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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MARCH 24, 2020
TAPED 3/18 IN JACKSONVILLE, FLA.
AIRED LIVE ON YOUTUBE.COM
REPORT BY ZACH GRAHAM, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentators: Excalibur, Taz
Ring Announcer: Dasha Gonzalez
– Excalibur and Taz shown at the commentary table, the two welcomed everyone to AEW Dark and announced the matches for the show: The Natural Nightmares (QT Marshall & Dustin Rhodes) vs. Matt Sells & Jon Cruz, Suge D vs. Kip Sabian, Shawn Spears & Robert Anthony vs. SCU, Brandon Cutler vs. Colt Cabana, Corey Hollis & Mike Reed vs. Sonny Kiss & Joey Janela, and Joe Alonzo vs. Jake Hager.
(1) JOE ALONZO VS. JAKE HAGER (w/ Sammy Guevara)
Hager quickly powered Alonzo into the corner and hit him with a pair of forearms to the lower back. Hager suplexed Alonzo into the corner, Guevara was seen on his phone recording outside. The referee backed Hager off of Alonzo and Sammy hit Alonzo with a kick to the back of the head. Hager attempted to put away Alonzo, who kept fighting back until Hager caught Alonzo off the top rope with a big slam. Hager quickly locked on a triangle choke for the win.
WINNER: JAKE HAGER in under 2:00
(2) MATT SALES & JON CRUZ (w/ Skyler Moore) VS. THE NATURAL NIGHTMARES (Dustin Rhodes & Q.T. Marshall w/Brandi Rhodes)
Dustin Rhodes and Jon Cruz started the match. Dustin ran the ropes and took down Cruz with an arm drag and kept hold of the arm while tagging in Marshall. The two hit Cruz with a pair of clotheslines in the corner followed by a clothesline by Dustin as he exited the ring. Matt Sales entered, took a second to show off while holding Marshall, but Marshall took advantage and escapee to tag Rhodes back in. Rhodes and Marshall isolated Sales with a series of quick tags. Sale threw Marshall into the rope into the awaiting foot of Cruz. Cruz and Sales then exchanged some quick tags and isolated Marshall momentarily. Cruz mocked Dustin, who entered the ring and while the referee attempted to remove Dustin, Skyler Moore was choking Marshall with the bottom rope behind the referee’s back.
Marshall finally found an opening taking down both Cruz and Sales and tagged in Rhodes. Dustin entered, took down both opponents. Marshall entered and the two hit a Cutter combo for the win.
WINNER: The Natural Nightmares in 5:00
(3) SHAWN SPEARS & ROBERT ANTHONY (w/ Tully Blanchard) vs. SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels)
Spears and Kazarian start the match, but as the bell rang, Anthony told Spears to tag him so he can show him what he’s got. Spears immediately tagged out and Anthony and Kazarian locked up. Anthony took control of the arm momentarily and the two exchanged holds. Anthony tagged Spears in, Spears charged at Kazarian who took Spears down with an arm drag and tagged Daniels in. SCU isolated Spears momentarily with numerous quick tags, double team moves, and pin fall attempts. Kazarian went to run the ropes for a double team move with Daniels, but Anthony grabbed Kazarian by the ankles to pull him to the outside and then threw him into the ringside barricade. Back in the ring, Spears hit Daniels with a spine buster then threw him out to the floor for Anthony to attack while Spears distracted the referee.
Anthony took control of Daniels for a moment before throwing him out to the floor for Spears to beat up. Spears dropped Daniels on the ring apron, then jumped the barricade, sat in a chair for a second, then stood up and started cheering for himself including giving himself a “this is awesome” chant. Anthony and Spears isolated Daniels for a couple of minutes, primarily at the hands of Anthony. Spears tagged back in and Daniels got a pair of quick roll up attempts. Spears then reached Anthony to tag him back in before Daniels could reach Kazarian. Anthony went for a suplex, but Daniels landed on his feet, then ducked a clothesline and finally reached Kazarian for the tag.
Kazarian went to run the ropes after taking out Spears and Anthony, but Spears grabbed him and held him in the ropes. Anthony charged at Kazarian, but Kazarian moved and Anthony almost hit Spears, but stopped short. Kazarian rolled up Anthony for a two count and when Anthony kicked out, Kazarian used the momentum of the kick out to run at Spears and knock him off the apron. Kazarian then hit a springboard leg drop on Anthony and went for the cover, but saw Spears enter the ring to break up the cover. Spears went to break up the cover, but Kazarian moved and Spears hit Anthony instead. All four men entered the ring and took turns clotheslining each other, until Anthony went to clothesline Kazarian, who was being held by Spears. Kazarian moved and Anthony clotheslines Spears instead. SCU then hit Anthony with a leg sweep and clothesline combination. SCU turned their attention to Spears who rolled to the outside of the ring. Anthony then took out both members of SCU and asked Spears to come help him. Spears flipped him off saying Anthony screwed up as the announcers pointed out the number of mistakes Spears had made during the match. Anthony then tried to take on SCU, but was quickly overwhelmed by SCU who hit a moonsault pile driver combination for the win.
WINNER: SCU in 10:00
– After SCU left the ring, Tully gave Robert Anthony the thumbs down and Spears entered the ring to attack him while he was down. Spears hit Anthony with his C4 finisher before he and Tully Blanchard left.
(4) SUGE D vs. KIP SABIAN (w/ Penelope Ford)
Kip started the match by chatting in the corner with Ford and giving her a kiss as he had his back turned to Suge D. Suge D immediately rolled up Sabian and scored a two count. Sabian ran the ropes and was taken down by Suge D quickly. Suge D put on a headlock and Sabian escaped by stomping on his foot. Suge D then ran the ropes and Sabian bent over for a back body drop, but Suge D stopped short, cartwheeled around Sabian then slapped him on the butt before playing to the empty bleachers. Sabian didn’t take to kindly to this and hit Suge D with a big right hand. Sabian then pretended to try and take a turnbuckle to distract the referee while Penelope Ford hit Suge D with a double foot drop kick. Sabian then stomped away at Suge D, pressed his foot into the throat of Suge D while he was pinned in a corner before being backed away by the referee. While the referee had his back turned again, Ford got involved and pulled on Suge D’s hair choking him with the middle rope. Suge D made q comeback after overpowering Sabian and escaping multiple moves. Suge D climbed to the top rope, but was met with a enziguri by Sabian who regained control. Sabian hit Suge D with a Russian Leg Sweep followed by a modified octopus hold for the win.
WINNER: Kip Sabian in 5:00
(5) BRANDON CUTLER vs. COLT CABANA
Cutler and Cabana shook hands as the bell rang. Cabana quickly took Cutler down, then pranced around the ring playing to the crowd and thanking them for the “cheers.” Cabana then stuck out his arm and offered it to Cutler to attempt a move. Cutler grabbed his arm, but Cabana quickly escaped and dropped Cutler again. Cabana ran around the ring thanking the fans again. Cabana offered the arm to Cutler again, but Cutler told Cabana to grab him this time. Cabana did and quickly took him down. Cabana gave Cutler his arm again, and again he quickly took control until Cutler managed to flip Cabana to the surprise of the announcers, Cabana, and Cutler too.
Cutler took down Cabana momentarily, but Cabana powered out of it and shoved Cutler into the corner. Cabana said something mockingly to Cutler, who hit Cabana with an elbow. Cutler rolled to the outside and Cabana began clapping to try and get the audience involved before remembering there was no audience and awkwardly stopping. As Cabana exited the ring, Cutler slid in and hit Cabana with a dive through the ropes and threw Cabana back into the ring. Cutler then attempted a move off the top rope, but Cabana casually strolled out of the way. Cabana then hit Cutler with an elbow, then the superman pin. Cabana picked up the three count while casually smiling directly into the hard camera.
WINNER: Colt Cabana in 5:00
After the match, Cutler and Cabana shook hands again and Cabana waived to the non-existent crowd one final time as he left.
(6) COREY HOLLIS & MIKE REED vs. SONNY KISS & JOEY JANELA
Corey Hollis and Joey Janela started the match exchanging holds. Hollis took down Janela, who quickly reversed the arm hold and tagged in Kiss. Kiss and Janela exchanged quick tags isolating Hollis. Kiss went for a kick on Hollis, who caught Kiss’ leg. Reed entered and hit Kiss with a knee strike before quickly exiting the ring again to be tagged in officially. Reed immediately jumped on Kiss and punched away at Kiss. Reed was constantly in the ear of Kiss talking trash, but Kiss had finally heard enough and hit Reed with a series of elbows. Reed went for a clothesline, but Kiss bridged back to avoid it. Reed saw Kiss in the bridge and kicked Kiss in the ankle causing Kiss to fall before tagging Hollis back into the match.
Kiss finally reached Janela and Janela entered against Reed and immediately took him down with a cros body. Janela got up and quickly took down Hollis in the corner. Janela took Reed down with a clothesline then hit Hollis with a Death Valley Driver onto Reed. Sonny Kiss reentered the match and they both climbed to the top rope. Janela then jumped off the back of Kiss hitting Reed with an elbow drop followed by Sonny Kiss hitting Reed with a split leg drop for the victory.
WINNER: Joey Janela & Sonny Kiss in 7:00
FINAL THOUGHTS: I was very surprised at the decision AEW made to air all six episodes they taped last Wednesday for Dark. I thought they may be saving a couple to have on standby in case they get shut down, but that’s not what happened. This was a very straightforward episode of AEW Dark though, since it was literally just six matches back to back without any promotions or commercials in between. By the way, when I say no promotion, I mean none which includes no hype for Dynamite this week and no videos recapping the debut of Brodie Lee or Matt Hardy, literally nothing but the six matches.
I think AEW would be wise to tape some extra matches and just have them in the can if needed because every week for the next few weeks or months is going to be a question mark and it wouldn’t hurt to have some things in a “rainy day fund” of sorts. Seeing all the matches taped last week on this show was surprising and concerning. Concerning in the sense that they don’t have a library of content to air old matches like WWE does, they have some from their few PPVs, but it’s not going to get you very far unless you’re going to air them in their entirety on TNT with some interviews/promos mixed in. It’s an interesting approach.
It was interesting to see the taping schedule as the first four matches were clearly taped before AEW Dynamite last week and the last two were after. This venue being outdoors made that fairly obvious, so that was a small thing I picked up on. There were no wrestlers in the audience for Dark, but Taz and Excalibur did such a good job of constantly talking there wasn’t much dead air to notice. I really only remembered there was no crowd when Colt Cabana spent his ENTIRE MATCH playing to the non-existent crowd.