By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 76)
Taped in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Streamed February 23, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
Excalibur welcomed us to Dark and was joined on commentary by Anthony Ogogo and Taz..
1. John Skyler vs. “FTW” Champion Brian Cage. Cage plowed over Skyler as the bell rang, but Skyler threw thrust kicks in an attempt to stop him. Cage lifted up Skyler and planted him down on the mat. Cage ended Skyler quickly with the Drill Claw.
FTW Champion Brian Cage defeated John Skyler via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Like every week, another dominant, quick match for Cage.
2. Serpentico vs. Lee Johnson (w/Arn Anderson). After dodging each other’s moves, Johnson hit a dropkick to Serpentico that sent him down on the mat. Serpentinco fired back by hitting strikes and hit a low DDT to Johnson. Serpentico flew over the ropes for a diving stomp. Johnson hit a swinging neckbreaker and then planted Serpentico on Johnson’s knee. Johnson won by hitting the Blue Thunder Bomb on Serpentico to pick up his first win on AEW Dark.
Lee Johnson defeated Serpentico via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: It was intriguing to see that Johnson was accompanied by Arn Anderson for the first time. It will be interesting to see where he goes from here on out since he is a part of The Nightmare Family.
3. JD Drake vs. Eddie Kingston. Drake and Kingston traded chops in the early going, but Drake started getting the upper hand by throwing kicks. Kingston flew on top of Drake to stop his momentum. Kingston went for a diving shoulder tackle, but Drake countered his maneuver by throwing a strike. Drake hit a Vader Bomb and almost got an upset victory on Kingston. Drake performed a cannonball senton, but failed to hit a moonsault press. Kingston eventually hit a spinning backfist to win.
Eddie Kingston defeated JD Drake via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A good back and forth battle between Kingston and Drake. Not a bad match and it went longer than I expected, as I assumed Kingston would finish Drake off quickly.
4. Brooke Havok (w/Cody Rhodes) vs. Leyla Hirsch. Havok hit the flipping neckbreaker on Hirsch quickly, but Hirsch countered with the delayed suplex. Havok once again hit a flipping neckbreaker over the top and nearly got another pinfall attempt. Hirsch hit a German suplex and made Havok tap out for the victory.
Leyla Hirsch defeated Brooke Havok via submission.
Briar’s Take: As always, Hirsch looked really impressive.
Tony Schiavone recapped the AEW Women’s Tournament matches that stream on Monday.
5. Angel Fashion and VSK vs. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus. Luchasaurus tagged into the match and dominated VSK before tagging Jungle Boy again. With assistance from Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus threw a kick to VSK. Jungle Boy then laid out VSK with the powerbomb combination to score the victory.
Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus defeated Angel Fashion and VSK via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Jurassic Express pretty much dominated this match, leaving Fashion and VSK with very little offense.
A Chris Jericho “Bubbly” ad was aired.
6. JJ Garrett vs. QT Marshall (w/Nick Comoroto). Garrett and Marshall were technical from the get-go. Marshall used an arm drag to take Garrett down. Marshall planted Garrett with the suplex. Garrett responded a backward frog splash from the top rope and landed on Marshall. Garrett hit a cannonball senton to Marshall, who slowed Garrett’s momentum with a pop up forearm before hitting the Diamond Cutter that led to the pin.
QT Marshall defeated JJ Garrett via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Garrett showed some flashy moves and made the match somewhat compelling. Garrett’s work reminded me of Chad Gable.
A Young Bucks book ad aired.
7. Marko Stunt vs. Max Caster. Stunt threw a kick after Caster missed a diving knee. He fire away with dropkicks and a diving back elbow. Stunt tried flying from the top rope, but Caster caught him in mid-air and planted him with a backdrop. Stunt hit a running shooting star press to Caster. Caster caught Stunt again and suplexed him off the top rope. Caster won the match by hitting the diving elbow.
Max Caster defeated Marko Stunt via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: It was intriguing to see Caster in singles competition. He looked decent in the ring and didn’t miss a beat.
A Scorpio Sky podcast ad aired.
8. Louie Valle and Chris Peaks vs. Alex Reynolds and John Silver. Reynolds threw a dropkick that sent Peaks down, and then he tagged SIlver in. Silver threw a kick of himself to Peaks in the process. Valle was tagged in and both Peaks, Valle hit a drop toe hold on Reynolds. Valle and Peaks continued to stay on top of Reynolds by hitting moves to Reynolds in the corner. Reynolds delivered an enzurigi before tagging in Silver, who performed a back body drop on Valle. Silver put Valle and Peaks on his back before hitting the Samoan Drop on both men. Reynolds and Silver hit the Dark Destroyer to win the match.
Alex Reynolds and John Silver defeated Louie Valle and Chris Peaks via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A competitive match and potentially one to go out of your way to watch if you’re that interested.
9. Fuego Del Sol vs. Kip Sabían. Del Sol threw a leaping forearm to Sabian and followed through with a fierce dropkick. Sabian threw up a leg to stop Del Sol in his tracks. Sabian hit another powerful kick to Del Sol. Sabian missed a move from the top rope, which allowed Del Sol to hit a moonsault off the middle rope. Del Sol executed a backbreaker into a Flatliner combination and got a two count in the process. Sabian ended up winning the match by hitting the Deathly Hallows.
Kip Sabían defeated Fuego Del Sol via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: This is the first time Sabian appeared since the wedding at “Beach Break.” It was also his first time on Dark since episode 49 where he beat Shawn Dean.
10. Shawn Dean and Carlie Bravo vs. “The Varsity Blonds” Griff Garrison and Brian Pillman Jr. Garrison and Pillman made numerous tags back and forth and continued to dominate Bravo. However, Bravo hit a dropkick to Garrison that sent him down. Dean hit a flying elbow from the over the top on Garrison, but Bravo was tagged in and hit the diving axe handle. Pillman threw a clothesline to Bravo in the corner. Pillman came into the match and locked in a stretch hold on Dean. Bravo fought out of Garrison’s attempted powerbomb and tagged Dean into the match. Dean fired away with dropkick and a DDT to Garrison, who threw a rolling elbow strike to Bravo before Pillman Jr hit a missile dropkick to win the match.
The Varsity Blondes defeated Shawn Dean and Carlie Bravo via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A momentum win for The Varsity Blonds heading into their match with Brian Cage and Ricky Starks on Wednesday night.
11. Ryan Nemeth vs. Aaron Solow. Nemeth hit the fireman’s carry quickly from the start. Solow executed multiple arm drags to Nemeth afterward. Solow planted Nemeth down again and landed the diving knee drop in the process. Nemeth threw a shoulder to the midsection of Solow and attempted a pinfall. Solow lifted Nemeth over and went for the cover, but only got a two count. Nemeth performed a neckbreaker to win the match.
Ryan Nemeth defeated Aaron Solow via pinfall.
After the match, Peter Avalon, Cezar Bononi, and Ryan Nemeth tried attacking Solow, but The Nightmare Family of QT Marshall, Lee Johnson, and Nick Comoroto came out to save the day.
Briar’s Take: It’s obvious AEW is behind Nemeth early on in his AEW career by giving him his second consecutive victory. However, this match was a little slow, but eventually picked up in the middle.
12. Miranda Alize and Renee Michelle vs. Ivelisse and Diamante. Alize and Diamante fired back and forth until Diamante hit a running dropkick in the corner. Ivelisse tagged in and sent Alize down to the mat. Diamante put Alize in a submission hold, but tagged in Ivelisse again. Michelle threw a hook kick to Ivelisse, who fired back with a dirty knee. Alize came into the match, but Diamante and Ivelisse hit the stereo knee strikes before winning the match.
Ivelisse and Diamante defeated Miranda Alize and Renee Michelle via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Alize and Michelle had some flashy moves, but ultimately, the match ended up going to the dominant Ivelisse and Diamante.
13. Tony Vega and Steven Stetson vs. “Top Flight” Darius Martin and Dante Martin. Dante thrw a dropkick to Vega and performed an arm drag on Stetson. Vega tagged in again and continued dominating Dante. More tags were made between Stetson and Vega before both hit a double suplex on Dante. Stetson performed a spinebuster on Dante in mid air. Darius finally tagged in and fired away on Stetson. Darius connected with an enzurigi and a flying shotgun dropkick to Stetson. Dante checked back in and hit an assisted dropkick to Stetson in the corner to win the match.
Top Flight defeated Tony Vega and Steven Stetson via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: An unpredictable match for the most part, as Top Flight are still relatively new to AEW. Really, this match could have gone either way since Vega and Stetson stayed on top early. Not a bad match.
14. M’ Badu, Levy Shapiro, Daniel Joseph, and Aaron Fyre vs. Bear Country, Sonny Kiss, and Joey Janela. Bear Bronson threw Fyre into the corner with a suplex. Kiss dropkicked Fyre, but then tagged in Janela. Shapiro made his way into the match and threw strikes to Janela. Joseph made the tag briefly, however multiple members of the team made brief tags until Badu hit a running shoulder to Janela. Janela came back with a German suplex on Shapiro and then tagged Bronson, who chokeslammed Shapiro and hit a senton on both Shapiro and Joseph. Kiss performed a huracanrana on Shapiro, before Bear Boulder threw Bronson on top of Shapiro to win the match.
Bear Country, Sonny Kiss, and Joey Janela defeated M’ Badu, Levy Shapiro, Daniel Joseph, and Aaron Fyre via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Well, this match definitely had an intriguing clash of characters involved. It felt kind of choreographed with everyone getting their stuff in. Despite that, Bear Country continues to look impressive week in and week out on Dark.
15. Ryzin and Baron Black vs. Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi. Black put Avalon in a brief submission stretch and tagged in Ryzin, who hit a Northern Lights Suplex on Avalon. Bononi tagged in and threw a clothesline that sent Ryzin on the mat. Bononi hit an inverted bodyslam before tagging in Avalon, who stayed in the match for a brief while, as Bononi dominated Ryzin.
Ryzin sent Avalon into the corner, but missed the flying moonsault. Avalon tried a moonsault of his own but missed as well. Black threw running clotheslines and performed an exploder suplex on Avalon. Black hit the atomic drop and backstabber and got a two count. Bononi threw Avalon to Black while hitting the Martinis to score the victory.
Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi defeated Ryzin and Baron Black via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: The ending was definitely shades of Serpentinco and Luther, where both men helped each other throughout their matches. Ryzin and Black had some offense, but Avalon and Bononi ultimately came out on top.
16. KiLynn King vs. Tesha Price. King executed a shoulder tackle and an arm drag to Price before putting her in an arm bar submission. Price broke the hold, but King threw the boot across the jaw. Price hit a diving back elbow to King and a cartwheel kick. King executed a forward slam on Price but failed to capitalize for a pinning predicament. King drove Price into the ground to pick up the pinfall.
KiLynn King defeated Tesha Price via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A solid matchup between King and Price that felt like it could go in either direction.
17. Mike and Matt Sydal vs. “SCU” Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels vs. “TH2” Angelico and Jack Evans. Multiple tags were made from the start of the bell, but Daniels dropped Angelico down. Kazarian hit a diving stomp to Angelico. Matt Sydal made the tag, however Sydal rolled Kazarian into a pinfall count. Sydal then hit a leg lariat on Kazarian. Mike Sydal tagged in and hit a standing moonsault press on Kazarian. Both Sydal brothers hit double Russian leg sweeps on Kazarian.
Daniels performed a crossbody leg sweep with assistance of Kazarian to Matt Sydal. Evans missed a corkscrew kick to Mike Sydal, who came back with a dropkick. Angelico landed a back body drop on Mike. Angelico locked in a submission hold on Mike, but Daniels illegally broke the hold. Matt tagged in and hit a knee strike to Angelico followed by a scoop slam on Evans.
Toward the end of the match, all members from each team hit their signature moves on each other. Kazarian went for the cover on Evans after hitting a cutter, but Angelico broke the pin. Kazarian hit a reverse DDT on Evans and picked up the victory.
SCU defeated Mike & Matt Sydal and “TH2” Jack Evans & Angelico via pinfall.
Excalibur ran down the card for Wednesday’s Dynamite…
Briar’s Take: Your standard tag team match with everyone trying to get their stuff in at the end. Thankfully, Daniels blocked Evans from going to the outside and landing on everyone. It appears as though AEW is continuing the storyline of SCU in that should they lose, they’ll be done as a tag team, as Excalibur brought it up briefly.
Overall, this was definitely a stacked card for Dark this week, and we were back to two-plus hours. Who would have thought, right? Seventeen matches is definitely a little long these days and hard to maintain with my attention span. I think AEW found their groove with the last two episodes, where they kept the entrances brief and the matches short. That said, who knows how long Dark will be every week, as it seems they flirt with the two hour mark more often than not. With a stacked card, it’s kind of hard to pick out which match stood out the most. If anything, I think Top Flight vs. Tony Vega and Steven Stetson was decent for what it was, and if you’re into veterans, then the last match was probably for you. Episode 76 clocked in at 2 hours, 13 minutes, and 39 seconds. Final Score: 7.0 out of 10.