The SmarK Rant for AEW Dark / Being the Elite 200
OK, time to catch up with some Dark because they’ve been pretty short since our shared coronavirus nightmare began, and I didn’t feel like any of them warranted a full rant on their own.
Episode 28 – 04.07.20
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Cody Rhodes, plus Excalibur & Taz.
No real introductions or extra stuff, just a voiceover from Tony introducing the matches.
QT Marshall v. Lee Johnson
This is back from the Jacksonville tapings, and Cody busts on QT actually being from New Jersey instead of “The Big Apple” and also his hair transplants. Well QT is no worse than WWE for pretending like Jersey is New York. QT takes him down and works the arm while Cody references THE MUTHASHIP and notes that QT is doing his armbars AWA-style with a knee on the shoulder. “Where did he get that from? That’s more of a Minnesota thing, I thought.” QT slams him out of the hammerlock and drops a leg, then goes to an abdominal stretch and pulls on the leg, but Lee escapes and gets some dropkicks. “He got Sting height on those!” notes Cody. I feel like we need Cody and Jericho on commentary together at some point. Lee fights him off in the corner and tries a double axehandle off the top, but QT catches him in an Orton backbreaker and goes up to finish with a swanton at 4:01. He managed to get busted open under his eye somewhere in the finish, too. This was fine. **
Ryan Pyles v. Wardlow
Wardlow isn’t even wearing wrestling gear and makes a big show of taking off the suit. MJF is still ringside at this point, before the horrifying injury that sidelined him for weeks afterwards. Such different times. Wardlow just picks up the geek and hits him with a TKO and pins him at 0:28.
Tony Donati v. Kip Sabian
Man, this is the very definition of a “no bullshit” show, as they just go from match to match without even doing promos or videos. We’re joined on commentary by Sabian’s flatmate Jimmy Havoc, who is much more soft-spoken and laid-back than you’d expect. They trade hammerlocks to start and Donati goes to a headlock, but Sabian pops up and goes to the arm, then beats on the back with knees and goes to a surfboard. Donati fights out of it, but Sabian elbows him down again and gets a step up kick to the face in the corner and a PK for two. Donati goes for a slam, but Sabian cuts him off and hits a draping DDT into a knee strike, then wraps him up and submits him at 6:15. This was an OK technical exhibition but just felt like a bunch of moves without the crowd. *1/2
AEW Dark Episode 29 – 04.14.20
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Cody Rhodes
Still in Jacksonville for this one.
Billy of the Gunn Club v. Shawn Spears
Cody makes fun of the labored ring name, so I’m guessing there’s been legal entanglements with the Billy Gunn trademark. Told ya so. I knew WWE wasn’t just gonna let that one go easily. Cody calling Billy “a Hall of Famer and a legend” is kind of a stretch for either term, I’d say. Shawn hides in the corner while Austin Gunn does the dueling chants himself at ringside. Shawn: “Aren’t you ass boy?” Shawn takes Billy down and shakes his ass while singing “I’m an assman” at him. Oh great now the video is gonna get a copyright strike from WWE. Billy works the arm while Cody explains the science behind it, and then punches Shawn out of the ring when he reverses out of it. Shawn calls for timeout and examinations his teeth in the camera. Billy: “YOU CAN’T SEE A REFLECTION!” Meanwhile, Cody (who has “his own hooks in the dental world” via his mom) brings forth a shocking accusation: Britt Baker is NOT ACTUALLY A DENTIST. She’s a dental ASSISTANT. That’s a spicy hot take from Cody. Back in, Billy takes out the knee and kicks him out of the ring while Cody relates a story about Billy winning a footrace with the Rock on the side of the road. Maybe if the prize was a big bag of steroids. Shawn gets into Austin’s face but then runs away, and walks into a punch from Billy on the apron. Shawn sells it by falling dramatically into Dascha’s lap while she gives a disgusted look, and they fight on the floor. “Right into the bike rack!” Cody notes as Billy runs Shawn into the railing, but Shawn runs him into the post and throws him into the stage. Back in, Spears takes over and stomps Billy down before choking him out on the ropes, and they head to the floor again. Shawn stops to give himself some applause and pat on the back, but Billy makes a comeback until Spears blocks a suplex with a “Mongo style DDT”, which cracks Tony up. Spears offers a crotch chop, and this is TOO MUCH for Billy to take, so he fires back with a clothesline and a corner clothesline. Billy sets up the fameasser, but Shawn rolls him into a superkick for two. “That’s what we call a stale two” notes Cody, going very inside baseball here. Spears goes up and gets caught coming down with an End of Days by Billy, while Austin shakes the railings to prompt his dad to make the comeback. Shawn thumbs him in the eyes, but Billy hits the fameasser and Shawn sells it by rolling out of the ring. They fight on the floor, but head back in and Billy misses the corner splash, leading to Shawn hitting the C4 driver for the pin at 15:29. Suggestion for them if they want: Shawn’s search for a tag team partner pays off with Austin Gunn turning on his father to become the pick. This was actually a reasonably fun match, where they did stuff to fill time without the crowd. And Cody was entertaining again on commentary. Both guys are pros who know what they’re doing. ***
AEW Dark Episode 30 – 04.21.20
Still in Jacksonville.
Still hosted by Tony & Cody
Anna Jay v. Penelope Ford
Cody again goes for the deep nerd reference cuts by comparing Jay’s ring outfit to Zatanna. He’s not wrong. This is listed as Jay’s debut, but Cody talks about her previous match with Shida. I HOPE SOMEONE GOT FIRED FOR THAT BLUNDER. Jay takes her down with a headlock, but Penelope gets her own and puts her down with some tackles. Jay escapes with a hiptoss and a nice armdrag, then follows with an elbow in the corner before getting distracted by Sabian. This allows Ford to hit a handspring in the corner and stomp the crap out of Anna to take over, before choking her out on the ropes. She follows with a suplex for two, but misses another handspring and Jay dropkicks her into the corner and follows with a corner clothesline for two. Rolling neckbreaker gets two. Ford bridges away from an elbow and hits a cutter before finishing with a fisherman’s suplex at 5:08. I’m very impressed with both. Ford already looks like a star and Jay, who has had like five matches in her career at this point, looked totally comfortable and smooth out there. Jay is going to be a GIGANTIC star for AEW in this division if she can develop at the same rate she’s been showing. **1/4 Also, on a purely shallow note, HUBBA HUBBA.
Cody Rhodes v. Joe Alonzo
Cody previously noted that Joe is a friend of the Inner Circle, much like Brian Adidas and the Von Erichs, so he’ll be happy to kick his ass. They fight for the lockup, but Alonzo takes him down and kicks the back before walking into the snap powerslam. Cody follows with a delayed front suplex and stops to do some pushups, before they head out of the ring for some abuse from Cody. Back in Alonzo hits a cutter, but Cody no-sells it and pops up with a big boot. He tries the Crossroads, but Alonzo rolls him up for two, so Cody rolls him into an inverted figure-four and taps him out at 4:20. Just a squash. *
And then of course the match that people have been asking me to review as well…
Being the Elite #200
Matt Jackson v. Nick Jackson
So we’re at the Young Bucks compound in Rancho Cucamonga, and Nick immediately hits Matt with a dive off the balcony and gets two. They fight onto the tennis court and Nick dives over the net and runs Matt into the cement wall, then jumps up and off it with a moonsault. They slug it out and Nick runs him into the wall, monologuing about how he wants to know if he’s back to 100%, but Matt superkicks him and they head up to the patio area and trade some pretty vicious chops. Nick tries a piledriver and Matt backdrops out of it for two. Next up, they fight to the golf cart, where Nick dives while they slug it out and the ref hangs on the back. That was pretty funny. So it’s over to the garage/gym, where Nick calls for the BRAINBUSTER, but can’t hit it, so he parkours off the gym equipment instead and gets caught with a powerslam for two. Matt headfakes him with a punch and then hits a DDT for two. Nick comes back with a sunset flip for two and they do a Flair pinfall sequence on the mats until Nick gets a german suplex for two. Nick hits him with the door and they move to the backyard and trade punches while their family watches dramatically through the window and Nick’s wife closes the blinds so they can’t see.
Nick fires away with the KOBASHI CHOPS on Matt, but Matt comes back with a backdrop driver, and then Nick gets a LARIAT-O for two. There’s some pretty fun wrestling nerd stuff here, you have to give them that. They fight poolside and Matt blocks a blind charge for two, but Nick walks the fence and takes him down with a wristlock. So Matt does the rolling northern lights, complete with an aerial view from the drone camera, before Nick walks up the fence for a tornado DDT. The ref tells Nick “Lay off the lower back” while Matt complains that he’s gonna be sore tonight. They conveniently have a table set up outside, so Nick superkicks him onto it before directing the cameraman to follows him up to the roof. Matt pleads for mercy, but Nick gives him a swanton off the roof and through the table anyway. Harsh. Nick drags him to the pool and tries to DROWN him, which is a bit much, so Matt superkicks him onto the diving board and then follows with a Canadian Destroyer into the pool. The ref hilariously dives off the board and into the pool to make the count, but it’s only two.
At this point, Nick calls him off and does some magic, turning Matt into Marty Jannetty, while he’s Shawn Michaels, and throws him through the Barber Shop window. Matt wakes up on the deck, where Nick hits him in the back with a shovel, and they exchange clotheslines and superkicks before Nick gets a powerbomb for two. Matt: “Are you kidding me? You tried to drown me and now you’re trying to throw me off the deck?” So he hits Nick with a tombstone on the deck, before pulling out the spiked shoe, complete with sexy music, and superkicking his brother to bust him open and dropping an elbow off the deck to finish him off at 16:10. They did a good job with what they had to work with, I thought. It was too silly to have any real gravitas but it was entertaining and served the purpose they wanted. ***1/2
And then we get the closing montage of 200 episodes to wrap things up, although apparently it’s not actually the end of the series.
So this was a fairly entertaining couple of hours, I’d say.