AEW DARK — August 11, 2020

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, Episode 45 – August 11, 2020.

From the AEW Arena.

Your hosts are Taz and Tony.

Tonight, we have two Featured Bouts. First, in a continuation from last week, the Hybrid 2 will square off against the Natural Nightmares. Second, Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian of SCU will meet the Butcher and the Blade.

Opening match: Lee Johnson (0-9) v. Rey Fenix (8-5). In an interesting twist, Johnson is still wearing his MJF button. He looks at it before heading to the ring, almost as if to ask why he’s wearing it. Fenix makes it 2/3 of the way across the top rope before falling off.

A lot of faking out of a lockup by bother sides to start, but when the contact is made Fenix gets the takedown and works an armbar into a chinlock. Johnson reverses to a hammerlock, but Fenix escapes and we reset. Fenix gets a headlock takedown, only for Johnson to reverse to a headscissors, but Fenix kips out of it. Johnson avoids three big kicks, but Fenix avoids a roundhouse right and calls for a handshake. Johnson thinks about it and gets suckered in, so Fenix clobbers him. Fenix chokes Johnson against the ropes with an eyerake (impressive double cheating) before pounding Johnson on the apron.

To the outside, where Fenix gets a massive chop before throwing Johnson into the guardrail. Fenix rolls in and out before kicking Johnson in the chest and apologizing to the ref. Then kicking Johnson again, because he’s a BAD PERSON. Fenix heads out again and blocks Johnson’s chop before getting one of his own. NOW we’re back in the ring, and Fenix with a German suplex try, but he switches to a shove-off and gets a one-leg dropkick. Fenix dumps Johnson, who lands on the apron, but Fenix sweeps the leg and gets a spinkick on the apron.

Rainmaker try is blocked, and Johnson with forearms and a lariat. Johnson charges and gets tossed to the apron, where he springboards in with a missile dropkick (double-clutching but connecting crisply). It gets ONE. Moonwalk uppercut by Johnson, but a second charge eats boots. Johnson recovers and flips over Fenix, and a Blue Thunder Bomb gets two for Johnson. Johnson with a series of big boots, but Fenix comes back with a Dragon Whip. Springboard spinkick and Muscle-Buster-into-a-One-Winged-Angel thing ends it at 6:39. All those years of Lucha Underground have me still trying to wrap my head around Fenix as a heel, but the athleticism carried the day. *3/4

We look back at Scorpio Sky’s statement from last week and Sky showing up on Dynamite to challenge Cody. I got a feeling about this.

Alex Chamberlain (debut) v. Shawn Spears (w/Tully Blanchard) (8-2). So am I crazy or is Blanchard a bigger deal than Spears? They constantly point out he’s a “legendary Four Horseman member” and talk about how he’s brought out the best in Spears. Who’s supposed to go over, the manager or the wrestler?

Lockup, and Chamberlain puts Spears in the corner. Spears with a headlock and takedown as he comes out. Chamberlain gets up and reverses the headlock with a top wristlock, then goes up and over Spears before a long criss-cross leadss to Spears just slugging Chamberlain in the face. Big chop from Spears, then another in the corner. Chamberlain reverses a hammer throw and tackles down Spears, who bails to the outside and gets advice from Tully. That advice? “Never allow anyone to throw a balsa wood chair into a cage.” I don’t know why he’d say that, but I’m not a legendary Four Horseman member.

C’mon, let me pretend to be funny once.

Outside the ring goes Chamberlain to chase Spears, who suckers him into the post and wraps his arm around it. He then crushes Chamberlain’s knee into the post and pummels him. Spears goes in and out before dropping a hammerlock of Chamberlain onto the apron. Back in, Spears punches the arm with the glove – he then shows the ref it’s unloaded – before wringing the arm only to walk into a clothesline. Spears bails a second time, but this time Chamberlain tries to drag him in by the mohawk. Spears with a legsweep and slingshot stomp on the arm, with Spears staying on the arm for more pain. Death Valley Driver ends it at 4:10. *1/4 Spears ejects Chamberlain after the match, then loads up the glove and smokes him with a punch.

Relive your favorite AEW moments with their action figures! Moments such as Cody Rhodes totally not taking out issues he has with WWE by destroying an Iron Throne!

M’Badu (debut) and Shawn Dean (0-3 in tag action) v. Gunn Club (3-0). M’Badu is from Nigeria and dresses the part. (If anyone knows if he’s legitimately Nigerian, tell me.) He’s also pretty big – 258 and probably 6’4 or so. Taz is rooting for them to win, because he is NOT a fan of the Gunn family. (Apparently, Billy beat him in a fluke a long time ago and won’t let Taz forget it.)

Austin and Dean start. Code of Honor followed, and we lock up, with Austin getting the arm wringer. Dean rolls and kips through it to break before flooring Austin with a dropkick. Austin goes up and over Dean, and a cradle into a knee misses. Dean’s cradle goes nowhere, and Austin does a fakeout before taking out Dean’s knee and getting a front facelock. The two exchange arm wringers, but Billy tags in and they get the triple strike combo (Austin punch, Billy boot, Austin lariat) for one. Billy goes back to the arm, but Dean breaks it and tags in M’Badu.

Staredown by the hosses, and M’Badu backs Billy into the corner on a lockup and gives a clean break. Billy is getting serious as the shirt comes off before hooking a headlock on M’Badu. M’Badu no-sells a shoulderblock, and on the second try Billy stumbles instead. The Gunns have a huddle before Billy boots M’Badu to gain control. Back to the headlock, and after a criss-cross M’Badu rocks Billy with a back elbow. Charge eats boot, but Billy airballs an avalanche and M’Badu gets a Stinger Splash and flying forearm for one. Dean in now, and he kicks away on Billy. Dean works over Billy in the corner, adding shoulders to the gut and a rope-up enzuigiri for two.

M’Badu HITS THE CHINLOCK, with Billy elbowing out and getting a DDT out of nowhere. Hot tag Austin, and he clotheslines Dean left and right. M’Badu is low-bridged out, and Austin gets a pumphandle slam on Dean, M’Badu saves (and got DISTANCE on the save). The big men are tossed out, but Austin with the hiptoss cutter to win at 6:35. I’d like to see M’Badu in singles competition. Not sure about why Gunn eats the heat and Austin the hot tag, but it’s the most fun match so far. **

We look back at MJF demanding a title shot from Moxley. And it will happen at All Out. Order now.

Marvelous” Michael Stevens (debut) v. Kip Sabian (w/Penelope Ford) (8-5). Stevens clearly borrowed Joseph’s amazing technicolor dreamcoat for his tights. Also, he seems to be doing a flamboyant man gimmick. Meanwhile, for those who care, Roberts has just about given up on saying “Norfolk” and just says “Golston, England”.

Sabian and Stevens push back on a lockup. Sabian with a hammerlock into a full nelson, then a cravat. Snapmare and he fakes the kick before dusting off Stevens’ head and kissing Ford. (To be fair, Stevens flinched.) Stevens gets a headlock and tackles down Sabian, then makes a Night at the Roxbury type dance to Ford. Sabian, unamused, dropkicks Stevens down and takes some water from Ford. Stay hydrated. Back in, Sabian stomps away and works Stevens over in the corner.

He talks trash to a wrestler at ringside (not sure which), then gets a pop-up knee and roundhouse right on Stevens. Another forearm to Stevens’ dome and he hooks a front facelock. Stevens fights out, but gets hit with a knee to the sternum before Sabian nails the Field Goal. Stevens gyrates the hips and dodges Sabian, and he’s discoing up!

Blind charge by Sabian eats boot, and Stevens gyrates to call in Sabian before getting an X-Factor and sliding STO for two. Gut Check try is blocked, and Sabian slingshots Stevens into the top turnbuckle. Springboard Tornado DDT and Bonsoir end it at 5:12. Subplot of Stevens hitting on Ford appreciated, but Stevens is all indy. Not that that’s bad – he’d probably get over on the local indies with his gimmick and costume – but he doesn’t fit in with AEW. *1/2

Brandi Rhodes is ready to start a movement with AEW Heels, and she wants all of you (with disposable income) to be a part! You can ask her on Twitter at… oh, wait.

Brian Pillman Jr. (0-3) and Griff Garrison (0-5) (0-1 as a duo) v. Private Party (5-5). Let’s see if they allow Garrison to look better this week than they did last week. Fun bit: Garrison does the ROLL CAMERA during his entrance, which is separate from Pillman’s. These two as the New Hollywood Blonds? I can get behind that. This is interesting, as both teams need a win as of now… but Private Party more so. AEW isn’t the type to screw something like this up.

Kassidy and Pillman start. Kassidy gets a headlock, and Pillman goes behind with a tackle and ROLL CAMERA. A long criss-cross follows, with Kassidy getting some armdrags and a leg lariat on Pillman before shooting a “what did you expect” look to the camera. Quen in, and he leapfrogs onto Pillman’s back. He works the back, but Kassidy tags himself in and does a double-stomp off the top before mocking the Roll Camera to draw in Garrison. Kassidy with a snapmare on Pillman, and Quen in with a tope atomico to Pillman.

He works Pillman’s back, and Kassidy returns with an enzuigiri as Private Party goes nuts on the double teams before fanning themselves off. Pillman regroups on the outside, so Kassidy does a fakeout Lionsault as Quen tosses Pillman into the guardrail. Now Kassidy goes for a dive, but Pillman catches him with an uppercut and running knee for two. Garrison offers the boot, and Kassidy goes into it. Garrison in, and he slugs away on Kassidy. Forearms follow, then a big boot off of a 360 whip, getting two. Pillman back in, and it’s a Stinger Splash from Garrison into a three-point stance from Pillman… but he slams on the brakes and just slaps Kassidy.

Pillman and Quen argue, so Garrison gets a cheap shot on Kassidy then mugs with a “who, me” to the camera. Pillman with a snapmare and soccer kick, and he drags Kassidy to his team’s corner. Some kicks to the gut by Pillman, and Garrison boxes away before mocking Quen. Blind charge is leapt over, though, and Quen gets the hot tag. Dropkick to Garrison, and a back body drop follows. ROLL CAMERA SUICIDA by Quen, and back in, a springboard dropkick to Garrison. Private Party with a double back suplex on Garrison, and they go up top for the Hardy Combo (splash/legdrop) for the win at 6:00. They’ve got something with Pillman and Garrison, but there’s time to let that duo gel. Private Party needed the W. This match, of course, was good. **1/2

Deliver your own Crossroads with AEW Action Figures!

Corey Hollis, Aaron Solow, and Pineapple Pete (first time as a trio) v. Jurassic Express (5-3). By the way, Pineapple Pete needs to be signed yesterday. That’s right, he’s still on per-appearance. That needs to change – the man maximized his minutes and got over. As a reminder, Jurassic Express will get a title shot on Tag Team Appreciation Night tomorrow.

Stunt and Solow start. Solow shoves him down in a lockup, then drops to his knees and offers another one. Stunt responds with a SUPERKICK and ropewalk into a spinning headscissors before dropkicking Solow. Saurus in, and the Express work Solow over in the corner before Saurus gets a shoulder powerslam and knocks down Pete and Hollis in turn. Saurus with an inside-out AA to Hollis, but Solow with a 540 kick. Saurus responds with a standing enzuigiri, and Perry’s in to hold up Solow as Saurus does a crossbody off of Saurus’ shoulders. It gets Perry two.

Perry blocks a Solow armdrag with a cradle hook and ropewalk try, but Hollis knocks down Perry and Solow stomps away. Solow adds a prawn rollup into a double stomp, and Hollis in with a moonsault enzuigiri. Pete gets a Northern Lights suplex (and a good one at that) for two. Pete boxes down Perry, but off the Johnson Shuffle gets nailed with an enzuigiri. Perry off the ropes with a larat and both men are down. Pete with a heel hook to stop the tag, and Solow and Hollis wisely knock Saurus off the apron. Pete charges with a back body drop and the others get clotheslined, hot tag Stunt.

SUPERKICK to Pete, enzuigiri to Hollis, and he rolls Solow into Hollis before dropkicking both down. He crotches Pete on the middle rope and tries… Splash Mountain? And it works, laws of physics be damned. Solow works over Stunt, but Saurus in with the tail whip and Perry sends out Hollis. Pete’s all alone, and he gets nailed with shots by all three guys before Saurus and Perry lift him up for Stunt to do the 450 for the pin at 5:20. I’d have switched Perry and Stunt’s roles here, but I’m not too mad – the guys looked all right in this one. *3/4

Friedman. Moxley. Title. Order.

FEATURED BOUT #1: The Hybrid 2 (Jack Evans and Angelico) v. The Natural Nightmares (Dustin Rhodes and Q.T. Marshall) (w/Brandi Rhodes and Allie) (5-1). No, I didn’t forget to write something – Hybrid 2 didn’t get a chyron, so I have no idea what their record is. That’s the kind of detail you don’t expect AEW to miss. I even went back to check a second time. Speaking of things I caught the second time, Brandi has two of her own action figures with her. Anyway, this comes from last week where Evans stole a win from Marshall. He and Angelico beat down Marshall, and Dustin made the save.

Angelico and Marshall start. Angelico gets the arm, with Marshall reversing. Angelioc with an unorthodox reversal of his own, but Marshall reverses that into a side headlock takedown and gets a one-count. Marshall fakes out Angelico on a rope run and gets a dropkick, and Evans and Dustin enter. Evans makes sure to springboard flip into the ring, and Dustin is unimpressed. Evans tries some spinny stuff, so Dustin just uppercuts him. Marshall with a kneelift, Dustin the kneeling uppercut, and Marshall a moonsault for two.

Dustin back in as the Nightmares work the arm. Snapmare and Dustin drops the leg on Evans’ arm for two. Evans fights out of a headlock, but Marshall with a blind tag and Dustin slingshots Marshall into a shoulderblock for two. Masrshall with forearms to Evans, but Evans goes up and over… and gets caught. So Evans goes to the eyes. Dustin protests, leading to Hybrid getting a Mutalock/soccer kick combo for two. Angelico back in, and he grounds Marshall while working the arm. He turns it into a variant of the Octopus Stretch on the ground, so Dustin breaks it up, allowing Evans to stomp away. Angelico slugs away on Marshall in the corner, but a Stinger Splash airballs ion the corner. Evans stops the hot tag and taunts, so Marshall crawls through Evans’ legs and gets the hot tag anyway.

Wait, what? Did I see that right? No resistance to the HOT TAG?

A surprised Evans pinballs like crazy for clotheslines and uppercuts, then an atomic drop and bulldog. Hammer throw into a powerslam, and Angelico eats a powerslam as well. Dustin to the top, and a spinning tumble knocks both men down. Angelico stops a piledriver by Dustin, who gives him a spinebuster anyway. Pop-up forearm by Marshall, and the Final Cut wins it at 6:21. Jack Evans is an idiot, film at 11. **

AEW Heels. Give us your money.

Rachael Ellering (0-1) v. Penelope Ford (w/Kip Sabian) (7-4). Both last night and tonight, commentary has mentioned Paul Ellering and said he was a good wrestler in his own right. Can anyone confirm that? It should be noted they’re calling Rachael the Queen of Strong Smile. You know, Ellering vs. Kylie Rae would be a very good match.

Ford with a side headlock takedown, but Ellering goes to the headsicissors reversal only for Ford to spring out of it and we reset. Ellering with an armbar takeover and she maintains arm control. Ford transitions to a headlock and reverses a whip attempt, but the follow-up is Ellering with Torpedo Moscow for two. Ellering tries a cross-legged suplex, but Ford knees out of it and Sabian uses the HUSQVARNA OF DOOM to distract Ellering. Ford with a kick to take over.

She chokes Ellering on the ropes before doing the pull-in guillotine. Ellering reverses a whip but eats boot on the blind charge, and Ford with the boot and Northern lariat to follow. Ford scrapes the boot on Ellering’s face, but Ellering goes deadweight on a suplex before reversing. Ellering with a Sling Blade to knock Ford over and a big chop. She wrenches the arm to floor Ford, and a sliding dropkick and senton follow for two. Ellering blocks a Stunner try and gets a pop-up spinebuster for two. It may have been a sloppy re-do, but they covered well.

Spinning legdrop misses by Ellering, and Ford with the handspring elbow and handspring Stunner. Fisherman’s suplex gets the win at 5:41. Hey, that got all right as it went along! *1/2 I’m not feeling it with Ford in the ring, but Ellering is showing potential. They could both stand to be with more experienced opponents, but hey, this is the B show – that’s picking nits.

MAIN EVENT, FEATURED BOUT #2: S.C.U. (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) (3-2 in this incarnation) vs. The Butcher and the Blade (10-5). Don’t forget, tomorrow is Tag Team Appreciation Night, as the Brain Busters and the Rock and Roll Express will make appearances.

Kazarian and Blade start. Long lockup, and Kaz forces Blade to the corner. Blade reverses, and the referee gets between them. A shoving match and here they go again, rolling along the ropes before walking it back to the middle of the ring. Kaz tries to take down Blade’s leg, and uses the leverage to land a headlock. He hangs on off of a shoot-off attempt, but Blade elbows out and reverses. He grinds in the headlock, blocking a back suplex attempt by Kaz, and running him over when Kaz shoots him off. Kaz with a rollup out of the corner for two, then a spinning kick and clothesline to take control. Rope running leads to a Kaz leg lariat, and Daniels in so SCU can do a double-team neckbreaker combo for one.

Daniels forearms Blade and adds a leg lariat of his own for two. Blade knees out, and Butccher charges in only to get caught with a back leg kick. Butcher flattens Daniels and slams him, and a kneedrop follows. Butcher clubs away, catching Daniels in a bearhug in midair, and Blade adds a Hart Attack clothesline for two. Blade chops away on Daniels, who kicks out of a back body drop and tags in Kaz. Total Elimination by SCU to Blade, and Butcher gets double-teamed. Back suplex/leaping clothesline combo gets two on Blade. Kaz with a snap suplex on Blade, and in comes Daniels for a clothesline and back-to-back moonsaults by SCU. It gets two.

Blade elbows out from Daniels, but miscommunication causes Butcher to hit Blade and Daniels takes advantage. He elbows Butcher while in a headlock, and Blade gets a receipt on Daniels so Butcher can do a pair of backbreakers for two. Big chop by Butcher in the corner, and Blade tags in to pummel Daniels. Blade grabs the headlock and grounds Daniels with it, adding a clubbing forearm. Butcher tags in, and the heels get a Sidewinder for two. No, Butcher didn’t go to the top rope. Butcher into the bearhug again, so Daniels bites out of it and slugs Blade. He leaps for the hot tag, but Butcher stops it and throws him into a neutral corner. Blind charge airballs, and Daniels gets the Mic Check to lead to the hot tag to Kaz.

Flying jalapeno to Blade and a beautiful dropkick, then a Rocker Dropper to Butcher. Kaz with a lariat out of the corner, then a slam and sprinboard legdrop, Butcher “saves” but hits Blade. Kaz slugs down both guys, but Blade sends Kaz into Butcher for a Rock Bottom from Butcher. Blade gets two. Kaz gets a lucha pass on Blade to the corner and tags in Daniels, who stomps down Blade and knocks Butcher off the apron. Celebrity Rehab by SCU gets two. Kaz slides at Butcher, who dodges and clotehslines him down.

Angels’ Wings is escaped, but Daniels with a standing uranage. Blade stops Daniels from climbing,and Butcher with a nasty crossbody. Suplex On The Knees ends it at 11:38. Started slow, but was solid all throughout. Also, a good example of how to make yourself look like a bigger athlete than you are – not saying Kaz and Blade aren’t athletic, but milking the first 2 minutes or so with chain wrestling allows you to build to a strong match, which they did here. ***

TOMORROW!

  • Cody defends against Scorpio Sky, the TNT Title on the line!
  • Can Chris Jericho make Orange Cassidy pay $7,000?
  • Omega and Page defend against the Jurassic Express!
  • The Young Bucks face Uno and Grayson of the Dark Order!
  • The Rock and Roll Express and the Brain Busters in the house!
  • FTR as your hosts, from what I understand!

Ah, there’s the Dark I know and love. We paid off a story from the previous night, we had good tag wrestling in the main event, we got to see some future talent. It’s all good. I’m liking the idea of Pillman and Garrison trying to be the New Hollywood Blondes – if AEW signs them, they’d add to an already stacked tag division and can be the Initiative’s first win (or vice versa). M’Badu has the look and didn’t do anything bad in his debut, so I’d love to see him get a callback against someone in singles competition.

Love the main event as a primer if you want to learn how to build a match. Chain wrestling always allows you to milk time at a time when the crowd is most patient for it. The heat on Daniels was well done, and Kaz did a perfectly good hot tag segment. Put this match in front of an actual crowd and they’d be rocking – wrestling has things that are tried and true, and you saw it.

On the other hand, I was not a fan of Jack Evans tonight. It’s not just that he did a lot of showing off, but they made him look stupid in the match. Why would you have someone cut off the hot tag, then allow it by being vain? That takes away from the rev-up of the hot tag and makes it fall flat. Just a bad bit of booking there, and you’d think Dustin Rhodes or whomever put this match together would know better. If that happened at my training promotion, whomever did what Evans did would be chewed out big-time for not understanding the psychology of a match. Why – WHY – would you just ALLOW an opponent to get a tag?

Most of this show is the good wrestling you sign up for. And with the instant archiving, you can easily just fast forward to any match that interests you. If you watch it live like me, it’s a good use of 60-90 minutes on a Tuesday night. There were a few interesting matchups, and the minor leaguers got to show some of their stuff. Anything else – like a good tag match or a follow-on from the week before – is just gravy.

STATS:

BELL TO BELL: 57:36 over nine matches (average time 6:24)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Butcher and Blade agaiunst SCU

THREE STARS:

  1. Frankie Kazarian
  2. Marq Quen
  3. Rey Fenix

See you tomorrow for Tag Team Appreciation Night!