AEW DARK: March 16, 2021

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, Episode 80 (“Excalibur 3:16 Says I’ve Just Done The Deal”), March 16, 2021.

From the AEW Arena.

Your hosts are Excalibur, Taz, and Maffew Gregg’s clip editor.

TONIGHT! Your main event sees Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss take on Taz’s duo of Brian Cage and Ricky Starks! Jack Evans goes one on one with Pres10n Vance! Cezar Bononi has his biggest match yet facing off against Luchasaurus! And Madi Wrenckowski graduates from enhancement talent to featured performer!

PLUS — John Silver, SCU, Varsity Blonds, Bear Country, KiLynn King, Gunn Club, Leyla Hirsch, Chaos Project, Penelope Ford, Nick Comoroto, and a Dark Order 8-man tag! And yes, Brodie Lee Jr will be making an appearance!

Opening match: Cezar Bononi (w/Peter Avalon) (3-2) vs. Luchasaurus (w/Marko Stunt) (5-1). Even in a singles match, Peter Avalonmakes sure Bononi pulls him out on the Sleigh of Love. We get clips of last night and the beating to heat up this match. Anthony Ogogo is here.

Lockup, and Saurus goes to four in the corner before breaking. They shove each other and a tackle results in a stalemate twice over. They go back and forth, and Saurus floors Bononi with a leaping boot. He tells Bononi to run this time, and this time Saurus gets a thrust kick (did they repeat the spot??). Saurus boxes Bononi in the corner, but Bononi goes to the eyes and works Saurus over in the corner. Hammer throw, but Saurus emerges with a lariat. A blind charge by Bononi misses, and Saurus with a headbutt before Avalon grabs his boot. It’s enough for Bononi to dropkick Saurus to the floor, and on the outside, Bononi sends him to the guardrail and apron in succession.

Bononi wants a countout, but Saurus rolls in at 8 before being stomped back out. Avalon attacks Saurus, which earns him a near-chokeslam before Bononi comes off the apron with a double axhandle. Back suplex to the apron, and Bononi comes back in, a Steinerline gets two. Bononi uses knees to the back and stomps away. Back suplex gets two. Bononi demands Saurus get back in the fight, and, well, it works, as Saurus gets a knee strike and headbutt. Saurus goes to town on Bononi in the corner, then adds a German suplex and kip up.

Corkscrew hook kick, but Avalon jumps on the apron so Saurus drags him into the ring. Bononi with a jumping boot as Avalon crawls out, getting two. Avalon gets back on the apron, so Saurus runs them together, and an inside-out Death Valley Driver gets two. Chokeslam try, but Bononi blocks and they slug it out. Bononi gets the better of it with a knee, but Saurus rolls under a right cross and gets a hook kick into the chokeslam and moonsault for the win at 6:29. This felt like Saurus was being a perfectionist instead of rolling with it – the repeated sequence was inexcusable. 3/4*

Leyla Hirsch (3-2) vs. Savannah Evans (0-1). Congratulations to Hirsch on getting the contract. Evans has about 9 inches and I’d guess 80 pounds or so on Hirsch, which will make this interesting.

You know what? Never mind, because Hirsch opens with a German suplex and fires away in the corner. Evans blocks a drop toe hold and picks Hirsch up, but Hirsch with a back elbow only to run into a spinning drop. Evans stomps away and pounds on Hirsch. She corners Hirsch and rams shoulders into her, then it’s CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY. A choke against the ropes follows. Evans with a big slap to Hirsch’s back, but Hirsch pops up only to run into a slam. Hirsch avoids a blind charge and gets an elbow strike into the running double knees and swinging dropkick.

Hirsch with a Saito suplex (!) to Evans, and she wants a fireman’s carry only to be blocked and caught with a Samoan drop for two. Hirsch with a sharp kick to Evans’ knee, then a running wizard, but when Evans catches her like before in the match, Hirsch lands the cross armbar in mid-air to take Evans down and tap her out at 3:23. Just the size difference made Hirsch look really good, even if Evans is officially a nobody in AEW. *1/2 Hirsch has words for Vickie Guerrero at ringside after the match.

John Silver (w/Brodie Lee Jr) (5-1) vs. John Skyler (0-2). Skyler hasn’t been the same in his comeback from a knee injury, but this may be a good chance to show it off. I wonder how Alex Reynolds feels knowing that we’re just waiting for the him to get Jannettisoned.

Lockup, and we quickly go International~!, with Silver leaping through a monkey flip and getting a rana and dropkick. Yes Kicks to Skyler as Ogogo and Taz note that Silver has huge triceps for deceptive strength. Silver tries to go up and over Skyler, but Skyler catches him in a Death Valley Driver and senton before going ground and pound. Skyler picks Silver up, but it’s a slugfest until Skyler catches Silver against the ropes with a gutshot.

Hammer Throw and Silver takes the Bret bump and a two-count. Gutwrench by Skyler, but Silver elbows out until Skyler smashes him over the back. Another slugfest breaks out, with Silver winning this with a flurry and kick. Skyler cuts him off with a headbutt, uppercut, and knee, only for Silver to get a knee of his own into an Austin straddle. UFO gets the pin at 3:15. Just two guys beating the paste out of each other, but it felt like they could’ve had 3 more minutes. *1/4 Brodie Jr kicks Skyler out of the ring so the Dark Order can pose.

Tesha Price (0-4) vs. Penelope Ford (w/Kip Sabian) (15-8). As this is women’s action, we plug the main event on Dynamite being a Women’s Match – Britt Baker vs Thunder Rosa in a Lights Out (no-DQ) match. Someone must think like I do that Price has a good future – she gets an entrance. It was pointed out to me that last night, Mrio told Penelope Ford to stay out of the ring while he and Kip celebrated their win.

Price dodges Ford to start, but Ford gets a cheap kick to the leg and clubs away. Ford puts her head down, but she recovers by blocking a roundhouse and sending Price to the corner. Price goes up and over Ford, then charges back with a back elbow. Ford bails, but has the werewithal to trip Price trying to dive after her and smash her jaw against the apron. Boot choke as Ford gets back in, and then a cartwheel off the buckle, over the ropes, and into a double kneedrop to Price. Back in, it gets two. Ford hangs Price on the top rope and gets a big boot to her.

Leg choke against the middle rope as Ford kisses Sabian, then she does the guillotine pull against the top rope. Gut Check gets two. Hammer Throw by Ford, but Price tumbles away from the handspring elbow and gets her handspring roundhouse. Jericho facejam try, but Ford shoves Price off. Back heel kick by Ford, then the Tajiri handspring cutter gets the win at 3:27. Price is a better face than heel, and keeping Ford in these sshort matches will help build her up. Also, that handspring cutter is pretty dope. *

Chaos Project (Luther and Serpentico) (7-10) vs. Fuego Del Sol and Jake St.Patrick. Excalibur’s intro compares Chaos Project to the Addams Family, and sure, why not. Speaking of tag matches, we have Moxley/Kingston vs Gallows/Anderson tomorrow. How do they follow up…

…hold that thought as Chaos Project attacks before the bell. Luther sends St.Patrick pillar to post with avalanches, then a lariat. Serpentico in, and Luther suplexes Serpentico onto St.Patrick for two. He stomps away before sending St.Patrick headfirst into the turnbuckle. Luther with a noggin knocker (of St.Patrick and Serpentico), then he powerbombs St.Patrick, Fuego saves. St.Patrick escapes a leg lariat of Luther’s, and hot tag Fuego.

Missile dropkick to Luther, headbutt to Serpentico, and he rocks both men. Fuego with a Shiranui to Serpentico (nearly dropping on his head), then one to Luther. TORNADO DDT OF DEATH on Luther, Serpentico saves. Commentary wanted it to be the finish. Serpentico tosses Luther into St.Patrick to send him off the apron, then Fuego runs into Luther’s pump kick. Creeping Death finishes at 2:48. Fuego Del Sol’s first win is going to pop the crowd HUGE. 3/4*

KiLynn King (1-1) vs. Jazmin Allure (0-1). Excalibur isn’t a fan of King’s hometown of Painsville, OH. “I prefer Sufferington more.” King’s got war paint across her face just under the eyes. It’s a good look.

King switches a waistlock and gets a takedown into a gutwrench. Allure takes the arm, so King reverses and kicks Allure in the middle of her up and over. Allure with a cradle for one, then she flips over King and tries to take her leg out of her leg. SUPERKICK to a kneeling King gets two. She goes ground and pound, then gets a cartwheel splash for two. Allure with forearms in the corner, but King returns the favor only to get kicked and snapmared. Soccer kick gets one, and Allure takes the arm. King reverses and nails a forearm shot, and after Allure slaps her, King is on the attack.

Clotheslines begin the comeback. She kicks away a lariat before getting a roundhouse kick. GIANT SWING OF DOOM (9½ rotations – the crowd got ahead of themselves), but Allure recovers first and gets a casadora faceplant for two. Allure tries again, but gets caught in Kingdom Falls for the three at 3:40. King should’ve been WAY more dominant in this match – her height and intensity has me thinking she could be a future female Brian Cage. 1/2*

Wrestling With the Week ad.

Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, Alan Angels, and Colt Cabana vs. Angel Fashion, Baron Black, Vary Morales, and Ryzin. Neither quartet has teamed together before. Brodie Lee Jr salutes with the crew in the ring before sitting on the stage and waiting.

Grayson and Fashion start. Grayson throws Fashion into the Dark Order corner, then whips Uno in for an avalanche. Grayson follows with one of his own, and Uno gets a backbreaker. Morales runs into a kick as Grayson returns, and Uno/Grayson do a Kitchen Sink/Yes Kick combo. Grayson chops away in the corner, and Uno returns with a chop, then Colt gets a forearm, then Angels with an uppercut, then Grayson again with a chop, then Uno with a back elbow, then Colt with a right cross, then Angels with a spin kick. Angels slams Morales, and everyone in the Dark Order salutes around his body. Morales escapes out the back and we go criss-cross, ending in a belly-to-belly suplex with a twist for one by Angels. Colt and Angels with a double cross-chop, but a blind charge misses and Ryzin tags in… only to get chopped down by Colt.

Forearms by Colt, then a Bionic Elbow. Ryzin tries to distract Colt, which is enough to steal an enzuigiri. Colt with a back body drop (getting distance over height), and Uno runs Black over and clears the corner. Lariat by Uno, then a forearm to Morales, a neckbreaker to Fashion, a big boot to Moreales, and a hangman’s neckbreaker to Black with an assist from Colt. Uno clears out Ryzin before smoking Black into a spinkick by Angels into Nightfall by Grayson. Billy Goat’s Curse by Colt gets the submission at 3:58. Non-stop action, which is all you can hope for in a big tag match. *3/4 Poor Brodie Jr gets too excited and tries to beat up Black before literally being restrained by Grayson by his ankles. Brodie Jr gets to do kip ups instead.

Gunn Club (Austin, Billy, and Colten) (3-0) vs. David Ali, Adam Priest, and Seth Gargis (first time teaming). Austin and Colten are extra amped today, as Billy can only chuckle with a “yep, them’s are my kids” look.

An early bell allows the mooks to jump Gunn Club before they’re ready, but the Gunns smash everyone down and Billy tosses Priest into the Colt 45 from Colten. Make You Famous by Billy to Gargis, and a Quick Draw to Ali gets Austin the pin at 57.4 seconds. The Gunns didn’t even remove their warmups.

Bear Country (Bear Boulder and Bear Bronson) (4-0) vs. Brick Aldridge and Dean Alexander. So we’ve seen Aldridge and Alexander over the past week or so as the newest graduates of the Nightmare Factory dojo. It’s Boulder/Bronson/Saurus/Perry/Stunt vs. Hardy/Quen/Kassidy/Butcher/Blade tomorrow.

Bear Country runs both guys over at the bell, and a slam to both men by Boulder follows. Alexander slips out of his try, but Boulder puts him on the top rope and lifts Aldridge to run him into Alexander. He then gets one over each shoulder, and a double Oklahoma Stampede follows. Totem Splash to both guys ends it at 1:01. Ah, I see we’re having a “it’s bad weather outside so everyone gets quick matches” night.

Nick Comoroto (w/QT Marshall) (3-4) vs. D3 (0-3). I don’t see this one going long. Given that Marshall has stuck by Comoroto’s side even with his quasi-heel turn lately, I wonder if Marshall/Comoroto vs Rhodes Brothers is in the offering down the line. Maybe Dustin and Shotty Lee instead.

D3 nervously avoids a lockup for as much as he can, stepping away from a single-leg attempt as well. Comoroto can’t corner D3, and eventually D3 gets the arm only to be picked up and slammed as a counter. D3 with a prone kick to cut off Comoroto, then a Pele, and he goes over Comoroto only to get launched to the apron. He gets a gamengiri from there and goes up, but Comoroto catches him and tries an oshigoroshi. D3 escapes and gets a dropkick before trying to punch down Comoroto, which allows Comoroto to shove him and catch him coming back with a backbreaker. Military press slam into a powerslam gets the win at 1:53. That’s what you call “maximizing your minutes” by both guys.

Young Bucks book ad.

Varsity Blonds (Brian Pillman Jr and Griff Garrison) (2-1) vs. West Coast Wrecking Crew (Jorel Nelson and Royce Isaacs) (0-2). At least, that’s their indie team name. Basically, we have two experienced teams, so this could be fun.

Pillman and Isaacs start. Feeling-out process into a headlock by Isaacs, but the shoulderblock does nothing. Isaacs slaps Pillman out of frustration, and now Pillman runs over Isaacs. Corner clothesline and chop, and Garrison adds an avalanche before the Blonds do a double suplex for two. Pillman in, and he works the arm. Isaacs slugs out of the armlock and chops away in the corner, but a whip is reversed and Pillman stuns Isaacs with a right. Nelson blocks Air Pillman, however, and throws Pillman back in so Isaacs can slug him down and stomp a mudhole.

Nelson in, and he continues the stomping. Garrison is drawn in, but nothing comes of it as Isaacs tags back in with right hands. Nelson in, and the Crew get a Rude Awakening into a shoulderblock into a legdrop into a spinning elbowdrop for two by Nelson. Nelson tells off Garrison and gets in the three-point stance, but Pillman blocks it. Nelson comes back with a roundhouse kick, but Pillman runs over Nelson only for Isaacs to try to cut off the tag. Pillman escapes, and Garrison gets the hot tag. Back body drop to Nelson, then Garrison with back and forth Stinger Splashes.

Falcon Arrow to Isaacs, Nelson saves. The Crew get the double-team with a Dominator/DDT combo, getting Isaacs two. Nelson back in, but Garrison slips out the back and Pillman tags in. Isaacs is disposed of, and Garrison with the discus punch to Nelson. Air Pillman gets the pin at 5:00. Pillman almost slipped on the top rope but had enough athleticism to make the finish without looking like he came up short. Two good teams that went well together. *3/4

Madi Wrenckowski (1-2) vs. Vertvixen (0-3). Madi has been elevated to feature wrestler for now, thanks to being placed in the Eliminator. Even so, she comes out first. I believe these are two of Thunder Rosa’s students.

They slu it out to start, but Madi corners Vert and throws elbow strikes. Vert returns the favor, but Madi reverses a corner whip and gets a crossbody to the gut. Snapmare and spinning hairpull slam gets two for Madi. Madi with forearm strikes on the mount, but Vert cuts Madi off in the ropes with elbows. Snapmare and running kick to the back of the head (after faking one to the front), and Vert follows with a dropkick. Blind charge misses, and Madi with a Finlay Roll into a legdrop for two, brother. Sister? Anyway.

Vert gets a double-leg and hammers Madi, who bridges out to stop it. Madi sends Vert into the opposite corner, but Vert slides to a stop and gets high kicks into an enzuigiri. They slug it out on their knees, then while standing up, but it’s Madi off the ropes with clotheslines to cue the comeback. Back body drop (.4 Warlord) and Vert is thrown into the corner, with Madi getting a monkey flip on the way out. Vert swats away a running dropkick, though, and gets a Knee Plus for two. Madi with a small package for two. Madi catches Vert with a drop toe hold, then the Booker T Axe Kick ends it at 4:19. I appreciate a good match between two sparring partners. *1/2

SCU (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) (#1 team, 6-0) vs. Aaron Solow and Carlie Bravo (first time teaming). No, seriously, is Shawn Dean hurt? Why not bring him in? Solow and Bravo come out to the Nightmare Factory screen. SCU being unbeaten in 2021 is no coincidence – they’ve told everyone that they’ll either win a title or split up when they next lose. Taz tries to lay out for Justin Roberts before remembering Solow and Bravo were already introduced.

Daniels and Bravo start. Code of Honor offered by Bravo, but Daniels declines (as he does). Lockup, and Bravo gets the arm. Daniels reverses to a headlock, hanging on when Bravo tries to shove him off. Finally, Bravo gets rid of him only to get knocked down, and Daniels re-applies the headlock. Another tackle by Daniels and we go International~!, ending with a hiptoss and dropkick by Bravo. Daniels avoids a second one, but Bravo dodges an elbowdrop and Daniels finally gives respect.

Kazarian and Solow in, and after a long lockup, Kazarian gets a waistlock takedown. Kazarian with a cradle for two, then a drop toehold into a front facelock. He does the Gator Roll to keep control of Solow, who tries a Northern Lights Suplex. Kazarian gets a sunset flip out of it for two, but Solow recovers with armdrags. Kazarian backs Solow into the corner and chops him, but he runs into another armdrag and dropkick for one. Solow goes back to the arm, and Bravo in to slug Kazarian. Bravo puts his head down, and SCU recovers with Kazarian sending Daniels into an STO.

Forearm smash by Daniels, then a back body drop for one (Daniels hesitated, expecting Solow to run in). Snapmare by Daniels, then a slingshot elbowdrop, and Kazarian enters with a slingshot legdrop. Back suplex by Kazarian gets two. Daniels back in, and it’s a Hammer Throw into a gamengiri into a Manhattan Drop into a high/low, getting Daniels two. And two. And two. We HIT THE CHINLOCK as Daniels wonders what it’ll take to get rid of this kid. Bravo elbows out, then tries a sunset flip. Daniels stops it, but Bravo avoids the legdrop and it’s hot tag Solow.

Running uppercut to Daniels, then a roundhouse kick before a SUPERKICK for Kazarian. He goes up top, and a diving clothesline gets two. Flatliner by Daniels to stop the momentum, but Solow counters Angel’s Wings into a rana. 540 kick to Daniels, but Kazarian tags in and avoids another one to get a cradle for two. Yankdown and double-stomp by Solow, and Bravo returns with a diving crossbody for two. Bravo runs into a back elbow, then misses a second charge before Kazarian returns with a lariat. Daniels sends Solow packing, and it’s the Best Meltzer Ever to pin Bravo at 8:43. I’m pretty much convinced SCU could make me look good in the ring. **3/4

Main Event #1: Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela (9-9) vs. Brian Cage and Ricky Starks (w/Hook) (2-1). Yes, this gets co-main status. Cage and Starks are a little less mobile, which Excalibur chalks up to the street fight. Janela and Kiss have matching white and lavender outfits.

Cage and Kiss start, and Cage tries a powerbomb right away. Kiss flips out of the grip and gets a tilt-a-whirl headscissors and Rapid Kissmissal. Cage charges and blocks the enzuigiri before smoking Kiss with a knee to the head. Cage crushes Kiss in the corner, and Starks tags in (much to Cage’s surprise). Starks with a sweet right and he stomps Kiss down. Kiss rolls over Starks’ back and rolls away, but Starks grabs Kiss’s tights. Enzuigiri by Kiss, hot tag Janela who comes in with a diving crossbody.

He boxes Starks down, then low-bridges Cage to get him out of the ring. Janela tries a tope, but dives right into a suplex on the floor by Cage (almost literally). He throws Janela back in, and Starks slams down Janela into a kneedrop, Kiss saves. Starks swings at Kiss, then sends Janela into the Team Taz counter. Cage tags in (Starks wasn’t ready for it) and stomps down Janela before getting a boot choke. Starks adds a cheap shot to Janela, then Cage with a Broski Boot. Now the tag is agreed on, and Starks gets a Hammer Throw to Janela but hits boot on the blind charge.

Diving sunset flip by Janela gets two. Janela sends Starks into the corner, but Starks cuts off a tag and gives Kiss a shot for good measure. Starks tosses Janela to the apron and stomps away, but Janela pulls himself up only for Hook to sweep his legs out. Starks tosses Janela back in, getting one. He slaps Janela, who fires back, but Starks recovers with a back suplex to bring in Cage. Hammer Throw by Cage to Janela and he sets Janela up, but runs into some forearms. Janela dives for the tag, but Cage catches him only to miss the avalanc follow-up. Janela can’t kick Cage away, so Cage hooks both legs and gets a buckle bomb. Starks gets two off of it. Starks tries a suplex, but Janela escapes and runs the heels together, getting two on an O’Connor Roll to Starks. Janela with a Shiranui off of Cage’s chest to Starks.

Very hot tag Kiss, who fires off on Cage and gets a dropsault. High kick and standing enzuigiri, and Kiss slides to the apron before going up top. Meteora off the top to Cage gets two. Cage runs into a boot on a blind charge, and Kiss comes off the ropes with a rana and splits boot, cradling Cage for two. 540 kick immediately follows, Starks saves. Kiss slugs away on Starks, but he runs into a double spinebuster, Janela saves. Janela ducks a dive by Starks and the Jersey Boys pinball Cage a bit, getting a double back suplex. Janela with the Superfly Splash, but he’s not legal. Kiss is legal, and the 450 gets two.

Janela tags in, and they run Starks off the corner before they rock Cage back and forth, ending with a SUPERKICK by Janela. Inverted DDT try, but Cage catches Janela AND Kiss, getting a powerbomb/Strong Slam combo. Speaks then spears Kiss to win at 10:09. Cage isn’t happy Starks got the pin and is celebrating, but Hook tries to calm them down. What a fight! Even Janela brought it tonight. ***1/4

Meanwhile, in the ring, Janela is mad at Kiss for blowing the match, certain they’re going to be stuck working small-time indies at this rate, but he soon realizes he’s overreacting and apologizes.

Jack Evans (1-1) vs. Pres10n Vance. And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – BRODIE LEE JR ON COMMENTARY! No sign of Angelico here tonight. This follows on from Dynamite, when Jack Evans cost Vance a spot in the ladder match, sending Caster to it instead.

Lockup, and Vance flings Evans away. Evans with a Hotshot on the top rope as he drops to the outside, but Vance picks Evans up by the hair and gets a stalling suplex. Vance chops away on Evans, throwing him across the ring and getting a clothesline. Hiptoss as Brodie Jr says Evans is going to get fixed. Evans bails, but he catches Vance and sweeps the leg before coming off the apron to dive. Vance catches him, but Evans slides out the back and shoves Vance into the post. (Brodie Jr: “No, no, no, NO, NO!!!”)

Evans will take a countout, but Vance gets on the apron and kicks Evans away, getting two. Evans avoids a spinebuster and gets a 540 kick before driving axhandles into Vance’s chest. Front leg lariat by Evans, then a standing Sky Twister gets two. 12-6 elbow to the back of Vance’s head follows, then a Hammer Throw. Handspring elbow, but Evans is going in so hard he flies to the outside on his own. He returns with a Springboard Ryder Kick and goes up top, but misses… whatever (replay was showing) and both men are down. Vance with a Steinerline to get back into it. Vance stops a DDT attempt with a back body drop, but Evans blocks a second back body drop and slugs Vance down.

Standing moonsault off Vance’s chest gets two. Evans with a snap suplex for two as Brodie Jr talks back to Tony Schiavone in his headset. Cross armbreaker, but Vance stacks him for two. Evans with a clothesline for two. Brodie Jr makes it clear not even Tony Khan can tell him what to say on commentary. Evans with a boot choke in the corner, then a snapmare and ground abdominal stretch into a cradle for two. They get out of position and struggle on the mat until Evans gets another cross armbreaker. Vance makes the ropes as Brodie Jr explains Tay Conti isn’t in the Dark Order, but someone has to replace Anna Jay.

Ripcord cutter by Vance and both men are down again. Vance resumes the clotheslines for the comeback, then a real back body drop. He runs into a boot in the corner, but Evans in turn runs into the SPINEBUSTER OF DOOM. Evans goes to the apron and dives… right into a spear for two. Full nelson by Vance, but Angelico races in only to get kicked. Evans low blows Vance, and the Sky Twister press off the top gets a close two. Brodie has to be restrained from charging the ring. Vance gets the full nelson again, and it gets the TKO at 9:58. Vance’s face is busted open from the Sky Twister, I think. I’m not saying this match shouldn’t have gotten ten minutes, but it was horribly structured if that was the plan – almost like Evans saw Vance starting the comeback and told him not yet. **

SAINT PATRICK’S DAY SLAM!

  • Moxley and Kingston vs Gallows and Anderson!
  • Cody Rhodes vs Penta El 0M!
  • Jurassic Express and Bear Country vs Big Money Enterprises!
  • And in a lights-out match, Thunder Rosa faces Dr. Britt Baker as the women main event!

Vance is new, and I know he was only in the main event to bring you Brodie Jr on commentary, but the pacing in his match was way off and Evans was trying to drag him through “his” match. It didn’t work, and that’s okay – sometimes you get a style clash that doesn’t click. However, compare it to the match before it where you had power, finesse, speed, and fiery brawling all mixed up. Janela, Kiss, Cage, and Starks all meshed well together, and they were able to work in the intrasquad stories of “Cage and Starks both think they’re alpha” and “Janela is worried he’s going to lose his AEW deal”. I don’t know if it’ll go anywhere – well, Cage and Starks will because they’re high on the roster, but Janela/Kiss may have been a trial balloon. Honestly, both men are more fun in a tag team.

Madi Wrenckowski looked shockingly good in her four minutes in there, and you can see why they give her the alternate spot and mini-push coming out of it. The Varsity Blonds and West Coast Wrecking Crew both had chemistry, and SCU may be the two best ring generals AEW has in the tag ranks. But that’s what AEW Dark (and Elevation) are about – you take talent that is raw and needs more polish, and you give it polish against an established star.

Now, I know the obvious answer is that you obviously get better through experience, and yes, there’s that. But who that experience is against is a big deal. Solow has been put in matches with a lot of high-profile and quality talent over his AEW tenure, and he’s gotten better by the minute. Bravo has teamed with both Solow and Shawn Dean, and you can see he’s learning by observing on the apron. Heck, back to Madi – she’s been in there with Britt Baker, Leva Bates, and Thunder Rosa in training, and she’s learned first-hand how to make things more smooth.

(Note that it matters who that foe is. Vance will learn more about following and defending against flying when he’s in there with Jack Evans, who is willing to guide a less experienced foe and bump to keep the match together. Cezar Bononi, meanwhile, had issues with Luchasaurus, who seemed more intent on the GMSI aspect than keeping match flow. And, of course, you need to have the time to learn – no matter what Luther and Serpentico can show the young guns about how basic offense is all you need, three minutes isn’t nearly enough time to learn it.)

(Note to the note: that’s not to say if you only get a blink in the ring, you can’t do something with it. Look back at D3 and Nick Comoroto – they got less than two minutes and, thanks to being focused and quick, were able to make the David/Goliath story work. Maximizing your minutes and being memorable that way means more than just doing offense and looking like a winner. After all, this isn’t MMA.)

Anyway – four hours of film study for me per week is great. Your mileage may vary, because you’re here to watch wrestling rather than, say, learn about wrestling. But I’ve made no qualms about trying to improve while being stuck out of the ring during this here pandemic – soon as that second shot comes in, I’ll be ready to get back – so finding things to talk about keeps me fresh. Anyway… enough rambling.

STATS

BELL-TO-BELL: 69:00 (NICE!) over fifteen matches (average time 4:36)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Team Taz vs Jersey Boys

FIVE STARS:

  1. Joey Janela (I’m as shocked as you are)
  2. Frankie Kazarian
  3. Brian Cage
  4. Madi Wrenckowski
  5. Jack Evans

Until next time, shut up, Excalibur.