By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 41)
Taped in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Streamed July 7, 2020 on the AEW YouTube Page
Excalibur and Taz welcomed us to a Fyter Fest edition of Dark.
1. Brian Pillman Jr. vs. Shawn Spears. During the entrances, an ad aired for some reason. Pillman and Spears started with a lock up, and both put each other in wrist lock (like we see in all Dark matches). Spears laid a knife edge chop to Pillman in the corner, but Pillman countered with a dropkick after missing the first two. Spears got upset and rolled to the outside and got coaching from Tully Blanchard. Pillman tried a springboard, but Spears kicked him to the ramp. While on the ramp, Spears stomped Pillman’s head.
More chops and uppercuts were seen by Pillman, including a flying forearm. Pillman then tried going for a move from the top rope, but missed Spears in the process. Spears lifted Pillman up on his shoulders and quickly hit the C4 to finish off Pillman.
Shawn Spears defeated Brian Pillman Jr. via pinfall.
After the match, Tully gave Spears the glass to put in his glove and gave a left hand jab to Pillman…
Briar’s Take: A quick match for Spears. To be honest, this match was kind of a disappointment, especially since there was a little bit of hype for Pillman Jr. coming in from MLW. By the way, Spears’ music is just awful.
2. Rache Chanel vs. Big Swole. Rache Chanel made her AEW debut. Swole put Chanel into a headlock submission and a takeover. Swole went for a Dirty Dancing early, but Chanel dodged the move by going to the outside. Back inside the ring, Swole hit a roundhouse kick to Chanel. Though, Chanel got a swinging neckbreaker and only got a one count. Chanel then followed with a long submission hold to Swole.
As Chanel had Swole into a submission hold, the cameras pointed to Britt Baker at ringside. Swole got momentum and hit a back elbow to Chanel. Swole finished Chanel with the Dirty Dancing and a punt kick to get the win…
Big Swole defeated Rache Chanel via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: This match lasted longer than it should have. Lots of standing and stalling, and not much wrestling action. Seems as though, AEW is continuing the Swole vs. Baker feud.
An interview segment hosted by Alex Marvez Brandi Rhodes and Allie was shown. Brandi noted that she and Allie haven’t had the best of relationship, but she believes in second chances. Marvez nodded along and agreed with Brandi’s point, until Allie said it’s because of her that their team has momentum. Allie said she has been doing all the work. Dustin Rhodes interrupted the conversation and told Allie, “I know exactly what’s going to happen, because it happened to me. You’re going to end up kicking QT (Marshall) in the balls and break his heart.” He told Allie not to do that. He also told her to take advantage of the opportunity to be a part of The Natural Nightmare Sisters…
Briar’s Take: Wait. We just had Allie and Brandi bickering at each other a couple of weeks ago, when Allie started getting involved, and now Dustin encourages them to be a team? What is this madness? I simply just don’t get this kind of booking. Also, why are we having ads during a YouTube show?
3. Luther vs. Frankie Kazarian. Kazarian took down Luther with a couple of arm drags and put him in a quick submission. Kazarian then knee drops to Luther’s arm, while down on the mat. Kazarian got another arm drag in and continued to work on the left arm of Luther. Luther then hit a big leg lariat to knock Kazarian down. After the move, Luther put Kazarian in a butterfly suplex.
Luther arguing with the ref, gets caught off guard by Kazarian, who lays some punches and a clothesline. Kazarian then managed to hit a flying forearm. After a short offense from Kazarian, Luther fires back with a punt kick, dropping Kazarian down. However, Kazarian got Luther into a victory roll to win the match…
Frankie Kazarian defeated Luther via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A nothing match, because it never really got out of first gear. There were a couple of moves, but the finish felt anticlimactic when Kazarian rolled Luther to get the victory. By the way, do we really need Luther to scream in a high pitch voice every time he doesn’t get his way? Also to note, Kazarian picks up his 20th career win in AEW.
4. Joe Alonzo, Brady Pierce, Tony Donati and Faboo Andre vs. Pentagon Jr., Rey Fenix, The Butcher, and The Blade. Pentagon Jr. laid a kick to Tony Donati as the match began. Pentagon Fenix hit a combination move on Donati. The Blade and Joe Alonzo are tagged in, and irish whips Alonzo into the corner. Shortly thereafter, The Blade tagged in The Butcher.
The Butcher came with full speed and hit a running clothesline, while Alonzo sat in the corner. The Butcher picked Alonzo up and chokeslammed him on the mat. The Butcher went for the pinfall attempt, but all the teams came in to break the pin. Pentagon pinned Joe Alonzo for the team victory, after The Butcher, The Blade, and Fenix hit combination moves…
The Butcher, The Blade, Pentagon Jr., and Rey Fenix defeated Joe Alonzo, Brady Pierce, Tony Donati and Faboo Andre via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: I really don’t know what to say about this match, but it was very random, especially with the pairing of the teams. At least, the match was short. As Excalibur noted, the match was simply a small preview for night two of Fyter Fest.
5. Will Hobbs vs. Orange Cassidy. Hobbs made his AEW debut. Hobbs trashed talked Cassidy, before the bell rang. As the bell rang, Cassidy with a leaping elbow strike to score the quick victory.
Orange Cassidy defeated Will Hobbs via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A momentum win for Cassidy ahead of his match with Chris Jericho on Fyter Fest night two.
6. Shawn Dean vs. Michael Nakazawa. Nakazawa tried showing sportsmanship, but Dean was hesitant about the showing of respect. Dean put Nakazawa into a waist lock, but as soon as he did, Nakazawa grabbed his baby oil to get out of the hold. Nakazawa took down Dean with a shoulder block, but Dean counters with a dropkick. Dean hit a shoulder to the midsection and a diving lariat. He quickly went for the pin on Nakazawa, who kicked out.
Nakazawa again tried using the baby oil to get out of another hold, but referee Aubrey Edwards took the bottle and threw it out of the ring. (Thank you Aubrey!) Afterward, Dean snap suplexed Nakazawa in the middle of the ring. Nakazawa took down Dean with a big tackle. Nakazawa went to the top rope and hit a diving shoulder tackle to Dean.
Dean followed through with a TKO and a backstabber. He went for a pinfall victory, but Nakazawa kicked out. Nakazawa had some type of clothing and put whatever it was on Dean. Nakazawa used the clothing again and hit an STO like finisher to score the pinfall.
Michael Nakazawa defeated Shawn Dean via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Man, this was just awful! Nakazawas’ character is just so cartoonish, it’s cringe worthy. I just can’t take a wrestler seriously, when they use baby oil to escape a hold, as it just makes the presentation look bad. Thank goodness for Aubrey Edwards, who took the baby oil and threw it out of the ring. But again, Nakazawa needs a major character overhaul.
7. Serpentico vs. Scorpio Sky. Serpentico put Sky into a headlock, but Sky tripped Serpentico in the process of countering the move. Sky then hit a Russian leg sweep on Serpentico, and went for an early cover. Sky managed to hit a few moves, but Serpentico sent Sky out of the ring with a huracanrana. Serpentico tried going for a jumping suicida, but Sky dodged at the last second. This caused Serpentico to roll out of the ring and hit a kick to Sky. He then got Sky back in the ring and attempted some pinfall counts, but Sky kicked out.
Serpentico attempted to end Sky with a suplex, but Sky would finally counter Serpentico’s attempt with a brainbuster. Sky also hit the hanging neckbreaker. However, Serpentico followed with a foot stomp and went for a two count. Serpentico took Sky down with a kick to the jaw and the low DDT. Serpentico used the top rope for a move, but ran into Sky’s TKO on the way down…
Scorpio Sky defeated Serpentico via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A hell of a match between Sky and Serpentico. These two were very competitive and Sky continues to rack up victories.
8. Brandon Cutler and Peter Avalon (w/Leav Bates) vs. “Dark Order” Evil Uno and Stu Grayson. Uno tried to get Avalon to join the Dark Order, when doing so, he requested for Avalon to lay down on the mat so Uno could get the quick victory. As Uno went to cover Avalon, Avalon rolled him up and got a two count. Grayson got some offense in, but Avalon made the tag to Cutler. Grayson tried attacking Avalon, but Cutler kicked Grayson. Cutler went for a cover on Grayson, but Uno came to kick him out of the attempt. Barely standing on the mat, Cutler tried to take advantage of Grayson with a springboard move, but Grayson caught Cutler and slammed him.
Uno hit a backbreaker, but Grayson tags himself in the match to take control. When Uno tagged in again, he got an assist from Grayson, who hit a high round kick. Cutler, however, got his momentum back by laying out Grayson with a high crossbody. He made the tag to Avalon and hit his own crossbody, step up enziguri to Uno. Avalon also lays both of them out with dropkicks. Avalon is on a roll and manages a moonsault on Uno.
Grayson frustrated, tagged himself in. He was distracted by Bates on the outside, allowing Avalon to jump from the top rope. Back inside, Cutler hit a springboard move Grayson. He tried for an upset, but Uno broke the count. After an attempt to upset the Dark Order, Grayson laid out Avalon with a Night Fall to score the victory.
Evil Uno and Stu Grayson defeated Peter Avalon and Brandon Cutler via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A good effort from Cutler and Avalon. This match was their best to date, as they had a great showing, only to fall short AGAIN. As for the Dark Order, it’s quite disappointing to watch a team who ended Dynamite several months ago and came in hot, but is now wrestling in the “main event” on Dark against a team like Cutler and Avalon. I’m not sure what happened to the Dark Order, but man, the team has gone downhill fast.
There’s not much to say about this episode of Dark, as the show was pretty basic and the matches were so short, it just seemed like they never got out of first gear. For the matches itself, a lot of them were just really random. For example, Frankie Kazarian facing Luther is just odd and something I thought I would never see in my lifetime. I am somewhat disappointed with the debut of Brian Pillman Jr, but I guess he did what he had to do. There was some social media hype about his debut match, however, the match just never got going and it was quickly finished as soon as the match started. Here’s hoping Pillman gets another shot at AEW, as he is a great young wrestler and I love watching his matches in MLW.
Overall, a ho-hum episode of Dark, as there was just nothing to get excited about. This probably wouldn’t happen, but I feel like AEW should hold off on Dark tapings whenever there are special shows, such as Fyter Fest or Fight For The Fallen, Revolution, etc. The episodes just feel pointless and lack meaning. Final Score: 5.5 out of 10. Episode 41 clocked in at one hour and 16 minutes and five seconds.