By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 28)
Taped April 1, 2020 in Norcross, Georgia at One Fall Power Factory
Streamed April 7, 2020 on the AEW YouTube Page
The broadcast team featured Tony Schiavone and Cody, Excalibur and Taz, and Schiavone and Jimmy Havoc…
1. Lee Johnson vs. QT Marshall. This was Johnson’s AEW Dark debut. Tony said he likes seeing guys making their debut on AEW and said to Cody that he knew this guy very well. They also note that Johnsons’ trainer is QT Marshall. The match started with a collar elbow tie up and break. Johnson tried bouncing off the ropes, but Marshall took him down with a shoulder block and a hip toss, which was dedicated to Dick Murdoch. Marshall then has Johnson in the arm bar submission hold. Johnson went to the top rope to jump, but Marshall caught him in mid-air with a side suplex. Marshall then followed up with a leg drop to only get a two count.
Another submission hold was applied from Marshall. Johnson broke the hold and took Marshall down with a couple of drop kicks. Johnson again went to the top rope for an advantage, though Marshall countered with a back breaker combination. Shortly after, Marshall finished off Johnson with his own Swanton Bomb to pick up the win.
QT Marshall defeated Lee Johnson via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: This one had some story to it, with Johnson having Marshall as a trainer. Cody and Tony tried their best to help this match have some luster. The match was not bad, but it’s really hard to imagine Johnson picking up a win over Marshall. Sure, as I mentioned above there was some background to this match, but the match just never really kicked into gear sadly.
2. Ryan Piles vs. Wardlow (w/MJF). This was Piles’ AEW Dark Debut. Wardlow came out with business attire. Excalibur said that Warlow keeping his business attire on and is an intimidation aspect. Right as the match started, Wardlow hit Piles with the F-10 and picked up the win.
Wardlow defeated Ryan Piles via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Short and sweet. A simple effective squash for Wardlow. Poor Piles though, he really never got a chance to shine. Better luck next time.
3. Tony Donati vs. Kip Sabian (w/Penelope Ford). Donati rounded out the AEW debuts on Dark. Sabian put Donati in a standing neck vice hold, only for Donati to put Sabian in a hold himself. Both then went to choreographed missing each other’s moves. Sabian again put Donati in a submission hold. Donati broke the hold and tried running off the rope, however Ford got involved by hooking Donati’s leg and Sabian hit him with a running foot strike to the face.
Donati was hit by Sabian with a kick to the face. Sabian rolled up Donati to follow up with another kick and almost scored the victory. After Sabian got some moves in, Donati countered with a hammerlock brainbuster. Donati almost got an upset on Sabian. Despite that, Sabian hit some combo moves with a russian leg sweep submission hold. Shortly after, Donati tapped out to Sabian in the hold, allowing Sabian to pick up the victory…
Kip Sabian defeated Tony Donati via submission.
Briar’s Take: The longest match of the night on Dark, which is not saying much. That said, I’m getting really numb with the interference from Ford and the referee distractions. At this point, it’s become really predictable and an annoyance, though I guess that’s Ford and Sabian’s way of playing the heel. Still, I think there are so many better ways without having a ref distraction every time Sabian wrestles.
Well, folks, we are back to the original Dark where we are having random matches without much hype. Last week was great, as it showcased the wrestlers competing in the new tournament. This show was really short and it was hard to get invested. I know it is tough with the times we are having right now and everyone is not available. I really wish, there would be some video packages or some more background to the debuting wrestlers on Dark by the commentators. Speaking of commentators, I never understood why there were so many different commentators throughout this episode, unless it was due to the CDC guidelines that are in effect.
With that said, this episode is a skippable episode that clocks in at 18:56. At this point, I’m really starting to question why we have Dark? This show is really hurting by not having the fans in attendance and it feels like the enthusiasm has worn off. And I know it is hard by having a Stay At Home order in effect in most states. However, this could be a time we might hold off on having Dark every week and wait until we start having fans back in the arena. Otherwise, we are going to keep having short and predictable matches every week. It was hard for me to pick the match of the night with the action being so short and very little storytelling, however I would have to chose QT Marshall vs. Lee Johnson for match of the night, as they had more of a story to tell with Marshall being Johnsons’ trainer. Final Score: 3.5 out of 10. As always, stay safe, folks.