By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 173)
Taped November 4, 2022 in Atlantic City, New Jersey at Boardwalk Hall
Streamed December 6, 2022 on the AEW YouTube Page
Excalibur and Taz were on commentary
1. ROH Six-Man Tag Team Champions Dalton Castle and The Boys vs. Justin Corino, Jaden Valo, and Defarge in a non-title match. Castle and Valo began the match respectively, and Castle landed a mat return. Boy 1 hit a dropkick and arm drag on Defarge. The Boys continued to dominate Defarge and Castle hit a standing splash. Castle then threw one of the boys on Valo and Defarge. Castle finished off Corino with a Bangarang.
ROH-Six Man Tag Team Champions Dalton Castle and The Boys defeated Justin Corino, Jaden Valo, and Defarge via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: The outcome of this match was predictable, but the win gave the six-man tag team champions momentum heading into the Final Battle PPV on Saturday. I wish Excalibur would do a better job of educating viewers about who The Boys are and why they are with Castle.
2. Leva Bates vs. Abadon. Bates hit a Northern Lights suplex on Abadon to gain an early advantage early on. Shortly thereafter, Bates used some kicks to Abadon along with knees to the midsection. Abadon regained momentum with a step-up enzuigiri and planted Bates with a bloodline finisher.
Abadon defeated Leva Bates via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Eh, not much of a match. The crowd was dead silent for this one, so much so that you could have heard a pin drop.
3. Leon Ruffin vs. “The Embassy’s” Brian Cage (w/Prince Nana). Cage tossed Ruffin over the top after doing curls with him. Ruffin hit a dropkick to the jaw of Cage, however, Cage fired back with a big back body drop. Cage planted Ruffin on top of his knee. Ruffin was caught after attempting a diving splash on the outside when Cage countered the move by powerbombing him into the turnbuckle. Ruffin came back with a cutter. Eventually, though, Cage hit the Weapon X to score the victory.
Brian Cage defeated Leon Ruffin via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A lot longer match than it should’ve been. I get AEW is trying to protect Ruffin a bit, but if Cage is an unstoppable monster then he should’ve been able to take care of him in a minute or two rather than the four minutes or so that this match took.
4. “Brick City Boyz” Julio Cruz and Victor Chase vs. Jay Lethal and Satnam Singh (w/Sonjay Dutt). Lethal tagged in Singh after Lethal hit a thrust kick on Cruz. Singh hoisted Cruz up in a fireman’s carry and threw him to the outside and landed on Chase. Singh planted Cruz in the middle of the ring. Lethal reentered the match and ended Cruz’s night with a Lethal Injection for the win.
Jay Lethal and Satnam Singh defeated Brick City Boyz via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: An okay match for what it was. This was simply a showcase for Lethal and Singh. Singh only had about 30 seconds worth of offense, while Lethal took care of the rest of the business. This is about how long the Cage match should’ve lasted against Ruffin.
5. B3CCA vs. Athena. Athena began striking B3CCA right away after the bell rang. B3CCA threw strikes of her own to fight back against Athena and even hit a cutter off the middle rope. Athena hoisted up B3CCA and threw her to the outside over the top rope. Athena locked in the dragon sleeper and forced B3CCA to tap out for the submission victory.
Athena defeated B3CCA via submission.
Briar’s Take: Mercedes Martinez vs. Athena for the ROH Women’s Championship should be a good match on Saturday’s Final Battle card. However, I think I would’ve taken this episode to explain why Athena wanted the ROH Women’s Championship and to provide more of a backstory to their match. Excalibur briefly hyped the match, but that was about it and thus leaving me feeling a bit underwhelmed.
6. “The Workhorsemen’s” Anthony Henry vs. “Best Friends” Trent Beretta (w/Chuck Taylor). Henry and Beretta traded blows back and forth until Beretta got a shoulder tackle. Beretta hit an overhead throw on Henry and then hit a leaping splash. While on the outside, Beretta ran into the barricade after Henry moved at the last second and Henry nailed Beretta with a kick that sent him over the barricade.
Back inside the ring, Henry turned Beretta inside out and received a two count. Shortly thereafter, Henry hit a neck crack whilhe using his feet on Beretta. Beretta brought Henry back down on the mat with a suplex after Henry failed with a maneuver from the turnbuckle. Henry attempted a suplex, but Beretta botched a suplex move that saw both of them go back to the outside.
Beretta found an opening with a knee strike to the back of the head of Henry and only got a two count. Henry also found an opening with an avalanche falcon arrow off the top rope and nearly got the upset victory. Beretta then countered back with a piledriver on the apron. Henry hit a piledriver of his own and again was close to getting a victory. Eventually, Beretta deep-rolled Henry into a pinfall and got the win.
Trent Beretta defeated Anthony Henry via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: This was a good match aside from the underwhelming finish with Beretta just rolling up Henry into a pinning predicament. It was good to see that Henry was able to get some near falls. Having Orange Cassidy with the Beretta and Taylor would have woken up the quiet live crowd.
Not the best episode of AEW Dark, as the show lacked star power and the matches were very brief. It was also hard to get into the show as it was taped a month ago. The crowd seemed they were anxiously waiting for something to happen during the show. In researching for this show, the company held 15 matches that night, so I’m sure it was a lot for the live crowd. It also explains why we didn’t get a storyline follow-up with the Ethan Page and Matt Hardy saga from last week. With that said, the show peaked with Dalton Castle and The Boys, and even then, the match was nothing memorable. About the only thing worth going out of your way to see is the Henry and Beretta match, as everything else was predictable and short. It sure would’ve been nice to have had more ROH Final Battle hype on this show. Episode 173 clocked in at 45 minutes and 58 seconds. Final Score: 4.0 out of 10.