By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 80)
Taped in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Streamed March 16, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
Excalibur welcomed us to Dark and was joined on commentary by Taz and Anthony Ogogo…
1. Cezar Bononi vs. Luchasaurus. Luchasaurus hit a big running boot to get things going before they got back up. Luchasaurus hit a thrust kick to the jaw of Bononi. Luchasaurus was on the outside distracted by Avalon when Bononi came through with the double axe handle. Once they got back in the ring, Bononi threw a big clothesline and planted Luchasaurus on the mat. Luchasaurus fired back with a corkscrew kick. Luchasaurus chokeslammed Bononi and performed a standing moonsault press to gain the victory.
Luchasaurus defeated Cezar Bononi via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Predictable match outcome in what was a typical big man vs. big man match.
2. Savannah Evans vs. Leyla Hirsch. Hirsch hit the release German suplex on Evans, who countered by shoulder tackling Hirsch in the corner and throwing strikes. Hirsch hit a big elbow strike and double knees to Evans to get her momentum back. She then hit a side slam on Evans and made her tap to a cross arm breaker to win the match.
Leyla Hirsch defeated Savannah Evans via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Hirsch was dominant for the majority of the match, while Evans got some offense in and could have provided an upset if the opportunity had provided itself. All in all, a very mixed martial arts style match. The match was Evans’ second match in AEW.
3. John Skyler vs. John Silver (w/-1). Skyler threw a dropkick and a step up huracanrana to stop Silver in his tracks briefly. Silver came back with knee strikes to Skyler, who came back with a senton. Skyler and Silver threw elbow strikes and provided back and forth with each other before Silver hit to the head of Skyler and sat him out for the pinfall.
John Silver defeated John Skyler via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: This match was pretty competitive for the most part. It felt like the match could have gone either way, as Skyler has been featured a lot on Dark.
4. Tesha Price vs. Penelope Ford (w/Kip Sabian). Price hit a back elbow that sent Ford to the outside. Ford then planted Price on the top rope and threw a running boot. Ford slammed Price on her knees and attempted a pin before Price kicked out at two. Ford leapt from the ropes and hit a modified cutter on Price to win.
Penelope Ford defeated Tesha Price via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: I really liked this match. Both women were very competitive and had a great showing. Nothing flashy, just a straightforward wrestling match.
5. Fuego Del Sol and Jake St. Patrick vs. “Chaos Project” Serpentinco and Luther. Luther smashed Del Sol and St. Patrick’s heads together before Luther powerbombed St. Patrick on the mat. Luther went for the cover, but Del Sol came for the save to break the pin. Del Sol hit a missile dropkick to Luther after tagging in. Del Sol hit a Tornado DDT on Luther and almost picked up the win. With assistance from Luther, Serpentinco hit Creeping Death to put Del Sol away.
Chaos Project defeated Fuego Del Sol and Jake St. Patrick via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: The shortest match of the night thus far. Luther and Serpentinco dominated Del Sol and St. Patrick.
6. Jazmin Allure vs. KiLynn King. Allure and King went for covers early, but both women kicked out at two. Allure hit a kick to the back of the King, who then swung Allure around 10 times in the middle of the ring. King countered one of Allure’s moves and planted her to pick up the victory.
KiLynn King defeated Jazmin Allure via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: King’s character is quite interesting. One week, she wins and the next she loses. There’s nothing wrong with that, but some consistency would be great.
A Scorpio Sky podcast ad aired.
7. Angel Fashion, Baron Black, Vary Morales, and Ryzin vs. Colt Cabana, Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, and Alan Angels. Cabana hit a back body drop on Ryzin. Uno performed hanging neckbreaker on Baron Black. The other Dark Order members hovered over Black by hitting their moves. Cabana put Black in the Boston Crab and made him tap out.
Colt Cabana, Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, and Alan Angels defeated Angel Fashion, Baron Black, Vary Morales, and Ryzin via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A standard tag team match and nothing more.
8. David Ali, Adam Priest, and Seth Gargis vs. “Gunn Club” Billy, Colten, and Austin Gunn. The Gunn Club hit their moves early as Austin hit the quick draw on Ali to gain the quick victory.
Gunn Club defeated David Ali, Adam Priest, and Seth Gargis via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A brief match.
9. Dean Alexander and Brick Aldridge vs. Bear Country. Bear Boulder slammed Alexander and Alridge down on the mat as the bell rang. With the help of Boulder, Bronson was planted on Alexander and Alridge to get the win.
Bear Country defeated Dean Alexander and Brick Aldridge via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Like The Gunn Club match, this tag team was also brief. One thing I can appreciate is AEW speeding up the entrances by only showing the AEW regulars to make the show shorter.
10. D3 vs. Nick Comoroto. D3 threw a dropkick, but Comoroto countered with a backbreaker. Comoroto powerslammed D3 and won the match.
Nick Comoroto defeated D3 via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Unfortunately, D3 stood no chance against Comoroto, who won the match in just a matter of seconds.
A Young Bucks book ad aired.
11. Jorel Nelson and Royce Issacs vs. “The Varsity Blonds” Brain Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison. Pillman hit a shoulder tackle on Issacs. Garrison was tagged in and hit a big splash in the corner. Issacs hit stomps to the midsection of Pillman while Nelson hit a big shoulder tackle. Garrison performed a hip toss on Issacs and then lifted Nelson over the top. Garrison performed a diving splash in the corner onto Issacs and Nelson, who tried countering Garrison with a combination move before Garrison kicked out at two. Pillman hit a flying clothesline on Nelson to score the victory.
The Varsity Blonds defeated Jorel Nelson and Royce Issacs via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A good tag team match for what it was. I think this match is worth going out of your way to watch.
12. Vertvixen vs. Madi Wrenkowski. Vertvixen dropkicked Wrenkowski, which sent her in the corner. Wrenkowski came back with a leg drop to the midsection of Vertvixen and scored a two count. Later, Wrenkowski performed a drop toe hold and threw an axe kick across the spine of Vertvixen to gain the victory.
Madi Wrenkowski defeated Vertvixen via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Wrenkowski was filling in for Anna Jay, who is unfortunately out after undergoing surgery. Wrenkowski did great in her role and here’s wishing Jay a full and speedy recovery.
13. Carlie Bravo and Aaron Solow vs. “SCU” Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels. Daniels hit an STO on Bravo. Kazarian was tagged in and leapt over the top rope and into a leg drop. Kazarian followed through with a back body drop on Bravo. Kazarian and Daniels hit the high/low combination on Bravo and went for the cover multiple times.
Solow returned to the ring and came in with tons of momentum by firing strikes to Daniels and Kazarian. Daniels was dropped by a flying clothesline from Solow, who hit a diving foot stomp onto Kazarian. Bravo hit a leaping crossbody block as well. Finally, Kazarian hit a clothesline to stop Bravo in his tracks. Eventually, Daniels and Kazarian hit the Best Meltzer Ever to put away Bravo and Solow.
SCU defeated Carlie Bravo and Aaron Solow via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: The victory for SCU keeps their tag team going for another week. I find SCU’s storyline intriguing, as it keeps you tuning in every week, especially as they continue the storyline on Dark. Imagine an up and coming team rising through the ranks being the ones to end the SCU tag team?
14. Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela vs. Brian Cage and Ricky Starks. Cage blocked an enzurigi from Kiss and hit a knee strike as a counter. Starks made a blind side tag to Cage, which made Cage look at Starks differently. Janela hit a diving crossbody on Starks. Cage illegally suplexed Janela on the outside. Starks hit a scoop and slam on Janela after Janela returned to the ring. Janela sunset flipped Starks and almost gained the victory. Starks drove Janela down with a back suplex.
Janela slowed Stark’s momentum, but Kiss and Cage were tagged in. Kiss threw kicks to Cage rapid fire style and performed a diving knee drop from the top rope. Janela hit a diving splash, and Kiss hit the 450 splash on Cage and came close to an upset. Cage caught Kiss and Janela both and planted them down. Starks speared Kiss and got the victory.
Brian Cage and Ricky Starks defeated Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Definitely an intriguing storyline development in this match. Cage and Starks had some moments where they stared at each other while making tags. Taz kept talking about how they were both still mad about losing the street fight at Revolution. It will be interesting to see whether this will continue on Dynamite moving forward. It could be the start of a potential break up of Starks and Cage, but we’ll have to see how the storyline plays out.
15. Jack Evans vs. Dark Order’s “10” Preston Vance. Vance controlled the early offense. Evans finally got some momentum by hitting a corkscrew kick to Vance. Evans hit a standing sky twister press on Vance, but only got a two count. Vance hit multiple clotheslines to stop Evans, who countered back by hitting a standing moonsault press on Vance. Vance hit a ripcord on Evans that sent both men down.
Evans ran into the spinebuster of Vance. Evans low blowed Vance with an Angelico distraction. Despite Evans best efforts, Vance locked in the full nelson on him and got a ref stoppage that ended the match.
Dark Order “10” defeated Jack Evans via ref stoppage.
Excalibur ran down the card for Wednesday’s Dynamite to close out the show.
Briar’s Take: An okay closing match for Dark. The match kind of dragged a little during the middle as both men were doing rest holds. There were some close moments during the match where Evans almost got the victory, but it ultimately went to Vance.
Overall, Dark flowed smoothly and didn’t drag as much as other episodes have despite having a 15 match card. I was thinking that the regular Dark show would start becoming much shorter due to the attention that AEW Dark: Elevation is getting. However, we were back to the 14-plus card as we usually get every week. I suspect that perhaps over time, this show will become shorter in length and shorten up the card too.
With that said, there were some good matches and interesting storyline developments that occurred. Tesha Price vs. Penelope Ford was good, as was John Skyler vs. John Silver. Everything else was just there. I think the biggest takeaway from this episode is the tension between Brian Cage and Ricky Starks, who returned from their outing with Sting and Darby Allin. Every time they made a tag, Cage and Starks stared each other down for a brief moment before focusing on the match. There were a few close moments where Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela almost got the victory. And even when Starks and Cage got the victory, they did not appear to be on the same page. It will be interesting to watch where this goes moving forward. Episode 80 clocked in at 1 hour, 45 minutes, and 12 minutes. Final Score: 7.5 out of 10.