Excalibur and Taz were tonight's commentary team. They were joined by Shawn Spears for the opener, who was then replaced by Ricky Starks for the rest of the show. Spears was awkward and unconvincing like he was simply playing the role of a bad guy, but Starks continued to naturally play off well with his Team Taz leader.
SCU (Scorpio Sky & Frankie Kazarian) defeated Ray Rosas & RYZIN
Spears said that after their confrontation on the Late Night Dynamite special, scouting Sky was the reason for him joining commentary. Sky has quietly been no. 5 in the AEW men's singles rankings for nearly two months.
SCU controlled the early portion. Rosas regained advantage with a missile dropkick and he and RYZIN took turns distracting the referee and performing illegal moves. Kazarian escaped for the hot tag to Sky and after a slingshot cutter, SCU performed their assisted knee strike for the win.
**1/4 Thumbs In The Middle Pointing Up
- Starks then joined the commentary team.
Penelope Ford (w/ Kip Sabian) defeated Alex Gracia
This was Gracia's AEW debut and despite being only two years into her career, she's well-traveled, making stops in Japan's STARDOM as well as CMLL. Unfortunately, this wasn't the most impressive debut as this quick match was mostly sluggish and indecisive.
A running dropkick sent Ford to the outside, but Ford took advantage when they re-entered the ring. A fireman's carry lungblower from Ford got two, and a fisherman's suplex got three.
** Thumbs Up
Penolepe Ford is improving
Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent?) defeated M'Badu & BSHP King
M'Badu showed great athleticism in this one. Best Friends controlled the early goings after a double shoulder tackle. They isolated King in the corner and beat him down with frequent tags. King escaped after a powerslam, but missed a swanton bomb.
Trent hit a Saito suplex on M'Badu before hitting a swinging DDT out of the corner. Taylor tagged in and Best Friends hit Soul Food into a half-and-half suplex followed by a double stomp into Crunchy to pick up the win.
**1/4 This wasn't silly and looked good
Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) (w/ Marko Stunt) defeated Dark Order (5 and 10)
This was a very solid back-and-forth tag match. 5 (Alan Angels) and 10 (Preston Vance) are both talented wrestlers; they just need wins.
Gunn Club (Billy & Austin Gunn) defeated Cezar Bononi & Shawn Dean
This match was rough going; Austin's green, Billy's old, and Bononi still just hasn't developed as a wrestler. This was Bononi's AEW debut; he's a former WWE developmental wrestler in NXT. He's also huge, as he was clearly taller than Billy, and pretty shredded to boot.
After Austin and Dean performed some technical wrestling at the bell, the two giants tagged in. They fought back and forth for a moment, but Dean distracted Billy and Bononi took advantage with a big boot. After a long heat segment, Billy hit a spinning slam and reached Austin for the tag. He ran wild with offense, concluding it with a DDT for two. Billy hit the Fameasser on Dean to pick up the victory.
** Thumbs Up
Tay Conti defeated Red Velvet
Conti, another former NXT talent, picked up her first AEW singles win in this short showcase. She hit a pump kick in the early going which got two and then laid in ground and pound. Velvet fought back with clotheslines, a dropkick, and double knees to the back for two. Conti countered strikes into Kawada kicks and locked on a leg-assisted choke for the submission win.
** Thumbs Up
Nyla Rose (w/ Vickie Guerrero) defeated Raché Chanel
DUD Thumbs Up
Chaos Project (Serpentico & Luther) defeated Brian Pillman Jr. & Griff Garrison
This was actually before the Nyla Match
** Thumbs Up
Serpentico attacked with his streamer gimmick before the bell. Unfortunately, he seemed to get tangled in it and had to wrestle the first minute or so completely covered in streamers. Back in the ring, Garrison and Pillman hit power moves on Serpentico, but Luther allowed Chaos Project to take advantage with a strong right hand.
Chaos Project's offense is based around Luther literally throwing Serpentico into opponents. They beat down Pillman, but a crossbody allowed him to tag in Garrison. A lariat and a facebuster almost gave Garrison the win, but Luther broke it up. Serpentico avoided a double team and Chaos Project hit a doomsday meteora for the victory.
Natural Nightmares (Dustin Rhodes & QT Marshall) (w/ Brandi Rhodes & Allie) defeated Dark Order (Colt Cabana & 4) (w/ Evil Uno)
*** Thumbs Up
This show was all matches which sounds awesome but I felt the same way about this show how I feel about NXT. It's missing something that would captivate me.
AEW Dark was a much more focused and streamlined show this week. Even though I feel like they could do even more to distill the show into its best aspects, there were fewer squashes and more of an emphasis on advancing storylines this week.
Excalibur works far better on commentary with Taz than Tony Schiavone did and the addition of Starks is a consistent highlight. Commentary used to be one of the lowlights of the show, but it was very enjoyable with the crew we had tonight. The two Dark Order matches were the best performances on the show.
Thumbs In The Middle Pointing Up