One Year at AEW: Ranking the Top 5 PPV MatchesMay 12, 2020
Double or Nothing takes place May 23, the fifth pay-per-view in All Elite Wrestling's first year. Dozens of matches happened on those previous cards, but there were some that stood out more than others. They're the kinds of matches you want to watch more than once.
Here's our list of the top five matches from AEW PPVs so far. We took into consideration the quality of wrestling, the strength of the storylines and the likelihood of a re-watch.
Disagree with our list? Let us know who you would've included in the comments. Also, you can still order the four previous AEW pay-per-views (Double or Nothing, All Out, Full Gear, Revolution) on B/R Live.
5. Chris Jericho vs. Cody (Full Gear)
Chris Jericho defended his AEW World Championship against Cody at Full Gear, but there was over a month of intense buildup to their match last November.
In the first match of Dynamite's history, the American Nightmare defeated Sammy Guevara. After the bout, Jericho jumped Rhodes and later announced that Guevara, along with Jake Hager, Santana and Ortiz, were members of his Inner Circle. Thus, we saw the formation of a stable that would heavily feature on the company's programming for months to come.
Cody sought the help of half-brother Dustin, best friend MJF and longtime family friend Diamond Dallas Page to get his revenge on the Inner Circle. The result was a massive brawl in the concourse of an arena in which Cody punched a hole through a glass window to get his hands on Jericho for one of the most memorable AEW moments so far.
Eventually, the two fought in the ring at Full Gear. Their match was a storytelling clinic, an expected trait from two top workers. Jericho dominated much of the match as Cody struggled to find any momentum. Eventually, Jericho used his patented Walls submission in an attempt to finish the match. MJF, who was Cody's cornerman, shocked the Baltimore crowd when he threw in the towel to signal his mentor's forfeit.
An initially bewildered Cody eventually accepted the apology of MJF, who was emotional explaining to Cody what he did and why he did it. Then, the Salt of the Earth kicked Cody in the groin and turned on his so-called "best friend." Fans were so angry that one threw a drink at MJF on his way up the ramp. MJF said on the following episode of Dynamite that he felt Cody was holding him back because he was afraid of how well the 24-year-old would do by himself.
The buildup to the match, the bout itself and the aftermath are far too compelling to leave off the list. Jericho established the Inner Circle, Cody came out of it as the most sympathetic face at AEW, and MJF became a red-hot heel.
4. Lucha Brothers vs. Young Bucks (Ladder Match at All Out)
The rivalry between two of the top tag teams in the world reached new heights in what was referred to as an "Escalera de la Muerte," the Lucha Brothers' version of a ladder match. These tag teams are destined to put on great match after great match, but adding ladders to their feud kept things fresh.
What followed was absolute chaos as both teams competed for the AAA Tag Team Championship. Filled with wild and creative spots, it was like watching a beautiful train wreck. At no point in the match could fans really tell who was going to come out on top, adding to the drama. In the end, the Lucha Brothers retained their titles, but not after sending their opponent headfirst through a table from the top of a ladder.
This match last August was further proof that AEW is serious about being an industry leader with their tag team division, rather than treating it just as an afterthought. The Young Bucks are leading that charge and continued to back up their words with a terrific display.
3. Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega (Lights Out Match at Full Gear)
This is probably the most controversial inclusion on the list. Fans either loved this match or hated it, with little room in between.
If one's not into extreme matches, this wasn't for them. The sight of Jon Moxley throwing Kenny Omega on mouse traps and barbed wire can make even the most avid extreme wrestling fans queasy. The match did however prove that AEW will go to levels that other major promotions just won't.
It's rare to see this grotesque of a match happen even on pay-per-view events, but it was justified considering the deep animosity that Moxley and Omega had for each other. Their feud was one of the most personal in AEW's existence. Starting at Double or Nothing last May when Moxley assaulted Omega, things escalated when the former pulled out of their match at All Out because of a staph infection. The Best Bout Machine, incensed by Moxley's carelessness, cut his best AEW promo yet.
When these two finally met in the ring, glass, mouse traps, barbed wire and even an ice pick were used to try to mutilate each other. It may not have been the most technical of matches, but it sent a message that AEW was in fact an alternative product. Not only that, but it was a damn entertaining match.
2. Kenny Omega & Adam Page vs. Young Bucks (Revolution)
It's not an exaggeration to call this clash between The Elite members one of the greatest tag team matches in recent memory. It's certainly the greatest tag team match in AEW's short history.
It was hard to catch one's breath during their bout in February. Thirty minutes of relentless, hard-hitting action, compounded by the growing animosity between Adam Page and the Young Bucks, kept the Chicago crowd on its feet.
A couple months prior, Cowboy stepped away from The Elite as he tried to rebound from a string of losses. Page became more concerned about his personal accomplishments, much to the chagrin of Matt and Nick Jackson. The duo confronted Page on multiple occasions about his behavior and the increased alcohol consumption that has become a staple of his persona now. They even went as far as to call their former associate a "jobber" before the Young Bucks brought Page into New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Bullet Club.
This culminated in a scintillating performance at Revolution filled with big spot after big spot, adding to AEW's argument that they have the best tag division in the world.
1. Cody vs. Dustin (Double or Nothing)
One will struggle to find a finer wrestling match over the past year than Cody vs. Dustin at AEW's first event. The company had one chance to make a good first impression, and it did with this meeting between two top workers who know each other better than most.
Because Double or Nothing was AEW's first show, it didn't have much storyline buildup for most of its matches. Instead, it relied on the already well-established history between Cody and Dustin.
The match showcased the best of professional wrestling.
Chants of "Dusty" rang through the crowd at the start of the match as fans honored Cody and Dustin's late father. The match itself saw Cody control his 50-year-old opponent for the majority of it, but the 11,000 in attendance popped at every comeback attempt that Dustin, who was bleeding profusely, tried to make. It was all for naught, though, as Dustin sold his older age at the end of the match by giving into Cody's offense. The American Nightmare hit the Cross Rhodes to defeat his half-brother as the MGM Grand Arena crowd gave both competitors a standing ovation.
That wasn't the end of it. An emotional Cody grabbed a microphone and cut a touching promo as a battered Dustin sat in the corner of the ring. What followed was the most important moment in AEW's history so far—a shining example of the raw connection AEW hopes to make with its fans.
This match established Double or Nothing as a landmark pay-per-view and AEW as a promotion that can compete with the very best.