By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 53)
Taped in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Streamed September 22, 2020 on the AEW YouTube Page
Excalibur, Taz, and Veda Scott welcomed us to Dark. Scott threw to ring announcer Justin Roberts…
1. Fuego Del Sol and Rembrandt Lewis vs. Stu Grayson and Evil Uno. Rembrandt Lewis made his AEW debut. Del Sol took Grayson down with a couple of arm drags and tagged Lewis in the match. Lewis would hit a knee strike to Grayson, but Grayson quickly followed by planting Lewis on the mat. Grayson tagged Uno in the match, and Uno took Lewis down with a punt kick. Lewis in the corner, would receive chops from Uno. Uno eventually made the tag to Grayson again, but Grayson tagged Uno in again.
Lewis hit a shot to the mid-section of Uno, but Uno planted Lewis with a backdrop and a leg drop. A tag was made again from Uno to Grayson, and Grayson came off the top rope with an elbow to Lewis. Lewis made the tag to Del Sol, but Grayson hit a high kick to Del Sol and hit the night fall to Del Sol as well. Uno is back in the ring and puts away Del Sol with the Flatliner to win the match…
Stu Grayson and Evil Uno defeated Fuego Del Sol and Rembrandt Lewis via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Del Sol and Lewis never stood a chance. Grayson and Uno both dominated the majority of the match.
2. Christopher Daniels vs. Ricky Starks. Starks threw right strikes to Daniels in the corner and took Daniels down with a clothesline. Daniels then hit his own right hands, and hit an arm drag to Starks as well. Daniels put Starks in an arm bar, but Starks countered by locking in the head scissors. Daniels broke the submission hold, and took Starks down with another arm bar. Starks went for a cross body, but missed in the process. Daniels hit the moonsault press from the top rope, went for the pinfall, but only got a two count.
Starks hit the fingers to the eye of Daniels, then followed with a knee to the back which sent Daniels to the outside of the ring. Starks rolled Daniels back in the ring and attempted a pinfall, but could only get a two count. Starks then hit a swinging neckbreaker to Daniels afterward. Starks tried hitting an elbow drop, but Daniels countered the move with a t-bone suplex to Starks. Daniels followed with a STO to plant Starks down on the mat, and then hit a sit-out powerbomb. Daniels tried going for the angles wings, but Starks countered by throwing Daniels into the corner. Both Starks and Daniels took each other down with a double clothesline. After the double clothesline, Starks would finally hit the crossbody to Daniels, and score the victory…
Ricky Starks defeated Christopher Daniels via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: I questioned the outcome a little bit, because I also thought Daniels would have a chance against Starks, just knowing Daniels have been in AEW a little longer. But this was a great, competitive match with Starks getting the victory.
3. Puf and Calvin Stewart vs. The Butcher and The Blade (w/Eddie Kingston). Puf and Stewart made their AEW debuts. The Butcher hit Stewart with a knee breaker and The Blade hit Stewart with a powerslam. The Blade then hit a clothesline to Stewart. The Butcher, and The Blade made tags with the Blade throwing Stewart to the outside of the ring. The Butcher and Kingston illegally laid out strikes to Stewart, when the ref was distracted. The Blade is in the ring again, but Stewart hit a dropkick which allowed Stewart to tag in Puf .
Puf took Blade down with a back elbow and then hit the Blade with a reversal type move. The Butcher is tagged in and hits a crossbody to Puf. Puf made the tag to Stewart, but The Butcher and The Blade hit the full death on Stewart to get the win…
The Butcher and The Blade defeated Puf and Calvin Stewart via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Like the first tag team match, Puf and Stewart just never stood a chance. They were able to get some offense in, but the win ultimately went to The Butcher and The Blade, which was expected or predictable.
4. Serpentinco (w/Luther) vs. Will Hobbs. Luther distracted Hobbs at the beginning of the match, which allowed Serpentinco to throw a few strikes. However, Hobbs threw Serpentinco to the outside of the ring, and slamming Serpentinco into the barricade. Luther would try to provide a distraction to Hobbs again, but Hobbs hit a delayed vertical suplex to Serpentinco.
Hobbs followed with another suplex to Serpentinco. Hobbs would pick Serpentinco up easily and slammed him to the mat. Serpentinco would get offense in by hitting a kick and elbows to Hobbs, and a boot to the face of Hobbs. With the ref distracted and Hobbs on the outside, Luther would beat up Hobbs and slammed into the outside ring post.
Back in the ring, Serpentinco hit a double stomp to Hobbs. Hobbs however hit a shoulder tackle to Serpentinco. Serpentinco tried jumping from the top rope, but Hobbs caught Serpentinco. Hobbs went for a move, but Luther distracted Hobbs to get Serpentinco out of the move. Despite the distraction, Hobbs put away Serpentinco with a spinebuster.
Will Hobbs defeated Serpentinco via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: With Hobbs getting the victory, it shows AEW continues to be very high on him as AEW moves forward. The match gave Hobbs momentum ahead of his tag-team match on Dynamite for Wednesday.
5. Dontae Smiley and Maxx Stardom vs. “The Lucha Brothers” Pentagon Jr and Rey Fenix (w/Eddie Kingston). Stardom and Fenix started the match for their respective teams. Stardom went for the quick fall early, but Fenix countered with a camel clutch. Fenix then used the ropes illegally for an illegal submission hold. Fenix then tagged Pentagon Jr in the match, both would hit a paradise lock to Stardom.
Pentagon Jr laid a kick to Stardom. Fenix is back in the ring again, and Pentagon with the help of Fenix hit a double diving stomp to the low body of Stardom. Pentagon and Fenix continued to make numerous tags. Stardom avoided a double hook clothesline from Pentagon Jr and Fenix, finally tagged in Smiley. Smiley came in the match and did a leaping dropkick to Fenix.
Smiley hit a double hook suplex to Fenix, which sent Fenix out to the ring. Smiley tagged Stardom in the match again, and Smiley, Stardom hit double team moves to Pentagon. Smiley then went over the top with a jumping suicida to Fenix on the outside. Stardom went to the top rope, but Pentagon countered with the leg and hit Stardom with the half nelson bomb. Fenix hit a missile dropkick to Smiley, and the Lucha Brothers hit the assisted wheelbarrow cannonball on Stardom to gain the victory…
Lucha Brothers defeated Dontae Smiley and Maxx Stardom via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Good, solid match from the Lucha Brothers who never really disappoint. This is the second straight week that Smiley and stardom was featured on Dark.
6. Ryzin and Xander Gold vs. Dark Order 5 (Alan Angels) and 10 (Preston Vance). Angels and Gold started with a lockup, as Angels countered Gold’s wrist lock. Arm drags and hip toss would be blocked by both men, while Angels took Gold down with a clothesline. Angels tagged in Vance after the clothesline, and both would double team with Vance hitting a dropkick to Gold. Ryzin made the tag to be in the match, and Ryzin hit a leaping dropkick. However, Vance threw Ryzin into the corner of Angels, which saw Angels throw a strike to Ryzin.
Angels and Vance made consistent tags, with Vance hitting a cutter on Ryzin. Ryzin then hit a falling neckbreaker on Vance. Ryzin tried hitting a moonsault, but missed the move on Vance. Vance made the tag to Angels, and so did Ryzin to Gold. Gold then hit a shoulder tackle to Angels. Gold would follow with a northern lights suplex to Angels. Vance made the tag to Angels, and hit the spinebuster to Gold.
Vance and Angels hit the punt kick to Ryzin, and Angels and Vance hit a diving stomp into the powerslam on Gold to win the match…
Dark Order 5 and 10 defeated Ryzin and Xander Gold via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A match of what you would expect from the Dark Order and nothing more. Though, I get it’s their “gimmick”, but why say Dark Order “5” and “10” when the names of the wrestlers are listed on their tights? If you really wanted to follow through, just put “5” and “10” on the tights.
7. Kevin Blackwood and Daniel Garcia vs. “The New Jersey Connection” Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss. Garcia and Janela countered each other’s move as the match started, until Janela planted Garcia down with a back elbow. Janela made the tag to Kiss, and both hit Japanese like arm drags. Garcia then made the tag to Blackwood, but Kiss rolled up Blackwood while Kiss hit a huracanrana like move to Blackwood. Garcia is tagged again and planted Kiss down with a clothesline.
Blackwood continued to beat down Kiss and made another tag to Garcia. Garcia then hit an underhook suplex to Kiss. Blackwood is tagged again and hit numerous kicks to Kiss. Blackwood tried a single leg krab, but tagged Garcia. Kiss caught the break and tagged Janela in the match. Once Janela made the tag, he dropkicked Garcia, and hit a flying forearm to Blackwood in the corner.
Janela hit a death valley driver to Blackwood and a superkick to Garcia. Janela then laid Garcia and Blackwood with a diving crossbody to both on the outside of the ring. Janela followed with a corkscrew to Garcia, and nearly got the win for his team. Janela tagged Kiss again, as Kiss would hit the diving split leg drop to score the victory…
Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss defeated Kevin Blackwood and Daniel Garcia via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Seems to be a lot of tag team matches tonight. There are also a lot of annoying ad interruptions.
8. M’Badu and Cruz vs. “The Gunn Club” Billy and Austin Gunn. Billy put M’Baud in a headlock and planted him down with a shoulder tackle. Baud tried a hip toss, but both Billy and Badu countered their hip tosses. Billy then hit a clothesline to Badu to send him down on the mat. Austin is tagged in and dropped kicked Cruz after Cruz was tagged in. However, Cruz hit a clothesline of his own to Austin. Cruz followed up with an elbow drop to Austin.
Badu is tagged in again and hit a couple of stomps to Austin. Austin laid chops to Badu, but Badu hit a powerslam to Austin. Badu tried for a leaping splash to Austin, but missed Austin, which allowed Billy to tag in. Billy would hit the fameasser to Cruz and score the easy victory.
Billy and Austin Gunn defeated M’Badu and Cruz via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Unfortunately, Badu and Cruz never really stood a chance, and The Gunn Club continues their winning streak.
9. KiLynn King vs. Serena Deeb. Deeb went for the cover early, but King kicked out. King then put Deeb in a submission hold. Deeb countered a body slam and took King down on the mat with an arm drag. King picked Deeb up and slammed her on the top rope, and hit the double knees to Deeb while she was in the corner.
Deeb hit a running knee lift and continued to take King down on the mat with clotheslines. Deeb then put King in a camel lock submission, but King would kick out. King followed with a kick to the head of Deeb. Deeb however, made King tap out to win the match…
Serena Deeb defeated KiLynn King via submission.
Briar’s Take: Another solid outing by Deeb, who picks up her first victory in AEW. Interested to see how she’ll continue to grow with AEW.
10. Ben Carter vs. Lee Johnson. After dodging each other’s move, Johnson hit Carter down with a dropkick. Carter though planted Johnson face first in the turnbuckle. Carter followed with a snap suplex to Johnson. Afterward, Carter put Johnson into a STF submission. Carter dropkicked Johnson, who was on the top rope, and then hit a suplex. Johnson rolled Carter into a cradle, but Carter kicked out and Johnson hit a punt kick to take Carter down.
Johnson would then hit a blue thunder bomb to Carter, only getting a two count. Carter went for a moonsault, but Johnson dodged at the last second and hit a jumping sucidia. Carter followed with one of his own to Johnson. Carter tried hitting a phoenix splash, but Johnson countered with a death valley driver. Both men continued to get near falls after hitting their moves. Carter hit a Spanish Fly along with a kick to the face of Johnson. After being frustrated by not getting the first pinfall, Carter quickly went to the rope for the frog splash and scored his first AEW victory…
Ben Carter defeated Lee Johnson via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A great match from these two. Both Johnson and Carter went back, and forth throughout the contest. The commentary team was really laying it on thick by hyping Carter. No issues with Carter, as he is very talented, but sometimes the commentary team can be kind of annoying when it’s really obvious that they’re high on someone. Some of the comments made about Carter were Starks being impressed with Carter and Johnson, Taz being reminded of Dynamite Kid, and Veda Scott questioning if Carter or Johnson would make a good addition for Team Taz.
11. Brian Pillman Jr vs. Eddie Kingston. After the bell rang, Pillman hit a crossbody to Kingston, and followed with a dropkick as well. Pillman Jr tried going over the top, but Kingston swept his leg on the apron and sent Pillman Jr into the guard rail. Kingston then hit a modified powerslam to Pillman Jr. Kingston continued with kicks to Pillman Jr and Irish whipped him into the corner.
Pillman Jr performed a sunset flip to Kingston, though Kingston quickly hit a crucifix to Pillman Jr. Afterward, Pillman Jr hit a thrust kick to Kingston to send him outside of the ring. Pillman Jr followed with a diving dropkick on Kingston. Pillman Jr then hit a springboard clothesline to Kingston.
Kingston hit a jawbreaker and a modified suplex. He went for the pinfall attempt, but Pillman Jr kicked out. Pillman Jr lifted Kingston and put him inside out, and almost got the victory. Pillman Jr tried going for the victory, but Kingston hit a spinning back elbow to put Pillman Jr away for the victory…
Eddie Kingston defeated Brian Pillman Jr via pinfall.
Excalibur ran down and hyped the card for Dynamite to close the show…
Briar’s Take: This match got off to a slow start, but it picked up as the match went on. For a moment there, I really thought we would see Pillman finally get his first pinfall victory, but we’ll have to wait another week to see if he’ll finally get his victory.
Episode 53 of Dark was a heavily wrestled tag-team show. Sometimes that’s not bad, as switching things up a bit can be good. Though as it normally feels, when you feature prominent AEW tag teams going up against names who are making their debuts, it’s really difficult to get behind as you’ll somewhat know who will win already. Don’t get me wrong, there is tons of talent across the board, just something AEW needs to work on.
The episode was very general and basic, but there were a few matches that stood out that you could go out of your way to watch. I believe those matches are Christopher Daniels vs. Ricky Starks, KiLynn vs. Serena Deeb, and Ben Carter vs. Lee Johnson. I go with Carter vs. Johnson as match of the night. They got a little extra time to showcase their moves and tried to make names for themselves. Carter continues to be impressive, and you can tell AEW is high on him since the commentary team constantly spoke about what they were impressed with.
All in all, this episode was much better than last week’s show. I’m not sure why, but the show just went smoothly without many flaws. I rate the show 7.5 out of 10.