Tuesday, June 1, 2021

AEW: Double or Nothing 2021 Review

AEW Double or Nothing 
May 30th, 2021
Daily’s Place - Jacksonville, FL 
Commentators - Excalibur, Jim Ross, & Tony Schiavone

For the first time ever, I attended an AEW event and not just an event, but a PPV event. The first PPV event back with fans in full capacity and it was honestly the best live wrestling experience of my life.

It took me a few days to fully recover from the 8 hour round trip and all the yelling & chanting, but I finally was able to get my full thoughts together on this fantastic event. Please note, I haven't watched this back on tape yet, so some of these ratings could change slightly on a re-watch, but I'm pretty confident in most of them. 

1) Serena Deeb (c) vs. Riho - NWA Women’s Title Match 

This was a match that was announced super last minute, but boy was everyone in attendance so hyped for the in ring action to start that this felt like it had weeks and weeks of build. Great reactions for both women in their entrances, but the true response came as the match progressed and dueling “Let’s go Riho / Let’s go Deeb” chants broke out. It made everything feel important and the ladies busted their ass, more than matching the energy, they enhanced it. Serena is superb and was the ace here working Riho’s knee/leg and slowing this down when needed. This had an electricity about it being the first match back with a full capacity crowd and it rocked, I need more of these two. Deeb forces Riho to tap to retain her title after a fucking great back & forth match. 

Match rating - ***3/4

2) Brian Cage vs. “Hangman” Adam Page
And now we are live on PPV and good god almighty.. I never in my life expected this to be as incredible as it was. The crowd is deafening, particularly for Page and he fires everyone up even more. You can tell having the crowd back meant so much to many of the talent on this show, Page being one of them. This was a barn burner and a slugfest in every sense of the word. Stiff shots, big spots, and they even attempted or executed each other’s finishers on one another. Not to mention the avalanche F5 from Cage that was just fucking ballistic. This was NUTS. Page wins and everyone rejoices. At this pace, with these stellar undercard matches, this show could be an all timer. 

Match rating - ****

3) The Young Bucks (c) vs. Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston - AEW World Tag Team Title Match 

This was the match of the night for me. The energy and electricity in the room continued and exploded into a new dimension here. Mox & Eddie enter to “Wild Thing” and people are singing along before the vocals even start. Moxley and King enter from the side door and Mox goes crazy throwing chairs as he stumbles through the crowd. It sets the tone and the vibe and man I had goosebumps. Also, Mox had on a Trent Acid shirt! The Bucks are out next to an array of boos and before they can soak it in too much, they are jumped at the bell through the streamers that popped off during their pose. Fever pitch to start things with a wild brawl around ringside. Things settle into a standard tag formula and it’s executed beyond perfection. Mox & King are so fucking great together and the Bucks are the best tag team of all time. So much babyface fire from the challengers, with multiple hot tags that blew the roof off the arena. The build to all the hot tags were just insane and Mox & King working the tag rope, pacing the apron, etc (all the little things) made this feel like such a classic and so.. real. It wasn’t a move fest or an attempt at melodrama. This was a professional wrestling tag team match in its most pure and fucking beautiful form. Mox powering up and bleeding like hell, the Bucks isolating both of their challengers and making them WORK for the tag.. this just checked all the boxes. I even loved the small bit of interference with Kazarian making the save and fighting off Karl Anderson (even though hardly anyone in attendance could tell who it was, even chanting "who was that?") This was really a piece of art and being able to witness it live will stick with me forever. My throat was sore after this one.. god damn. 

Match rating - ****3/4

4) Casino Battle Royale 

Of course, I think we all get our hopes too high for the surprise entrant here, but those high hopes aside this was a blast. 10, Jungle Boy, Colt Cabana, Christian & Penta got GREAT reactions. Christian starting off brought me out of my seat and the eventual face off with Matt Hardy was a cool moment. Lio Rush was the joker and looked phenomenal in his debut and got a much better reaction than I would’ve anticipated. He’s eliminated fairly quickly though and it comes down to Christian and Jungle Boy who give us the perfect conclusion to this match along with an outcome that will, in my opinion, be a moment that will be looked back on down the line. After a tough struggle, Jungle Boy eliminates Christian to win and during his celebration with his Jurassic Express teammates, Christian walks up and hugs him and tells him to “go get that belt” we love Christian <3 this was such a great finish because now we get Omega/Jungle Boy in front of a crowd which will undoubtedly be a barnburner AND this puts another small roadblock on Christian’s path to an eventual title match. 

Match rating - ***1/2

5) Cody Rhodes vs. Anthony Ogogo 

Aaaaaand just like that an all timer of an event comes to a screeching hault. Now, I will admit, as someone in attendance, I was one of the only people not cheering for Cody. Jacksonville and the majority of the AEW fan base loves him. And hell, I like him! But this feud.. this brings life to all the once thought to be crazy theories people have thrown out about Cody. This also shows how tone deaf someone who I never expected to be, can be. “This is who I am” cannot be used as an excuse for something that is so strongly outdated. This is who you are? A self booked American hero villainizing his rival, simply because he’s not American. Okay.. that was totally necessary right? When this story had written itself when Cody’s best friend and stable mate QT Marshall turned on him and brought Ogogo, Nick Comoroto, & Aaron Solow along with him in a brutal assault on Dynamite that left Cody’s brother Dustin bloodied in a heap. But that’s not as important, right? That was dealt with in a mediocre, poorly built match with QT on Dynamite so let’s turn this into an outdated American hero vs. evil outsider trope. This sucks fucking ass and I will not say it doesn’t or bite my tongue. Cody has done SO much for wrestling and AEW, but things like this make me fear he will be the detriment of it in the long run. Some people seem to eat it up, though! Most, in fact. I was asked multiple times at the event during this match “do you just not like Cody?” And I almost felt bad for being a party pooper, but I feel like if things like this continue, more will catch on to why this sits so indifferent with me, because beyond the cringiness of the story and premise, Cody picks up the victory here and that was the only thing that could make this worse. The match is fine, but in all honesty, even though the crowd was in love with Cody, this definitely came close to silencing the fever pitch of the show leading up to this. Ogogo hit a nice frog splash and undoubtedly showed he can hang in his first big match, but at the end of the night, he’s the outsider who got stomped out by tHe aMeRiCAN. Bleh. He beat people with one punch on Dynamite, not saying he should’ve SQUASHED Cody here, but jeez. Anyways, onward we go. I did miss a little bit of this match to make a bathroom run, so I will not be rating it just yet, I will update with a rating once I re-watch.

6) Miro (c) vs. Lance Archer - AEW TNT Title Match 

These two hosses have to fight to pull myself and most of the audience back into this here. It starts off hot with a table spot and they never really slow down. This is just a straight hoss fight that saw Miro toss Archer across the railing into the crowd in one of my favorite spots of the night. This was exactly what it should have been and I don’t have a single complaint. Miro retains after a daggum battle.

Match rating - ***1/4

7) Hikaru Shida (c) vs. Britt Baker - AEW Women’s Championship Match 

Britt is definitely the most over here despite being the heel. Shida gets a good reaction, though, and just as she god damn should. She deserves all the praise for holding down the title through the pandemic. This was the match I was most looking forward to heading into this card, but I have to admit I felt underwhelmed as I watched it live. The fatigue began to set in from being at this high energy event and screaming my lungs out for 2 hours. They also worked this at a slower pace than most other matches on the show, which wasn’t bad, it honestly was needed at this point in the show. We needed a breather. This is just such a high profile match that I didn’t want that to be this match. None the less, after a few hiccups, things pick up and we are brought to our feet several times in the final five-six minutes and the pop when Britt forces Shida tap was everything I hoped for. A truly special and well deserved moment for someone we watched grow into a superstar before our eyes over the last two years. And to top it off, Britt is met at the top of the entrance ramp by Tony Schiavone who gives her a big hug. MAN I LOVE THIS SHIT.

Match rating - ***1/4

8) Sting & Darby Allin vs. Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page 

I will say that this was far and beyond what I ever expected. Sting’s short WWE tenure six years ago or whatever left a lot to be desired so I was a little nervous how this would turn out, but all those worries were soon calmed. Darby hits a massive dive to kick things off. Things drift to the floor and Scorpio hits a suplex on Sting ON THE STAGE. STING FIRES UP AND NO SELLS IT. AS SCORPIO POSES, STING STALKS BEHIND HIM AND THROWS HIM OFF THE POKER CHIPS. CROSS BODY ONTO SKY AND PAGE ON THE FLOOR. STING HAS STILL GOT IT DEAR LORD. Darby basically gets his ass handed to him all match, Sting gets all the hot tags which is something I NEVER expected. But it worked SO FUCKING WELL because Sting nailed it. This just felt so fucking sick and I’m not even a big Sting mark. The crowd came unglued with every move from Sting and I was out of my seat at multiple points in the match. Sting gets the win for he & Darby with the scorpion death drop. What a spectacle. 

Match rating - ****

9) Kenny Omega (c) vs. PAC vs. Orange Cassidy 

Goodness gracious. This was an absolute treat for me to watch live. This felt like the type of match I used to go absolutely ballistic for in my room in high school when I first discovered PWG and guys like PAC and Kenny. And this time, I got to see it in person. This one had me on my feet, gasping and screaming on multiple occasions and they steered away from interference for the most part which made things even more enjoyable. One of my personal favorite moments was getting to see Omega hit CROYTS FUCKING WRATH on PAC.. like WOW. When I first started watching Kenny he used that move all the time and it was my favorite so seeing it live made me lose my mind. This just straight up rocked and gave us everything we could ask for and more. Balls to the wall from beginning to end with them treating Orange as just being in the way and it coming back to bite both of them as time went on. Awesome teasing of Orange stealing the win which everyone in the building bit on atleast once, including myself. Some of those false finishes truly felt like 3 counts were coming. Just fantastic stuff that makes me remember why I love this company and wrestling so much. In the end, Omega steals the victory off a backslide on Orange after a BANGER. 

Match rating - ****1/2

Tony Schiavone enters the ring next and announces that AEW Rampage will debut on TNT on Friday, August 13th and that he now has the privilege of introducing a host for the show and a new coach in the AEW locker room.... THE WORLDS STRONGEST MAN MARK HENRY. WHAT THE FUCK. Crowd goes nuts, of course and wow. Henry walks out onto the stage and he’s just as riled up. What a signing for AEW!

10) The Inner Circle (Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, Santana, Ortiz, & Sammy Guevara) vs. The Pinnacle (MJF, Dax Harwood, Cash Wheeler, Shawn Spears, & Wardlow) - Stadium Stampede 

I was pretty surprised that they put this on last considering it’s a pre-taped cinematic style match. None the less, I’d say 90% of the crowd stayed with only a handful of people trickling out when this started. In the back of my mind, I wondered if they may somehow spin this back into the arena and as we are sitting watching (our seats are right in front of the big swinging camera arm), I noticed they turned it back on as it was previously off and immediately I knew something was about to happen and my excitement was through the roof. Next thing I know, Chris Jericho and MJF are above me in the stands and Jericho powerbombs MJF through some shit (I actually caught this on video).

THE STADIUM STAMPEDE MATCH JUST CAME BACK INTO DAILYS PLACE THROUGH THE CROWD !!! #aew #aewdon #doubleornothing #stadiumstampede #chrisjericho #mjf

♬ original sound - ethan

Moments later, Sammy Guevara blazes into the other side of the arena on a gOLF CART. THROWBSCK. Man this was just a fucking hoot to experience. The first half was whatever, but them spinning this how they did and bringing the fight back live into Dailys Place was so cool and so much fun. The rest of this match, I was losing my mind and I can’t even recall everything that happened, but Sammy gets the pin and the Inner Circle will NOT break up. 

I will not be rating this match because of how weird of a layout it had, but let it be known, it was probably one of the coolest moments I’ll ever experience in live wrestling. Just so awesome. After the show goes off the air Chris Jericho thanks the crowd and every other wrestler on the show including “those tough sons of bitches in the Pinnacle” and the crowd goes nuts singing “Judas” to close the evening out. Man what a feeling... 

Final thoughts: This was hands down the single best live wrestling experience of my life. It was my first ever PPV and my first ever AEW event and it blew past any expectations I ever could have put on those things. Prior to this, I had only been to WWE house shows, TNA house shows and a taped Smackdown or two. Being here at a LIVE PPV event was a totally different experience than any of that. Plus, this being the first event back with a full capacity audience made this feel all the more special. So much emotion, energy, and love in the air from all parties from the crowd to the wrestlers. AND I got to experience with my two best friends whom I watch almost every event with at home. It was our first time attending a wrestling show together and what a way to start our journey of live wrestling together right? It will be a night I remember for the rest of my life and solidified my continued proud support of All Elite Wrestling. This company is simply unmatched and we are already planning a trip to Chicago for All Out, which by the way, was announced to be on September 5th this year!

So, in closing, thanks for reading and I'll see y'all with live coverage of this week's Dynamite which is on Friday again at 10pm! I am very intrigued to see where everyone goes from here, because it seems like Cody/Ogogo may be the only feud continuing out of this. What's next for all the Inner Circle guys?? Bucks? Moxley/King? Christian? PAC? The list goes on and I cannot wait!

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