By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 19)
Taped February 5, 2020 in Huntsville, Alabama at Von Braun Center
Streamed February 11, 2020 on the AEW YouTube Page
Tony Schiavone welcomed us to AEW Dark without Dasha Gonzalez, but he said she will be back for next week’s show. Tony said Taz and Excalibur would be on commentary and then ran down the lineup…
1. Shoko Nakajima vs. Riho. A video flashback from Fight for the Fallen was played when Nakajima pinned Riho on July 13, 2019. Riho started with a headlock take down to Nakajima. Nakajima countered with a dropkick and then performed a suicide dive to the outside of the ring to Riho. Back in the ring, Nakajima was dominating Riho with stomps to Riho in the corner. Nakajima hit Riho with a backbreaker combo, but Riho did a double stomp to her in return.
Riho did a crossbody off the top rope and tried for a pinfall attempt, as Nakajima barely kicked out. Riho attempted a Rey Mysterio like 619, but Nakajima countered and did one of her own to Riho, who came back with a Northern Lights suplex and went another pinfall attempt, but Nakajima kicked out. Riho did a foot stomp from the top to Nakajima. Nakajima tried a senton from the top rope, but missed Riho while Riho countered with a double knee strike. Riho finally puts Nakajima away with the double knee strike to the face.
Riho defeated Shoko Nakajima via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A very nice back and forth match. No disrespect to Nakajima, but I honestly forgot about her, but it was nice to be reminded who Nakajima was when AEW played the match back from Fight for the Fallen back in July. It would be nice to have more of these packages going forward. A great match and I think this match could have been easily played on regular television.
2. Jimmy Havoc vs. Sonny Kiss. This marked the return of Jimmy Havoc to AEW after being “suspended” due to the staple gun to Brandon Cutler. Havoc started with a hold to Kiss, but Kiss tried for an early pinfall. Havoc threw a punch to Kiss with a closed right hand. Havoc hit Kiss with a diving dropkick when Kiss was in the corner. The two went outside and Havoc threw Kiss into a barricade and a ring post. Kiss countered with a couple of chops to Havoc, but Havoc missed the final one.
Havoc tried to hyperextend the elbow of Kiss on the turnbuckle. Havoc was trying hard to hurt Kiss’s left shoulder. Havoc and Kiss were back, as Havoc hit Kiss with a Japanese Arm Bar and suplex. Havoc bit the hand of Kiss. Havoc tried a rolling Death Valley Driver and a pinfall attempt, but Kiss kicked out. Kiss started to gain some momentum toward Havoc by showing some offense. Kiss attempted a moonsault from the top rope, but Kiss missed. Havoc got Kiss into another armbar and started to twist his fingers backward. Kiss eventually tapped out and Havoc scored the win.
Jimmy Havoc defeated Sonny Kiss via submission.
Briar’s Take: It was nice to see Havoc back as I enjoy a lot of work, especially in MLW currently. I’m guessing that means his suspension is now over and we might see his TV return soon? As for the match, not much to say about this one. It has become predictable that Kiss will lose every time he’s is in a match. However, a it was a nice showcase win for Havoc.
Immediately following the match, a promo segment was played from Luther, who sent a message to Jimmy Havoc. He said be ready to play ball very soon…
Schiavone hyped upcoming AEW dates…
3. Cassandra Golden vs Hikaru Shida. Golden was making her AEW debut and is from Little Rock, Arkansas. The match started with Golden putting Shida in a headlock with Shida countering one of her own. Golden did a running head butt toward Shida in the corner and went for an early pinfall, but Shida kicked out. Shida did a backbreaker to Golden in the middle of the ring.
Shida attempted a suplex, though Golden countered and threw Shida to the floor. Golden then hit a powerslam to Shida and then does a Vaderbomb, and almost picked up the win. Shida hit a forearm to Golden. Shida did a missile dropkick from the top and tried for a pin, but Golden kicked out. Shida got more offense by hitting Golden with the falcon arrow. A few seconds later, Shida picked up the win via pinfall.
Hikaru Shida defeated Cassandra Golden via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A solid showcase win for Shida, who got a nice reaction from the crowd. It wouldn’t surprise me if Shida gets a title shot and maybe a title run in the future. As for Golden, it would have been great to get a video package about who she is and why she was there. Taz and Excalibur did a nice job on playing her up as a possible upset for Shida in the rankings, but aside from that, there’s nothing about her with what we know.
4. “The Dark Order” Evil Uno and Stu Grayson vs. “Jurassic Express” Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt. Stunt started with a running dropkick to Grayson and then did a springboard elbow drop. Grayson finally shut Stunt down with a counter. Jungle Boy was tagged in and did a running elbow strike to Grayson in the corner. Evil Uno was blindly tagged in and Boy did not see it. Uno did a senton bomb from the top rope and went for a pin, but Boy kicked out. Jungle Boy tried to fight back, but Uno proved to be too strong.
Excalibur noted he sees a lot of Taz in Stu Grayson. Stunt managed to get some offense in and threw Grayson into Uno, which sent Uno into the corner. Stunt hit a running dropkick to Uno. Stunt did a swinging DDT to Grayson, planting him to the ring. Uno tried to catch him, but Jungle Boy was tagged in and came with some momentum. Boy hit a jumping suicida to the outside to the rest of the Dark Order.
Jungle Boy attempted a Samoan Drop, but Uno kicked out at two. Boy did a german suplex to Grayson and almost got the win, however Uno threw Stunt onto Boy while the ref was counting. A “This is Awesome” chant broke out. After Grayson tagged Uno, the two hit their Fatality finishing move and picked up the win.
The Dark Order defeated Jurassic Express via pinfall.
After the match, Luchasaurus came out to save the day for his team, but The Dark Order number gang caught up with him. A few seconds later, the SCU music hit and the trio came out, causing The Dark Order to run out of the ring…
Briar’s Take: I’m not going to lie, when I saw The Dark Order on the card, I groaned. I don’t mind The Dark Order, but I feel like the act has gotten stale as we’re still trying to figure out who they are. Nonetheless, the match was fine. The teams did great work with what they had. I thought the main event went a little long, but the action was back and forth.
AEW continues to be inconsistent with how long these episodes of Dark are. They are either an hour and a half, just under an hour, or a half an hour. Personally, I would love it if they could do a half hour show considering with how many wrestling shows there are these days. One could assume that some fans see the Dark listing on YouTube and depending how long it is, they may very well skip it or cut it out of their weekly wrestling in take. If you put it at a half hour, I feel like that is reasonable to the viewers and audience who watch this show on a weekly basis.
As for the show, it wasn’t bad and was definitely an improvement from recent episodes of Dark. I specifically enjoyed Riho vs. Nakajima and Shida vs. Golden. Both were great matches and displayed a lot of talent and either one of those could have been played on Dynamite, especially Riho’s match. I don’t think it would hurt Riho to have a match like she this on Dynamite once in a while to help build her up. Some of the other matches, however, were just fluff to me. Havoc vs. Kiss felt predictable with Havoc winning, while The Dark Order vs. Jurassic Express was somewhat great at times, but overall an okay match and somewhat furthered their storyline with SCU at the end. This episode of Dark clocks in at just under an hour with a time of 55:17. Final Score: 8.0 out of 10.