By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 25)
Taped March 11, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah at Maverik Center
Streamed March 17, 2020 on the AEW YouTube Page
Excalibur and Taz welcomed us ringside and ran down the match card…
1. Peter Avalon vs. Colt Cabana. Colt came out to a great reaction from the crowd. Taz said Colt is a pioneer in the podcasting game. Cabana took the book Avalon had and threw it up in the air to distract him, and got an advantage on Avalon. Cabana laid in some chops to Avalon. Avalon got little offense in by putting Cabana in a hold. Both traded submission moves back and forth. Avalon was able to send Cabana through the outside of the ring.
Avalon got a crossbody count on Cabana, but only got a two count. The two went back into another submission hold. Cabana countered with a thunderclap elbow and managed to hit a couple of them. Cabana went to the top of the rope, but Leva Bates distracted him to get off the top rope Avalon and Cabana started to pull Bates back and forth between the two. Once they got back in the ring, Cabana hit Avalon with his finisher to pick up the win.
Colt Cabana defeated Peter Avalon via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Cabana is really over with the crowd right now, but this match just showcased his moves over a winless Avalon. There was a little bit of comedy in this match, but you can’t really take Avalon seriously at the moment since he loses so much. Unless you’re a major Cabana or Avalon fan, it’s an easily skippable match.
Tony Schiavone and Dasha Gonzaelz welcomed us to an outside setting of Salt Lake City, Utah and immediately threw it back to the ring.
2. “TH2” Angelico and Jack Evans vs. Brandon Cutler and Michael Nakazawa. Before the match, Evans flew from the top rope to attack Nakazawa to start the match. Early on, TH2 dominated Nakazawa. Angelico put Nakazawa in a submission hold called the head catcher. For whatever reason, an Aubrey Edwards chant broke out from the crowd.
Evans managed a corkscrew kick to Nakazawa. Angelico had Nakazawa in a submission hold, but Nakazawa tried escaping by using the oil he had. Both members of TH2 tried suplexing Nakazawa, however Nakazawa did his oil thing to slip out and tag Cutler in. Of course, Cutler came in with a lot of momentum with a lot diving elbows to Evans and Angelico. Cutler tried to get an early win on Evans, but Angelico broke the pin up. Despite the small interference, Cutler went on a roll and getting a lot of offense in. Cutler hit a springboard elbow drop to Evans and almost got another three count.
Nakazawa put the oil in his mouth and tried spitting on TH2, but they countered and got Cutler instead. Evans then did a moonsault off the ropes onto Cutler. Angelico was able to hit Nakazawa with a running powerbomb in the corner and then Evans hit a 630 on Nakazawa to pick up the victory.
TH2 defeated Brandon Cutler and Michael Nakazawa via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Meh. The match had some great moves and action, but it’s easy to predict that any wrestler facing Cutler or Nakazawa will get the victory. Of course, that could always change five, 10, or 20 episodes from now, but at the moment, all of this is really predictable. I really liked the in-ring action and all of these competitors are super talented don’t get me wrong, but everything feels predictable right now.
After the match, Schiavone welcomed us back to hype Penelope Ford vs. Riho…
3. Penelope Ford (w/Kip Sabian) vs. Riho. Riho is still greatly over with the crowd despite not being AEW Women’s Champion at the moment. Ford hit Riho with a running shoulder block to Riho, but Riho got up quickly and took Ford down with a running drop kick. Riho hit Ford with a couple of knee strikes before Sabian grabbed a hold of Riho’s foot. Ford took advantage of the distraction and striked Riho with a stunner. While Riho was in the corner, Ford managed to hit her with a back elbow and followed up with a delayed back suplex.
Riho built up some momentum and did a knee strike to Ford. Riho then hit Ford with a crucifix and got a quick two count. Riho jumped from the top rope onto Ford with a diving knee strike and got another two count. Ford got up and countered with a rib breaker. Ford tried doing Kenny Omega’s finisher onto Riho, but Riho ducked out of the way at the last second and managed to get a northern lights suplex.
Sabian tried getting involved again, but Riho quickly realized it and hit Sabian with a suplex sending him to the outside. Ford bounced off the ropes to get Riho in another stunner. Afterward, Ford finished Riho off with a fisherman suplex to get the victory…
Penelope Ford defeated Riho via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Kind of surprising actually. Going into this match, you would think Riho would get the victory. There were a lot of nice wrestling moments in this match, but Sabian keeps getting involved in like every match and it’s starting to get real old. A solid in ring effort by Ford who got a needed win. What does this mean for Riho? She lost the AEW Women’s Championship and is now on Dark losing to Ford.
An ad aired for AEW Dynamite for The Exalted One…
4. Stu Grayson vs. Christopher Daniels. Before the match, the ref threw all members of the SCU and The Dark Order to the back. From the start, the action was fast and quick paced. When Daniels was beating on Grayson, Grayson rolled out of the ring to catch his breath. Then the two went into the formulaic countering moves.
Grayson rolls out of the ring again, but this time, Daniels catched him and threw Grayson into both sides of the guard rails. Back in the ring, Daniels caught Grayson with a falling body press and continued his fast paced style. Grayson drove Daniels into the middle of the ring with one of his signature moves and started to pick up some offense, slowing down Daniels style. Excalibur questioned if Grayson was the leader of The Dark Order and wondered if this could all be a rogue.
After a couple of moves from Grayson, Daniels countered with the exploder. Daniels is picking up the pace and hit Grayson with the STO and the blue thunder bomb. Daniels almost got the victory, but had a two count. Grayson, however, followed up with a swinging DDT and an explosive knee to the face.
Grayson was looking for his finisher move nightfall, but Daniels countered with a step up enziguri. Daniels tried for the angel wings, but Grayson got a sit out face plant to Daniel to pick up another two count. Grayson tried for a moonsault, but Daniels moved at the last second. Daniels finally got the angle wing, but Grayson’s foot got to the rope to break up the count.
Before Daniels locked in a submission move, one of the Dark Order members distracted the referee. Despite the distraction, Grayson was going to hit Daniels with his nightfall finisher, but Daniels rolled up him to score the victory.
Christopher Daniels defeated Stu Grayson via pinfall.
Before Daniels could get up from his victory, the Dark Order did a beatdown on Daniels. Though, the rest of SCU, and Colt Cabana came out to even out the numbers game. One of the Dark Order members got hit with a moonsault from Daniels. Daniels had some words for Evil Uno and wondered who the Exalted one could be as the show went off the air…
Briar’s Take: A really good match from Grayson and Daniels. Also, this is a nice storyline follow up with a lot of questions on who will be revealed as the Exalted one Wednesday night. This is easily the best match on this card with a couple of more good matches, though this one stands out due to the final hype before Dynamite.
Overall, a strong Dark showing before the coronavirus started going around and basically, shutting pretty much everything down in its site. Not only shutting things down, but also canceling and postponing wrestling events. AEW will carry on and have limited personnel at their shows until this virus can get under control as they will not have no fans at ringside, which will be a huge disappointment when we find out who the Exalted one is.
I found it interesting that they did not hype any of the cities that AEW will be coming to in the Wednesday’s to come. Obviously, we know these are getting postponed to a later date and the show is moving to Jacksonville, Florida. But what will Dark look like moving forward? I can’t say it excites me with no fans in attendance and limited personnel at ringside. Will we even have an episode of Dark? My guess is we will, but it might be a totally different format since the CDC is recommending only having 10 or fewer people at a gathering and a social distancing in effect. Either way, it will be interesting to see what lies ahead for Dark and Dynamite. I think if I were AEW, I would be taking advantage of this and putting their Dark show out the next day after Dynamite aired for the time being.
As for the show, there was some really good in-ring action and some surprises with unexpected wrestlers getting the victory. It was not the greatest episode of Dark as things still need to be worked on, but a solid show for the most part. Final Score: 8.1 out of 10.