Heading into this week’s AEW Dark: Feb 25th, I found myself wondering if the show had gotten over its recent personality crisis.
The past few episodes have seen it flip flop around so often, that I’m almost convinced that someone backstage had been huffing from the Vince Russo bag on how to book a show.
With AEW Revolution only a few days away, this was a chance for it to finally stamp some authority on its brand and further storylines to make it must-see YouTube fodder every seven days, but did it achieve this?
Well, there’s only one way to find out.
It’s time to lace up our boots and head to the ring for the AEW Dark Review: Feb 25.
Jimmy Havoc vs. Marko Stunt
10 Count Rating: 6
A few weeks ago I said that where some styles gel together perfectly, others don’t.
This was because Jimmy Havoc and Sonny Kiss just didn’t seem to get in the groove when they faced off on AEW Dark, but this time out he was in there with Marko Stunt and I swear that the Fun-Size one could get a good match out of me.
It was a solid bout that didn’t turn into the squash that you’d expect if you didn’t follow the product.
The difference in height and weight is obvious to anyone with eyes, but Stunt knows his limitations, and instead of letting them hold him back, he uses the Paul Heyman theory and concentrates on his strengths instead.
He got in a fair amount of offense here, and even though Havoc would over-power him eventually it wasn’t to Stunt’s detriment. He handled himself well and put “The King of Goths” over without damaging his gimmick.
But the best part of this match was when Luther and Mel came out, thus sending us down the path where the two eventually feud.
Only kidding, that was pointless and annoying.
Much like Luther himself.
Winner: Jimmy Havoc
Tag-Team Match: Dark Order vs. #Stronghearts
10 Count Rating: 6
Hot on the heels of the opening match came another solid outing, with a small problem.
I’m worried about how AEW is treating #Stronghearts.
I understand that the Dark Order is going to be kept strong so we can see how the Exalted One storyline plays out before they go after the AEW Tag-Team Championship, but did they need to do it at the expense of #Stronghearts?
As the weeks go by and #Stronghearts rack up more and more defeats they’re drifting into the Land of The Jobbers, which is just idiocy as far as I’m concerned.
They’re so underutilized that I’m starting to question if the company isn’t heading down the same path as the WWE, where they have no faith in their Asian talent to be able to do it in America, instead of just letting them get a run of wins and allowing the audience to make up its own mind.
Things need to change for #Stronghearts, and soon, or else they’d be better off leaving the company altogether and heading to pastures new where they might stand a chance at being allowed to get over.
Winners: Dark Order
Falls Count Anywhere Match: Kip Sabian vs. Joey Janela
10 Count Rating: 8
I love this kind of match.
Falls Count Anywhere, Backstage Brawls, Death Matches, hell, even Symphonies of Destruction, as it gives the wrestlers involved a chance to cut loose and work outside the usual constraints that come within the squared circle.
That doesn’t always mean they’re any good or even passable, for every Mankind being thrown from the top of a Steel Cage there’s always a Big Boss Man and Al Snow being surrounded by dog poop just around the corner, but when they hit all four corners, they’re a work of godd*mn art.
This was a work of godd*mn art.
Sabian and Janela beat the living hell out of each other, including (but not limited to) using chairs, tables, and some guy’s prosthetic leg, in what was easily my Fight of the Night.
It made me wonder why it had been relegated to AEW Dark, but then I remember that last week’s AEW Dynamite had had both the Tag-Team Title Match and the Cody vs. Wardlow war, so I’m guessing the company didn’t want to spoil us?
Whatever the reason I was hooked on this from the first bell to last and I’m convinced that I’d love to see this feud go on for a couple more months.
I’m also convinced that Penelope Ford is the MVP of AEW.
Ever since she teamed up with Superbad she’s been on a tear, being his equalizer and getting involved in underhanded shenanigans as well as being part of the first-ever Intergender Tag-Team Match on Jericho’s Cruise.
But if you think she’s just a sidekick then you’re way off the mark.
She hit the most amazing crossbody off of the stage onto Janela that has to be seen to believed and throughout she was a constant pain in The Bad Boy’s ass.
The only question I want to be answered about her is when will she make her way into the AEW Women’s Championship picture?
In a division that needs a superstar, they’ve got one ready-made in Penelope Ford and she needs to be at the top of the card.
Winner: Joey Janela
Tag-Team Match: Shawn Spears And Peter Avalon vs. QT Marshall And Dustin Rhodes
10 Count Rating: 7
After the war that had preceded it, I was worried that this tag-team battle wouldn’t be able to hold my attention.
Happily, I was wrong.
There were some very good spots and funny moments sprinkled over this bout, including the brilliant exchange between Spears and Rhodes where the former spoofed the latter’s Goldust character, only to jump about a mile backward when Rhodes barked at him and Brandi hitting a pretty good looking spear on Bates when she got far too involved in the ending.
They managed to keep Spears strong in defeat as well, having him desert The Librarian after a blind tag offended him, but there’s more to this tale than the action in the ring.
First up, just how great is Dustin Rhodes these days?
It seems that free from the constraints of the WWE he’s found a new lease of life, including expanding his repertoire of moves to include a devastating Canadian Destroyer. To put it in perspective, I’m four years younger than Rhodes and can barely get out of a chair without my bones creaking, let alone nail that kind of move.
Also, I’m on side with the re-birth of Brandi as well.
She was dying in the Nightmare Collective, but since the ax dropped on that she just seems rejuvenated. She’s a much better, much more believable Face than she ever was a Heel and I’m hoping that this version of Brandi Rhodes sticks around for a while yet.
Winners: QT Marshall And Dustin Rhodes
Yeah, I’ll raise a beer to that episode of AEW Dark.
The problem with this kind of short format, where you have either three or four matches, is that it only takes one not clicking to bring down the overall average of the show, but fortunately, everyone involved this week put in a pretty solid effort.
The Falls Count Anywhere Match between Sabian/Ford and Janela is easily worth your time if you can’t be bothered to watch the whole thing, but if you do then you won’t feel let down which is something you can’t always say about the show.
It didn’t really add anything new to AEW Revolution, except updating the card, but that’s fine by me as the action on offer easily made up for lack of plot development.
And on that subject of AEW Revolution, this Friday sees the return of the Predictions Showdown.
We’re two PPVs into our first season and so far The Power Mad Grevas is sitting atop the tree with 12 Points, while The Professor O’Donnell and The Flack are both hot on his heels with 9 apiece.
As for your friendly neighborhood wrestling writer, well he’s languishing behind with a measly 6, but this is all part of his long-term cunning plan.
Or it might just be that he’s shite at this.
There’s only one way to find out, join us this Friday for the predictions and Sunday for the results and we’ll see just who The J.O.B Squad member truly is.
It’s going to be me.