This week’s AEW Dark Review is brought to you by gelling, styles, timing, and rookies.
The first three of these are the cornerstone of any good wrestling show, while the latter is something that anyone who steps inside the squared circle has been at some point in their career, but sadly they don’t always work in the way that they’re supposed to.
Well let’s lace up our boots and head to the ring and all will be explained.
Shoko Nakajima vs. Riho
The first match of the night on this week’s AEW Dark set the tone for the vast majority of the show and that was all about timing.
It was off.
I’m not sure why as I expected good things from both Shoko Nakajima and the AEW Women’s Champion Riho, but they just didn’t seem to be on the same wavelength, at least until they cranked it up towards the end.
It might have something to do with this only being Shoko Nakajima’s second match with the company, being that she’s tied in with Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling and all, and it’s probably really difficult to get any kind of rapport with your fellow wrestlers if you’re not around to work with them, but this wasn’t the greatest advert for the struggling AEW Women’s Division.
It just looked janky.
This was because they were both about half a step off the pace, which gave the whole performance a sense of watching the action on half-speed, and even though Riho would pick up the win, making those in attendance very happy for the fan-favorite, this really isn’t the kind of match that will live long in the memory.
In fact, I’d be hard pushed even now, only 30 minutes away from watching it on YouTube, to tell you anything that happened inside the ring other than who won.
Sonny Kiss vs. Jimmy Havoc
Some opposing styles gel together superbly.
Think The Undertaker vs. Shaun Michaels or Ricky Steamboat vs. Rick Flair, athletes with distinctively different approaches to wrestling, who worked together and put on some of the best bouts the world has ever seen.
Unfortunately, Sonny Kiss and Jimmy Havoc couldn’t even begin to get close to their coat-tails because their styles just didn’t gel, at all.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve already gone on record saying how much I admire The Concrete Rose and I’ve always been a fan of his dance partner here, if for no other reason than I’m convinced the bloke’s insane, but when you have someone who’s major strength is his agility in there with someone who’s a Deathmatch Legend, then it just isn’t going to work.
Neither man could seem to adapt to the other’s move-set and it led to too many missed spots, such as Havoc having to replace his legs on the ropes so Kiss could stomp on him from the turnbuckle.
It really didn’t look good.
The main point behind this match, as far as I can tell, is to set up a feud between Havoc and Luther and my God, I hope Havoc puts a barbwire bat so far up his ass that he can taste it for a month.
He might be a really nice fella in real-life, but the Luther character is so f*cking annoying that every time he appears on my screen I want to throw something through it.
It was bad enough when all he did was point to his head and stick his tongue out, but this week they let him talk and he spouted some bollocks about loving baseball while singing the nursery rhyme ‘London Bridge Is Falling Down’, because, y’know, Jimmy Havoc is from Dartford.
I said last week he was nothing more than a bad Gangrel and I stand by that, I’m just hoping that he’s not who the WWE has lined up to become Shayna Baszler’s manager now that she’s developed a taste for neck biting.
Winner: Jimmy Havoc
Hikaru Shida vs. Cassandra Golden
I’ve been a long-time believer that one of the major problems the AEW Women’s Division has is that the WWE keep hoovering up the best talent.
With all these wrestlers going to either NXT or NXT UK it puts AEW in the position where they have to improvise and they’re doing this by using assets from other companies, getting whatever free-agents they can, and bringing rookies into the fold.
And they should be applauded for this, especially the latter idea as everyone needs to start somewhere, but what they shouldn’t do is put someone as green as Cassandra Golden obviously is in the ring, even in a dark match.
She showed some glimpses of the talent she has to offer, with quite impressive power moves, but she also made basic mistakes, such as getting off of Shida on the two-count instead of waiting for that extra half a beat, that even an uninitiated wrestling fan would’ve noticed.
As for Hikaru Shida, what’s going on here?
I thought that wins, losses, and ranks were supposed to matter in AEW? Maybe not on AEW Dark…
If that’s the case then why the flying f*ck is Britt Baker getting a shot at the AEW Women’s Championship before the #1 contender?
I know that wrestling companies like to change things on the fly but if that’s at the expense of one of your supposed core values then maybe there really is something rotten in the back as all the rumors are now suggesting.
Winner: Hikaru Shida
Tag-Team Match: Dark Order vs. Jurassic Express
There’s a very good chance that even if the other matches on tonight’s card hadn’t sucked sweaty monkey balls, this would’ve still been my Fight of the Night.
I’ve been blowing the Jurassic Express trumpet for weeks now, but it may surprise you, or not depending on if you know me, to find out I’m pretty high on Dark Order as well.
There’s always room in my wrestling life for a good old fashioned evil faction, even the Dungeon of Doom, so the Dark Order were always going to find a special place in my dark heart and that’s where they’ll stay, right up until we discover that AEW has “borrowed” the WWE‘s Ministry of Darkness storyline and it really is Christopher Daniels after all.
This was a quality match, with Marko Stunt and Jungle Boy fighting valiantly until the Dark Order picked up the win, and was made even better after the bell when Luchasaurs, who was conspicuous by his absence throughout the proceeding action, showed up to lay waste to most of the order until he was jumped by Evil Uno and Grayson.
Then when all looked lost for the boys from the jungle, SCU stormed the ring to make the save, sending everyone home happy and making me glad that I’d decided to stick around for the entire show, instead of shutting it off and crying in the corner about the state of wrestling these days as I had initially planned to do after the first 35 minutes had rolled by.
Winners: Dark Order
This wasn’t a good episode.
In fact, if it hadn’t been for the final match then there’s a very good possibility that this would’ve gone down in history as the worst AEW Dark ever.
The problem here isn’t just about styles failing to gel, pacing being off, and far too green rookies being allowed in the ring, the over-riding factor is that the format of the show isn’t designed to be viewed.
They’re dark matches, the kind of thing you get before and after the main event to give some time to wrestlers who aren’t usually featured, as well as budding new talent, and to send the crowd home happy with some of your favorites closing everything out.
And this would be fine if they hadn’t decided to film it and stick it on YouTube.
Once you do that then the general wrestling public expects a certain amount of quality from your product and even though we’re not dumb enough to expect the kind of thing AEW Dynamite will deliver, we certainly want something more than amateur hour.
Sadly, this week, that’s what we got and with all the talk being how TNT wants to put this show on their network then I pray that AEW has something up their sleeves or this is gonna get canceled faster than the Osbournes: Reloaded.