While last year’s inaugural Double or Nothing pay-per-view from All Elite Wrestling (AEW) featured the 21-man Casino Battle Royale, this year for the second annual incarnation sees a new Casino match, in the Casino Ladder Match. It features nine competitors in a ladder match, with an AEW World Championship match contract as the prize. The first eight competitors were revealed through AEW’s Social Media to be Darby Allin, Colt Cabana, Orange Cassidy, Rey Fenix, Scorpio Sky, Kip Sabian, Frankie Kazarian, and Luchasaurus. On Monday, AEW revealed that the ninth entrant will remain a mystery until the PPV airs on Sunday, May 23.
Your ninth & final entrant in the Casino Ladder Match is a mystery & will be revealed at Double or Nothing!
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) May 18, 2020
On last week’s episode of AEW Dynamite, the rules of the Casino Ladder Match were revealed and much like the Casino Battle Royale, there’s a big twist to the standard rules to a match of this sort. Two entrants will randomly start the ladder match, with another entrant entering every 90 seconds until the complete field of nine entrants has entered. In the biggest twist, the Casino chip that is recovered for the World title shot is in play the minute the first two entrants start the match, so that means theoretically, someone could win the match before all nine wrestlers enter the match.
With so many releases from WWE over the past several weeks, the field could be literally anyone. While most were releases that have 90-day no-compete clauses (that would expire in mid-July), some of the names may opt-out of that clause and sign with AEW now. Others were a result of contracts expiring. But there are also some other indie names in play and while everyone is guessing which non-AEW stars may take the slot, there’s no guarantee that it won’t simply be someone who is already on the AEW roster. Here’s a quick look at some names that could potentially end up as entrants in the Casino Ladder Match.
Dustin Rhodes made his run in the tournament for the inaugural TNT Championship an emotional one, as he questioned himself at the highest level. Perhaps “The Natural” will insert himself into the match to continue his story about pushing himself for one more championship in his twilight years, this time putting his body on the line in a Ladder Match for the AEW World Championship.
Perhaps most people’s “obvious” choice, simply because his WWE contract expired this past Friday night. Drew Gulak has plenty of friends working with AEW – including the bulk of his Gentlemen’s Club stable from CHIKARA in Orange Cassidy and Chuck Taylor – and his kind of technical prowess could be something unique in AEW. But reports indicate that Gulak and WWE may still be renegotiating a new deal despite his previous one expiring, so he may not be as “obvious” as some would think.
“The Wrestling Genius” was another casualty of WWE’s Black Wednesday week, but the Knockout Artist Formerly Known As Kassius Ohno has quickly returned to his Chris Hero name that made him an indie legend for much of the 2000s. Considered one of the best minds in the game, he may be one of the releases that opt-out of the 90-day no-compete to get his foot in the door with AEW.
For the duration of the COVID-19 restrictions to AEW television, AEW has employed many independent stars on AEW DARK and AEW Dynamite. Southern indie star Alan Angels has impressed many with two decent outings against Kenny Omega and Rey Fenix and his natural athleticism is a perfect fit for a Ladder Match. It would also be a nice reward for helping AEW out during these trying times.
While Cody Rhodes has recently downplayed the chances of the former Zack Ryder showing up in AEW so soon, pro wrestlers are quite known for throwing swerveballs into the news cycles just to intensify appearances (i.e. The Hardy Boyz return at WrestleMania 33). Matt Cardona is looking to completely reinvent himself for his post-WWE career and being Florida based means he’s in the area – and you only have to go back to WrestleMania 32 for his last big moment, which coincidentally also took place in a Ladder Match.
While Jeff Cobb has still been working freelance with Ring of Honor since his contract expired, he’s already shown he’s not afraid to pop up elsewhere. This past February he showed up in AEW as a mercenary hired by Chris Jericho to take out AEW World Champion Jon Moxley, but Cobb came up short. Entering himself into this match could get him a rematch with Moxley and continue to make a name for himself in AEW.
The reigning National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) World’s Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis has an alliance with Cody Rhodes and company going back to the first All In in Chicago in 2018. Nick Aldis is one of wrestling’s hardest working World Champions and could be interested in adding more gold to his shoulder. The one drawback could be that Billy Corgan and the NWA may not want their World Champion in such a match, similar to when IMPACT Wrestling pulled their then-IMPACT World Champion Brian Cage from the Casino Battle Royale at last year’s Double or Nothing for potentially devaluing their own World title by entering a smaller match. While it may be nice to see some NWA crossover in AEW, Aldis may be the least likely of the list.
Miroslav “Miro” Barnyashev became an international superstar in the WWE as Rusev, where his “Rusev Day” made him one of the company’s most popular attractions, despite WWE’s lack of interest in utilizing his appeal. Like many of WWE’s releases, he no doubt wants to prove his former employers wrong for their lack of push, and showing up at one of AEW’s biggest events of the year would definitely get the pro wrestling world talking about Miro Day once again. The question is whether or not he would waive his no-compete clause.
Sugar Dunkerton, aka “Pineapple Pete”
While Alan Angels was a surprising breakout star of the indie talents used by AEW over the past few months, no one has exploded more than longtime indie veteran Sugar Dunkerton. Ever since Chris Jericho called him “Pineapple Pete” on an episode while Le Champion was on commentary, Suge-D has become a viral sensation every week with AEW. A real shot to compete for the chance to become AEW World Champion at Double or Nothing would be the icing on the cake for an amazing run for Suge-D in AEW.
Speaking of former IMPACT World Champion Brian Cage, Cage’s contract with IMPACT Wrestling expired after this past January’s Hard to Kill PPV, and he’s been resting from injuries ever since. AEW has clearly had an interest in the “Swolverine” since last year’s Double or Nothing and if Cage is feeling healthy, it would only be apropos for him to make his debut at the same event he was denied entry to last year. It will most likely come down to his health situation.
For the past week, NWA/WCW and IMPACT Wrestling legend Sting has been teasing a potential appearance in AEW, with Cody Rhodes eagerly responding. Sting was an early tag team partner of Dusty Rhodes in the NWA in 1987, warring against The Road Warriors, and with AEW focusing on the NWA and WCW era as their template, adding someone like Sting to their legacy core of the likes of Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and Diamond Dallas Page would be a huge get in the PR department. While an AEW appearance is still something we could see in 2020, the real question is if a 61-year-old Sting, who hasn’t wrestled since his match with Seth Rollins at WWE Clash of Champions in 2015, is physically able to endure something like the Double or Nothing Ladder Match for his first match in five years.
Who do you think will be the mystery ninth entrant in the AEW Casino Ladder Match at Double or Nothing? Let us know in the comments below!
Stay tuned to Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8pm ET on TNT and AEW DARK Tuesday nights at 6pm on their YouTube Channel. Double or Nothing is this Sunday, May 23, at 8pm EST on Fite.tv.