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Double Or Nothing meant war with WWE, and that’s a very good thing

AEW made waves and took its shots at the titans in the towers, and I’m feeling it.

Depending on who you talk to, AEW either went too corny and was too preoccupied with its WWE references and shot this weekend, or it hit the nail on the head (with a sledgehammer?). While I started the weekend in the former state of mind, I’ve come around to the latter.

Many said All In wasn’t supposed to be about being an answer to the WWE, but somewhere between Triple H’s acceptance speech for DX at the Hall of Fame and today, everybody got plenty comfortable throwing daggers at the monolith in CT.

The more I think about it, the Elite’s “change the world” motto can be interpreted as intrinsically linked to the industry leader. The gang doesn’t appear to want to change the world in ways I first asked for, but with this TNT deal, and giving wrestlers a major stage changes the world for those who care a lot about American pro wrestling but are done with WWE.

So, when Cody spent time during press conferences taking unnecessary swipes at Bayley and dunking on the 24/7 belt, I should have seen this as a preview for the show to come.

To spend Cody’s own intro, signaling to Triple H’s WrestleMania intros, was divisive. Even if it’s not a shot across the bow, as the Code-man claimed in a post show interview, that moment connected with the MGM Grand arena.

And understanding what your audience will like is as important as anything in pro wrestling. As of late, it’s what WWE creative’s been missing. Not everybody is going to love everything, that’s wrestling fans in a nutshell. But Double or Nothing’s ticket holders popped huge, and nothing looks better on camera than a raucous audience.

As much as Cody claimed his intent to destroy the Attitude Era via beating the former Golddust, he brought back the one part of the Attitude Era worth saving: a stadium fully losing its shit. Hell, for as much as I disliked Jim Ross’ commentary for the first two hours and 24 minutes of the show, his call at the very end of the night was down right electric.

But yes, the even bigger moments came from the WWE’s most recent high profile ship-jumper. When the man formerly known as Dean Ambrose made his first live appearance as Jon Moxley since 2011, we all felt it, to pardon a bit of modern slang. Running through the arena stairs, much like he did during his WWE run as a part of The Shield, Mox had finally broken out of his cage, and it looked like he’s doing just fine.

As he slid into the ring and did a small little rotation in place, Moxley was the center of the pro wrestling universe. As Cody put it later, this signing is “a really wonderful deal for AEW in our presentation as the alternative.”

But don’t think he’s only talking about AEW as an alternative for fans. That moment will be seen by other frustrated top-shelf pro wrestlers, most importantly Sasha Banks. Anyone else stuck in Stanford right now is probably even more ready to bust away from WWE. The final shot of the night was on Jon Moxley, as he lay on top of the giant novelty poker chips. They know he’s a star, and they’re going to present him as such.

Jon Moxley didn’t need to @ Triple H or Vince McMahon in this photo he posted to Twitter. By simply standing next to Cody Rhodes in this image, where both ex-WWE employees gave the middle finger, we all knew who this shot was meant for.

Or as another former WWE pro wrestler put it, “Vince better watch his ass.”

I’d be worried about other promotions putting on such an anti-WWE show, if only because we’ve seen TNA try and fail at that hand. But, top to bottom, Double or Nothing was packed with other stuff to love, with great wrestling, fun characters and the ultimately unlikeable Maxwell Jacob Friedman.

As long as AEW knows to only sprinkle on the shots at Vince, and bake its proverbial cake out of other materials, they’ll be great. War season is back, and it feels like it’s gonna be fun.

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