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AEW Dark results: Kingston vs. Pillman Jr., Carter vs. Johnson

Veda Scott returned to commentary as she joined Excalibur and Taz for this week's eleven match edition of AEW Dark.

Dark Order (Evil Uno & Stu Grayson) defeated Fuego del Sol & Rembrandt Lewis

Uno and Grayson were joined by Anna Jay and the two other Dark Order tag teams for their entrance. Del Sol looked good in the limited offense he got. He came out firing with a cazadora into a knee strike, but when Lewis tagged in, Grayson planted him with a uranage. Grayson and Uno beat Lewis down before he eventually reached del Sol for what looked to be a hot tag, but Grayson immediately cut him off with a pump kick. Uno then hit an inside-out flatliner for the win. 

Ricky Starks defeated Christopher Daniels

As a member of Team Taz, Starks was put over strong on commentary. The veteran outwrestled Starks at the beginning with some arm drags and after taking Starks down, he hit a moonsault for an early two count. Starks escaped a series of punches in the corner with an eye poke and sent Daniels outside.

Starks kept up his advantage with a neckbreaker and a slam, but Daniels moved out of the way of an elbow drop. Daniels made a comeback with strikes, concluding the series with an STO and a power bomb for two. Daniels attempted a jackknife cover but he somewhat slipped on the attempt, leading to an awkward series of cradles. Starks then hit a spear out of nowhere for the win.

This should have been better than it was; it was mostly lifeless and nobody expected a spear to pin an established member of the roster like Daniels.

Post-match, Starks joined the commentary team just as he did the previous week. Overall, he was very entertaining. He has this unique aloof nature and conversational style that perfectly matches his gimmick. Also, lots of guest commentators frequently dominate the conversation, but Starks was content to sit back and offer his input only when necessary.

The Butcher and The Blade (w/ Eddie Kingston) defeated Puf and Calvin Stewart

Puf appeared on Dynamite a couple weeks ago during Miro's debut segment as the guy that first came out thinking he was Kip Sabian's best man. Butcher and Blade attacked before the bell. Stewart was sent outside toward the beginning and was beaten down by Kingston while the ref was distracted. Blade appeared to bust open Stewart's nose on a knee lift that connected.

Puf tagged in and was too heavy for Blade to hit a suplex. Butcher tagged in and dispatched Puf with a diving crossbody before allowing him to tag in Stewart, followed by the Full Death for three.

Will Hobbs defeated Serpentico (w/ Luther)

Serpentico got very little offense early on as Hobbs dominated with power moves. Hobbs attempted a corner splash, but Luther pulled Serpentico out of the way and Hobbs fell outside. Serpentico distracted the ref as Luther beat him down. Luther would get involved every time Hobbs attempted a comeback, so eventually Hobbs dropped him with a right hand. Hobbs then hit a simple spinebuster for the quick win. 

He moves on to team with Jon Moxley and Darby Allin as they facer Lance Archer and Team Taz on this week's Dynamite.

Lucha Bros (Penta El Zero M & Rey Fénix) (w/ Eddie Kingston) defeated Dontae Smiley & Maxx Stardom

Stardom nearly pinned Fénix at the start with a Gedo Clutch. Lucha Bros tied Stardom into a Paradise Lock and broke it with stereo kicks. They continued to hit some innovative double teams, including an assisted top rope double stomp to Stardom's backside. Lucha Bros played up their ruthlessness by lifting their opponents' shoulders during covers.

Smiley eventually got the hot tag and hit a dropkick and a suplex, followed by a running pescado to Fénix on the outside. With Stardom back in, Penta hit a pumphandle slam, but Smiley broke up the pin. Penta then finished Stardom off with an assisted Penta Driver.

Dark Order (5 & 10) defeated Ryzin & Xander Gold

As always, the rest of the Dark Order (sans Mr. Brodie Lee) appeared for the entrance. 5 is Alan Angels and 10 is Preston Vance. 5 and Gold wrestled around at the bell before 5 took control with a clothesline. Dark Order hit a double team move before throwing Gold into his own corner, forcing a tag.

5 and 10 maintained control on Ryzin with frequent tags. Ryzin tried to fight back but missed a moonsault. He eventually reached Gold for the hot tag, who performed some cool athletic feats including a standing jump to the top rope. A Northern Lights suplex got two, but 10 tagged in without Gold realizing it.

Ryzin tried to get involved, but was easily dispatched with kicks and an assisted DDT. Dark Order then hit a double stomp/powerslam combination for the win.

Joey Janela & Sonny Kiss defeated Kevin Blackwood & Daniel Garcia

Garcia and Blackwood debuted on Dark last week and they are a good team, two of the better Dark-exclusive competitors. Garcia and Janela wrestled back and forth to start before Janela tagged in Kiss. They hit double team moves and Kiss hit his signature offense. Garcia took advantage when he made a blind tag and surprised Kiss with a forearm.

Garcia and Blackwood kept up the offense on Kiss with power moves and submission attempts. Kiss eventually fought back with kicks and made the hot tag to Janela, who ran wild, concluding the sequence with a crossbody to his opponents on the outside. Back inside, a brainbuster from Janela garnered a near fall, followed by Kiss hitting the split-leg drop for three.

Gunn Club (Billy & Austin Gunn) (w/ Colten) defeated M'Badu & Cruz

There was no explanation of who he is or why he was here, but I guess Colten is Billy's son, too. Austin is still extremely green and Billy is just here to hit his signature spots. This was horrendous with only a couple athletic showcase spots for M'Badu really standing out. After some lifeless wrestling, Austin eventually reached Billy for the hot tag who immediately hit the Fameasser for the mercifully quick win.

Serena Deeb defeated KiLynn King

AEW announced Deeb's signing on Monday. She looked really crisp here as she clearly has some of the most refined fundamental skills on the AEW roster, but King remains sloppy at times. These two wasted no time as they quickly worked into a cradle exchange into trading submissions. King made a comeback with kicks, but Deeb hit a snapmare driver. She then locked on her submission finisher (the Serenity Lock) which is an arm trap, single-leg Boston crab.

Ben Carter defeated Lee Johnson

Carter had a very good AEW debut against Ricky Starks two weeks ago, and he also had a fantastic breakout match against Brian Cage for Warrior Wrestling that same week, worth seeking out if you get a chance. Johnson has been a Dark mainstay, but he's 0-12 in AEW thus far. These two should be at the top of the list for Dark competitors that AEW should sign.

The two performed some back-and-forth acrobatic wrestling at the bell, which got the crowd invested for the first time all show. Johnson attempted a lariat in the corner, but Carter countered into a turnbuckle flatliner. Carter locked on a side headlock and turned a leapfrog into an STF. 

After Johnson escaped, Carter set Johnson up on the top rope. Johnson tried to fight out, but Carter made it back up for the superplex which Johnson immediately turned into an inside cradle for two. They then each hit a double clothesline, a kip up, and identical pump kicks on each other for a double down. 

They traded strikes as the match built to a head, but Johnson hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a great near fall. An enziguri sent Johnson to the outside where he avoided a moonsault. Johnson immediately ran in and hit a tope con hilo, but Carter came right back with a tope con hilo of his own in a ridiculous sequence. Carter missed a phoenix splash and Johnson hit a Death Valley Driver and a heel kick for a couple two counts.

Johnson headed to the top rope, but Carter popped up and hit a Spanish Fly and a thrust kick for two. Carter finally put Johnson away with a frog splash. 

This was one of the best matches in Dark's history. I get that the show is mostly used to establish main roster wrestlers with dominant victories, but this was by far the most entertaining and compelling part of the show. I remember exciting matches like Angelico/Kazarian and Avalon/Cutler, whereas most of the squashes are forgotten by the time I submit my review. More of this, please.

Johnson will face Scorpio Sky on Tuesday's Late Night Dynamite on TNT.

Eddie Kingston defeated Brian Pillman Jr.

This match made it evident why Kingston is moving into more of a manager role. He's one of the most interesting talkers in the business, but his work is just a bit too slow and methodical, especially compared to the rest of the AEW roster. Kingston's strikes did look particularly brutal, however, and the match ended up pretty solid. Pillman took Kingston down early on with a shoulder tackle, but that just made Kingston mad. 

Kingston beat Pillman down with stiff strikes in a long heat segment. Pillman attempted to fight back, but Kingston silenced him with hard slaps. A sunset flip gave Pillman an opportunity, but Kingston countered a crucifix bomb into a Samoan drop and a lariat to the back of his head.

Pillman eventually made his comeback with a thrust kick and a tope suicida. A springboard clothesline got two, but Kingston hit a jawbreaker and a head-and-arm suplex. Kingston attempted a cover but Pillman reached the ropes. Pillman hit a Kiwi Crusher for two, but Kingston hit the Kitchen Sink and the spinning backfist for the pinfall.

Final Thoughts:

AEW Dark continues to be a lifeless and mostly skippable program. The squashes are fine in keeping main card wrestlers strong, but they just aren't that entertaining. Everything up until the final two matches felt entirely inessential.

However, once we got to those final two matches, the show hit its stride because competitive, back and forth matches are what people look for in a wrestling show. I knew Johnson vs. Carter would be good, but they went above and beyond expectations and tore the house down. The main event was very different but interesting in its own right as it was a more traditionally paced, hard-hitting style. Those are the two matches you should seek out from this show.