AEW DARK: November 24, 2020

(The show’s so long it deserves two logos!)

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark Episode 63: Buckle Up, We’re In For The Long Haul.

From the AEW Arena, Novemeber 24.

Your hosts are Excalibur, Taz, and (to start) Anthony Ogogo.

Oh, baby, we got ALL the matches tonight! Sammy Guevara battles Marko Stunt! It’s a three-way tag match with Chaos Project, Janela/Kiss, and Uno/Grayson! Matt Sydal steps up against Alan Angels of the Dark Order! Brian Pillman and Griff Garrison look to silence the complaints of TH2! KiLynn King and Rache Chanel battle in a showdown of Nightmare Factory grads! Trent looks to overcome the unorthodox styles of Michael Nakazawa! Someone’s “0” has to go between Peter Avalon and Fuego Del Sol! Tay Conti enters Britt Baker’s Waiting Room!

PLUS: Ivelisse and Diamante! Brandon Cutler! Jurassic Express! Big Swole! Private Party! Reynolds and Silver! Penelope Ford! The Acclaimed! Red Velvet! Gunn Club! And LOTS OF GATORADE TO KEEP ME HYPED!

(Seriously, AEW, if you keep this expansion up I’m gonna start splitting the review into two parts on two different days of the week, not just for clickbait but for my sanity. Don’t tell me I can’t, Scott; I’m not a machine!)

Opening match: Vipress (debut) vs. Big Swole (12-4, #1 women). Vipress is dressed like the main villain from BattleToads, but in black, and has borrowed Allysin Kay’s hair. She wouldn’t be out of place in GLOW with this look. Taz says he’s over in LA, just like everywhere else in the world.

Swole backs Vipress up, but Vipress shoves out and we end up in a stalemate instead. Swole goes to the arm on Round 2 and they exchange wristlocks, with Vipress getting a hammerlock before Swole and Vipress look for waistlocks. Headlock takedown by Vipress, though with a noticeable pause, and Swole stands up and gets her own (Swole jumping into it like something out of Gorgeous George). Vipress with the headlock now, and Swole wins a shoulderblock battle on Round 2 berfore running around Vipress and getting a back elbow.

Vipress fakes a throw and grabs the hair to club Swole down. Axe stomp and Vipress wraps Swole’s hair around the ropes to choke her with it. Snapmare by Vipress as commentary talks about Swole’s health issues that she’s overcome. Swole fights out of a surfboard and catches Vipress with… something… but Vipress elbows out. Criss-cross leads to a Northern Lights suplex by Vipress for one. A (slow) charge by Vipress runs into a uranage and Swole comes back. High-low-headbutt leads to the Malenko Special for the submission at 4:08. Vipress looked very, very inexperienced here, and Swole had to slow down to keep the match somewhat together. It didn’t work. DUD

Lee Johnson and Aaron Solow (first time teaming) vs. Alex Reynolds and John Silver (1-6 as a duo). Johnson is in Team Nightmare, probably to prep him for a trios run with Marshall/Dustin if I were to guess. Ogogo talks about how both Solow and Johnson are underrated and soon to break out, based on his (Ogogo’s) time training with them. And speaking of underrated, we have Reynolds and Silver. Also, Anna Jay faces Hikaru Shida tomorrow.

Reynolds and Solow start, but Reynolds tries to recruit Solow. Solow thinks about it, returns the salute… or not, as he clotheslines Reynolds and gives him a hiptoss. So there. Johnson in, and it’s a gut punch/neckbreaker combo for one. Reynolds rushes Johnson into the Dark Order corner, and Silver fires away when he’s tagged in. Military press try, but Johnson slips out the back and gets a dropkick. Solow in now, and they get a back elbow Hart Attack and double foot stomp by Solow for two. Solow puts his head down and Silver kicks him, but Solow recovers and sends the Dark Order packing to the floor. He follows with… no, Reynolds kicks him mid-dive for two.

Reynolds facewashes Solow in the ring and throws him to Silver, and they get a hiptosss rewind slam to get two for Silver. Yes Kicks from Silver, and he poses for the “crowd”. Beal follows as Silver mugs for the camera before tossing Solow into Reynolds’ corner. Boot choke in the corner and Reynolds drags Solow, who fights back. Reynolds with a Regal Cutter for two. Silver back in, and a standing roundhouse kick allows him to HIT THE CHINLOCK. Silver with another kick, but Solow bounces off the ropes and returns with a 540 kick. Reynolds holds the foot, but it’s not enough and it’s hot tag Johnson.

Back elbow into a neckbreaker and he kips up, tossing Silver and nailing him with a somersault hilo. Reynolds catches him with a boot, but Johnson lands on his feet on a German and gets a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Solow tags back in, but Reynolds runs them together and flapjacks Johnson into a Silver uppercut. Solow takes both men down and goes back and forth with the Cesaro Express, but a rapid-fire combo ending – Reynolds discus elbow into an enzuigiri into a Stunner into a German into a jack-knife cover gets him pinned at 7:15. Hoo boy that ending sequence was video game like. **1/4

Leva Bates is in her library and shoves aside pictures of Peter Avalon. She’s done with him, and in fact she’s done using her energy to help other people. She is now going to focus on herself. It’s time to show what she can do, because knowledge equals power. With no more deadweight, she’s out to write her own story.

Speaking of her own story, go get Killing the Business by the Young Bucks.

Michael Naka – Naka – Nakazawa!! (2-5) vs. Trent? (w/Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy) (#2 team) (20-11 total). We got enough punctuation there? Excalibur asks Ogogo about Turkish oil wrestling, which just makes him laugh. We talk about the Best Friends’ feud with Miro and Kip Sabian. Taylor confiscates Nakazawa’s jacket so there’s no funny business.

Trent asks the ref to check Nakazawa’s trunks (ref: do I have to?), and indeed we find more BABY OIL OF DOOM – two bottles in his trunks. And another in his kneepad. Is this like Toru Yano’s duct tape? Trent slaps Nakazawa for trying to cheat, and Nakazawa fires back as we get a slugfest. Nakazawa goes for the GRECO ROMAN NIPPLE LOCK OF DOOM, but Trent breaks.

Taz: “What are we doing?”

Excalibur: “In life or in general?”

Nakazawa with some big forearms and he goes up, getting a Patriot Missile to send Trent to the outside. Trent needs the other Friends to calm him down – Cassidy is supposedly extra fired up by his standards – and Trent returns to take control. Big chop in the corner and more against the ropes, then a running back elbow. Nakazawa tries to fight back, but Trent knocks him down and goes up. Nakazawa pulls him off the ropes and tries an Angle Slam, but Trent with the Half-Nelson suplex. Northern Lights gets two.

Trent toys with Nakazawa, clearly in a bad mood, but he puts his head down and pays for it. Trent recovers with a lariat for two. Forearms in the corner, but as the ref tells Trent to back down, Nakazawa finds ANOTHER baby oil bottle in the bottom turnbuckle and lubes up. Corner clothesline by Trent, but the Tornado DDT sends Trent flying because of the oil. Angle Slam by Nakazawa gets two.

THE THONG IS OFF and he’s ready for the Claw, but Trent blocks and tries a piledriver. Nakazawa cradles for two and goes for the Claw again, but Trent stops it with a Saito suplex. The ref gingerly removes the thong, so Trent gets the Knee Plus. Another one, this to the back of Nakazawa’s head, then a third one to a kneeling Nakazawa gets the pin at 7:08. Trent seems to be developing a mean streak to compare to Cassidy’s laid-back demeanor and Taylor’s cool head. Decent match with a comedy guy against someone who refused to get caught in the game. *1/4

A Little Bit Of The Bubbly ad.

Tesha Price (0-2) vs. Red Velvet (2-11). Tesha Price has girl-next-door good looks and that’s going to get her somewhere in this business. Red Velvet is being positioned as a tag partner and/or understudy of Brandi Rhodes, with Ogogo saying he seems them work together a lot.

Lockup goes nowhere. A second one is also a stalemate. Velvet trips Price and fakes an STF into a cradle for two, and the two women exchange armdrags, with Velvet getting the better of it into a leg lariat. Into the corner with Price and Velvet boxes her down before getting the stir it up choke. Snapmare leads to a shotgun dropkick (something out of Brandi’s playbook), but Price suckers Velvet into the corner and throws her down for two.

Price with a forearm and handspring roundhouse kick, then a bulldog facejam for two. We HIT THE CHINLOCK, but Velvet elbows out only to run into a Kitchen Sink. Back to the chinlock, with Taz selling it as working the neck. Velvet gets to her feet and wins a strike battle into a roundhouse kick (camerawork shows it whiff – nice one, guys). Casadora bulldog and standing moonsault gets two. Price is sent into the ropes, and Velvet with the knees to the back. Just Desserts wins at 3:31. Acceptable training match. *

Backstage, Alex Marvez finds Shawn Spears and Tully Blanchard. Spears is mad about his win over Scorpio Sky being called controversial, noting there’s no instant replay, so he won. Period. Spears says he finds weaknesses and exposes them. It happens everywhere, every day, but why is he a monster for gaming the system. So what’s next in this rivalry? Nothing, says Spears – rivalry over, Sky had a shot and failed. He took the higher road and it went nowhere. So here’s some advice: nice guys finish last. It’s not about violence, it’s about cunning. How far are you willing to go? Not as far as me, and that’s why Spears wins and Sky is lost. So what’s next? Nothing.

Before our next match, Lance Archer carries Ariel Dominguez (I believe) and chokeslams him for fun. Roberts says he’s constantly being asked if he’s a good guy or a bad guy? He’s just an honest prick, nothing more or less. So, Lance, who invented the DDT? Right, Jake, duh. But who stormed through Japan like Godzilla on Tokyo? Archer. So who carried a deadly animal to the ring? Jake. So who threw Marko Stunt halfway to next week? Archer. So who sicced a cobra on Randy Savage? Jake again (“My favorite moment”). But who is the guy that makes everyone around the ring scared because they know the countdown means everybody dies? Archer. So the problem isn’t who Jake is – or who Archer is. So what IS the problem? It’s that they dare anyone to show him who THEY are. Standard open challenge, with Roberts/Archer freelancing on the mic always a fun bit.

VSK & Baron Black (first time teaming) vs. Private Party (Isaiah Kassidy and Marq Quen) (9-9). VSK is a guy I’ve seen in Beyond, and Black is the EmpBruh, wearing a crown to the ring. Private Party now is from “a location where you DEFINITELY need an invitation”, which commentary takes personally for some reason. Black and Ogogo train together.

Kassidy and Black start. Black gets a waistlock takedown and slaps the back of the head, which gets Kassidy’s attention. Black to the waistlock, but Kassidy with a flying armdrag into a drop toehold and some back-of-the-head receipts. Quen in as Kassidy backs Black into the ropes, and a leg lariat by Kassidy gets Quen two. Black escapes and brings in VSK. VSK to the gut, but Quen slips out the back door of a slam and works the arm. Kassidy in and Private Party with their double-team leg sequence, ending in a wishbone and double dropkick.

Another double dropkick to Black sends him to the floor, and Quen avalanches VSK while tagging Kassidy. Double-leg slingshot into a facejam gets two. Kassidy gets the arm again and forearms VSK before kicking Black away, but VSK sends him to the apron. Kassidy leaps in, but lands on Black’s atomic drop knee and a T-Bone. Black – no tag, but the ref admonishes him over that – puts the boots to Kassidy before snapmaring him. Bow and arrow, but he’s in the ropes, BUT that allows VSK to slingshot in with a senton for two.

Uppercut by VSK, and Black back in as VSK gets tossed on a miscommunication. Black stops the hot tag, only to be kicked away. VSK knocks Quen down, but he runs into a flapjack. Hot tag Quen, and he runs Black over with the comeback. VSK gets nailed with a back body drop and Black with a leg lariat, then VSK eats the Pele. Kassidy tags himself in and gets a big kick off a headscissor. And a new finisher: Kassidy holds Black over his knees and Quen stands on his back to give him a shooting star press. Black’s back, not Kassidy’s. Kassidy gets the pin at 5:54. They seemed to be a half-step slower, which is good, because the #1 issue they had was going too fast for their own good. *1/4

Rache Chanel (0-3) vs. KiLynn King (1-13). How the heck did Chanel of all people get on the thumbnail and force me to treat this as a feature bout? I mean, yeah, she seemed to be getting better over her last appearance, but let’s see what happens here. KiLynn King is now officially “Queen of Crazy” in her chyron. During intros, Taz “accidentally” shuts off Excalibur’s mic.

Lockup, and Chanel tries an abdominal stretch and pats King’s head. King gets out, does an armbar and makes it a cradle for two. Chanel with a sunset flip for two, then an Oklahoma roll for two. King muscles Chanel down and rolls over her for two. Chanel sweeps her out for one, King does the same, and we reset to applause. King offers Code of Honor, but Chanel fakes it out and slams her down by the hair for two.

Hairpull snapmare into the corner, then a back elbow and legsweep on the charge. She prances to the opposite corner and delivers a facewash for two. Hammerlock around the leg and neck crank by Chanel, but King fights to her feet, forcing Chanel to go to a backpack sleeper. King backs her into the corner and sends her in, but a blind charges hits boot. Chanel tries a rana, but King catches her and throws her headfirst into the bottom turnbuckle for two. They slug it out, with King winning that and going to clotheslines.

Big boot, roundhouse kick, and German suplex, but she threw Chanel too far and by the time she gets over to cover, it’s two. Chanel with kicks to drop King to her knees, then a downward baseball punch gets two. King catches a crossbody and drops Chanel with a Hotshot, then the Garrison facejam (Kingdom Falls) gets the pin at 4:57. King looks much better now that she focuses more on power. Chanel… just too much gaga in her offense, which is weird because I like when people wrestle to their gimmick and she’s a fashionista. Go figure. 3/4*

Sammy Guevara (10-8) vs. Marko Stunt (11-10). Guevara just flew in from Las Vegas, having to finalize three annulments at once… if I understand what happened on Dynamite correctly. He’s over the alcohol poisoning anyway. Taz and Excalibur joke about Stunt’s new entrance video – which is just a montage of dinosaurs. Taz: “Why? He’s not a dinosaur and he doesn’t live in a jungle.” Excalibur: “He was abandoned as a baby in the jungle, okay?”

Code of Honor fistbump. Guevara with a waistlock takedown and he hits the Tranquilo pose on Stung, who slaps him for doing that. Stunt with a spin kick and he’s hungry for more, running through a tilt-a-whirl and getting a corkscrew bodypress for two. Guevara bails, so Stunt follows with a dragon-rana to the outside. Back in, Stunt escapes a blind charge by going up and drops an elbow on Gueavara’s back for two. Guevara with a vicious flying knee to knock Stunt loopy and he stomps away. Guevara tosses Stunt and dives out with a springboard 450 plancha!

He throws Stunt in and taunts, but a blind charge eats boot. Stunt with a poison rana over the ropes to spike Guevara on the apron, and Stunt races the stage to get a senton on Guevara! This match deserves an audience – it would be electric from this. Back in and Stunt goes up, but Guevara slugs him and pulls him off the top for Feast Your Eyes to win at 3:45. Get in, get your flash, get out. Very good sprint. *3/4 Guevara shows respect to Stunt after the match…

…and gets a mic. “Another win for the good guys!” Guevara says Marko threw everything he had, but it wasn’t enough. Heck, 2020’s thrown everything it had (including golf carts) and it wasn’t enough. In the ring, Guevara does it better than anyone. He never takes a day off, even if it’s Dark or PPV; he’s the best ever in this ring. And soon, people will see it. He said it when he was signed, and he says it now: he’s the brightest star and no one outshines him. So at some point, everyone else will see he’s the best, and he will be a champion in AEW. Guevara/Allin would make a great one-off, even though Starks is the logical next champ.

A Little Bit of the Bubbly ad #2.

Dreamgirl Ellie (0-1) vs. Penelope Ford (w/Kip Sabian) (10-5, #3 women). Now, let’s see if Ellie can sell for Ford better than others – I really liked the work she did in the tag match. Ogogo’s night is over, by the way. Taz thinks Ellie might surprise Ford. Sabian is busy rocking out to Ford’s music.

Ford calls time before a lockup and gives her ring to Sabian, allowing Ellie a cradle for two. Ford clotheslines Ellie, but Ellie with a knee and forearms. Over the shoulder knee strikes by Ellie, then the Party Foul and Ford bails. Ellie goes to dive, but Ford smashes her before she can take off. Ford chokes her on the ropes and kisses Sabian at the same time, then gives Ellie a guillotine (“You’re not in ANYONE’s dream, Ellie!” – commentary corpses).

Ford sends Elli into the corner and back, then goes for the Gut Check. It gets two. Yes Kicks by Ford, but the third is ducked, and Ellie German suplexes Ford FROM HER KNEES to get two. Butterfly suplex attempt, but Ford escapes and elbows away. Hammer throw sets up the handspring elbow by Ford, then a big boot. Ford with a release German into the Tajiri handspring cutter. Fisherman’s suplex ends it at 3:21. Not bad while it lasted – Ellie will make a good Ricky Morton on the indies. *

Young Bucks have a book. Get it.

Lady Frost and Jenna the Bionic Beast (first time teaming) vs. Ivelisse and Diamante (7-1). Oh, sweet! Lady Frost is a regular in the DC area and has, in fact, worked for both Nova Pro and CRAB, meaning I’ve shared a few meals with her after shows. Jenna(cide) still has the Metropolis mask, which is a great look. Here’s all you need to know: Frost is the smallest and Jenna the largest.

Ivelisse and Frost brawl, while Jenna slugs down Diamante. Frost bails, then Ivelisse, leaving Diamante to try a lucha armdrag, but Jenna picks her up into a bearhug slam. Front in, and Jenna helps her give Diamante a moonsault for one. Frost with a handspring headscissors and high kick in the corner, but Diamante cuts her off with an uppercut before raking her across the ropes. Ivelisse in, and Diamante hangs Front up on the apron before Ivelisse gives her a high boot. It gets two. Hook kick to the back gets two.

Ivelisse with a rear naked choke out of nowhere, changing it to a sleeper as Frost sits up. Frost elbows out, but Ivelisse stops a flurry and clubs her down. Diamante in, and the duo deliver a powerbomb variation. Diamante with a sliding clothesline (after telling Jenna to eat it) and she goes back to the sleeper. Frost elbows out, but Diamante blocks with a knee and sends Front face-first into Ivelisse’s boots. Ivelisse smashes Frost into the campus over and over, but Frost fights back and gets a flip neckbreaker.

Diamante in, but she can’t stop the tag to Jenna, who runs over both of them. Leg lariat to a kneeling Diamante, but she poses for the camera and Diamante tries a sleeper. Jenna fights out and gives both women a chokeslam, covering Diamante for two. Ivelisse helps Diamante escape an F-5 try, then SUPERKICKs Jenna into a Diamante sunset flip for the pin at 4:40. Same story as last time Ivelisse, Diamante, and Jenna met – I like that they’re giving Jenna time to grow. And Frost was there to sell, sadly. *1/2

Adam Priest (0-1) vs. Brandon Cutler (3-3-2 singles). Priest is from Battleground, Alabama – and if that’s your home town, you better be a good fighter. Smart of AEW to erase his tag team futility in his record – it signals a renewed push. Ricky Starks is on commentary now, though he’s not introduced.

Cutler backs Priest into the corner and gives a clean break. Headlock takedown by Cutler, then another. Priest takes the ropes, and Cutler breaks again. Priest with a hammerlock, but Cutler with more headlock takedowns to maintain control. Priest backs him into the ropes, and this time makes Cutler pay for a clean break with kicks. He hooks a cravat, but Cutler fights out and back to the headlock. We go International~!, with two tackles this time, ending in a diving shoulderblock for Cutler (and a Pec Flex, which ticks off Starks).

Cutler with chops to Priest and he slugs away, but Priest with a chop block. Priest stomps away in the corner and gets a dragon screw on Cutler, then DDTs the leg. Cutler with a knee to cut him off, but Priest fires back and kicks away in the corner. He wraps the leg around the middle rope and argues with the ref only to walk into a forearm. Cutler fires away in the corner, but Priest goes back to the leg. Atlantis legsweep with a cravat gets… one! Priest misses a blind charge and Cutler floats over the top with a roundhouse kick, then a 540 in the ring. Fireman’s carry, but Priest elbows out and tries an O’Connor Roll. Cutler blocks and gets a springboard elbow, then a diving elbow. Total Party Kill ends it at 5:13. A basic psychology in a squash match? Sure, why not. *1/2

AND NOW, it’s time for the Waiting Room with DOCTOR Britt Baker! You know, if Rebel could even remotely back it up in the ring, the Virgil turn would be amazing for her. Baker thanks the crowd for the standing ovation (we saw; there wasn’t one). Baker thanks everyone for the love for her first episode. She’s getting requests from all over the comedy world – they all want her. So some dental jokes follow. What’s a dentist’s favorite dinosaur? A flossoraptor. Okay, seriously… congratulations to Renee and Jon Moxley for having a baby on the way! Let’s hope Jon makes the delivery date, considering he missed the contract signing. And now, your guest: a judo black belt and BJJ blue belt, Tay Conti!

So first question: how do you pronounce it, TAY or TIE? I’ll never want to get a name wrong, right, Reba? (It’s “TIE”, by the way.) So let’s learn more about her. Who’s her favorite women’s division competitor? Anna, herself, Serena Deeb… and Red Velvet. Britt: “…and…?” Oh, right, the most important women’s wrestler: Hikaru Shida.

BUT WAIT, we have a letter! It’s from Tony Schiavone. (Probably.) What’s your relationship status? Tay: “Really?” It’s none of anyone’s business to be honest. But this is Britt’s show so everything is Britt’s business. Tay apologizes for her strong business and repeats: it’s none of Britt’s damn business. An argument breaks out as Reba quickly tries to bring out new guests… The Acclaimed! And we get a hip-hop track from Max Caster. Britt and Reba dance to the rap – Tay doesn’t, as she’s clearly not impressed. Britt poses with Bowens and we’re out. So, for those wondering, I imagine a Britt/Tay match is in Dark’s future.

KTB, Cezar Bononi, and Seth Gargis (first time teaming) vs. Gunn Club (Billy, Austin, and Colten) (1-0). Seth Gargis has the lumberjack vest on, which is odd because KTB’s the one from The Woods. Excalibur claims the enhancement team is all related just to flummox Taz. Taz and Starks tell Austin to stop bothering them and get to the ring as the Gunn Club has them on tilt in a hilarious bit. Taz is so funny when he’s pissed off.

Austin and KTB start. Gunn turns a lockup into a hiptoss, but KTB runs him over. Austin trips KTB and gets a Ziggler snapmare for two. Austin works the arm, and Colten keeps it up until KTB goes with a knee to the gut. Gargis in, and he lariats Colten. He runs into a Kitchen Sink and keeps the arm as Billy enters. Austin enters next, and everyone works the arm. Colten in now, as Gargis’ arm is being targeted with axhandles. Billy gets caught in a headlock, though, but shoulders down Gargis for two. Bononi tags himself in and stares down Billy, who thinks of tagging out but decides to go for it.

Bononi runs him over and we go International~!, ending with Billy flooring Bononi and going for a chokeslam. Bononi fights out and gets a right cross, but Austin in off the blind tag only to run into a clothesline. Bononi stomps a mudhole in Austin and walks it dry before boot choking him. KTB in, and he gets a rolling shoulder ram in the corner, followed by a snapmare and falling headbutt for one. Gargis tags in, working the gut of Austin with lefts. Bononi tags back in, and the triple-teaming continues.

Bononi taunts Austin about making a tag (“You want Daddy in?”) before giving him a hammer throw and lariat. Facebuster gets two. Bononi knocks Billy off the apron, but Austin dodges a blind charge. Gargis gets hit with an enzuigiri, and it’s hot tag Colten. KTB and Gargis get floored, Bononi is low-bridged out, and Colten gives Bononi a dropkick when he returns.

Back and forth Stinger Splashes to KTB and Gargis, then a dropkick to Gargis as KTB is dumped. Bononi saves on the cover, so Billy with a Cactus clothesline to clear the ring again. Colt 45 (Billy’s Rocker Dropper) ends it at 6:09. They’re easing Colten into the wrestling action by having him do hot tags, the way Billy did with Austin, and it works. I really want to see Bononi in singles competition, though. *3/4

A Little Bit Of The Bubbly ad #3.

Panda X-Press (Super Panda and Ultimo Panda) (debut) vs. Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy Jack Perry and Luchasaurus) (12-5, #4 team). Yup, it’s two guys dressed in panda lucha outfits claiming to weigh 500 pounds each. Taz wonders where all these pandas come from if they’re an endangered species. Shouldn’t they be in colder climates? Excalibur: “No, those are polar bears”. They’re really just chatting to get on Botchamania at this time, aren’t they?

Perry and Ultimo will start. A very confused Perry is asked to rub the belly, but goes for a headlock instead. Collision goes nowhere, so Ultimo tries and after some running back and forth… Ultimo runs out of gas. Perry takes his hand – and does a full flip into a lucha armdrag and dropkick. Super tags in now, but Perry armdrags him too. Saurus in, and he catches Super with a roundhouse kick. Super chops Saurus, which gets no-sold. Saurus blocks another try and chops back to floor Super. He boxes Super in the corner, then gets a front suplex. Commentary has literally no clue what to do here.

Super escapes, and Ultimo comes in only to get kicked by Saurus. Perry in with an assisted senton for two. Perry tries a sunset flip, but Super helps Ultimo block and Ultimo sits on Perry for two. Super in, and he whips Ultimo into Perry in the corner before sandwiching him for two. Taz: “Why is a panda wearing a weightlifting belt?” Ultimo returns, hammer throwing Perry, then whipping Super into Perry. Another sandwich try, but Perry escapes and tags in Saurus. Pandas go flying left and right with a SUPERKICK to Ultimo and a double clothesline. Chokeslam try on Super, but Ultimo breaks it up (sort of).

Saurus asks Ultimo what he’s doing, and some Kung Fu Panda chopping gets him hook kicked. A second hook kick floors Super, and Perry enters but Ultimo shoves Perry aside. Super with a Stunner to Saurus and Ultimo sends him out of the ring before catching Perry with a Samoan Drop. Super from the top with a frog splash for two. Super wants a fisherman’s buster, but Perry escapes and SUPERKICKs Super. Ultimo is low bridged out and Perry follows, and the ELE into a spinning hook kick into a sliding forearm makes Super Panda extinct at 6:30. I was not expecting a competitive match here. *1/4 The Pandas were pretty comedic, but once the match got serious they were in over their head.

Griff Garrison and Brian Pillman Jr. (2-5) vs. The Hybrid 2 (Jack Evans and Angelico) (4-5). Taz takes a sip of tea between matches and is caught way offguard by how hot it is, cracking up Starks and Excalibur. We review TH2 getting in cheap shots on Top Flight on Dynamite before cutting to Starks vibing to the music. TH2 face Top Flight tomorrow, which puts this match out of the balance.

Angelico and Pillman start. Angelico works the arm three different ways, but Pillman cartwheels out and reverses. Angelico fakes a backslide and goes to a headlock, but Pillman fires out and gets a shoulderblock and armdrag into a dropkick. He then MOCKS ANGELICO’S DANCE because he’s a Hollywood Blond. Angelico stops a tag and kicks out Pillman’s leg, and Evans comes in for a neckbreaker/backbreaker combo for two. Evans kicks Garrison off the apron to draw him in, allowing Evans to slam Pillman down by the hair.

Hammer throw to Pillman and Evans with a handspring elbow and snap suplex for two. Evans with knees in a clinch to Pillman and he throws him down. Evans stalls too much, so the cover only gets one. Pillman is thrown into the TH2 corner, and Angelico strikes away with a nasty kick to the calf. Pillman fights back with chops, but Angelico with a roll into a Navarro Lock type figure four – with Pillman inverted! He makes the ropes. Angelico works the knee some more, and Evans in to deliver a flying leg lariat. Standing skytwister gets two. Evans taunts Garrison and stomps Pillman, then slams him down and goes up. Pillman catches him with an uppercut and vaults to the top, getting a superplex on Evans for the double-down.

Hot tag Garrison, and he bowls over both guys and boots Evans. Discus forearm to Angelico when he returns, and Garrison with a Stinger Splash to Angelico. He catches a leg and gives him a facejam, but Evans is legal and dives in… only to be caught by Garrison. He back in to tag in Pillman, and a Hart Attack neckbreaker gets a very close two. Angelico gets a blind tag as Garrison is sent out. Pillman goes after Evans, who kicks away Pillman and gives Garrison a quebrada. Angelico goes for the leg and nails the Navarro Death Roll for a not immediate submission at 6:21. Even if TH2 had to win this, Pillman and Garrison looked real good in defeat – it’s clear AEW sees something in them. **1/2 TH2 attack Pillman’s legs after the match, and Top Flight make the save.

Alex Chamberlain and Damian Fenrir (first time teaming) vs. The Acclaimed (Max Caster and Anthony Bowens) (3-1). This is Fenrir’s debut tonight. And on what planet do Bowens and Caster weigh 556 pounds, anyway? Caster with another diss track – he’s on fire on the mic.

Bowens and Fenrir start. A lockup sees Bowens send Fenrir to the corner and give a clean break… before chopping Fenrir. He goes from 0 to Kobashi in the corner on Fenrir before whipping him in, but Fenrir goes up and over and gets armdrags and a dropkick. Caster tags in, but he gets a dropkick too. Fenrir charges and knocks Bowens off the apron, but Caster with a big boot and he tosses Fenrir to the apron… where Bowens trips him and drops him facefirst. The Acclaimed stomp Fenrir on the outside before throwing him in, and Bowens (who got a blind tag 20 seconds ago) returns to toy with Fenrir.

A series of elbows to the head follow, then he works the arm and brings in Caster. Fenrir tries to fight out, but gets doubled over and a neckbreaker/sunset flip combo flattens him. Caster gets a curtain call and stands over Fenrir, continuing to toy with him. Back suplex follows, and Caster sends Fenrir to the apron and chokes him on the middle rope. Bowens adds a rib kick when the ref is admonishing Caster. Fenrir with a jawjacker and enzuigiri, and hot tag Chamberlain to give Bowens a spinebuster. Bowens is in the opposing corner, but Chamberlain gets Caster in and Bowens gets double-teamed. Who’s the face here?

Chamberlain with a judo hiptoss, and Fenrir goes CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY. Bowens with a forearm strike that floors Fenrir and he glares Chamberlain off the apron. Caster in, and a brainbuster/flying elbow combo gets the pin at 4:55. You can see flashes of brilliance in The Acclaimed – they’ll be tag champions down the line, although given how long title reigns are in AEW it may not be until 2025. *1/4

Alan Angels (4-6) vs. Matt Sydal (5-3). Okay, this has a chance to be fast-paced given who’s in it. Excalibur: “It wouldn’t be AEW Dark without the Dark Order, would it?” Sydal now has a matching mask to Preston “10” Vance – both with a Joker-esque scar smile on it (I think they’re called Chelsea Smiles). Vance is in Angels’ corner as the rest of the Dark Order heads to the back. Sydal being a submission expert is seen as a surprising development.

Sydal asks Angels to stop saluting and open his eyes (all three of them), which has Angels pacing around. Angels shoves Sydal away and demands a fight, so Sydal goes to the lotus position. Angels says stop it and fight, and we finally get a lockup, with Sydal using a knee to win it. Sydal to the headlock, into a wristlock, but Angels uses the hair to help him reverse. Sydal rolls and flips through to get control back and force Angels to the mat. Snapmare gets one. Another snapmare gets one again. Small package gets two.

Angels is on tilt as Sydal wants more fire. Angels with a kick off a fakeout of the lockup, and he gives Sydal a snapmare only for Sydal to cartwheel out and get armdrags. Crucifix by Sydal gets two and he goes to the front chancery. Angels goes for a hiptoss, but Sydal flips through and gets a rana. Angels finally has had enough and lariats down Sydal. Uppercut by Angels and he slugs away in the corner. Angels goes for a back suplex, but Sydal with a forearm to fall on top for two. Side suplex driver by Sydal gets two, which started by catching a kick from Angels.

Angels bails, so Sydal with a baseball slide… that gets Vance, not Angels. Sydal gets back on the apron and gets nailed with an apron uranage by Angels. Vance gives Sydal a receipt with the ref’s back turned. Back in, it gets two. Angels chokes Sydal and mocks the third eye gesture to the camera before adding shots in the corner. He stomps a mudhole in Sydal, but neglects to walk it dry and instead covers for two. Angels to the amateur waistlock and ride, but Sydal gets up and reverses, trying a German. Angels lands on his feet and gives Sydal a double foot stomp for two.

The two begin kicking each other’s calves, with Angels winning the exchange and kicking Sydal’s leg out of his leg. Sydal with a roundhouse and standing mariposa dive for two. Sydal eats an elbow on a blind charge, but still catches Angels with a leg lariat. Fisherman’s Buster gets two. Sydal wants the Shooting Star Press – which he hasn’t done since the Casino disaster – but Angels gives him a knee and follows him up. They fight up top, but Angels flips out of a sunset flip bomb and catches Sydal with the C-4 for two.

Angels looks for the Wing Snapper, but Sydal reverses to the cobra clutch. Vance distracts the ref from seeing a tapout, and Sydal chases Vance away only to get hook kicked by Angels. Vaderbomb style moonsault gets two. Angels signals the end, but Sydal fakes a roundhouse and gets La Majistral for two. Flying knee and Saturn Driver wins it at 9:40. So if you were expecting a high-flying match, that’s not what you got… but you got a heck of a match anyway. ***

Killing the Business ad #3.

Fuego Del Sol (0-4) vs. Pretty Peter Avalon (0-27-2). I’d say someone has to get their first win tonight, but I’ve said that before for Peter Avalon matches and been wrong. Avalon gets some smooth jazz for his new music and the video wall shows yacht images. Avalon is absolutely into the gimmick already.

Fuego backs Avalon into the corner, where Avalon goes “NOT THE FACE” during the break. That’ll never get old. Avalon works the arm, but Fuego flips with the help from the ropes and reverses. He keeps the arm when Avalon tries to roll through, but Avalon gets himself a hammerlock. Fuego with a snapmare, then a cradle for two and the two exhange pinfalls before Fuego gets a dropkick. Avalon swats away a second one and sends Fuego to the floor. Avalon rests on the top rope as Fuego rolls in, and Avalon stomps away.

Back suplex by Avalon gets two. He chokes Fuego on the bottom rope and poses as Taz does some geography stuff. Leg lariat by Avalon gets two (with an arrogant cover). Avalon puts Fuego on the top rope and adds a palm strike before following with a superplex attempt. Fuego shoves Avalon off, however, and gets a diving crossbody to cue the comeback. Straitjacket Gory Bomb by Fuego gets two. Fuego gets to the middle rope and goes for the Tornado DDT, but Avalon shoves him off and gets the Martiknees to pin him at 4:31. FIRST WIN ALERT! Avalon is as shocked as the rest of us that he won, letting out a lot of emotion. Well, now that they have them under contract, might as well let them win. 3/4* He’s now 1-27-2. Excalibur: “A record only a mother could love!”

MAIN EVENT (finally): Chaos Project (5-2) vs. Evil Uno and Stu Grayson (12-2, #5 team) vs. Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela (8-6). Excalibur notes Luther’s “Michael Jackson Thriller” jacket as Serpentico shoots off the streamers. The rest of the Dark Order comes out with Uno and Grayson, but head to the back. Joey Janela successfully avoids tripping on his way to the ring, though he mocks his own discombobulation. Taz: “He’s bombed, isn’t he?” No, Janela does not need substances to be a weirdo.

It’s chaos before the bell as both heel teams attack and get sent out. Janela and Kiss with stereo dives onto the piles as Janela shakes the guardrail (“Hello, Taz!”). The match proper begins with the Jersey folk double-teaming Serpentico and getting a splash/legdrop combo. Kiss and Serpentico start proper, but Uno tags himself in and kicks away on Kiss. Kiss returns with one of his own only to be caught by Grayson. Kiss fights off both guys, but he gets hit with a jawbreaker/enzuigiri/exploder combo by Dark Order for two.

Uno steps on Kiss’s hand to keep control and throws him into Grayson’s boot. Grayson whips Uno into Kiss, and a snapmare leads to a soccer kick by Grayson for two. Uno back in, and he chops Kiss down and toys with him as Taz says there’s a reaosn Team Taz has no official team – the division’s too deep. Serpentico in and he snapmares Kiss into a SUPERKICK before bringing in Luther. Double-team bulldog splash on Kiss, and Luther (temporarily forgetting he tagged in) follows with a slam.

Luther then slams Serpentico onto Kiss, but Serpentico’s not strong enough to return it. So Luther does it again. Uno tags himself in and corners Kiss, preventing the tag and bringing in Janela. Serpentico argues with Uno and the heel teams shout at each other… which allows the tag to Janela, who just waits for them to stop arguing before getting the 7-10 split dropkick.

Uno is dropkicked down, and it’s a back body drop to Grayson. Luther’s off the apron, and Janela throws Grayson into Serpentico before double clotheslining the Dark Order. He then superplexes Serpentico, kncoking down Uno and Grayson again, before tagging in Kiss. Doomsday Device on Serpentico gets two. Janela back in, but he gets dumped on the outside and Serpentico with a low DDT to Kiss. Luther’s off the apron, so Serpentico reluctantly tags Grayson.

Dark Order with the Toss Powerbomb to Kiss and Grayson disposes of Janela, so Uno with the senton bomb on Kiss for two. Kiss slides out of a slam and gets a roundhouse on Uno, but Luther tags in and tosses Serpentico to spear Grayson. Leg lariat to Uno, and Luther suplexes Serpentico onto Uno, who bails. Everyone’s outside now and Luther goes up, but Serpentico decides to do it instead. Luther throws a very unenthusiastic Serpentico onto Kiss and Uno, then Luther gives Grayson a cannonball senton.

Back in the ring, Luther works on Kiss and holds him up, and the Creeping Death on Kiss gets two, Uno saves. Grayson tags himself in and disposes of Luther, and now the Dark Order tag in and have to get Kiss back in from the outside. Kiss escapes and tags in Janela, who dives onto Grayson… but Grayson rolls through and puts him on Uno. Fatality to Janela ends it at 9:01. Great fire by Janela, great selling by Kiss, great character work by Chaos Project, great teamwork by Dark Order… what’s not to love? ***1/4 I mean, other than we’re approaching three hours of the show as we check out.

TOMORROW!

  • Hikaru Shida defends against Anna Jay!
  • Top Flight takes on TH2!
  • Pac and Rey Fenix face The Butcher and The Blade!
  • Will Hobbs is in action!
  • Daniels! Kazarian! Jericho! Hager!

Okay, I’m on my third Gatorade and can feel the sugar crash coming soon so let’s see if I can make anything coherent out of what I just watched.

The big thing here is that they set up future matches, and hopefully they’ll follow through. Guevara’s “I want titles” says to me that Guevara/Allin should happen soon. Baker being mad at Conti disrespecting her makes me want that match. And hey, Archer wants someone, anyone, so that’s another possibility.

On top of that, one of AEW’s best assets is they allow variety. WWE teaches its wrestlers to work in a formula so that they can put people together on a moment’s notice. It means you raise the floor, so there is a good purpose to it, but you also lower the ceiling. In AEW, everyone is allowed to do the style they want. Sometimes it doesn’t work, as when Vipress and Swole exchanged power and looked lost at times. But they trust the wrestlers to sink or swim with their routines.

I’m a big fan of “wrrestling to your gimmick”. Rache Chanel needs to get smoother and more fluid – the switch hasn’t flipped yet, shall we say – but that’s what she does. Luther and Serpentico are the Chaos Project, and hurt each other to get offense – something no sane team would do (and Serpentico is beginning to regret it!). Peter Avalon doing a delusional Casanova wannabe allows him to preen in the ring and insist you avoid the face, which is easy heat. Cutler is a tabletop RPG aficionado, and (unsaid but noticed) he wrestles like he’s Lawful Good aligned.

It’s an easy way for a beginning or undercard wrestler to stand out – you find a gimmick and you build around the gimmick. Yes, there’s a ceiling with being a gimmick as opposed to a character, but we’re on AEW Dark, people! You’ll notice that when the time comes to move up, more depth is added – look at Lance Archer going from a barely-controllable monster to a calculating force. Sammy Guevara’s another example – he’s not just the Inner Circle’s pretty boy anymore, he’s a sneaky and tough individual who wants to move up. Jericho would approve.

I’d argue we didn’t need so much content – of course, this is a YouTube show, and you can watch at your leisure over a long holiday weekend – but the stuff we got was fun experimentation if you will. We even got to see some of the trainees get live show experience with Red Velvet and KiLynn King getting wins. There’s something to look for if you want to be optimistic about wrestling like I do. Still… can we get a time limit on this show?

STATS

BELL-TO-BELL: 96:59 (yikes) over seventeen (eep) matches (average time 5:42)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Triple threat tag main event

FIVE STARS:

  1. Matt Sydal
  2. Joey Janela
  3. John Silver
  4. Brian Pillman Jr.
  5. First Win Honor: Peter Avalon

Happy Thanksgiving on Thursday, and we’ll all be ready for… (collapses in exhaustion)