AEW DARK: February 2, 2021

The PG Era Recap for AEW Dark, Episode 73: Getting to the Beach Without a Left Turn at Albuquerque, February 2, 2021.

From the AEW Arena.

Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz, starting with Anthony Ogogo. It’s “another great night”.

TONIGHT! Chaos Project takes on SCU, and if SCU loses they will disband! Ricky Starks has an appointment with Dr. Britt Baker, DMD, in the Waiting Room! Alex Gracia and Red Velvet collide! Danny Limelight teams with Ryzin to take on The Acclaimed! Joey Janela, Sonny Kiss, and Bear Country form a formidable eight-man squad! And Nick Comoroto tries out for the Nightmare Group when he teams with Dustin Rhodes and QT Marshall against M’Badu and TNT!

PLUS: Preston Vance, Santana and Ortiz, Billy and Colton Gunn, Leyla Hirsch, Thunder Rosa, Rey Fenix, Ivelisse and Diamante, and Tay Conti!

Opening match: M’Badu and TNT vs. Dustin Rhodes, QT Marshall, and Nick Comoroto. Both teams are teaming for the first time. TNT – Terrence and Terrell Hughes – took SCU to the limit last week. In addition, Comoroto looked all right against Jon Moxley in a singles bout on Dynamite. Marshall’s hair is gone.

Comoroto and Terrell start. Terrell gets thrown down as Comoroto is hyped, so Terrence comes in. He doesn’t fare much better, and Comoroto says to skip the formalities and bring M’Badu in. M’Badu circles and goes after the Nightmares, and in the confusion TNT grab Comoroto. M’Badu charges into a back body drop, and Comoroto breaks the tape on a double clothesline to get one of his own. QT enters and dropkicks M’Badu for one, but M’Badu gets him caught in the Hughes corner and triple-teamed. Terrence with a side suplex on Marshall, but TNT miss the assisted Death Valley Driver and Dustin is in to work over Terrell with a kneelift for two.

Terrell fights out of a wristlock, but Dustin returns with an armdrag and maintains arm control. Dustin knocks M’Badu off the apron, but Terrell with a cheap shot. Terrence ducks a lariat as he comes in, and Terrell clotheslines Dustin for one. Terrence in, and he gets a knee to the throat. QT is suckered in, and Dustin gets triple-teamed in the corner as a result. M’Badu in with a stiff right that floors Dustin. Hammer Throw floors Dustin as he bounces out of the corner, but the cover gets nothing because Comroto storms in (QT was knocked off the apron). Terrell in now, and he chokes Dustin on the middle rope, with Terrence adding a cheap shot. Elbow by Terrell gets two.

We HIT THE CHINLOCK as Dustin fights back up, and Terrell puts his head down against a Rhodes which is a spectacularly bad idea. Terrell stops the hot tag, but a charge eats boot. QT has been off the apron for some time now. Terrell stops a tag with a cradle for one, but runs into a powerslam. FINALLY the hot tag to Comoroto, and he lowers the boom on everyone. Running elbow in the corner on Terrence and M’Badu, but a second charge gets stopped with a shot to the eyes. But Comoroto comes back with a one-armed press slam to M’Badu WHILE giving Terrence a draping DDT!! Terrell stops the Warrior pump-up, and the Hughes want 3-D, but Dustin and QT hit the bulldog and Diamond Cutter to stop it. Military Press into an Oklahoma Slam finishes M’Badu at 7:16. FIRST WIN ALERT! And he gets the pin, as well he should! Excalibur says the Nightmares see something in Comoroto. Don’t we all now? **1/4

KC Navarro (0-3) vs. Rey Fenix (3-1). Taz says this ought to be good. Unless otherwise noted, all records are for 2021. Justin gets about six seconds on rolling the R, which annoys Taz. Pac/Fenix/Moxley vs Omega/Gallows/Anderson tommorrow.

Fenix works the arm to start. Navarro kips up out of the hold and reverses, so Fenix reverses back into a Russian legsweep position, transitioning into an armbar-headscissors combo, then a crucifix for one. Navarro (much like the rest of us) needs time to breathe, and Fenix offers it. Test of strength lock, and Fenix tries for the gogoplata, but Navarro breaks and backflips out. Fenix catches a kick, but Navarro backflips again only to get blocked over and over. Fenix with a back leg trip and he offers the Code of Honor to Navarro.

Navarro swings and misses on a right instead, and Fenix chops him into next week. He wraps the arm around the middle rope and boot scrapes it. Navarro fires back with forearms, but runs into a gut punch. Fenix gets the yo-yo out of the ropes and throws Navarro in, who goes TRANQUILO in the ropes and suckers Fenix in to get hung up. Navarro with an inside-out dropkick and he tries a bodypress off the top, but Fenix catches him only for Navarro to hit Stundog Millionaire for two. Navarro runs into a cradle roll into a dropkick by Fenix, who teases Navarro to get up.

Double underhook, but Navarro goldbricks to stop it. Fenix catches one arm and twists it into the Tequila Sunrise, but lets go before Navarro taps. Fireman’s carry, but Navarro elbows out and unloads with forearms. He blocks a few shots, then turns a Doctor Bomb attempt by Fenix into a headscissors and running shiranui for two. Navarro goes up, but Fenix catches him and chops him into a seated position. Navarro kicks him away, but Fenix Area Codes the legs out from under Navarro and an Eddie Guerrero Special (complete with shimmy) gets the pin at 5:45. I never thought I’d say this, but Fenix may be better than Pentagon when it comes to work. **1/2 Fenix embraces Navarro post-match.

Tesha Price (0-1) vs. Tay Conti (2-1). Well, I like both of them, but that’s a tough act to follow. Excalibur tests how many Michigan cities Taz knows. Tay’s music plays her out, then a quick shift to the Dark Order music as they accompany her. So it’s still not official whether she’s in or not. Anna Jay and Brodie Lee Jr will stay at ringside for this one.

They circle, and Conti gets a headlock off of a lockup. She works the arm and twists Price into a Flatliner, then gets a leg full-nelson with back bridge. Price reverses to a cradle for two. Pump kick misses and they fight on a backslide, with Price sending Conti into the corner and getting the cartwheel roundhouse. She taunts Jay at ringside, but Conti is up faster than she anticipated and slugs away. Conti catches a kick and gets a kneebar around the bottom rope. Scissor kick misses, and Price cradles Conti through the ropes for two.

Big forearm from Price, then a roundhouse kick off of a back body drop… except Conti’s receipt hits harder. The women charge and do the double hairpull spot for a double-down. Conti kicks away a forearm strike from Price and gets clotheslines, then a ripcord into a series of seonagis (I hope that’s right – would Google lead me astray?). Running flying knee in the corner, but Price reverses a corner whip only for the blind charge to airball. Conti with a big elbowsmash and pump kick, then TayKO (or Gory 2 Sleep) finishes Price at 3:40. Some hard hits in this one. Not as good as the other matches, but that’s a high bar. *1/2

A Little Bit of the Bubbly ad.

And now, everyone smile, because it’s time for THE WAITING ROOM! Rebel’s intro never ceases to put a smile on my face, especially as she chants “Go Doctor, Go Doctor” as Baker dances in. So let’s talk – Kenny Omega is a fashion icon! Yeah, the thing with the shoe as a weapon was bad, but he made it look sexy, so Kenny, if you wanna come to the Waiting Room – you’re a shoe-in! Tomorrow, a tag team battle royal! Whomever wins gets the Young Bucks… but the Young Bucks are in it too! How can they kill this business? And hey, there’s a wedding! But if the photos are ugly – the butler did it. (Rebel, you’re supposed to laugh.) And now, here’s our guest for tonight – Ricky Starks! (Baker refuses to let Starks hug Rebel, insisting she be hugged instead.)

Starks and Baker compliment each other’s looks, and then it’s business time. It’s Starks and Cage against Allin and Sting in a street fight. And don’t let the fashion fool you, Starks can hold his own in a street fight. Before Starks arrived, there was a hole in the star power, but Starks fills it up. Starks responds by saying the future is clearer because Baker is here. Starks really loves Baker’s outfit, and Baker takes off the white coat to show off more (throwing it on Rebel because of course she does). Starks says Baker reminds him of… Megan Markle. Which fits, because Baker is getting royalty vibes.

And then Tony Schiavone has had enough of this and walks in. He stands between the two and says, sorry, we’re out of time. Rebel disputes that, but Schiavone wins the argument and we throw to the music. I know they were going for “Tony doesn’t want anyone else hitting up Baker because he likes her”, but he looked like Baker’s dad cutting off a first kiss.

Dani Jordyn (0-8 in 2020) vs. Thunder Rosa (5-2 in 2020). Excalibur: “I used to think Dani Jordyn was the meanest person in AEW. Now I think it’s -1.” Jordyn has a tiara on and has her burn book with her, showing off the Thunder Rosa page. Tomorrow night, it’s the big blowoff between Thunder Rosa and Britt Baker. Ogogo has left commentary.

Jordyn avoids a leg takedown by Rosa, but Rosa get the waistlock takedown and spins into a front facelock. Jordyn gets the arm to get to a vertical base, transitioning to a headlock and then working the arm. Drop-down, leapfrog, and armdrags by Rosa (the back half of the International), then a kick loads up the big slam and senton for two. Rosa with a Superman Punch in the corner, but a second charge misses. Jordyn with a rolling snapmare into a dropkick for one. Jordyn goes to the Burn Book and chokes Rosa while showing her the book.

Rosa powers out, getting a dropkick before working Jordyn over in the corner. Jordyn comes back with forearms and a Hammer Throw, but Rosa drop toeholds Jordyn into the middle buckle. Mizline by Rosa and she drops the knees to a seated Jordyn, first from the top rope, then from a run. Rosa to the apron and tries to catch Jordyn, who gets a kneelift and draping DDT for two. Rosa with rights to get control back, and the Michinoku Driver gets the pin at 4:04 (flow and chemistry not found). 3/4*

Fuego Del Sol and Vary Morales (first time teaming) vs. Santana and Ortiz (2-1). Proud and Powerful are on a two-match streak of wins under 2 minutes, but I don’t think that’ll keep in this match. If you watched Sammy Guevara’s blog, Guevara joked that Morales was Juventud Guerrera to rib Fuego, and yes, I see the resemblance. And c’mon, Justin – you give Rey Fenix six seconds, but Ortiz only gets half a second? Anyway, Santana and Ortiz will be in the battle royal – as will Jericho and MJF, though.

Ortiz and Fuego start. Ortiz trips up Fuego and tries an STO, but Fuego flips out and gets a headscissors and dropkick. Ortiz avoids Fuego’s speed and gets a backbreaker into a Gory Bomb for two. Santana in, and an assisted shiranui into a neckbreaker/powerbomb flattens Fuego. It gets two, Morales saves. Morales kicks away on Santana and has him reeling, but runs into a high boot to send him to the outside. Fuego with a prawn rollup for one, then a Yoshi Tonic for two. Tornado DDT is teased, but Santana drops out and gives him a face-first mat slam. Big chop by Santana and Ortiz comes in. Santana takes Morales out again and elbows Fuego, and the fireman’s carry neckbreaker ends it at 2:33. They’re slipping. 1/2* The more they give Santana and Ortiz the wins, the better the face turn will be when they realize that Jericho and MJF will jump them in the line.

Katalina Perez (0-3 overall) vs. Leyla Hirsch (0-1). Perez calls herself the Queenpin, and gives off some serious My Cousin Vinny vibes. Hirsch has new music, which because it’s AEW I can’t hear well.

Hirsch drags Perez down and goes for the armbar quickly, but Perez dashes to the ropes and rolls out. Back in, Hirsch with a waistlock takedown, three times over, as commentary notes Hirsch being aggressive after being cheated by Penelope Ford. Another waistlock, but Perez sends Hirsch’s throat into the top rope and gets an elbow for one. Perez with shots to the back of the neck, then more forearms in the corner, but Hirsch goes up and over and lands a running knee to a kneeling Perez. Olympic Slam is escaped, but Perez runs into the armbar for the tapout at 1:49. That’s how you build someone up. NR – too short I like how they’re doing this with Hirsch – she has a slam dunk finisher and can apply it at any time, so she tries for it early but gets it eventually. It’s like Jake Roberts’ old DDT.

The Acclaimed has a music video, dissing practically every tag team on the roster. And… let’s just get this out of the way. It’s… pretty good. The song’s called “Throw Em Out” and is about winning the battle royal. And with that:

Ryzin and Danny Limelight vs. The Acclaimed (#3 team) (2-0). Limelight has a few wins in his AEW career. Ryzin never got into the match the last time he was on Dark against Santana and Ortiz. Also, someone fix the Acclaimed’s combined weight because like hell it’s 556 pounds. Caster breaks up his rap to freak out about a spider… wait, that’s just a stupid tattoo on Limelight. Caster shouts out Taz and gets a handshake. The breakup in the rap was pretty funny, but would’ve been better if the music screeched to a halt.

Acclaimed jump the gun and work over their opponents, but Caster is dumped and Ryzin sends Bowens into a Limelight dropkick. Limelight adds a Fosbury Flop on Caster, but when he throws him in, Bowens stops Limelight. It’s enough for Caster to get a dropkick as Limelight returns. Ryzin in now, and he gets a leg lariat and corner clothesline. Ryzin goes up and over Caster, but his attempt at a crossbody is caught. Caster with a Hotshot and lariat, and Bowens in as the Acclaimed get a legsweep and elbowdrop. Bowens adds a dropkick for two, Limelight saves. Caster finally gets his shirt off, by the way. Bowens with forearms on Ryzin, then a big chop to back him into the corner (Caster’s shoe was untied). Caster is brought in and they do the wide-open gut kick. Caster clubs away on Ryzin before dancing on his back and getting a camel clutch.

He transitions to a ground sleeper, and when Ryzin fights out, he stops Ryzin into a back suplex. Caster slaps away on Limelight to draw him in, but Bowens gets cut off by Ryzin. Back body drop to Caster and it’s the hot tag to Limelight. Pump kick to Bowens, then a running headscissors to Caster. Running uppercut and roundhouse kick and Limelight goes up, and the Meteora connects for two. Limelight works over Caster but runs into a Death Valley Driver… but Ryzin tagged himself in and gets a SUPERKICK. Bowens runs over Limelight on the outside and gives Ryzin a Hotshot, so Caster with a ripcord chop and short clothesline. Acclaim To Fame gets the pin at 4:59. There’s something in all four guys, but the future isn’t here yet. *1/4 Limelight tries to check on Ryzin and gets shoved aside.

Shawn Dean, Baron Black, Aaron Solow, and Mike Verna vs. Bear Boulder, Bear Bronson, Sonny Kiss, and Joey Janela. Goes without saying these are first-time teams on both sides, yes? Good. After the last few weeks of teaming with Lee Johnson, Solow is back to being in a random team. Though to be fair, these are four of the best enhancement talents on Dark. Hopefully this will be good – if you know anything about Janela, it’s that he knows how to put together a crazy many-man match. Taz describes the face team as “oil and water… and mayonnaise.”

Janela and Solow start. Solow works the arm, but Janela handsprings out to reverse. Solow with a knee to the gut to take over, but Janela with an armdrag to stop the tag. Kiss in as Janela trips Solow and gives him a German suplex, and Kiss with a diving crossbody for one. Verna in, and he loses a slugfest to Kiss. Kiss with a rana try, but Verna hangs on and gets a buckle bomb and powerslam for one. Black in next, and he gets an abdominal stretch on Kiss, working the midsection and hooking the toe (somewhere, Gorilla Monsoon approves).

Kiss hiptosses out, but Black with an atomic drop into a Backstabber for one. Dean in, and he gets 2 running corner dropkicks in a row, then a Sky High for two. Solow returns, but Kiss fights back only for Solow to yank him down and get a double-stomp for two. Blind charge gets caught, but Solow yanks Kiss down into the splits only to get cradled for two. Corkscrew into a roundhouse kick by Kiss gets Janela the hot tag. He slugs down Solow and stands on Verna’s back to give Solow a tornado DDT. SUPERKICK to Verna and he taunts the other guy, sending Black and Dean out with a low bridge. Janela goes up top, then on Boulder’s shoulders, to dive onto all four opponents at once.

He throws Verna in and gets the running upercut into a handspring elbow from Kiss, an avalanche from Bronson, and another one from Boulder, into the Death Valley Driver by Janela, everyone saves. Bear Country clears out Black and Solow, then Janela brings Bronson in. Verna’s unable to stand, and the Totem Splash by Bronson leads to a Heartbreak Elbow from Janela for the pin at 5:14. Would have been nice to see more Bear Country, but this was all about re-establishing the Janela/Kiss team after some time off. *1/2 Hey, if Janela wants to do the work and I pick up the winner’s share of the purse, I’m okay with that.

Wrestling With the Week ad.

Vertvixen and Jazmin Allure (first time teaming) vs. Ivelisse and Diamante (2-0). So seriously, is Vertvixen trying to be a Spice Girl or something? I do not understand her. Ivelisse looks disgusted with her opponents.

Everyone argues to start, and Ivelisse/Diamante get springboard armdrags. They work over Allure in the corner with a running uppercut from Diamante, and Ivelisse tries a slam only for Allure to slip out the back. Dropkick by Allure, and Vert tags herself in and gets a running forearm. Monkey flip with wrist control leads to some roundhouse kicks, but Ivelisse catches a pump kick and trips down Vert. Ivelisse puts Vert on the middle rope, and Diamante German suplexes her off of it for two. Diamante slugs Vert down, getting a headlock and running Vert into Ivelisse’s boots. Double soccer kick by Ivelisse/Diamante and Ivelisse adds a bridging suplex for two.

Diamante returns as the heels get a double chop, then Diamante adds a clothesline for two. Vert seems more in panic than selling. Ivelisse returns with a kick to the gut and hooks a surfboard. She blocks a snapmare attempt and changes up to a straitjacket lock. Ivelisse slams Vert down by the arms and sends her into the corner, but Vert blocks and gets a kick and swinging neckbreaker. Ivelisse looks to stop the tag, but Vert kicks away and brings in Allure. Forearm to Ivelisse and clotheslines to Diamante follow. Flip neckbreaker gets one. Diamante fights out but gets caught in a jawbreaker. Allure backs Diamante into the corner and brings in Vert for an enzuigiri for two, Ivelisse saves. Allure back in, and a double hiptoss is blocked by Diamante. She rams the opponents together and dumps Vert with Ivelisse’s help, and a double kneesmash to Allure sets up a double slam and double roundhouse kick for the pin at 5:32. Ivelisse and Diamante seemed a bit perturbed, and I can’t say I blame them. * Excalibur thinks both of them should enter the Eliminator.

Ray Jaz and John Skyler (first time teaming) vs. Billy and Colten Gunn (first time in this iteration). Hey, cool, Skyler’s healthy again! He’s one of the best guys in the Carolinas right now, and as Excalibur explains, he’s back from a torn ACL. Austin Gunn joins commentary, much to Taz’s extreme sarcasm. One of these days Aubrey Edwards is going to get sick of being danced by Billy.

Colten and Jaz start. Jaz stays low in the circle, looking for the leg takedown, but Colten keeps his distance. They try a test of strength lock, with Jaz flipping Colten into a bodyscissors and chinlock. Colten reverses to an ankle bar, maintaining pressure through the roll and cutting off any attempt at the sleeper. Jaz escapes into a top wristlock, but Colten gets headscissors until Jaz breaks. Colten with an armdrag and lock, with Jaz forcing a break in the corner. WRESTLING!

Jaz with a shoulder ram on the break, but Colten goes up and over and gets a dropkick (with some good vertical), then another to Skyler. Billy tags himself in and takes Skyler’s arm, blocking a blind charge block attempt and slugging at Skyler’s kidneys. Sliding mat slam follows as Billy celebrates. Skyler bails out and asks for time, but that just means he runs into Billy and eats a back elbow. Skyler backs off, only to sucker Billy in and throw him into the post. Back in, Skyler with some forearms to keep Billy down, and Jaz returns to hook a front facelock and stop the tag. Gator Roll out of the facelock follows, into a pinning predicament for one.

Skyler hooks the headlock and keeps himself between the Gunns, with Billy fighting out. Skyler drops an elbow and gets sent to the apron, but returns with a spear through the ropes for two. Skyler stomps away in the corner and brings in Jaz, who chokes Billy in the bottom buckle. Blind charge eats boot, and Billy returns with a DDT. (Taz is mocking Austin’s excitement on commentary and it’s funny.) The Race to Tag is on, and it’s hot tag Colten. Skyler and Jaz eat clotheslines and it’s back and forth Stinger Splashes into a tilti-a-whirl slam on Jaz. Full nelson slam is escaped by Skyler, but Colten back drops Skyler into a Billy neckbreaker (“The 3:10 to Yuma!”) for the pin at 6:27. Honestly, Skyler and Jaz were the better team. *1/4

A Little Bit of the Bubbly Ad #2.

Alex Gracia (0-3) vs. Red Velvet (2-0). Oh, geez, Taz, thanks for reminding me that Jade Cargill is going to be on Pay-Per-View. Gracia has won before on Dark, but not in 2021. Velvet has a red curtain in her video wall.

Velvet with the wristlock, reversed by Gracia, reversed to a waistlock by Velvet. Gracia uses her legs to bring down Velvet into a front facelock, then a wristlock. That was a unique counter. Spinning armdrag by Gracia, into a top wristlock, but Velvet’s up and gets a full nelson. Gracia breaks and catches a waistlock, reversed by Velvet, so Gracia gets an armdrag and drops an elbow on the arm she controls. Velvet into a facelock and armdrag, then back to the wristlock to get a twisting lucha armdrag. WRESTLING! Dropkick by Velvet floors Gracia, but a whip is reversed. Velvet dodges a running elbow and gets the stir it up choke. Gracia with a knee to the gut and she throws Velvet into the buckle, then to the apron. Gracia charges and misses, and Velvet gets an ax kick and sunset flip. Gracia rolls through to a dropkick and Area Code into a crucifix in the ropes.

Gracia then mocks Velvet before adding a slingshot senton for two. Low gutwrench into a cradle for one by Gracia. Velevet gets up and gets a Stunner to break. Miscommunication on running the ropes, but Velvet gets the clotheslines to cue the comeback. Roundhouse kick follows, then a casadora bulldog. Moonsault press (overshot, but eh) gets two. Double J knee straddle and Just Desserts ends it at 4:21. Starting with a good portion of chain wrestling was very smart – it made both women look much better than previous outings. *3/4 And yes, I’m aware I’m going to get some blowback for that rating, but I really liked both of them in this one.

Jake St. Patrick (0-1) vs. Preston Vance (1-0). StPatrick hails from “beautiful Champaign, Illinois”, which is still funny if you’ve ever been to Illinois. The Dark Order accompanies Vance out, with Brodie Jr on his shoulders. The rest of Dark Order heads to the back… but Brodie is on commentary. OH YES. (And yes, Excalibur pays him the five bucks from last week.)

StPatrick with a headlock, but Vance carries him onto the top turnbuckle. Another lockup, and Vance with another headlock. StPatrick elbows out only to run into a brick wall. StPatrick tries a crossbody, but Vance catches it into a stalling suplex. Taz: “Never accuse me of being biased again on commentary after -1 here.” Vance drags StPatrick back in, but StPatrick with a Hotshot and running uppercut. Hesitation dropkick in the corner gets “only two”. Vance chops StPatrick in the corner, but StPatrick spins it around and stomps a mudhole.

Vance fights back to his feet (Excalibur and Taz are making Jr giggle on commentary), but StPatrick cuts him off with CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY. Vance runs into an elbow after getting separation, and StPatrick with a dropkick for two. Spinning gut kick by StPatrick and a leg sweep, but Vance ducks a roundhouse and gets the clotheslines. Back body drop follows as Jr is blowing raspberries at Excalibur.

Do I sound like I’m kidding?

Vance stops StPatrick on a charge and gets a spinebuster, then salutes to Brodie Jr, who returns. Deadlift powerbomb wins at 3:52. Brodie Jr: “I told you! I told you he was gonna win! You idiots! Not you, Taz. Look at my five bucks!” Who gave him a sugar drink before the show?? Poor Excalibur is being double-teamed by Taz and Junior until he says enough of this and walks off. Does my rating even matter – it’s about Brodie Jr.

Young Bucks book ad.

Main Event: Chaos Project (7-4 in 2020) vs. SCU (1-0). As a reminder, if SCU loses, they will disband as a team. Brodie Jr’s left commentary and Ogogo has returned, much to Excalibur’s relief. Taz is still upset at Serpentico stealing his “crossed arms pose”. Ogogo talks about how putting pressure on yourself can make you better.

Kazarian and Serpentico start. Lockup, and Kazarian with a fireman’s carry into a wristlock. Serpentico reverses to a hammerlock, but Kazarian steps through with a leg trip keylock. He goes to a cross armbreaker, but Serpentico makes the ropes and gets a break. He catches Kazarian with a roundhouse kick and slugs away, but Kazarian goes over a sliding Serpentico in the corner and chops him hard. Arm wringer into a shoulder block by Kazarian, then he drops a leg on the arm and holds the wrist. Knees on the arm by Kazarian, then another twist into a Divorce Court armbreaker for two. Daniels in, and he drops an elbow on Serpentico’s arm. Serpentico forearms out and brings Luther in, who slugs down Daniels and misses a blind charge.

Daniels goes over Luther, who blocks an O’Connor Roll but walks into a leg lariat. Snapmare by Daniels, who is somehow not the oldest person in the match, and a slingshot elbow leads to a slingshot legdrop by Kazarian for two. Luther fires out of an arm hold, but runs into a elbow. Serpentico drops off the apron and wishbones Kazarian behind the ref’s back, and Luther rips at Kazarian’s ears. Big slam by Luther, and Serpentico is in (with an “oh no, not THIS again” body language) to get slammed onto Kazarian twice by Luther for two.

Serpentico slugs away on Kazarian and tries to charge in the corner, but his back is weak and Kazarian catches him with a cradle for two. Mongolian chop by Kazarian and he brings Luther in, and it’s a snapmare and soccer kick by Serpentico followed by an assisted legdrop with Luther’s help for two. Butterfly suplex by Luther gets two. Serpentico back in, but Kazarian fights back against both only to get kicked down by Luther. Serpentico with a Tornado DDT (with Luther’s help) for two. Serpentico runs into an elbow, but adjusts the head and eats a boot instead. He adjusts again only to run into an overhead suplex.

The Race to Tag brings in Luther and Daniels, who has trouble bringing Luther down until he uses Serpentico to soften him up. STO by Daniels on Luther, and he throws Serpentico into a legdrop on Luther before covering for two. Exploder try on Luther, but he adjusts and gets one on Serpentico before running into a Luther leg lariat. Daniels stops Luther’s slam and gets Angel’s Wings, Serpentico saves. Serpentico tags himself in and gets a flying cradle into a SUPERKICK and short DDT for two.

Shiranui attempt, but Daniels holds the rops and escapes, bringing in Kazarian. Big chop to Serpentico, and he avoids a charge into a Steinerline. Daniels returns to set up the Best Meltzer Ever, but Luther charges in and knocks everyone down. Blind charge eats boot, and SCU goes high/low. Serpentico with a dropkick to Daniels, but he whiffs on an enzuigiri on Kazarian. Celebrity Rehab wins it at 8:53. Got a little sloppy near the end, but both teams have fun chemistry. **1/4

BEACH BREAK IS TOMORROW!

  • Ten teams compete in a battle royal for a shot at the tag titles! (If the Young Bucks win, they can name their opponent.)
  • Penelope Ford and Kip Sabian get married!
  • Thunder Rosa battles Dr. Britt Baker, DMD!
  • And the main event has Bullet Club of Omega, Gallows, and Anderson facing PAC, Fenix, and Moxley!

I mentioned in passing that I might get some double-takes for rating Gracia and Velvet the way I did. But let’s be clear: the best thing you can do if you’re new is stick within your comfort zone. I can’t speak for how they do it at the Nightmare Factory or in Texas, but I can speak for how things went when I first trained. And chain wrestling was the first offense I ever learned.

Going from headlocks to wristlocks to hammerlocks is always good practice because you can squeeze 1-2 minutes out of a match just going back and forth on holds. It’s like setting up pawns in chess – it’s not glamorous, but it’s helpful for you and for the fans. If you’re worried that your match is longer than you can handle, that’s where chaining comes in. I’m not sure how the fans are at your show, but around where I am, there’s an appreciation for very good, smooth chaining, usually in the form of applause. (In fact, that’s why I type “WRESTLING” after a good chain section – it’s something Tim Donst would do when he got done because he was the Mat Wrestling Machine.)

The other positive is that if you do it well, it’s good wrestling. It makes the matches better and allows you to look smoother than you are. I’m not sure if the lightswitch is there yet for Gracia or Velvet, but you get to burn 1-2 minutes on good chaining, and suddenly a 4-minute match has no resting and no soft spots. Everyone’s a winner.

So to this day, when I get a chance to go to training – which, sadly with the current world conditions is impossible since it would involve crossing state lines to Maryland, sigh – there will always be a segment of chaining just to make sure we’re still in the groove. Usually you’ll see a pattern with chaining. A headlock starts, the wristlock is how you get out, a hammerlock reverses that, you go behind to a waistlock, a headlock breaks that hold and you start over, and if you do it right, it all looks like struggling. I do appreicate when it’s mixed up – like the ankle bar that Colten Gunn had or the trip into bodyscissors that Gracia did. And if you come over from MMA, well, transitions are just a natural – reverse a hold to another hold just like in practice.

I realize I’m kind of taking the mystique out of wrestling, but the way I see matches as a trained wrestler means I can see the combinations and how they go from one to another. It’s not quite looking through the lines of code in the Matrix, but there’s something really fun about watching wrestling and realizing how it’s done. It becomes even more fun when you watch a match, notice how good it is, and then it hits you: I can do that.

No, I’m not claiming I’m good enough to be All Elite – Scorpio Sky does moves I could do for example (the dropkick, Russian legsweep, and TKO are the toughest of his moves), but it’s the way he does them, without hesitation or struggling, that I couldn’t copy. The part that I like, though, is watching professionals pull these awesome looking combinations, then breaking it down slowly and realizing how it’s done. Every match is a learning experience. And it all starts with how to open the match – chain wrestling.

So, yeah, that’s why I enjoy seeing the chaining, and why Gracia and Velvet made the match better for doing it. That was my point, wasn’t it? I might have gotten on a tangent.

STATS

BELL-TO-BELL: 64:25 over thirteen matches (average time 4:57)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Fenix vs Navarro

FIVE STARS:

  1. Rey Fenix
  2. Serpentico
  3. KC Navarro
  4. Alex Gracia
  5. Nick Comoroto (FIRST WIN!)

I need a break… a BEACH BREAK! See you tomorrow!