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AEW Double or Nothing 2021 Review: AEW Puts on a Near Perfect Show

Photo Credit: All Elite Wrtestling

AEW Double or Nothing 2021 was a fantastic show. This is my opinion of course, but I believe it is safe to say, for once most of the wrestling fans will agree on this. 

However, some glaring points need to be addressed as to why this PPV missed the near-perfect mark. First, Cody vs. Ogogo was the one buzzkill match. Second, Lio Rush being in-and-out of the Casino Battle Royale in less than five minutes. Third, and probably my own biggest gripe, predictability of the championship matches. Now, this is not to say the matches weren’t good, they were amazing and executed to near-perfection. But, it’s hard to 100% invest in a championship bout when you know who is winning. There was one match where I believed a different outcome could happen, but you’ll read it later on.

Let’s hit the highlights before diving into the details.

Mark Henry joins AEW – Just like Paul Wight, I did not see this one coming, and despite knowing better at this point, I should have at least thought this could happen. Nope, I did not, and therefore was not on my 2021 AEW Bingo Card. 

All Out in September and Full Gear in November.  These are a little closer together than usual, but again, AEW sticking to PPVs being spaced out over a few months to organically grow the feuds and build the next top matches. 

Lio Rush – The “Joker” card in the Casino Battle Royal (more on that later). A big surprise to those who know or remember who he is. Will he stick around remains to be seen. [Editor’s Note: According Tony Khan on the post-Double or Nothing 2021 Media Scrum, Rush is on a handshake deal with AEW.]

Tony Schiavone hugging Dr. Britt Baker after winning the Womens’ Championship. You know, after their initial spat when Britt made her heel turn, it turned into something fun and genuinely great to see them together. 

Guest appearances by Konnan and Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer during the Stadium Stampede match. Those were just fun. 

The live crowd at Double or Nothing. We’ve been waiting a year for. We’ve come out of the pandemic, and this was the way to do it for professional wrestling. A loud live crowd, adding the incredible and intangible energy professional wrestling has been lacking. Sure, AEW would gradually have fans back in attendance, but this was the right fit for Double or Nothing. It added so much to the show, and the absolute fact this was a 4-out-of-5 Star pay-per-view equaled the right combination.

Onto the results of AEW Double or Nothing 2021…

The Buy In: Serena Deeb retains the NWA Women’s Championship against Riho

This was the right match on the pre-show. It fired up the crowd, there was no slowing these two down at all. Riho and Deeb worked incredibly well together. Not a match I expected to see, but the match we deserved. This was not some warm-up test run, this could have easily fit on the main card. Seeing Riho back is always a pleasure, and Serena Deeb, the wily veteran put all her skills to the test while also putting Riho over, even in defeat. Deeb is up there in the category of best women wrestlers in the modern era.

AEW Double or Nothing 2021 opens with the right match: Hangman Adam Page defeating “The Machine” Brian Cage

Did this end clean? Eh, questionable. It was by interference by Hook and Ricky Starks from Team Taz which was the cause for Cage to get blasted by the Buckshot Lariat. Match as a whole was fantastic from start to finish. Hangman and Cage both displayed their power, their aerial ability and the sheer punishment each one could withstand. For two “big men” they both put on a clinic of various styles.

The story now moves forward, likely seeing Brian Cage gradually split away from Team Taz, perhaps going as far to forfeit the FTW Championship since the title appears to lack any true meaning for “The Machine.” As for Hangman, he’s always in a good spot, and I imagine the days to Hangman vs. Omega are slowly counting down, but I would not expect it until 2022.  Perhaps Brian Cage will serve as a credible future contender against Omega while Hangman bides his time.

The Young Bucks defeated Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston to retain the AEW World Tag Team Championships

While it seemed like a lock the Bucks would retain, I admit there was more than one occasion where I believed the brawling challengers were going to take them away. This rotated between emotional brawl and aggressive one-upmanship as each time unloaded with an assault of either strikes or wrestling moves to overpower the other team. Mox and Kingston bust out some vicious looking suplexes, while also throwing bomb-resembling hands along with some slick team work. The Bucks did the same, often isolating the legal man while using dirty tricks to keep the match in favor. 

Interference was inevitable as Gallows and Anderson would attempt interference, but Frankie “Elite Hunter” Kazarian would jump in for revenge. Kingston boosted up his “take no guff” persona, mauling the champions at every turn. Kingston tossing Bucks around with Exploders, and Moxley taking both Bucks with a huge German suplex. Unfortunately, Kingston would be knocked hard to the floor, leaving Mox in the clutches of submissions, superkicks, a Meltzer Driver, and finally after four consecutive BTE triggers, the Bucks were able to pin the former AEW World Champion. 

This goes under the heading of “article can’t do justice.” A near-20 minute match saw the best tag team wrestling I have ever seen. 

However – I am disappointed they didn’t try to shake it up by allowing the Brothers of Brawl to win the championships. This is the match I referred to at the beginning of the column. This was the one match I thought we would be surprised with the Bucks losing. I think the Bucks should have lost. Moxley has already been champion in AEW, and still holds the IWGP United States Championship. But this should have been for Eddie Kingston. He became our hero during the pandemic. Would he be this over if the last year and a half never happened? It is hard to say. The promos this guy cuts… THE PROMOS. Had they won the championships, this could have enraged the Bucks to a new level of heel, with them eventually winning the championships back. 

Yes, I’m saying it. It was a mistake not to have Mox and Kingston win. I’ll go out on a limb and say Kingston (not the character) doesn’t care whether he’s got a belt over the shoulder or not. But the fans wanted to see him earn a title, his character, and real-life presence 100% deserved. 

Jungle Boy wins the Casino Battle Royale

Another big win for AEW booking. A lot of great names in this one. Max Caster’s opening promo was welcomed by the live crowd. He’s getting over huge, the arena erupted in boos when he was eliminated. The con, some eliminations seems a bit too quick, Dark Order didn’t get enough time in the ring. It would have made more sense to see the Hardy Family Office battle with Dark Order some more. The end where it came down to Matt Hardy, Christian, and Jungle Boy was well scripted. Hardy attempted to use nostalgia to gain favor, only to be unceremoniously dumped from the match. 

I’ll admit, I thought this was all Christian in order to put him next in line to become Omega fodder. But the moment Jungle Jack Perry gained the second of momentum to launch Christian over the ropes was flawlessly executed. The crowd erupted. My friends and I jumped off the couch. This ladies and gentlemen, was a “moment made” for Jungle Boy and AEW. 

Let’s talk about THAT match.

Cody Rhodes defeating Anthony Ogogo was poor decision-making. It pains me to feel so negative about an AEW match, but honesty needs to rise up here. Ogogo had been built for weeks, decimating everyone with his big gut punch and the KO ‘cross the face, yet here Cody ate those as if regular strikes from a mid-carder. It made no sense. Ogogo clearly did his in-ring training, and did it well. 

Cody’s emotional prelude, calling himself “American Dream” for one night, seemed to earn more eyerolls than accolades. Can’t say I blame those fans. 

Ogogo should have won, there isn’t more to say.

Miro retains the TNT Championship against Lance Archer

Miro nearly murdering the “snake” was one hell of a sight. Lobbing the back clear up the stage earned him uber-heel heat. Miro’s transformation from happy guy to absolute monster might have been abrupt, but it was the change we’ve all been waiting for. The big guys delivered, in more than only the stereotypical “big man” fashion. Miro and Archer are both agile for larger wrestlers, but it’s also the facial expressions and emotions shown during the matches. Archer got lobbed by Miro on top of poor Fuego Del Sol. While knowing Miro would retain, I enjoyed this. 

The Show-stealer of the Night: Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. defeated Hikaru Shida to become the New AEW Women’s World Champion. I’m turning this one over to my wife Evi, who opted to report on her favorite match of the night.

This stole the show, and could have main evented. Let’s break this match down, as the action put on by both women, a tremendous display of incredible wrestling ability. Before the match started the crowd was audibly behind the Doctor.  Baker came out with her sidekick (Reba/Rebel) wearing all black with the design looking like blood dripping down the pant legs and top.  This was a stark contrast to Hikaru Shida, who came to the ring in a new all-white kimono. This “good vs. evil” imagery helped make fans believe Shida had a strong chance to retain her title, which she has held for over a year.  

The match began with Shida bringing Baker to the mat for submissions, however Baker would take the momentum from Shida early on but Shida, as versatile as ever, would counter each and every one. It was non-stop! Shida used her knee strikes effectively, but Baker was able to bounce back, landing a swinging neckbreaker followed by an air raid crash! At this point, the crowd is on their feet. One could feel the mounting tension of the match climbing higher and higher.  Shida managed to escape a Lockjaw attempt, and would later bring Baker to the top rope for a superplex to end it. Baker, no quit in her, is trapped as Shida again uses her submission hold, the Stretch Muffler.

Things took a turn as Baker was rescued by Rebel, who snatched up the belt for the distraction.  Shida chases Rebel to get her belt back and Baker tries to catch Shida by surprise.  Baker ends up the recipient when Rebel accidentally cracks her with the crutch instead of Shida. At this point, the referee kicks Rebel out from ringside. Baker takes advantage of the ref being otherwise occupied and stomps Shida’s face right into the belt! Shida kicks out, and after more punches, kicks, and takedowns, Baker finally forces Shida to submit with the lockjaw and Baker, finally, becomes your new champion.

Shida will likely demand a rematch against Baker in the near future, but in the meantime the doctor will live up to her self-proclaimed role model status by being the champion.  I’m looking forward to having a heel champion for the next chapter, and believing Dr. Britt Baker will be the champion AEW DMDeserves. 

Sting and Darby Allin defeated Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page

Some may argue the wrong team won, but the match was good on so many different levels, I feel both teams walk away as stronger than before. If you told me Sting would actually compete in a real match I would have thought you nuts. Well, I’m the Planters can tonight. Sting actually did it. They must have gone through some major training and planning, because Sting looked good for an over-60 wrestler. Sting taking flight onto his opponents was one of many “Holy ****” moments.

Another, saw Ethan Page launch Darby Allin clear into the crowd from the ring. Sting would tag back in and nearly win after a slower “Code Red” (which was really a sunset flip), then locking Page in the Scorpion Death Lock while Sky trapped Allin in the heel hook. Facing each other, Allin and Page would then slap each other repeatedly. Good grief this got intense. The sudden finish, superbly done, Sky went for an aerial cutter, but was caught, countered, and dropped by Sting with the Scorpion Death Drop and got the pinfall. 

This was one hell of a match, and kudos to Sting for his role. 

Mark Henry is introduced as a new coach and announcer/analyst for the new show, AEW Rampage. 

Kenny Omega retains the AEW World Championship against PAC and Orange Cassidy

There was no chance of Omega losing. Walking out with all these championships, Omega portrays himself as the champion’s champion. PAC is an aerial bruiser, and Orange Cassidy is the guy to surprise. Sloth-like in character, but all business in the ring. I would love to make an accurate breakdown of this match, but it’s near-impossible. It was an absolute joy to watch this match. PAC and Cassidy were the MVPs showing off why they deserve a main event spot on a PPV. So many near falls, so many moments where I could have imagined Omega losing. A lot of moments where it looked as though Cassidy had the match won, but Don Callis would prove to be the deciding factor, breaking up what could have been the final pinfall. Omega, out of options, deliberately KO-ing the ref. Omega then clobbered PAC with each championship. However, Cassidy recovered, leapt and scored with the Orange Punch. However, Kenny rolled backwards, trapping Cassidy in a crucifix pinfall for the win. 

While shady tactics had to come into play, it fit the character as Omega clearly couldn’t win without help. Awesome match, despite the inevitable outcome. 

The Inner Circle defeated The Pinnacle in a Stadium Stampede Match

It’s amazing how a match born from the pandemic could become an annual staple. This was a fun match to cap the night off. It splintered off with Jericho and MJF, Hager and Wardlow brawling, Sammy and Spears, and of course, FTR squaring off with Santana & Ortiz. The tag team was a fun highlight, they stroll into a club in the arena, beating up random patrons, before all four come together with Tully Blanchard doling out drinks before the brawling begins. Classy. But the rest of it was anything but. Glass shattering everywhere, and Konnan providing the music was a fun touch. 

As Jericho and MJF brawl all over the arena, Jericho winds up “stapling” a note to MJF’s head (which oddly doesn’t bleed), and interrupts a meeting between Jaguars coaches Urban Meyer and Charlie Strong. They provided footballs and a laptop for Jericho to clobber MJF with. Was this a serious wrestling match? No, but it was a serious brawl which has long-lasting consequences. MJF piledriving Jericho on a boardroom table looked like it hurt. Eventually someone goes through glass. 

Sammy and Spears dueled with chairs for a while, Sammy going parkour all over a loading-dock area until Spears managed to handcuff Sammy. However, he forgot about the bolt-cutters left on the ground… All while Hager and Wardlow brawled all over the place, destroying walls, doors, and anything they could throw themselves through. This was your hoss fight. 

In the end, everyone found their way back into Daly’s Place, with Jericho and MJF fighting through the fans, and Sammy turning tables, this time being the one to drive and chase Shawn Spears with a golf cart. In the ring, Spears blasted Sammy with some stiff-looking chair shots. However, the Spanish God returned fire, stomping Spears head-first into a chair, finishing the Pinnacle member off with a gorgeous-looking 630 Senton for the decisive victory. 

As I said earlier, a fantastic PPV. Despite whether you could predict the outcomes, each match delivered on an A+ level of action. The one flub match aside, not enough to significantly detract from the show as a whole. Kudos to AEW and everyone involved in presenting a near-perfect PPV show. 4-out-of-5 Stars. 

AEW Double or Nothing 2021 is now streaming on BRLive.

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