AEW DARK: December 29, 2020

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark Episode 68: A Momentary Distraction. Aired December 29, 2020.

From the AEW Arena – crucially, taped BEFORE the tragic events of the week.

Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz.

Tonight, we have 14 matches scheduled. SCU faces TH2, and if SCU can’t get the win, they will split up for good! Plus, Fuego Del Sol looks to get his first win as he takes on one-half of the Varsity Blondes, Griff Garrison!

Also in action, Team Taz in a six-man, Gunn Club, Fenix, Santana and Ortiz, Sammy Guevara, Leva Bates, Tay Conti, Anna Jay, Penelope Ford, Silver and Reynolds, Chaos Project, and Matt Sydal – who will also be in The Waiting Room!

In memory of Brodie Lee.

No intro from Excalibur or Taz. Probably for the best.

Vary Morales (debut) vs. Rey Fenix (w/Penta El 0M) (6-3 singles). Morales is wearing two different-colored eye contacts, so Excalibur compares him to Pharoah – as in Cody’s dog. Excalibur talks up Fenix/Omega as happening “tomorrow”, even though everything has been pushed back a week.

Morales refuses the handshake, so Fenix rolls him up quickly for a couple of two-counts. Casadora by Morales into a cradle for two. Fenix handsprings out of it. Morales slugs away and tosses Fenix into the ropes, but Fenix rebounds only to get a hook kick and single-leg dropkick. It gets one. Morales steps on Fenix’s head to choke him on the bottom rope, then adds a low SUPERKICK before tossing Fenix into the corner. Morales with a running dropkick and cannonball in the corner, getting one. Morales with a snapmare and we HIT THE CHINLOCK.

Fenix punches out and chops Morales, only to run into a dropkick. It gets one. Morales with a leaping corner clothesline, but a second charge eats boot. A third is an airball, and Fenix connects with a SUPERKICK off of his yo-yo rope move. Fenix is thrown to the apron, but lands on his feet when Morales moves on the double-jump moonsault. He catches Morales with a spinebuster and low dropkick for two.

Fenix chops Morales in the corner but a charge eats boot and Morales with a headscissors off the top rope and tornado DDT for two. Shotgun dropkick by Morales, but Fenix comes out of the corner with the Claymore. Step-up spin kick and Fenix puts Morales on the top rope. Muscle Buster into a Driver gets the win at 5:09. Lucha! **1/4 Of note: Penta did nothing while at ringside, emphasizing the Bros arte now tecnicos.

Lindsay Snow (0-3) vs. Penelope Ford (w/Kip Sabian) (11-5, #5 women). So they still do the toss from match to match, meaning they simply cut out the opening – likely because it was talking about how excited they were about the show, which would have been tonal dissonance. Snow’s first few appearances were against more strong style and MMA-influenced wrestlers, so let’s see how Penelope – a more sports-entertainment-trained wrestler – does against her. Ricky Starks is on commentary.

Lockup, and Ford gets the arm, only for Snow to reverse to a takedown and heel hook off a roll. Ford quickly grabs the ropes and trips Ford, throwing her into the middle rope throat first. Ford clubs away and sends Snow into the corner, adding a hammer throw to the middle buckle. Fireman’s carry by Ford, but Snow gets out only to get caught with a pump kick.

Ford toys with Snow, kicking her to the apron and choking her with her boot. She goes over the buckle with a double kneedrop to Snow, and back in, she looks to finish until Snow fires off with rights and a lariat for two. Ford is up first and chokes Snow on the middle rope, then guillotines Ford on the top rope. Handspring elbow follows, then the Tajiri Cutter gets the win at 2:45. Kinda wish Snow got more offense, but Ford is someone AEW seems to see the future in. 1/2*

Shawn Dean and Tyson Maddux (first time teaming) vs. John Silver and Alex Reynolds (2-6). Given precedent, I doubt they re-recorded commentary. Excalibur talks about how Silver and Reynolds were lost in AEW until they joined the Dark Order, which brought back the confidence they had as independent stars. Taz agrees that they’ve used the platform to improve themselves.

Dean and Reynolds start. Reynolds with a headlock, and we go International~!, ending in Dean returning the tackle. Maddux in, and he goes CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY. Reynolds tries to get even but runs into a powerslam as Taz says Page would be a great get for any group. Corner clothesline and stalling suplex follow, getting one. Maddux puts his head down and Reynolds cuts him off, but Maddux shoves both men away only to get caught into a flapjack/uppercut combo. Silver gets two.

Yes Kicks by Silver (“Freakin’ jacked, baby!”), who is relishing every strike, and a leaping roundhouse gets two. Reynolds in, and he stomps a mudhole in Maddux. Dark Order salute (giving Dean the eye), then he works Maddux in the corner. Uppercut, and Silver returns with forearms. Reynolds quickly back in for a double-team and snapmare, with Reynolds adding a Hennig necksnap for two. Maddux tries to fight to his feet, so Reynolds adds knees and keeps Maddux in his corner. He talks trash to Dean, which means a blind charge misses and Dean gets the hot tag.

Overhead suplex to Reynolds, enzuigiri to Silver, and back and forth dropkicks in the corners. Hurricane DDT (with salute) gets two on Reynolds. Maddux tagged in, but Reynolds escapes and runs his opponents together. Big stomp to Dean, boot to Maddux, and an insane combo (discus right into an enzuigiri into a Stunner into a German suplex into a jack-knife) gets Reynolds a pin on Maddux at 5:55. What do you even CALL that combo? I’m not sure where they’ll go from here, but hopefully in a few years they will be tag champions. Would be a great legacy. *3/4

Jazmin Allure (0-1) vs. Anna Jay (w/Tay Conti) (5-4). The plan all along here was for Jay and Tay to be together on the way out, and the Dark Order is conspicuous by their absence. Conti goes to the back for this match.

Lockup, and Jay throws Jazmin down. Jazmin with a waistlock, but Jay elbows out and gets a wristlock armdrag and armbar/chinlock combo. Jazmin fights to her feet, but Jay rocker her with a forearm and spinning gut kick. Somersault roundhouse kick follows in the corner. She works over Jazmin in the corner with strikes, but Jazmin reverses and kicks away. Hammer throw to Jay, but a blind charge misses and a spinning high kick drops Jazmin. Booker T hook kick and Jay gets a bow-and-arrow into a sleeper for the submission at 2:26. 1/4*

Wrestling With the Week ad.

And now, THE WAITING ROOM! Rebel’s big-grinned oversell of Britt Baker’s entrance gets funnier each week. Let’s talk about the Holiday Bash! We start with Cage vs Allin – Taz says Allin is a paper champion, so Cage is gonna do some origami, amirite? But seriously, Fenix vs Omega for the biggest gold in the company! Everyone else’s matches will look like dogshit compared to this one – don’t even try to compete. Also, Jon Moxley is back! By the way, sorry that you could share your baby announcement without Cody stealing the spotlight (hey, that’s MY joke)! And now, our guest – don’t slip, Rebel – it’s Matt Sydal!

Britt says he had a real slick debut. Sydal: “I still feel like Shockmaster.” Sydal called it a near-death experience, but made him more transcendent. So what about his record now – well, Sydal’s falling upward if he’s on the Waiting Room! Now, Sydal’s not perfect, but he has a winning streak. He’s beaten Christopher Daniels (Britt: “everyone does that”), Aaron Solow (“who”), and Danny Limelight (“that’s not a real person”). So what’s Sydal going to do at New Year’s Smash? Simple: he turns the ring into his realm. It’s not Cody’s ring, it’s Sydal’s realm. He will open hearts, minds, and third eyes.

But wait – MAIL CALL! (thrown hard at Rebel’s chest) Our letter asks if they can hang a poster of the Go Big Show in their waiting room (“Please and thank you, TBS?”). And yes, Cody’s on the poster – hey, the whole company’s about him. Is Sydal’s match just a vehicle for Cody? Sydal and Snoop would smoke Cody in a tag match. Back in the day, Sydal and Cody shared a magazine cover – Cody doesn’t like sharing. So Sydal wants to open his third eye… and he defaces Cody’s image on the poster. Cody may sell the show, but in the ring, it’s Sydal’s realm. Stay tuned for New Year’s Smash as Sydal makes his comeback. Good night, everyone!

Ryzin, Nick Comoroto, and James Tapia vs. Team Taz (Brian Cage, Will Hobbs, and Ricky Starks). Comoroto and Ryzin are known quantities and are pretty fun as powerful enhancement talent. But Taz knows they’ve drawn the short straw tonight. Hook is with Team Taz. Both teams have never teamed before in AEW. Once again, Justin Roberts is bullied into mentioning the FTW World Title… then high-tails it for parts unknown.

Hobbs and Comoroto start. They lock up, and Comoroto sends Hobbs into the corner. Hobbs is unimpressed, but Comoroto gets a right hand. Now Hobbs is mad and lariats Comoroto down before glaring at the camera. Cage tags in, and he and Hobbs with a double back body drop. Ryzin comes in, and he rattles Cage with a leg lariat and rights. Cage tosses Ryzin off of a tilt-a-whirl and adds a shotgun dropkick. Hammer throw and running uppercut in the corner, and Starks comes in to stomp a mudhole into Ryzin.

Hobbs taunts Ryzin behind the ref’s back, then Starks adds an uppercut and dumps him. Hook adds a clothesline on the outside (Starks has the ref’s attention), and back in, Starks with a swinging neckbreaker. Starks toys with Ryzin and stomps away, adding an uppercut and cutting off the tag. Ryzin flips out of a suplex and leaps over Starks, tagging in Tapia for the hot tag. Swinging neckbreaker from Tapia, but Cage tags in while Tapia hesitates. Discus lariat from Cage, but Comoroto knocks down Starks and slingshot tackles Cage. Hobbs spears Comoroto, but Ryzin back in with a shotgun dropkick. Starks spears Ryzin, Hobbs gives Comoroto a Strongest Slam, and Cage with a SUPERKICK and Drill Claw to Tapia to end it at 4:13. Tapia was not at the level of even his teammates, let alone the opponents. *1/4

Young Bucks book ad. Yeah, they basically didn’t edit much of anything.

Fuego Del Sol (0-6) vs. Griff Garrison (w/Brian Pillman Jr.) (5-16). Pretty Peter Avalon goes to commentary for this match as he scouts competition with his robe and martini. Custom-made. Both of them. You know, given how much they build up Fuego’s tornado DDT, if it ever hits he’s getting that first win, right? Doesn’t he have to? Interestingly, Avalon wants Garrison in the Pageant.

Code of Honor to start. Fuego with a calf kick, which Garrison is impressed by. A second one connects, but not a third as Garrison stops it. The two fight over a backslide, and Garrison whips in Fuego but misses the Stinger Splash. Fuego with one of his own, but he tries a Lionsault and gets kick square in the gut (Avalon applauds). Fuego goes up and over with a headscissors, then a dropkick. Garrison catches Fuego in a tilt-a-whirl and gets locomotion backbreakers for two. Garrison blocks a snapmare try and HITS THE CHINLOCK as Taz inquires about Avalon’s martini.

Fuego completes the snapmare and gets a basement dropkick before working the arm. Fuego kicks the arm away and moonsaults the arm for two. Fuego with the armbar, but Garrison powers out and gets a straight right. Stinger Splash connects this time, then a CLOTHESLINE FROM HELL gets two. Fireman’s carry by Garrison, but Fuego slips out the back and gets a backbreaker. Garrison throws Fuego to the apron, but Fuego goes up for a rana and cross armbar. Garrison with the Hunico powerbomb attempt, but Garrison blocks a sunset flip. Tornado DDT try by Fuego, but Garrison throws him aside. Discus Punch ends it at 4:34. This was all background for Avalon on commentary. *

Avalon toasts an oblivious Garrison, then sets Pillman aside and gives his sales pitch to Garrison… who is clearly disinterested, throwing the 8×10 to the floor. Avalon is furious. Future match? Sure, why not.

Hughes Brothers (Terrence and Terrell) (0-3) vs. Santana and Ortiz (8-5). The Hughes Brothers also call themselves TNT, as a remidner. I’m at Excalibur’s mercy here as I can’t tell them apart. Heck, sometimes I can’t tell Santana and Ortiz apart. Santana is back after a death in the family.

Santana starts against Terrell. Terrell works the arm (as Ortiz takes his sweatshirt off) and gets wrist control, but Santana is able to reverse and take Terrell down. Armdrag follows by Santana and he offers Terrell a reset. Another lockup, and Santana gets a headlock. Shoulderblock goes nowhere, so Terrell tries only to get caught with a roundhouse kick. Suplex by Santana into the Three Amigos, with Ortiz combining on the third one for two. Terrell tries a sunset flip, but Ortiz rolls out only to get bowled over for one.

Terrence in, and the brothers with a double shoulder block, getting Terrence one. Another shoulderblock, then a side suplex for two. Now, why would you imitate Dino Bravo? Terrence boxes Ortiz down in the corner, but Ortiz returns fire and gets a DDT. See, Terrence? That’s what you get. Legdrop by Ortiz gets two, brother, but Terrence tries a powerslam. Santana flips over everyone off a blind tag and gets a crossbody on Terrence for two. Santana chops away on Terrence in the corner, adding a backbreaker for two. Soccer kick to the back, and Ortiz returns, with a double-team neckbreaker getting two before Terrell saves.

Ortiz slugs Terrell, drawing him in, and Ortiz adds a cheap shot to the throat, then the eyes. Short-arm clothesline by Ortiz, then another, and Santana comes in to stomp Terrence’s arm. Santana wants some fight from Terrence, who slaps back, but Santana grabs the leg only for Terrence to escape and get an overhead suplex. Race to Tag bit – criminally underdone in AEW – and it’s hot tag Terrell.

He wins a clothesline battle with Ortiz, then a back body drop. Ortiz runs to his corner (but Terrell has already knocked off Santana), then races into a powerslam for two. Terrence tags back in, and it’s 3-D BY THE HUGHES BROTHERS for two, Santana saves. Actual pop from the ringside wrestlers (and from me) for that. Terrell is disposed of, and Terrence is caught with a cutter by Santana into an Ortiz powerbomb and Santana knee for the pin at 7:43. That’s how you do tag team wrestling, kids. **1/2

A Little Bit Of The Bubbly ad.

Aaron Solow (0-6 singles) vs. Sammy Guevara (11-8). From one Inner Circle act to another. Excalibur calls Taz a “Carmen Sandiego”, asking how far it is from South San Francisco (Aaron Solow’s home) to East Palo Alto (Will Hobbs’). Commentary also talks about Sammy’s vlog.

Waistlock takedown by Guevara and he spins on Solow’s back before TRANQUILO! He picks Solow up by the waist, so Solow works to a wristlock. Guevara backflips out of it to reverse, then grabs a headlock. Leapfrog action, but Solow steps through a monkey flip attempt and gets Guevara all tied up. Guevara escapes and tries a cross-armbar, but Solow stacks him for one to break. They tussle into the corner, and Solow offers a break, but slaps Guevara with the hair!

Guevara does not appreciate this and lets Solow know, and after backflipping in a criss-cross, Guevara gets a dropkick on Solow. Guevara with a big chop on Solow. Shoulder ram into an enzuigiri, but Guevara springboards into a Solow dropkick (that may have been an accidental low blow). Guevara bails, so Solow adds a plancha. Back in, it gets two. Solow slugs away on Guevara, who chops back and they slug it out. Guevara wins it and tries a whip, but Solow reverses and follows with a back elbow. Suplex gets two. He decides to go up, but he flies right into a flying knee from Guevara!

Solow rolls out as KiLynn King at ringside makes sure nothing’s broken, and Guevara follows with a top-rope quebrada onto Solow. He brangs into the camera and tries to get King’s attention, and back in, he kicks down Solow. Guevara back to the top, but he rolls through on a 450 try. Solow’s bodyscissors are caught, but he gains his balance on a post slingshot attempt and bounces back to double stomp Guevara for two. Neat sequence. 540 kick by Solow, but Guevara with a dragon whip roundhouse. Solow yanks Guevara down and stomps him, but Guevara with a running knee and Feast Your Eyes to end it at 6:34. That got real good. **3/4

Guevara has the mic and says “There we go, baby.” One more for the good guys. But there’s more – he wants to get back in the rankings and get a title shot that he already can see himself holding. No, it’s not just another win – as it turns out, it’s his 10-year anniversary of his debut! He’s no overnight success or 15 minutes of fame – he got here through work. He’s been working for 10 years (not like you at ringside have). He could barely limp to the next show, next week, next month, next 10 years until he got here! And it’s not gonna stop – so whoever’s next, Guevara’s gonna keep working to make you think again about him. He is THE man in AEW. They’re definitely setting him up to leave the Inner Circle.

Ariel Levy and El Cuervo de Puerto Rico (debut) vs. Chaos Project (Luther and Serpentico) (6-4). Ariel Levy is from Chile. No points for guessing where Cuervo is from. And yes, Cuervo has a fully functional crow’s mask, which is awesome. Taz mentions he’s rooting for Luther a lot – Excalibur thinks it has to do with how Luther dominates the team.

Cuervo and Serpentico start. Serpentico slugs away and gets a headlock, then goes up and over Cuervo before getting a step-up rana. Cuervo sweeps out Serpentico’s legs and gets a rope-hang moonsault for one. Levy in, and Serpentico bails to tag in Luther. Luther goes CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY, but a corner elbow misses, and Levy gets a rolling cradle into a knee strike for two. Sunset flip gets two. Luther stops a back body drop attempt and clotheslines Levy, then tags in Serpentico and throws him at Cuervo to cut him off. Serpentico with a snapmare and he tags in Luther. Despite Serpentico’s urging, Luther wants to whip Serpentico into Levy, and let’s just say Luther wins that argument.

Luther then slams Serpentico onto Levy for two. Luther chokes Levy against the middle rope and adds a suplex. Serpentico tags in, and Luther gets a side suplex before throwing poor Serpentico into an assisted legdrop on Levy. It gets two. Serpentico hooks the heel and tags in Luther, who kicks away at Levy. Luther tags Serpentico back in and Chaos Project do a double suplex, but Levy lands on his feet with a double neckbreaker. Hot tag Cuervo, who runs over both guys. SUPERKICK to Luther to send him packing, and a 540 enzuigiri nails Serpentico. Cuervo dodges a blind charge and goes up, getting a diving crossbody for two, Luther saves. Levy is disposed of as Luther follows with a cannonball off the apron (!!), and Serpentico nails Cuervo with a SUPERKICK. Luther tags in and knocks down Cuervo with a pump kick, and Creeping Death ends it at 6:21. Never let it be said Chaos Project doesn’t live up to their name. *1/2

Wrestling With the Week ad #2.

Madi Wrenkowski (0-1) vs. Leva Bates (3-1 singles). Okay, Madi was interesting against Leyla Hirsch last time, so let’s see what will happen with a less wrestling-oriented and more sports-entertainment-oriented wrestler in Bates. Yup, Bates still has the Young Bucks’ book (explaining why she’s getting airtime – free ad time) as well as some sort of picture book. Taz complains he had to go buy the book and no one would give him a free copy.

Bates offers the book to start the match, and Madi looks at it before RIPPING THE BOOK UP and clotheslining Leva. NOT COOL! Madi stomps away on Bates, but Bates fires off forearms only to be caught in a Finlay Roll by Madi. Earthquake senton gets two. Madi goes to the straitjacket chinlock, but Bates snapmares out onlyu to run into a knee. Madi tries a fireman’s carry, but Bates goes for a sunset flip. Madi’s sitdown hits nothing but mat, and Bates with a shotgun dropkick (“YOU ILLITERATE BITCH”) and avalanche into some roundhouse kicks and running boot.

Northern Lights suplex gets two. Blind charge misses and Madi throws Bates down before kicking away. She stomps a mudhole and tries to get past the ref to keep attacking, then continues to RIP UP THE BOOK. Bates SUPERKICKS the book into Madi’s face, and the SMALL PACKAGE OF DOOM gets the win at 3:41. Commentary has no idea what to make of this, and neither do I. 1/4* I’ll add a second quarter-star for Bates throwing the bucks to celebrate. BUY THE BOOK, as Scott would say.

Danny Limelight (0-4) vs. Matt Sydal (9-3). NOW WAIT JUST A DARN MINUTE! Didn’t Sydal talk about winning this match back on the Waiting Room? Is this a rematch? Excalibur thinks Sydal might get ranked soon – especially if he beats Cody Rhodes on New Year’s Smash on January 6 (well, 13, but still).

Trash talking to start, as both men psyche up to a lockup. They exchange waistlocks, then hammerlocks, with Sydal doing a fireman’s carry to work the arm. Limelight slips out the back and gets a headlock, but Sydal kicks out of it and we reset. Sydal works the arm now, then gets an double-arm snapmare and a very flippy armdrag. Charge misses, and Limelight walks the middle rope to get a hiptoss and dropkick. Sydal responds with a dropkick of his own.

Soccer kicks to Limelight, then a snapmare and another soccer kick. Limelight returns the combo, so Sydal chops him down and gets a roundhouse to the head. Ground cobra clutch try, but Limelight escapes to the ropes. Sydal chops away to stay in control, then gets a running back elbow to the corner, followed by another. Limelight returns with a double axhandle to the back of the head and he chokes Sydal against the middle rope. Kneelift by Limelight gets one, then he kicks Sydal again.

Yes Kicks by Limelight as he wants Sydal to fight back, Sydal pops up to his feet with a spinning leg lariat. Sydal kicks Limelight to a gooey paste, and a fisherman’s buster follows for two. La Majistral try by Sydal, but Limelight blocks and lifts Sydal up. Sydal with the Slice (Big Show standing legdrop) for two, then a standing twist moonsault. Limelight blocks an armdrag and gets a back kick, then a sunset flip into a rolling single-leg crab!

Sydal gets up, Limelight preps for the enzuigiri and covers his head, so Sydal kicks the calf to take over. Brilliant. Roundhouse kick to Limelight now that his guard’s down, and Sydal gets a COBRA CLUTCH SUPLEX! Saturn Driver try, but Limelight with a small package for two. Limelight dodges another try, so Sydal uses his momentum to get a crucifix for the pin at 6:06. Oh, I love this match. **1/2

Vertvixen (0-1) vs. Tay Conti (3-1). But seriously, who the heck decided Vertvixen was a good ring name? It sounds like Bert Dixon. Excalibur and Taz talk about UC Irvine (Vixen’s from Irvine) but can’t remember what their teams are called (the Anteaters). Anna Jay comes out to greet Conti, who is wearing a black belt (presumably in judo) to the ring.

Code of Honor to start, but Vixen tries to slap while the handshake is going on. Conti is MAD, and Vixen bails to the ropes. Vixen with a waistlock, so Conti breaks the grip and gets a legsweep into a cradle for two. Fujiwara armbar, but Vixen cradles for two. Conti returns it and lands a big kick to Vixen’s head. Running knee in the corner and a monkey flip cradle for two. Conti with the guillotine headlock (and arm control), but Vixen makes the ropes. Vixen boots Conti and tries a German, but Conti with a back elbow and overhead throw. Roundhouse boomerang kick gets two.

Vixen with a knee to the gut and some elbow strikes, but Conti reverses a hammer throw only to run into a roundhouse kick. Then both women nail roundhouses at the same time for the double down. Vixen is up first, but Conti plays possum to get forearms and clotheslines. Judo hiptoss, then another, and a third, and Conti keeps arm control to get a pump kick. Gory To Sleep gets the pin at 4:11. I really enjoy seeing Conti get to show off hard strikes and judo throws. It’s just so different – and different can make you stand out. *1/2

Young Bucks book ad #2 – or #3 if you count Leva’s match.

Baron Black, Royal Money, and Mike Verna (first time teaming) vs. Gunn Club (Billy, Austin, and Colten) (4-0). Verna looked good against Avalon last week, and Baron Black has looked good in several Dark matches. Meanwhile, Gunn Club with Austin and Colten imitating Young Guns. Excalibur: “Were they doing six-shooters? They fired off like 18 rounds. Can’t logic apply here?” Taz: “You expect logic from the Gunns?”

Billy and Verna start. Billy with a headlock, and we go International~!, with Verna getting a straight right on Billy only to run into an elbow. Verna returns the favor, so Billy kicks his leg out of his leg and gets a low SUPERKICK. Austin in now, and he gets a Hennig neck snap to Verna. Black tags in, and he and Austin exchange wristlocks. Black with a hammerlock, uppercut, and chop to Austin, and he tags in Money. Money throws Austin in, who goes up and over and gets a leg trip. Running uppercut by Austin as Money’s stuck in the Gunn corner, and Colten tags in and gets the slam dunk tomahawk. Full nelson slam gets two, everyone saves and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA! Or Jacksonville! Billy tosses Verna around on the outside, so Aubrey Edwards tells everyone to get back to their corner NOW, dammit. Colt 45 by Colten on Money ends it at 3:23. 1/4*

But there’s more – Austin wants to talk. He says he likes to have fun, but if you jump the family, they beat your ass! That explains the abrupt ending.

MAIN EVENT: Hybrid 2 (Angelico and Jack Evans) (7-6) vs. SCU (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) (4-5). As a reminder, if SCU loses, they will disband. TH2’s entrance music is Taz’s favorite – he loves the Euro-dance-synth vibe. Excalibur: “Sure, Taz. Whatever.” Starks gets it though. SCU is all business during their business – Daniels especially looks focused. Starks talks about the pressure SCU is under.

Kazarian and Angelico start. Lockup goes nowhere. A second one also is quickly broken. Take 3 is a test of strength, and Kaz goes to a hammerlock and headlock. Angelico steps out of it and works the arm, but Kaz trips Angelico into a facelock. Angelico fights up and takes down Kaz for a ground hammerlock, and he crosses the ankles and twist the Achilles’ tendon of Kaz. Kaz fights out to get a headlock takedown, but Angelico to a headscissors. Kaz fights out and gets a single-leg grapevine on the ground, and Angelico has to kick out of it. Kaz stops a kick and goes back to the headlock, then ducks Angelico’s reversal attempt and keeps it on. Kaz holds the ropes on a leapfrog attempt and kicks Angelico into a clothesline. WRESTLING!

Daniels in, and Kaz gets a flip neckbreaker with Daniels covering for two. He sends Angelico into the corner and slugs away, but a blind charge misses and Evans tags in with a clothesline and stomps. Flying leg lariat by Evans gets one. Starks: “Pressure makes diamonds.” Daniels with an Exploder suplex and Kaz back in, and Kaz drives Evans’ face into Daniels’ knee, getting two. Kaz with a slam, then a second-rope twisting legdrop for two. Kaz with a straight right, but Angelico adds a shot to the back before running into a corkscrew roundhouse. Evans stomps away on Kaz, and Angelico adds a right hand.

Angelico trips Kaz into a Mutalock from Evans, then kicks Kaz’s face in for two. Evans back in, and he kicks Kaz’s back and slugs away. Shot to the corner, then a hammer throw to Kaz. Handspring elbow into a suplex for Evans gets two. Evans pulls Kaz to the TH2 corner and gets another Mutalock, and Angelico tags himself in and stomps Kaz’s head. Kaz with a desperation chop, into a cradle for two, then a small package for two. Backslide gets two. Angelico with the Kitchen Sink to resume control, and Evans stomps away. Evans tries a crucifix into a Black Widow on Kaz, but Kaz fights out into a discus lariat. Race to Tag is on, and it’s hot tag Daniels.

Clothesline for everyone, and Daniels adds an STO to Angelico. Backbreaker to Evans, and he slugs away with rights to Evans. Daniels is sent into Angelico, but he catches him AND Evans, throwing Evans onto Angelico. Blue Thunder Bomb gets two. Evans catches Daniels with boots, and Angelico with an assisted backdrop for two. Kaz tags in blindly as Daniels runs TH2 together, and a powerbomb/neckbreaker combo by SCU gets two. DUI try, but Evans grabs Daniels’ foot and Kazarian accidentally nails Daniels. Neckbreaker/backbreaker/Flatliner/Skytwister combo gets two on Kaz.

Evans brings Angelico back in, but Kazarian chops both men down only to run into a low kick from Angelico. Slam and assisted 450 (with Evans cutting Daniels off) still only gets two. Evans legal now, and TH2 works over Daniels, but they throw him into Kaz… and Daniels monkey flips Kaz into a double lariat onto TH2! Angelico’s out on the outside, and a back suplex/Gut Check combo keeps SCU a team at 12:10. Evans seemed disinterested at times, which is too bad, because everyone else felt on point and more than made up for it. If SCU’s final run is going to be like this, I’m all in. ***1/4

But before we can get SCU celebrating, The Acclaimed race in. TH2 and the Acclaimed do a 4-on-2, but the Young Bucks have had enough of that and clean house with the belts. If this is an 8-man next week, I’m in.

Tomorrow, we celebrate the life of Brodie Lee.

  • The Young Bucks team with Colt Cabana against Matt Hardy and Private Party.
  • Hangman, Silver, and Reynolds face the Inner Circle of MJF, Santana, and Ortiz.
  • Anna Jay and Tay Conti take on Dr. Britt Baker and Penelope Ford.
  • Lance Archer is with Uno and Stu against Kingston, Butcher, and Blade.
  • And Team Taz faces Brodie Jr’s three favorites: Cody Rhodes, Orange Cassidy, and Preston Vance.

Okay, so this episode seemed to be all over the map. They cut the intro, so you figured they’d focus on Lee a little. But no, they never bring him up – even in the two Dark Order matches. On top of that, some of the editing was just bad – if Sydal is going to mention winning a match on that show, make sure the segments go in order. It was also kind of awkward to see that they left in all references to New Year’s Smash being tomorrow and January 6.

But you know what? I get the feeling no one’s heart was into it. So I’m going to let it slide. Let’s just focus on the wrestling.

Fenix/Morales was probably a lot of fun (although I admit to being a little off while watching it with commentary constantly mentioning the title match “tomorrow”). They’ve set up Garrison/Avalon in case Pillman Jr. is on the shelf or under an MLW no-use clause. The Hughes Brothers look real good, and obviously they have chemistry; their old-school wrestling matches are becoming a highlight. Chaos Project is several hoots – even as an old man, Luther has found a way to entertain (though poor Serpentico). And SCU/TH2 was just what a blowoff needs to be, complete with the stakes adding to the tension.

I totally understand if you don’t watch this episode. I’ll provide a few highlights in nightly threads. But considering they were expecting to move the proverbial chains on this episode, what they did was acceptable. So let’s write this week off and get back to a rhythm once we complete our period of grief. It is what it is.

STATS

BELL TO BELL: 75:14 over fourteen matches (average time 5:22)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: SCU/TH2

FIVE STARS:

  1. Matt Sydal
  2. Frankie Kazarian
  3. Rey Fenix
  4. Hughes Brothers
  5. Angelico

Recquiescat in pace, Jon Huber. Tomorrow is for you.