AEW DARK: July 21, 2020

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, Episode 43, July 21, 2020.

From the AEW Arena.

Your hosts are Taz and Excalibur.

Tonight’s major bouts are Best Friends taking on Brady Pierce and Sabby (aka Tino Sabatelli) as well as Butcher and Blade against Avalon and Cutler.

Opening match, non-title: Rache Chanel (0-2) v. Hikaru Shida (13-1). Let’s start by noting there’s a lot of masks on in the crowd, which is good. To be fair, Shida has issued open challenges and will face anyone, anywhere, anytime, but an enhancement talent without a win in AEW?

Chanel begs off a lockup because her hair isn’t right yet. A nonplussed Shida kicks her and works the arm into a hammerlock. She transitions to a headlock, and again Chanel begs off because her hair is messed up. Shida enters in swinging and Chanel begs off to fix her hair, so Shida musses it up. Chanel chops Shide, so Shida with a quick Falcon Arrow try. Chanel gets out and knee Shida into a swinging neckbreaker. Shida into the buckle over and over, and Chanel ties Shida in the ropes and delivers a beat of the boudrain. Chanel then BRUSHES SHIDA’S HAIR, which angers Shida enough to swing and miss on an enzuigiri. Back suplex by Chanel gets two.

She messes with Shida’s ponytail to fire her up, and they exchange forearms, which Shida wins easily. Running knee in the corner and a drive-by kneelift follow. Stalling suplex gets two. Chanel avoids a cross-corner whip and reverses, stopping a boot and getting a leaping uppercut. A second try is caught by Shida, who gets a helicopter backbreaker and armbar twist. Chanel makes the ropes. Shida with an arm twist flip into a sliding elbow and knee smash for two. Falcon Arrow try, and despite Chanel’s best effort to get a cradle, she hits it for the pin at 5:34. Okay, the story of Chanel messing with Shida to get her off her game but still being horribly overmatched… I kinda dug it. 3/4*

Corey Hollis (0-1) v. Kip Sabian (7-5) (w/Penelope Ford). Hollis doesn’t even get his name on the video screen, poor guy. Hollis and John Skyler are a team on the Carolina indie circuit, and with Skyler injured, Hollis gets the callback.

Sabian does some arm work without taking his glasses off, but a quick arm cradle only gets one. Sabian takes the glasses off to focus (acting like he didn’t realize), and in the next lockup, Hollis gets arm control only to be reversed into a hammerlock into a flying mare. Ford gives Sabian some water and a kiss. Hollis wins the next lockup with an armdrag, and Sabian resets. Test of strength is teased, but Sabian says enough of this and nails a right cross before stomping away. Long criss-cross and a fireman’s carry tease by Hollis leads to a Sabian leg lariat. Forearms in the corner, and a big gamengiri kick.

Rolling snapmare and sliding lariat follows, but Sabian doesn’t follow up. Another snapmare and Sabian winds up, delivering a 50-yard field goal on Hollis’s head. The kick is up, and it’s good! Sabian’s swinging DDT is blocked as Hollis kicks away, and after a series of counters, it’s Hollis with the enzuigiri. Hollis with a second-rope flash kick for one. Sabian blocks a shiranui and gets the Deadly Hallows for the win at 4:27. Would’ve liked a faster pace. 1/2*

Meanwhile, Dasha interviews Dustin during a training session for Brandi and Allie. Dasha asks what their goal is, and Allie says it’s to win, duh. Brandi says they want to catch people’s attention. Yes, AEW has a great tag division… for men, but what about women? They want to catch attention because it’s what they can do. Brandi and Allie argue over who gets to end the interview.

FEATURE BOUT #1: Brady Pierce and Sabby (first time teaming) v. Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent?) (10-4). Taz and Excalibur talk about Sabby’s football credentials. No Orange Cassidy in attendance here.

Trent and Sabby start. Sabby throws Trent down and poses. Trent fakes Sabby out into a headlock but gets tackled down. Trent up and angry, as he fights back only to get lifted up… but he escapes and clips Sabby, working the leg. Crossface blows on Sabby, then a back suplex. Both sides tag out, and it’s Taylor and Pierce now. Taylor with a headlock and he gets knocked down by Pierce, but pops back up with chops. Pierce runs into a boot on a blind charge, and a second-rope dropkick by Taylor floors Pierce. Trent in, and a double shoulderblock keeps control. Trent with a forearm and he works Pierce over in the corner.

Taylor with a single axhandle to Pierce’s back off the top, but Sabby gets a leg up and Taylor runs into a spinebuster. Pierce goes side-mount and pounds away before tossing Taylor into the corner. Sabby with right hands and a hammer throw. Pierce in now, and they keep Taylor in the corner. Sabby with a very good looking dropkick, and Pierce knocks Trent off the apron. Big boot misses, and Taylor tosses Sabby before getting a launching knee on Pierce. Hot tag Trent, but he runs into a pump kick only to get back suplexed. Sabby enters and goes for a Polish Hammer only for Trent to get a running back elbow.

Tornado DDT follows, and Trent with a Shining Wizard to the back of the head for two. Trent cuts Pierce off while going up top, which allows Sabby to get a powerslam. Tag to Pierce – no sign of Taylor, which is interesting – and he slugs away, but Taylor resurfaces and blind tags. Running forearm shiver into a Sole Food/spear combo on Pierce. Taylor gives Sabby an enzuigiri to clear the ring, and back-to-back pescados follow. The Friends HUG IT OUT before Trent lines up Pierce, and Strong Zero ends it at 7:58. Wound up being a much tougher challenge than you’d think. **

Will Hobbs (0-2) v. Ricky Starks (2-1). Well, let’s hope this lasts longer than his other singles match, in which Orange Cassidy pinned him in under 15 seconds. Taz explains to Excalibur (“if that is your real name”) why he’s not mad when Starks rips off Taz’s cross-arm pose.

Hobbs wins a lockup on Starks, who tries a shoulderblock and goes nowhere. Starks goes up and over on a corner charge, and this time Starks does a leaping tackle to knock down Hobbs. Starks poses too much, though, and Hobbs tosses him into the corner and gives him a stalling suplex. Starks rolls outside to regroup, but Hobbs follows him only to walk into a kick from a pose. Starks fakes a dive and dropkicks Hobbs into the railing. Back in, Starks with a middle-rope dropkick and he goes ground and pound. Hobbs misses a charge, but catches Starks in a spinebuster. Oklahoma Stampede try by Hobbs, but Starks shoves Hobbs into the buckle and gets a swinging neckbreaker. High-angle Angel’s Wings ends it at 3:42. Very impressive finisher, but the match felt like a bunch of moves. 3/4*

Aaron Solow (debut) v. Scorpio Sky (21-10). Yes, Horsewomen fans, that Aaron Solow. Good, now that we have it out of the way, Excalibur talks about Solow being a big name on the indies. Justin Roberts nearly gets caught up in the pyro for Sky, as the announcers joke about how he could be blown up and his hair still wouldn’t move.

Lockup, and Solow works the arm on Sky, who kips up to get out and reverse. Solow switches to a headlock and takes the arm, and now Sky breakdances to take down Solow and goes to a top wristlock. Solow up, but Sky with a shoulderblock and leg trip back into the arm. Solow with a closed fist to escape, and he sets Sky up only to be caught with a Russian legsweep. Lightning legdrop gets two, and back to the arm. Solow up again, and he pushes Sky through the ropes to break before yanking him throat-first into the top rope. Neat counter.

Solow stomps a mudhole in Sky before going to the ground and pound. He pauses to pose, allowing Sky to recover, and the two exchange forearms until Solow gets a 540 kick for two. He HITS THE CHINLOCK, as Sky fights out and fakes running in to sucker in Solow. He dodges a forearm, and the Kobe dropkick stuns Solow. Sky with the comeback, nailing a big punt and Complete Shot for two. Sky goes for the TKO, but Solow adjusts his weight to block.

Sky tries a back suplex, but Solow with a flying mare and double stomp for two. Sky eats boot on a blind charge and Solow tries a superkick party, following up with a sunset flip throw into the turnbuckles for a close two. Solow to the second rope, but the elbow misses and Sky with a crucifix for two. TKO ends it for Sky at 6:36. Is it possible for Sky to have a bad match if he’s given enough time? **1/2

KiLynn King (0-5) v. Diamante (0-3). Diamante will also be on Dynamite tomorrow against Ivelisse, according to Excalibur. King calls herself the Queen of Crazy, but she seems more “energetic” than crazy, so whatever works for her. Someone has to win their first match tonight.

King works the arm to start, with Diamante doing a kip up to reverse, but King uses her long legs to do a trip into a front facelock. Diamante fights out to a hammerlock, then a headlock, with King trying to lift herself out. Diamante with a fakeout on a tilt-a-whirl into another whip, but King with a clothesline and armdrag. King keeps on the arm into a stalling suplex, but Diamante elbows out and tries a German. That goes nowhere, and King gets a standard suplex for two.

Blind charge hits Diamante’s elbow, and she gets an overhead suplex into the corner (sort of) and shotgun dropkick for one. Taz talks about how easy it is for a short, strong wrestler to do an overhead suplex as Diamante uses hair control to punch down King for two. Diamante with chops in the corner, but she stops to taunt the crowd and gets struck down into a jack-knife pin for two. Schoolboy gets two. Diamante cuts it off with a kneelift and shots to the back before driving King to the corner.

Diamante with a running uppercut, and she takes time to set up the next bit, allowing King to leap over her and get the comeback with clotheslines and a big boot. Running kick by King, but the German is blocked. Diamante with Code Red out of nowhere for the pin at 4:47. King’s not bad. This was an AEW Dark special – a Perfectly Acceptable five-minute match. *3/4

Robert Anthony (0-4) v. Darby Allin (10-7-1). Given that Allin returned by attacking Brian Cage, Taz is a little salty during this match. Anthony is wearing a Danny Havoc shirt (RIP). And yes the 1 tie is legit – Allin and Cody have the only time-limit draw on AEW television that I can remember. Taz says he’s going to say something to Allin tomorrow.

Allin glares in Taz’s direction on the opening bell, which annoys Anthony (“Pay attention!”). Anthony kicks Allin to get his attention, demanding he get a fight. Allin continues to do nothing as Anthony shoves him, but then Allin wakes up and parkours around to gets a Code Red quickly for two. Anthony bails, and Allin (now paying full attention) follows to throw Anthony into the guardrail. He follows with a full body attack, but he keeps glaring at Taz, allowing Anthony to cut him off and drop him gut-first on the guardrail. Anthony follows with a suplex on the floor. Anthony pulls the skirt away and throws Allin face-first into the steel bracing under the ring! Anthony: “Do you see me now!?”

Back in, Anthony goes to end with a Romero Special, rolling it around the ring before driving him face-first to the mat for two. Anthony chokes Allin with his boot in the corner before chopping him down. Anthony demands Allin get up, and Allin does, tripping Anthony into a Fujiwara armbar. Anthony makes the ropes. He armdrags Anthony down and re-applies the armbar with SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION, and again Anthony crawls to the ropes. Excalibur notes that Allin is using the armbar the way Moxley did against Cage, which torques off Taz.

Back to the match, as Anthony gets tossed to the apron, but clotheslines Allin over the turnbuckle from the apron. Anthony pulls Allin up, but Allin sends Anthony’s shoulder into the post. Allin goes up and nails the Coffin Drop to Anthony on the apron. Back in, Allin wants a countout, buy Anthony’s in at 9. Allin with a flipover Stunner and a second Coffin Drop to end it at 6:49. The story of this match boosts it an extra star. **3/4

But wait! Brian Cage emerges from the back and does a release German to toss Allin over the top to the ring. Cage wants a powerbomb, but Anthony’s none too happy with this disrespect… only Ricky Starks cuts Anthony off!? Cage with two powerbombs into a Starks Angel’s Wings, and it appears Taz has a second employee. This is good wrestling.

FEATURE MATCH #2: Peter Avalon and Brandon Cutler (0-6) (w/Leva Bates) v. The Butcher And The Blade (9-5). Cutler rolled a natural 19 – is that a good sign? While I like that Avalon and Cutler come out of different tunnels, it’ll be a big deal when they cement themselves as a team by entering fully together. Taz calls the Butcher/Blade entrance bad-ass. Excalibur: “There goes our monetization.”

Blade and Cutler start, with Blade going over the ref in the corner to beat down Cutler. Cutler fights back but gets cut off by a kneelift, and Blade tries an O’Connor Roll. Cutler blocks and comes in with a springboard forearm. Avalon and Butcher in next, and Avalon tries a headlock as we go International~!. Butcher catches Avalon in the leapfrog and drops him in an inverted atomic drop into a running clothesline by Blade for one. Blade chops Avalon and brings Butcher back in, but Avalon escapes and throws the two together.

Blade is knocked out of the ring, and Avalon dropkicks Butcher. Cutler with a blind tag as Avalon gets a sunset flip with Cutler adding a jack-knife… for one. Butcher suplexes both members of Team D&D at once, and Blade sends Cutler out before going after Avalon. Blade with a Hotshot and Butcher in with a JBL-power lariat for two. Butcher pounds away on Avalon and hammer throws him into his corner, and Blade in to choke Avalon down. Butcher adds a choke behind the ref’s back, then Blade chokes Avalon some more. See this, Vince? It’s called being a heel. Butcher in with a suplex for two, and he tosses Avalon out. Leva dives off the apron, but Butcher catches her until Avalon does a tope to knock the pile over. Cutler isn’t sure what to make of that.

Both men get back in, and it’s hot tag Cutler. He gets a forearm on Blade and blocks a double boot in the corner before getting the rope guillotine legdrop on Blade and a moonsault “to” Butcher. He dives onto Blade and throws him back in before doing a somersault pescado to Butcher while tagging Avalon! Avalon in with a frog splash for two. Marti-knees by Avalon, but Cutler’s springboard elbow hits the knees of Blade. Both seconds are down, but Avalon smokes Blade with a paperback book. Cutler objects, and Butcher with a flying bear on Avalon. Suplex to Blade’s knees wins it for Butcher in 6:48. They give Cutler Beer Money’s DWI and yell at the camera about how they’re coming for the Bucks tomorrow. Which is a good way to keep from talking about how Cutler objected to Avalon’s attempt at cheating. **1/4

TOMORROW!

  • Cody Rhodes defends the TNT Title!
  • Hangman Page takes on Alan “Dark Order #5” Angels!
  • Ivelisse debuts against Diamante!
  • MJF has a match!
  • Falls Count Anywhere as the Young Bucks take on the Butcher and the Blade!
  • The Inner Circle of Hager and Jericho will face Luchasaurus and Jack Perry!

Holy cow, we had angle advancement on Dark? One of the enhancement talents getting involved in a story? Scorpio Sky putting on a good show? Debuting new talents in Aaron Solow and Tino Sabby? This may be a “B” show, but AEW doesn’t treat it like a throwaway tonight. Plus, we know Taz will address Darby Allin tomorrow, and having Ricky Starks be a way for Allin to get a key win on the road to Cage is a smart move.

I hope they don’t insist on Cutler and Avalon teasing another breakup after Avalon’s actions. First of all, it was a paperback; Butcher barely felt it. Second, Cutler/Avalon have been gaining very good chemistry as teammates and I still think the better play is to have them steal a win as a big moment.

I also like how the Shida/Chanel match was agented. Chanel is several steps behind Shida in talent, but relies on her act to make her name. Shida is no-nonsense but doesn’t always show personality in the ring. The solution? Have Chanel use her personality to do some heel work, but Shida overwhelm it when the chips were down. It reminds me of Disco Inferno against Dean Malenko back in 1996 – how’s that for a callback?

STATS

BELL TO BELL: 46:41 over eight matches (Average time: 5:50)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Darby Allin vs Robert Anthony

THREE STARS:

  1. Robert Anthony
  2. Ricky Starks
  3. Scorpio Sky

Enjoy tomorrow’s double feature!