It’s Tuesday; you know what that means. I know; everyone has been using that but it’s only fitting given recent tragedy that saw AEW wrestler Brodie Lee die at the way too young age of 41. Tonight’s AEW Dark was AEW’s first show to be broadcast since Lee’s death Saturday, though it was taped far in advance (tomorrow’s Dynamite, a tribute to Lee, will be the first live show). As such the only tribute tonight was a brief graphic at the start of the show, followed by a Dark that was the usual high quality, featuring several good matches, only one truly uninteresting bout, a heartwarming debut from El Cuervo and the usual great commentary from Excalibur and Taz. It was a welcome distraction after the last several days and some nice, light hearted fun before what will surely be an emotional Wednesday night. If you missed it all, I’ve got you covered.
Rey Fenix defeated Juventud Guerrera…I mean Vary Morales after pinning Morales with a Fenix Driver. I was distracted all match wondering how 1998 Juventud Guerrera managed to take the time from having classics with Billy Kidman in order to time travel to the present just to wrestle Fenix. As it turns out they aren’t the same guy; not sure I buy it but we’ll roll with it for now. This was good! Morales not only looks like Juvy but wrestled like him, give or take a Juvy Driver, 450 Splash, Air Juvy, so on and so forth. The point is he showed a lot of ability; there were a few hesitations here and there but for the most part he was really smooth and should prove worthy of another look on Dark. Fenix was Fenix and got to have his match with Omega talked up. Good all around! *** ¼
Penelope Ford defeated Lindsey Snow after pinning Snow with the Superbad Injection. Get it? Cause the handspring cutter is called the Lethal Injection, and Penelope’s nickname is “Superbad”, hence the Superbad Injection? We now go live to everyone’s reaction to that joke.
Anyways, this was too short to make a big impression; quite frankly Penelope and the Kipper got more time to make out than this match had. A pity because Snow is legit really good, especially as a brawler and mat worker, and she didn’t get the same chance to show that as she’s had in the past. In fairness Snow works better at grounding people while Penelope works with pace, so it may have been a styles’ clash if they went long. In the end it was all about making Penelope look good (check) and Penelope and Kipper re-enacting make out scenes from raunchy teen comedies in the 90’s (double check!). So I guess it succeeded. NR
Alex Reynolds & JOHNNY HUNGIE, aka John Silver (Dark Order) defeated Shawn Dean and Tyler Maddux after Reynolds pinned Maddux after that awesome combo Reynolds and Silver do. Solid stuff. The always reliable Reynolds and Silver were, well, reliable and they got a nice boost from Dean, with the Captain having a really nice comeback on his hot tag. Maddux was mostly there to sell; he did well doing that but didn’t get to show much offense. Not a ton to note but the work overall was really solid. Obviously nice to see Reynolds and Silver win given the circumstances that followed this taping. ** ¼
Anna Jay defeated Jazmin Allure after submitting Allure with the Queenslayer. There was a notable edit at the end of the match where Anna tried to flip Allure into the air with her legs, followed by a quick cut because I’m guessing Allure didn’t get enough air the first time. Other than that I actually was pleasantly surprised. Allure had showed some promise last week but looked relatively green; she was much better here and Jay, who I will remind you again has as much experience at wrestling as I do at Metal Gear Solid, continues to show supreme confidence and charisma as a performer. If she can improve her moveset she will be a megastar before long. Obviously nothing mind blowing but was easy to watch. **
The Waiting Room with Dr. Britt Baker DMD featured Matt Sydal as the guest. As per usual this was a highlight, and not just because Matt Sydal compared himself to Shockmaster at the beginning because of that one time he slipped on the top rope. DAMN YOU NAKAZAWA!
That was only one of many moments of hilarity in this segment where Matt Sydal, no joke, at one point said that he and Snoop Dogg would “smoke” Cody in a tag match. Beautiful. 10 out of 10; would subscribe to Sydal’s column in High Times magazine. Another highlight was Sydal running down all the people he’s beaten recently, followed by Baker insulting all of them (“Danny Limelight isn’t even a real person!”). Throw in Sydal’s general nerdiness/awkwardness, Britt being Britt and the amazing fake Rebel laugh and yeah; more Waiting Room please!
Brian Cage, Powerhouse Hobbs and Ricky Starks (Team Taz) defeated James Tapia, Nick Comorato and Ryzin after Cage pinned Tapia with the Drill Claw. Impressive squash from Team Taz. All three guys looked great squashing their jobber opponents, and Taz’ son Hook even got some shine with a nice lariat on the floor to Ryzin. He’s already shown more promise than Colten Gunn! Certainly showed more promise that Tapia, who shares LA Park’s name (Adolfo Tapia Ibarra) and absolutely nothing else. The dude couldn’t even do a neckbreaker right; when you can’t do that you might as well pack it in. Fortunately Comorato (he’s back!) looked really good and Ryziz did his usual good work at making his opponents look good. Other than Tapia this was a good, wholesome squash. **
Griff Garrison defeated Fuego del Sol after pinning Fuego with a Snoring Elbow. Peter Avalon was on commentary during this match, where he basically played Vince McMahon in that meme of Vince admiring the bodybuilder, while also sipping on a dirty martini because why the hell not?! He was hysterical. The match itself was borderline good. There was something lacking in the beginning to get it all the way there but things picked up in the second half, Garrison showed some great power offense and Fuego continues to be oh so close, yet so far away from hitting that Tornado DDT. This was definitely a pairing that showed good pace and chemistry, and with more time they’d probably have a strong match. Afterwards Avalon offered Garrison an autographed 8 X 10 of himself, which Garrison threw to the ground while Avalon looked like Scarlett O’Hara after Rhett was also “frankly my dear I don’t give a damn.” I’d say more on that but this is not the right place to go on about how Rhett Butler is a raging dick. ** ¾
Ortiz & Santana (Proud N’ Powerful) defeated Terrell & Terrence Hughes (TNT) after Ortiz pinned Terrence after an Ortiz Sitout Powerbomb and a Santana knee to the dome. This match is getting the score of “good” because it featured a TNT 3D! Finally; if that had taken any longer it would’ve been sadder than Reynolds and Silver’s recruitment efforts.
But yes; this was a good match, largely because of the 3D (which looked super good) and also because these are two really good teams. In another universe where AEW had more room TNT would be PERFECT as a young tag team that Taz could mentor in his stable (given his connections to D-Von and all). They have impressed every time I’ve seen them on Dark and this was no different. Good to see Santana and Ortiz back in the saddle again too; they’re featured heavily as characters on Dynamite but it feels rare to see them in the ring these days. They’re a great team and this was a nice reminder. ***
Sammy Guevara defeated Aaron Solow in the Battle of RIOT Lucha after pinning Solow with the GTH. This match SPAT HOT FIYA! Really good stuff. Sammy Guevara, shocker of all shockers, is an exceptional worker and he was exceptional here, with an Asai Moonsault to die for (Titan of CMLL certainly gave his seal of approval) and some killer knee strikes. The tremendous Solow stayed right there with him the whole way, finding some impressive variations of the double stomp along the way. The moves were great, the pacing was great, some of the sequences late in the match were smoother than silk; any way you slice it this was high end stuff. After the match Guevera cut a promo on this being his ten year anniversary as a wrestler, and once again stated he’s the man in AEW. *** ¾
Luther & Serpentico (Chaos Project) defeated Ariel Levy & El Cuervo de Puerto Rico after Luther pinned Cuervo after Creeping Death. This match was most notable for the appearance of Cuervo, who prior to tonight was most famous for having a brick thrown at his head in a match against noted asshole Angel o Demonio two years ago. Fortunately he’ll now also be known as the guy who got to work AEW. He was the most impressive of his team; whether by design or because he’s just kind of there to begin with, Levy didn’t really do much which allowed Cuervo to take most of the offense for his team. He did a good job and showed great chemistry with Serpentico, as the two had some nice lucha sequences. Luther was entertaining (as he is wont to be these days) and the Chaos Project team continues to be delightful in their masochistic silliness. Fun, if inessential, stuff, and a great moment for Cuervo. ** ¼
Leva Bates defeated Madi Wrenkowski after pinning Wrenkowski with a Small Package. This match was built around Wrenkowski tearing pages out of the Young Bucks new book, which as far as bold strategies go ranks right up there with Average Joe’s Gymnasium trying to play with fewer guys than dodgeball regulations demand. Hopefully those torn papers were at least put to good use afterwards.
This was WAY better than I expected. Leva matches are generally a chore and Wrenkowski, while she showed a lot last week, still has some things to work on. This wound up being okay though, largely because Wrenkowski did a hell of a job. There’s still stuff for her to work on but like Anna Jay she’s already got a lot of charisma, good presence and is way smoother than you’d expect. She did really well here and helped Leva look way better than usual. One of the better Leva matches you’ll see, which I guess isn’t saying much but still. **
Matt Sydal defeated Danny Limelight in Sydal-Limelight II: Electric Boogaloo after Syda pinned Limelight with a Crucifix Rollup. Very, very good stuff between these two yet again. Sydal is so friggin great it’s not even funny and Limelight, Mr. AEW Dark as well call him in this household, had another strong performance. They mostly kept this one on the mat (though Limelight had some really great arm drags off the ropes early on) and had some really fluid, really strong wrestling, playing up Sydal working this mat style going into his match with Cody in a few weeks. I wouldn’t have minded more high flying considering how great both are it, but from a pure wrestling point of view this was really good stuff. Now let’s give Limelight his rematch against Cage next week. You know; if we’re giving him rematches. *** ½
Tay Conti defeated Vert Vixen after pinning Vixen with the TCO. Another better than expected women’s match on this show. Once again I set my expectations low on one of the Mission Pro performers after they were mediocre last week and once again they stepped up; Vert Vixen was much better in this match, looking a lot smoother offensively and selling a lot better. I still wouldn’t say she’s great and she was by no means the star of the match but it was a vast improvement. Tay Conti was awesome. She improves every time I see her, has such a unique style, great charisma; if she, Anna Jay and Riho aren’t running this women’s division in two years I would guess we’ve either been wiped out by aliens or wrestling just decided to call it quits altogether. Alright I need to chill; match was solid though. ** ½
Austin, Billy and Colten Gunn (The Gunn Club) defeated Baron Black, Mike Verna and Royal Money after Colten pinned Money with the Colt 45. This was a match that existed. I’ll be honest; it didn’t hold my attention at all and that’s despite the fact I like Black and think Austin Gunn has potential. This match up just didn’t do it for me; the Gunns beat down the heels, who didn’t really do a whole lot, then Austin Gunn cut a brief promo after the match. A nothing bout, really the only thing on this show that wasn’t close to interesting. NR
Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian (SCU) defeated Angelico & Jack Evans (TH2) after Daniels pinned Evans after Kaz backdropped Evans gut first into Daniels’ knees. Kind of like a reverse End of Heartache. This was a really fun show and this match was easily the best part, with these teams putting on a borderline great tag match. It was definitely helped by the stakes (SCU will break up if they lose another match) and while it was hard to believe SCU would lose here the storytelling did a good job of putting the result in doubt. Kazarian was solid, Daniels (who has been white hot recently) was really strong and Angelico and Jack continued their streak of great performances ever since Full Gear. They’ve arguably been AEW’s top team since that show and definitely would’ve won this match if I had worn my brand new TH2 shirt I had gotten for Christmas. Sorry dudes; that one is on me. After the match The Acclaimed attacked SCU with TH2’s assistance before the Young Bucks ran them off, so it looks like we can expect an eight man tag with these four teams sooner rather than later. *** ¾
There you have it sports fans. I’ll see you next time. RIP Brodie.
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RELATED NOTE: AEW Dark Episode 68 (12/29/2020)