The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, Episode 57, October 20, 2020.
From the AEW Arena.
Your hosts are Taz and Excalibur, whose adjective of the day is “mammoth”.
TONIGHT! Five feature bouts and 11 others! With Pillman and Garrison graduating to Featured Player status, can they make it two in a row against the Butcher and Blade? Which tag team expert will come out on top when Frankie Kazarian battles Jack Evans? What will momentum look like after Penta El 0M faces QT Marshall and Rey Fenix faces Sonny Kiss ahead of their showdown tomorrow? And will Shawn Spears get his point across to Scorpio Sky by beating another SCU competitor in Christopher Daniels?
PLUS: Matt Sydal, Colt Cabana, Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, Brandi Rhodes, Ricky Starks, Ivelisse and Diamante, Scorpio Sky, Wardlow, Alan Angels, and a Dark Order 6-man tag!
Feature Bout #1: Shawn Spears (w/Tully Blanchard) (13-2) vs. Christopher Daniels (3-3 singles). Hey, there’s actually a story behind this one: Spears beat Matt Sydal on Late Night Dynamite and was ready to deliver the loaded glove shotei when Scorpio Sky interrupted him. So Spears is going to take it out on Daniels instead.
Daniels kicks Blanchard away from the apron just to be safe. Lockup, and Spears gets arm control. Daniels with a drop toehold into a side headlock, which Spears reverses. Daniels whips Spears into the ropes, but Spears cartwheels, goes to the floor to celebrate, and springboards in as though it’s a big achievement. Headlock by Spears as we continue, and we go International~!, ending with Daniels faking out Spears and getting a clothesline. Fargo Strut by Daniels, then an exploder suplex to rock Spears.
Spears stops a rebound off the rope and bails, so Daniels gets the pescado on Spears before glaring Blanchard away. Daniels gives Spears a tour of the outside, but after a do-si-do Spears sends Daniels into the guardrail to take over. Swinging neckbreaker on the floor, and back in, Spears drops elbows. Spears with head control and a big stomp, and he pulls down the kneepad. But the kneedrop misses, and Daniels fights back as Spears hobbles into the corner. Spears recovers with a hammer throw into the corner, and a low DDT follows.
Spears ignores Tully’s command to cover him, instead saying he wants the finish. Death Valley Drive try, but Daniels slips out the back and gets the Flatliner. Daniels escapes a blind charge and gets an STO. Sunset flip by Daniels gets two. Daniels sends Spears out with a clothesline and looks for a quebrada, but Spears pulls him down. Daniels is ready and sends Spears into the apron, and back in, it’s a Hotshot. Daniels goes up top, and a diving crossbody gets two.
Daniels calls for the Angel’s Wings, but Spears reverses, but Daniels reverses, but Spears with a backdrop, but Daniels with a sunset flip for two. Daniels with a cross whip and he goes to the apron, but his slingshot in is caught for the Death Valley Driver for the pin at 7:16. Daniels is one of those guys who has lost a step but had several dozen steps to lose, and like I said the other week, match flow and storyteling is the last to go. **3/4
Spears adds a second Death Valley Driver and wants to load the glove, but when he turns around Scorpio Sky stands between the two and keeps it from happening. So Spears smashes his fist into a stagehand instead. Play Sky’s music! Very Good Professional Wrestling in this match.
KiLynn King (0-10) vs. Brandi Rhodes (w/Dustin Rhodes) (9-3). King is currently in the Cutler Club – she has no wins but is clearly someone they want to make look good on this show. Dustin opens the ropes for Brandi as commentary notes that Brandi/Anna is NOT OVER.
Lockup, and King gets a hammerlock. Brandi reverses to a top wristlock, and King spins around to a drop toe hold to get the hammerlock back. Brandi reverses to headscissors, King escapes and gets a headlock takeover, Brandi goes back to headscissors, King breaks but runs into the side headlock, and Brandi starts a pinfall reversal sequence which ends with King getting a drop toe hold and cradle for two. Brandi with a sweep for one and we reset. WRESTLING! Brandi with a double-arm armdrag, but King gets a traditional one into the armbar. King with a shoulder tackle, and she rolls over a drop-down, but Brandi catches King with a lucha armdrag and snapmare out of the corner into a soccer kick for two.
And now John Silver comes out with a “Johnny Hungiee” sign because he wants on Shot of Brandi. Really.
Brandi stares at Silver, allowing King to recover, but Brandi with a Sling Blade for two as Alex Reynolds comes out and gives Silver a dirty look. (Taz: “Are you saying John Silver may not have throught this through?” Exaclibur: “Yes.”) King and Brandi slug it out, with Brandi getting the front chancery. King kicks out of it but runs into a pump kick for the pin at 3:22. 3/4* They do the right thing and make the match about sports entertainment as is usual with Brandi. Brandi picks King up and shakes her hand as both wrestlers get a curtain call.
David Ali (0-1) vs. Ricky Starks (8-2). This is Ali’s second week in a row, and I thought he appeared before on Dark but commentary says otherwise. Starks pumping himself up in tune to his music is just awesome and the second-best entrance in AEW. Angelico is still number one.
Starks offers a blind handshake, but Ali shoves him. Starks poses, so Ali goes into the offensive flurry before running into a swinging backdrop. Starks stomps away and slugs Ali between the eyes, following up with a chop. Starks with a knee to the throat, then he picks Ali up and slugs him down with a single forearm. Ali goes into the corner and poses, then chops Ali so hard Ali bounces. Ali tries to fight back, but a knee and clubberin stop that.
Ali crawls to the ropes as Starks looms over him, then shrugs off some shots and throws him to the apron. Ali catches himself and goes up top, and missile dropkick and kip-up gives him an opening. Running uppercut to Starks, and Ali (after thinking about it) goes up top only to be caught and pulled down. Broski Boot by Starks (“Who loves ya, baby!”) sets up the Rochambeaux to win at 2:58. Let’s hope Darby Allin wins at Full Gear so he can transition the title to Starks. 1/2* Starks goes to commentary.
Fuego Del Sol (0-1 singles) vs. Scorpio Sky (8-2, men’s #5). Taz with an interesting question: does Fuego Del Sol wear his mask when he goes to an Alabama Waffle House? Excalibur, the mask expert: “You’re damn right he does.” Excalibur congratulates the Lakers and mentions Sky’s outfit is pink because it’s October.
Sky backs Fuego into the corner and works the arm. Fuego kips up and backflips to reverse the armlock. Sky ducks under into a headlock, with Sky adding a shoulder tackle. He then trips Fuego off the ropes and rolls over to a front chancery. Fuego fakes out an enzuigiri and gets a head drag, then spiders into the ropes and catches Sky with double knees for two. Stinger Splash follows, but Sky recovers with a Russian legsweep for two. Fuego tries to fight back, but Sky with a pendulum backbreaker and he holds him over the knee for extra pressure. It eventually gets two.
Fuego fights out of the corner, but Sky recovers with uppercuts as Excalibur checks Taz’s knowledge of Goosebumps books (it makes sense in context). Sky with the abdominal stretch, hooking the foot AND the opposite ankle, then he blocks a hiptoss only for Fuego to get a lucha armdrag and pop-up dropkick. Sky bails out to slow it down, but Fuego with a somersault plancha with a half-twist! Back in, crossbody gets two. Del Sol with the Brisco rollup in the corner for two. He backflips out of a back suplex and gets a cutter for two.
Fuego is running out of ideas as he gets up, but Sky suckers him into taking a kick to the head. Fuego recovers from a suplex attempt and nails an enzuigiri. He goes up, but Sky catches him in the Sharpshooter – one of Spears’ finishers – for the tapout at 5:41. I love that Sky is confident enough to let Fuego have all the offense in this match and make him look good. **1/4 Spears, speaking of, has his music hit as Sky gets his head on a swivel, but no Spears.
Aaron Solow (0-2) vs. Luchasaurus (19-10). Aaron Solow is from the Bay Area, “same area as Will Hobbs”. Taz basically harumphs it. Jungle Boy sprays down Saurus before the match as Starks and Taz talk about how ridiculous that is. “Would you ever do that with Cage?” “Look at me!”
Lockup, and Saurus shoves Solow away and calls him in for another round. Saurus kicks Solow down as Starks remarks that he used to team with Solow. Saurus absorbs a pair of chops and smashes down Solow before boxing him in the corner. Stalling suplex follows. Saurus runs into a back elbow, then Solow runs the ropes to get a headscissors and dropkick. Solow tries a tope, but Saurus catches him by the neck. Solow gets onto the apron when lifted and dives back with a tornado DDT.
Back in, Solow goes up, but Saurus kips up. Solow leaps over Saurus, but runs into a rising knee strike. Solow ducks a lariat and gets a 540 kick and cradle into a double stomp for two. Solow heads back up, but this time dives into a chokeslam try. Solow escapes and gets a SUPERKICK, then ducks the Tail Whip only to run into a lariat. Tail Whip and chokeslam into a moonsault ends it at 3:37. Starks: “This is why I went solo.” Solow got some opportunities, and the result was a decent big/little match. *1/4
Feature Bout #2: Griff Garrison and Brian Pillman Jr. (1-4) vs. The Butcher and the Blade (w/Eddie Kingston) (#4 team, 16-7). So is Excalibur the only person who still calls Garrison – from Winston-Salem, North Carolina – the Ivy League MVP? As with last time, Garrison and Pillman have separate entrances. They should work on that. Butcher and Blade will be on Dynamite in the four-way contenders’ match.
Garrison and Blade start. Blade backs Garrison into the corner and works him over with chops and punches. Garrison goes up and over in the corner and catches Blade with a discus forearm, but Blade comes back with a standing bodypress. Pillman gets in and tackles Blade, but puts his head down and regrets it. Butcher enters, but Pillman with a SUPERKICK and they go toe-to-toe. Butcher wins that with a flying bear to Pillman. Blade in now, and a double kick leads to a double headbutt. Blade shoves around Pillman and rakes the eyes in the corner. Blade then straddles Pillman in the ropes (Pillman’s “I can’t breathe” sell is pretty good) before pulling Pillman up so Butcher can run him over. Blade doesn’t even get one.
Pillman fights back, but Blade eyerakes him into the corner and Butcher is tagged in. Big chop from Butcher, and he lands knees to the back of a grounded Pillman. Snap suplex to Pillman, and Butcher adds a stiff right. Butcher throws Pillman into the corner and brings Blade in, but Pillman with a jawbreaker and dropkick. Butcher stops the hot tag inches from happening and clubs down Pillman. Hammer throw follows. A second hammer throw and Pillman is half-dead. Pillman leaps to the top on a third try and gets a twisting cross body.
Hot tag Garrison, and Blade eats the comeback. Big boot sends Blade to the corner, but Garrison stops an airball on a Stinger Splash and gets the backdrop facebuster, Butcher saves. It’s BONZO GONZO as everyone’s in on it, and the Blondes go back and forth on Butcher and Blade until Pillman gets disposed of. Blade catches Garrison with a forearm, and Beer Money’s old DWI finishes him at 6:03. This was also Very Good Pro Wrestling. **1/2
Feature Bout #3: Penta El 0M (11-6 overall) vs. QT Marshall (w/Dustin Rhodes) (13-10, #3 team). No Eddie Kingston, but there is a Dustin Rhodes. Penta is prepping for his match tomorrow against his partner Rey Fenix.
Penta stops Marshall ahead of time and removes his right glove to emphasize Cero Miedo, but Marshall catches the signal. We go International~!, ending with Penta kicking Marshall in the hamstring, then catching Marshall trying a back roll and kicking him right in the chest. Blind charge misses and Marshall with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors. Marshall tries a dive, but Penta leaps on the apron and kicks him in the head instead. Penta keeps up the hamstring kicks, and back in, he dumps Marshall back out before chopping him against the ringpost.
Another hamstring kick, and back in, Penta comes off the top. Marshall rolls out of the double stomp and stops a charge, getting a diving uppercut. Marshall puts Penta up top, but Penta slides out and hangs Marshall up with another hamstring kick. Del Rio double stomp gets two. (Not a fan of that move.) Pentagon Driver is escaped, and Marshall with a Tajiri-like handspring spin kick for two. Marshall runs into a SUPERKICK, but Penta runs into an enzuigiri. He recovers with a Sling Blade for two.
Kingston returns as Penta sets Marshall against the ropes and chops him hard. And Kingston also has a mic, but says nothing yet as Penta kicks down Marshall. Penta taunts Dustin before returning to Marshall, mounting the corner and doing ten punches. Penta argues with the ref and tries the Pentagon Driver again, but Marshall escapes and both men hit big boots a the same time for a double KO. (Kingston approves.) And now Kingston begins talking into the mic to taunt Marshall, but Marshall rolls out of the ring… as THE BUNNY RETURNS!
Marshall is so confused he doesn’t see Penta dive onto Marshall on the stage. Kingston and Allie return to the back, but Marshall recovers with a sunset flip for two. Backslide gets two. Penta with a SUPERKICK to block a discus clothesline, and a pumphandle driver gets two. Fooled me. Penta hooks up the armbuster, but Marshall escapes and gets a pop-up forearm. Michinoku Driver gets two. Diamond Cutter is teased, but Penta escapes and gets a diving Destroyer when he goes up. Pentagon Driver finally ends it at 8:32. I’m a bit surprised that the news of Allie aligning with Kingston didn’t lead straight to the finish, but that may be the WWE in me talking. This was great, as Penta is one of the best in the world. ***
KTB (debut) vs. Jungle Boy (w/Luchasaurus) (21-12). KTB is from “The Woooooods”. Starks: “What does KT B mean? Killin’ The Business?” Taz: “I’ll tell you later.” JB is sprayed down by Saurus so much he gets startled by his own pyro.
JB rolls over KTB’s back and gets a shotgun dropkick. JB tries a monkey flip, but KTB sets him on the top turnbuckle. That’s a mistake as JB gets a diving rana to send KTB to the outside. JB baseball slides out and gets KTB with a high roundhouse, but when he goes up, KTB shakes the ropes and adds an elbow to JB’s back in the ring. KTB with a somersault shoulder ram, then a snapmare and running flying headbutt for two. JB fights to his feet with chops and cradles KTB for two.
Yes Kick by JB just wakes KTB up. KTB catches a kick and gets a dragon screw, rolling through into a Wasteland for two. JB tries to fight back, but KTB with knees to the head. JB stops it with an elbow, but KTB gets an atomic drop – spinebuster – splash combo for two. KTB looks for a powerbomb, but JB slips out the back and gets a knee strike and some elbows. Uppercut in the corner leads to a JB clothesline out of the ropes. JB returns the dragon screw favor and KTB bails, and this time the tope connects. Back in, slingshot spinning DDT gets two.
JB is sent to the apron and gets a roundhouse kick, but KTB stops another leap in and gets a Splash Mountain kneesmash for a VERY close two. KTB drags JB to the corner and goes up (Starks: “Stay on him! Come on!”), but the moonsault misses. JB with a Northern Lariat and he goes up, and the double knees to the chest gets the win at 5:26. Speed vs power par excellence, with the side story of KTB being too slow in setting things up to get the win. Man, we’ve got some good stuff tonight. **1/4 Starks heads to the back.
Kenzie Paige and Skyler Moore (first time teaming) vs. Ivelisse and Diamante (4-1). Okay, so there’s no women’s tag division – nor should there be, the women’s roster is a little thin – so where is this Ivelisse/Diamante duo going? Excalibur: “Why settle for less when you can have Skyler Moore?” Taz audibly eye rolls on that one. No flags on the way out, but they still have their gold medals.
Ivelisse and Diamante jump the bell and we get a huge brawl to start. Iverlisse and Diamante stop their foes and throw Paige into Moore. Ivelisse with an avalanche to Moore, and a Flatliner into a package DDT by Diamante on Moore gets two. Diamante rushes Moore to the corner, but Moore catches Diamante with a sunset flip for two. Diamante with a huge uppercut, and Ivelisse in to take part in a double suplex. Ivelisse gets two. Double chickenwing by Ivelisse, but Moore elbows out. Ivelisse recovers and keeps Moore in the corner, and Diamante enters with a chop and clubberin, they be clubberin, Tony.
Diamante with a chin choke and knee smash. A blind charge misses as Moore bails to the apron and goes up, cutting off Diamante and diving in with a crossbody. Double clothesline follows. Hot tag Paige, and Ivelisse eats the comeback. Paige with an enzuigiri in the corner and a Hennig neck snap, Diamante saves. Diamante gives Moore a kneelift and the Latinas get a double backdrop. Casadora facebuster and snapmare into a grounded enzuigiri gets Ivelisse the pin at 4:08. Ivelisse and Diamante have great teamwork, but Moore wasn’t on the same page. 3/4*
Bshp King (0-1) vs. Colt Cabana (12-7). King is wearing a Brooklyn flak jacket and, by the way, that’s how you spell his first name. Cabana comes out alone, much to his surprise and chagrin.
Colt with a headlock, and we go International~!, with Colt getting a cradle for two. Colt with a hiptoss and we reset. Colt with arm control and he gets another armdrag as Reynolds and Silver come out, asking why Colt is being so passive. King tries an O’Connor Roll, but Colt blocks only to run into an armdrag as Colt bails and gets advice from Reynolds. Colt asks his teammates to go to the back because he’s got this. Back in, we get a Test of Strength, breaking down King’s base and knocking him to a seated position with Bionic elbows. Stump puller by Colt, but he lets go.
Big chops to King and Colt sends him into the corner, then tosses King to the apron. Bionic elbows leave King limp, but Colt goes up for the Chicago Skyling, Silver and Reynolds return to ask what’s going on. King takes advantage and knocks Colt down, but his senton bomb eats the knees. Flying Apple and Superman Pin gets the win at 4:06. Reynolds and Silver are thoroughly confused and leave without Colt. We already know Silver and Colt don’t get along, and without Uno to keep the peace, it all looks awkward. *1/4
Adam Priest (debut) vs. Alan Angels (4-10). Priest with another great hometown – Battleground, AL. So with a Priest and Angels in the match, I expect some Holy Cow moments. (Sorry, not sorry.) Silver, Reynolds, Vance, and Anna accompany Angels.
Angels with a quick shotgun dropkick to Priest and he works him over in the corner. Back elbow connects off the ropes, but Priest recovers to do some mudhole stomping. Hammer throw, but Angels leaps over the charge and gets a lariat. Angels kicks at Priest’s legs to keep him down. Priest fights back and tries a German suplex, but Angels with an armdrag and enzuigiri. Double stomp off the top rope, then a moonsault gets two. Angels works over Priest on the mat and gives him a hammer throw to the corner, but a blind charge eats elbow. Priest kicks Angels away and charges with clotheslines and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Angels elbows out of a German suplex and kicks him to the mat, adding a spin fisherman’s buster to Priest. Wing Snapper ends it at 3:15. This was what it was. 3/4*
Frankie Kazarian tells us respect is earned in wrestling. Kaz respects Jack Evans, but people say that he’s under-utilized. Problem: if you’re talking underrated, you gotta talk Kazarian, since he’s been champion basically everywhere. But he’s also been a bridesmaid and not a bride, and it ticks him off. He’s worked too hard not to be at the top where he belongs. Tonight, it’s the start of his Wedding March as he marries AEW gold. Kazarian wasn’t keeping eye contact with the camera or anything in particular, which was quite distracting and makes me think he was reading cue cards.
Feature Bout #4: Jack Evans (4-5) vs. Frankie Kazarian (23-18). Sorry, I’m too busy doing the Angelico Strut to comment on entrances.
Lockup, and Kaz with a fireman’s carry and wrist control. Evans tries a drop toehold, but Kaz blocks and the two fight over a headlock. Kaz with a shoulder block and Oklahoma Roll for two, then he lands the armdrags and armbar. Evans cartwheels into a headscissors to break, but he runs back into the armdrag/armbar combo. Evans stops another armdrag try and flips onto the apron, then distracts the ref so that Angelico can get a cheap shot. 540 kick by Evans gets one. Evans with a Yes Kick to knock down Kaz, then a leaping kick across the chest of a running Kaz for two.
Kaz chops away, but Evans ducks a right and tries for a German suplex. Kaz swings out of it, but Evans adjusts to a Northern Lights suplex and moonsaults off of Kaz onto Kaz for two. (Yes, you read that right.) Evans dumps Kaz, and Angelico (after a stomp) throws him back in. Evans tries to cover, but they’re too close to the ropes. Evans with knee strikes and a head mat slam for two. Evans sends Kaz into the corner and Hammer Throws him across the ring. Evans charges into a sunset flip Brisco style for two.
Crucifix gets two for Kaz. Kaz ducks a roundhouse kick and begins the comeback, nailing a flying jalapeno. Angelico gets on the apron, but Kaz ducks a swing and gets a Rocker Dropper. Lariat to Evans gets two. Kaz with a slam, and a springboard spinning legdrop for two. Angelico’s back on the apron, but he ducks out and Kaz walks into a leg lariat by Evans for two. Kaz tries the inverted DDT, but Evans escapes and gets a legsweep and Sky Twister Press for two. Evans backs Kaz into the corner, landing a handspring elbow. Kaz reverses a corner whip, but Evans gets the boot up and tries an Asai DDT… but Kaz reverses to an inverted DDT of his own to win at 7:57. Angelico attacks Kaz after the match and puts on the ankle lock as Evans works over Kaz until Daniels runs in for the save. Very Good Professional Wrestling, folks. **1/2 Seriously, I want that tag match next week.
Louie Valle, Baron Black, and D3 (first time teaming) vs. The Dark Order (John Silver, Alex Reynolds, and Preston Vance) (1-0). D3’s centurion hat continues to amuse commentary. As this is the Dark Order’s third match, Taz suggests they’re why it’s Dark. Silver and Reynolds compete tomorrow.
Reynolds and Valle start. Reynolds offers the salute to Valle, seemingly recruiting him, but Valle isn’t interested so Reynolds slugs him down. Reynolds works over Valle in the corner, but Valle fires back only to get Hammer Thrown. Blind charge eats elbow, and Valle with a shotgun dropkick. Black in, but he walks into a Reynolds clothesline. Silver stomps away on Black and gives him a high kick. He charges into a Manhattan Drop from Black, but Silver recovers with a flying uppercut. D3 enters and can’t trade power with Silver, so he gets a snapmare and crucifix for one.
Silver stops D3 and presses him to the mat, and Vance enters only to get caught with an enzuigiri. Rana is stopped and Vance powerbombs him. Fallaway slam on D3 by Vance, and Reynolds/Silver into a catch flapjack. Vance with a deadlift delayed vertical suplex, and Silver takes over. Big beal by Silver sends D3 across the ring, but Silver runs into a back elbow. He goes up, but Silver tries a military press. D3 escapes and escapes a back suplex, hot tag Valle, who clears off the apron.
Clotheslines wobble Silver, but Valle recovers with a press elbow. He dives onto Vance, who catches him and hands him to Silver as Reynolds/Silver get the dropkick/German combo. Black runs into a spinebuster from Vance, while Valle fights out of the corner only to be caught by Reynolds and Vance. Spinning T-Bomb ends it at 5:48. Vance has gotten better since working with Reynolds and Silver. *1/4
Vinny Pacifico (debut) vs. Wardlow (7-1). Excalibur openly calls this a warm-up for Wardlow, so I don’t expect this to be competitive. Vinny’s shirt reads “THA KID”. Taz is happy to see another New Yorker but thinks Pacifico is in a ton of trouble.
Pacifico charges with a dropkick, but Wardlow no-sells and gives Pacifico a gutwrench powerbomb. He puts Pacifico up in the corner, and the Thumbs Down knee strike knocks Pacifico out in 39.3 seconds. Wardlow adds an F-10 for fun. This is exactly what it should have been. NR
Eddie Kingston is backstage and says the family’s back together. You have the best tag team in the universe in the Lucha Bros. And you have the Butcher, Blade, and Bunny re-united. And now that they’re together, everyone will suffer.
Shawn Dean (0-11) vs. Matt Sydal (2-1). I mean, they have to give Dean a win one of these days, right? It won’t be tonight, but he’s in Cutler Club and I just feel sorry for him – he deserves so much better. Also, is Sydal a face or a heel? He was face against Spears and heel against Nakazawa… well, in theory.
Sydal points to his third eye a lot before moving Dean into the corner and giving a clean break. Sydal with a go-behind into a headlock takedown, and he blocks a headscissors to get his own. Sydal maintains arm control as they get up, flooring Dean with a takedown and getting a keylock. Sydal armdrags Dean again and moves to a front chancery. Dean catches Sydal with armdrags and a headlock takedown, then follows with a dropkick.
Dean catches Sydal coming in with a back elbow, but Sydal with a standing leg lariat to floor Dean. He kicks away and throws Dean into the ropes, blocking a sunset flip and working Dean’s leg. Sydal kicks away at the leg and gets a standing moonsault with a half-twist for two. Sydal keeps working the leg (Dean is favoring it like a good seller), adding a fisherman’s buster, but Sydal leans too far back on a seated cover and it’s only two. The ref checks Dean’s leg, and Sydal capitalizes with kicks. Dean tries to fight back, flooring Sydal with an uppercut, but Sydal with a sunset flip into Bite of the Dragon (smacking around Dean’s third eye for good measure).
Dean falls on top for one to escape. Sydal keeps working on the leg, but Dean reverses a whip and gets a running dropkick. Tiger bomb gets ONE for Dean. Dean tries a backdrop, but Sydal escapes and gets a flying knee for two. Cobra clutch STF is tried, but Dean fights out of it. Sydal with a SUPERKICK to stop Dean, and the spinning Saturn Driver leads to the Cobra Clutch for the tapout at 6:02. See? Shawn Dean deserves better! **1/4
Feature Bout #5: Rey Fenix (w/Eddie Kingston) (15-7) vs. Sonny Kiss (w/Joey Janela) (11-16). And for our final match (wild applause), we have this match. Kingston heads to the back after intros. Commentary mentions how Kingston, Penta, and Fenix did a number on Jon Moxley in last week’s main event. Taz says this is an ultra clash of styles, but it’s not like luchadores don’t know how to handle exoticos.
Kiss shoves Fenix away from the lockup as the two go for a test of strength. Kiss seems to be winning, but Fenix goes to stomp the feet. Fenix tries a cradle, but Kiss blocks and resumes the knuckle-lock, getting a legsweep for one followed by a headscissors and step-up rana. Kiss with a handspring elbow, but Fenix tosses him to the apron. Kiss comes back in, only for Fenix to leap over Kiss and get a standing rana (on the second try) on Kiss, followed by a dropkick. It wasn’t obvious they repeated that spot, but they totally did.
Kiss makes sure he has all his teeth as Fenix recovers on the outside, and back in, Kiss gets a casadora split armdrag followed by a dropsault. Fenix kicks Kiss’s arm on a clothesline attempt, then slides through the ropes and sends Kiss’s shoulder into the top turnbuckle. He wraps Kiss’s arm around the top rope for a four-count before flooring Kiss as we go to replay. Fenix has an armbar with a little Octopus Stretch, which he turns into a crucifix for two. Fenix with a cradle into a wild bow-and-arrow style stretch. He switches to a Fujiwara armbar with wrist control.
He picks Kiss up in a fireman’s carry, but Kiss elbows out and ducks a roundhouse to get a forearm shot. Kiss tries for a Matrix dodge, but his arm goes out and Fenix pounces with a half-crab armbar. He adds a fishhook, so the ref demands a break. Fenix kicks kIss in the head, then pulls Kiss off the ropes into the splits. Two roundhouse kicks (with Fenix playfully staring at Kiss between them) gets two. Fenix sees Kiss flip out of a back suplex and land a tornillo elbow and enzuigiri. Another forearm and he hangs up Fenix for the Axes and O’s kick.
Slingshot splits legdrop gets two. Fenix stops Kiss’s momentum and flips over Kiss, grabbing the leg along the way to try a half-crab. Kiss with a cradle for two. Pump kick by Kiss, then a Complete Shot spike. Kiss goes up top, but Fenix leaps at him with an uppercut. He pulls Kiss off the top with the Muscle Buster into a Blue Thunder Bomb for the pin at 7:43. Loses a bit as the armwork didn’t factor into the finish, but a great athletic display. **1/4
- Butcher and Blade! Young Bucks! Private Party! Dark Order! Who faces FTW?
- Wardlow vs. Jungle Boy!
- Colt Cabana vs. Hangman Page!
- Kenny Omega vs. Joey Janela!
- Penta El 0M vs. Rey Fenix!
- My Dinner with Maxwell, as Le Champion and MJF hammer out their differences!
Okay, elephant in the room: two hours of nothing but wrestling leads to some major diminishing returns. I understand you want to get the enhancement talent some pay, and hey, it’s Tony’s money. And yeah, if you’re trying out for AEW and want to show your friends, putting it on YouTube is great. So in a vacuum, it makes sense.
But MAN, around the umpteenth match, you begin to lose the excitement, and that’s not fair for the people in those matches. Now, if you had more matches like Wardlow’s, where you blink and miss it, it isn’t as big a deal. But when you have 5 minute squashes back to back to back, they tend to blend.
And I really don’t want them to blend. There’s something to learn from various matches up and down the show, and honestly, there were a lot of GOOD matches tonight. But they’re going to be lost in the shuffle because it’s hard to remember everything when you have this much to go through. I can tell you this from experience: Nova Pro became infamous for offering a one-hour pre-show to IWTV plus a three-hour main show and it could add up to like 12-14 matches total. It was overkill.
So let’s see if we can put a cap at, like, 10-12 please. (Though to be fair, five feature bouts did help.)
And as for the wrestling itself, what we saw was very good! The feature bouts all delivered, plus some of the so-called squashes were shockingly good. KTB is someone I’d been told about on the indies quite a bit, and I’m glad to say he lives up to the hype. Fuego Del Sol was allowed to showcase some by Scorpio Sky, and he didn’t disappoint. And Shawn Dean told a very good story with Matt Sydal, even remembering to sell the leg most of the match! These are people who will be the future, if not of AEW, then of wrestling in general. They deserve to be given kudos.
Add on that they gave SCU a lot to do and expanded stories for the Kingston Cartel and for Shawn Spears, and really if you cut it to 8 matches (the five feature bouts and the three enhancement matches I mentioned already), and you’re looking at what would be a great two-hour show. As it is, we had an overblown two-hour show. Such is life. Hopefully they live and learn. (I imagine the fact that we are focusing on the title tournament could contribute to this. But I don’t have insider info.)
BELL TO BELL: 82:33 over sixteen matches (average time 5:10)
MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Penta vs Marshall
- Penta El 0M
- Shawn Dean
- Scorpio Sky
See you next week, where we continue our scientific experiment on if there IS too much of a good thing.