One of the most anticipated wrestling events in recent memory arrives on Saturday as All Elite Wrestling makes its debut with Double or Nothing live from Las Vegas.
A debut of this magnitude sparks many questions, especially when it is a promotion that has been insistent on being an alternative to WWE.
This is perhaps the highest profile attempt since the WCW days almost 20 years ago that a brand wants to directly compete with the Goliath of the wrestling world, but what exactly should we expect to be different?
President and CEO Tony Khan said that "Wrestling fans have wanted—and needed—something different, authentic and better for far too long" in the official press release announcing their television deal with WarnerMedia, stating AEW is for fans who have been "underserved" and "disappointed" in recent years:
"Focused on producing fast-paced, high-impact competitions, AEW offers fans less scripted, soapy drama and more athleticism and real sports analytics, bringing a legitimacy to wrestling that it has not previously had. Wrestlers will also be given more freedom to explore their characters and highlight their athletic abilities ... [AEW will track] each competitor's wins and losses as the wrestlers pursue championships."
Here is information on how to watch Double or Nothing, as well as eight burning questions we'll have eyes on.
Where and How to Watch
Double or Nothing will be held at MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday. It will be available to stream via pay-per-view for $49.99 USD on B/R Live at 8 p.m. ET, with a two-match pre-show called The Buy-In preceding it at 7 p.m.
Main Show: Double or Nothing
The Young Bucks (c) vs. The Lucha Brothers (AAA world tag team championship)
Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho (winner earns AEW World Championship title shot)
Cody vs. Dustin
SoCal Uncensored vs. Cima, T-Hawk and El Lindaman (six-man tag match)
Best Friends vs. Angelico and Jack Evans (tag match)
Dr. Britt Baker vs. Kylie Rae vs. Nyla Rose (triple-threat match)
Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki and Emi Sakura vs. Hikaru Shida, Riho Abe and Ryo Mizunami (six-woman tag match)
Casino Battle Royale (21 participants with winner earning an AEW World Championship title shot)
Sammy Guevara vs. Kip Sabian
8 Questions to Be Answered
1. How much shade will AEW throw at WWE?
It's been no secret that AEW will try to send a message to WWE and its fans that they're here as legitimate competition, especially once their weekly TNT television show starts later in the year. But how straightforward will Saturday's promos be in targeting the competition? Do they need to?
They've already included former WCW wrestler Glacier in the pre-show's Casino Battle Royale in part to be a slight throwback to the last time WWE faced major competition, and the AEW merchandise team managed to use former WWE standout turned AEW producer Billy Gunn's old catchphrase to poke the bear a little further. Let's see how messy things get.
2. How often will AEW mention sports statistics and analytics?
"AEW will raise the stakes for its matches and deepen fan engagement by tracking each competitor's wins and losses as the wrestlers pursue championships, analyzing their moves, assessing damage to their opponents, and providing insights into their winning streaks."—AEW President, CEO Tony Khan
This is an interesting concept that's never really been fully done by other major promotions. One can't help but think of boxing or mixed martial arts when the phrase "tracking wins and losses" comes into play, but it's an aspect that could make for exciting storylines as it similarly would for a boxing or MMA match (e.g.: two undefeated opponents). Assessing damage to an opponent is something companies like the UFC has also started to do.
It's a little tougher to incorporate certain analytical insights into the debut event, but it's worth keeping an eye on how much they push AEW as a sport and less as entertainment.
3. How will AEW's TV-14 rating be showcased?
For many fans tuning in to Double or Nothing on Saturday, it will be their first time seeing a TV-14 wrestling show on pay-per-view since July of 2008. That's when WWE said all of its programming would be PG in an attempt to cater to families.
"I think AEW's demographic is almost entirely the lapsed fan," Rhodes said. "Before WWE and even in the beginning of WWE, there were so many other outlets for wrestling. When they took it over, it almost created this huge void for 'Oh, I want that type of wrestling again. Where's a little bit more violence? Where's the blood? Why is everything so watered down?' I hate saying that, but it's been so watered down and that demographic sat through it because they didn't have an alternative. Now they do."
4. Will Dustin Rhodes and Shawn Spears make WWE eat crow?
Rhodes and Spears, known as Goldust and Tye Dillinger during their time with WWE, were two of the more underutilized members of the roster towards the end of their time with the company. After asking for their releases, they joined AEW.
For Rhodes, he hopes to have a meaningful end to his 31-year career. For Spears, this is his opportunity to revamp a career mostly stuck in low- to mid-card status and emerge as a top star for AEW.
Dustin takes on brother Cody in a legacy match at Double or Nothing, while Spears will be one of the most familiar participants in the Casino Battle Royale.
5. What will it be like to have Jim Ross on the call again?
It's been 16 months since the last time we heard Jim Ross call a match for WWE. The legendary commentator is excited to be working regularly again, as he told Joseph Staszewski of the New York Post.
"I started disappearing [in my career]," Ross said in a phone interview. "And I wasn't ready to despair. I always felt like I had something to offer. I feel like I have plenty of miles on my tires."
According to J.R., the style of AEW's broadcast team is just part of their attempt to be a sports-based wrestling company—different from WWE, which presents itself as sports entertainment. Ross believes their approach will be less about giving backstory and more focused on the action in front of them.
The 67-year-old said it might take a little while to get back in the swing of things, but he's ecstatic for a new opportunity with AEW.
"We're going to be fine, I think," Ross said. "It may be rocky to get rolling, but shoot, by the time that show's over and we call, which I assume will be [Chris] Jericho and [Kenny] Omega, if we ain't rocking and rolling, that's our fault."
"You can't do anything about yesterday because that's history," Ross said. "Today, I'm getting ready for the biggest assignment I've had in years, maybe in forever, on Saturday night."
6. What role will AEW authority figures play on air?
The McMahon family has played a major role in WWE storylines since the days of the Monday Night Wars.
AEW president and CEO Tony Khan has already said he has no plans to be an on-air personality, but could we see Cody, Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks leverage their legitimate vice-presidential titles into storylines?
Perhaps this isn't a question that will be answered during Double or Nothing, but it's something to keep an eye on as AEW progresses.
7. What will the AEW world title look like?
Cody Rhodes all but confirmed the AEW world title will be unveiled at Double or Nothing in an interview with Chris Van Vliet earlier in the week.
"On Saturday there is the chance that you might see the greatest world championship title that has ever been created," Rhodes said. "I'm not guaranteeing it will be there on Saturday, [Cody winks to the camera] but that was a wink, and I'm excited about it."
There was speculation last March that the belt is modeled after one of wrestling's classic titles when Chief Brand Officer Brandi Rhodes was seen holding a mockup, but this could easily be an attempt to swerve fans.
8. How will Double or Nothing stack up historically to other wrestling debuts?
"I think what we have ready to go is the best wrestling show ever," Cody Rhodes told Van Vliet. "I really do. It's a wrestling show, by wrestlers, for the fans. It's 100 percent fan service. It wouldn't be that if there weren't surprises."
The AEW brass seems more than confident they have something special in the works. Now it's time to sit back and enjoy what will be a historic occasion regardless of whether Double or Nothing can actually live up to its lofty standards or not.