AEW DARK: November 30, 2021

Anybody seen Waldo?

The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark, Episode 119 (“I Think We Have More Fake Luchadores Than Real Ones Now”), November 30, 2021.

From the All Elite Zone.

Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz.

TONIGHT! Anthony Greene steps waaaay up in class as he goes after Adam Cole! Ethan Page looks to put the “ego” in “fuego” as he faces Fuego Del Sol! It’s HOSSES EVERYWHERE as Shawn Spears and Wardlow face off against Bear Country! Aaron Solo and Nick Comoroto of the Factory look to get back in tag team good graces against the Varsity Blonds! And someone gets their first win as Ray Jaz takes on the debuting Infinito!

PLUS — Skye Blue, Alan Angels, Ryo Mizunami, The Butcher, Matt Hardy/Jora Johl, KiLynn King, Tony Nese, Santana and Ortiz, Julia Hart, and Leyla Hirsch! Fifteen matches? Buckle up, folks!

Opening match: Shawn Spears (14-4) and Wardlow (22-3) vs. Bear Country (Bear Bronson and Bear Boulder) (10-3). Gonna be some serious throwing going on in this one. Commentary plays up the MJF/Punk meeting during intros. No points for guessing who takes whose side in the analysis.

Bronson and Spears start. Spears with a headlock, but Bronson sends him into the corner. Spears cartwheels away and does the 10 signal. But remember, WWE was holding him back. Spears with an armlock, and he cartwheels away from a back body drop attempt to flash another ten, so Bronson knocks him over, then returns the cartwheel and 10 report. Spears reels up the middle finger, so Bronson grabs the wrists and tags in Boulder. Spears chops Boulder, who tanks it and headbutts Spears. And now Wardlow tags in and we get the matchup this match is about.

Boulder with a headlock, Wardlow escapes. Second lockup, nothing doing. Wardlow wants the test of strength, Boulder obliges. Wardlow is reeling, but he gets a double-leg out of it and goes ground-and-pound. Boulder refuses a whip and shoulderblocks Wardlow to the outside, and when Spears races in and sees Bear Country is ready, he wisely heads out to talk to Wardlow (“Avoid Shawn Michaels when he’s in a bad mood, trust me.”). Bronson dives onto both men, and back in, he works Spears over in the corner. A bite in the corner, but Wardlow distracts and Spears drops Bronson on the turnbuckle. Wardlow in with a double-leg and pounding on Bronson, then shoulders in the corner and some uppercuts.

He picks the legs on the way out and gets an Alabama Slam. Spears in, and he stomps Bronson on the forehead and taunts Boulder. Wardlow in, and he wants the powerbomb, but Bronson fights it and backdrops out, into the seated senton. Hot tag Boulder, and Spears bumps like a maniac for clotheslines and a slam. Boulder rushes Spears into the corner and slugs him, but Wardlow interrupts only to get beaten up as well. Back and forth avalanche by Boulder crushes both guys, but Boulder’s follow up eats Wardlow’s boot.

Wardlow leaps onto Boulder (!), but Boulder with a powerslam (!!) for one (!!!). Boulder goes up, but the springboard moonsault misses and and Wardlow lariats him for two. Wardlow with a fireman’s carry, but Boulder escapes and dumps him. Spears, who I’m sure is legal, dives in, but Boulder catches him and powerslams him. Bronson’s back in, and it’s Totem Splash time, but Spears rolls away and Wardlow returns to catch Bronson ON THE WAY DOWN with Casualty of War for the pin at 8:09. BIG. MEATY. MEN. SLAPPING. MEAT. **1/2

Battle of the Belts ad.

KiLynn King (13-11) vs. Renee Michelle (0-6). It’s been so long since KiLynn’s been on my screen that the autofill on Word assumes K-i-n-g is for Eddie Kingston. This match wasn’t advertised on Twitter, but eh, let’s get it on anyway.

They lock up and roll around the ropes until Michelle gets KiLynn down, but KiLynn holds on and reverses to drop Michelle before the lockup is broken. Some trash talking follows, and KiLynn wants a test of strength, but Michelle’s pieface means she refuses. KiLynn with a Hammer Throw, but a charge misses and Michelle works her over in the corner. She stomps a mudhole in KiLynn and chokes it dry before yelling at the referee.

Spinning heel kick by KiLynn, but a second one misses and Michelle gets one of her own for two. Michelle freaks out, then charges into a boot. KiLynn with a Hammer Throw and corner clothesline, then a running back elbow. German suplex follows for two. Michelle with a palm strike, but KiLynn ducks a clothesline and gets Kingdom Falls to win at 2:53. Very basic match, but that’s what she needs right now. 1/2*

Meanwhile, Alex Marvez interviews Fuego Del Sol about his match with Ethan Page. Fuego says Ethan always runs his mouth, but Fuego can talk too, only he walks the walk as well as talking the talk. Fuego either tries hard or dies hard, and he doesn’t about the Men of the Year because Fuego is FIRE. Ethan: it’s flame on, game on. Nothing special, but nothing horrible either.

Santana and Ortiz (#5 team, 14-3) vs. Gus De la Vega and Brandon Gore (debuts). Justin Roberts gets like 4 seconds on the rolling r in Ortiz.

Ortiz and De la Vega start. Ortiz with a headlock, and he holds on to get a takedown. Ortiz gets a hiptoss, but De la Vega with a leg trip and jack-knife for one. Ortiz clotheslines him and gets a SPINEBUSTER, then demands Gore tag in. Ortiz with an armlock takedown and dropkick on Gore, then a big chop. Santana in, and he gets a cross-chop off the ropes. Another corner chop by Santana this time, then a Hammer Throw and back elbow. He catches a boot that was to stop a charge and slams Gore’s leg down, then adds the Three Amigos. De la Vega tags in and runs into a clothesline. De la Vega escapes a slam and forearms Ortiz in the corner, but that’s a mistake as Ortiz rolls Santana into a cutter. Outline in Chalk ends it at 3:07. Santana and Ortiz seem to enjoy toying with the enhancement talent. 1/2*

Skye Blue (1-7) vs. La Rosa Negra (debut). If that second name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s Tessa Blanchard’s least favorite wrestler. Nice to see Skye brought down to Orlando for a few more matches.

Rosa with a kneelift and uppercut to start, then a Kitchen Sink out of the ropes. Wind-up forearm by Rosa, then a Hammer Throw and SPINEBUSTER for two. Rosa’s corner throw is reversed and Skye begins the comeback. She gets her boot up on a charge and goes up, and Skye with the diving rana. Skye keeps Rosa in the corner and gets a leg lariat, but she gets sent to the apron. High kick staggers Rosa, then a back heel kick as Rosa charges. Skye goes up, and a diving crossbody gets two. Belly-to-Belly out of the ropes, then a half-nelson into a spin Flatliner gets the pin at 2:13. Seemed like Rosa wasn’t too happy to play ball. 1/4*

Alan Angles (w/BRODIE LEE JR!) (14-24) vs. Mike Reed (0-1). The day I get tired of Brodie Jr at ringside is the day… he grows up, probably. Reed’s promo photo makes him look like a low-rent Tyler Breeze. Angels faces Bryan Danielson tomorrow.

Angels with a headlock, but Reed shoves him off. Angels comes back with a single-leg dropkick, then works him over in the corner. Corner clothesline and FIVE-punch countalong follow. Big chop by Angels, then a suplex and standing frog splash for two. Reed leverages Angels into the middle rope then kicks the middle rope to send it into Angels’ throat. Rollup gets two. Reed with a forearm, but Angels slides to the outside and gets a gamengiri. To the top, and Angels with a diving crossbody. Enzuigiri sends Reed out of the ring, and Angels follows with a low tope. Back in, Angels with the Wing Snapper to win at 2:30. Brodie Jr puts on Angels’ jacket and mask for fun. 1/2*

Ryo Mizunami (15-6) vs. Dani Jordyn (0-8). Okay, let’s hope this gets time because Jordyn is someone I like and Mizunami is 1000 times more fun than you’d think. Seriously, Ryo’s like a dollar store Shinsuke Nakamura – which is a compliment, trust me. And yes, Jordyn has her BURN BOOK OF DOOM.

Jordyn shows everyone that Ryo’s in the book, so Ryo gets a closer look. Jordyn tosses the book in her face and uppercuts Mizunami, adding a snapmare and dropkick for two. Mizunami recovers with a CRAZY hard chop, then asks Jordyn to return fire. Let’s just say Mizunami’s chops are moderately superior. Jordyn crawls to the corner, but that opens her up for more big corner chops, leading to the Kobashi machine gun from Mizunami. Hammer Throw, then a corner clothesline. Legdrop by Mizunami gets two, brother, before Mizunami tries for an uranage. Jordyn elbows out and gets a Codebreaker out of desperation, only to run into a lariat. British Bulldog style powerslam wins for Mizunami at 2:53. Both women are so wrestling it’s beautiful. 3/4*

The Butcher (w/Hardy Family Office) (13-6) vs. Michael Martinez. Unfortunately, Butcher is on the shelf for a while from what I’ve heard – he hurt his bicep trying to keep up with Tomohiro Ishii. The HFO is represented by…

More on that later, as Butcher jumps Martinez in the corner and smashes him a bunch. Hammer Throw and running Kitchen Sink follows. Butcher makes the referee beg for mercy, but Martinez gets a boot up and lands a clothesline and back elbow in the corner. Butcher ducks a clothesline and lights Martinez up with forearms, leading to a short-arm clothesline. Nodowa Otoshi ends it at 1:11. (It was Hardy, Bunny, and Johl at ringside, btw.)

Julia Hart (7-8) vs. Nikita Knight (0-1). This is exactly the kind of match both need. I expect it’ll be pretty basic but inoffensive. No Varsity Blonds to back Hart up – they have their match later.

Hart with a headlock, spinning around to the other side, but Knight switches to an armlock. Hart front flips with help of the ropes and reverses, so Knight grabs the hair to break. They charge and Hart gets the best of it, then reverses a hiptoss to one of her own. SUPERKICK follows, setting up a standing moonsault. Knight elbows back into it and gets a Hammer Throw and elbow, then boxes Hart in the corner. Michinoku Driver out of nowhere by Knight gets two (commentary was caught off-guard). We HIT THE CHINLOCK, as Hart is checking her mouth for bleeding.

Hart escapes and both women think dropkick at the same time for the double-down. They slug it out, won by Hart with a running clothesline to cue the comeback. Heel kick into an STO by Hart, then a backwards split legdrop. Hammer Throw sets up a front handspring clothesline, then a back elbow. Splits legdrop is shovesd off, so Hart gets the jawjacker and Split Bulldog on the second try to win at 3:20. See? A little longer than I expected, but perfectly reasonable. 1/2*

Infinito (“debut”) vs. Ray Jaz (0-1). Wreddit knows who this, but I’ll keep the secret until the end of the match if you can’t figure it out. He opens with a backflip off the middle rope, which is clue #1.

Infinito plays the crowd to start, and after a lockup, Jaz with a single-leg and waistlock on the ground. Infinito pops up and gets an armlock out of nowhere. If you hear Infinito’s voice, that’s clue #2, but that doesn’t translate to text. Jaz cartwheels out and gets a Northern Lights suplex into a top wristlock, working the arm. We go International~!, with Infinito getting a monkey flip. Another monkey flip, this one out of the corner, then uno mas out of the other corner.

Flying headbutt to a running Jaz (clue #3) and Jaz bails, so Infinito comes off the apron with a crossbody. Back in, airplane spin (clue #4) disorients Jaz, and half the front row as it goes for almost a full minute (clue #5). Infinito cradles him to win at 3:46. FIRST WIN ALERT – sort of. And a quick glance when his hand’s raised shows the mask seems to be hiding a LOT under the chin (clue #6). So Wreddit believes it’s Bryan Danielson under the mask, and… they’re probably right. 1/2*

Leyla Hirsch (21-6) vs. Sahara Seven (0-2). Hirsch is now from Hillsboro, NJ, with no mention of being originally from Moscow, Russia. Sahara is someone I’ve seen at shows I’ve worked.

Sahara mocks Hirsch’s size to start, so Hirsch gets a leg trip and Oklahoma Roll for two. Hirsch with forearms and they slug it out, with Sahara stopping Hirsch by going to the eyes. Hammer Throw and avalanche in the corner set up a side suplex for two. Hirsch ducks a clothesline and gets a wacky cradle for two, then gives Sahara a German suplex and Shining Wizard. Armbar finishes Sahara at 1:31.

Aaron Solo (12-23) and Nick Comoroto (14-13) vs. Varsity Blonds (Brian Pillman Jr and Griff Garrison) (w/Julia Hart) (19-5). Four young guns going in a tag match? I’m in. Commentary is still amazed at the drop Hart took in the earlier match.

Pillman and Solo start. Pillman with a waistlock takedown and front facelock, spinning into a cover for one. Solo with a kneelift and he slugs it out, but Pillman chops him in return. Solo fires back in the corner, but Pillman goes up-and-over before bringing Garrison in. Neckbreaker by Pillman sets up a legdrop from Garrison for two, brother. He HITS THE CHINLOCK, but Solo knees out. Solo tries a whip, but Garrison reverses and gets a back elbow before bringing Pillman in for the dropkick Hart Attack. It gets Pillman one (he stalled before covering).

Comoroto tags himself in, getting a knee to the gut and a right hand. Comoroto chokes Pillman against the middle rope, with Solo mocking Hart… until Hart gives her a slap. Back in the ring, Pillman ducks a lariat and dropkicks Solo through the ropes. Guillotine on the top rope, but Solo stops Pillman from going up. Solo tags in and brings Pillman in, dropping elbows and adding a suplex for two. Solo with some CLUBBERING on Pillman, and he brings in Comoroto to whip Solo into Pillman. Comoroto with a spinning backbreaker for two.

Comoroto drops his weight on Pillman a couple times, sending him into the corner and tagging in Solo. This time, Solo’s charge misses and Pillman low-bridges Comoroto. Solo is kicked away, hot tag Garrison. Comoroto is knocked off the apron between clotheslines, and Solo is given a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Stinger Splash follows, then a high knee into a front facejam for two. Solo escapes a suplex, and Comoroto tags in to spear Garrison for two.

Press slam by Comoroto, but Garrison escapes into an O’Connor Roll for two. The kickout allows Pillman to tag in, and he SUPERKICKs Comoroto before trying a sunset flip. Discus Punch allows Pillman to complete the move for the pin at 7:25. Very good indie-level tag match. These four will be facing off on PPV in a few years, I reckon. **1/4

Then Tony interviews them about their big year and how far they’ve come. Tony suggests gold is on their mind, and Garrison agrees – this match proved they were one of the best and that they will be champs soon. Pillman tells them to look what they’ve been through – from Hart surviving harassment, to the team surviving FTR and the Bucks. If the Factory’s the future, the Blonds are the now.

Tony Nese (3-0) vs. D’Marceo James (debut). As a reminder, Nese will face Sammy Guevara for the TNT Title on Friday. How much is TK paying Billy Squier for that beat in Nese’s music?

Nese with a kneelift to start and he kicks James. James slugs back, but Nese cheats to take over and gets a Hotshot. He slingshots back in with a splash for one. Crossface blows from Nese follow, then a chop to James’ chest. Hammer Throw (complete with Nese laying out for effect) and Nese toys with James. He gets an inside knee choke before we HIT THE CHINLOCK. James fights back, getting a great dropkick to level Nese. Booker T scissor kick misses and Nese German suplexes James into the corner. Running Nese ends it at 2:42. He dumps James out of the ring for fun. 1/2*

Matt Hardy (22-10) and Jora Johl (1-8) vs. Baron Black and Prince Agballah (first time teaming). Johl is the newest recruit of the HFO, and hopefully this helps build him up. Agballah is dressed like a Zulu chief.

Johl and Black start. Johl with a headlock, but Black escapes and reverses. He goes to a wristlock, but Johl reverses that to a headlock. We go International~!, ending with neither man getting a hiptoss and Black getting a backslide for one. Manhattan drop into an Exploder by Black gets one. Prince tags in, and he chops away on Johl. Avalanche and Black back in, but Johl with a headbutt and overhead suplex. Hardy tells Johl to finish the match, so Johl stomps a mudhole in Black before tagging Hardy in. Matt with a middle-rope elbowsmash to the back, and he gets a right in the corner. Catapult guillotine by Matt, and Johl tags back in to get a powerslam for two.

Johl with a fireman’s carry, but Black elbows out and gets a Backstabber for the double-down. Hardy heeds Johl’s request and tries to stop Black, but he can’t and it’s hot tag Prince. Leaping spinning lariat floors Johl and Hardy drops to the floor, allowing Johl a sucker punch. F-5 by Johl and he sends Black off the apron, and a brogue kick… COULD end it, but Hardy demands the tag. Hardy wants to DELETE the Prince, and a Twist of Fate wins it at 4:36. Good story told with Hardy clearly the captain of the team (Johl’s facial expressions made it clear he wasn’t too thrilled). I’d kind of rather Black eat the pin, but I don’t think they realized what kind of unique look Prince had. 3/4*

Ethan Page (21-5) vs. Fuego Del Sol (6-32). Ethan Page’s face is pretty darn punchable if you ask me. Taz puts over how he doesn’t like the Vlog Crew. No sign of either Scorpio Sky or Fuego II at ringside. Fuego has merch!

Ethan boots Fuego in the mask before the bell before adding a right jab. He dumps Fuego outside, then drops him on the railing before riling up the crowd. He tosses Fuego onto the stage and yells at a fan at ringside, which allows Fuego to kick him away and get a somersault hilo off the stage. (It sounds like commentary is slightly out of sync.) Ethan shoves Fuego away but eats a dropkick. Fuego is launched, but lands on the apron, kicks Ethan away, and lands a quebrada. TORNADO DDT OF DEATH try on the outside, but Ethan shoves Fuego off and Fuego splats on the floor. Draping butterfly into a backbreaker by Ethan and he showboats.

Back in – what a concept – Fuego eats the turnbuckle and Ethan stomps a mudhole in him. Hammer Throw and Fuego almost lands upside down in the corner. Fuego slugs back to stymie Ethan, but a single right slap sets up… Fuego to get a (sloppy) tilt-a-whirl into a cradle for two. Ethan lariats down Fuego to stop that nonsense, and he gets a waistlock ride. Fuego pulls them to their feet and elbows out, only for Ethan to give him a BACK body drop (.9 Warlord). Ethan with a chop in the corner, but Fuego tries to fight back and they slug it out.

Ethan with a kneelift to stop Fuego and he teases Ego’s Edge, but Fuego reverses to a rana. Charge eats Fuego’s boot, and after another Tornado DDT tease, Fuego with a moonsault press to floor Ethan. Step-up double stomp gets two. Fuego goes up, but Ethan charges and gets a tilt-a-whirl slam for two. Ego’s Edge is escaped again and Fuego dodges a pump kick in the corner, getting an enzuigiri. Page is hung up on the top rope and Fuego climbs, getting a double stomp off and on the top rope for two. Fuego puts Ethan up top and lands a high kick before following, but Ethan catches him and dumps him with a slam off the top, followed by a tackle. Ego’s Edge finally ends it at 8:42. Loved the psychology around the finishers and the big/little dynamic. This match could main event anywhere in the country. **3/4

Main event: Anthony Greene (1-2) vs. Adam Cole, Baybay (3-0). Oh, I am psyched for this. You can make your own joke about how it’s two NXT castoffs, but Greene was an EVOLVE mainstay who lit it up against FTR, and Cole… well, we know what he can do. Cole refuses to do his entrance so that no one cheers him. He also looks bemused at Greene being his opponent. Okay, my mistake, Cole waits to get to the ring before doing his crowd participation. Cole offers his T-shirt to the crowd, but it’s a fake-out.

Cole pushes Greene into the corner to start, giving a clean break and yelling his name. Cole with a headlock and we go International~! (with namedrop), but Cole hooks the ropes to avoid a dropkick and kicks Greene in the jaw. Shot in the turnbuckle and a forearm, then a slam as Excalibur compares Cole to Chris Candido. ADAM COLE, BAYBAY for the fourth time, but that’s one too many as Greene dropkicks Cole to the apron, then to the outside. Greene decides to do what Cole wouldn’t and gives away his T-shirt.

Cole, very unamused, rolls in and back out. Greene chases on the outside and back in, blocking a right only to get pump kicked back down. Cole follows outside and runs Greene into the post. Cole breaks the count and continues, tossing Greene back in. Cole sends Greene into the corner and getrs a Hammer Throw (with mustard). We HIT THE… oh, headlock, my mistake, as Cole taunts Greene saying no one will cheer for him. Greene fires back, getting a hard elbow strike but running into a back elbow from Cole.

He toys with Greene, who tries to fight back to his feet and they slug it out, with Cole flooring Greene but Greene popping back up. Now he’s got FIGHTING SPIRIT and unloads on Cole, firing out of the corner with a clothesline, back elbow, jawjacker, and neckbreaker combination for the comeback. Greene runs in, but Cole catches him in an oshigoroshi (fireman’s carry shoulderbreaker) for two. Cole is setting up for Sweet Chin Music, and the SUPERKICK flattens Greene. Cole thinks he can do better, so he sets up the Panama Sunrise… but Greene avoids it and gets his own SUPERKICK for two.

Michinoku Driver gets two as the crowd is into the near-falls. Greene tries his cradle, but Cole escapes and lands an enzuigiri into a Backstabber for two. Cole sets up a suplex, but Greene with a small package for two. He catches Cole’s SUPERKICK and gets an over-the-shoulder flapjack. Crucifix driver gets two, but Greene holds on to the knees and gets a single-leg Crab as Cole has to fight his way to the ropes.

Greene drags him back before then as the crowd chants for a tap, but Cole turns the hips and kicks Greene away. He gets his own small package for two, then fakes the SUPERKICK and gets Sweet SHIN Music instead. Boom is ducked, and Greene gets an O’Connor Roll for two. Hook kick by Greene and he goes up, but dives RIGHT INTO A SUPERKICK by Cole. The Boom ends it at 9:32. Yes, this is wonderful. ***1/2

BOOKING THE WEEK:

Dynamite – CM Punk over Lee Moriarty; Emi Sakura and Jade Cargill over Ryo Mizunami and Red Velvet (let’s continue this mini-feud on the main TV show between the two joshis); Colten and Billy Gunn over Darby Allin and Sting thanks to interference from Austin (this feud feels like it has legs – maybe a third person so that the Gunn Club suffer their first trios loss); Bryan Danielson over Alan Angels; Ruby Soho over Kris Statlander to advance in the TBS tournament (otherwise, all four women with byes advance and that seems predictable); Andrade El Idolo over Cody Rhodes in the street fight (Cody needs to lose this one and get reset).

Rampage – Sammy Guevara over Tony Nese to retain the TNT Title; then, Lucha Bros and FTR go to a draw in the third fall (Fenix over Harwood with the Fenix Driver; Wheeler over Fenix with the Big Rig; we run out of time on the third fall). (You don’t want to undercut AAA given your working agreement with them, so not giving away a finish is the best way to do it. Well, not running the match 24 hours before a PPV rematch is the best way to do it, but whatever.)

STATS:

BELL-TO-BELL – 64:50 over fifteen matches (average time 4:19)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT – Cole/Greene

FIVE STARS:

  1. Adam Cole
  2. Ethan Page
  3. Brian Pillman Jr
  4. Wardlow
  5. Infinito – for the first win, obviously

Let’s finish this year off right! (Happy birthday, Dad.)