AEW DARK: September 1, 2020

The PG Era Rant for AEW DARK Episode 49, September 1, 2020.

From the AEW Arena.

Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz! The band is back together!

TONIGHT! We will see Frankie Kazarian face off against Angelico! The Initiative go for their first win as they take on Private Party! Plus: Jurassic Express, Abadon, Shawn Spears, Allie, Proud and Powerful, Anna Jay, Gunn Club, Ricky Starks, and Kip Sabian!

Opening match: Eddie Taurus (debut) vs. Shawn Spears (w/Tully Blanchard) (11-2). There are fans in the crowd. Blanchard is no longer “Legendary Four Horseman Tully Blanchard”. The announcers note Taurus’ big weakness is being from New Jersey. Nature is healing.

Spears works the arm to start, with Taurus switching to a waistlock. Spears reverses and fakes out Taurus before getting a hammerlock-waistlock-snapmare combo. Test of strength, but Spears uses his knee to pin Taurus’ arm. Taurus fights out and gets an armdrag as we get shots of the fans, with every single one wearing a mask. GOOD.

Spears offers the Code of Honor, and it’s accepted. Lockup again, and Spears goes over the ref to punch Taurus and stomp him down in the corner. Taurus gets dumped outside, with Spears following and throwing Taurus into the apron, then the guardrail. Back in, Spears chops away on Taurus and punches away in the corner, with Corner Cam rather unfortunately placed at Spears’ trunks level. Taurus escapes and drops Spears on the corner before getting a running dropkick and returning the corner punches… until Spears gets an inverted atomic drop. Death Valley Driver (now called C-4) ends it at 3:50. Tully slips Spears the slug and distracts the referee, so Spears gets a mounted punch on Taurus. Some decent back and forth in this one. *1/4

Ryzin and Faboo Andre (first time as a duo) vs. Santana and Ortiz (9-6). One or the other of the enhancement talent is “The Monarch of Manliness”. I’m guessing Andre, since he’s the one acting like an 80s rock star. Syzing looks like a demonic priest. I almost want to see these two discuss strategy. Taz (about Ryzin/Andre): “Wacky sumbitches.” Excalibur: “Is that professional analysis?” Reminder: these two (Santana/Ortiz, not Faboo/Ryzin) face the Best Friends on Wednesday.

Santana gets a headlock on Ryzin as Excalibur tries to say Sue’s van was totaled. Taz mentions a chop shop as Santana reverses a reversal into a headlock takedown. Ryzin with the headscissors, which Santana escapes for the reset. Back to Santana’s headlock, and we go International~!, only for Ryzin to miss a lariat and get kicked down.

Santana with a suplex, into the Three Amigos. Ortiz in now, and he gives Ryzin forearms and a knee strike into a double-arm suplex. Blind charge hits the boot, and Andre flips in and dropkicks Ortiz. Andre balances on the top rope before getting a middle-rope backsplash for one. Ortiz goes to the kidneys before CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY leads to a nasty lariat. Santana dives on Ryzin to take him out, and the powerbomb/big kick combo ends it at 3:28. Ortiz is stone-faced after winning. Mostly a slaughter. 3/4*

After the match, Santana takes the mic and says he has to laugh. Best Friends finally caught them off-guard last week, but that’s fine – they love the fight in them. It’ll make it better when it’s extinguished and they send ’em home crying. Oh, and tell Sue to stop calling them. And she can keep Ortiz’s underwear. Oh, that’s fighting words.

Chris Jericho meets Orange Cassidy in Mimosa Mayhem! SATURDAY! (Side note: the entire ad talks about Jericho as if Cassidy being in the match is trivial.)

Cassandra Golden (0-2) vs. Allie (w/QT Marshall) (6-1 singles). Allie hasn’t had a match since the Women’s Tag Team Cup. And Brandi hasn’t been seen since being steamrolled by the Dark Order. Make of that what you will.

Lockup goes around the ring and ends in a clean break. Golden tries a kick, but Allie catches it and cradles her for one. Another lockup, and this time Golden pushes Allie back and gives a clean break before missing a forearm shiver. Allie unloads in the corner before getting an arm-wrench into a back elbow. Neckbreaker follows (earning a replay) before she gets a sliding elbowsmash to a seated Golden. She then DENIES QT A KISS before asking him to help her back into the ring.

Allie hangs Golden up on the ropes and follows with a clothesline. Knees to the gut follow, but Allie walks into a spinning side slam for one. Allie slumps in the corner and gets nailed with a hip check. That also gets one. We HIT THE CHINLOCK, with Golden cutting off a comeback with a kneelift. Allie escapes a fireman’s carry and yanks Golden down by the hair to cue the comeback. More knees to the gut follow, then a bulldog. Eye of the Hurricane (called Down the Rabbit Hole) gets the win at 4:13, with a kiss blown to Marshall. Allie looked lost during the comeback – you could see her pause and say something to Golden before the knees. Allie needs to remain in tag matches for now. 1/2*

Dasha catches up with Santana and Ortiz as they brush her off, but Best Friends are ready for an ambush! Dasha tells the cameraman to get security out as they keep fighting.

MJF wants change, but Jon Moxley is the man at the top! Who wins the platinum title on Saturday?

Frankie Kazarian (21-14) vs. Angelico (3-4). An interesting styles clash here, as Angelico is more laid-back with some lucha submissions while Kazarian is an intense US-style chain wrestler. Also, they’re both in AEW’s tag division. Worth noting: no sign of either Christopher Daniels or Jack Evans tonight. Commentary breaks down the styles clash.

Lockup, and Kazarian works the arm of Angelico. Angelico reverses, Kazarian checks his ring placement before getting a drop toehold into a Fujiwara armbar, and Angelico fights up to a vertical base and trips Kazarian into a front facelock. Angelico blocks a reversal into an amateur ride and front facelock, going to a pinning predicament for one before we reset. Angelico back to the arm with a top wristlock, but Kazarian flips out of it into an armdrag. Both men sweep out each other and go for quick covers, with Angelico faking out Kazarian into another reset.

Anglico and Kazarian switch waistlocks until Angelico tangles up Kazarian’s legs into a Navarro Lock, and Kazarian goes to the ropes. Angelico is very proud of himself and stays on the mat, cutting off Kazarian charges until Kazarian comes in with La Majistral for two. O’Connor Roll gets two. Backslide gets two. Angelico shoves Kazarian away and calls for time…. then sucker punches Kazarian. Angelico throws Kazarian into the turnbuckle, following with a snapmare and stomp. He goes back to a side figure-four, which he transitions into a leg grapevine Octopus Stretch!

Angelico then rolls Kazarian over to the Navarro Lock again, and again Kazarian goes to the ropes. Kazarian has had enough and slugs back, but Angelico goes to the kneesmash only to get caught with a running schoolboy for two. Angelico with a roaring elbow for one. The two exchange headlock tries before Angelico trips Kazarian into what looks like a Calf Crusher. Kazarian elbows free before making the ropes. Angelico kicks away in the corner before a boot choke. Kazarian alley-oops to his feet and fires away out of nowhere, getting a Flying Jalapeno to begin the comeback into a beautiful dropkick.

Kazarian with a slam and springboard legdrop for two. Kazarian looks for an Inverted DDT, but Angelico sweeps the leg and gets an enzuigiri FROM HIS BACK, into a small package for two. Angelico dodges a blind charge and gets a shin kick to the back before setting Kazarian on the ropes and going for Splash Mountain. Kazarian drops out and gets the Inverted DDT for the win at 7:49. Oh yeah, THIS is the Angelico I remember from Lucha Underground being awesome and stuff! ***1/4

AEW Heels. Join the movement for fifty bucks.

Tony Schiavone interviews Brandi Rhodes on stage. And yes, she gives Tony a Lil Bran Bran. But here’s the point: the Nightmare Sisters couldn’t win the Women’s Tag Team Cup despite being odds-on favorites. And that was the tip of the iceberg; the Dark Order took out the whole family. Brandi says most people would be upset about losing a tournament they thought they could win. But she’s angrier that Anna Jay, a Nightmare trainee, turned her back on Brandi to join “Daddy Brodie”. Does Anna think being pretty means she’s owed something? Well, what matters is being smart, and how smart can the Dark Order be? Okay, going for the queen was admirable. But don’t miss; Brandi’s as confident as ever. So let’s play again, facing forward this time. So be prepared, when Brandi sends her back to school. No match made any time soon, mind you.

Chris Jericho is having a match at All Out! (He’s facing Orange Cassidy.)

Donnie Primetime and Ryan Rembrandt (first time teaming) vs. Gunn Club (5-0). Fun fact: Donnie Primetime is (or says he is) Joey Janela’s cousin from Alabama. Taz even makes a deal out of it, saying he got “the Joey Janela starter kit” from the AEW Shop. And Taz still hates Billy Gunn. Good to know. But he doesn’t know who Excalibur is, so all is good.

Rembrandt and Billy start. Lockup, and Billy gets a hammerlock into a headlock takedown. He gets a couple of one counts out of Rembrandt before tagging in Austin. Rembrandt fights out, but Austin gets an up-and-over into a low dropkick for one. Billy back in, and the Gunns get a catapult clothesline for two. Billy with a straight left that floors Rembrandt, and Austin in with an arm attempt. Rembrandt blocks with a knee to the gut and gets a snapmare and three straight elbows for one. He works over Austin in the corner and tags in Primetime, who gets an uppercut.

Primetime with some kung fu chops for two as the announcers question if Donnie and Joey actually are related. Primetime taunts Austin, who charges with a spinning elbow and it’s hot tag Billy. He flattens both guys, and Austin get the Quick Draw for the pin on Primetime at 3:47. Nothing to see here. 1/4* Billy tells the camera that they’re 6-0 and, you know, maybe someone should get them tougher competition?

Dani Jordyn (0-4) vs. Abadon (4-1). I get the feeling Jordyn’s burn book will have Abadon in it… assuming Abadon doesn’t eat it first. Yup, there’s the stick figure drawing of Abadon. Taz says he’d have a much bigger burn book than Dani’s. Excalibur: “Yeah, you and Richard Nixon.” I missed this duo.

Jordyn reluctant to enter at the bell. Abadon screams at Jordyn to keep her from locking up. Jordyn eventually locks up, and Abadon backs her up with the hair. Jordyn ducks a shot and works Abadon in the corner, but the cross-corner whip ends in putting on the brakes. Another slap wakes Abadon up and the clothesline follows. She stalks Jordyn, then goes for the knee brace, pounding away on it. She focuses her strikes over and over on the left leg (the one with the brace) before dropping her knee on the mat.

Jordyn can’t even escape the ring, so Abadon catches her and does it again. Abadon again stalks Jordyn, who can barely stand, and twists the leg over the middle rope. More kicking at the leg and it’s so bad Jordyn collapses on a cross-corner whip. Abadon TAUNTS Jordyn (!!), who kicks away Abadon and gets a clothesline, still selling the leg. Abadon sits up and glares at Jordyn, then goes back to work on the leg with an Achilles DDT. A second one follows, and Jordyn crawls to the apron. Abadon slinks after her and throws the leg onto the apron on a faceplant. Abadon tangles Jordyn’s leg on the bottom rope and stretches her before getting a kneebar with fists for the tapout at 5:02. A monster? Scary. A monster who can gameplan? Dangerous. *1/2

Tony Donati (0-4) vs. Ricky Starks (5-1). Excalibur: “Taz, in your unbiased opinion…” Yeah, right. So the point is that Taz believes Donati doesn’t have a chance. Team Taz now has a T-shirt, by the way (“We build assassins!”).

Starks fakes out the Code of Honor. Lockup, and Starks gives a clean break. Donati shoves him from behind and gets a rollup for one. Starks fires away in the corner to stop that from happening again, but Donati with an O’Connor Roll for two, then crucifix for two. Starks dumps Donati and follows, dropping Donati’s chin on the apron. Ricky: “Starks Season for a reason.”

Back in, Starks stomps away on Donati and gets a back suplex before posing. Starks toys with Donati in the corner, getting a running corner tackle and missile dropkick before kipping up. He mocks Darby Allin, which sets off Taz. Starks misses a charge, and Donati with clotheslines that don’t take Starks down. Sunset flip, but Starks blocks it only to get small packaged for two. Starks controls a follow-up, and the Rochambeaux finishes at 3:29. This felt like an old WWF syndicated squash, and in a good way. *1/4 Taz advises Starks to shoot the half-nelson on the cover a little deeper next time, as he’s always coaching.

Jon Cruz and David Ali (first time teaming) vs. Jurassic Express (Jack Perry and Luchasaurus) (5-3). Don’t tell anyone, but apparently Cruz and Serpentico are the same person. Ali and Cruz have miscommunication on the entrance. Marko Stunt has crutches after Hager’s beating last week. Luchasaurus cuts a promo to the camera saying people talk about who has the best comeback, but they must have meant humans only.

Cruz and Saurus start. Cruz mocks Stunt’s injury before jumping on Saurus’ back with a sleeper into a side headlock. Saurus casually picks Cruz up and shoots him into the ropes, then blocks a hiptoss and an armdrag. Saurus’ charge eats boot (Cruz: “YES! Finally!”), but a Cruz leapfrog attempt is caught and Saurus gets a T-Bone. Ali in, and Saurus chops him away in the corner. Ali flinches, so Saurus adds a spinkick to his chopping in the corner. Perry in with a chop of his own, and after an up-and-over, Perry gets a running headscissors, armdrag, and fireman’s carry into an armbar.

Perry cartwheels both men up, and Perry follows with a lucha ropewalk armdrag and dropkick. It gets two. Saurus in, but Ali tries to run them together. Perry catches him, and a Tailwhip kick into a Flatliner gets two, Cruz saves. Saurus with shots in the corner and a kneelift, then a roundhouse kick and suplex drop on Ali. Ali fights out and knocks down Perry before tagging in Cruz, who gets a double axhandle and enzuigiri on Saurus. Cruz and Ali try a double-team, but Saurus just bowls both over with chops and roundhouse kicks. Chokeslam to Ali, and into a spinning roundhouse with Perry adding an elbow to the head. But Cruz is legal, so they give him an Extinction Level Event to end it at 5:01. Nothing to see here. 3/4*

Will we get our Paradigm Shift on Saturday? Do the next 25 years begin with an MJF title reign? Find out Saturday!

Red Velvet (0-4) vs. Anna Jay (with the rest of the Dark Order minions) (1-4). This is officially Jay’s first match as a member of the Dark Order. Velvet pantomimes stirring it up during her entrance – what else would you do when you’re straight out of yo mama’s kitchen, really? Interesting that the newest recruit doesn’t have to wear a mask. Also, I think they remixed the Dark Order’s music.

Jay kicks at Velvet and throws her into the corner, slamming forearms into her. Running leg lariat in the corner, but Velvet returns with one on a criss-cross. Jay taunts the crowd, allowing Velvet to pull her to the corner and strike away. Jay misses a charge in the corner, and Velvet with an elbowdrop for two. Jay cuts off Velvet with a knee to the gut, and she goes ground and pound before blatant choking. Jay kicks away on Velvet in the corner before dragging her in for a suplex into a series of CLUBBERING.

Velvet kicks out and tries to trip Jay, but Velvet with the Hennig neck snap. Jay taunts Velvet, who tries a slugfest and gets some jumping clotheslines. Double knees in the ropes gets two. Jay with the Booker T arm wrench and hook kick to floor Velvet, and she rolls outside to get a head of steam and bowl over Velvet. Dark Order salute before she launches Velvet into the guardrail. Back in, Jay with a pair of curbstomps and a rear naked choke for the win at 4:58. Why did Velvet get ANY offense at all? Both women looked lost, which makes sense since I think they’re both inexperienced. DUD

Shawn Dean (0-8) vs. Kip Sabian (w/Penelope Ford) (10-6). Ford has a sign advertising Sabian’s twitch channel, because why not. Both announcers talk about Dean being impressive even in defeat. Also, Sabian’s sign wants to bring back crop tops for men.

Lockup, and Sabian works chain wrestling to a half-nelson and snapmare. They go to the test of strength, with Sabian getting a legsweep and working the arm. Headlock by Sabian, and he rides him down, adding knee strikes. Sabian with an up-and-over, but Dean catches him with armdrags and a dropkick as the sunglasses finally come off. Dean hiptosses Sabian and works the arm, but Sabian goes to the eye to break. Sabian slams Dean into the corner and adds a forearm strike and some stomps. Sabian stops to cut a promo mid-match, which allows Dean to fire back with uppercuts. Sabian cuts off a knee and gets one of his own, and it’s the field goal kick.

But it’s wide right!

Sabian argues the outcome (of a fake field goal kick), allowing Dean a German suplex and the beginning of the comeback. Dean with the floatover DDT for two. Dean goes for a double underhook, but Sabian escapes into a pop-up knee and a big left hook. Deathly Hallows ends it at 4:14. He never took off the crop top, too. So we had the vastly superior but overly cocky heel get into trouble from his ego against the plucky underdog babyface before finally focusing and winning out. This is very good professional wrestling. ** Post-match, Sabian says the competition he gets on Dark isn’t up to his level. “Sort it out, or I’ll do it for you.”

Chris Jericho! Leader of the Inner Circle! Inventor of Stadium Stampede! Now his latest brainchild from the Demo God! Oh, and Orange Cassidy’s in it too.

The Initiative (w/Leva Bates) (0-11) vs. Private Party (6-6). Avalon is in a bad mood, and he and Cutler don’t even make eye contact on their way to the ring. Of course, after last week’s match finish, I’m not surprised. I thought we were past the “when will they finally blame each other for losing” phase.

Cutler and Quen start. Cutler with a headlock, and Avalon tags himself in as both guys double-team into a high-five and die roll punches. Splash/axhandle combo gets one. Avalon with a suplex for one. He works Quen’s arm into a snapmare and knocks Kassidy off the apron. Cutler in, and Kassidy blocks a corner whip allowing Quen a hiptoss. Kassidy dives onto both opponents and the Initiative bails to talk it over. After a quick huddle, Cutler returns and charges Kassidy, only for Kassidy to get a drop toehold. Quen with a double axhandle, following up with a back suplex. He rolls to the corner, and Kassidy in with a stomp to the chest and high-angle backdrop for two.

Cutler backdrops out of a front facelock, but he’s too tired to make the tag. Quen cuts him off, but he gets backdropped too, and there’s the tag to Avalon. Big crossbody on the way in, and a dropkick follows. Lariat out of the corner and Avalon dives onto Quen to neutralize him. Wasteland on Kassidy, and the split-legged moonsault gets two. Cutler in as they try a back suplex, but Kassidy flips out and tags in Quen, who gets a moonsault on both opponents. Fosbury Flop to Avalon on the outside, but Bates with a running rana… only Quen cartwheels out of it! Cutler avoids a blind charge and gets a 450 on Quen, but Kassidy had tagged himself in and gets an Oklahoma Roll for the pin at 4:24. Commentary points out the Initiative had it had it not been for the blind tag. Constant action for four minutes? I’m digging it. **1/4

After the match, Avalon pulls out his ponytail… and clotheslines Cutler! Bates tries to reason with Avalon, but Avalon grabs the die and smashes it into Cutler’s head! Well, I guess we can safely say the Initiative is done. Taz: “Good! They never won!”

TOMORROW:

  • Santana and Ortiz vs. Best Friends
  • Chris Jericho vs. Joey Janela
  • Private Party and SCU vs. Young Bucks and Jurassic Express, winners get a match at All Out
  • And more!

Okay, I get it, the plan was always “Cutler and Avalon were the jobbiest of jobbers and would blame each other for not winning”. But plans, sometimes, SHOULD change. Okay, it’s Dark and no one’s watching – which is why I recap – but even so, there was a feeling that maybe they were mixing it up and building to an eventual win. But the longer you go with that, the more it hurts the one they finally beat. So at some point, you have to either give them the win or go ahead with the loser story. AEW made their choice.

Both the Gunn Club and Kip Sabian mentioned that they wanted slightly tougher competition than just winning against what I’m sure Taz would call a string of tomato cans. With All Out being AEW’s WrestleMania (given it spawns from their first major event two years ago), it’s a good time to reset people and allow for movement up, down, and if need be, out. Does it mean Sabian should be on Dynamite more? I could buy it. Does it mean you give Gunn Club some feature bouts on Dark? Sure! But it also means you have to wonder where people from the top go. There’s only so much room, and AEW’s roster is rather large given how much TV time they get.

So who off of Dark do you think should move up, and who can move out? Well, let’s assume for the moment people we haven’t seen since quarantine (such as PAC and Riho) aren’t coming back any time soon. That alone may open up some room. Hikaru Shida needs a new challenger, and Abadon, given her performance tonight, might be the next in line. Certainly Shawn Spears and Kip Sabian could join Scorpio Sky on the way up, especially since Spears is in a stable with FTR. With Matt Hardy potentially retiring at All Out, that would open up a spot, but there would need to be a face turn somewhere.

I also wonder where the Inner Circle goes from here. The Jericho/Cassidy match feels like it’s time for either Best Friends or the Inner Circle to implode. Best Friends have the momentum, while Santana/Ortiz/Hager are stagnant, so that’s pretty easy. Janela and Kiss could move down more or less permanently – Janela’s a creative mind, but he’s out of his league in the ring. Are Pillman and Garrison a new team? What happens with Kingston’s boys? The next few weeks after All Out will be very telling.

But first, it’s time for the return of:

HOW I’D BOOK IT!

  1. Cardona/Sky/Rhodes/Marshall over the Dark Order when Colt Cabana hesitates to do something heinous, allowing Sky to pin Brodie Lee with a cradle.
  2. FTR win the AEW Tag Team Titles over Kenny Omega and a noticeably absent Adam Page.
  3. Sammy Guevara sends Matt Hardy to retirement.
  4. Lance Archer wins the Casino Battle Royal, last eliminating Eddie Kingston.
  5. After their match on Dynamite ends in a double countout, a Falls Count Anywhere match follows: Best Frends beat Proud and Powerful.
  6. Hikaru Shida retains the AEW Women’s Title over Thunder Rosa.
  7. The Jurassic Express defeat the Young Bucks when Kenny Omega finally turns full heel and admits Page’s actions were on his orders.
  8. Orange Cassidy dunks Chris Jericho into the mimosas to win. Santana and Ortiz follow soon after, with Sue even getting to slap around Ortiz.
  9. No Paradigm Shift? No problem, as Jon Moxley beats MJF to retain the AEW Championship with a piledriver.

Anyway, STATS:

BELL TO BELL: 50:15 over eleven matches (average time 4:34)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Kazarian/Angelico

THREE STARS:

  1. Angelico
  2. Kip Sabian
  3. Abadon

There were 18 two-counts tonight. I was going to ask if the Iron Man match had more, but of course it did. Enjoy! See you Thursday!