AEW DARK: May 11, 2021

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, Episode 88 (“The Two Eights Show How Many Matches We’re Putting On One Show”), May 11, 2021.

From the AEW Arena.

Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz. It’s Casual Tuesday, given the outfits of the guys on commentary!

TONIGHT! Bear Bronson steps into singles competition against Brian Cage! Marty “The Moth” Casaus gets a callback, now facing Jungle Boy! Will Hobbs looks to toss around AEW’s resident Yoga Master, Mike Sydal! The Acclaimed stare down the wild and wacky barrel of Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss! And JD Drake hosses it up with the Dark Order’s Preston Vance!

PLUS: Varsity Blonds, Dante Martin, Diamante, Nemeth and Bononi of the Pretty Picture, Swole and Velvet, a Dark Order trios match, Nyla Rose, Kris Statlander, Lance Archer, Team Factory, and the combination of Eddie Kingston and GYAAAAAAAN MOXLEY!

Opening match: Randy Summer and Brandon Watts (aka Milk Chocolate) (0-1) vs. Eddie Kingston and John Moxley (#3 men, IWGP US Champ) (2-0). Milk Chocolate gets an entrance, but they come out to the Dark theme. Hey, it’s a first step. The Violence Connection comes out of the parking lot to the ring…

…I’m caught off guard as Kingston and Moxley jump the gun and destroy the foes. Moxley with a release suplex on one of them, and Kingston is in for the lariat/half-nelson suplex combo to get the pin (on Summers, but does it matter?) at like 37 seconds (estimated). What, was the match supposed to go longer? NR

Dark Order (Evil Uno, Colt Cabana, Alan Angels) (1-0 in this combination) vs. Spencer Slade, Cole Karter, and Andrew Palace (first time as a trio). This trio clocks in at 664 pounds, and again Excalibur makes the obvious weight joke.

Uno and Palace start. Palace gets a headlock, and they run into each other with Uno winning. We got International~!, with Uno getting a go-behind but having his eyes messed up by Palace’s ponytail (really). Palace knocks him down but misses a splash, so Uno stomps on his hands. He undoes his wrist tape, and then as the ref disposes of it, pokes Palace in the eye. EVIL! Angels and Colt both come in to work the arm, with a dual punch to floor him. Colt with a chop, then Uno with onr of his own, then Angels holds the boot so Uno can get a neckbreaker.

Angels with a dropkick, but Palace escapes and brings in Karter. Angels gives him a discus lariat and dropkick, then an enzuigiri. This Is Gonna Suck lands (as Uno sits on the rope to add to the recoil), but Karter goes to the eyes and boxes him down. Palace enters with an avalanche, then brings Slade in for some rights. A chop to the back off of a snapmare leads to a Ziggler-esque elbowdrop for one. Hammer Throw, but the blind charge eats boot and Angels escapes the corner to tag in Colt.

Palace is sent off the apron by a Flying Apple, then another to Karter before getting a mule kick to Slade and giving him one off the middle rope. Angels wants to help, so he dives onto the partners on the outside and Uno enters to get the spinning Flatliner to win at 4:36. I could watch a “Best of Dark Order Multi-Man matches” mixtape if one was ever made. *1/4

Tony Schiavone interviews Diamante about her transition from tag wrestling to singles wrestling. Diamante says she’s mad Kris Statlander shows up and acts like things are fine again. Diamante promises to send her back beyond wherever the heck she came from. Tonight, she’ll show everyone all over the galaxy how it’s done.

Lance Archer (7-2) vs. Angel Fashion. Jake Roberts is on commentary. Fashion tries to attack Archer during the entrance, so Archer shoves him away and does a cannonball senton on “Everybody Dies”!

The bell rings, so Archer takes Fashion around the world into the turnbuckles. Release suplex by Archer, but Fashion tries to fight back, which Archer just tanks. He floors Fashion again as Roberts clearly hasn’t let go of his animosity of Sting even if Archer has. Archer chokes Fashion against the middle rope, then gets three straight running back elbows. Archer chops him hard against the corner before letting him get a receipt. It doesn’t faze Archer, who smashes down Fashion.

Blind charge boot is caught as Fashion tries a cradle, but Archer picks him up for a chokeslam. Fashion escapes and gets a Shining Wizard after a low kick, then he dodges Archer and attacks in the corner with a running forearm smash. Archer runs through a second attempt and lariats Fashion, and the buckle bomb follows. Chokeslam and Helicoaster end the slaughter at 3:44. Roberts: “Sting, leave us alone or else!” Archer is so good at murder. 1/2*

Tune in Friday as Lexy Nair interviews Anthony Ogogo.

The Factory (QT Marshall, Aaron Solow, and Nick Comoroto) (1-0) vs. Ryzin, Rick Recon, and Jake Logan (first time teaming). Comoroto lifts the steps onto the stage again, even though in theory Marshall is part of the team. Marshall indeed does sit down on the steps to watch.

Solow and Recon start. Solow backs Recon into the corner and works him over instead of a clean break, dragging him out for a suplex into a back suplex. He tosses Recon to the corner so Logan can tag in, then gives Logan an Exploder suplex. Comoroto in, and he just kicks Logan down. He picks him up by the hair, tanks Logan’s chops, and slams him down. He then drops his weight on Logan’s back a few times before adding a crossface blow. Avalanche elbow in the corner, and Solow is in to add a flying forearm into a Comoroto backbreaker.

Solow toys with Logan and tries another Exploder, but Logan escapes and gets a dropkick. Hot tag Ryzin, who Hotshots Solow and clotheslines both guys. Comoroto (the legal man) won’t go down, but Solow does with a leg lariat. He dives onto Comoroto, who just catches him in a spinebuster. 540 kick by Solow, and Comoroto press slams Ryzin into his teammates. Powerbomb kills Ryzin, but NOW Marshall tags in. Diamond Cutter for no reason ends it at 4:04. Ryzin showed some nice babyface fire, and Marshall as a B-show level “jerk heel” is working for him. 3/4* Marshall tells the students to leave, then puts Ryzin in the figure-four just to make a point. He refuses to break for a full 20 seconds AT LEAST despite the ref’s pleading, only doing so when the decision is threatened.

Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi do a selfie, and Ryan Nemeth and JD Drake appreciate it. Drake asks if he’s Pretty Picture or a Wingman. Bononi says both. Nemeth says the whole thing intertwines. They all touch pinkies.

Varsity Blonds (Brian Pillman and Griff Garrison) (w/Julia Hart) (10-3, #3 team) vs. Traevon Jordan and Jaelyn Braedyn (debut). Excalibur: “Hey, they made a friend!” Hey, the varsity team has a cheerleader!

Garrison and Jordan start. Jordan grabs a wristlock and swivels the hips, allowing Garrison to reverse into a slam before popping and/or locking it. It turns into a dance-off, and Garrison is white so he loses after getting a kick in the gut. Garrison reverses an armlock with a clothesline and takes the arm, which Pillman drops the sledge on. He runs over Jordan and then gets an armdrag. He grounds Jordan and gets a seated chickenwing before chopping the bejabbers out of Jordan and tagging in Garrison. Garrison with a spinebuster aided by a Pillman dropkick, and Braedyn runs in… right into a boot from Garrison. (Griff’s “Oh well” look to the camera is great.)

Jordyn blocks a fireman’s carry with elbows, but Braedyn trips him and Jordan gets a leg lariat fo rone. Braedyn in, and he gets a dropkick before Jordyn slams him onto Garrison for two. Jordan back in, and he drops an elbow on Garrison’s arm from the middle rope. Garrison escapes a slam and gets a jawjacker, hot tag Pillman. SUPERKICK to Jordan, powerslam to Braedyn, and the spike powerbomb ends it at 4:07. Not a bad idea to make Hart a team mascot while she learns the ropes. 3/4*

Diamante (5-3) vs. Willow Nightingale (0-1). Oh, nice, Willow got a callback! Unfortunately, given we’re building to Diamante/Statlander, this may not end well for her. Nightingale doesn’t know what to make of Diamante’s theatrics.

Diamante rejects the Code of Honor and fires off forearms and a chop in the corner, but Willow cartwheels out of a whip. Diamante catches the SUPERKICK and charges, but Willow catches her into a side suplex. Senton misses, though, and Diamante gets a tilt-a-whirl into a Russian legsweep. She stomps away before landing crossface blows, then mounts Willow and keeps firing away. Willow catches Diamante in a fireman’s carry, but Diamante escapes and gets the Backstabber. Shotgun dropkick follows, getting two (may have been three if Willow hadn’t rolled an extra rotation to get away).

Diamante pie-faces Willow, who blocks the casadora Stunner and gets a Rainmaker. Diamante turns a second one into a back elbow, but a roundhouse misses. Willow tries a pumphandle, but Diamante goes to the eyes and this time the casadora Stunner hits. Code Red finishes at 2:53. They packed quite a bit into those three minutes, as you do on Dark. *

Dante Martin (5-1) vs. Aaron Frye (first singles match). Wait, there’s no “U” in his first name? Whoops. Lemme go edit that in this report. There we go. Martin nearly jumps from a standing start on the stage to the top rope. Frye is from Fredericksburg, just 50 miles from where I live!

Test of strength is teased, but Martin is ready and twists it into a headlock. They go to the hair to control, with Frye getting his own headlock as we go International~!, ending with Martin sliding under Frye and getting two dropkicks for two. To the top, but the 450 is escaped and Frye gets a facebuster and lariat for one. Frye slugs away on Martin, but it becomes a slugfest that ends when Martin escapes a waistlock only to get hit with a Backstabber for two.

Springboard back elbow airballs by Frye, though, but Frye gets a backbreaker. Martin with a lariat and dropkick to cue the comeback, then adds a gamengiri from the apron. Double jump moonsault gets two. Martin with a second gamengiri to floor Frye, and this time the 450 hits for the pin at 3:30. I hope next time they give Frye 2-3 more minutes, because what I saw I liked. Martin of course is awesome. *1/4

Nyla Rose (w/Vickie Guerrero) (7-2, #4 women) vs. Ashley D’Amboise (0-1). Pardon me while I get my earplugs. Vickie even shrieks in Justin Roberts’ ear over the microphone. Someday, Rose’s opponent is going to knock over Vickie before Rose comes out. They’ll get murdered, but it’ll be SO worth it.

Lockup, and Rose just throws her down. D’Amboise tries a waistlock, then a headlock, but it gets nowhere. Rose with a wristlock, then when D’Amboise tries to reverse, Rose just yanks her down by the hair. Body blows in the corner, then a Bradley beal. Avalanche in the corner, leading to a cannonball. She kicks around D’Amboise, throwing her into the corner and getting a hip check and lariat. Beast Bomb ends the slaughter at 1:52. NR

Alex Marvez talks to the Dark Order about what happened with the Hardy Family Office last night. Silver is furious about being made to watch the suffering. Reynolds then says he knows their perception, but Hardy crossed the line. Colt says they’re sick of it. Reynolds reminds Hardy of the Dark Order’s dark past and they’re not afraid to go there again. Back to tonight: Uno is asked about the match tonight. He praises Vance’s 14-2 record. JD Drake is no slouch, and yes, Grayson was taken to the limit with Drake. But they have the perfect plan: Plan 10.

Ryan Nemeth and Cezar Bononi (w/Peter Avalon, JD Drake, and Avalon’s sexual sled) (0-1 as this team) vs. Liam Gray and Adrian Alanis (0-3). Why does Nemeth have an Oscar? Who the hell made their new music? Do Bononi and Drake ever get along?

Nemeth and Gray start. Nemeth with a go-behind and takedown, asking for two points. A single-leg follows, and he wants two more. Now Gray takes Nemeth down both ways in response before getting a pair of armdrags. Nemeth backs Gray into the corner before getting a Hammer Throw, but the blind charge eats boot. Gray with a cannonball off the top to Nemeth, and he follows with… a headlock? Nemeth fights out, but Bononi tags himself in and gets a lariat. Bononi tosses Gray into the corner and goes CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY. Gray tries to box Bononi down to come back, but Bononi gets a kneelift and body throw.

Avalanche hip check in the corner flattens Gray. Back suplex follows, and Nemeth wants in (Bononi to Alanis: “Watch this!”). Nemeth with a pose before wanting his own back suplex, but Gray flips out and gets the hot tag. Clotheslines follow, then a leaping back elbow in the corner. Sling Blade backbreaker, then he avoids Bononi and gets a stiff right. EVERYBODY INTO THE POOL as Gray and Nemeth are legal, but Bononi catches Gray and hands him off to Nemeth for the Rude Awakening to win at 4:16. AEW Dark has practically become its own roster and it’s great. 1/2*

Kris Statlander (w/Best Friends and Orange Cassidy) (3-0) vs. Julia Hart (0-2). For those wondering what level of continuity we’re dealing with here, Hart remains a smiling cheerleader with a megaphone. Or, as Taz calls it, “blowhorn”. Bryce, the ref, gets a boop to start and returns it to Statlander.

Lockup, and Statlander with a headlock into a wristlock back to a headlock takedown as Taz assures us Bryce Remsburg won’t favor anyone. Statlander stands them up, floats over to another headlock takedown, and picks them back up again as we go International~!. This ends with Statlander catching the leapfrog and booping Hart, who escapes only to get powerslammed. (Taylor and Cassidy approve.) Blind charge misses and Hart gets a front handspring forearm into a backflip, but her roundhouse kick misses and Statlander gets an electric chair drop. Big Bang Theory ends it at 2:22. I have no idea if Hart was face or heel in this match, and given how dominated she was, it doesn’t matter. 1/4* Best Friends HUG IT OUT as Trent gives Statlander the megaphone.

Wrestling With the Week ad.

Jungle Boy Perry (w/Marko Stunt) (4-1, part of #2 team) vs. Marty Casaus (0-1). He’s back, fellow Believers! And Taz is back to horribly singing along. If the weights from last night and tonight are correct, Stunt has slimmed down to 112 pounds, which you absolutely needed to know.

Casaus with the slasher smile to put Perry on edge to start. Headlock, and Perry resists a suplex attempt to keep it on. Casaus shoves him off and runs him over, but Perry completes the International~!, with a leg trip and STF try. Casaus scrambles to the ropes. Another lockup, and Casaus pushes Perry to the corner before kicking him in the gut. Perry goes up and over before getting a springboard lucha armdrag and standing rana. Dropkick and kip-up follow as Casaus is reeling.

Casaus does the Koko Ware “hitting my head into the turnbuckle will just make me stronger” bit, so Perry recovers and chops him instead. Casaus recovers by clotheslining Perry out of the ring, then he teases a dive (Taz: “Maybe he’s gonna fly like a big moth!”), but it’s a fake-out. Perry reverses Casaus into the guardrail and dives onto him instead, and back in, he leaps straight into a gutbuster on a bulldog try. Charge eats boot, but Casaus catches the second try and seats Perry on the ropes to deliver crossface blows.

He fish-hooks everything on Perry’s face before yanking him down. Perry tries to fight back, but Casaus with a 12-6 elbow to stop him. Another elbow leads to a seated neck crank, then he licks his hand before goozling Perry. Perry escapes and catches Casaus with a back elbow and chops. They try to knock each other over with shoulderblocks, but Perry wins when he switches to a lariat. Monkey flip try, but Casaus puts him on the ropes. Perry kicks Casaus away and dives straight into a Northern Lights suplex for two. Casaus goes up now, but the moonsault misses and Perry gets a sliding back elbow into the STF to win at 5:45. Casaus’ mouth was busted open at some point, maybe on the dive. Casaus has acquitted himself well in both tryout matches. *3/4

Big Swole and Red Velvet (w/KiLynn King) (3-0) vs. Ashley and Steph MK (0-1). I know I’ve looked up what MK stands for before, and it’s a long Polynesian last name.

Steph and Swole start. Lockup, and Swole controls with a headlock. She works the arm to stop a reversal, going to a hammerlock, then a snapmare and soccer kick for two. Kitchen Sink by Swole, and Velvet tags in blindly and blindsides Steph, allowing Swole a clothesline. Velvet gets two, and Steph gets angry and tags out to Ashley. Velvet flips over a back suplex and drapes Ashley on the middle rope, adding double knees. Swole in, and they kick Ashley’s legs out of her legs before getting a double low Flatliner. Swole drops the booty on Ashley’s back (don’t look at me like that, Swole patted it post-move), then adds more calf kicks.

Forearms follow, then the double-dodge… before thinking better than to get a headbutt. She kicks the leg and charges… into a headbutt to the gut. Ashley with more headbutts, and Steph comes in with an avalanche. Ashley adds a Rikishi hip check, and Steph gets two off of it. Big chop by Steph, then another as Swole is stunned. The twins with a double back elbow and double elbowdrop, as Ashley gets two. Ashley is CLUBBERIN, TONY, THEY BE CLUBBERIN, but Swole recovers with a jawbreaker and SUPERKICK.

Velvet gets the hot tag and knocks both twins down before getting a running high knee and Stunner to Steph for two, Ashley saves. EVERYBODY INTO THE POOL as Swole and Velvet get running uppercuts and rolling elbows, with Velvet pinning Steph at 4:43. Identical twin hoss Polynesians? Oh, yes, they’ll have a place in wrestling if they improve with time. *1/4 Excalibur and Taz argue over what Just Desserts + Dirty Dancing would be called.

J.D. Drake (w/Peter Avalon, Cezar Bononi, and Ryan Nemeth) (2-4) vs. Preston Vance (14-2). And just to make me more confused, Drake’s music is not that of Nemeth/Bononi OR Avalon. Drake’s entrance video still calls him the Blue Collar Badass, which, I mean, he is. Stu Grayson is absent from this taping. Although the Dark Order comes out with Vance, it’s Reynolds/Uno/Angels to counteract the others.

Lockup goes nowhere. Another try and, again, it’s a stalemate. Round 3 and Vance backs Drake into the corner and gives a clean break. Drake is faked out by Vance’s wind-up and begs off, only to get slugged down anyway. Dtake slides over on a back body drop attempt but runs into a pump kick. Hammer Throw and running clothesline, then the Ten-Punch Count-along. Drake escapes a charge, though, and delivers a lariat to floor Vance. Big elbowdrop gets two. A soccer kick follows while Taz just cannot make sense of Drake’s shirt.

Another forearm floors Vance, but he puts his head down and a sunset flip gets two. Big chop floors Vance as Drake stares at the Dark Order at ringside. We HIT THE CHINLOCK, but Drake picks Vance up and tosses him to the Pretty Picture sidekicks, who stomp away until the Dark Order gets them to back off. Drake throws Vance back in, but takes too long following and Vance gets a schoolboy for two. Drake with a falling headbutt for two. He gets a ground headlock and taunts Vance as everyone at ringside keeps arguing. Vance with a jawjacker to stop that, but Drake ducks a clothesline and gets a swinging neckbreaker for two.

Big chop by Drake follows, and Vance is slow getting up so Drake toys with him. Suplex attempt, but Vance holds his base and blocks. Clothesline is ducked, but Vance with the Full Nelson. Drake armdrags out to break and gets a Claymore for two. Drake now mounts Vance and wants the ten-punch count-along, but Vance powerbombs him out for a well-earned double-down. Both men up, but Vance with clotheslines to cue the comeback. BACK body drop follows, and Vance tries the Full Nelson again only for Drake to duck and deliver a short lariat. Then he walks into the SPINEBUSTER OF DOOM as Avalon gets on the apron and gets chased off into Bononi’s arms. Drake Hotshots Vance during the chaos and boxes him, adding a roundhouse kick. Another kick leads to a lariat try, but Vance catches it into the Full Nelson to win by TKO at 8:12. Hoss Fight? Hoss Fight. **1/4

Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela (12-11) vs. The Acclaimed (Anthony Bowens and Max Caster) (#4 team) (6-2). By the way, speaking of tag teams, Luchasaurus appears to have missed this taping. Rather than bother Taz, Janela cuts his promo to the camera on Kiss’s physique. “Sonny, you should let Janela borrow some makeup.” “You’re hurting more than when you fought Zandig!” “You’re not that cute [meaning Kiss], and I got a better ass!” Bowens even mocks Janela’s overreaction as the announcers crack up.

Janela and Caster start. Headlock by Janela, but the shoulderblock goes nowhere. Caster dares him to try again, so Janela revs it up… and steps on Caster’s foot before chopping him. You thought Janela would fall for that? He also doesn’t fall for the “beg off and get pulled into the buckles” trick, blocking it and chopping away on Caster. With Caster weakened, Janela now knocks him down with a tackle and says something that the crowd freaks out about. Kiss in for the double back body drop, and Caster tags in Bowens. Kiss Matrixes a clothesline attempt, cradles him for one, and gets a rana and Dropsault.

Handspring slap in the corner just angers Bowens, so Kiss ducks the lariat and kicks away. He goes up, but Bowens drops Kiss into the splits before knocking Janela off the apron. Caster back in, and Kiss is hit with a big kick/neckbreaker/legdrop combo. Kiss eats turnbuckle as Caster follows with a back suplex for two. Bowens in, and he clubs down Kiss before bringing Caster back in for an abdominal stretch/toe kick combo. Bowens tags himself in as Caster tries a sunset flip, but Kiss ducks Bowens’ neckbreaker attempt and drops in the splits on Caster. Bowens dares Kiss to get the hot tag, and after a backflip and crawl between the legs, Janela’s in. Well, be careful what you wish for.

Heads collide and Janela back suplexes Bowens. Bowens sends him to the stage, but Janela lands on his feet and leaps – only to be shoved off the stage and maybe blow his knee out. Janela: “<Beep>!!” Everyone cheks on Janela, but Bowens knocks down Kiss and throws Janela back in. Bowens stomps the knee and kicks away, dropping an elbow and getting the knee stretch. He punches the knee some more, then drops an elbow on the knee for… one. Janela’s not going to say he can’t continue.

Janela sends Bowens out but can’t put weight on his knee. Caster gets the blind tag, and Janela kicks him away to tag Kiss… only for Bowens to yank Kiss off the apron. Janela is SCREWED and knows it, so Caster with a shinbreaker and dragon screw both ways for two. Bowens yells at Caster to end the match on his own by staying on the leg, so Caster kicks away. Janela tries to fight out of the Acclaimed corner, but he can’t even move to his corner. A right cross to Caster, but Bowens clips him and they try Criticlaly Acclaimed… only for Janela to escape the UFO part and DDT Caster!

Hot hot HOT tag Kiss, who gets a corsckrew forearm and leg lariat on Caster. Jawbreaker and kip-up, but Caster sidesteps a charge only to eat back elbow and Torpedo Jersey off the middle rope. He kicks Bowens away, and a standing moonsault to Caster gets two. Kiss with the Split Stunner on Caster, but Bowens saves at two and Janela can’t jump in to even the odds. Bowens tags himself in and goes for Kiss, who blasts him with a rolling elbow. Janela wants to help and gets the tag as he goes up (much to Commentary’s dismay). He tries for the big elbow, but falls off the ropes and Bowens gets a Gojira Clutch.

Kiss escapes Caster’s clutches and breaks it up. EVERYBODY INTO THE POOL as Janela and Bowens are in one corner, Caster and Kiss the other. Bowens tries a superplex on Janela and Kiss on Caster, but both men shove them down and get stereo Heartbreak Elbows. They then look at each other and get a double clothesline as everyone’s down. Janela tries a suplex on Bowens, but the leg won’t have it and Bowens gets a small package for two. Slam by Bowens and he tells Caster to go up, and the Gojira Clutch is aided by the Mic Drop for the pin at 11:58. Everything about this match was great. ***1/2 Seriously, give theses guys a bonus. Caster gets more because he mocks Janela’s injury post-match.

Brian Cage (w/Hook) (#4 men, 12-4) vs. Bear Bronson (8-4 overall). Aw, jeez, they have to follow THAT? Speaking of missing people, add Bear Boulder to the list as he’s not out with his teammate. This time Excalibur explains that Boulder is legit injured from the Jurassic Express throwdown and will miss a few months. So good on AEW for letting Bronson keep getting work in the interim. Oh, and this is non-title.

Lockup, and they spin around the ropes before Cage gets Bronson in the corner and gives him shoulder shots. Chops just anger Bronson, and he lands forearms and an avalanche in the corner. Big right hand and they counter moves until Cage gets a Flatliner out of it. Cage with a running elbow and uppercut, but Bronson escapes a German suplex and gets his boots up on a charge. Dropkick (!?) and Cage bails. Hook tells Cage to escape when Bronson winds up a dive, so Bronson goes after Hook only for Cage to lariat him. Cage slugs Bronson into the guardrail and stomps him down, and back in, suplex and legdrop gets two, brother. We HIT THE CHINLOCK, but Bronson slugs out of it only for Cage to get a kneelift.

Bronson with a jawjacker, but he runs into an elbow and Cage tries a powerbomb. Bronson with a back body drop and Earthquake drop, but he can’t follow up. They slug it out, with Bronson getting clotheslines and a Bossman Slam (called as such) for two. Bronson is frustrated, so he slowly picks up Cage before landing forearms. A right hook staggers Cage, but he goes out the back on a slam and gets a spinkick and SUPERKICK. Discus lariat is ducked, and Bronson with a Saito suplex for two.

Bronson puts Cage up top and follows, but Cage slips down and doubles over Bronson for another SUPERKICK. Cage with an Electric Chair drop (similar to Bear Country’s Totem Splash) gets two. He hooks up the F-5, but Bronson elbows out of it only to be smoked by a discus lariat for two. Powerbomb by Cage, then the Drill Claw (Bronson’s a 300 pounder!!) for the pin at 7:05. So how do you follow a great match? Well, as Jake Roberts says, you don’t. You do what you do best. And in this case, a power smatch. **1/4

AEW Casino App ad.

MAIN EVENT: Will Hobbs (w/Hook) (10-1) vs. Mike Sydal (1-1 singles). My angle sense is tingling if this gets the last match slot. If this were MATT Sydal, I think the star power might justify it. Excalibur plays the “speed vs power” card.

Sydal circles an eager Hobbs to start. The lockup sends Sydal into the corner, wheere Hobbs pie-faces him. Sydal comes out and strikes away, then ducks under a big boot and gets a dropkick. Forearm follows, but Hobbs sends Sydal to the apron. Sydal drapes the shoulder over the ropes and goes up top, cartwheeling away from a charge only to get destroyed by a Flying Bear for two, Mike Knox style. A second cover is also two. Hobbs tosses Sydal into the corner and boxes away, adding a Hammer Throw and hip check. He refuses to cover, going with mounted punches. He grinds the head into the mat, then smiles at Hook before slamming him down.

Sydal with a prone kick to stun him and he fights back, cartwheeling away from a spinebuster and getting a SUPERKICK to put Hobbs to one knee only. Sydal goes up, but Hobbs sweeps out the legs and gets a Tree of Woe before looking for Town Business. Sydal escapes and Matrixes under a clothesline, but runs straight into a Vader Attack. Town Business for real this time ends it at 3:28. Someday I’m going to figure out the logic, if any, behind the order of matches on Dark. Elevation at least seems to have a good opener and good main. 3/4* Hobbs adds a short clothesline after the match, and Matt Sydal comes out to check on his brother. Hobbs backs off and allows Matt to take Mike out of the ring and to the back, yelling at Taz the whole way.

DYNAMITE!

  • The Pinnacle crowd themselves the best stable ever!
  • Tony Schiavone interview Jade Cargill!
  • Orange Cassidy and PAC fight to see who gets next on Kenny Omega!
  • SCU will finally either win the gold or die trying against the Young Bucks!
  • Darby Allin may or may not be 100%, but he will defend against Miro!
  • And the IWGP US Title is defended as Jon Moxley faces Yuji Nagata!

Three fantastic matches right before the end make this a fun episode. As with other such episodes, they pack a lot into their two hours. It helped that a few of their matches were shorter than normal – especially Kingston/Moxley’s tag match, which went only as long as it should have. A few injuries or absences were noteworthy in this show (Bear Boulder is injured, sure, but has anyone heard about Stu Grayson or Luchasaurus?), but all in all, if I’m going to get five feature bouts and four of them deliver for entertainment, I call that a fine enough show.

HOW I’D BOOK DYNAMITE!

  1. Miro crushes Darby Allin to become the new TNT Champion.
  2. The Pinnacle’s coronation is interrupted by the Inner Circle, who ask for Stadium Stampede II.
  3. Moxley and Kingston make sure the titles are nothing to hide behind, as SCU upend the Young Bucks to win the gold and get their happy ending.
  4. PAC defeats Orange Cassidy, leading to a huge brawl with the Death Triangle, Omega, the Good Brothers, Miro, and Best Friends.
  5. Jade Cargill wins a squash, then her interview with Schiavone is interrupted by Mark Sterling… who gets beaten up.
  6. In the main event, Moxley vs Nagata goes however New Japan insists it goes. The Bucks try to jump Moxley post-match, but Kingston, Nagata, Omega, heck everyone runs in for a massive locker room brawl as WE ARE OUT OF TIME, FOLKS, SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!

STATS

BELL-TO-BELL: 73:12 over sixteen matches (assuming my Moxley/Kingston time is right) (average time 4:34)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Acclaimed vs Janela/Kiss

FIVE STARS:

  1. Brian Cage
  2. Joey Janela
  3. Jungle Boy Perry
  4. Preston Vance
  5. Max Caster

Light the fuse! Enjoy tomorrow!