All Elite Wrestling officially entered their second year as a promotion on May 25, 2020 on the first anniversary of Double or Nothing. With this big milestone in the young companies history, I have decided to take a look at what I believe are the 10 best matches that AEW had in their first year. The timeline for these matches will be any show that took place from May 25th, 2019 to May 25th, 2020, including Double or Nothing 2.
#10: Riho(c) vs Nyla Rose AEW Women’s Championship Match: Dynamite 02/12/20
This was the match that was supposed to be a fresh start for the women’s division, which is known to most fans as AEW’s weakest link. Riho and Nyla Rose had a rematch of their inaugural championship match from October 2nd and were able to have the best women’s match so far in AEW. Nyla Rose showcased her incredible strength, while Riho used her speed to make the match a little more believable. In the end, Nyla Rose won the championship from Riho, getting the belt on someone who could be on Dynamite every week. This match was certainly a step in the right direction for the AEW women’s division.
#9: Kenny Omega (c)/”Hangman” Adam Page (c) vs Lucha Bros AEW Tag Team Championship Match: Dynamite 02/19/20
I consider this to be the most underrated tag team match that AEW has had. This championship match came in the middle of the Elite civil war between the Bucks and Kenny/Hangman that resulted in another match that you’ll see later, causing this match to flow under the radar. The match started a little slow but quickly picked up the pace, stealing the show in Atlanta on the same night as Cody vs Wardlow. I did debate if this spot should have gone to the cage match instead, but this had the length that the main event was lacking. I would love to see a rematch sometime soon and have the Lucha Bros take the belts they should have won months ago.
#8: Orange Cassidy vs Pac: Revolution 02/29/20
Oh the singles debut of “Freshly Squeezed” Orange Cassidy. This match was absolutely incredible. Everyone was wondering how Orange Cassidy would be in a singles match and he did not disappoint. The pairing with the “Bastard” Pac was perfect, allowing Cassidy to get all the potential babyface cheers and Pac to get all the potential heel heat. This match elevated both guys to potential main event level, making a perfect booking choice with Pac winning but Cassidy showing that he could easily have won that match.
#7: Stadium Stampede: Double or Nothing 2 05/23/20
The absolute perfection of the cinematic match, the Stadium Stampede was a great showdown between the Elite and Inner Circle. Hangman rode a horse, Hardy filled a pool with the water from the lake of reincarnation, Sammy got PTSD from the golf cart, Jericho challenging the play, a bar fight with a “Big Lebowski” reference, and a one-winged angel from 20 feet in the air. This was a perfect way to end AEW’s biggest PPV of the year without fans in the crowd. The only knock was that it was not the brutal beat-down between these two factions that I was hoping for.
#6: Lucha Bros (c) vs Young Bucks AAA World Tag Team Championship La Escalera de la Muerte Match: All Out 08/31/19
I remember watching this ladder match in person last August and being wowed. These four guys put their bodies on the line for some incredible spots. Pentagon hitting a destroyer through a table off a ladder, double frog splashes by Fenix and Nick on opposite sides of the ring, and Pentagon getting his mask ripped off made this match unforgettable. However, when I rewatched this match while preparing this list, something felt off to me. The match had a weird flow to me which caused it to drop a few spots.
#5: Kenny Omega (c) vs Pac 30-Minute Iron Man Match: Dynamite 2/26/20
It is impossible to comprehend the reasoning for this match being on free TV. These two guys opened the show and absolutely tore the freaking house down. Omega and Pac have great chemistry and showed incredible athleticism and storytelling for over 30 minutes. Not to mention that they both went on to have matches on this list three days later. This was easily the best Dynamite match to date.
#4: Kenny Omega vs Jon Moxley Lights Out Match: Full Gear 11/09/20
Omega and Moxley’s unsanctioned match at Full Gear is easily the most controversial match in AEW. They used barbed wire, mouse traps, shards of glass, steel chains, and exposed wood. This match is polarizing to many fans due to it being basically a hardcore match, but I loved it. I am not the biggest hardcore match guy but this was just about as brutal as I can take. Many people won’t even consider it to be in their top 10 matches, but it’s easily one of my favorites.
#3: Chris Jericho(c) vs Cody AEW World Championship Match: Full Gear 11/09/19
This was the only AEW world championship match to make my top 10. These guys put it all on the line and told a fantastic story. The perfect use of MJF throwing in the towel and screwing over Cody from getting another title shot. There was also an extra level to this match with the judges ringside if they went to the time limit. This was by far the best AEW championship match to date and Jericho’s best match in AEW.
#2: Kenny Omega (c)/”Hangman” Adam Page (c) vs Young Bucks AEW Tag Team Championship Match: Revolution 02/29/20
The best tag team championship match ever. That is what this match was called after it ended on a February night in Chicago. The civil war between the Elite that had started months prior had finally reached it’s climax as the Young Bucks tried to dethrone Omega and Hangman and fulfill their destiny in AEW. This match had incredible pacing throughout it’s over 30 minutes of action. Not to mention that Omega had just fought in an iron man match three days prior. This was by far the best athletic match that AEW has had so far, but also told a great story. While I may not consider it the best AEW match so far, it’s very close to being there.
#1: Cody vs Dustin Rhodes: Double or Nothing 05/25/19
This was the dream match that everybody had been waiting years to see. Brother vs brother. Generation vs generation. I remember sitting in the audience at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and was wowed by the incredible storytelling. These two brothers did a great job getting everybody emotionally invested as they stole the show. I will admit that I have not watched this match since I saw it in person. There is the potential that if I watch it again I will not enjoy it as much. However, no match has ever topped the emotion I felt during that match, which is why I consider it AEW’s best match.