At AEW’s second Double or Nothing pay-per-view, the tournament to crown the first TNT champion culminates.
Eight men entered and two remain as The Murderhawk, Lance Archer, goes one on one with The American Nightmare, Cody. When the tournament started, Archer was the clear favourite to win the title for multiple reasons, in particular the bodies left in his wake during his brief time in the company.
Archer defeated Colt Cabana and Dustin Rhodes on the way to the match at Double or Nothing, whilst Cody had to go through Shawn Spears and Darby Allin (the latter came with a bit of controversy). The hype behind Archer is fully deserved based on his previous performances in NJPW, where he excelled in a tag team setting but was only given limited opportunities to thrive in singles ranks. However he took those opportunities and ran, winning the United States title just before departing the promotion.
Being the first champion in a growing company like AEW is a massive platform for this underrated competitor. Going from tag team to solo monster can sometimes go wrong but the hype that has generated around him has carried his momentum from Japan to America and put him in this position.
I believe his win will be a more dominant affair than we perhaps anticipate based on the quality of his opponent, but it will still put Archer in a good light against one of the upper mid-carders in AEW. This will be his first real test in the company, whereas his matches before have been squash matches or against lower card stars (or a showcase against a veteran talent in Dustin Rhodes) and there is no better person for Archer to beat than Cody.
AEW have been hyping up this encounter for a couple of months between Cody and Archer, based around Cody’s family lineage and their feud with Jake Roberts, as well as Roberts’ disdain for Cody’s perceived whining following a loss.
I feel there is no better pairing in the company than Roberts and Archer, partially due to Archer’s lesser experience on the mic. But his actions speak louder than any words could.
On the other side of the story, having Cody lose adds up to his storyline perfectly. After losing his World Championship match meaning he can’t compete for it again, having him lose yet another title match adds to his slow spiral down to the lower echelons of the company.
It can all lead to the retirement of his brother, Dustin, and a repeat of their classic match they had together at the first Double or Nothing. Dustin had been teasing retirement, so couple that with his empathic loss to Lance Archer in the tournament, it all ties in well.
Dustin attempts to be sympathetic towards his brother for losing to Archer but Cody flips out and attacks him, giveing us the Cody heel turn we’ve been anticipating. As well as that final feud between the brothers, it’ll be the potential end of Dustin’s career, putting Cody over as one of the best heels in the business.
Sounds like a pretty brilliant way to go out if you ask me.
The most important thing about a new title is establishing its importance on the brand it’s been brought to.
That starts with the person who holds it. So, who better than someone who can grow in the company alongside the title? Archer will be able to grow and flourish from a mid-card monster to a main event star even easier whilst holding on to the new TNT Championship, potentially without Jake Roberts by his side in the future.
In the uncertain times we’re all in, bringing in a new championship could seem like a tough spot as it could potentially lose credibility off the bat. Look at the AEW Women’s Championship as an example – with Nyla Rose being off TV, it was kind of forgotten about.
Archer has been on TV almost every week during the current ‘Empty Arena Era’ showing off his talents and putting himself over. He would make the perfect first ever TNT Champion, holding that title for a very long time.
I am extremely excited to see what happens with this title. Is it possible that ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson could get involved in the finish in some way, shape or form? Who knows.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @George_Geal_. Thanks for reading!