Wrestling Review: AEW Double or Nothing (2021)

Four huge title matches highlight a massive return to live crowds, as All Elite Wrestling (AEW) hosts Double or Nothing in front of a crowd of thousands for the first time in over a year. In the main event, for only the second time ever, two factions will compete in Stadium Stampede. The MJF-led Pinnacle face Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle, where the Inner Circle have declared that if they cannot win the match, they will disband permanently. After losing the match last year against The Elite, what won’t all of the members of the Inner Circle be willing to do to ensure their victory? Kenny Omega will also defend his AEW World Championship against two opponents in the first triple threat in AEW history, as both “The Bastard” Pac and Orange Cassidy vie for the top AEW gold. PAC holds the distinction of a submission victory over Kenny Omega, and Orange Cassidy has continually run — or perhaps slowly strolled — through every roadblock in his path to his first AEW Championship match. And for the first time in over six years, Sting returns to live action wrestling, as he teams with Darby Allin to face the new team of Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page.

In the biggest match of their storied history, Hikaru Shida and Britt Baker will meet one on one for Shida’s AEW Women’s Championship. In match these two have been involved in, Britt Baker has had her leg broken and her nose obliterated, both requiring surgery and extensive recovery periods. For Baker, there can be no sweeter revenge than claiming the gold from AEW longest reigning champion in the promotion’s history. Meanwhile, the newest champion in AEW, Miro, will defend his TNT Championship against “The Murderhawk Monster”, Lance Archer. Archer is still looking for his first taste of gold in AEW, and with Jake “The Snake” Roberts by his side, this could be his moment. As well, for one night only, Cody Rhodes will take the moniker of his late, great, trailblazing father as he becomes “The American Dream” Cody Rhodes to face of with the former UK Olympic boxer, Anthony Ogogo. Ogogo has cut a path through the competition on Dynamite, often with the use of a devastating punch to the midsection, which will certainly end the match if Ogogo can get a clean shot on the gut of Cody.

Also on the show, 21 of the top competitors in All Elite Wrestling will do battle in an over the top rope battle royale, with the winner earning themselves a championship match against whoever comes out of the main event as the AEW Champion. In the first championship match of the evening, it has been a return to the old attitude for the Young Bucks which has proved to breathe new life into their AEW Tag Team Championship reign, but they now face the absolutely unknown due of Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston, what is sure to be their toughest match to date. And finally, kicking off the show, Adam “Hangman” Page will face off with Brian Cage, where Cage has promised to leave his Tam Taz teammates in the back for a true one-on-one affair. And taking place on the pre-show, Serena Deeb will defend her NWA Women’s Championship against the returning Riho.

+ The Inner Circle vs The Pinnacle (Stadium Stampede II): this was very choreographed, I think more so than last year, but god damn was it a lot of fun. Hager/Wardlow had a real movie henchman fight; Sammy got to show off all his parkour skills over Shawn Spears; Santana, Ortiz and FTR got to just destroy a bar and club; and Jericho and MJF just wandered the Jacksonville Jaguar offices breaking stuff over each other. A few fun cameos added some comedy to what probably should have been a more serious affair, but I can’t really complain considering how much fun this was
+ Kenny Omega (c) vs PAC vs Orange Cassidy (AEW World Championship): there was a lot to like about this match, but frankly there was a lot I wasn’t a big fan of as well. Orange Cassidy’s shtick was super popular with the crowd, and PAC is still one of the best wrestlers not only in AEW, but in all of pro wrestling. Hopefully it doesn’t even need to be said how good Omega is. Still, three-way title matches often fall into the same traps, and while I can’t fault AEW for doing a three-way match in general, i hope it doesn’t become a crutch
+ Darby Allin & Sting vs Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page: it’s hard not to be excited to see Sting back in a wrestling ring, especially when he looks as good as he did here. Darby is a god damned star in the making, and I truly believe he will be the top champion of wherever he chooses to go. I’ve always enjoyed Scorpio Sky, and I’m indifferent to Page, but overall this was such a joy to watch. One moment between Page/Darby perked me up in a way not seen since old school ECW
+ Miro (c) vs Lance Archer (w/ Jake Roberts) (TNT Championship): insofar as big meaty men slapping meat, this was a lot of fun. Miro genuinely looks like a crazy person sometimes, and against a guy known for beating up random people for no reasons in Archer, that’s a hard task. I assume there will be more between these two, whichever way the may may have ended up going, but frankly I’d let each guy massacre some smaller guys for a while before coming back to it
+ The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) (c) vs Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston (AEW Tag Team Championships): this was fantastic. Kingston has an incredible connection to every live crowd, and of course Moxley and the Bucks are long time favourites and most reviled. With the familiar ‘but’ that all of these AEW tag team title matches have, this did feel to go on for a bit too long, but the crowd was so heavily behind Kingston/Moxley, and so utterly hated the Bucks that it made for an audible spectacle, even if the match itself was not the most flashy
+ Brian Cage vs Hangman Page: with a slight caveat that I thought this would be better than it was, this was still really good. I don’t know if Cage gets the props for just how good he can be, both as a powerhouse, a high flyer and a technical guy when the situation calls for it. Hangman, conversely, is great and still getting better and the crowd was crazy hot for everything he did. There was some good story moments here, and of course some crazy big moves, but I’d be lying if I didn’t expect even more
+ Serena Deeb (c) vs Riho (NWA Women’s Championship): this was bloody fantastic. Both Riho and Deeb played to the crowd in a really interesting way, and despite a few slight missteps, nothing looked bad. I really enjoyed this, and it especially highlights the differences between AEW ‘pre show’ matches and other company’s pre show matches

Hikaru Shida (c) vs Dr Britt Baker, D.M.D. (AEW Women’s Championship): truth be told, this was slightly sloppier than I thought it would be. I don’t know if Baker was rocked early on, but from that point forward the match was full of slips and mistimings. There were some other funky moments that seemed more planned than others, but to be completely honest, this was disappointing. Admittedly, my expectations were sky high, but despite the crowd’s constant involvement, I can’t say this was a highlight of the show
Cody Rhodes vs Anthony Ogogo: after that garbage promo from Cody a few weeks ago, his entrance in a Homelander-esque attire created some real questions of allegiance in my mind. This was not a good match. Cody’s recent months have really not impressed me, and Ogogo is such a parody of anti-American stuff (and I am neither English nor American) that I just didn’t care for this match going in, and did not care coming out
21-Man Casino Battle Royal: pretty good, but with the same sort of issues most battle royales face. I don’t like it when someone goes under the bottom rope and has a quick rest on the outside for so much of the match. The “Joker” surprise was fun enough, but overall this was basically every other battle royale you’ve ever seen. You know the deal; why not just have a gauntlet between the top contenders?

> This was a long show, going almost four hours. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a big deal, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying WWE’s three hour shows.

Should you watch this event: This was a really good show. With only the Cody/Ogogo match being a dud – in part a lot to do with Cody, not Ogogo – there was something for everyone. Go out of your way to see the Young Bucks/Mox & Kingston match, but if you do decide to watch the whole show, you won’t be disappointed.

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