All Elite Wrestling’s fantastically fun Stadium Stampede match will be remembered and debated for a long time.
The wild 10-man tag was by far the highlight of AEW’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view from a fanless Daily’s Place in Jacksonville on Saturday night. Here are five takeaways from the show:
The pretaped Stadium Stampede match between The Elite and the Inner Circle was unlike anything we’ve seen and shows wresting during a pandemic still can be laugh-out-loud fun. Each wrestler got a football-like entrance on to the field flanked by masked Jaguars cheerleaders, who provided the defacto crowd noise throughout. The Inner Circle even came with matching jerseys and helmets.
The match started with both teams charging each other at TIAA Bank Field like an episode of Game of Thrones. “Hangman” Adam Page made a delayed entrance on a horse, chasing down Sammy Guevara before things made it back to the ring at the 50-yard line. Page, whose allegiance has been in question, later headed for the bar after he could not track down Guevara.
From the ring, they made it back onto the field where Matt Jackson hit a moonsault from the goalpost crossbar before the match shifted to the stands. There Santana and Ortiz delivered a powerbomb to Kenny Omega through a security rail and tossed Matt Hardy into the pool where the fight continued and got hilarious.
Hardy changed from Broken Matt, to Matt Hardy Version 1, to a Version 3, back to Broken Matt, each time he was submerged in the pool. We even got an underwater cam showing Hardy smiling when he was being held down.
From there the match moved to the bar — on which Page did a backflip from and eventually got slid down by Jake Hager. Kenny Omega arrived to help his tag team partner and broke Chris Jericho’s “Little Bit of the Bubbly” champagne bottles over Hager’s head. Page poured Omega a milk and made him a drink to celebrate.
The hilarity continued as Nick Jackson continually german suplexed Guevara 100 yards into the endzone, did a touchdown dance before getting flagged for excessive celebration by referee Rick Knox. Jericho even hit the Jaguars mascot with a Judas Effect, and later threw the red flag to send ref Aubrey Edwards to the replay booth to look at a close kick out by Matt Jackson.
The match ended with some callbacks as Guevara got chased down by Hardy and Omega in a golf cart and the return of Hardy’s Vanguard 1 drone as NEO 1. It set up Omega delivering a One-Winged Angel to Guevara from top of tunnel in the lower bowl to a gimmicked landing spot on the field for the 1-2-3. Omega of course got a Gatorade bath for his effort.
On the media call after the event, AEW president Tony Khan said he hopes the Stadium Stampede can become a signature match for the company.
Former Impact world champion Brian Cage debuted as the mystery entrant in the Casino Ladder match, grabbing the chip and earning a shot at the AEW world championship.
The massive Cage had been rumored to be joining the company in January, but was dealing with surgery to repair a torn biceps. Khan said Cage was signed earlier and the plan was always for him to debut at Double or Nothing after he rehabbed. He will face Jon Moxley for the AEW title at Fyter Fest, Khan announced.
The ladder match did a great job getting Cage over — at one point everyone stacked ladders and huge poker chips on top of him outside the ring — the process took some drama out. He felt like the winner when he showed up.
Cage is a proven main even talent, but he’s a potential third straight opponent from the outside to get a world championship opportunity (Jake Hager, Brodie Lee). Cage is also aligned with Taz, making him the fourth wrestler in AEW with a legend as a manager or advisor.
The match itself did have some highlights and was good overall. Darby Allin jumped off the top of one ladder on his skateboard into Frankie Kazarian laying on another ladder. Joey Janela delivering a Death Valley Driver to Orange Cassidy on to the chips laying of Cage.
Bringing a new competitor in every two minutes gave things a more frantic feel, but only a few really made it count. It was an interesting twist on the Money in the Bank concept, but still needs some tweaks.
Go Mr. Lee
Brodie Lee looked like he belonged in a world championship match and that’s a huge step for the former tag team wrestler in WWE. Lee matched Jon Moxley’s level of violence in their match for the AEW title and that’s saying something. The match’s biggest drawback was it followed a no disqualification match and felt similar with so much action on the outside.
Lee, the leader of The Dark Order, did not leave Double or Nothing as champion, but this is likely not his last title match since he was not pinned and passed out to Moxley’s rear-naked chokehold. It came after Moxley DDT’s Lee through the stage ramp and the former Wyatt family member came up bloodied to add the color the match needed.
Champs are here
Cody Rhodes is finally a champion in AEW. It took some help from Mike Tyson and two Cross Rhodes, but he was able to pin Lance Archer to win the tournament and become the first TNT champ. Rhodes said on the post-show media call the red and silver belt itself is not a finished product because of the pandemic.
We got a fun dose of Tyson. The former heavyweight boxing champion mostly sat ringside with the belt, rooting for Rhodes until he confirmed a second referee’s ruling the Arn Anderson had interfered. It got Anderson kicked out of ringside. Tyson then took his shirt off and threaten Jake “The Snake” Roberts, who was trying to bring the snake to the ring.
It left Archer lost without his mentor, given Rhodes the opening he needed to win. Since Rhodes cannot challenge for the AEW world championship, it makes sense to make him your second-tier champion, but the win cuts away some of Archer’s momentum.
“Jungle Boy” Jack Perry, 22, and MJF, 24, wrestled the match you would expect and more. They punished each other physically, with slaps you could feel and Jungle Boy delivered a gnarly-looking hurricanrana on the ring apron. MJF’s heal antics — pushing Edwards into the ropes with Jungle Boys on the top turnbuckle — made it easy to root for the babyface. They told a great story, with Jungle Boy coming oh, so close throughout the match — which was filled with counters until the last one. MJF countered a rollup by holding Jungle Boys hands to keep his shoulder down. The old school match from these young competitors was a big bright spot.
Shuffle the deck
The women’s division got another shakeup and it may not be for the better. AEW ended Nyla Rose’s championship reign just three months and five matches after she beat Riho at Full Gear in February. Rose had been built as monster-type heel, only to succumb to kendo stick broken over her head and a running knee strike from No. 1 contender to lose the match. It was a great outing for Shida, who got to show a more aggressive side.
The next championship challenger, Kris Statlander showed off her versatility against Penelope Ford, who was filling into for the injured Britt Baker. AEW said on the show that Baker, who was being built up big as a heel, sustained a fracture and partial LCL tear in her knee last week on Dynamite. Statlander entered the event as the No. 2-ranked contender for the women’s title, and she looked every bit the part in the match in which she looked physically dominant over the smaller Ford.
Best Friends over Private Party
Chuckie T and Trent are now the No. 1 contenders for the AEW tag team championships after a solid pre-show match that was packed with plenty of tandem moves. Best Friends are the safe veterans and do come with the bonus of Cassidy, but it seems like Private Party had lost a ton of momentum since that surprise win over The Young Bucks early in their AEW tenure.
Dustin Rhodes over Shawn Spears
Spears dressed in a suit, teased winning the match by forfeit because we haven’t seen Rhodes since has was taken out by Archer during the TNT championship tournament. The second playing of his music saw Rhodes appear in the ring behind Spears, who was eventually stripped down to his boxer and socks. We saw plenty of crack in the process and manager Tully Blanchard’s face on his crotch. Rhodes won the squash match with the Final Reckoning.
Biggest winner: Brodie Lee
Biggest loser: Nyla Rose
Best match: Stadium Stampede
Grade: A –
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