AEW Double or Nothing: Cody Rhodes vs Dustin Rhodes An All-Time Classic
I want to start this piece by first congratulating Shahid Khan, Dustin, Cody & Brandi Rhodes, Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho & anyone else who had a hand in pulling off Double or Nothing the event, or AEW as an entity. The match I am most looking forward to is Cody Rhodes vs Dustin Rhodes in a battle of the Rhodes brothers.
I’m a WWE fan, I have been since I was a little boy, but as a wrestling fan, the American pro wrestling I love so much has been complacent since WCW and ECW closed their doors. IMPACT came along and I had hope that competition or a good alternative wasn’t gone from my tv but after a few bad business choices (from my vantage point anyway) IMPACT or TNA, as it was back when I watched it, turned out not to be what I was looking for in an alternative.
No disrespect to them because there had been phenomenal matches put on by the likes of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle, Jay Lethal, Bobby Roode and many more, but it fizzled out and many left the company.
Then the idea of AEW was born and I’ll freely admit that I was skeptical to the point of not really caring. After a while though, I got pulled into the coming storm that was Double or Nothing. The main pull for me was what I’m about to write about: Cody Rhodes vs Dustin Rhodes.
Having been the WWE fan that I am, I grew up watching Dustin as the bizarre one, Goldust. Goldust was always intriguing because I either hated the creepy heel that he was when I was a kid or loved his shenanigans with Booker T. He would then vanish from my screen with little explanation.
The same can be said with Cody, when he appeared on my screen, as either the Dashing Cody Rhodes or Cody Rhodes, I don’t recall liking him much at all. This is because he had a natural heelish aura about him. I did appreciate what he brought as Intercontinental champion (for me he brought prestige to a title long bereft of any)…so naturally for me, this was the hook.
Being the 1st event for AEW, there didn’t feel like much of the traditional build up that I’d grown used to, but the entire premise of this match in my mind had the makings of an absolutely amazing story! The Rhodes boys were going to lock horns in 1 on 1 competition at last! I know they did in WWE at Fastlane but that felt restricted & flat (no doubt due to creative).
This felt like, the cuffs are off so let’s get in the ring and duke it out! That was the narrative building in my head anyway. Cody had gone on from WWE to become bigger and better than I could have imagined. As for Dustin, I desperately wanted to see him do what he did in 2013 when he fought Randy Orton on RAW (probably my favorite match ever on RAW). I wanted him to show that he still has mileage left in the tank after being sidelined by WWE for years.
As Cody made his entrance, I tried not to get sucked into the heel/face kayfabe that is part of wrestling but I couldn’t help it. Cody still had that heelish aura about him that reminds me a lot of his father Dusty’s great rival, Ric Flair and being a sucker for the babyface, I already didn’t want Cody to win. His entrance was impressive in a very beast looking robe, accompanied by his beauty (who looked stunning) Brandi. More impressive was when he took a sledgehammer & ‘destroyed’ a very familiar looking throne. I had to suppress a laugh because, like many others, I thought it directed a particular someone and this was Cody saying The Game can be beaten.
Dustin would then enter and I was as ready as he looked. What made this even bigger was having Earl Hebner as the referee. A guy who had reffed so many big matches since I was very young. This gave the match an extra special feel. It was extra special, this was Dustin’s ‘last ride’ and for Cody, the start of something that would make wrestling that much more interesting.
Speculation is not something I’m really big on but in this instance, I will say that Dusty would be proud of his sons before the bell even rang. That thought was a result of the very loud Dusty chant that went around the arena and Dustin pointing to the sky. I thought Cody looked choked up as well, it was a sight to see and hear for sure and as a fan, I loved it. It was respect for Cody, Dustin and especially one of the biggest legends ever to grace a ring in Dusty.
When the bell did ring, I was immediately in awe of how natural Cody looked (no pun intended on Dustin’s name) & the grace with which he moved. I might have popped a little when he dropped to his back & thumped his brother. I say again, I didn’t want him to win but if you can’t appreciate good moves in a wrestling ring then why bother watching? That gave way to what soon happened after. After a suicide dive through the ropes to take out Dustin, Cody was starting to make it look like Dustin didn’t have it anymore…seconds later, that thought was ejected as Cody attempted to Irish whip Dustin back into the ring, Dustin slid with the speed and agility of someone half his age and booted his younger brother then followed it up with a running senton off the apron and pounded on Cody after a bulldog.
I challenge any critic of Dustin to successfully say Dustin hasn’t got it anymore after this display. Age is just a number, he’s a Rhodes (Runnels) and it’s in his blood to be this freaking awesome. Speaking of blood, what was now occurring as I thought all this was a bloody picture. Cody had just exposed the middle turnbuckle as Dustin looked to attempt shattered dreams, slammed his brother into said turnbuckle and Dustin’s head was now pouring blood like water from a tap. It was brutal but also had me popping again (I nearly woke my missus and kids up). A match this personal, if blood flows, is always a really cool visual and makes the story better. Dustin wasn’t just trying to prove he still had it, now he had to do it through a crimson mask…and the pain that undoubtedly came with it. Cody was looking to put him away for good…and his sister in law hit him with an impressive looking spear on the outside. Damn that kayfabe haha, sometimes I just can’t help but get sucked out of the reality and into the story.
Cody started to make sport of Dustin and I thought the match was going to draw to a premature end because as he sat in the corner, Dustin looked spent due in no small part to blood loss. Which had me thinking it was a shame since he’d done so well already in this match, going toe to toe with someone in his prime and looking more than impressive. That thought (again) was proven wrong again when Dustin power slammed Cody. That didn’t last long either when Cody slapped a figure four leg lock on Dustin but quickly changed when Dustin reversed it. THIS IS WRESTLING! Back and forth emotion on my part because the action was so back and forth and it took me on the ride with it, again….THIS IS WRESTLING! Served up by the sons of someone who surely would be smiling down at his sons, as they were giving the crowd the same as he had in his own time.
I was grinning from ear to ear. Had I been in that crowd I would have been shouting along with the crowd, I was getting that excited, more so as Dustin hit a sunset flip and not long after a top rope suplex. The question was does he still have it? Dustin’s response (in a way) “never lost it”. When Dustin hit the Cross Rhodes I was marking out as surely that was it and I got my wish that Cody would lose. That wasn’t to be though as he kicked out, dammit with your awesome match sending my emotions on a rollercoaster! Then Cody had to go and win disappointing me but at the same time not disappointing me because what these two men had just put on should already be considered an all-time classic along with others such as Flair/Race, Hart/Austin, Savage/Steamboat, etc.
The best was yet to come. At the end of the match, Cody came back to the ring grabbed the mic and at first, I thought he was going to brag in Dustin’s bloodied face as the crowd applauded Dustin. But what happened was so much better. Cody explained that he’d signed to fight the Young Bucks at Fight for the Fallen. That he didn’t need a partner or a friend then nearly in tears I think, said he needed his older brother and they embraced.
A lump caught in my throat, I was choked up by the emotion of it. It was a great way to end such an awesome match with the announcement that the Rhodes boys would partner up again. As they walked back up the ramp arms around each other, a thought entered my head again.
Wherever Dusty is, he’s extremely proud and smiling that his sons just gave everything they had and put on one of the best matches in recent memory!