By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 181)
Taped in December 17, 2022 Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios
Streamed January 31, 2023 on the AEW YouTube Page
Excalibur and Taz were on commentary…
1. “The Wingmen” Cezar Bononi, Peter Avalon, and Ryan Nemeth vs. AR Fox and “Top Flight” Dante Martin and Darius Martin. Top Flight hit a jumping sucidia on all members of The Wingmen to start. Dante came over the top rope with a senton and Fox had a senton of his own. Fox then hit a corkscrew brainbuster on Avalon. Bononi was taken down by a triple dropkick from Top Flight and Fox.
Nemeth hit a standing dropkick to Fox before tagging out. Bononi hit a forearm shiver to the spine of Fox, who then dropped Avalon with a Death Valley Driver. Dante landed a diving crossbody on Nemeth and nearly got the victory. Everyone hit their signature moves until Fox hit a dropkick to Bononi. With help from Top Flight, Fox finished off Avalon with a cutter for the victory.
Top Flight and AR Fox defeated The Wingmen via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A good match. Avalon has a new look with shorter hair. I was somewhat surprised to see this match open up Dark rather than being the main event.
2. Sofia Castillo vs. Red Velvet. Velvet started the match with a deep arm drag takedown and followed with a kick to the midsection. Castillo fired back with a modified stunner while Velvet was in the middle of the ropes. Castillo got some offense, including a punt kick to Velvet and picked up a few near falls. Velvet came back with double knees after Castillo missed a move. Velvet made Castillo tap out to the short-arm scissor submission.
Red Velvet defeated Sofia Castillo via submission.
Briar’s Take: A short and sweet match for Velvet. This was Castillo’s AEW debut.
3. Fulton vs. “The Reality” Zack Clayton. Clayton hit a running elbow and followed up with a backbreaker to Fulton after Fulton tried getting the upper advantage. Soon after, Clayton landed a leaping knee drop to Fulton. Fulton would plant Clayton with a scoop slam with assistance from the ropes. Fulton attempted a powerbomb, however, Clayton escaped with another backbreaker. Clayton grabbed the victory with a brainbuster to Fulton.
Zack Clayton defeated Fulton via pinfall
Briar’s Take: Despite the same size advantage that Clayton and Fulton had, Clayton was easily able to put away the big man, who was making his debut.
4. Rosario Grillo and Dean Alexander vs. Brock Anderson and Brian Pillman Jr. (w/Arn Anderson). Anderson landed a back slam on Grillo before tagging out. Pillman came over the top rope with a foot stomp on Grillo. Shortly thereafter, Grillo made the tag out to Alexander, who was then chopped by Pillman. Anderson hit a gourdbuster on Alexander for the victory.
Brock Anderson and Brian Pillman Jr defeated Rosario Grillo and Dean Alexander via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: The new team of Anderson and Pillman Jr started off on the right note. We’ll see how far they can go and whether they ever get to challenge for the tag titles.
5. Renee Michelle vs. Skye Blue. Blue threw a kick to the midsection of Michelle, who fired back with elbows before landing a moonsault. Blue regained momentum with a knee strike and an enziurgiri on Michelle. Blue face-planted Michelle in the middle of the mat for the win.
Skye Blue defeated Renee Michell via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Man, they really need to get a name for Blue’s finisher. Excalibur called it an out-of-nowhere move.
6. Mr.G and Dante Casanova vs. “Shane Taylor Promotions” Shane Taylor and J.D. Griffey. Taylor hit a big splash on Casanova after using the ropes. Taylor followed up with an elbow strike, while Taylor and Griffey put away Casanova with a knee strike into a piledriver finisher.
Shane Taylor and JD Griffey defeated Mr.G and Dante Casanova via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: As someone who didn’t watch much ROH, both Taylor and Griffey looked impressive here. They were received well by the crowd and I’m curious how they will do once ROH starts up again.
7. Avery Breaux vs. Yuka Sakazaki. Sakazaki got the advantage early on Breaux by using roll-ups, which led to Breaux rolling to the outside. Breaux thew Sakazaki to the ring apron. Shortly thereafter, Sakazaki hit a boot to the head of Breaux. Back in the ring, Breaux came in with a cannonball senton in the corner. Sakazaki dropped her with a merry-go-round and won with a magical girl splash.
Yuka Sakazaki defeated Avery Breaux via pinfall.
8. Liam Gray and Adrian Alanis vs. “The Workhorsemen” Anthony Henry and JD Drake. Alanis and Gray doubled up on Drake early in the match with quick moves. Drake fired back with a clothesline into a DDT on Gray and Alanis. Drake hit a cannonball into the ropes on Gray. Henry tagged in and planted Gray with a brainbuster for a quick victory.
“The Workhorsemen” Anthony Henry and JD Drake defeated Liam Gray and Adrian Alanis via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Drake and Henry won this match quickly.
9. Angelico (w/Serpentinco, Luther) vs. Konosuke Takeshita. While Takeshita was on the outside, both Luther and Serpentinco took advantage while the ref was distracted. This allowed Angelico to lock in a submission with a hammer lock. Takeshita and Angelico would trade blows back and forth until Takeshita hit a powerful clothesline that turned Angelico inside out. Takeshita then planted Angelico with a DDT after going over the top rope.
Angelico rolled through on Takeshita and attempted a submission. Unfortunately, Takeshita hit a blue thunder bomb on Angelico. Angelico went to the ropes and hit a bulldog from the top rope to Takeshita. Takeshita would hit a jumping knee to Angelico and followed up with a German suplex. Eventually, Takeshita planted Angelico twice with a brainbuster and a knee strike to the face to get the win.
Konosuke Takeshita defeated Angelico via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: There was a bit of unpredictability here with Takeshita and Angelico, as it came off like match could have gone either way. I wish Serpentinco and Luther weren’t at ringside, as I thought they brought down the quality somewhat with their comedy antics. Even so, this was a hell of a match that is worth going out of your way and see. I hope we get another round with more in-ring time on a future episode of Rampage.
Overall, this episode of Dark clocked in just under an hour. As there has been with the previous episodes, there was a little something for everyone. Most of the matches were brief, which was fine because most of these matches didn’t need to go long, though I do wish the main event had been given more time. The only storytelling match was the opening six-man tag match in that they followed up their story from last week’s show. The rest of the matches felt like filler. Episode 181 clocked in at 51 minutes and 23 seconds. Final Score: 7.0 out of 10.
Be the first to comment