The Real Winners and Losers from AEW Double or Nothing 2020
All Elite Wrestling Double or Nothing 2020 made major promises. In the wake of a pandemic and multiple recent tragedies, AEW wanted to give everyone something to enjoy Saturday.
The night started rocky. The matches ran too long. The card seemed out of order, and several contests, including Cody vs. Lance Archer, did not deliver as promised.
However, by the end, plenty of winners emerged from the show, especially following the incredible triumph that was the Stadium Stampede. The absurdity was elevated by stars like Chris Jericho, Matt Hardy, "Hangman" Adam Page and Sammy Guevara, who were committed to the incredible vibe of the contest.
The rest of the show had important moments as well. Along the way, Mr. Brodie Lee proved he was a main event act. Hikaru Shida took the next step forward to become the new women's champion. Brian Cage debuted in dominant fashion.
It was an imperfect win for AEW. Double or Nothing might not have been great, but it was a show that no one will forget.
Winner: Everyone Involved with Stadium Stampede
The Stadium Stampede had an emphatic opening that included the Jacksonville Jaguars cheerleaders and mascot, as well as "Hangman" Adam Page running down Sammy Guevara on a horse. It did not disappoint throughout, ending with Kenny Omega hitting the One-Winged Angel through a platform to win for The Elite.
Wrestling has been required to evolve in the wake of the pandemic, and the highlight of that change has been cinematic matches. Wrestling can work well when taped in advance.
This contest was perhaps the crown jewel of those contests. Even the Boneyard match at WWE WrestleMania 36 did not have this much to it. This was a fun, wild and wacky bout that elevated the company through sheer force of will.
While certain stars like Page and Jake Hager did not do as much, they played memorable roles. Santana, Ortiz and The Young Bucks were the workhorses. It was an incredible effort by all involved.
Double or Nothing 2020 may not have been perfect from start to finish, but the main event elevated the whole show to must-watch territory.
Winner: Mr. Brodie Lee
Mr. Brodie Lee walked in with the AEW World Championship, and only security could keep Jon Moxley from attacking him before the bell. In a brutal match that raged all over the arena, the AEW world champion put down The Exalted One with a Paradigm Shift through the ramp followed by a rear-naked choke.
Lee may have lost, but he put in one of the best showings of his career. The Exalted One wiped away any remnants of his disappointing WWE run with an emphatic statement against the top star in the company.
It could be argued that a defeat for The Exalted One could hurt his character. He was built up as a massive star from the start thanks to his arrival as the head of The Dark Order. However, long term, he needed to show he could deliver.
He did just that. Lee fought a man he had battled many times before, but this was on another level. Saturday saw a special performance from a wrestler who has been stuck doing nothing for far too long.
It is easy to see Lee fighting anyone in a main event match without anyone batting an eye. He is a top attraction going forward.
Loser: Shawn Spears
Shawn Spears mocked Dustin Rhodes, demanding a count-out victory over the veteran before he appeared. He was wrong to assume Rhodes could not compete. The Natural stormed the ring and made quick work of The Chairman, who was not ready to wrestle, winning with the Final Reckoning.
This was an embarrassing match that felt more like WWE than AEW. Spears was embarrassed, showing his bare backside on PPV. The Chairman gained some momentum, only to immediately fall short at the finish line.
On a night when AEW gave matches too much time, this squash match did not fit. Moreover, it did not help Rhodes. It only made Spears look bad.
Spears' push started when Cody called him a "good hand." With each performance, he is booked like that is his role. Even after his recent strong performance against The American Nightmare, he still got squashed on PPV by a man nearing retirement.
Winner: Hikaru Shida
Hikaru Shida walked into her No Disqualification match Saturday as the underdog. Nyla Rose had the size advantage and Shida's kendo stick. However, the challenger took the punishment and took back her stick. She put down The Native Beast with a running knee.
This was a huge moment for the Japanese wrestler. Shida showed up in the biggest match of her AEW career. While the contest went long and hit a few awkward spots, the overall match was a highlight of the night.
AEW has struggled to commit to the women's division. Even with talent like Shida, Rose, Britt Baker, Riho and Kris Statlander, the booking has been weak. The biggest problem is AEW has not committed to long-term stories.
Shida was built as the most dominant woman in the company before Double or Nothing. This is the right time to invest in the women's champion.
Loser: Lance Archer
Lance Archer and Jake "The Snake" Roberts promised to destroy AEW's Caesar, but Cody was not having it. The executive vice president of AEW managed to survive the domination of The Murderhawk Monster. After Mike Tyson scared off Roberts, Cody hit the Cross Rhodes to win.
After all the buildup, Archer lost his first big match in AEW. He was undefeated and set up purely for this contest. Losing at the finish line hurts him more than just about any other first loss would have.
The American Nightmare set himself up to fail. No matter how popular he is, he has a hand in booking the card. Any time he wins a title will disappoint over the alternative. His supposed emotional victory landed wrong, more awkward than affecting.
It is likely that Archer will recover, but Saturday was a missed opportunity. He had a potential to be Cody's bogeyman, the person he cannot beat. Instead, he lost clean to the man he wanted to destroy.
The Murderhawk will have to be overpushed to compensate. Meanwhile, AEW will have to decide whether The American Nightmare should run with the title or let it go to someone less relevant.
Winner: Brian Cage
In the Casino ladder match, Brian Cage was the final surprise entrant. Taz introduced him before The Machine went on a rampage. The wrestlers attempted to bury Cage under ladders and a giant poker chip, but he would not stop. He took out Darby Allin before winning the match.
This was a huge moment for The Machine. The former Impact world champion was a big star in that promotion, but it could not elevate him to a level of a top stars in the business.
AEW seems to have decided from the start he will be one of its biggest stars. While the company has started to sign big men like Lance Archer and Wardlow, The Machine could be the star who changes the perception of AEW's talent.
His debut could have been better handled, as it felt too contrived. But the win immediately solidified him as a top competitor. He and Jon Moxley make for a unique pairing, but when Cage gets his title shot at Fyter Fest, he should make the most of it.
The big man may not look it, but he is athletic. He can do just about anything needed of him. He will add a necessary element to AEW going forward.