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AEW Dark results: Cutler vs. Avalon III, Hikaru Shida vs. Leyla Hirsch

The Big Takeaways:

Brandon Cutler finally picked up his first AEW victory as he defeated Peter Avalon in a no disqualification match. This week's show was light on storytelling but had plenty of entertaining in-ring action with three very good matches: Dark Order vs. Top Flight, AEW Women's Champion Hikaru Shida vs. Leyla Hirsch, and the aforementioned Cutler vs. Avalon bout.

Show Recap:

Excalibur and Taz were joined on commentary by multiple guests throughout the show including Anthony Ogogo (AEW's first developmental wrestler), Miro, Brandi Rhodes, and Ricky Starks.

Dark Order (Evil Uno & Stu Grayson) defeated Top Flight (Air Wolf & Angel Dorado)

This was Top Flight's AEW debut, and despite some sloppiness at times, they really impressed me with their incredible athleticism. They are a solid team of high flyers who compete most notably for GCW. I have only ever seen them billed as the names Air Wolf and Angel Dorado, but Excalibur referred to them as both their ring names and their real names.

Dorado surprised Uno with a dropkick early on and Top Flight hit big moves, but Grayson cut him off with a chop. After a long beatdown, Air Wolf hit a backflip kick and reached Dorado for the hot tag. Dorado and Grayson botched a neckbreaker attempt, but Dorado was able to recover into a spinning heel kick and a tijeras. Air Wolf tagged in as his brother hit a dragonrana and he followed it up with a frog splash for a near fall. 

Uno cut Top Flight off once more and Grayson flipped Dorado into his brother in the corner. An assisted tope suicida dispatched Dorado and Dark Order hit the Fatality on Air Wolf to end it. 

Ricky Starks defeated VSK

Starks dominated the majority of the match. He missed an elbow drop, leading to VSK coming back with strikes and a backbreaker. Starks countered an O'Connor roll and hit a spear and Roshambo for the pin.

– Eddie Kingston and the Bunny, formerly known as Allie, were backstage. He gave her a chance to talk about why she turned on the Nightmare Family. She mocked QT Marshall for falling in love with her despite her clearly taking advantage of him. Now, she's "back with her real family."

Matt Sydal defeated Lee Johnson

Johnson is a step above just about every other regular Dark performer. Like the opener, this was a bit sloppy at times, but still much more entertaining than the majority of Dark matches. 

They performed technical wrestling at the start. Johnson took control after a series of arm drags. Sydal reversed a whip into a sidewalk slam where it appeared Johnson was supposed to rotate over but ended up being dropped right on his head. Sydal followed with a leg lariat for two.

Sydal rolled Johnson up but the latter immediately turned it into a crucifix pin for a near fall. After a few submission attempts, Sydal hit a Northern Lights bomb for another two. Johnson sent Sydal to the outside and followed it up with a series of dives before Sydal crawled under the ring and blindsided his opponent.

Back in, Johnson hit a springboard dropkick, but Sydal hit a Michinoku driver for another near fall. Johnson hit an enziguri, but Sydal hit a swinging slam and applied a cobra clutch for the submission victory.

AEW Women's Champion Hikaru Shida defeated Leyla Hirsch in a non-title match

This was Hirsch's AEW debut, having made her name in Stardom and CZW and she looked great: very technically proficient with some highspots sprinkled in. In fact, having watched every single episode of Dark, I would say this was the best women's match in Dark history. 

Hirsch is known as a submission specialist and so the two wrestled around to start. They challenged each other to a shoulderblock battle, but Shida turned one into a backbreaker followed by a running knee lift on the outside.

Back in, Shida nailed another backbreaker for two before continuing the beatdown with strikes and a suplex into the corner. They traded forearms in the center of the ring, but Shida missed a strike and was sent outside where Hirsch hit a dive. Hirsch hit a catch backdrop driver in the ring for two, but missed a moonsault. Shida hit a sliding elbow strike for two.

Hirsch fought her way out of a cradle into a cross armbreaker, but Shida turned it into a stretch muffler before Hirsch reached the ropes. Hirsch hit a sequence of strikes before being cut off with a running knee. Shida then hit the Tamashii knee strike followed by the falcon arrow for the hard-fought victory. 

– QT Marshall cut a promo on the Bunny. She took everything from him, including his dignity, but her family won't take the Natural Nightmares' spot in the rankings. Dustin Rhodes appeared and mentioned that he and Marshall are no. 3 while Butcher and Blade are no. 4 which appeared to set up a match.

Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, & Marko Stunt) defeated Danny Limelight & Jersey Muscle (Steve Gibki & Tony Vincita)

This was very entertaining. Limelight and Jersey Muscle debuted here; the former has made a name wrestling for NJPW of America. He and Jungle Boy went through a rehearsed sequence at the start. Stunt tagged in and hit a diving headscissors before he and Jungle Boy hit a double team. Stunt ran wild on all three of his opponents before being cut off and driven into the barricade by Jersey Muscle.

Stunt hit a German suplex and evaded Gibki to reach Luchasaurus for the hot tag. Luchasaurus chopped down his opponents and hit the Tail Whip on Vincita followed by a reverse Death Valley Driver on Limelight. Vincita hit a missile dropkick to stop Luchasaurus' offense, which lead to a parade of dives from everyone in the match. The final dive was hit by Limelight, who hit a tornillo crossbody to Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus on the outside.

Back in, Jersey Muscle hit a powerslam/neckbreaker combination on Stunt for two. Stunt escaped and tagged in Jungle Boy, who dispatched his opponents with kicks. Jurassic Express performed the wackiest setup for a tornado DDT you'll ever see before throwing Stunt into a destroyer on Limelight for the pin.

SCU (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) defeated The Hybrid2 (Jack Evans & Angélico)

This match was solid and well-worked, if a bit rudimentary. Kazarian and Angélico performed chain wrestling at the bell. Angélico couldn't find an advantage, so he tagged in Evans but he had no luck either. Daniels tagged in, but Evans distracted the official while Angélico attacked him for the heat.

Angélico maintained the advantage with his llaveo submissions, but Daniels fought back with an STO, leading to the hot tag to Kazarian. Kazarian fought off both of his opponents and hit an ocean cyclone suplex for two. Daniels attempted the Angel's Wings, but Evans hit a hurricanrana out of it. Kazarian launched himself in with a slingshot DDT for two. SCU attempted the BME, but Angélico cut Kazarian off. Daniels pulled Angélico out of the ring and Kazarian cradled Evans for the win.

Post-match, the Hybrid2 attacked their opponents and stood tall. 

Anna Jay defeated Katalina Perez

Jay was joined by the Dark Order for her entrance. She hit the Dangerous Jay kick right away, but Perez cradled her for a quick near fall. Jay continued to dominate before Perez eventually hit clotheslines in an attempted comeback. Perez immediately missed an elbow drop and Jay applied the sleeper, forcing Perez to submit.

Brandon Cutler defeated Peter Avalon in a no disqualification match

This was just great and easily one of the best and most memorable matches in Dark history.

Justin Roberts preceded his ring introductions with "For the love of God," emphasizing that these two men are winless and someone *must* win. Leva Bates was here, as she's been at the center of this feud. Cutler dove into the ring to attack Avalon ahead of the bell, but Avalon gouged at his eyes. Cutler fought back with a short-arm clothesline before Avalon speared him through the ropes onto the ramp. 

Avalon tossed Cutler off the ramp towards the timekeeper and hit a diving lariat. He set Cutler up on a table, but Cutler moved before Avalon was able to put him through it. Cutler covered Avalon's body with a garbage can and dropped an elbow on him on the floor. Cutler propped up a table against the ring, but Avalon backdropped him through it. 

The crate that contained Bates' books was Avalon's next weapon. He attempted an inverted meteora into the book pile, but Cutler evaded it and hit a lifting inverted DDT for two. Cutler grabbed his 20-sided die and teased a bag of thumbtacks, but the bag contained many smaller dice. They fought to each suplex each other onto their weapons before Avalon countered a springboard and hit a uranage onto the pile of books for a good near fall.

Avalon got into an argument with Bates, calling her "worthless" which led to Bates slapping him. Cutler took advantage with a sunset flip, but Avalon domed him with a book out of the pinfall. Avalon pulled out brass knuckles, but Cutler nailed him with a powerbomb into the pile of dice. 

They fought on the apron, and Cutler dropped himself and Avalon through a table on the outside with a back suplex. The story was that Avalon also hit Cutler with the brass knuckles while he was being put through the table.

The Young Bucks came out to motivate Cutler. Avalon headed up top but was met with a right hand as they fought up top. Avalon hit a top rope frankensteiner onto the dice, but Cutler rolled through into a cradle for his first AEW victory. 

Post-match, the Bucks celebrated with an emotional Cutler.

Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent?) (w/ Orange Cassidy) defeated Anthony Bowens & Max Caster

Caster brought a mic and started rapping from the ramp before the match which was as ridiculous as it sounds. He and Bowens controlled the vast majority of the match against the no. 2 ranked AEW tag team, which was a puzzling booking decision.

Caster and Bowens beat down Taylor for a long time before a knee strike bought him enough time to tag in Trent for the hot tag. Trent hit strikes and power moves, but Bowens and Caster cut him off yet again. Trent eventually had enough and flattened Bowens with a backdrop driver. Taylor dispatched Bowens and Best Friends hit the Strong Zero for the pin.

– Alex Marvez was looking to talk with Scorpio Sky, but when Sky invited him into his dressing room for the interview, it had been trashed by Shawn Spears who painted "THIEF" on the mirror.

FTW Champion Brian Cage defeated Fuego Del Sol in a non-title match

Cage dominated early and taunted his smaller opponent by performing curls with his body, but Del Sol reversed one into a hurricanrana for two. He attempted a dragonrana, but Cage hit a powerbomb, a buckle bomb, and Weapon X to complete the squash.

Dark Order's 10 (w/ 5) defeated Sean Maluta

Dark Order's naming standards continue to be baffling. One week, he's Preston Vance. The next week, he's Preston "10" Vance. Now, he's just "10." It's genuinely changed every single week for the past three months.

Anyway, 10 crushed Maluta with a powerbomb, forcing him to the outside. 10 talked with the referee while 5 beat down Maluta at ringside. Back in, 10 won with a spinebuster and a reverse ripcord lariat. Post-match, 5 and 10 flattened Maluta a powerslam/double stomp combination.

Ivelisse & Diamanté defeated KiLynn King & Savannah Evans

Ivelisse & Diamanté beat down Evans early on. It took a long time for King to even tag into the match, but she eventually did after Evans hit a uranage. King ran wild with clotheslines, but Ivelisse broke up a pinfall attempt. Diamanté then hit a Code Red for the quick victory.

Sonny Kiss defeated Aaron Solow

Solow took advantage when he foiled Kiss's springboard attempt. He acted quite heelish in this match, taunting Kiss as he continued the beatdown. Kiss came back with a cradle but was met with an overhead throw for two. Kiss fired up with a series of strikes and hit an axe kick followed by the split leg drop for three.

Post-match, Lance Archer ran out and destroyed both men as Jake Roberts narrated. Archer took the microphone and addressed both Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston. He doesn't care who wins their Full Gear match because he's never going to stop coming for the AEW World title. 

Will Hobbs defeated Nick Comoroto

Comoroto nearly matches Hobbs in size. They traded power moves, but Hobbs hit a spinebuster and a frog splash for the win in under three minutes.

Darby Allin defeated Alex Chamberlain

Allin immediately applied the Fujiwara armbar, but Chamberlain reached the ropes. Chamberlain acted like his knee was injured, but it was a ruse as he crushed Allin with a huge backbreaker. He continued his beatdown with tons of power moves as Allin bumped around like crazy.

Allin kicked out Chamberlain's knees and guillotined him through the ropes. He then hit a rope assisted Coffin Drop followed by a stunner and a second Coffin Drop for the win.

Post-match, Ricky Starks, who had been on commentary, baited Allin out of the ring. It was a trap, however, as Cage attacked from behind. Hobbs ran out with a steel chair and made the save.

Final Thoughts:

After a rough couple weeks, AEW Dark finally returned to being a good show.

The competitive, action packed matches from the early portion of the show were so much better than what they had been offering in recent weeks. Seriously, Shida vs. Hirsch may be the best women's match in Dark history while Cutler vs. Avalon is among the best matches in Dark history overall.

It's still too long –– this was the longest Dark show yet at two hours and twenty minutes –– and I question some of Dark's booking like allowing the enhancement workers to go 50/50 (or better) against established talent or offering little in the way of storytelling, but still, this particular show easily eclipseed the efforts from the last couple weeks.