SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
AEW DARK TV REPORT
JULY 21, 2020
AIRED LIVE ON YOUTUBE.COM
REPORT BY ZACH GRAHAM, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentators: Excalibur, Taz
Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts
– Excalibur welcomed fans to the show and introduced Taz. Taz said hello and said it was great to be with Excalibur, as he’s one of the only people he likes in AEW apart from Brian Cage and his new friend, but wouldn’t say who that was. Excalibur then threw it to Justin Roberts to introduce the first match.
(Graham’s Thoughts: Is this a tease of someone joining Taz’s stable with Brian Cage? Last week on Dark, he was very complimentary of Ricky Starks. It would be interesting to see managers with more than one wrestler, but you have to be careful. You don’t want managers out recruiting like Dark Order does.)
(1) HIKARU SHIDA vs. RACHE CHANEL
Shida quickly gained control exchanging holds. Shida locked on a side headlock and Chanel screamed and backed away to the ropes to fix her hair. Shida had enough and just rubbed her hands through Chanel’s hair to mess it up so she’d stop trying to fix it. Chanel didn’t like that and slapped Shida. Chanel slammed Shida’s head into the turnbuckle and locked her in the ropes. Chanel then grabbed a comb out of her purse and started brushing Shida’s hair as she was stuck in the ropes. Shida and Chanel exchanged forearm shots until Shida landed a running knee strike in the corner. Shida caught Chanel out of the air as she went for a running knee strike of her own. Shida carried her to the middle of the ring and dropped her across her knee before locking on a Fujiwara arm bar, but Chanel managed to reach the bottom rope. Shida lifted Chanel up, but struggled for a second and had to reset and try again. Shida got Chanel up over her head on the second attempt and hit a falcon arrow for the win.
WINNER: Hikaru Shida in 6:00
(Graham’s Thoughts: I despise the Chanel gimmick. She stopped to brush Shida’s hair in the middle of a match, seriously? Having her hang with Shida and have a couple of near falls is a really weird, and bad, choice.)
(2) KIP SABIAN (w/ Penelope Ford) vs. COREY HOLLIS
Sabian and Hollis started fighting for wrist control. Sabian quickly took Hollis down without removing his sunglasses. Sabian then let Hollis up, realized he was wearing his glasses still and laughed as he took them off and handed them to Ford. Hollis and Sabian again fought for wrist control until Sabian threw Hollis off then went over and laid in the ropes to get a drink of water and a kiss from Ford. Hollis and Sabian went to lock up again, but Sabian broke the hand grabs and hit Hollis with an elbow strike then stomped on him repeatedly. Sabian hit Hollis with a sliding lariat as Hollis sat on the mat. Sabian then sat Hollis back up and kicked him across the chest before looking out in to the crowd as if he were kicking a field goal. Sabian went for a swinging DDT, but Hollis avoided it and took Sabian down with an enzuigiri. Hollis scored a one count off a springboard Pelé kick off the middle rope. Sabian fought back and, a moment later, hit his Deathly Hallows finisher for the win.
WINNER: Kip Sabian in 5:00
– Dasha Gonzalez was standing on the Jacksonville Jaguars practice field trying to get a word with Dustin Rhodes, who was doing drills with Brandi Rhodes and Allie behind Gonzalez. Gonzalez asked what their goal was. Allie rudely said their goal is obviously to win, which is what they’ve been doing. Brandi said it’s a good question and they did come together for a reason, which was to hopefully catch people’s attention. Brandi said AEW is known for having one of the best tag team divisions in the world for the men, but what about the women? She said the hope is to win and catch people’s attention. Dustin said he thinks they’ve already gotten people’s attention. Brandi thanked Dasha, then Allie thanked Dasha. The two started to argue over getting the last word. Dustin started walking away and asked that Dasha join him so those two could figure it out. They kept arguing as the camera cut away.
(3) BEST FRIENDS vs. BRADY PIERCE & SABBY
Trent and Sabby started the match locking up, but Sabby quickly threw Trent down. Trent tried for a side headlock, but Sabby threw him into the ropes and shoulder tackled him to the mat. Trent escaped a hold by Sabby and chop blocked his knee before hitting him with shots across the chest as Sabby tried to make it to his corner. Taylor tagged in and he let Sabby tag Pierce in as well. Taylor put Pierce in a side headlock, but Pierce threw him into the ropes and shoulder tackled Taylor to the mat exactly as Sabby did to Trent a minute earlier. Best Friends isolated Pierce momentarily until Sabby stuck his foot out as Taylor ran the ropes, which allowed Pierce to hit Pierce with a spine buster. Sabby and Pierce isolated Taylor in their corner with a number of quick tags. Pierce went for a pump kick, but Taylor avoided it and hit Pierce with a rising knee strike, which gave him time to tag Trent in. Pierce pump kicked Trent, but took a second to celebrate which lead to Trent suplexing Pierce. Trent tried to jump over the top rope back into the ring over Sabby’s back, but Sabby caught him out of the air and power slammed him to the mat. Pierce tagged back in and Taylor blind tagged in as well. Best Friends hit Pierce with a Soul Food/Spear combination. Sabby tried to enter but Taylor took him out with a enzuigiri. Best Friends stopped to hug before hitting the Strong Zero for the win.
WINNERS: Best Friends in 8:00
(Graham’s Thoughts: Sabby is the recently released Tino Sabbatelli from NXT. Sabby is an interesting name choice, though Taz did note it’s short for Sabatino Piscitelli.)
(4) RICKY STARKS vs. WILL HOBBS
Starks mocked Hobbs at the start of the match and Hobbs used his power to overpower Starks out of the gate. Starks finally managed to take Hobbs off his feet after running the ropes. Starks took a minute to pose, which allowed Hobbs time to get back up, but Starks hit him with an elbow strike before Hobbs could strike. Hobbs again overpowered Starks and picked him up over his head and held him there for around 20 seconds before finally suplexing him back to the mat. Starks rolled out of the ring and, as Hobbs followed him, Starks stopped to pose on the ring. Hobbs went to grab Starks while he posed on the apron, but Starks kicked him first. Taz marveled at Starks’ abilities and how he always seems to be four steps ahead of his opponent. Taz also admitted that he has scouted Starks and said “how could you not since he’s such a fantastic prospect?” In the ring, Hobbs hit Starks with a spine buster. Starks countered with a swinging neck breaker a moment later, then picked Hobbs up on his shoulder and planted him face first to the mat for the win as the announcers marveled at Starks picking up the much larger Hobbs.
WINNER: Ricky Starks in 4:00
(5) SCORPIO SKY vs. AARON SOLOW
Sky and Solow started the match exchanging holds. Solow controlled the wrist early, but Sky escaped after spinning on the mat to relieve the pressure. Solow gained the upper hand after draping Sky across the rope by his neck. Solow stomped and punched away at Sky before stopping to pose. Sky and Solow exchanged blows, but Solow kept the advantage after hitting an enzuigiri for a two count. Sky fought out of another headlock and hit Solow with a drop kick.
(Graham’s Thoughts: One thing I’ve noticed as Sky has been wrestling on Dark for the past month is Excalibur yelling “Kobe” whenever Sky hits a dropkick. Is that the name of the move? It’s obviously a tribute to Kobe Bryant, whose jersey also flashes in Sky’s entrance video, but it’s just out of nowhere he yells it and it catches me off guard every single time. I think what’s weird is it just started with no explanation and now Excalibur just keeps doing it, never explaining why.)
Sky hit a face buster for another near fall. Solow small packaged Sky, but let go of it to hit Sky with a double foot stomp before going for a cover again, but was only good for two. Solow hit Sky with a series of kicks then flipped over Ski and power bombed him into the turnbuckles. Sky kicked out at two again. Solow went for a diving elbow drop, but Sky rolled through into a two count. Solow kicked out, but Sky immediately picked him up and hit the TKO for the win.
WINNER: Scorpio Sky in 7:00
(6) DIAMANTE vs. KILYNN KING
King and Diamante exchanged early wrist holds and swapped control. King grounded Diamante early and Diamante tried to take the larger King down, but was unsuccessful with a shoulder tackle. King picked Diamante up and held her in the vertical suplex position for a few seconds. Diamante managed to escape, but King picked her back up and suplexed her a second later. King charged at Diamante in the corner and Diamanted suplexed her using her own momentum into the corner then hit her with a double foot stomp in the corner. Diamante went for a cover, but only scored a two count. Diamante chopped King in the corner a few times, but King countered with one of her own. King then attempted a couple of school girl covers, but Diamante kicked out each time. Diamante hit King with a running uppercut in the corner, but King fought back clotheslining Diamante before hitting a pump kick to the side of the head. King threw Diamante into the ropes, but Diamante used that momentum and hit King with a Canadian Destroyer for the win.
WINNER: Diamante in 5:00
– As Allin made his entrance, he stopped and stared at Taz. Taz said he’s going to be on Dynamite and he’s got something to say. Taz said Allin sticking his nose in Brian Cage’s business is one of the stupidest things he’s ever done. Taz defended himself saying he tried to help Darby awhile back, but he didn’t want his help.
(7) DARBY ALLIN vs. ROBERT ANTHONY
Allin entered the ring and sat in the corner. Allin continued to sit and stare at Taz as the bell rang to start the match. Anthony yelled at Allin to pay attention to him, but Allin didn’t break his gaze at Taz. Anthony finally used his boot and scraped it across Allin’s face, which finally got Allin to break his stare at Taz and focus on the match. Allin stood up as Anthony yelled at him to fight him. Allin continued to just stand there as Anthony yelled for him to fight him already and shoved him. Anthony backed up then charged at Allin, who finally moved and ran the ropes. Allin hit Anthony with a Canadian destroyer and went for a cover, but Anthony kicked out and rolled out of the ring. Taz said he would try to remain professional and do his job as the color commentator. Allin rolled out of the ring and threw Anthony into the ringside barricade before tackling him into the barricade a second time. Anthony fought back and hung Allin over the ringside fence then suplexed him from the fence onto the floor. Anthony pulled back the ring curtain and slammed Allin face first into the ring frame.
Anthony threw Allin back into the ring and locked on a Romero Special submission hold, but was also rolling around the ring lifting Allin up into position, then lowering him and using him to roll in a circle mid-ring. Anthony finally used his leg strength to drive Allin over and face plant in the ring. Alling grounded Anthony and locked on an arm bar, but Anthony reached the bottom rope with his foot to break the hold. Allin grounded Anthony again and put the arm bar back on, but again Anthony reached the ropes. Excalibur noted that Allin is doing what Moxley did to Brian Cage in their AEW Championship match by focusing on the arm. Taz did not like that comparison and scolded Taz for making a comparison like that. Taz again said he would explain why he threw in the towel for Cage in the Moxley/Cage match on Dynamite tomorrow. Anthony was on the ring apron and Allin rammed him shoulder first into the ring post. Allin climbed to the top rope and hit Anthony with a coffin drop on the apron, which send them both crashing back to the floor. Allin and Anthony were down for a long time, but Allin got back in the ring at the official’s count of six, while Anthony barely made it back in at nine. Allin hit Anthony with a stunner followed by another coffin drop for the win.
WINNER: Darby Allin in 7:00
– After the match Taz sarcastically congratulated Allin on commentary. Taz said tomorrow on Dynamite, he and Cage will do what they have to do, or maybe it’ll happen sooner than tomorrow on Dynamite. Brian Cage walked out carrying the FTW title with him as Taz finished his sentence. Cage grabbed Allin through the middle ropes to the stage and suplexed him back into the ring. Cage entered and went for another suplex on Allin, but Anthony shoved him to try and stop him. Cage shoved Anthony into the ropes, where Ricky Starks grabbed Anthony’s ankle and pulled him out of the ring. Starks then rammed Anthony into the ring post while Cage power bombed Allin twice before Starks assisted on a third. Cage and Starks then bumped fists as Taz celebrated his guys on commentary. Excalibur asked Taz what he’s done and Taz again said all will be told on Dynamite tomorrow.
(8) THE BUTCHER & THE BLADE vs. PETER AVALON & BRANDON CUTLER (w/ Leva Bates)
Cutler and Blade started the match with Blade powering Cutler into the corner and stomping away at him. Cutler fought back and took Blade down with a springboard forearm. Avalon and Butcher both tagged in. Avalon jumped to take Butcher down, but Butcher caught him with a bear hug and tagged Blade back in. Butcher hit Avalon with an atomic drop and Blade ran the ropes to clothesline Avalon as Butcher held him. Butcher and Blade tried for a combo move, but Avalon squirmed off the shoulders of Butcher and shoved him into Blade. Cutler blind tagged in as Avalon went for a sunset flip on Butcher. Cutler entered and helped cover Butcher with Avalon, but Butcher still kicked out. Taz admonished the official for counting that illegal cover. (Why would the official count an illegal pin fall? Glad Taz called that out at the very least.)
Avalon an Cutler tried to suplex Butcher together, but Butcher suplexed them both and tagged Blade back in. Blade and Butcher isolated Avalon. Butcher and Blade choked Avalon then scored a near fall after a delayed vertical suplex by Butcher. Butcher threw Avalon to the outside, but when he tried to hit Avalon with something, Leva Bates dove onto Butcher. Butcher caught Bates out of the air. Avalon entered the ring and ran the ropes and dove onto Butcher who fell to the floor with Bates landing on top of him. Back in the ring, Butcher tagged in Blade and Avalon fought him off to tag in Cutler. Cutler took Blade down with a flying elbow strike followed by an elevated leg drop. Cutler then flip dove onto Butcher outside on the floor, but as he did he tagged in Avalon who hit Blade with a frog splash off the top rope for a two count. Cutler tagged back in and, as he and Blade laid in the ring trying to recover, Bates slid a book into the ring. The official asked Cutler about it and, while his back was turned, Avalon hit Blade with a book to the side of the head. Cutler noticed right after this happened and yelled at Avalon. Excalibur yelled for Cutler to take advantage to score his first win, but the distraction allowed Blade to recover and suplex Cutler. Blade tagged in Butcher and Butcher suplexed Cutler onto Blades knees, a move Excalibur called “Full Death,” for the win.
WINNERS: Butcher & Blade in 7:00
(Graham’s Thoughts: I don’t really like Excalibur condoning cheating the way he did. If Excalibur is the face commentator, he shouldn’t be okay with Avalon cheating, just as Cutler wasn’t okay with it. Cutler still looks dumb for allowing that to distract him to that degree, which quickly lead to them losing, but as a face, he’s against cheating and that’s admirable, even if his partner isn’t above cheating.)
– After the match, Butcher and Blade rolled out to ringside and hit Avalon with a neck breaker/power bomb combination. Blade then yelled into the camera threatening the Young Bucks ahead of their Falls Count Anywhere match tomorrow.
– Graphics were then shown previewing the announced segments for Dynamite including Cody defending the TNT Championship in an open challenge match, Hangman Page vs. Five of the Dark Order with Brodie Lee in his corner, Ivelisse vs. Diamante, MJF in action, the Young Bucks vs. Butcher & Blade in a Falls Count Anywhere match, and Jurassic Express vs. Jericho & Jake Hager.
– I can promise you I did not write the Ricky Starks/Taz partnership speculation at the start of this review after seeing what would happen later. I think anyone who regularly watches Dark could’ve seen that coming based on the way Taz has been speaking about Starks. I don’t know how I feel about a Brian Cage/Ricky Starks partnership, but I’m definitely interested! The AEW Dynamite audience hasn’t seen Starks since losing to Cody, so this will be his reintroduction if I’m not mistaken.
– I know that AEW Dark has become a series of stat padding matches, but one thing I’ve noticed is the loser always comes to the ring first. There have been a couple of matches that seem more uncertain than most, but the loser always comes to the ring first. I haven’t gone through to prove that this is 100 percent the case, but over the last two months, it’s for sure the case. This episode features KiLynn King vs. Diamante, both had zero wins, but Diamante came out second, so I knew she’d be the one winning.
Currently, this is not a big deal, but I hope they pay attention to that when they start running in front of fans again. It feels like forever ago that I saw AEW in Indianapolis and one of the matches was Pentagon Jr. vs. Trent and another was Kenny Omega vs. Jack Evans for the AAA Title. If you have this caliber of matches, I sure hope this formula doesn’t continue.