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It was wonderful to see that fans are back for this week’s go-home show ahead of the Double or Nothing pay-per-view this weekend; wrestling finally feels like it’s getting back to normal.


HITS

The crowd

I am so happy to have fans back in full force at shows. Tonight’s crowd was fantastic. It wasn’t a particularly hyped-up crowd by AEW standards, but they reacted well to every segment. They absolutely elevated the Hangman-Janela and Sky/Page-Dark Order matches beyond what they would’ve been a few months ago.

When you get a hot crowd fully buying into what’s happening in front of them, there’s nothing like it in wrestling. One moment from tonight stands out: Hikaru Shida’s sincere gratitude for the fans’ support throughout her pandemic reign. Something like that just wasn’t possible until now.

The overall build to Double or Nothing

A common criticism of AEW is that many of their segments feel aimless. It’s entertaining in the moment, but when it’s over, I’m often left with a “What was the point?” feeling.

This show was different. Every single second on this show served a purpose. Matches went exactly as long as they needed to go. Promo segments hyped the pay-per-view in two days. “This Sunday” may have seemed like a broken record by the end of the show, but that, my friends, is how you hype a paid show.

I didn’t think a single match for Sunday was hindered by tonight’s booking. And for matches where I had questions, namely Allin/Sting vs. Page/Sky and the world title three-way, received perhaps the most noticeable kick in the rear. Double or Nothing’s card is weaker on paper than previous AEW cards, but they worked hard to make up for it this week.

The Inner Circle: Synonymous with Dynamite

I loved tonight’s Inner Circle remembrance. They’ve had so many great moments that some of them get a little lost in the shuffle. Remember “bad creative”? Plus, allowing each member to speak exactly how you’d expect them to speak was brilliant. No Jericho subversion here, just a straight-up face promo hyping the sequel to Stadium Stampede.

Jericho and co. are probably disbanding this weekend, and if that’s the case, you really couldn’t ask for a better run from AEW’s first top heel stable. Jericho’s malleable, one-of-a-kind charisma effortlessly transformed the group from smarmy heels to beloved babyfaces; they are synonymous with Dynamite.

MISSES

Jade Cargill + Mark Sterling?

Tonight’s show was excellent overall, but the one head-scratcher came in the form of Jade Cargill announcing she had accepted Mark Sterling’s offer to be her manager.

Okay, what? You cannot get lower on the AEW totem pole than Sterling, who was publicly humiliated by Jon Moxley in his few Dynamite appearances. Cargill has maybe the highest ceiling of any wrestler prospect in recent memory, associating her with riff-raff like Sterling is a misstep.

There’s a chance this is all a ruse and Cargill has something bigger planned (Salina de la Renta, maybe?). If that’s the case, I can at least see where AEW’s going. But why deal with Sterling in the meantime? It doesn’t make sense to me, when Cargill should be treated with the utmost care in terms of her booking and portrayal.

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