a Death Valley Driver and more kendo stick shots, and Rose decides to climb to the top turnbuckle. Shida chucks the kendo stick at the champ and climbs to join her, delivering an avalanche-style Falcon Arrow. Rose kicks out of that and a running knee, and now it might be anyone’s game. After a shot to the head that breaks the kendo stick, Shida strikes with another running knee and ends Rose’s title reign.
Winner … and new AEW Women’s Champion: Hikaru Shida by pinfall
Match Rating: 8/10
“The Exalted One” Mr. Brodie Lee (challenger) vs. Jon Moxley (champion) – AEW Championship Match
It’s not too often you see the challenger come to the ring with a belt he’s fighting to try to win, but here we are. Lee insists on being announced as the champ, and there’s a line of masked security guards keeping the two men separated during the intros. Moxley charges at his foe and gets caught with a series of chops. Lee misses his charge into the opposite corner and gets caught with a tope suicida, but he recovers quickly and suplexes Mox on the floor. Even though this wasn’t announced as a no DQ match, the ref lets the wrestlers battle it out on the outside, where Lee suplexes Moxley into one of the barriers. Back in the ring, cops and forearm shots are traded, and Mox connects with a scoop piledriver for two. Out on the floor again, both men go for dropkicks at the same time, with Moxley taking the worst of it. Lee has an idea of suplexing the champ off the stairs through a table, but he ends up taking a flight instead, with his body shattering the table and his legs nailing the top of the barricade. The Exalted One has better luck between the ropes, hitting a superplex, and he throws Mox into part of the set with a release German suplex when they go back outside. A big boot sets up a sitout powerbomb by Lee, which leaves him shouting “no” when Moxley kicks out. With hardly anywhere else to fight, they head up to the ramp, where Moxley uses a Paradigm Shift from the steps to take Lee through the ramp itself. A bloodied Lee stumbles back into the ring for another Paradigm Shift, kicks out, then does it again even after Mox hammers him with elbows (and maybe his teeth) in his cut. Undeterred, Moxley grabs Lee with a rear naked choke until the ref has to call it off.
Winner … and still AEW Champion: Jon Moxley by submission
Match Rating: 9/10
Inner Circle vs. The Elite and Matt Hardy – Stadium Stampede Match
Winners: The Elite and Matt Hardy by pinfall
Match Rating: 10/10
Total Event Rating: 8/10