On Saturday night- All Elite Wrestling debuted their maiden show with ‘Double or Nothing’ emanating from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The show was an unmitigated success as the wrestling world marveled as a whole bunch of established and new talent came together to form one of the best shows of the year. But who were the biggest stand outs? I am, unfortunately, having to narrow this list down to five however; literally everyone on this show impressed to no end.
1. Kylie Rae
To the joy of many wrestling fans around the globe, women are clearly going to be a pivotal part of the AEW roster. With superstars such as Britt Baker and, the debuting, Awesome Kong at the helm – the women’s division is in good hands. However, the talking point from the woman’s triple threat was definitely ‘Smiley’ Kylie Rae who was easily the most over woman in the match after her infectious smile and raw emotion won over the crowd as soon as she appeared on the entrance ramp and almost broke down crying.
Whilst being compared to Bayley by many people, I would argue Rae is presented a million times better than the aforementioned Smackdown Woman’s Champion. Instead of being presented as ‘a fan who’s just happy to be here’, Kylie Rae is showcased as a woman who is overwhelmed by the opportunity but fully understands she deserves to be there and can take it to any woman she comes up against. I cannot wait to see what is next for her.
Right now, one of the best heels in wrestling is a 23 year old from New York who wears a Burberry scarf. (A quick note – I don’t know if in the US Burberry is a high class outfitters but here in the UK, it sends quite the opposite message). Regardless of his attire, Friedman proves he is money. Having a huge spot in the pre-show battle royale, getting down to the final two before being eliminated by Hangman Adam Page, and getting to share a segment with the legendary Bret Hart, MJF is destined for great things. His promo was easily the best of the night, drawing legitimate heat from the Las Vegas faithful. The biggest positive I can give to him is that many non-wrestling fan friends of mine saw MJF’s promo and wanted to see more. The man can bring in viewers and AEW clearly recognise that.
When you are the stand out wrestler on a card featuring Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks and Chris Jericho – you know you’re doing something right. When looking at the event from a purely in-ring, wrestling standpoint, it’s hard to argue the match of the night wasn’t The Bucks vs The Lucha Bros. And from that standout match, the younger Lucha Brother – Fenix – was the standout. Doing certain moves that defy the laws of physics, he was hitting moves that normally, are seen once in a lifetime but for him it’s something he breaks out regularly. Fenix is undoubtedly one of the best wrestlers in the world and Double or Nothing helped provide a wide-scale platform for him to showcase his abilities in front of the wider wrestling landscape.
4. Dustin Rhodes
In my opinion the match of the night – and a huge contender for MOTY – was between Cody and Dustin Rhodes. It had everything from crisp in-ring work, blood, intense storytelling, blood, pure and unbroken emotion and then even more blood. One of the questions going into the match was ‘Can Goldust still go?’ And there was your answer. At 50 years of age, his match received the biggest ovation of the night and everyone in that arena and at home were firmly behind him. The image of his face covered in a crimson mask will last long in the history books of pro-wrestling and he, more than so many people, deserves this level of praise. It was easily the best match of both men’s career in my opinion and offered a gateway into the minds of Dusty’s sons in a way WWE never let us see. With, by the looks of it, Dustin sticking around in AEW – he is going to be priceless in how crucial he will be to that promotion.
5. Jon Moxley
He’s actually here. The man formerly known as Dean Ambrose has actually joined All Elite Wrestling. Eliciting one of, if not THE biggest pops of the night, Jon Moxley debuted in AEW – taking out Chris Jericho, the referee and Kenny Omega. With all the hearsay, rumours and accustations being thrown around as to ‘Is he staying in WWE?’, ‘Will he even go to the indies?’, ‘Is he retiring?’- all our questions were answered when he threw Kenny Omega from that stage. It is, undoubtedly, one of the biggest ‘gets’ in wrestling today and this is proven post-show when Cody was asked if he could sign anyone in wrestling who would it be and he simply stated; ‘Moxley’. The passion, presentation and intensity behind the debut makes non-fans/fans coming back into the sport realise just how truly huge Moxley is, not only as a competitor but as an overall image for this new brand. When you’re the final thing we see on the night, you’re definitely going to stand out.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @McIverTheMark. Thanks for reading!