By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 74)
Taped in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Streamed February 9, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
Excalibur welcomed viewers to Dark and was joined on commentary by Taz and Anthony Ogogo.
1. Vary Morales and Jersey Muscle Society vs. “Natural Nightmares” QT Marshall, Dustin Rhodes, and Nick Comoroto. After a brief period in the match, Dustin tagged in Marshall, who landed a moonsault on Vincita. Comoroto then made the tag and plowed through them until Dustin powerslammed on Vincita. Vincita found a breakthrough and tagged out to Gibiki.
Dustin and Marshall performed a double Russian leg sweep. Morales tagged in. Marshall hit a double clothesline on Gibiki and Vincita. Comoroto then threw Morales onto both Gibiki and Vincita. Dustin then performed a military press from the top rope with an assist from Comoroto to win the match.
Natural Nightmares and Nick Comoroto defeated Vary Morales and Jersey Muscle Society via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: For those that missed it, Comoroto recently joined the “Nightmare Family” this past week. The match was brief and short, but you can tell AEW is high on Comoroto since he pretty much ran over everyone in the match and the commentary team spoke highly of Comoroto.
2. “SCU” Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels vs. Lee Johnson and Aaron Solow. Late in the match, Daniels tagged in Kazarian, who hit both Solow and Johnson with a clothesline. Kazarian performed a Backstabber on Solow. Kazarian followed up with a cutter. Kazarian and Daniels eventually hit the Best Meltzer Ever to score the victory.
SCU defeated Lee Johnson and Aaron Solow via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A quality match up from these teams, who never disappoint. Solow and Johnson came close a couple of times to upsetting SCU and potentially splitting up the tag team, as Excalibur talked about that briefly a couple of times. A fantastic match.
A Scorpio Sky podcast ad aired.
3. FTW Champion Brian Cage vs. Jake St. Patrick. Cage threw a thrust kick to Patrick and followed up with a release German suplex. Cage hit multiple powerbombs until finishing Patrick off with the Drill Claw.
Brian Cage defeated Jake St. Patrick via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A quick match and nothing more.
A therapy session was shown with The Acclaimed, as Anthony Bowens was singing Fozz’s “Judas”. A rap video was then shown.
4. Miranda Alize vs. Nyla Rose. Rose was powerful from the get-go by bulldozing over Alize and hit a standing diving splash. Alize dropkicked the knee of Rose, but Rose came back with a crossbody block on Alize. Eventually, Rose hit the Beast Bomb to pick up the win.
Nyla Rose defeated Miranda Alize via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Another brief match here with Rose picking up the win. However, Excalibur did hype up the women’s championship eliminator tournament throughout the match.
5. VSK vs. Pac. Pac Irish whipped VSK in the corner, but VSK performed a dropkick, a neckbreaker, and a diving uppercut. Pac locked in the Brutalizer on VSK and made him tap out quickly.
Pac defeated VSK via submission.
Briar’s Take: VSK never really stood a chance, as Pac completely dominated the match and VSK didn’t have much offense in at all.
6. KC Navarro vs. Sonny Kiss. Kiss missed a leg drop, but hit a dropkick to the knees of Navarro, then followed with a splitting leg drop. Kiss rolled over the top with a sunset flip before landing an explosive kick. Navarro tripped Kiss and hit a dropkick to the side of the head and a spiked DDT to Kiss. Kiss came back with a modified stunner to Navarro to win the match.
Sonny Kiss defeated KC Navarro via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: The match was good for what it was. Navarro had some moves, but wasn’t really given much time compared to his match with Rey Fenix a few weeks ago.
7. Alex Gracia vs. Tay Conti. Conti threw a roundkick to the chest of Gracia, but locked in the knee bar submission before both women rolled to the outside. Gracia hit an area code shot and only got a one count. Conti then planted Gracia and threw a hook kick. Conti made Gracia tap out to a submission hold.
Tay Conti defeated Alex Gracia via submission.
Briar’s Take: Conti picked up her ninth consecutive win on Dark with a brief match.
A Chris Jericho “Bubbly” ad was shown.
8. Ryan Nemeth vs. Marko Stunt. Stunt performed a jumping suicida onto Nemeth on the outside. Stunt followed with a diving elbow on Nemeth and hit a leg lariat as well. Nemeth lifted Stunt up and planted him down on the mat. FTR’s music then hit for a brief second before Nemeth picked up the win with a neckbreaker.
Ryan Nemeth defeated Marko Stunt via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Obviously, with FTR’s music playing briefly, this will continue the storyline between Jurassic Express and FTR. Nemeth looked fine here and won his first match in AEW.
9. Shawn Dean and Charlie Bravo vs. Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi. Bravo used multiple arm drags and a dropkick to Avalon. Bravo came over the top with a leg drop until Dean tagged in and hit am elbow drop on Avalon. A short time later, Avalon made the tag to Bononi again and briefly stayed in the match before Avalon planted Dean with the suplex. Dean and Bravo hit a double senton to both Avalon and Bononi in the corner. Avalon hit the Martinis on Bravo to score the victory.
Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi defeated Shawn Dean and Charlie Bravo via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: One of the longer matches of the night with both teams looking good here.
10. Baron Black vs. Dark Order’s “10” Preston Vance. Black and Vance countered each other’s moves when the bell rang. Vance then hit the punt kick to Black. Vance lifted Black over with the slam. Black and Vance then went back and forth with chops in the corner. Black performed a dragon screw leg whip on Vance and then Irish whipped Vance into the corner. Black performed an atomic drop and backstabber on Vance and then got a two count. Vance performed a spinebuster and a powerbomb to score the victory.
10 defeated Baron Black via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A competitive match between Vance and Black that could be worth going out of your way to watch.
A Young Bucks book ad was shown.
12. Red Velvet vs. Diamante. Velvet hit a single leg dropkick to Diamante, but missed the diving knees as Diamante planted Velvet with a backward German suplex. Diamante hit the running dropkick and covered Velvet but only got the two count. Velvet countered back with clotheslines and a back elbow to Diamante before hitting the standing moonsault.
Velvet flattened Diamante with a bulldog, but Diamante hit a back elbow of her own and then covered Velvet for a two count. Diamante missed the code red finisher. Velvet dropkicked the side of Diamante’s head to win the match.
Diamante defeated Red Velvet via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A great match. Diamante and Velvet went back and forth from the get-go. The match was also somewhat unpredictable too since it featured two AEW regulars.
13. Jack Evans vs. Joey Janela. Evans and Janela fought on the outside for a brief period before returning to the ring, thus causing the bell to finally ring. Evans hit a corkscrew enzurigi after Angelico held the leg of Janela in the corner. Evans covered Janela and only got a two count. Afterward, Evans hit the back elbow to Janela.
Janela performed a Death Valley Driver into the turnbuckle to Evans. He hit the jumping sucidia on the outside as well. Evans hit a middle rope Phoenix Splash on Janela and almost got the victory with the two count. Janela then stopped Evans with the thrust kick. Evans missed a 450 splash with Janela getting his knees up. Janela eventually hit a package driver, but Evans somehow kicked out at two. Finally, Janela finished off Evans with a diving elbow drop.
Joey Janela defeated Jack Evans via pinfall.
Excalibur ran down the card for Wednesday’s Dynamite to close Dark…
Briar’s Take: A hell of a match to close the show. This match was also a simple preview ahead of Janela’s match with Darby Allin for the TNT Championship. Overall, episode 74 was hit and miss for the most part. Most, if not all, of the matches were enhancements and were very brief in nature, with some matches having more time.
The show had an old school feel to it, as the AEW regulars got entrances while their opponents did not. I’m not sure if this will be a thing moving forward as they try to make the show shorter, but it was definitely a unique twist and sure does save a lot of time. With that said, SCU vs. Lee Johnson and Aaron Solow was the match of the night with Joey Janela vs. Jack Evans coming in a close second, as both matches were stellar and hard hitting. Episode 74 clocked in at 1 hour, 37 minutes, and 14 minutes. Final Score: 6.9 out of 10.