Natural Nightmares and Nick Comoroto def. Vary Morales and Jersey Muscle Society
Comoroto successfully teamed with Natural Nightmares in last week's Dark opener and looked very good. It was announced soon after that he had been recruited by The Nightmare Family, and although it feels like that faction has more members than the New World Order circa 1998, it's a nice opportunity for him to continue honing his skills. Hopefully that means he's signed, too. This was another solid showing for the babyface trio.
SCU (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) def. Lee Johnson and Aaron Solow
Speaking of The Nightmare Family, Solow was also announced as joining the group. That one I don't understand as much because he hasn't stood out to me as being anyone special in his many appearances on Dark in the last year, but I guess it's been he's been around for years and has at least a little notoriety. Johnson will be teaming with Cody Rhodes on Wednesday's Dynamite against Peter Avalon and Cezar Bonoi, so it was important for him to score some offense here before eating defeat (and thankfully, he wasn't the one pinned).
FTW Champion Brian Cage def. Jake St. Patrick (Non-Title)
I'm going to keep writing "non-title" next to Cage's matches until it's declared an unofficial title. When was the last time he defended the thing anyway? At around a minute long, this was exactly what it needed and Cage killing people will never get old to me. I just don't understand why Taz's son Hook continued to accompany Cage to ringside. He doesn't and shouldn't need any outside help, especially from a random kid we haven't been given any reason to care about.
Nyla Rose def. Miranda Alize
Rose's matches are so inconsistent these days that it's honestly hard to remember she's still on the roster and not injured. She grew on me during her AEW Women's Championship reign a year ago, but it's been all downhill for her since then. I know she'll be partaking in the upcoming women's eliminator tournament, but there's no way she wins it. Like the Cage match, this was a standard squash with Rose on offense the entire time as she should have been.
Pac def. VSK
I feel like we haven't seen a lot of Pac on his own since his return and definitely not on Dark, so this was a treat. VSK lasted a little longer than I thought he would, but I guess they can't all be squashes. Plus, VSK has been on Dark a handful of times and is established in that way, so it wasn't a complete joke for him to take the fight to Pac. I'm curious what's next for Pac now that his program with Eddie Kingston appears to be over.
Sonny Kiss def. KC Navarro
I was wondering why Kiss would get a singles match on Dark and not Joey Janela before he contends for Darby Allin's AEW TNT Championship on Dynamite, but then I realized Janela was in the main event of this show against Jack Evans. It's been cool to see Kiss get more of a singles spotlight on Dark recently and he had another quality performance here. I'm really surprised AEW didn't do anything with him after he answered Cody's open challenge last summer.
Tay Conti def. Alex Gracia
Conti's progression as a performer has been fun to follow, both in WWE and now in AEW. She was already putting the pieces together in NXT, but she's getting more chances to shine in AEW. It's the perfect place for her right now. I realize AEW doesn't treat their women's division like a priority, but she was overshadowed in NXT and wasn't getting a ton of meaningful television time. She had a nice outing here and I like her pairing with Anna Jay.
Ryan Nemeth def. Marko Stunt
I can't shake the feeling that Nemeth is a knockoff Dolph Ziggler. I know they're brothers, but he could at least change up his appearance, attire and move-set so he doesn't look exactly like him. Say what you will about Ziggler, but he can still cut a promo. I can't say the same for Nemeth, whose pre-match promo was basic, bland and boring. The match was just there up until FTR's music hit, Stunt got distracted, and Nemeth scored the win as he prepares to face Pac on Dynamite. By the way, what the hell happened to Stunt getting kidnapped by FTR last week? Where was the fallout?
Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi def. Shawn Dean and Charlie Bravo
Bononi debuted as Avalon's new bodyguard a few weeks ago on Dark. He showed some upside in the few years he spent in NXT, so we'll see if AEW can capitalize on that. The alliance gives something for both guys to do, but it's way too soon for them to be on Dynamite (and no one cares about Avalon's rivalry with Lee Johnson). This was decent, but if AEW wants fans to take them seriously, it shouldn't have taken them this long to beat two enhancement guys.
Preston "10" Vance def. Baron Black
The Dark Order used to dominate Dark, but it's slowly become 10's show and a platform for him to improve. I'm all for him getting built up, but he needs to be the Brian Cage of Dark Order. By that I mean, it shouldn't have taken him as long as it did to defeat Black. It's not like Black is this exceptional athlete, either. He's passable, but Vance should have decimated him with ease. It's a small nitpick, but I wish this would have been more one-sided.
Red Velvet def. Diamante
It was refreshing to see Velvet beat someone on the roster for a change. I mean, that was almost imperative with it being announced that she and Cody will be taking on Shaquille O'Neal and Jade Cargill on the March 3rd edition of Dynamite. She needed to establish credibility somehow and this was an effective way of doing just that. This was a competitive contest with the right result. Anyone else find it odd Diamante and Ivelisse aren't in the upcoming women's eliminator tourney?
Joey Janela def. Jack Evans
I'm not the biggest Joey Janela fan whatsoever, but even I will admit that this was an above-average main event by Dark standards. I don't know if it was because Evans is excellent or if Janela was more motivated than usual or a combination of both, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. It was a hell of a sprint and I applaud them for constantly keeping things moving. If we get something similar when Janela takes on Allin for the TNT title, I may start to turn a corner on Janela. That's a big maybe, though.
This was one of the shortest editions of Dark in a while and it automatically gets a thumbs-up from me for that reason alone. In all seriousness, this show did its job in setting up stuff for Dynamite and giving certain people key victories. Dark has had a problem in the past with having matches go longer than they needed to, but I was relieved that was an issue with only a few matches this week and not all 12. This episode flowed very well, which enhanced my enjoyment of it. AEW can benefit from using this formula with Dark more often.