The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark Episode 95 (“Also The Road To Miami”), June 29, 2021.
From the AEW Arena.
Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz. Excalibur’s shirt: “Support Your Local Bartender.”
TONIGHT! It’s the HFO/Dark Order issue continuing as Evans, Quen, and Kassidy face Uno, Grayson, and Colt! Frankie Kazarian tangles with JD Drake! Shawn Dean looks for his first ever win as he faces Minnesota indie sensation JDX! Powerhouse Hobbs will literally overlook him, but will try not to figuratively overlook Marko Stunt! And Sonny Kiss battles The Blade!
PLUS – Abadon, Nyla Rose, Tay Conti, Julia Hart, Lee Johnson, Angelico, Lance Archer, Nemeth and Bononi, Marshall and Solow, and Wardlow! FIFTEEN matches, let’s rock!
Opening match: Wardlow (15-5) vs. Baron Black (0-11). So this is probably the last we’ll see of Black for some time. He’s not under a full contract and, like others in that position, cannot really afford to pay their own transportation. One of the things we’ll miss about the Daily’s Place era. Note: Black’s STRAPS ARE DOWN already. Ricky Starks is on commentary.
Lockup, and Wardlow shoves Black down. A second lockup, and Wardlow backs Black into the corner and pats him on the cheek during a clean break. Wardlow gets a waistlock takedown and messes with Black’s hair, so Black uppercuts the arm and tries a Russian legsweep. Wardlow just picks him up and throws him down in a gutwrench, then works him over in the corner. Hammer Throw, but Wardlow runs into a chop. Black with uppercuts and chops, then the divorce court, but Wardlow tanks it. Cobra clutch try, but Wardlow snapmares out of it and lariats Black. Corner knee KO ends it at 2:32. Having someone who prefers ref stops over pinfalls is a neat gimmick. Black bumped like a champ. 1/2*
Lee Johnson (w/Dustin Rhodes) (7-1) vs. Vary Morales (0-3). Shotty seems to catch Dustin off-guard with his five-step high-five. Starks is still on commentary. Excalibur notes the Family/Factory infighting and asks Starks for his experience with infighting. He denies it. EVERYTHING IS FINE.
Long lockup, and Johnston with a waistlock. Morales turns him over by the arm, switching to a front facelock, but Johnson gets a hammerlock. Morales with an arm takedown, Johnson with a neckscissors, Morales jack-knifes for two, Johnson gets a backslide for two, and both men get legsweep covers for one. Morales to a headlock, but the shoulderblock is a stalemate and Morales has to get a lucha headscissors… but Johnson lands on his feet and both men reset. WRESTLING! We get a Code of Honor, but Morales with an immediate SUPERKICK to take over. Johnson is pulled up and beings chopping away, then gets a sunset flip for two.
Morales with a shotgun dropkick to stop that. It gets two. Suplex leads to a Three Amigos try, with the third being a Falcon Arrow for two. Why is that Excalibur’s favorite move? Morales with a snapmare and we HIT THE CHINLOCK. Johnson elbows out, then blocks a suplex and gets a small package for two. Morales charges into an elbow, and Johnson gets clotheslines to start the comeback. Leaping neckbreaker leads to a kip-up, but Morales tosses Johnson to the floor and Morales gets a diving crossbody off the top to the floor!
Back in, Morales goes back up, but the senton bomb is avoided only for Morales to get a headscissors out of the Blue Thunder Bomb. Johnson tosses Morales off on the second try, and the Brain Dawg wins at 5:32. Really nice five minute match. *1/2 Bonus to the referee, who didn’t just jump down to cover, but checked the shoulder first, even though that made it almost a four-count.
Abadon (9-1) vs. Hyan (debut). Hyan is another person I have seen in person while working the indies. But that was a long time ago and I think she was just starting out. The little notes for each character – like I said with Wardlow – are fun, and “Crawling to the ring” is one of them. Taz asks if Starks has seen anything like Abadon in New Orleans. I mean, a voodoo zombie?
Abadon charges and Hyan ducks away, but then they lockup and that’s where the trouble begins as Abadon throws her down and pounds away. Blind charge misses and Hyan clubbers her… which does nothing but allow Abadon a chop to floor Hyan. Forearms follow, then a Hammer Throw into an Orton backbreaker. Abadon stalks Hyan, but as they get up, Hyan gets a forearm only to be kicked out of midair on a crossbody try. Leg-hook DDT ends it at 2:02. SQUASH, but a satisfying build of Abadon’s character. Starks takes one look at Abadon celebrating and runs off.
Powerhouse Hobbs (#4 men, 14-3) vs. Marko Stunt (17-25). I think Hobbs has had meals bigger than Stunt. Still, having someone around who allows the heels to kick a dog and get heel heat is important. I wonder if they’re going to do anything with the way Hobbs is in the top five. Taz says there’s a reason Hobbs is on his own: he’s in a very bad mood and wanted to be left alone.
Taz: “And unfortunately, it’s a guy half his size in Marko Stunt.”
Exaclibur: “Unfortunate for who?”
Stunt sticks and moves, but gets caught trying to slide under Hobbs. Stunt slaps Hobbs to get him mad and runs off, with Hobbs giving chase. Stunt slides in and dropkicks Hobbs, then gets another as Hobbs enters. Shiranui is stopped halfway through into Town Business for the pin at 50.5 seconds. Yeah, that’s about right. NR
Lance Archer (no chyron) vs. Kenny Bengal (debut). Jake Roberts is on commentary as per usual. Justin rushes through introductions, because he knows the war could begin at any time. Bengal thinks better of it and walks off, so Archer gives chase… and tosses him back to the ramp and into the ring. We’re HAVING this match, dammit.
Bengal with some forearms and a dropkick, but Archer walks through them and gets a short clothesline. He THROWS Bengal in a vertical suplex, then chops his chest loudly while going around the world with him. A body blow and Bengal’s up top, and the Blackout is set up, but Bengal escapes and gets an enzuigiri. Hammer Throw is reversed, but Bengal goes up and over and tries a sunset flip. No luck as Archer just picks him up and chokeslams him. Helicoaster ends it at 2:01. SQUASH Archer walks off after the match.
Tay Conti (#2 women, 16-3) vs. Charlette Renegade (0-1). Both Taz and Excalibur agree Conti could be champ by the end of 2021.
Conti catches Renegade coming in and gets a spinning armdrag. She tumbles past a lockup and dances at Renegade, then gets a low sweep kick into a headlock. Renegade punches out, then adds a corner clothesline (although the corner whip left a lot to be desired). Conti dodges a blind charge and gets forearms, but Renegade avoids the pump kick only to run into clotheslines. Ripcord into three sayonagis by Conti, then a Hammer Throw and pump kick in the corner. Broski Boot follows. DDTay ends it at 2:20. Renegade needs quite a bit of work. 1/4* So why does everyone dance with Aubrey Edwards? Eh, it’s fun.
QT Marshall (18-2) and Aaron Solow (8-14) (w/Nick Comoroto) vs. Zachariah and Chad Lennex (w/Dustin Rhodes) (debut). So why is Rhodes here? Oh, these are two of the newest graduates from the Rhodes Wrestling Academy in Texas. Dustin comes out with them, but lets them go on their own. See, even the squashes enhance the story sometimes!
Solow and Zachariah start. Solow gets an armlock and twist, but Zachariah reverses. Solow reverses back and gets a headlock takedown out of it, then blocks the headscissors. Zacharaih gets a waistlock, but Solow elbows out only to run into a dropkick. He keeps arm control and hands Solow off to Lennex. Solow with a knee to the gut and he throws Lennex into Marshall’s boot on the top rope. Marshall with a right hook as he’s tagged in, but Lennex slides out the back of a press slam and punches down Marshall. He gets a dropkick on Solow too, but he walks into the Lethal Combination from Marshall, who punches Zachariah off the apron.
Solow tagged in, and he kicks Lennex. Suplex follows, then Solow trash talks Zachariah as he puts his hand on Lennex’s face. Lennex is sent into the turnbuckles, then Marshall tags in and chops Lennex. Uppercut to Lennex, and Solow returns with a kneedrop. Lennex with a facebuster, and he kicks away Marshall to bring in Zachariah for the hot tag. He knocks Solow off the apron and gives Marshall a backbreaker, then a rana to Solow. Marshall catches Zachariah in a powerbomb when he tries it next, then Solow and Marshall give Lennex the back suplex 3D. Diamond Cutter into a double foot-stomp ends Zachariah at 4:21. If you need people to look like they’re not green, put them in with QT Marshall. 1/2*
JD Drake (w/The Wingmen) (3-8) vs. Frankie Kazarian (17-3). Really, Ryan, do you think flapping your arms is a good look? Excalibur notes both Drake and Kazarian can be in bad moods and wrestle that way, which could make this match interesting. Kazarian is now known as The Elite Hunter, which means he runs in all the time.
Lockup, and Kazarian gets a fireman’s carry into a top wristlock. Drake reverses and gets the waist, but Kazarian reverses to an armlock and steps down the knee. Drake rolls and reverses wrist control, so Kazarian rolls and gets a drop toehold into a front facelock. Drake switches it and they exchange hammerlocks, but Drake punches while holding a headlock and chops the bejabbers out of Kazarian. Kazarian fires back, and we have a CHOP BATTLE OF MANLINESS, won by Kazarian when he ducks and boxes down Drake. Drake throws Kazarian into the ropes, but is met with a dropkick. Avalon trips Kazarian (who steps on his hand as a receipt), and this brings Bononi halfway into the ring until the referee clears ringside.
Drake winds up the right hand and floors Kazarian during the fracas, then chokes him against the middle rope. Drake works Kazarian over in the corner, but Kazarian fights back until he’s caught with an atomic drop and bodyslam. Falling headbutt gets two. Frankie slugs it out to try to come back, wearing down Drake, but Drake Hammer Throws Kazarian hard into the buckle. Big chop in the corner, but the blind charge misses and Kazarian gets a cradle for two. Kazarian slugs away and gets a flying jalapeno to start the comeback.
Big slam on Drake, then a middle-rope springboard legdrop by Kazarian. Kazarian jumps over a shoulder shot to the gut and gets a guillotine legdrop. Big chop by Kazarian in the corner, but Drake catches a bodypress off the middle rope. Kazarian slides out of his grip, only for Drake to get the Claymore to the jaw. Cannonball in the corner follows and Drake goes up, but a leg lariat misses and Kazarian gets the crossface chickenwing to win at 5:56. I give this .5 Haku. **1/4 Some good wrestling to start leads to a hard-hitting fight. All good.
Angelico (w/Matt Hardy) (5-3) vs. Arjun Singh (debut). Yay, Angelico has his dancehall music back! Excalibur asks Taz how they decide who gets the music – Hardy’s or TH2’s – and he says in Team Taz it’s a collaborative decision.
Lockup, and Angelico gets a hammerlock. Singh reverses, switching it to a front facelock, but Angelico reverses that and brings Singh to the mat. Singh escapes into an armbar, so Angelico breaks into a brop toe hold and gets a ground headlock. He goes to the gator roll, then spins around on Singh and literally surfs on his back! HA! Angelico then piefaces Singh, and that’s one disrespect too many as Singh uppercuts Angelico to the mat. Clothesline off the rope by Singh (after ducking one), and Singh gets a back elbow and slam for two.
Singh loads up a DDT, but Angelico slides out and trips Singh into the bottom turnbuckle. Navarro Death Roll with extra kicks to the leg gets a win at 2:31. Singh getting a little bit of offense helped matters. 1/2* Hardy and Angelico see Jora Johl at ringside and tell him he needs to decide one way or another soon. The enhancement talents around Johl tell him not to do it. Johl says nothing.
Alex Marvez is with Joey Janela. Injury update: Janela literally says nothing. He brings up the breakup with Sonny Kiss, and Janela glares at Marvez and stays silent. Marvez tries to invite Janela to a go-go bar this time, but Janela just glares at him and finally says he’s frustrated before walking off.
Nyla Rose (#1 women, 15-2) vs. Holidead (debut). Holidead is someone who’s gotten a lot of buzz out in Texas. So of course she’s getting fed to Rose. Justin Roberts gives the introduction as slowly as possible so Vickie can interrupt. Vickie asking people to wake up with THAT voice is redundant. Taz makes up lyrics to Nyla’s theme music. Oh, I forgot to mention: Holidead and Thunder Rosa are former SHINE Tag Champions.
Lockup, and Nyla throws Holidead down. Holidead slugs Nyla, but Nyla tanks them and gets a choke throw. Avalanche in the corner and a clothesline follow. Holidead fires back with forearms, but Nyla ducks a clothesline and gets something that’s almost a Burning Hammer! Beast Bomb is academic at 1:19. NR
The Blade (w/The Bunny, Angelico, and Jack Evans) (10-2) vs. Sonny Kiss (8-9). But first, we look back at Blade and TH2 beating up Orange Cassidy on Dynamite. Kiss is “flying solo by his own choice”, says Excalibur. Taz says the problem is that Janela would use Alex Marvez as a wingman.
Lockup, and Blade with a headlock. He switches to a hammerlock and Kiss reverses, so Blade goes back to a headlock. We go International~!, but Blade stops at the shoulderblock and lets Kiss get up. Kiss with a headlock only for Blade to shove him off into a back elbow. He stomps a mudhole in the corner and chokes Kiss down. He walks into a Kiss big boot and Kiss fires back, getting a Thesz Press and fists of fire before landing a leg lariat. Rapid Kissmissal follows, then a rolling elbow. Blade bails, and Kiss fakes out on a dive before dropkicking Blade. TH2 checks on Blade, so now Kiss lands on all of them with a slingshot plancha.
Back in, Kiss fires off on Blade all over the ring, but Blade stops that with a Hotshot. He stomps Kiss and kicks him out of the ring, which allows TH2 to add some cheapshots. Blade now grabs Kiss and tosses him in, stomping away in the ring. Hangman neckbreaker follows. Blade with a clothesline and he stalls after each move. Neck crank by Blade now, but Kiss fights back and does a Matrix dodge only to be caught in another neckbreaker for two. Kiss flips out of a back suplex and gets the Lie Detector, then a jawjacker and flipping clothesline.
Split legdrop gets two. Kiss walks into a back elbow by Blade, but slides out of a suplex and cradles Blade for two. Blade with a kneelift, but Kiss gets a prawn cradle for two. Powerslam by Blade, and the Doctor Bomb ends it at 6:59. This really picked up once Kiss began the comeback. *3/4 The HFO beat down Kiss after the match, but rather than Janela making the save, it’s Chuck Taylor, Orange Cassidy, and a chair. THEN Janela brings up the rear to make sure they’re chased off (much to Taylor’s confusion). Kiss comes to and sees all three of them help him up, but he’s not willing to accept Janela’s friendship offer right now.
Julia Hart (w/Brian Pillman Jr and Griff Garrison) (2-4) vs. Ashley D’Amboise (0-5). A reminder: Wednesday’s TNT title match is Miro against Brian Pillman.
Lockup, and D’Amboise gets an armlock. Hart reverses, but D’Amboise re-reverses into a side headlock. We go International~!, and Hart ends with a hiptoss (as you do) and a dropkick for one. D’Amboise with a knee to the gut and a slam, and she checks her hypothetical watch before dropping her weight on Hart. She taunts Hart, who tries to fight back only to get push kicked. Blind charge misses, though, and Hart begins the comeback, ending with a roundhouse kick. Hammer Throw into a front handspring clothesline and running back elbow. Bulldog follows, then a standing moonsault for two. Should’ve hooked the leg, Julia. D’Amboise slugs away, but runs into a SUPERKICK. Split legdrop ends it at 2:37. I hope Hart stays on the road with the Blonds, because it’s going to be fun watching her get better. 1/4* Awkward bit as the Blonds and Hart have to mug for the camera as Excalibur reads off copy about the July tour stops.
Private Party (Isaiah Kassidy and Marq Quen) (#4 team) and Jack Evans (w/Matt Hardy) (first time as a trio) vs. Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, and Colt Cabana (2-0). Look, when everyone’s healthy they have to end this with an HFO/Dark Order gazillion-man clustermatch. Everyone comes out for the Dark Order (leading to Taz saying they’re bullies), but Excalibur notes the sides between HFO and Dark Order are even. The Dark Order leaves no one at ringside.
Colt and Evans start. Colt with an armdrag out of a lockup to star, then they tumble and dodge each other until Colt flips Evans onto his face and lands a double cross-chop. Uno in as he and Colt get a double chop, then Grayson adds an avalanche as Privatge Party gets floored. Grayson throws Evans into a double Pounce, then chops away on Evans. Evans with a 540 kick to the back of Grayson’s head, and Quen comes in with a springboard crossbody (major hangtime) for two. Kassidy tags in as Uno and Colt are knocked off the apron, but they return to help Grayson clear out Private Party. Evans dives and is caught, then handed to Grayson for an Oklahoma Slam as the HFO bails and calls a huddle to get advice from Matt. That advice? “If you put on weight, just claim an internal injury and everyone will be sympathetic.”
Back in, Kassidy uses a distraction from Matt to cheapshot Grayons, then tricks Colt into coming into the ring so that the HFO can triple-team Grayson. (Uno pulls Colt back out – he knows the score.) Kassidy with a chop on Grayson, who tries to fight back only for Quen to get rabbit punches. Kassidy is almost caught in a sunset flip, but uses the bottom rope to block it as Quen comes in to cheapshots Grayson. Dark Order runs in to complain, allowing Kassidy to choke Grayson with his doo-rag. Evans in with right hands on Grayson, but Grayson catches him in an overhead suplex. Private Party again clear off the opponents, so Kassidy is able to get a poison rana for two.
Kassidy pounds away as Matt cheers him on, and Evans enters only for his Muta elbow to be caught and tossed into next week. Private Party try to clear the corner AGAIN, but Uno and Colt dodge it and Grayson gets a double Pele. Hot tag Uno, and he forearms down Kassidy before getting a headscissors on Quen. Evans runs into an electric chair into a backbreaker for two. Colt in, and Grayson also wants in, so it’s a Manhattan drop into a shotgun dropkick into a frog splash (Colt/Uno/Grayson, in order), only for Quen to save at two.
Kassidy with a Hotshot on Grayson and Evans tries a Flair Pin, but it’s only two. Grayson brings Colt back and eats a leg lariat, but Colt with a Steinerline to Evans. Quen dropkicks Colt, Uno boots Quen, Kassidy with the stepover enzuigiri (RVD style) to Uno, and it’s Gin and Juice time. Evans takes Quen’s place… or tries to, only for Colt to catch him. Uno holds Kassidy’s foot so Grayson can boot him, and the Chicago Skyline ends Evans at 7:46. HFO vs Dark Order in these multi-man tags gives me life every time. **3/4
Bonus match: Shawn Dean (0-1 in 2021, 0-many overall) vs. JDX (debut). Dean’s been out of action for some time. JDX was featured heavily in the Black Wrestlers Matter mixtape and this past weekend’s card.
Lockup goes nowhere to start. A second try and Dean gets an armlock, but JDX reverses. Dean re-reverses and puts him in the corner, then fakes an up and over before getting a sunset flip for two. JDX with a small package for two. Dean with a backslide for two. Dean stops the near-falls with an armdrag and lock. JDX reverses and gets a hiptoss, but Dean swats away a dropkick and gets his own armdrag and lock again. JDX turns it into a neckscissors, but Dean escapes and we reset. JDX gets a back elbow and Manhattan Drop, then a big boot and Paydirt for one.
JDX puts Dean in the corner and chops away, then slugs Dean… but that wakes him up and Dean chops back. He floors JDX with clotheslines, then gets a swinging neckbreaker to make JDX loopy. Running dropkick in the corner follows, then a slam. Military People’s Elbow and short clothesline follow, then a Koji Clutch for the win at 4:07! FIRST WIN ALERT! Great honor for a guy who was acknowledged as being valuable during the pandemic era. 3/4*
The Wingmen (Cezar Bononi and Ryan Nemeth) (w/Peter Avalon) (1-2) vs. Sage Scott and Jake St.Patrick (0-2). So why the heck did Excalibur act like the six-man match was the main event if we’re still going? No sign of JD Drake after his match earlier. Timing’s been all over the place.
Nemeth and St.Patrick start, and Nemeth gets a fireman’s carry and wants 2 points. St.Patrick with a waistlock, but Nemeth reverses and takes him down again before getitng a front facelock. Bononi in with a punch to the ribs, but St.Patrick slides out of a slam and dropkicks Bononi. He kicks away, but Bononi catches a crossbody and chucks St.Patrick into the Wingmen corner. Running back elbow and Nemeth tags in, getting the dance into the corner spear.
Nemeth with an arm and chin combination lock, but St.Patrick jawjacks out of it and brings in Scott. He tries to knock Bononi off the apron, but it doesn’t work and Nemeth clips Scott. St.Patrick SUPERKICKs Nemeth into a cradle from Scott for one, Bononi saves and elevates St.Patrick into next week. Nemeth with the Rude Awakening to win at 2:42. Someone needs to work on match order on these YouTube broadcasts – you can literally mix up the order all you want, why isn’t the six-man last? 1/2*
TOMORROW ON DYNAMITE:
- Miro defends against Brian Pillman Jr!
- Nyla Rose and Vickie Guerrero team up to face Dr. Britt Baker and Rebel!
- Jungle Boy faces Jack Evans!
- It’s a tag title eliminator as Penta El Cero Miedo and Eddie Kingston take on The Young Bucks!
- MJF battles Sammy Guevara as the stable war continues!
- And Chris Jericho joins the gang on commentary!
HOW I’D BOOK ‘EM:
- Jungle Boy beats Jack Evans. HFO (Angelico, Blade, and Hardy) attacks post-match, but Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, and Christian Cage save, leading to an eight-man as part of Fyter Fest.
- Nyla Rose wins by squashing Rebel; Vickie Guerrero and Britt Baker never tag in.
- Penta El Cero Miedo and Eddie Kingston upset the Young Bucks, guaranteeing them a future AEW Tag Team Title shot.
- Miro retains against Brian Pillman Jr.
- MJF beats Sammy Guevara by using the diamond ring.
BELL-TO-BELL – 53:36 over fifteen matches (average time 3:34)
MATCH OF THE NIGHT – HFO vs. Dark Order
- Frankie Kazarian
- Stu Grayson
- Lee Johnson
- Matt Hardy
- Shawn Dean for the first win
We’re gonna miss this format when it’s gone. Okay, maybe not.