Another week, another fun Dark. (PHOTO: AEW)

AEW Dark Episode 71 Review (01/19/2021)

Published January 19, 2021

It’s Tuesday and you know what that means; a new episode of the Decline of Wrestling Civilization podcast is dropping in less than 24 hours! Oh and AEW Dark was on tonight. The Tuesday Night delight was, well, it’s usual delightful self, complete with some good matches, a funny Peter Avalon segment, Excalibur and Taz delivering the goods on commentary and Ivelisse kicking people. Needless to say I had a good time. If you missed it watching AEW invade Impact, here’s the low down.



Luchasaurus defeated Brandon Cutler after pinning Cutler with a Discus Knee attack. In the battle of Dinosaur vs. Dragon, Dinosaur took the W. Not surprising; have you ever seen a good Dragon movie compared to a good Dinosaur movie? There’s plenty good movies about dinos (Disney’ Dinosaur not withstanding) while dragons basically have How to Train Your Dragon, the shitty Dungeons and Dragons movie and that one where Sean Connery is a talking dragon. 


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This was good, though it had some bizarre edits towards the end when Luchasaurus went to chokeslam Cutler. I’m guessing there was a botch or something. Prior to that it was a lot of fun action. Cutler is always an enjoyable singles wrestler and Luchasaurus is underrated; he’s not always the smoothest but he’s capable of doing a lot between his striking and athleticism, and he put on a strong striking performance in this one. They worked a good pace, the action was fun; really other than that weird editing this was enjoyable. ***


Sammy Guevara defeated Australian Suicide (El Australiano) after pinning Suicide with GTH (aka the Feast Your Eyes, aka the T-Bar Special, aka the Ode to Donovan Dickhead). A battle of former AAA Cruiserweight Champions here! This was as wild and wacky as you’d hope. Australian Suicide was good last week but he was much better here, showing off some truly great dives. They could’ve been set up a tad faster (or could’ve been filmed better) and the Sideways Shooting Star Press wasn’t hit flush, but overall he looked really explosive and played to his strengths. Guevara did a great job feeding for him and was explosive himself, all without doing dives. The finish was tremendous, with Guevara catch Suicide going for a dive to hit the move that makes Donovan Dickhead sad. After the match Guevara cut the same promo he always does; I’m coming for everyone, blah blah blah. ***


Scorpio Sky defeated Nick Comaroto after pinning Comaroto with the TKO. Very good match. I’ve sung the praises of Nick Comaroto when he’s appeared on Dark and this was his best work yet. You can tell that he could use a bit of expansion with his move set but he what he does he does incredibly well, and he was allowed to really sink his teeth into this one thanks to Sky, one of the most underappreciated members of the AEW roster. This honestly feels like the first time in awhile that we’ve seen Sky; what a pity because he should be doing higher end stuff than this. Nevertheless he worked his ass off here, telling a great story of having to work underneath the behemoth Comaroto by selling his ass off (especially as Comaroto worked over his back). Just a really nice combination and a really well worked match given what they had to work with. Hopefully AEW gets back to giving Sky a push and Comaroto is given a win sooner than later on Dark. If Bear Country can get a W, why can’t Comaroto?! *** ½ 


Shanna defeated Marti Daniels after pinning Daniels with the Tiger Suplex. This was solid until Marti Daniels took the initial Tiger Suplex wrong, forcing a clearly frustrated Shanna to do the move again to finish this one off. Given that they edited out whatever happened with Luchasarusu and Cutler earlier I’m not sure why this one stayed in but what do I know; I just review the show! Like I said though this was fine up till then. Shanna is so friggin good; super smooth, great striking, great energy, do I really need to go on? Like Scorpio Sky she really needs to be doing more and she got the most out of Daniels here, who is okay but doesn’t really impress outside of her Nirvana inspired jacket. ** 


The Butcher & The Blade defeated Baron Black & Mike Verna after Big Butch pinned Verna with a Powerbomb/Neckbreaker combo. This was much better than I expected! I credit Mike Verna or this; he had been just kind of there during his previous AEW Dark appearances and tonight was suddenly good. It’s like watching Adam Sandler in Jack & Jill and then following it up with Uncut Gems. Total role reversal.


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Not only was Verna at his best but the other guys were all good too! Baron Black is super underrated as a technical wrestler and he had some really good sequences with both Blade and especially Big Butch, who he seemed to click very well with. And obviously you’re always getting quality out of Butcher and Blade, especially since Butcher has slimmed down and improved his conditioning. He’s gone from being a passable worker/good tag team guy into a legit good worker; good on him for dedicating himself to getting better. Allie also did a good job getting involved in this match; she’s not the best in ring worker but as a manager and character she’s absolutely top notch. Obviously this wasn’t earth shattering but it was a very fun, good tag match. *** ¼ 


Austin, Billy and Colten Gunn (Gunn Club) defeated Adam Priest, Ryzin and Vary “I Swear I’m Not Related to Juventud Guerrera” Morales after Austin pinned Morales after he and Colten hit 3:10 to Yuma. As a western fan, I APPROVE MASSIVELY of naming a double team move that. This was solid if inessential. Priest and Ryzin basically did nothing and Morales was once again solid playing not Juvy. The real story here was Colten Gunn, a guy who I once thought showed nothing who is suddenly now kind of good. I don’t believe it either; not only did he show some serious potential but he actually looked better than Austin. Maybe he’s picking it up faster? Either way he was very strong in this match, while the other two Gunns were solid. Again, nothing essential but did what it needed to do. ** ¼ 


Ortiz & Santana (Proud N’ Powerful) defeated Danny Limelight & Jon Cruz after Santana pinned Limelight with a Shining Wizard. This began and then it was over; total squash on Ortiz and Santana’s part. It was kind of surprising honestly given that Limelight has been really impressive on both Dark and Dynamite; sure Cruz hasn’t been but Limelight’s presence alone suggested this would be competitive. Instead Santana and Ortiz ran both guys over in order to establish themselves as killers going into that three way tag tomorrow night. Nothing wrong with that at all. I maybe would’ve used someone other than Limelight, but this was perfectly acceptable given what AEW’s going for. NR


Pretty Peter Avalon came out to announce a walk off. That’s right; a Zoolander style walk off! It’s going to be Avalon vs. Lee Johnson apparently and will feature three “pretty judges”, one beautiful outfit and ten steps. At least I think that’s what’s going to happen; I was honestly too busy marking out over AEW deciding to do a Zoolander style segment on one of their shows. Here’s hoping Mugato, Hansel and J.P. Prewitt, the world’s greatest hand model (once upon a time) are the three judges. 


Can I get some zoolander duchovny ?


Isaiah Kassidy & Marq Quen (Private Party) defeated Aaron Solow & Lee Johnson after Kassidy pinned Solow after stereo enzugiris. This was a story driven match, which is also to say it wasn’t nearly as good as it could’ve been. Kassidy and Quen were largely prevented from going out because they were either being ordered around by Matt Hardy (out at ringside) or selling their confliction over Hardy’s order to win “by any means necessary.” As such their spectacular offense was kept under lock and key, leading to Johnson and Solow to carry things. They did fine but both guys have had better performances as well. Overall disappointing, though I can at least understand what they were going for with this Hardy/Private Party story. * ¾ 


Big Swole defeated Alex Gracia after pinning Gracia with Dirty Dancing. I enjoyed this! It was short but these two made the most of it. Other than the Ivelisse match this was the best Gracia has been in AEW; she showed nice athleticism and a decent mean streak working over Swole’s arm. Commentary made a point of talking about Swole working with Dean Malenko and it showed; she was much smoother than usual in this match and her striking was pretty damn good. Really good for the time it was given. ***


Sonny Kiss defeated Zack Clayton after pinning Clayton with a Split Leg Drop. I will admit I was distracted here by Matt Hardy and Private Party walking out on Impact to interrupt James Storm, Chris Sabin and the Good Brothers. Only in wrestling!


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Match was fine from what I saw. Sonny is always entertaining and showed a bit more aggression here. Must be upset about those false reports about being injured! Clayton showed some nice power but was otherwise the same as always; a big guy who doesn’t really do a whole lot. Should’ve gone with one of the Bear Country guys instead. **


Dante & Darius Martin (Top Flight) defeated AJ Kirsch & KC Navarro after Darius pinned Navarro with an awesome roll up. This was good stuff. Top Flight is, last I checked, a combined 40 years old (21 and 19 years old respectively) and they’re already unreal good. I can’t even call them green at this point; they are smooth with everything they do and they’re doing some absolutely insane stuff in there. They also seem to take turns at stealing the show; the last time they worked it was all about Dante (who was still good here), while this week was Darius delivering absolutely bonkers hot tag. They had some great foils too in Navarro, himself an incredible up and coming young talent, and former MLW color commentator Kirsch, a really entertaining personality who showed some nice wrestling chops here as well. If I were AEW I’d do more of this Navarro/Kirsch team; they seemed to gell really well and Kirsch’s mic work with Navarro’s in ring work seems like a winning combo. Then again maybe Top Flight is just that good. Strong match here. *** ¼ 


Diamante & Ivelisse defeated Katalina Perez & Tesha Price after Ivelisse pinned Perez with Vertigo (an awesome Enzugiri). I mean all you need to know about this match is that Ivelisse was in it and was kicking people. In the words of Kenny Chesney, that’s all I need to know. This exceeded my expectations, mostly because Perez and especially Price were much better than I expected. You know what you’re getting from Ivelisse and Diamante; beautiful, glorious hard hitting violence. They delivered just that. What I didn’t expect was Perez to have some really good strikes of her own and for Price to have a much smoother performance than her poor performance just a week ago. Like Swole vs. Gracia it was kept on the short end, which was also a benefit as it kept the pace very light. I wouldn’t quite say it was good, but it was borderline. Now can we push Ivelisse now? Or at least put her against Shanna so I can die of happiness? ** ¾ 

Anthony Bowens & Max Caster (The Acclaimed) defeated Fuego del Sol & Shawn Dean after Bowens pinned Fuego after a Caster elbow drop. Solid match. Bowens and Caster had another entertaining pre-match and then had a good performance in the match, even breaking out a nice Sunset Flip/Backcracker double team. Fuego and Dean were their usual reliable selves, though it didn’t seem like they got to do as much as they usually do. Maybe it’s just me. Certainly nothing to sneeze at but I honestly expected a bit better.


Penta El Zero M & Rey Fenix defeated Luther & Serpentico after Penta pinned Serpentico after a Package Piledriver/Double Foot Stomp combo. Pac was at ringside for this one because he’s a good friend. One of his best qualities, along with being a great wrestler and a devious bastard. This was a tale of two matches; when Penta or Fenix were in there with Serpentico this match was very good. When they were in there with Luther the match…was also good. Basically this was a very good match. I know; I Shyamalan’d you right there.


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In fairness, this should’ve been good. Penta and Fenix are awesome, Luther is delightfully entertaining and Serpentico is a pro’s pro. He naturally worked great with Penta and Fenix (it’s the lucha stuff I tell you) and Luther was surprisingly up to the task work rate wise as well; I’m still in shock he took Penta’s Sling Blade as well as he did. Just a nice all around match really. Pretty much summed up Dark; it wasn’t GREAT, but it was fun, easy to watch and in some ways better than I thought. Can’t ask for more than that. *** ¼


And with that I’m off to do a podcast. LATERS! Let’s pretend I didn’t say that on second thought.


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RELATED NOTE: AEW Dark Episode 71 (01/19/2021)

AEW Dark Episode 71 (01/19/2021)

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