Shawn Spears def. Christopher Daniels
Much like last week, it was refreshing to see the show open with a match between two guys who are actually under contract to the company. A majority of the card consists of squashes every week, so this was a welcome change of pace. AEW is obviously trying to push Spears as a serious threat, but I may have taken him more seriously had he been booked better his first year in the company. I appreciated that he picked up a credible win here and that it was a quality opener against Daniels, who can bring the best out of practically anyone.
Brandi Rhodes def. KiLynn King
It's pretty sad when you have a 16-match card, only two of them are women's matches and one of them has Brandi Rhodes in it. I guess it's good for her to get more reps on a show like Dark, but she's hardly improved as a wrestler since leaving WWE and I heavily doubt that's going to change. You know the women's division is in rough shape when Brandi is having as many matches as she has lately. This was what it was.
"Absolute" Ricky Starks def. David Ali
Starks picks up another squash win, which are having less and less of an impact because they're all the same and almost none of them are against contracted performers. It's become a trend for Starks to win his match on Dark before joining the commentary team. Although most of the matches he has on this show are meaningless, at least he always makes for an entertaining addition to the announcers' booth. He's fun to watch in the ring, but would it possible for him to save some time by joining the commentary team from the get-go instead of wrestling first?
Scorpio Sky def. Fuego del Sol
Sky's stock is on the ascent and he impresses every chance he gets. That was once again the case here as he hit all of his signature spots and went over in decisive fashion. As previously noted, he's still in the midst of a feud with Spears, so look for them to clash before long, likely on an episode of Dark because that's where the program has primarily been playing out. However, considering Spears has been undefeated one-on-one since Double or Nothing, it might make more sense to happen on Dynamite or at Full Gear on the pre-show.
Luchasaurus def. Aaron Solow
Solow was brought in a bunch over the summer to do the job for several stars on the AEW roster, and while I realized he's married to WWE's Bayley and apparently is well-known on the independent scene, I honestly haven't seen much from him that's come close to blowing me away. You can argue that it's almost impossible for him to stand out when he's constantly getting beaten, but I can name at least five other indie guys that have been staples on this show during the pandemic that have left more of an impression on me than him. Thankfully, this was exactly what it needed to be: a quick showcase for Luchasaurus.
The Butcher and The Blade def. Griff Garrison and Brian Pillman Jr.
Butcher and Blade always hold their own in their matches and I don't want to knock their talent in the ring, but as characters, they bore me to tears. They haven't been given any additional depth since their debut a year ago and rarely ever speak. I suppose that's what Eddie Kingston is there for, but I don't understand that connection, either. As for Garrison and Pillman, they've developed a nice chemistry as partners and it's awesome that Pillman has been used as often as he has been despite still being under contract to MLW.
Penta el Zero M def. QT Marshall
Yes, that's the new name for Pentagon Jr., as apparently AEW thought it'd be easier to call him by that name since there's legal issues with calling him Pentagon Jr., especially if merchandise is involved. That's totally understandable, but I just find Pentagon Jr. (or even Pentagon Dark from his Lucha Underground days) to be a lot easier to remember. Nonetheless, it was nice to see him on his own for a change. I think both he and Rey Fenix can go far as singles star at some point, but it'd be premature to break them up before they can win the AEW World Tag Team Championship. Also, in a shocker absolutely nobody saw coming, Eddie Kingston revealed Allie as The Bunny again, meaning she was using and manipulating Marshall the entire time. You don't say!
Jungle Boy def. KTB
I saw a lot of praise for KTB online coming into this show and I honestly have no idea who he is. He looks like he'd be in a tag team with WARHORSE, who I've heard nothing from or about since his loss to Cody on Dynamite a few months ago. To his credit, he had a solid showing here and scored his fair share of offense over Jungle Boy, but I can't say a lot of what he did left me wanting to see more from him. Jungle Boy needed a singles win heading into the AEW World Championship number one contender's tournament, so this was a success in that respect.
Diamante and Ivelisse def. Skyler Moore and Kenzie Paige
Remember when Diamante and Ivelisse won that Deadly Draw tournament two months ago where nothing was on the line except a pair of pointless medals? Me either. To be fair, Ivelisse said in a recent interview that she has since been signed by AEW, but that has yet to be made official by the company and I'm not sure about Diamante's status. Don't get me wrong, these two work well as a team, but they desperately need some direction. This was decent, but I'm really waiting for Ivelisse and Diamante to have their first breakout match either together or individually.
Colt Cabana def. BSHP King
The story of Cabana being conflicted as a member of The Dark Order continues. It's been going on for so long now with such little development that it's difficult to care, at least for me personally. I like Cabana, but it's not a very compelling angle. He's clearly still a face whereas everyone else in the group is a heel. John Silver and Alex Reynolds helped him win here by serving as distractions on the stage, but I thought Silver wasn't sold on Cabana in Dark Order? They either have to get to the next chapter of this thing or move on from it.
Alan "5" Angels def. Adam Priest
Angels is probably one of the least interesting members of Dark Order. It can be argued he's one of the most talented wrestlers in the group, but aside from his brief bits on Being The Elite, it seems he solely exists to give Dark Order a numbers advantage and to take a beating when necessary. He flew around the ring here and that's wonderful, but if viewers aren't given a reason to want to invest in him, then I'm not sure why anyone should give a crap about him beating a no-namer.
Frankie Kazarian def. Jack Evans
Kazarian cut a strong promo beforehand backstage about always being underutilized and never getting his just due. I completely agreed with what he had to say and I was happy he had his chance to shine in this match, but it was funny at the same time because the same could be said about his opponent Jack Evans. He and Angelico have been utterly wasted in AEW and have been a non-factor in that tag team division. On the bright side, this was a fun little outing that resulted in a momentum-building win for Kazarian. TheHybrid 2 attacking Kazarian afterward brought out Daniels to make the save, so look for that tag team matchup to go down on next week's episode.
The Dark Order (John "3" Silver, Alex "4" Reynolds and Preston "10" Vance) def. Louie Valle, Baron Black and D3
This was the third time Silver appeared on this edition of Dark. He's hilariously entertaining on Being The Elite and tends to be the best part of the show most weeks, but I don't want AEW to overexpose him and ruin his appeal. That said, it's cool AEW is finally allowing him to show some more personality. This match was incredibly forgettable, but Silver's mannerisms were the highlight.
Wardlow def. Vinny Pacifico
I would be in full favor of Dark being two hours long every week only if every match involved Wardlow destroying dudes as quickly as he did here. Seriously, this was fantastic. He wasted zero time in demolishing Pacifico and doing so in amazing fashion. Post-match, he hit his finisher on him for good measure. Needless to say, Wardlow isn't winning the number one contender's tourney, but I'm hoping he can take Adam Page to the limit when they inevitably clash in the semifinals.
Matt Sydal def. Shawn Dean
The more matches Sydal has on Dark, the more I'm convinced he's going to be signed by AEW in the not--too-distant future. It's possible the company is waiting for his appearances for Ring of Honor to finish airing on television, assuming there's more past his participation in the ROH Pure Championship Tournament. He's definitely made up for his humiliating debut in the Casino Battle Royale at All Out with the matchups he's had so far and this was another enjoyable outing from him as his and Dean's styles complimented each other perfectly. Sydal winning with a submission move for a change was a nice touch, too.
Rey Fenix def. Sonny Kiss
To say I'm excited for Fenix vs. Penta in the first round of the tournament on Wednesday's Dynamite would be an understatement. It's been several years since I last saw them face off, maybe during the first season of Lucha Underground if I remember correctly. At any rate, this was an efficient warm-up for Fenix. As athletic as Kiss is, some of his offense doesn't look great more often than not and that was on display here. All in all, however, it was a well-worked main event.
I'm sorry but 16 matches is too damn much. There's a slight possibility that the packed card was because of the show celebrating one year this month, but even that's no excuse. There is no reason for any show to feature 16 enhancement matches. I applaud AEW for making more of them competitive compared to the usual format and it truly wasn't a terrible show on the whole, but two hours is a chore to get through and especially write about (but I suppose that's my own fault). AEW desperately needs that second show to fit all this excess talent on. There are some storylines formulating, but a majority of these episodes is pure filler.