Photo Credit: Slam Wrestling
Have you ever watched a cheesy sitcom with no laugh track? Eerie, right? Sure, technically, the jokes are good. They have fine structure, the word layout is well placed, but something is just…off. A laugh track guides the audience into the proper emotion. Is this an uproarious cackle? A small chuckle? A tender moment? A shocking revelation? A sitcom can be terrific, but a laugh track adds that extra oomph needed to take a show over the top.
Wrestling for the last year has been a sitcom without a laugh track. With COVID-19 lockdown’s worldwide forcing federations to run without fans, we have witnessed a period unlike any in the history of professional wrestling. Cinematic pre-taped matches, echoes throughout empty arenas, and virtual screens replacing live attendees. While many shows were still engaging for the quality of wrestling or the uniqueness of the experimental styles this period encouraged, last night’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view evidenced just how important a live audience is to a wrestling program.
AEW has had some strong events during the pandemic. Double or Nothing 2020 featured the fun spectacle of the first Stadium Stampede. All Out showcased the wacky highlight of Mimosa Mayhem. Revolution brought us the unique piece of art that was the Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch. While all of these shows were admirable efforts, something felt… off. Something was missing.
That piece that was missing was the fans. Pops. AEW’s 2nd anniversary show proved that real, genuine reactions can turn solid work into an unforgettable moment. Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston’s entrance. The false finishes of Britt Baker and Hikaru Shida. Orange Cassidy’s epic quest to claim the World Title ending in heartbreak. Jungle Boy’s theme being sung as his hand was raised. A star-making performance from Sammy Guevara. The Inner Circle celebrating their victory as fireworks erupt and 5000 people sing the chorus to “Judas” in unison. These are all take-aways that I do not believe happen without those crowd responses alongside them. The cheers, boos, ooh’s and aah’s helped create moments that will live in AEW fans mind’s for years to come.
Were there some down moments on the card? Sure. Was every match an undeniable masterpiece? No, of course not. But the truth is – none of that matters. Double or Nothing feels as though it had a higher purpose than to garner 5 stars across the board, or a 10 out of 10 rating. Double or Nothing 2021 will go down as the show that said welcome back to the most integral part of the show, the part of the show that guides and inspires the viewer’s thoughts and feelings. Double or Nothing said welcome back to the fans. And they make all the difference.
Check out Wrestling Republic’s review of Double or Nothing here: https://wrestlingrepublic.com/aew-double-or-nothing-review-2021/
Columnist’s note: I am super excited to be joining the WrestlingRepublic.com team! I cannot wait to talk wrestling with all of you! Feel free to reach out to me, Instagram @mavstrong or Twitter @mav_meyer!