The Big Takeaways:
There were notable story developments on this edition of Dark. Lance Archer called out Eddie Kingston, the Nightmare Family brawled with The Butcher and The Blade, and Peter Avalon appears to have a new gimmick. Also, Sammy Guevara vs. Lee Johnson was a very good main event.
Excalibur and Taz were the primary commentary team. Developmental wrestler Anthony Ogogo joined for a couple matches early on while Ricky Starks joined after his match.
Darby Allin defeated BSHP King
Allin hit a ridiculous tope above the bottom rope early on. Back in the ring, King took advantage with a right hand. Allin fought back with a kneebar, but King reached the ropes and hit a scoop slam. Allin nailed a standing trust fall and a code red, followed by the Last Supper cradle for the quick win.
Brandi Rhodes & Red Velvet (w/ Dustin Rhodes) defeated Leyla Hirsch and Elayna Black
Brandi and Velvet formed an alliance through their mutual hatred for Anna Jay. They also have matching gear. The talent difference between Brandi and the other three competitors in the match was quite apparent.
Black hit a big rising knee strike, but Brandi turned it into a cradle exchange. Velvet and Hirsch tagged in and Hirsch hit a shoulder block before Velvet nailed a leg lariat. Velvet avoided a moonsault, allowing her to reach Brandi for the hot tag.
Brandi peppered Black with kicks, but Hirsch ran in to break it up. Brandi speared her out of the ring and hit the Shot of Brandi for the win.
Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) (w/ Marko Stunt) defeated Danny Limelight & KC Navarro
One of my criticisms of Jurassic Express's Dark matches is that they let the enhancement talent get too much offense. However, that was not the case here as Luchasaurus came across like a monster. This should be the template for Dark matches between main roster members and Dark-exclusive competitors.
Jungle Boy and Limelight had an athletic exchange at the start before their partners tagged in. Navarro talked trash to Luchasaurus, but he was tossed into the corner and flattened with a chop. The dinosaur sent Navarro to the outside, brushed off a Limelight diving knee strike, and pressed Navarro back into the ring.
Limelight and Navarro took advantage with double teams after Jungle Boy tagged in. Luchasaurus got the hot tag and ran wild with a double lariat. After a picture perfect Tail Whip on Navarro, Limelight attempted some last gasp offense, but was caught with a chokehold GTS and an assisted powerbomb for three.
Frankie Kazarian defeated RYZIN
Taz made a "Terra RYZIN" joke on commentary that absolutely killed Excalibur. RYZIN drove Kazarian's face into the turnbuckle, but Kazarian fought back with lariats and a fisherman's suplex. RYZIN hit a thrust kick and an atomic drop, but Kazarian got the knees up on a moonsault. Kazarian's inverted DDT ended it.
Post-match, Dasha Gonzalez interviewed Kazarian and asked about his future goals. Before he could answer, The Hybrid2 attacked. Jack Evans grabbed the mic and told SCU to mind their own business (referring to their confrontation on last week's Dark), but Christopher Daniels made the save.
Ricky Starks defeated Dave Dutra
This was Dutra's AEW debut, wrestling his first match in over a year. Starks dominated much of this, but Dutra attempted to steal the win with cradle attempts. Starks cut him off with a spear and the Roshambo for the squash.
Brian Pillman Jr. & Griff Garrison defeated Sean Maluta & Alex Chamberlain
Pillman and Garrison took turns on Maluta with frequent tags. Chamberlain cut Pillman off with a strong lariat, but Pillman reached Garrison for the hot tag after a powerslam. Garrison landed a facebuster on Maluta as Pillman hit a springboard crossbody on Chamberlain on the outside. A doomsday palm strike gave Pillman and Garrison the victory.
Post-match, Lance Archer ran out and destroyed everyone as Jake Roberts narrated. Roberts said that Eddie Kingston made a lot of mistakes and he will pay the ultimate price. Archer talked about the bodies in the ring and said he'd do the same thing to Kingston and his "family." This was great.
Anthony Bowens & Max Caster defeated Aaron Solow & Angel Fashion
The signings of Bowens and Caster were announced earlier Tuesday. Caster's gimmick is that of a tongue-in-cheek John Cena thuganomics ripoff as he rapped before the match, taunting his opponents.
Fashion was cut off almost immediately. Bowens and Caster showed off some innovative double team moves. Almost five minutes in, Solow got his first action in the match after a Fashion hot tag. He ran wild on both men with kicks and a springboard clothesline. Solow and Fashion set up for a double team, but Caster broke it up. Bowens and Caster hit a cazadora cutter combination for their first AEW victory.
Alan "5" Angels (w/ Preston "10" Vance) defeated VSK
The Dark Order (sans Mr. Brodie Lee and Colt Cabana) joined Angels for his entrance. This match was back and forth. Angels attempted to beat VSK down with strikes, but VSK came back with a chaos theory suplex. Angels cut him off with a great hook kick and an STO on the apron with the Wing Snapper finishing it off.
– There was a completely bizarre vignette of Peter Avalon backstage from the perspective of someone inquiring about being Avalon's new manager now that he and Leva Bates are separated. Avalon, with his receding hairline, mustache, and silken robe looked like a complete slimeball. He started hitting on the interviewee, but he or she slapped him. His new gimmick appears to be "Pretty" Peter Avalon.
The Butcher & The Blade (w/ The Bunny) defeated Jersey Muscle (Steve Gibki & Tony Vincita)
Butcher and Blade attacked before the bell. Gibki tagged in after Vincita was sent to their corner on a ridiculous assisted biel. Vincita tagged back in and attempted a top rope move, but Bunny yanked him to the floor and Blade sent him into the barricade. Gibki tried for some semblance of a hot tag, but was immediately cut off with a running crossbody from Butcher. A powerbomb neckbreaker followed for the win; they appear to be working on a new finisher as it has been weeks since they used Full Death.
Post-match, the Natural Nightmares attacked. Bunny tried to distract QT Marshall, but he ignored her. Officials came out to break up the fight.
Will Hobbs defeated D3
Hobbs no-sold some strikes and planted D3 with a uranage and an Oklahoma Stampede for the quick squash. After the match, Ricky Starks ran out from commentary and Brian Cage appeared to beat down Hobbs. The lights went out and Darby Allin's music played as he sent Team Taz packing.
Dark Order (Stu Grayson & Evil Uno) defeated Baron Black & Nick Comoroto
As usual, Grayson and Uno were flanked by their stablemates for the entrance. Comoroto, a former NXT trainee, has great size and has looked good in his Dark appearances. He powered past both Dark Order members with simultaneous knuckle holds early on. Black tagged in and applied an abdominal stretch.
Uno distracted Black, allowing Dark Order to take advantage. They exacted a long beatdown on Black, who eventually hit a backstabber which gave him an opening to reach Comodoro for the hot tag. Comodoro ran wild with powerslams, but Grayson foiled a double team and impressively hit Comodoro with a torture rack backbreaker. Uno tagged in and the Fatality gave Dark Order the win.
Colt Cabana, John "4" Silver & Preston "10" Vance defeated Cezar Bononi, Shawn Dean & Fuego Del Sol
This Dark Order trio will take on Cody and the Gunn Club on Wednesday's Dynamite. Silver was absolutely out of his mind with confidence as they played up Cabana being fed up with him.
Silver faced off against Bononi, who is a foot taller. Silver talked trash and his teammates distracted Bononi, allowing Silver to hit a powerslam. Silver and Cabana teased miscommunication, but they were able to hit double team moves anyway. Del Sol attempted a tornado DDT on Vance, but he countered it into a powerbomb.
Dean tagged in but Dark Order once again attempted a distraction, allowing Vance to hit a pump kick. Silver tagged back in and continued to posture and celebrate, tagging out to Cabana before even hitting a move. Bononi had enough, so he tagged in and ran wild, but Vance got a blind tag and cut Del Sol off with a spinebuster. Silver hit an airplane spin bomb for the win.
KiLynn King defeated Lei'D Tapa
Tapa, who has good size, is a former TNA Knockout and Rizin mixed martial artist. She's also the niece of The Barbarian from WWF and WCW fame. This was her first match in over three years. King picked up her first career AEW victory here.
King tried to fire out of the gates, but Tapa dominated as they brawled around. Back in the ring, Tapa hit a Samoan drop for two. King fought back with forearms and lariats followed by a running crossbody. A strong clothesline set Tapa up for King to hit a frog splash for the three count.
Private Party (Marq Quen & Isiah Kassidy) defeated Chaos Project (Luther & Serpentico)
This was Chaos Project's first appearance since their high profile match on the Chris Jericho anniversary show. The camera cut to Frankie Kazarian in the crowd early on and the commentators addressed it as if he was simply scouting the match. The match itself got plenty of time, but contained a mostly simple tag formula.
After Private Party took turns dismantling Serpentico's arm, Luther took control with power moves and distracted the referee while Serpentico sent his streamers into Kassidy's face. This led to a long beatdown of Kassidy at the hands of Chaos Project. Kassidy finally escaped to Quen for the hot tag.
Quen dispatched both of his opponents with kicks and hit a moonsault for two. Luther cut off the offense, but Kassidy sort of hit a bulldog to take him out of the equation. Gin and Juice followed on Serpentico for the hard-fought win.
Sammy Guevara defeated Lee Johnson
Guevara hadn't wrestled since his disastrous All Out match with Matt Hardy, so it's good to see him back. Johnson's the most talented of the Dark regulars, and as such, this was easily the best match of the night.
They performed chained wrestling to start, but it resulted in a stalemate. Guevara hit a dropkick and posed before Johnson returned the favor and mocked the pose. They exchanged stiff overhand chops. Guevara established control when he pulled the rug out from under a Johnson springboard attempt.
Guevara appeared to set up for a delayed vertical suplex, but instead dropped Johnson over the ropes before posing again. He sent Johnson back to the outside and appeared to prepare for a dive, but feinted into another pose. He then exploded out for a ridiculous tornillo where he not only took out Johnson, but landed in another pose.
Back in the ring, they traded strikes. Johnson kipped up after a neckbreaker and hit a running chop, an enziguri, and a springboard missile dropkick for two. Guevara went for a springboard, but Johnson dropkicked him out of the air. Johnson followed it up with a cool twisting Fosbury flop.
They traded counters before Guevara blindsided Johnson with a rising knee strike. The GTH appeared to finish it, but Guevara wouldn't cover. Instead, Guevara hit a Twist of Fate, simultaneously giving him the win and taunting Hardy, his Full Gear opponent.
I can't put my finger on why, but the pacing felt way better for this show than on other recent Dark shows. Many of my nagging pet peeves about the show, including a lack of storytelling and main roster stars having competitive matches against enhancement talent, didn't come up in this edition. If you're strapped for time, check out Guevara vs. Johnson.