AEW DARK: August 4, 2020

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, Episode 45, August 4, 2020.

From the AEW Arena.

Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Taz, who are in each other’s seats. (No word on Excalibur.)

Tonight’s feature bouts are the Butcher and the Blade taking on Private Party, while QT Marshall and Jack Evans return from quarantine against each other.

Will Hobbs (0-4) vs. Scorpio Sky (6-1 singles). Oh, we’re starting off GOOD tonight! Schiavone and Taz talk about the size of Hobbs, but Taz makes sure to say Cage is bigger. While discussing Sky’s music, Taz claims Tony likes old-school rap. Tony: “Like, uh, Boyz and Men.”

Hobbs smashes Sky in the corner before the bell, then again after it. He clubs Sky down, then throws him into the ropes for his big spinebuster, getting a surprisingly close two. Hobbs with some clubbing to the head (Tony: “Vader-like!”), but Sky slips out the back of a powerslam and throws Hobbs into the corner. He catches him coming back into a TKO for the pin at 1:13. Didn’t see that coming. NR

But wait! Sky has the mic and a chair, and he says the chair is a throne for him, because people call him the King of AEW Dark. He’s not happy with that – not that Dark is bad, but because Dark is absolutely not Sky’s ceiling. Sky says he’s one of two men to get a pinfall win on Chris Jericho, and that he has more wins than people can count. He’s done waiting for his opportunity. He sees everyone at the table while he’s not invited – but he’ll kick in the door and bring his seat. Say his name: Scorpio Sky! He’s got a point – why is Sky not getting any chances for singles gold? Commentary agrees.

Serpentico (1-5) and Aaron Solow (0-2) vs. The Gunn Club (2-0). Taz gets on the jobbers for getting individual entrances. And by the way, could the Gunn Club entrance video/music BE any more of a ripoff of DX? The Gunns HUG IT OUT with Best Friends and Shawn Dean before getting in the ring. Tony mentions Solow is a Lance Storm trainee, which doesn’t really impress Taz.

Billy and Serpentico start. Serpentico goes for the legs, but Billy lifts each one out of the way in turn. A waistlock try by Serpentico isn’t much more successful, and after a criss-cross, Serpentico runs into Billy’s big boot. Austin in, and he lariats down Serpentico for two. Serpentico fights out of it and uppercuts Austin in the corner, and Solow comes in to work over Austin with forearms. A corner charge slams on the brakes, and after a few fakeouts, Austin gets a hiptoss and works a headlock. Solow with a 540 kick out of a corner throw, and Solow goes ground and pound.

They distract Billy and nail Austin low before Serpentico comes in with a slingshot double stomp for one. Another blind charge eats boot, but Serpentico adjusts the mask and gets a backfist. Solow in, but Austin ducks a double clothesline only to miss an enzuigiri on Serpentico. Austin kicks him off but Solow with a low clothesline on a seated Austin for an eventual two. Solow tries a suplex, but Austin blocks so Solow just slugs him down. Serpentico in, and they try for a double backdrop, but Austin runs them together and rolls through for the hot tag to Billy.

Everyone pinballs for the old man, and an avalanche on Serpentico leads to a Rocker Dropper try, but Serpentico rolls through and gets a thrust kick. Billy dumps Serpentico, and Austin hits the Rocker Dropper on Solow instead. Hiptoss cutter on Serpentico ends it at 5:26. This was there. *1/2

The Initiative (0-8) vs. Sonny Kiss / Joey Janela (5-1). For those who keep track of this, Cutler rolls a 14. Taz trying to explain Dungeons and Dragons to Tony just shows that these two don’t have the chemistry Taz had with Excalibur.

Janela and Cutler start. Janela with a headlock, and a shoulderblock leads to Cutler getting thrown into the corner. Avalon is knocked off, and Janela with a pair of facewashes. Cutler holds the ropes and dumps Janela on a double-team, then nails a somersault senton while tagging Avalon, who catches Kiss with a headscissors and inverted atomic drop. Kiss trips Avalon and does the splits for a legdrop, but Avalon moves, but Kiss is unfazed and kicks down Avalon before diving onto Cutler.

Back in, Kiss with a headscissors and pair of atomic drops on Avalon before cradling him for two. Avalon cuts Kiss off, but a double team attempt goes nowhere and Kiss backflips into a meeting of the minds. Janela in with a crossbody on the Initiative, and he vaults off Avalon’s back to splash him off the middle rope before diving onto Cutler. Kiss with a moonsault on Avalon for two. Janela tagged in, and a Hart Attack leads to a Crab/legdrop and Mutalock/dropkick combos.

Janela gets two off of it. Janela is whiped into the ropes, but he sidesteps Avalon and gives him a forearm sending Avalon onto the stage. Janela follows, but Avalon sidesteps a charge and Janela eats a girder on stage. Avalon works the arm before throwing him back in, where he does an armringer takedown and Fujiwara armbar. Cutler in, and he kicks the arm before trying a standing armbar to keep Janela from Kiss. Shoulder goes into the corner, and Avalon sends Janela into the corner by the wrong arm. Janela tweaks his arm doing an up-and-over and chops with his off hand, but Cutler comes in and cuts off the tag.

Cutler’s blind charge eats boot, but Cutler stops a diving tag and throws Janela back into the Initiative corner. Avalon and Cutler send Janela into a neutral corner, but Janela catches both with gut kicks and walks along their back (almost) to tag in Kiss. Kiss with a Dropsault and back elbow to Avalon, and he gets a low legsweep into a split splash for two. Janela back in, and Avalon is picked up… and Janela almost throws him into Leva! Avalon comes back with an inverted DDT, then catches Cutler being thrown off the top… only for Kiss to do a Blockbuster to a hanging Cutler!

Janela dives through Kiss’ legs to take Cutler out, but Avalon pulls Kiss off the ropes with a Russian legsweep, Janela saves. Avalon gets the ref’s attention, Bates adds a Shiranui to Janela as Cutler comes in. Martiknees and springboard elbow combo gets a very close two. Kiss escapes a double whip and gives them both roundhouse kicks, then whips Avalon into a big forearm from Janela. Doomsday Split-legged legdrop and both men pin Avalon for the win at 9:37. Avalon and Cutler need better heat work than just working an arm, but the finish was nice and toasty. **1/2

KiLynn King (0-6) vs. Abadon (2-1). Taz says King is due for a victory soon. Pretty sure this won’t be it, though. Taz: “If that’s what’s going on in South Dakota, hoo boy.” King is uncomfortable on the outside.

King shoves Abadon and tries to be brave, but Abadon throws her into the corner and pounds away. King reverses and throws forearms before stomping a mudhole and getting double knees. This just wakes Abadon up, and she does a Thesz Press and fists of fire. Abadon ducks a lariat, but King breaks a German attempt and throws Abadon outside. King follows with throwing Abadon into the post and mugging to the camera as King regains her composure.

King charges, but Abadon throws her into the guardrail and screams. Back in, Abadon stalks King and throws her head into the mat over and over. Abadon works King over in the corner but runs into an elbow, and King follows with a missile dropkick. Abadon sits up and glares at King, who charges and clotheslines Abadon down before landing a German suplex for two. King tries the Glam Slam, but Abadon rolls through and out before headbutting King down. Low headscissors spike (and a sloppy one) wins it at 4:10. This is absolutely NOT how I would have booked the match. 1/2*

Jack Evans (w/Angelico) (2020 singles debut) vs. QT Marshall (w/Allie) (8-7). Both men are back from quarantine. Evans does a full flip just to enter the ring, which is so extra it’s awesome. Marshall’s whole thing is that he eats an apple on the way to the ring. Commentary mentions Marshall is crushing over Allie.

Marshall backs Evans into the corner and gives him a clean break. Evans tries a waistlock, but Marshall switches to the arm. The two men exchange arm wringers before Marshall takes Evans down with a headlock. Evans shoves Marshall off and we go International~!, but Marshall blocks the hiptoss, only for Evans to handstand out of one and do an inverse kick to Marshall. He handstands to show off, so Marshall kicks his open chest and gets a back suplex for two. Evans with a jawbreaker and he works Marshall over in the corner.

Marshall returns the favor in the corner and whips him across, but the charge eats boot and Evans tries a bodypress… only he’s caught into a suplex by Marshall. Evans bails to regroup, but Marshall follows and gets suckered in to some elbows and a whip to the guardrail. Marshall stops himself from eating post and throws Evans into the apron before warning Angelico to stay the hell out of this. The distraction allows Evans to nail a handspring somersault senton on Marshall, which comes out of nowhere and goes there just as quickly.

Back in, Evans with a hammer throw and calls for Angelico to distract the ref. It works, as Evans gets a handspring eyepoke. He chokes Marshall on the second rope before mocking Marshall to the camera. Marshall fights to his feet, but Evans with a crucifix double armbar off the ropes. Marshall escapes and forearms Evans away, but Evans returns with a springboard spinning… airball. Marshall with a Michinoku Driver for two. Marshall with the comeback into a tilt-a-whirl slam. Marshall tells Angelico to back off before picking Evans up, and the pop-up roundhouse right gets two.

Evans escapes a fireman’s carry, and after a couple of reversals, Evans gets a 540 kick and standing corkscrew moonsault for two. To the top, but Evans rolls through a 450 only to run into the Lethal Combination for two as Evans grabs the ropes. Allie and Angelico enter the ring to argue, so Evans runs Marshall into Angelico’s high kick and the backslide clutch wins at 8:24. Everyone was coming back from exile, so there’s going to be rust, but these two were NOT on the same page. *3/4 The Hybrid Two stomp away on Marshall after the bell until Dustin Rhodes runs them off. I expect a tag match, either on Dynamite or next week.

Brian Pillman Jr (0-2) and Griff Garrison (0-4) vs. FTR. Jobbers barely get an intro. FTR, meanwhile, actually enters from the back, and if you look carefully you can see them chatting with Tully Blanchard before coming out. (And if you didn’t, Schiavone did and called it out.) And guess what: Harwood brought his own tag ropes!

Harwood and Pillman start. Harwood with a headlock takedown, Pillman gets a headscissors and we reset. Wheeler gives Harwood advice, and Harwood gets an armbar takedown and shoves Pillman’s head down. Pillman tries to kip up, but decides instead to kick Harwood in the head and MAKES A HOLLYWOOD BLONDES REFERENCE! Harwood backs Pillman into the ropes and slaps him for his insolence.

Wheeler tags himself in, and FTR get a double slugdown. Wheeler picks Pillman up by the hair and backs him into the FTR corner, but Pillman shoves Harwood away so there’s no tag. Pillman gets thrown into the corner for that, but after a whip, Pillman with a crossbody to both of FTR and a high dropkick to Harwood. Big chop by Pillman to Harwood, and Garrison with drop toehold into a dropkick to the back from Pillman, getting one.

TO THE CHINLOCK, but Harwood pulls him down by the hair. FTR with an over-the-shoulder Demolition Decapitation, and Wheeler pulls Garrison up at two by the hair and yanks him down. Wheeler with a fireman’s carry, but Garrison slides out and gets a big boot and discus forearm. Pillman in, and he gets the Hacksaw clothesline in the corner, with Garrison following with a Stinger Splash for one. Pillman works the arm on Wheeler, but he’s caught out of a leapfrog into a spinebuster. Harwood in, and it’s a Boston crab/legdrop combo as Shawn Spears is shown at ringside.

Harwood hangs Pillman in the ropes and beats him down. Harwood with a nasty chop on Pillman, but Pillman blocks a hiptoss with a backslide for two. Roundhouse kick by Pillman and both are down. Wheeler cuts off the tag to Garrison (darn tag rope), and FTR tries a Snapshot, but Pillman escapes and tags in Garrison… who runs into the Goodnight Express for the pin at 6:18. Interesting idea to subvert the tag formula, and really, if this match were at the indies it would have gotten another six minutes and been awesome. **1/4

MAIN EVENT: The Butcher and the Blade (9-5) vs. Private Party (5-4). Private Party seem surprised that Matt Hardy isn’t with them. Taz asks Tony if he likes vodka cranberry (it makes sense in context). It’s New York City against Upstate.

Blade will start against Quen. Blade backs him into the corner and Butcher tags in, so Quen brings in Kassidy. Kassidy rolls past Butcher and dances a little, so Butcher just catches him and rams him into the corner. Blade in, and he mugs Kassidy. Kassidy fights to his feet and we go International~!, ending with Kassidy getting a casadora armdrag and hiptoss into a back elbow for one. Kassidy chops Blade against the ropes, only to be caught by Blade into a Hotshot.

Butcher in, and he chops Kassidy hard. A couple of kneedrops follow, and Butcher lariats Kassidy in the corner so hard Kassidy nearly falls over the top rope. Butcher sends Kassidy into the corner, but Kassidy stops a whip and gets an enzuigiri. Quen in, and a double dropkick staggers Butcher. Blade is tossed out, so Quen dropkicks Blade out of Poetry in Motion before giving Butcher a Pele kick, and jumping enzuigiri. Butcher’s still on his feet, so Private Party try the Silly String only for Butcher to catch Quen in a gutbuster.

Butcher throws Quen into Blade’s knees, and a Doctor Bomb by Blade follows. Blade steps on Quen’s neck and kicks away, sending him into the corner. Butcher back in with a double headbutt and a huge chop before sending Quen to the corner and clotheslining him repeatedly. It gets two. Blade tagged in, and a double shoulder tackle sends Quen down. Blade with a clothesline to Quen for two. Butcher smacks Blade in the jaw as the heels are tagging quickly. Blade in, and he gets a snapmare and HITS THE CHINLOCK.

Quen fights out, only to get suplexed, but Quen lands on his feet and throws Blade into Butcher. Butcher takes the tag and cuts Quen off, only Quen rolls past an axhandle and gets the hot tag to Kassidy. Springboard cutter to Blade to dispose of him, then a rope enzuigiri to Butcher, followed by a somersault Stunner for two. Quen back in, and they get a drop toehold into a capture moonsault for two, Blade saves. Quen dropkicks Blade away, and Quen and Kassidy set up, only Quen is shoved off and Kassidy’s senton bomb misses. Suplex backbreaker ends it for Butcher and Blade at 8:49. If Butcher and Blade aren’t ranked in the next week’s poll, something’s up. **1/4

TOMORROW!

  • Cody/Matt Cardona vs. Alex Reynolds/John Silver
  • More on MJF’s campaign!
  • FTR/Young Bucks/Omega/Page vs. Dark Order!
  • A debate between Chris Jericho and Orange Cassidy!
  • Jon Moxley defends the big gold against Darby Allin!

You know, you’re not always going to have good episodes. This one felt a little flat. It wasn’t awful or unwatchable by any means, but the booking decisions kind of took me out of the flow. I was expecting Sky/Hobbs to be fun, and it was 90 seconds (although that one gets a pass because Sky’s promo was the real story). Abadon should be murdering people, not going back and forth and having to bump and feed after doing her sit-up. And yeah, Griff Garrison is the lowest of the four on the totem pole, but let him have some heat.

That said, there was a lot of “going forward” on this show. Scorpio Sky should have a bigger name next week if things are going correctly. The Natural Nightmares vs The Hybrid2 needs to happen in the future, the way things are set up. And honestly, the more I see of the Initiative, the more I hope they get that first win some day.

The real story is tomorrow, of course, which has a very large tag match, the debut of Matt Cardona, and a title match. I get the feeling Moxley will retain and then accept MJF’s challenge, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Darby Allin gets beaten up by Wardlow, perhaps as punishment for what he did to Starks’ back. With All Out coming up, the tag scene will likely be cleared up shortly (burning Uno/Grayson is an interesting choice, but it seems to telegraph that the face team will implode into three sides for the tag gold) and Cody’s next opponent should become clear. Best case, it’s Sky. Worst case, Cardona turns on him and he’s the opponent.

STATS:

BELL TO BELL – 35:57 over seven matches (average time 5:08)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT – Initiative vs. Janela/Kiss

THREE STARS:

  1. Sonny Kiss
  2. Scorpio Sky
  3. Brian Pillman Jr.

See you tomorrow for the Double Feature!