Let me know what you think by tweeting at me @robbydeshazer!
Ok fine, I will give you a little more than that.
When was the last time that you really felt like the winner of a PPV number one contender battle royal or ladder match had a legit shot at getting a title win? Maybe it was when Brian Cage won the Casino ladder match at last year's Double or Nothing? If it wasn't that then it was when Hangman Adam Page won the first-ever Casino Battle Royal at AEW's inaugural Double or Nothing. Since then, AEW has held a number of multi-man matches guaranteeing the winner a title shot at a later date, yet none of them have ever felt that compelling.
At Revolution this year, Scorpio Sky defeated Cody Rhodes, Penta El Zero Miedo, Lance Archer, Max Caster, and Ethan Page in the "Face of the Revolution" ladder match which guaranteed him a shot at then TNT Champion, Darby Allin. Scorpio Sky vs Darby Allin is a pretty good matchup that is guaranteed to draw eyes from all over the wrestling world. Had that match been given a solid build it could've had people talking for weeks, but instead, AEW decided to have the match just three days later on the very next episode of Dynamite.
The same thing seems to be happening already with the most recent Casino Battle Royal winner, Jungle Boy. The Jurassic Express member eliminated Christian Cage last at Double or Nothing this past weekend only for his upcoming title shot to take place, not at Fyter Fest or Fight For The Fallen but next week on a regular Wednesday Night Dynamite.
Let's compare Jungle Boy and Scorpio Sky's recent number one contender runs to that of Brian Cage just one year ago.
Cage debuted as the final entrant in the Casino ladder match at Double or Nothing 2020 with him was his manager, Taz, together these two would form the foundation of Team Taz which has become a pretty much permanent fixture of Dynamite sense that time.
Cage climbed the ladder and retrieved the massive poker chip guaranteeing him a shot at Jon Moxley and the AEW World Championship. That match was booked for Fyter Fest but was postponed to Fight For The Fallen a few weeks later (due to complications with the pandemic). In the time in between Taz came out and cut promos calling out Mox and hyping up Brian Cage, he even re-debuted the FTW Championship when Moxley was unable to compete due to his quarantining situation. When that match finally happened, it felt like it mattered.
On the other hand, Sky and Jungle Boy's wins both feel like they were just there to fill a spot on the PPV card. Neither Darby back in March or Kenny currently seem particularly concerned with their number one contenders and Kenny is already seemingly headed toward a feud with Christian Cage the last man eliminated by Jungle Boy.
The Casino Battle Royal and Ladder matches as well as the Face of the Revolution Ladder Match are both clearly AEW's take on WWE's Royal Rumble and Money In The Bank matches, but when we compare what the winner's of those matches receive to what AEW's winners get the problem becomes even more apparent.
In the Royal Rumble, the winner gets a guaranteed title shot in the main event of WrestleMania. Sure, that main event part sometimes gets dropped in favor of a bigger box office match, but the match is still on the card of the biggest wrestling event of the year. Whereas the winner of the Money In The Bank ladder match gets a guaranteed title shot at any time they want it. Both of these feel like huge opportunities for the winners of those matches because they are.
In AEW if you win a Casino Battle Royal, you might get your world title opportunity at the next big Dynamite event or maybe even at the next PPV, but more likely you'll be getting to headline one episode of Dynamite with very little build other than your win itself.
AEW needs to start treating their number one contenders like number one contenders or else these battle royals and ladder matches are going to feel like the mid-card consultation prices if you didn't get a singles or tag match on the card.
None of this even touches on the rankings system, because that is another rant for another day. But for now, let's just hope that AEW takes a look at how they are booking their number one contenders and finds a way to start building these matches a bit better.
I already said it at the top of the article, but let me know what you think. Is AEW throwing out title shots like participation trophies or does it actually mean anything to win a Casino match anymore? Let me know by tweeting at me @robbydeshazer!
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