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31 Days of Wrestling (12/23/19): Brother Bleed Brother (Cody vs Dustin Rhodes, AEW Double or Nothing 2019)


Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies, and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2019 produced for us.

In less than a year, AEW has produced a number of must-watch matches that any self-professed wrestling fan should check out. Kenny Omega vs. Jon Moxley from Full Gear, The Young Bucks vs. The Lucha Bros during All Out, Moxley vs. Joey Janela at Fyter Fest, the list goes on.

However, if you want a match filled with raw emotion and great storytelling, AEW’s best match of 2019, and at this point in time—ever—is Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes at Double or Nothing.

Simply put, this is a match fans have been craving for since both men were in WWE as Cody Rhodes and Goldust. From their short confrontation during the Royal Rumble Match in 2013 to the friction surrounding both men when their 2014 tag team started eating losses and even into Cody’s baffling transformation into Stardust, fans wanted a WrestleMania match between these two really badly. 



Unfortunately, the closest thing we got to that was a mediocre match between the two in the 2015 edition of Fastlane. While a WrestleMania match between the two was teased during a post-match angle, that never happened and Stardust ended up appearing in WrestleMania 31 as part of the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match.

Years later, Cody finally left WWE and showed the world what he was capable of when not shackled by the chains of Vince McMahon and Triple H. That might sound a bit harsh but considering how popular he became during his runs in ROH, New Japan, WCPW, and more, it’s clear that WWE dropped the ball with the son of the son of a plumber. 

What was Goldust doing while Cody was being an Elite wrestler? Teaming and feuding with R-Truth, barely appearing on television. This confused so many people since the elder Rhodes brother proved he was better than ever during his excellent tag team with Cody and the fact that WWE barely used him from 2016 to 2019 is a crime onto itself.

Jump forward to Double or Nothing, the first-ever pay-per-view of the newly announced All Elite Wrestling (if you don’t count All In), and the stars have aligned. Dustin was somehow granted a release from WWE, something a lot of talent wish they could get these days, and a match against his younger brother Cody was quickly booked for the big show. After years of waiting and all the hype fans have built around it, did this match live up to our expectations and blow away their Fastlane match?

No. It exceeded them.

Even without a proper storyline build, all fans needed to know was that we would finally be seeing the sons of Dusty Rhodes going one-on-one and it was glorious. Despite the fact that these two have each other's backs in every episode of Dynamite we’ve seen, Cody actually cheats a lot to get an advantage over his brother here, even having his wife Brandi attack Dustin several times.

What started as an old-school wrestling match soon turned into all-out warfare, with the two bleeding buckets and hitting each other with some of their best moves. Despite getting beaten down for most of the match, Dustin fought valiantly numerous times and even kicked out of a Cross Rhodes, his brother's patented finisher. In the end, it took a Vertebreaker and another Cross Rhodes to get the American Nightmare an incredible victory.



The next part has been subjected to a couple of memes but it continues to be one of my favorite promos of the year. Dustin looks ready to hang up his boots and finally call it quits before Cody tells his older brother that there will be no retiring tonight. Cody then brings up that he's scheduled to have a tag team match against The Young Bucks during Fight For the Fallen and is in need of a tag team partner. The American Nightmare actually shocks everyone at first by saying that he doesn’t need a partner or a friend, getting soft boos from this captivated crowd. 

Cody then looks at Dustin, tears in his face, and says to thunderous applause: "I NEED MY OLDER BROTHER!"

Cheesy? Yes. Corny? Most certainly. Meme-worthy? Definitely. But it was also phenomenal. I say this a lot but this is something that can only be done in the medium of wrestling and it almost made this smark cry.

It’s one of the best matches AEW has ever put out and is, in my humble opinion, the best bout to come from this fledgling company thus far. Sometimes, raw emotion is just better than a Canadian Destroyer through a table and you can fight me on that.

*****

31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2019. Read our previous entries:

1. The Man Stands Tall at WrestleMania (Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey, WrestleMania 35)
2. The Game Changes (Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega, AEW Double or Nothing)
3. Still the Ace (Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kenny Omega, Wrestle Kingdom 13)
4. #KofiMania (Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan, WrestleMania 35)
5. Starting With A Bang (The Premiere of AEW Dynamite)
6. Let's Start A War (The Premiere of NXT On The USA Network)
7. For You And Me! For All Of Us! (Jake De Leon vs. TJP, PWR Homecoming)
8. It Takes a Bird and a Villain (G1 Climax Finals: Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White)
9. The Fall of Bray Wyatt and the Rise of the Fiend
10. Johnny Champion (Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano, NXT TakeOver: New York)
11. Do You Wanna Yeet a Four-Man? (QUATRO vs. Chris Panzer vs. Jeff Cobb, PWR Homecoming)
12. From Purveyor Of Violence To Death Rider (Jon Moxley in NJPW)
13. We Will Rock You! (Crystal vs. Emi Sakura, PWR Path of Gold 2019)
14. Revolutionary (QUATRO vs. IMABAYASHI, PWR Wrevolution X 2019)
15. Manila Has Fallen (Ho Ho Lun vs. Robin Sane, MWF 10: Republika)

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