FTW Champion Brian Cage def. John Skyler (Non-Title)
Every time I see Cage in action, I'm reminded how worthless that FTW Championship belt he carries around is. It's a pointless prop and nothing more. As for Skyler, I'm familiar with him from the many appearances he's made for WWE and NXT over the years as a local athlete. He suffered a serious knee injury last summer but is finally back. Unfortunately for him, this was all about Cage, who squashed him in under a minute here.
Lee Johnson def. Serpentico
Arn Anderson accompanied Johnson to ringside and Luther thankfully stayed in the back. Johnson has been around in AEW since the start of the pandemic and had largely been used as an enhancement talent up until recently. He's got skills, but I need to know a bit more about him in order to care. Aligning him with The Nightmare Family should help, though, as well as wins such as this one. Serpentico is much better on his own compared to when he teams with Luther.
Eddie Kingston def. JD Drake
JD Drake! I remember first seeing him on that EVOLVE special WWE ran on its Network two years ago and being impressed by his match with Austin Theory. I guess he left a while ago because he wasn't a part of the group of EVOLVE wrestlers who were signed when it went under last year. That might have been for the best because he likely would have gotten lost in the shuffle there. Based on the showing he had here against Kingston (who was the perfect opponent for him given his ties to EVOLVE), he'd be a nick pickup for AEW at some point.
"Legit" Leyla Hirsch def. Brooke Havok
Cody Rhodes walked Havok down to the ring because she's a recent graduate of The Nightmare Factory. Havok is the same girl who I believe had her first professional match on Dark last month against Britt Baker. She did well that night, but I criticized the decision to put her on the show because she had no business being on there. To her credit, she looked a lot better this time around. Hirsch being awesome as she is was obviously a factor, but Havok held her own. I just don't need to see her on the regular because she's not ready for the spotlight yet.
Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus) def. Angel Fashion and VSK
I loved how Jurassic Express completely squashed their opponents last week on Dark and I was happy that the exact same thing happened here. There was no reason for Fashion and VSK to get any offense whatsoever. Rather, what's important is making Jurassic Express out to be dominant ahead of their clash with FTR and Tully Blanchard next week on Dynamite and this accomplished that. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus would destroy Blanchard in seconds, so hopefully he'll only be in the ring with Marko Stunt. That's a bit more even.
QT Marshall def. JJ Garrett
This marked Garrett's AEW debut and he looked like a knockoff Chad Gable when he had longer hair. I'm totally fine with Natural Nightmares managing/mentoring guys like Nick Comoroto and Lee Johnson, but I don't need to see Marshall in singles competition often. To be fair, I don't remember seeing him in a singles match in a while, so this was fine. That said, him adopting the Diamond Cutter as his finisher is questionable. I mean, why him?
Max Caster def. Marko Stunt
If I never saw another singles match involving Marko Stunt for the rest of my life, I would be content. It's not that he's bad, he's just not believable. On the bright side, this match gave us a rare chance to see Caster in action on his own. I'm a sucker for The Acclaimed and I appreciated that this was something a little different for them. They haven't had a lot of luck lately, so this was a nice rebound him for them, It also didn't overstay its welcome.
The Dark Order (Alex "3" Reynolds and John "4" Silver) def. Louie Valle and Chris Peaks
Valle and Peaks must be a team on the independent scene because they had matching gear. At any rate, Dark Order are officially babyfaces, right? I ask because the way Justin Roberts announced them made it sounds like they were heels, but they're too damn likeable and are better suited in the face role. If isn't already official, it should be soon. Their matches are usually enjoyable, but I would've made this a little shorter than it was.
Kip Sabian def. Fuego Del Sol
AEW wasted months hyping up the wedding of Sabian and Ford, only to deliver a lame wedding on Dynamite and fail to follow up on it. In other words, it looks like it's back to midcard mediocrity for Sabian. He and Fuego Del Sol had a well-wrestled match, but I simply don't see Sabian as a threat to a guy like the AEW TNT Champion Darby Allin for example. For what it's worth, Miro did not come out with Sabian and Ford, so hopefully that means AEW is in the process of phasing him out of their act and letting him do his own thing.
Varsity Blonds def. Shawn Dean and Carlie Bravo
As I've said before, Varsity Blonds are really coming along as a quality undercard team. Both Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison have potential and I assume Pillman is practically signed at this point despite still contractually being with MLW the last I checked. They're set to face Team Taz's Brian Cage and Ricky Starks on Wednesday's Dynamite, so this was a solid showcase and win for them.
Ryan Nemeth def. Aarow Solow
I can't stress how little I care about Nemeth. He's clearly a second-rate Dolph Ziggler and there's nothing he does that feels remotely above-average. I've said the same thing about Solow in the past, but I've seen better bouts from him in AEW than I have Nemeth. Just when I couldn't be any more bored by this match, Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi came out and helped Nemeth lay out Solow afterward. Natural Nightmares then made the save for Solow, so expect that to be a six-man tag team matchup on an upcoming episode.
Ivelisse and Diamante def. Miranda Alize and Renee Michelle
Ivelisse and Diamante have been spinning their wheels for so long now that I don't know how anyone could possibly take them seriously, and that's coming from someone who is a fan of both women. I think the fact they were left out of the AEW World Women's Championship Eliminator Tournament speaks volumes, too. They desperately need something significant to do because these meaningless matches aren't doing them any favors. Their performances are always average but never anything you'll remember.
Top Flight def. Tony Vega and Steven Stetson
Top Flight are obviously far from seasoned, but they're definitely a team to watch and more reps on Dark will do wonders for them. They were arguably rushed into a spot on Dynamite that they weren't ready for soon after they were signed, so hopefully they'll stack up some wins on Dark before they end up in another big match on Wednesday night. Their opponents didn't stand out at all, but Top Flight looked good.
Bear Country, Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss def. M’Badu, Levy Shapiro, Daniel Joseph and Aaron Fyre
Janela is already back to pulling Dark duty two weeks removed from unsuccessfully challenging Darby Allin for the AEW TNT Championship. I can't say I'm surprised. That said, he's acceptable in the tag team role alongside Kiss. Bear Country were once again the standouts and I continue to hope we'll be seeing more of them on Dynamite in the near future. Maintaining momentum in the meantime with wins on Dark works, too.
Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi def. Baron Black and RYZIN
Didn't we already get enough of Avalon and Bononi earlier in the night? I don't think this match was necessary, even though it was passable for what it was. I don't want to hate on the duo because I've said before that it's a smart use of Avalon and Bononi, but they aren't going to get beyond a certain level. On a show with 16 matches, this shouldn't have been one of them.
KiLynn King def. Tesha Price
I'm pretty sure these ladies make more appearances on Dark than any of the other females. I don't mean that as a bad thing either because they're both skilled, specifically Price. King has been around longer and her winning wasn't a huge shock, but I'd like to see more of what Price can do. AEW could benefit from having more women like these two in their division and it's encouraging that they're finally starting to give the women more shine with the ongoing number one contender's tournament.
SCU (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) def. The Hybrid2 and Mike & Matt Sydal in a Three-Way Tag Team Match
A whopping 16 matches were advertised for Dark and then this one was added earlier today because, you know, two hours of enhancement matches isn't enough! All joking aside, this was a fun three-way tag. SCU was never going to lose, but it feels like the stipulation of them breaking up if they do has been forgotten about because they haven't been on Dark in a few weeks. The Hybrid2 are perennial losers at this point and I have zero desire to see the Sydal brothers stick around as a team because they'll get overshadowed with ease. Needless to say, this was the match of the night.
I suppose I spoke too soon when I said last week that Dark was headed in the right direction with a shorter one-hour show and a simpler format. Unfortunately, Dark was back to its old ways this week with a show that went over two hours and featured an excess of enhancement matches. I lost interest after the first hour, personally. I hate to sound like a broken record, but less is more. I wouldn't go so far as to say this was an awful edition of Dark, but a lot of can be skipped through because you aren't missing much if you do.