25th Feb2021

‘AEW: Dark’ Review (Feb 23rd 2021)

by Phil Wheat

Welcome to this weeks review of AEW: Dark, which I’m watching on a delay on Wednesday night, just after news that Paul Wight, aka former WWE superstar Big Show, has joined AEW! Talk about shock news… Also revealed along with the announcement is news that Wight will comment on a NEW weekly YouTube show from AEW called AEW Dark: Elevation!

Match #1: Brian Cage def. John Skyler

A longer than usual Cage squash, lasting a whole minute! Cage made quick work of Skylar who didn’t get a chance to put in any real offense before being hit with the drillclaw with Cage getting the easy pin!

My Score: 1 out of 5

Match #2: Lee Johnson def. Serpentico

Johnson and Serpentico were well-matched here, with both wrestlers given a chance to show what they can do. There’s a nice story touch showing Johnson losing his temper with Serpentico and ACTUALLY BEING COACHED by Arn Anderson, who calmed him down and got Johnson back on track. Johnson may have got the win but, for once, Serpentico came out of this match looking strong too.

My score: 2.5 out of 5

Match #3: Eddie Kingston def. JD Drake

A debuting JD Drake (who looks like a bigger version of Drake Maverick/Rockstar Spud) was , on paper, thrown to the lions in a match with Kingston… But, would you believe it, Drake held his own and pummeled Kingston in what was a traditional “big man” down and dirty brawl. Old school in the best way possible, this was – for me – the surprise match of the night.

My score: 3 out of 5

Match #4: Leyla Hirsch def. Brooke Havoc

Nightmare Factory graduate Brooke Havoc got a chance to put some moves on Hirsch before tapping out to to an armbar in just over two minutes – making this something of a squash. Though apparently the quick finish may be becasue Havoc tore her ACL during this match – however credit to her you couldn’t tell from her performance (or the editing).

My score: 1.5 out of 5

Match #5: Jurassic Express def. Angel Fashion & VSK

Just like last week, this was another squash match for Jurassic Express, further cementing their “anger” at the FTR situation and their new found determination to make a huge mark on the tag team scene. Even with the short time and the squash over their opponents, Jurassic Express still made this more fun and more exciting than your usual squash.

My score: 2 out of 5

Match #6: QT Marshall def. JJ Garrett

Another AEW debut, this time for JJ Garrett who, like JD Drake, put on a great show and showed of his mat skills. Plus, like Drake, he also looked like another wrestler… one of the Steiner Bros!

My score: 2.5 out of 5

Match #7: Max Caster def. Marko Stunt

Max Caster demolished Marko Stunt in his freestyle rap intro and the domination continued in the ring, with Caster really shining. There’s a reason he’s called “Platinum Max Caster” after all.

My score: 2 out of 5

Match #8: Alex Reynolds & John Silver def. Louie Valle & Chris Peaks

Peak and Valles managed to make a decent showing of this match, beating down Alex Reynolds for most of the time. However you can’t keep the Dark order down, or John Silver for that matter who, after finally getting the tag from Reynolds, took the fight to Peaks and Valles, showcasing his strength and ingenuity – at one point literally throwing Louis Valles in a spear-like fashion at his tag partner Chris Peaks junk! Unbelievable work from Johnny Hungy this week.

My score: 3 out of 5

Match #9: Kip Sabian def. Fuego Del Sol

Of course Fuego Del Sol lost again. His is the ultimate underdog story that is slowly being built on Sammy Guevara’s vlog and across social media. I hope to god it eventually pays off. In the meantime Fuego took a beating from Kip Sabian, before almost getting the pin on Sabian. Almost. Sabian’s still being billed as intense, angry and even meaner following the wedding shenanigans and it showed here.

My score: 2 out of 5

Match #10: Varsity Blonds def. Shawn Dean & Carlie Bravo

Two great tag teams have a great tag team match. What more could you ask for? Plus this match went almost eight minutes, which is typically unheard of for Dark! A great advert for the Blonds match on Dynamite this week.

My score: 3 out of 5

Match #11: Ryan Nemeth def. Aaron Solow

Ryan Nemeth is officially more annoying and more of an arsehole than his brother – something I didn’t think possible. Which means, unfortunately, this match was a choire to get thorugh. I get that they making Nemeth a true heel but its making me dislike ANY match he’s a part of. Which is a shame for Solow in this case. Though there was a nice bit of storytelling with Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi coming out and getting involved post-match before Solow’s Nightmare Family stable mates saved the day… More of this to come is most welcome!

My score: 2 out of 5

Match #12: Ivelisse & Diamante def. Miranda Alize & Renee Michelle

Damn! Renee Michelle got socked in the face by Ivelisse early doors. For real. Ivelisse was apparently not happy with the pain inflicted on her arm by Michelle! Apparently Miranda Alize also has history with Ivelisse and Diamante and it showed here – she knew what moves were coming and did some great counters. Though none of it was enough to stop her eventually getting a beat down from Ivelisse and Diamante.

My score: 3 out of 5

Match #13: Top Flight def. Tony Vega & Steven Stetson

Even though Vega and Stetson were making their AEW tag team debut, they looked like veterans of the tag scene – really taking it to Top Flight, who looked to be struggling with Vega and Stetson’s offense for most of this match. When Top Flight did get the momentum they wasted little time in getting the win.

My score: 2 out of 5

Match #14: Bear Country, Sonny Kiss & Joey Janela def. M’Badu, Levy Shapiro, Daniel Joseph & Aaron Frye

I bloody love Bear Country! I said it in a previous review but these guys really should be in the tag title race. OK, OK, I know they’re relatively new to AEW but still, the duo look awesome in each and every match and deserve a decent push. And Janela and Kiss were great tag partners for the duo too – Janela in particular managing to perfectly add his brand of insanity to Bear Country lethal big man wrestling style.

My score: 3 out of 5

Match #15: Pretty Peter Avalon & Cezar Bononi def. Ryzin & Baron Black

Baron Black gives it his all in EVERY match he’s in, be it singles, tag or multi-man matches and that certainly applies to this one. Avalon took most of the punishment in this match, perfectly suiting his sleazy heel persona. Hell, he didn’t even really get the win, with Bononi throwing Avalon on to Baron Black for the pin.

My score: 2 out of 5

Match #16: KiLynn King def. Tesha Price

KiLynn King’s had a bit of a makeover, coming out to the ring with facepaint on – which suits her down to business, kick ass and take name style of wrestling she utilises. Price was King’s perfect dichotomy at first, before eventually bringing out the same hard-hitting style after King got the better of her in the early going; in an almost ‘schizophrenic’ performance that reminded me a little of Alexa Bliss’ current gimmick. Though King ultimately looked like an absolute beast here, showing her strength and power and picking up the pin in what was a decent 6-minute display of AEW women’s division.

My score: 3 out of 5

Match #17: Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian def. Matt and Mike Sydal & TH2

Some tremendous display of mat AND high-flying wrestling here, with each teams style remarkably gelling well. TH2 looked great, as did Matt Sydal (I’m still not convince by his brother). Of course SCU got the win, otherwise they’d split up on Dark… Which is NEVER goiung to happen. That will be saved for Dynamite!

My score: 3.5 out of 5

Final Verdict: 3/5

We’re back to a long episode of Dark this week, pushing just over 2 hours… and not a single minute wasted. Yes we had one too many squash matches in the early going but the rest of the card was a great showcase for the AEW roster and for the new debuting talent too! There was more variety on show here than ANY other wrestling programming out there, which is why AEW Dark – even moreso than Dynamite – is must-watch TV for me.

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