AEW DARK 100: August 3, 2021

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark Episode 100 (“AEW DARK EPISODE 100!”), August 3, 2021.

(Note: an asterisk by someone’s name during the match intro means that they began their AEW career as “the other guy in the match” and have since won on their own merit.)

From Charlotte, NOORTH CAAROOLIINAA!

Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz.

TONIGHT! So much action and so much win on this show! Eddie Kingston looks to slow down Dante Martin! The Varsity Blonds and the Sydal Brothers go after The Acclaimed, Matt Hardy, and the Blade! PAC and Jack Evans hope to turn back time and fly! Diamante and Leyla Hirsch get MMA-tastic! Fuego Del Sol and Shawn Dean hope for a miracle against Shawn Spears and Wardlow! Six-man tag action as Bononi, Drake, and Nemeth face Orange, Taylor, and Yuta! The Lucha Bros take on Chaos Project! Penelope Ford! Tay Conti! HIKARU SHIDA! JON MOXLEY! AHHHHHH LET’S GET IT STARTED!!!

Opening match: Cezar Bononi*, JD Drake*, and Ryan Nemeth (w/Peter Avalon*) (1-0) vs. Orange Cassidy (#5 men), Chuck Taylor, and Wheeler Yuta* (w/Kris Statlander) (1-0). Ricky Starks joins the company on commentary and is in a giddy mood. I guess everything is fine with Team Taz after all. This must have been later in the cycle, as the crowd is somewhat burned out. Though they still have some energy for the Pixies music, which is good.

Taylor and Drake start. Lockup, and Taylor goes for the headlock, but Drake shoves him off and runs him over. We finish International~!, with Drake getting the armdrag only for Taylor to give him two in return with an armlock. Yuta in, but Drake escapes and Nemeth comes in instead. Yuta with a waistlock, and he goes up and back before dropkicking Nemeth for two. Nemeth with a kneelift and he sends Yuta into the Wingmen corner, but Nemeth accidentally hits first Bononi, then Drake. Nemeth is busy apologizing, but he figures he’s got it right… only to mess it up again with both guys.

Peter Avalon enters the ring and restores order, so Yuta chops him. The Wingmen mug Yuta, and Nemeth with a hammerlock and handstand. He rakes the eyes and brings in Bononi, who works Yuta over in the corner. Hammer Throw to Yuta and Bononi stomps a mudhole in him before getting a giant chop. Yuta escapes a back suplex, but Bononi stops the hot tag and gives Yuta the Hoss Toss. Drake gives Yuta a boot choke as he enters, then nails him with a chop and some clubbering. Bononi returns, and he and Drake do a Manhattan Drop/big boot combo for two.

Nemeth with a kneelift and he sets up the Rude Awakening, but Yuta slides out and sends Drake into Bononi. So Nemeth knocks Orange off the apron, but Taylor’s ready for it and knocks Nemeth into an enzuigiri by Yuta. Hot tag Taylor, and he runs over Nemeth before giving a tope con hilo to Bononi/Drake. Nemeth catches him with a cross-chop, but Orange is back and tags himself in. It’s HANDS IN POCKETS time, but Nemeth cuts it off and tries the Rude Awakening. Orange escapes and it’s the SHIN KICKS OF DOOM, with Nemeth trying to cut it off only to get hit with a dropkick. Best Friends clear the apron and tease Sweet Chin Music from Orange, but first Yuta and Taylor land forearms in the corner.

Uranage by Taylor, big splash by Yuta, and Orange just falls on top for two, Bononi saves and levels Orange. Yuta in instead, though, but he’s distracted by Avalon and Nemeth lands a dropkick. Bononi returns, bringing in Drake, and it’s a pumphandle throw into a cannonball by Drake into the Rude Awakening by Yuta. Drake covers, Taylor/Orange save. EVERYBODY INTO THE POOL as they fight around the ring, but Drake goes up top and misses the moonsault on Yuta. Crucifix gets the pin for Yuta on Drake at 7:54. Loved every minute of it. **1/2 Avalon tries to yank Yuta up by the roots, so he gets an Orange Punch and Awful Waffle for his troubles. And then the Best Friends HUG IT OUT.

Meanwhile, Jack Evans talk about how PAC follows him everywhere. Tonight, he threatens to send PAC back to Newcastle in a body bag.

Rampage ad.

Jack Evans (w/Matt Hardy, Angelico, and Private Party) (17-33) vs. PAC (w/Penta El Cero Miedo, Alex Abrahantes, and Rey Fenix) (15-5-2). Okay, let’s take bets on who gets kicked out of ringside first. Evans tries to one-up Angelico’s vibe by WALKING ON HIS HANDS down the ramp. Five years or so ago, this would be a lucha dream match.

Pac with a kick to stop the test of strength from Evans and he sends him into the corner. Pac with an arm wrench, but Evans escapes an armdrag only to get hit with a back heel kick. Pac taunts Evans as the latter gets up, then boots him in the head. Some CLUBBERING, THEY BE CLUBBERING follows as commentary talks about Yosshino. Evans handsprings out of a catapult and lands a sunset flip for two. Reverse bodyscissors cradle with a bridge gets two, and they dodge each other until Evans gets a drop toe hold and Mutalock.

Evans flips to a front facelock and escapes a back body drop, dropkicking Pac out of the ring and following with a fake-out… that allows Pac to trip Evans and make him land back-first on the apron on the way down! Pac gets in Isaiah Kassidy’s face as Penta and Fenix make sure nothing happens (Angelico calls for time). Meanwhile, Pac sends Evans into the guardrail. He rolls in and out, then thinks better of it and brings it back to get two. He glares at the HFO before pump kicking Evans and getting a boot choke.

Hammer Throw by Pac, and he just watches Evans slump down. Evans kicks away as Pac stalks in, but a single boot floors Evans. He puts Evans up top, following with a superplex attempt, but Evans gives Pac a back elbow and Pac spills to the outside. Evans sets himself and lands a Sky Twister Press off the top rope onto Pac! It’s a double countout tease, but Pac’s in at 5 and Evans is in at 7. Pac shoves Evans away, but Evans kicks away Pac and gets a springboard Blockbuster for two. Pac with a Steinerline to Evans as even commentary notes Pac is a step slow. Batista Bomb gets two.

Pac drags Evans to the corner and goes up top, but Evans is back up. Pac gets down and tries a springboard forearm, but Evans escapes and catches him with a poison rana. Backslide Clutch gets two. 540 kick by Evans and he goes up, but Pac crotches him to stop him. He follows Evans up, and an avalanche Rude Awakening leads to the Brutalizer to win at 8:46. Pac was definitely taking his time between moves, but unlike beginners who do the same thing, he made sure to put weight on each move and show there was a gameplan. **1/4

BUT WAIT! Here comes Andrade El Idolo from the back with his entourage. Chavo Guerrero Jr. sarcastically applauds the match, and Andrade begins to take his jewelry off as he walks to the ring… and he and Chavo remove sport coats and they head to the ring! It’s a standoff between the two sides, with Andrade/Chavo on the apron, but they count the numbers and decide to try it another day.

Meanwhile, Red Velvet is on a winning streak, the hottest she’s ever been. Now that she’s in the top 5, she’s focusing 100% on the Women’s Title. And Britt Baker has it. Britt says she’s special, but no one knows special order like Red. The oven’s on, the flames are high, and it’s time to cook up a win.

Tay Conti (#2 women, 19-3) vs. Kenzie Paige (0-4). Man, who doesn’t love Tay? So energetic, such a great smile, everything about her works. And no, Conti doesn’t count – she debuted with a win.

Lockup, and Conti breaks. Another round, and Paige gets Conti in the corner, so Conti goes up top only to get lifted off. Conti turns it into a sunset flip for two, than a briding submission, then another cradle for two. They trade waistlocks, with Conti blocking the O’Connor Roll only to get hit with a SUPERKICK. Paige with forearms, but she makes the fatal error of pointing to her head and Conti turns it into a slugfest. Conti ducks and gets the sayonagis, then gets to the apron and fights off Paige. She goes up, leaping over a charging Paige, and lands a pump kick and two running corner boots. Spin cycle gutbuster by Conti gets the crowd into it, and the DDTay ends it at 2:39. Conti is a future star. 1/2* She and the ref even do a little salsa to celebrate together.

Shawn Dean* and Fuego Del Sol* (0-1 as a team) vs. Shawn Spears (22-7) and Wardlow (15-3). Guys, Fuego’s kinda gotten himself over with the plucky underdog with one big move thing. As a reminder, Rampage on August 20 will be in Chicago and is being called the First Dance. Hm, wonder whose? Jake Hager is on commentary for this match, and he reports that Jericho is in good spirits despite the deathmatch.

Spears, Fuego, and a FUEGO chant start. Spears with a go-behnd into a snapmare and he cartwheels to mock Fuego before strutting. I mean, it is Charlotte. The crowd catches on and WHOOs. Spears works Fuego down in a knuckle-lock takedown for a two-count, but Fuego pops up on Spears’ shoulders and gets a sunset flip try. Spears blocks it, but Fuego escapes the back suplex and lands a dropkick, then another to Wardlow. Wardlow tanks it, so Dean tries; that doesn’t work, so they both dropkick at once and finally Wardlow gets set outside.

The little guys dive, but Spears clocks Fuego and Wardlow catches Dean to toss him into the apron. Spears wants to use the chair, but both the ref and Wardlow stop him. Back in, though, Spears with the Death Valley Driver on Fuego, but Wardlow wants to finish it (while staring at Hager to make sure he’s watching). Hager drops the headset as Wardlow nails the F-10 on Fuego to win at 2:49. So much for an upset alert, eh? 1/4*

AEW Dynamite is in Houston August 18! (Sammy Guevara is added to the stars mentioned, because he’s from Houston.)

Hikaru Shida (#4 women, 35-4) vs. Madi Maxx (debut). When I first heard this, I thought maybe Madi Wrenckowski got a re-name, but no, this is someone new doing a Hamptons gimmick. Doesn’t even look like a Mad Max extra, which is good. Shida even acknowledges a sign about her.

Crowd chants for Shida at the bell. Lockup, and Shida backs Maxx into the ropes and gives a clean break. A second lockup, and Shida gets a headlock. She won’t let Maxx break it, so instead we go International~!, but Maxx fakes a leg injury. Shida tries to bring her out of the corner, so Maxx pulls Shida’s head into the turnbuckle… or WOULD have if Shida didn’t see it coming. Shida blocks and grabs Maxx in a rib breaker and slam, and Maxx bails.

Shida goes outside and finds a chair, setting it up and trying Air Sabu, but Maxx avoids it and sends Shida into the post. Back in, Maxx backhands Shida and kicks her down, getting two. Maxx trash talks Shida as she picks her up by the hair, but that gets Shida’s attention and she bashes Maxx’s face in. Maxx stops a charge by Shida with “NOT THE FACE”, but Shida with a big slap and HHH facebuster. Running knee in the corner sets up a snap suplex for two. Maybe if Shida had covered with more than just one knee.

Gory Special is reversed to a cradle by Maxx for two. Shida ducks a roundhouse kick and lands a running knee for two. Body Vice into a facebuster and Shida soaks in the cheers as she signals the end. Katana ends it at 4:35. Maxx seems like she’s in her formative years – the gimmick has come to her quickly, even if the ring work hasn’t followed. Shida made her look all right. 3/4*

Chaos Project (Luther and Serpentico*) (10-17)vs. Lucha Bros (Penta El Cero Miedo and Rey Fenix) (w/Alex Abrahantes and PAC) (13-8). You know, it would be nice if they officially said Penta/Kingston was defunct. August 11/13 is a double-shot in Pittsburgh. And I’m not even cheating including Serpentico – he was a double-duty jobber (masked and unmasked) before getting in Luther’s grip. Pac is walking slowly, perhaps selling the match from before and perhaps just being slow.

Fenix and Serpentico start. Lockup, and Fenix works the arm. He stops Luther from tagging in, but Serpentico reverses. Fenix breaks in a unique way, and both men exchange waistlocks before Serpentico tries a sunset flip. Fenix blocks and gets his own cradle for two, then goes back to the headlock. Serpentico reverses, then turns it into a tilt-a-whirl headscissors. Fenix alley-oops over Serpentico to the top rope, backflips off it, and lands in front of Serpentico. Luther and Penta enter as everyone argues, and a SUPERKICK PARTY breaks out.

Fenix to Serpentico, Luther to Fenix, Penta to Luther, then Serpentico sends Penta to the outside. He dives… and Penta catches him in a military press! Luther breaks it up with a big boot and tosses Penta into the post, while back in, Serpentico with an up-and-over sunset flip for two. Serpentico sends Fenix into the Chaos Project corner, and Luther in as Serpentico whips Luther into Fenix in the corner. Luther returns the favor by catapulting Serpentico into Fenix, then gives Fenix a pump kick and heart punch.

Slam follows and Serpentico is back in, but Fenix meets him with a SUPERKICK and kicks Luther off the top rope. Fenix with the tiger feitn and he gets a spinkick on Serpentico. Penta gets the tag and takes both men out with a crossbody, then ducks as Serpentico SUPERKICKs Luther. Sling Blade to both opponents by Penta, and he gives Serpentico a lungblower as he lands on Luther. He covers Serpentico, Luther breaks it up. Lucha Bros with stereo SUPERKICKs to Chaos Project, and Serpentico eats Fear Factor Zero for the pin at 4:51. Too chaotic to be worthwhile. *1/2

Pittsburgh double-shot ad.

Brian Pillman Jr.*, Griff Garrison* (#1 team, 16-4), Matt Sydal (15-11), and Mike Sydal (5-13) (w/Julia Hart*) vs. Matt Hardy (14-4), The Blade (14-4), Anthony Bowens*, and Max Caster* (#2 team, 14-3) (w/The Bunny). Okay, we all know why you’re here: what’s Caster going to say THIS week? “The Sydals’ gonna pay the cost / Gonna treat them bitches like they’re Duke Lacrosse!” Hey, Duke Lacrosse was exonerated!! “And what’s that smell here in North Carolina / Oh, it must be Julia Hart’s–” THANKFULLY Bowens cuts this off. Though Bowens is wearing a beret to continue the gag.

It’s a Pier Eight to start as everyone attacks anyone. Eventually, Caster and Griff start as the Blondes give Caster a swinging neckbreaker and legdrop, then nail Bowens with the Hart Attack dropkick. Pillman chops away on Caster, then slams him down and brings Mike in. Mike fires off on Caster, but Bowens tries to cut it off which draws Matt in. This allows a double suplex try, but Matt catches Mike and puts him on Bowens’ shoulders for a rana. Matt does the same to Caster, and the brothers get a stereo leg trip and standing moonsault. Mike gets two on Caster for it. Pillman back in, and he clubs away on Caster.

Blade trips Pillman into a clothesline from Caster, and Blade enters to kick away. Chop to Pillman and Hardy comes in to box him down. Pillman eats the turnbuckle, and Bowens enters to slug away with body blows. Caster now in, and he gets a Hammer Throw and running back elbow. Pillman avoids Bowens and backdrops Caster, and it’s hot tag Garrison. He takes everyone out and clotheslines Bowens into a big boot. Caster is sent packing, and Bowens gets hit with a BACK body drop. Long-distance Stinger Splash and Falcon Arrow gets two.

Matt in as Garrison’s surprised by Bowens still being in it, and he gets some calf kicks and a roundhouse. Mike in, and both Sydals deliver a Meteora off the same buckle Steiner Brother style to Bowens, Blade saves. Hardy gets tagged in and gives both Sydals Side Effects. Garrison blocks Hardy and gets the discus punch, but Bowens with a SUPERKICK and they pose over Garrison. Magic Killer, but Pillman’s off the top to knock both men down with a crossbody. This leaves him with Hardy, but Hardy blocks a kick and gets Twist of Fate to him.

Mike blocks one of his own and gets a SUPERKICK, and now Bunny’s on the apron as Blade lands a shot with the brass knuckles. Hardy with an elbowdrop to win at 5:48. Blade and Hardy beat up the Sydals post-match, but the Jurassic Express chase them to the back. This leaves the Blonds and Acclaimed, and the Blonds start physicality – and after what Bowens said about Hart, can you blame them? Discus punch by Garrison, SUPERKICK by Pillman and Bowens is sent packing (Caster having long since run off). Energetic enough, and the post-match elevates it. **

All Out is September 5.

Diamante (14-8) vs. Leyla Hirsch* (15-4). Tomorrow, Hirsch faces the Bunny, and the winner gets a title shot against Kamille on NWA Powerrrrrrrrrrr. (Did I spell that right?) It’s a pair of pint-size powerhouses here (both are within an inch of 5’0).

Diamante with a headlock and we go International~!, with Hirsch getting a fireman’s carry and trying the armbar, but Diamante escapes and bails. Hirsch with a low tope onto Diamante, and back in, Hirsch with double knees and a dropkick. Diamante leverages Hirsch into the middle turnbuckle and stomps a mudhole in her. Chop to Hirsch, then a running back elbow and flop splash for two. Diamante goes to the arm, cutting off a comeback, and gets a corner clothesline. (Excalibur notes both women have something on an arm.)

Diamante’s shotgun dropkick misses, and Hirsch moves in as Diamante begs off. Hirsch lifts Diamante into a Saito suplex, and a gutwrench suplex follows. Lariat knocks Diamante flat, and Hirsch with a double-jump moonsault for two (Diamante’s hand was on the ropes). Bunny returns and slides a chair into the ring before distracting Hirsch, but Big Swole appears and stops Diamante from getting the chair. Hirsch is back first with a German suplex and Shining Wizard for two. Armbar ends it at 3:28. Move the stories, everyone. *1/4 Swole jumps into the ring and beats up Diamante with headbutts post-match. Diamante fights back on the outside and they brawl to the back.

GYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN MOXLEY! (35-3-1) vs. Brick Aldridge (first singles match). Ah, an entire arena singing along to Wild Thing. What more could you want in AEW? Aldridge has been exclusively in tag matches on Dark before this.

Aldridge jumps Moxley from behind as Moxley hypes up the crowd. He puts his head down, though, and Moxley with a big kick and forearms. Clothesline follows, and Moxley brings out the Yes Kicks. Criss-cross and Aldridge lands a dropkick on Moxley out of nowhere. Aldridge chops Moxley, then Bradley beals him. Shoulderbreaker by Aldridge and he works the arm in a keylock. Moxley breaks it and punches away, but runs into a back elbow. Corner clothesline follows, then a second one.

He goes for a third, but Moxley gives HIM one instead and stomps a mudhole before walking it dry. Moxley puts Aldridge up, and it’s a superplex to a nice pop. Paradigm Shift is teased, but Aldridge fights out and tries a military press. Moxley with a rear choke on the way down, and he hooks the bodyscissors to get the win at 3:14. Moxley sold more than I expected, but all the better – Aldridge is a student and could use the work. 1/2*

Penelope Ford (8-2) vs. Reka Tehaka (0-8). Ford with a very outsized hairstyle. I imagine that when Kip Sabian comes back, there may be a change in who is whose sidekick.

Lockup, and they exchange headlocks. We go International~!, with Tehaka knocking Ford down and blocking a hiptoss to get her own. A second hiptoss leads to a war cry and monkey flip. Ford takes out the knees, though, and comes back with a clothesline and ground-and-pound. She gets the middle-rope leg choke on Tehaka, then the catapult into the top rope. Dropkick to a draped Tehaka gets two. Ford with a handspring elbow in the corner, then a running boot. German suplex gets two. Tehaka slugs back with big rights, but she runs into a fireman’s carry. Tehaka escapes and it’s the SAMOAN HEADBUTT OF DOOM, but Ford recovers with a Mutalock for the win at 3:01. Nah, Ford doesn’t really have it. 1/4*

AEW Elite GM app ad.

Meanwhile, Mark Sterling and Jade Cargill are here to address the crowd. They took time out of their very busy schedule to add star power to Dark 100. Last week, they asked for submissions for a partnership. And man, did they get some… REALLY bad ideas for catchphrases. Cargill says she’s the crossover and she’s the future. So Sterling says they made their own decision – Jade Cargill now sponsors the Nocking Point Winery! Sterling is even studying to be a sommelier! A hint of burnt rubber, a wafting sense of body odor – but hey, enough about Charlotte if it were a wine. But the key is that wrestling is their top priority. Jade is undefeated and undeniable, and you know why.

MAIN EVENT: Dante Martin* (w/Darius Martin*) (12-4) vs. Eddie Kingston (18-6). Who’s ready for Rampage at the United Center?

Martin with a quick armdrag, and a flying armdrag into a dropkick. Kingston bails and avoids a dive, but Martin was doing the Matt Cross fakeout anyway. Back in, Kingston with a knee to the gut and a big chop to stop Martin, but Martin goes to the apron and nails a gamengiri. Very high shotgun dropkick off a springboard gets one. Kingston catches Martin with the Kitchen Sink, though, and he adds a suplex for one. Kingston works over Martin in the ropes with chops, then sees Martin flip himself to the apron and boots him off of it.

Kingston thinks about diving, but Martin slides back in early and gets an up-kick. Double-jump moonsault gets two. Martin with forearms and he tries the Osaka Street Cutter, but Kingston stops him and lands a half-nelson suplex. Backfist to the Future is ducked and Martin gets an enzuigiri, but Kingston recovers and gets Backfist to the Future on the second try for the pin at 2:58. That’s it? *1/4 Kingston helps Martin up and gives him props as we fade to black.

DYNAMITE HOMECOMING!

  • Miro vs Lee Johnson!
  • Jericho vs Juventud!
  • Black vs Cody!
  • And more!

You know, I know people have complained about the length of Dark in the past, but this is one time they should’ve expanded the matches. Trying to squeeze 11 matches into 90 minutes left plenty of them being short-changed – the main event being the worst example. It felt like someone made the audible to speed up the matches as the show went on. But when you’re in front of a live crowd with 4-5 hours of taping being done, I can see the argument for cutting it short. I have a feeling this will be less of an issue when Rampage comes along and they can split the YouTube tapings.

Now, as for the reason I starred all the guys who started as losers and became feature players – let’s add the ones from yesterday and see what we get:

Red Velvet, Lee Johnson, Aaron Solow, Nick Comoroto, Bear Boulder, Bear Bronson, Cezar Bononi, JD Drake, Peter Avalon (maybe – he was always an AEW talent), Wheeler Yuta, Shawn Dean, Fuego Del Sol, Serpentico, Brian Pillman Jr, Griff Garrison, Julia Hart, Anthony Bowens, Max Caster, Leyla Hirsch, Dante Martin, Darius Martin.

Assuming you allow me Avalon (and I wouldn’t lose sleep if you say he doesn’t count), that’s 21 people just this week on the YouTube shows who started as “the other guy in this match” and built up to being part of AEW’s rotation. You could run a pretty darn good indie show with those names! AEW Dark has figured out what it wants to be – a place to see the low-card get their shine and maybe discover some new folks to be added to the roster. And the result has been a lot of fun for me to recap.

HOW I’D BOOK DYNAMITE:

  1. Christian Cage over The Blade.
  2. Miro retains the TNT Title over Lee Johnson.
  3. Malakai Black over Cody Rhodes, sending him packing for a few weeks.
  4. Leyla Hirsch over The Bunny to get an NWA Women’s Title shot.
  5. Chris Jericho over Juventud Guerrera – the fourth labour? Christian Cage – and MJF even found “some blond” to be involved as Penelope Ford is the referee.

STATS:

BELL-TO-BELL – 50:03 over eleven matches (average time 4:33)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT – the opening six-man

FIVE STARS:

  1. PAC
  2. Wheeler Yuta
  3. Jack Evans
  4. Brian Pillman Jr
  5. AEW’s development and scouting program

Here’s to 100 more.