AEW DARK: July 14, 2020

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, July 14, 2020.

From the AEW Performance Center.

Your hosts are @ShutUpExcalibur and @YouTooTaz.

Tonight’s matches include: Michael Nakazawa taking on Marko Stunt; the other Jurassic Express members facing Brandon Cutler and Peter Avalon; and Brian Cage putting the FTW Title on the line against Brian Pillman Jr.

Rache Chanel (0-1) and Diamante (0-2) v. The Nightmare Sisters (Brandi Rhodes and Allie, w/Dustin Rhodes) (2-0). I still don’t know what to make of Chanel. Diamante used to run with Santana and Ortiz back in Impact, as I recall – in fact, she still has her LAX gear. Allie has another “I Miss You QT” sign with her.

Allie and Diamante get in an argument before the bell, but they do start. They exchange headlocks before they fake the International~!, with Allie doing a kneeling uppercut on Diamante. A kneelift follows, for one. Chanel in (she was combing her hair when she got the tag), and Allie corners her before tagging in Brandi. They do an assisted whip elbow, with Brandi adding a snapmare into a back kick for two. Brandi fires off forearms, but Allie tags herself in and drops an axhandle on the arm.

Allie with a chop and a wink to the camera, but Diamante cuts off a rope run and Chanel slugs Allie down. It gets one. Diamante in, and she gives Allie an uppercut in the corner before stomping a mudhole. Diamante keeps Allie in the corner and tags in Chanel, who discards the comb and works over Allie’s midsection. Diamante pulls her out with a snapmare and we HIT THE CHINLOCK. Diamante with a series of elbows to the neck for two. Diamante does a neck crank next, but Allie fights out before reversing a casadora into a facejam. Diamante knocks Brandi off the apron, but Allie with a cradle for two.

Diamante clotheslines Allie and clubs across the face. Hammer Throw by Diamante , but a low shotgun dropkick misses. Hot tag Brandi, and she runs over Chanel and nails a Sling Blade. Allie with a Thesz Press to cut off Diamante (much to Brandi’s surprise/confusion), which allows Chanel a kneelift. She runs into a SUPERKICK, however, and a pump kick follows. Spear to Chanel ends it at 7:23. Chanel did very little, Diamante looked great, and the Allie/Brandi chemistry story is advancing nicely. *1/2

Robert Anthony (0-3) v. Ricky Starks (1-1). Taz: “We know this Anthony guy is a tremendous talent; we’ve seen him go – except when he met Cage.” Starks gives some love to Taz on the way to the ring.

Anthony with an early waistlock takedown and Starks needs a reset. They chain-wrestle on the mat, ending with Anthony escaping a rear waistlock and getting an armbar. The two get up and fight for a hammerlock, which Anthony gets before going back to the armbar. Starks forearms out, ducking a receipt and throwing Anthony to the corner. Anthony goes up and over before landing a clothesline and big boot. Anthony runs into a Hotshot, however, and a clothesline levels him.

Starks works Anthony over in the corner and kicks him before hooking a release Northern Lights suplex – Taz totally approves of this. Anthony tries a blind charge, but Starks escapes and spears Anthony to the apron. He suplexes Anthony back in, but Anthony floats over only to get caught with a swinging neckbreaker for two (as Taz breaks down why it’s effective). Anthony fights out of the corner and gets a tilt-a-whirl faceplant before switching to the Romero Special… and faceplanting him with just his legs! It gets two. Anthony with a fireman’s carry into the corner, but Starks slides out with a cradle for one. He follows with a a double underhook into a body vice into a facebuster for the win at 4:50. Someone tell me the name of that move. Anyway, a very nice five minute match. **1/4 I wonder if they’re going to have Taz manage Starks in the future – Starks clearly respects him.

We look back at Tully Blanchard giving Shawn Spears the glove. Spears says he is the next in a line of glove wearers like Ted DiBiase and Barry Windham, and he will have a legacy like they did. Tully believes in Spears, and so does Spears.

Shawn Dean, Will Hobbs, and Joe Alonzo (first time as a trio) v. Dark Order (#3, #4, and #5, aka Alex Reynolds, John Silver, and Alan Angels) (with Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, and Preston Vance). I think I know which is which – Angels has the chest tattoo, Reynolds is clean-shaven, and Silver’s the other one.

Angels starts with a slap to Hobbs, who throws him into the corner. He misses a charge and Angels fires away, getting a dropkick to the leg only to run into an Exploder. Angels quickly tags in Silver, who gets caught by Hobbs and Strongest Slammed. Alonzo in now, and Hobbs throws Alonzo onto Silver for two. Alonzo and Silver run the ropes until Alonzo gets a hiptoss and bodyslam. He dropkicks Silver into the corner, but walks into a spin slam. Reynolds in, and it’s a double toe hold into stereo dropkicks for two. Reynolds with a clothesline for two. Alonzo avoids a back suplex and gets the hot tag to Dean, dropkicks abound.

Reynolds with a headbutt to the stomach of Dean and he sends him into the Dark Order corner. Blind charge misses, and Reynolds eats turnbuckle before being clotheslined out as the Order regroup. Dean dives onto Reynolds and Silver with a somersault pescado. Angels, though, tosses Dean into the guardrail, and back in, Reynolds gets two. Angels tags in, and he axhandles Dean into a paste for two. Swinging neckbreaker by Angels gets two. Silver enters with an uppercut to Dean, and a snapmare leads to a running soccer kick for two. Big kick to the chest by Silver, and he puts his wait on Dean’s head. Reynolds in, and he uppercuts Dean for two. Dean tries to fight out, but Reynolds snapmares him into the buckles for two.

Silver in, and a high kick floors Dean. He chokes Dean with his shin, drawing in Alonzo to get beaten up. Angels in, and the Dark Order deliver a lifted moonsault that gets two. (Angels moonsaults onto an elevated Dean.) Angels knocks Alonzo off, so Dean gets a cradle for two. Hot tag Hobbs, and everyone goes down. Spinebuster for Reynolds, powerslam to Angels, but Silver avoids the blind charge and a Stunner/German combo gets two, with Alonzo saving. Angels and Dean are in the ring now, with Angels getting a C4 on Dean. Alonzo with a pump kick to Angels and an O’Connor roll to Silver for two. Reynolds cuts off Alonzo, and a Wing Snapper by Angels into a double DDTestroyer by Silver/Reynolds ends it at 9:12. Much tougher match than it should have been. **

FEATURE BOUT #1: Michael Naka – Naka – Naka – Naka – Naka – Nakazawa!!! (2-1) v. Marko Stunt (8-7). Getting a little too into the intro, Justin? Taz points out that it’s way too obvious that Nakazawa has something in his trunks. Commentary is betting on a comedy match. Nakazawa has the BABY OIL OF DOOM out right away and says he doesn’t need it to win.

Stunt flies in with a headlock, but gets knocked down on a shoulderblock attempt. Stunt tries again, and again it goes nowhere. Stunt insists Nakazawa try it, which allows him to surprise Nakazawa with a dropkick and roundhouse. Stunt goes to work in the corner with a running dropkick, then another, then a shotgun dropkick, and Nakazawa bails out. Stunt with a low suicida on Nakazawa, and KiLynn King approves. Back in, Nakazawa stops Stunt and delivers a Hotshot. He chops away on Stunt on the corner before stomping a mudhole, and with all the baby oil Nakazawa goes through there’s no way he walks it dry.

Slam by Nakazawa gets two, and Nakazawa goes to a ground sleeper. Stunt elbows out but gets smashed hard in the ropes. Nakazawa snapmares Stunt and pours baby oil on him, and a slipping senton gets two. It’s a double stomp where he skids into a senton. Stunt escapes the corner and gets the casadora armdrag, then a ropewalk rana. Blind charge misses for both men, and Stunt with a double axhandle for two. The baby oil on Stunt may have caused a slight slip. Nakazawa refuses to be whipped, so Stunt chops him. Nakazawa picks Stunt up into a Samoan drop out of the ropes, and Nakazawa drags him groin-first on the top rope.

Atomic drop and spear gets two. Nakazawa pulls out the thong and is ready for the claw, but Stunt ducks and gets a backslide for two. Stunt stops the thong and shoves it back into Nakazawa’s face (where it sticks like glue somehow), and a leg trip cradle gets the pin at 6:09. This match will be used when I kidnap Tommy Hall in order to extract information from him as to where he’s keeping the Swiss Bank account codes. 3/4*

Brady Pierce (0-5) and Pineapple Pete (0-6) v. Serpentico (0-4) and Luther (2-3). Well, someone is getting their first win tonight, right? Serpentico’s performance against Scorpio Sky gets talked up before the match. Luther tries to eat Serpentico’s streamers.

Pete and Luther start, and Luther slugs him down. Pete tries a headlock, but a shoulderblock goes nowhere. Luther runs over Pete and stomps away. Pete tries to fight back but runs into a pump kick. Serpentico in, and the heels work the arm. He works the arm some more with a fancy hiptoss, but he gets monkey flipped off of the ropes. Everyone trades off as Luther and Pierce come in. A forearm by Pierce does nothing, a tackle does nothing, another one does nothing, and this time Luther with a forearm shiver to take down Pierce. Pierce sends Luther to the corner and both faces get an avalanche. Luther double-legs Pete and slugs away, and Pete prevents a tag only for Serpentico to wishbone him on the post.

Luther with a belly-to-belly arm trap for two. Spinning sidewalk slam, and he throws Serpentico onto Pete three straight times (Serpentico, bless him, sells it as much as Pete). Serpentico with knees to the throat, and in comes Luther again. Luther sends Serpentico into Pete’s gut, and Luther follows with a big splash. Serpentico back in with a slingshot double stomp, and Luther with a hiptoss knee strike. Luther throws Serpentico gutwrench style onto Pete for two as commentary thinks the teamwork is a little unorthodox.

Pete fights to his feet as a slugfest breaks out, and a blind charge by Serpentico eats boot twice. Pete with a high-angle X Factor, and hot tag Pierce. Flapjack to Serpentico, then a running kick in the corner leads to a spinebuster, Luther saves. Double kick on Pierce, and a big boot / shiranui combo (no points for guessing who does which). Heels do a Doomsday Meteora to give Luther the pin at 7:03. Luther knows what he can do, and the two have weird chemistry. Eh, I’ll live with it. *3/4

Brandon Cutler and Peter Avalon (w/Leva Bates) (0-5) v. Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy Jack Perry and Luchasaurus) (w/Marko Stunt) (4-2). Hey, the Young Bucks are at ringside for this one! Tomorrow night, it’s The Elite v. Jurassic Express in trios action, so maybe the Bucks aren’t just here to cheer on Cutler.

Avalon and Perry start. Perry works the hammerlock, but Avalon with a headlock takedown. Perry rolls him over for one, then a cradle for two, then a shoot press for two. Avalon throws Perry into the corner, and Cutler is in to slug away. Hiptoss by Perry, then a dropkick. Blind charge misses, and Cutler with a slingshot roundhouse for two. Avalon in, and the non-winners work Perry over in the corner only for Perry to chop Cutler hard. Perry kicks away a backdrop attempt and gets a running headscissors, and Saurus in as the Express kick away into a double-team STO for two.

Saurus with a tail whip for two. Perry in, and he stomps the chest of Cutler off the top for two. Perry with a double armlock into an O’Connor Roll attempt, but Cutler blocks it and gets a springboard elbow. Cutler muscles Perry into the corner, and Avalon chokes away with his boot. Avalon with a suplex for one. Avalon cuts off a comeback attempt and slams him, with Cutler adding a tope atomico and running legdrop for two, brother. Perry tries a casadora, but Cutler shoves him off only to get nailed with a lariat.

Hot tag Saurus, and the mismatched team gets kicked and chopped around. Roundhouse kick to Avalon and a big lariat to Cutler turns him inside out. Chokeslam to Avalon, but he flips out of it and gets an enzuigiri. Cutler in, but a double clothesline misses and both men get roundhouse kicks. Perry baseball slides Avalon, and Saurus with a chokeslam, but the moonsault hits knees and Cutler small packages him for a very close two. Leva gives Perry a rana when no one’s looking, and Cutler gets a tornado DDT to Saurus. Avalon with a triple jump DDT and martin-knees, and Cutler with a slingshot elbow for two, Perry saves. Excalibur is selling the hell out of these near falls.

Saurus ducks a leg lariat and gives Avalon a back body drop. Perry in, and Avalon falls out of the ring on a clothesline. Perry dives onto each man in turn, and back in, Perry flips over Avalon and gets a Saito suplex and tiger suplex for two. Saurus can’t believe it. Saurus demands the tag and gets it, but Cutler busts up the doublt eteam and Cutler and Avalon with a pair of pump kicks. Saurus with headbutts to both men, Perry DDTs Cutler, and Avalon eats the Extinction Level Event for the pin at 8:47. Whew. ***1/4

MAIN EVENT, FTW Championship: Brian Pillman, challenger (0-1) v. Brian Cage, champion (5-0). No Taz at ringside, and Roberts has to be told it’s a title match by Cage. To be fair, as Excalibur notes, it’s not a sanctioned title by AEW.

Pillman ducks a lariat and gets a dropkick, but Cage no-sells and works Pillman over in the corner. He misses a lariat and Pillman delivers a SUPERKICK, but he runs into a boot and Cage with a release German suplex that throws Pillman all the way across the ring and out. Cage with a knee on the outside, and he tries a powerbomb, but Pillman hangs onto the ropes to escape. A kick to Cage, and a dropkick suicida, but he tries a cannonball senton only for Cage to catch him in a suplex to the floor! No adjusting his grip on that one. Now Cage powerbombs Pillman into the post, and back in, Cage with a Cesaro superplex. Drill Claw ends it to retain at 2:28. Cage gives Pillman a double powerbomb into an F-5 after the match to send a message. If Brock Lesnar worked Raw, this is what it would look like. **1/4

FIGHT FOR THE FALLEN:

  • AEW Title: Jon Moxley vs Brian Cage
  • AEW TNT Title: Cody Rhodes vs Sonny Kiss
  • Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks vs Jurassic Express
  • FTR vs The Lucha Bros
  • Nightmare Sisters in action!

Well, that’s good news for Serpentico possibly having earned that contract. Also, I’m loving how they’re doing the “so close and yet so far” tease with Avalon and Cutler. With the exception of Nakazawa/Stunt, which really should have been more comedy than it was, all the matches were perfectly acceptable for what they were trying to accomplish. Heck, Cage and Pillman did great in telling their story with only three minutes! Will Hobbs got a chance to try to earn a contract after being steamrolled last week, and Robert Anthony is one of the better enhancement talents they have.

Notice Cage/Pillman, by the way: I’m a firm believer that a match shouldn’t be any longer than it needs to be to get the point across. Brian Pillman had a strategy and was sticking to it, but as soon as he was caught, there was no escape. That story didn’t need a 5-7 minute match, or even a Raw-length 12 minute match. They did it in 3. More people can learn from this on the indie scene – sometimes, it’s better to be to the point.

All in all, Dark has a nice pattern to it over the last few weeks. Give each match 10 minutes max, add it up until you get to 45, and that’s a fine internet show. Include advancing one Dynamite-level story – in this case, Spears and the loaded glove – and you have a fine way to spend a Tuesday night. Dark has definitely gotten into a groove, and I hope it continues as I review it.

STATS:

BELL TO BELL: 45:52 over seven matches (Average time 6:33)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Perry/Saurus v Avalon/Cutler

THREE STARS:

  1. Brandon Cutler
  2. Brian Cage
  3. Diamante

Enjoy your double-header tomorrow!