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Double or Nothing 2024 preview and predictions part one

It’s time once again to forensically analyze guys – and girls – fighting in tight shorts.

Three categories: star quality, match quality, build.  For each we’ll assign a score out of 10.  To get a total score with which to rank the matches.

Scores are intended to be objective.  If even, matches’ll be ranked according to personal preference.

Each feud will also be judged by whether the promotion got it ready for the big show: Polar, Premature, Peaking, Peaked, Past It

We’ll then predict the winner(s) of each contest. 

Disclaimer that needs reiterating from time to time.  This isn’t an attempt to slate the wrestlers.  It’s a critique of how they’ve been used.

Without further ado.

Toni Storm vs Serena Deeb (Women’s Title)

Star quality: 3

If not for Abadon, Serena would be the weakest pay per view challenger in a long time, a babyface booed re: battling seizures.

Her first Dynamite appearance since 2022 came a month ago with zero promotion.  As she demanded a title match after not being on tv full stop for a good month.

Don’t think there’s anything fresh to add about the divisive Miss Storm.

Match quality: 7

It’ll have to be exceptionally good to make up for both the lack of crowd interest and booking.  Toni seems finally to have started worrying more about the match than her gimmick.

But the action’s capped by what’s likely to be a very flat atmosphere: Serena’s clashes since returning have been solid but held back by her lack of connection with the crowd.  Exacerbated by a hold-heavy style lacking high spots.

If there is any cheering it’ll be for the champ.

Build: 0 Past It

A drug-addled hallucination of a feud befitting Storm’s character.  To sum up, Toni’s spent the month fighting off heels on behalf of her friend while making fun of someone who had three seizures.

Starting when Deeb took advantage of Toni saving Mariah May by stealing her belt and demanding a match.  So Storm’s the face and Deeb’s the heel right?

Three days later on Collision, Serena referred to Toni as someone ‘who everybody loves’ and patronizingly called her ‘sweetie’.  Right before Storm sought retribution for the aforementioned attack on Mariah.

Cool – everything still checks out.  After consecutive feuds saw Toni cheered; her babyface challenger booed, it seemed a lesson had finally been learned.  Seemed.

Then the 5.8 happened.

Serena cut a heartfelt promo about battling seizures.  And how the only thing which kept her going was becoming women’s champion.  The champ interrupted, harshly calling her a ‘charity case.’  Nor did she give ‘a single solitary shit’ about Serena’s seizures.  And was cheered for saying so.

Double-turn out of nowhere!?  Except of course, the crowd didn’t see it that way.

Next, Toni again stood up for May while making fun of Deeb’s ‘sob story.’  Before both seemed to switch roles again on Wednesday – Storm battling two heels alongside her girl Mariah, including a yay/boo sequence where she was the ‘yay’ and a hot tag.

Until Serena attacked from behind with a chair, to boos.

None of which is helped by Toni’s previous challengers disappearing from tv after losing.  Doesn’t exactly create the idea her opponents are worth getting behind.  Mid-00’s HHH must be smiling proudly at just a pile of dead babyfaces at the foot of Storm’s reign.

Overall Score: 10

And of course, the way Serena even ‘earned’ this match was via Toni throwing in the towel, causing Mariah May to lose.  Which may play into the finish here.  But more likely will do so when the champ faces Mina Shirakawa at Forbidden Door.

Lastly, please don’t do a seizure angle.  Please.

WINNER: Toni Storm

Chris Jericho vs Hook vs Katsuyori Shibata (FTW Title)

Star quality: 5

Question: You can chant ‘please retire’ at either Chris Jericho or the FTW Title, which do you pick?  Possibly it depends whether you have a quota on communications with inanimate objects.

That it’s a genuine conundrum doesn’t say much for champion, title or this feud.

The triple-threat Wednesday involving both challengers played to large bouts of silence.  Meanwhile ‘The Wrestler’s entire character is making fashion comments via his phone, speaking to the growing ex-WWE influence backstage.

Everyone’s funny.  And if people laugh, the joke’s worth it.  Which is why the smart money’s on Shibata/Joe to main event Wembley in a ‘floral pattern shirt on a pole’ match.  Though if anyone could pull off being pissed about that, it’d be Joe.

Anyway, we’re now well off-track.  But anything’s more interesting than this match, right?

Match quality: 6

Which Shibata should help.  He’s easily the best worker in it.  Most seemed to like he and Jericho’s clash a few weeks back which was too gimmicky for my taste.  But they can go to those same bells and whistles.

He’s also a guy who gets a lot out of a little, which works against both the inexperienced Hook and declining Ocho.  You don’t need to be able to do a triple jump moonsault to have a solid match with Shibata.  Just be willing to get hit really hard.

Build: 2 Past It

Jericho vs Hook’s the feud no-one really wanted.  Even if the work between the big shows has established a clearer face/heel dynamic and given Hook a reason for revenge.

The story is Hook showing Jericho who he can be.  Can he show us first?  Taz’s son.  Okay.  From New York.  Sure.  Likes chips.  We all do.

It’s been four years.

Nor does it help that Bryan Keith was a finalist for a shot here.  Having won an earlier ‘round’ of whatever the hell this was, against guys who aren’t worth mentioning.

On the flipside, if you still want Jericho gone for wrestling or non-wrestling reasons, totally justified.  But it’s hard to argue the new character’s a vast improvement.

Overall Score: 13

It was written last time that Jericho may win en route to Hook winning later.  This possibly doesn’t seem ‘later’ enough.  Hook’s an avenging babyface looking to regain his and his father’s old title and was made to jump through (very lame) hoops to do so.

But Shibata will likely take the Bryan Keith role of being there so somebody else doesn’t have to lose, prolonging the feud.  If Jericho is winning, it’d make sense for Sizeable William to influence the finish to give him some play.

WINNER: Chris Jericho

Orange Cassidy vs Trent Beretta (‘Wrestling Match’)

Star quality: 4

No-one in AEW history has been dragged from the main event precipice to the middle of the card more than Cassidy.

Trent’s a good worker but between never winning and playing a comedy geek, the damage has been done.  This is a dude who’s had a question mark at the end of his name for years.  Like even he didn’t know who he was.

Match quality: 8

One of too many it’ll be good but will anyone care? matches.  Especially for a pay-per-view.  What we know for sure is a piledriver won’t be the finish, since Cassidy gets right back up from those.

Build: 2 Past It

Hello?

Anybody?

Anybody care the Best Friends broke up?

It’s had tv time.  Similar to Christopher Daniels being fired, Chuck Taylor retired and we just moved on.  Orange had to win via rollup when they met.  And Trent thinks he’s the better wrestler.  So wants a ‘wrestling match.’

Overall Score: 14

As for a winner, it should be Cassidy.  AEW are spending far too much tv time on Trents, Strongs and O’Reillys who just don’t have the personalities to become difference makers.

But there are plenty of outs if he’s losing.  Beginning with Trent whispering something to Statlander a few weeks ago.  There’s also the easy heat of Trent demanding a ‘wrestling match’ then using a weapon to win.

Possibly Callis aids Cassidy, Orange says he didn’t want the help, leading later to Trent and Callis aligning.  Possibly Callis’ help here backfires and Trent wins.

If the Canadian deliberately costs Orange after trying to help him a few days ago, well, somewhere Vinnie Ru will have a tear in his eye, barely able to croak out the words ‘swerve bro.’  Like a proud papa.

WINNER: Trent Beretta

Will Ospreay vs Roderick Strong (International Title)

Star quality: 5

Between Dynasty & DoN AEW decided to conduct themselves a science experiment: what if we take our hottest act, our coldest group, and just fling ‘em together?

And as we are presumably all aware, when you mix something very hot with something very cold, the very hot thing cools down.

Yet feuding with Strong was not even the Essex boy’s nadir.  Because on Collision Ospreay was laid out by Shane Taylor.  Bringing back memories of when Sal Sincere left Stone Cold laying.  And Virgil did the same to the Hulkster.  And of course who could forget El Dandy laying the smack down on Goldberg?

Wait, what, you’re telling me none of those happened? That it’d be moronic to have your top babyface left laying by an undercard heel?

As for Roderick, very much like Trent, he and the Kingdom are comedy heels too damaged to do anything but pull people down with them.  Resulting in the biggest babyface in the promotion going from contesting the best of all time to doing battle with Mr. Potato Head.

Match quality: 9

Another philosophical if a match is good but nobody cares… question.  It will surely be very, very good.  Probably even excellent.  Which for many will be more than enough.

But we know who’s going to win.  The International title doesn’t mean much.  The champion sure as hell doesn’t.  It isn’t part of some wider story.  So what’s the point?

Build: 2 Polar

Coming off the best match all year, Ospreay appeared unannounced as part of a match even AEW’s announcers didn’t understand.  Then disappeared for weeks.  Until returning to have a jammed-in spat with Strong for which he wasn’t even put in front of a live crowd.

Others seem to have liked the exchange.  And Will’s delivery and everyman style were good as always.  But pseudo-shooting about Strong ‘burying me to all the Ring of Honor guys.’?  Burying’s an insider term.  They didn’t elaborate or explain it or what Strong did.  This was Booking for Insiders 101.

What’s hard to understand is why Adam Cole wasn’t involved here: can talk for Roddy, is a star more befitting Ospreay’s level, gives Cole some screen time after being off tv and teases he and Ospreay for whenever they want to go there.  Seems a *stops to count fingers* win/win/win/win.

Or why this couldn’t have been a Dynamite main event, potentially drawing an audience to watch Will become a champion before facing someone he’d actually benefit from beating here.

RKO out of nowhere: weren’t Ospreay, Fletcher and Callis in a bit of a spat?  The hell happened to that?

Overall Score: 16

Hopefully this isn’t Tony Khan putting the belt on the Brit a la Orange so he can have ‘good matches’ on tv every week.

Hopefully this is a means to give Ospreay a championship to defend at Wembley while merging titles – be it with Okada if Kenny can’t go.  Or Swerve.  Or whoever the TNT champ might be.

It’s the only possible positive out of this whole scenario.  So he’d damn sure better be winning.  Momentum’s so hard to generate and so easy to lose.

WINNER: Will Ospreay

Bullet Club Gold vs Death Triangle (Trios Titles???)

Star quality: 5

In an ideal world this’d be Pac vs Jay to springboard one or the other into title contention while the Bros and Gunns to do the same re: the tag belts.

Every single one of the six has been badly underutilized.  In Pac’s case it’s injury-related.  Everyone else?  No excuses.  The Bros have been victims of the tag division’s demise.  But neither do they win singles clashes.  Despite a rare combination of charisma and ring skills.

Jay White may be the most badly used wrestler in AEW history.  Yet is so talented on the mic (Wednesday excepted) that he might still overcome it given the opportunity.

The Gunns are entertaining.  Heels trying to do nothing but show ass and get booed.  But if you told a fan who’d only been watching a year that they’d been tag champs, they’d probably laugh.  Then again… they are champions right now aren’t they… mind blown… doesn’t feel like it.  Highlighting how pointless these belts are.

Match quality: 8

Being partial to tags and meh about blood and guts, very much looking forward to this.  Real test of just how good the Gunns are. Because the remaining four are capable of MOTY contenders.  White’s deliberate – you might call it slow – style contrasting with the Bros’ speedball approach should be fun.

Build: 3 Premature

Could’ve been good with more time.  Helped by two very different promo styles – words, tone, delivery – White and Pac don’t sound like other wrestlers.

And one of few feuds here to play into Dynasty, where Pac lost to Okada.  And basically went numb.  So Jay White, being Jay White, a cocky little shit, began to mock Pac in charismatic and entertaining fashion, since he has beaten Kazuchika.

The mocking continued on Rampage or something (you’d be forgiven for missing most of this feud if you only check out Dynamite).

Before Pac called them ‘very funny chaps’ and noted ‘their naughty behavior.’  Without a hint of emotion.  Because he was still numb – ‘make…me…care…’ he demanded.  In one of those handy coincidences, Bullet Club were up minutes later and the lights came up to reveal a battered Geordie at their feet.

The off-camera beatdown is overdone, a sure sign AEW are always rushing things, but it was effective enough in leading to Pac reintroducing his ‘amigos’ on Dynamite.  Though that angle itself was weak, not quite living up to Tony Schiavone’s ‘great moment in AEW (history)’ billing.

Overall Score: 16

It’s arguable the titles should be scrapped in a promotion which saw these and the tag belts defended a combined total of once between big shows.  But assuming they are on the line, both acts could do with the belts for lack of much else going on.  Despite Death Triangle having done it all before.

The only sure thing seems to be that Jay White won’t take the pin.  Normally, Pac’d be excluded too but they may continue this story of him being unable to win big matches.  He and White feuding wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Also be interesting to see if White appears at Forbidden Door since he’s technically banned from New Japan.  And of course the Bros unfortunately can’t compete there.

WINNER: Bullet Club Gold


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Paul Hemming
Paul Hemminghttps://h00kedon.weebly.com/
Paul Hemming got into AEW during the pandemic, lives in Liverpool, England, and is a huge Liverpool fan, Playstation player and history lover.

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