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


No matter where you were in 2019, this year marked an important milestone in the history of pro wrestling: the business turned the corner, the circle came back around again. WWE, the biggest wrestling company in the world, finally had a new top (English-speaking) challenger.

All Elite Wrestling, that little pissant company founded by the Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes, declared itself a new player in the game with Double or Nothing. AEW promises to bring a "revolution" to the business, the same one that's kept in the stranglehold of Vince McMahon's monopoly.

Despite that, however, it should be noted that anything said about AEW as a company and as a threat to WWE at this point in their history is still merely speculative. Hot takes are still blazing hot, not until AEW establishes a full product that's churning out a consistent narrative going head to head with everyone else's machinery. That's because right now, Double or Nothing and everything that AEW is exists in a vacuum.


Double or Nothing is a good show. It's a refreshingly good product, especially after WWE dropped the ball with Money in the Bank's ending, but even without that the AEW product stands fine on its own. The wrestling is top-notch with a couple Match of the Year contenders sprouting, the rough spots are few and far between, the drama is well-earned, and the company is now in a position to be a solid alternative. Everyone signed to AEW seems to be nothing but great for the company.

But to call it a WWE killer, to threaten the top dog after only one show is more than a little foolish. It's jumping the gun far, far ahead. In order for AEW to be truly better than the rest, it has to do so every month, every week when they get that TV deal up and running. I've got faith that they'll be able to pull it off, but they do have to pull it off first, and I'm not counting those chickens before they hatch.

So for now, enjoy the blessed wrestling of Double or Nothing. Enjoy the main event-style brutality of Cody vs. Dustin. Take in the frenetic action of almost all the undercard matches. Bask in the glamour of Omega vs. Jericho. No matter what it will become, Double or Nothing is still one hell of a start to All Elite Wrestling's story. Behold it for what it is.

Double or Nothing Final Grade: A

Match of the Night




Actually, my real Match of the Night is the six-woman joshi tag match because it was so, so fun to watch. But if you must catch one high-profile match from Double or Nothing, let it be this brother-versus-brother masterpiece between the two Rhodeses. I've seen some takes saying this should have been a WrestleMania match, but the truth is had it been on a WrestleMania it wouldn't have gotten the proper time and attention it deserved. This show is the perfect platform to do a Rhodes vs. Rhodes match, and you need to watch it.

Other observations

  • Jim Ross legitimately thinks all the OWE guys are from China. That's what happens when you don't do your homework.
  • Do we know if the little surprises we've gotten through the night, such as Awesome Kong and Bret Hart, are actually really part of AEW, or are they one-night-only deals done for the pop?
  • That said, catch all of these undercard matches. They're out here to prove something and help out the overall product. Some really solid additions to the fledgling roster, and I hope the company can maintain them.
  • Emi Sakura comes out in a full Freddie Mercury cosplay and no one bothers to point it out???
  • Riho is only 21. You read that right.
  • I'm gonna have to get the full story on how Bret ended up here, especially after appearing at the Hall of Fame ceremony last month. You can bet Vince is probably livid.
  • Can I just say that the whole Cody sledgehammer spot is hokey as hell? Sure, you're probably allowed to have the WWE as your competition, but can you at least manage to have a little more finesse than that? Being super blatant about it is all sorts of corny, and it's just not a good look.
  • This didn't seem to be Kenny and Jericho's night at all. I'll just leave it at it could've been better.
  • Jon Moxley seems to be positioned as the Stone Cold Steve Austin of AEW, destroying just about everyone in his path. Seems like he'll be the popular anti-hero in the process, which can only be a good thing for the young brand.
Photo from AEW


*****

Romeo Moran (@roiswar) is the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his CuriousCat account.

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