Mike Reviews – AEW Double or Nothing 2021 (30th May 2021) – Part One

Good Day one and all!

I have had a request or two over the years to review some AEW, but I’ve never done it mainly because AEW has traditionally been a show/company that I’ve enjoyed just for me and writing about it would almost make it feel like work in a strange way.

However, I decided I’d try this at least once on the off chance I have something interesting to say about it. If I don’t then I’ll go back to just watching the product as a fan, but if this goes well and people like it then I might review some more AEW down the line, but it’s not going to be a regular occurrence or anything like that.

I’m going to be splitting this over 2-3 weeks here in my Wednesday slot, as I felt that with Andy PG, Thomas Hall and Scott Keith reviewing the show at the time it happened it would have been reaching overkill for me to review it too. Hopefully this way there’s been sufficient time for everything to breathe and it isn’t too much AEW to chew on.

The event is emanating from the heart of Tim Tebow Country on the 30th of May 2021

Calling the action are Excalibur, Tony Skee-a-vone and Jim Ross

The Buy-In Match
NWA World Women’s Title
Champ: Serena Deeb Vs Riho

Not sure if I’m out to lunch here, but I think I find spiritual yogi Deeb far more attractive than when she was in the Straight Edge Society and had a big pair of fake bazunger’s. She’s also developed a bit of a Heel attitude as well, and I think it’s been scientifically proven that women in wrestling become at least 32.6% hotter the minute they start acting all Heelish.

Deeb continues her Heelish mannerisms by slapping Riho early doors, which leads to some more strikes getting thrown. Riho replies with some speedy offence, including a cross body from the top that looked great due to Deeb leaping up to meet her. That was brilliant! Joey Hayes does that a lot in his matches too and it’s a great way to take that move. Deebs works Riho over for a bit following that, showing good charisma and Riho sells it all really well.

The crowd is into it as well, and it’s good to have real crowd reactions again, although I hope everyone has had their jabs. Had my first one recently, my arm hurt for a couple of days but I’ve not enjoyed the onset of any superpowers just yet. Riho eventually manages to fight back with a double stomp off the top for a double down, which leads to us venturing into the finishing stretch.

We get some good near falls, with Riho busting out both a 619 and a Northern Lights Suplex, but she can’t hold Deeb down and hurts her knee in the process. Deeb gets a swinging neck breaker for a near fall of her own and the crowd is into this action. Deeb manages to bust out a Dragon Screw on both of Riho’s legs at the same time at one stage, which is certainly an innovative move, even if it didn’t quite come off how they wanted.

They’ve done a really good job of subverting my expectations here, as I came in thinking Deeb was sure to retain but as it’s worn on I’ve started to think that Riho might win it. The near falls have been executed really well and I’ve bought all of them. Eventually Deeb manages to lock Riho in The Serenity Lock (Think Tequila Sunrise) and that’s enough for the submission win.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: SERENA DEEB
RATING: ***1/2

We get footage of the fan fest from earlier in the day.

Opening Match
Brian Cage Vs Hangman Page

Cage is all lucha’d up with wacky entrance gear, looking a bit like Electro Shock actually, although I doubt that it’s a direct homage. Hangman gets the megastar reaction, which is probably why he should get the big belt eventually. They start this one hot and its good action, with the crowd heat really adding to everything. Hangman does well early on, but Cage replies by powerbombing him into the ring post for the cut off. Yup, that’ll do it!

Hangman sells well during the heat and Cage’s offence looks good. I’m not a gigantic fan of Heels who do MOVEZ during the heat, but I understand that I’m fighting against the tide on that one. Hangman eventually manages to fight back and gets the Cactus Clothesline to send Cage out to the floor before following with a Moonsault, as this match continues to have all kinds of energy to it. They are WORKING right here dawg!

This has been a little bit sloppy in places due to both guys being so excitable, but it’s also been entertaining and it’s fun to see two guys just going all out like this, especially with a hot crowd who digs the action. Hangman manages to counter a Super Bomb into a rana and that’s the cue for us to move into the finishing stretch, with both men getting near falls. Again, there are moments where their timing is a bit off, but they brute force their way through it by sheer force of will.

Cage gives us our first insane high spot of the evening by superplexing Hangman onto the entrance ramp, which is frankly bonkers but it gets a gigantic pop form the crowd. Cage tries an F-5 styled move off the top, although he doesn’t get it quite right, but Hangman kicks out at two. Both men try stealing the other’s signature moves at one stage in a fun moment, which leads us into more near falls, with Cage busting out the Spiral Bomb at one stage for two.

Captain Hook and Ricky Starks join us to try and help Cage, but he rejects their assistance and it ends up leading to Hangman catching Cage with a desperation Buckshot Lariat for the three count and the mega pop from the crowd.

WINNER: HANGMAN PAGE
RATING: ***

Some sloppy moments dragged it down a bit, but they worked through it and ended up having a fun opener as a result. I’ll put up with some sloppier moments if a trade-off is that I get this sort of energy from the wrestlers

Hangman has a celebratory pint following that, whilst Team Taz argues with one another.

We get a video package to hype up The Young Bucks Vs Wild Thing contest for the AEW Tag Team Titles.

Match Two
AEW Tag Team Titles
Champs: The Young Bucks w/ Don Callis Vs Wild Thing

Wild Thing doing the Bruiser Brody “storm through the crowd” entrance is pretty awesome. This one is a wild brawl right from the off, and bless the AEW crowd as they follow the script and boo The Bucks, even though they’d probably love to cheer for them. It’s good anarchic action, and feels a bit like an ECW match actually, which is a good way to get on my good side if nothing else. Just like in ECW, a tag team match eventually breaks out during this wild brawl, and that leads to a more traditional babyface shine for the challengers.

The Bucks eventually cheat to cut Kingston off though, leading to our designated Heel heat segment, with Kingston selling it all well. The Bucks do a relatively subdued heat segment by their usual standards, focusing more on character work and attacking a body part. Excalibur of course manages to work in a Super Dragon reference. Hopefully he mentions Scott Lost next, or Beef Wellington and his dreaded “Ass Punch”.

Kingston eventually manages to catch Nick with a suplex and its hot tag Moxley, who runs wild on The Bucks with high-impact moves like piledrivers. The Bucks bump and feed for all of that perfectly and the crowd is into the action, at which point Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows join us to ruin things. Frankie Kazarian decides to get revenge on Bullet Club for previous shenanigans though by helping the challengers fight them off, only for The Bucks to hairspray can Moxley for a two count.

Moxley bleeds from that, and The Bucks add an Indy-Taker on the entrance ramp to make things even worse for him. Don’t overdo it on the ramp bumps lads, less is more sometimes. The Bucks work some heat on Moxley following that, as we’re apparently doing some extended Southern Tag Formula. Moxley has got a proper crimson mask going now, which leads to Callis demanding a blood stoppage like the good snivelling villain he is.

The Bucks look to have it all well in hand, but mock The Shield pose and that leads to Moxley fighting back and making the HOT tag to Kingston, who just stands in the middle and lets The Bucks come to him, which is usually preferable to chasing the Heels around the ring. The Bucks double on Kingston to halt his momentum, but he survives that and tags in Moxley again, as it’s time for our finishing stretch.

That has the assorted near falls that you would expect, with the work being executed well and the crowd being into the action. Wild Thing gets a stolen shoe assisted Doomsday Device on Matt in a funny moment, but Nick is able to break up the pin fall attempt. Some of these near falls are executed fantastically, with the crowd biting on almost all of them and the saves being timed just right.

It’s the usual big production that you expect from The Bucks, with Wild Thing slotting into the formula and bringing their own flavour to everything. If you don’t like The Bucks then you won’t like this, but if you do then this will tickle your taste buds. Eventually The Bucks manage to throw a barrage of kicks and knees at Moxley, and that’s finally enough to keep him down after a spirited effort.

WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: THE YOUNG BUCKS
RATING: ****

Bit of a flat finish, but I’m fine with the Champs being the best team and just throwing enough bombs that they could finally put the game challengers away. It’s fun to think that people complained in the early days of AEW that The Bucks were doing too many jobs, because the sentiment seems to have swung the other way now

The commentary team notifies us that Blade and QT Marshall are out of the Battle Royale, with Serpentico and Aaron Solow being the replacements.

Paul Wight joins us to do commentary here, being that his Dad was a Battle Royal expert.

Match Three
Casino Battle Royale

21 people are in this, with four groups of 5 entering at 3 minute intervals until the joker comes out all by their lonesome. The Clubs are first, which leads to Christian Cage, Matt Sydal, Powerhouse Hobbs, Dustin Rhodes and Max Caster coming down. Caster wisely didn’t insult Hobbs during his entrance rap, probably because he likes living. This is standard Battle Royal stuff, with Caster dumping Sydal early doors.

Caster doesn’t get long to celebrate, as Christian dumps him soon after. Next out are The Diamonds, Matt Hardy, Isaiah Cassidy, Dark Order 10, Nick Comoroto and Serpentico. That leads to a slew of quick eliminations, with it all coming down to Matt, Kassidy and Christian, but before team Hardy can beat Christian down too much The Varsity Blondes, Colt Cabana, Anthony Bowens and Penta come down as The Hearts suite.

The action has picked up a bit now due to them having some nippy guys in there. Kassidy is playing clean-up for Matt still, and rescues him from Cabana by dumping Boom Boom out of the ring, whilst The Blondes take care of Bowens. Garrison of The Blondes is dumped soon after that though, which gives us Penta, Hardy, Kassidy and Pillman Jr for a bit until The Spades of Jungle Boy (complete with fans singing along to Baltimora), Marq Quen, Aaron Solow, Evil Uno and Lee Johnson join us to complete all of the suites.

Wight is a bit like me here as he’s totally lost track of who is left in this thing. The action has been your standard Battle Royal stuff, but if these sorts of matches aren’t your thing then you probably won’t enjoy it. More eliminations come, with the biggest one of note being Penta via Jungle Boy. This leads to Hobbs and Christian returning after going out of the ring but not being eliminated. Christian ends up winning that battle and dumps Hobbs just in time for The Joker card, who is Lio Rush.

Rush runs wild on Team Hardy, with them selling big for him and his offence looking good, one botched Stunner aside where he and Matt’s timing is off. Rush tries to dump both of Private Party, but that allows Matt to dump him before he gets a chance to chuck anyone out. Bit of an underwhelming debut in that regard, but the crowd reacted to him at least. Jungle Boy and Christian team up to dump Private Party, leading us to a final three of Christian, Jungle Boy and Matt.

Matt tries to form an alliance with Christian, but Christian ends up chucking him out instead, leaving us with Christian and Jungle Boy. I tell you what, either Christian is really hurt or he’s one of the all-time best sellers, because he has a pronounced limp going on here. Christian and Jungle Boy do a decent closing segment outside of a few further timing issues, and Jungle Boy ends up getting the upset win by back body dropping Christian out over the top.

WINNER: JUNGLE BOY
RATING: *1/2

Good big win for Jungle Boy there, as they continue to do a decent job with him. The match wasn’t great to be honest, but there was the odd moment I liked

Christian tells Jungle Boy to make his shot count.

Match Four
Cody Rhodes w/ Arn Anderson Vs Anthony Ogogo w/ QT Marshall

You’ve got to hold and give
But do it at the right time
You can be slow or fast
But you must get to the line

They’ll always hit you and hurt you
Defend and attack
There’s only one way to beat them
Get round the back

Catch me if you can
‘Cause I’m the England man
And what you’re looking at
Is the master plan

We ain’t no hooligans
This ain’t a football song
Three lions on my chest
I know we can’t go wrong

Hey, if Cody wants to make this all about MURICA Vs my home nation then I’m going to bring New Order in to back me up! So yeah, Cody’s big outlandish entrance just makes me want to see him get creamed even more than I already did, so I’m not sure it had the desired effect they were going for. I normally don’t mind Cody, but sod this storyline and sod him for doing it.

The match itself is decent actually, with Cody selling well for Ogogo’s offence, and Cody firing back to open a cut above Ogogo’s eye. They do a mixture of working it like your standard wrestling match with a touch of Wrestler Vs Boxer going on, which is probably better than if they’d gone strictly in either direction.

Ogogo actually heads up with a frogsplash at one stage, which gets him a near fall. That was a nice frogsplash actually; they could really have something with this lad once he gets some seasoning. They do a good spot where Ogogo has it won with some punches but Cody has a leg outside of the ring so the pin doesn’t count, which is a good way of protecting Ogogo’s offence. Cody isn’t losing here though, and he catches Ogogo with a Brain Breaker not soon after for the three.

WINNER: CODY RHODES
RATING: **1/2

F— how we got here, but the match itself was okay, as Ogogo did well for someone of his experience level and Cody was working hard. Cody winning is a bit questionable I suppose, but they kept Ogogo strong in defeat and they gave him an out by pushing how comparatively inexperienced he was

Cody celebrates with the crowd now that he’s ended racism once and for all.

Right, that’ll do us for this week I think. Join me next week for Part Two when we’ll conclude things.