Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston def. Milk Chocolate
I've seen people praise Milk Chocolate before and I've liked the little I've seen of them in AEW, but this was obviously all about establishing Moxley and Kingston as a dominant duo and that was why they won so quickly. Seriously, this was over within a minute. As I've said before, Kingston and Moxley may feel like another makeshift team to some, but I love their chemistry and am all for them getting a shot at The Young Bucks' AEW World Tag Team Championship at Double or Nothing. This was a great way to kick off the show.
The Dark Order (Evil Uno, Colt Cabana and Alan "5" Angels) def. Andrew Palace, Cole Karter and Spencer Slade
We see so many six-man tag team matches with Dark Order that I lose track of who has teamed with who. Regardless, they all have quality chemistry together and I enjoy them as a group. It feels like they win the pointless squashes (such as this one) before losing when it matters most, but at least Alex Reynolds beat Isiah Kassidy on Monday's episode of Dark: Elevation, for whatever that's worth. Dark Order vs. H.F.O. is not a faction war I particularly care about, but I suppose it's kept everyone involved busy.
Lance Archer def. Angel Fashion
Archer murdering dudes in record time is my favorite pastime. Jake "The Snake" Roberts sitting on commentary is just an added bonus. Archer makes squash matches fun, and if both Dark and Dark: Elevation consisted of nothing but Lance Archer squashes, I probably wouldn't complain. In all seriousness, I'm interested what's next for him. He's been interacting with Darby Allin and Sting for weeks, but I don't know if that means he's going to feud with them or form an alliance with them. It doesn't seem like he's chosen a side yet.
The Factory (QT Marshall, Aaron Solow and Nick Comoroto) def. RYZIN, Rick Recon and Jake Logan
In case you missed it, I recently interviewed RYZIN for WhatCulture (you can also hear our complete conversation on YouTube). He's a great dude and our interview made me want to see him get a full-time contract with AEW that much more. Unfortunately, the focus wasn't on him here as much as it was The Factory. I couldn't care less about the faction if I tried. To his credit, Marshall has been putting in the effort, but there's nothing exciting about him whatsoever and this subpar six-man tag team match didn't change my mind.
Varsity Blonds def. Jaylen Brandyn and Traevon Jordan
Brian Pillman Jr. has a ton of momentum right now coming off his appearances on the Season 3 premiere of Dark Side of the Ring last week on Vice that focused on his father. If you don't want to see him succeed after watching it, you probably aren't human. Julia Hart is apparently their new ringside cheerleader, which is a nice addition to the Varsity Blonds act. This got them back on track following their loss in last week's four-way tag team match on Dynamite.
Diamante def. Willow Nightingale
Diamante is approaching Lance Archer territory with her hard-hitting squash matches. They aren't as brief, but she's been improving lately and is always making her stuff look good. She may have swiftly lost to Leyla Hirsch when they squared off last week (which was disappointing), but she's been capitalizing on every opportunity she's gotten. Hopefully she can be built up for a higher spot in the women's division at some point.
Dante Martin def. Aaron Frye
The Dark shows are the perfect place for a guy like Dante right now, who is without a partner with Darius still recovering from injury but hasn't missed any time himself. He's fairly inexperienced, sure, but he will benefit from these enhancement matches in the long run. He brings some flavor to his matches and that 450 Splash is a thing of beauty. As I've said countless times, I hope it isn't long before we Darius back in the ring.
Nyla Rose def. Ashley D’Amboise
Was it just me or did Vickie Guerrero's pre-match promo last longer than the match itself? I still have no idea what Vickie contributes to Rose's act, or anyone's act in 2021. Yes, she garners a ton of heat, but I'd argue it's the wrong type of heat. Her shtick ran its course years ago and Rose specifically doesn't need her as she's enough of a heel on her own. Anyway, Rose completely crushed D'Amboise and that was all she wrote.
Ryan Nemeth and Cezar Bononi def. Liam Gray and Adrian Alanis
I can't say I find Nemeth, Bononi or even Peter Avalon to be overly exciting in the ring, but kudos to them for coming up with something for themselves and getting consistent TV (er, YouTube) time out of it. They're a group of misfits, but it's slowly growing on me, so there's that. Nemeth and Bononi were an odd pairing, but this was a perfectly fine match for what it was. Gray and Alanis got more offense in than I was expecting.
Kris Statlander def. Julia Hart
Hart came out with Varsity Blondes earlier in the evening and served as their cheerleader, but they couldn't bother to return the favor for her here. What terrible people! Okay, I kid. This was a total showcase for Statlander, who doesn't seem to have any ring rust on her despite being out of action for almost a year. I'm glad she's gradually picking up momentum now that she's been back. She dominated Hart as she should have.
Jungle Boy def. Marty Casaus
I'm happy the former Marty the Moth was brought back for another match. He and Brian Cage had a really fun outing against each other and Casaus deserves a look by AEW. As for Jungle Boy, he seems to be stuck in limbo at the moment. He's not involved in the AEW TNT Championship mix or the AEW World Tag Team Championship mix. He's just been winning random matches on the Dark shows. If nothing else, he and Casaus had one of the better bouts of the night here.
Big Swole and Red Velvet def. MK Twins
I've really enjoyed the chemistry Swole and Velvet have had as partners the handful of times they've teamed up on the Dark shows. I wouldn't mind seeing them together on Dynamite, even though there aren't any women's tag titles for them to fight for. MK Twins previously lost to Swole and KiLynn King and they were once again unsuccessful here, though they looked good in defeat.
Preston "10" Vance def. JD Drake
I have no idea what Drake is wearing for his new ring gear, but it looks ridiculous, even if that's supposed to be the point. He's such an odd fit with Nemeth, Avalon and Bononi, but if it gets him more exposure, then so be it, I suppose. I appreciated how competitive this was with Drake getting plenty in before eating defeat. Vance usually dominates his opponents, so that was a refreshing chance of pace for him. They made the most of the time they had, which was admittedly more than I thought they'd get.
The Acclaimed def. Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela
I'm not kidding when I say The Acclaimed's pre-match raps are my favorite part of these Dark shows. Max Caster's latest rap here might have been one of his best yet. I can see some people hating it, but I thought it was hilarious. The actual match was very good to boot and honestly one of the better bouts I've seen Kiss and Janela have as a team. Janela did a great job of selling, they told a simple story, and the right team went over. We need more matches like this one on Dark and Elevation.
FTW Champion Brian Cage def. Bear Bronson (Non-Title)
I don't think we've ever seen Bear Bronson (of Bear Country) wrestle on his own since coming to AEW. I don't think they've been officially signed yet, so Bronson's partner couldn't have gotten hurt at a worse time because they were finally building momentum. Like Dante Martin, hopefully Bronson can continue to compete in his partner's absence, especially coming off the strong showing he had here. It was a hell of a hoss fight with Bronson giving Cage more of a fight than most before losing.
Powerhouse Hobbs def. Mike Sydal
I love whenever Hobbs is in killer mode. Thankfully, that's been the case most of the time since he joined Team Taz. Mike Sydal has mostly been relegated to tag team action since he started wrestling for AEW and that's for the better because there's nothing that stands out about him on his own. Hobbs dominated this dude like he should have. Matt Sydal made the save for his brother afterward, making me think we're headed toward Mike and Matt Sydal vs. Team Taz soon.
As has been well documented in these reviews, I hate the longer Dark shows as two hours is just way too long for nothing but enhancement matches, but this was legitimately one of the best episodes I've watched with the current format. There were a handful of above-average matches (by Dark standards), plenty of people were showcased, and the competitive matches were competitive for the right reasons. I don't think Dark is a show you need to watch in its entirety unless you have to, but I'd suggest making time for some of the later matchups. They not only held my interest but were entertaining to boot.