Last night, AEW dropped a surprise edition of Dark onto YouTube – ostensibly to give some last-minute promotion to tonight’s Revolution Pay-Per-View, although there wasn’t much top much of that on reflection. Maybe it was to ensure the talent not on the Revolution card got some exposure on this big weekend. In any case, there was new wrestling to see. So let’s lace up our boots and take it down to ringside for AEW Dark: Feb 28th!
Sonny Kiss vs. Luther
I have to admit I haven’t been keeping up with Dark, so it was quite a surprise, not to see Sonny Kiss, but the fact that I had forgotten all about him!
Dynamite has seen a real increase in quality over the last month, but the one thing it hasn’t seen is too much diversity in the roster it chooses to feature. That Sonny Kiss was singled out as one of the ones to watch around the time of Double or Nothing last year, and I count the number of appearances he’s made on Dynamite on one hand is problematic for AEW if they don’t want to get stale.
I’m not saying they should cram as many people onto Dynamite as possible, but my understanding was talent would be alternated regularly between the two shows to make sure everyone got a shot to shine on the bigger stage and that people weren’t over exposed. Now AEW has seemed to fall into the old trap of the A show and B show, with Dark coming across less as Smackdown and more like a late nineties edition of WCW Saturday Night.
AEW would do well to take those stars that are getting positive reactions consistently and start to build them into strong storylines so as to begin to climb to stardom. From what I’ve seen and what I understand from others, Sonny fits the bill.
Unfortunately, his match with Luther didn’t light the word on fire, as the two men struggled to make their styles compatible with each other. In particular, Luther looked a little clumpy. Still, he eked out the win with a camel clutch, his hands pulling at Kiss’ mouth for added pressure. Jimmy Havoc (another man who would benefit from appearing on Dynamite, as he has much to offer) made an appearance as Luther scarped, the seeds of a feud between the ghosts of Death Matches past and present being sown before us.
The Dark Order vs. Peter Avalon & Michael Nakazawa
If there’s one thing I’m glad they’ve kept away from Dynamite, it’s the Librarians gimmick. Peter Avalon was actually a good little heel in Championship Wrestling from Arizona. This librarian nonsense is a waste of any potential he has. He didn’t hang around long, abandoning Nakazawa to his pools of baby oil and a pasting at the hands of The Dark Order, who took the win in a pointless squash.
Afterwards, the Order dangled one of their masks next to Nakazawa’s head and whispered sweet nothings in his ear. Hopefully he’s not the ‘Exalted One’…
Dr. Britt Baker vs. Miranda Alize
You know what? I’ve been critical of Baker’s heel turn in the early stages, but she is really starting to grow into the role. She hasn’t perfected it yet, but compare her promos now to how cringey that original promo was on the Jericho cruise, and there’s already a noticeable improvement. The best thing about all this is that Baker has got one key thing right about being a heel: she believes she is right. She believes she is still one of the good guys; she believes she is giving Tony good advice when she criticises his teeth.
This was another squash match, with Alize getting very little chance to shine. But it was good to see Baker showing signs of improvement.
Private Party vs. Shawn Spears and Brandon Cutler
I often wonder if Spears regrets leaving the WWE. Then again, it’s probably a much happier locker room in AEW.
It’s a good idea, this story of Spears looking for a tag partner and being hyper-critical of anyone he tries out. He actually looked reasonably good here, as did Cutler. Spears, showing jealousy at how well Cutler was doing, chose to abandon him instead less he be outshined. Cutler actually managed to put up a bit of a fight and appealed to Spears to come back and help him finish the job, but Spears carried on walking, leaving Private Party no other option but to finish the job. It was quite subtle booking, making Cutler look strong before giving him to the inevitable.
Private Party, much like Sonny Kiss (and Jimmy Havoc to a slightly lesser extent), are another case of AEW not striking when the iron is hot. Remember how over the Party boys were when they beat The Young Bucks fair and square in a stellar match as part of the Tag Title Tournament? And yet there has been no capitalising on this. For a new company desperate to start building its own stars, I hope it doesn’t come back to hurt them.
After such a good episode of Dynamite this week, Dark felt pretty much an afterthought. There wasn’t much to aid the build to Revolution other than a re-run of the Cody-MJF video from Dynamite and Dasha predicting both new Heavyweight and Tag Team champions. So I’m not sure what the point was of dropping a surprise episode of Dark, other than they could as a kind of fan service perhaps. It will be interesting to see how Dark changes when it moves to TNT. It could certainly do with a renovation.