AEW DARK: November 16, 2021

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, Episode 117 (“Before and After Full Gear”), November 16, 2021.

From Minneapolis, MN.

Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz.

TONIGHT! Alan Angels and Colt Cabana of Dark Order take on The Acclaimed! John Silver focuses his attention on Pretty Peter Avalon! Meanwhile, the Wingmen team with the Factory to face the Varsity Blonds and Johnson/Anderson! And it’s six-woman action one more time as Nyla Rose, Emi Sakura, and The Bunny run it back against Riho, Ryo Mizunami, and this time it’s Kris Statlander!

PLUS – Andrade El Idolo, 2 Fast 2 Fuego, Ruby Soho, Preston Vance, Scorpio Sky, Sonny Kiss, The Pinnacle, and Powerhouse Hobbs!

Opening match: Powerhouse Hobbs (w/Hook) (18-4) vs. Jaysin Strife (debut). Excalibur starts by asking about if Taz has done his holiday shopping, which leads into our plug for the show. Hobbs walks up to Strife to intimidate him.

Hobbs shoves Strife down to start. Crowd chants that Hobbs is gonna kill him, and Hobbs proves them right by freight training over Strife soon after. Hobbs chucks him into the corner and lands elbows, but a charge eats boot. Strife off the ropes, but Hobbs catches him and puts him back up there to bend his back over the top buckle and smash him a few times. A running knee to Strife in that position gets Strife off the buckle and to the mat, and Hobbs does an Oklahoma Spinebuster before picking him up at two. Torture rack wins it at 2:19. I dunno, Archer’s better at murdering fools, but Hobbs is getting there. SQUASH

Andrade El Idolo (w/Jose) (5-2) vs. Jah-C (0-1). Okay, I’ll ask: is it because I’m watching him on the B shows, or has Andrade regressed somewhat? I don’t mean to say he’s carrying an injury, he’s just going full Derrick Coleman in not giving a dang. Was he a weak link in Full Gear? Or do you suppose he’s just waiting for his gal to make the jump so he can be happy again? I mean, to be fair, he is the founder of the Ingobernables, so maybe he’s just adopting Naito’s style of indifference. Yes, the entrance is still going while I type, why do you ask? Even Excalibur notes the entrance is taking a long time.

Jah-C fires up the crowd and shoves Andrade before posing, so Andrade lariats him down. He goes ground and pound on Jah-C, then mocks him or something. Big chop in the corner, then a backhand chop to follow, and Jah-C does the Flair Flip to land on the apron. Jah-C dodges a charge before running into a boot. Andrade with a forearm and he works Jah-C over in the corner before applying the rope-hang armbar. Andrade with arm control and back elbows, but Jah-C escapes and backs Andrade into the corner. Cradle by Jah-C gets two, but Andrade with the Sacrifice Armbar out of the kickout to win at 2:36. You know what – that’s more like it. Andrade actually had moments where he was motivated there, unlike last night. 1/2*

Shawn Spears (13-4) and Wardlow (20-3) (w/Tully Blanchard) vs. Renny D and Arik Cannon (first time teaming). Yes, THAT Arik Cannon. Spears comes to the ring with a chair, not that he needs one. Mark Henry jumps in to join commentary. Fun fact: Arik Cannon trained Top Flight.

Huge Arik Cannon chant to start, Renny’s the legal man so Spears flips Arik off. Spears then outgrapples Renny, giving him a snapmare and shooting the 10 at Arik. Spears to a headlock on Renny, but he walks into a dropkick and bails. Spears gets the chair, but Wardlow calms him down and takes it away. Renny tries a baseball slide on both, but the Pinnacle escapes and Spears gets a back suplex on the apron. Back in, Spears goes ground and pound and stomps Renny. Wardlow in, and he wants to give the fans what they want by shoving Renny to the corner so he can tag in Arik.

Arik ducks a lockup and gets a back heel kick, then chops Wardlow (who tanks it). Arik goes for a running tackle, but runs into a clothesline from Wardlow. He tosses Arik back to the corner, and when Renny comes in, Wardlow powerbombs him. Crowd wants another, and Wardlow obliges, but he’s not done and gets a third (daring Arik to stop him). Arik tries, so Wardlow powerbombs him too, then chucks him back out. Taz: “I love when local heroes get their ass kicked!” I didn’t know Taz was secretly Vince. A fourth powerbomb to Renny gets the pin at 4:18, and Spears adds the Death Valley Driver post-match. To quote Bryan Alvarez, Arik Cannon “did nothing, and did it well.” *1/4

Ruby Soho (7-1) vs. Hyan (0-1). It’s amazing what presentation can do to a wrestler, given how over Ruby is. Excalibur then rips on Taz for being a “karaoke guy”, which causes Taz to sing along with Ruby’s theme music.

Hyan yanks down Soho to start, then goes for a slam only for Soho to escape. Soho gets a casadora armdrag, then a lucha armdrag off the middle rope. Soho with an arm-hook and forearms shots to the chest before ducking a clothesline into an STO. They fight over a backslide before Hyan gets a chop, but Soho falls out of a back suplex and gets No Future to win at 1:21. Soho looked a little off tonight.

Too Fast Too Fuego (Fuego Del Sol and Cody Rhodes Pretending to be Fuego Del Sol) (2-0) vs. Kit Sackett and Brandon Gore (first time teaming). Okay, how long are they going to keep this up before it becomes a thing on the main show? No, seriously, I wouldn’t even be against Cody doing a Midnight Rider style thing to get back into the tag scene and reset himself. No morte Mark Henry, by the way.

Fuego and Gore start. Gore backs Fuego into the corner and gets the arm, but Fuego flips out of it and reverses to get Gore off his feet. Cody in, and he drops the elbow on Gore’s arm. Cody works the arm, then slams Gore as Fuego comes in for an alley-oop rana on Gore. Cody back in, but Gore reverses a Hammer Throw and Sackett goes to the eyes from the apron. Gore with a Northern Lights suplex for two. Sackett in, and he chops Cody, who fires back. But he’s too busy saying “TWO” and Sackett floors him.

Taz then claims that if Fuego II were a singles wrestler he’d have an overly elaborate entrance, describing Cody’s. Gore with an elbowdrop for two and he tries to yank off the mask, but the ref stops him. Cody gets out of a back suplex and lands a sliding up kick, leading to a double clothesline. Hot tag Fuego, and it’s dropkicks for everyone. Fuego with the Cesaro Express on his opponents, then a moonsault press onto both of them. Back kick to Gore and an elevated double stomp gets two, Sackett saves. Fuego dumps Sackett and Cody dives onto him, and the TORNADO DDT FO DEATH ends Gore at 4:31. It’s a YouTube show – you want AEW to take everything seriously? 3/4*

Dark Order (Alan Angels (14-22) and Colt Cabana(25-9)) vs. The Acclaimed (Anthony Bowens and Max Caster) (#4 team, 18-4). My money’s on the Acclaimed here, as the Dynamite Rule is in effect: if someone in a feature bout on Dark is appearing on Dynamite, they’re winning. “Y’all are dumb enough to vote for Jesse Ventura!” “I’mma turn the Dark Order to a purple stain!” “How is it Dark Order when all of y’all white?” “More overrated than Prince’s music!” The crowd is now hot for this one, so mission accomplished? Fun fact; apparently someone had to tell Caster who Prince was.

Caster and Angels start, with the crowd chanting Boom Boom’s better (than Bowens). They exchange waistlocks and Bowens knocks Angels down, and Angels replies as the crowd chants Purple Rain, setting Taz off on singing again. Bowens with a chop to Angels and works him over with more in the corner, but Angels reverses and chops back. Angels with a single-leg dropkick and he works the arm as Taz notes the Acclaimed are wearing a raspberry color. Yes, we have a beret joke. Colt in, and a double back elbow and salute follow.

Bowens slugs Colt away and brings in Caster, and he and Colt exchange arm wringers to the boo / yay discourse. Criss-cross leads to Colt stopping Caster in his tracks… to do the arm wringer again. Crowd pops. Caster says enough of the silly and and tosses Colt, but he escapes and brings Angels in with a crossbody for two. Caster goes to the eyes to escape, and Bowens tags himself in for the sunset flip.neckbreaker/backbreaker combo for two. Bowens lands elbows on Angels for two. Bowens taunts a hot tag before bringing in Caster, who drops a double axhandle on the arm.

Angels fights back, but Caster stops him with a knee to the gut as commentary is off in their own world. It’s better this way, trust me. Acclaimed with a double suplex for two, and he goes to the cravat. Angels fights out, but Bowens clears Colt off the apron to stop a tag and clocks Angels. Angels low-bridges Bowens, but Caster tags himself in only to get an enzuigiri… and Bowens pulls Colt away to stop the hot tag!

Caster drags him all the way back and brings in Bowens to drop an axhandle. He fires away on Angels, and Caster pulls Angels away… he’s kicked away! Then a small package for two! Angels then leaps over Caster and it’s HOT TAG COLT! Flip Flop and Fly on both men at once, but the Acclaimed cut off the elbows only to get hit with a Lionsault. Flying Apple to Caster and he sends him into Bowens, who escapes only to run back into Flip Flop and Fly (with elbows for everyone). Apple to Caster gets two.

Big chops to Caster, but Bowens pulls Colt out and into the guardrail. He goes to dive, but Angels cuts him off. Angels wins a slugfest, but Caster with a back suplex… only Colt, the legal man, returns to Superman Caster! It gets two, Bowens saves. O’Connor Roll by Colt gets two, but the kickout sends Colt into the JVC KABOOM BOX OF DOOM from Bowens and Caster wins at 9:29. Oh I love this match. ***1/4

Nyla Rose (#4 women, 23-5) & The Bunny (10-7) & Emi Sakura (8-2) (w/Vickie Guerrero and Lulu Pencil and Mei Suruga) vs. Riho (9-2) & Kris Statlander (#5 women, 18-2) & Ryo Mizunami (6-2). Yes, this is almost the same match as last night, but Statlander replaces Skye Blue to give the faces a better chance. Statlander steps on Bunny’s mask in the entranceway. Statlander faces Ruby Soho in the…

Wait, hold that thought, as the heels clean house to start. Nyla tosses Riho onto Statlander and follows, as the seconds taunt Statlander. In the ring, Nyla and Sakura beat down Mizunami as the heels do their own lucha pose. Nyla rosses Mizunami into the corner, but Mizunami ducks a charge and the faces re-join the fight to get back at it. Riho with Poetry in Motion off Statlander and Mizunami adds a corner clothesline, and NOW the bell rings!

Mizunami runs over Bunny off a tag and gets Kobashi machine gun chops, with the exclamation point. Rocker Dropper to Bunny gets two. Riho and Sakura in, and Sakura runs Riho over for two. Riho matrixes out and dropkicks Sakura, adding a tijerres before dropkicking Nyla out. Riho trips Sakura in position for the Area Code Kick, but Vickie’s on the apron and Nyla yanks Riho down to toss her into the guardrail. Sakura clears the apron and tosses Riho by the hair, and in comes Bunny with a Hammer Throw. Big chop to Riho, and Nyla in to get shoulders in the corner. She picks Riho up and slams her down Hager-style for two as everyone at ringside is screeching.

Sakura in, and she chops Riho and tosses her ot the corner for the We Will Spear You and group pose. (Sakura tosses Pencil aside for no reason, though. Taz cracks up.) Sakura sets up the butterfly backbreaker, but Riho escapes and gets a casadora cradle into a double stomp. Hot tag Statlander, and she boots Nyla off the apron before giving Bunny a powerslam for two. Mizunami in, and she tosses Statlander into Bunny, after which Statlander returns it. Mizunami tries to rope in Statlander, but Nyla pounces Statlander and knocks over Mizunami.

Regal Cutter by Nyla gets two. Sakura in for an assisted dropkick, and Nyla and Sakura both splash Mizunami for two, Riho saves. EVERYBODY INTO THE POOL as Bunny gives Statlander a SUPERKICK only to get speared by Mizunami. Nyla with a dropkick, so Riho gets a missile dropkick. Sakura tries the Queen’s Gambit, but Statlander yanks her away and does the Terry Funk whirlybird with her to knock down Sakura. Sakura recovers with a big chop and butterfly backbreaker, then brings in Nyla. Quebec Cannonball only gets Sakura two. Sakura is out of idea and tries an inverted DDT, but Statlander reverses to Big Bang Theory for the pin at 6:58 plus shipping and handling. Include the pre-match stuff and this was another very fun match! ***

Wingmen (JD Drake and Ryan Nemeth) (1-3) and the Factory (Nick Comoroto and Aaron Solo) (w/QT Marshall) (2-3) vs. Varsity Blonds (Brian Pillman and Griff Garrison) (w/Julia Hart) (19-5) and Team Nightmare (Lee Johnson and Brock Anderson) (w/Arn Anderson) (4-1). Okay, this has the potential to be another good one. Taz makes it clear: the Wingmen had to pay off QT in order to make this team happen. Taz calls Excalibur two-faced, then corrects himself: “Three-faced, because you wear a mask!” I’m just happy to see the Blonds back on my TV – they’re my “ground floor” team. You know what – add Arn and QT to the match. I know Arn’s too old to bump but he’d still improve this match. Not only do we have two second-gen wrestlers on the face side, but they’re sons of Horsemen. Arn gives Pillman a heck of a pep talk before the match.

Nemeth and Pillman start. Lockup goes nowhere. Pillman tries a single-leg, turning Nemeth into a heel hook and trying a headlock, which allows Nemeth to escape with a fireman’s carry and armlock. Pillman cartwheels out and gets an upkick from on his shoulders, so Nemeth tags out to Drake. (WRESTLING!) Drake wants an Anderson, so Brock tags in. Drake with a hard chop to Brock, and Arn offers some advice (“Just make sure there’s no scissors in his tights”). Brock fires back with a chop, and Drake is impressed but unamused. He charges, so Brock gets some armdrags and keeps arm control. Hey, Arn had a good idea!

Johnson tags in, and he keeps up the arm work, dragging Drake ack to the middle of the ring. Drake finally escapes and brings Nemeth in, but Nemeth runs into an armdrag and lock from Johnson. Pillman returns to work the arm some more, and Garrison enters as Pillman chops Nemeth in the corner. Garrison leaps off Pillman’s back for his long-distance Stinger Splash, and the Blonds get a double suplex for one. Nemeth uses the hair to break the armlock, and Solo is in to slug away in the corner. Garrison tries to fight out, but Solo won’t let him and gets a snap suplex for one.

Drake in, and Taz sings Aaron Solo’s name to Ruby Soho’s music as Drake gets hard chops and a Hammer Throw. Nemeth back in, and he adds a Hammer Throw of his own as Taz and Excalibur awkwardly transition to sponsored copy. Nemeth has his corner whip reversed, and Garrison with an armdrag and lock, and he brings Brock in to keep it up. Brock with a keylock and he stomps the arm, but Drake goes to the back from the apron and Nemeth dumps Brock. Drake with the rebound forearm on the outside, and back in, Comoroto works the ribs and clubs him down. Slam by Comoroto, and a high elbowdrop gets one.

Comoroto goes ground and pound to the side of the head (Brock gets disoriented and crawls to the wrong corner), then a suplex by Comoroto gets another one. Solo in, and he sends Brock into the corner and clotheslines him down. Marshall chokes Brock behind the ref’s back, allowing Solo a Hammer Throw. Charge eats boot, then another eats elbow, then another just misses and Brock cradles Solo for two. Solo stops him with a back elbow and goes ground and pound to cut off the tag. Comoroto in, and he whips Solo into Brock before adding a backbreaker. Big right by Comoroto, and Drake in to go CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN.

Drake sends the Blonds off the apron and charges Brock, but the Cannonball misses and Johnson’s still on the apron for the hot tag! He sends Comoroto flying and clotheslines Solo, adding a leaping neckbreaker and kip-up. Running elbow in the corner, then he goes up and over Solo and ducks the 540 kick before landing the Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Solo escapes a fireman’s carry and sends Johnson into the Dolph DDT from Nemeth. Pillman with Air Pillman to Nemeth and he low-bridges Comoroto, following with a crossbody off the apron… only for Comoroto to catch and powerslam him.

But Garrison with the Tarzan leap to have more success taking him down. Back in, Solo looks for the Pedigree, but Johnson backdrops him out of the ring and goes to dive, only for Drake to land a Claymore (great camera work to make it come out of nowhere) for two and a SHOCKED FACE. Johnson escapes the powerbomb and this time gets the dive onto everyone on the outside, with Julia Hart checking her team. QT gets in Julia’s face, so Arn GETS THE GLOCK OUT and Julia slaps the taste out of QT’s mouth. Meanwhile, Drake tries a DDT on Brock, but he reverses to the SPINEBUSTER and Johnson finishes with the frog splash at 12:40. Fantastic indy-style multi-man match. We’re on a roll here! ***

Peter Avalon (8-40-2) vs. John Silver (19-6). Well, it was fun while it lasted, but I got a feeling this won’t keep up the string of bangers. Oh well, the last three matches are worth the price of admission on their own. Taz invents the word “slanky” to describe Avalon. At least, I think he invented it. Silver is absolutely the breakout star here and I feel sorry for Alex Reynolds when they pull the trigger.

Johnny Hungee chant to start. Avalon with a headlock, but Silver tanks a shoulderblock try and lets him go for another. Round 2 also doesn’t floor Silver (if anything, it hurt Avalon more), and Avalon offers to let Silver try. Silver ducks a clothesline on the way back, and yes, Avalon gets trucked. Bradley beal out of the corner by Silver, then a second one to send him back. He wants a third, but Avalon with the headlock to stop him. Silver reverses and we go International~!, ending with a dropkick from Avalon and a callback to the librarian days with a shush of the crowd.

Chop by Avalon, then another in the corner, but Silver ducks the third and fires back as Avalon sells around the world. Avalon suckers Silver in and dumps him out, then follows and rakes the back. Chop against the guardrail and Avalon dances… right into a chop from Silver. Uppercut, but Avalon with a clubbing blow and he breaks the count before continuing. Back in, Avalon with a sunset flip for two. Back suplex by Avalon gets two. Avalon walks over Silver before hooking a top wristlock, but Silver forearms out only to run into a leg lariat for two. Avalon goes up, but the moonsault misses (Avalon staggered before jumping).

Silver with Yes Kicks into the ropes and a BACK body drop. He catches an Avalon rana into a powerbomb for two. Avalon with a jawjacker, but Silver sends him to the apron. Avalon springboards in with a crossbody for two. Fireman’s carry try, but Silver escapes only to get chopped. Silver fires up off of it and they chop it out, with Silver emphatically winning and getting an enzuigiri. Avalon hooks a backslide, but Silver escapes and kicks Avalon silly. Avalon escapes a suplex and gets a SUPERKICK and enzuigiri, but Silver trips Avalon into the ropes and gets a running kick and German suplex. Spin Doctor gets the win at 8:25. Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling, but Avalon needs to embrace his inner Lanny Poffo and adapt his offense that way. I mean, he even looks like the Genius! Well, if he grew a beard he would… **1/4

Sonny Kiss (11-13) vs. Adam Grace (0-1). Taz and Excalibur admire Sonny’s music.

Grace gets in Kiss’s face to start and gets slugged. He avids a clothesline and gets a cradle for two, then adds a headscissors. Handspring leads to a heel kick this time, then Kiss adds a dropkick for two. Moonsault hits the knees, though, and Grace with a lariat. He goes to the rear choke, but Kiss elbows out only to run into a VERY high dropkick for one. Back to the choke. (Grace: “Cheer for me!” Crowd: “No!”) Kiss escapes and gets a dropkick and spinning elbow, then an Exploder suplex. Kiss follows with the 540 kick, and the Splits TKO wins at 2:13. Just a day in the office for Sonny. 1/2*

Preston Vance (32-6) vs. Mikey Wild (debut). Vance is the biggest hoss in the group and he’s only 240. Still, they’ve done a great job of making him into a capable midcarder – wonder how much of that is because he’s Brodie Jr’s favorite wrestler.

Vance throws Wild down off the lockup and does the 10 signal. Right cross by Vance after he catches a kick, and a Hammer Throw sets up a corner clothesline. They do it a second time, but Wild escapes the third and chops Vance. It does nothing, nor do follow-ups, but Vance clotheslines down Wild and gets the corner pump kick. Charge eats boot, but Wild runs into the SPINEBUSTER. Full Nelson ends it at 1:33. So when do Vance and Shawn Spears meet for rights to the 10 taunt?

Scorpio Sky (w/Ethan Page on commentary) (#4 men, 22-3) vs. Craven Knyte (debut). Sky being in the Top 5 means they may actually pull the trigger on another shot at the TNT title – Guevara vs. Sky would be a good match.

Sky works the arm to start, but Knyte reverses to a side headlock. Sky trips Knyte and walks over him, but Knyte is up fast and punches him down (missed because we have to see Ethan Page). Sky recovers with a cross-chop, and he does a stomp eyerake and neck crank. Knyte fights out but gets a knee to the gut, then a headlock. Knyte trips Sky and comes back with a slingshot elbow. Sky avoids a clothesline and boots Knyte down, and the TKO ends it at 1:47. Ethan laughing at every chance on commentary got old and the match was only two minutes. And that’s it – a flat match to go out on.

HOW I’D DO DYNAMITE:

  1. Bryan Danielson over Evil Uno.
  2. The Acclaimed over Dante Martin and Lio Rush when miscommunication allows Caster to pin Martin.
  3. The Elite interrupt Adam Page’s opening remarks as champion, only for the Superkliq to eject Kenny Omega from the Elite.
  4. Hikaru Shida over Nyla Rose to advance to the semifinals of the TBS tournament.
  5. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and Orange Cassidy) over Butcher and Blade when Cassidy pins Blade with the Orange Punch while Ishii murders Butcher on the outside.
  6. Sammy Guevara over Jay Lethal to retain the TNT Title. (Note: I sincerely hope Tony Khan has reached out to Rhett Titus and Tracy Williams to do a heel beating after this match, because Inner Circle vs. Foundation would be a good stopgap feud for both.)

STATS:

BELL-TO-BELL – 58:10 over twelve matches (average time 4:51)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT – Acclaimed/Dark Order

FIVE STARS:

  1. Anthony Bowens
  2. John Silver
  3. Emi Sakura
  4. Lee Johnson
  5. Commentary

See you tomorrow! Now, let’s see how Mexico is handling the Edmonton weather…