AEW DARK: February 9, 2021

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark Episode 74: Hey, Look At That, The Women Have Competitive Matches!, February 9, 2021.

From the AEW Arena.

Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz with Anthony Ogogo. Your adjective: “Massive.”

TONIGHT! Joey Janela prepares for a TNT Title match in the main event has he takes on Jack Evans! Red Velvet tackles Diamante, and with Ivelisse and Big Swole at ringside, we are on TEDDY LONG WATCH! Ryan Nemeth could get his first win, but Marko Stunt is no pushover! Alex Gracia looks to keep showing improvement as she tries to stop the momentum of Tay Conti! Team Nightmare’s Lee Johnson and Aaron Solow could get their first win, but if they do, it’ll be SCU’s last loss! Peter Avalon looks to lift his new protege, Cezar Bononi, to his first win as well!

PLUS – Dustin Rhodes, QT Marshall, Nick Comoroto, Brian Cage, Nyla Rose, PAC, Sonny Kiss, and Preston Vance!

OPENING MATCH: Vary Morales and Jersey Muscle Society (Steve Gbiki and Tony Vincita) (first time teamign) vs. Team Nightmare (Dustin Rhodes, QT Marshall, and Nick Comoroto) (1-0). Morales and JMS get no entrance and can be seen in the ring as the Nightmares enter. Too bad, because I need to figure out which one is which in the Society. Commentary talks about Comoroto coming close against Jon Moxley.

Vincita and Dustin start. Headlock by Dustin, and he runs over Vincita before stopping on a leapfrog to get an armdrag. Marshall in, and it’s the gut punch / kneelift / moonsault combo for one. Marshall sends Vincita into his corner, and Comoroto is in to work the arm. He turns the arm wrench into a knuckle lock and lifts Vincita up by the arm before dropping him. Running elbow in the corner and Dustin is in, as he whips Comoroto into an avalanche, and Comoroto sends Vincita into a powerslam for two. Vincita with a desperation knee and Gbiki is tagged in only to get armdragged by Dustin. Marshall in and a double Russian Legsweep follows, but Gbiki charges the corner and Morales gets in.

Morales goes up and over Marshall, getting a dropkick and bringing him into the corner to bring in Vincita. The Society tags around, but Marshall gets a double clothesline and in comes Comoroto to give everyone Polish Hammers. Gbiki and Vincita are slammed twice each as even commentary doesn’t keep track of who’s who. Morales tries to dropkick Comoroto, but Comoroto no-sells and throws Morales into his teammates. Dustin in, and a military press Steiner bulldog wins this at 3:45. Just a showcase. 3/4*

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Team Nightmare (Lee Johnson and Aaron Solow) (0-3) vs. SCU (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) (7-5 total). As a reminder, if SCU loses, they’ve agreed to split up. Johnson and Solow have shown decent chemistry in the past, and tomorrow Johnson might get his first win as he teams with Cody Rhodes against Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi.

Daniels and Johnson start. Lockup, and Johnson with a quick armdrag. Johnson follows with a slam, as Daniels is impressed. Headlock and we go International~!, ending with Daniels getting hiptosses and a slam of his own. Kazarian in, and they take out Johnson’s knees into a Yes Kick / lariat / stomp combo. Johnson escapes a slam and tags in Solow.

They lock up, and Kazarian with a waistlock takedown into a front facelock and Gator Roll. Solow escapes as they stand up, getting a hammerlock, but Kazarian armdrags him down and takes the keylock. Solow gets up and they fight over the wristlock, but Kazarian uses the ropes to backflip out of it and hiptosses Solow, who turns a backslide into a pair of armdrags and a dropkick. Kazarian stops a whip and cuts off Solow, and Daniels enters with a leg lariat for two. Five-Arm in the corner by Daniels, but a second charge hits the boot and Solow with a running headscissors.

Johnson in, and it’s a back suplex / neckbreaker combo for two. Suplex by Johnson gets two. Solow in, and he tries a suplex as well, but Daniels reverses only for Solor to slide out the back. Daniels catches a leaping Solow into a Finlay Roll, and slingshot elbow, and Kazarian follows with a slingshot legdrop for two. Big chop from Kazarian to Solow, then a slam. Spinning legdrop off the middle rope gets two, and he brings Daniels back in. Lariat by Daniels, and a moonsault by Kazarian gives Daniels two.

Solow punches out, but Daniels floors him with one chop. Kazarian adds another and we get a slugfest, with both men looking for a crossbody for a double-down (the setup was a tad awkward). Hot tag Johnson, and he clotheslines down Daniels and knocks Kazarian off the apron. Johnson catches Johnson on his shoulders in the corner, and an airplane spin leads to a dropkick and kip-up. Blue Thunder Bomb gets two. Johnson powerbombs Daniels into Solow’s knees, and a Finlay Roll / double stomp combo gets two. Solow tags in officially as Daniels blocks a double suplex, then slips out of a second try to bring in Kazarian.

Now Kazarian cleans house with a leg lariat to Solow and Rocker Dropper to Johnson. Kazarian goes over Solow’s back and gets a Backstabber, then a German suplex for two. Kazarian tries for the Tomikaze, but Solow escapes to the apron only to be brought back in with a cutter, Johnson saves. Daniels charges and gets dumped, with Johnson following with a tope suicida. Back in, Solow with a cradle for a VERY close two. Enzuigiri to Kazarian and everyone’s down. Johnson is first up, and he grabs Kazarian as Solow brawls with Daniels. It’s the double-whip do-si-do, leading to Kazarian knocking Solow down with a flying jalapeno. SCU goes high/low on Johnson, but Solow cuts off Daniels and dives… into Kazarian’s arms. Best Meltzer Ever ends it at 11:01. If this is how SCU is willing to go out of the business, I’m all for it. ***1/4

Wrestling with the Week ad.

Non-title: Jake St.Patrick (0-2) vs. FTW Champion Brian Cage (w/Hook) (13-2). Pretty sure this one won’t last as long as the SCU match. St.Patrick doesn’t even get an intro. Which is all the same, because Justin Roberts AGAIN forgets the FTW Championship part. I mean, c’mon, Justin.

Cage throws St.Patrick down face-first, then lands a SUPERKICK. He throws St.Patrick in the corner and uppercuts him into a release German suplex. Double powerbomb follows, with the third one on his knee, and the Drill Claw ends the slaughter at 1:04. NR – too short.

The Acclaimed do another silly video, mocking “Judas” and the Dinner Debonair, along with MJF’s appearance on Rosie O’Donnell. Yes, this happened. They even reference Jericho losing the title (as in, physically losing the belt, and yes, this happened, too).

Miranda Alize (0-2) vs. Nyla Rose (w/Vickie Guerrero) (18-6 total). Okay, jobbers no longer get entrances, apparently. Rose is unranked for the first time in almost a year. Alize (pronounced “All-is-AY”) has a lucha mask in her entrance gear.

Alize tries an armdrag, but Rose blocks it and gives Alize a Strowman chokeslam. Avalanche misses, but Rose just bounces back with a lariat. Rose goes ground and pound on Alize, then adds a splash but refuses to cover. She chokes Alize against the middle rope, with Vickie Guerrero adding a slap. Alize ducks a big boot and fires off with forearms, then tries a rana only to be caught. Alize escapes and dropkicks Rose’s knee, but her crossbody is caught and discarded. Avalanche in the corner, then a clothesline. Beast Bomb ends it at 2:14. Hello, I’d like to report a murder. 1/4* Ivelisse and Diamante look on at how their trainee Alize got beaten horribly, refusing to give any comfort from their ringside seats.

VSK (0-4) vs. PAC (#5 men) (10-4-1 overall). Roberts doesn’t give VSK an intro because of PAC’s pyro. (With shorter intros, I have less to say here.)

Lockup, and PAC pushes VSK to the corner and gives him a clean break. Another lockup, and PAC works the arm into a top hammerlock. He keeps control of the wrist as VSK rolls through and reverses, but PAC does the same thing only much faster to get VSK grounded before stomping the arm. PAC sends VSK into the corner headfirst, then a second corner, adding a boot choke. He has till five, Bryce.

PAC keeps kicking away and steps on VSK’s throat. Hammer throw to VSK and he mocks his opponent. PAC toys with VSK, begging him to get up, and when VSK does and slugs PAC, PAC tries a German. VSK escapes and gets a dropkick, then an oshigoroshi and back uppercut for… one. VSK runs into a big boot, and the Brutalizer is on for the submission at 4:03. Very slow match; it looked like PAC was phoning it in. 1/4*

KC Navarro (0-1) vs. Sonny Kiss (w/Joey Janela) (1-0). Okay, this ought to pick up the pace a shade. Oh, I forgot to mention: this is being taped immediately after Beach Blast, so the decorations are still up. Ricky Starks replaces Ogogo on commentary – but Janela jumps in and yells “That’s one of the most succulent asses in the business” by using Starks’ headset. While Starks is still wearing it.

Lockup and they exchange waistlocks, with Navarro leapfrogging over Kiss twice and fliping out of a leg catch. It all ends in a cradle by Kiss for one and a basement dropkick, then the split legdrop gets two. Kiss cartwheels out of a Hammer Throw and lands a high roundhouse kick and sunset flip for two, then a SUPERKICK to floor Navarro. Twerk moonsault misses and Navarro goes ground and pound into a rear choke. Kiss backs Navarro into the corner and adds elbow shots that ROCK Navarro.

Navarro goes TRANQUILO, then trips Kiss into the middle rope, adding a slingshot dropkick and lucha DDT for two. Navarro charges into a 540 kick, and Kiss gets the Axes and O’s in the corner. Kiss thinks better than to go up top, and the splits TKO gets the win at 3:28. This match seemed to have 10 times the energy of PAC. **1/4 Janela and Kiss dance in the ring to celebrate.

Alex Gracia (0-3) vs. Tay Conti (w/Anna Jay) (3-1). Gracia, despite having an AEW win under her belt, gets no entrance. To be fair, that win was in 2020 and has been taken off the books. No Dark Order entrance – just Anna, though she comes out alongside Tay and from the same tunnel.

They fight over a test of strength, with Gracia getting the edge early, but Conti reversing to a monkey flip and cover for two. Front facelock by Conti, then an ogoshi hiptoss. She keeps the wrist and adds Yes Kicks, but Gracia ducks the third one and gets a cradle for two. Rolling kneebar out of nowhere by Conti, but Gracia rolls them to the apron, then off the apron and to the floor. Back in, Gracia with a left hook to Conti and an Area Code for two.

She goes to a seated full nelson, but Conti escapes and floats through Gracia into a hammerlock DDT (commentary pops for it). Conti then catches a pump kick and lands a knee strike and clothesliens (“I don’t think so!”), ending with a hook kick. Flying knee in the corner, then a pump kick and Bite of the Dragon ends it a 3:13. Being able to see both women improve on Dark has been a treat, but Conti is clearly the star. *1/2

A Little Bit of the Bubbly ad #2.

Ryan Nemeth (0-1) vs. Marko Stunt (13-11 in 2020). This counts as a feature bout. Nemeth takes the mic from Justin Roberts and says he’ll talk about the elephant in the room – people don’t like him. It’s not his fault he’s smart, attractive, and famous. They don’t like that he’s known the world over (say what?) and that he’s a true Hollywood Hunk. Go ahead, boo him, get it overwith. But search your feelings, you know it to be true: they adore him – everyone watching here, in the back, and on YouTube loves Ryan. He tries to start an I Love Ryan chant, but no one bites. TO THE MATCH… as soon as Stunt steps over the top rope like Luchasaurus.

(Yes, Stunt was kidnapped on Dynamite. FTR let him go – it was all just a message.)

Nemeth mocks Stunt before the match and acts like it’ll be nothing, then turns around into a hook kick from Stunt that staggers him to the apron. He calls for time, so Stunt pushes Nemeth off the apron and lands a tope suicida. He pounds away on the outside, and after struggling to throw him back in, Nemeth complains to the referee. Stunt returns with a springboard elbow to the back for two (Stunt slipped a bit but saved the move). Blind charge misses for both men, and Stunt gets a rolling cradle into a Shining Wizard for two.

He goes up top, but Nemeth knocks him off the top rope and gets a stalling back suplex and Million Dollar Fistdrop. Hammerlock by Nemeth, and he handstands while holding it to drop the knees on the arm (Taz thinks a bridge might have been more effective). He mops the floor with Stunt’s face, then catches him running in with a dropkick. Nemeth pounds away on Stunt, adding a Hammer Throw. Nemeth taunts Stunt before a corner spear, and he teases a Rude Awakening… for too long, as Stunt kicks out and goes for the Shiranui…

…but FTR’s music hits. Stunt understandably freaks out, allowing Nemeth the Rude Awakening for the pin at 3:57. FIRST WIN ALERT! But who played the music? Was it Tully? Anyway, if you’ve seen one Ziggler/Mysterio match, you’ve seen this match done longer and better. Not that this was bad, mind you, but they were clearly doing a tribute. *1/4

Shawn Dean and Charlie Bravo (first time teaming) vs. Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi (also first time teaming). Dean and Bravo get an entrance in full military gear with the US flag, as both are veterans. Of these four, only Avalon has ever won a match. If you’re wondering why this team, Avalon lost a catwalk show-off to Lee Johnson (not a match) and brought Bononi in to beat up Johnson.

Bononi and Bravo start. Bononi throws Bravo down off of a lockup, then throws Bravo down when the latter tries a waistlock. Bononi tries a powerslam, but Bravo escapes and gets a left jab. Bononi loses his cool and shoves Bravo down, so Avalon tags in to calm everything down… before running into some armdrags and a dropkick. Dean in, and Bravo tosses Avalon into an enzuigiri from Dean. Slingshot elbow gets two. Bravo returns, and the vets punch Avalon down and send Bononi packing. Bravo charges Avalon, but Bononi pulls Avalon away and Bravo crashes. Bononi adds a clothesline, and Avalon gets two.

Bononi in as Avalon has a front facelock, and Bononi stomps a mudhole in Bravo and walks it dry. Bravo is Hammer Thrown and tries to block a charge, but Bononi catches the boot and slaps the tattoos off of Bravo. Powerslam gets two. Avalon in with a suplex for two as Dean keeps wondering if he has to break up the pin. Bononi in, and he boots Bravo in the lungs before CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN him down. Northern Lariat and Bravo is so disoriented he crawls the wrong way. Bononi rams him into the turnbuckle to cut off a flurry, and an inverted slam and camel clutch allows Avalon a sliding dropkick for two.

Bravo elbows out of the corner and catches Avalon with a boot, then dodges a blind charge to bring in Dean (finally). Overhead suplex on Avalon, then an enzuigiri to Bononi, and Bravo/Dean get cannonballs on Bononi/Avalon. Bravo covers Avalon for two. Bononi flattens Bravo with a flapjack, and the Marti-Knees gets the win at 6:48. FIRST WIN ALERT! Avalon seems more surprised it happened than Bononi. Decent heat segment, and Bravo’s a really good seller. *1/2

Baron Black (0-2) vs. Preston Vance (w/The Dark Order) (2-0). No intro for Black. No one sticks around for the Dark Order.

Lockup goes nowhere. A second lockup, and Vance wins it pushing Black into the corner before giving him a clean break. Black with a drop step to get a headlock, but a collision goes nowhere. We complete the International~!, with Black looking for a cradle, but Vance kicking him off and both men getting headlock takedowns into headscissors into escapes for a stalemate. Code of Honor offered by Black, but it’s to sucker Vance into a chop. Vance with a slam and pump kick, but Black with a crossbody only for Vance to catch him into a fallaway slam. Avalanche clothesline in the corner and Vance forearms away.

Black gets a right hand off of a referee breakup, then a discus clothesline in the corner. Vance avoids the T-Bone, and both men chop the daylights out of each other. Blind charge by Black eats boot, but Black catches a pump kick into a dragon screw. Uppercut and chops by Black follow. Black clubs away on Vance, chopping him hard in the corner. Vance’s comeback is cut off by a right by Black, then a Hamemr Throw as Vance is suffering. Uppercut by Black, but Vance fights back from his knees only to get hit with a kneedrop to Vance’s shoulder (and that was on purpose).

Vance tries to fight back again, but Black goes for the mask and rakes the eyes. Black cuts off a whip and goes for an abdominal stretch, but Vance with a hiptoss. He runs into an atomic drop / Backstabber combo for two. THE STRAPS COME DOWN on Black, and he fires off more uppercuts, as Vance is out on his feet. But he blocks a third uppercut and delivers a forearm smash that floors Black. Vance escapes a suplex and begins the comeback, getting a BACK body drop on Black. Charge eats boot, but Black runs into a spinebuster (Starks marks out for it). Pickup powerbomb gets the pin at 7:20. Lots of hard hitting in this one, as the two are clearly familiar enough with each other to go hard, but it felt disjointed when they weren’t striking each other. *3/4

Young Bucks book ad.

Diamante (w/Ivelisse) (14-6 overall) vs. Red Velvet (w/Big Swole) (#2 women) (3-0 in 2021). If anyone’s benefitted from the calendar flipping over, it’s Velvet. Ogogo swaps back in for Starks as he and Excalibur note Taz is the poste child for bad attitude.And who left the scooter at ringside for Swole to ride around on?

Diamante shoves Velvet to start, and they exchange waistlocks. Diamante pulls Velvet around into a takedown and talks to Ivelisse, but Velvet returns with a single-leg dropkick. She boxes down Diamante in the corner (Ogogo approves), then she gets the stir it up boot choke, but Diamante breaks it and shoves Velvet down. Velvet rolls back through it and gets a dropkick into a running headscissors. Diamante’s stuck in the ropes, but the Jarrett straddle airballs. Ivelisse distracts Velvet (with Swole not happy and breaking it up), which allows Diamante a German suplex on Velvet.

Chops in the corner by Diamante, then an overhand left. Hammer Throw follows, and Diamante adds a shotgun dropkick for two. Diamante corners Velvet in the corner with shoulder rams and a back elbow. She stomps a mudhole in Velvet (but is stopped from walking it dry) before trying a second shotgun dropkick, which misses. Velvet with running hairpull slams to Diamante for the comeback, then a back elbow and moonsault for two.

Roundhouse misses, and Diamante with a shiranui for two. Running knee off a whip reversal by Velvet, then a casadora bulldog for two. Diamante with a big chop and rolling back elbow for two. Diamante mocks Velvet to Swole, then looks for Code Red, but Velvet slips through it and gets a spinning roundhouse kick. Just Desserts ends it at 5:42. Swole and Ivelisse meant nothing. Velvet has improved greatly, and she and Diamante meshed shockingly well – that’s what happens when you have a veteran hand like Diamante in there with someone rapidly improving like Velvet. **

MAIN EVENT: Jack Evans (w/Angelico) (2-1 in 2020) vs. Joey Janela (w/Sonny Kiss) (1-0 singles). Angelico dance goes here.. It’s a lot easier to do than Evans’ breakdancing, I’ll put it that way. Remember: Janela gets a TNT Title shot against Darby Allin tomorrow…

…and Evans with a springboard kick to Janela during intros! He goes for a handspring corkscrew to the outside off the stage, but Janela dodges. Evans lands on his feet and goes back, getting a moonsault!

Now the match begins as Evans goes up top, but he talks too much and Janela shoves him to the floor. Janela follows with a plancha to Evans as the crowd goes wild. Back in, Janela with a running elbow in the corner, followed by a back suplex for two. Another whip, but Evans backflips out of a charge only to eat boot. Angelico grabs Janela’s leg, allowing Evans a 540 kick for two. Flying knee by Evans off a whip gets two. Evans kicks Janela in the head and adds knee strikes before just CLUBBERIN Janela down and draping him by the apron. He stops to taunt Kiss, who jumps on the apron, so Evans gets a Mutalock around the bottom rope (with Angelico adding a right cross to Janela). It gets two as Evans tries to get Kiss ejected from ringside.

Evans with a spinning back elbow for two. He goes to a ground sleeper, but Janela fights out of it only to get caught in a Black Widow. Evans tries to add shots with his free leg, but in doing so, Janela gets the grip and sends Evans into the corner with a Blu-Ray. He follows up by sending Evans to the floor with a running back elbow, following up with a tope suicida. Back in, he ducks a roundhouse and gets a Death Valley Driver for two. He goes up, but this time Evans anticipates and follows him, getting a Frankensteiner. Phoenix Splash by Evans (throwing his KNEES into Janela’s gut) gets two.

Roundhouse kick by Janela cues a slugfest as Janela fires back. Discus punch staggers Evans, but Evans stops him with a handspring elbow, only for Janela to spear him into the ropes. Evans goes to the apron and springboards in, but runs into a SUPERKICK. Evans ducks a clothesline and nails a Poison Rana, but Janela rolls to his feet and SUPERKICKS Evans for the double-down. Commentary is surprised by this, since they’ve never seen All Japan. Both men get up at 9, and Janela punches Evans to the apron. Evans catches Janela coming in with a high kick, but the 450 gets knees and Janela with a small package for two.

Evans escapes a package piledriver and gets a SUPERKICK of his own, only to run into a lariat. Package Piledriver somehow only gets two. Everyone in the building thought it was the finish. Janela goes up top, and the Heartbreak Elbow ends it at 8:59. I’d have ended it with the piledriver myself, but other than that Janela showed he is getting his mojo back that made him an indy darling. **3/4

TOMORROW!

  • Tony Schiavone interviews Sting!
  • Jericho and MJF face the Acclaimed!
  • Leyla Hirsch and Thunder Rosa kick off the women’s tournament!
  • PAC battles Ryan Nemeth!
  • Cody and Lee Johnson against Avalon and Bononi!
  • Darby Allin puts the belt on the line against Joey Janela!
  • And in a falls count anywhere melee, it’s KENTA/Omega against Archer/Moxley!

Tonight felt like a look into the future. Winners like Cezar Bononi, Red Velvet, and Tay Conti were busy getting established, while losers like Alex Gracia, Lee Johnson, and Aaron Solow were able to get some of their shine in and look like they had a future. In addition, you had matches like Kiss/Navarro and Black/Vance, where AEW sees something in both sides of the equation even as one has more of a head start than the other.

But it’s not just about the new blood. You get veterans like Joey Janela and Frankie Kazarian able to show the could still hang with the All Elite roster. Heck, even guys like Ryan Nemeth and Marko Stunt, who seem to have very limited use overall, made the most of what they had and showed that they could be valuable as role players. Really, the only person who had a chance to impress and wasted it was PAC, who seems to be too much into his “total asshole” character and not enough into being a wrestler. But that’s just me.

(For a more detailed explanation here, compare PAC to Nyla Rose. PAC went four minutes and most of it was spent staring at his opponent and walking to him. He looked like a rookie out there, stalling between moves rather than looking like he had a plan. Rose, meanwhile, had the same “give them nothing and destroy them” routine, but was smart enough to keep it to two minutes and do the damage before getting out. She still had time to seem menacing to the camera while getting in and out and making a point.)

Overall, today’s show had only the one disappointment. Other than that, the matches overachieved if anything. Overall, a positive show, and we’ll see if they uncork any good feature bouts for the 75th show next week.

STATS:

BELL-TO-BELL – 61:34 over twelve matches (average time 5:08)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT – SCU vs Team Nightmare

FIVE STARS:

  1. Joey Janela
  2. Lee Johnson
  3. KC Navarro
  4. Tay Conti
  5. FIRST TIME WINNERS: Ryan Nemeth / Cezar Bononi

See you tomorrow as we prep a double-header!