By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 36)
Taped in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Streamed June 2, 2020 on the AEW YouTube Page
1. John Skyler vs. Billy with Austin Gunn. Anytime Billy tried to lockup, Skyler went toward the ropes to break it up. After a few attempts, Billy and Skyler finally locked up and did a couple of moves, before breaking the hold (AGAIN). Meanwhile, Billy did a shoulder block tackle to Skyler, while Skyler used the ropes for a diving spear. Skyler used the ropes again to run to attempt a move, but Billy countered and planted him down. Billy tried to do one of his moves, until Austin got involved and said, ‘no none of that.’ So then, Billy hit the Fameasser and finished Skyler off for the victory.
Billy Gunn defeated John Skyler via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Wow! Billy finally got a win! Meanwhile, Austin is definitely annoying at ringside. Not much of a match though.
In the original premiere, the show went off and stopped. But, you had to refresh, if you were watching live…
Afterward, Alex Marvez interviewed Dustin Rhodes outside the arena in the parking lot. Marvez had mentioned The Natural Nightmares had been on a roll recently and gave Brandi Rhodes a chance to speak. Once she began speaking, a car just happened to be close by and started honking at them annoyingly. It turns out, it was Dustin’s partner, QT Marshall who pulled up in a corvette with Allie in the passenger seat. Dustin told Marshall that he needed to start acting like a member of the team and not get distracted by Allie. Marshall replied by saying, “new me.” Dustin and Brandi tried to convince Marshall to get ready for their match, but Marshall said: “I’ll do it later. Allie and I are going to go out, and grab something to eat”…
Briar’s Take: Can’t say I’m convinced of breaking up The Natural Nightmares since they don’t do much as a team and are really only featured Dark. Either way, I guess it creates some storyline background for Dark moving forward.
2. Jon Cruz and Joe Alonzo vs. The Butcher and The Blade. This is the first time before the pandemic started that The Butcher (Andy Williams) and The Blade (Braxton Sutter) have appeared in the ring on AEW television, as noted by Excalibur. Once the two were standing in the ring, both Williams and Sutter attacked Cruz and Alonzo before the bell rang. When doing so, the bell finally rang, and they continued their beatdown.
The Blade then threw Cruz on to the ropes, while the Butcher did a release suplex on Alonzo. Afterward, Blade was the legal man along with Cruz. Blade threw Cruz into the corner and started laying down the chops. Blade while having Cruz in a powerslam position, tagged in his partner the Butcher as Butcher did a leg drop onto Cruz. Butcher then strongly Irish whipped Cruz into the corner. Butcher also picked up Cruz and dropped him down for multiple gut busters.
Butcher threw Cruz into the corner of his tag partner, Alonzo. Alonzo tagged in and came in trying to take down Butcher with some flying rights. Though, it was short lived, as Butcher laid out Alonzo with a flying crotch chop. Butcher also hit a few suplexes afterward. Butcher with the assist from the Blade did a combination move to Alonzo.
After Blade tagged himself in, he went for the cover and was going to pick up the victory, but lifted Alonzo up instead to stop the count. The Blade went for a move, but Alonzo countered and was given enough time to tag Cruz back into the match. Eventually, Cruz’s momentum was short lived, as Butcher and Blade hit the vertical and suplex into the double knees for the victory.
The Butcher and The Blade defeated Joe Alonzo and Jon Cruz via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A nice return for The Butcher and The Blade after coming out of quarantine. It was nice that Excalibur noted that instead of hiding it. This was basically a dominating showcase for the team to knock the ring off rust. It was also interesting to note that Excalibur also mentioned they could be future challengers for the tag team titles. Something to watch moving forward.
Backstage, Jenn Decker interviewed Brandon Cutler and Peter Avalon. Once she started talking, both Cutler and Avalon started arguing with each other about who is the worst. Leva Bates interrupted them to get themselves together and tried to get some positive momentum. “He doesn’t want his first win from cheating,” Cutler said…
Briar’s Take: Can’t say I’m interested.
3. Christi Jaynes vs. KiLynn King. As King made her entrance, Jaynes was sitting on the top turnbuckle. Both started with a collar elbow tie up. Jaynes then went to a side headlock and took down King. Then both of the wrestlers would miss each other moves, before King hit the running shoulder block.
King also did several arm takes down, until she did an armbar submission. However, Jaynes started to get the upper hand by standing on King’s hair illegally. Jaynes then ran into a clothesline of King and King managed to hit a German suplex onto Jaynes. King hit the cutter onto Jaynes and went for the victory, only to get a two count. Shortly after, Jaynes kicked out and rolled up King to pick up the win…
Christi Jaynes defeated KiLynn King via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: This match was good while it lasted until the flat ending. The ending felt cheap, just because we have seen it so many times, that it has overstayed its welcome. A basic formula match to allow Jaynes to score her first victory.
4. Big Game Leroy and EJ Lewis vs. Santana and Ortiz. Both Leroy and Lewis made their AEW debut. Leroy was on a handheld game device and appeared to be playing a game. When the match started, Leroy was still on his phone, and Santana kicked it out of his hands and threw the device to the outside. Lewis tagged in and Santana did several kicks to Lewis, and threw him across the ring.
Afterward, Santana tagged in Ortiz and both hit several combination moves on Lewis. Ortiz then followed up with a couple of drops and a clothesline. Ortiz then put Lewis backwards while holding him and Santana did a couple of chops. Santana tagged in for a short while and laid out a kick. Ortiz hit one of his signature moves, while Santana used the ropes for a flying moonsault. Santana went for the cover, but Leroy finally came back into the ring after being on the outside for a long time. Leroy tried to get some a move in, but Ortiz planted him with a Jager Bomb as Santana threw Leroy into the ring post. Satana and Ortiz finished Leroy off with The Street Sweeper…
Satana and Ortiz defeated Big Game Leroy and EJ Lewis via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A showcase win for Pride and Powerful.
5. Brandon Cutler and Peter Avalon (w/Leva Bates) vs. “The Natural Nightmares” QT Marshall and Dustin Rhodes (w/Brandi Rhodes). Dustin and Cutler started the match and missed each other’s moves. Not too long, before Avalon and Marshall tagged in. Marshall laid down Avalon with a big hip toss to Avalon. Marshall also hit a standing suplex and then followed that up with a few running shoulder blocks to Avalon. Marshall then hit a biconic elbow from the top rope. Bates tried to interfere by catching Marshall’s foot. After Marshall did a move to Avalon, Marshall went outside and slammed the book out of Bates’ hands. Meanwhile, as Marshall was distracted, Avalon hit a jumping suicida. Avalon tried for a couple of pinfall attempts, but was unsuccessful in doing so.
Cutler tagged in and started to get the upper hand on Marshall, as Cutler would hit a flying forearm. Cutler is tagged in again after Avalon was in the ring for a short time, and managed to hit a senton. Cutler went for a pinfall attempt, but was broken up by Dustin. After standing on the apron for the majority of the match, Dustin is finally tagged in. He comes in with tons of momentum and hits a running bulldog on Avalon, while doing the powerslam on Cutler. Later in the match, Dustin hit a Canadian Destroyer and Marshall with the cutter to win the match.
The Natural Nightmares defeated Brandon Cutler and Peter Avalon.
Excalibur and Taz hyped Dynamite at the end of the show, while Natural Nightmares are interviewed backstage. Before they could get a chance to talk, Allie came in and Marshall said, ‘I gotta go guys’…
Briar’s Take: Welp, folks. Cutler and Avalon remain winless in AEW and I had hopes of them picking up a victory! The Natural Nightmares took the win for the showcase. My only gripe with this match is Allie spent too much time dreaming on Marshall, which made for several eye rollers. Eventually in my eyes, Allie will most likely be the reason, the Natural Nightmares split up.
After three consecutive weeks of jammed pack shows of nine matches or more, Dark was down to five matches this week, which I think is a good length for Dark. Only because, it’s right in the middle, as it’s not too long or not too short. However, there were some technical issues when Dark started. If you were watching live like I was, there was no premiere video with the usual countdown clock. Actually, there was no video at all. They were not too late when the premiere finally started, but here’s another weird thing. The show started out as a live viewing and we saw the first match, which was Billy vs. John Skyler. However, once the match ended, the live video also ended. You had to refresh your browser and the whole show was uploaded in its entire length. I’m sure it was just an error on their part, but definitely made for some confusing moments.
As for the show itself, I can’t say I was too particularly excited about it or invested into it. Dark continues to be showcases for the regulars and be fairly predictable in some cases. I truly wish, AEW would give an upset win every now and then just so they can give some credibility to the opponents who are facing the regulars. Imagine those waking up next day not watching Dark and hearing Brandon Cutler finally getting a pinfall victory over a top AEW wrestler? Sure, that probably won’t happen, but it would definitely make people check out Dark on a regular basis, as I suspect most probably don’t watch every week and only watch Dynamite. If I had to pick the best match of the night, I would have to say The Butcher and The Blade’s tag match. It was nice to see them back in action and had a dominating win. I’m curious to see where they go when they return to Dynamite. Final Score: 6.5 out of 10. The show clocks in at 44:49.