With the announcement of the second-ever Casino Ladder match, I was quickly excited about the prospect of a multi-man match filled with high-flying acrobatics and increased tension as wrestlers deliberately ascended the rungs only to be repeatedly thrown off the climbing apparatus. However, this feeling was immediately followed by the recollection of something I realized a few months ago and that is, without exception, every single Casino match winner of any kind from every division has failed to win.
A quick history lesson:
Taken collectively, these seven matches produced seven follow-up title matches all of which saw either another wrestler become the inaugural champion (Jericho & Riho) or the current champion(s) defended their belts. At first glance, this may not bode well for the winner of Wednesday’s match but a closer look at the past is warranted before looking forward as to what might be a little further ahead. In the case of the first two Battle Royale winners, following their 2019 defeats, each found championship gold early in 2020: - Adam Page scored the deciding pins in a #1 Contendership match and again on the Jericho Cruise the week after as he and Kenny Omega defeated SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) in the first title change in company history. A record nine title defenses followed and, despite some Dark Order detours, the prospect of a World Championship showdown against his former partner still looms on the horizon. Detracting opinions are certainly out there, but I feel this arc has presented enough consistent beats to stand up as one of the best long-term stories told in recent memory.
- Only a few short weeks after Page found victory, Nyla Rose avenged her lost from the premiere episode of Dynamite and became the second Women’s World Champion in company history. A less memorable than desired reign during the early pandemic era followed but Rose has still been featured in multiple key matches including on PPV at Full Gear (2020) vs Hikaru Shida and in the Eliminator Tournament Final vs Ryo Mizunami although the Native Beast came up short on both occasions. Looking at the latter five matches (six wrestlers), each may appear to be a case of building up challengers only to be conquered by strong champions and then sent promptly back to the middle of the card. There is indeed a degree of merit to that argument but consider that half (Brian Cage, Lance Archer and most recently Rey Fénix) have either won/been awarded championships that have subsequently been defended on AEW programming. With the increased discussion around Trios titles, as well as the rumour of a second Women’s championship, perhaps PAC, Jungle Boy and Ruby Soho will follow this pattern in the months to follow.
Other trends emerged out of this analysis with notable outliers. Aside from Page’s win, all other winners received title matches on Dynamite with 4 out of 6 (67%) being Main Events so we can reasonably expect this to continue. Also, all matches other than the Tag Team Battle Royale had a surprise or “Joker” entry who enters the match last; 3 of 6 (50%) - Page, Cage and Soho – won from this position, making it a coin flip at best if this happens again. The upcoming showcase further sets itself apart as it is the first on Dynamite. To sum up, winning a Casino Match in AEW means you almost certainly won’t strike it rich, at least not right away. Even so, you will probably have the opportunity cash in your chips eventually for some gold like Fénix or at least some orange like Cage. In other words, if you have a gambling problem, don’t bet the house on this being your lucky lottery ticket. All the same, I thought I’d provide some less than scientific odds on the competitors involved: PAC: 10 to 1 > The most likely of the announced wrestlers is the match I want and won’t get. He’s still consumed by his rage for Andrade to focus on the trivialities of retrieving the oversized novelty poker chip. Jon Moxley: 15 to 1 > You can say he doesn’t need it and that might be true. Then again, there’s just something in the air at this time of year when Moxley and Omega start crossing paths again. (See Full Gear 2019 and Winter is Coming 2020) Lance Archer: 20 to 1 > The answer to the future trivia question: Who was the first AEW wrestler to compete in two ladder matches in the same year? This seems like a tough way to end a 14-match Singles winning streak although he did just enter the Official Top 5. Andrade El Idolo: 25 to 1 > This also appears like a strange way to potentially take his first loss but not everyone should go on an undefeated run upon entering the company. As stated above, I assume PAC (if not Penta and Fénix) will keep him occupado. Orange Cassidy: 30 to 1 > The only returning competitor from the first iteration of this match; I’m still not sure he has the energy to climb a ladder this time around. Matt Hardy: 3000 to 1 > The odds match his age, just ask him. In all seriousness, the most pivotal part of his role in this match will likely be backstage. --- Joker: 2 to 1 > Not just because of the 50-50 proposition already mentioned and even though it won’t be a perfect example of circular storytelling, the end here could very well match the beginning. How so? My money on the mystery man’s identity is on the Anxious Millennial Cowboy himself, Adam Page. Bet on it. Anyone with questions or comments is encouraged to respond here or on Twitter @AEWmetrics.