AEW DARK: July 28, 2020

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, Episode 44, July 28, 2020.

From the AEW Arena.

Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz.

We have an astonishing TWELVE matches to see tonight! We have a double main event, as Best Friends face Dark Order’s B team of Reynolds and Silver while in a three-way match it’s SCU, Proud and Powerful, and Private Party! In addition, three minor features as Orange Cassidy takes on Serpentico, while The Initiative (that pesky Cutler and Avalon team) face FTR, and the team of Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss battle Pineapple Pete and Michael Nakazawa!

Opening match: The Initiative (Brandon Culter and Peter Avalon) (0-7) vs. FTR (Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler) (3-0). Hey, the Young Bucks are at ringside. And yes, the announcers note that it appears this team is permanent given that they’ve settled on a name. FTR’s jacket indicates the team name stands for “For The Revolution”.

Avalon starts with Wheeler, but Harwood immediately tags in as Tully Blanchard is shown in the crowd. Harwood with a headlock takedown, and as they get up Harwood tackles down Avalon. Cutler tags in (on the second try, as he was halfway in the ring the first time), and after a distraction, Harwood slugs down Cutler. Big chop to Cutler, and he throws him into Wheeler’s knees. Wheeler uppercuts Cutler into the ropes and adds a chop, but an up-and-over try leads to Cutler getting Wheeler into the turnbuckle and landing a flying forearm. Double flapjack by the Initiative, then a double short elbow gets one for Avalon.

Avalon works the arm and keeps Wheeler in the corner, and Cutler maintains arm control. Harwood tries to tag Wheeler’s foot, but he’s too far from his corner. They get it on the second try, and a double gut hang on the top rope allows Harwood lightning strikes for two. Harwood with the neck crank on Cutler, then a back elbow off the ropes. FTR with a guillotine snap on the middle rope, but the cover goes nowhere because the ref is throwing Avalon out of the ring. Wheeler works a headlock now, which fires up Cutler enough to get a snap back suplex. Harwood cuts off the hot tag, though, and ties Cutler up in the ropes before FTR beats him down. Harwood is distracted by Bates, but he cuts off a Cutler rally with a back suplex.

Wheeler back in, and he RIPS UP LEVA’S BOOK! You bastard! Flying dropkick airballs into the turnbuckle, which serves him right, and it’s hot tag Avalon. Enzuigiri to Wheeler, and he chops Harwood and gets a split-legged moonsault for two before Wheeler saves. BONZO GONZO doesn’t last long as Cutler is out, but Avalon dropkicks Wheeler only to get hit with a nasty lariat by Harwood. Harwood taunts Avalon with his own hair, and a spike piledriver ends it at 7:16. Never in doubt. **1/4 Taz points out the spike piledriver broke his own neck back in the ECW days. Blanchard approves of FTR’s performance. FTR shake the Bucks’ hands post-match.

Pineapple Pete and Michael Naka – Naka – Naka – Naka – Naka – Nakazawa!! (first time teaming) vs. Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss (4-1). It’s a tag match and there’s a chance Joey Janela’s the most normal person in it. So I’m kind of expecting things to get silly here. Commentary talks about how great Kiss looked against Cody.

Kiss and Nakazawa start. Kiss with a dropsault and step-up rana out of the gate, but Nakazawa rolls away only to land in a back elbow. Kiss goes for the butt-butts, but the BABY OIL OF DOOM saves Nakazawa… or it would have if Janela did steal it and soak Kiss’s rump with it. Kiss slips on what’s left of the oil that Pete threw into the ring, and Nakazawa with a kick to take over. Pete slides off Nakazawa’s back into a bottom-buckle spear to Kiss, but the chest-bump doesn’t go as planned, and Janela can tag in with a double missile dropkick.

Janela legsweeps Pete into a kick by Kiss for two. Kiss with a reverse Stinger Splash in the corner, but Pete rolls over a follow-up and gets a kneelift and clothesline for two. Pete with a Gator Roll and he mockingly tags Janela (which doesn’t count), but a double suplex attempt is slipped out of and now it’s hot tag Janela. Clotheslines abound. Heels are rammed together, then Janela German suplexes Nakazawa into the bottom buckle. Pete is tossed into Nakazawa, and Death Valley driver and dropkick allows him to do an elbow suicida to Nakazawa.

Back to the top, and a Superfly Splash gets two, Nakazawa saves. Janela smokes Nakazawa with a right, but Pete and Janela get in a slugfest as Nakazawa has the spare thong. Janela blocks the Thong Claw, but Pete with a baseball punch. Nakazawa tries again, but Janela redirects it onto Pete! SUPERKICK to Nakazawa, roundhouse to Pete, and Kiss with the split-legged legdrop for the pin at 5:18. It was a comedy match, what do you want? *1/4

AEW is producing action figures! In WalMart this Monday.

Skyler Moore (0-4) vs. Abadon (1-1). I imagine if AEW thought Abadon was going to catch the internet’s imagination the way she did, they would not have waited another month to bring her back. Taz can’t figure out where the Black Hills (Abadon’s hometown) is. For the record, South Dakota.

Moore is thoroughly unsettled, but Abadon double-legs her instead of a lockup and beats down Moore. Moore goes to the eyes in desperation, but Abadon no-sells and screams a lot. Abadon with a clothesline, but Moore keeps up the forearms and gets a DDT. Abadon sits up before Moore can follow up, however, and adjusts her neck, which freaks Moore right the hell out.

Moore tries to run away, but Abadon catches her as even Rache Chanel is hiding. Moore tosses Abadon to the barricade and screams “Who’s hardcore now?” as her confidence is back. Back in, Strongest Slam gets two. Moore with a gutwrench try, but Abadon escapes and nails a Widow’s Peak for the pin at 3:20. This match was about a minute too long for the purpose of the story. 1/2*

More on Shawn Spears and his glove. He knows you’re concerned, but why so negative? It just shows how you are. You don’t know Shawn’s motives, but he’ll make it clear: no one is safe. He says in AEW, hyenas masquerade as lions and are willing to jump you from behind and take you out. So, seriously, what would you do? This glove is self-defense! It’s the one thing he has in AEW that he can rely on. The glove is no weapon, you see: it’s a protector.

Shawn Dean and Will Hobbs (first time teaming) vs. Dark Order (Evil Uno and Stu Grayson) (7-0). Excalibur notes Hobbs just faced Ricky Starks, which brings him back to “Team Taz”, which he thinks would work on a T-shirt. The rest of the Dark Order (sans Mr. Lee) is with them.

Grayson bowls over Dean to start and throws him into the Dark Order corner, where Uno pounds away on him. Running back elbow on Dean, and Dean eats Garyson’s boot. Uno throws Grayson into spearing Dean in the corner, and Grayson adds a snapmare and soccer kick. Uno back in, and he throws Dean back into the corner where Dean gets a flurry. Enzuigiri by Dean, but Grayson stops the hot tag and gets a high angle uranage for two. Dean eats Uno’s boot now, and Uno comes in to chop away. Back suplex by Uno, and he brushes off Dean before slapping him around. Dean tries to fire back, but again Uno stops the hot tag and the Dark Order gets Demolition Decapitation.

Hobbs is drawn in just to taunt him, and Uno returns to dropkick him off the apron. Dean stops a whip and turns it into a swinging neckbreaker, but Hobbs isn’t back on the apron yet. Grayson is sent off the apron, and Dean follows with a somersault senton. Back in, FINALLY the hot tag to Hobbs and he clotheslines down Uno. Spinebuster to Uno and he catches Grayson mid-Lionsault for an Oklahoma Stampede for two. Dean tags back in, but the jobbers get a double Pele from Grayson. Uno makes Dean kick Hobbs, and Grayson gives both men running knees. Grayson gets Hobbs in the Nightfall, and the Fatality to Dean ends it at 5:44. Hobbs looked okay, but this was all Dark Order. *1/2

Geez, Kenny Omega’s even melodramatic selling his action figure.

Corey Hollis (0-2) vs. Scorpio Sky (5-1). Sky’s record is purely in singles action, for the record, because otherwise the number would get ridiculous.

Lockup goes to the corner, and Sky gives a clean break. Hollis teases a cheap shot but declines. Hollis tries a single-leg, into a waistlock, into a headlock, into an armwringer, into a hammerlock, but Sky reverses, Hollis reverses, Sky switches it to a cradle for a one-count. WRESTLING! Sky starts the reset with a headlock, Hollis shoots off, but Sky catches Hollis with an inverted atomic drop and Russian legsweep for two. Sky with an uppercut in the corner as he sends Hollis around the ring. Sky with arm control and a whip, landing the Kobe dropkick as Hollis bails. Sky leaps onto the apron, and Hollis trips Sky on the apron as Sky holds his knee.

Back in, Hollis with a flying knee off the top for two. Hollis dropkicks Sky against the middle rope. Hollis stomps away in the corner before trying to send him across the ring. Sky reverses, but a blind charge misses and Hollis gets something like an enzuigiri off the middle rope for two. Stunner try by Hollis, but Sky wants a backslide. Hollis escapes into an O’Connor Roll for two, and Sky catches him on the rebound with a small package for two. Sky with a big boot for two as Griff Garrison and Robert Anthony look on in the crowd. Sky looks for a cradle suplex, but Hollis flips out into a Stunner and a lariat. Hollis goes to the top, but the diving headbutt eats boots. TKO ends it at 5:21. Would’ve liked the knee tease to go somewhere, but otherwise Sky is the KING of Dark for a reason. **1/2

Kenzie Page (0-4) vs. Penelope Ford (w/Kip Sabian) (6-4). Good news: Sabian is wearing a mask at ringside. Sabian and Ford have matching gear (Excalibur: “Should we get matching gear?” Taz: “Most certainly not!”). Paige is AEW’s youngest competitor.

Ford starts with kicks to the gut, adding a kneelift to Page. Corner whip and clothesline follow, then a back elbow. Northern lariat follows off a hammer throw, then a hairpull slam by Ford. Blind charge eats boot, and Page comes out with a big forearm and a hairpull slam of her own. She goes ground and pound on Ford, who bails to the corner and suckers Page in. Page eats turnbuckle with Ford’s help, twice, and Ford slaps Page around and taunts her. Ford chokes Page with her leg over the middle rope and kisses Sabian while doing so.

She yanks Page’s throat into the top rope and stomps away. Camel clutch follows, but Page fights out only to get a forearm to the head as Excalibur starts quoting Fresh Prince. Another forearm leads to Ford getting the Gut Check. Page with a desperation jawbreaker, but she walks into a Stunner. Page fires back with forearms, but the big swing misses and Ford with an elbow to the back of the head. Ford runs into a thrust kick to the jaw, but Ford reverses a full nelson and gets a pump kick. Handspring cutter, but Ford doesn’t want the pin with that. The fisherman’s suplex ends it at 4:46. Very disjointed – I wonder if these two were calling it on the fly. 1/4* Hey, Kip – the mask goes over the nose too!

Of course Brandi Rhodes gets an action figure.

Aaron Solow (0-1) vs. Wardlow (5-2). No MJF here. Solow had a great performance last time against Scorpio Sky, but I think this might be more lopsided.

Wardlow no-sells a forearm to the back to start. Wardlow backs him into the corner but misses a right. Solow kicks at the thighs but runs into a boot to the gut. Wardlow rushes Solow into the corner and gets shoulder rams and an uppercut. Hammer throw follows. More shots to the gut and another uppercut as Solow falls flat, so Wardlow picks him up by the hair and tosses him into the corner. Wardlow doesn’t follow, though, so Solow with kicks when he does, but Solow gets picked up and thrown into Catatonic. Wind-up lariat floors Solow, and Wardlow picks him up in the corner and sets him on the ropes. He tips Solow over into a big kneesmash, and Solow is KO’d at 2:53. Total slaughter. DUD Wardlow decides to add a pair of F-10s just because he’s that kind of guy.

Main Event #1: Dark Order (Alex Reynolds/John Silver) (1-3) vs. Best Friends (Chuck Taylor/Trent?) (11-4). Interesting dynamic here, as the current #1 contenders’ flunkies are taking on the prior #1 contenders.

Silver and Reynolds jump the Friends before the bell, and Silver chokes Taylor in the corner. Reynolds stomps Trent before he can take his jacket off, and Taylor is thrown into the guardrail. Taylor recovers and repays Silver, and Trent recovers from a barricade throw to spear Reynolds. Taylor off the apron to double stomp Silver. Finally, it looks like Trent and Reynolds will start, as Trent throws Reynolds into Taylor’s knee. Sole Food/Half-Nelson suplex follows as the Friends HUG IT OUT. Strong Zero attempt, but Silver kicks Trent and Reynolds turns it into a Destroyer!

Taylor’s on the floor, and a speedy chain double-team of roundhouse kick to Stunner to German to jack-knife pin gets two for Reynolds. Silver back in, and he forearms Trent a bunch for two. Silver with a big kick to Trent’s chest, and he follows with a running boot for two. Reynolds back in, and he throws knees before getting a facebuster and pump kick. Charge by Reynolds goes nowhere, but Reynolds blocks the tornado DDT and legsweeps Trent onto the top turnbuckle head-first for two. Reynolds controls the leg and brings in Silver to do a boot choke.

Silver sends Trent into the corner, absorbs some hope chops, and hammer throws him into the HBK Flip in the corner. Running spinebuster by Silver, but Trent fell into the ropes. Reynolds in, as Silver gorilla presses Trent into a Reynolds cutter, Taylor saves. Reynolds tosses Taylor out and brings in Silver as they work on Trent. Silver with a Yes Kick to Trent, but he asks for more. Trent fires up to his feet and a slugfest breaks out, which Silver seems to win until Trent turns Silver inside-out with a lariat.

Reynolds is side-stepped, but he pulls Taylor off the apron and suplexes him on the floor to stop any tag. Both men get German suplexes in succession, and Reynolds with a Drive-By. Double faceplant from Bonsoir position gets a close two. Reynolds returns, but Trent goldbricks to get a Saito suplex. Finally, it’s hot tag to Taylor, and he runs both men over adding a flapjack and dropkick to Reynolds. Taylor throws Reynolds into Silver in the corner, and a Falcon Arrow on Silver gets two. Taylor goes up, but Reynolds intercepts. Reynolds wants a superplex, but Trent grabs Reynolds in a release German superplex! Taylor catches Silver with a backslide, but Silver rolls through, kicks away, and tries a suplex… only for Taylor to reverse to the Awful Waffle for the pin at 9:10. WOW. ***1/2 Dark Order storm the ring to get revenge, but the Friends bail and HUG IT OUT on the floor.

So the figures they show as Cody, Jericho, the Bucks, Brandi, and Omega. That’s it.

Frankie Thomas (debut) vs. Lance Archer (w/Jake Roberts) (9-1). And, because some things must be tradition, Archer carries the corpse of a staff member with him.

Thomas tries to jump the bell on Archer, but Archer is unfazed and Pounces Thomas out of the corner. Archer chokes Thomas on the top rope and clubs him down. Archer with a suplex and cuts a promo. Short clothesline on Thomas (hey, where’d he learn that from) and he looks to scare Lee Johnson at ringside. Thomas escapes a chokeslam and tries kicks and a running strike, but Archer can’t be tripped. Thomas stickand moves and tries a dive, but Archer catches him by the throat and does a back arch chokeslam before punching a fan unconscious.

Archer kicks away at Thomas and clubs him again, then smothers him in the corner while yelling at the camera. Blackout try, but Thomas hooks a sleeper in desperation. Archer corners Thomas and slugs away before getting the Blackout out of the corner… no, Thomas escapes again only to walk into the chokeslam and iron claw for the pin at 3:34. Hello, Jacksonville EMTs? I’d like to report a murder. 1/2*

Serpentico (1-4) vs. Orange Cassidy (6-6). And yes, we checked – this is the real Serpentico. Sammy Guevara is still in the back prepping for his match. Open discussion: should Cassidy even have entrance music? It seems like too much effort to pick it out.

Serpentico dives for a lockup, but Cassidy doesn’t follow and Cassidy walks off. Serpentico with a side headlock, and after a leapfrog and some roll-throughs, Cassidy with an armdrag, dropkick, and kip-up. Without hands. He teases the Superman punch, and Serpentico bails. Serpentico begs Cassidy to come outside, but Cassidy refuses. So Serpentico returns, and now Cassidy goes outside and calls HIM out.

They try another switch, but Serpentico catches him and throws him into the apron. Big slingshot stomp and legdrop, then a DDT by Serpentico gets two. Serpentico runs into a boot twice, and on the third try Cassidy trips him to the outside. Cassidy dives on him, but as he goes up, Serpentico meets him on the top rope and gets a superplex and floatover. He takes too long, and Cassidy with the mousetrap pinfall for the pin at 3:17. Serpentico isn’t happy and charges Cassidy, eating a Superman Punch. Okay. 1/2*

Yeah, the only two people to get spotlight ads are Kenny Omega and Brandi Rhodes. Membership has its privileges.

Fuego Del Sol (w/Low Rida) (0-2) vs. Sammy Guevara (7-6). Let’s look at Guevara’s surprising return last week.

Guevara with a waistlock takedown and he poses on Fuego. Into a headlock he goes, but Fuego escapes wrist control with a backflip. Fuego intercepts the overhand chops, but that turns it into a test of strength, which Guevara wins. He tries to flip Fuego out of the ring, but Fuego handsprings and gets a Northern Lights suplex for one. Guevara shoves Fuego around in the corner, but his arrogance allows Fuego to avoid a blind charge and nail something looking like a 619. He dives into a Rising Knee for two.

Guevara taunts the crowd before giving Fuego a brainbuster for two. Fireman’s carry and some Hindu squats by Guevara into a Samoan Drop, but Fuego with a crucifix on the cocky Guevara for two. Guevara catches a kick and flings Fuego over the top rope backwards with it. Guevara fakes the dive and goes TRANQUILO in the middle of the ring. He fights Fuego on the floor, getting some chops before throwing him in.

Back in, Guevara stands over Fuego and steps on him a few times before tossing him into the ropes… but Fuego with a Lionsault out of nowhere, into a Lethal Combination. Fuego to the top, but the Phoenix Splash airballs and Guevara with a running knee into the Feast Your Eyes to end it at 5:13. Started slow but got good at the end, and in retrospect the story of Guevara not taking Fuego seriously and that resulting in hope spots worked out. *3/4 Low Rida gets a Feast Your Eyes as well.

Pre-match promo by Private Party and Matt Hardy (in his Big Money gimmick). Hardy says Private Party have dreams and he likes that. He wants to see Private Party be successful like him. Because the more over they are, the more over he is. Everyone wins! Hardy says Private Party needs to win by any means necessary. “Make me proud!” Private Party: “Man, Big Money Matt… kind of a dick.”

Main Event #2: Private Party (Isaiah Cassidy and Marq Quen with Matt Hardy) (5-3) vs. SCU (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) (3-1 in this iteration) vs. Proud’n’Powerful (Santana and Ortiz) (6-5). So Private Party are from “a location where you need an invitation” and have a combined weight of “24 oz of vodka cranberry”. I love fake biographical info when it’s good. Excalibur says SCU are the most experienced, and clearly that means overall from their AEW records. Only two in the ring at once.

We’ll start with Cassidy and Kazarian. Kazarian with a fireman’s carry takeover and he works the head, with Cassidy reversing to a hammerlock. Kazarian reverses and gets a drop toe hold to go to the front facelock. Cassidy fights out, but Kazarian with a tackle for one. Cassidy back up, but Ortiz tags Cassidy and dumps him out. Ortiz runs into a Kazarian hiptoss, but Ortiz gets a back heel kick and facebuster, with Santana in for a moonsault off Ortiz’s back. Santana with a suplex for one. Dropkick to Kazarian’s back, and a big chop by Santana.

Kazarian ducks under into an O’Connor Roll for two, and Daniels tags in with a leg lariat. He catches Ortiz with an inverted atomic drop and STO, and Santana is caught with a double-team by SCU for not even one. Daniels with a gutwrench for two on Santana. Santana falls into the Private Party corner, and Quen tags in. Headlock on Daniels, and he backflips on a caught kick to get a rana. Cassidy in, and Private Party with some Kaientai style double teaming, ending on a camel clutch/leapfrog double stomp combo.

Cassidy keeps it up on Daniels (at Hardy’s demand), but Daniels with a small package out of nowhere for two. Ortiz tags in and clotheslines Daniels, and Proud and Powerful get a double suplex for a pair of ones. Ortiz with a Northern Lights suplex for two. Santana in, and an Ortiz senton gets Santana two. Santana backs Daniels into the PnP corner and chokes away. Ortiz adds a boot choke as Taz says he’s going to stop Private Party from wearing orange and black. Santana knocks Kazarian off the apron, and Santana with an uppercut into an Ortiz powerbomb, Cassidy saves.

Daniels tries to fight out in a slugfest, and it leads to a double clothesline. PnP stop Daniels from tagging Kazarian, so he tags in Quen instead, who enters with a slingshot crossbody to Ortiz and a 180 enzuigiri to Santana. Quen with a big somersault plancha to PnP, and back in, Ortiz is snapmared. Cassidy with a moonsault for two. Cassidy fires off on Ortiz in the ropes, then charges, but it’s Private Party with the Silly String, Kazarian saves. Cassidy gives Kazarian a guillotine on the top rope, and Quen is tagged in. Private Party goes to opposite corners, and a legdrop/splash combo (shades of the Hardy Boys) gets… two because Santana pulls the ref out.

Santana with a cutter on Quen, and he tries the same on Daniels only to get hit with the Blue Thunder Bomb. Ortiz with a backpack Stunner on Daniels, and Kazarian with a slingshot DDT to Santana. Cassidy with a flying facebuster to Kazarian and he dives onto Daniels. Ortiz tosses a foreign object to Quen, and as he asks the ref to remove it, Quen gets low blowed by Ortiz and cradled for the pin at 10:43. Last few minutes were crazy, but it took a while to get there. **3/4

TOMORROW!

  • Kenny Omega and Hangman Page defend the gold against Evil Uno and Stu Grayson!
  • Women’s champion Hikaru Shida faces Diamante!
  • Cody Rhodes gives WARHORSE a TNT Title shot!
  • Cassidy/Trent/Taylor/Perry/Saurus vs Jericho/Santana/Ortiz/Hager/Guevara!
  • World champ Jon Moxley teams with Darby Allin in tornado rules against Brian Cage and Ricky Starks!

Okay, gotta be honest: I was really excited to see it was a twelve-match supershow. It’s always fun to see a company show off its depth. But this can’t be a weekly thing. The show clocked in at almost two hours, and it was mostly in-ring action. I’ve been at independent shows with that many matches, and after a while the crowd just burns out. Now, I know, there’s no crowd at these events, but the crowd watching on YouTube probably could use an intermission if they’re going to do this.

Regularly speaking, eight or so matches is plenty. I get that this was a special treat from Tony Khan, and I appreciate seeing how much they have, but there’s rewatchability when there’s fewer matches. Heck, the show my trainers was on had 11 matches – I tend not to watch more on replay than the first couple. There is such a thing as overkill. Save it for things like WrestleMania or All Out.

As for what we did see, we had five matches that could be considered somewhat special. Cassidy/Serpentico disappointed, but the others came through as you would expect. The Initiative showed some fire but were clearly outmatched by FTR. The comedy tag match had its moments, and you know everyone was having fun which is fine. Best Friends against Dark Order’s B team was shockingly competitive and had an old-school feel to it. And the main event took a while to rev up the engine, but when everyone got crazy, it got good. I honestly would’ve preferred tornado rules for the three-way match, but what can you do?

I’m not sure which matches I would’ve cut from this show to get it to a normal length. Maybe that’s why they’re all on right now. Wardlow and Ford didn’t do much for me for very different reasons, but what they’re showcase matches, so it’s not like you gain or lose. I am a little surprised there weren’t a few more matches and we spread this out over two shows.

So the bottom line is, I liked the show, but let’s not make a habit of it.

STATS:

BELL TO BELL: 66:35 over 12 matches (average time of 5:36)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Best Friends vs Dark Order B

THREE STARS:

  1. Reynolds/Silver
  2. Private Party
  3. FTR

See you tomorrow for the double feature!