By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 18)
Taped January 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio at Wolstein Center
Streamed February 4, 2020 on the AEW YouTube Page
The AEW Dark intro played to open the show… Tony Schiavone welcomed us to AEW Dark outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum… Taz and Excalibur were on commentary…
1. “Jurassic Express” Marko Stunt and Jungle Boy vs. Sonny Kiss and Brandon Cutler. Per usual, Jurassic Express received a nice reaction from the crowd. For Sonny Kiss and Cutler, it was mainly mixed. Before the bell rang, Taz said he believes in Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt. Stunt attempted a side head lock on Cutler, but obviously failed to do so. Stunt tagged Jungle Boy in early and the crowd chants Jungle Boy. Jungle Boy dropkicked Cutler after walking on the ropes.
After some stalling, Sonny Kiss was tagged by Cutler. Kiss jumped from the rope to do a split onto Jungle Boy and only got a two count, as Jungle Boy’s feet were under the ropes. Cutler was back in the ring and did a side slam to Stunt, before the count was broken up again. Jungle Boy applied a submission on Cutler in the ring, but Kiss comes in to save the day and keeps the match going. Stunt and Jungle Boy teamed up on Cutler to perform a Rolling Stunner and scored the win for the Jurassic Express…
Marko Stunt and Jungle Boy defeated Sonny Kiss and Brandon Cutler via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Not much to write home about for this match. There was a lot of standing and stalling around, and not too much action in the ring. The performers kept tagging in and out of the match. Despite not having a whole lot of in ring action, the Jurassic Express continues to receive a nice reaction from the crowd. At this point, it feels like Kiss and Cutler are going to lose every match they are in.
In a backstage room, a therapist was shown talking with Brandi Rhodes, who said there is something not right with her. The therapist questioned Brandi about whether she might be spending a lot of time with The Nightmare Collective and if it’s time to take a break from them. Rhodes continued to question herself…
Briar’s Take: What a weird segment. So, are they going to break up The Nightmare Collective now after what transpired? I’m really not sure, there wasn’t a lot of explanation as to why this segment occurred. Perhaps it will be played again on Dynamite? Just really weird.
2. Hikaru Shida vs Mel (w/Luther, Awesome Kong). Before the bell, Mel attacked Shida when she entered the ring during her entrance. Once the attack happened, the ref rang the bell in order for the match to began. Shida tried running the ropes, but Kong took her kendo stick and attacked Shida in the back while the ref wasn’t looking.
Mel attempted a pinfall count early, but he only got a two count. Shida performed a double edge to the spine on Mel to the outside. Shida grabbed a chair to try and attack Mel, but the ref ordered her not too. Shida launched off the chair to perform a kick to the head of Luther. However, Mel threw Shida back in the ring after the attack to Luther from Shida. Shida hit a dropkick off the top rope onto Mel, but wound up only getting a two count.
Mel fired back with a leg drop to Shida and tried another pinfall, but he failed to do so. After an attempted two count from Shida, Luther distracted the ref and Shida tried to run from the ropes, but Kong grabbed her leg and ended up tripping Shida. Kong had the kendo stick and tried attacking Shida with it, but Shida dodged it and Kong hit Mel instead. Shida was able to get her stick back and attacked Kong with it. She almost got the win with a Northern Lights bomb, but somehow Mel kicked out at two. Finally, Shida put Mel away with a running knee and got the win.
Hikaru Shida defeated Mel via pinfall.
After the match, Kong was upset Mel lost the match and continued to slap at Mel’s head. Mel had enough and aggressively pushed Kong in return. Kong started to walk toward Mel before Luther grabbed her and Mel attacked Kong by sending her through a barricade…
Briar’s Take: Man, I did not see that coming. The whole crowd was silent and shocked that Mel and Luther turned on Kong after the match. I am interested to see if this will make its way onto Dynamite. My guess is that it will. As for the match, it was decent for what it was, but nothing more.
The AEW Revolution video package was played…
3. Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford vs. Kenny Omega and Riho in an intergender tag team match. This match was taped on the Jericho Cruise. Omega and Ford started out the match with an elbow collar tie up. The crowd started a “this is wrestling” chant. Ford slammed Omega onto the ground, but Omega got her into a scissor head lock before Ford broke free. Sabian tagged in and with that, Riho chants broke out and Sabian went over to her, and said, “I want you.” Omega then tagged her and the crowd popped. A “Riho’s gonna kill you” chant broke out.
Riho dropkicked Sabian and got some offense in. Riho applied a submission hold on Sabian before it was broken up. Omega tagged back in for Riho. Riho and Omega double teamed Sabian and attempted a pinfall count before it was broken again. Later in the match, Omega did a flying moonsault from the top rope onto Sabian and went for a pin, but Sabian kicked out. Later, Omega hit Penelope with his finisher, while he and Riho worked together to attack Sabian afterward. As soon as Sabian was tagged in, Omega got the best of him by performing his finisher and picking up the pinfall.
Kenny Omega and Riho defeat Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford via pinfall.
After the match, Omega spoke to the crowd and talked about the Cruise experience…
Briar’s Take: This match was really unique. There were no commentators and no TV cameras there. The camera was a camera at ringside, so it felt really old school and was just a different perspective. It had a house show type feeling. The match was long and probably went for 10 minutes or so, and had some great action spots in it. For once, it was nice to hear the natural sounds of wrestlings and no talking. Bravo to AEW for trying something different.
Backstage, Lexi Nair was outside the doctor’s room where Kong was being treated. Dr. Sampson told Lexi that Kong had a herniated disk on the left side and that she will need an MRI. Sampson said that Kong will be out indefinitely until they know more about her injury.
Briar’s Take: An interesting angle. I’m really curious to see how this will play on Dynamite and what Brandi will say about the whole thing.
4. “Best Friends” Chuck Taylor and Trent (w/Orange Cassidy) vs. Shawn Spears (w/Tully Blanchard) and Colin Delaney. Delaney made his AEW debut. When Delaney made his entrance, Taz said he knows Colin and that they go way back. Trent did a knee drop to Spears in the middle of the ring, before Spears rolled out of the ring. While Delaney and Spears were outside the ring, Taylor and Trent both do a flying body drop on to each of them at different sides of the ring. Best Friends were setting up to do their annual hug, but Spears and Delaney broke it up and drew boos from the crowd. Delaney tried to hug Spears, but Spears wanted nothing to do with it.
Later, Trent performed a diving crossbody onto Delaney, but Delaney kicked out at two. After Chuck got some offense in, Trent was back in the match and is on the top rope ready to do a move, but Spears interfered and tripped Trent on the top rope. Delaney did a cutter to Trent, while Spears countered with a C4. Chuck managed to get into the ring in time to break up the two count. After Best Friends did their signature, they finally hugged it out in the ring and got the crowd to pop. Best Friends hit the Strong Zero and picked up the victory, while Tully Blanchard and Spears walked to the back.
Best Friends defeated Shawn Spears and Colin Delaney via pinfall.
Delaney hugged it out with Best Friends and Cassidy afterward…
Briar’s Take: This was a solid and fun match and much better than the first one we saw earlier in the show. This is the first time I saw Delaney since his ECW appearances several years ago. The main event was your typical main event and achieved its goal of sending the crowd home happy. I’m intrigued if AEW will use more out of Delaney as a Dark competitor or TV competitor, or if this is just a one time thing. Either way, it was a nice ending to close the show with Delaney hugging it out with Best Friends and Orange Cassidy.
Overall, this show was a much better show than the past few episodes. We saw some storyline developments out of The Nightmare Collective, which will probably carry over to TV tonight. The matches were a little bit better, but still feel really random when putting wrestlers up against each other. Either way, a much improved show over recent weeks, but I still just feel you probably won’t miss anything if you don’t get a chance to watch it. I’m sure the AEW will put The Nightmare Collective situation on their Social Media channels and promote it on their YouTube page.
It is also nice to hear Taz on commentary and I am glad that he is signed with AEW. I loved his daily Taz show when it used to be a wrestling show. With that being said, if you want to watch one match from this show, I encourage you to make it Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford vs. Kenny Omega and Riho. While it does feel random, the setting was unique as it was still on the Jericho Cruise, but there were no commentators just the natural sound of a wrestling ring. This episode of Dark is a little longer, clocking in at one hour and 19 minutes. Obviously, it is a little shorter if you can skip through some of the ads.
Final Score: 7.9 out of 10
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...