SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Double or Nothing 2021 marks AEW’s two-year anniversary of existence. What a wild ride it’s been, right? Highs, lows, and a damn global pandemic to boot. AEW has seen quite a bit in its short run, but they’ll get their ace up their sleeve back on Sunday with an arena full of fans back in their grasp for the first time in well over a year.
That’s the lead story going into the show because the card itself just isn’t one. Sure, there are some good matches on tap and maybe even some great in-ring performances waiting in the wings, but the marquee just doesn’t light up brightest with Kenny Omega in a triple threat match, Cody Rhodes facing a newbie, and Jon Moxley set for a tag team match.
Double or Nothing 2021 is an ensemble card. Whether it’s that way by design or necessity, the sum of its parts along with a rabid crowd can make for a memorable event even if the matches themselves and the build to them leave a little to be desired.
Call this a preview, a calm look into the distant future, or a gaze into a wondrous crystal ball; just don’t hold me to anything, ok?
Cody Rhodes vs. Anthony Ogogo
I know Cody Rhodes likes drama in his wrestling. Usually, he’s extremely effective at harnessing emotion to drive an entertaining narrative with his matches. In this instance, he’s doing way too much. They had something with the young members of The Factory and QT Marshall at the lead turning on Rhodes. Ogogo played the part of a star rookie to a ‘T” and running down that street to get to this match would have sufficed. The United States angle added an obnoxious layer that cultivated eye rolls instead of intrigue. The only reason to do this match is to make Ogogo. That’s what they’ll do and Cody will lay down to get the job done.
Miro vs. Lance Archer – AEW TNT Championship
The promo between both Miro and Archer two weeks ago was all this match needed. Miro came off as comfortable and natural in the role as TNT Champion and Archer countered that with authenticity. Two big goliath’s going at it will fit well on the show as a different match stylistically from the others. Look for Miro to maintain momentum and get the clean win over Archer.
The Young Bucks vs. Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston – AEW World Tag Team Championship
The match of the night. Both The Young Bucks and the team of Moxley & Kingston are clicking on all cylinders in terms of working their characters. Matt and Nick Jackson have “next level pain the ass” down pat and have changed their wardrobe to accommodate the new attitude. Moxley and Kingston come across as long-lost brothers within their interactions and it makes for a very enjoyable watch. There are clear babyface and heel lanes here, which makes the storytelling in the bout easy to accomplish. For as fun as Moxley and Kingston are, Tony Khan can’t halt the momentum of the Bucks with an out of nowhere loss. They need to stay credible and will do so by winning here via underhanded tactics.
Adam Page vs. Brian Cage
In general, we don’t see nearly enough character development for Adam Page. He can be a top guy, but needs the right company framing in order to fully achieve that status. This match isn’t that and feels like something to keep him in a holding pattern on a path to the world title picture. This has “sneaky good” written all over it, but will most certainly feature Page beating Cage clean in the middle of the ring.
Casino Battle Royale
It’s always tough to predict the madness that is this match, but I’ll take Christian. Yes, it’s a battle royale, but a win on PPV never hurt anyone. Christian could use one too as he tries to hang onto the top the card in his new company.
Darby Allin & Sting vs. Ethan Page & Scorpio Sky
I don’t know about this one, folks. Sting will make his return to an actual ring for the first time since joining AEW and the match just feels like it exists as a means to that end. Page and Sky have been serviceable and they both get an A for effort, but there just isn’t any true heat here. Darby Allin has grown significantly as a star since last year’s Double or Nothing event. With that new star aura around him, it feels like he’s taking a backseat to keep Sting relevant. Obviously, this is a W for Sting and Allin.
The Inner Circle vs. The Pinnacle – Stadium Stampede Match
This is the best built match on the card and the reason is the personal nature of the feud between both teams. Even though there has been hiccups like the cage bump from Jericho during Blood and Guts and the Bubbly Bath thereafter, both sides have done an effective job conveying their disdain for one another. The feud has also elevated MJF to another level, which may end up being the most impactful happening that comes out of this story. I don’t see Inner Circle breaking up this early into their babyface run. So, with that in mind and Pinnacle having one win thus far, I see Inner Circle getting the victory and inevitably setting up a rubber match later this summer.
Hikaru Shida vs. Britt Baker – AEW Women’s World Championship
Anyone not looking forward to this? Britt Baker has been the 2021 MVP for AEW thus far and all signs point to this being her crowning moment. The build has been weaker than expected given Shida’s long title reign and Baker’s ascent as a star. Framing the match as a bigger deal with promos would have helped convey its importance. Can Baker stay a heel? She’s earned the respect of fans throughout the pandemic and the question will be whether or not the sold-out crowd plays along and gives her the heat she wants. In wrestling, sometimes timing is everything and the time is now to go with Baker. AEW won’t miss out and we’ll see a new women’s champion on Sunday night.
Kenny Omega vs. Orange Cassidy vs. Pac
What can you say about this one? The bottom line is, it’s too random of an array of stars for Kenny Omega to be wrestling on PPV. It could very well be a good match, but it simply isn’t main event worthy on one of AEW’s four PPV events of the year. Maybe Dynamite, maybe Rampage, but not PPV. Omega needs to and will win this decisively.