By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 88)
Taped in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Streamed May 11, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
Excalibur welcomed us to Dark and was joined alongside Taz on commentary.
1. Milk Chocolate vs. Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston. As soon as Kingston and Moxley entered the ring, they began their beatdown on Watts and Summers. Kingston and Moxley hit a clothesline combination to score a quick victory.
Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston defeated Milk Chocolate via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Quick match here and really nothing to get out of it since it was was so brief. You have to wonder why AEW has these matches in the first place if they end in less than a minute.
2. Spencer Slade, Cole Karter, and Andrew Palace vs. Dark Order’s Evil Uno, Alan “5” Angels, and Colt Cabana. Palace and Uno started with a headlock before Uno dropped Palace with a shoulder tackle. Angels then threw a kick to the side of the head of Palace after tagging in. Palace found a breakthrough and tagged in Karter, but Karter had trouble getting offense in as Angels was planting him down with dropkicks. Slade performed a standing elbow drop on Angels and didn’t even get a one count. Cabana hit the Flying Apple from the top rope to Slade, and Uno hit the cross arm Flatliner on Slade to pick up the victory for his team.
Evil Uno, Alan “5” Angles, and Colt Cabana defeated Spencer Slade, Cole Karter, and Andrew Palace via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Predictable, but solid offense from Palace, Slade, and Karter. The trio got in some moves but nothing too flashy.
Backstage, Tony Schiavone was interviewing Diamante, who said Kris Statlander pissed her off. Diamante said she was going to show Statlander how she does it.
3. Angel Fashion vs. Lance Archer. Archer suplexed Fashion in the middle of the ring and then threw an elbow strike. Fashion started to gain some offense by throwing strikes at Archer in the corner, but Archer stopped his momentum with a lariat and a powerbomb in the corner. Archer chokeslammed Fashion and followed up with the Ripcord.
Lance Archer defeated Angel Fashion via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: RIP to any wrestler that faces Archer in any setting. They are bound to be attacked before the match even starts.
An Outside The Ring promo with special guest Anthony Ogogo is scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m./ET on the AEW Youtube page.
4. Jake Logan, Ryzin, and Rick Recon vs. “The Factory” QT Marshall, Nick Comoroto, and Aaron Solow. Solow hit multiple suplexes and a back body drop on Recon. Comoroto then planted Logan in the middle of the ring. Comoroto would hit Logan with a powerslam before tagging in Solow again. Logan hit a dropkick to Solow to find Ryzin. Ryzin attempted a splash in the corner, but Solow hit a corkscrew kick while Comoroto hit the press slam on him. Comoroto then hit a powerful powerbomb on Ryzin. Eventually, Marshall hit the cutter to end the match.
The Factory defeated Jake Logan, Ryzin, and Rick Recon via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: The Factory name sounds a little bland, but at least Marshall, Comoroto, and Solow have a name now for their team. Aside from that, Comoroto and Solow did most of the heavy lifting, while Marshall sat on the steel steps for the majority of the match until the last few minutes and took the victory for himself.
A Cezar Bononi, Peter Avalon, Ryan Nemeth, and JD Drake segment was shown.
5. Jaylen Brandyn and Traevon Jordan vs. “The Varsity Blonds” Brain Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison (w/Julia Hart). Garrison planted Jordan as the bell rang and a clothesline. With the assistance from Garrison, Pillman threw a dropkick. Garrison then tried lifting Jordan up, but Jordan countered the move and hit a sidekick. Brandyn made his way into the match and threw a dropkick of his own. Jordan went for the scoop slam, but Garrison gave him a jawbreaker. Pillman tagged in and powerslammed Brandyn. Pillman and Garrison put away Brandyn with a powerbomb combination move.
The Varsity Blonds defeated Jaylen Brandyn and Traevon Jordan via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Another victory for The Varsity Blonds. It sure is interesting to see Julia Hart manage them to the ring, but also refreshing in that she might add some personality to the team.
6. Willow Nightingale vs. Diamante. Nightingale hit the side slam, but missed the senton, allowing Diamante to hit a Russian leg sweep. Diamante performed a backstabber followed by a missile dropkick in the corner. Diamante finished off Nightingale with a Code Red for the win.
Diamante defeated Willow Nightingale via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A nice followup with Diamante from her promo earlier.
7. Aaron Frye vs. Dante Martin. Martin threw a low dropkick and followed through with another from the middle rope. Martin went for the 450 splash, but Frye rolled over, causing Martin to miss. Frye followed up with a Backstabber and almost got the upset victory. Martin regained momentum with a clothesline and a dropkick. Martin then performed a top rope moonsault on Frye. Shortly thereafter, Martin got the victory with a 450 splash.
Dante Martin defeated Aaron Frye via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Martin continues to shine in singles competition, picking up his 19th victory of 2021.
8. Ashley D’ Amboise vs. Nyla Rose (w/Vickie Guerrero). Rose hit the cannonball senton on Amboise and the Beast Bomb to put Amboise quickly.
Nyla Rose defeated Ashley D’Amboise via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A quick match here and nothing more.
Backstage, Alex Marvez interviewed Alex Reynolds about his match from Elevation Monday night with Marq Quen and Matt Hardy. Reynolds told Hardy they are about to show their dark side.
9. Liam Gray and Adrian Alanis vs. Ryan Nemeth and Cezar Bononi. Gray went to the top and hit the diving cannonball to Nemeth. Bononi threw Gray across the ring with a toss. Later, Gray attempted a diving crossbody, but Bononi caught him in mid air, then Nemeth hit the Rude Awakening to get the victory.
Ryan Nemeth and Cezar Bononi defeated Liam Gray and Adrian Alanis via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Nemeth got his first victory on Dark since episode 83.
10. Julia Hart vs. Kris Statlander. Statlander hit a side headlock takeover and kept Hart locked in a body lock. Statlander followed with a powerslam on Hart. Statlander ended up winning with the Big Bang Theory.
Kris Statlander defeated Julia Hart via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Statlander is on a four match winning streak following this victory.
A Scorpio Sky podcast ad aired.
11. Marty Casaus vs. Jungle Boy. Jungle Boy hit a step up huracanrana. Casaus sent Jungle Boy to the outside. As Casaus got to the floor, Jungle Boy threw him into the guardrail and hit a jumping sucidia. As both men returned to the ring, Casaus hit multiple crossfaces on Jungle Boy in the corner. Jungle Boy locked in the Snare Trap and made Casaus tap out.
Jungle Boy defeated Marty Casaus via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: This match was slow in some spots, but Jungle Boy got the victory.
12. MK Twins vs. Big Swole and Red Velvet. Velvet hit Ashley with knees on the turnbuckle, while both Swole and Velvet hit a double Flatliner. Steff made the tag and hit the hip attack to Swole. Swole and Velvet hit an uppercut combination and then Velvet covered for the victory.
Big Swole and Red Velvet defeated MK Twins via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: This match was kind of there and didn’t amount to much.
13. JD Drake vs. “10” Preston Vance. Vance threw a punt kick to Drake that stopped him in his tracks. Vance hit elbow strikes to Drake in the corner. Drake then rocked Vance with a clothesline and hit a standing elbow. Drake hit a big leg lariat went for the pin, but Vance kicked out at two. Vance regained momentum with a back body drop. In the end, Vance locked in the Full Nelson that made Drake tap out.
Preston Vance defeated JD Drake via submission.
Briar’s Take: A back and forth battle between Vance and Drake here. Drake got a little more offense and kept up with Vance before Vance put him away.
14. Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela vs. “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens. Late in the match, Kiss hit a Stunner on Caster, which led to Bowens breaking up the pinfall attempt. Janela went for a diving move, but fell off the top rope. Bowens locked in a cloverleaf on Janela that was broken up by Kiss. Eventually, Caster hit the Mic Drop across the back of Janela to get the victory.
The Acclaimed defeated Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A lot longer matchup, which probably could have been the main event of this episode since it lasted longer than others on this card. Either way, a good showing from both teams.
15. Bear Bronson vs. Brian Cage. Cage hit a Flatliner on Bronson and charged to the corner for an uppercut. Cage hit a snap suplex. Bronson came back with a sit-out on Cage and began throwing strikes and a Bronson slam. Cage bounced back with a thrust kick, though Bronson hit the backdrop driver on Cage and nearly got the pinfall. Cage hit a discus clothesline and went for another pin, but Bronson once again kicked out. Cage eventually put Bronson with the Drill Claw.
Brian Cage defeated Bear Bronson via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Bronson and Cage went back and forth here for a little while. At some points, the victory looked like it could have gone to Bronson, but Cage found a way to score the victory.
An AEW Casino mobile game ad was shown.
16. Mike Sydal vs. Powerhouse Hobbs. Hobbs used the ropes for a flying crossbody that nearly knocked out Sydal in the process. Hobbs planted Sydal down, but Sydal fired back with multiple kicks. Hobbs then hit Town Business and put out Sydal.
Powerhouse Hobbs defeated Mike Sydal via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Poor Sydal. He barely got any moves in and Hobbs finished him off before the match even got started. Overall, this episode of Dark was pretty much what you see every week. The show was back to two hours long and featured sixteen matches, which they seem to like to do on a regular basis. While I understand the need to fill time, I don’t understand having brief matches on a 16-match card, especially matches that end in less than a minute. I can’t really think of anything that stands out from this show, but the Aaron Frye vs. Dante Martin match was solid. Bear Bronson got to show his strength against Brian Cage. Other than that, this episode is pretty much the same thing you will see on the previous episodes. Episode 88 clocked in at 1 hour, 58 minutes, and 14 seconds. Final Score: 7.0 out of 10.