The PG Era Rant for AEW Dark Episode 103 (“Three Tiers in Ninety Minutes”), August 17, 2021.
From Pittsburgh, PA, where you would st– wait, I made that joke last night.
Your hosts are Excalibur and Taz, with a huge pop in the background.
TONIGHT! The Wingmen are all at it together as they face Jurassic Express and the Varsity Blonds in 8-man action! Cole Karter looks for his first win alongside Chaos Project, but they face the Death Triangle! The HFO continues to torment the Best Friends as Matt Hardy battles Wheeler Yuta! And the hunt for the Elite continues as Frankie Kazarian goes after Brandon Cutler!
BUT WAIT – THERE’S MORE! The “other” talent in this episode is worth watching! Kiera Hogan gets another shot, this time against Kris Statlander! Rickey Shane Page leads a trio into battle against the Dark Order! Masha Slamovich looks to throw around Penelope Ford! Tina San Antonio tries to survive Nyla Rose! And former IWTV Champion Lee Moriarty will go all-out against Dante Martin!
All this, plus Johnson/Anderson, 2.0, and Tay Conti on this episode of AEW Dark!
Opening match: 2.0 (Matt Lee and Jeff Parker) (2-0) vs. Sam Adams and Syler Andrews (debut). Dasha Gonzalez is ring announcing, so this was taped alongside Rampage. Tomorrow, Lee and Parker will face Darby Allin and Sting in a tornado match.
Andrews and Lee start. Lee backs Andrews into the 2.0 corner, and Parker gets in and holds on by the hair. Andrews shoves off and gets a shoulderblock, then the talents ping-pong Parker leading to a dropkick/Russian legsweep combo that gets Adams one. Parker with the side headlock, but Lee tags in and gets a powerbomb. He then knocks Andrews off the apron before returning to Adams, giving him a Hammer Throw. Backbreaker and Parker tags in as Taz makes the obligatory “He’s from Boston, right?” joke.
Parker with a big boot and Stinger Splash (even mocking Sting), then a snapmare and stomp. Lee in, and they get the abdominal stretch punch Rougeau style. Parker tags back in and gets a fistdrop off the middle rope before continuing to stomp away. Lee back in, but Andrews reverses Parker and sends him into Lee’s boot. Hot tag Andrews, and he gets a spinning back elbow and enzuigiri. Lee kicks away a back body drop and tags in Parker, but Andrews doesn’t see it. Drop toe hole leads to a vault elbowdrop, and Lee returns for the double Hotshot for the win at 3:54. Andrews looked the best of the lot. 1/2*
TOMORROW! Dynamite in Houston! Get tickets if you haven’t already!
Tay Conti (#4 women, 21-3) vs. Rebecca Scott (debut). Ricky Starks jumps to commentary, as he does. The picture AEW used for Scott makes her look MUCH older than she is.
Conti with a waistlock, and they reverse each other until Conti gets a takedown. Scott ducks a kick and tries a cradle, but Conti pulls her up and spins her around into a cravat kneelift. From there, it’s an inverted facelock and BIG CHOPS to Scott as Tay works the crowd like a boss. Orton backbreaker follows, but a blind charge misses and Scott takes over. Starks: “You can’t trust someone who has two first names.” Scott taunts Conti, who catches the admonishing finger and gets up to WALLOP Scott. Sayonagis follow, then a spin cycle gutbuster. Pump kick corners Scott, and the DDTay ends it at 2:31. Tay doesn’t need it as much in squash matches, but I love how she uses facial expressions, especially when she’s had just about enough of your act. 1/4*
Lee Johnson (16-11) and Brock Anderson (4-1) (w/Arn Anderson) vs. Joey Keys and Spencer Slade (first time teaming). Slade is the partially deaf amateur wrestler who wears the headgeat to compensate. Keys is a Maryland-based ROH student. Starks has left, but Thunder Rosa (#1 women) checks in. “I get to speak English today!” Thunder and Excalibur talk about AEW outreach.
Keys and Brock start. Brock with a headlock, then he stops a back body drop and hooks a hammerlock slam and kneedrop. Hammer Throw to the Nightmare corner, and Johnson in to keep up the arm work. He goes up and over Keys, then leapfrogs him with ease before landing a dropkick and armdrags. Keys controls with the hair to bring Slade in, and Slade slugs Johnson down and gets a butterfly suplex. Hammer Throw and corner spear, and Keys comes in for knees to the gut.
Back suplex allows Slade to get an elbowdrop for one. Another Hammer Throw, but Johnson cuts off the blind charge and sends Slade into the post. Keys grabs the foot, but Johnson cuts away, hot tag Brock. Keys pinballs for him, and Brock works the gut in the corner. Walking back body drop by Brock, and Slade enters only to get a SUPERKICK from Johnson. DDT by Brock wins it at 3:11. Keys did a good job holding this together. 1/2*
Matt Hardy (w/Private Party) (16-4) vs. Wheeler Yuta (w/Chuck Taylor) (3-6). Someone needs to remind the fans that the HFO are heels, because I’m sure I heard a pop for Big Money Matt. Commentary (without a third this time) talk about the meeting on Dynamite last week and about how This Is Not Over. Yuta comes out to Best Friends’ video wall, but his own music.
Lockup, and they roll around the ropes until Hardy gives a not-clean break in the corner. He misses, and Yuta grabs a headlock. Yuta cartwheels away from a back body drop and spins a headlock into a hammerlock into a top wristlock to get Hardy grounded. Hardy swings and misses, allowing Yuta a waistlock, and over/under dropkick for two. Yuta slams on the brakes on a Hammer Throw and gets a back elbow, but a diving crossbody airballs. Hardy tosses Yuta in front of Private Party, who distract Yuta enough for Hardy to get a dropkick through the ropes into the guardrail. Yuta then gets dropped on the rail, and back in, it’s ten to the turnbuckles as the crowd chants DELETE.
Hangman neckbreaker gets two. Yuta fights back, but runs into a sleeper. Fighting out helps, and Yuta reverses it. He escapes a back suplex and pummels Hardy, ending with an enzuigiri. Running back elbow in the corner, then a double-jump dropkick and jack-knife cover gets two. Hardy hangs onto the ropes to stop a German suplex before elbowing out. Side Effect by Hardy gets two. He calls for the Twist of Fate, but Yuta shoves out before turning a second Side Effect into almost an Olympic Slam for two. He goes up top, but Hardy crotches him and follows. Yuta headbutts him off (as Hardy’s ankle is tweaked on the landing), and a diving crossbody gets two.
Hardy needs to take the boot off to look at the ankle, and as the referee checks, Private Party gets on the apron. So of course the boot is loaded and Hardy clocks Yuta with it for the pin at 6:44. Taylor comes in to protest, and the referee sees the boot but can’t prove it’s loaded. Then Private Party attacks Yuta and Taylor as THE ANKLE IS FINE, but Orange Cassidy “runs” in for the save. Orange Punch to Hardy as Yuta and Taylor dump Private Party, and Best Friends win the battle if not the war. Sunglasses for everyone! This was some wonderful sports entertainment, with Hardy wrestling smartly to compensate for his athletic step-backs and Yuta carrying the fire, plus the post-match was really hot. **1/2
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Penelope Ford (10-2) vs. Masha Slamovich (debut). Slamovich is someone I’ve heard a ton about on the indies. Hopefully she’ll get a chance to show it tonight against Ford. Thunder Rosa is back on commentary. And yes, Slamovich is supposedly from Russia.
Lockup, and Ford gets an armdrag out of it. Another lockup, and Ford takes the arm, but Slamovich tumbles out of it to get an armdrag and twist. Ford uses the hair to get the advantage, but Slamovich with a big chop and some forearms. Ford Hammer Throws Slamovich into the corner but eats boot, and Slamovich follows with a mule kick. Her charge is sent into the middle buckle by Ford, though, and Ford rakes the eyes on the top rope. In the corner, Ford with boots to the gut and a snapmare/PK combo, then she lands a moonsault… headbutt? Eh, close enough.
Ford with the middle rope choke and a gut kick, then the catapult guillotine. Shotgun dropkick by Ford sends Slamovich to the apron, and Ford goes over the turnbuckle with double knees. Slamovich tries to fight back, landing forearms and a backfist to set up a half-nelson suplex with a bridge for two. Ford catches Slamovich into the Gut Check, and the Mutalock gets the win at 4:30. Too much Ford. 1/2* Then Ford beats up Slamovich after the bell, which causes Rosa to race in from commentary to stop this. Rosa squashing Ford on a future Dark would be nice.
Kris Statlander (w/Best Friends) (#2 women, 15-0) vs. Kiera Hogan (0-1). Okay, if Kiera Hogan joins the HFO in this match, AEW is brilliant. Best Friends are in matching tracksuits. Starks mocks them for not exactly fitting correctly. Oh, right, Starks is on commentary again.
Lockup, and Statlander backs Hogan to the corner and gives a clean break. Hogan refuses the BOOP and gets a headlock, but Statlander throws her off. Statlander cartwheels out of a tilt-a-whirl and does the BOOP, but Hogan hates that and kicks her down for it. Statlander catches the corner charge, but Hogan flips out of a back suplex (close enough) and kicks Statlander back down before getting a hip check. Sliding dropkick follows, for two. Yes Kick by Hogan but Statlander pops up and blocks the casasdora only for Hogan to twist into a guillotine. Statlander turns that into a package suplex with some serious stall time as the crowd gets louder the longer it goes.
Running uppercut and knee smash in the corner, then what resembles the Snow Plow for two. Hogan fights back, but Statlander catches a bodypress. Hogan escapes and gets a hangman’s neckbreaker, but the roundhouse kick misses and Statlander gets an electric chair facebuster out of it. Big Bang Theory ends it at 4:03. Hogan continues to be good enough. *1/2 And now, we HUG IT OUT.
Chaos Project (Luther and Serpentico) and Cole Karter (first time as a trio) vs. Death Triangle (Pac (12-4-1), Penta El Cero Miedo, and Rey Fenix (7-0 as a duo)) (w/Alex Abrahantes). Excalibur jokes that Karter may join Chaos Project if he gets the first win tonight. Luther doesn’t allow Karter to pose for the streamer shot. Death Triangle’s pyro is so intense even Taz and Starks hit the deck when it goes off.
Serpentico jumps Pac from behind and we start with a brawl, including Luther giving Fenix a heart punch and enzuigiri. Fenix is one on three, and Luther gives him a Hammer Throw and goes to throw Serp… wait, why don’t we throw Karter in instead? Then Luther throws Serpentico into Karter, then he avalanches everyone and they’re all down. Karter and Fenix are alone, and Karter gets a high knee for one. Big chop by Fenix, then a pump kick as Starks says Chaos Project has elements of Team Taz, which baffles Taz. Penta in, and it’s a huge kick to Karter that sets up the casadora flip splash. They want to bring Pac in, and the crowd approves as Pac takes Karter…
…and we interrupt this match to bring out Andrade El Idolo, with Chavo Guerrero. Karter takes advantage for the cradle… for two, because this is AEW. Pac recovers to give Karter a single-leg dropkick and he practically DARES Andrade to come down and get some, but Andrade leaves instead. Pac tosses Karter into the Chaos corner, and Luther yanks Serpentico off the apron and walks off with him. Pac takes advantage to SUPERKICK Karter, and Fenix with a tornillo cutter before diving onto the leaving Chaos Project. Penta with Fear Factor to win at 3:55. And that’s how you get two or three stories over in four minutes. *
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Nyla Rose (w/Vickie Guerrero) (17-4) vs. Tina San Antonio (debut). Thankfully, no mic for Vickie Guerrero, but more pyro as Starks is just about losing it the way Kingston does. I’ve heard good things about SanAntonio, but there’s no way she can show it off in a match against Nyla. Despite her last name being San Antonio, Tina is from… NEW YORK CITY!?
Spear by Nyla right off the bat, and she tosses San Antonio into the corner. Hip check and clothesline follow. Beast Bomb ends it at 40.7 seconds. Get a rope.
And put it around Vickie’s throat, because she has a mic. She has something to screech tonight. Every night, Nyla Rose shows up to destroy her competition in the ring. She may not be champ right now, but it’s a guarantee she will “relinquish” the AEW Women’s Title from whoever holds it.
Rickey Shane Page, Andrew Palace, and Bill Collier (first time as a trio) vs. Dark Order (Alex Reynolds, John Silver, and Preston Vance) (3-0). No sign of Uno and Stu, but Colt and Angels are here. Taz: “Prediction – Dark Order splits up in two weeks.”
Palace and Reynolds start. Reynolds takes the arm, stopping reversal attempts until Palace yanks him down by the hair. Reynolds ducks a clothesline and gets a crossbody, then stops a blind charge with a back elbow and missile dropkick. RSP yanks Reynolds’ arm, allowing Collier a spear on the apron. Palace tags RSP in, and Page slugs down Reynolds and adds a kneelift. Suplex throw into the opposite corner, and Palace returns to tease a tag before getting a snap back suplex. Collier enters, and it’s a press slam to Reynolds, sending him halfway across the ring. Blind charge eats boot, though, and Reynolds fights out only to get nailed with a knee from Collier.
RSP’s back avalanche misses, as does Collier’s big boot, and both men fly over the top rope in turn. Palace can’t stop the tag, and Silver is in to clean house. BACK body drop (.8 Warlord) follows, then a big leg across the neck and a release German suplex to Palace, then Collier. Page enters with a big boot, but Silver gives him a brainbuster and tags in Vance. Vance sends RSP packing, then it’s a ripcord cutter to Collier and running pump kick to Palace. Vance alley-oops Reynolds into a moonsault onto Page and Collier, and Palace runs into a SPINEBUSTER from Vance. Crowd is HOT for this as Silver and Reynolds begin the speed moves sequence, ending with Vance giving Palance the full nelson to win at 4:37. Reynolds let the opponents look all right, and that made it all the better. *1/4
Milwaukee double-shot coming up on August 25 and 27!
Brandon Cutler (w/MT Nakazawa) (2-5) vs. Frankie Kazarian (21-4). Cutler is coming out dancing with the cooling spray to what I think is the BTE theme. Kazarian is coming out alone, not worried about Nakazawa. Would you be? Excalibur brings up how the Elite broke up SCU.
Cutler mocks Kazarian to start, then dives out of the ring when Kazarian charges. He slowly crawls back in, then bails again when Kazarian charges. Cutler does some jogging to warm up, but Nakazawa distracts Kazarian… unsuccessfully. Now Kazarian gives chase on the outside, and hiding behind Nakazawa does not save Cutler from a haymaker. Kazarian tosses Nakazawa into the front row and punches Cutler (the facemask does nothing). Big chop as Cutler flops on the outside, then a slam on the floor. Back in, Kazarian corners Cutler and boxes him out, including an uppercut that flips Cutler on his head.
Hammer Throw and lariat follow as Cutler is basically dead. Cutler goes to the apron, then goes to the eyes to take over. He goes up top, but Kazarian slams him off. Cutler crawls to the apron, so Kazarian tries to suplex him back in, only for Nakazawa to do the Mania V bit for two. Kazarian runs after Nakazawa, allowing Cutler to take over with stomps. Slam by Cutler and he dances before dropping an elbow, then it’s the CABBAGE PATCH ELBOW to follow. Starks is keeping track of the chances of winning as Cutler dabs and does a bg breakdance… and the elbow misses.
Kazarian with the comeback, and a back body drop follows. Blind charge eats boot and Cutler goes up, but Kazarian slugs him during a springboard attempt and slingshots him in with a cutter. Cover, but Nakazawa has the ref tied up. He throws the cold spray to Cutler as Kazarian slugs Nakazawa, and Cutler sprays… um, actually, the spraying mechanism locks up. He tests it on himself, with the predictable result, and the Crossface Chickenwing ends it at 5:54. This match had no right being this long. 1/4*
The Wingmen (Peter Avalon, Ryan Nemeth, JD Drake, and Cezar Bononi) (first time as a quartet) vs. Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus) (#1 team, 9-1) and the Varsity Blonds (Brian Pillman Jr and Griff Garrison) (w/Julia Hart) (#2 team, 16-4). Props to Drake for looking like either Big Bubba Rogers or, to quote Starks, an updated Mr. Hughes. The Blonds switch it up, coming out in green and gold. And yes, that entrance for Jurassic Express being sung by the arena is awesome. Taz tries to sing along, but he’s nice enough to wait for Excalibur to stop reading copy. Starks: “There it is, I was waiting for it.”
Perry and Avalon start. The crowd does a huge Jungle Boy chant, which annoys Avalon so he clubs away on Perry. Drake in, but Perry escapes a double clothesline and runs them together. Rana sends Drake packing, and Perry armdrags Nemeth while taking time to give Bononi a chop and dropkick. With the Wingmen all bailed, he brings in Pillman, who waits for Drake to come back. Pillman with a waistlock, but Drake rolls him off and the two collide to no effect. They trade chops, with Pillman getting the better of it, but Drake runs him over only for Pillman to get a football tackle and armdrag and twist. He works the arm, including a hiptoss, before bringing in Garrison as the Blonds get the Hart Attack dropkick (Garrison holding up Drake is impressive).
Drake shoves Garrison into Bononi and slugs him to the outside, allowing Bononi a back suplex onto the apron on Garrison as Avalon gets Saurus’ attention. Back in as we reset, and Avalon slugs down Garrison. Nemeth in, and he gets a knee to the gut before adding a Hammer Throw and dancing corner spear. Drake in as the crowd wants Luchasaurus, but Drake slams Garrison for two. Ground chinlock on Garrison, then a back elbow as Garrison escapes. Bononi in, and he and Drake both chop Garrison down. Knee to the head by Bononi and he Hammer Throws him, cutting off the tag as he does.
Bononi then knocks Perry off the apron, drawing in Pillman and allowing the Wingmen to take over. Bononi with a pumphandle overhead slam setting up the cannonball by Drake, Rude Awakening by Nemeth, and a diving elbow by Avalon. All that only gets two. Big boot by Garrison to Avalon gets everyone down, and it’s a HOT tag to Luchasaurus.
Wings go flying like it’s a barbecue joint, and Saurus punches out Nemeth before running Drake into him. Drake apologizes, but that just allows Saurus to land the Tailwhip to Drake’s head. Pillman dropkicks Bononi to the floor, and Saurus tosses Avalon onto Bononi. Chokeslam to Nemeth, and Perry with the Snare Trap to win at 8:14. That was tons of fun! **1/2 Excalibur notes that it’s possible the Blonds will challenge Jurassic Express if there’s a title change, and the Blonds hoist Jungle Boy as Saurus lifts Julia.
Dante Martin (12-5) vs. Lee Moriarty (debut). OH YES! HERE WE GO! Moriarty is a former IWTV Champion and one of the most exciting guys in the independent scene. Put him against Martin and we could be in for a thrill. Just give this time, unlike the Martin match with Kingston. Excalibur even notes how good Moriarty is, saying “he’s making a ton of momentum for himself outside of AEW”.
The crowd chants for Moriarty as the bell rings and we get a Code of Honor. Starks: “They love sportsmanship! I can’t relate.” Martin with the headlock, but Moriarty steps over into an armbar. Martin reverses to a wristlock, so Moriarty with an overhook armlock. Martin flips out of it and escapes with a drop step, and after a criss-cross, Martin lands a dropkick and Moriarty bails. Martin goes to dive, but stops as Moriarty runs off. Moriarty tries to trip Martin off the apron, but Martin CORKSCREW FLIPS OFF THE APRON and takes over.
Back in, Martin leaps up to the top rope, but Moriarty dodges and trips Martin before kicking the arm. Moriarty with a crossbody for one as I desperately try to keep up with this one. Moriarty with a snapmare and he legsweeps Martin’s arm (Martin has an elbowpad, which Taz says might well be a target). Moriarty keeps the armwork up, then catches Martin with an armdrag before hooking a crucifix for two. Martin escapes another armlock and ducks a crossbody, then begins the comeback into a high dropkick. (Almost too high.)
Martin charges but is sent to the apron, and Martin returns with the double-jump moonsault for two. Moriarty ducks a roundhouse and kicks at the arm before getting a hammerlock lariat for two. Martin punches out of a suplex, but Moriarty sends a knee to the arm. Martin comes back with a roundhouse to the arm and a sky high sunset flip for the win at 4:48. I WANT A REMATCH! **1/4
HOW I’D BOOK DYNAMITE:
- Darby Allin and Sting over 2.0 when Allin Coffin Drops both men.
- Ricky Starks beats Brian Cage with interference from Will Hobbs, but Cage gets backup in Lance Archer to set up a tag match for All Out.
- Sammy Guevara over Shawn Spears.
- MJF/Jericho is called off when MJF says the crowd singing Judas breaks the rules – but Tony Khan has other ideas and forces the match to be at All Out instead.
- Britt Baker over Miranda Alize. Post-match, Jamie Hayter and Baker beat her up; Statlander can’t save, but Thunder Rosa can.
- The Young Bucks escape with the World Tag Team Titles when their match with Jurassic Express goes to TV Time Remaining.
BELL-TO-BELL – 53:02 over twelve matches (average time 4:25)
MATCH OF THE NIGHT – Eight-man tag
- Dante Martin
- Matt Hardy
- Brian Pillman Jr.
- Lee Moriarty
- Kiera Hogan
Hey, is someone important stopping by Friday? I can’t tell.