By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 143)
Taped in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios
Streamed May 17, 2022 on the AEW YouTube Page
Excalibur and Taz were on commentary
1. Tyler Uriah vs. Max Caster. Caster and Uriah began with a collar elbow tie up before Caster struck with a deep arm drag. Afterward, Uriah hit a dropkick, while Caster hit a dropkick of his own. Caster attempted to lift Uriah up, but Uriah rolled him up and only got a two count. Shortly thereafter, Caster flapjacked Uriah. Eventually, Caster came leaping off the rope corner with double stomps to the chest of Uriah to get the victory.
Max Caster defeated Tyler Uriah via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A solid match. Uriah made his AEW debut here and got a lot of offense. Caster had a unique way of winning the match rather than perform his usual Mic Drop diving elbow finisher.
An AEW Dynamite ad aired for Wednesday’s Dynamite
2. Layna Lennox vs. Marina Shafir. Lennox hit an overhead move on Shafir to gain early momentum. Lennox missed a dropkick, allowing Shafir to drive Lennox into the turnbuckle. The wrestlers fought on the outside where Shafir drove Lennox’s face on the ring apron. Shafir followed through with a pump-handle and locked in a winning submission to win the match.
Marina Shafir defeated Layna Lennox via submission.
Briar’s Take: A simple showcase win for Shafir, who dominated Lennox.
Alex Coughlin, Clark Connors, Karl Fredericks, Yuya Uemura, and Kevin Knight were interviewed about their match with The Factory later on Dark.
3. “The Workhorsemen” JD Drake and Anthony Henry vs. “Bear Country” Bear Boulder and Bear Bronson. Bronson and Henry had a back and forth strike and kick fest until Bronson performed a shoulder tackle to Henry. Boulder was tagged in and so was JD Drake. Boulder and Drake traded chops. Boulder charged into the corner on Drake and planted him with a scoop slam. Drake and Henry used combination moves on Boulder after Henry hit the diving stomp to slow down the match. Drake used a sit-out senton on Bronson and almost picked up the victory.
Eventually, Boulder tossed both members of The Workhorsemen over the top rope. Henry spiked Bronson with a DDT and followed up with a running knee strike. Bronson turned the tables with a cannonball on Drake, and then Bear Country won the match with the Bear Bomb on Henry.
Bear Country defeated The Workhorsemen via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A hard-hitting tag team match, as expected from the Bear Country and The Workhorsemen. Good stuff from both teams.
4. Devlyn Macabre vs. Emi Sakura. Sakura locked in a stretch submission on Macabre after the bell rang, but broke the hold shortly thereafter herself. Macabre fought back with a punt kick and a running cutter. Sakura regained momentum by turning Macabre inside out and hit a running crossbody in the corner. Shortly thereafter, Sakura won the match by dropping Macabre with a double under-hook backbreaker.
Emi Sakura defeated Devlyn Macabre via pinfall.
5. Baron Black and Anthony Catena vs. Angelico and Jora Johl. Johl planted Catena with a shoulder tackle and drove him into the turnbuckle. Catena was caught with a dropkick from Johl and Johl followed through with a thrust kick to the chin. Later, Black charged in with a spinning lariat on Johl, who then sat out Black with a cradle shock. Angelico quickly ended the match with the Navarro death roll for the win.
Angelico and Jora Johl defeated Baron Black and Anthony Catena via submission.
Briar’s Take: More solid work from Angelico and Johl here. Johl did about 80 percent of the work for his team, while Angelico did about 20 pecent and won the match for their team.
6. Ryan Nemeth vs. Trent Beretta. Beretta hit a running back elbow to Nemeth, who rolled to the outside. Beretta took advantage with a baseball slide, but then Nemeth spiked Beretta with the DDT on the floor. Shortly thereafter, Beretta hit a running knee strike on Nemeth to gain the victory.
Trent Beretta defeated Ryan Nemeth via pinfall.
7. Amber Nova vs. Skye Blue. Blue was driven face-first into the turnbuckle pad and a northern lights suplex. Blue then hit a running knee strike and a dropkick to the side of the head to Nova. Blue performed a Flatliner to win the match.
Skye Blue defeated Amber Nova via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: The pre-match trash talk between Blue and Nova was longer than the match itself.
8. Alex Coughlin, Clark Connors, Karl Fredericks, Yuya Uemura, and Kevin Knight vs. “The Factory” Q.T. Marshall, Aaron Solo, Nick Comoroto, Brick Alridge, and Blake Li in a ten-man tag team match. Both teams began striking every member and the fight brawled to the outside leaving Connors and Li alone in the ring. Connors and Li traded chops before Connors hit an uppercut forearm on Li. Uemura entered the match briefly before tagging in Knight, and they hit a combination attack on Li. With a distraction from Solo, Li tagged in Alridge for the first time.
Alridge slammed Knight and then tagged out. Comoroto and Alridge would hit a double pancake slam on Knight. Solo entered the match and had a nice throwaway slam on Knight and kept Knight in the ring after The Factory kept making cohesive tags. Comoroto planted Knight with a suplex and only received a two count. Knight found a breakthrough with the diving shoulder tackle to Marshall and tagged in Fredericks.
Fredericks planted Li with a spinebuster and followed up with an elbow drop. Li then drove Fredericks in the corner and tagged in Comoroto. Comoroto would drop Fredericks with a big face slam. Coughlin and Comoroto then traded strikes once more. Coughlin powered up Comoroto and dropped him with the suplex. Knight and Fredericks hit an electric chair dropkick combination on Alridge to gain the victory.
Alex Coughlin, Clark Connors, Karl Fredericks, Yuya Uemura, and Kevin Knight defeated “The Factory” Q.T. Marshall, Aaron Solo, Nick Comoroto, Brick Alridge, and Blake Li by pinfall.
Briar’s Take: The winning team are all from New Japan Pro Wrestling. This was a great match and solid storyline follow up between the NJPW team and The Factory. This is worth going out of your way to see. I feel like AEW should have done a better job hyping up this match with a video package of something to set the stage and let people know about the past history for those who don’t follow NJPW closely.
9. Wheeler Yuta vs. Josh Woods for the ROH Pure Championship. Woods and Yuta swapped holds after the bell rang until Woods locked in a brief submission. Yuta already used his first of three rope breaks to break the hold. Yuta hit back with a modified tornado DDT off the top rope. Yuta continued to focus on the arm on Woods in the middle of the match. Woods fought back with an arm drag and locked in an ankle lock before smashing the knee on Yuta.
Woods followed up with a big knee strike to Yuta in the corner after five minutes went by. The match continued slowly with Yuta throwing a punch at Woods with a close fist, which is illegal in Pure Rules matches. The referee issued his only warning (a second closed fist would lead to disqualification). Yuta performed a diving splash from the top rope. Yuta hit the jumping sucidia on Woods, who countered with a shot to the head.
When both men returned to the ring, Yuta and Woods had the same idea by going for kicks to the head. Yuta suplexed Woods into the ropes and followed up with another suplex. Yuta used his final rope break after breaking an ankle lock to escape Woods. Eventually, Yuta rolled over Woods and grabbed the victory to retain the ROH Pure Championship.
Wheeler Yuta defeated Josh Woods via pinfall to retain the ROH Pure Championship.
Briar’s Take: A heck of an outing from Yuta and Woods in what felt like the main event. There were some intriguing times in the match where Yuta was issued a warning and could have potentially been disqualified and lost the title to Woods. This was definitely a match to go out of your way to see.
10. “Chaos Project” Serpentinco and Luther vs. Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee. Serpentinco attempted a monkey flip but slipped off the ropes. Strickland hit a leaping stomp on Serpentinco. A short time later, Lee charged in and hit a big-time shoulder block to Luther. Luther countered with the enzuigiri and tagged out briefly. Chaos Project continued to make cohesive tags, but Lee threw Serpentinco into Luther. Serpentinco was thrown across the ring by Lee, and then Strickland hit a Swerve Bomb on Serpentinco to gain the victory.
Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee defeated Chaos Project via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Overall, another strong episode of AEW Dark. The shows can be hit or miss, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see the qualify improve. There was not a bad match on the card, but if you’re short on time, I think Uriah vs. Caster, Bear Country vs. The Workhorsemen, the NJPW team match vs. The Factory, and the ROH Pure Championship match with Yuta and Woods are worth going out of your way to see. Episode 143 clocked in at 1 hour, 28 minutes, and 41 seconds. Final Score: 8.0 out of 10.