AEW DARK: Double or Nothing FanFest Edition — June 1, 2021

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, Episode 91 (“Aww, This Show Is a Normal Length”), June 1, 2021.

From the AEW Arena during the Double or Nothing Fanfest, thus explaining the show length.

Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz.

TONIGHT!… I got good news and bad news. The bad news is, only five matches. The good news is, lots of bangers! Jungle Boy Perry is back to take on Bear Bronson! Red Velvet takes a run at Diamante! Ryan Nemeth and Cezar Bononi face off against Billy and Colten Gunn! And Jack Evans, Angelico, and Serpentico will meet Stu Grayson, Alex Reynolds, and Alan Angels! (The other match is a Kris Statlander showcase.)

Ryan Nemeth and Cezar Bononi (w/Peter Avalon) (1-1) vs. Gunn Club (Billy and Colten) (2-0). The Jaguar cheerleaders are at ringside for the opening match and while it’s not as full as Elevation or Double or Nothing, there’s a healthy crowd being healthy loud. Austin Gunn is “on the shelf indefinitely” trying to find his jaw after Anthony Ogogo punched him. Excalibur calls the Gunns his favorite AEW father/son duo just to get under Taz’s skin.

After making sure it will be one on one it’s Colten and Nemeth to start. Nemeth keeps looking over his shoulder to Billy (mocking mooning as well), then takes down Colten with a waistlock and demands 2 points. Nemeth then gets a single-leg, but Colten appears to escape but Nemeth says that counts. Nemeth then shoves Colten into the ropes before preening, so Colten comes back with a shoulderblock, armdrag, judo throw, and slam for one. Billy tags in, and a double back elbow gets two before Nemeth crawls to bring in Bononi.

Lockup leads to a stalemate. The crowd wants Round 2, but Billy ducks under for a waistlock only to get punched out. Bononi with the goozle, but Billy escapes and gets his own. Bononi escapes but turns into a lariat for one. Colten in as Billy gets a boot, and a dropkick by Colten follows. Both men scrap on the ground for a while, but Avalon grabs Colten’s leg and Bononi boots him down. Nemeth works the arm on the mat getting the handstand hammerlock. Hammer Throw follows, and Nemeth dances before landing a corner spear. Bononi enters and we HIT THE CHINLOCK as Taz says Ryan Nemeth reminds him of Chris Candido.

Colten starts trying to elbow out, then goes for a crossbody only for Bononi to catch him and do a slam throw. Running back elbow and back suplex gets one. Colten slides out of a powerslam and rolls under Bononi, and it’s hot tag Billy. Everyone drops from right hands as Billy then runs back and forth with avalanches before catching Bononi for the Famouser, Nemeth saves. Nemeth tags in and cross-chops Colten, who avoids the turnbuckle and returns with Colt 45 to win at 7:41. Very much a house show match. *1/2

We get an NFL Films style highlight package of Jungle Boy’s big win at the Casino match, then at how Bear Country and Jurassic Express haven’t seen eye to eye lately. It’s Jungle Boy vs Bear Bronson, tonight!

And then we talk to Jungle Boy Perry about how this is a very busy time. He’s going to face Private Party with Christian Cage as his partner, he has the title match, and tonight he’s facing Bear Bronson. He’s going to use tonight to show why he should be the next AEW Champion.

Kris Statlander (with Trent and Chuck Taylor) (5-0) vs. Robyn Renegade (0-3). This allows us (in post, obviously) to talk about the Baker/Shida title change. Statlander boops Trent and Taylor during her entrance, then boops the ref.

Statlander wants a test of strength, but Renegade slaps the hand away. So they eventually just lock up, with Statlander getting a headlock, reversed by Renegade. Statlander gets a hammerlock into a headlock of her own, but Renegade switches to wrist control. Statlander cartwheels around and around (even after a confused Renegade lets go), then ends by booping Renegade much to the fans’ delight. Renegade, less delighted, charges into a cradle for two, then a single-leg and roundhouse kick. Renegade bails, so Statlander follows and chops her on the outside. Renegade returns fire, but Statlander goes to the kidneys and delivers a backbreaker. She rolls in to break the count, then rolls back out to splash Renegade. Back in, it gets two.

Renegade with a flying hairpull slam, then she goes ground and pound. Taz notes that there’s a pronounced heel on her boots instead of a flat like most wrestlers do. Renegade chokes Statlander against the ropes, then muscles Statlander up for a suplex. They slug it out, with Statlander hitting an enzuigiri and ducking Renegade’s before landing a deadlift German. Running knee strikes and a powerslam ends in a two count. Renegade gets a jawjacker and shotgun dropkick, then double knees in the corner to set up a flying mare for two. Commentary notes that Renegade didn’t have the experience to go at full speed. And speaking of experience, Renegade hooks an inverted DDT, but hesitates and allows Statlander to flip over into the Big Bang Theory for the win at 5:07. Statlander appears to have lost a piercing in her lip, since it’s bloodied at the end. Taz: “I’m surprised her blood isn’t green!” And we HUG IT OUT to end it. Making something out of Renegade’s inexperience on commentary really helped. 3/4*

Jack Evans, Angelico, and Serpentico (first time as a trio) vs. Alan Angels, Alex Reynolds, and Stu Grayson (first time in this combination). We get TH2’s video and Chaos Project’s music. Not that it matters, as Angelico seems capable of vibing to it anyway. Even Taz is upset he didn’t get TH2’s music for full dancing. It’s Uno, Colt, and Silver accompanying their teammates (no Preston Vance – this becomes important later), as they do, with half the crowd holding up the claw hand!

Angels and Serpentico start as everyone hangs around. They duck and dodge each other until they exchange armdrags, with Angels hanging on for an armlock. Serpentico slugs out to escape, but he runs into a belly to belly suplex. Grayson in, while Angels does the five-punch countalong before sending Grayson in for an avalanche and throwing him into a rolling elbow by Reynolds (who must have tagged in). It gets two. Angels is back in, and he keeps arm control until Serpentico sends him to the TH2 corner. Angels clears the corner only for Luther to trip him and wishbone him against the post, which causes the rest of the Dark Order to chase him to the back in “hot” pursuit.

Back in the ring, Serpentico with axhandles and he brings in Angelico. Angelico with a snapmare and soccer kick for two. Angelico twists the arm and gets a double armbar (called the Navarro XIV by Excalibur), Grayson breaks. TH2 with a tandem Lethal Combination on Angels, then Evans adds a flying kick for two. Serpentico comes back in, getting a snapmare and dropping the axhandle before throwing HIMSELF into Angels (as if Luther did it) for two. Evans back in with knee strikes and a Russian legsweep for two. Evans then knocks Grayson off the apron, which draws him in, but nothing comes of it.

Angels starts up a slugfest to rock Evans, ending with a Brodie discus lariat. Serpentico tags in and pulls Angels away before kicking away Grayson, but he turns and races into the C-4. Hot tag Reynolds, and he takes out TH2 with big boots and elbow strikes. Dropkick and kip up to Angelico, but Evans tags in and springboards… straight into a gut kick. Reynolds ducks a 540 kick as Grayson tags himself in, getting a uranage on Evans for two. Reynolds and Angels in, and Angels does a moonsault onto an elevated Evans as Serpentico saves. Reynolds now legal, and he tries a fisherman’s suplex, but Angelico cuts it off and kicks Grayson away with a Pele.

Angels tosses Angelico and leaps straight into a SUPERKICK from Serpentico. SUPERKICK and low DDT by Serpentico, then 450 by Evans gets two. Great false finish. Heels look for a triple running boot, but Dark Order trips everyone and Reynolds catches Evans. Pop-up knee strike by Reynolds, roundhouse kick by Angels, and Nightfall by Grayson as Reynolds and Angels dive to the outside. Dark Order wins at 8:27. Very energetic six-man. **1/4

Diamante (11-6) vs. Red Velvet (15-4). Velvet is one of the great stories of the pandemic era: she began as enhancement talent, got her comfort and legs under her, and turned into a legitimate roster member.

Diamante opens with arm control, holding the wristlock before Velvet reverses. Velvet stops at the ropes and gets a sole kick, then a crossbody. Both women bypass each other before Velvet gets a leg lariat. She kicks away on Diamante in the corner, then adds the stir-up choke, but Diamante holds the boot off her throat and throws Velvet away before hiptossing her into the corner and stomping in return. Boot choke by Diamante, then some forearms and a chop. Velvet reverses and boxes Diamante in the corner before Diamante gets a kneelift and chops some more. Shotgun dropkick in the corner leads to a two-count.

Avalanche in the corner, then the Three Amigos for two. She goes to a seated armbar, twisting the head as she does so that when Velvet stands up, she’s in prime position for a Russian Legsweep. Plank splash gets two. Diamante suckers Velvet into jumping into the corner, pulling her out with a Backstabber for two. Diamante puts her in the TREE OF WOE, choking away before trying to dropkick her… but Velvet pulls herself up before diving off with a crossbody for a double-down. Both up at 7 as Velvet begins the comeback.

She sends Diamante into the middle rope and gets the double knees, then the standing moonsault for two. Stunner out of the corner by Velvet gets two. Diamante takes the Bret bump in the corner, then catches Velvet coming in with a sole kick and shiranui for two. Commentary notes the arrogant cover. They fight over a waistlock, ending in a German suplex by Diamante for two. Diamante slaps Velvet around, but Velvet lands on her feet on a German and nails a spinning sole kick to win at 7:14. These two were not even close to being on the same page. *1/4

Back in the back, the Dark Order is pysched by the crowd cheering them on. Reynolds then reminds people that the last time there was a crowd, people HATED them. But seeing everyone give the Dark Order salute and believes that everyone will stand with them. Even Vance. (“Look, I overslept, okay?”)

Bear Bronson (8-7) vs. Jungle Boy Perry (w/Luchasaurus and Marko Stunt) (7-1). I’m not a fan of Bear Country turning heel, though to be fair it appears to be a case that they only have done this against Jurassic Express. And really, you’re not winning that popularity contest, so that’s fine. Why should all faces get along? (For that matter, why should all heels get along, even if a heel/heel big title match isn’t all that fun?) Jurassic Express is so over you could make an argument that a double-switch over the next few weeks wouldn’t be the craziest idea in the world. Stunt even borrows the cheerleaders’ pompoms, with Excalibur claiming it was theft while Taz tries and fails to sing along. You know, business as usual for Dark on commentary.

We open with a huge Jungle Boy chant, which takes both wrestlers aback. Bronson even smiles at the whole thing. Lockup, and Bronson shoves Perry back to the corner. Bronson yells at Saurus to keep Stunt at bay before they square off again, but Perry grabs the headlock before being run over by Bronson. Perry with a waistlock, but Bronson backs him into the corner and elbows him down. Hammer Throw, but Perry escapes the avalanche and flips back in before getting a casadora armdrag… try, because Bronson stops it and throws Perry back into the corner. Blind change misses, and Perry chops away on Bronson before getting the lucha armdrag and dropkick.

TAZ: (about Jungle Boy) “He’s over like rover!”
EXCALIBUR: “Or like Taz!”
TAZ: (fails at singing Tarzan Boy again)
EXCALIBUR: “Did you strain your yambag there?”

Perry kicks away at Bronson’s quads before running into a cross-chop. It gets one. Bronson mugs Perry against the middle rope with crossface blows, then he slugs him down. Perry tries to create separation, but Bronson picks him up with a short-arm clothesline for two. We HIT THE CHINLOCK, but Perry quickly fights out. Sunset flip try, and Bronson’s sitdown misses with Perry getting a low crossbody for two before Bronson just lariats him down and adds a senton for two. Bronson charges into an elbow, and Perry lays in the chops and dropkicks the leg.

Return lariat by Perry has Bronson down, and Yes Kicks follow. Bronson sends Perry to the apron, and he tries to return with a DDT but Bronson throws Perry into the corner and brings him out with a T-Bone Suplex for two. Bronson wants a powerslam, but Perry uses the ropes to escape to the apron, adding an enzuigiri and leap-in DDT for two. Running elbow to the back of the head wins it at 7:33. They probably had five more minutes in them, but it’s Fanfest, so who cares. *3/4

So this was a Fanfest show. Literally all that mattered was putting the faces over and keeping the itinerant crowd happy. Mission accomplished. I assume we’ll have a more focused Dark next week when the novelty wears off. (Although that said, having an entire episode of AEW Dark end before it’s dark outside is weird.) Really, stats don’t matter, stars of the night don’t matter… this was a Fanfest. AEW gets a free pass.

Besides, here’s the part that matters: I liked watching it. If the show is fun, you can forgive almost anything.

HOW I’D BOOK DYNAMITE:

  1. The Acclaimed over Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela in a de facto handicap match, as Janela has been doing too much Bad Boy Summer and doesn’t bother to tag in.
  2. Anthony Ogogo and QT Marshall over Lee Johnson and Cody Rhodes when Ogogo punches everyone out.
  3. In a de facto #1 Contenders Match, Thunder Rosa defeats Riho.
  4. Jungle Boy and Christian Cage over Private Party when Jungle Boy makes one or the other submit. Matt Hardy attacks Cage post-match.
  5. Nick Comoroto over Dustin Rhodes in a Bullrope Match.
  6. The Young Bucks over PAC and Penta after liberal use of the cooling spray and Good Brother interference… but after the match, Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston lead half the tag teams in the back on a march to destroy all four men.

Until next time, keep trying to sing.