By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 98)
Taped July 14, 2021 in Cedar Park, Texas at HEB Center
Streamed July 20, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
Dustin Rhodes cut a promo on Aaron Solow. He said Solow was stepping into the home of Dustin kicking Solow’s ass. He said Solow would be going to school and added that he better be ready.
The broadcast team of Excalibur and Taz then welcomed us to Dark (with fans in the crowd!).
1. Ryan Mantell vs. The Blade. The Blade hit a few punches and quickly landed the doctor bomb to score the victory.
The Blade defeated Ryan Mantell via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A very quick beatdown indeed for The Blade, who opened up the show to a hot crowd.
An AEW Elite General Manager Mobile game ad aired.
2. KiLynn King vs. Thunder Rosa. Rosa and King traded back and forth arm drags at the start. King went for a quick rollup, but Rosa kicked out at two. Rosa hit a running knee strike to King in the corner and a missile dropkick as well. Rosa followed up with a butterfly throw that had a weird landing for King. Rosa eventually made King tap out to her signature move.
Thunder Rosa defeated KiLynn King via submission.
Briar’s Take: Holy smokes. Rosa came out to massive cheers from the crowd when her music hit. King and Rosa had a great match that played to the crowd, especially when Rosa went over. Great stuff.
3. “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens and “Private Party” Marq Quen and Isiah Kassidy vs. Dark Order’s Alan “5” Angels and Preston “10” Vance and “The Varsity Blonds” Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison (w/Julia Hart). Angels hit a diving crossbody on both members of Private Party before Pillman was tagged in. Private Party hit the silly string combination on Pillman. Caster and Bowens doubled up on Pillman by hitting him with multiple stomps. Private Party continued to isolate Pillman by preventing him from making a tag.
Pillman eventually made the tag to Garrison, who came in with tons of momentum. Vance planted Bowens with the spinebuster. Angels leapt off the top rope for the moonsault press and almost got the win before the pinfall was broken by Private Party. Bowens and Angels hit a double clothesline that laid each other out. Bowens went for the boombox, but Julia Hart took away while Angels hit the standing Spanish Fly to Bowens. Private Party hit the gin and juice on Angels while Caster hit the Mic Drop to finish them off for the win.
The Acclaimed, Private Party defeated Dark Order’s Alan “5” Angels and 10, and The Varsity Blonds via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A hot tag team match that could have gone either way. I thought for sure Dark Order and Varsity Blonds would get the win since it was a classic heel vs. face tag team match. A solid tag team match up.
4. Promise Braxton vs. Abadon. Abadon performed a Popup Powerbomb on Braxton, then drove her face first into the mat for the victory.
Abadon defeated Promise Braxton via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Another week, another showcase for Abadon.
An All Out ad was shown for September 5.
5. Big Swole vs. The Bunny. Swole hit a diving uppercut on The Bunny. Diamante walked onto the entrance ramp to distract Big Swole and even said she looked a bit distracted. Diamante said she would grab a chair and watch. The Bunny went for a cover, but Swole kicked out a two. Swole regained momentum with a headbutt. Swole was looking for the Clearwater Cloverleaf, but The Blade distracted the referee while Diamante hit a quick dropkick to the side of the head of Swole, allowing The Bunny to roll up Swole for the victory.
The Bunny defeated Big Swole via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: The distraction from Diamante furthered her storyline feud with Big Swole and nothing more. This match was kind of just there.
6. Chad Lennex vs. Wardlow. Wardlow planted Lennex after the bell rang. Wardlow then knocked out Lennex with the Casualty of War.
Wardlow defeated Chad Lennex via knockout/ref stoppage.
Briar’s Take: A showcase win for Wardlow in a match that I don’t think even lasted a minute.
Afterward, a Big Swole post match promo was shown. Swole agreed to a match with Diamante.
7. Aaron Solow (w/QT Marshall) vs. Dustin Rhodes. Early in the match, Solow and Dustin fought briefly on the outside before returning to the ring. Marshall hit a cheap shot on Dustin while Solow distracted the referee, allowed Solow to gain a quick advantage. Dustin came back with a Manhattan drop to Solow and attempted a running bulldog, but Solow stopped him in doing so. Dustin powerslammed Solow and followed through with a Code Red only for Solow to kick out at two. Solow countered with a German suplex and a corkscrew kick to Dustin. Eventually, Dustin performed a running bulldog on Solow to pick up the victory.
Dustin Rhodes defeated Aaron Solow via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A good home crowd win for Dustin to close out a hot edition of Dark. Overall, this was a solid and great episode of AEW Dark. Having a live crowd back was was needed and improved the flow of the show. The crowd was red hot throughout the entire episode, which made it more enjoyable to watch. The match of the night is a tossup between the eight-man tag match and Rhodes vs. Solow with Dustin getting the hometown win. Rosa vs. King was great as well, and Rosa was well received by the crowd too. With AEW back on the road, the match count and show length will hopefully start being more consistent from here on out, but only time will tell. Episode 98 clocked in at 47:04. Final Score: 8.0 out of 10.