Wednesday, June 10, 2020

AEW Double Or Nothing 2020

So I didn't watch the show live... but after hearing how much of a wonderful show this was, I ended up getting the replay about a week or so later and I'm kinda glad I did...? I guess...

So yes, this is AEW's second Double Or Nothing PPV, originally to eminate from Las Vegas before Corona forced them to move to Daily's Place in Jacksonville with some of the wrestlers playing the role of fans; pretty much the only place they've been doing Dynamite as of late. Highlighting the show are the crowning of a new TNT champion, a hard hitting Wotld title bout straight out of Combat Zone Wrestling (but tamer), and the Stadium Stampede.

I'm excited to revisit this again, so let's do it.

The Casino Battle Royal Ladder Match thing to determine the next challenger for the World title opens the show, which features a bunch of spots and resident sloth Orange Cassidy attempting to claim the poker chip prize to no avail. There's a lot of that trope where people lay around all over the place while a couple other folks do their spots; I almost never care for that trope because it takes me out of the match. The whole thing is eventually won by the debuting former Impact Wrestling World Champion Brian Cage, paired up with Taz. For what it's worth, they made Cage look like an absolute beast here, even getting to toss around the Luchasaurus, which is not something you see often unless you need a new big heavy. Him and Mox going at it at Fyter Fest should be fun when it happens.

MJF defeated Jungle Boy in what I thought was one of the best matches on the show, telling the classic wrestling trope of Jungle Boy as the guy who never gives up but doesn't quite make it and MJF as the despicable bastard who will do anything to beat this guy quickly. I enjoyed this match tremendously and both guys looked like big deals in my book. Given time and experience, you got two future major players in the future of AEW.

So out comes Iron Mike Tyson to present the new TNT championship, which is a silver-plated, red strapped belt with a giant TNT logo on it. TNT, for those who don't know, is the network that runs AEW Dynamite on TV and their logo is the TNT letters in a basic Helvetica-style font inside a plain ol' circle. Probably not the worst championship belt that I've ever seen - at the very least, it doesn't fucking spin - but this feels more like a novelty belt to promote a brand rather than a championship title, much like the majority of WWE titles with nothing but the logo on the front plate. They say gold plating is on the way, but I'm not sure how that's going to help.

Also, let's get this out of the way: given the choice, I'd much rather be TNT champion than 24/7-11 convenience store champion. At least I'd get a belt that looks somewhat like an actual championship belt and not some sign you put on the window. Just my humble opinion.

Cody defeated Lance Archer to win the inaugural TNT championship, thus able to hold a title in AEW that isn't the World title. If people want to make the comparisons between Cody and McSon-In-Law, then in some way, I can understand that... but considering the major players behind the scenes spent 2019 taking losses and getting other people over. Arn did some interference, which caused both him and Jake to be ejected. And when Jake tried to come back, Tyson scared him off by taking off his shirt and showing off his admittedly-impressive-for-53 physique... and then Cody wins. Match was alright, but eh... I've seen better. Maybe next time.

Kris Statlander (she's an alien, you see) defeated Penelope Ford (replacing the injured Dr. Britt Baker Roll Model DMD) in a perfectly acceptable wrestling match. This was last minute and probably had no chance of being as hot of a match as what came before, but this was entertaining enough fare and I remain somewhat fascinated by Statlander... she's an alien, you see.

Before anyone bitches, I've seen wrestling shows where the biggest legend in wrestling today is an undead mortician, Rick Steiner was jawjacking with Chucky, the Horsemen being run off by FUCKING ROBOCOP! Wrestling is, has, and always will be stupid, asking you to suspend your disbelief and doing its best to get you so emotionally invested in these characters so that you can accept these ridiculous circumstances.

Dustin Rhodes defeated Shawn Spears in a match that wasn't supposed to happen (according to Spears, who mocked Rhodes - calling him retired, doing the fake-out with the music that probably would've worked better with an actual crowd, and demanding a countout win) before Rhodes showed up, ripped Spears' clothes off and gave us a lovely shot of Tully Blanchard's face on Spears' crotch. Well, I did say wrestling was hokey and this was certainly a hokey pile of shit. On the bright side, at least it wasn't Tessa's face on that crotch.

I did a thing, didn't I? I'm sorry.

Some passing words from Excalibur regarding the passing of Stardom star Hana Kimura and reminding people to be nice to each other... clearly given recent events, those words have fallen on deaf ears.

Hikaru Shida (sporting a Tifa Lockhart-esque appearance) defeated AEW Women's Champion Nyla Rose in a no-DQ match to win the title. I liked this match because it featured one of my favorite women winning a title and as past musings would indicate, I like me some Shida. But in all seriousness, this was fun stuff. Shida's a good fiery baby and Nyla comes across as an unlikeable monster you'd want to see taken down; something that should be a given as far as a monster-sized heel is concerned.

AEW World Champion Jon Moxley defeated Brodie Lee via knockout submission to retain the title in a no-holds-barred match that seems like a tamer version of a match they had in Combat Zone Wrestling almost a decade prior... no joke, before I saw this PPV, I actually came across a CZW match they had years ago and it was a wild brawl with broken glass and thumb tacks. While I didn't expect a match of that caliber of violence in this match, this was still a fierce, wild brawl with two guys beating the piss out of each other, fighting in the empty arena, DDT'ed through the entrance ramp in a nice callback to the Taz/Bam Bam spot from the old ECW, and eventually, Mox resorting to a choke hold to cause Lee to pass out and secure the victory for Mox. Great fight, with Mox coming out on top and Lee looking strong even in defeat.

And in the main event, Matt Hardy and the Elite (Kenny Omega, Young Fucks, and Hangman Page) defeated Chris Jericho and the Inner Circle (Sammy, Santana, Ortiz, and Jake Hager) in the Stadium Stampede, which is more of a spectacle than a match with lots of stuff going on. So they have entrances much like football players have entrances, they start off in the middle of this lone AEW ring, and then they fight and stuff happens. Hangman Page rides a horse and chases off Sammy Guevara. They fight in the stands. They fight all over the stadium. There's a shuffle in the pool, there's a barfight between Hangman and Hager, Sammy gets suplexed across the stadium, Jericho exposes Aubrey Edwards as a shitty referee (and that's a running theme now, isn't it?), and Sammy almost gets run over by another golf cart.

Hey, AEW. Here's an idea; for your next show, just have it be nothing but Sammy Guevara being chased by a golf cart for an hour or so each week and you'll get big time ratings.

I had a ball with this one. This was, for all intents and purposes, a WWF Attitude Era style hardcore match where they'd fight all over the arena, use all kinds of stupid gimmicks, and you're just wondering what else could happen. There is a lot of suspension of disbelief that you have to take into consideration and if you were looking for another Boneyard match or anything resembling a serious athletic competition, then you probably should've shut the show after Moxley and Brodie. As a spectacle, this was a ride and probably the best of the cinematic approaches, with the aforementioned Boneyard match being almost on par.

So if the future of wrestling lies in this cinematic approach, then we need to shut this whole thing down because nothing is going to top this... ever. It was well-filmed, the action was solid, the pacing was fast-paced and action-packed, the commentary was on point, the whole thing was edited in a way that everyone got their chance to shine and then some, there were references, callbacks, and little humorous bits that were actually funny in a way that it was actually funny without being cringe-y (your mileage may vary on that count, however), there was a story being told and it was told well enough so that people can follow what's going on, and more than anything, this was just a fun ride from beginning to end. This put a smile on my face and if that was the intent, then mission accomplished.

AEW's second dose of Double or Nothing was probably the best show to come out of this prevailing circumstances era. I wouldn't call it the best PPV that All Elite has produced; that crown still rests with the Revolution PPV from earlier this year. Not to mention; there were a couple sour spots that takes the whole thing down a notch. That Dustin/Spears match, the long running time, and that one spot where Matt Hardy was apparently drowning in the kiddie pool, which, for some folks, might've seem rather tone-deaf considering this took place on the same week Shad Gaspard had drowned after getting caught in a riptide. But aside from that, this was just a fun show with great matches, a great setpiece, and an all-around fun ride that gave me a bit of cheer during these unfortunate times.

Which I hope gets resolved soon enough... I miss having to come up with excessively lewd names for that Pac fellow. It's been a highlight of these AEW write-ups.

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