AEW DARK: October 6, 2020

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, Episode 55, October 6, 2020.

From the AEW Arena.

Your hosts are Excalibur, Taz, and a shirtless Ricky Starks.

Tonight’s three featured bouts are: QT Marshall following on from last week as he faces John Silver; Matt Sydal looking to set right his disastrous debut by defeating the man “responsible” in Michael Nakazawa; and the Jersey duo of Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss facing Eddie Kingston’s Lucha Bros. Plus, Kingston himself will be in action, as will Brandi Rhodes, Big Swole, Will Hobbs, Jurassic Express, Angelico, Chaos Project, and in their first match as the featured performers, the New Hollywood Blonds of Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison.

Opening match: Kenzie Paige (0-5) vs. Brandi Rhodes (8-3). Interestingly, they cut off Paige’s entrance almost completely. Not sure what happened there. Brandi has brother-in-law Dustin with her as commentary says Brandi is in a bad mood after the loss to Anna Jay on Late Night Dynamite.

Brandi backs Kenzie into the corner, but Kenzie throws her away. Brandi goes to a headlock, and we go International~!, but Brandi reverses the hiptss into one of her own, adding two more and working the arm. Starks: “I bet she’s mad because she doesn’t have Lil Bran Bran with her.” Into the corner, and Brandi with the tumble snapmare and a back kick for two. Kenzie kicks Brandi’s leg out of her leg and gets a facejam and running dropkick for two. Kenzie unloads mounted forearms and a running uppercut in the corner before stomping away.

Snapmare the other way, and a sleeper by Kenzie. Excalibur notes Brandi is wearing purple as though it’s showing up the Dark Order. Brandi fights out but gets cut off with a knee. She comes back with clotheslines and a hairpull slam. Kenzie’s charge eats boot in the corner, and Brandi with Dustin’s bulldog for two. Kneeling shotei by Brandi, then a Stunner. Pump kick ends it at 3:36. And almost instantly Anna Jay comes out to attack Brandi, and Red Velvet of all people makes the save to send Anna bailing. Typical Brandi match: nothing to write home about, but it tells and advances a story. 3/4*

Ray Rosas and Eric Watts (first time teaming) vs. Jurassic Express (Jack Perry and Luchasaurus with Marko Stunt) (8-5). No, not that Erik Watts – this is a former Tough Enough wrestler who works the Southern California territory. Excalibur, of course, talks up their background. Excalibur calls the Express “world-wide fan favorites”, which annoys Taz and Starks and makes them challenge the definition of “worldwide” compared to themselves.

Rosas and Perry start. Rosasa with a single-leg, but can’t follow up and Perry goes to the International~!, spinning over Rosas’ back and getting an arm drag. Saurus in, and a big chop to Rosas. Rosas tries to fire back, but Saurus no-sells and pounds away in the corner. Slam, and Perry follows with an over-the-top senton for one. Rosas with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for one. Watts in, and he lifts Perry by the neck to throw him into the corner. Follow-up avalanche and fallaway slam, and Watts is in control but no cover.

He goes CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY and stomps away. Another fallaway slam, and Rosas returns with a headlock and punches. Perry with a small package for two, and he escapes to hot tag Saurus. Pump kick to Watts (who stays on his feet, and Rosas pinballs while Watts won’t go down. Pop-up knee strike to Rosas, then a chokeslam and moonsault, Watts saves. Here’s the big man showdown (they’re about the same 6’5 height), and it leads to a strike fest. It’s a stalemate as both fall down, but Rosas – still legal – hits the big elbow from the top for two, Perry saves.

Watts picks up Perry, who headscissors him out of the ring while Saurus gives Rosas a big boot for two. Perry in, but Watts trips Saurus and they fight on the floor. Watts sends Saurus into the post, and Perry tries to dive onto Watts, but Rosas trips him and gets a cradle for a shocking two. Watts back in, and Rosas with an enzuigiri into a Watts choke bomb for two. Rosas back in as Watts knocks Saurus down, but Saurus is back up and tags himself in. Perry escapes as Saurus gives Watts the hook kick to send him outside. Perry dives onto Watts, and back in, the ELE ends it at 6:33. The Express gave them a lot, and the match was better off for it. **1/2

A look back at Jericho and Luther’s history together, leading up to Jericho’s 30th Anniversary Tribute match with Chaos Projekt against Jericho and Hager. Jericho is incredible at pointing out Luther’s great Japanese and US independent career, saying that he’s succeeded everywhere but never got a chance on national television. This is the biggest match of Luther’s career, and Jericho’s ready for his best.

Speaking of…

Anthony Bowens and Lee Johnson (first time teaming) vs. Chaos Projekt (Luther and Serpentico) (3-0). Anthony Bowens calls himself the Five Tool Player, and if you saw the match with Ben Carter a few weeks ago, you know how good Johnson is. Luther and Serpentico are here hoping to get on the right track before the big match with Hager and Jericho.

Serpentico and Johnson start, and Johnson avoids a quick double-leg to get a headlock. He knocks Serpentico down, but Luther in with a boot to the back and he disposes of Bowens. Serpentico works over Johnson, but Johnson gets a dropkick (BIG hangtime there). Running uppercut, and Bowens comes in to do a sunset flip… but Serpentico overshoots. Bowens recovers, back rolls through Serpentico and dropkicks him for one. Yeah. Johnson back in, and a double suplex follows, getting Johnson two.

Serpentico flips out of a back suplex and stops Johnson, getting a cradle into a SUPERKICK. Falling axhandle and Luther’s in to pump kick Johnson. Big slam, and Serpentico tags in, with Luther back suplexing Serpentico into an elbowdrop on Johnson. Luther back in, and a side suplex sets up Serpentico with a slingshot double-stomp. Luther goes to the eyes on Johnson, who escapes and avoids a leg lariat, getting a sunset flip for two. Luther clotheslines Johnson into next week to cut off the hot tag, then chops away on Johnson. Running back elbow by Luther, then a snap suplex and Serpentico comes in.

Luther gives Serpentico an inverted suplex onto Johnson, getting two. Johnson tries to fight out, fighting away from the Chaos Projekt corner, and it’s hot tag Bowens. Clotheslines to Serpentico and an up-and-over leads to a series of kicks and a hurricane DDT. Big dropkick to Luther, then an inverted Olympic Slam to Serpentico, Luther saves. Luther avalanches Bowens and they double-team, but Johnson fights both men away. Serpentico with a SUPERKICK to Johnson, then a Shiranui. Bowens gets caught with a head kick off the apron by Serpentico, and Luther lifts him up for the elevated Meteora to pin Bowens at 6:36. These four were not really on the same page, and I think they can do better. 3/4*

Ryzin (0-5 total) vs. Will Hobbs (3-5). We’ve seen Ryzin a bunch in tag action, but this is his first chance as a singles competitor on Dark. Starks sees Ryzin’s odd contacts and wonders if he has cataracts. Taz notes that Hobbs has been problematic for Starks and Cage. Starks (sarcastically): “Yeah, I know, tell me about it.”

Staredown to start, and Ryzin shoves Hobbs, who replies with a lariat. Hobbs throws Ryzin pillar to post, only for Ryzin to reverse on the third corner… but Hobbs no-sells and Ryzin is freaking out. Hobbs with a delayed suplex on Ryzin and he tells Taz to watch this. Front suplex and Ryzin is begging off before a cheap shot allows him a leg lariat. Clothesline but Hobbs no-sells, and Hobbs gets a running shoulderblock on Ryzin. Hobbs’ game face is something else.

Hobbs with an avalanche, but a second one eats boots. Ryzin dives off the middle rope, but is caught with Tour of the Islands. Ryzin with a desperation right, but the SPINEBUSTER OF DEATH (which apparently is called Last Will and Testament) gets the pin at 2:27. Starks is off his game about that spinebuster. This is the kind of slaughter a new guy being moved into an upper-card program needs. *1/4

Backstage, Eddie Kingston talks. He’s sick of Janela and Kiss. They’re big talents, but they don’t act seriously enough, and it’s holding their career back to act like clowns. But they’d better not take the Lucha Bros as a joke, because they don’t play games or do “dumb clown-ass bullshit!”. Tonight, Janela and Kiss will learn about how it’s done at the top level. Kingston could cut a promo on the phone book and make it work.

Starks headed to the back during that promo.

John Silver (w/Dark Order) (4-8) vs. QT Marshall (w/Dustin Rhodes) (13-9, one-half of the #3 tag team). Stu Grayson’s back, but Alex Reynolds isn’t. Evil Uno goes to ringside and the others go to the back. No sign of Allie, interestingly enough. This is about getting momentum for Cody/Brodie. Taz notes a big character moment: thanks to Silver taking the bullet against Orange Cassidy, he is now allowed to wrestle without the standard-issue mask.

Lockup, and QT with a waistlock takedown into a front facelock. Silver reverses to a hammerlock, with QT getting headscissors to retain control. Silver kips up straight into a headlock takedown, so Silver backs Marshall into the corner and works him over. QT reverses a whip to a back elbow, then follows with a right hook. Charge hits the elbow, but Silver dives into Marshall’s arms and gets suplexed for two. Marshall with another right, then a back elbow, but Uno grabs the leg to distract QT and Silver with a big running body attack to send QT to the floor. Silver follows, throwing QT into the stage, then the guardrail. High five, Uno!

Silver with a big chop, but back in, Marshall fights to his feet. Silver with a hammer throw and running clothesline for two. Silver with Yes Kicks to Marshall, but Marshall blocks only for Silver to roll through to the Crossface. Dustin directs traffic, getting QT to the ropes. Silver warns Dustin to stay out, then tries to work the arm, but QT kicks him away. They slug it out in the corner, and QT lifts Silver up to try a superplex. Silver fights out temporarily, but QT hooks it and goes to the top rope for the ultraplex for a double down.

They both fight up and slug it out, with Marshall winning that only to get nailed with a pump kick. QT with a clothesline out of the corner, then an inverted atomic drop and slam. Twisting elbowsmash off the top by QT and it’s Diamond Cutter time, but Uno distracts QT by getting on the apron. Doesn’t work, as Silver runs into a tilt-a-whirl slam by Marshall for two. 540 kick by Silver and he sticks and moves, getting a German suplex and SUPERKICK. Side backstabber gets two.

Silver tries the torture rack, but Marshall escapes and gets the Lethal Combination. Uno and Dustin fight on the stage, distracting the referee. Marshall avoids Grayson’s running kick and gives Vance and Angels Diamond Cutters, but Silver avoids his and gets the UFO Bomb for the upset at 8:26. We’re seeing Silver as a pocket powerhouse coming into his own, and it leads to Very Good Professional Wrestling. **3/4

David Ali and Cezar Bononi (first time teaming) vs. The New Hollywood Blonds (Griff Garrison and Brian Pillman Jr.) (0-4). Ali is dressed like a Spike Lee character. Garrison and Pillman make separate entrances. Excalibur says this is an opportunity for both teams.

Pillman and Bononi start… or not, as Ali tags himself in. Ali with a headlock, but Pillman shoots him off into a dropkick. Garrison in, and the Blonds work the arm. Pillman tags in to do the same, and he follows with an arm wrench and clothesline. Snapmare, and Pillman with a slingshot senton before firing Garrison in for a slingshot legdrop. The combo gets two. Ali flips out of a suplex and gets a knee strike, bringing in Bononi.

Bononi knocks Garrison over with a tackle and demands Pillman, so Garrison lets him in. Pillman rolls away and kicks at the hamstrings, but Bononi catches him and gives him a choke throw. Pillman avoids a follow-up and tries a sunset flip, picking Pillman up. Pillman slides out and works the legs before giving a kneeling Bononi Yes Kicks. Bononi fires up through them and catches Pillman with a choke spinebuster. Bononi goes CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY and adds a back elbow while favoring his leg. Ali in, and he gets a snapmare and soccer kick. Pillman ducks a follow-up and gets a cradle for two, but Ali stops Pillman and nails the kidneys. Middle rope choke by Ali, and Bononi adds an ax kick.

Bononi in with a turnbuckle powerslam for two. He picks up Pillman again, but Pillman slides out the back and throws Bononi into the corner. Hot tag Garrison, who gives Ali and Bononi forearms. Stinger Splash to Ali, and he throws Ali into Bononi. Garrison with a back suplex faceslam, and Bononi is disposed of. Powerbomb / Air Pillman combo gets the pin at 5:56. ROLL CAMERA! BLONDS WIN! Garrison and Pillman celebrate their first AEW win like you would celebrate your first win. Great effort by all four guys. **

Skyler Moore (0-5) vs. Big Swole (8-3, #2 women’s rank). Swole nearly trips coming out with how exuberant she is. This is Swole’s first match since the cinematic at All Out, as I recall.

Moore wins the lockup and gives Swole a shot to the back of the head. Swole is ready for more, but gets backed up in the corner. Moore fakes a clean break and shoves Swole, who shoves back and the two begin a shouting match. Swole with a martial arts flurry into a backhand slap, but Moore recovers with an elbow and mat slam. Moore toys with Swole by the ropes, standing on her back and curbstomping her head to the mat. It gets one.

Moore mocks the Swole chants while giving Swole a fallaway slam for one, but a suplex is blocked. Moore with elbows to the back, but Swole keeps her base and gets the suplex to cue the comeback. Swole fires off with elbows, and although Moore dodges the high kick and legsweep, she can’t avoid the headbutt. Swole with a roundhouse on the apron, and she leaps back in with a Cutter. Dirty Dancing ends it at 3:06. Not much of a match, but the two of them brought some oomph to their strikes. *

Matt Sydal talks to us about how his debut went… badly. He slipped on the top rope and could’ve broken his neck. It turns out Michael Nakazawa spread his baby oil over the top rope before the show, knowing someone could be hurt. Sydal thought he might die, but he’s too resilient for that. Sydal’s not just coming to beat or hurt Nakazawa, he wants Nak to regret ever buying baby oil. Sydal says we’ll see what he’s saying when he ends Nakazawa’s career.

And with that…

Michael Naka – Naka – Nakazawa!! (2-3) vs. Matt Sydal (0-1). If you’re wondering why this is the first you’re hearing of that backstory, it was a retcon shown on BTE. The ref steals a bottle of baby oil from Nakazawa during his entrance, so Nakazawa takes a second bottle and saturates a turnbuckle with the BABY OIL OF DOOM. Sydal, of course, saw it and knows which corner to avoid.

Sydal dodges Nakazawa and kicks him six ways from Sunday. Sydal with a SUPERKICK and he thinks to go up, but he realizes it’s the oiled up corner. He finds a towel and cleans off the turnbuckle, but as he goes up, Nak sprays the BABY OIL OF DOOM and causes Sydal to fall again. Olympic Slam by Nak gets two. He pulls the thong out (already?), and wants to end it, but Sydal with a crucifix for two. Nak gets the Thong Claw, but Sydal reverses to a cobra clutch legsweep into an STF-style crossface for the tapout at 1:46. That’s about how we like our Nakazawa matches – short. NR

M’Badu (0-3) vs. Eddie Kingston (2-2). M’Badu is dressed in traditional clothing and carries the Nigerian green and white with him to the ring. Kingston asks the ring girl to take his necklace. M’Badu honors some idol he brought to the ring.

Kingston kicks and chops M’Badu down, adding a running Drive By Kick in the corner. M’Badu reverses Kingston into the corner and adds a Stinger Splash, rocking Kingston. Kingston goes to the eyes, but runs into a powerslam for two. M’Badu tries to follow up but a Kitchen Sink and Backfist to the Future… but Kingston pulls him up at two. Kimura gets the submission at 1:40. I’m guessing they’re all in on Kingston if he’s allowed to steamroll a guy who looked good in previous Dark matches. NR

And now Kingston has a mic. He wants to speak straight to the hard cam, because he doesn’t care about the wrestlers at ringside or fans. He says Moxley can ask Josh Barnett about the Kimura – Barnett’s tapped out a few times. And if Kingston has his way, he’ll lock it in and Moxley will say “I Quit” in front of his wife and the world. Mox left “us” behind when he went to the promised land, and he must pay for that. So why not now? Is Moxley here? Yeah, like he’ll show up now. Kingston makes it clear: he never tapped out or said he quit, and he’s here to be World Champ because that’s why you’re a wrestler. Kingston promises to mess up Moxley and that he’ll enjoy it. I think we may have a Full Gear main event. Please replay this on Dynamite.

Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss are talking backstage. Janela says he has no fear (cero miedo). And yeah, last time they fought they lost, but they’re bouncing back like Sonny’s ass. They want to win so they can get in the rankings ASAP. They are here to kick ass.

Shawn Dean (0-10) vs. Angelico (with Jack Evans) (4-6). A reminder: Angelico and Evans will face FTR on Dynamite in their Brush With Greatness Challenge. If you’re ever feeling down, do Angelico’s strut to the ring. You’ll feel much better.

Angelico works the arm to start. Dean tumbles to reverse it to an arm wrench of his own, so Angelico breakdances to get his own wrist control, turning it into an armdrag. Angelico lies down to invite Dean in, kicking him when Dean charges. Dean recovers with a headlock, but Angelico rolls through only to get hit with a dropkick. Dean with a waistlock off the restart, with Angelico reversing it and getting a hamstring kick to Dean. Angelico with a leg grapevine, but Dean makes the ropes. Dean gets mad when Angelico toys with him, but Angelico catches him with a snapmare and soccer kick for two.

Angelico keeps wrist control with a keylock, holding the other bicep with his legs and grinding his knuckles into the larynx. The referee orders a break, and when they get a standing restart, Dean wins a slugout with a big forearm. Dean gets the comeback with clotheslines into a German suplex. Dean charges with a running dropkick, then looks for the Butterfly Suplex. Angelico escapes and destroys Dean’s legs wih a kick, then adds the twisting heel hook cloverleaf for the submission at 4:35. This felt like a bit of a styles clash, but Angelico is someone I thoroughly enjoy watching and they made it work. *1/4

Main Event: Lucha Bros (Rey Fenix and Penta 0M) (w/Eddie Kingston) (8-8) vs. Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela (8-4). In a nice touch, Kingston is having a post-fight drink on his way to the ring. Taz assumes it’s coffee. Kingston brings the Bros out during their foes’ entrance…

…and Janela and Kiss dive on them! They throw them in, but the Bros kick them down! Penta is taken outside, but Fenix with a somersault hilo onto all three!

Janela and Penta in the ring to start officially, and Penta with a big kick and Fenix gets a missile dropkick. Penta with Wazzup Dropkick to Janela, getting Fenix one. Fenix chops Janela hard and tries a fireman’s carry, but Janela flips out and brings in Kiss. Shotgun dropkick by Janela and missile dropkick by Kiss, getting two. Janela back in, and a double armdrag leads to Janela helping Kiss with a moonsault. Janela gets two off of it. Janela controls Fenix with strikes as Taz notes the Jersey boys’ matching leopard-print outfits.

Fenix with a high dropkick to stop Janela, and Penta comes in with a diving crossbody… and Fenix adds a twisting version. Lucha Bros with a wild assisted splash out of a prawn hold, and Penta gets two off of it. Penta goes to work with the legs on Janela, then he grabs Janela’s tagging arm and threatens the armbuster. He turns Janela inside-out with a clothesline, adding a huge soccer kick. Penta stops Kiss from coming in, but Janela catches Penta in a small package for two. Penta stops the hot tag and keeps working the legs.

He admonishes Kiss and picks Janela up, chopping him hard against the ropes. Package piledriver try, but Janela rolls up the top and gets a SUPERKICK on both Bros. Hot tag Kiss, and he nails a spinning elbow to Penta. Dropsault follows as Penta is staggered, and Kiss gets a high-arm overhead suplex. He hangs Penta up in the corner with chops, adding a shotgun dropkick. Kiss goes up, nailing a 450 on Penta, Fenix saves.

Janela in, but he gets a SUPERKICK. 540 from Kiss to Penta, SUPERKICK by Penta, but Kiss recovers just enough with a clothesline and everyone’s down. Janela tags in to face Penta, but Fenix sneaks in with a somersault cutter. Penta with SUPERKICKS to both men, and the Stomp Package Piledriver ends Janela at 6:03. Almost no resting in the match, which made it great. **3/4

TOMORROW!

  • Dog Collar Time as Cody Rhodes and Brodie Lee fight for the TNT Title!
  • Thirty Years of Jericho, as he and Hager face the Chaos Projekt!
  • And more!

The art of the sprint is a lost cause on in most wrestling shows. It’s no wonder, mind you: When you’re not sure whether you’ll be invited back, you need to impress and maximize your minutes. Usually, that means putting on a match where both men show off what they got and tell a full story, taking 10-12 minutes. Part of that is when you have a small amount of time, you usually go into Greatest Hits mode. Just get a few moves in and let someone win, especially on TV.

That said, if you can do a match at double-speed, you’re an asset. The main event will get all the glory for doing a match in quick time, and they should receive the plaudits. However, Hobbs/Ryzin did the “overmatched brick wall against helpless foe” bit in three minutes, and it felt like a full match with beginning, middle, and end. Despite what I said about Dean and Angelico not meshing as well as I had hoped, they got a lot into their five minutes. On top of that, Jurassic Express and Pillman/Garrison got their opponents over while winning decisively in the space of a six-minute match.

When you’re starting out, you will only get 5 minutes or so to do what you have, but part of that is because you don’t have enough to go much longer. I can tell you that in training I’ve had a handful of such sprints, and what we’re taught in this match is to work on building the beginning, middle, and end. This isn’t unique and I don’t pretend it is – the Japanese Young Lions do this in their career too, focusing not on move variety but on match structure. But if you build that, and you have match structure first and foremost, the battle is halfway won.

Even if the match is meant to be lopsided and quick, such as Matt Sydal and Eddie Kingston had, you can still see the structure and flow. Those things are the last to go with many wrestlers – someone like a Ric Flair at age 55 may not have been able to go 30 minutes, but he knew how to make the match follow, and how situations led to follow-ups. Hulk Hogan and Jerry Lawler were so comfortable with their storytelling skills that they could sleepwalk through a match that would get the crowd excited – and no matter what these snowflakes may say, crowd involvement is your goal.

Well, if there is a crowd.

So to summarize tonight, and for most Dark matches: it’s about maximizing minutes. People did that in droves up and down the card tonight – from Eddie Kingston and Matt Sydal in 2 minutes to Eric Watts and Cezar Bononi in 6, to John Silver and QT Marshall in 8. On top of that, the character beats were there in spades: Red Velvet backing Brandi Rhodes up, Will Hobbs almost offended that he was challenged in power, John Silver and Griff Garrison celebrating what the believed were huge wins, and Eddie Kingston… everything. I may be stuck in Virginia and not able to get in the ring, but just watching this show makes me feel like I can be a better wrestler.

STATS

BELL TO BELL: 50:44 over eleven matches (average match time 4:37)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Tag main event, but it’s a close call

STARS:

  1. Eddie Kingston
  2. John Silver
  3. Penta 0M / Joey Janela (one for wrestling, one for character work)

Get your collars ready for Dynamite tomorrow!