Of all the matches at 2021’s Double or Nothing, one certainly had the most interesting build. It started with Cody Rhodes’ controversial promo and carried on with Ogogo’s progressive take on heelwork. Controversy (internet discourse) was inevitable no matter the outcome of the match. The actual result was what most fans expected to see, but hoped they wouldn’t.
I don’t think I was alone in expecting Cody’s entrance to be over the top. What I didn’t expect, though, was the announcement in support of a veterans’ charity, accompanied by navy veteran Shawn Dean and his service dog. Then, there was a video tribute to veterans featuring quotes from General Patton and FDR, played over clips of soldiers and reuniting families. I’m well aware that Double or Nothing took place on Memorial Day weekend. But the placement of the tribute, whether it was intentional or not, made the tribute part of the match’s build. This display goes beyond garnering support for a face. It’s smothering any chance of momentum for a heel.
The match went well enough, as expected. This was effectively Ogogo’s debut, and he’s proven himself to be a solid in-ring performer with a lot of potential. Cody is one of AEW’s most consistent workers, and he of course continued to uphold that reputation. In my opinion, the real problems with the match come from its context and its results.
What’s remarkable is that Cody’s feud for 2021’s Double or Nothing is a more dramatic repeat of his feud from last year. In early 2020, Lance Archer signed with AEW. He was built as an unbeatable monster. He demolished all of his opponents, including Cody’s brother Dustin. All of this momentum was only garnered for Cody to beat him at Double or Nothing to become the first TNT champion. Archer, while remaining a dominant force in AEW, never recovered the momentum he had before his loss to Cody.
Cody’s feud with Ogogo feels eerily similar to last year’s TNT title match, but with the added fuel of nationalism. In today’s political climate, the decision to invoke patriotism would inevitably make a wrestler unpopular among several demographics. It comes across as tone-deaf, no matter how many focus groups approve of the wrestler’s promos.
I want to clarify that I think Cody is very talented. He is undoubtedly one of AEW’s most valuable assets. A lot of fans are growing tired of him, though. If he keeps this up, he will become AEW’s Hulk Hogan; he will continue to book himself as a top babyface, even though the fans will get sick of the act.
From what I could tell, a lot of international fans supported Ogogo. I admittedly did, as well. While I’m not the biggest fan of England (check my last name), Ogogo’s open resentment and criticism of the US resonated with me. It affirmed the feeling I’ve had for the past few years: to live in the United States is to live in the belly of a beast. Cody not only embodied that beast but weaponized its propaganda to utterly smother the potential of Anthony Ogogo, all for the sake of putting himself over yet again.
Thank you so much for reading! If you’d like to support my writing or get a commission, you can visit my Ko-fi page here!