The Big Takeaways:
The only real development from this week's Dark was the debut of Britt Baker's "Waiting Room" segment. Aside from that, this was the typical assortment of enhancement matches and occasional promos that we have seen in recent weeks.
Like Dynamite last week, Dark introduced a new presentation package with updated music and graphics. Excalibur and Taz were on commentary as always, joined by Anthony Ogogo and Ricky Starks at points throughout the show.
Gunn Club (Billy, Austin Gunn, & Colten Gunn) defeated Sean Maluta, BSHP King & Joey O'Riley
As far as I can tell, this was not just Colten Gunn's AEW debut, but the first match of his career. He and Maluta started off before Austin and Billy faced off with O'Riley and King, respectively. Billy and King both hit clotheslines, leading to a double down. Austin got the hot tag and hit the Quick Draw for the Gunn Club's first victory as a trio.
After the match, O'Riley was alone in the ring when Lance Archer and Jake Roberts came out. Archer chokeslammed him on to Maluta and King outside. Roberts recited the "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" prayer, adding that only a fool would get in the ring with Archer. Archer talked about death and referred to Freud's idea that life culminates in death. Even though "everybody dies," Archer said he will be the last to do so.
The promo was entertaining but less focused than in recent weeks.
Ricky Starks defeated Travis Titan
Starks was a step ahead the whole way. Titan hit an elbow smash, but Starks responded with a back suplex and a spear for the quick win, his sixth straight.
Joey Janela (w/ Sonny Kiss) defeated Marko Stunt (w/ Jurassic Express)
This had lots of comedy early on. Stunt rolled Janela up for two at the bell. He went for a tornado DDT, but Janela caught him and suplexed him on the floor. Janela hit two brainbusters and attempted a third, but Stunt fought out and absolutely spiked Janela with a hurricanrana before hitting a dragonrana on the floor.
Stunt went to the top rope, but Janela cut him off with an enziguri and an avalanche Samoan driver for his third straight win.
The Waiting Room with Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D.
This was a talking segment hosted by Baker with a studio presentation, a bit reminiscent of Piper's Pit. Rebel introduced her and Baker started off with a monologue about current events. She began by talking about the AEW Games event. She then mocked Eddie Kingston for losing at Full Gear before congratulating the Young Bucks for "stealing" a victory and tossing a copy of their new book.
Baker said that Cody Rhodes has been living his own "American nightmare" since losing the TNT championship. She told the studio audience to check under their seats for a special gift, but it was a ruse because life isn't fair.
Baker welcomed TH2 to the show as her guests. She asked what it would take for them to achieve tag team gold. Angélico called the AEW tag division the Bucks' vanity project and complained about how little they have been on Dynamite. Jack Evans said he was tired of backstage politics and that TH2 would exact retribution on the tag division, starting with SCU.
This reviewer's reaction: this was intentionally awful, but it felt more like a Being The Elite segment than something that belonged on AEW programming. It was really long, aggressively boring, and implied that Cody and the Young Bucks use their backstage pull to get things in AEW which gave me horrifying WCW flashbacks.
Frankie Kazarian defeated Griff Garrison
Kazarian had the advantage early with his technical chops, so Garrison changed it into a striking battle. They traded chops before Garrison took advantage with a strong elbow. Garrison went for a slingshot but Kazarian caught him with a cutter and an inverted DDT for the pin and his third straight win.
Penelope Ford defeated Rahne Victoria
This was really rough. Ford leveled Victoria with a pump kick right away. She thought she had it won with a double knee gutbuster, but she only got two. Ford continued to dominate until missing a handspring kick. They got a bit lost before Victoria hit a roundhouse kick for two. Ford hit a handspring cutter that didn't really land for another two. The fisherwoman's suplex from Ford finally got three for her sixth straight win.
Brandon Cutler defeated RYZIN
Cutler's former rival Peter Avalon was shown watching from ringside. Cutler hit a flurry of offense to start, but RYZIN used a rope break to cut him off and hit a flapjack over the ropes. RYZIN went to the top rope, but Cutler hit a leaping frankensteiner and the TPK to win his third straight. Avalon was shown acting despondent after Cutler's victory.
Leyla Hirsch defeated Tesha Price
This was Hirsch's first AEW victory. She had an awesome Dark match against Women's Champion Hikaru Shida a few weeks ago and is a great addition to AEW's women's division. Since she got the win tonight, I'm assuming her signing is imminent.
Hirsch controlled early on with her amateur wrestling background. Price surprised Hirsch with a biel and a leaping enziguri. Hirsch drove Price into the turnbuckle and beat her down with strikes before applying a Fujiwara armbar. She continued attacking the arm before missing running knees.
Price messed up on whatever she was attempting, so Hirsch hit a German suplex and a springboard moonsault. Hirsch then locked on a cross armbreaker, forcing Price to submit.
Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) (w/ Marko Stunt) defeated TNT (Terrence Hughes & Terrell Hughes)
TNT, the twin sons of D-Von Dudley, made their debut last week. After Jungle Boy and Terrell wrestled around, Terrence tried to stand up to Luchasaurus, but was leveled with the Tail Whip. TNT performed twin magic as they switched places while Jurassic Express wasn't looking, allowing Terrell to cut off Jungle Boy's dive.
Luchasaurus got the hot tag and ran wild. He went for a double chokeslam, but TNT fought out and downed Jungle Boy with a double powerbomb. They set up for 3-D, but Luchasaurus cut them off. Jungle Boy applied a new submission, almost like a deathlock crossface, and Terrell tapped out.
The Acclaimed (Anthony Bowens & Max Caster) defeated D3 & Angel Fashion
As always, Caster taunted his opponents by rapping during The Acclaimed's entrance. D3 didn't make it into the match until he got Fashion's hot tag. He hit a tornado DDT on Caster, but Bowens caught a dive and hit a ushigoroshi. The Acclaimed hit Critically Acclaimed, a dropkick into a Samoan drop, for their third AEW win.
Ivelisse (w/ Diamanté) defeated Alex Gracia
This was a solid little sprint. Ivelisse fired out with ruthless offense right away. Diamanté attacked with the official distracted. After a beatdown, Gracia went for a desperate roll-up, but Ivelisse hit a neckbreaker. Gracia hit a backstabber and clotheslines followed by a tiger feint kick. She tried to follow it up with a Shining Wizard, but Ivelisse hit a flatliner and a snapmare into a kick for the pin in her first AEW singles match since September.
Thunder Rosa defeated Lindsay Snow
Snow made her AEW debut here while Rosa wants her NWA Women's championship rematch. Neither competitor could gain an advantage early on. Snow hit a series of suplexes, but Rosa fought back with a dropkick. Snow laid in ground and pound and attempted a heel hook, but Rosa turned it into a sleeper. Rosa hit a seated corner dropkick for two. Snow tried to fight back, but Rosa hit a series of strikes followed by a fire thunder driver for three.
– "Pretty" Peter Avalon welcomed the person he's trying to woo into a rideshare car before offering them cheap wine and snacks. The driver got fed up of Avalon and kicked him out.
Big Swole defeated KiLynn King
They exchanged words at the bell. Swole went for Dirty Dancing early on, but King escaped to the outside and drove Swole into the ringpost. Swole fought back with a barricade attack before King avoided a cutter. Swole made a comeback with a cazadora flatliner before applying a cloverleaf for the submission victory.
– TNT Champion Darby Allin's music played as he walked in unannounced. He went into the ring and offered up a fight with Ricky Starks, who was on commentary. Starks approached and Brian Cage came out to back him up, but Cody Rhodes, with his producer's headset on, evened the odds with a steel chair. These four will face off in a tag match on this week's Dynamite.
Jack Evans (w/ Angélico) defeated Christopher Daniels (w/ Frankie Kazarian)
SCU and TH2 have been feuding on Dark for the last month. They performed chain wrestling at the start. Daniels had taken advantage with suplexes before Angélico distracted him, allowing Evans to hit a top rope cyclone kick for the heat.
Daniels fought out of a Kimura attempt, but Evans sent him to the outside and distracted the official. Angélico tried to attack, but Kazarian stopped him, and Daniels hit a Blue Thunder Bomb back in the ring. Daniels went for lariats before Evans did his wacky face plant oversell.
Evans fought out of the Angel's Wings and hit a standing corkscrew moonsault for two. Both men hit clotheslines for a double down. Back on their feet, they traded strikes. Evans missed a kick, allowing Daniels to hit a Complete Shot and to apply a Koji clutch. Angélico tried to distract the referee, but Kazarian decked him. After another exchange, Angélico grabbed Daniels' leg, allowing Evans to lock on a backslide bridge for the win.
Even if I thought the Britt Baker segment was a major misstep, I'm glad that AEW is experimenting with new things on Dark. Beyond that, there's just not enough here to justify the fact that it's longer than Dynamite every single week.