In a shocking turn of events the AEW Dark hot streak rolls on! Wait; it does that every week doesn’t it? That’s what happens when Excalibur and Taz are at the booth treating commentary like their only freestyle comedy show. As has been the case in recent weeks though it’s not just the commentary carrying the show. This was another strong night of matches, with several good ones, one borderline great match featuring more outstanding work from Baron Black, and an absolutely awesome main event between two of my favorites. All the more reason why AEW Dark is the place to be. But don’t just take my word for it…actually yes, do that because this is my review! If you missed this shindig because you were too busy landing on your hole, here’s the low down.
Dustin Rhodes, Nick Comoroto and QT Marshall defeated Steve Gibki, Tony Vincita and Vary “They’re Even Confusing Me for Juventud Guerrera on Sammy Guevara’s Vlog now” Morales after Dustin pinned Morales after a Military Press/Bulldog combo from Dustin and Comoroto. This was the Nick Comoroto show. He was slamming everyone in sight and looked great doing it; he even tossed Not Juvy into the Jersey Muscle Society like he was tossing a football to Chris Godwin. Dustin and QT had a few nice moments too, while Not Juvy was fine and Jersey Muscle Society…was also there. Really they were just beaten up a ton. It happens. Decent squash. * ½
Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian (SCU) defeated Aaron Solow & Lee Johnson (Nightmare Family) after Daniels pinned Solow after a Best Meltzer Ever. Very good tag match as expected. Lee Johnson was tremendous in this; I mean he’s great all the time but he was especially good here. I’m not sure anyone does a Blue Thunder Bomb as well as he does these days, and he’s beginning to add some nice intensity into his persona. Daniels, Kazarian and Solow did what they always do; provide solid, smooth, well paced work. If anything hurt this its the fact that SCU is still doing the “if we lose, we’re done” stipulation and the only way SCU was losing here was if the universe imploded on itself. That took some drama away from the match, but other than that it was quite good. *** ½
Brian Cage defeated Jake St. Patrick after pinning Patrick with the Drill Claw. This went so fast I forgot it even happened! Cage just decimated the poor dude before powerbombing him twice, then powerbombing him on the knee (VICIOUSNESS!) before finishing him off. Poor Hook didn’t even to do a move at ringside this was so fast! Super effective for what they were going for at least. NR
The Acclaimed released another music video that featured Max Caster wearing a Tegan and Sara shirt and a complete mockery of all things Chris Jericho, MJF and the Dinner Debonair. They even mocked MJF’s interview with Rosie O’Donnell from back in the stone age. The only way this could’ve been better is…actually there is no way it could’ve been better. This was homemade cheese pizza, a chilled Pepsi, Maki Itoh insulting Jim Cornette, vocals by Kathleen Hannah; in other words it was perfection and I will hear no slander.
Nyla Rose defeated Miranda Alize after pinning Alize with a Beast Bomb. A longer version of the Cage-Jake St. Patrick match, which is good because it allowed Alize, who appeared on Dark early last year when fans were still a thing, to get a few moves in. She looked good in doing so and Nyla was impressive as she always is in these squashes. Will be great to see her get some spotlight matches again in the tournament coming up. There was an interesting moment after the match where Ivelisse and Diamante were seen at ringside scolding Alize for losing. Excalibur mentioned Alize being part of their La Sicarias group so I guess there may be a storyline set up there. We’ll see. * ¾
Pac defeated VSK after submitting VSK with the Brutalizer. Another squash. On the one hand that’s disappointing because Pac is of course great and VSK, the Beyond Wrestling vet appearing for the first time on Dark in awhile, is really good. A legit match between them probably would’ve been wicked. Alas it wasn’t meant to be, with VSK only getting a few moves in before Pac just owned his ass. It was at least a high end squash though because, duh, it’s Pac. The man could be put in a three second match and make it entertaining. * ¾
Sonny Kiss defeated KC Navarro after pinning Navarro with a Split Legged TKO. This was a solid match that unfortunately never topped the opening moments where Joey Janela came to commentary and declared that Sonny Kiss has “the most succulent ass in the business!” Easily the best line on AEW Dark since -1 declared what hell was like for Ray Jaz. And now a reminder of how that line broke Taz!
Anyhow, after that it was downhill, if only because how can you possibly top comedy gold like that? Overall though both did a good job. Sonny’s strikes looked really strong and the new finisher is a good idea, especially with how impressive the whole thing looks with the split leg. Navarro has a ton of potential and while he didn’t look as lively as he did against Fenix last week it was overall another really strong performance. Not enough to be good but a solid match. ** ½
Tay Conti defeated Alex Gracia after submitting Gracia with what I’m calling the Brazillian Pretzel because she turned poor Gracia into one pink pretzel with that submission. Have I mentioned Tay Conti rules? No? Okay; Tay Conti rules! She gets better every week and that was the case yet again here as she systematically wiped poor Gracia off the face of the earth. The judo throws, the Silver Spoon DDT, THE CORNER KNEE! That corner knee is so great that CM Punk is retiring again because he’s so embarrassed at how much better it is than his version. The point is she was awesome in this match, and Gracia showed a lot of toughness herself in getting up despite, you know, continuously getting wiped off the face of the earth. Borderline good match. ** ¾
Ryan Nemeth defeated Marko Stunt after pinning Marko after the Rude Awakening. That’s right; you are now living in a world where Lil Ziggler has won an AEW match. I’m not sure how I feel about that one, especially considering the reception to Lil Ziggler has been colder than Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl. His promo to start the match was definitely a miss for me, though he was a lot better in this match than he was against Hangman Page. Some of that is because Marko Stunt is a much better opponent for him than Page (Marko’s the perfect guy to toss around) and the rest is likely because this wasn’t the first match Lil Ziggler had had in two years. He’s still average though and the match was largely carried by Stunt, who sold well, had some nice offense and only lost because FTR’s music played, flashing him back to when he was kidnapped a week ago (the reason he’s free by the way is because FTR “let him go.” FTR are the worst kidnappers since Steve Zahn and Jack Black). Solid match, still not sold on Lil Ziggler and that wouldn’t be an issue if he wasn’t working Pac tomorrow on the main show. ** ¼
Cezar Bononi & Peter Avalon (PPA) defeated Carlie Bravo & Shawn Dean after Avalon pinned Bravo with the Marti-Knees. This was merely a solid match and yet I enjoyed myself! The Bononi-Avalon team is a fun one; they’re hilariously goofy as pals, Avalon is a reliably solid worker and Bononi is much better than the first time we saw him on Dark. I’m not sure what his ceiling is exactly but he’s got something there with his size and solid power moves. The Bravo/Captain team was cool too. Shawn Dean is always good but Bravo, a Nightmare Factory product who is wrestling in MAYBE third match of his career, already looks really polished for his experience level. There’s some rough edges obviously but my goodness there’s a lot of potential there. Given the expectations going in and the experience of two of the four participants this was quite enjoyable. ** ½
10 (Preston Vance) defeated Baron Black after pinning Black with a Deadlift Powerbomb. Holy Diver Batman; this match was borderline great!
I was expecting a solid match coming into this and boy did this exceed expectations. Apparently Black and 10 have experience wrestling each other on the indies and decided that they were going to go for it in this match. They did and they nailed it. Baron Black, for a guy many people aren’t even aware of, is REALLY friggin good. This was on the level of his work against Rey Fenix a few weeks ago and if I were AEW I’d seriously consider getting this dude signed. Vance was right there with him too. The six man on the Brodie Lee tribute show was probably his best performance but at worst this was second best. He’s really developing into a smooth worker these days and the power game, always Vance’s strongpoint, is as good as ever. I thought this was pretty damn good. *** ¾
Red Velvet defeated Diamante after pinning Diamante with the running kick to the head. Good match. Diamante has been hit or miss in singles action, so this pretty much represented her best singles work to date; good striking, wicked German Suplex and overall smooth work. Red Velvet was her usual self; everything is really well done, the spin kick is unbelievably great, her standing moonsault had some extra spring and by Grodd why can’t she have a better finisher than she has?! Replace that with something else and I’d have no complaints about Red Velvet at all. Big Swole and Ivelisse were at ringside and ultimately didn’t do a ton but stand there so I’m not sure about that one. Otherwise this was good stuff and a strong win for Velvet as she heads towards her match with Cody against Jade Cargill and Shaq. Yes; that Shaq, for those of you who have been asleep at the wheel for weeks now.
Joey Janela defeated Jack Evans after pinning Evans with a Flying Elbow Drop. When it comes to Jack Evans and Joey Janela I tend to judge very easily because both dudes absolutely rule, so I’m probably the wrong guy to ask about this match. But since you’re here, let me tell you that this ruled in every conceivable way and that from this day forth Angelico, who tweeted this match was going to be awesome, shall never be doubted again. Of course he shouldn’t have been doubted to begin with; the man jumped off a roof for us FOUR TIMES! To doubt Angelico is to doubt…well pretty much anything.
Anyways, this match was GREAT, and was great from the moment Jack Evans did a springboard kick to knock the shades off of Janela’s face to start the match. It never let up from there; the pacing was off the charts, both guys got some nice dives in, a back and forth exchange in the middle was absolutely sublime and some of the nearfalls, particularly one where Jack kicked out of a Package Piledriver, were awesome. Really it was just nice to see these guys cut loose; it’s a match on paper that looked like it could be great and was, in fact, great. Jack has obviously had great tag team performances but I think you can safely say this was his best singles match in AEW (maybe the one with Kenny Omega was better) and aside from the Omega and Moxley matches this was Janela’s best work. He has found the groove again between this match, a strong performance on last week’s Dark and a tremendous showing in two matches on GCW’s Fight Forever. All good signs going into that match with Darby tomorrow. A terrific match and I’d put it slightly ahead of Fenix vs. Baron Black in the AEW Dark Match of the Year rankings. **** ¼
That’ll do it sports fans! I’m off to do a podcast. Till we meet again, some Kirk McLean for the road.
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RELATED NOTE: AEW Dark Episode 74 (02/09/2021)