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AEW Dark Dork Review, week of 10/4

It’s Monday, and you know what that means! We’re recapping your past week in the world of Elevation and Dark!

We start off with Wednesday’s Elevation taping in Rochester, with our new usual trio of Tony Schiavone, Eddie Kingston, and Paul Wight:

Skye Blue vs Emi Sakura w/ Lulu Pencil: Eddie Kingston marks out for Emi Sakura’s assistant, Lulu Pencil, and it’s honestly great. Lulu even gets a little outside stomping action during the match before tossing Skye Blue back into the ring. Emi Sakura picks up the win, though Skye Blue ends up getting a few near falls.

Shane Stetson, Justin Corina & The 1ManThrillRide vs Daniel Gracia & 2point0: Daniel Garcia coming out to the ring with a towel makes him look twenty years older than he is. Also, the 1ManThrillRide is wearing a pink bow tie, trunks, and boots. It’s a choice. In a rather dominant performance, Daniel Garcia gets the win for the team by submission.

Match of the Night: Marko Stunt & Fuego Del Sol vs Wardlow & Shawn Spears w/ Tully Blanchard: It’s not often you get a tag team with a combined listed weight of less than 300 pounds. Marko and Fuego is a fun team, and Marko trying to stand up in front of Wardlow is hilarious. The two of them do a good cat and mouse of speed and strength. It’s a fun match, showing how styles can make great fights, but the blog boys take the loss as the Pinnacle dominates.

Louis Bruno vs Lance Archer w/ Jake “The Snake” Roberts: You know when we tell someone to pick on their own size? Well, Louis Bruno’s even bigger than Lance Archer. Bruno, however, goes after Jake Roberts! This does not go well for him, as both Jake the Snake and the Murderhawk Monster get hits in. Lance hits the Blackout and pockets the win.

Davienne vs Abadon: Happy Halloween! Eddie is about as creeped out as I am by Abadon. Her new look after the Casino Battle Royale with the red mohawk is real cool, and – oh hey before I even finished this sentence Abadon won.

Gunn Club Promo: The Gunn Club talk about how they’ve been overlooked, both for their records and their devotion to AEW. They want recognition, and they’re not going to lose. Okay. Ugh, wake me when the Trios Division starts.

Obariyon & Kodama vs Santana & Ortiz: Mark Henry joins the commentary both for this match as we have an all-face paint match! Kodama and Obariyon both have a neon yellow look that looks like something out of the 90s. It’s a quick match, and Santana and Ortiz pick up the win.

B3CCA vs Kris Statlander w/ Chuck Taylor & Wheeler Yuta: Usually Kris Statlander has the more colorful outfit on any given match but B3CCA has an outfit that looks like it’s from the Lisa Frank pallette. B3CCA spent the first few minutes of the match trying to avoid it, but she eventually gets booped, and gets pinned after a Big Bang Theory. There’s also the obligatory Best Friends Hug, which always warms my night.

The Acclaimed vs Colin Delaney & Cheech: In Max Caster’s intro rap, Colin Delaney gets compared to an extra for Slim Shady and Cheech’s head gets compared to a penis. The two local talents rush the Acclaimed as they enter the ring, but the Acclaimed rally. The Acclaimed get some good tag offense in, and with a Mic Drop, go to the pay window.

Zach Nystrom & Elijah Dean vs FTR w/ Tully Blanchard: FTR has a great new disco-y theme that a friend of mine pointed out is a tribute to the tag team Midnight Express. The match opens with FTR pulling out the Big Rig, and that might be the shortest match I’ve ever watched. They don’t even take their jackets off.

Sonny Kiss vs KM: KM starts off the match with some shows of force here, and lands some nasty blows on Sonny’s back, which was recently targeted by Joey Janela and Kayla Rossi. But Sonny is able to rally and is even to lift the giant and slam him (WHILE DOING THE SPLITS!) for the win. After the match, Kayla Rossi comes out and distracts while Joey Janela sneaks in behind with the chair, but Sonny catches on and she gives Janela some well-deserved revenge!

—-

And now, onto Dark! Welcome back to the All Elite Zone in Orlando. Today we don’t even get the Dark intro on this pre-taped show, and we’re going straight into an 8-man tag match!

Baron Black, Austin Green, Aaron Frye & Dean Alexander vs The Pinnacle (FTR, Wardlow & Shawn Spears): The Pinnacle has gotten so much more fun once they’ve been freed from their Inner Circle feud. Each member of the group gets some time to showcase, and this is a good back and forth match. Longtime Dark competitor Baron Black even got a two-count on Wardlow, but the Pinnacle wins off a combo finished from all four members.

Valentina Rossi vs Abadon: Our favorite horror movie monster returns to the ring against our aggressively Italian jobber. During the match, Taz talked about the funny mental vision of Abadon visiting Universal Studios or hair salon enroute for the Living Dead Girl to get the pin.

Michael Martinez & Vary Morales vs The Acclaimed: Ahead of their tag team championship match against the Lucha Bros, the Acclaimed get a win despite Max Caster getting himself into a spot of trouble with some missed moves.

Kal Herro vs. Sonny Kiss: Sonny Kiss goes up against the Fanny Pack Kid, and honestly, who doesn’t love a guy who wears tassles? May Kal Hero should tag with Nick Comoroto. Sonny’s all business, though, and she picks up the win off that new splits finisher.

Zada Zhang vs Kris Statlander: Stat takes on Zada Zhang and gets an awesome finish in this one with a cool spider crab submission hold!

Madi Wrenkowski vs Skye Blue: Skye Blue has been getting more play recently, and she’s the one getting the full intro now on Dark against Miss Reality. Wrenkowski starts off on the offensive, but Skye gets the win off an impressive Fisher’s suplex.

Anthony Henry vs Eddie Kingston: Anthony Henry makes his AEW debut on ark here against the Mad King, and he makes an impressive showing here. He’s able to dominate early in the match, but Henry plays with his food a little too much. Kingston is able to rally and get a win over Henry. This was a fun match, and I hope they bring back Henry for more.

Hunter Knott, Rosario Grillo & Cameron Stewart vs Gunn Club: The Gunn Club returns, and Taz compares their new intro music to music he’d hear at the background of a dispensary. I require approximately five times as much context as Taz provides. We also get Taz singing American Pie, and the Gunn Club get another win.

Santana Garrett vs Diamante: Building off last week’s interrupted interview, Santana Garrett goes off against Diamante. It’s telling that Garrett’s already in the ring when Diamante comes in. This rivalry that is carried over from the independent circuit leads to a fun match, and Diamante grabs the win in a hard fought context.

Varsity Blondes w/Julia Hart vs The Wingmen (Pretty Peter Avalon & Ryan Nemeth): According to Taz and Excalibur, the Wingmen’s music is played live by a hidden band. I want to believe. Avalon and Nemeth jump the Varsity Blondes at the bell, and Cezar Bononi and JD Drake assist with some outside interference through the match. Depsite the difficulty, the Blondes win in style with an Air Pillman drop.

Erik Lockhart vs Daniel Garcia w/ 2point0: Daniel Garcia comes in with his dads ahead of his match with CM Punk to take on Erik Lockhart. This week, Garcia fights on Rampage (pre-taped on Wednesday) but at practically the same time is fighting Minoru Suzuki on an indy promotion. He had four matches in four days. Indie wrestlers are just built different.

Serpentico w/ Luther vs Marko Stunt: Serpentico in rare singles action! Even outside of tag team action, Serpentico can’t be saved from Luther tossing him around. However, Luther does get a cheap shot in on Marko and Serpentico rolls him up! It…may be Serpentico’s first singles win on Dark, ever?! I’m shocked, stunned. I love it.

Nick Comoroto (w/ The Factory) vs Orange Cassidy (w/ Best Friends): The Factory’s Giant takes on recent Apuestas winner Orange Cassidy. Orange Cassidy does some good work to fight against Comoroto’s size, and a tope suicida leads to a fight between the Factory and the Best Friends ring side. In the confusion, QT Marshall gets into the ring to try to interfere and…Kris Statlander tosses her knee brace to QT and Orange grabs Aubrey Edwards’ attention. After the commotion, Cassidy chains an Orange Punch into a Beach Break and gets the pin.

Tangent of the night: During the Gunn Club match, Taz described the “stretch Escalade” and his driver Jeeves, that he drives around Long Island with.

Overall, it’s a relatively breezy week of Dark and Elevation with some good matches scattered around and some progress on the Sonny storyline. We’re all done here, until next time where we get more of your favorite after dark action.

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Wrestling

AEW Dark Dork Review: Week of 9/27

Elevation this week is from Grand Slam! It’s an odd episode, as it’s mostly promos and interviews, but we’ve got three matches. Mark Henry and Eddie Kingston join Tony Schiavone on commentary for this show.

Kayla Sparks vs Thunder Rosa: Thunder Rosa opens the pre-show with a fun match, and closes the win with a wonderful Fire Thunder Driver.

T.J. Crawford, Eric James, Kevin Tibbs & Dean Alexander vs Jon Silver, Alex Reynolds, Alan “5 Angels & 10: Whew, that is a lot of names. The younger parts of the Dark Order take on some jobbers, and the pop for the Dark Order is legitimately great. We get some fun spots included a stereo quadruple shoulder tackle from the Dark Order and John Silver pinballing around the floor to knock down every single member of the opposition. As if to strike a knife into my heart, Eddie Kingston acquired after the win if the other members of the broadcast team thought that Hangman was watching. How dare you, sir.

Match of the Night – CPA, VSK, & RSP vs Paul Wight: Paul Wight is fighting on his own show against three opponents who do not have enough vowels in their names. CPA, however, is just an… accountant who looks rightly terrified of Paul Wight? However, as the bell rings, the Gunn Club comes out. This is a fun match, Wight’s great at putting on a show as an absolutely overpowering face, and our hapless victims sell it amazingly. Even the Gunn Club applauds Wight’s win!

We then get a post-Grand Slam interview with Dr. Britt Baker, where she declares that she’s going to keep adding onto her legacy as a champ.

MJF’s Grand Slam interview includes him slamming the idea that this is his hometown. He’s from Long Island, not the “rat-infested” Queens. He wants a new challenge, and then, conflicting with the previous interview, insists that the only three letters that matter in wrestling are MJF. Can we get a DMD/MJF mic feud?

After the Dream Match, Bryan Danielson says he feels alive after that match, and the entire experience felt like magic. He wants the Championship next, as Omega won’t give him a rematch.

Then, we get the Men of the Year, who are there to gloat over their win over Jericho and Jake Hager. They want more, and honestly? I want that for them. Apart from the Darby feud, Page and Sky have been underutilized, but I do not want them with this Dan Lambert angle. Let’s get them in the tag team championship conversation.

The rest of the episode is behind the scenes interviews from Grand Slam, not proper promos, but are some fun segments.

Dark, meanwhile, continues from the All Elite Zone in Orlando.

We start off with Alex Marvex, interviewing Santana Garrett, a new signing. As Alex Marvez is interviewing, I am timing how long it lasts until someone interr- oh, there we go. Diamante interrupts thirty seconds in and challenges Santana to a match next week. The two brawl, and have to be separated.

Nikita Knight vs Thunder Rosa: Thunder Rosa opens up the festivities, securing a win with the Peruvian neck tie after a well-fought match.

Charlie Bravo & JDX vs Private Party: I’m not a huge fan of the military trappings from Carlie Bravo, but Private Party are one of my favorite tag teams. They get some fun spots in and pick up the win with the Gin and Juice.

Leila Grey vs Kiera Hogan: Kiera Hogan just recently signed with AEW, and she’s getting her Dark time in. Leila Grey starts off with the momentum, but Kiera’s able to rally and get the pin.

Brandon Gore vs Dark Order’s “10” w/ Dark Order and -1: The big man of the Dark Order gets some action in ahead of the big Dynamite show in Rochester. I do love Pres10’s finisher with the Ragdoll Full Nelson. Like Wardlow’s Casualty of War, it’s just very memorable.

Jake St. Patrick & Ryzin vs Cezar Benoni. & Adrian Jaoude: Adrian Jaoude, formerly a WWE performer under the name of Arturo Ruas, makes his debut with Cezar Bononi for an all-Brazilian tag team. Jaoude has a strong performance, and the new tag team get the win convincingly.

Arjun Singh vs Lance Archer: It’s funny to me that, for a man who drags his opponents to the ring, Lance Archer came out of the face tunnel. It took nearly three minutes of Archer beating Arjun Singh like a drum before both men were actually in the ring and the bell rang. Easy win for the Murderhawk Monster.

Match of the Night – Darius Lockhart vs Ricky Starks w/Hook: The FTW champion takes on indie standout Darius Lockhart, and this one’s a pretty good match! Lockhart’s able to get a few good moves in, and even gets a nearfall or two. This one’s a hard fought match, but Absolute Ricksy Starks is able to get the win.

Adrian Alanis & Liam Gray vs Evil Uno & Stu Grayson: Evil Uno, after accidentally unmasking Alan Angels last week, returns to action with Stu Grayson. Evil Uno steals one of his aopponent’s headbands, and Uno and Grayson get the win, with Colt Cabana watching from the stage.

Reka Teheka vs Julia Hart: Our favorite wrestling cheerleader takes on Reka Tahaka, and we get some fun J-U-L-I-A chants led by the Varsity Blonds enroute to Julia getting the win.

Jameson Ryan & Brick Aldridge vs Bear Country: There’s a lot of big beef here in this match. Taz insists that he has seen Bear Country searching for fish in the East River when AEW was up in New York which is certainly an image. Bear Country pick up the win here, though Bear Boulder seems to sustain a leg injury during the match.

Matt Sydal & Dante Martin vs Aaron Solow & QT Marshall w/Nick Comoroto: I’m enjoying the pairing of Sydal and Martin, that pairing of experience and youth. As Nyla Rose tweeted this week, when God made Dante Martin, he forgot to install gravity, and him and Sydal have a great stereo moonsault spot in this match. They pick up the win off an amazing Dante finisher.

Tangent of the Night: Taz went off for a moment about how big of a metal fan he is during the Bononi/Jaoude match. Then, while doing an ad read for AEW Elite General Manager, Excalibur started, said “There is no way I am reading these two paragraphs of copy,” and went on with the match.

Overall, a pretty solid week of matches, but not a lot of story stuff. Still very enjoyable!

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Wrestling

AEW Dynamite Recap | 9/29/21 | From Rochester, NY

After a Grand Slam week for AEW, Dynamite is in the home of the late, great Brodie Lee: Rochester, NY for a show dedicated to him. While the matchups aren’t necessarily big time marquee matches, the significance of certain matches in relation to Brodie’s legacy in AEW with the Dark Order blossoming into what we know and love today is quite significant. With all that said, let’s light the fuse and bring the boom on this recap.

Previously on All Elite Wrestling…

Grand Slam action descended upon Arthur Ashe Stadium as the dream match between Omega & Danielson ended in a stalemate, while Dr. Britt Baker DMD escaped from New York with her AEW Women’s Title intact. Meanwhile, MJF got the last laugh on Brian Pillman Jr., and Malakai Black continued to get the better of Cody Rhodes.

Here’s the results of the 9/22/21 Grand Slam edition of Dynamite (Episode 103):

  • Bryan Danielson vs. Kenny Omega ended in a Time Limit Draw (30:00) as the two competitors were evenly-matched. Post-match, The Young Bucks & Adam Cole hit Danielson with a triple superkick and looked to continue their attack, but were fended off by Christian Cage and Jurassic Express.
  • CM Punk cut a promo about his match versus Powerhouse Hobbs at Rampage: Grand Slam, promising to put the Team Taz juggernaut to sleep on Friday.
  • MJF def. Brian Pillman Jr. via submission (9:05) after countering Brian Jr.’s Air Pillman into the Salt of the Earth armbar.
  • Malakai Black def. Cody Rhodes via pinfall (11:25) with a roll-up following Black Mist to the face of Cody.
  • Darby Allin & Sting def. FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) via submission (9:30) when Sting made Dax submit to the Scorpion Deathlock.
  • AEW Women’s World Championship: Dr. Britt Baker DMD def. Ruby Soho via submission (13:20) to retain her title with the Lockjaw submission.

Here are the results of the 9/24/21 Grand Slam edition of Rampage (Episode 7):

  • CM Punk def. Powerhouse Hobbs via pinfall (13:35) with the GTS in his first match on TV in over seven years.
  • The Elite’s Superkliq (Adam Cole, Matt & Nick Jackson) def. Christian Cage & Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) via pinfall (14:38) after the heels hit Luchasaurus with their respective finishers, ending with an Adam Cole Last Shot (now renamed “The Boom”).
  • The Men of the Year (Ethan Page & Scorpio Sky) def. Chris Jericho & Jake Hager via pinfall (11:01) after Scorpio took advantage of a Dan Lambert distraction to roll up Hager for the pin and win. Post-match, a bunch of Lambert’s American Top Team associates beat down the two Inner Circle members.
  • Santana & Ortiz and the Lucha Brothers def. The Hardy Family Office via pinfall (9:43) after the two babyface teams got their finishers in on the HFO’s Marq Quen for the victory. At one point, Orange Cassidy stopped Matt Hardy from cutting Ortiz’s hair, then flattening Jack Evans with the Orange Punch.
  • Backstage, Matt volunteered Evans to face Orange in a Hair versus Hair match for next week’s Rampage.
  • Miro brutally attacked Sammy Guevara and Fuego Del Sol ahead of his match against Sammy for the TNT Title next week on Dynamite.
  • Penelope Ford def. Anna Jay via pinfall (6:48) after the Bunny handed Penelope some brass knucks to hit Anna with. Post match, the two heels beat down Anna and Tay Conti. Orange Cassidy & Kris Statlander joined the Dark Order to fight the HFO off. As Alex Reynolds tried to mend the broken bonds between him and Evil Uno, the masked Uno walked out.
  • “Lights Out” Tag Team Match: Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston def. Lance Archer & Minoru Suzuki via pinfall (15:10) when Kingston pinned Archer following repeated kendo stick strikes as Archer was trapped in a trashcan. New York wrestling legend Homicide made a surprise appearance to assist Mox & Kingston, leading to the finish.

It’s Wednesday Night. You Know What That Means.

The show begins proper with a tribute graphic for the late Jon Huber, better known to AEW fans as Mr. Brodie Lee. It’s followed up by the opening intro that tells us to light the fuse and bring the boom. After the opening, we have Jim Ross, Excalibur, and Tony Schiavone welcoming us to tonight’s show. They’re soon joined by CM Punk, who’ll be on commentary tonight along with the Terrific Trio. Let’s hope that he doesn’t get attacked at the table.

Match 1: Adam Cole vs. Jungle Boy

Adam Cole sizes up Jungle Boy, preparing to lower The Boom (Credit: All Elite Wrestling)

The Story So Far

Adam Cole made an undisputed impact when he arrived in AEW at All Out when he superkicked Jungle Boy Jack Perry to signify his loyalty to The Elite. To that end, the two have had a rivalry of sorts, which continued on last week’s Rampage: Grand Slam, when Cole’s Superkliq defeated Jungle Boy and Jurassic Express and Christian Cage.

The Match

The commentators note that Adam Cole’s theme is the No. 1 metal song in the iTunes charts as Cole makes his way to the ring.

Cole starts off with the advantage as he’s got J.B. in the waistlock, transitioning it into a headscissors. Perry is able to fight out of it for a bit before Cole resumes with the advantage. Back and forth action between the two until Jungle Boy sends Cole to the outside with a dropkick. J.B. chases Cole around the ringside area, but gets stomped on once he reaches the ring. Cole runs to the corner, but Jungle Boy blocks him with a boot to the face. Jungle Boy to the top rope, but Cole knocks him to the outside area with a strike!

Jungle Boy’s favoring his knee after that rough landing and Adam Cole takes over on the outside before maintaining control as the two return to the ring. As Cole taunts the crowd, Jungle Boy shifts momentum with some offense before finishing that off with a huge lariat that damn near takes Cole’s head off. 

Both men exchange strikes and kicks until J.B.hits a brainbuster on Cole. German suplex by J.B. only gets a two-count. Jungle Boy attempts to trap Cole in the Tree of Woe, but gets kicked in the face for his trouble. A second attempt is more successful and he gets the basement dropkick. Again, only a two-count. 

Cole wriggles out of a fireman’s carry and hits the Ushigoroshi on Jungle Boy, getting a near fall on that move. Poisonrana by Jungle Boy followed by a Death Valley Driver: 1.. 2… NO! Surprise superkick by Adam Cole sends J.B. crashing to the outside! Cole looks to hit a Panama Sunrise on the outside, but Jungle Boy wisely moves out of the way. He enters the ring and looks to hit a suicide dive on Cole, who ends up blocking it with a kick. Jungle Boy responds with a springboard Frankensteiner to the outside! Back in the ring, Cole lands a superkick and finally nails the Panama Sunrise on Jungle Boy… 1… 2… 2.999999!!!!!!! 

Adam Cole senses blood and pulls down his knee pad as he looks to finish Jungle Boy off with The Boom knee strike. J.B. is able to counter that into the Snare Trap! Cole is in No Man’s Land as he’s trapped in the middle of the ring! However, he manages to kick Jungle Boy to the outside to get a brief respite. J.B. runs back to the ring and pushes Cole into the ropes.

With ref Aubrey Edwards caught between the ropes, this gives Cole the chance to hit Jungle Boy in the groin to set him up for the running Boom knee for the 1, 2, 3.

Adam Cole def. Jungle Boy via Pinfall (13:39)

Post-Match

The entire Elite emerged from the heel tunnel of the stage, as CM Punk remarked that their theme song sucked. The show goes to break with the promise that we’d hear from The Elite after the commercials.

The Elite Speaks

The Elite, led by Kenny Omega, were out in full force (Credit: All Elite Wrestling)

Back from break, as Karl Anderson hypes up Adam Cole, Kenny Omega, and The Young Bucks, who are, according to Luke Gallows, “Extremely Violent People”. Adam Cole has the stick as he brags about beating Jungle Boy just moments ago. Michael Nakazawa is now given the floor while the Rochester crowd chants “CM Punk”.

Kenny Omega talks about his match with Bryan Danielson last week, giving him credit for taking him to his absolute limit. There’s one problem, however, as Omega says that Bryan didn’t get the job done and that he’ll never see Omega face-to-face in the ring ever again. Cue Bryan Danielson to interrupt the proceedings.

Danielson polls the Rochester crowd if they want to see a rematch between him and Kenny Omega, to which they say “YES!” in response to. He claims that Omega doesn’t have the balls to give him the rematch, rechristening him as “Kenny ‘No-Balls’ Omega”. Danielson says if anyone else on The Elite has any balls (continuing his weird fascination with them), he challenges them to a fight at Rampage. Omega tries to beckon Bryan to get in the ring right now, to which Danielson accepts. Bryan marches up the ramp, but he’s not coming alone. Out from the face tunnel comes Jurassic Express, Christian Cage, and Frankie Kazarian to join Danielson in evening the odds As the faces step into the ring, the Elite beat a hasty retreat.

Andrade Confronts The Lucha Brothers

Backstage, Tony Schiavone interviews Rey Fenix & Penta El Zero M along with Andrade El Idolo. Jose, Andrade’s assistant, says that it’s just about time the Lucha Bros. defended their AAA Tag Team Titles, noting that it’s been quite a long time since those belts were defended. Andrade says that he’s got some friends that might be looking to challenge Penta & Fenix for their AAA Tag Team gold, to which the Lucha Bros. say “bring it on”.

Match 2: Cody Rhodes & Lee Johnson vs. Matt Sydal & Dante Martin

Matt Sydal soars, cracking Cody Rhodes with a flying knee (Credit: All Elite Wrestling)

The Story So Far

Things don’t seem to be going well for the American Nightmare, not since Malakai Black entered AEW. Black has targeted Cody and the Nightmare Family, making their lives a living hell. That’s included two singles wins over Cody — first at the Homecoming edition of Dynamite and this past Wednesday at Dynamite: Grand Slam. To add to Cody’s woes, the fans have seemingly grown tired of his babyface act, booing him at every turn.

The Match

Cody and Dante start this match off for their teams, with neither man getting a clear advantage on one another. Both guys tag in their partners and we see that Arn Anderson is upset at Lee Johnson not starting off the match.

Sydal hits a kick on Lee before tagging Dante back into the match. Dazzling the fans with his acrobatics, Dante has a bit of an advantage on Lee. The two men get in each other’s faces as Cody and Sydal enter and Dynamite goes to commercial with things about to break down.

Back from the commercial break and Sydal is in control of Lee Johnson, who eventually escapes Matt’s grasp. Tag to Cody and he goes on the offensive. Scoop Powerslam by Cody gets the near-fall on Dante. Rhodes hits Matt Sydal with the Disaster Kick that sends him to the ground. 

Vertebreaker by Rhodes on Dante… 1.. 2… KICKOUT! Dante retaliates with a floating missile dropkick on Cody that gets a very close near-fall. Dante follows that up with a springboard moonsault that yet again only gets two. Lee Johnson drags Cody back to his corner by the tights and tags himself in. 

Johnson takes Sydal out on the apron with a kick to the head as Dante nearly wins it with a surprise roll-up that only gets a two-count. Johnson has Dante up and hits a modified leg brainbuster for the 1, 2, 3.

Lee Johnson & Cody Rhodes def. Dante Martin & Matt Sydal via Pinfall (7:47)

Post-Match

Tony Schiavone enters the ring to interview the winning team. Cody starts off to a chorus of boos, asking if people wanted to see him fight Malakai Black one more time. Arn Anderson shuts him up and begins with how Black has systematically destroyed Cody and the Nightmare Family since July. Arn asks Cody about why he took off his boots after Black beat him in Jacksonville a month ago.

Arn then goes on to talk about last week, where Cody ended up losing because he spent too much time worrying about him and not about stopping the “predator” and “assassin” that is Malakai Black. Arn says that he’d take up the fight himself, but he’s just “too damn old”. He talks about how Cody would let a carjacker take his car, then stating that as Arn Anderson, he’d pull out a Glock and splatter the carjacker’s brains on the concrete. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to coach a loser,” Arn states, then leaving Cody alone in the ring as he and Lee Johnson make their exit.

Match 3: Jon Moxley, Eddie Kingston, & Darby Allin vs. Bear Country (Bear Boulder & Bear Bronson) & Anthony Greene

Darby Allin introduces Bear Country to the Coffin Drop (Credit: All Elite Wrestling)

The Story So Far

This match doesn’t really have any established story. Just a showcase for the babyface alliance of Moxley, Kingston, Sting, and Darby, who have been a successful team.

The Match

Mox and Kingston are brawling it out with Bear Country, which leaves Darby and Greene as our legal competitors to start. Darby is a house a’fire to start off as he works over Greene, then tagging in Kingston. Chops and a knee from Eddie to Green before Mox gets the tag. Bear Boulder is in the match now and he’s got the advantage on Moxley, with repeated chops and shoulder blocks. Mox attempts a crossbody, but he’s caught by Boulder, who tags in Bronson. Powerslam by Bronson on Mox gets a two-count. Bear Country has Mox set up for a double team move until Eddie Kingston intervenes to help his friend fight off the massive Bears. They get sent to the outside as Darby comes crashing down on them with a Coffin Drop to Boulder and Bronson! With Greene as the legal man, he tries for a flying crossbody on Mox & Kingston, but that just fails. In the end, Mox & Eddie set Greene up for the Violent Crown and get the win here.

Eddie Kingston, Jon Moxley, & Darby Allin def. Bear Country & Anthony Greene via Pinfall (3:24)

Post-Match

Eddie goes to the ringside area and picks a Brodie Lee sign from the crowd as he calls Sting to the ring. As Green comes to, he’s immediately felled by a Scorpion Death Drop from the Stinger, which doesn’t seem like a rather babyface thing to do.

Match 4: The Dark Order (Alan “5” Angels, Alex Reynolds, Colt Cabana, Evil Uno, John Silver, Preston “10” Vance and Stu Grayson) & Orange Cassidy vs. The Hardy Family Office (The Butcher, The Blade, Marq Quen, Isaiah Kassidy, Angelico, Jack Evans, Matt Hardy, and Jora Johl)

The Dark Order’s 10 takes Isaiah Kassidy for a brutal ride (Credit: All Elite Wrestling)

The Story So Far

While the war between Dark Order and The HFO has gone on for months, the more important story is the current developments within the Dark Order since “Hangman” Adam Page took a leave of absence. The group has been in disarray since that moment, with Alex Reynolds in particular questioning Evil Uno’s leadership. On last week’s Grand Slam edition of Rampage, it seemed that things would be changing for the better, but Uno walked out on Reynolds after an attempted extension of the olive branch. For this big 16-man tag match, Tony Khan asked the Dark Order to put aside their differences to stand united on this special tribute show to Mr. Brodie Lee.

The Match

Right away, we get some trouble within the Dark Order’s ranks as Reynolds, Angels, Uno, and Grayson are in each other’s faces to start. The Butcher and the Blade take advantage and proceed to double team Alan Angels. Preston Vance helps 5 escape an attempted tandem maneuver from Butcher & Blade. Private Party’s Isaiah Kassidy & Marq Quen now get their turn to work over Angels for a bit. The tag to Orange Cassidy and the Freshly-Squeezed One dazzles with his trademark offense. Things eventually descend into a chaotic brawl right as we go to a picture-in-picture break.

Back from commercial with The Hybrid 2 in control as they’re doubling up on Stu Grayson for a bit until he takes down Angelico and Evans with a Pele kick. Tag to Alex Reynolds, who unleashes his offense on Angelico. Evil Uno joins the fray and takes Jack Evans out with a dropkick. Attempted double team by the Dark Order duo backfires as Reynolds is tossed right into Uno, sending the masked leader of Dark Order to the outside! Reynolds hits Evans with a knee to the face and Orange Cassidy tags in again. As Orange goes on the attack, Evil Uno tries to bail out on the match, clearly frustrated by Reynolds’ unintentional collision. Colt Cabana and Stu Grayson look to join him in abandoning their teammates.

They’re stopped at the ramp by Anna Jay, Tay Conti, -1, and Amanda Huber, Brodie Lee’s widow. While -1 emulates his dad and tosses paper at Uno, Amanda yells at the Dark Order trio to get back in the ring and help their teammates out! Uno, Grayson, and Colt then proceed to run back into the ring and help their friends clean house against the HFO!  

As the chaos breaks down, Jora Johl is the last one left in the ring for the Hardy Family Office. Matt tries to get involved, but he eats an Orange Punch from Orange Cassidy. Meanwhile, Johl gets taken out by a gamengiri and Stunner by the members of Dark Order. Grayson and Uno hoist Johl in position and flatline him with the Fatality! John Silver gets the final pinfall victory to ensure the homecoming for the Dark Order will be a happy one.

The Dark Order def. The Hardy Family Office via Pinfall (7:53)

Post-Match

A seemingly united Dark Order stood tall in the ring and embraced as -1 is placed on Preston Vance’s shoulders to celebrate the victory.

Lio Rush is #AllElite

We get a video promo from Lio Rush, last seen in the AEW ring at Double or Nothing 2021. He talks about how he’s a businessman and how he drives profits for both himself and his people, citing it as the true way to be successful. Billing himself as “LBO” (for “Leveraged Buy Out”), Lio promised that the profits would be sure to continue for him inside AEW.

A Refocused FTR

Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler declared that they’re now revitalized and refocus, which spells disaster for the AEW Tag Team Division.

The Men of The Year Brag About Their Triumph

“All Ego” Ethan Page in his element, celebrating a big victory (Credit: All Elite Wrestling)

Fresh off their victory over Chris Jericho & Jake Hager, Ethan Page & Scorpio Sky took to the ring, flanked by their advisor Dan Lambert.

Sky talks about how nobody paid attention to him despite posting one of the best winning percentages in all of AEW, and not even when he picked up a “giant Sonic ring” to become the “Face of the Revolution”. He says that only Dan Lambert sees what everyone else fails to see and that is how Scorpio Sky is a true main eventer.

Page caps the promo off by saying that nobody will ever overlook the Men of the Year and American Top Team ever again because they walk and talk like champions and they roll with champions.

Hikaru Shida’s Quest for 50

A hype video for Hikaru Shida airs. Last seen on Dynamite since before the summer (despite being very prominent in the opening intro), Shida talks about how her next win will be her 50th in AEW. Serena Deeb, her opponent next week, says that Shida won’t reach that major milestone next week when she beats her in a match.

Match 5: Anna Jay & Tay Conti vs. The Bunny & Penelope Ford

Penelope Ford rains down the fists on Anna Jay (Credit: All Elite Wrestling)

The Story So Far

These two teams have been in a bitter conflict over the past four weeks, with the Dark Order drama also in the background of this.

The Match

Both teams begin to brawl before the bell can even ring. Once the match finally starts properly, 

Penelope drags Jay in position for a moonsault attempt, but she misses with it. The Bunny tries to get involved, but Tay pulls her out and flattens Bunny with the Tay-KO! In the ring, Jay hits Ford with the Scorpion Kick, then setting her up for the Queenslayer submission hold! Penelope taps out as Anna and Tay make it a clean sweep for the Dark Order.

Anna Jay & Tay Conti def. The Bunny & Penelope Ford via Submission (6:36)

Post-Match

TayJay celebrates their victory with -1 after the match ends. The announcers immediately toss to a video hyping a big triple threat for Friday’s Rampage between Jade Cargill, Nyla Rose, and Thunder Rosa.

MJF’s Declaration of Greatness

Darby Allin holds his own as MJF goes on a tirade (Credit: All Elite Wrestling)

Maxwell Jacob Friedman makes his way to the ring, flanked as per usual by Wardlow. He talks about how AEW is built around four pillars that will lead the company to greater successes in the future: Jungle Boy, Sammy Guevara, Darby Allin, and himself. Max talks about how he’s already beaten J.B. and Sammy before and brushes off Darby, and how he’s the most important pillar of AEW.

The reason Max says all this? He declares that AEW isn’t worth shit without him, as he’s the past, present, and future of the company. That’s why, in his mind, he believes that he’s worthy of an AEW World Title shot. Max gives a shout out to Tony Khan, calling him “one of the two two Khans in pro wrestling”, but he’d call up his old MLW friend Bruce Prichard if Tony didn’t give him the opportunity that he deserves.

Darby Allin — one of the aforementioned AEW pillars — interrupts Max’s tirade. “As much as I like the whole ‘school shooter mime on a skateboard’ routine, not a huge fan of you interrupting me, bud.” MJF says about Darby’s arrival. He says that there’s nothing wrong about Darby being the #2 pillar of AEW, then comparing himself to stars like Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky. 

In response to this, Darby tells Max that he can go if he’s not getting what he wants, saying that he’s AEW until death. Max says that he respects Darby for being straight edge, now asking the fans if they know why Darby’s straight edge.

MJF tells everyone of how Darby got into a car with his drunken uncle one night and got into an accident that killed the uncle. Max goes as far as saying that the wrong person died that night, daring Darby to hit him. However, Allin refuses to play on MJF’s terms, stating that Max won’t break him mentally.

Frustrated that Darby won’t oblige to his demands, MJF leaves the ring in a huff.

Match 6: TNT Championship Match – Miro vs. Sammy Guevara

“God’s Favorite Champion”, meet the Spanish God’s knee (Credit: All Elite Wrestling)

The Story So Far

After “God’s Favorite Champion” destroyed his friend Fuego Del Sol on the premiere edition of AEW Rampage to deny the plucky luchadore an AEW contract, Sammy Guevara stepped in and gave Fuego a contract. This angered Miro, as Fuego called his shot again for a TNT Title opportunity, offering his new car as a wager for this match. Miro would end up winning that match on the 9/17 edition of Rampage, which led Sammy to get involved after an aggressive post-match assault on Fuego. This confrontation would lead to AEW booking the massive TNT Title defense we’re about to see.

The Match

As the bell rings, Sammy tries to go for a knee, but Miro dodges it. Again with the knee, but Miro knocks Guevara down. The TNT Champion has the advantage here early as he taunts the crowd. Miro grounds Guevara with stomps and attacks to the back. Guevara fighting from underneath, but that short offensive burst is stopped in its tracks. Miro chokes Guevara with his own necklace, then throwing it out of the ring. Guevara fights back and takes Miro out to the ringside area with a running body attack. Sammy uses the steel steps at ringside to attack Miro’s neck. Off to the top rope for a moonsault, but Miro catches him and turns that into a belly to belly suplex. We go to the night’s final picture-in-picture commercial break on that note.

We return with Miro catching Guevara in a resthold, also battering him with elbows. Sammy escapes this, but he gets felled by a German Suplex from Miro. Repeated short-arm lariats by Miro, who takes time to once again taunt the crowd as he does them. Miro runs to try and hit Guevara with a third lariat, but that gets reversed into a Spanish Fly! 

Sliding knee strike by Guevara is followed by a pump kick that Miro catches. German suplex is reversed and he tosses Miro to the outside. He runs and leaps over the corner to catch Miro with a tope con giro! Back in the ring, Miro reverses an attempted crossbody into a sidewalk slam! 1… 2… NO!

Miro is showing some frustration and he sizes up Guevara for a Jumping Pump Kick, but Sammy gets out of the way and hits him with a knee strike instead! Miro’s attempt at a superplex is blocked by Guevara who turns it into a diving cutter! Sammy tries to set Miro up for the GTH, but is unable to. Miro with the Pump Kick! 1… 2… 2.99999!!!!!!!! Guevara rolls out of the ring and an angered Miro starts yanking away all the top turnbuckles in response. Fuego Del Sol intervenes, but he’s punched out by Miro. Guevara jumps in with a knee strike, followed by a tornado DDT, and then the GTH! Not done yet, Guevara ascends to the top rope and hits a prone Miro with the 630 Splash! 1… 2… 3! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new TNT Champion.

Sammy Guevara def. Miro via Pinfall to win the TNT Championship (13:39)

Post-Match

Golden confetti rains down on the ring as Fuego and other faces enter the ring to celebrate Guevara’s victory. We’re told that we’d hear from the new TNT Champ during the first commercial break of Rhodes to the Top, which airs next.

After The Fact

In a short interview that aired during the aforementioned Rhodes to the Top, Sammy appeared to challenge Bobby Fish for his first TNT Title defense next week, as Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page got in his face for a confrontation.

A Quick Look At Rhodes to the Top

Airing immediately after Dynamite on TNT was the first of this new series looking at the behind the scenes of Cody and Brandi Rhodes in their everyday lives and running AEW. This first episode dealt with the fallout of Cody’s infamous “I Love America” promo aimed at Anthony Ogogo, as we also saw the behind-the-scenes of the day-to-day business in AEW ahead of this. 

Notably, the show supposes that the promo in question was good. We see remarks from Cody and Brandi talking about how the promo stirred certain feelings for them.

It’s standard reality TV fare that isn’t exactly must-see, though the glimpses of AEW’s backstage should be of interest for fans.

This Friday on Rampage (10/1/21)

  • Bryan Danielson vs. Nick Jackson
  • Triple Threat: Nyla Rose vs. Thunder Rosa vs. Jade Cargill
  • Hair vs. Hair: Orange Cassidy vs. Jack Evans

Next Week on Dynamite Anniversary (10/6/21)

  • TNT Championship Open Challenge: Sammy Guevara © vs. Bobby Fish
  • The Elite (Adam Cole, Kenny Omega, and the Young Bucks) vs. Bryan Danielson, Christian Cage, and Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus)
  • Hikaru Shida vs. Serena Deeb
  • Casino Ladder Match (Winner earns an AEW World Title shot)

The Last Word

If this is meant to be the end of the Dark Order’s infighting, then having -1 (aka Brodie Jr.) and Amanda Huber figure into helping talk some sense into the group makes perfect sense, especially with it taking place in Rochester. Of course, the uncertainty comes in whether or not this unity will stick, and it’ll be interesting to see if things truly are patched up or if there’s a bigger problem on the horizon.

There’s probably some disappointment that we didn’t get an appearance from “Hangman” Adam Page or from Windham Rotunda (the former Bray Wyatt) here, but having Brodie’s family play a role in reuniting Dark Order certainly works out better in the context of the story they’re trying to tell, making for a true feel-good moment.

On that note, it was logical that the TNT Championship changed hands here and that a big babyface victory was the reason for it. Sammy looks good as the underdog challenger who withstood the onslaught of the former TNT Champ and won in the end, while Miro isn’t hurt at all in defeat.

MJF’s promo elaborating that there are four pillars that AEW has built itself around did an excellent job in establishing that the four stars (Darby Allin, MJF, Sammy Guevara, and Jungle Boy) are set to play important roles for the company moving forward. While the company may land stars like CM Punk or Bryan Danielson, it seems clear that building up the aforementioned talents and others such as Adam Page and Britt Baker is something that will be beneficial for AEW as a whole.

Transcribing Arn Anderson’s bizarre post-match promo was quite the experience for me. In two minutes, he called Cody Rhodes a loser for failing to beat Malakai Black and apparently admitted to killing a man by shooting him in the head. Naturally, wrestling fans embraced the utter randomness of Arn’s anecdote and turned “Armed Anderson” and “Glock Anderson” into memes.

Bryan Danielson’s promo to Kenny Omega was a rare misfire from the American Dragon. His weird fascination with the balls of Omega and the Elite seemed completely out of place and the crowd obliging Danielson by chanting “Kenny No-Balls” certainly made matters worse. If we’re being honest, I don’t exactly feel comfortable with wrestling promos going into people insulting others’ manhood or lack thereof by mocking their lack of genitals. It just seems like low-hanging fruit, is all.

AEW put forth a feel-good show in tribute to Mr. Brodie Lee in his hometown and excelled in that regard. The setlist of matches brought a little bit of something for everyone — from multi-man chaos tag team action to a fast-paced opener, and a dramatic main event. While the promo work could’ve been better in some regards, the show as a whole was a worthy tribute to a great performer that was gone too soon.

Before we sign off for another week, I’d like to bring attention to the Jon Huber Legacy Foundation, the recently-launched non-profit organization dedicated to supporting people in creative fields who haven’t been able to take that next step due to family commitments. According to a press release announcing the Foundation’s formation, this new initiative will select individuals to support through direct funding. These individuals will learn from experts in fields such as public relations, IP law, and artist management. 

This effort is a very classy move and worthy of the Foundation’s namesake. It’s something that will help those who have the hopes to achieve their dreams, but not necessarily the means to do so while supporting their families.

To learn more about the Jon Huber Legacy Foundation, please visit www.jonhuberlegacyfoundation.org

Marc Quill is an avid wrestling fan who enjoys telling you all the exciting All Elite action on Wednesday nights. He’s also the web novelist behind Skye Emery: Bluebird, which you can read here. You can chat with him about wrestling, comics, and stuff in general @MarcQuill on Twitter.

Categories
Wrestling

AEW Dark Dork Review: Week of 9/19

Well, welcome to week 2 of Dark Dork Review. This week, I…oh no, what’s this on the schedule? Oh my god. Please. Anything but the Dark Order fighting. Alright, onto Elevation to start us off.

Elevation

Thunder Rosa vs. Kaia Mckenna: Paul Wight growling THUNDERRR RRRROSA is always a delight. Rosa picked up the win in a fun opening match, with a great piledriver setting up the win.

Gunn Clubb vs Anthony Bennett, Ray Jaz, and Leon St. Giovanni: The Gunn Club has turned heel. They say that it’s because their records are not getting respect, but I think it’s because they’re scared of Malakai Black and want distance from Cody. They’re coming from the heel tunnel now, and they’ve got a nice new intro song! I’m really not sure how to process Billy Gunn wearing a choker. Google tells me this is a thing he has done since the 90s, but it’s still a lot.

Onto the match. Paul Wight refused to speak during this match. The Gunn Club wins.

Evil Uno and Colt Cabana vs Alan “5” Angels and Pres10 Vance: The Dark Order Civil War has hit Elevation. 5 and 10 came out with John Silver and Alex Reynolds, while no one came out with Uno and Colt. I’m not sure how to process any of this. After Silver accidentally hit Uno on Dynamite a few weeks ago, my favorite group of misfits is fighting on Elevation.

Paul Wight (RIGHTLY) said that this kind of infighting is destructive. Even as Alan Angels and Evil Uno fought, 10 and Colt tried to separate them and help keep the match from boiling over. The common theme on commentary was that the Dark Order needs leadership, and while I personally don’t agree with that, they do need direction. Without Hangman, they’re a mess and this is a true tragedy.

The Dark Order know each other, they know each other’s moves, and even as enemies, their match work is perfect. Then, tragedy strikes: Evil Uno unmasked Alan Angels. Enraged, Angels struck out and got the pin on Evil Uno. In the aftermath, Angels donned his mask again and offered Uno a hand: Uno instead rolled out of the ring.

Orange Cassidy vs Mike Verna: A very short match, so much so that Tony couldn’t even ask why Matt Hardy wants to cut Orange’s hair.

Private Party vs Teddy Goodz and Jorge Santini: Private Party’s been, in my opinion, a little buried on the roster lately, but they’re always great. They pull off an easy win here and look fantastic doing it.

Hikaru Shida vs Masha Slamovich: The former women’s champ took on Masha Slamovich, who just the previous weekend hosted Beyond Wrestling’s Borscht at the Beach. Shida’s been off TV for a while, but her work on YouTube the last few weeks has her being a little more mean recently. Tonight, she even headbutted Masha! She picks up the win, though she seemed to struggle at times against Masha, who got some big moves in.

Sonny Kiss vs Joey Janela w/Kayla Rossi: Hey, the lady who’s been accompanying Joey gets a name! The grudge match between these two after Joey back-stabbed Sonny finally comes. Sonny comes out with a new intro and comes out swinging, getting Joey on the ground and going on the offensive. Kayla Rossi delivered a big spear to Sonny while Joey was distracting the ref. Sonny took some heavy pile drivers but kept kicking out. She then reversed a top-rope elbow drop from Joey into a pin! However, after the pin, Kayla Rossi hit Sonny from behind and pinned her down. Joey then hit Sonny with a steel chair and laid it across Sonny’s back for Kayla to do an impressive standing moonsault onto Sonny.

Sonny wins, but I get the feeling we aren’t done with this rivalry yet.

Santana and Ortiz vs. Avery Good and JT Dunn: Ahead of their big 8-team match against the HFO Wednesday, they get a nice warmup against these boys. Santana and Ortiz were on fire, moving in sync like a violent ballet. Good stuff.

QT Marshall vs. Dustin Rhodes: Wait, you mean this isn’t a Dynamite segment? How did a QT segment get moved to Dark? Did QT lose his blackmail material? I am grateful that the Factory/Nightmare Family stuff has moved on to greener pastures, and these guys work a ring well together. Dustin Rhodes pick up the win, with a little assistance from Shotty Lee Johnson doing some ringside protection.

Tangents of the evening: Tony Schiavone, who has been told by Adam Cole (Mandatory BAY-BAY) to stay away from Britt Baker, remarked “…Adam Cole can kiss my ass.” Bless Tony for standing up to Adam. Eddie Kingston also formally apologized to Bryce Remsburg for being mean to him last week on commentary.

Dark

This is our second part of the Orlando studios taping at the All Elite Zone, and for the second part, we have Taz back at the announcers’ table.

Wardlow vs. JDX: Wardlow and his absolutely tiny singlet pick up the easy victory here, with five consecutive powerbombs followed by a Casualty of War finisher for the TKO.

Allie Katch vs. Big Swole: Allie Katch! An awesome wrestler on the indies and half of the iconic tag team BUSSY, Allie Katch’s first entry into AEW ended with Swole getting a running elbow on Katch to set up the pin.

Santana & Ortiz vs. Chaos Project: I feel for Serpentico. A human being is not meant to be a thrown weapon. On 3 different occasions in this match, Luther threw him at their opposition. Chaos Project gave Proud and Powerful a few near falls but Santana and Ortiz pick up the win.

Joey Janea w/Kayla Rossi vs. Dillon McQueen: Joey Janela gets the win here, with Kayla Rossi providing some outside assistance.

Tay Conti w/ -1 & Anna Jay vs. Marina Tucker: The return of -1 to Dark does not feature any bullying of Excalibur but these three Dark Order members are at least on the same page. Anna Jay is victorious over Tucker, and at least one part of my favorite cult is happy.

Lee Johnson & Brock Anderson vs. Luke Curtis & Cameron Stewart: Brock Anderson’s a nice wrestler so far. I just wish he had better ring gear than an AI-generated wrestler in a video game. The Nightmare Family boys get the job done and get their win.

FTR vs. Stallion Rogers & Anthony Greene: Taz celebrated FTR’s attack on Darby and Sting last week, and they get a good warmup for their match against them at Grand Slam with a win here in a fierce tag team match.

Xtina Kay vs. The Bunny: Xtina Kay takes a trip down the Rabbit Hole, and the Bunny gets the pin here.

Marcus Kross vs. Lance Archer: I wonder who the most high-profile wrestler that Lance Archer has dragged to the ring. Marcus Kross is spared that indignity this week but still gets the Black Out from Archer ahead of him taking on Moxley and Archer on Rampage with Minoru Suzuki.

Ryan Nemeth & Peter Avalon w/ the Wingmen vs. John Silver & Alex Reynolds w/ The Dark Order: Half of the Wingmen pair off against two of the Dark Order, and the Dark Order has a new video intro package! The Dark Order gets a hard-fought order against the evil pretty boys.

Daniel Garcia w/ 2point0 vs. Alan “5” Angels: Would you believe both Alan Angels and Daniel Garcia are under 25? AEW’s got such ridiculous young talent. Garcia’s able to score the victory here with some help from 2point0, the Evil Dads of AEW.

The Factory vs. Darian Bengston, Cole Carter & Sean Mulata: I’m not going to be negative with regards to the Factory, so uh…Nick Comoroto is impressive. The Factory wins.

JD Drake w/ the Wingmen vs Colt Cabana w/ -1 and Evil Uno: The Blue-Collar Badass takes on Boom-Boom Cabana, and important to note for our Dark Order stans: Despite the fact that Evil Uno is presently on the outs with the Dark Order, it looks like that -1 is still hanging out with him. This is a nice match between two big dudes, and Colt Cabana wins with the moonsault. However, after the week, Colt Cabana rejected Uno’s hug with a look of disgust on his face.

Match of the Night – Bear Bronson vs Eddie Kingston: Well, if you thought that last match was a lot of beef, this one’s a real hoss fight! Bear Bronson gets some good offense in, but Eddie is able to rally and get the win! After the match, Eddie takes the mic and thanks the fans for coming out, but then calls out Suzuki-gun, saying that they may be best, but in New York, he’s number one. Lance Archer runs into the ring and the two brawl as the show ends.

Tangent of the Evening: Taz went off on a tangent this evening on the names of some women he has dated with unusual names during the Bunny match.

Before I go for this week, I want to share a video Eddie made this week, talking about his journey ahead of competing at Arthur Ashe on Wednesday. It’s wonderful, and if you ever needed more proof that Eddie Kingston is a legend with his words, just go watch it.

Categories
Wrestling

AEW Dynamite Recap | 9/15/21

Welcome again to another Wednesday night of exciting All Elite Wrestling action and the most exciting Dynamite recap you’ll ever read. It’s full speed ahead to Arthur Ashe Stadium and two nights of Grand Slam action next week, and AEW looks to provide an explosive prelude to the action on this week’s Dynamite. Did they succeed in getting fans hyped for the action? Read on and find out.

Previously on All Elite Wrestling…

On Dynamite, Jon Moxley had a successful homecoming in Cincinnati when he defeated Minoru Suzuki in a hard-hitting main event; Bryan Danielson made his intentions known that he wants a piece of Kenny Omega; MJF pissed off all of Cincinnati by opening his mouth, getting the ire of one Brian Pillman Jr; also, Taz really didn’t want CM Punk challenging his Team Taz boys.

Here’s the quick results of the 9/8 Dynamite (Episode 101):

  • Malakai Black def. Dustin Rhodes via pinfall (9:53) after a Black Mass kick to the shoulder.
  • CM Punk outlined his next steps in AEW, leading to Taz shouting him down for daring to challenge Team Taz.
  • Powerhouse Hobbs (w/ Hook) def. Dante Martin via pinfall (8:24) with a spinebuster erroneously called a “powerbomb” by the commentators.
  • Dan Lambert said some stuff.
  • MJF lambasted Cincinnati with a cheap heat-laden promo. He turned his ire to the family of Brian Pillman, leading to an interruption from Brian Pillman Jr. 
  • Ruby Soho def. Jamie Hayter (w/ Rebel – not Reba and Dr. Britt Baker) via pinfall (7:27); post-match, Dr. Britt and associates beat up Soho until Kris Statlander and Riho made the save.
  • The Pinnacle (Shawn Spears, Cash Wheeler, and Dax Harwood) (w/ Tully Blanchard & Wardlow) def. The Dark Order (Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, and John Silver) via pinfall (4:49) after Spears pinned Silver following the Death Valley Driver; post-match, Uno blamed Silver for losing, which culminated in a Dark Order conflict.
  • An in-ring promo from The Elite and new/old ally Adam Cole was interrupted by Bryan Danielson, who challenged Kenny Omega to a fight. This led to a brawl where The Elite were sent to retreat by Danielson and friends Christian Cage, Frankie Kazarian, and Jurassic Express.
  • Jon Moxley def. Minoru Suzuki via pinfall (8:08) with a butterfly suplex; Suzuki was cut open prior to the finish.

Here’s the rundown for the 9/10/21 edition of AEW Rampage (Episode 5):

  • Andrade El Idolo (w/ Chavo Guerrero Jr.) def. PAC via pinfall (15:42) after Chavo hit PAC with a tablet for the cheap finish; post-match, Andrade was upset with Chavo’s interference and kicked him in the face, apparently firing him.
  • Tully Blanchard & Shawn Spears pulled a fast one on Sting and Darby Allin, as Spears snuck up on Darby during a promo and attacked him ahead of their match on this Wednesday’s Dynamite.
  • Ruby Soho, Riho, and Kris Statlander (w/ Orange Cassidy) def. Dr. Britt Baker DMD, Rebel (not Reba), and Jamie Hayter via pinfall (9:27) after Soho pinned Rebel for the win.
  • Brian Pillman Jr. def. Max Caster (w/ Anthony Bowens) via pinfall (6:42) with the Air Pillman flying clothesline his dad made famous; post-match, Bowens attacked Brian as Caster helped with the ambush. Fellow Cincinnatian Jon Moxley ran out for the save and aided Pillman to fend off The Acclaimed to end the show.

It’s Wednesday Night. You Know What That Means.

After the oft-changed opening video telling us to light the fuse and bring the boom, we’re off to the races with Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, and the returning Excalibur welcoming us. They’re soon joined by CM Punk, who’ll be on commentary tonight. Punk took his victory lap and embraced the adulation of the fans, including hanging out with a man dressed up like Dusty Rhodes in the ringside area. The card is run down for tonight, including the main event of Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston versus 2point0. But first, we’ve got Adam Cole & Frankie Kazarian in action.

Match 1: Adam Cole vs. Frankie Kazarian

The Story So Far

Adam Cole debuted at All Out and realigned himself with The Elite. Of course, this brings him into the crosshairs of the self-appointed “Elite Hunter” Frankie Kazarian. During last week’s brawl, Kaz took out Cole with a kick to set up this match.

The Match

Hot start as Kaz took control with some arm drags, controlling the early flow with rest holds. Cole dumps Kazarian to the outside with a reverse flip over the ropes, then tossing Kaz into the apron. Cole played to the crowd as Kaz responded with a jumping kick between the aprons. Back and forth between the two, leading to Kazarian going for a pin that Cole kicks out of at two. Transition into an armbar by Kaz, but Cole kicked out of it. Kazarian runs into an Ushigoroshi that gets a two count. Cole tunes up the band and goes for a kick, but Kazarian blocks it and turns it into a roll-through German suplex. Two-count. Double knees by Kaz, but an attempted cross-face chicken wing is reversed into a pin. Kickout. Cole hits a running Kaz with a superkick, but that too gets a two count. Cole up on the Bret Hart ropes as he goes for the Panama Sunrise… but Kaz blocks it into an Alabama slam. Springboard splash by Kazarian on Cole… 1… 2… NO! An exchange of blows that Kaz comes out on the winning end off, but Cole responds with a Complete Shot for the near fall. “This is awesome!” the fans chant. Cole finally hits the Panama Sunrise as he then sets up and connects with the Last Shot to the back of Kaz’s head! 1… 2… 3! Adam Cole with the win, bay-bay!

Adam Cole def. Frankie Kazarian via Pinfall (10:00)

Post-Match

With a mic in hand, Adam Cole goes off with storytime. He says that hope is a dangerous thing, saying that there’s no hope that anyone can beat The Elite. Cole goes on to single out Christian Cage, Jungle Boy, and Luchasaurus, immediately challenging them to a six-man tag next week with the Young Bucks backing him up. Let’s hope nobody gets turned to a ghost this time.

The History Between Lucha Bros & Butcher and The Blade

We get a video package hyping Penta El Zero M & Rey Fenix vs. The Butcher and The Blade for this Friday’s Rampage, with the AEW Tag Titles on the line.

Fuego Del Sol Has A Challenge For Miro

Backstage with Tony Schiavone, Fuego del Sol is with Sammy Guevara. He issues a challenge to Miro for the TNT Championship on Friday’s Rampage, putting his new car on the line in the process.

MJF Talks Even More Trash

Flanked by Wardlow, MJF makes his way down to the ring to the usual boos. “You should be sympathetic towards me because I’m standing in the Armpit of America known as New Jersey,” says Max. He mocks Springsteen and the New Jersey Devils for sucking as hard as the “Jersey Shore skanks”. The Newark fans won’t have any of this, chanting “shut the fuck up”. MJF says he wants to talk to the late, great Brian Pillman, first looking upwards, but then turning his direction downwards. He says that going to massacre Brian Pillman Jr. in Queens next week at Dynamite Grand Slam. Brian Pillman Jr.’s music hits as MJF orders Wardlow to confront him at the stage, but it turns out, Pillman is sneaking up on MJF in the ring! Wardlow gets back and stares down Pillman, but he gets driven away with the chair as BPJ stands tall in the ring.

JR’s Interview With Brian Pillman Jr.

In an interview earlier today with JR, BPJ outlines how he’s going to kick MJF’s ass at Arthur Ashe Stadium next week.

Christian & Friends Answer The Elite’s Challenge

Backstage with interviewer Alex Marvez are Jurassic Express and Christian Cage. As Jungle Boy starts dissing on Adam Cole’s choice of friends and hair, he’s cut off by Christian, who says that Cole has some pretty good friends in the Super Elite who used their status to “drag Cole’s ass out of developmental”. Christian closes off with, “Since you’re already used to losing Wednesday night wars, you better add Friday nights to that as well.”

Match 2: FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) vs. Dante Martin & Matt Sydal

The Story So Far

FTR are fresh off a trios victory last week with Shawn Spears against the fractured Dark Order, while Dante Martin did an admirable job in a losing effort against Powerhouse Hobbs.

The Match

Early pinfall exchanges are met with kickouts. Sydal and Dante controlling the action here early,but Dax has Dante in the corner. An attempted springboard by Dante is foiled by Cash Wheeler, who sends him careening to the ringside area. Wheeler is taking it to Dante at ringside, tossing him into the ringpost before bringing him back into the ring. Cash locks Dante in a head hold to ground him. Martin fights out of the submission as Cash tags back to Dax. Martin avoids a double team as he gets the tag to Matt Sydal. Double team apron springboard splash by the high-flyers to FTR as the action goes to picture-in-picture.

Back to full-screen action as FTR has control of the match. As Dax & Cash block an attempted splash on them by Sydal, but Dante Martin soars with a dropkick to FTR as he’s got a full head of steam. Dante leaps above Dax and Cash and gets into a pinning position, but a kickout at two! With the numbers in FTR’s advantage, Dante Martin valiantly tries to fight them off, but the Big Rig by FTR gets the win.

FTR def. Dante Martin & Matt Sydal via Pinfall (10:00)

The Suzuki Incident

We go to the announcers as they explain the “Suzuki Incident” involving Minoru Suzuki’s music not being played completely last week (cutting off before “Kaze Ni Nare”).. A hype package sets up next week’s big match between Suzuki and Lance Archer versus Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston, as Suzuki and Archer speak about their unity as part of the Suzuki-gun faction.

Malakai Black Has Words For Cody

In the darkness comes Malakai Black, along with his amazing entrance music. Black says that there’s an “enemy in our midst” as the camera focuses on Rosario Dawson, one of Cody Rhodes’ judge friends on The Go-Big Show. Cody himself walks down the crowd with a purpose as Dawson leaps onto Black’s shoulders and attacks him! Cody walks down from the crowd as he and Black begin to lay into each other! The fight spills into the crowd with Black and Cody beating the stuffing out of each other up the stairs. This brawl continues into the crowd as the show cuts to a break with the fight still very much in progress.

Dark Order Backstage

Roving reporter Alex Marvez is standing by with the Dark Order. Before Anna Jay can talk, Evil Uno cuts her off as Alex Reynolds appears to insult Uno for his poor leadership skills. Alan Angels (“V”) agreed with Reynolds’ accusations about Uno as the arguments broke down once again. Ultimately, Anna says that she doesn’t want any of the Dark Order men in her corner this Friday on Rampage. She walks off with Tay Conti, apparently choosing her best friend to be in her corner instead of someone from Dark Order.

Dan Lambert & American Top Team’s Challenge

In the ring is loudmouth Dan Lambert, The Men of The Year, Junior Dos Santos, Paige Van Zant, Andre Arlovski, and Kayla Harrison. He’s just saying his usual anti-AEW stuff when they’re interrupted by the soulful sounds of Judas, which brings out Chris Jericho & Jake Hager of the Inner Circle. Lambert orders the music to be shut up, but that doesn’t stop the fans from singing along without music.

“Hey Lambert, it sounds like there’s 15,000 people who love to sing along!” says Jericho. He then leads people into a singing of “I’m a Fat-Faced Dip Shit” to mock Lambert. Jericho and Hager offer to challenge the ATT guys, but Lambert says it’s not gonna happen in Newark. It’s gonna happen next week: Chris Jericho & Jake Hager vs. Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page.

The Gunn Club Speak On Their Betrayal

Billy Gunn and the Gunn Club talk about how their betrayal of Paul Wight is based on “respect” for their unbeaten records, which they believe they haven’t gotten. Billy says that if anyone has a problem with his family’s new attitude, they can “just say so”.

Match 3: Jade Cargill (w/ “Smart” Mark Sterling) vs. “Legit” Leyla Hirsch

The Story So Far

This rivalry stems from Cargill eliminating Hirsch from the Women’s Casino Battle Royale at All Out, with the feud intensifying after Hirsch took down Cargill during last night’s Dark.

The Match

Jade starts off with the size advantage early, but is sent retreating outside by Hirsch. Suicide dive through the ropes by Leyla ends up hitting “Smart” Mark Sterling at ringside instead of Cargill. An attempted cross armbreaker by Hirsch is countered into a powerbomb by Cargill as the action goes into picture-in-picture.

Back with the match, Hirsch has Jade in a body scissors submission, but she gets thrown off. Jade misses a pump kick, as Hirsch tries for the German suplex, but to no avail. On the second go, Hirsch finally nails it for a two count. Jade rolls to the outside and gets stunned by a Leyla Hirsch suicide dive. The two competitors roll back into the ring as Leyla hits a jumping knee strike to a kneeling Cargill. 1.. 2… NO! Up to the top rope goes Leyla and she misses with the moonsault! Pump kick by Cargill leads to her lifting Leyla up for Jaded and the 1, 2, 3.

Jade Cargill def. “Legit” Leyla Hirsch via Pinfall (7:00)

Andrade El Idolo on Last Week’s Controversy

Confident that he can beat anyone when he wants, Andrade is upset that Chavo got involved in last week’s match with PAC on Rampage. He boasts that he is The Kingpin.

Taz Sets The Trap on CM Punk

While the commentators address the Andrade situation, Taz & Hook square up to Punk as Powerhouse Hobbs attacks Punk from behind! Dragon sleeper by Hook on Punk allows Hobbs to get a cheapshot kick in on the Chicago native! Hook clears the table as Hobbs chokeslams Punk through the commentary table! Team Taz exit the scene, satisfied with their handiwork.

Match 4: Darby Allin (w/ Sting) vs. Shawn Spears (w/ Tully Blanchard)

The Story So Far

Shawn Spears handed Darby his first loss in AEW. Tully Blanchard cut a promo on Sting last week, accusing him of just coasting off of the success of others. This match was made at the behest of Tully, who wanted Spears to embarrass Sting and Darby.

The Match

Shawn Spears doesn’t want to wait for the match to fully begin as he’s on the offensive right away to start the match. Knee to the face, followed by stomps and the toss to the outside by Spears.The Canadian jawjacks with Sting as he tosses Darby into the steel steps. Spears has evil intentions with the stairs, setting it up in the middle of ringside. He plants Darby against the steps as he goes for a running knee strike. Darby gets out of dodge at the last possible second, causing Spears to make contact with the steps! 

Darby tries to go for a dive, but Tully Blanchard gets in the way. On the apron, Spears trips up Darby to send him crashing to the outside. Spears goes to the timekeeper’s area with a cloth, pouring water on it. He enters the ring to wipe away Darby’s face paint with the cloth as we go to a split-screen ad break.

We return with Spears locking Darby in the Scorpion Deathlock as an insult to Sting. Darby breaks the hold by reaching the ropes. Now it’s Allin with the offensive onslaught to flatline Spears, culminating with a Code Red for the near fall! Darby and Spears are on the top turnbuckle jockeying for an advantage until Spears tosses Darby off the top rope. 

Spears has Darby on his shoulders looking for a Death Valley Driver onto the steel steps, but Darby turns that into a guillotine counter! Suicide dive through the middle rope by Allin, followed by a Coffin Drop onto a prone Spears for the victory!

Darby Allin def. Shawn Spears via Pinfall (8:00)

Post Match

FTR confronts Sting and Darby in the ring, leading to a big brawl. Tully Blanchard hits Sting with a chair to no effect, but Dax and Cash swarm Sting with multiple clubbing blows. Darby gets back into the fight, but he too is waylaid. Dax and Cash have Sting set up with the Spike Piledriver! And now, Tully wipes the face paint off of Sting for the ultimate disrespect to the Icon.

Bryan Danielson Throws Down The Gauntlet

Tony Schiavone introduces Bryan Danielson to the ring for an interview. The American Dragon enters to an incredible reaction from the Newark crowd. Before Danielson can address his challenge to Kenny Omega, out comes Omega himself, accompanied by the irritating sounds of Don Callis. As Kenny’s manager goes on a diatribe, Bryan tells him to shut up. Danielson says that this is not about the title just yet, instead just being about who’s better. “Shut up, you piece of shit!” Bryan again yells at Callis. He says that he came to AEW to fight the Best Bout Machine, instead finding a goof who lets Callis speak for him.

Kenny takes the mic and says that if Bryan wants The Best Bout Machine and the God of Pro Wrestling? He then promptly accepts Danielson’s challenge.

Miro Wants To Bash Fuego Del Sol’s Brains In

The TNT Champion spoke in a video promo about Fuego Del Sol’s challenge, accepting it for Rampage this Friday. Miro vowed to not only bash Fuego’s new car, but also his face when he was through with him.

An Orange Egghead?

We get remarks from “Big Money” Matt Hardy, who once again teased that he wanted to cut Orange Cassidy’s hair completely as revenge for Orange breaking his nose during their first encounter. Hardy says that he’s going to turn him into an “Orange Egghead” when he’s through.

Match 5: Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston vs. 2point0 (Jeff Parker & Matt Lee; w/ Daniel Garcia)

The Story So Far

2point0 have been a thorn in the sides of Mox & Kingston, having attacked them in an entrance ambush on the 8/18 Dynamite, clearly wanting to prove themselves as the toughest trio in AEW.

The Match

2point0 gets the jump on Mox and Eddie as they enter the ringside area, and it turns into a wild brawl even before the bell rings! Once the referee does get the match started, it’s Moxley and Parker to start us off. Mox has the early advantage, but Parker is able to respond with an eye rake, then tagging in partner Matt Lee. Mox fights back by biting Lee in the face. Lee retreats to the outside as Parker catches Mox from behind with a dropkick. The action goes to commercial as 2point0 tosses Moxley into the ring apron.

We return as Parker and Lee have the two-on-one advantage on Mox, but that quickly evaporates. Drop toehold by Lee leads to an elbow drop on Mox by Parker that only gets two. Mox with a lethal lariat on Lee as he tags in Eddie Kingston for the hot tag. Kingston is on a rampage on 2point0 as he effortlessly takes both Parker and Lee down. Tag to Moxley and they set Parker up for the Violent Crown double team move. Pin by Mox and this one’s over.

Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston def. 2point0 via Pinfall (7:00)

Post-Match

Mox and Kingston’s victory celebration is cut off by the awesome “Kaze Ni Nare” theme song of Minoru Suzuki, heralding the arrival of the Japanese wrestling legend. Suzuki appears on the ramp clearly intending to start a fight with Mox & Kingston, but not before his song plays in full. Lance Archer pulls Kingston out of the ring as Suzuki fights it out with Mox! Kingston and Archer fight in the crowd while Mox brawls it out with Suzuki at ringside. Suzuki attempts the Gotch-style Piledriver through the table, but Mox fights out of it! The fight rages on at ringside as we go off the air.


This Friday on Rampage (9/17/21)

  • TNT Championship: Miro © vs. Fuego Del Sol (if Miro wins, he gets Fuego’s new car)
  • AEW World Tag Title Match: The Lucha Bros. © (Rey Fenix & Penta El Zero M) vs. The Butcher and The Blade
  • Anna Jay vs. The Bunny

Next Week on Dynamite Grand Slam from Arthur Ashe Stadium (9/22/21)

  • The Dream Match: Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson
  • Cody Rhodes vs. Malakai Black II
  • MJF vs. Brian Pillman Jr.
  • Dr. Britt Baker vs. Ruby Soho
  • FTR vs. Sting & Darby Allin

Next Week on Rampage Grand Slam from Arthur Ashe Stadium (9/24/21)

  • Adam Cole & The Young Bucks vs. Christian Cage & Jurassic Express
  • CM Punk vs. Powerhouse Hobbs
  • Chris Jericho & Jake Hager vs. The Men of The Year

The Last Word

As expected, this show was intended to help set up next week’s massive Dynamite & Rampage Grand Slam cards, and I feel they did that well tonight.

Bryan Danielson vs. Kenny Omega being explicitly a non-title match just to see who’s the best was definitely the best way to get this massive match as Danielson’s first AEW action without the World Title on the line. It’s still clear that the plan is that Kenny will drop the belt to “Hangman” Adam Page even with Bryan’s arrival into the main event scene. Even so, just the idea of Danielson vs. Omega is a dream match that doesn’t necessarily need the World Title at stake.

The actual Omega/Danielson challenge segment was well done, and it was a smart move to not have it bogged down by Elite shenanigans. Just having Bryan and Omega confront each other face-to-face really helps sell the idea that this is something that Kenny takes seriously because of the danger that Bryan poses to him.

The match’s outcome may have been a foregone conclusion, but that didn’t stop Cole vs. Kaz from being a hot opener to the evening. The two meshed well together and Kaz still managed to get his spots in even as the match was largely about Adam Cole (bay-bay).

It was only a matter of time before it came time for CM Punk to take some beatings, and the Team Taz ambush segment was well done, non-breaking table and all. While it was clear they were setting up Punk’s next match to be against Powerhouse Hobbs, that brief moment of Hook choking Punk out does give me big hope that we’ll see Hook’s first match against CM Punk at some point.

Leave it to AEW to turn something going awry into a storyline with what fans have called “The Suzuki Incident”. The original tweet that gave it its name was a semi-serious(?) demand to Tony Khan and AEW to put out a statement apologizing for not playing Minoru Suzuki’s theme song in full. It naturally turned into a memetic response that saw fans and even wrestlers get in on the fun. Using this to pretty much set up a tag match with Suzuki and Lance Archer vs. Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston is a really neat way to go about it.

While the whole Dan Lambert/Men of the Year thing isn’t exactly something that’s universally loved, I did appreciate that there was finally some progression in this storyline with Chris Jericho stepping up to defend the honor of AEW against Lambert’s diatribes. That being said, the segment itself didn’t stick the landing at all, made all the more worse with the casual homophobic insult tossed out by Jericho (the “who’s on top” remark to American Top Team). 

On another note, it’s a bit odd that despite being very prominent in the intro of this very show and all over the marketing for AEW’s Friday show, Rampage, Hikaru Shida hasn’t been seen on AEW programming — aside from being in the Women’s Casino Battle Royale at All Out. It’d be nice if they found a storyline or feud for her. In general, having more than one women’s match and angle on Wednesdays would be nice.

With a show that seemed very weak on paper heading into Wednesday turning out to be a strong go-home for next week’s Grand Slam festivities, AEW once again shows its strength of booking hot angles and matches to keep fans engaged throughout the night. On the strength of hyping a big-time dream match leading a stacked card over four hours and two nights of TV, Grand Slam is looking to be a huge supershow that’s sure to rock Arthur Ashe Stadium. And I for one can’t wait to see it all unfold next week.


Marc Quill is an avid wrestling fan who enjoys telling you all the exciting All Elite action on Wednesday nights. He’s also the web novelist behind Skye Emery: Bluebird, which you can read here. You can chat with him about wrestling, comics, and stuff general @MarcQuill on Twitter.

Categories
Television Wrestling

AEW Dark Dork Review: Introduction

It was Thanksgiving 2020, and I was sitting in my sister’s living room. After a disastrous evening with our father where we had bailed on the family gathering early, we were hanging on her couch eating mini-churros. 

“Hey, you wanna watch some wrestling?”

My sister had started watching AEW as a pandemic hobby, brought into it by her partners. While we were on her couch, she started pulling up matches on YouTube on AEW Dark. She started explaining wrestlers to me, their gimmicks, and which ones were her favorites. That branched off into other AEW-adjacent YouTube shows, like BTE and the other vlogs. The night was great fun, just searching through videos for fun matches and unique characters.

It’s where my love for wrestling started. Over the last few months, I’ve found a group I do watch parties with, but even with three hours of TV between Dynamite and Rampage, I find myself coming back to Dark and its newer sister program Elevation. A part of that is that Dark and Elevation are in their own weird niche. Kenny Omega doesn’t show up on Dark, and the Inner Circle and the Pinnacle don’t make more than the odd appearance(Unless it’s WARDLOW WEEK, baby). Instead, it’s where the truly weird personalities hang out.

Especially in the first half of 2021, in the Daly’s Place era, Dark became something of a mainstay for me. I would watch past episodes to just absorb more wrestling. Dark episodes on youtube tended to be longer than Dynamite shows, and while there may not have been as many stories that were outright being told as those that were on TV weekly, it had its share of heroes and it was great to have on in the background.

The patron saint of AEW Dark is none other than Fuego del Sol: Alabama’s third-favorite luchador, the master of the Tornado DDT. Fuego showing up in a Dark match and losing to a heel padding their win totals is a tradition like any other. The perennial underdog, Fuego Del Sol is your favorite C-List comics character who you pop for when they show up in a splash page. Watching as many Dark matches as I could, of thirty-four consecutive losses, was like watching the platonic ideal of wrestling, of the perennial underdog who keeps coming back to fight. You know how a Fuego Del Sol match will end, but you still love them.

Most of the time on the Youtube shows you can make a pretty good guess as to who’s going to win before the match starts. There are squash matches that exist to support AEW’s internal canon of wins and losses, to get their rankings. Thunder Rosa’s fought in thirty singles and tag matches this year, and the majority of them are on Youtube. But how does a group like the Wingmen, a mix of hot guys hanging out and forcing himboification on their opponents, form with a guy like JD Drake sliding in? In between the random match where Baron Black or the local indie talent take the pin, you get these stories that occupy the lower half of the card.

Is it for everyone? Absolutely not. It’s hours of new content each week. But I would be lying if I said that watching Jungle Boy on Dark every week grinding out matches didn’t make me even more of a fan of his once he’s started getting big matches on TV. 

It’s also where, unfortunately, a lot of the women’s competition is. AEW has a problem – they show two women’s matches on TV a week, one per show. If we’re lucky, we might get an additional angle or promo sprinkled in there. The talent there is real, though outside of a few feuds, it’s not something you see on television too often. Most often it tends to be limited to, in recent times, whatever feud Britt Baker is in. Don’t take this the wrong way, I love my favorite dentist, but there is a lot of other talent there, which most often ends up on Dark. Recently, Big Swole and Diamante had a great feud that ended in a “Three Strikes” match as Dark’s main event. It was great! Go watch it now. I’ll wait.

Great. Wasn’t that fun? That’s what I want to share with readers. Don’t have the time to watch a show? I’ll share the relevant story bits, share a fun match or two that shows off some talent on the roster, and I’ll occasionally plug a fun guest wrestler who appears on the show.

Lastly, there’s one part of the Dark experience that cannot be understated: the announcing. Elevation’s pair of Tony Schiavone and Paul Wight had a bumpy start, though they have settled into a more familiar rhythm, though Eddie Kingston making regular appearances at the desk is always a welcome treat and brings the show to another level. But where the show really shines is on Dark with Excalibur and Taz. The pair have an effortless rapport, mixing Excalibur’s encyclopedic knowledge of all things wrestling and put-upon straightman bit with Taz’s heelish opinions and chihuahua attitude. The two can slide anyone into the booth with them, even to the point where Negative One, a nine year old, occupied the third chair in some matches to bully Excalibur earlier this year. 

It’s an experience that feels wholly like the rest of AEW’s product, though dialed down from the often frenetic jam-packed marquee events to the equivalent of an easy podcast to have on in the background. It’s my goal to share it with you readers, and hopefully, get at least some of you in on the unhinged fun of Taz threatening wrestlers because they stole his color scheme.

Categories
Wrestling

AEW Dynamite Recap: 9/8/2021

By: Marc Quill

Welcome one and all to a new weekly column from the GateCrashers talking all about the hottest wrestling promotion today, All Elite Wrestling. This column will focus on the story side of things, getting you up to speed on the storylines of AEW and how they’re playing out. The matches themselves will be quickly recapped, with notable spots getting special focus. With that said, let’s get right down to business.

Previously on All Elite Wrestling…

All Out 2021 happened, and with it, the return of CM Punk to the ring. We also saw Chris Jericho save his career by beating MJF, The Lucha Brothers capturing the AEW Tag Titles, Ruby Soho finding her destination in AEW as she won the Casino Battle Royale, and the shock debuts of Adam Cole and Bryan Danielson. The show was widely considered to be the best wrestling PPV in recent memory, as AEW delivered a fantastic event from start to finish to continue the company’s track record of giving fans what they want in terms of booking.

Here’s the full rundown of what happened at All Out:

  • The Buy-In: The Best Friends (Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, Wheeler Yuta) & Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) def. The Hardy Family Office (Matt Hardy, Marq Quen, Isaiah Cassady, Jack Evans, Angelico) via pinfall; The HFO attacked Orange Cassidy after the match, but were run off by a group of faces.
  • TNT Championship: Miro def. Eddie Kingston via pinfall after a dick kick and then a kick to the face to retain.
  • Jon Moxley def. Satoshi Kojima via pinfall after the Paradigm Shift; Minoru Suzuki appeared after the match and fought with Moxley, laying him out with a Gotch piledriver.
  • AEW Women’s World Championship: Dr. Britt Baker DMD def. Kris Statlander via the Lockjaw submission.
  • Steel Cage match for the AEW Tag Team Championship: The Lucha Brothers (Rey Fenix & Penta El Zero M) def. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) to win the AEW Tag Titles in a very excellent match that you should watch.
  • Ruby Soho won the Women’s Casino Battle Royale to earn a shot at the AEW Women’s World Championship, eliminating Thunder Rosa for the win.
  • The Final Fight: Chris Jericho def. MJF via the Walls of Jericho submission. It appeared that MJF had won after a cheap shot with a bat and the Judas Effect, but the call was reversed when it was found that Jericho’s foot was on the rope; per the stipulation, Jericho’s wrestling career is still intact.
  • “Tall” Paul Wight def. QT Marshall via pinfall in a short match.
  • AEW World Championship: Kenny Omega def. Christian Cage via pinfall after an avalanche One-Winged Angel to retain his coveted title. The match also saw interference from Omega’s Elite buddies before the finishing sequence.
  • After the main event, The Elite beat down Christian and Jurassic Express until Adam Cole made his debut in AEW. Cole teased that he’d fight The Elite, but revealed he was aligned with them by kicking Jungle Boy in the face. The group’s moment of glory would be short lived when Bryan Danielson appeared and helped the faces fend off The Elite.

Light The Fuse, Bring the Boom, Etc.

After the opening package, we go right to the action. With Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, and Taz (filling in for Excalibur, who’s preparing for a wedding), it’s Wednesday night and you know what that means.

Match 1: Malakai Black versus Dustin Rhodes

The Story So Far

Malakai Black has been cutting a swath through Cody Rhodes and the Nightmare Family since arriving in AEW in July. First starting with kicking Cody into retirement on the 8/4 Dynamite Homecoming, Black has continued his assault, going after Arn Anderson and his son Brock, as well as Lee Johnson on last week’s Rampage. This prompted “The Natural” to step up to challenge Black.

The Match

In a 10-minute opener, Black bested Dustin after hitting the spinning heel kick formerly known as Black Mass. This was after Dustin was thrown into an exposed turnbuckle by Black for an advantage. The kick looked a bit rough, as Black hit Dustin in the shoulder rather than the head. Just before the finish, Malakai grabbed one of Cody’s boots from a few weeks back and attempted to use it to psych out Dustin. This fired up Rhodes for a counter offensive that led to a Canadian Destroyer.

Winner: Malakai Black via pinfall (10:00)

Post-Match

Black left victoriously while the referee checked up on Dustin, who was bleeding from the mouth.

The Lucha Bros. on their All Out Victory

Penta El Zero M and Rey Fenix (accompanied by their manager Alex Abrahantes) spoke on their win on Sunday. “These championships cost us blood, sweat, and tears. Anyone out there who is willing to suffer is welcome to take it from us,” says Penta (as interpreted by Alex).

The Kingston/Miro War Continues?

At All Out, TNT Champion Miro retained his title against Eddie Kingston after obliging the Mad King’s challenge and “redeeming deez nuts”, so to speak. Eddie isn’t happy with how the match ended and looks like he’s got some unfinished business with Miro. “I am going to offer your broken bones to my bride and your soul to my God,” says The Redeemer. Perhaps a big blowoff match in two weeks in Kingston’s home turf is in the future?

CM Punk Speaks

The Best in the World addressed the Cincinnati crowd about his return to wrestling against Darby Allin, and though Punk won, it was a hell of a fight. As Punk states, it was like “riding a very violent bicycle”. Punk continued to hype the night’s card and asked the fans on who he should fight next. This prompted Taz to interrupt from the commentary area. Taz is tired of Punk’s “bullshit lovefest” that he’s doing, then warning him not to challenge anyone from Team Taz. Now angered, Punk told Taz to send Hobbs, Starks, or Hook to fight him. Stealing a page from Taz’s book, Punk closed off by saying “beat me if you can, survive if I let you.” We got a staredown with Punk and Hobbs, who’ll be in action next.

Santana and Ortiz Want Gold

After defeating FTR, the Proud and Powerful duo are now shifting their focus on the rest of the tag division. Could we see an instant classic between them and the Lucha Brothers down the line? 

Ruby Soho Confronts The DMD

As the newest addition to AEW’s women’s division is being interviewed about her match against Jamie Hayter, Dr. Britt Baker DMD appeared to taunt Soho. “Why don’t you go run away to catering, where you spent the last four years of your life?” Britt taunts Ruby with a solid burn.

Match 2: Powerhouse Hobbs versus Dante Martin

The Story So Far

The powerhouse of Team Taz and one half of Top Flight aren’t really in any significant storylines with each other, and this match serves as a showcase of some of AEW’s top young talents. Dante impressed many with a star-making performance in a tag match against the Elite a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Hobbs is a part of the current feud with Team Taz and former member Brian Cage.

The Match

A fantastic bout that saw Hobbs defeat Dante with a spinebuster that the commentators erroneously called a “powerbomb”. Unfortunately, Hobbs appeared out of it post-match, apparently having his bell rung during the match. 

Winner: Powerhouse Hobbs via pinfall (8:00)

Dan Lambert Talks Trash

With his usual shtick of being an apparent parody of AEW’s detractors, Lambert spoke alongside Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page, challenging the locker room to fight them. Lambert’s gimmick is one of those “you either love or you hate” things for most. The clear issue with this story is that there doesn’t really seem to be any clear progression other than The Men of the Year siding with Lambert. A feud with a face team tired of Lambert’s lambasting would certainly help progress this angle along.

Bring Me A Lock of Orange’s Hair

A recap of what happened after the big multi-man tag match on The Buy-In prior to All Out aired, as we saw The Hardy Family Office beat down Orange Cassidy with the help of returning member The Butcher. Orange: “Matt Hardy said he wants to cut my hair? Whatever.” This focus on OC’s hair could lead to a Hair versus Hair match at some point.

MJF Hates Cincinnati 

Fresh off of failing to end Chris Jericho’s career, Max let loose with the cheap heat in a fit of rage. First ragging on the overturned result that led to Jericho beating him, MJF went on a tirade against Cincinnati (or “Shit-cinnati” as MJF calls it), badmouthing local favorite Skyline Chili, the Reds, and the town for being a “dumpster fire”. He dared fans to jump the rail to fight him, saying that they wouldn’t do it, because they’re “cowards”. Now turning his attention to the Pillman family in attendance, MJF first mocked Aunt Linda, threatening to knock her teeth down her throat. He then approached Brian Pillman’s daughter and talked trash to her. Cue Brian Pillman Jr. to avenge the honor of his family’s name.

Junior talked up that Cincinnati is a city that breeds badasses like his dad and Jon Moxley, defending his hometown from Max’s cheap heel heat. And speaking of cheap heel heat, MJF called Brian’s mom Melanie “Methanie” to piss him off. For good measure, he was upset about Wardlow and his failure to help him win, ordering him to stand aside. MJF gets one final taunt as he threatens BPJ that he’s gonna do what his mother should’ve done and “abort him”. Cue furious fists from Pillman Jr. on Max. Wardlow pulled Pillman away from MJF a few times until Griff Garrison made the save. Unfortunately, he got clotheslined by Wardlow for his troubles, and then a shot from MJF’s ring. Pillman Jr. defended his Varsity Blonds partner from further attack to end the segment.

Match 3: Ruby Soho versus Jamie Hayter

The Story So Far

Formerly Heidi Lovelace in the indies and Ruby Riott in WWE, one of the most exciting women’s free agents in wrestling has now found herself in AEW. Bequeathed her new ring name and entrance music by the band Rancid, Ruby Soho made waves when she was revealed to be The Joker in the Casino Battle Royale and won the entire thing. This made her the Number One Contender to AEW Women’s Champion Dr. Britt Baker, DMD.

The Match

Obviously Soho won her first match in about eight minutes, but things did seem a bit off. Could easily just be shaking off some ring rust.

Winner: Ruby Soho via pinfall (8:00)

Post-Match

After the match, Dr. Britt and Rebel (not Reba) attacked Ruby as she was celebrating her win. This led to Riho and Kris Statlander to help even the odds, with Kris chasing away Britt’s crew using a chair.

Ricky Starks & Brian Cage Wanna Fight

Starks, with the help of his Team Taz allies, won the FTW Championship off of Cage at Fyter Fest Night One back in July. They both agree that this feud needs to end with one more match.

Match 4: FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) and Shawn Spears versus Dark Order (Stu Grayson, Evil Uno, and John Silver)

The Story So Far

The Dark Order is not fine. Things for the lovable group of underdogs have been on the rocks ever since they failed to win a big tag team match against The Elite at Fight for The Fallen that would’ve granted them a shot at the AEW World Tag Team Championships. Things only got worse the week after when the group was divided by a decision on whether to save “Hangman” Adam Page from an Elite beatdown or not. With no Hangman in sight (largely due to the real-life circumstance of Page wanting to spend time with his pregnant wife), it’s been nothing but a rift between everyone in Dark Order.

The Match

A match roughly around the five minute mark that ended with the Pinnacle scoring the victory to further the Dark Order’s turmoil. Shawn Spears secures the win with his Death Valley Driver on John Silver.

Winner: The Pinnacle via pinfall (Shawn Spears pinned John Silver; 5:00)

Post-Match

Evil Uno got upset at Silver for taking the losing pin, which prompted Johnny Hungee to push back against Uno. Grayson got into Silver’s face and as Number 5 entered the ring to confront Grayson and Uno. Colt Cabana, Anna Jay, and Tay Conti showed up in an attempt to play peacekeeper.

Women’s Casino Battle Royale Recap

Remarks from Tay Conti, Anna Jay, Penelope Ford, The Bunny, Nyla Rose, Thunder Rosa, and Jade Cargill as they talked about their respective performances in the Casino Battle Royale.

Tully Blanchard Has Words For Sting

Backstage, Tully talked about his leadership on display, also being quite upset about Sting “coasting off of others’ legacy”. He demanded that Tony Khan book Darby Allin versus Shawn Spears next week, also teasing that there might come a time that he and Sting will do battle once more.

Sammy Guevara Shows Some Signs

During the split screen commercials, Sammy did his signboard thing, with signs talking about how Chris Jericho defeated MJF at All Out, how his friend Fuego del Sol got an AEW contract, and how he proposed to his girlfriend Pam in Houston.

Match Made For Rampage

Brian Pillman Jr. is backstage with Griff Garrison, stating that he’s approached Tony Khan to book a match for him against MJF in two weeks at Arthur Ashe Stadium. The Acclaimed (Max Caster & Anthony Bowens) entered the room with flowers in hand. Caster said that he too went to TK for a match… this Friday on Rampage against Pillman Jr. As the Acclaimed left, Pillman Jr. tossed the flowers to the ground.

The Elite is Back, Bay-Bay!

Tony Schiavone introduced The Elite, who entered the ring, sans a very important addition. After Don Callis hyped Kenny Omega being named No. 1 in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated 500, the Young Bucks introduced Adam Cole, who made his first appearance this past Sunday at All Out.

Cole threatened Schiavone about his friendship with Britt Baker before telling him to scram. After Tony is forced out of the ring, Cole bragged about how The Elite are responsible for making AEW the force that it is, boasting about the excellence of Kenny and The Bucks. He also goes on to say that he’s making his in-ring debut next week, saying that we’ll all see just how “Elite” he really is.

Kenny took the mic and stated that he hated interruptions, before getting interrupted by the arrival of the American Dragon himself, Bryan Danielson. With his rockin’ trap remix of Ride of the Valkyries, Danielson walked up to the ramp. Omega asked for his Elite buddies to clear the ring, then inviting Danielson to enter the ring. As Kenny talked, Bryan ripped away the mic from him and asked the fans if we wanted to see Bryan Danielson versus Kenny Omega. Bryan is told that that’s not how things work in AEW, then saying that Kenny’s afraid to take the match. Danielson: “You know that I’m better than you, that I will kick your head in, and that you are not on my level.” 

Omega removed his jacket and tried to swing at Danielson, but found himself trapped in the LeBell/Yes Lock. The Elite rushed the ring and stomped away on Bryan (or in Brandon Cutler’s case, spraying) before backup arrived in the form of Jurassic Express, Christian Cage, and Frankie Kazarian. The faces cleared the ring of The Elite, leaving only Brandon Cutler alone. “You fucked up!” the fans chanted at Cutler as he was surrounded by the enemies of The Elite. He turned to eat a Running Knee from Danielson.

Match 5: Jon Moxley versus Minoru Suzuki

The Story So Far

Jon Moxley is an angry man and a “wild thing” (as his theme song suggests). In his quest for a good fight, he took on Satoshi Kojima at All Out and defeated him. After that match, he was confronted by Minoru Suzuki, who he faced previously at NJPW New Beginning in Osaka 2020. Suzuki took down Mox after a wild brawl and that’s what’s led to this match happening as our main event.

The Match

While obviously never going to match the level of their big showdown last year, this was still an appropriately hard-hitting match that saw Mox prevail in his hometown after an elevated butterfly suplex. Before this, Suzuki was busted open around his left eye following a Paradigm Shift DDT and a lariat.

Winner: Jon Moxley via pinfall (9:00)

Post Match

Nothing really significant, as the announcers simply hyped upcoming matches while Moxley celebrated with his hometown fans to end the show.

After The Fact

You might’ve noticed that during the main event, Minoru Suzuki’s entrance theme, Kaze Ni Nare, was cut off before it got to the part everyone loves to sing (the “Kaze Ni Nare” shout that gives the song its title). This was addressed in a tweet from AEW a day after Dynamite to help set up an angle for next week where Suzuki and his fellow Suzuki-gun stablemate Lance Archer have a challenge for Moxley.

This Friday on AEW Rampage (9/10/21) – Cincinnati, OH

  • PAC vs. Andrade El Idolo
  • Brian Pillman Jr. vs. Max Caster (w/ Anthony Bowens)
  • Ruby Soho, Riho, & Kris Statlander vs. Dr. Britt Baker DMD, Rebel (not Reba), & Jamie Hayter
  • Darby Allin & Sting respond to Tully Blanchard

Next Week on Dynamite (9/15/21) – Newark, NJ

  • Adam Cole vs. “The Elite Hunter” Frankie Kazarian
  • Darby Allin vs. Shawn Spears
  • Jade Cargill vs. Leyla Hirsch 
  • Lance Archer & Minoru Suzuki Challenge Jon Moxley

Scheduled for AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam (9/22/21) – Queens, NY

  • Cody Rhodes vs. Malakai Black II
  • Brian Pillman Jr. vs. MJF (not official, but mentioned)

The Last Word

A pretty solid show coming off of All Out, even if it wasn’t exactly a home run. There seemed to be a sense of shuffling the deck with the feuds that culminated in Chicago now in the rearview mirror, with a setup for storylines in the fall clearly being in the air in Cincinnati.

Seemingly slotting in Bryan Danielson for a feud with Kenny Omega is an interesting move, with Hangman Page’s path to being the one to inevitably end Kenny’s reign likely still in very strong consideration. Danielson’s promo didn’t specify that he wanted to go after Omega’s AEW World Title. Whether that’s by design or not is anyone’s guess, but perhaps we see Danielson fight Omega in a non-title bout so that Page’s path to the title when he returns still remains intact? 

And speaking of Hangman, when he does return, will we see him attempt to fix the mess he inadvertently created with the Dark Order’s “civil war”? Page helping bring the group back together would be a tremendous babyface move and help him remain over with the fans as a good guy, even with additions like Danielson and CM Punk to the face side of the AEW tunnel.

The arrival of Adam Cole in The Elite also could create potentially interesting scenarios, as there’s really no way two strong egos like Cole and Omega can truly coexist within a single faction. Do we see Cole making a power play and take control of The Elite from Kenny when the moment arrives? The apparent rumors of WWE star Kevin Owens’ contract expiring in 2022 has led to speculation that he’s bound for Elite pastures early next year. Cole and the Young Bucks were once in a faction with KO, and if Owens does sign with AEW, might we see a Mount Rushmore reunion as Omega’s kicked to the curb?

CM Punk versus Team Taz should produce some great matches, and once we get to Punk vs. Ricky Starks, the promos between the two should be sublime. In all honesty, though, the real money match will be CM Punk vs. Hook.

While it seemed like Ruby Soho was working through some ring rust in her match against Jamie Hayter, the feud with Dr. Britt should be an entertaining one, if their brief interaction from early on in the night is any indication.

The Dan Lambert promo, as noted above, is something that’s not gonna be for everyone. Some might enjoy that he’s seemingly parodying talking points of AEW detractors with his promos, while others might not exactly be endearing themselves to it. With that being said, it’s probably time to move him and his new tag team into an actual feud instead of promos where he just says the same thing again and again.

The biggest strength of this edition of Dynamite was just how much shine AEW’s “homegrown” stars got through being featured in matches (Hobbs vs. Dante) and promo segments (the MJF & Brian Pillman Jr. showdown). It helped show new viewers tuning in for the first time because of the arrivals of Punk, Danielson, Soho, and Cole that there’s a lot more in store for them to enjoy.

If there was a true downside for this Dynamite, it’s the timing issues that seemed to plague things, as evidenced by the main event feeling slightly rushed (and Minoru Suzuki’s theme being cut off so suddenly). Whether a promo segment ran a bit too long or not, it’s something that should be fixed moving forward.

All in all, the new era in All Elite Wrestling has gotten off to a frenetic start, with the big new signings helping inject even more excitement to an already red-hot product. Fans will certainly continue to stick around for the ride as long as the hits from AEW keep on coming.

Categories
Television

Heels has that Good Heat: Our Spoiler Free Review

We are here to begin our tag team coverage of Heels, 2 episodes at a time!

Daniel McMahon: I am coming at you from the ropes to review the premier of Heels on Starz! Heels is a show that follows the small town wrestling league the DWL as tensions rise as their wrestling company seems to be falling apart before their eyes.

Now I have to say, I am new to wrestling. I only started watching a year ago when we did an episode of our podcast on AEW. So I had to call in my wrestling guru tag team partner, Charlie Davis, to help review if this show is good for big time wrestling fans, new audiences, or does it turn heel and is just outright terrible? Climb in the ring with us to go three rounds to see if Heels has what it takes.

Charlie: Thank you so much for inviting me, Dan! I perhaps know TOO much about wrestling as it’s pretty much consumed a lot of my life over the last year and a half but I am certainly not complaining. I heard rumblings of this show before it was announced, but all I knew of it was that Stephen Amell of Arrow fame was starring in it. Fun fact! The last time I went to a wrestling show which was AEW’s Revolution in 2020, Stephen Amell was actually at the show. He also had some cameo spots on Being The Elite and Cody Rhodes was on an episode of Arrow. Not sure which one, but I know he was. Amell seems to LOVE wrestling so I’m not surprised he’d want to do some sort of predictive drama about it. I’m excited to dive in!


Brief Summary of the Show

Charlie: Two brothers who are at odds with each other try to hold a small town wrestling legacy. One wants to leave for the bright lights of fame at a higher level and the other wants to invest in the same legacy their father built.  

Does it capture the feeling of wrestling?

Charlie: If I am being honest, this really had me at moment one. The feel of the indie wrestling venue. It really sucked me in without even having to do much because it nailed it right away. I know enough about wrestling from being a lifelong fan (albeit with a few breaks) to know what you want your series to feel like. To know what you have to nail about the complex nature of wrestling and its strange and wonderful relationship with what is real life and what isn’t. Heels gets that and it does it in the most soapy way possible which is also what wrestling is at its best. Highly emotional stories that play out in and out of the ring. Anyone that tells you otherwise maybe doesn’t even really realize what wrestling is. 

Dan: The thing I focus on in wrestling isn’t the matches itself but the narratives they are trying to weave. I think the show captures that framework extremely well. It encapsulates the feeling of wrestling by showing these wrestlers trying to sell their stories. These actors are playing characters who are also playing characters in a way. They have to fit into the archetypes that wrestling is known for like heels, faces, and all that. The feeling of wrestling to me is that tension you can feel in the ring when there has been a story built up between two characters. The first few episodes build those stories inside the ring and outside in their everyday lives.

Charlie: And that’s the beauty of it. I think bringing people in that actually have lived in the wrestling world and have been soaked in it was a real boon here. I think maybe the trained eye wouldn’t be able to tell right away if things didn’t match up, but people can always tell when you are phoning it in. Amell and company really nail the Southern small wrestling promotion feel that they are going for here that’s been informed by people like the Rhodes family and all of their other associates.

Can You Watch Without Being an Avid Fan of Wrestling?

Charlie: This right here is something I feel is a fantastic primer. Wrestling, much like it’s entertainment cousin, the comic book, can feel very tricky to get into because of all of the continuity that it seems like you have to know to dive in. While this is not always the case, it makes finding real and honest entry points hard to come by. What is needed first and foremost is a containing universe you can follow from point A to point B, something that a wrestling week almost can’t give you because of how fast the product moves sometimes. While this definitely has prestige drama draped all over it, the locker room aesthetic, the collection of wrestlers and the small town feel really do give this show the small southern town territory vibe even if it’s taking place in the here and now. That was maybe the thing that shocked me the most. How much of this feels like old territory wrestling when its setting is modern.

Dan: I think this is actually the perfect gateway into wrestling actually. It bridges the gap of people saying “its fake” and shows you why wrestling is real. It’s not about the moves and things actually hurting your opponent but getting someone so invested that they forget that a good amount of it isn’t meant to inflict pain on someone. It’s all an act and the show doesn’t shy away from that. But what it does do is show you how much hard work goes into every aspect of the showmanship. From stage antics, to ambiance, and everything in between. It gives me another level of appreciation for what wrestling is meant to be. Instead of getting caught up on the whole is it fake debate, the show drives home that so much goes into it that it doesn’t matter. Even if your wrestling knowledge is mostly seeing the cool WWF stuff as a kid (and getting asked if I am related to one particular wrestling monster), this show will hold your attention with the drama and showmanship.

Performances In and Out of the Ring

Charlie: The two episodes that we indulge in I thought were pretty different from each other. One a typical setup, the second really digging into what’s going on with the characters. If the first episode gives us wrestling as a framing device, the second is the one that actually delivers on the gravity of real life and the aftermath of something that feels huge in this small southern town. Alexander Ludwig who plays Ace has the emotional rage to pull off a lot of the issue that his character is struggling with. The green babyface who has a chip on his shoulder but is too naive to know what’s best for him, and for his character.

I’ve only ever watched a handful of episodes of Arrow, so I really haven’t been exposed to Stephen Amell outside of that and some of his one off appearances on some of the wrestling that I’ve watched, but in a surprise twist, I think he does really well in his role as Jack. The rather heartbroken older brother who seemingly has the weight of the world on his shoulders and a legacy to uphold. I see a lot of emotional nuance in his character acting here that I didn’t see in other places and I am glad he has something that seemingly he can really sink his teeth into. I ended up liking Jack more than Ace which surprised me, but I am excited to see where this one goes.

In other performances, I think all of the women kill it, and I LOVE Willie, but Kelli Berglund is really the star of the show here at least in the episodes that we watched. She is stuck as a valet in a pretty backward small town when she just wants to be a wrestler. I loved her and I hope that she gets to grow and progress as the series goes. 

Dan: Episode 2 is where things click. The first episode, I was sort of on the ropes about everything about the show. But Alexander Ludwig who plays the one of the two lead characters delivers a pretty stellar performance in episode 2 as he grasps with some very heavy themes. I wasn’t expecting a wrestling show to deal with some mental health issues and even a little bit about faith but the performances are great.

Stephen Amell honestly is the reason I even started looking at wrestling and thinking “Maybe I would like that”. With Heels, he gets to show more of an emotional range and depth than he did in Arrow in my opinion. He’s a small town man burdened with the legacy of a father who isn’t around and with a legacy of a wrestling company that he has to keep alive. Amell brings the heat the entire premiere. There is a scene where two children see him and his look scares them away. This whole small town sees him as a heel. He sells that with pride.

The highlight of the first two episodes was Kelli Berglund who is a valet for Alexander’s character Ace but she wants to wrestle. Her performance is a highlight of the series. There is a particular scene in episode 2 where she shows her wrestling abilities that will make you want to stand up and cheer like you were watching real wrestling. Truly excited to see where her character goes and to see her grow through the series.

Final Verdict

Heels is an emotional show that packs a punch with its fights and with its portrait of the indie wrestling scene. It’s worth your time to check out.

5/5 for approachability for fans new and old.

Wrestling Word Bank
As you are watching the show, you may hear some unfamiliar terms so we thought we’d provide you with definitions so you never feel out of the know!

Categories
Episodes

NXT

Vishal and Dan get into the ring to chat about NXT! Vishal gives a lesson on the birth of NXT, explains the evolution, and teaches Dan about different special moves. We talked about the matches from NXT TakeOver: Stand and Deliver with a special focus on Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly.

Subscribe now or listen below!

Friday the 13th GateCrashers

Things are about to get fast and furious as Amanda, Amir, Jon, and Dan find themselves trapped at old Camp Blood with a hockey wearing maniac thanks to the Grave Robber. Join the Chaos Crew as they try to survive while also discussing Jason Voorhees and everyone’s favorite holiday….. Friday the 13th.
  1. Friday the 13th
  2. Halloween
  3. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  4. Interview with Marcus Parks (Last Podcast on the Left)
  5. James Bond 007