"Absolute" Ricky Starks def. Sotheara Chhun
The biggest difference between this and the million other squash matches Starks has had on Dark this year was that Powerhouse Hobbs was in Starks' corner. He didn't do anything, granted, but he didn't need to. I mean, why would he considering the unknown opponent Starks was up against? I just like the visual of the two, though I hope Hobbs does more than get relegated to the bodyguard role. Starks' charisma continues to shine through.
Brandon Cutler def. Baron Black
Cutler made some pretty dumb comments on Twitter in response to the criticisms Jim Ross had about the AEW product on his podcast. That isn't related to this match at all, but I felt like pointing it out because Cutler is lucky he has a job in the first place. His winning streak has been a nice change of pace in recent weeks, but let's not pretend that this guy would be on the roster if he wasn't friends with The Young Bucks. The best thing I can say about this is that it didn't exceed the three-minute mark.
AEW Women's Champion Hikaru Shida def. KiLynn King (Non-Title)
I've been questioning for weeks what King's victories were leading to (especially if she isn't officially signed yet), so I was glad she finally got a shot (albeit non-title) against the champ here. King hasn't done a ton for me personally, but it was nice that she was able to score some offense against the champion before eating defeat. That said, there's plenty of women I'd like to see get offered an AEW contract before King.
Scorpio Sky Attacked Shawn Spears on The Waiting Room with Britt Baker
The Waiting Room feels like it's getting more and more bearable by the week. It's not a home run just yet, but I appreciate that it's being used to further feuds or promote matches for either later in the show or on Wednesday's Dynamite. Spears wasn't there for long before Sky crashed the scene and put him through the wall. That was an awesome visual and made Sky look a badass for the first time in AEW. I'm still not invested in their rivalry, but this was a solid segment.
Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus) def. Fuego Del Sol and Shawn Dean
The original combination of Jurassic Express were back at it again this week and had a fun little match with Sol and Dean, who I find are two of the better enhancement talents AEW brings in for these shows. The thing with Jurassic Express is that although they've won a ton on Dark this year, they don't have nearly the same amount of buzz they did six months ago. They just sort of exist at the moment. Thankfully, they appear to be headed for a feud with FTR, so maybe that can get them back on track.
Leva Bates def. Skyler Moore
Good for Bates for getting more ring time, but I don't see her as a very valuable asset to that women's division. To her credit, she's been better recently than she was when she debuted in AEW, but she still pales in comparison to most of the women AEW has under contract and the dumb librarian gimmick doesn't help matters. The match was whatever, but Thunder Rosa sitting in on commentary was a treat.
FTW Champion Brian Cage def. VSK (Non-Title)
Cage gets mad whenever Justin Roberts doesn't announce him as the FTW Champion, which begs the question: Is it an officially-sanctioned title or not? AEW will promote defenses of the FTW Championship from time to time, but then the commentators will act like the IMPACT commentators do when Moose proclaims he's the TNA World Heavyweight Champion. It's a nitpick, I know, but I'd like for that to be cleared up so I know whether to call him the FTW Champion in my reviews or not. This was a standard squash for Cage that should have been shorter than it was.
The Acclaimed def. Louie Valle and Mike Magnum
Far too often do people embark on winning streaks on Dark that don't amount to anything, but I'm glad that hasn't been the case with The Acclaimed. They debuted on the show no more than two months ago, were quickly signed to contracts because they were immediately impressive, and already find themselves in a mini-feud with The Young Bucks. There's no guarantee that they'll win on Wednesday's Dynamite, but it's a great way for them to get gain additional exposure. I love how their matches are never longer than they need to be.
Anna "99" Jay def. Dani Jordyn
I will continue to complain about Jordyn not being signed by AEW until she finally is, if only for her hilarious Mean Girls-inspired Christmas-themed entrance. Of all the matches we tend to get on this show, this shouldn't have been one of the shorter ones. It was intense while it lasted, Jordyn looked good as always, and Jay continued to build momentum with the win. She'll improve more by working with women like Jordyn and not Brandi Rhodes. Was she ever able to get Tay Conti to join The Dark Order? Apparently not.
The Dark Order (Stu Grayson and Evil Uno) def. Bear Country
As I always say, Grayson and Uno are the best combination of anyone in Dark Order, and that includes John Silver and Alex Reynolds. They're one of the best teams you could put a pair of unsigned talents in the ring with and this was one of the better bouts on the show as a result. I wasn't previously familiar with Bear Country whatsoever, but they had a strong showing and made a positive first impression. Hopefully they're brought back for more matches in the future.
Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela def. RYZIN and Sean Maluta
I've made my thoughts on Janela and Kiss as a team quite clear and they're fine in their current spot as regulars on Dark, but Janela probably should have been spotlighted more before he faces AEW World Champion Kenny Omega on Dynamite. He's definitely failed to live up to the hype since signing with AEW, but if he's going to get a main event spot on Dynamite, he should probably be made to look like more of a threat by beating more than just enhancement talent. Could Janela at the very least have picked up the pinfall win here?
Tay Conti def. Freya States
Even though she was on Dark last week against Shanna, I completely forgot that States appeared on one of those NWA The Circle Squared shows earlier this year, and then I remembered how awful her promo was. She had an average outing this time around while Conti was the real star. She's come a long way from when she debuted as part of the inaugural Mae Young Classic three years ago and has loads of potential. Dark is the perfect show for her to hone her skills as opposed to being rushed into a regular role on Dynamite and having her weaknesses exposed.
Matt Sydal def. Danny Limelight
It's been great to see Sydal in AEW since September and even earn himself a contract, but I hope he can find direction at some point. He's mostly been around to work with the younger talent so far and elevate others, but I'd like to see him do more than be relegated to Dark. For now, he's have quality matches and this was one of them. Limelight proved he was on Sydal's level and had a commendable performance.
Ivelisse def. Kaci Lennox
I'm glad Ivelisse and Diamante have finally reunited after not appearing together on Dark for a few weeks. The duo are being positioned as hired guns for Jade Gargill, and honestly, that might be the best use of them at the moment. It's better than them spinning their wheels in pointless matches on Dark despite winning The Deadly Draw over the summer. This was decent.
Best Friends def. Chaos Project
I'm happy whenever contracted talent are put in the main event against each other, though Chaos Project may be the exception because of how little I care about them. Serpentico is skilled, but Luther can be unbearable at times. On the bright side, this was a serviceable main event albeit all over the place when it didn't need to be. It didn't cap off the two hours on a high note, mind you, but it was better than Best Friends beating a bunch of jobbers. Miro showing up afterward and targeting Best Friends was a pleasant surprise.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I was thankful that this was a two-hour show as opposed to almost three hours. That's not saying much, but I appreciated the card being shorter than it has been for the past few weeks. It was also nice that the matches weren't dragged out and that they served their purpose as short-and-sweet showcases for several wrestlers. Some were more enjoyable than others, but there isn't much of a reason to go out of your way to watch this edition of Dark unless you really love squash matches.