Jungle Boy def. Nick Comoroto
I thought the size difference between Jungle Boy and Comoroto would be the highlight of this match, but it was actually the debut of Jungle Boy's new entrance music. Don't get me wrong, this was a fun opener and I liked the story they told with Jungle Boy having to fight from underneath against the much larger Comoroto, but Jungle Boy coming out to "Tarzan Boy" by Baltimora was really cool. Tony Khan tweeted that he bought the rights to the song and Jungle Boy will be using it from this point forward. Awesome!
Nyla Rose def. Alex Gracia
When did lyrics get added to Rose's entrance theme? This was the first time I've noticed it and it doesn't sound half-bad. Gracia has been featured on her fair share of Dark and Dynamite episodes, including against Hikaru Shida recently, but this was over within a minute or two. Rose putting her through a table afterward helped to re-establish her as dominant, but I could have done without the promo from Vickie Guerrero. She continues to get go-away heat from me, personally.
Scorpio Sky def. Ariel Levy
Serious question: Is Sky's feud with Shawn Spears still a thing? If so, why? I know Spears cut some weird promo on Dynamite not too long ago and has been removed from the AEW roster page, but obviously he'll be back. Either way, it puts Sky in a weird spot in the meantime because he has nothing to do. It really feels like his momentum has stalled since the storyline started, and that was months ago. On the bright side, I did like the aggression he showed during his match.
-1 and Marko Stunt Brawled
I am absolutely all for -1 being a full-fledged member of The Dark Order going forward. I don't know if Brodie Jr. is going to want to travel to TV every week or if he can, but even if this was just a one-off, it was fantastic. Props to Stunt and everyone else in this segment for playing their roles remarkably well and for selling for -1 like champs. If this didn't bring a smile to your face, you're probably not human. Brodie Jr. will have a bright future in wrestling if this was any indication of the potential he'll have when he gets older and breaks into the business.
Rey Fenix def. Aaron Solow
Fenix is finally getting his crack at Kenny Omega on Dynamite this week with the AEW World Championship on the line and this was his chance to impress ahead of then. He did just that in what was a fun match. He and Solow worked well together and Excalibur playing up the possibility of Solow getting a title shot as well if he were to beat Fenix was a nice touch, even though we all knew that was never going to happen.
Brandon Cutler def. Louie Valle
The Brandon Cutler push continues. As I've said before, it's nice that he's going on a little winning streak for himself after losing for his first year in AEW, but I'm hoping these matches are leading somewhere eventually. No, it shouldn't be a program on Dynamite because he's not good enough to be at that level, but a storyline of some sort on Dark (like what he was doing with Peter Avalon) would be better than him than him coming out and doing the same stuff every week.
"Pretty" Peter Avalon def. Angel Fashion
Avalon's gimmick obviously won't get him beyond a certain level, but admittedly, it's growing on me. He's also right where he belongs on Dark. Like Brandon Cutler, he too will need more direction eventually, but at least he's switching it up every week with his promos. The match was pretty much what you'd expect and four minutes was all it needed to be. Fashion had a passable performance but didn't really stand out.
Ivelisse and Diamante def. KiLynn King and Tesha Price
I'm so confused what role Ivelisse and Diamante are supposed to have in AEW. Both are super talented, obviously, but they've been treading water since winning The Deadly Draw in August. They appeared to be aligned with Nyla Rose or Jade Cargill at one point, but there has been zero follow-up on that since. AEW's women's division has almost nonexistent lately and I'm not sure if there's even a tag team division for the women. This was actually pretty good, but Ivelisse and Diamante need to be on Dynamite more regularly and be inserted into something more meaningful.
Gunn Club (Austin, Colten and Billy Gunn) def. Mike Verna and Bear Country
I've made it clear that I couldn't care less about Gunn Club, but I understand they're on Dark most weeks in order to improve (or at least the sons are, I'm not sure why Billy is still wrestling). That said, it was a joke to see them beat a trio as talented as Verna and Bear Country, who have way more to offer than Gunn Club do. The match was serviceable but only because Gunn Club.
Shanna def. Vipress
There's been some controversy surrounding Shanna lately and it might be best for her to lay low for a while until it dies down. It may already have, but it's not like she's in the midst of anything important at the moment, anyway. She's solid in the ring but not exceptional enough to the point where she absolutely needs to be on the show. Vipress was fine and the match lasted as long as it should have.
Matt Sydal def. Baron Black
Sydal is gearing up for his first-ever one-on-one match against Cody Rhodes on Wednesday's Dynamite. Can you believe that they've never faced off in singles competition before? They were in WWE together for a few years and were a part of several tag team matches but never one-on-one, so that should be fun. His appearance on The Waiting Room last week fell flat, but this was a solid warm-up for him and Black held his own.
Thunder Rosa def. Ashley Vox
Watching this match made me miss NWA Powerrr, as both of these ladies were (are?) a part of the company's women's division from the get-go and were on those early episodes in late 2019. Vox has been making the rounds lately between the NWA, IMPACT and now Dark, and putting her with Rosa in her Dark debut was smart. Hopefully this isn't the last we'll see of her on the show. This was very good and I'm glad Vox had a chance to shine in defeat.
The Acclaimed def. Shawn Dean and Lee Johnson
Before AEW started bringing in every independent wrestler under the sun for Dark, Johnson and Dean were among that first crop of enhancement talent AEW used at the start of the pandemic for Dark and Dynamite. I honestly forgot Johnson has since been signed to a deal and is a part of The Nightmare Family. However, this was all about The Acclaimed and giving them a showcase win. They'll be involved in an eight-man tag team match on Dynamite tomorrow night, but I hope AEW has a plan for them beyond that now that they've already unsuccessfully challenged for the AEW World Tag Team Championship.
Danny Limelight def. Fuego Del Sol
Limelight has consistently impressed every time he's been in action here on Dark and that was once again the case here. Fuego Del Sol has been a regular recently as well, so I figured he would win to set up a bigger match for next week. Instead, Limelight picked up the victory in what was a hell of a sprint, so that was a pleasant surprise. It will interesting to see if he ends up with a contract or if he's just being built up to lose to someone else.
Frankie Kazarian def. Griff Garrison, Angelico and Darius Martin in a Four-Way Match
It was cool to see four different tag teams represented here. Garrison and Martin are up-and-comers with promise, Angelico is excellent, and Kazarian is on the rise right now. SCU promised to disband the next match they lost, though I'm not sure if that extends to singles stuff. This was a very well-wrestled four guy with the biggest star of the bunch winning. Martin would benefited from the victory, but I get that it made more sense for Kazarian to win with the story they're telling.
Sammy Guevara def. Michael Nakazawa
I'm thankful that Nakazawa isn't on every episode of Dark, but less is more with him. He's just not good and has nothing to offer, unless you laugh at his shenanigans and then if so I pity you. In all seriousness, this was a pretty standard squash for Guevara once they got past the stupid stuff. Like last week, Guevara cut a promo afterward claiming he'll be a champion in 2021 and basically issuing an open challenge. We'll see if that's actually followed up on or if it was just a case of him running his mouth.
Alan "5" Angels def. Serpentico
Angels was the sole member of Dark Order who didn't wrestle on the Brodie Lee tribute show last week, so I'm happy he took center stage on Dark instead. He and Serpentico had quality chemistry together and had an above-average main event. They received a good chunk of time and Dark Order kept their winning ways intact with Angels picking up the victory here. The story Excalibur shared about Brodie recruiting Angels into the group after seeing him kill it against Kenny Omega on Dynamite last year was great stuff.
It's a new year, and yet AEW chose this week to go back to 16 matches. Ugh. Don't get me wrong, there were some gems here and I'm glad so many wrestlers are getting the chance to shine, but the two-plus hour shows are sometimes a chore to sit through. Trim a few matches off the card and it's a lot stronger. That said, this was worth watching for the segment with -1 and Marko Stunt alone and everything else was supplementary.