AEW Dark: December 22, 2020

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, Episode 67 (Don’t Call It A Christmas Special), December 22, 2020.

From the AEW Arena.

Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz, with Ricky Starks. Today’s adjective: “Massive.” Taz says all of Team Taz will be on this episode, but they’re not – that match must have been bumped to next week’s show.

Tonight, we have three BIG feature bouts! Serpentico takes a break from being beaten up by Luther to try his hand at Matt Sydal! Big Shotty Lee Johnson has QT Marshall of the Nightmare Family behind him as he looks for his first win against Stu Grayson! And for the first time ever, Miro wrestles on AEW Dark against Sonny Kiss! HAPPY MIRO DAY!

PLUS – second-generation brother teams collide when the Hughes Brothers battle the Gunn Club! Alex Gracia and KiLynn King face off, with the winner making her Dynamite debut tomorrow! In addition, we have Thunder Rosa, Peter Avalon, Red Velvet, Jurassic Express, Rey Fenix, Nyla Rose, Dark Order, and Leyla Hirsch in action!

Bear Country (0-1) vs. Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy Jack Perry and Luchasaurus w/Marko Stunt) (15-5) (#3 team). This ought to be fun, as it marks one of the few times Luchasaurus isn’t the biggest man in the match. Bear Country, of course, stole the show last week against Dark Order, but that was as faces – now let’s see them as heels as their tryout likely continues. And Bear Country come out with their wild masks on!

Bronson and Perry start. Bronson muscles Perry into the corner and feigns a clean break, but after a cross-corner whip, Perry runs around before getting some up-and-overs, a handstand, and three dropkicks to send Bronson into the Bear Country corner. Boulder tags in, so Saurus wants the face-off. It’s a massive strike-fest, with Boulder headbutting Saurus to take advantage before running into a back elbow and big boot. Bronson gets kicked a few times to fall to his knees, and Perry flies in with a double-team Flatliner and over-the-shoulder senton for one. Perry kicks away on Bronson, but Boulder pulls him out of the way of a blind charge and Bronson gets a Tazplex (with Starks and Taz angry for gimmick infringement).

Boulder in as Bear Country mauls Perry. Back elbow and clotheslines in the corner by Boulder, and a hammer throw leads to a BAAAAACK body drop (.8 Warlord). Bronson in as Perry is half-dead, but tries to slap his way out of Bronson’s grip. Bronson stops it, but Perry leaps out of the suplex and gets the hot tag. Saurus pump kicks Boulder off the apron and boxes Bronson before getting a HUGE German suplex. Boulder charges in and gets chopped down, then Saurus pops out of the corner with a clothesline. Chokeslam and moonsault to Bronson, Boulder saves. Perry returns as they set up the ELE, but Boulder Pounces Perry and boots Saurus.

Bronson with a Monster Driver on Perry ON Saurus, and Boulder gets a middle-rope moonsault for two. We get replays as Boulder argues with the ref, and then Bronson comes in for the Electric Chair Splash… but Saurus springboards in to turn it into a Doomsday Device to Bronson!!! Perry lariats Boulder, and Saurus knocks him out with another one. Corkscrew Kick by Saurus into a sliding clothesline by Perry gets the win (and may have knocked Bronson silly) at 6:45. DAYUM! **3/4

Tesha Price (0-6) vs. Nyla Rose (w/Vickie Guerrero) (13-3) (#2 women’s). I get the feeling this match won’t be anywhere near as competitive as what we just saw. Price is doing the smiling girl next door routine and it’s great, because it makes you realize she’s in deep trouble. Meanwhile, Vickie Guerrero wins the Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest by covering her ugly Christmas sweater with present bows.

Price navely offers the Code of Honor, which Rose takes… and squeezes into oblivion. Price with some forearms to break, but Rose just lands a knee and hairpull slam. Price is thrown hard with one hand into the corner, and an attempt to block a charge is caught. Price turns it into an enzuigiri, though, and gets the handspring roundhouse before running into a Samoan Drop attempt. She reverses to a sunset flip try, but Rose just lifts her to her feet and smashes her down with one shot.

Samoan Drop connects this time, and Rose stomps Price. Two backbreakers into a fallaway slam, and Vickie is very happy with this development. Avalanche in the corner, then another, and a clothesline as Price is a ragdoll. Running Orton kick and Rose hangs Price on the top rope before landing a flying King Kong kneedrop to win at 2:57. This was just what you’d expect – an overmatched lightweight plucky babyface throwing everything at the monster heel before being swallowed. 3/4*

Sonny Kiss (3-7) vs. Miro (w/Kip Sabian) (3-0). Commentary talks about how Kiss is usually with Joey Janela, but is going alone; meanwhile, Miro’s firepower of the past two weeks is covered.

Miro with a standing roundhouse to floor Kiss and he celebrates. Game Over, but Kiss avoids the setup stomp and gets a roundhouse of his own. Splits jawjacker and Kiss tries a rana, but Miro catches only to be sent into the corner. Handspring elbow try, but Miro catches only to have Kiss flip out of a suplex and slap Miro. Kiss runs away and catches Miro with a diving rana, then a big boot and cradle gets two. Miro returns with the Machka Kick, and he stomps Kiss’s back over and over before Game Over finishes at 2:03. I’m not sure why Kiss got offense in this if it was going to be a squash. 1/2*

Scorpio Sky now appears with James Willems on Wrestling With the Week, from the creators of Death Battle! Premiers January 18!

And now, it’s time for THE WAITING ROOM!!! There’s a wreath hanging over the back wall, which has been repaired. Rebel, meanwhile, is now wearing golden antlers for headgear. Baker’s sweater has Ralphie from A Christmas Story on it. Britt and Rebel wish everyone a Merry Christmas and thank Tony Khan for fixing the wall that Scorpio Sky ruined just like he ruins everything that – hey, Rebel! The paint’s not dry! Also, we gave Thunder Rosa a facial for Christmas! She never looked better! Also, Sting will be on The Waiting Room… date not confirmed, but IT’S HAPPENING! Tomorrow’s show is huge: Butcher vs. Pac! Which is appropriate because Pac butchers the English language. Jericho/MJF vs. Top Flight! Looks like Top Flight’s time is up, but hey, they’re only 15, they can recover. UNLIKE OUR GUESTS – who have been around since forever! “CD’s hair was once longer than mine!” And here they are – Daniels and Kazarian of SCU!

Kazarian cuts off Britt’s attempt at humor, but he’s not in the mood. He tells Daniels this isn’t how it was supposed to be. Going back to the Tag Title tournament, they were supposed to be champs, but it didn’t happen because Daniels was taken out. Instead, it was Kazarian and Sky who got the gold! And now, 14 months later, this is the worst year of their careers and lives. They’ve all lost some of themselves, but through everything, Kazarian knew he could rely on SCU…. until now.

See, last week, SCU faced the Acclaimed, and Daniels lost. Foreign object or not, Daniels lost. In fact, Daniels is always the one getting pinned. Yes, it seems harsh, but Kazarian values success more than anyone can know. Over the last 22 years, he’s lived a dream life, met his best friends and his wife, has a family, and it’s all because of This Business. So, he’s been frustrated about all this. But Daniels is his best friend, his brother, the best man at his wedding, and for 20 years they’ve been inseparable. So, for allowing the professional frustrations to get in the way, Kazarian apologizes…

…but Daniels tells him to stop. Kazarian doesn’t have to apologize for the passion about what he loves, because he is the most professional person in This Business. Daniels is proud to call him a partner and friend – and, in fact, Daniels apologizes to Kazarian for losing that loving feeling. 2020 was the Worst Year of his professional life, a wasteland of failure. Daniels let injury grind him down until he loathed getting in the ring. The thought of going to Jacksonville made him sick! He’s been falling apart for 10 months. He’s said he would always know when it was time to walk away… and maybe this is the sign, before he ruins his reputation forever.

Kazarian stops him from walking off and ask if that’s what he wants… but Daniels doesn’t get to do that to Kazarian or the fans who supported them for 30 years, nor his family, nor to HIMSELF most important. Kazarian knows him best, and he knows Daniels is a fighter. Daniels will fight, so Kaz wants him to fight by his side. Yes, times are tough, so here are some drastic measures. Right now, they’re at the foot of the tag team table, but they’ll claw their way to the top and become Tag Champions… and any one loss means it’s time to break up the team forever.

Daniels doesn’t reply, heading for the door, but stops and says “Let’s do it!” TH2 is in the audience, shaking their heads, so SCU invite them to get an ass-beating in the ring. The two yell at each other before SCU leaves. Britt says to never book SCU again because Britt said nothing. But Happy Holidays! Big hug!

LOOK THIS UP ON YOUTUBE WHEN IT’S AVAILABLE! I MEAN IT! Kazarian and Daniels brought it and made it feel REAL! It wasn’t a loud promo, it was an Arn Anderson EMOTIONAL and AUTHENTIC promo! Find it.

Jazmin Allure (debut) vs. Thunder Rosa (4-2). Taz makes a point that Rosa is in a very bad mood after what Britt Baker did a week ago. Allure bails as Rosa enters, as if to make that point.

Rosa shoves down Allure after the bell. On the next lockup, Allure gets the arm and holds a wristlock, which Rosa reverses to a top wristlock to bridge Allure to the mat for one. Keylock by Rosa, but Allure sweeps out Rosa on the whip and gets a dropkick for one. Kitchen Sink by Rosa and she picks Allure up to slam her face-first to the mat. Rosa sets Allure on the middle rope and kicks her in the back repeatedly before adding double knees. The cover gets two. Rosa wins a slugfest and gets an Oklahoma Stampede for two. Rosa adds a chop in the corner, then another (as Taz asks the fans to listen to it so they can stop claiming it doesn’t hurt as much as a punch). Rolling charge misses, and Allure pounds away and gets Ivelisse’s snapmare/kick combo. Casadora slam gets two. Maybe Allure shouldn’t have played to the crowd during the cover. Rosa with a headbutt and some knees before adding a running dropkick. Michinoku Driver ends it at 3:57. Rosa screams at the camera that she’s coming for Britt Baker. Not much chemistry in this one. 1/2*

Young Bucks book ad.

Lee Johnson (w/QT Marshall) (0-17) vs. Stu Grayson (w/Evil Uno) (18-5). Yes, there’s a story here: Johnson, much like the Nightmare Family, is mad about the Dark Order recruiting Dustin Rhodes and wants to get them out of Nightmare business, so now Uno’s partner will tell him to back off. Also, Colt Cabana has the jacket he got on BTE.

Grayson runs over Johnson on the bell and rushes him into the corner, slugging away. A charge misses and Johnson reverses, chopping and punching. He too is pulled off by the ref, which leads to a whip sequence ending when Johnson airballs a dropkick only to pop up and get a running elbow. More criss-crossing and now Grayson gets a dropkick. Grayson throws Johnson, who lands on the apron and kicks down Grayson, but Grayson intercepts the senton with a prone kick and gets one of his own on the apron.

Grayson smirks at Marshall before re-entering, but a uranage is reversed by Johnson to an armdrag. Grayson slugs him down, and this time the uranage connects for two two-counts. Grayson demands Johnson try to get up, then chops him down. Crossface blows by Grayson as he continues to beg for competition, then shrugs off some forearms and knocks Johnson down with a running elbow. Boot choke against the bottom rope follows. “Bring it to me! Come on, Lee, fight me!”

Grayson picks Johnson up, but Johnson lands on his feet and gets an enzuigiri out of nowhere. Grayson charges inot a back elbow, and Johnson begins the comeback with elbows. Grayson blocks Johnson with a boot but runs into a dropkick. Running chop by Johnson, and he goes up and over to give Grayson a Blue Thunder bomb for two. Uno tries to get Grayson back into this, and Grayson blocks Johnson and tries a half-nelson. After some struggle, Johnson tries to roll through, but Grayson hangs on and gets a DRAGON SUPLEX and Pele kick! Springboard 450 by Grayson gets two.

Grayson pulls down the kneepad, but Johnson catches the running knee with a cradle for two. Backslide by Johnson gets two. Grayson kips through a clothesline, but the Pele misses and Johnson gets a thrust kick and buckle bomb! Cancun Tornado (double twist splash) by Johnson, and Grayson can only get his foot on the ropes before rolling out and asking for help from Uno. Johnson follows out, but Grayson gives him a Hotshot onto the guardrail. He goes for Nightfall on the outside, but instead throws him into the post! Back in, and this time the running knee connects. Nightfall is a formality to get the win at 7:54. Whatever they put in the coffee in Jacksonville this week, keep doing it. ***1/4 At Uno’s behest, Grayson shows respect to Johnson post-match as QT wonders if there’s an angle in this or what.

WINNER EARNS A MATCH ON DYNAMITE: Alex Gracia (0-4) vs. KiLynn King (3-14). Geez, I feel sorry for these two having to follow that. Excalibur: “You ever considered calling yourself the Orange Dream?” King has new music with something said at the beginning – AEW really needs to sweeten the audio in Daily’s Place.

Lockup, and King gets a waistlock takedown and front facelock. Gracia reverses to one of her own, but King gets a side headlock and we go International~!, with King ducking a big chop and landing her own series of armdrags. King works the arm and gets a crucifix cradle for one before trying for more pinning predicaments. Gracia looks for an O’Connor Roll, then fakes a 619 and lands a forearm for two. (I think we were supposed to believe the kick connected, but no.)

King and Gracia slug it out, with King easily winning that into a single-leg dropkick for two. A hammer throw leads to an up-and-over (sort of) and a cradle for two from Gracia. King smashes her across the back, but Gracia gets the tilt-a-whirl headscissors and sweeps out the leg in the corner. Running hip check gets two. King catches Gracia in a casadora try and German suplexes her before firing herself up. Kingdom Falls attempt, but Gracia falls out the back and gets a hairpull neckbreaker for the pin at 3:36! FIRST WIN ALERT! Gracia will be facing Shida tomorrow night!

On the one hand, running Shida/King back wouldn’t have been smart, but on the other, Gracia looked very sloppy out there and is going to have to be carried by Shida. I’m unashamedly biased and think King is a future women’s champion, so she can get all the reps she needs, but let’s be honest – Shida will squash Gracia on Dynamite. Just a shame they couldn’t find someone smoother to take the role. DUD

A Little Bit Of The Bubbly ad.

Mike Verna (debut) vs. Peter Avalon (3-4-2). In a twist, Avalon – the established talent – comes out first because he’s here to begin Pretty Peter’s Pageant Provocation! And he says that the first pageant entry is a man whose face was made for TV commercials. And yes, Verna I’d say doesn’t look bad at all – he’s got the rugged looks, so sure, why not.

Avalon works the arm to start, getting a hammerlock. Verna reverses to a waistlock, with Avalon coming back to the aristlock and the two chain until Avalon has a headlock and everyone is backed into the corner. Avalon covers his face during the clean break, then shoves Verna, who feints a right and gets a Patera swinging full nelson when Avalon turns to cover himself. O’Connor Roll is blocked, but Avalon runs into a Verna tackle. He follows with a headscissors, but Avalon goes with a shot to the gut. Verna reverses and gets an around-the-world slingshot suplex for two. That was really impressive.

Blind charge eats boot, and Avalon throws Verna into the ringpost shoulder-first. Avalon works the arm and drops his leg on it to a short-arm scissors. Verna stacks up Avalon for two. Avalon goes back to the arm before getting a kneelift and sunset flip into a single-arm powerbomb try. But Avalon strikes the arm and throws him down with it for two. Avalon sends Verna into the turnbuckle and wraps the arm around the top rope before chopping away. He puts Verna up top and adds an uppercut before going for a superplex, but Verna headbutts him down and dives off with a shotgun dropkick.

Clotheslines and THE TAPE IS OFF, leading to a huge running right in the corner. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker by Verna into a fisherman’s suplex for two. The arm work prevented him from hooking the hands. Verna goes up top again, but the senton bomb airballs and Marti-knees gets the win at 5:55. Avalon then gives Verna a signed photo of himself. Verna looked pretty good out there. *3/4

Vertvixen (debut) vs. Red Velvet. Yes, Vertvixen. I have no idea who thought of that name, but I don’t like it. Velvet also has new music and an entrance video. And again, SWEETEN THE AUDIO PLEASE!

Vert avoids a lockup with a roll-through. Velvet with a waistlock, but Vert elbows out only to run into an armdrag and a leg lariat. Velvet stomps a mudhole in her and gets the stir it up boot choke, but Vert slams on the breaks on a splits dropdown and gets a snapmare. Vert fires away with chops in the corner, then a sliding kick and an enzuigiri, which Velvet ducks. Velvet uses her boxing background to do some slips and counters, bobbing and weaving to floor Vert, then gets a casadora bulldog. Standing moonsault gets two. Blind charge eats boot and Vert goes up, but Velvet throws her down and adds double knees to the back. Just Desserts wins it at 2:59. 1/4*

Wrestling With the Week ad #2.

Fuego Del Sol, Aaron Solow, and Ray Jaz (first time teaming) vs. Dark Order (Colt Cabana, Alan Angels, and Preston Vance). In fact, I think this is Jaz’s debut in AEW. In what is a very interesting juxtaposition, the Dark Order comes out to the music of the Dark Order and Colt Cabana’s entrance video. Excalibur says they need to fix that in post. (And in fact, they switch to the Dark Order entrance video.) Maffew, get a shot of it.

Cabana and Fuego start, and Colt throws him down and flexes. He throws Fuego down again, but Fuego switches to an armlock. Colt reverses, but Fuego flips to break and gets a dropkick (Colt is rather impressed). Fuego wants a monkey flip, but Colt carries him before nearly falling for a sunset flip. Colt then fakes a clothesline, causing Fuego to trip in trying to duck it. Solow in, and Colt gives him a clean break – and Angels tags in to end the shenanigans.

Angels with a headlock, and he holds the hair to keep it, so Solow rolls him out and the two tumble until Solow gets a dropkick. Angels charges into an elbow, but recovers with a discus forearm into a satellite Russian legsweep for two. Vance in, but Solow knees out of a double suplex and Jaz enters with a waistlock takedown. Jaz maintains control with amateur maneuvers, getting a headlock and hanging on, but Vance breaks using the hair and gets a hammerlock. Jaz re-reverses and gets an elbow, but he runs into a spinebuster.

Jaz is disposed of and Vance follows, tossing Jaz into the guardrail and seeing a young Dark Order fan at ringside to high-five. Back in, Colt stomps a mudhole in Jaz and walks it dry before emphatically tagging in Angels. Dropkick to Jaz, and Angels gets a snapmare and soccer kick. Vance tagged in during a boot choke, and he follows with a suplex. He slugs down Jaz, who tries to fire back as the two hold wrists, so Vance knocks Solow off the apron. Jaz tags in Fuego instead, who sends Angels and Vance together before leaping off of Vance’s back to dropkick Colt off the apron!

Enzuigiri and he wants the tornado DDT, but Vance throws him to Colt, who throws him to Angels, who throws him into a German suplex from Vance. I swear when he hits that move it’s gonna blow the roof off the joint. Jaz tosses Vance out, but Angels and Cabana work him over. Jaz gets whipped into a spear by Vance, leaving Fuego alone. Angels with a rocket roundhouse, and Vance sends him into a Bionic Elbow / Northern lariat combo for the pin at 7:34. Cabana got silly at the beginning, but once things settled in it turned into the massacre it needed to be. *1/4

Young Bucks book ad #2.

Madi Wrenkowski (debut) vs. Leyla Hirsch (1-3). Guess which one’s from Eastern Europe with those names. Of course it’s Hirsch. I still think Hirsch should embrace her Russian-ness and make that a gimmick – foreigners are always fun. But no, Excalibur says she was born in Russia but raised in New Jersey.

Hirsch gets a double-leg and tries the cross-armbar right away, but Madi makes the ropes. Hirsch with a waistlock on the reset, but Madi reverses to work the arm. Hirsch reverses, but in an attempt for Madi to kip up, Hirsch sits down and tries the cross-armbar again, and Madi scrambles to the ropes. Hirsch charges Madi on the apron, but Madi knocks her away and gets a dropkick for one. Madi kicks away on Hirsch, who fires back with forearms only to take a knee to the gut. Madi goes CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY and sends Hirsch into the corner, adding a crossbody to the midsection. Snapmare by Madi and twisting facejam gets two.

Madi with a sleeper, but Hirsch elbows out and fires off with forearms. She cartwheels over Madi’s back (!), getting a German suplex for two. Lariat is blocked and Madi gets a backslide for two. X Factor by Madi gets two as Taz says Madi was wasting time on the cover. Hirsch catches a bicycle kick with a Saito suplex, and the armbar gets the tapout at 4:02. A very nice bit of storytelling here to build up Hirsch’s armbar as a lethal move. *1/2

Hughes Brothers (Terrence and Terrell) (0-2) vs. Gunn Club (Austin and Colten) (first time as a duo). This would be “D-Von Dudley’s sons” vs. “Billy Gunn’s sons”. As always, I’m at the mercy of the announcers to tell me which is which, assuming they can tell the duo apart. Fortunately, Austin and Colten are not identical twins. Billy Gunn comes out and gives everyone in the ring a hug – including the ref. Lots of Code of Honor before the bell. Taz: “None of them could make Team Taz; they’re too nice.”

Colten and Terrence start. Code of Honor again before the lockup. Colten with a headlock and we go International~!, ending traditionally with a hiptoss by Terrence (and a Gunn salute). Austin and Terrell enter now as the crowd is enjoying the friendly posturing, and they too go International~!, with Austin getting the tackle and Terrell… turning the hiptoss into a cricifix pin for one. Austin and Terrell exchange armdrags, with Austin countering one into a headlock in midair. Colten in, and the Gunns with uppercuts and a Slam Dunk forearm, leading to a Colten legsweep into an Austin neckbreaker, which eventually gets two (Austin got in the ref’s way).

Austin returns, and he and Terrell switch waistlocks until Terrence gets a blind tag and a shoulderblock for two. Terrell returns, and the Hugheses get a series of corner shots into an overhead suplex by Terrence. It gets Terrell two. Terrell rushes Colten into the Hughes corner, and Terrence gets some mudhole stomping. Terrence then delivers a Finlay Roll with Terrell onto Colten for two. Terrell returns as the Hughes Bros whipping Austin in, but Terrence misses a blind charge and Austin whips the two together.

Hot tag Colten, who gives everyone clotheslines. Terrence is disposed of, and Colten gives Terrell a Holly-ish dropkick for two, Terrence saves. Austin and Terrence go outside, and Colten does the Corbin corner slide before returning with a butterfly neckbreaker (Colt 45) for the pin at 5:14. More respect shown post-match. This just seemed like a bunch of kids having a good time. *3/4 Everyone gets their hands raised post-match.

A Little Bit Of The Bubbly ad #2. (Sidenote: Jake Hager does more acting in this ad with his jaw than most wrestlers do in their entirety during the canned WWE promos. Just saying.)

Danny Limelight (0-3) vs. Rey Fenix (17-11). Taz gives respect to Limelight, as he should after the close encounter with Brian Cage the previous week. Roberts rolls the R in “Rey” for about 5 seconds. Fenix will be facing Kenny Omega for the AEW Title on December 30, so this is a warmup.

Code of Honor to start, but Fenix tries a quick shot only to get waistlocked. Limelight backflips on a dropkick attempt, so Fenix runs him over with a shoulderblock. More flipping, flopping, and flying until Limelight gets a prawn cradle for two, reversed for two. Limelight with a single-leg and he wants the Sharpshooter, but Fenix escapes and we reset. Fenix no-sells a Limelight chop, but he feels the second one. Fenix’s receipt floors Limelight, though.

Fenix misses a soccer kick and gets cradled for one. Fenix with a cartwheel cradle of his own for one. Fenix wins a forearm exchange and gets a dropkick. He clubs away and goes for Penta’s package piledriver, but Limelight escapes and gets a tornado roundhouse kick. They run past each other, and Fenix gets a roundhouse hook kick and stomp dropkick to Limelight. Fireman’s carry, but Limelight escapes and blocks a roundhouse kick to get forearms. He catches a kick and does another single-leg, adding a Meteora for two.

Yes Kicks by Limelight, then a hangman’s neckbreaker for two. He should’ve hooked the leg, says Excalibur. Limelight chops away in the corner, but Fenix stops a blind charge and gets a SUPERKICK! Flipping enzuigiri follows and Fenix ties Limelight around the bottom rope before stepping on his Achilles! Springboard legdrop gets two. Limelight with a backfist to double over Fenix, and he jumps off Fenix’s back for a double stomp to the head! It gets two. Fenix knees out of a suplex and the two slug it out, with Limelight winning. He puts Fenix on the top rope and gets a leaping leg lariat from the ring to the top.

He then climbs another buckle and the two walk the middle rope to each other in a tightrope act. They chop it out, but Limelight gets a hook kick to floor Fenix. Double jump INTO A SUPERKICK BY FENIX, who gets a rolling spinkick in the corner. Muscle Buster into a Michinoku Driver ends it at 6:36. Limelight is going to get a national wrestling deal at some point in his life. **1/2 They shake hands after the match.

MAIN EVENT: Serpentico (w/Luther) (6-13) vs. Matt Sydal (8-3). AEW has added strobe lighting to Serpentico’s STREAMERS OF DOOM, along with an overhead cam. Anything to make the wrestlers seem special. Taz notes that it’s a Third Eye battle – well, sort of, as Luther has the third eye and not Serpentico. Close enough. Taz: “Luther’s third eye changes colors. It’s like a mood ring.”

Serpentico charges Sydal and gets side-stepped, twice. Sydal says he has the third eye… but so does Luther. Sydal with a headlock takedown and he floats into arm control. Sydal adds a double-arm snapmare and Serpentico races to the corner to stop the momentum. Serpentico with a kick on the reset, but Sydal cartwheels out and gets armdrags and a crucifix for two. Luther drags Serpentico out of the ring to get his head back in the game before throwing him back in.

Sydal continues with the armdrags into an armbar. He gets a headlock takedown like floatover, but Serpentico makes the ropes. Serpentico with a cheap shot to take over, but Sydal with a sunset flip for two into the Koji Clutch. Serpentico stacks him for two. Sydal kicks his leg out of his leg and gets a standing moonsault, but lands on his feet when Serpentico rolls away and gets a dropkick. Sydal slides after Serpentico but gets caught in the ropes and Serpentico knocks him down. Luther then throws Serpentico into Sydal as the ref tries to figure out if that counts as a DQ, finally just telling Luther to back off.

Serpentico sends Sydal into the barricade and gets a shin choke, and back in, he slugs away. Sydal misses a blind charge and Serpentico gets a high kick and slingshot double-stomp (staying on Sydal’s gut for a while) for two. Serpentico goes CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY, and Luther chokes Sydal on the middle rope for good measure. Sydal gets whipped into the turnbuckle pad, but he blocks another one and kicks Serpentico. Serpentico adjusts his head but runs into a leg lariat. Sydal takes over with calf kicks and a heel kick, then gets a fisherman’s buster for two.

Sydal tries a suplex, but Serpentico intercepts only for Sydal to recover with a Big Show leg over the head for two. Twisting moonsault, but Serpentico takes advantage of a gloating Sydal to get a low-angle DDT for two. Luther says it’s time for Serpentico to go up, and he does, but the double stomp misses and Sydal gets the side suplex for two. Sydal tries a full nelson, but Serpentico elbows out. Sydal adjusts to the Russian legsweep and Cobra Clutch, but Serpentico stands up and runs Sydal into the buckles. Shiranui by Serpentico gets two. Serpentico with a flurry, but Sydal cradles him for two. Flying knee by Sydal, then a roundhouse enzuigiri and Saturn Driver to get the pin at 8:02. You knew this would be fun. **1/4

TOMORROW ON THE HOLIDAY BASH (after the NBA is done)!

  • The tag belts are on the line as the Young Bucks face the Acclaimed!
  • Top Flight challenges the Inner Circle leaders, Chris Jericho and MJF!
  • Hikaru Shida takes on Alex Gracia in non-title action!
  • Dustin Rhodes tries to shut down Evil Uno and his recruiting campaign!
  • Saurus, Perry, Stunt! Cabana, Angels, Vance!
  • Pac and the Butcher look to kill each other!
  • AND MORE!

I don’t have much to add other than the wrestling was really good this week. This felt like an indie show – well, with more matches than most indie shows – where everyone just went all-out and made the most of their minutes. Even the ones who suffered kayfabe-wise, like Aaron Solow and Tesha Price, were on point in this one. Gracia was the lone downside, but they decided to give her a chance and there’s never anything wrong with giving a chance – just as long as you can admit it didn’t pan out.

I know AEW has gotten a lot of flack for not featuring the women’s division more, but shows like today show that it’s not as easy as it looks. Red Velvet is still very green and very raw in the ring, which is why her matches tend not to be longer than 3 minutes. KiLynn King has skill, but she is not the person to carry a match nor cover for mistakes by another opponent. That said, Leyla Hirsch is more the talent level that should be featured, and she came through very nicely tonight. (Nyla Rose is perfectly used destroying people, so that’s a non-factor one way or another – every division needs a monster.)

This is the type of stuff AEW can put out to make fans happy. You get to see the big names get wins, but your eyes are opened by the new talent that comes through. Bear Country? Check. Danny Limelight? Check. Madi Wrenkowski? Check. And throw in some worthwhile feature bouts for a complete show.

And I haven’t even discussed the high point yet.

Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels were, for a long time, part of the engine that made TNA go. Not only were they cogs in the X Division, even willing to bring the fictional Suicide to life, but Daniels stood alongside AJ Styles and Samoa Joe as a standard-bearer for the company. And then, when TNA tried to do a story about AJ Styles being blackmailed – a story that had many logical gaps and was enough of a disaster to be the Gooker Award winner – Kazarian and Daniels saved every segment they were in with their stirring the pot while smugly drinking their appletinis.

But all that was a long time ago. The two are nearing the end of the line – Daniels is 50 and Kazarian is 46. And the worst part is they know it. They served their purpose launching Scorpio Sky’s singles career (before he ran headfirst into Cody Rhodes’ foibles), and now they’re just depth. Kazarian’s right; they might well be last in the tag rankings given that young guns like the Acclaimed, Top Flight, and even the Varsity Blondes have picked up wins. A final run of “get the gold or die trying” seems a desperation gambit, but given both men were frustrated by their lack of success, it’s all they have left. It’s Butch and Sundance diving away from the Bolivian Army. The fall will kill their careers, but maybe, just maybe, they can do it.

And they made you believe in them, not as wrestlers, but as people. Kazarian and Daniels didn’t exactly yell at each other – they had a conversation that just happened to be into microphones. They had differences, but they were confident they could work them out because of the respect they had for each other after decades of being on the road together. And Daniels being taken aback by the ultimatum run offer even made sense – Daniels said so himself that he wasn’t having fun, so was this really going to rejuvenate him? It was believable in a way you don’t see very often. You didn’t need emotional abuse of family members or a 7-foot bodyguard looming or multiple wacky skits – just this. It was perfect.

Go to YouTube and watch this show.

STATS

BELL TO BELL: 67:34 over thirteen matches (average match time 5:12)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Grayson vs Johnson

FIVE STARS:

  1. Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels
  2. Stu Grayson
  3. Danny Limelight
  4. Matt Sydal
  5. FIRST WIN HONORS: Alex Gracia

Enjoy the back-to-back shows tomorrow, and as Mark Briscoe would say, “Mare Critmit!”