Wednesday, May 26, 2021

AEW Double or Nothing 2021: Stadium Stampede II

Oh man.  Oh mama.  AEW Double or Nothing the Third is this Sunday, and it's as stacked a PPV as they've presented in their two-year history.  Some big title matches, a showcase match or two, a battle royal, and a huge Stadium Stampede war to cap it all off.  This is gonna be great.

Say what you will about AEW; their roster is too big for two hours a week (which is being rectified as of August), they throw too much at the wall just to keep everyone busy, their programming can be a bit disorganized.  But ya know what?  Unlike with WWE programming I actually give a shit about what's happening.  There is a clear effort to elevate as many people as possible, there are clear centerpieces in every division, there is a clear focus on who the next crop of stars will be.  And on top of that, the in-ring stuff is mostly good-to-excellent.  AEW's product is as engaging for me as any North American wrestling product in years, and with Double or Nothing being the first PPV in 15 months held in front of a capacity crowd, I expect a helluva goddamn show. 

Let's take a look at the lineup.....

Casino Battle Royale

As always this show will feature the battle royal-Royal Rumble hybrid.  It's mostly just a fun way to get a lot of extra faces on the card, but with something at stake, namely a future AEW Title match.  We have 20 names announced plus a mystery entrant.  As tempted as I am to get my hopes up that Bryan Danielson is that entrant, let's be realistic - you don't debut a star like Danielson as the surprise entrant in a battle royal.  You announce a debut like that ahead of time and get some hype out of it.  So I have no idea who it will be.  Andrade maybe?  Anyway, as usual I'll whittle this roster down to who believably has a chance to win.  You got Christian Cage as the favorite, plus Penta, and.....well, that's about it.  I mean, it's for a title shot on Dynamite most likely, so you could give it to a longshot like Jungle Boy (which I wouldn't be sad about, and oddly Luchasaurus is not in the match).  But it's basically down to Cage, Penta, JB or TBA.  I'll go with Cage since they've already teased heat between him and Kenny Omega, and the match would be really good.

Pick: Christian Cage

Hangman Page vs. Brian Cage

Speaking of Cages, Brian has a rematch with Adam Page, after more or less squashing him a couple months ago and derailing his #1 contender status.  But since there was interference in that match, Page has challenged Brian to a rematch with no bullshit.  Hangman is obviously one of the company's future top guys and a heavy favorite to be the one to dethrone Kenny Omega, so he's gotta win this.  When the Hangman catches hang.....

Pick: Hangman Page 

Cody Rhodes vs. Anthony Ogogo

Speaking of future stars, Anthony Ogogo has it.  He's green as grass, but he has legit athletic credentials and carries himself like a million bucks.  And the company clearly sees it, hence this match.  Despite a meandering weirdo promo about US vs. UK nonsense, Cody is very obviously committed to delivering Ogogo as a big name and will do his damndest to make the guy look good.  Ogogo needs a better finisher than "punch to the gut" but he has loads of potential.

Pick: Ogogo

Sting & Darby Allin vs. Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page

Welp, this will be Sting's real in-ring debut in AEW, at the tender age of 61.  Yeah, I'm not expecting much out of him here.  Darby will do all the heavy lifting, as he should.  Sting is just here as an attraction.  But the real story here should be Sky and Page, both of whom are strong in-ring dudes with natural charisma.  Allin is coming off losing the TNT Title, so I'd say Sting should eat the pin here.  The only question is, what finisher can he take without getting horribly injured?  

Pick: SkyPage

TNT Championship: Miro vs. Lance Archer

Speaking of the TNT Title, Miro just won it in a helluva fight over Darby Allin, and now faces a fellow hoss in Lance Archer.  This should just be a stiff-as-fuck slugfest, and I'm alright with that.  Miro as TNT Champ can actually redefine that title as something similar to what the NEVER Openweight Title was - a belt decided in brutal fights.  Archer's slow babyface turn is a little weird, and he should probably lose Jake Roberts as a manager since a big tough babyface doesn't really need a manager.  But this should be damn good stuff.

Pick: Miro retains

AEW Tag Team Championship: Young Bucks vs. Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston

Speaking of champions retaining, I expect the Young Bucks to do so here, but not before a helluva tag team war.  Moxley and Kingston have transitioned nicely into a mongrel tag team who are fed up with Matt and Nick's bullshit and just wanna shut 'em the fuck up.  This feud feels like it's not really about the titles for the challengers, it's about hurting the champions.  And hurt them they shall, for a good 20 minutes, before losing the match through nefarious means.

Pick: Bucks retain

AEW Women's Championship: Hikaru Shida vs. Britt Baker

This one has been a long time in the making.  Baker's ship came in the night she and Thunder Rosa tried to murder each other on live television, and she's been oddly mostly absent as an in-ring player on Dynamite ever since.  But she continued to rack up wins on Dark, making her the new top contender.  I am stoked that Shida got to hold the belt for a full year, which is exactly what I suggested should happen when she won the thing, to help establish credibility in a division that sorely needed it.  Now that she's done that, it's time to transition to a woman who not only can cut a great promo, but has grown leaps and bounds between the ropes over the last six months.  Baker is tailor-made to be an asshole heel champion who can back it up in the ring, and I'm confident that's exactly what she'll do.  Side note: if my predictions are accurate here, Double or Nothing will result in every title being held by a heel, which means AEW will need to build up some strong babyfaces over the summer.

Pick: Britt Baker wins the title

AEW Championship: Kenny Omega vs. Orange Cassidy vs. Pac

This is gonna be spectacular.  Omega is a five-star match factory, Pac is right up there with him, and Cassidy is uber-popular and can work his ass off.  Pac and Cassidy's rematch a couple weeks ago was sadly torpedoed by Cassidy being knocked loopy after a superkick, so you know they'll be motivated to redeem themselves.  Cassidy will get a ton of hope spots and all three guys will make it look like he's actually gonna pull off the impossible, but in the end Omega will obviously escape with the title.

Pick: Omega retains

Stadium Stampede: The Inner Circle vs. The Pinnacle

I could not be more excited about this.  I absolutely loved last year's Stampede, and while this is going to be a whole different animal given the nature of this feud, I expect the sequel to live up to and probably surpass that one.  IC vs. Pinnacle is the hottest feud in wrestling right now, coming off a Blood & Guts match that delivered AEW it's first #1 cable ranking (and was a pretty darn good match to boot, aside from too many commerical breaks).  I think this match will top B&G, as everyone will have more time to shine and pair off with their natural enemies.  Jericho and MJF will be spotlighted obviously, but we'll get to see a preview of Santana & Ortiz vs. FTR (likely leading to a future tag match), Sammy vs. Shawn, and another hoss fight in Wardlow vs. Hager.  I expect little comedy here and a lot of brutality, in a war that will redefine AEW's signature gimmick match.  The stip here is that if The Inner Circle loses they have to break up, so obviously they aren't losing.  But that's okay; The Pinnacle won the first battle, Jericho's squad needs to win the second, and then they can have another gimmick match or two, maybe blowing off the feud at All Out.  This'll be fantastic.

Pick: Inner Circle evens the score

Like I said, this is as loaded a PPV as AEW has ever produced.  Lots of opportunities to define some young careers and further some stories, plus at least two or three potential Match of the Year candidates.  I'm excited.

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