Double or Nothing 2021: Two Half Thumbs Up

AEW had it’s first PPV with a full crowd since before the pandemic and boy howdy did they give that crowd a show. This was an excellent 4 hours of wrestling that only featured a single match that was less than good. Much like WrestleMania earlier in the year, the crowd being back really added to the show, they were hot the whole card and didn’t lose their energy for almost anything.

Buy-In: NWA Women’s Title: Serena Deeb (c) def. Riho

Deeb has a strong claim of being the most talented technician in the AEW women’s division and Riho always gives strong babyfaces performances . This was slow starting match that built to fiery crescendo. The crowd started off split between cheering for both women but Deeb was able to get them to fully turn on her by the end. This was a solid match that told a simply story of Deeb using her technical prowess to pick apart Riho to force the submission, while Riho did everything to fight back and win. It would have benefitted from an actual storyline going in to it but was good way to kick off the show.

Hangman Page def. Brian Cage

Hangman Adam Page has one of, if not the, best character arc in wrestling right now and if the crowd reaction to him here was any indication, then the conclusion of that arc with him becoming AEW Champion will be epic. His feud with Team Taz and this match with Cage was a pit stop on that journey, but it was a good pit stop and a great way to start the PPV proper with a crowd who was hot for Page the whole time. This was a great match that made both men look good. Brian Cage always impresses with the ability he has for a man his size. He’s just as quick and agile as guys half his size but he’s also a powerhouse and he showed that here. Page sold for him like a champ. Page came across great, getting offense in with smart counters. The finish involved Team Taz trying to interfere on Cage’s behalf but he refused, wanting to win fair and square, that distraction led to a Buckshot Lariat and a win for Page and new story for Cage.

AEW Tag Team Titles: The Young Bucks (c) def. Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston

This was another excellent title match from the Bucks. They’re such good heels with such easily punchable faces I can’t believe they were ever babyfaces. Mox & Kingston jumped the Bucks during their entrance to start an electric pre match brawl that ended with Mox chugging a fans beer. The match proper was just as high energy as the brawl with the crowd fully behind Kingston & Mox who were excellent babyfaces to act as foils for the dastardly Young Bucks. This was full of great nearfalls that all could have conceivably ended the match. In defeat Mox and Kingston still came across as extremely tough bastards as it took everything the Bucks had and then some to put them away.

Casino Battle Royale: Jungle Boy

It’s tough to review a battle royal because their very nature makes it impossible for them to be good matches. But in terms of battle royals, this one was fine with most of the action easy enough to follow and it kept a few storylines going. The biggest things to come out of this are the debut of Lio Rush and Jungle Boy’s victory. Some people might be underwhelmed at Rush being the mystery entrant and he didn’t last long but he got a good pop when he came out and while he was in the match, he impressed. He’s a great in ring worker so it’s nice that he’s on a major TV show where he gets to show that. The final two of the match were Christian Cage and Jungle Boy and in terms of final twos in a battle royal, this was really great. Christian entered the match first, hinting that he might repeat what Edge did at the Rumble but after a great back and forth with a lot of creative elimination attempts and saves, Jungle Boy won earning a future World Title match. The rightan won and Christian put him over even more after the match.

Cody Rhodes def. Anthony Ogogo

This match really should have simply been based on Cody’s feud with the factory bit instead became an America vs Foreigner feud straight out of the 1980s. As a Canadian, I didn’t care and I’m sure a lot of other people not from either the US or UK didn’t either. Cody came out dressed like Homelander. Ogogo is still green but he has potential, some of the moves he hit were impressive but in the end Cody beat him after withstanding multiple gut punchs that made Austin Gunn cough up blood, a nasty upper cut and a dominator. I think they story of this match was supposed to be Cody using his experience to win over Ogogo but that didn’t play out by Cody out wrestling him, it played out with Ogogo looking like an idiot for doing things like not going for the pin after a nasty frog splash or trying to go for a pin without moving Cody’s arm that Stevie Wonder could’ve seen was under the rope. Cody won because of course he did, it wasn’t a bad match per say but it wasn’t good and it felt like it was double the length it really was.

AEW Women’s Title: Britt Baker def. Hikaru Shida (c)

Britt Baker has improved so much since the beginning of AEW that sometimes it’s hard to believe she’s the same wrestler but here we are. She’s now the champion and face of the women’s division and it’s well deserved. This match was the simple story of two competitors who know each other really well trying to defeat the other. One trying to defend her title and the other trying to prove she’s not the same competitor who had her nose broken in their last match. It was really well done, with lots of counters and counters to those counters. Shida has been an excellent champ and she was terrific here, doing everything in power to prove she was the better wrestler and even getting more aggressive and heelish as it became apparent the crowd was mostly behind wrestling’s greatest dentist. This was extremely well paced with high spots sprinkled throughout instead of all saved for the end and some really close near falls. Baker’s win was expected but they were still able to make us believe that she might lose which is a testament to both women’s skill. This was a great way to end Shida’s reign and kick off Baker’s.

TNT Title: Miro (c) def. Lance Archer

This was two big meaty men slapping meat. There wasn’t anything really technical here, just two big men, beating the hell out of each other and it was entertaining. Both men got to hit some impressive moves on one another and it was fun to see two men who rarely get hit with offense like that just wail on each other. There were some fun spots like Miro throwing Archer into some “fans” in the front row and when Jake Roberts tried to interfere, Miro threw his snake up the ramp. In the end Miro won by submission when Archer passed out in the Accolade. Beating a big guy like Archer is the kind of victory Miro needed. It remains to be seen what’s next for Archer as so far he’s lost all his big matches. This was a fun hoss fight though.

Sting & Darby Allin def. Ethan Page & Scorpio Sky

This was a masterclass in hiding weaknesses and showcasing strengths. Sting is 62 years old and can’t wrestle the way he could in his prime. He probably can’t even go like he could in TNA. He suffered a career ending injury six years ago. You would never know any of that based on this match. He took bumps, he hit his signature moves with a babyface fire that so few are able to showcase and the crowd ate it all up. The rest of the match was solid as well, with Darby taking bumps and ragdolling like only he can. Page and Sky got in good offense to showcase their talents and Sky taking the pin was smart because Page has more upside between the two of them at this point. This wasn’t the best tag match you’ll ever see but it was really fun and the live crowd was hot the whole time.

AEW World Title: Kenny Omega (c) def. Pac & Orange Cassidy

This was a Match of the Year contender. We already know that Pac and Omega are two of the best in the world and we know they can make magic together. Cassidy was the wild card but he’s so much more than a comedy wrestler. He’s proven time and again that when the time calls for it he can go and he absolutely cemented that here. The crowd was fully behind him the whole match and his near falls were some of the loudest reactions the whole night. He really could have won and everyone would have been really happy, that’s how over he is and he proved here that he can hang with the best of the best and be a credible threat. All the action was tremendous and each man had points where they could have won. Most triple threats devolve into one on one matches while one guys rests until it’s time to hit a big move or break up a pin but here that was kept to a minimum. The majority of this match featured all three men doing something and even the one on one scenarios featured terrific back and forth and creative reintroductions of the third man. Orange Cassidy save himself from a top rope dragon suplex by putting his hands in his pockets, Pac locked Cassidy in the brutalizer and wouldn’t let it go no matter how many time Omega kicked him in the face, Don Callis screwed Orange by pulling the ref out of the ring, Omega hit Pac in the face with all four of his title belts and still won with a lucky rollup the bastard. The match was filled with memorable moments like those that gave each man a chance to shine and showcase what makes them incredible talents.

Stadium Stampede: Inner Circle def. The Pinnacle

This was not as good as last year’s Stadium Stampede. Having said that it was still really great and differentiated itself enough that it will be hard to compare. Where the first one was filled with creativity and humor, this played out more like a street fight between two gangs who wanted to kill each other. There was still some humor like Jericho hitting MJF with a cardboard cutout of Tony Khan’s dad and then petting it or TIAA stadium inexplicitly having a bar in it where Konnan was the DJ but this was mostly two groups trying to end one another and it worked. It played with each competitor sticking with the member of the other group whom they’ve been feuding so MJF and Jericho were fighting, Jake Hager and Wardlow, FTR and Proud & Powerful and Sammy Guevara and Shawn Spears. Most of the match was pre-taped and featured some great moments of brutality like Jericho throwing MJF through a glass window, Cash Wheeler whiping beer bottles at Ortiz, Wardlow speared Hager threw a wall. The standout of the match was Sammy who show off some impressive athletic ability by parkouring around Spears to hit moves and dodge attacks, at one point he even backflipped off the wall like Neo. Since their was a live crowd this year, they cut away from the pre-taped footage to come into the live arena. Jericho dragged a bloody MJF into the crowd and tossed him over the balcony to a rapturous applause. The Sammy chased Shawn Spears to the ring in a golf cart in a nice callback to last year. Sammy ended up curb stomping Spears into a chair set up in the corner before hitting an a 630 seton for the win. The Inner Circle celebrated in the ring while the crowd sang along to Judas. Really fun way to end the night and send the crowd home happy and great showcase for Sammy who is a future star and as excellent as he was as a heel will be a great babyface.

Overall Show Grade:

Chasing Paddington to the Ring with a Golf Cart

We rate things on a scale based on how close something is in quality to Paddington 2. To learn more please read this post

Published by Matt Fresh

30% Water, 70% James Bond movies. Matt is a writer, gamer, film enthusiast & silly person. The winner of various fictitious awards, he's fluent in English & pop culture references.

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