All Elite Wrestling Welcomes Capacity Crowd Back for ‘Double or Nothing’
There is nothing like an electric crowd participating in the shared experience of watching a pro wrestling show. That was clearly evident at All Elite Wrestling’s Double or Nothing, which saw thousands pack Daily’s Place in Jacksonville. It was the first big pay-per-view the company has welcomed a capacity crowd in more than a year.
The covered, open-air amphitheater served as the regular venue for AEW television since the pandemic took hold in 2020. With CDC guidelines adjusting and more restrictions lifting, their weekly programming including Dynamite on TNT is hitting the road once more this summer. So in many ways, Double or Nothing was the end of one era while ushering in the start of another.
I was lucky enough to attend and witness this piece of history, making the two-and-a-half-hour drive from Orlando. Here are the big stories coming out of the grand event.
Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle walked out of Stadium Stampede victorious over the MJF-led team known as The Pinnacle. This spectacle kicked off with the Inner Circle repelling from high above TIAA Bank Field. Jericho later said during a media scrum they worked alongside a stunt coordinator for John Wick to make things look as good as possible. The action spilled outside where the Jacksonville Jaguars play into other parts of the facility.
At one point Jericho and MJF ended up in an office for Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, who got in on the fun. Footballs and Meyer’s own laptop were used as weapons. Another cameo came from wrestling legend Konnan, who had a reunion of sorts with Santana and Ortiz during their club fight scene with FTR. The hybrid cinematic-live match ended in spectacular fashion with Sammy Guevara picking up the win for his team in the ring after pinning Shawn Spears. The crowd couldn’t wait to sing along to Jericho’s band Fozzy’s “Judas” blasting as the Inner Circle came together once more.
The Britt Show
Britt Baker made no bones about it to TV Insider that she was gunning for Hikaru Shida and ready to become women’s champion. Shida held the title for more than a year with most of the run either without fans or reduced capacity. Baker’s prophecy reigned true as the shoot dentist finished Shida with her lockjaw submission. The match had a big fight feel. Fans were divided at points but ultimately sided with Dr. Baker DMD as they knew how hard she worked. The new champ confirmed to the media later that her family was in attendance to celebrate. And despite the increased responsibility of representing the women’s division and company. Baker doesn’t plan to quit practicing dentistry. She finds juggling both careers keeps her balanced.
It has been six years since Sting wrestled a live match, but the Hall of Famer didn’t miss a beat in his tag team match with Darby Allin against Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky. The 62-year-old had his working boots on, hanging with the younger talent and injecting a bit of nostalgia in the process. The star busted out a series of high-flying and flashy moves to the delight of the fans. After the big win, it’s clear Sting has more left in the tank. Perhaps a substantial tag team run is in the works for the brothers in paint?
It was announced that Mark Henry had signed with AEW as a coach and analyst for the promotions new show Rampage. Owner Tony Khan hinted the show, premiering August 13 on TNT, would stand out in its own unique way. Henry is expected to play a significant role in that. The “World’s Strongest Man” is known for having an eye for talent, even helping the likes of Jade Cargill get discovered. He joins fellow WWE alum Paul Wight, who also signed on a few months ago. The giant commentates for AEW’s YouTube show Elevation on Monday nights.
Jungle Boy Hits Jackpot
The son of the late Luke Perry survived the Casino Battle Royale, lastly eliminating veteran Christian Cage. It was a heartwarming scene for the emerging star with his Jurassic Express family enjoying the moment with him. Christian helped elevate Jungle Boy like never before. He’ll face AEW champion Kenny Omega in two weeks on Dynamite. The fans watched enthusiastically as the sounds of “Jungle Life” played. The match itself also saw the surprise debut of Lio Rush, who Khan confirmed to media will still work for New Japan Pro Wrestling and fulfill independent wrestling dates.
Orange Cassidy may not have walked away with the AEW championship, but it’s clear they’re hungry to see it happen down the line. Omega successfully retaining against Cassidy and Pac in a triple threat match. The crowd came unglued toward the end after a series of near falls where Cassidy almost walked away with the gold. Not bad for someone who early on would largely be placed in the “comedy wrestler” box. He continues to prove to be more than that. Although the fact he powers up by sticking his hands in his pocket remains a popular part of the act. Try explaining that to a non-wresting fan.
The American Dream
Cody Rhodes honored his late father Dusty Rhodes by taking his nickname “The American Dream” on for one night only. The popular performer and soon-to-be dad felt the nationalistic pride in his victory over London Olympic Bronze medalist Anthony Ogogo. Rhodes, a veteran, has enjoyed working with emerging talent like in this match.
You really can’t replicate the atmosphere of a hot crowd. It’s an organic piece of pro wrestling’s presentation that is so important. You can see how much the evening meant to the fans. Some who ventured thousands of miles from across the country for Double or Nothing. Then there were the wrestlers themselves who were feeding off their energy. Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston certainly did in their tag team title war with champs the Young Bucks. Even though I can do without the long lines for the bathroom, attending a live show is something I’ll never take for granted again.