In this episode of Wrestling Night in America, PWTorch columnist Greg Parks breaks down both nights of WrestleMania with callers and emailers. Topics include the quality of the Firefly Funhouse match, the decision to put Charlotte over Rhea Ripley, the potential of wrestlers getting more creative freedom in the current environment, and more.
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AEW DARK TV REPORT
MARCH 17, 2020
TAPED 3/11 IN SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
AIRED LIVE ON YOUTUBE.COM
REPORT BY ZACH GRAHAM, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentators: Excalibur, Taz
Host: Tony Schiavone, Dasha Gonzalez
– Excalibur and Taz shown at the commentary table, the two welcomed everyone to AEW Dark and announced the matches for the show: TH2 vs. Michael Nakazawa & Brandon Cutler, Penelope Ford vs. Riho, Christopher Daniels vs. Stu Grayson, and Peter Avalon vs. Colt Cabana. Excalibur then said it was time for the first match of the night.
(1) COLT CABANA vs. PETER AVALON (w/Leva Bates)
Cabana and Avalon quickly locked up with the larger Cabana overpower Avalon into the ropes. The two locked up again and Avalon pushed Cabana into a corner and was forced back by the official. Cabana grabbed a book in the corner of the ring and began mockingly reading it. As Avalon walked towards him, Cabana threw the book into the air, Avalon shifted his focus to catching the book, and Cabana kicked him in the stomach. Leva Bates jumped up on the apron as Cabana grabbed the book again and Cabana walked it over to her and placed it in her hands with a big smile on his face. Bates smiled back at him as Avalon stood up and charged at Cabana. Bates and Cabana both moved out of the way and Cabana took down Avalon.
Cabana locked on a body scissors a moment later and began toying with Avalon. Avalon managed to break free for a second, he quickly celebrated, went for an elbow drop, but got caught and put right back into the body scissor hold by Cabana. Cabana awkwardly started shaking his legs, which caused Avalon to bounce up and down, then Cabana rolled over a couple of times causing Avalon to spin. Cabana did this for a couple of rotations before going for the pin, which was only a two count. Avalon eventually found an opening by making it to the ropes and, while the official had his back turned, he pulled Cabana into the ropes choking him.
As Avalon had a knee in Cabana’s back, Excalibur plugged that the Exalted One will be revealed on AEW Dynamite tomorrow night.
Cabana escaped the hold, hit Avalon with two elbows to the head, followed by a pair of double chops to the chest. Avalon rolled to the ring apron and Cabana climbed to the top rope for a move, but Leva Bates climbed up on the apron to stop Cabana before he jumped. Bates lectured Cabana about how dangerous that move would have been. Cabana grabbed her finger and pulled back on it, Avalon grabbed Leva’s other arm and the two began playing tug of war with Leva Bates. Cabana eventually let go and Bates fell into the arms of Avalon. The two stared at each other momentarily and looked as if they may kiss, but Cabana grabbed Avalon’s face and kissed him on the cheek instead then clotheslined him into the ring. Cabana then hit the Superman Pin for the win.
WINNER: Colt Cabana in 6:00
– Tony Schiavone and Dasha Gonzalez were shown outside the arena. Schiavone was wearing a Dustin Rhodes shirt this week and asked Dasha for her opinion on it before plugging shopAEW.com. Schiavone then said “let’s not forget who our champions are,” before noting Jon Moxley is AEW Champion and Hangman Adam Page and Kenny Omega are AEW Tag Team Champions. Gonzalez jumped in and said she hopes to learn more about Omega’s hand injury. The two then threw it back to Excalibur and Taz for the next match.
(2) TH2 vs. BRANDON CUTLER & MICHAEL NAKAZAWA
Before the match officially began, Angelico and Cutler got into a shoving match seemingly out of nowhere. Suddenly, Jack Evans came flying over Angelico and hit Cutler with a corkscrew kick. Angelico quickly took down Nakazawa and the match began.
Angelico pinned Nakazawa in a corner, Evans tagged in, entered the ring, then hit a springboard elbow onto Nakazawa as he flew over the top rope and onto the floor. Evans and Angelico isolated Nakazawa in their corner. At one point, Angelico had Nakazawa in a head lock and Nakazawa took a bottle of baby oil out of his trunks and sprayed it all over his face to escape the hold. Before Nakazawa could reach Cutler, Angelico cut him off and tagged in Evans. TH2 went for a double suplex, but Nakazawa sprayed more oil on himself and TH2. The two went for the suplex, but due to the oil they both fell backwards unable to grip Nakazawa for the overhead throw. Nakazawa nearly made it to his corner, but Angelico grabbed his leg. Nakazawa used the remaining oil to spray his leg to break free of Angelico and finally tag in Cutler.
Cutler entered and took down both members of TH2 with a pair of flying forearms. Cutler went for a pin on Evans, but Angelico entered to break up the cover. Cutler then threw Angelico into the ropes, as he hit the ropes Cutler slipped under the ring and grabbed Angelico’s ankle causing him to fall. Cutler, still holding Angelico’s ankle, then reentered the ring, causing Angelico to spin so his head was hanging out over the ring apron. Cutler stood up, hit Evans with a kick, then walked over, jumped over the top rope and hit Angelico with a leg drop. (Graham’s Thoughts: This was terribly contrived. Angelico was shuffling into place the entire time Cutler dealt with Evans, then laid and watched over his shoulder as Cutler hit the leg drop on him. Awful.) Cutler reentered the ring, clotheslined Evans, dove through the ropes onto Angelico, then hit a springboard elbow drop onto Evans, who bridged out of the cover at two.
Nakazawa reentered the match, poured baby oil on Evans then he hit a running stomp on Evans as Cutler hit a leg drop on him at the same time. Nakazawa then poured some oil into his mouth and went to spray Evans in the face with it, but Evans ducked and Nakazawa sprayed Cutler instead. Angelico entered the ring, hit Nakazawa with a running crucifix buckle bomb, followed by Evans landing a 630 splash for the pin fall victory.
WINNER: TH2 in 8:00.
– Schiavone and Gonzalez back to preview the upcoming match of Penelope Ford vs. Riho and talk about what a win could do for Penelope Ford as it relates to the AEW Women’s rankings. Schiavone then sent it back to the ring.
(3) PENELOPE FORD (w/Kip Sabian) vs. RIHO
Riho immediately charged at Ford and punched away until Ford kicked her in the stomach. Ford went for an early cover, but Riho bridged out at one and continued her attack with a pair of knees in the corner. RIho ran to the opposite corner for a third knee, but Sabian grabbed her ankle as the official checked on Ford. Riho went for a clothesline on Riho, but she bridged back to avoid it, then hit a stunner to take control of the match. Ford controlled the match momentarily, but Riho regained the advantage after Ford bridged back to avoid a running clothesline attempt by Riho, who stopped and double stomped Ford as she was in the backwards bridge position.
Riho went up to the top rope for a move, but Sabian started yelling at Riho. Riho, instead of focusing on the match, yelled back at Sabian, until Ford recovered. Ford and Riho fought on the top rope for a moment until Riho got the better of Ford. Ford fell onto her back and Riho quickly hit her with a diving double foot stomp and scored a two count. Riho and Ford exchanged pin attempts until Riho went for a snap dragon suplex. Ford was able to make it to the ropes and as Riho backed off, Ford distracted the official allowing for Kip Sabian to interfere again. Sabian went for a snap dragon suplex on Riho, but Riho quickly reversed and hit a snap dragon of her own on Sabian. Ford then shoved the official into Riho before running the ropes and hitting Riho with a stunner. Ford then hit a fisherman’s suplex and bridged into the cover and picked up the victory.
WINNER: Penelope Ford in 7:00
– A commercial aired for AEW Dynamite aired and said “after weeks of taunting, the Exalted One will be revealed.” The commercial also mentioned Best Friends vs. Lucha Bros and who will gain the advantage in “the most dangerous match in AEW history” between The Elite and the Inner Circle.
– Before the main event, Stu Grayson was accompanied by Dark Order and Christopher Daniels was accompanied to the ring by SCU. As the match was about to begin, the other members of both groups were standing on the apron and refused to get down, so the official tossed everyone from ringside leaving only Christopher Daniels and Stu Grayson.
(4) STU GRAYSON vs. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS
Daniels immediately punched away at Grayson, but Grayson attempted to thwart the attack. Daniels went to run the ropes, but Grayson exited the ring to catch his breath. Grayson entered the ring, Daniels went to run the ropes again, but again Grayson rolled out. This time, Daniels decided to run and hit Grayson with a baseball slide. Daniels then grabbed Grayson and threw him into the ringside barricade three times. Daniels threw Grayson into the ring, hit a cross body, and scored a two count.
Grayson finally managed to switch the momentum with a uranage followed by a series of close fist punches to Daniels while he was grounded. Grayson continued the attack on Daniels with a series of chops and a running knee. Daniels managed to surprise Grayson with a couple of quick roll up pin attempts, but Grayson then took control again. Grayson mocked Daniels and the crowd as they booed him. As Grayson hit Daniels with an elbow drop over the top rope, he could be heard laughing and said “this is fun.” Daniels finally found an opening after a missed dive by Grayson. Daniels hit Grayson with a series of shots followed by a blue thunder bomb for another near fall.
Grayson and Daniels exchanged kicks to the head and a couple near falls for a moment. Neither competitor was able to get the advantage. Grayson countered out of an angel’s wings attempt, but only scored a two count after a version of a F5. Grayson then went to the top rope and attempted a moon sault, but Daniels avoided it before successfully hitting the angel’s wings. Grayson was too close to the ropes though and managed to get a foot on the bottom rope. Daniels had Grayson in a submission until the official got distracted by a masked member of Dark Order. Daniels released the submission and grabbed the Dark Order member. Grayson charged, but Daniels avoided him. Grayson almost knocked down the Dark Order member, but stopped short and yelled at him to leave. Daniels rolled up Grayson for a two count and after the kick out, Daniels punched the Dark Order member off the ring apron. Grayson picked Daniels up over his shoulders and attempted to throw him down, but Daniels managed to switch the momentum and fall on top of Grayson for the surprise three count victory.
WINNER: Christopher Daniels in 11:00
– As soon as the match was over the Dark Order follower and Stu Grayson attacked Daniels as the rest of Dark Order came out to beat down Daniels. SCU and Colt Cabana then came out to help Daniels.
– Christopher Daniels grabbed a microphone and challenged Evil Uno to a match saying “one down, one to go.” Daniels mocked the idea of the Exalted One saying there isn’t any Exalted One.
– Excalibur thanked everyone for watching and signed off.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The first and second matches of the night were total comedy. Not a single moment of it was serious, so if you don’t enjoy comedy style wrestling, avoid them at all costs. Evans is an incredible athlete and some of the spots he hits are just amazing, but the comedic aspects of Nakazawa combined with Brandon Cutler’s herculean effort to take on two at once for way too long a stretch of time just made this unwatchable for me in spite of the incredible athleticism. The third match was better as it didn’t have the over the top comedy spots, but there was a ton of interference.
They finally did some hype for AEW tomorrow! It wasn’t much, just a quick mid-match plug by Excalibur and a commercial that’s probably aired on TNT, but it’s better than nothing! If that’s all they do, fine. I’d probably throw in something at the end to get people to watch, but at least they’re using AEW Dark to hype AEW Dynamite. It’s weird to think that this is the last show we will get with fans for a while, but that’s a totally different topic.
As for this show, I didn’t think it was very good. The main event was by far the match of the night and that’s not because it was that incredible, I just found the other matches to be contrived and terrible. I know we shouldn’t expect a Dynamite level show on Dark, but I wish it was a little more serious than tonight’s show was. Every match had interference, two matches had over the top comedy, it was just a lot of nonsense, but it’s not unwatchable. That’s not exactly the highest recommendation, but that’s all I’ve got.