AEW DARK: November 17, 2020

The PG Era Rant for AEW Episode 62, November 17, 2020.

From the AEW Arena.

Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz with a new opening theme and graphics! (This was recorded during the recent storms going through Florida.)

Lots of feature bouts tonight! Joey Janela steps into the ring with Marko Stunt as the DDT fallout continues! KiLynn King and Big Swole both look to build winning streaks! And the war between TH2 and SCU continues as Christopher Daniels faces Jack Evans!

PLUS! Frankie Kazarian looks to make one last run start against up-and-comer Griff Garrison! Tesha Price and Leyla Hirsch meet, and someone will (probably) get their first win! Thunder Rosa preps for her NWA Women’s Title match by facing the debuting Lindsay Snow!

In addition, we have showcase matches for Jurassic Express, The Acclaimed, Ricky Starks, Ivelisse, Brandon Cutler, Penelope Ford, and Gunn Club – now with Colten included in six-man tag action!

Opening match: Bshp King, Sean Maluta, and Joey O’Riley (first time teaming) vs. Gunn Club (Billy, Austin, and Colten) (first time teaming). In fact, I think this is Kolton’s AEW debut. Billy and Austin are a super-team by AEW Dark standards. Taz is not thrilled that there are more Gunns. “Billy’s like a rabbit… a rabbit-shaped amoeba!” Taz and Excalibur debate whether the Nightmare family has Colten as well as Billy and Austin.

Colten and Maluta start. Colten pushes Maluta back to the corner in a lockup and, after some tension, it’s a clean break. Maluta works around to an armlock on Colten, with Colten reversing. Maluta uses the hair to get Colten into the corner, but misses a charge and Colten with an armdrag into arm control. Maluta backs Colten into the ropes – again with the hair – but Colten takes him down with a tackle before reversing a hiptoss to one of his own. A dropkick follows for two. Austin in, and the sons work the arm. Billy follows to keep it up. Then back to Austin.

Maluta goes with a knee to the gut to stop the momentum, but O’Riley charges into a drop toe hold. Ausin trips O’Riley off a whip and gets a neckbreaker for two. Austin gets advice from Billy (That advice? “Never try to dupe GLAAD, it doesn’t end well.”), allowing O’Riley to tag in King. Billy tags in, and they lock up into the corner. King with a shop to the gut, but Billy punches back only to be caught with a kick by Maluta.

Billy smashes Maluta before running into a double clothesline spot. O’Riley and Austin in, and Austin sends King flying before getting a back elbow on O’Riley for two. Colten tosses Maluta as everyone bails, and Austin gives O’Riley the Quick Draw for the pin at 4:47. Billy makes sure the ref raises Colten’s hand. Not enough to judge Colten here as this was just a showcase. 1/2*

But after Gunn Club leaves, Lance Archer arrives to clean up the scraps! O’Riley begs for mercy and gets chokeslammed onto King and Maluta! Roberts recites the bedtime prayer, saying it’s good if you believe. But what you can believe is your soul is the Lord’s and your ass is Archer’s. Only a fool would jump into a volcano or face Lance Archer. You just don’t do that.

Archer says life and death is a tough subject nowadays. A story: Life asked Death why Death is hated. “Because, Life, you’re the beautiful lie and I’m the painful truth.” And the truth is Archer is going to do this every week until everyone figures out how dangerous he is. Archer quotes Freud as saying the goal of life is death. In other words, everybody dies. Including Archer… but he will die last. So he will help everyone in AEW lay themselves down to sleep. Taz’s summary: “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”

A Little Bit Of The Bubbly ad.

Travis Titan (debut) vs. Ricky Starks (12-2, men’s #5). Titan is a former NCAA football player. Interesting continuity error: according to Justin Roberts, this was meant to be the opening bout. Anthony Ogogo joins commentary. Excalibur notes that Cage and Starks are both ranked – so will they have to face off?

Lockup, and Starks takes Titan down as they do some ground grappling. Starks gets arm control and pushes the head, but Titan reverses it. Starks elbows out and chops away, adding an uppercut in the ropes. Titan slides under on a whip, but Starks blocks a dropkick and an O’Connor Roll, then a springboard clothesline. Starks gets a sliding dropkick. Starks teases Rochambeaux, but decides to do a snapmare and soccer kick instead. Titan fights back and charges, but runs into a boot. Hangman’s neckbreaker gets two.

Starks rushes Titan back into the corner and gets some shoulder rams, but Titan stops some shots into the turnbuckle and fights back. Titan with a forearm, but he swings and misses on the second one and Starks gets a back suplex. Starks steps on Titan’s arm for disrespect, then picks Titan up and spears him for the pin at 3:15. They are doing a great job making Starks seem special. It helps that he looks the part. 1/2*

Joey Janela (4-6) vs. Marko Stunt (11-9). So if I had to guess the backstory to this – not that AEW will tell you – it has to do with DDT’s Ironman Heavymetalweight Title, which Janela brought to these tapings and which Stunt wound up with at some point. Janela stumbles during his entrance – I told you it was raining – and Taz finds it hilarious. Stunt, meanwhile, races out ahead of the camera. Stunt is not coming out to the same music that Jurassic Express comes out to – in fact, it’s a cross between JE’s music and “We Belong To The Night” by Pat Benatar, his indies music! Ogogo is on commentary again.

Stunt with a quick cradle for two after ducking a lockup. Code of Honor, but Janela does a hiptoss. Stunt steps on Janela’s toes (Janela: “…OW!”), but Janela knocks Stunt over. Stunt kips up and delivers dropkicks to Janela, including a running one in the corner. Flying cannonball by Stunt gets one, and Janela bails. Stunt fakes a dive to get Janela to duck, then looks for a tornado DDT… but Janela catches him and gives him a triple-rotation vertical suplex on the floor!

Back in, it gets one. Janela with a brainbuster on Stunt and he imitates Brock Lesnar. A second brainbuster and an arrogant cover, but that means it’s only one. Janela is NOT pleased with this and smacks Stunt down with a forearm. A third brainbuster gets reversed to a spike rana and Janela slides to the outside. Stunt on the apron, and he gets a dragon-rana on the floor, but tweaks his ankle. Back in, it gets two. Replays show that Janela’s weight may have come down on Stunt’s ankle. Stunt goes up top, but Janela meets him with a running enzuigiri. Janela follows, getting a Cradle Shock off the second rope for the pin at 4:26. Everyone makes sure Stunt’s ankle is okay post-match. Please let Tommy know this is a shockingly good match between two people he doesn’t like. **

A Little Bit Of The Bubbly ad #2.

And now, our newest interview segment: The Waiting Room with DOCTOR Britt Baker, DMD (#5 women), as introduced by Rebel (not Reba), which goes a little over the top in her intro. The enhancement talent gives her mild applause.

Baker is hyped about the game announcement and shows… herself dressed as Steve Jobs. “A group with extraordinary potential. And ref Aubrey.” Baker notes that Eddie Kingston falls short against Jon Moxley. If only he hadn’t spent so much time trying to be the Green Power Ranger, eh? Oh, and congratulations to the Young Bucks! They’ve worked incredibly hard… on talking to TK and getting Tully Blanchard banned so they could steal the gold. They went from the backyard to the big leagues and they’re ready to continue their legacy of Killing The Business (get your copy somewhere). It’s been tough in the US – we’ve seen refusal to accept defeat and downright denial. But enough about Cody. But it’s okay: top executives are working on making sure Cody gets a shiny new belt as soon as we find a network to name it after!

And after that monologue, Baker gives the crowd a special gift under their chairs… just kidding, there’s nothing there. And now it’s time for her special guests, who deserve to be ranked in the Top 5: TH2! (And of course Angelico vibes his way in through the door.) Baker says she’s a big fan, but let’s start with the big question: what’ll it take for TH2 to make it to the top? Angelico makes it clear they’ll just make a statement – physical and verbal. You have the fabled Jack Evans – man, myth, legend – but everyone has to watch as the Bucks turn the tag division into their vanity project.

“We’ve only been on Dynamite for as long as it takes for Cody’s promo!”

“We’ve been on for less time than Brandi’s action figure!”

“We’ve been on for less time than Brian Pillman Jr.!”

“Reba’s had more time on Dynamite than us!”

Everyone (but Reba) laughs. As for the statement? The political games won’t be tolerated. All the teams think they’re safe because they’ve pushed TH2 to the bottom, but it’s time to climb back up and wake them up. And this is why they go for SCU: they’re the Young Bucks’ besties, and they’ll get what they deserve. See you next time! Okay, the monologue sucked (perhaps intentionally), but Evans and Angelico delivered fire in their promo.

Griff Garrison (1-6 singles) vs. Frankie Kazarian (26-18 career). Excalibur says this is a real gut check for Garrison, who has won a bit, but mostly in tag competition. Also, it appears Kazarian is now in TH2’s crosshairs, which will be interesting.

Lockup, with a lot of struggle in it (I love it), and after going off the ropes and back, Kazarian hooks a headlock. Arm twist by Kazarian, but Garrison rolls out and reverses. Kazarian rolls into a drop toe hold and floats over to a front chancery. He keeps Garrison grounded and switches to a wristlock, with Garrison backing into the ropes. Kazarian whips Garrison and gets an armdrag, but Garrison responds with one of his own. Discus lariat misses, and Kazarian with a leg kick and big clothesline. Kazarian chops away on Garrison from corner to corner, then gets a hammer throw to the corner and running Russian legsweep coming out. It gets two.

Garrison gets a shot to the chin and begs Kazarian to slug it out, and Kazarian obliges as the two go chop for chop, each trying to shrug off the other’s shots. Kazarian with a right hook, but Garrison floors Kazarian with a forearm. Another forearm out of ducking a clothesline and Kazarian is dazed. Garrison charges, but Kazarian with the Brisco rollup for two. Big boot by Garrison off a cross-whip, and the back suplex facebuster gets two. They go to opposite corners, but Garrison’s Stinger Splash misses. Kazarian ducks a shot and gets a slingshot of Garrison into a cutter. Inverted DDT ends it at 4:13. Kazarian talks to the camera, but commentary talks over it. Kazarian is just so good at making his opponent look competitive. *3/4

Rahne Victoria (debut) vs. Penelope Ford (9-5, women’s #3). Okay, I’ve heard some good things about Rahne, so let’s see what we got. And it’s pronounced “Rain”, by the way. Victoria comes out as a Game of Thrones queen type look. No sign of Kip Sabian, who will be in action tomorrow. Excalibur refers to Miro as “the middle reliever”, then says that’s “inside baseball”. I see what you did there.

Ford flattens Rahne off the bell and mounts for punches. A blind charge misses and Rahne gets a cradle for two. Ford with a suplex and she tells off the crowd before clubbing away on Rahne. Gut Check gets two. Ford checks with the ref, “accidentally” kneeling on Rahne’s neck, then looks for the fisherman’s suplex. Rahne blocks before getting a cradle for two. Ford with a clothesline and she shoves around Rahne while holding the wrist. Rope choke by Ford, then the catapult into the top rope. Handspring elbow misses, though, but Ford maintains control, even ducking an enzuigiri.

Rahne recovers with a clothesline duck and roundhouse kick for two. Hammerlock DDT try, but Ford escapes and smashes her elbow into Rahne’s face. Tajiri handspring cutter (which may or may not have gotten to Rahne) gets two. Short lariats follow, then the fisherman’s suplex ends it at 3:53. I didn’t see enough of Rahne, who mostly sold for Ford’s offense – which still needs some polishing. 1/4*

Ryzin (0-2 singles) vs. Brandon Cutler (2-3-2 singles). Can Brandon Cutler get to three in a row? Ryzin has a great hometown – Hellgate, FL. Excalibur and Taz have fun guessing where the heck in Florida that is. It’s nice of AEW to keep his record to singles and erase that, like, 0-22 tag record. Peter Avalon is in the crowd and is not amused by Cutler.

Ryzin wants to box it out to start, so Cutler ducks a right and gets a combo. Ryzin stops at the ropes, so Cutler trips Ryzin and gets a slingshot senton and legdrop for two, brother. Ryzin asks for some distance, then gets Cutler to walk into a Hotshot. Ryzin takes over with a snapmare and sleeperhold. Cutler fights out and works the gut, but he runs into a leg lariat for one. Cutler gets high kicks to exchange with Ryzin’s punches, which Cutler wins with a flying roundhouse. Ryzin with the Party Foul into a front suplex for two.

Ryzin gets mad at the ref, then declares it’s time to go up top. Of course, when you give away the strategy it doesn’t work, and Cutler gets the knees up on the senton bomb. Blind charge eats elbow, and Cutler avoids the second one to kick Ryzin away. He swings over the top with a roundhouse kick to Ryzin, but Ryzin blocks the inverted DDT slam with a snapmare. He shoves Cutler away and goes to the second rope, but Cutler stops him and bodyscissors him off the apron. Total Party Kill wins it at 3:38. Avalon is furious that Cutler keeps winning. Not a bad dark match, but dudes, it Brandon Cutler. 3/4*

Tesha Price (0-1) vs. Leyla Hirsch (0-2). See, I’d say that someone HAS to win this match, but Cutler and Avalon did the fakeout twice, so who knows. Taz says Price has a great look to her, but she’s in for a long fight. Hirsch’s performances are two losses to the two women’s champions.

Lockup goes nowhere. A second lockup sees Hirsch drag Price down to the mat. Round 3? Price gets a waistlock, but Hirsch breaks it with strength and gets a headlock takeover. Hirsch refuses to be whipped off the ropes and instead resets. Price with another waistlock and she gets ground control into a facelock. Hirsch escapes but gets armdragged, and Price with a back elbow in the corner and a beal. Jumping enzuigiri by Price gets two. The two fight over a backslide, but Hirsch sends Price into the corner and forearms away.

Fujiwara armbar, with elbows onto the shoulder, then kicks to the arm and Price is thrown into the corner cannonball style. Knees to the corner airball, though, and Price shakes her arm out before getting a jawjacker. Price tries forearms with her good arm, but Hirsch wins that slugfest and goes for a suplex. Price nearly reverses, sending Hirsch into the corner. Price tries a low legsweep… but Hirsch stayed in the corner. Oh well. Price goes to the high kick, but Hirsch blocks and takes her down with a German suplex. Hirsch with a moonsault (to the legs), then a cross armbar for the tapout at 3:52. FIRST WIN ALERT! Price is very green but has some potential, and Hirsch is of course miles better. 1/2*

TNT (Terrence and Terrell Hughes) (0-1) vs. Jurassic Express (Jungle Jack Perry and Luchasaurus) (w/Marko Stunt) (11-5, team #4). Okay, I think I can tell the two apart – Terrence has taller hair. Jurassic Express has the same epic theme they usually do, so I guess Marko just has a remix.

Terrell and Perry start. Perry gets a headlock, and we go International~!, with Perry cartwheeling over a monkey flip and getting armdrags and dropkicks. Terrence in, and he gets dropkicked. Saurus in, and Perry ducks a Terrence big boot only for Saurus to give one to Terrence. Chops in the corner and he boxes away. Knees to the gut and a front suplex slam. Terrence with a right hand to get Saurus’s attention, so Saurus gives him a hook kick. TNT does the switcheroo, so Perry tries to give “Terrence” a baseball slide only for Terrell to throw him into the guardrail.

Back in, Terrell pounds away on Perry for one. Terrence back in, and both Hugheses get shots in the corner, leading to a Terrence overhead suplex. Back in the TNT corner, and Terrell returns as the Hughes brothers stomp a mudhole – and since it’s raining, there’s no walking it dry. Terrence back in, but Perry avoids a double-team and clotheslines Terrence, then Terrell. Hot tag Saurus, and both bros go flying.

Push kick to Terrell, then a spin kick to Terrence. Double clothesline by Saurus, and he goes for a stereo chokeslam. TNT escapes and gets a double dropkick, btu Perry tags himself in only to be caught in a TNT double hiptoss bomb for two. Terrence tags in (Terrell? Who knows?), and they go for Demolition Decapitation, but Terrence dives into a chokeslam by Saurus. Perry with an STF to Terrell for the tap at 4:44. Commentary is impressed that Perry has added a finishing-level submission. TNT looked okay, but Express looked much better. *1/4

D3 and Angel Fashion (first time teaming) vs. The Acclaimed (2-1). Today’s description of the centurion hat is to argue if it’s from USC or Michigan State.

“You couldn’t get booked for a portrait of your family!” “D3 – why you named after a Mighty Ducks movie?” “We are the Acclaimed; if you really think you’re beating us, y’all are insane!” Caster is GOOD at this.

Bowens and Fashion start, and Bowens blitzes him into the corner. Bowens throws him into the ropes, but Fashion reverses off a leapfrog duck, trips Bowens, and gets a hip check. Fashion goes up and over, then kicks both of the Acclaimed before Bowens kicks Fashion to the floor. Caster slugs away on Fashion and suplexes him onto the apron. Back in, Bowens stomps away, and Caster comes in with a big kick. Caster with a forearm to Fashion and he asks for a curtain call. He has to cut off the hot tag, and tries a sunset flip, but Bowens tagged in and he does a hangman’s neckbreaker onto Caster’s knees.

Bowens taunts Fashion trying to tag, but Fashion tumbles away and brings in D3. D3 with a Sling Blade and Zig Zag to Bowens, then a tilt-a-whirl DDT to Caster. He goes for a handstand splash, but Bowens catches him into a fireman’s carry backbreaker. Fashion gets caught and gets powerslammed, with Caster adding a flying elbow. Critically Acclaimed (Bowens Angle Slam aided by a Caster dropkick) ends it at 3:19. This team is a great mix – they have an Enzo and Cass vibe without the creepiness. *

Alex Gracia (0-1) vs. Ivelisse (w/Diamante) (8-3). I tell you, they’re not wasting time now that they’re into the groove. Gracia is the all-pink lady from San Antonio, and as I recall people weren’t impressed with her first appearance. Ricky Starks is on commentary for this one.

The two get nose-to-nose at the bell, so Ivelisse forearms Gracia only to get chopped. Gracia grabs the arm forcefully into a lucha armdrag, then adds a back elbow in the corner. A second try sees Gracia go to the apron, but she slides in to try a sunset flip. Ivelisse stomps her down and guillotines her on the bottom rope – on the face instead of the neck – and Diamante adds a drive-by kick. Ivelisse with a running STO lariat for two. She goes ground-and-pound, then gets a top headscissors.

She turns Gracia over and slams her head into the mat, but Gracia escapes into a side O’Connor cradle for one. Ivelisse with an arm trap headlock, but Gracia escapes into a cradle for two. Ivelisse ducks a clothesline and gets a drop sleeper for two. Starks was certain that was the finish. Ivelisse frames up Gracia, but runs into an elbow. Gracia with a Backstabber, but she can’t follow up. Clotheslines cue the comeback, and Gracia with a casadora to send Ivelisse into the middle rope.

Area Code Kick and rolling senton over the rope, but Ivelisse clutches the bottom rope to stall for time so it’s only two. Running roundhouse airballs, and Ivelisse with a Mongolian chop into a Flatliner. Ivelisse is now VERY ANGRY, and she gets a rolling snapmare into a full head kick for the pin at 4:35. Well, Gracia looked better, but she still looked a little lost for ideas at times. Ivelisse has a cut on her nose after the match, which may explain her anger. *1/4

Lindsay Snow (debut) vs. Thunder Rosa (3-1). Now this is interesting, as Snow made the thumbnail despite never being in AEW before and none of the other enhancement talent did. Snow had a breakout performance at Bloodsport during the Collective that got her this invite. Tomorrow, Rosa will face Deeb in her rematch. Starks remains on commentary.

Lockup, and Rosa goes behind. She takes Snow down and keeps the waistlock, but Snow with a judo throw and arm control. Rosa reverses to a hammerlock and headlock takedown, but Snow throws her into the corner. Rosa goes up and over into an armdrag, then fakes a cradle only to get a running Oklahoma Roll for one. Snow (who looks like Luna Vachon) hammer throws Rosa into the corner and stomps away.

She gets a Karelin suplex on Rosa, but the Shining Wizard misses and Rosa gets a running dropkick for two. Snow pounds away on Rosa to reverse the mount and gets a kneebar, but Rosa kicks away at the shoulder to break before reversing to a rear choke. No bodyscissors, though, so Snow fights out and gets to her feet, backpacking Rosa into the corner. Rosa keeps the sleeper on, though, so Snow sends her to the opposite corner.

Rosa drop toeholds Snow into the middle buckle and gets a Mizline and knees into the chest. Rosa with a hesitation dropkick hard into Snow’s chest, getting two. Rosa goes up, but Snow meets her up there and gives her a head kick. Snow tries to throw Rosa off the top, but Rosa reverses to a two-arm armdrag. Strike flurry into a Judas Effect by Rosa, and a Fire Thunder Driver ends it at 4:38. This had UWFi level shots being laid in. It was different from the other matches, and that’s what you gotta do. **1/4

Peter Avalon is… The Continental! We’re in his private car, and Avalon asks the driver to take them to the Riverfront via the scenic route. He offers the date some wins and crackers, and the date takes a cracker. Avalon offers to feed corn nuts to the date, but the date is none too thrilled… and the Uber driver tells Avalon to get the heck out. Okay, I’m beginning to like this.

KiLynn King (1-12) vs. Big Swole (11-4, #1 women’s). Man, second from the top after a single win. Are they doing a Cutler with her? Okay, so I guess putting her against Swole would go against that, but who knows? At least they haven’t touched Swole’s music. And with Nyla Rose losing to Hikaru Shida, Swole is now in position to be the next challenger. Starks is still here.

Lockup, and both women fall out of the ring keeping the lockup! They keep locking up and rolling around ringside, but then they hear the ref say “7” and jump back in. Okay, that was a neat spot. They question each other’s toughness, with King catching a kick and throwing Swole into the splits. Shoulderblock battle, won by Swole, but King trips Swole and gets a waistlock. Taz notes an interlock grip isn’t as strong as an “S” grip, and right on cue, Swole reverses. Dirty Dancing try, but King bails outside. Swole follows and gets a back elbow, but King tosses Swole into the ring post before firing herself up.

Swole sneds King into the guardrail, and back in, Swole goes for a Complete Shot off the ropes… but King leaps out of the way and gets a ground and pound. Running uppercut by King, and a snapmare and shotgun dropkick gets one. We HIT THE CHINLOCK, but Swole gets a jawbreaker to get out. Leaping axhandle to the back gets two for Swole. Swole with knees to the back, but King pops out of control and gets forearms. Swole with the roundhouse-into-sweep-into-headbutt, then a running casadora Flatliner. Cloverleaf, and even though Swole slips down while trying to lean on King, King taps anyway at 4:21. Man, they were doing well until Swole dorked up the finish! *1/2

Announcers talk about how much fun they’re having… but Darby Allin comes out to the ring, TNT title in tow. He sets it down and begs Starks to come to the ring, and Starks looks to oblige. Taz says it may not be a good idea, but Starks says the heck with it and goes to the stage… to meet up with Brian Cage. Allin waits for them, but Cody (with headset still on) smashes Cage with a chair! Starks races into the ring where Allin fights him. Starks escapes a spike-jacket-assisted splash in the corner and Team Taz bail out. (Taz explains that Cody was cueing people’s entrances, which is why he ran out with his headset on.) Cody and Allin check on each other as Taz loses his cool over what he saw.

A Little Bit Of The Bubbly ad #3.

Main Event: Jack Evans (w/Angelico) (1-1 singles) vs. Christopher Daniels (w/Frankie Kazarian) (12-14 singles). Excalibur trips over the intro to the match and Taz gives him a second take. Then both insist to leave the first take in. They’re specifically commentating for my and Maffew’s benefit now, right? Kazarian insists that Angelico (wearing a facemask) not get involved.

Lockup, and Evans with a waistlock. Daniels rolls him into an inverted front facelock, but Evans drops so Daniels has to float over. Evans with the arm wringers into an armbar, but Daniels again floats over into the front facelock. Evans lands on his feet on a snapmare attempt and gets a hammerlock, but Daniels with a headlock takedown for one. Evans with headscissors out of it, but Daniels gets Evans’ arm with his legs and tries to take over. Evans with a drop toe hold into a headlock, blocking Daniels from the corner, then taking him over. Daniels fights to his feet and the two do a tumbling exchange until Daniels gets a T-Bone suplex.

Knee to the back and suplex by Daniels gets two. Daniels works a headlock, then throws Evans into the ropes to get a back body drop for two. Hammer throw to the corner, but Evans reverses and gets a roundhouse kick. He goes up top, but Daniels meets him for a superplex that Angelico blocks. Daniels tells off Angelico, allowing Evans to kick Daniels away and get a 540 kick off the top rope! It gets two. Evans slugs away on the back of Daniels’ head, getting a leaping leg lariat for two. Evans threatens to attack Kazarian, then kicks down Daniels.

Knees to Daniels’ head and a mat slam gets two. Slam by Evans and he goes to a kimura on a prone Daniels. Daniels reverses, but Evans blocks a fireman’s carry and tosses Daniels. Evans then checks with the referee so Angelico… no, Kazarian sniffs that out and makes sure nothing happens. Daniels is able to slingshot in, but Evans rolls through the cradle only to land in a Blue Thunder bomb for a double-down. Comeback begins for Daniels with clotheslines and cross chops, and Evans Flair Flops. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker gets two for Daniels. He wants Angel’s Wings, but Evans blocks and gets a back body drop and soccer kick. Standing Skytwister gets two.

Evans gets knocked to the apron, but springboard somersaults in and it’s a double clothesline for the double KO. Evans up first, and the two exchange strikes. Roundhouse by Evans misses, and Daniels with a shotei. Evans with a screw kick, but the 540 misses and Daniels gets the Koji Clutch. Kazarian drags Angelico down as Evans breaks, and the two wrestlers exchange cradles for two. This time Angelico trips Daniels, and Evans gets the Backslide Clutch for the pin at 8:57. TH2 escapes before Kazarian can get even. This is NOT OVER. Honestly, this match could’ve been put on Dynamite and no one would’ve questioned it. You can see the steps Daniels has lost, but Evans carried enough of the action. **3/4

TOMORROW!

  • The Young Bucks face Top Flight for the titles!
  • Cody and Darby face Team Taz!
  • PAC is back, and he faces The Blade!
  • The Inner Cirlce is in Las Vegas!
  • Kip Sabian goes against Orange Cassidy!
  • The NWA Women’s Title is on the line as Serena Deeb faces Thunder Rosa!
  • And Kenny Omega makes it official with Jon Moxley!

Tonight was interesting. A lot of shorter matches than normal, with only the main event topping five minutes, but in the process you saw a lot of people leaving nothing in the tank. It may also mean it’s hard to get a read on people you haven’t seen before, but that’s never stopped me before! Obviously the big matches (Stunt/Janela and Evans/Daniels) delivered, but the real question is how the prospects looked. So, for today’s random thought, here’s how I feel about them overall, rating them not just on tonight, but on their overall impression if I have it and how close they are to Dynamite-ready. Here we go:

Griff Garrison: He’s the one we have the most film on and the most book on. He’s been a regular on Dark, only getting one match on Dynamite as cannon fodder for Kingston’s Posse. In that match, he was part of his tag team with Brian Pillman Jr., and those two if they remain a team are on path to be a useful part of a very loaded tag division. But this is about his singles prospects, and while they’re doing a decent job keeping him viable – standing up to Archer and having solid back-and-forth affairs with Angelico and Kazarian – it’s pretty clear he’s better as a hot tag. And he’s a heck of a hot tag – his comeback has great energy and his power moves have a boost to them. Dynamite Readiness: 1-2 years as a single, but he and Pillman are 2-3 months away tops as a team.

Leyla Hirsch: Even if all you’ve seen her is the match against Shida, you know she’s got the skills. There’s a strong amateur background and very hard strikes in her game, and presenting herself as a Russian MMA fighter (as she does) is a step towards having a ready-made gimmick microwaved in. I would say she could use a more “Russian” name – Leyla Emelianenko just rolls off the tongue for me – but if that’s the only thing holding her back, it’s not really a big deal in AEW. Heaven knows they need women for depth with everyone stuck overseas and Kris Statlander on the injured reserve. The fact that she’s maybe 5’2 doesn’t even seem to matter – she carries herself as bigger and as more fierce. Dynamite Readiness: Yes.

KiLynn King: Whereas Hirsch’s small size may keep her from getting to the top, King’s big deal is that she’s tall – I’d say about 5’10, able to go nose-to-nose (literally) with Nyla Rose and Lei’D Tapa. However, she doesn’t really have a power game to go with this size. She does have “big strikes” – the boot is good when she delivers it, and she was able to muscle with Big Swole tonight – but I want to see her more on offense, and I want to see her bulk up a little more. She’s got basketball build (think Angelico or Randy Orton), but even Orton had to put on muscle mass before he gained credibility. So what do I recommend? Either she goes more for submission stuff like Angelico, or she puts on about 10-15 pounds more muscle so she can believably be a lady hoss. Dynamite Readiness: 12-18 months, depending on how the women’s division pans out.

Tesha Price: Two matches with her and the big thing about her is the look. She looks like a future star in the making – Homecoming Queen smile and style in her entrance gets you far – but she’s so green it hurts. You could see her try things she wasn’t fully comfortable with, and the hesitation in her moves tonight compared especially to Hirsch. Now, being second best against Leyla Hirsch isn’t the worst thing in the world, sure, but compare her to someone like a Red Velvet or a Big Swole – there’s a moment when the light goes on and it all connects, allowing you to go steps faster. She hasn’t made the Leap yet. Dynamite Readiness: 3-5 years, but if you put her against more experienced foes on Dark, that could speed up.

Lindsay Snow: She has the look – I mentioned she reminded me visually of a modern Luna Vachon – and if her whole thing is MMA and strong style, it’s a niche she could have in AEW. The thing is, AEW has a few women in Shida and Rosa who can do the same thing. Now, the fact that Snow was able to hold her own with Rosa is a great sign. But not every opponent can do that UWFi-esque routine of stiff shots and tight holds, and it’s not fair to ask them to do so. That said, the way she did tonight shows she can understand how to work that style very well, and as long as you have an ace you can go with, you can go places. If she’s not under a developmental deal with AEW, she should be. Dynamite Readiness: Incomplete, but if I had to guess, I’d say 6-12 months to vary her moveset.

Of course, you never know what AEW wants or sees in people – I would not have guessed Max Caster would be signed almost right away, but his chemistry with Anthony Bowens is undeniable and his mic work is incredible. Likewise, you have Tay Conti, who was basically signed due to fan demand but hasn’t really adjusted her judo style to mesh with AEW wrestling style, as evidenced by some subpar Dynamite appearances. But hey, if anyone from AEW is reading this – first, I can recommend some DC people for Dark, but second, hopefully this makes sense with their plans.

As for this show, lots of good fun and angle advancement, as they got Britt Baker and Lance Archer over without matches while checking everyone’s sprint capabilities. More like this, especially with so many feature matchups, and I won’t even mind the show being 2 hours of pure wrestling.

STATS:

BELL TO BELL – 58:38 over thirteen matches (average time 4:31)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT – Jack Evans vs Christopher Daniels

FIVE STARS!

  1. Jack Evans
  2. Thunder Rosa
  3. Frankie Kazarian
  4. Marko Stunt
  5. Leyla Hirsch

Enjoy the double feature tomorrow!