AEW DARK: April 27, 2021

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, Episode 86 (“Rise From Your Grave, O Believers!”), April 27, 2021.

From the AEW Arena.

Your hosts are primarily Excalibur and Taz.

Tonight’s feature bout is Isaiah Kassidy, Marq Quen, and The Blade taking on Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, and Preston Vance. Also in action tonight are The Acclaimed, SCU, Lance Archer, Lee Johnson, Leyla Hirsch, Varsity Blonds, Penelope Ford, KiLynn King, Daunte Martin, Colt Cabana, Diamante, the Sydal Brothers… and it’s a Lucha Underground reunion as Marty “the Moth” Kausas makes his return from injury to face Brian “They Call Him” Cage!

Opening match: Fuego Del Sol and D3 (first time teaming) vs. The Acclaimed (Max Caster and Anthony Bowens) (4-1). Two of the best lightweight enhancement talents in the game, and they’re sitting ducks for Caster’s mic work. Let’s see if it’s better. “What up Fuego / You about to get lost like a Lego / Acclaimed cookin up the sauce like Prego”. No foul language teased here, so automatically better than last night.

D3 and Caster start. Caster kicks D3 and clubs at him, adding a knee smash. D3 is sent into the ropes, but copmes back with a pop-up rana and goes to the calves. Caster blocks a whip and slugs out D3. Caster tries a sunset flip, but Bowens (who got the tag) does a neckbreaker to D3 dropping him on Caster’s knees. It gets two. Bowens slugs down D3 and adds a forearm or two to the back. Hammer Throw into a suplex, but he refuses the cover. Rude Awakening try, but D3 slips out and goes for a waistlock. Bowens reverses, but D3 with an enzuigiri, hot tag Fuego.

Fuego and Bowens slug it out, with Fuego controlling in the corner. Bowens reverses a whip, so Fuego dropkicks Caster and gives Bowens an enzuigiri. TORNADO DDT OF DEATH is blocked as Bowens gives Fuego a Northern Lights suplex into the corner. D3 is disposed of, and Acclaim to Fame ends it at 2:59. Short matches to get Bowens back into game shape is a good idea. 1/2* Excalibur emphasizes that Max Caster is a “personality”, but which he means “asshole”.

David Ali and Aaron Frye (first time teaming) vs. The Sydal Brothers (Matt and Mike) (2-4). The Sydals have a Title Eliminator against the Bucks tomorrow, which if I understand correctly means that either they get an automatic title shot if they win or can never challenge the Bucks again if they lose. Matt is coming off of an incredibly fun match against Joey Janela last night, and yes you read that correctly.

Mike and Ali start. Mike with wrist control, but Ali breaks and reverses. Mike rolls through and cartwheels to reverse it, then gets a side headlock. Mike cartwheels away from Ali off of a shove, then gets an armdrag and lock. He stacks Ali for two, then bridges up to a headlock so he can bring in Matt. Matt with an armbar into a hammerlock, transitioning into a snapmare for one, then some armdrags into a crucifix for two. Armbar and crossface from a crouch follows, then he abandons the crossface and focuses on the arm.

Ali slugs to get out, but walks into a flying mare and Matt kicks away at the back. Mike in, and the brothers get a drop toehold into a dropkick, then a double bow-and-arrow which won’t lead to a submission, but looks painful as all hell. Mike, the legal man, takes over, but Ali slips out of a slam and rakes the back before running into a leg lariat. Standing moonsault by Mike gets two, Frye saves. Frye and Ali try a double suplex, but Matt catches Mike and helps him down before throwing him into a rana on Ali.

Matt dispatches of Frye with a rising knee, drawing a Namaste chant. Mike tries to suplex Ali in, but Frye hooks the leg and Mike gets the worst of it. Ali gets one out of it. Hammer Throw brings in Frye, who nails a corner clothesline. Ali returns with a Mizline, then Frye gets a Rydien Bomb for two. Frye with a fireman’s carry, but Mike escapes and Matrixes away from a clothesline. Hot tag Matt, and roundhouse kicks for everyone. Fisherman’s buster on Frye, then a back elbow in the corner. Double Meteora and Matt covers, but Ali saves at the last possible moment. Mike kicks Ali away, and an assisted Lightning Spiral ends it at 5:55. Decent match with some good action, but the Sydals shouldn’t have to go six minutes with nobodies; it really makes them look weak entering the Eliminator. *1/4

Daunte Martin (7-4) vs. Andrew Palace (no chyron). Darius Martin as Air Wolf was the star on the indies, and the fact that his knee injury means Daunte gets all the spotlight makes me wonder if this is a Wally Pipp moment.

Palace offers Code of Honor before getting a sucker-shot and headlock. We go International~!, ending with a back roll into a headscissors, but Palace shoves him off only to eat a dropkick. Palace bails and Martin runs, ducking a lariat and getting a springboard twist crossbody for two. Big chop in the corner, then Martin goes up and over only to get caught and draped on the top rope. Palace suplexes him back in for one. Ground and pound by Palace, but Martin fights back only to get caught with a Saito suplex. Palace thinks about it before going up, but the big splash misses (as Taz chews him out for being a headcase and not concentrating).

Martin with kicks and a clothesline for the comeback, then a single-leg dropkick and running headscissors. Corner elbow airballs and Palace gets a forearm, then he grabs Martin by the hair and keeps him in the corner as he goes up. Martin fights back as both are on the top, but Palace knocks him down, only this time Martin recovers and does a front flip rana to take Palace down! 450 splash gets the win at 3:31. Palace has a character, but he needs a lot more seasoning. Martin’s splash got some insane height and distance. 3/4*

Varsity Blonds (Brian Pillman Jr and Griff Garrison) (8-2) (#3 team) vs. Duke Davis and Ganon Jones (debut). Ganon Jones has an NFL quarterback wristband on. Excalibur teases Taz about false starts.

Jones and Pillman start. Lockup, and Jones throws Pillman down. Pillman ducks a charge and gets a waistlock, but Jones can’t let him do anything out of it and they back into the corner. Jones with a back elbow off a “clean” break, but a chop misses, and Pillman fires away. Arm wrench by Pillman, but Jones reverses the corner whip only for Pillman to recover with a dropkick and front facelock. Garrison in, and the Blonds get a double front suplex. Davis races in and gets double back body dropped. Footballers call time and check the wristband, so Pillman does a three-point stance. Back in, Pillman catches Jones with a back kick and abdominal stretch.

Jones escapes and Davis gets a cheap shot on the apron, allowing Jones a backbreaker. Davis in with stomps and he keeps Pillman in a neutral corner with shoulder shots. Coast-to-coast spinebuster flattens Pillman against the opposite corner. Back to the football corner, and Jones in as he kicks Garrison away. Davis with a snapmare and he keeps Pillman vertical so Jones can kick him hard for two.

Jones goes to the top, but the moonsault airballs. Neither man’s near their corner, but they swing and miss, and it’s hot tag Garrison. He clotheslines Jones out and boots Davis, adding a running boot and longjump Stinger Splash. Spear flattens Davis, and a spike powerbomb (like FTR’s spike piledriver, but a powerbomb) wins it at 4:34. Davis and Jones have a different look and were given some time to show their stuff; I’d like to see them get another shot. *1/2

Non-title: FTW Champion Brian Cage (w/Hook) (10-2) vs. Marty Casaus (debut). Well, Jacksonville is no Temple, but we’re ready to see how many jokes we can fit into the recap. Tragically, Casaus doesn’t do his Moth routine to Justin Roberts. Both men are 270, so this is a hoss fight in the making.

Casaus with the creepy smile and wave to start. Lockup goes nowhere. Casaus wants a Test of Strength, then snaps the fingers and gets a headlock. Cage shoves him off and leaps over Casaus (!) before landing a dropkick (!!). Shoulder rams in the corner, and Cage chops Casaus. Casaus no-sells shots into the turnbuckle and ducks a clothesline, getting a big boot and slugging away in the corner unti the referee forces a separation. Charge boot is caught, and Casaus hangs Cage up and does crossface blows, then a fish hook.

Cage reverses a whip, but Casaus goes up and over before trying a crossbody. Cage catches him and drops him in a Death Valley Driver. Uppercuts in the corner by Cage, then a Hammer Throw. Cage kicks away in the corner, including a spin kick, and another Hammer Throw leads to a charging uppercut, enzuigiri, and release German suplex. The combo gets two. Casaus with headbutts to fight back, but Cage just kicks him back down. Another Death Valley Driver try, but Casaus escapes into a waistlock, then Cage gets spun into a Northern Lights suplex for two.

Casaus runs into a back elbow, but Cage runs into clotheslines for the comeback. Flapjack by Casaus, then a dropkick of his own (!) and Cage bails. Casaus revs up the engins and gets a plancha over the top onto Cage! LUCHA LUCHA LUCHA LUCHA! Back in, Casaus with a full nelson slam for two. Casaus goes crazed and is ready to finish him, getting 12-6 elbows and a neck crank before trying a mandible claw. Cage bites his way free and kicks Casaus to break, then a SUPERKICK and discus lariat follow. That’s enough shine for one night, and the Drill Claw wins at 6:05. In practice, it doesn’t make sense for Cage to be pushed this much to the limit by a nobody when a match with #1 is looming, but by all accounts, this was a tryout match for Casaus and the two went full Boyle Heights, and the result was great. **1/4

Wrestling With the Week ad.

Backstage, Matt Hardy says that tonight the Front Office will take out the Dark Order. Really, at this point it’s routine. Last week, Private Party got the Order ejected, and without numbers, the Order had no chance. We find out Butcher’s hand is damaged thanks to Darby Allin. Speaking of, Matt Hardy would’ve been TNT Champion and would’ve beaten Adam Page, but the Dark Order stepped in both times. Hardy’s three children, though, are more intelligent than the Dark Order. And tonight, they will beat them and keep beating them until the Order leaves AEW.

Leyla Hirsch (6-3) vs. Renee Michelle (0-2). Given that next week we already know Hirsch will face Diamante, this should be little more than a warmup. Renee Michelle, is one of DC’s finest (don’t let the record fool you), but is better known for getting WWE to finance her wedding to Drake Maverick.

Leyla goes behind Michelle and trips her down for a one-count, then gets the back before swimming to a front facelock. Michelle tries to escape, but Hirsch floats back to the back and grabs an armbar. Michelle airballs a crossbody off the ropes, and Hirsch rolls her into an armbar, but Michelle makes the ropes. Michelle catches Hirsch and sends her into the corner, then kicks away at the back of Hirsch’s knee before DDTing the foot. Sliding dropkick by Michelle gets one. Hirsch reverses a corner whip but eats elbow. Michelle tries a moonsault but misses and lands… on her arm. Knee strike and armbar ends it at 2:19. Just another way to show the armbar can win out of nowhere. 1/2*

(Jake Roberts joins on commentary) Lance Archer (20-6) vs. Jake St.Patrick (no chyron). Archer arrives alone…

…but St.Patrick meets him with a dropkick. He dives to the outside, but straight into a chokeslam! No, the bell hasn’t rung yet. When the bell DOES ring, Archer chops St.Patrick in the corner, going around the world. St.Patrick escapes the last one, which amuses Archer before he gives him a big boot. Archer with a release suplex. He begs St.Patrick to try to fight back, and when he does, Archer forearms him back down. Archer with triple slams on St.Patrick and he smiles about the damage (Roberts: “That doesn’t mean he’s happy.”).

Archer picks St.Patrick up and tries a chokeslam, but St.Patrick escapes only to get slugged. Blind charge misses, and St.Patrick kicks away, with a dropkick backing Archer into the corner. Moonsault press try, but Archer boots him out of midair. Catatonic by Archer, then the Black Hole Slam to win at 2:47. Any time we can watch Lance Archer murder a fool is a good time. 3/4*

Backstage, Evil Uno says the Hardy Family Office has been a thorn in their side. Tonight, though, there’s no sneak attacks or tomfoolery – it’s a straight 3-on-3. And the Dark Order is getting the evil genius, the martial arts expert, and the powerhouse built of stone to destroy the Hardys. Tonight, the Dark Order will win. Hit the salute.

Diamante (4-2) vs. Raychell Rose (debut). A camera swing seems to show that Justin Roberts is doing voice-over instead of announcing live. Diamante needs to bounce back, and she does have a match with Hirsch in a week.

Lockup, and Diamante takes the arm into a hammerlock, snapmare, and chinlock. Rose escapes to her own hammerlock, but Diamante elbows out to get the headlock. Rose reverses, into a headlock takedown, but Diamante with headscissors until Rose bridges out to escape and does the royal wave. Diamante is unimpressed and kicks her in the back before we go International~!, ending with Diamante trying a Russian legsweep only for Rose to hang on.

Rose misses a superkick, and Diamante cradles her into a Russian legsweep now in the middle of the ring. Shotgun dropkick follows, then a second one, and Diamante goes up. Double stomp off the top gets two. Rose with chops and a kick to recover, but Diamante gets the casadora Stunner. Code Red ends it at 2:53. Not much to see here. 1/2*

Lee Johnson (3-1) vs. Will Allday (0-1). Okay, Allday was given a chance to look good last time he was here, let’s see if the trend continues. Johnson comes out alone. Tomorrow, it’s Johnson/Billy/Dustin vs Marshall/Solow/Comoroto. Allday has a swank purple jacket, as always.

Code of Honor begins. Lockup, and Allday takes the back only to be reversed. Allday reverses to an armlock, but Johnson kips out of it to a hammerlock and snapmare. Allday reverses to a hammerlock of his own, but Johnson rolls to a headscissors before Allday escapes to reset. Round two opens with a headlock by Allday, and he cartwheels over a drop-down. They exchange armdrags, then Allday gets a step-up rana only for Johnson to land on his feet. They criss-cross again, and this time Johnson nails a dropkick. Allday stops a whip and gets a straight right, then a flying corner clothesline. Snapmare and flying jalapeno gets two.

He wants a SUPERKICK, but Johnson avoids it and clotheslines away before landing a diving reverse neckbreaker. Allday flips out of a back suplex, then gets reversed. He sends Johnson into the top turnbuckle and goes up, and the moonsault press gets two. Doublejump rana try, but Johnson reverses into a bucklebomb. Fisherman’s oshigoroshi ends it at 3:24. They definitely see something in Allday, and I don’t blame them. *1/2 QT Marshall jumps into the ring and pummels Johnson after the bell, nailing a Diamond Cutter before Dustin Rhodes and his bullrope runs him off. Marshall’s Factory comes out the tunnel to make sure Dustin doesn’t get any ideas.

Penelope Ford (w/Kip Sabian) (4-0) vs. Ashley D’Amboise (debut). At this point, the power dynamic is almost reversed: Ford started as the manager for Kip Sabian (and earlier, Joey Janela), but at this point he’s more her manager. It’s pronounced Dahm-Bwowse, by the way.

Lockup goes nowhere. D’Amboise gets a headlock, but Ford rolls down to get out and shoves D’Amboise. They shove back and forth, so Ford just slaps D’Amboise and fires off forearms. She hangs on the ropes on a whip, throwing off the timing and getting a clothesline. Middle rope choke and kiss from Sabian by Ford, and after being admonished, she does her arm-trap guillotine off the top rope. Got Check set up, but D’Amboise escapes with a cradle for two. She leapfrogs Ford, but runs into a clothesline anyway and Ford slugs away. D’Amboise looks for Rock Bottom, but Ford escapes and gets a kneelift and standing enzuigiri. Handspring elbow follows, then the Tajiri Cutter and it’s basically over. Fisherman’s suplex ends it at 2:43. These two had negative chemistry. DUD

Colt Cabana (8-2) vs. Cole Karter (0-2). C’mon, Karter, can’t you kick off the “k” and alliterate completely? Criminally crossed up. Okay, that’s enough of that. Reynolds and Angels head out with Colt.

Code of Honor to start. Colt sends Karter down as Taz and Excalibur try the alliteration thing and have as much succes as I do. Another lockup, and they exchange wristlocks until Colt yanks down Karter. Colt gets friendly with the ref before getting a side headlock into a waistlock. He trips Karter and holds the arm, thwarting Karter’s attempts to reverse. A frustrated Karter runs the ropes, but Colt tells him to slam on the breaks… and yanks him down by the wrist again. Karter’s upset, so this time Colt runs the ropes… and stops short on a leapfrog. Karter goes up and over, getting a dropkick, but a blind charge misses and Colt gets the Flying Apple. Superman Pin wins at 1:57. Comedy match. NR

Dani Jordyn (0-3) vs. KiLynn King (6-3). Jordyn, despite being a no-win wrestler, gets an entrance because she’s wearing the homecoming tiara as her homage to having watched Mean Girls 958348 times. No burn book this time, so I guess she’s later on in the movie. Commentary talks about how King, Big Swole, and Red Velvet are forming a friendship group.

Jordyn offers the tiara (or not) before the match. Lockup, and King with a headlock takedown. Jordyn reverses to headscissors, but King escapes and gets a second headlock takedown. Jordyn yanks the tights and reverses, but King runs her over for one. Jordyn with an Oklahoma Roll for one. King pushes Jordyn back into the ropes and whips her out, but Jordyn with a flying headlock to take King down. Commentary have a neat discussion which I’ll bring up in the post-show talk. Anyway, Jordyn sends King into the corner, but a blind charge misses. King tries a kick through the ropes, but Jordyn dodges and gets a Hotshot on King.

She dives off the apron to King, who catches her and nails a fallaway slam on the floor. She rolls in and out before continuing the offensive on Jordyn, then throws her in but gets caught with a SUPERKICK as she re-enters. Draping DDT by Jordyn gets two. Jordyn with a gut kick and she goes ground and pound on King. Sling Blade to a kneeling King, then a dropkick gets Jordyn two. King catches Jordyn coming in and works her over in the corner with elbows and big chops that floor Jordyn. Blind charge eats boot and Jordyn goes up, and the Blockbuster gets a close two.

Jordyn is out of ideas and losing confidence, with King taking advantage to pull herself up and strike away on Jordyn with knees. Big clotheslines follow for the comeback. Standing enzuigiri follows, then a release German suplex for two. Kingdom Falls is tried, but Jordyn escapes and tries a roundhouse kick… that gets caught. Now Kingdom Falls connects for the pin at 6:16. Jordyn got more offense than she has before – I wonder if she’s about to graduate and move up in the AEW hierarchy. *3/4

SCU (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) (#1 team) (10-0) vs. Liam Gray and Adrian Alanis (0-1). If Gray and Alanis look familiar to you, you’re more into the WWE minor leagues than I am – they did a lot of work in EVOLVE as The Skulk alongside NXT star Leon Ruff. Heck, they have customized T-shirts.

Daniels and Gray start. Lockup, and Daniels with a headlock. He switches to arm work on Gray, but Gray reverses the armlock into a headlock. Daniels stacks him for two. Gray holds the headlock and we go International~!, with Gray knocking over Daniels twice before getting armdragged repeatedly. Slam by Daniels, but Alanis cheapshots Daniels and Kazarian sends Alanis packing. Gray gets caught in a reverse 3-D, and Kazarian in for a front and back attack into a double stomp. Kazarian chops Gray hard, adding a second one, then landing a leg lariat for two. Kazarian slugs both men, but walks into a flying knee from Gray.

Gray dropkicks Daniels off the apron, and Alanis is finally in, getting a spinning backbreaker into a backbreaker/neckbreaker combo for two. Kazarian fights back against Alanis, only to be caught with the SPINEBUSTER OF DOOM for two. Gray tags back in, but Kazarian runs his foes together and clotheslines both men down before bringing in Daniels. Double-team facebuster by SCU, and Daniels adds an STO to Gray. Alanis is sent into a right by Kazarian and gets hit with a high/low. Gray is caught with the Best Meltzer Ever to end it at 4:29. If Gray and Alanis are going to get a proper tryout, this isn’t the team to have it against considering they’re the #1 team. *1/4 Bononi/Drake and the Hughes Brothers are both shown applauding at ringside.

MAIN EVENT: Isaiah Kassidy, Marq Quen, (3-0 as a team) and The Blade (8-1) (with Matt Hardy and company) vs. Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, and Preston Vance (with Alan Angels and company) (1-0 as a trio). Excalibur notes it’s a taste of Dark Order’s own medicine – the Hardy Family Office is mixing and matching against them. A huge staredown happens before the bell. Everyone is sticking around for the match itself to lend support.

Blade and Vance start with a shoving match. Vance slugs down Blade and backs him into the corner until the referee demands a break, allowing Blade a quick kick and chops to reverse it. Blade puts his head down and regrets it, but he slips out of a fireman’s carry. Vance reverses and tries the Full Nelson, but Blade backs him into the heel corner and Private Party goes nuts on him as the Dark Order protests. Kassidy in, but Vance catches the boot and flips him before landing a clothesline. Grayson in, and he backs Kassidy into the corner for the double-whip splash and big boot combo with Uno. It gets two. Uno stomps on Kassidy’s hands – he IS evil – then gets a suplex before bringing in Grayson.

Grayson with a suplex of his own, then Vance enters to complete the trifecta with a ten-count stall suplex. They cover, Quen saves. Vance sends Kassidy into Uno’s boot, then tags him in. Uno with a straight right, but Grayson gets caught by the referee and Quen gets a dropkick to allow double-teaming by Private Party. Blade in to stomp a mudhole in Uno and choke him down. Quen in with a stomp to a draped Uno, then a boot choke. Kassidy in, and he gets some stomps before having to corral Uno from the tag. He works over Uno in the corner as Quen holds him back, and Private Party with a do-si-do avalanche into two shots of Poetry in Motion. Quen gets two.

Quen stomps Uno, but when he picks him up he has to back him in the corner to get control. Shoulders to the gut, but Uno fights his way through all three guys only for Quen to catch him and keep him cornered. Uno slugs free again, but Quen again stops the hot tag and corners Uno before delivering knees to the gut. Quen loads up a SUPERKICK, but Uno throws the foot to the referee before getting a hanging neckbreaker. Blade cuts off the hot tag, though, and tosses Uno to the outside. The referee makes sure Hardy doesn’t do anything, so instead Bunny does. Colt literally turns the ref around to get him to see it, and Hardy and Bunny are ejected as turnabout is fair play from last week.

In the chaos, Grayson gets the hot tag and takes out all three guys, getting overhead suplexes on both of Private Party. Kassidy is hit with a uranage and springboard senton for two. Vance tagged in, and he gives Kassidy a pump kick to set up the toss powerbomb by Uno, Blade saves. Grayson tags himself in, but Kassidy with a desperation enzuigiri and Blade is in. Private Party with Silly String into a tornado DDT, and Kassidy/Blade do Drag the Lake. 450 by Kassidy, but Vance knocks everyone over to save.

Grayson is half-done and Quen brings Blade back in, but a double Pele leads to hot tag #2 to Vance. SPINEBUSTER OF DOOM to Quen and EVERYBODY INTO THE POOL as Kassidy gets the corkscrew enzuigiri. Grayson with a flying knee, Blade with a lariat, but Vance with the full nelson and those two are legal. Blade is knocked out at 10:08. I am absolutely in love with this feud and this needs to end in a massive team cluster on the Double or Nothing buy-in. 5 on 5? 7 on 7? Whatever works. ***

DYNAMITE!

  • Penelope Ford faces Kris Statlander!
  • Orange Cassidy goes for Penta El 0M!
  • It’s a Tag Title Eliminator as the Young Bucks face the Sydal Brothers!
  • The Inner Circle and Pinnacle go face to face before Blood and Guts!
  • Nightmare vs Factory! Dustin, Gunn, Johnson; Marshall, Solow, Comoroto!
  • Adam Page defends his #1 spot against Brian Cage!
  • The TNT Title is on the line as Darby Allin defends against Preston Vance!

So, that thing Excalibur and Taz said in that one match I wanted to follow up on. Excalibur, when talking about KiLynn King, mentioned that one of the joys he has on Dark is watching talent gain confidence and pick up wins. They mentioned King, Red Velvet, Lee Johnson, and Will Hobbs by name. Taz agreed, saying that doing these shows during the pandemic allows him to find new talent – Hobbs, in fact, became one of his proteges.

I realize the commentators can’t say words like “push” and “jobber”, but it’s essentially what they were going for. One of the fun things I’ve had over the last year or so – man, it has almost been a year since my first Dark recap – is seeing some of the students or “other” talent go from being the other person to being a featured part of the show, and in some cases getting the contract and graphic. It’s not just the ones the announcers mentioned – think about The Acclaimed, Varsity Blonds, Cezar Bononi, JD Drake, Leyla Hirsch, Aaron Solow, Madi Wrenckowski, Nick Comoroto, Alex Gracia, and so many others who have made themselves highlights of this show. Their reward is being given a win or two – and in some cases, becoming part of the Dynamite rotation.

And more than that, there are those who, when they GET that first win, would… well, Excalibur called it “gain the confidence to start the roll going”, but we know what he meant. Shawn Dean is the biggest name on that list – but you have Carlie Bravo, Fuego Del Sol, Ryzin, D3, Dani Jordyn, and more. AEW is not afraid to take people who were impressive as extras and promote them (just ask half the Dark Order), and when they do that, it feels like everyone watching these B shows has followed their journey and come along for the ride.

And I don’t think this would be possible if AEW didn’t make wins and losses so important that everyone’s intro contains their record over the calendar year. I know people will say there’s a Young Lion style “lose a lot while you learn, then get the push” look to it – I think Kenta Kobashi is most famous for getting to the top through this long journey – and really, that’s fine. I kind of wonder if NXT could stand to do it this way. Heaven knows the main roster couldn’t get away with it – anyone who has appeared on NXT and is just called up to go on a losing streak would be dead out of the gate.

And hey, that’s how WWE operates – first impressions mean everything. But when you have these optional net shows like Elevation and Dark, you can get people some experience in a taped show environment without hurting them too much. It also helps the established folk – after all, if wins and losses matter, it helps to say that even your low-carders can beat most of the wrestling universe. They are, after all, Elite.

I know I make a big deal out of when somebody wins their first ever match, but I’m not the only one – Excalibur brings it up when it happens, and remember the celebration on Dynamite when Lee Johnson got his. It’s doubly sweet when, while watching the B shows, you begin to recognize the faces that are being used and wonder when their turn is (Shawn Dean and Fuego Del Sol are due). Then, when they get one win – just one win – it’s as much a catharsis as when a WWE wrestler wins on a Pay-Per-View. Everyone has a series of goals; we all want to make the next step up. Sometimes, that next step is just a three-count.

STATS

BELL-TO-BELL: 60:00 on the nose over fourteen matches (average length 4:17)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Trios main event

FIVE STARS:

  1. Stu Grayson
  2. Brian Cage
  3. KiLynn King
  4. Colt Cabana
  5. Martin Casaus

Enjoy Dynamite on TNT! While you can…