By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 70)
Taped in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Streamed January 12, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
Excalibur welcomed us to Dark. He was joined by Taz and Anthony Ogogo on commentary…
1. Mike Verna vs. Ricky Starks. Excalibur noted that Starks is ranked No. 5 in the AEW rankings for the AEW Championship. Starks threw some knee and elbow strikes while Verna did the same maneuver. Starks then hit a running dropkick to the side of the jaw to Verna. After the dropkick, Starks fired away with more strikes to Verna in the corner. Starks would plant Verna down on the mat with the suplex. Verna got a two count after hitting the powerslam. Starks came back and laid out Verna with a spear to get the victory.
Ricky Starks defeated Mike Verna via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: This was a great back and forth match between Verna and Starks. Verna continues to get better in every outing and I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes an appearance on Dynamite this year if AEW keeps bringing him in. Meanwhile, Starks continues to rack up victories while fighting for his shot at the AEW Title.
2. Ryzin and Fuego Del Sol vs. “Jurassic Express” Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus (w/Marko Stunt). Both Del Sol and Jungle Boy missed each other’s moves as the match began. Ryzin got frustrated and made a tag to Del Sol causing some confusion. Luchasaurus came to the ring and hit the punt kick to Ryzin. With the help from Luchasaurus, Jungle Boy jumped over him from the top rope and landed on Ryzin. Afterward, Ryzin landed a leg drop on Jungle Boy.
Luchasaurus was back in the ring, and laid out Del Sol and Ryzin in the process. Ryzin sent Luchasaurus into the barricade after a dropkick and Del Sol went for the cover after the Poison Rana but only got a two count. Not too long after, Jurassic Express hit the assisted powerbomb, and Jungle Boy made Del Sol tap out to win the match.
Jurassic Express defeated Ryzin and Fuego Del Sol via submission.
Briar’s Take: Your typical Jurassic Express match on Dark, meaning it’s the same moves and lock ups as you normally see every week on Dark. Don’t get me wrong, Jurassic Express are great in the ring, but when they are featured every week, you can almost anticipate every move that they are going to do.
A Scorpio Sky podcast ad aired.
3. Marti Daniels vs. Tay Conti. Conti rolled up Daniels early, but Daniels kicked out of the pinfall immediately. Daniels regained some momentum by using her size to the advantage. Conti began her comeback by throwing Daniels over with a suplex type move. Conti lifted Daniels up for the TKO for the victory.
Tay Conti defeated Marti Daniels via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Conti did everything she needed to do here. The match was simply a tune up match ahead of her NWA title match with Serena Deeb on Wednesday night.
4. Shawn Dean, Zack Clayton, Adam Priest, Danny Limelight, and Vary Morales vs. “The Dark Order” Colt Cabana, Alan Angels, Preston Vance, Evil Uno, and Stu Grayson in a 10-man Tag Team match. Grayson fired through by laying out Priest on the mat. Priest gained momentum by hitting a leg sweep. Angels and Clayton made their appearance by throwing strikes to each other until Angels hit the dropkick to Clayton. Vance tagged in and with the assistance from Angels, Vance hit the throwaway slam. Vance then hit the release suplex on Morales. Uno and Cabana made multiple tags before Cabana hit the swinging neckbreaker.
Angels made the tag back into the match and began laying out Limelight with powerful strikes. Angels came off the middle rope and hit a moonsault press. Limelight came back with a shoulder captured suplex to stop Angels momentum. Dean made the tag and hit his moves on every opponent. Dark Order ganged up on Priest as Uno landed the End of the Night for the win.
“Dark Order” Colt Cabana, Alan Angels, Preston Vance, Evil Uno, and Stu Grayson defeated Shawn Dean, Zack Clayton, Adam Priest, Danny Limelight, and Vary Morales via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A standard 10-man tag team match on Dark and nothing more. It was pretty obvious that Dark Order would pick up the win, with very little potential for an upset from the other team.
5. Louie Valle vs. Powerhouse Hobbs. Hobbs made a big splash in the corner to Valle and followed through with a clothesline. Hobbs then put Valle in a bear hug type move. Hobbs planted Valle down with the powerslam to gain the victory.
Will Hobbs defeated Louie Valle via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A short and sweet match, which is fine because Hobbs should finish off opponents quickly on Dark to live up to his powerhouse monicker.
6. Leva Bates vs. Red Velvet. Velvet landed a split type maneuver and attempted a pinfall, but Bates kicked out at two. Shortly thereafter, Velvet finished Bates off with the boot to the side of the head.
Red Velvet defeated Leva Bates via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: The match was kind of there. Both wrestlers did a fine job, but the match was more filler than anything. Bates’ winning momentum was stopped as she was winning the last few weeks of 2020.
7. KC Navarro and El Australiano vs. Alex Reynolds and John Silver. Reynolds and Australiano began the match for their respective teams. Reynolds went for the pinfall early before hitting the dropkick. Silver and Navarro tagged in and Silver hit the round kick to Navarro. Silver threw Navarro across the ring. Australiano made the tag hit the dropkick to Reynolds and hit the sky twister on both Reynolds and Silver. After the maneuver, Navarro and Australiano flew to the outside. In the meantime, all wrestlers got back in the ring, where Reynolds hit a fisherman suplex on Australiano to gain the pinfall.
Alex Reynolds and John Silver defeated KC Navarro and El Australiano via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Even though Navarro and Australiano had some upside in the match, it was Reynolds and Silver who ended up with the victory. With that said, if you have the time to go back and watch Impact’s Genesis from Saturday, Navarro had a great showing and I highly recommend watching his in-ring work.
8. Lee Johnson and Aaron Solow vs. “The Varsity Blondes” Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison. Johnson and Pillman went back and forth with head lock takedowns. Solow hit a boot to Pillman that sent him out of the ring, and then hit the dropkick to Garrison. Garrison fired back with a splash in the corner and planted Solow on the ground. Pillman returned to the ring and covered Solow early, but Solow kicked out at two.
Johnson tagged in and hit a leaping suicida on both Pillman and Garrison. Johnson continued with a dropkick from the top rope to Garrison before tagging in Solow again. Pillman and Garrison doubled up on Johnson with Garrison hitting the rolling elbow on Solow. Pillman came through with a dropkick and powerbomb combination to score the victory.
The Varsity Blondes defeated Lee Johnson and Aaron Solow via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Like the Bates and Velvet match, this tag match was kind of there. There was no story behind the match, as it was simply to continue Varsity Blondes winning streak. It’s really hard to get behind matches without a story to follow up and matches that just feel thrown together.
9. Alex Gracia vs. Anna Jay. Jay hit some elbow strikes to Gracia and a thrust kick as well. Jay then followed with the flipping neckbreaker. After the move, Jay continued to hit more kicks to Gracia in any type of fashion. Jay quickly made Gracia tap out to the Queen Slayer for win No. 14 overall in AEW.
Anna Jay defeated Alex Gracia via submission.
Briar’s Take: Jay starts out the year with a victory by continuing to use her Queen Slayer submission. 2021 could be a big year for Jay if AEW gets behind her and pushes her for a run for the women’s title.
10. NWA Women’s Champion Serena Deeb vs. Tesha Price in a non-title match. Deeb was aggressive early by putting Price in quick holds. Deeb executed a drop toe hold and put Price in a submission, but Price slithered her way out of the move. Price fired with a back elbow and hit multiple right hands. Deeb came back with the clothesline and a neckbreaker. Deeb used the ropes illegally for a submission and held on before breaking the referee’s five count. Shortly thereafter, Deeb hit the fireman’s carry gutbuster to win the match.
NWA Women’s Champion Serena Deeb defeated Tesha Price via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Deeb looked impressive here and looks great every time in the ring. Deeb and Conti’s match on Dynamite should be great if given a good amount of time.
A Young Bucks book ad aired.
11. Baron Black and Nick Comoroto vs. Bear Country. Black locked in Bronson in an abominable stretch early, before hitting the flying arm bar. Comoroto and Boulder then locked up, but Boulder hit the knees to the gut of Comoroto. Black made the tag to Comoroto, and Black laid out some chops to Boulder. Black ran into the boot of Boulder that stopped his momentum.
Bronson returned to the ring after making the tag and started firing away on Black. Comoroto was tagged in and laid out Bronson with the powerslam. He hit a neckbreaker on Bronson as well. Boulder and Bronson used each other for the double rolling senton on Black and Comoroto. Bronson then landed on Black for an assisted splash from Boulder to score the victory.
Bear Country defeated Baron Black and Nick Comoroto via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: As noted by Excalibur, Bear Country picked up their first pinfall victory in AEW. It’s obvious that AEW is high on this tag team, as Bear Country has been brought back week in and week out. It’ll be intriguing to see if Bear Country makes their Dynamite debut at some point this year.
12. “Chaos Project” Serpentinco and Luther vs. “Top Flight” Darius Martin and Dante Martin. Luther planted Darius on the mat and even used Serpentinco as well in the process before the bell rang. Both Martin brothers hit dropkicks to Luther and Serpentinco and the match began. Luther and Serpentinco used each other again with Luther landing Serpentinco for the leg drop to Darius. Luther went for the pin, but Darius kicked out at two. Luther continued to dominate Darius by using the middle rope illegally.
Darius finally made the tag to Dante, who hit a rolling back elbow to Serpentinco. Dante landed the springboard uppercut on Serpentinco and got a two count. Afterward, Luther threw Serpentinco into Darius while Luther hit the flipping senton off the apron to Dante. With the help from Darius, Dante hit the diving dropkick into the corner on Serpentinco and then won the match.
Top Flight defeated Chaos Project via pinfall.
After the match, Excalibur then ran down the card for New Year’s Smash night two to close the show.
Briar’s Take: A great and competitive match up between Chaos Project and Top Flight. All four did a hell of a job here. Meanwhile, Chaos Project continues to be a guilty pleasure each week with Luther using Serpentinco aggressively for moves.
Overall, this episode flowed smoothly and was one of the shorter episodes in quite some time, especially compared to last week’s two-hours plus edition. Isn’t it something how a shorter show can make a huge difference in a viewer’s enjoyment? Strange, isn’t it? With that in mind, the matches were fine for what they were but really nothing more. Really, the only matches that had story behind them were Tay Conti vs. Marti Daniels, and Serena Deeb vs. Tesha Price. There were also a few other notables in this episode too, with Bear Country and Top Flight picking up their first career victories in AEW.
It feels like if you pay attention closely to the broadcast team on Dark, you can really tell who AEW is high on and who they’re not. Overall, not a bad episode to go out of your way and watch. Episode 70 clocked in at 1 hour, 32 minutes, and 43 seconds. Final Score: 8.0 out of 10.