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    Wednesday, June 2, 2021

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: AEW Double or Nothing 2021



    It’s AEW’s Double or Nothing! You know what that means…

    A CROWD! THIS SHOW HAD A GODDAMN CROWD, AND IT WAS THE BEST AEW SHOW THIS YEAR BECAUSE OF IT!

    Not even kidding. 

    This year’s Double or Nothing showed us just how vital crowd reactions are for a wrestling show. It’s been more than a year since we’ve seen an AEW event with a packed arena, so hearing them go crazy for almost every match brought a tear to my eye. God, I missed this.

    Hearing the crowd might have been special to us, the people at home, but it meant so much more to the men and women who entertain us in that ring. Everyone at Daily’s Place deserves a hug (when it’s safe to give those out) for making every wrestler feel like a bonafide superstar and giving each match a big fight feel. We knew they’d pop for stars like Hangman Page and Christian Cage but seeing them go crazy for someone like Eddie Kingston, who debuted on Dynamite without a crowd, was truly heartwarming.

    Let’s be fair here because Double or Nothing wasn't just good because of the people in attendance, though they certainly helped. AEW gave this crowd a quality wrestling show worthy of the reactions they were giving. I thought the best matches were the opener, the Tag Team Championship bout, and the three-way for the AEW World Championship.

    The opener was excellent, with Hangman Page getting his win back from Brian Cage when "The Machine’"got too overconfident and refused help from Team Taz. Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston had the crowd in the palm of their hands despite failing to win the AEW World Tag Team Championships from The Young Bucks. They had an amazing match that told a great story, plus it featured excellent showmanship from Matt and Nick Jackson. 

    Kenny Omega retained the AEW World Championship against PAC and Orange Cassidy in an awesome three-way match. That's saying a lot since we've had a bunch of great Triple Threat matches from WWE as of late, but this was up there with them as all three men showed us why they are among the best in this business. 

    While those were excellent matches, the sentimental favorite was clearly Sting’s return to in-ring action. 

    I don’t know what kind of yoga Sting has been doing, but The Icon was able to work a quality tag team match at the age of 62. For those thinking he just did a few clotheslines before hitting his finisher, you’re dead wrong; Sting was hurling himself around and working hard. WCW’s Icon took a suplex to the floor, hit a diving crossbody and a pair of Stinger Splashes like the Stinger of old before ending the match with a Scorpion Death Drop. Sting probably doesn’t have many performances like these left, so let’s treasure them while we can.

    Credit should also be given to Sting’s partner Darby Allin and their opponents Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky. Darby and Ethan had such great chemistry whenever they were facing off. That one spot where they were both locked in submission moves and kept slapping the shit out of each other while writhing in pain made me want to see these two in a Dynamite main event. Scorpio Sky also worked hard here, and his body language whenever he faced off with Sting was great.

    Another emotional moment that touched the audience was Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. finally winning the AEW Women’s World Championship from Hikaru Shida. If you watched this match without seeing any episodes of Dynamite, you’d think that Baker was the babyface due to how much the crowd loved her. While the match was a bit sloppy in places, the last few minutes were great and hearing the crowd show a ton of respect to both ladies was heartwarming. 
    Let’s all thank Hikaru Shida for working her ass off when AEW’s Women’s Division was struggling with a lack of star power and company support. AEW has a healthy women’s roster these days, comprised of talented ladies like Tay Conti, Red Velvet, Jade Cargill, Serena Deeb, Thunder Rosa, Nyla Rose, and more. Still, the division went through a rough period during the height of the pandemic, and Shida stepped up for AEW’s women, even when the company itself didn’t.

    You know who we shouldn’t thank? Cody Rhodes.

    For the record, I’m usually a fan of Cody Rhodes. The American Nightmare always tries his hardest to have good matches and make his opponents look good. Despite the Triple H comparisons wrestling Twitter has been making, Cody has strongly put over talent like MJF, the late Brodie Lee, and Darby Allin. Those saying he’s the Prince of Burials should get a grip because he tried to make Anthony Ogogo look like a star. Emphasis on "tried."

    With all that being said, THIS MATCH WAS HORRIBLE.

    Presentation-wise, who thought it was a good idea to make Cody look like Homelander from The Boys? You guys know he’s the villain, right? A twisted version of America corrupted by power and greed while having no compassion for its people? What a babyface.

    Structurally, everything about Cody Rhodes vs. Anthony Ogogo felt off. There was actually some promise early on as the story seemed to revolve around Cody wrestling Ogogo down so he wouldn’t have to get those boxer hands. But then Ogogo hit the gut-punch of death, and… started hitting wrestling moves. For some reason, Ogogo decided to stop playing to his strengths—those gut-punches of death—and decided to spam power moves like a mark playing WWE 2K19. Things got worse from there as the match devolved into Cody kicking out of all these power moves before hitting a Vertebreaker for the win. He didn’t even win with one of his finishing moves.

    Final Grade: Despite Cody’s efforts, AEW’s Double or Nothing had enough great matches and moments that made it a worthwhile watch. A-

    Bullet Point Party

    • Jungle Boy eliminated Christian Cage last and won the Casino Battle Royale: One of AEW’s better battle royals. I liked how each wrestler from the deck had a solo entrance so we could bask in that theme song glory. Lio Rush was also a nice reveal as the match’s big surprise, and I can’t wait to see him do all the flippy dips. Bonus points for the crowd loving Evil Uno and Max Caster.
    • The Inner Circle beat The Pinnacle in Stadium Stampede 2: It was a fun brawl where everyone worked hard, though I thought it was too soon for The Inner Circle to get their win back. Can’t deny the effort and pain these men went through, so bravo to them.
    • Miro retained the TNT Championship against Lance Archer: These men had to follow that horrible Cody/Ogogo match and managed to breathe life back into the audience, so good on them. You can tell that the crowd was a bit burned out early on, but things really picked up midway through. Miro tossing Jake’s snake out towards the entrance tunnel was also a great heel move.
    Images from AEW

    *****

    Nico Parungo is a freelance contributor for Geeky PH and previously wrote for Epicstream. He provides weekly recaps of AEW Dynamite for Smark Henry and has contributed several reviews for PWR and MWF shows. When he isn't frustrated about the WWE, he's playing video games at home and is bugging his friends with glorious puns. He's new to the world of Twitter drama but is quickly getting hooked.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: AEW Double or Nothing 2021 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nico Parungo
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