Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About” was released in 1991, and, while you may not have heard it directly, it’s no doubt been sonically flowed in your ears while grocery shopping, sitting in a dentist’s chair or at your bar of choice.
The reason I am randomly bringing up a 32-year-old song in a pro wrestling column is that AEW pay-per-views always give people something to talk about—both for intended and unintended reasons. This Sunday’s Double or Nothing should be no different.
The fifth iteration of AEW’s Memorial Day tradition returns to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday. Ticket sales, as of this writing, have reflected the fact the card doesn’t have the same buzz as it did a year ago when it did attracted 14,000 fans for a $1 million gate in the same venue.
Of course, a year ago, the weekend was dominated by talk of whether MJF was even going to appear after no-showing an autograph session Saturday and also featured CM Punk going for his first AEW world title against “Hangman” Adam Page in the main event.
Going into this Sunday, the buzz around AEW is still on Punk, even though he hasn’t been seen nor mentioned on its televised product since September’s All Out. Due to the postevent press conference brawl with The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, the silence has been deafening regarding his status and future with AEW.
That was until the last month or so when the rumors of Punk returning to be featured on a new show—Collision on TNT—began. Without officially confirming his involvement, AEW head Tony Khan announced the mid-June debut for Collision will emanate from Punk’s hometown of Chicago at the United Center—the same venue where Punk made his return to wrestling in August 2021 after a seven-year absence.
While not expected to be at Double or Nothing, Punk’s return to AEW is certainly something to talk about, which also illuminates some of the “meh” feeling going into Sunday. AEW doesn’t have another star that has the same gravitas with his fans as Punk does. He brings a lot of baggage, more so after the last nine months, but he also brings attention, buzz and a reason to be excited.
Putting that aside, the in-ring quality Sunday will be tremendous. As is the case with most of these shows, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts—evidenced by the main event, which features a four-way that includes three first-time PPV headliners against a still-developing star in AEW world champion MJF, who is always trying to give people something to talk about.
Let’s get to all that with these Double or Nothing previews and predictions. Please note this card is as of Wednesday’s Dynamite and does not include preshow matches.
AEW world champion MJF defends against Sammy Guevara, “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry and Darby Allin
We’re at the six-month mark of MJF’s world title reign, and, so far, it’s been … all right? While MJF has been a constant on Dynamite, it’s been primarily for his promos and building up to matches rather than actually wrestling. Since defeating Jon Moxley for the title at November’s Full Gear, MJF has been in the AEW ring just four times, with no action in January or April.
While he has played up in promos that he doesn’t need to wrestle that often, the champion failing to have semifrequent matches is an issue. He’s an attraction, but at this point, he doesn’t have the career cachet of a Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar to be able to float in and out when needed or when they want to. At just 27, MJF simply wrestles too infrequently for a company that needs a strong champion.
The build for this match has been, well, interesting. All four men were tagged as “the Four Pillars” early on in AEW—a phrase designed to show fans young talents could be seen as the future of the company. In retrospect, that was an error as it subconsciously eliminated 99% of the roster from being considered part of the foundation of the future.
If you were to poll AEW fans, they would say there’s zero chance Guevara, Perry or Allin will walk away as the new champion. They are too smart these days and can see this is a match AEW head Tony Khan simply wanted to do at some point and thus, here we are.
All four men have been given wins along the long path to get here with only Allin’s standing out as meaningful. Perry’s win over Rush last week didn’t help his cause as he was inexplicably beaten down for 99% of the bout only to get a fluke win by grabbing Rush’s tights. Meanwhile, Khan’s recent attempt at a Guevara face turn based off the All Access reality show has had the effect of citrus juice squeezed into an open wound.
Then, there’s the PPV aspect and what is drawing people to click the “buy” button. I don’t clutch my pearls and fret like others do when it comes to what will drive those conversions because the hardcore AEW fans will buy no matter what. It’s about the total experience and not just the main event. Of course, if the buy rate comes in low, let the discussion begin as to why.
Great title matches often become just that when you think there’s a chance the challenger(s) could win. That’s just not the case here and while the match will be an excellent in-ring spectacle, it’s indicative of an issue AEW has had for some time when the world title match on its PPVs doesn’t often feel like the biggest thing on the show, nor the match people are looking forward to the most.
Prediction: MJF retains
The Elite (Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks and “Hangman” Adam Page) vs. Blackpool Combat Club (Bryan Danielson, Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli and Wheeler Yuta) in an “Anarchy in the Arena” match
This, however, does.
The build between both factions has been really, really good. And while all are skilled wrestlers, this will be a bar fight violence extravaganza that will leave the most memories after it’s all said and done. This also marks the official reunion of Page with his fellow Elite members after a long, long story line in which he was disillusioned with the group, defeated Omega for the world title and slowly became realigned through the despicable actions of the BCC.
There’s still plenty of meat on the bone for future matches between these groups, including an Omega vs. Danielson rematch, but we’ll see whether the stove burner stays on after this wild brawl.
This will be the main attraction for Sunday, and I don’t think there’s a close second.
Prediction: The Elite win
Chris Jericho vs. Adam Cole in an unsanctioned match
In a night filled with stipulation matches, how this unsanctioned bout differentiates from “Anarchy in the Arena” will be interesting to see. If there’s anyone that can pull it off, it will be Cole and Jericho—two veterans whose paths will finally cross Sunday.
The inclusion of the 58-year-old Sabu as an enforcer is mildly interesting, if not extremely random, pun fully intended. I would expect to also see the return of Kyle O’Reilly during the match in addition to Roderick Strong and the Jericho Appreciation Society getting involved.
Cole has been rumored to be tabbed for a future run at MJF’s world title, and Jericho has been losing more often recently in high-profile matches as you can sense another creative change coming to his ever-changing persona. He’s also 52 and getting these bucket list matches crossed off the list. There will be a point at which he can’t do these anymore so now is the time.
But it’s not his time to win Sunday. It’s time to get a real-world title challenger and one who fans can really buy as a future titleholder.
Prediction: Cole wins
AEW Tag Team Champions FTR defend against Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal (with Mark Briscoe as the special referee)
While this will be fun, the Jarrett and Lethal push in the tag team division remains a curious one for a promotion that was once focused on the young and the next vs. the older and the still-around. This will be the fourth tag title opportunity for the 55-year-old Jarrett and 38-year-old Lethal and the second title defense for FTR in this latest reign.
Briscoe is the wild card as he has had his issues with both teams for varying reasons. Again, this will be a fun match, which ultimately is the point, but in the wrestling buffet many promoters look to provide to fans, the whole Jarrett/Lethal/Sonjay Dutt/Satnam Singh dish should be sent to the back for a while.
Prediction: FTR retains
AEW international champion Orange Cassidy defends in a 21-man Blackjack Battle Royale
This has the feel of what WWE used to do with the Andre the Giant memorial battle royale during WrestleMania by giving a lot of wrestlers the chance to be on the big show without any real impact.
Cassidy has had a great run as international champion, but losing it in a battle royale would be a lame way for his 200-plus-day run to end. It’s more likely he earns title defense No. 23 on Sunday and then loses it on the following Dynamite to a surprise challenger.
Prediction: Cassidy retains
TNT Champion Wardlow defends against Christian Cage in a ladder match
On the list of stipulation matches Sunday, this one earns the “why?” tag. This will be the first meeting between these two, and the ladder addition came only after a two-on-one attack with Luchasaurus last week when a ladder just happened to get involved. A Cage run with a secondary title could be fun, but after just getting the title back after a very head-scratching turn of creative events with Powerhouse Hobbs over the past few months, AEW can’t take it off Wardlow again this soon, can it?
Prediction: Wardlow retains
AEW women’s champion Jamie Hayter defends against Toni Storm
Like other feuds in AEW, The Originals vs. The Outcasts is one that has gone on for a while and perhaps slightly past the peak. As it has been presented as a group vs. group feud with no real individual gripes standing out, there’s no clear final match or resolution that makes sense as all six women involved have been presented fairly equally.
Hayter has to win here and will likely stay champion through August’s All In at Wembley Stadium in her native England unless AEW wants her to lose Sunday thanks to a Britt Baker turn, and chase through the summer, culminating with a win in London. I don’t think that title change happens here, though.
This will be hard-hitting and very good, but it’s time for everyone involved to move on.
Prediction: Hayter retains
TBS champion Jade Cargill defends against Taya Valkyrie
The problem with having a young undefeated champion like Cargill is eventually, you need to have her lose and also pick the right person to give her that loss. Her long title run and undefeated streak has gone past the expiration date, and her character needs a new pursuit and some depth that will also liven up the TBS title mix as a side benefit.
Willow Nightingale should have been the one to beat Cargill, but AEW blew that opportunity to strike when the iron was hot. Valkyrie, cleared to use the Road to Valhalla finisher, should win here if for the only reason that a change is desperately needed.
Valkyrie’s not the perfect choice, and Wednesday’s win over Lady Frost didn’t really help increase the temperature for this. But this show needs a title change, and this is the right belt to swap waists.
Prediction: Valkyrie wins the TBS title
The Gunns and Ethan Page vs. Jeff and Matt Hardy and Brother Zay, with Page’s contractual status on the line
In yet another stipulation match, Page will give over his contract to the Hardys and Zay with a loss. How that makes sense even in wrestling terms is beyond me, but here we are.
Colten and Austin Gunn went from being AEW tag team champions to not getting a rematch on TV to being shoehorned into this latest chapter in the Hardys vs. Page feud. I think the heels win, Page’s contract doesn’t transfer to the Hardys and this story line finally comes to an end. This should be a preshow match, but I have the feeling this is main card bound.
Prediction: Gunns and Page win