There were two matches at Double or Nothing that had nothing to do with one another: a singles and a tag-team match. There were two matches that were entirely different inside the ring: one with grim brutality and the other with highflying technicality.
Yet these two matches were working together to tell a larger story set to unfold at a future AEW event. These two matches were Cody vs. Dustin and The Young Bucks vs. The Lucha Bros.
The first match to take place was Cody vs. Dustin. They’re brothers but Cody before their match says that this isn’t important. He claims this match isn’t “brother vs. brother”, or “natural vs nightmare”, it’s “era vs era”; the attitude era in WWE (Dustin) vs the current era of wrestling (Cody). Cody then says he’s going “to kill the attitude era.”
Since this match isn’t taking place in WWE but AEW it also becomes WWE vs AEW. The wrestlers support this fact in a variety of ways: Cody destroys a reference to HHH during his entrance. This could be seen as destroying a symbol of the attitude era, HHH was a prominent wrestler during this time, but he’s a CFO now and he books NXT. He helps run the company so by choosing his symbol it makes things interesting. It feels more personally directed at WWE as a company and not just the past.
Dustin also bladed pretty severely. This technique isn’t used in current WWE, therefore, it serves to make it more apparent he is representing the Attitude Era specifically. The inclusion of the spot could also be AEW drawing a line between what they will do in the current era that WWE won’t.
Another example of a symbol working for both setups.
The practice of donning the “crimson mask” is something Dusty Rhodes, the two participants’ father, was known to do. Cody tells us not to consider this brother vs. brother but gives us evidence that we need to view it as such anyway.
All the different symbols and references the performers make serve to build this match into something quite deep. It is at once brother vs brother, era vs era, and company vs company. But they haven’t finished their story yet, and the match ends exactly where Cody began, with the notion of brothers.
After Cody pins Dustin he seems content that he has “killed” the attitude era (or WWE perhaps), and so now post-match he approaches Dustin as his brother again. He claims not to need any of Dustin’s other names, Cody needs his brother, his voice cracking as he reaches out. An emotional moment amidst the bloodshed. Cody explains they will be facing the Young Bucks if Dustin accepts his offer, and so Cody retires an era, but not his brother on this night.
Now for the next match: Lucha Bros. vs the Young Bucks.
They don’t seem to be connected at first. The last match was all storytelling this match was all moves. The tag match was wrestled at an intense pace with loads of tight sequences, team finishers, and kick outs. But once again we have a match between brothers. Two teams of brothers this time.
At the end of the Rhodes match, a team between brothers was formed. Later, in this match, we see what a team (two, actually!) of brothers is truly capable of doing.The synchronicity and team chemistry are amazing. We see big sequence after big sequence executed to perfection.
Lastly, let’s remember that our new team’s future opponents (The Young Bucks) are effectively working heel tonight. The Lucha Bros are the ones fighting to regain their titles and the audience is behind them throughout the match.
Then the villains win.
Cody and Dustin get fixed up in the back as the Young Bucks defeat the Luchas in a bloodless affair.
The way these matches worked with each other whilst telling two separate stories was impressive for such a young company. Whilst the fact that the undercard is filled with lesser-known names proves AEW is thinking about their long term future; the interconnected storytelling that is already happening in their main event scene shows that they are ready to be successful now, and it’s exciting to watch.