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by Scrooge McSuck
September 7, 2021
Taped from Chicago, IL (I believe on September 3rd, part of the Rampage tapings), with Excalibur and Taz calling the action, unless otherwise noted. With Dynamite and Rampage being the mainstream programming, and a new taping schedule for Dark and Dark: Elevation, I thought I might dip my toes into AEW waters and cover the “B” shows if the run-time doesn't get out of hand (some episodes of Dark were 16-matches and 2 hours long. I'll suffer that for a WrestleMania flashback, but not a bunch of squash matches). Soon, Dark will tape at Universal in Orlando, which will give it a unique look compared to the rest of AEW programming and will be a throwback to some other wrestling companies that may or may not have entertained me in the past.
Lance Archer vs. Jason Hotch:
We haven't seen Jake Roberts with Archer lately, though I don't think he's missed much. Archer has been in a weird spot where (as a heel) he's built up as a monster to conquer, but lately is walking the shades of grey line, teasing a storyline with Dan Lambert and the Men of the Year (Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page). We get a comical entrance as Archer chases his opponent to the ring during introductions (the week before, he carried his opponent to the ring before disposing of him in about 30-seconds). Hotch surprises Archer with a tope suicida. The second is countered with a chokeslam on the apron. The bell rings to officially start the match, which seems irresponsible. Ripcord into a spinning uranage, followed by a release German suplex. He charges into the corner with a series of elbows and finishes with the Blackout at 1:25. If you like Archer squashes, this was certainly one of them (for the record, no ratings for squash matches, but if it's bad, you'll know).
The Bunny (w/ Penelope Ford) vs. Laynie Luck:
Luck has made a few appearances recently (currently at 0-3), so maybe she's becoming a regular enhancement for these tapings. Ford is the newest member of the HFO (Hardy Family Office), or as I call them, the Island of Misfit Toys (others call them “Future Endeavored List”). As of last week, Bunny and Ford were picking fights with Tay Conti, who has the returning Anna Jay by her side to even the odds. A distraction at ringside allows the Bunny to gain the early advantage, with Ford getting involved behind the referee's back. Bunny with a sliding forearm into the corner before mugging for the camera. Whip to the ropes and Luck surprises Bunny with a terrible roll-up for two. She gets a better-looking cradle for another two-count. Bunny survives some forearm shots and lays Luck out with a diving clothesline. Bunny with a combo sequence, capped off with a running knee lift. "Down the Rabbit Hole" finishes at 2:13 (think Big Show's old "Final Cut" forearm across a bent backwards opponent). Nothing much to this one, but glad to see Bunny (formerly Allie) get regular ring-time again.
Evil Uno (w/ Stu Grayson & Colt Cabana) vs. Alan "5" Angels (w/ John Silver & 10):
THE DARK ORDER EXPLODES! So, to catch us up, the Dark Order haven't been on the same page lately, all stemming from Uno (and Stu) preventing the rest of the Dark Order from saving Hangman Adam Page from an Elite beat-down to make-good on his wish to do things by himself. Along the way, Alex Reynolds has walked away from the fighting (I think he's on paternity leave), and it looks like the split is vets and the younger members. They tease a handshake, with Uno going for a quick roll-up for a two-count. Angels with a dropkick and forearm strikes. Whip to the ropes and Uno bails out. Back inside, collar-elbow lockup to the corner. Angels avoids an avalanche and grabs a side headlock. A shoulder tackle sends Uno into the ropes, coming back with a shoulder tackle of his own. Angels cuts Uno off with a jumping heel kick and comes off the top with a flying body press for two. Uno shrugs off some mounted rights, sweeping Angels out of the corner and knocking him to the outside with a running boot. Back inside, Angels with a sunset flip as the crowd chants “Please Don't Fight.” Uno with a forearm and briefly gives up his position before laying in more strikes. Angels keeping daring him to bring it, and Uno obliges. Angels sweeps the leg for some ground ‘n' pound. He hits Uno with a pair of clotheslines and a running enzuigiri. Uno misses a clothesline and gets planted with a DDT for two. Flatliner into a Koji Klutch but Uno gets to the ropes and bails again. Angels follows, diving off the middle turnbuckle with a moonsault. He rolls Uno back in, and Uno rolls back out on the opposite side. Angels chases, eats a boot, and gets sent violently into the steps. Back inside, Uno finishes with Something Evil (a single-arm hook into a flatliner) at 6:12. I don't think their problems are solved. Solid action. **½
The Acclaimed vs. Capt. Shawn Dean & Robert Anthony:
It was only a week or so ago when Max Castor returned from hiatus (stemming from backlash over a series of raps that pushed the boundaries of good taste), and he's already playing off that in his promos. Dean (I believe signed talent) and Anthony are Dark vets but are clearly enhancement for this one. Max reads a scripted rap until Anthony Bowens snatches it away, complaining about the scripted nonsense (SHOTS FIRED!). Big pop for the paper being torn up. Bowens and Castor attack at the bell, tossing Dean out of the ring. Anthony reverses a whip to the corner but can't capitalize as Bowens lays him out with a Super-Kick. Dean charges in and gets spiked with a spinning reverse Samoan drop. He plants Anthony and Castor hits the Mic Drop (Flying elbow) for three at 1:03. That was quick. The Acclaimed (and most specifically Castor) is one of those “all entrance” acts, though they are passable in the ring.
Joey Janela vs. Lee Moriarty:
About a month ago on Dark, Janela finally betrayed Sonny Kiss, and last week we were introduced to a mysterious woman that came to his aid and laid out poor Robert Anthony with the most blatant feed for a Powerbomb you'll ever see. Lockup into the corner and Moriarty breaks, only for Janela to kick his knee and mug for the camera. Whip to the corner, Moriarty with an arm drag and leg sweep. Janela goes for the leg, but Moriarty counters and hits a jumping cross body for a one-count. Janela bails to the apron and takes advantage of Moriarty's aggressiveness. Moriarty with another counter, slamming Janela on the apron hammer-lock style. He loads up for a tope suicida by Janela counters with a forearm. Back inside, Janela covers for two. Whip is reversed and Moriarty hangs up Janela's arm across the top rope. Janela keeps using forearms to prevent Moriarty getting any momentum as his mystery woman takes care of Moriarty while the referee is distracted. Moriarty fights out of a body scissors with a series of elbows. Janela maintains control with chops. A leg-trip sends Janela into the turnbuckle and he spikes his head selling a snapping wristlock. Charge to the corner, Moriarty with a jumping heel kick and a running double stomp for two. Moriarty is slow climbing the ropes and gets cut off. Janela climbs up with him and connects with a super-plex. Moriarty bails out and Janela follows with a tope. He sends Moriarty back in the ring and Moriarty fires back with a tope of his own. They trade forearms in the center of the ring until Janela connects with a Super-Kick. Moriarty stuns Janela with an enzuigiri but is quickly cut off with a release German suplex. Moriarty reverses a whip and lands a forearm uppercut. Janela turns Moriarty inside out with a clothesline and connects with a piledriver for two. Moriarty counters a DVD with a drop-down top wristlock, followed by a hammer-lock clothesline. He hooks a cross-face, but Janela gets to the ropes (with some assistance at ringside). That distracts Moriarty long enough for Janela to roll him up and finish with the Death Valley Driver at 8:37. Janela can't celebrate long, as Sonny Kiss runs in to get some shots in before Janela runs. I'm not a Janela fan, but this was some good sh*t. ***
Colt Cabana & Stu Grayson (w/ Evil Uno) vs. Travis Titan & RSP:
Not often do we see Cabana and Stu representing the Dark Order, but with the splintered groups, it's either them or Silver and 10 teaming up (which we've also seen recently at AEW tapings). I don't see much in either of their opponents. I'd best describe RSP as having the body of Jack Victory (that isn't a compliment). Grayson starts with RSP. Crowd gives some love to Colt, but RSP attacks before he can tag in. Stu bounces out of the corner with a diving clothesline, so Titan comes in to get an illegal 2-on-1 going with the referee tied up by Cabana. Titan stomps Stu down in the corner while the crowd remains hot for the hometown hero. Taz points out Titan is wearing THIGH PADS. Stu fights out of the corner and makes the hot tag to Cabana. He unloads on RSP with chops and jabs. He winds up and lands the big elbow on Titan. Whip to the ropes and Cabana with an Asai moonsault to send RSP out of the ring. He nails Titan with the Flying Apple and the Dark Order hit a combo elbow and side slam. Stu hits RSP with the Night Fall as Cabana finishes Titan with the Chicago Skyline at 3:07. THE HOMETOWN GUY WINS? WHAT SORCERY IS THIS?! Just a squash to give Colt some shine in his hometown, which is always appreciated.
3 Strikes Match: Big Swole vs. Diamante:
These two have feuded exclusively on Dark, with Diamante targeting Swole, and utilizing a chain to her advantage. Sloppy explanation for the stipulations, but this is basically a 2 out of 3 Falls Match, but with a twist: One fall must be won by a pin, one must be won by submission, and if there's a third fall, it can only be won by knockout. For those who watched AEW Dynamite regularly in 2020, you might be wondering what happened to Swole, but some medical issues (non-COVID) sidelined her for an extended period. Swole opens with a pump kick. Whip to the ropes, Diamante ducks a clothesline and takes Swole over with a not-quite-victory roll for a two. Swole with elbows and a short flatliner for only a one-count. Swole targets the leg with low kicks. Diamante reverses a whip to the corner and nails Swole coming off the ropes with a knee lift. Swole cuts off a whip and nails a pair of double chops, followed by a headbutt to the chest. Swole with a back suplex drop that has Diamante rocked. Swole moves in for the kill with a knee strike for two. Diamante counters Dirty Dancing with a roll-up and handful of tights for three at 2:40. Diamante gives her a middle finger salute before nailing a running knee strike of her own. Swole cuts her off with a double leg sweep, but Diamante creates separation and knocks Swole down with an elbow. Diamante with a basement dropkick and a cover... for two? UM, I THOUGHT THAT WASN'T ALLOWED FOR HER? Diamante hooks the arm with a body-scissors applied but Swole gets to the ropes. Diamante keeps Swole grounded, clubbing her across the chest between nerve holds. Swole counters with a knee bar and Ankle Lock and Diamante quickly taps at 5:31. Diamante bails out to retrieve a kendo stick, but Swole fights it out of her hands and targets the leg. Diamante uses the apron to assist herself with a hurricanrana. She whips out the chain as we're probably going home soon. Swole puts up her hands and gets nailed across the midsection. Diamante whips her with the chain, which only succeeds in pissing Swole off. Swole fights the chain away and they have a scrum for the dropped weapon, leading to a double-down. Swole has the chain but is sent to the post. Diamante pulls out a pair of handcuffs, but before she can have them properly applied, Swole pulls the chain from her gear and knocks Diamante out with Dirty Dancing to take the final fall at 10:04. I'm sorry, but this wasn't good. The stipulations were poorly explained, and the first two falls were so rushed neither one got much of a reaction. Had they just gone with a Knockout only stipulation, I think this would've been a bit better. *½
Final Thoughts: The biggest surprise of the episode is a match tailor made for a traditional squash turned out to be a solid back-and-forth with one of my least favorite members of the AEW roster. They wrapped up the Swole/Diamante program, which didn't do much for me, but maybe it hit the right note for others, and they continue teasing the Dark Order splintered into different factions. Everything else was the usual showcase of squashes, so if you're into the talent featured, that's good for you, and if you're not into some of the names featured, then it's fast forward material.
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