Double or Nothing - The Story to Date of AEW's Casino-Themed Pay-Per-View | Smark Out Moment

Double or Nothing - The Story to Date of AEW's Casino-Themed Pay-Per-View

Posted by Kay Fabe Markjobber Monday, May 3, 2021

On May 30, 2021, All Elite Wrestling will have their third annual Double or Nothing pay-per-view event. This show has always had a casino theme to it, perhaps because founding a rival company to sports entertainment and industry giants WWE certainly qualified as a gamble, and it's been quite a journey.

Cody Rhodes was unhappy with his position in creative and booking there, so requested his release and left in 2016. The son of pro wrestling legend "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes had the vision of making a viable alternative to WWE. Any promotions regarded as legitimate rivals in the USA folded in 2001, when it was still the WWF, and Vince McMahon bought out his competition with the purchases of WCW and ECW.

Rhodes Jr. fleshed out the details of what would become AEW whilst wrestling for Ring of Honor, TNA, New Japan, and lesser-known indie promotions on both sides of the Atlantic. He found that fellow globetrotters and Bullet Club stable members The Young Bucks (Nick and Matt Jackson) and Canadian grappler Kenny Omega shared his vision.

They considered themselves The Elite of pro wrestling. Prominent industry journalist Dave Meltzer didn't believe an indie show could draw a crowd of 10,000, but Rhodes and co saw that as a challenge. That led to the All In event of 1 September 2018, held in the suburbs of popular wrestling city Chicago which sold out in half an hour.

Over 11,000 fans were in attendance to watch Cody win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and emulate his father. The Bucks and Omega also wrestled on the card in winning events. WWE sensed it was well worth approaching The Elite after the buzz they created in the industry, but they rejected these overtures when leaving ROH.

All In was essentially the embryonic AEW, which was founded on 1 January 2019. Almost five months later, largely using just YouTube and other social media platforms to promote the event to wider audiences, the company's inaugural pay-per-view Double or Nothing took place inside the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on 25 May.

The casino motif was all over the event with stacked betting chips like those used for upping the ante in poker and bidding in other card games as part of the set. Double or Nothing continues to have both land-based and live casino online crossovers with games like Lightning Roulette and Speed Baccarat complimenting the exciting, high-stakes entertainment of this themed pay-per-view.

Even the opening match on the pre-show, known as the Buy-In, was called the Casino Battle Royale. 21 wrestlers competed in the over-the-top rope challenge with winner "Hangman" Adam Page to receive a shot at becoming the inaugural AEW World champion. Cody wrestled older half-brother Dustin Rhodes in a winning effort, while The Young Bucks made a successful defense of Mexican promotion AAA's World Tag Team Championships.

The AEW project also appealed to Chris Jericho, now a veteran and free of the WWE yoke. He added legitimacy to the fledgling company when he was later crowned their first-ever world champ. Jericho defeated Page at the subsequent All Out pay-per-view on 31 August, which also featured a Casino Battle Royale for women won by Nyla Rose.

When Double or Nothing 2020 came around again, Jericho had already lost the AEW World Championship to Jon Moxley, who had debuted at the previous year's event. Y2J formed The Inner Circle, a move that both protected him on one hand and looked to enhance the careers of younger talent like Sammy Guevara. The faction would headline the second Double or Nothing pay-per-view with a gimmick Stadium Stampede match against The Elite, Page, and Matt Hardy.

After securing a weekly TV deal with TNT for Wednesday nights with a show named Dynamite, it was decided that the championship defended regularly on that platform should be named after the network as well. Cody became the inaugural AEW TNT champion defeating Lance Archer on the Double or Nothing undercard. With no battle royal kicking off the pay-per-view, the Casino Ladder Match featuring nine men gave the winner a title shot. "The Machine" Brian Cage took that only to be unsuccessful against Moxley.

This year's Double or Nothing looks sure to feature matches that include the fallout from the Blood and Guts Match between The Inner Circle and a new faction, The Pinnacle, on Dynamite, happening 5 May. This is an homage to the old War Games bouts with two rings and roofed cages.

Jericho's boys including Santana and Ortiz, an incarnation of LAX from TNA/Impact, and Jake Hager are feuding with tag team FTR, MJF, Shawn Spears, and bodyguard Wardlow this spring. Blood and Guts may well not be the end of the rivalry between these two stables either.

Omega, who recently added the Impact World Championship to the AEW title and AAA Mega belt, continues his longstanding feud with Moxley after taking the company's top strap at the end of last year. Aided by manager Don Callis, The Young Bucks, and The Good Brothers, his heel turn has created obstacles for Moxley to overcome.

AEW must continue to roll the dice, very much in keeping with both the company's founding and the casino theme of Double or Nothing, with these gimmick matches that steal headlines.

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