Gunn Club def. BSHP King, Joey O'Reilly and Sean Maluta
I'm pretty sure this marked the in-ring AEW debut of Colton Gunn as he teamed with his brother Austin and his father Billy. I understand Billy is there to help his kids along, but as I've said time and time again, I have no desire to see him wrestling at this stage of his career. On the bright side, Gunn Clubb looked fine here and the match didn't go any longer than it needed to. Their induction into The Nightmare Family has yet to be explained, by the way.
Ricky Starks def. Travis Titan
The Ricky Starks squashes live on! It's a good thing he's charismatic as hell because I got bored of watching him beat no-namers weeks ago. He's talked a lot on Dark about deserving a title shot, but almost all of those wins have come against enhancement talent. Why doesn't AEW start having him pick up wins over people who are under contract? At least we have him vs. Darby Allin for the AEW TNT Championship to look forward to soon.
Joey Janela def. Marko Stunt
Both of these guys have their fair share of detractors, and I can only imagine Jim Cornette in particular was somewhere blowing a gasket watching this. I don't hate either of them, but I also don't care. To their credit, they made the most of the time they had with this match and produced a perfectly passable bout, but it was also a waste because I don't see Janela or Stunt getting focused on as singles stars (nor should they).
Britt Baker Hosted The Waiting Room with The Hybrid2
Well, this was... interesting. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to AEW trying something new, and in all honesty, I liked the concept. Baker is one of the best female talkers the company has and giving her a talk show isn't a bad idea. That said, it was a mixed bag and it went on a little too long. It helped further the feud between TH2 and SCU, but I wish they would have trimmed it down by a few minutes. It might have been a bit more bearable that way, especially with this being a 13-match show.
Frankie Kazarian def. Griff Garrison
I am all for this mini push Kazarian is getting at the moment. SCU is still feuding with The Hybrid2, mind you, but he's also getting more opportunities to shine on his own for the first time since his Ring of Honor days. Garrison is one of the more polished people AEW brings in for these squashes, so he put in a commendable effort before losing. Kazarian entering the AEW TNT Championship picture along with Scorpio Sky is certainly something I can get behind.
Penelope Ford def. Rahne Victoria
What the hell happened to the momentum Ford had after taking Hikaru Shida to the limit at Fyter Fest over the summer? It feels like she's been deemphasized since Miro started teaming with Kip Sabian. She's far from the best women's wrestler AEW has (and the botches in this bout were proof of that), but she has potential. She needs more reps to improve because this was a rough outing.
Brandon Cutler def. RYZIN
After losing for so long, Cutler is finally embarking on a bit of a winning streak and it's cool to see even if he doesn't do a ton for me. RYZIN is one of my favorite people AEW brings in to put other people other because of how he stands out, so this was unsurprisingly well-wrestled. The matches don't need to be long, so this was what it needed to be. I'm interested if this story with Cutler will make its way over to Dynamite at some point or if it will play out solely on Dark.
Leyla Hirsch def. Tesha Price
It great that Hirsh was brought back following her recent standout showings against Hikaru Shida and Serena Deeb. With how dead AEW's women's division is at the moment, the company would be foolish to not sign her. This wasn't the smoothest encounter, but Hirsch looked good whenever she was on offense. It was nice to see her pick up her first victory in AEW, which gives me hope she'll be offered a contract before long.
Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus) def. TNT
I mentioned last week with how impressed I was with the debuting duo of TNT, who are the sons of WWE Hall of Famer D-Von Dudley. With more seasoning and experience, they could go far. Jurassic Express were the perfect opponents for them as they can carry anyone to a quality contest. This was an enjoyable affair and I'm hoping we'll see more of TNT on Dark going forward.
The Acclaimed def. D3 and Angel Fashion
The Acclaimed are winning me over more and more by the week with their pre-match raps. It felt amateurish to me initially, but it certainly makes them unique. They're pretty talented in the ring to boot, but my fear is that they'll get lost in the shuffle with AEW's tag team scene being as stacked as it is. It helps that they're building momentum with wins on Dark for now, so maybe they'll wind up on Dynamite eventually. They're off to a strong start with the short-and-sweet wins over enhancement teams.
Ivelisse def. Alex Gracia
Based on what Cody said on the AEW Unrestricted podcast about contract tiers, I'm assuming Ivelisse is on a per-appearance deal with AEW. That would explain why she has yet to be given the "All Elite" graphic. The women's division could definitely use her, but maybe the company feels she's too problematic and they still need more time to determine whether she's worth keeping around. I'm glad she's making appearances on AEW TV in the meantime, even if they're primarily on Dark. This was well-wrestled while it lasted and Garcia stood out to me more than most women AEW brings in for Dark.
Thunder Rosa def. Lindsay Snow
This marked Rosa's first AEW match since successfully teaming with Shida on Dynamite two months ago. She'll be challenging Deeb for the NWA World Women's Championship on Wednesday's Dynamite, so this was a warm-up of sorts for her. She's better than a majority of the women AEW has under contract and she isn't even signed to them. I'm happy she's sticking around for a little longer. This was a nice win for her ahead of her upcoming title opportunity.
Big Swole def. KiLynn King
I'm not the biggest fan of Big Swole to begin with, but it's odd she went from being in a featured feud with Britt Baker and challenging Shida for the AEW Women's Championship on an episode of Dynamite to now floundering on Dark. It's especially odd when you consider the division could use all the help it can get right now. Thankfully, this was decent. King comes across as incredibly bland to me, but as a showcase for Swole, this did what it needed to do and I like Swole's new submission finisher.
Cody Rhodes and AEW TNT Champion Darby Allin Attacked Ricky Starks and FTW Champion Brian Cage
Unlike The Waiting Room, this was a quick and painless segment designed to build toward the tag team match on Dynamite that will see Allin and Rhodes partner up against Team Taz. Before Cage and Starks could jump Allin, Rhodes ran out and attacked them with a chair while still wearing a headset, because he is an executive after all. That was a clever touch. Rhodes and Allin have always worked well together as opponents, so I'm expecting that chemistry to carry over into them being opponents.
Jack Evans def. Christopher Daniels
Daniels is essentially in elevation mode at this stage of his career, wrestling mostly on his own and losing more often than not. I'm totally okay with that as long as he doesn't always lose because that would make the wins up-and-comers have over him mean less. He's still very much capable of contesting an entertaining match and that's exactly what this was. It was a fun main event with TH2 getting the rare upper-hand. I realize it's not saying much, but TH2 have been handled better lately than they have their entire AEW run up to this point.
After two back-to-back shows that had less than 10 matches and were under two hours, Dark was back to being almost two hours in length this week and boasting 13 matches, in addition to two other segments. I've mentioned before how Dark could benefit from breaking up its usual formula by incorporating a talking segment here and there, but by that I meant removing a match or two and putting a talking segment in their place. Trying to squeeze everything in within a two hour period is overkill. That said, this was a solid show on the whole. Some of the uncontracted wrestlers have shown signs of promise while others scored necessary wins. More importantly, there were way more women's matches than there normally is and that's a big step in the right direction.