By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 120)
Taped in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios
Streamed December 7, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
1. Misterioso vs. Lee Moriarity. Both Misterioso and Moriarity started with a headlock until Moriarity hit a deep arm drag from the middle ropes. Moriarity followed through with a crossbody block and only got a one count. Misterioso took down Moriarity with a clothesline and hooked his leg and got another one count. Misterioso continued his momentum with a low hanging dropkick and a stalling senton from the ropes. Moriarity came back with a belly to belly suplex. Misterioso countered with a powerslam and a moonsault press. However, Misterioso was caught with a flatliner from Moriarity, who gained the victory.
Lee Moriarity defeated Misterioso via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A bounce back victory for Moriarity following his loss to CM Punk last week. It was a good back and forth bout to open up Dark. Great stuff.
2. Rayo vs. Lio Rush. Rayo and Rush were back and forth from the get-go until Rush landed a jumping sucidia on Rayo. Rush fired away with kicks to Rayo, who bulldogged Rush as a counter. Rush used the ropes for a handspring back elbow striking Rayo. Rush went to the top rope and quickly put Rayo away with a frog splash.
Lio Rush defeated Rayo via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Well, tomorrow night’s Dynamite Diamond Battle Royale should be really interesting with Lio Rush and three other Team Taz members involved. One has to wonder if Team Taz will end up eliminating Rush from the match to further the storyline?
3. Angelica Risk vs. Brandi Rhodes. Risk had the early advantage with the shoulder block, but Rhodes hit back with a hip toss. After turning her back, Risk received a punt kick from Rhodes, who charged in with the back elbow. Rhodes nearly won with a kick to the side of the head. Risk stomped Rhodes in the corner. Rhodes quickly won by tapping out Risk with a neck cramp.
Brandi Rhodes defeated Angelica Risk via submission.
Briar’s Take: Rhodes returns with a quick victory over Risk. This was Brandi’s first match back in a well over a year. So with that in mind, Rhodes was great and didn’t miss a beat in the ring.
4. Ryo Mizunami vs. Emi Sakura. Mizunami planted Sakura with the scoop slam, but Sakura hair tossed Mizunami afterward. Sakura hit a crossbody block that sent Mizunami to the floor. Mizunami returned to the ring with chops to Sakura and followed with a shoulder to her midsection. Mizunami continued her momentum with a leg drop to Sakura. Mizunami almost got a victory with a spear to Sakura. However, after a distraction, Sakura rolled up Mizunami for the win.
Emi Sakura defeated Ryo Mizunami via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: No disrespect intended, but these two don’t do anything for me. Maybe it’s a part of their character, but there is always so much screaming and yelling during these matches that it’s a major turn off.
5. Anthony Ogogo (w/QT Marshall) vs. Baron Black. Black attempted a cloverleaf submission, but Ogogo countered his way out of the maneuver with the backbreaker. Ogogo followed up with multiple scoop slams. Ogogo went for covers a few times, but Black kicked at two. Shortly thereafter, Ogogo hit the suplex to Black. Black started to gain momentum with an atomic drop and a backstabber. Marshall distracted the ref, which allowed Ogogo to hit the eyes of Black and win with an Olympic Slam.
Anthony Ogogo defeated Baron Black via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A nice return victory for Ogogo, who is back following a long time away from the ring. His last match before returning on Elevation was on Friday Night Dynamite back in June. We’ll see if AEW still has big plans this time around for Ogogo.
6. Jay Marte and Richard King vs. Shawn Spears and Wardlow. Wardlow dominated Marte early and wanted King in the ring. Wardlow powerbombed King, then powerbombed both King and Marte multiple times. Spears tagged in and went right for the cover to get the win.
Shawn Spears and Wardlow defeated Jay Marte and Richard King via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Well, once again Wardlow did the heavy lifting for Spears, who ended up gaining the victory for the team.
7. Luke Sampson vs. Fuego Del Sol. Del Sol used quick offense early, but Sampson caught him off the top rope with the chokeslam. Del Sol attempted a dropkick and missed, as Sampson was too far away. Sampson hit back with a half nelson slam. Del Sol fired back with the leaping neckbreaker and charged in with multiple upper cuts. Del Sol planted Sampson with a tornado DDT before finishing him off with the leaping stomp.
Fuego Del Sol defeated Luke Sampson via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A good first outing for Sampson, who is out of Cody’s Nightmare Factory in Georgia. Sampson has a big upside with his physique and could become a player in the future.
8. JT Dunn, Kekoa, and Omkar vs. “Team Taz” Dante Martin, Powerhouse Hobbs, and Ricky Starks. Hobbs hit a running splash in the corner to Omkar, who tagged out to Kekoa. Starks planted Kekoa with a big slam and tagged out. Dunn threw strikes to Starks, who saw Starks tagged out. Martin capitalized by hitting a jumping suicida on Dunn, Kekoa, and Omkar. Martin followed with a jumping moonsault on Dunn for the victory.
“Team Taz” Dante Martin, Powerhouse Hobbs, and Ricky Starks defeated JT Dunn, Kekoa, and Omkar via pinfall.
Following the match, Lio Rush interrupted Ricky Starks during the post-match interview and questioned why he kept counting him out of the battle royale. He said if you want to talk embarrassment, when the stakes are raised, Team Taz can’t get the job done. Rush said there will not be a Team Taz member winning the battle royal and that they will feel the rush.
Briar’s Take: Good storyline followup from the previous week to set the table for Wednesday’s battle royal. In my opinion, somewhere down the road, I see Dante taking advantage of Team Taz and breaking the team up at some point.
9. Sofia Castillo vs. Thunder Rosa. Rosa hit the deep arm drag early on and struck with a standing dropkick. Rosa powered on with a back elbow, but Castillo fired back with a knee strike. Rosa put Castillo in a submission hold before releasing it. Rosa hit a double knee strike along with a dropkick before making Castillo tap out to the Peruvian Necktie.
Thunder Rosa defeated Sofia Castillo via submission.
Following the match, “Smart” Mark Sterling came to the ring and distracted Rosa just enough for Jade Cargill to attack her from behind.
Briar’s Take: A showcase win for Rosa and nothing more, but the post match angle is what mattered the most in that it furthered the storyline between Cargill and Rosa heading into their tournament match.
10. Aaron Solo vs. John Silver. After the bell rang, Silver kicked Solo and tossed him over half the ring. Silver continued with a running shot to Solo, but Solo used the ropes to gain momentum. Solo performed a snap suplex to Silver. Solo then performed a stomp to the chest and only received a one count. Silver fought back with strikes and a back body drop, including a Liger Bomb. Shortly thereafter, Silver and Solo traded strikes back and forth until Silver got the better of Solo with three consecutive kicks. Silver planted Solo with the Spin Doctor for the victory.
John Silver defeated Aaron Solo via pinfall.
After the match, Tony Schiavone interviewed Silver about the upcoming match between Adam Page and Bryan Danielson. Silver said this Wednesday he’s going to touch Bryan Danielson and kick the crap out of him as well.
Briar’s Take: A solid main event to close out Dark, but can we do away with “Johnny loves meat”? Overall, a much better episode of Dark compared to the last couple of weeks. The in-ring quality was improved and I think there wasn’t a bad match on the card. See how great things are when they are kept shorter and they go with a faster paced episode?
The match of the night has to go to Misterioso vs. Lee Moriarity. They opened the show hot and set the tone for the rest of the night. There were some nice storyline followups with Lio Rush and Team Taz, as well as Thunder Rosa and Jade Cargill. There was also some nice returns such as Anthony Ogogo and Brandi Rhodes. In my opinion, I think that’s what Dark needs to be used for. Yes, use the show to showcase other talents, but also take advantage of other storylines that don’t get much time on television. Episode 120 clocked in at 1 hour, 11 minutes, and 17 seconds. Final Score: 8.0 out of 10.