It’s Tuesday and you know what that means. This is the first episode of Dark from the Universal Studios tapings in Orlando, Florida. Is it really “Dark” if these aren’t the dark matches taped before Rampage or Dynamite? I digress.
Leyla Hirsch and Jade Cargill opened the show doing a face-to-naval interview about their match tomorrow night. They will each have warm-up matches tonight. “Smart” Mark Sterling hds his own comments: “New Jersey? I wouldn’t tell anybody I’m from New Jersey! I don’t even want to go!”
Your hosts are Taz and Tony Schiavone for that old school WCW Worldwide feel.
The arena is small and dark with banners for Rampage, Dynamite, and old AEW pay-per-view events behind the crowd. They still have face and heel tunnels for the entrance way, but no pyro. There are lots of spotlights though, almost too many.
The Butcher & The Blade (w/ The Bunny) defeated Hunter Knott & Rosario Grillo (1:44)
This was a total squash. Blade got the pin after their suplex into the powerbomb/neckbreaker finisher. They want the Tag Team titles.
Anna Jay defeated Ashley D’Amboise (1:25)
This marked Jay’s return to singles competition after she returned to tag team competition with Tay Conti on last night’s Elevation. This one ended very quickly with Jay getting a tapout after locking in the Queen Slayer rear naked choke. After the match, the Bunny jumped Jay and Conti ran in to make the save.
2point0 (w/ Daniel Garcia) defeated Erik & Andrew Lockhart (2:27)
The Lockharts were making their AEW tag team debut. If the YouTube chat is any indication, 2point0 are becoming fast favorites with the fanbase. They were booed by the studio audience. One of the Lockhart brothers hit a good dropkick, but a short time later, he was finished off with the double team hotshot. After the match, Garcia joined 2point0 in a beatdown of the Lockharts.
Jade Cargill (w/ ”Smart” Mark Sterling) defeated Angelica Risk (1:10)
Cargill caught Risk coming off the top and dumped her with a fallaway slam followed by a kip up in a great spot. A pump kick and the glam slam got the undefeated Cargill the pin.
After the match, Sterling compared the Cargill/Hirsch Dynamite match to squashing a bug on the sidewalk. Sterling also wondered why Hirsch is even at Universal Studios since “there’s a height requirement for most of the rides here.” Taz was not a fan of that comment. The post-match promo lasted longer than the match.
Big Swole and Diamante promo
Swole and Diamante made comments while clips of last week’s three strikes match played. Swole promised she was going to the top while Diamante promised the feud would never be over.
Fuego Del Sol defeated Mysterious Movado (3:12)
Schiavone tried to give this match a Nitro feel. He wanted to talk about Taz and CM Punk instead of the match in the ring. Movado looked pretty good here, getting a near fall off a senton and working a surfboard hold. Del Sol came back with an enziguri and a lionsault. Del Sol hit a tornado DDT off the top for the pin.
Shawn Spears defeated Khash (3:30)
This was a warm-up for Spears ahead of his match with Darby Allin on Dynamite tomorrow night. Spears really got into it with a member of the crowd. Khash had some success early until Spears evaded a charge and tossed him to the floor. Spears dominated on the floor, whipping Khash into the ring barricade and dropping him from a back suplex position on the apron. Back in the ring, Spears got a near fall with a knee smash and the pin with the death valley driver.
Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela promo
In a pre-taped segment, Kiss and Janela taunted each other ahead of a yet-to-be-announced match. Maybe for next week?
Best Friends (Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor & Wheeler Yuta) (w/ Kris Statlander) defeated Jora Johl & TH2 (8:56)
This had great matwork from Angelico and Yuta to open the match. Schiavone gave a shoutout to Excalibur during this match, saying “He will have the last part of his honeymoon in New Jersey which I’m sure he’s looking forward to.”
Evans and Taylor got the tags and the match went from a technical classic to a brawl. Then Cassidy got the tag and he didn’t even go down with Taylor for a double team suplex. Cassidy started playing with Evans' hair which brought the other heels in to attack Cassidy.
The HFO team worked over Cassidy in their corner. Johl got a nice looking delayed suplex on Cassidy, walking him over to the babyface corner before dropping back. John then mocked Cassidy’s high impact kicks before hitting Cassidy with an actual high impact kick for a near fall. Evans got the tag and hit a standing sky twister press for a near fall. Cassidy countered a go-behind from Angelico using his pockets and got the hot tag to Yuta.
Yuta came in with a springboard crossbody on Angelico and caught Evans with an enziguri and Johl with an Olympic slam. Yuta hit a german suplex and bridge on Angelico for a near fall. Taylor got the tag and missed an elbow on Evans. The HFO triple-teamed Taylor and Johl hit a nice looking powerslam on Taylor for a near fall. Yuta hit Angelico with a rana on the floor and back in the ring, Cassidy hit the Orange Punch on Johl for the pin.
This was a fun six-man match and Johl looked very good in his spots. And, of course, you’ve got to give the people what they want: a group hug with the Best Friends.
Leyla Hirsch defeated KiLynn King (7:39)
This had lots of matwork early on to start. The crowd was behind Hirsch as King worked as a subtle heel. King got a near fall after a suplex. She worked a front facelock and then sent Hirsch into the middle turnbuckle headfirst. King went for another suplex, but Hirsch countered with a small package for a near fall. Hirsch fought her way out of a bearhug and exchanged forearms with King. King hit a pump kick, but Hirsch came back with a german suplex and a meteora in the corner.
King dropped to the floor and Hirsch followed her out with a tope. Back in the ring, Hirsch hit a Saito suplex and a moonsault for a near fall. King came back with a spin kick and a fallaway slam. A hook kick got King a very close near fall. King went for a power bomb, but Hirsch rolled through into a sunset flip for a near fall followed by a running knee strike for the pin.
After the match, Cargill came out to confront Hirsch, but was taken down immediately. The referee brigade came out to break up the fight while the crowd chanted "Let them fight!” The refs did not take the crowd’s advice.
The last two matches were really good and worth checking out. Otherwise, this was a fun and brisk show that was a very easy watch. The show did a great job setting up Hirsch vs. Cargill for tomorrow night.