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AEW Dynamite Breakdown: “At Double or Nothing…”

AEW 5.11.21

Mox vs. Nagata

Tonight’s episode of AEW Dynamite was a jam-packed two-hour wrestling show, and we finally have a good idea of what we’ll see at the Double or Nothing at the end of May. As always, I break down what worked and what didn’t.

HITS

Great wrestling up and down the show

Jon Moxley and Yuji Nagata opened the show with the first IWGP-branded championship match in Dynamite history. This was exactly what you’d expect: compact and hard-hitting, with Moxley coming off like a star.

Despite my despondence post-match antics, I thought the Young Bucks vs. SCU was Match of the Night. I was fully invested in SCU’s story and desperately wanted to see them win. Some of those nearfalls really grabbed my attention.

Finally, Miro vs. Darby Allin gave us some tantalizing moments of violence. I don’t understand why the uninteresting Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page must be involved in Allin’s matches these days, but what was there tonight was excellent.

MISSES

SCU breakup’s storyline

By my estimation, this was one of the biggest missteps in company history. SCU are a historically great tag team, and both Daniels and Kazarian are beloved performers who have been ubiquitous to the independent scene over the last decade. So what do we get in this heated, thrilling breakup storyline?

Well . . . not much. Instead of legitimizing the stipulation, they had SCU win exactly one match on Dynamite over the last four months. And when SCU lost this particular title match, they had to break up? We got a TNA Impact-style “To the back!” moment and about twenty seconds of real emotion. Jim Ross sounded like he couldn’t have cared less.

When you break up one of the most storied teams in independent wrestling history, and come out with nothing to show for it, that’s a misstep.

Cody’s campaign speech

It’s interesting how “three-star Cody Rhodes” is now a wildly inconsistent performer. He’ll have one week where he’s excellent, and another where he’s awful. Now it seems like the inconsistency has begun to manifest itself all within the same segment: Cody’s promo tonight brought was baffling, and it brought full attention to how absurd the story of his rivalry with Anthony Ogogo is. Who could possibly care about “USA vs. the World” storylines in 2021? And that’s ignoring the fact that these two already had a story, when Ogogo, QT Marshall and co. beat the hell out of Cody’s family!

I believed every word Cody said tonight about his wife and his future daughter, which makes it more jarring when everything else he says is so phony and unbelievable.

Trying to fit too much into two hours

Two and a half weeks ahead of the Double or Nothing and it’s like Tony Khan woke up this morning and realized the pay-per-view is without a card.

Seemingly every segment and promo directly built something for a match on the card, with half directly promoted with the line “. . .at Double or Nothing” to make sure hit it home. That’s not a bad thing in a vacuum, but considering how they’ve had weeks to build to this show, I can’t help but think that story items like the world title three-way match, Miro vs. Lance Archer, Hangman Page vs. Brian Cage, and most egregiously, SCU’s breakup, could have all been done on separate shows, which could have helped them seem all that much more impactful in comparison.

Double or Nothing looks really good as of now, but like All Out last year, the build has been questionable at best, and stupefying at worst.

“Arrested and detained”?

This is minor, but I just couldn’t stand the absurdity in this segment, with AEW trying to convince me that Santana was actually arrested for using a fork during BLOOD & GUTS was just too much, especially since MJF threw Chris Jericho off a cage on the very same show.

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