By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 188)
Taped in March 3, 2023 in San Francisco, California at the Cow Palace
Streamed March 7, 2023 on the AEW YouTube Page
Excalibur and Taz were on commentary…
1. Mylo vs. Skye Blue. Eventually, Mylo missed the diving splash, which allowed Blue to finish her off with a Full Nelson into the Flatliner.
Skye Blue defeated Mylo via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Good quality matchup with both women, especially Mylo. I was surprised to see how much offense she was given. Great stuff.
2. Bad Dude Tito vs. Brian Cage (w/Prince Nana). Late in the match, Tito planted Cage with a Blue Thunder Bomb. Cage eventually struck back with a discus lariat and won with the cloverleaf submission.
Brian Cage defeated Bad Dude Tito via submission.
Briar’s Take: It was a nice touch by Excalibur to note that Tito was from New Japan Strong rather than act like he was a nobody. I enjoyed this match, as there was a lot of intensity between the two big men. There were a couple of moments when I thought Tito was on the verge of winning.
The AEW Total Access Promo Show was shown that is slated to debut on March 29.
3. Cody Chhun and Guillermo Rosas vs. Lance Archer (w/Jake “The Snake” Roberts) in a handicap match. Archer performed a crossbody block from the middle rope on both opponents. Shortly thereafter, Archer doubled chokeslammed Chhun and Rosas and then won with a short arm lariat.
Lance Archer defeated Cody Chhun and Guillermo Rosas via pinfall in a handicap match.
Briar’s Take: This is what you would expect in an Archer match, short and sweet and to the point. At least this time he didn’t beat up his opponents when making his entrance.
4. Jack Cartwheel vs. Konosuke Takeshita. Late in the match, Takeshita hit a powerful lariat on Cartwheel. Takeshita followed a Blue Thunder Bomb and a knee strike and then got the win.
Konosuke Takeshita defeated Jack Cartwheel via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: As Taz said during Takeshita’s entrance, Cartwheel was lived up to his gimmick by doing Cartwheels in almost every move. I felt Cartwheel was given too many near falls against a name talent in Takeshita.
5. Julius Coleman vs. Big Bill (w/Stokley Hathaway). Bill hoisted up Coleman and chokeslammed him for the quick victory.
Big Bill defeated Julius Coleman via pinfall.
6. Zoe Dubois vs. Willow Nightingale. Nightingale hit a kick to the face of Dubois and followed up with a suplex. Nightingale performed a spinebuster on Dubois that almost gave her an early victory. Eventually, Nighingale planted Dubois with a Doctor Bomb and then got the pin.
Willow Nightingale defeated Zoe Dubois via pinfall.
Afterward, ROH Women’s Champion Athena came out and tried to hit Nightingale with the title belt. Nightingale cut her off with a spear.
Briar’s Take: Back-to-back enhancements matches. The most interesting part was Athena trying to strike Nightingale with her title belt. I assume the two will meet for the title at ROH Supercard of Honor.
7. Ryan Nemeth vs. AR Fox. Late in the match, Fox performed a back elbow into the cutter and nearly got the win. Fox rolled into a cutter and followed up with a 450 splash on Nemeth and got the pin.
AR Fox defeated Ryan Nemeth via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: I never thought I would see the day that both Nemeth and Fox would main event an episode of AEW Dark. Then again, it’s AEW Dark and anything is possible. The crowd was silent through most parts of this match with the exception of when Fox hit some splashy moves. I didn’t think Nemeth would get the win here, knowing how he has been used in the past. Still, here was a sense of unpredictability since neither wrestler typically works main event matches.
Overall, not a bad episode of AEW Dark. It helped that the show was taped in front of an arena crowd. Those shows tend to be better than when the show is taped in front of a studio audience in Orlando. The opening matches were strong and then they moved into some brief matches. The best match was Bad Dude Tito vs. Brian Cage, which I would have put in the main event rather than Fox vs. Nemeth. Episode 188 clocked in at 40 minutes and 19 seconds. Final Score: 5.0 out of 10.