AEW DARK: April 6, 2021

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark Episode 83 (“Eric Bischoff Not Included”), April 6, 2021.

From the AEW Arena.

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

TONIGHT! The Sea Stars go for their first win as a team! Red Velvet and KiLynn King face Madi Wrenckowski and Vipress! The search for Fuego Del Sol’s first win continues as he brings his vlog buddies to back him up against Ryan Nemeth! And in our main event, it’s TH2 facing Bear Country!

PLUS – Matt Hardy, Kiss and Janela, JD Drake, Matt Sydal, Jurassic Express, The Dark Order, Team Taz, and The Butcher!

Opening match: Dark Order (Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, and Alex Reynolds) (first time in this lineup) vs. Jake St.Patrick, Sage Scott, and Chandler Hopkins (0-1). Interestingly, Justin Roberts calls this a “trios match” and not a “six-man tag match”. Could we be getting those titles soon?

The students charge to start and get the worst of it. Grayson picks Hopkins up and blasts him with a right before getting an overhead suplex. Reynolds in, and he gets uppercuts before Hopkins kicks away. Reynolds dodgoes a charge and gets a running uppercut and dropkicks as Hopkins is woozy. Uno in, and he sends Grayson into Hopkins, getting a drop toe hold on him so Reynolds can dropkick him.

Hopkins catches Grayson with a Hotshot and brings in Scott, who rushes Grayson to the corner and catches him for St.Patrick to get a snapmare and uppercut for one. Grayson ducks a roundhouse kick and gets an uranage, and Uno comes in to run Hopkins over with a big boot. He trips Scott and jumps onto his hands before landing a dropkick. End of Days on Hopkins, and he holds him up for Grayson to land Demolition Decapitation. Pop-up knee by Reynolds into a small package driver for the pin at 3:01. Dark Order does not waste time. 1/2*

Cezar Bononi tells Ryan Nemeth he doesn’t believe in JD Drake. Nemeth says nothing against Bononi, but he needs two wingmen. Nemeth says that Drake can be smooth and supple (Drake: “What’s supple?”) Nemeth says he can make Drake sexy, but Drake thinks he’s sexy already. Nemeth is not convincing anyone that this trio can stay together.

Team Taz (Powerhouse Hobbs, Ricky Starks, and Brian Cage) (w/Hook) (2-1) vs. Brick Aldridge, Justin Law, and Hayden Backlund (first time teaming). As you would know if you’ve been watching the last few weeks, EVERYTHING IS FINE with Team Taz. Pay no attention to the fact that Starks comes out fashionably late.

Cage starts with Law. He runs Law over, then catches him going up and over. Law escapes, but Cage shoves off a tierres attempt and knocks him down. Aldridge in, and Cage gets a headlock. Aldridge reverses, and they go back and forth with shoulderblocks until Cage wins that argument and gets a headscissors. Spinning sole butt and snap suplex by Cage, then a lightning legdrop. Cage thinks about who to tag in and decides Hobbs, who boxes down Aldridge. More stalemating on tackles, but Aldridge runs into the SPINEBUSTER OF DOOM. Arn Anderson has to be holding seminars on how to do it.

Starks tags himself in (intercepting a tag for Cage) and slugs away on Aldridge, who shoves him away and brings in Backlund. Backlund with a clothesline and he pounds away on Starks in the corner. Starks catches him coming in and dumps him over the top onto Law, then brings him back in and chops him. He showboats too much and eats boot, and Backlund goes for a crossbody that Starks catches into Rochambeaux (as Hook yanks Aldridge away). Starks then generously allows Cage to get the exclamation point, so the Drill Claw does that at 4:12. See? Perfect teamwork. *1/4

Jurassic Express (Luchasaurus and Jungle Jack Perry) (w/Marko Stunt) (4-0, #2 team) vs. Dean Alexander and Rex Lawless. One of these days Taz is going to learn how to sing “Tarzan Boy” and it will truly be a sad day for Botchamania. Tomorrow, it’s Jurassic Express vs. Bear Country.

Perry and Alexander start, with Perry getting a headlock. He cartwheels away from a trip and gets a headlock takedown. Alexander with legscissors, but Perry fights out and sends Alexander into the ropes, getting Chaos Theory with an assist from Saurus. Lawless and Saurus (both around 6’5) have a tough guy contest, beating each other with strikes, but Saurus wins that with a kneelift and boxes Lawless away. Perry back in as Saurus chokeslams Lawless and hook kicks Alexander away, and it’s the Tail Whip and Northern Lariat combo to win at 1:44. Man, Jurassic Express doing some Saturday Morning Superstars stuff. NR

Fuego Del Sol (w/Griff Garrison and Marko Stunt) (0-7) vs. Ryan Nemeth (w/JD Drake) (2-4). So apparently Stunt, Fuego, and Garrison are Guevara’s buddies in his vlog, thus explaining why Fuego gets some friends with him to the ring. They don’t stick around, though, whereas Drake does stick around for Nemeth despite having a match later.

Lockup, and Nemeth with a fireman’s carry takeover. Nemeth goes behind Fuego with a waistlock takedown and wants another point for his amateur skills. Fuego has had enough of this and gets armdrags into an armlock. He adds Small Joint Manipulation, then kicks at the shoulder for Slightly Larger Joint Manipulation. Nemeth sends Fuego into the corner but gets elbow, and Fuego with a flying Victory Roll into a Rocking Horse submission. He turns it into a pinning combination for two. He dives for the TORNADO DDT OF DEATH, but Nemeth catches him and ejects him over the top rope.

Nemeth kicks him around on the outside, and back in, it gets two. Nemeth pounds away on Fuego, then stomps the back and rubs the mask into the mat. Hammerlock and handstand by Nemeth as Excalibur assurtes us the mask does NOT protect Fuego from pain when he’s rubbed into the mat like that. Hammer Throw by Nemeth and he dances before hitting a corner spear. Knees to the gut, then a back suplex for two. Seated cobra clutch by Nemeth, who doesn’t even hold it tight enough for his other hand to apply pressure, so of course Fuego breaks and kicks away.

He backflips off of a caught foot and gets an enzuigiri, then escapes a fireman’s carry into an armbreaker. He’s sent over the top rope but lands on the apron and drapes Nemeth on the top. Fuego returns, but springboards right into a dropkick, and Rude Awakening wins it at 6:08. I still don’t understand why Dolph Ziggler’s Brother is even on the roster, but Fuego continues to impress in losing efforts. *3/4

Outside the Ring ad, showing us more details – like host Lexy Nair asking her guest what makes her smile. The guest being Abadon, we don’t get an answer.

The Butcher (w/the Hardy Family Office) (8-1 overall) vs. Jon Cruz (0-2). As a reminder, Cruz is Serpentico.

Butcher mugs Cruz at the bell and headbutts him into a gooey paste. Big chop in the corner, then a flying cross chop Mike Knox style. Nodowa Otoshi (named the Filet Mign-gone) wins at 43.1 seconds. Yup, that’s about what it should’ve been. NR

Sea Stars (Ashley Vox and Delmi Exo) vs. Jazmin Allure and Vertvixen. Vox has already won, but somebody is getting their first W tonight. Taz thinks the Sea Stars should come out in a boat. Neither team has been featured in AEW before. Just to keep up the mystery of who will get in the winner’s circle, both teams get entrances.

Vox and Allure start. Vox gets the arm and controls, bringing in Exo to boot Allure down for one. Allure with a jawjacker and Vert tags in, but Exo blocks a hiptoss and gets a backslide for two. Big kick and Exo blocks a charge, but Vert catches her coming in and throws her into the corner, setting up a guillotine stomp for two. Allure in, and she chops away on Exo. Middle corner choke, and Vert comes in for more choking and another chop. Back elbow and Allure returns to keep up the chopping, but Exo fires back.

Allure taunts Vox and gets a series of kicks before landing something resembling the Paige Turner for two. Vert tags in and knocks Vox away, then gets a running knee and Falcon Arrow for two. Vert taunts Exo and charges, but Exo follows with a falling neckbreaker. Hot tag Vox, who waits for Vert to charge then enters with a headscissors. Lariat to Allure, then a fish hook into a Rainmaker for two on Vert, Allure saves. Exo dumps Allure, leadving Vert alone as Vox uppercuts her in the corner. Northern Lights by Exo, then an assisted Cannonball gets the victory at 4:33! FIRST WIN ALERT! Good on them to add some depth to the women’s division… just as Ivelisse is sent home and Diamante moved to a feud with Thunder Rosa. Alas. *1/4

AEW Casino app ad.

And now, a diss track from Max Caster, who will be facing Adam Page tomorrow. The Elite basically abandoned him and now he’s stuck with the Dark Order, and they won’t even stick around when he loses. There’s a blackboard in the background with Ten, Alex, and Colt crossed off and Hangman up next – Caster’s beaten the first three. You know, when Bowens gets healthy, they could do worse than the first ever elimination match of Hardy/Butcher/Blade/Bowens/Caster/Quen/Kassidy vs. Page/Uno/Stu/Reynolds/Silver/Vance/Angels.

Madi Wrenckowski and Vipress (first time teaming) vs. Red Velvet and KiLynn King (first time as just the two of them). If Madi and Vipress win, that’s a first win for Vipress. Red and King were Swole’s partners in a very fun trios match last week, and in fact Swole joins them for the entrance.

King and Madi start. King with a headlock takedown, which Madi reverses to leg-scissors. King escapes and gets the headlock again, but Madi reverses with the hair. King runs over Madi and kicks away in the corner, then flings her with a hiptoss on a reversal of direction, causing Madi to flee to tag in Vipress. Vipress works the arm, but King reverses and kicks her away. Velvet in, and she and King send Vipress into the corner before getting a straitjacket double-team for one.

They keep arm control, leading to King doing a paseo into a Velvet leg lariat. King then throws Velvet down onto Vipress for two. Velvet with a back kick and crossbody, then sweeps the leg and nails a standing moonsault for two. Vipress blocks with a forearm and front facelock, then rakes the eyes when Madi has the ref’s attention. It draws in King, so Velvet gets choked in the corner. Madi in, getting a snapmare and running faceplant for two. And another two. Vipress returns, and it’s a double shoulderblock into a legdrop by Madi, which gets Vipress two (brother).

Front roll DDT by Vipress gets two, and we finally slow it down a bit with a chinlock. Double hairpull slam as Velvet escapes for a double-down, and it’s hot tag King. Lariat to Madi, then she blocks some kicks and gets a spinning roundhouse and German suplex. Madi rolls out and brings in Vipress, who gets nailed with a shotgun dropkick. King throws Vipress into a bulldog from Velvet, but Vipress catches King and knocks her off the apron. Velvet follows her in and gets an Iconoclasm, Madi saves. King sends Madi back out and gets Kingdom Falls on Vipress, and Velvet with the Chef’s Kiss spinkick for the win at 5:31. Credit where credit is due, all four went at top gear from the word go and put on a fun match as a result. **

JD Drake (w/Ryan Nemeth) (1-3) vs. Baron Black (0-6). Given that Drake is facing Darby Allin tomorrow, I really don’t like Black’s chances. And if you’re wondering why Drake gets a title shot, Allin basically said the first person to sign up gets a shot – which, for a TV title, is perfectly cromulent.

Drake opens with a kick and clubs away, but they duck chops and Drake resorts to a headlock. Black blocks a hiptoss, and when Drake tries a clothesline, Black catches him in an abdominal stretch. Drake breaks that by tossing Black over the top to the floor. Outside, Black stops himself from hitting the post and chops Drake, but he runs into the rebound forearm. Drake wants the countout, but Black’s in at 8. Drake mugs him in the corner and stomps a mudhole, making sure to walk it dry like a good Southern wrestler.

Black with a single-leg trip, but Drake kicks him away and gets an avalanche and slam. Vader Bomb gets two. Black tries to fight back as we see replays of the Vader Bomb, and in fact he catches Drake for an Exploder try. Drake elbows out and tries a suplex, but Black escapes and tries a German, but Drake escapes THAT and shoves Black. Black with clotheslines that don’t floor Drake, but a Manhattan Drop and uppercut help him connect with the German suplex. THE STRAPS ARE DOWN, and Black with a discus clothesline and Exploder (which he almost didn’t complete to disastrous results) for a close two.

Pedigree try, but Drake backdrops him, but Black hangs on and tries a Cloverleaf. Drake kicks away to stop it, then it’s time for a CHOP BATTLE OF MANLINESS. Black nails a backfist chop, but Drake ducks the follow-up and gets a roundhouse kick of all things. Claymore gets the win at 5:18. Drake’s CHEST is bleeding from the win. Scott, if you see this match, I need a rating on the Haku-meter. **1/4

Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela (10-10) vs. KC Navarro and Aaron Frye (first time teaming). Janela faints from seeing Kiss’s booty and Kiss makes sure to check his pulse. Excalibur didn’t see it – he was hiding under the desk to make sure his headset wasn’t commandeered by Janela. And people say Janela isn’t fun.

Kiss ducks both guys, who run into a Janela double clotehsline. Frye is dumped, and Navarro gets nailed with a handspring into a sole butt, then a dropkick. Janela in, and he gets a Manhattan Drop before landing an assisted side suplex for two. Navarro’s half-dead, so Janela helps him tag in Frye in a cute bit. He then boots Frye and nails a brainbuster before trying a bizarre cover for one. Slam and Kiss comes in with a middle rope splash, then Janela does the same, then another from Kiss, then ANOTHER from Janela as even commentary finds it hilarious.

THE STRAPS ARE DOWN on Janela, but Navarro catches Kiss with a swinging DDT. Janela gives Navarro a Death Valley Driver for that, but Frye returns with a Knee Plus. Charge gets pushed away and Janela gets a SUPERKICK, then Kiss with the Splits Stunner. Janela back to the top for the diving elbow and the pin at 2:55. I thoroughly enjoy watching these two and their act in the ring, and I don’t care if I am in the minority. 1/2*

Matt Sydal (w/Mike Sydal) (2-2 singles) vs. Mike Magnum (0-1). Magnum’s nickname is “Starving Artist”. Matt is coming off a loss last night in the tag main event.

Magnum with a housepainting brush as they argue to start, but Sydal ducks a brush swipe and kicks away. A standing enzuigiri leads to the Lightning Spiral and that’s it at 46.0 seconds. Excalibur says it’s one of the ten shortest matches in AEW history, which is a good line, but at this point I’m not sure it’s in the Top 10 of AEW Dark history.

Matt Hardy (w/The Family Office) (5-2) vs. Vary Morales (0-2). Last night, Hardy beat Alan Angels then said he was coming for Darby Allin’s TNT Title. A reminder, Hardy can barely run – or walk, for that matter – and he wants to be pushed as a wrestler. To prove this isn’t just an empty challenge, Allin is shown in the rafters watching.

After some negotiations to start, they lock up and Hardy pushes Morales into the corner, adding shoulder shots. A straight right and Morales is reeling, and another floors him. Snake Eyes by Hardy, then a lariat. Hammer Throw, but Morales ducks a lariat and dropkicks Hardy. He pounds away in the corner before the ref restrains him, then springboards in and over Hardy before running into a Side Effect for two. Allin: no change in mood. The Leech ends it at 2:10. Meh. 1/4*

Then Hardy sees Allin and asks for the house mic. He gets on the corner and – once his music finally stops playing – says he’s mad that Allin would call Hardy a sellout when Allin is the “face of TNT”. Allin’s clearly the sellout. When the time comes, Big Money Matt will prove he’s still extreme. What he did to Morales, he’ll do to Allin when he takes the title. The Truth is the Truth. Yes, that’s Matt’s catchphrase. I am TOTALLY not feeling this.

MAIN EVENT: The Hybrid 2 (Jack Evans and Angelico) (1-2) vs. Bear Country (Bear Boulder and Bear Bronson) (5-1). As a reminder, Jurassic Express plays Godzilla to Bear Country’s King Kong tomorrow, so no points for guessing who wins. But first, we dance. TH2 does, anyway; Bear Country doesn’t.

Angelico and Bronson start, and Angelico with a hammerlock. He switches to a headlock, then a wristlock, but Bronson gets a drop step and go-behind into a waistlock takedown. He rides Angelico to the ropes (WRESTLING) before giving a break. Angelico with a drop step of his own into a headlock, then controls the wrist as before. This time, Bronson whips him off and runs him over, causing Angelico to beg for a timeout and bring in Evans. Evans demands Boulder (much to everyone’s amusement), and Bronson obliges.

Evans then does a handstand to warm up before locking up with Boulder, who just casually flings him out of the ring. Back in, Evans tries another lockup, but cartwheels out of the shove and gets a dropkick to rock Boulder. Another one, but Boulder won’t go down, so he runs for a third… and is blasted with a big boot. Bronson in, and he whips Boulder into an avalanche and follows with a back elbow. It gets one after a delayed cover, so Bronson brings Boulder back in for a double pancake drop.

Boulder wants Snake Eyes, but Evans rakes the eyes to escape and Angelico takes advantage to box Boulder. He tries a tilt-a-whiril headscissors, but Boulder stops him and powerslams him. Bronson returns and works the ribs of Angelico, adding a short-arm clothesline for two. We HIT THE CHINLOCK, but Angelico breaks with a jawjacker and Evans gets a springboard 540 kick. Handspring elbow is caught, though, and Bronson with an Exploder. Evans fights to his feet and tries to come back, getting a dropkick off of a pop-up, then booting Bronson as Angelico tags himself in.

Bronson tries to boot Evans, but Evans grabs the leg and Angelico clips Bronson. Achilles Tendon hold by Angelico, which Bronson punches out of. A stomp stops the hot tag, but not for long as Evans (no tag) and Boulder (tagged) come in. TH2 go flying off of clotheslines and slams, then Boulder crushes both men in the corner. Fireman’s carry on Angelico, but Boulder catches Evans coming off the middle rope and it’s the fallaway/Samoan combo. Bronson in now as Evans is dead on the outside, and the Totem Splash gets the pin on Angelico at 7:28. This felt like the opening and closing of a good indie main event, with the middle five minutes removed. Fun main event. **

TOMORROW!

  • The Inner Circle is back!
  • Jurassic Express vs. Bear Country!
  • Tay Conti vs. The Bunny!
  • Moxley/Matt/Nick vs. Omega/Gallows/Anderson!

Much like yesterday’s show, this one didn’t overstay its welcome. Some of the matches were over in mere seconds, which is a huge boost for those who win, especially against in-house jobbers. It also gives you the feeling of a more filling episode without having it go for hours on end. Sure, there were no Dynamite quality matches on this show, either, but it’s Dark – I’m expecting at most one per show.

In fact, let’s just be clear – if I were in charge of these two shows, I would make sure Elevation had more “feature bouts” and Dark more “showcase bouts”. 10-12 matches on each is a good number. Let’s assume they go 12 per – Elevation can have 6-8 feature bouts and take the full two hours and I’d be fine. Dark, then, can have 2-4 leftover ones, be done in 90 minutes or less, and voila – two shows with different feelings.

This would be aided by commentary. I’m not saying Tony Schiavone is better than Excalibur – that’s a matter of taste and I can see the argument both ways – but Schiavone/Wight try to present their matches as matches, talking about the stories involved and playing up the importance of a win in the big fights. Excalibur and Taz, meanwhile, know they’re on an expendable show and, while they do put over the talent, they try to fill the dead air with tangents that – let’s be honest – can be kinda funny.

The one thing out of this I’d say is that they need a good color man on Dynamite. JR has lost his fastball, and both Schiavone and Excalibur are better in the play-by-play role. Usually one or the other seems to slide into the Tenay role, but they’re missing that Heenan or Zbyszko on the roster. I’m not sure who I’d recommend for the role, either – I mean, local guys to me like Kevin Ford or Emil Jay I thoroughly enjoy, but I don’t know if their act would work on the national scene. You tell me, guys: when JR hangs up his Stetson, who do you want to slide into his place?

Maybe the answer is Paul Wight or Taz after all.

STATS

BELL-TO-BELL: 44;29 over twelve matches (average time 3:42)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Drake/Black

FIVE STARS:

  1. JD Drake
  2. Fuego Del Sol
  3. Bear Country
  4. Velvet/King
  5. FIRST TIME WINNERS Sea Stars (well, okay, Vox has won a solo match before, but still)

All right, I got time to go get a decent dinner now! I could get used to this.