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AEW Dark
September 21, 2021

by Scrooge McSuck

AEW Dark

Taped from Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, with Excalibur and Taz calling the action, unless otherwise noted. This is a 14-match card, bloating the run-time to nearly 2-hours, and annoying me in the process. Keep it in the 45–50-minute range, please.

Wardlow vs. JDX:

They're going the slow and steady route with Wardlow, aren't they? Almost two years later, and they're milking every little bit of the tease of him splitting from MJF. Lockup and Wardlow with a go-behind takedown. JDX gives him a shove and throws a series of rights. Wardlow sustains an enzuigiri and thrust kick to lay JDX out with a big boot. Wardlow with FIVE Powerbombs and the referee hasn't called for it. He straddles JDX across the top rope and knocks him out with the Casualty of War (knee strike) at 2:49. That's how you murder someone, though I would've had the referee call it after the 3rd or 4th Powerbomb.

Big Swole vs. Allie Katch:

First AEW appearance for Katch. Swole is coming off a big victory over Diamante. Lockup and there's some hair-pulling involved. Katch backs Swole into the corner and lands a right jab. She tosses Swole out of the corner and boots the back of her head for a two-count. Swole fights out of a chin-lock, but Katch throws her down to the canvas with a handful of hair. Swole escapes another chin-lock and lays Katch out with a pair of cross chops. Katch avoids two leg sweeps but gets rocked with a headbutt. Swole with the rolling elbow and that's good for three at 2:07. Inoffensive action.

Santana & Ortiz vs. Chaos Project:

For those unfamiliar with the duo, Chaos Project is Luthor and Serpentico, with the gimmick of Luthor constantly using his partner to cause damage to his opponents. Santana and Ortiz will join the Lucha Brothers in 8-Man Tag Team action at Arther Ashe Stadium against the HFO's Private Party, Butcher, and Blade. Santana and Serpentico start. Lockup and Santana forces Serpentico to the canvas, causing Luthor to freak out. Santana with a side headlock, countered by a head-scissors. Whip to the ropes and Santana with a shoulder block, followed by a springboard arm drag and enzuigiri. Ortiz with a fireman's carry into an arm bar. Whip to the ropes and Santana and Ortiz unload with a series of tandem offense. Luthor runs in to help and accidentally nails Serpentico. Luthor uses Serpentico as a shield to block Ortiz's tope suicida. Back inside, Serpentico and Luthor trap Ortiz in their corner. Luthor sends Ortiz into the corner and crushes both Ortiz and Serpentico with an avalanche. Luthor busts out an enzuigiri for a near-fall. Whip to the corner and Ortiz catches him with a head-scissors. Serpentico tries to cut off the tag but the plan backfires and Santana tags in, running wild with clotheslines. Santana with the three amigos on Serpentico. Serpentico avoids a frog splash and hits Santana with a flatliner. Luthor with the assisted flying senton (as in he throws Serpentico onto Santana) for two. Santana avoids a double-team effort in the corner, hits a Diamond cutter, and they turn Serpentico inside-out with a face-buster for the three-count at 7:14. It's amazing to see how NOT over Luthor is. Decent action, despite the hot and cold reactions. **

Joey Janela (w/ Kayla Rossi) vs. Dillon McQueen:

Janela has had a few solid outings recently, so maybe it's time I give up on busting his nuts for being a garbage wrestler. Janela is coming off a loss to Sonny Kiss, but got the last laugh, and leaves the door open for a rematch. McQueen is listed as a member of the Nightmare Factory and sits at an 0-3 record. His gimmick is... interesting. Let's just say he's in touch with the softer side of his sexuality and leave it at that. I can't express enough how much I hate the half-long and half-short tights. Lockup and Janela with an arm drag. McQueen counters a side headlock and takes Janela over with a hip toss, mocking his showboating attitude afterwards. Janela backs McQueen into the corner and unloads with a series of rights and boots. McQueen brings up the knees to counter a senton and hits a roundhouse kick to the back of the head. Janela hangs back on a whip and McQueen gets dumped to the floor. Rossi greets him by dropping him across the security rail. Back inside, the Death Valley Driver finishes at 2:44. Decent squash. With someone of Janela's size, it really is hard to imagine him being dominant, so being a sneaky heel with muscle to do his work is the perfect fit.

Tay Conti (w/ Anna Jay & -1) vs. Marina Tucker:

If you're unsure who –1 is (that's NEGATIVE 1), he's the son of the late-Jon Huber, a.k.a. Mr. Brodie Lee. Tucker is making her AEW debut. Lockup with neither woman gaining the advantage. Tucker backs Conti into the corner and of course she doesn't give her a clean break. Conti slides out of a slam and rolls Tucker up for a one-count. Tucker blocks a heel kick but is no match for Conti's Judo throws. Conti with kicks to the chest but misses the roundhouse to the head. Tucker bails out and gets another kick to the chest for her troubles. Tucker cuts Conti off in the ropes with a knee to the face. Snap mare and Tucker comes off the ropes with a sliding clothesline for a two-count. Conti escapes a chin-lock and lights Tucker up with forearm strikes. Conti with a pair of clotheslines and the swinging face-buster. She nails Tucker with three pump kicks in the corner and finishes with the Tay-KO and DD-Tay at 3:47. It can't be said enough how much Conti improved once she was released from WWE and trained under the Nightmare Factory.

Lee Johnson & Brock Anderson (w/ Dustin Rhodes) vs. Luke Curtis & Cameron Stewart:

Good to see the students of the Nightmare Factory survived their battles with Malekai Black. Anderson starts with Stewart. Lockup, Anderson sweeps the leg and drops a knee across the face for a one-count. Curtis tags in and wants some of Big Shotty. Curtis with some hotdogging at Johnson's expense. Johnson grabs a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block. Crisscross and Johnson hits a standing moonsault before giving Curtis a receipt for earlier. Whip and Johnson with a dropkick. Curtis counters a whip with a big chop. Whip and the make-shift duo of Curtis and Stewart with a double hip toss. Johnson fires back with right hands and counters a sleeper with a back suplex. Anderson with the hot tag, running wild with clotheslines. He sends Curtis to the corner and buries the shoulder repeatedly into the midsection. Brock with a spine-buster and Johnson hits a Frog Splash for three at 4:21. Harmless prelim fluff, though you can see these guys are far from polished.

FTR vs. Stallion Rogers & Anthony Greene:

Hmm... Rogers and Greene look familiar. I wonder if they're of any relation to Curt Stallion and August Grey. Either way, both are making their AEW debuts. FTR has a big match on Dynamite against Darby Allin and Sting. Yes, that is a real match and not some EWR fantasy booking. Wheeler and Rogers start. Rogers goes for the arm but Wheeler counters with a hammerlock. They go through a series of counters with Rogers controlling with a front face-lock. Wheeler backs him up into the corner and tags in Harwood, but Rogers retreats to his own corner and tags in Greene. Lockup and Greene works the arm, countered with a side headlock takeover. Harwood comes off the ropes with a pair of shoulder blocks and plants Greene with a slam. Greene backs Dax up with a mule kick and takes him over with a pair of deep arm drags. Wheeler powers out of a front face-lock and plants Rogers with a slam. Rogers rallies, hitting both of FTR with clotheslines. Dax forces a break in the ropes and slaps Rogers across the face. He leads him on a chase around the ring, allowing Cash to get the blind tag and surprise Rogers with a double clothesline. Whip to the corner and Cash with a diving elbow. Snap mare and Wheeler rakes the eyes with the bottoms of his boots. Dax with a snap suplex for two. Rogers' comeback is cut off with a sunset flip and clothesline combo. Rogers and Dax smack heads for a double-down. Greene with the hot tag, running wild with right hands. Cash tries cutting him off and gets hit with a jaw breaker and neck breaker combo. He goes to the top rope and hits a springboard corkscrew body press. Rogers nails Wheeler on the floor with a tope as Greene cradles Dax for a near-fall. Wheeler pulls down the ropes on Greene to save Dax from a double-team. Dax powerbombs Rogers but gets too fancy on a roll-over and gets hooked for another near fall. Harwood plants Greene on the floor with a brain buster. Cash with a fireman's carry into a back breaker on Rogers, followed by a modified Falcon Arrow for three at 10:26. Very by-the-numbers formula tag match. Nothing fancy, but solid. ***

The Bunny (w/ The Butcher & The Blade) vs. Xtina Kay:

We're only halfway through tonight's lineup. Kay, like almost everyone else on this show from the enhancement locker room, is making her AEW debut. Lockup and Xtina goes to work on the arm as Taz with sarcastic remarks about people with a name like Xtina. Bunny escapes with an elbow and throws Kay down. Bunny misses a charge into the corner and Kay unloads with a series of shoulders to the midsection. Whip is reversed and Bunny connects with a clothesline. Hard whip to the corner and a rake of the back. Bunny with a running knee lift and the sliding forearm in the corner. I wonder if Bunny is paid for each time she mugs for the camera. Down the Rabbit Hole finishes at 3:18. I wasn't feeling this one. It was very basic, and Xtina Kay didn't show much of anything.

Lance Archer vs. Marcus Kross:

I'll set the over/under at 90-seconds for the bell-to-bell portion of this segment. Kross has ridiculously tall hair to make up for his small stature. That's all I've got to say about the poor bastard that's about to be slaughtered by Archer. I'm surprised we didn't get a comical “Archer carries his opponent to the ring” spot. Archer isn't in the mood for Kross' games, booting him in the face as he does the splits on the apron. Kross flips through a chokeslam and hits a springboard forearm. Archer is staggered by a single-leg dropkick but recovers to knock Kross out of the air with a forearm. Archer runs over Kross with a running shoulder block. Archer with a corner avalanche and release suplex. He no-sells Kross' strikes and makes him part of the canvas with a chokeslam. The Blackout finishes at 1:51. Archer squashes are so much fun.

John Silver & Alex Reynolds (w/ 5, 10, and –1) vs. "Pretty" Peter Avalon & Ryan Nemeth (w/ Cezar Bononi & J.D. Drake):

It's Dark Order vs. The Wingmen! How can YouTube handle the traffic for such a monumental match? Reynolds is making his first in-ring appearance in about a month, briefly walking away from the Dark Order as the faction splintered over the best interests of Adam Page. Zemeth is the (slightly) younger brother of WWE Superstar Dolph Ziggler. HE'S ALREADY 36?! Jesus... Reynold and Avalon start. Bononi with a distraction, allowing the Wing Men to get an early ambush. Whip to the ropes, Reynolds dumps out Nemeth and Avalon gets planted with a double face-buster for two. Silver with a Biel out of the corner. JOHNNY HUNGIE. Press slam across the top rope and a diving elbow gets two. Avalon cuts Silver off with a jaw breaker, but Silver recovers and hits a double clothesline. Silver unwisely goes for his own double suplex and gets nailed with a double dropkick for his efforts. Avalon with a snap mare and knee drop for two. Nemeth with a waist-lock takedown and some hotdogging. Silver counters a double suplex, finally hitting it himself. Reynolds with the tag, running wild with clotheslines. He rattles Nemeth with a rolling elbow and takes him down with a cravat suplex. Pop-up knee strike to Avalon but Nemeth saves. Pendulum DDT from Nemeth. Dark Order block a double neck breaker and send him to the floor. Avalon gets hit with a succession of strikes before being put away with a stunner and rolling cradle at 5:24. Surprisingly short considering it wasn't a match with unsigned enhancement guys, but it was fine. **

Alan "5" Angels (w/ Silver, Reynolds, 10, and –1) vs. Daniel Garcia (w/ 2point0):

I'm still curious why Angels keeps his name, but Preston Vance doesn't. DAMN YOU, VINCE! Wait, wrong company... Angels is coming off the biggest win of his AEW career, pinning Evil Uno in a Dark Order Battle on Dark: Elevation. Feeling out process to start. Garcia with a drop toe hold into a rear mount, but Angels rolls through and we're back to a neutral position. Lockup into the corner, Angels ducks a chop and sweeps the leg. They trade headlocks and head-scissors. Angels rolls through with an escape and lands a forearm across the back of the head. Chops are exchanged until Garcia with a boot to the midsection. Crisscross and Angels with a jumping heel kick, sending Garcia to the floor for a breather. Angels loads up for a tope suicida but Garcia cuts him off with an elbow. Angels counters a suplex, making Garcia go splat on the ringside floor. Now Angels climbs to the top of the stage and hits the trio of Garcia and 2point0 with a tope con hilo. 2point0 prevent Angels from getting in the ring, allowing Garcia to meet him in the ropes with a boot to the face. Snap mare out of the corner and a basement dropkick for two. Angels with low kicks but Garcia cuts him off. Whip to the corner and Garcia charges in with a chop. Fireman's takedown and foot brushes to the face from Garcia. Whip to the ropes and Angels surprises him with a sunset flip for two. Angels throws a series of left forearms, and they meet in the middle with a double body press. We swing back around to the beginning with a nice strike exchange. Angels gets the better of it, hitting a discus clothesline. Whip to the ropes, Angels ducks a clothesline and hits an enzuigiri. He catches Garcia off the ropes with a Spanish Fly for a near-fall. Garcia avoids a frog splash and connects with a shotgun dropkick for two. Angels with a jumping knee strike and flatliner into the Koji Klutch, but Garcia rolls through to escape and mounts Angels with some hammer strikes. Angels reapplies the hold, but Jeff Parker rakes the eyes to help Garcia escape. Garcia with a boot to the head and the modified Scorpion Death Lock finishes at 10:20. These two guys went out there and put on a match capable to steal the show on Dynamite. ***¼

Q.T. Marshall, Aaron Solow, and Nick Comoroto vs. Darian Bengston, Cole Karter, and Sean Maluta:

Even with some quality wrestling, this show is like a marathon, with no backstage segments or anything else to break up the wrestling. I know, a weird complaint to have for a WRESTLING show... too much wrestling. Of the three enhancement wrestlers, I'm only familiar with Maluta, who worked sporadically for NXT following the Cruiserweight Classic and has made a handful of AEW appearances as well. Solow starts with Bengston. Lockup and Solow goes to work on the left arm. Bengston counters but is brought to the canvas with a yank of the hair. Whip to the ropes and Bengston counters an arm drag, only to get clocked with a roundhouse kick. Karter tags in and gets met in the ropes with a knee. Comoroto in to no-sell some strikes and lay Karter out with a clothesline. Marshall picks his spot to get some rights and stomps in. Solow and Comoroto with a double-team, followed by a fireman's carry slam. Maluta tries his luck, throwing chops at Comoroto. He sends Comoroto into the corner with a thrust kick, but a jumping heel kick is countered with a modified chokeslam. Comoroto with a back breaker and Solow with a flying double stomp. Marshall finishes with a Diamond Cutter at 3:43. Uneventful squash to give the Factory something to do.

Colt Cabana (w/ Evil Uno & -1) vs. J.D. Drake (w/ Avalon, Bononi, and Nemeth):

Is there some beef between the Dark Order and the Wingmen I'm not familiar with? Good to see –1 supports the entire Dark Order still. Drake's gear is giving off serious Big Bubba Rogers vibes. Lockup into the corner and Drake takes umbrage at Uno being on the apron. They head into the opposite corner, and we get the same result with roles reversed. Drake calls for a test-of-strength while mocking the Dark Order signal. Cabana fights from underneath and counters into a wristlock. He outclasses Drake in the grappling department and takes him over into an arm bar. Drake escapes and grabs a side headlock. Shoulder blocks just send both men into the ropes. Cabana gets dumped and a distraction from the floor allows Drake to knock Cabana off the apron with a clothesline. Back inside, Drake with an inverted atomic drop, scoop slam and headbutt for two. Belly-to-belly suplex for two. Cabana fights out of a nerve lock, and they trade chops. Drake throws a flurry of forearms but misses a charge into the corner. Cabana drops Drake with a running shoulder block and hits the signature jabs and bionic elbow. Cabana throws two more elbows and hits the flying apple. Drake blocks a slam attempt but is caught off the ropes with a slam for a near-fall. Drake blocks the Chicago Skyline and hits a corner cannonball for two. Cabana avoids a moonsault and hits a moonsault of his own for three at 7:17. Basic action. *½

Eddie Kingston vs. Bear Bronson (w/ Bear Boulder):

Final match of the card (Thank God). Kingston and Mox face Lance Archer and Minoru Suzuki in a Lights Out Tag Match on Rampage Grand Slam. Bronson is the “smaller” of the Bear Country duo. Excalibur notes the bear symbol on the video wall looks more like a raccoon than a bear. Lockup and Bronson hotdogs because Eddie couldn't get an advantage from it. Shoulder blocks do nothing to move Bronson, but a basement dropkick to the knee does the job. Eddie with two more dropkicks, followed by the machine gun chops in the corner. That's going to be a red chest in about 5-minutes. Bronson hangs back to block a whip and nails Kingston with a forearm. Kingston tries to fight free but is tossed by a T-bone suplex. Eddie powders out and Bronson follows with a tope suicida! Back inside, Eddie still throws chops even in defensive mode on the canvas. After 13-matches, the “strike exchange” spot is a little dull. Kingston avoids a running boot but is crushed with a seated splash for a near-fall. Maybe if that were Boulder doing the move it would've been the finish. Kingston bites the hand to temporarily slow Bronson down. Bronson misses a corner avalanche, as does Kingston, but Kingston rebounds quickly to sweep Bronson off his feet. They throw slaps from their knees and fight to their feet, with Bronson throwing left and right forearms. Eddie with more chops and a roundhouse enzuigiri, but Bronson remains vertical and catches Eddie off the ropes with a spinning Boss Man Slam for two. Bronson hits the cannonball in the corner and comes off the ropes with a lariat for two. Kingston ducks a discus clothesline and hits a teardrop suplex. Bronson pops right up, returns fire, as does Kingston. Bronson hooks the rope to block a DDT. Kingston avoids a slam, rocking Bronson with the spinning back hand. Eddie hits it a second time and that's three at 7:52. Post-match, Kingston cuts a promo to hype the show in Queens, bringing out Lance Archer for a pull-apart. Good hard-hitting action. ***

Final Thoughts: Thankfully, the "loaded 14-match card" featured a fair number of quality matches between the signed AEW talent instead of running out squash after squash. If I'm editing the show, I'm still cutting it down, maybe removing the squashes involving Marshall's trio, the Bunny, and Johnson and Brock Anderson. That way you have a solid blend of squashes and competitive matches without bloating the run-time too much. As it is, FTR vs. Rogers/Greene, Angels vs. Garcia, and Eddie vs. Bear Bronson are all worth checking out, and even the “lesser quality” competitive matches are solid efforts that fall under the radar.

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