By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 35)
Taped in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Streamed May 26, 2020 on the AEW YouTube Page
When Dark opened, highlights of Brian Cage at Double or Nothing was seen, with Taz being a narrator. He briefly talked about Cage’s victory at the PPV…
The Dark intro played and Excalibur and Taz welcomed us to the show…
1. “The Dark Order” John Silver and Alex Reynolds vs. “The Natural Nightmares” Dustin Rhodes and QT Marshall. Reynolds and Marshall started the match with an arm-lock tie-up. Shortly, Dustin is tagged in and as both him, and Marshall do a combination move on Reynolds, while Dustin follows-up with an arm drag takedown. Another tag was seen and both did another combination move.
Outside the ring, Allie was shown eating an apple. Marshall was distracted and Brandi Rhodes tried to get him to focus. Meanwhile, Silver took advantage and took Marshall down on the outside. Afterward, The Dark Order did combination of their own and Silver only gots a two-count.
Silver started lighting up Marshall with chops, but Marshall wasn’t feeling any pain and was tried to make his comeback. Marshall threw Silver in the middle of the ring, but Silver made the tag to Reynolds. Rhodes is tagged in and comes with tons of momentum. Rhodes also hit a Manhattan drop and running bulldog on Reynolds. Shortly thereafter, Dustin hit a Canadian Destroyer on Reynolds, while Marshall followed with a cutter to pick up the victory…
The Natural Nightmare defeated The Dark Order via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: The match was fine for what it was. I found it odd that Reynolds and Silver came out without the mask, but once the match started, they put the mask on. What difference does it make if you come out without the mask, only to put it on? Also, Allie is back and it appears she could be managing QT Marshall. When the camera pointed at her, it felt too convenient and it was mainly comedy, since Marshall was distracted by her eating an apple.
2. Brandon Cutler vs. Michael Nakazawa. This is the first-time in a few months that we saw both wrestlers compete. Both started with a side headlock. Nakazawa tried with the baby oil again, but the ref took the oil and threw it out of the ring. Afterward, Nakazawa tried with several pinfall attempts, only to fall short. Though, Cutler was able to counter with a big elbow strike from the outside and a Russian leg sweep inside.
Nakazawa followed with a couple of elbow shots and a spear to Cutler. Cutler, though, takes Nakazawa down with a kick. Cutler also hit a suplex and got a two-count. Nakazawa Irish whipped Cutler into the corner and hit an elbow. He tried doing that again in a different corner, but Cutler countered. Cutler was able to hit a cannonball and tried to get the victory, but only got a two-count once more. Cutler was busted open.
Nakazawa, who was on Cutler’s shoulders, is thrown over the ropes onto the outside. While Nakazawa was laying on the ground, Cutler managed to hit a springboard on Nakazawa. By doing so, that causes both wrestlers to go outside while the ref is starting his 10-count. Both Cutler and Nakazawa are trying to stay on the outside until the ref hit nine, so one of them can get a countout victory. Nakazawa grabbed ahold of Cutler and pushed him into the barricade. The ref hit the ten count and Nakazawa got a countout victory.
Michael Nakazawa defeated Brandon Cutler via countout.
Briar’s Take: The match was actually decent for what Dark is. My only gripe is the count-out finish felt flat. When that occurred, Excalibur and Taz made a big deal that this was the first count-out victory in All Elite Wrestling. But poor Cutler, will he ever get a victory?
After the match, Peter Avalon came to the ring and said, “Once again, you suck Brandon.” Brandon countered by saying, “You’re afraid that I will get a victory before you do and that you will go down as the worst wrestler in AEW history.” Avalon finished the segment by saying: “You think so? Well, watch my next match.”
3. Peter Avalon vs. Jungle Boy. Before the match starts, Cutler joined Taz and Excalibur on commentary. Avalon and Boy started with a collar elbow tie-up, followed by a headlock by Avalon. Boy then used the ropes for an arm drag and a dropkick. Avalon went to the outside and Boy was going to hit a jumping suicida. While Boy tried to, he stopped as Avalon moved. Avalon was taking a breather on the outside and accidentally walked into Luchasaurus who was behind him, and Avalon fell down without Luchasaurus doing anything.
Avalon threw Jungle Boy in the ring post and hit a suplex on Boy in the inside of the ring. Avalon also follows up with a leg lariat and puts Boy in a submission hold. Avalon then tried for a moonsault from the top rope and missed Boy, as Boy moved at the last minute and hit a clothesline. Boy used the rope for a DDT and tried to get a victory. Afterward, Avalon got momentum and followed with a series of combinations. Meanwhile, Boy countered with a SGF to pick up the win…
Jungle Boy defeated Peter Avalon via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: I couldn’t honestly care less about this match. Sure, it had a story with Avalon trying to pick up his first victory before Cutler does, but it really does nothing for me. Both wrestlers continue to lose any time they are in the ring. It’s hard to get excited about the Avalon vs. Cutler feud on Dark. I guess someone has to win eventually, right?
4. Sepentico vs. Christopher Daniels. Daniels put Sepentico in a submission hold to start the match, while Sepentico tries one of his own submissions. Daniels took down Sepentico with an arm drag and a leg lariat. Daniels also follows up with an exploder style suplex. Sepentico hit Daniels with a foot stomp by using the ropes. Daniels came back with an STO on Sepentico and finished him off with a moonsault.
Christopher Daniels defeated Sepentico via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Short match for what it was. It also felt pretty random. Nothing to write home about or go out of your way to see.
5. John Skyler and Brad Pierce vs. Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela. Pierce and Kiss started the match by missing each other’s moves. Kiss kicked the midsection of Pierce. Kiss tagged in Janela, who perofrmed a move from the top rope. Janela also hit a back elbow that takes down Pierce. Janela then hit a series of running clotheslines.
While doing the running clotheslines, Kiss tagged himself in and hit a cartwheel on Pierce who was laying in the corner. Skyler is tagged in while Janela was trying to pin Pierce. Skyler hit a move from the rope, but tagged Pierce in shortly after. Pierce hit a big boot on Janela and tried a moonsault that missed. Kiss is tagged in again and followed up with a series of moves and managed a leg drop on Skyler.
Janela was tagged in and does a jumping suicida onto Pierce outside of the ring, while Kiss followed with a Kiss My Sass on Skyler. Janela scored the victory for the team by hitting an elbow drop…
Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss defeated John Skyler and Brad Pierce via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Predictable. The only thing this match did was continue the New Jersey storyline between Janela and Kiss, while also racking up victories for their record since they aren’t featured on Dynamite.
6. Tony Donati and Faboo Andre vs. Jimmy Havoc and Kip Sabian. After the entrances, Havoc tried destroying Andre from the start with a clothesline. Sabian is tagged in, but Andre plants Sabian down with a dropkick. However, Havoc was frustrated and tagged in again. Andre got some offense moves in, but Sabian and Havoc continued to be no match for them. Andre was in the corner while the ref is distracted, and Havoc illegally whed Andre in the ropes and bit his head.
Havoc and Sabian followed up with a running boot combination. Havoc and Sabian struck with numerous kicks to Andre. Havoc tried for an Acid Rainmaker, but Andre finally makes a tag to Donati and hit several right-hands on Sabian, including a German suplex. Donati performed another suplex on Sabian. The comeback fell short, as Havoc hit a Death Valley Driver and then Sabian hit a diving foot stomp. Shortly after, Havoc and Sabian finished Donati off with a combination move to get the victory.
Jimmy Havoc and Kip Sabian defeated Tony Donati and Faboo Andre via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A basic showcase win for Havoc and Sabian. Nothing else to say, other than not ignoring the fact that Havoc bit Andre on the head in the middle of a pandemic. Bad taste.
7. Mr. Grim vs. Wardlow (w/MJF). Grim made his AEW debut. Wardlow picked Grim up and planted him down on the mat. Meanwhile, MJF was shown on his phone. Wardlow continued to dominate with foot stomps in the corner and also a shoulder to the midsection.
Wardlow put Grim in a waistlock and hit a suplex. Wardlow tried to put Grim on his shoulders, but Grim countered with a couple of moves. Wardlow took advantage and had a series of running shoulder tackles, as Grim sat helplessly in the corner. Not long after, Wardlow drove a knee to the face of Grim, which presumably knocked Grim out and gave Wardlow a victory.
Wardlow defeated Mr. Grim via knockout.
Briar’s Take: A lot longer match than I anticipated, since Mr. Grim was a bigger opponent for Wardlow. Then again though, this match was basically a showcase for Wardlow. Not a bad match by any means, but I could see Mr. Grim featured on Dynamite at some point in the future. Grim has a great upside to him.
8. Lee Johnson vs. Colt Cabana. Before the match started, Excalibur said he’s been impressed with Johnson. Taz asked why he should be impressed? He said Johnson hasn’t shown much since he is 0-7. Cabana and Johnson shook hands before the match got underway. Cabana got an advantage as he put Johnson in arm locks before Johnson could break away from them.
Johnson tried for a suplex on Cabana, but Cabana was too strong for him to suplex. Cabana was going to finish Johnson away early with a roll-up, but Johnson kicked out. Johnson did manage to hit Cabana with a dropkick, but it didn’t take Cabana down. Meanwhile, Cabana hit Johnson with a flying apple and bionic elbows. Cabana finished Johnson off with a submission move to score the win…
Colt Cabana defeated Lee Johnson via submission.
Briar’s Take: The only plus side to this match was, Cabana was more serious about his style of wrestling instead of being a comedy match. Meanwhile, Johnson just like Cutler, and Avalon continues his losing streak. Perhaps they could put Lee Johnson vs. Brandon Cutler vs. Peter Avalon in a triple threat where one of them finally wins? No?
9. KiLynn King vs. Penelope Ford (w/Kip Sabian). A collar elbow tie-up was seen as the match started. King however, had an explosive shoulder tackle on Ford, which planted Ford down on the ring. King also followed with a long standing suplex. King then was talking to Sabian who was on the outside, which allowed Ford to get an advantage. As Ford did so, Ford put King in an illegal submission hold and kissed Sabian.
Ford later had some shots to the stomach of King, who was able to get some momentum, as she would lay Ford out with a dropkick, which put Ford in the corner. King was going to hit a running move, but Ford countered with a handspring elbow and eventually a cutter for the victory.
Penelope Ford defeated KiLynn King via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: The match was short and sweet with not much story to the background. Ford is an impressive athlete, as is King, but nothing really excited much to cheer for either one to win.
10. Shawn Dean and Alan Angels vs. “Best Friends” Chuck Taylor and Trent (w/Orange Cassidy). Taylor and Dean start the match. Taylor then hits Dean with a dropkick, before Trent is tagged. Angels were able to get a few kicks in on Trent, including a step up enzuigiri, until Dean is planted down with a clothesline. Dean is tagged back in again and tried with a running clothesline, as Trent was sitting in the corner. Trent countered and planted Angels with a jumping DDT.
Taylor is back in the ring and sends Dean to the outside with a clothesline, as he would later hit Angels with a powerslam. Taylor drags Dean on the outside and sends him into Trent who does a spear. Eventually, Taylor went back inside, tagged in Trent, and both pick up the victory by hitting the Strong Zero on Angels.
Best Friends defeated Shawn Dean and Alan Angels via pinfall.
After the match, Taz and Excalibur ran down the card lineup for Dynamite as the show went off the air…
Briar’s Take: A good competitive tag team match. I’m not sure if it would have main event worthy on Dynamite, but it could have definitely been featured on Dynamite for a featured match on the undercard.
Overall, that was another long show in the books for the third consecutive week in a row. I am honestly glad they are putting in more effort for Dark while also hyping Dynamite at the end of the show, which was one of my biggest gripes in earlier episodes when Dynamite was hyped. I continue to like the athleticism in the matches and again, it’s not the wrestlers fault, but I find it hard to get excited about any of the matches, since most of them are predictable and we don’t know much about the other wrestlers who come in on a random basis.
As I’ve questioned before and will again, why not have some kind of feature video that will let the wrestlers explain themselves before the match starts? I know they probably can’t do that for everyone, but a little story as to why they are here and why they are facing this certain wrestler would help. Sure, there could be an upset win here or there, but that rarely often happens. It doesn’t have to happen all that often, but a victory from Avalon or Cutler would be nice, instead of them losing all the time and every match.
Another sidebar for this episode is Havoc biting Andre’s head during a pandemic. Why are we having this take place? It feels needless and shouldn’t be used that much. I don’t want to sound like a dead horse, but just unnecessary during these current times. As for the long matches, it feels as though they are giving everyone a chance to knock some ring rust off on those who haven’t wrestled in a while and that was regularly competing on Dark before the pandemic started.
I continue to be mixed on how long the show needs to be. I liked it when it was just right at an hour instead of an hour and a half, just because it was short. However, this episode in my belief, doesn’t feel like one that you should go out of your way to watch, unless one of your favorite wrestlers is wrestling and you’re a big fan. My favorite match on this show was Best Friends vs. Shawn Dean and Alan Angels, as it was a competitive, back and forth match. Everything was basically a showcase for the Dynamite regulars. This show clocks in at an hour and 23 minutes. Final Score: 7.3 out of 10.