AEW DARK: June 30, 2020

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The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, June 30, 2020.

From AEW HQ.

Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz.

Tonight’s feature bout is the Young Bucks taking on Brandon Cutler and Peter Avalon. Don’t worry, I have set up a macro so I can keep calling play-by-play.

We begin with Avalon and Cutler arguing with each other. When they’re told they have to team up again, they are NOT amused. Leva is, though. Then the Young Bucks say they’ll teach this duo how to be a team because they’ve never argued in 15 years. Cutler corrects them, mentioning TNA indirectly. Then Avalon mentions he’s already read their book, which doesn’t come out yet. Buy it in November, though.

Opening match: Max Caster v. Shawn Spears (w/Tully Blanchard). Caster was part of a six-man last week and lost. Spears beat Pineapple Pete last week. Bonus points to Blanchard for wearing his mask at ringside. The ref checks the glove beforehand.

Spears with a waistlock takedown to start he preens. Spears turns a test of strength into an arm wringer, but Caster kips up and armdrags out. Now Caster does some moves as Spears checks in with Blanchard. Caster with the headlock, but Spears trips him up and lands cross blows from behind. Back suplex follows, and Spears works the limbs. He grapevines the arm in his legs before jumping on Caster’s head.

Spears hooks the nose with his gloved hand, which gets remonstrations from the ref. Caster takes advantage with a schoolboy for one, but walks into a spinebuster. Death Valley Driver follows for the pin at 3:18. Hey, Tully: if you’re going to take the mask off to talk to Spears, you ruin the point of having one! 1/2* Spears loads the glove and drills Caster post-match.

Pineapple Pete v. Lance Archer (w/Jake Roberts).

Archer jumps Pete during intros and throws him into the ring, but Pete dropkicks him back into Jake. This infuriates both, and Archer throws Pete before the bell. Pete comes back with an enzuigiri, but Archer catches an up and over only for Pete to escape and go boxing. Archer casually throws him down, but Pete low bridges and guillotines Archer on the top rope before dropkicking him outside. Archer glares at Joey Janela (July 8!) and the two argue, allowing Pete a dive attempt… and Archer catches it and chokeslams him onto the apron. THAT’S THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING!

Archer and Janela throws their shirts at each other before Archer tosses Pete into the guardrail. Back in, Archer with a big boot and cannonball over the top (!!) for two. Archer slugs down Pete, following with a Northern lariat. He stomps Pete out of the ring and glares more at Janela, who wisely decides not to interfere. Archer yanks Pete back in and gives him a release vertical suplex. Archer chops Pete into next week in the corner, but a second one misses and Pete fires back.

Not that it affects Archer, who just knocks Pete out with a right. Archer cuts a promo in the corner and does a half-twist splash for two. Archer forearms Pete in the corner repeatedly and goes for the Blackout, but Pete slips out the back. He can’t follow up, so Archer goes for a chokeslam. Pete fires out and fights back, adding a Glasgow Kiss on the run but walking into a gutwrench to the Blackout and Iron Claw for the pin at 5:56. Pineapple Pete has a Paul Roma vibe to him, and when he wins, it’s gonna be the start of something. ** Archer tries for more punishment, but now Janela races in for the save with a leaf-blower. Sadly, the HUSQVARNA OF DOOM doesn’t get used, as Archer just walks away.

Griff Garrison v. Ricky Starks. Garrison has a new Tron image this week, which is interesting. Apparently, the commentary got tired of mocking Ivy League MVP. Starks made his debut in a losing effort against Cody, while Garrison has gone against a pair of brawlers, so this is a change-up.

Starks slides out the back of a slam and limbers against the ropes. They tease a test of strength, with Starks getting an arm-wringer. Garrison forearms out and looks for a suplex, but Starks again slides out. Starks gets a high trip on Garrison, and Garrison made it look less choreographed which is good. Starks blocks an armdrag into two of his own, then a dropkick. Starks with forearm scrapes in the corner before taking him on a tour of the ring.

He runs into a boot, however, but recovers with a nasty elbow to Garrison. Starks works Garrison over in the corner by stomping a mudhole, but rather than walk it dry, he goes for a whip. Garrison reverses and gets a Stinger Splash, but the second one eats boot and Starks with a missile dropkick. Starks wins a chop battle, then escapes a fireman’s carry and delivers a spear for the pin at 4:00. Eh, first impression doesn’t click for me. 3/4* Starks fistbumps Taz after the match. But not Excalibur. DISSED!

Scorpio Sky v. Brady Pierce. No, not Dolph Ziggler’s brother – that’s BRILEY Pierce. This is the guy with the blue tights and gold boots for no reason. Whoa, Sky has individual music instead of the SCU mix.

Pierce shoves Sky into the corner, which impresses Sky. Sky rides Pierce to the mat and does a leg-scissors, getting a quick two, before tripping Pierce into a front facelock. Pierce puts Sky on the top turnbuckle to break and gives him a love tap; Sky delivers a receipt. Sky chops a charging Pierce and goes to town with strikes in the ropes before the ref has to separate them. Sky with the Kobe Dropkick into an armdrag and lock.

He transitions to La Majistral for two. Back elbow by Sky, but Pierce blocks the TKO and slugs away. He tosses Sky halfway across the ring into the corner and does a standing Broski Boot. It gets two. Pierce fires away with right hands, but Sky reverses a whip and charges in. Sky escapes the powerslam and puts Pierce on the apron before sweeping his legs out and dropping him. Back in, a springboard cutter ends it at 3:36. Taz summarizes the story: Sky was one step ahead of Pierce. *1/4 Scorpio Sky is now third in AEW history in wins with 20.

KiLynn King & Skyler Moore v. Brandi Rhodes & Allie (w/Dustin Rhodes). The story, as before, is that Brandi and Allie are not exactly getting along, and Dustin and QT seem to be at odds on how to fix it. Allie has a good luck sign from QT Marshall. Someone told Justin Roberts they were known as the Nightmare Sisters, so Brandi corrects him.

Brandi and King start. They lockup into the corner, with Brandi leveraging King out. They exchange one-counts before Brandi does a lucha armdrag off the ropes. Allie tags herself in and does an uppercut in the corner, then a sliding elbow for two. Allie kicks away in King’s gut, then a kneelift. She steps over King and goes up, but Brandi tags herself in and asks Allie to tag normally, please. This allows King a lariat on Brandi, and King throws Brandi into the corner. King mocks the miscommunication before sending Brandi into her corner.

Moore in, and she stomps away on Brandi as they do a modified Unicorn Stampede. Brandi reverses a double whip to send them into each other, but King blocks a forearm and Moore with a hairpull slam for two. Moore holds Brandi’s hand out to mock the tag before slamming Brandi’s head to the mat. Strongest Slam by Moore gets two. Allie: “Get your head in the game!” Moore tries a gutwrench, but Brandi fights out and gets KICK WHAM STUNNER.

Hot tag Allie, and forearms abound. Kneeling uppercut and she mocks Goldust to Dustin, then a bulldog and she knocks King off the apron just to be safe. “I guess I have to do everything.” Inverted DDT (dedicated to QT Marshall), and she graciously tags Brandi in to pin at 5:17. Wonder if that was a payback for the last time? *1/2 I’m liking how this team is working together. Or, NOT working together.

Low Rida & Fuega Del Sol v. The Butcher And The Blade. First time seeing any of these four on Dark. Rida and Del Sol are a regular team, from the looks of it. Taz is a huge Butcher/Blade fan and tells a wacky story about the three of going to a steakhouse.

Blade and Fuego start. Blade with a headlock and he chains all over Del Sol, throwing him to the ground. Blade works the shoulder and brings Butcher in, and they give Del Sol a series of double shoulderblocks. They toss Del Sol all the way across the ring (!!), and when Rida comes in, Butcher out-wrestles him into a side slam. Blade in, and a double headbutt follows. Blade picks Rida up and clotheslines him down. He corners Rida and chops him with gusto before workin him over in the corner and allowing Butcher a rear choke behind the ref’s back.

Blade steps on Rida’s neck before delivering a backdrop driver (!!) to Rida. Butcher in, and he chops away on Rida. Rida escapes a back suplex, hot tag Del Sol. Enzuigiri connects, but Butcher with a Kitchen Sink attack and he throws both men around. Butcher with a Texas Cloverleaf and he ignores Rida’s attempts to save! Blade tosses Rida with an Exploder, and Butcher with a Powebromb/Crab combo to get the tap at 4:10. Incredible slaughter. *1/4

FEATURED BOUT: Peter Avalon and Brandon Cutler (w/Leva Bates) v. The Young Bucks. Looks like Cutler rolled a 12. I dunno. But the Bucks doing Dark? Man, saving their strength for Fyter Fest I guess.

Cutler and Matt start. Go-behind by Matt, Cutler switches, so Matt does a drop toehold and they exchange chain wrestling into an arm wringer by Cutler. Matt flips and kips out into a dropkick, then an armdrag and lock. Nick in, and he works on the arm some more. Cutler reverses with a kip up and reverse, but Avalon won’t tag in. Nick reverses and walks up the ropes to dive onto Avalon. The Bucks with the Extinction Level Event, and now Avalon tags in only to get armdragged by Matt.

Nick tags in and the Bucks do some Hardy Boys double-teams as Avalon escapes to tag in Cutler. Nick with a drop toehold into a Matt legdrop. Matt gets nailed from Avalon, who tags himself in much to Cutler’s chagrin. The two argue over who’s legal and who gets to suplex Matt, so Matt casually tags in Nick and the Bucks escape a suplex try into a double dropkick and douple pescado. Back in, Nick fires away on Avalon. Both Nick and Avalon almost run into Leva, but Avalon with a back elbow. Matt tags in mid-atomic drop from Avalon and intercepts him with a spear during a blind charge. Matt goes to the mat with a front facelock.

Avalon escapes but refuses to tag in Cutler, so he’s caught with a catapult into an enzuigiri into a kneedrop. Nick adds a running knee for two. Matt in, but Avalon blocks the SUPERKICK and it’s a double clothesline. Cutler in, and he gets the Jacksons to run into each other and goes nuts. He slingshots Nick into a tope atomico on Matt before adding one of his own. Matt cuts it off, but Avalon low bridges Matt and Cutler dives onto both Bucks.

Back in, Cutler with a diving crossbody for two. Avalon wants in to finish, but they can’t agree on a double-team. They save one another from the Bucks and gets stereo pump kicks. Cutler rolls off Avalon for a shot on Matt, and Avalon with a tornado DDT into a Cutler springboard elbowdrop, and Nick actually has to save! Matt is 1-on-2 and the mismatchers go for a double suplex, only to get double Northern Lightseded. Nick tagged in, and he sends Cutler out before a slingshot X-Factor. Quebrada to Cutler, and SUPERKICK SUPERKICK to Avalon with another SUPERKICK to Cutler. BTE Trigger ends it at 9:15. That match had NO RIGHT being that much fun! ***1/4 The Bucks give Avalon and Cutler props and ask them to shake hands.

FYTER FEST NIGHT ONE TOMORROW!

  • Jurassic Express vs. MJF/Wardlow
  • Private Party vs. Proud and Powerful
  • Hikaru Shida vs. Penelope Ford
  • AEW TAG TITLES: Omega/Page vs. Best Friends
  • AEW TNT TITLE: Cody Rhodes vs. Jake Hager

Not one, but two competitive squashes make me very happy. They’ve got something with Pineapple Pete, I dig Griff Garrison’s look if nothing else, and it’s a testament to how amazing the Bucks are that they made a mismatches team of losers out to be a hot duo. Even the most one-sided match with Butcher and Blade was a great example of a showcase.

I fully attribute this to the sense of agency I get watching these matches. It may not mean much to you at home, but there’s a sense that the wrestlers are doing what comes naturally to them. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been told what sequence to do, and it can be nerve-rattling knowing you are trying to make someone else’s vision come to life. But if you get to talk to the other wrestlers and the people making the stories and have just a little input, everything you do feels much more natural. That’s just what I get from doing practice matches; imagine how much it’s amplified for national TV!

I didn’t bring it up in the match, but Excalibur and Taz talked about how QT Marshall was not there out of an abundance of caution, since he was around someone who may have been exposed to Covid. I’ve mentioned before that my trainers were on Dark and that they experienced how thorough the testing is – literally no one enters that building without a full test. The fact that AEW, when put in a tough position of feeling like they must do original content, is taking every precaution possible – especially in hard-hit Florida where it seems nobody’s taking precautions – is something I appreciate.

STATS!

BELL TO BELL: 35:32 over seven matches (average time 5:05)

SUPERKICK COUNTER: 3 (that’s it?)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Young Bucks vs Cutler/Avalon

THREE STARS:

  1. Young Bucks
  2. Lance Archer
  3. Butcher and Blade

Enjoy the Great American Fyter Bash Fest tomorrow!