It was a big night for AEW tonight. Tony Khan and Tony Schiavone had an all time great ad on Impact Wrestling, Marko Stunt sang and Kenny Omega did some stuff! Oh and there was an AEW Dark in between all of that. It was fun! Let’s talk about it now.
Sonny Kiss defeated Baron Black after pinning Black with a Top Rope Splitting Leg Drop. This was a very solid match with one sloppy hurricanrana at the very end. Excalibur, Taz and Anthony Ogogoo were putting Black over early in the match and he made them look really good by having a strong performance, showing some nice power and good suplexes. Sonny Kiss has come a long way in the last year and aside from the rana (which was somewhat on Black too) looked relatively strong. Nothing essential but solid for what it was. **
Brian Cage defeated Danny Limelight after pinning Limelight following a Drill Claw. This was REALLY good. Last week Danny Limelight had a really good match with Brandon Cutler and his performance here was somehow better AND crazier. Witness Exhibit A!
And now Exhibit B!
That’s just some of the stuff Limelight pulled off here. I was afraid that AEW may make this a quick squash for Cage but instead they recognized that Cage was the perfect guy for Limelight to try his lunacy with and it resulted in the best stuff on the show. Limelight was on absolute fire and Cage was Cage, which is to say he was really good as well (as he always is being the powerhouse against smaller guys). It’s pretty damn clear that AEW is high on Limelight and this is hopefully the sign that he’ll be getting bigger opportunities going forward. Definitely something you should check out, just for some of the stuff Limelight pulled off.
Nyla Rose defeated Alex Gracia after pinning Gracia with a Beast Bomb. Complete squash. Nyla looked really impressive, but it was unfortunately at the expense of Gracia, who has been really good on Dark and frankly deserved a better showing here. After the match Vickie Guerrero cut a promo that was appropriately annoying, making it clear that she and Nyla aren’t done with Brandi Rhodes. Between these two and Jade Cargill, seems to me like Brandi could use another friend or two besides Red Velvet. I nominate Shanna. Granted I’m biased but still. NR
The Waiting Room with Britt Baker featuring Dustin Rhodes and musical guest Marko Stunt was great as always, primarily because Marko Stunt’s performance was OUTSTANDING! It was like watching one of those YouTube videos where someone covers a song on acoustic guitar, only if it was good.
Like this was top quality stuff from Marko. We knew he could sing (see the Jericho Cruise) but this was even better than that. He came off like a legitimate pop rocker here and even Britt and Rebel comically singing along couldn’t detract from that. More Marko Stunt on the Waiting Room please! The rest of the segment was enjoyable too; Rebel’s fake laugh continues to be a highlight, you can never go wrong with Britt Baker in any situation these days and the Dustin Rhodes interview was both funny and strangely super serious once Dustin got into promo mode on 10. I liked this a lot.
10 (Preston Vance) defeated Aaron Solow after pinning Solow following a…Reverse Rainmaker? Not the strongest looking finisher ever. Match was unremarkable. Solow is really good and 10 has improved a lot since AEW brought him in, but this match was mostly there just to let 10 throw Solow around while the latter sold his back. A pity because I’m pretty sure these two could have a good match and Solow’s selling was good. Not a lot there otherwise though. * ¼
Peter Avalon defeated Louie Valle after pinning Valle with the Marti-knees. This was a squash, with the highlight being Avalon’s post match promo where he issued an open challenge, but only if the opponents reached a certain standard of beauty. He also said PPA, all day; hopefully Nick Gage wasn’t watching or Avalon is dead. He looked good in the match at least and Valle was a good punching bag. That’s pretty much it! * ¼
Austin, Billy and Colten Gunn (The Gunn Club) defeated Ryzin, Sean Maluta and Shawn Dean after Billy pinned Ryzin with a FameAsser. This was probably the best Gunn Club trios match to this point…which is like saying Blink 182 is better than Simple Plan but still.
I’m going to give a lot of credit to the Gunn Club’s opponents here in this match doing alright. Shawn Dean and Sean Maluta are both good workers and both got the bulk of this match; as a result there more decent wrestling than usual in this spot. And in fairness Austin Gunn was solid, Billy was Billy and this was the best Colten has looked to date. I still don’t know if there’s much there but there’s more than I thought last week so that’s good! Ryzin didn’t get to do much but was fine when he did it. * ¾
Red Velvet defeated Dani Jordyn after pinning Jordyn with a Running Side Kick to the Head. Solid match other than the fact that Red Velvet desperately needs a new finisher aside from that kick. It’s a fine transition move but as a finisher? Not sold at all. Everything else clicked. Dani Jordyn is always fun whenever she appears on Dark, I liked her mocking Christmas dance entrance and her rope assisted DDT spot was great. Velvet, other than her finisher, is always quality and this match was no different. Enjoyable for the time they got. ** ¼
Luchasaurus & Marko Stunt (Jurassic Express) defeated Falco & Mike Magnum after Stunt pinned Falco with a knee to the back of the head. Marko Stunt following up his Grammy Award winning appearance on the Waiting Room with a win here. Match was nothing thanks to Jurassic Express’ two opponents. I have no idea who Falco is but he is certainly no Fuego del Sol and Magnum, wrestling his first match in years, had nothing of note to offer. Jurassic Express did what they could but they’ve had better on Dark. *
Brandon Cutler defeated Fuego del Sol after pinning Fuego following a TPK. BTE defeats Sammy Guevara’s blog; a sad day for the views. This was good. Fuego is so entertaining and so easy to root for that he’s always going to engage you and Cutler is on a hot streak in terms of performances; he looked really good against Limelight last week and was on the ball again here. I continue to enjoy Fuego’s continued attempts to hit the Tornado DDT and I really liked the Cross Rhodes to play off his “friendship” with Cody from Sammy’s blog. Good stuff. This was enjoyable. ***
Ivelisse defeated Skyler Moore after submitting Moore with an Octopus Stretch. Have I mentioned that I love Ivelisse lately? Well I’m doing it again here. This wasn’t the greatest match in the history of time or anything but Ivelisse was very strong, with the usual great strikes and smooth work. She did a lot for Moore too; we’ve seen Skyler on AEW in the past and while she’s been fine she’s never looked as solid as she did in this match. I liked that they allowed Ivelisse to win with a submission as well instead of just the kicks. And I love the kicks! Really solid stuff. Now can we please get Ivelisse an AEW Women’s Title shot already?! ** ½
Fun fact; while this match was going on, an “ad” aired on Impact featuring Tony Schiavone and Tony Khan hyping up Dynamite tomorrow. Among the highlights was Tony Khan bringing up Schiavone’s short lived Impact run and Schiavone being “yeah I worked one night then quit the business for eighteen years.” Tremendous stuff. The working agreement was worth it just for that moment.
Big Swole defeated Lindsay Snow after pinning Snow with a Cradle. Swole was a little heelish after the match taunting Snow; maybe a heel turn? Maybe just Swole being charismatic? Who can say for sure! Match was fine. I enjoyed watching Reddit shitting on Swole here when she was doing really well; she showed a lot of speed here compared to the more grounded Swole and her strikes were solid. Snow, who has impressed every single time since she appeared in AEW, was on again. Her strikes are tremendous and even if she’s not the fastest worker she makes up for it with great brute force and her unique look. If AEW isn’t considering signing her they really need to start already. The Ivelisse match was better but this was good; much better than Reddit thought. What else is new? **
Angelico & Jack Evans (The Hybrid2) defeated Sotheara Chhun & VSK after Angelico submitted Chhun with the Navarro Death Roll. Really good squash. I would’ve liked to have seen more from Chhun, who has a really good reputation from his work in the Pacific Northwest, but AEW was looking to make Angelico and Jack strong going into tomorrow’s match with the Bucks and in that sense they accomplished it and then some. Angelico was solid and Jack looked great; that spin kick to the floor was mightily impressive. The Young Bucks taunt was also well done; just need Jack on the mic to make it even better. Again it was a squash, bu it was a good squash. * ¾
Diamante defeated Tesha Price after pinning Price with a wild ass Code Red. Borderline good match. Diamante has been hit or miss at times in AEW and this was a hit; she looked absolutely vicious throughout, relatively smooth and the Code Red, as out of control as it appeared, was mightily impressive. Speaking of impressive, Tesha Price has gotten better each time she’s appeared on Dark and this was her best performance to date. The handspring into the high kick spot in particular was really strong. Just well worked, solid action. ** ¾
Shanna defeated Freya States after pinning States with a Tiger Suplex. This was good, and I’m not just saying this because I got to watch a Shanna match at the same time Big Joe Doering was appearing on Impact. Alright it’s mostly because of Shanna. I’m a fan. It’s the mutual DBZ fandom.
But yeah; this was MUCH better than I expected because States, a wrestler from Alaska, was much better than I expected. She’s a really good big woman wrestler with a nice array of power moves, and I thought her and Shanna worked a really nice big/little woman match with States dominating with her size and Shanna did a great job working underneath, using her kicks to get back into it (the Tiger Suplex to finish the match was very impressive). This match really goes to show how great Shanna is; even with States’ ability she came in as a complete unknown, and yet her and Shanna worked to her strengths and ended up getting a performance that should give States more looks with AEW. Highly impressive. And now Shanna is 2-0 since her return. Will she keep it up? Find out on the next exciting episode of SHANNA BALL Z! Had to be done. *** ¼
Anthony Bowens & Max Caster (The Acclaimed) defeated Jon Cruz & Michael Nakazawa after Caster pinned Nakazawa with A Claim to Fame. Enormously entertaining from Justin Roberts’ intro of Michael Nakazawa to Max Caster’s rap that name dropped Nate Robinson and brought up how Cruz should wear a mask (HA!) and the usual Nakazawa antics. The Acclaimed continue to be one of the best things about Dark and hopefully are now transitioning to becoming one of the best things on Dynamite if their interactions with the Bucks were any indication last week. Nakazawa and Cruz were equally up to the task in providing laughs. If you like serious wrestling, stay away. If you enjoy fun, you’ll enjoy this. ** ¼
Brian Pillman Jr. & Griff Garrison (Varsity Blondes) defeated Alex Reynolds & Colt Cabana (Dark Order) after Garrison pinned Reynolds after the Spinebuster/Neckbreaker combo. An upset! This was average, mostly because they didn’t get enough time to have something really good. In what they got both teams looked good. Pillman and Garrison have blossomed into a nice team with Pillman providing the high flying his father once did while Garrison strikes have become really strong. Not as strong as Cabana and Reynolds’ strikes though; those two were laying them in thick in this one and they showed nice chemistry. Not enough to make you wish Reynolds dumped John Silver for Cabana but it’s at least a good sign for Reynolds should the Mean Man ever leave him behind. Needed more time, but it was solid and the right team won. ** ½
Quick promos by Dustin Rhodes on 10 and the Varsity Blondes on FTR to close the show. Pillman was pretty impressive here. That’s pretty much it.
Meanwhile on Impact, Kenny Omega and Don Callis were interviewed by Josh Matthews aboard a bus I’m calling the Top Talent Express (mainly because of the Lex Express reference). These were some strong promos from Omega and Callis, though some may be disappointed it didn’t deliver a definitive angle. The main takeaway is this; Callis and Omega are full blown heel who think they’re changing the industry with their actions and Omega is now looking to collect every single title around. That includes the two he already holds, the AAA Mega Championship and the AEW World Championship and given the hints here, not to mention Rich Swann not being allowed into the Impact parking lot because of Omega, it appears he’ll be going after that belt too. Exciting times in wrestling!
And on that note, we’re out! Excuse me while I now finish up History of Triplemania Part 3. TILL THEN!
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RELATED NOTE: AEW Dark Episode 65 (12/08/2020)