By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 43)
Taped in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Streamed July 21, 2020 on the AEW YouTube Page
The broadcast team of Excalibur and Taz welcomed us to Dark…
1. AEW Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida vs. Rache Chanel in a non-title match. Shida started with a kick to the mid-section and an arm lock into a twist. Shida would try more moves, but Chanel would try to break it up. Chanel got a slap in, though Shida attempted a falcon arrow but did not deliver. Chanel hit a knee into the mid-section of Shida. Chanel put Shida into the ropes and grabbed her comb, and started combing Shida’s hair.
Chanel followed up with a backdrop. Shida however, did a knee strike of her own and a rising knee when Chanel was on the apron. Shida caught Chanel and hit a backbreaker. Afterward, Shida hit a sliding elbow strike and went for a pinfall attempt, but Chanel kicked out. Finally, Shida won with the Falcon Arrow.
Hikaru Shida defeated Rache Chanel via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: I have many problems with this match. First off, how did Rache Chanel suddenly get a match with Shida when she’s only been there for a couple of weeks? Secondly, why did it take Shida five and a half minutes to beat an unknown opponent? When having champions wrestle on Dark, they should only be in matches that last 30 seconds or a minute, not five minutes, because that kind of devalues the champion a little bit.
2. Corey Hollis vs. Kip Sabian (w/Penelope Ford). Sabian began the match with his sunglasses on, but realized he was wearing them and took them off (eye roll). Sabian threw a strong right to Hollis and started stomping him, while he was on the ground. Hollis tried picking up Sabian on his shoulders, but Sabian countered into a dropkick.
Sabian also managed a flying lariat and a strong kick to the chest. Sabian went for a swinging DDT, but Hollis denied the move and kicked Sabian’s mid-section. Hollis began to have momentum and jumped from the top rope for a flying kick, and tried for a pinfall but Sabian kicked out. After the flying kick from Hollis, Sabian ended Hollis momentum with a deathly hallows.
Kip Sabian defeated Corey Hollis via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Nothing to see here. The match was too short to really get going. Just another victory for Sabian’s win column.
After the break, Dasha Gonazelz welcomed us from the Jacksonville Jaguar practice field. Dustin Rhodes was in the background and was coaching Allie while Brandi Rhodes was working out. Dasha told Allie and Brandi they were 4-0 in tag team action, and asked them what their goal was? Allie their goal was to win and that’s obviously what they were doing. Brandi said it was a good question. She said they hope to catch AEW’s attention. She said AEW is known for the best tag team in the world for men, but questioned what it actually means for women? When Brandi tried ending the interview, Allie and her started arguing about saying the same thing…
Briar’s Take: I just can’t take this storyline seriously. It’s so bad, it’s skippable. Can we please end it now?
3. Brady Pierce and Sabby vs. “Best Friends” Chuck Taylor and Trent. Sabby and Trent started the match, with Sabby throwing down Trent. Sabby also hit a shoulder tackle. He tried powerslamming Trent, but Trent countered by dropping Sabby to his knees. Trent however, planted Sabby down with a back suplex and tagged Taylor into the match. Sabby tagged Pierce in as well.
Taylor hit a dropkick from the middle rope to Pierce. Taylor tagged Trent in again and both did a combination move. After being distracted by Sabby, Taylor ran into the spinebuster from Pierce. Sabby then drop kicked Taylor onto the middle of the mat. Pierce hit a punt kick to Trent, but Trent quickly followed with a backdrop suplex. Trent then hit a swinging DDT to Sabby and a knee strike to the back of the head.
Trent went for a pinfall attempt again, but failed to get the victory. Trent was going to follow with a move through the ropes, but Sabby caught him and laid Trent out with a powerslam. Taylor returned to the match after being on the outside for a long time. He hit the Sole Food to Pierce, then Trent followed with a spear. Best Friends got the victory with the Strong Zero.
Best Friends defeated Brady Pierce and Sabby via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Not a long match, but definitely a bit more competitive. Best Friends are a great team with their chemistry. As Excalibur noted, “a rebound victory for the team.”
4. Will Hobbs vs. Ricky Starks. Hobbs threw Starks into the turnbuckle as the bell rang. He tried with a shoulder tackle, but failed to take Hobbs down. Starks finally took Hobbs down with a flying forearm. Hobbs picked Starks up and hit him with a delayed vertical suplex.
Starks then hit Hobbs down with a dropkick from the top rope. Starks would try for a move from the ropes again, but Hobbs picked him up and planted him down with a spinebuster. Afterward, Starks laid out Hobbs with a swinging neckbreaker. Starks won against Hobbs with the buster keaton.
Ricky Starks defeated Will Hobbs via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Starks is a good wrestler, but I’m beginning to eye roll at his character. Whenever his music plays for either an entrance or victory, he begins to react to the guitar riff, which is just so cartoony. How can we take him seriously if he’s reacting to his entrance music?
5. Aaron Solow vs. Scorpio Sky. This was Solow’s AEW debut. Sky took Solow down with a shoulder block and then put Solow into another arm lock. Sky also hit a russian leg sweep to Solow. Solow started stomping Sky, while Sky was laying in the corner. Solow followed with a flying enzurigi.
Sky planted Solow down with a big dropkick. Solow tried for a pinfall, but broke his own attempt and did a double stomp. Solow went for an upset, but Sky kicked out at the last second. Sky eventually caught Solow for the TKO to win the match.
Scorpio Sky defeated Aaron Solow via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Sky continues to be a great technical wrestler, week in, week out. I continue to be puzzled as to why he doesn’t have another shot at the AEW Title? Meanwhile, Solow had a great upside to him and was very impressive. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Solow more often on Dark. Excalibur noted that Solow is a mixed martial artist.
6. KiLynn King vs. Diamante. King takes Diamante down with a drop toe hold into a front face lock. King then hit a shoulder tackle to Diamante and an arm drag take down. King continued to beat Diamante down with a big suplex in the middle of the ring. Finally, Diamante did a suplex and a running dropkick, as King sat in the corner. However, King tried with quick pin roll ups. Despite King having some short offense, Diamante quickly put her away with the code red.
Diamante defeated KiLynn King via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A great women’s match. This was very competitive and given a lot of time to really get going. The victory gave Diamante some momentum for her match on Wednesday’s Dynamite.
7. Robert Anthony vs. Darby Allin. Before the match started, Allin gave a long stare to Taz from the ring. Taz said, “I tried to help you a long ways back, but you didn’t take it.” Allin continued to stare Taz down and in doing so, Anthony got upset and shouted, “Fight me, pay attention.”
After the stare down, action was fast and quickly paced. Allin put Anthony into a pinning predicament, but Anthony kicked out. The two went onto the outside after Anthony rolled out of the ring to catch his breath. Anthony planted Allin on the guard rail and a suplex onto the floor. Allin tried making Anthony tap out, but Anthony made it to the ropes to break the hold. Allin hit a Coffin Drop to Anthony, who was on the ring apron. Allin threw Anthony back into the ring and hit another coffin drop to score the victory.
Darby Allin defeated Robert Anthony via pinfall.
Afterward, Brian Cage came out and beat up Allin. Anthony tried interrupting Cage’s beatdown, but Ricky Starks came out and threw Anthony out of the ring. Starks and Cage worked together to lay out Allin…
Briar’s Take: A good showcase win for Allin. It seems as though we are beginning a storyline between Allin and Cage. It also appears as though Starks and Cage are now working together. I’m interested to see where that alliance goes.
8. Brandon Cutler and Peter Avalon (w/Leva Bates) vs. The Butcher and The Blade. Cutler hit a springboard to The Blade as the bell rang, but both wrestlers made tags to their respective teams. The Butcher caught Avalon in mid air, while The Blade hit a combo move to Avalon. The Butcher and The Blade tried for another combo move, but Avalon escaped the move this time and hit a dropkick.
Cutler and Avalon would try to work together, but The Butcher proved to be too powerful and suplex them both. The Butcher ran through Avalon with a running clothesline. Leva Bates tried taking down The Butcher, but he caught her in the process. This allowed enough time for Avalon to do a jumping suicida to The Butcher. Cutler is in the match and began the beatdown process on The Blade. He also hit a botched moonsault onto The Butcher.
Cutler went for another flying move on The Butcher, who was on the outside and while doing so, he made the tag to Avalon. Avalon jumped from the top rope for a flying frog splash and attempted a pinfall attempt, but was unsuccessful. Cutler made another tag, and in the process, Avalon hit The Blade with a book. In doing so, Cutler got frustrated with Avalon and questioned him, ‘what the hell man?” As Avalon was distracted by Cutler, The Butcher came in at full speed and laid out Avalon. The Butcher and The Blade won with the Full Death By Ruckus…
The Butcher and The Blade defeated Brandon Cutler and Peter Avalon via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A momentum win for The Butcher and The Blade, who head into their Falls Count Anywhere match with The Young Bucks on Dynamite. This was a better episode of Dark, but there continues to be some booking problems. For instance, it shouldn’t take Hikaru Shida five and a half minutes to win against Rache Chanel (who’s character is just awful), since Shida is the women’s champion. If Shida or another champion is facing an enhancement wrestler, the match should take them less than a minute to finish off their opponent. Anything longer than that kind of just downgrades them as a credible champion. Maybe I’m just overthinking it.
I have been noticing over the last couple of weeks that AEW seems to be getting wrestlers who are over six feet and have big muscles (who does that sound like?). This really shows when you have a big guy like Will Hobbs facing off against Ricky Starks (who is a bit smaller in terms). Nothing against Hobbs as his story is just wow… But, Hobbs overpowers Starks in the process during the match with the size advantage. Thankfully, the commentators (unlike the other one’s in a different company) did not point this out during the match.
Meanwhile, KiLynn King and Diamante had the best match of the night. They were given enough time for this match to really get going and once it did, the match was very competitive with Diamante getting the victory. On the topic of women’s wrestling, I just continue to eye roll at the storyline of Brandi Rhodes and Allie trying to work together as a team. Literally, just weeks ago, they were fighting and arguing about who should be in the match. Now they’re trying to work together as a team, but once the interview finished with Dasha Gonazelz, they both started arguing again. How can we take them seriously when it’s just back and forth bickering?
Wrapping my thoughts up, it appears we are getting a Darby Allin and Brian Cage storyline with Taz still involved. This is a great follow up for those who were paying attention many weeks ago, when Taz was “trying to help” Allin and get Allin to side with him. AEW also threw in somewhat of a curveball with Ricky Starks teaming with Brian Cage, which makes me wonder if Allin will find himself a partner to help equalize the advantage Starks and Cage have on him? On the bright side, at least we didn’t have to see Michael Nakazawa this week. Final Score: 7.5 out of 10. Episode 43 of AEW Dark wrapped up at one hour and 13 minutes, and seven seconds.