In case you missed it, AEW has finally arrived, and what an introduction it was. Double or Nothing has been generally regarded as a huge hit, and for good reason. One thing that can't be overstated is that AEW managed to keep the crowds, both attending and watching, cheering all night long. That is something no one will ever be able to take from them. But, as with all things, there is room for improvement.
Now, having had some time to think it over and get some well-earned sleep, we're going to discuss five things that worked, and five things that didn't, at AEW's inaugural event.
10 Wrong: Camerawork
No one's too surprised with this, as there will be growing pains with any new company. But it if there's one thing WWE fans are unanimous on, it's that we've grown weary of the choppy, almost frenetic editing that the WWE forces us to endure during a RAW or Smackdown show. Sorry to say, but it was no different here.
In the case of the Battle Royale, it can be hard to know just what spot to focus the cameras on. But there were a few cases throughout the night where, rather than see the impact of a move, we got stuck watching the crowd's reaction to the spot itself. In the future, we would like to see fewer cuts and more focus on the action. These are some of the best performers in the world, and camera tricks only distract from their value.
9 Right: Women's Roster
With women's wrestling having a global rise in popularity, and with Brandi Rhodes and Kenny Omega reported as heavily involved in the division, the woman's matches were a true showcase of what to expect in the future.
One standout in this instance was the six-woman tag match. Except for Aja Kong, everyone in the ring was an unknown quantity, and they did a tremendous job of getting you both invested in the match and their individual characters. Initially, the women's roster seemed limited at a glance, but these women proved the division are undoubtedly a testament to quality over quantity.
8 Wrong: Referee's Inconsistent Rulings
In the SCU vs. OWE match, there was a point when the referee started a ten count after a tag happened. After this, the commentary stated that once tagged, the former legal man could only stay in the ring until the count finished, or the team would forfeit. For the rest of the night, this ruling never came up again.
The rule sounds like a nice departure to make the AEW scene more sportslike, an element we have long been told is a focus for the company. So it is frustrating to be told something at the start of the night, only to have it ignored for every relevant match after that.
7 Right: Storytelling
The WWE has long been guilty of over-booking when the fans just want a simple story of seeing two wrestlers they adore proving their worth in the ring. Throughout the night, AEW established itself as the new home of strong yet elegant storytelling.
No wrestling match this year may eclipse the story told between Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes. Cody said he wanted to bury the Attitude Era his brother was long associated with, whereas Dustin was here to show he still had it in him for one last great match. By the end, with Cody beaten half dead and Dustin looking all-the-way dead, these men gave us a story that left it all in the ring, with a conclusion that made sure there was not a dry eye in the house.
6 Wrong: Commentary Hiccups
As great as it was to have JR back on commentary, there was the odd hiccup. From needing some wrestlers explained to him and having to ask "What's happening now?" just before the Rhodes match, it was clear that while JR is very much back in the game, he's not quite the good ol' JR just yet.
As well as that, we're not sure what Alex Marvez brought to the commentary table. Yes, we know, we needed reminding of the third man too. When not on camera, it's hard to pinpoint a moment during the event where he added some insight or showed what it is he brings to the team.
5 Right: Letting The Moments Breathe For Themselves
While the commentary team may have had some growing pains, no doubt hearing JR call Jon Moxley's return is a moment that no other commentator could ever hope to rival.
The same is to be said for knowing when not to talk. From Cody's speech to Dustin and MJF's taunts towards Bret Hart, this team knew when getting involved in the match would take away from the moment, rather than add to it. It sounds strange, yet it's true: knowing when to say something is just as important as knowing what to say.
4 Wrong: Some Wrestlers Were Not Properly Highlighted
Considering the amount of relatively unknown wrestlers in this show, it is a shame that those placed in the spotlight didn't find a way to establish their characters. In the case of Cima and the Stronghearts, there was little done to really set themselves apart, and this was most notable in Lindeman's case.
The biggest blemish in this instance was in the post-match events of the Best Friends vs. Angélico and Jack Evans match. With victors declared, the lights went out, and both teams were ambushed by the Super Smash Bros, a name the duo are unlikely to have in AEW. Sadly, with no alternate name decided on, JR's calls for answers went ignored, leaving the fans to close out the segment with a "Who are you?" chant. Not exactly the best way to get a pair of unknowns over as a threat.
3 Right: New Stars
One of the most exciting prospects of AEW is that they will shine a spotlight on wrestlers that the WWE may have never taken stock in, if not just flat-out ignored. The Battle Royale did a great job in introducing a whole host of characters to a broader audience, from the (ridiculously named) Luchasaurus to the wonderfully apathetic Orange Cassidy.
While the present of AEW lies in the hands of The Elite, Chris Jericho, and now Jon Moxley, they are clearly laying the groundwork for a long-recurring feud between both Hangman Adam Page and that most despicable heel, Maxwell Jacob Friedman. With younger stars like these, the future of AEW looks strong indeed.
2 Wrong: Awkward Segments
Most of the presentation and interludes went down a treat, but there were a few awkward segments throughout the event. The first of which was part of the pre-show where AEW's two Librarians, Peter Avalon and Leva Bates, were locked in a frenzied series of shushings, that went... well, exactly how it sounds.
Roughly midway through the show, Bret "The Hitman" Hart came out to reveal the AEW world heavyweight championship. Overall, it was an entertaining segment, no doubt revealing what up-and-comers the AEW is going to invest in. But it was a shame to have the belt first shown off-camera, and especially cruel to deny us a hard cam shot of it.
1 Right: Match Quality
This company has chosen to go with the moniker of All Elite Wrestling, and that is a bold claim to make by any measure. It's fortunate then that every wrestler on the show did what it took to earn that label.
This was one of those rare events where you can watch it with friends, and everyone has a different favorite match. The best part? Everyone is right. Did it have imperfections? Absolutely, but you would be hard-pressed to lay those flaws on the performer's backs. This is only the beginning for AEW, and that makes for very exciting times indeed.