Welcome one and welcome all to the AEW Dark Review for Nov. 2nd, 2021. This week’s AEW Dark had a total of 12 matches on the card, yet the show ran for an hour and 14 minutes. After a little work with an online calculator – as, normally, I do maths on my fingers – I figured out that this meant that each match could have a grand total of 6.25 minutes in which the competitors could impress. 6.25 minutes. It’s not that long, is it really?
I’ve been quite vocal in the past about how much I hated it when the WWE booked incredibly short – and totally pointless – matches on their shows, and still, I’ve been willing to look past this same trope in AEW, just because I love AEW Rampage and AEW Dynamite so much. but not anymore. Yesterday’s AEW Dark Elevation proved to me that not everything that comes out of Jacksonville is perfect, five-star quality, and if I have to devote my time to reviewing these shows then I’m going to call it as it is.
AEW Dark and AEW Dark Elevation have more squash in them than The Man from Delmonte.
Santana and Ortiz vs. Joe Coleman and Idris Abraham
Santana and Ortiz murdered Joe Coleman and Idris Abraham. Expect they didn’t. They did beat the living hell out of Abraham, of that, there is no doubt, but outside of Coleman being yoinked into the ring, he did about two moves this entire match. This leads me to believe that AEW might have something planned for Joe Coleman somewhere down the long and wanted to keep him out of the action as much as possible.
Considering that he is what is technically known as a big, beefy bastard, it’s not hard to see why, and the 25 seconds that he was in the ring suggested that he knew what he was doing, but it just struck me as odd to have him there in the first place. If they have something in store for Joe Coleman, why not keep him in reserve instead of putting him in a squash match where he did bugger all?
Winners: Santana and Ortiz
Nyla Rose w/Vickie Guerrero vs. Viva Van
I’m pretty sure that Vicky Guerrero’s introduction for Nyla Rose was longer than the actual match. She came out, did her always heat garnering “Excuse me!” piece, then The Native Beast hit the ring, slapped Viva Van around a bit before hitting her Beast Bomb. 1-2-3, she van her over.
Yes, I am going to entertain myself by making as many bad puns as possible.
Winner: Nyla Rose
Lee Johnson and Brock Anderson w/Arn Anderson vs. Eli Knight and Malik Bosede
This was an improvement on the previous two matches as Knight and Bosede managed to get a small amount of offense in before they fell to Johnson and Anderson, but it wasn’t really anything to write home about. What did impress me, once again, was the finisher from The Nightmare Family members. Brock hits one hell of a Spine Buster that you can feel from the comfort of your own living room and Johnson’s Frog Splash is a thing of beauty. This could become one of my favorite moves within AEW as long as it stays protected and nobody ever kicks out of it. Which is what happened here, and knightly so.
Nope, still not bored of this yet.
Winners: Lee Johnson and Brock Anderson
Daniel Garcia w/2.0 vs. RSP
Rickey Shane Page is one of my favorite wrestlers and an Indy scene legend, so whenever I see him rock up on AEW, I’m conflicted. Part of me is angry because you know that he’s going to lose and the RSP that I know would just beat the living s*it out of anyone he got in the ring with, but at the same time, I’m happy for him as AEW must be paying him a tasty sum to help make their future stars look good. Which is what he did here.
Daniel Garcia could be onto something, as long as he keeps this vicious streak going. He looked like a legitimate psycho while fighting RSP and had no qualms about laying in the boots and choking his opponent when the situation arose. It was clever to allow RSP to get in some good offense as well, as it allowed the fans to see that even though he’s a heel, Garcia is a tough s.o.b.
The end came when Garcia locked in The Rear Naked Choke which forced RSP to tap out – something I’m really not happy about – and he came away from this match looking a lot strong and meaner than he had going in.
If there’s a rematch, I hope he RSvP’s as soon as he can.
Okay, that was a stretch, I’ll stop now.
Winner: Daniel Garcia
The Dark Order’s Alex Reynolds and John Silver vs. Marcus Kross and Sean Carr
Back to the squashing of jobbers now, as The Dark Order’s Alex Reynolds and John Silver beat Marcus Kross and Sean Carr pretty comprehensively, in about four, maybe five, minutes tops. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always a pleasure to see Reynolds and Silver in action because they are such a well-oiled unit. It’s just that after you’ve already seen four other matches where the obvious contenders go over, you do sometimes find yourself reaching for your phone to see what’s happening on the internet.
Look, I’m not naive enough to think every match is going to be an edge of your pants, Thriller in Manilla, and I understand the concept of a “Dark Match”, but if all you’re doing is putting on a show for those in attendance – having stars come out to run through their greatest hits – then why bother filming it in the first place?
Winners: The Dark Order’s Alex Reynolds and John Silver
The Acclaimed vs. Ishmael Vaughn and Dontae Smiley
Another one now, but with a difference. First off, The Acclaimed made their way to the ring and insulted everyone in attendance. This might not be a new thing, but it is undoubtedly funny as hell. Secondly, the look of mock surprise on their faces after they won had me in stitches. I love these guys, they’ve got being assholes down to a fine art.
Winners: The Acclaimed
The Bunny w/The Butcher vs. Santana Garrett
With her first-round match in the TBS Women’s Championship Tournament against Red Velvet coming up, The Bunny needed to look strong here. And that’s how she was booked. She had nearly all the offense, even though Garrett did, kind of, semi rally for about 15 seconds, hitting a sweet Handspring Back Elbow Smash in the process, but The Bunny dominated and picked up the win with Down The Rabbit Hole.
Winner: The Bunny
2.0 w/Daniel Garcia vs. Bison XL and Toa Liona
I said a couple of weeks ago that I thought that AEW should sign Toa Liona to a full-time contract and push him as a monster, and I saw nothing here that changed my mind. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that he was the best part of the match. He’s strong, agile, fast as hell, and hits a Samoan Drop better than anyone else in the business today. I seriously doubt that you are reading this, Tony Khan, but Toa Liona would be a great asset to AEW, and one that you could push to the moon.
Outside of that, it was a decent enough match that saw 2.0 pick up the win, but if someone doesn’t snap up this guy soon then there’s no justice in the wrestling world.
Red Velvet vs. Sholance Royal
And then just like that, in the middle of a squash-fest, an actual wrestling match broke out. This was easily the highlight of AEW Dark up to this point as both Velvet and Royal used their time wisely, which allowed both to get over and look good in the process.
Velvet also showed off her nasty side – choking Royal with her boot at one point – but her opponent gave as good as she got, and it was nice to see that they each had moments in the match where they could string together some impressive moves, and not just be forced to rush to the finish. If Red Velvet had just come out and squished Sholance Royal, then I would’ve forgotten the name Sholance Royal before the bell had finished ringing. But because they allowed her to have her own slice of the action, I’ll not only remember her name, but I’m looking forward to checking out more of her work.
Ya see, AEW, this is how you book a short match.
Winner: Red Velvet
Bobby Fish vs. Ryzin
Ryzin has had 35 matches in AEW and he’s lost every single one of them. So imagine my surprise when he Bridge Suplxed Bobby Fish in the middle of the ring to pick up his first-ever victory! Damn, that was hard to type with a straight face.
Of course, the man known as Ryzin lost here in swift fashion, but it does make you wonder if they’re going to pull a Curt Hawkins with the guy? Maybe have him and another jobber challenge FTR for the AAA Tag Team Titles on this week’s AEW Dynamite and fluke a win?
You never know…
*Please note: I don’t actually believe ANY of that is going to happen, but you try writing an entertaining article when all you’ve had to watch for the last 40 odd minutes is a load of pro-wrestlers getting squashed flatter than Wile E Coyote after he’s fallen off a cliff*
Winner: Bobby Fish
Tony Nese vs. Fuego Del Sol
Thank the sweet Lord for Tony Nese and Fuego Del Sol. Just when I was starting to wonder how I’d allowed myself to get talked back into wrestling writing, these two put on my Fight of the Night. Both Nese and Del Sol were brilliant here, in a high-octane, high-paced match that allowed the debuting Premier Athlete to show he could do flippy-s*it along with the best of them. It also allowed him to show how f*cking strong he is. He picked Del Sol up with one arm and hurled him into a Buckle Bomb before hitting The Running Nese to pick up the victory, but the reason for this is quite simple. The Dude is ripped with a capital RIPPED.
Del Sol might have a record that rivals Ryzin’s for the number of losses he’s accumulated over the past couple of years, but the crowd loves him. AEW is also savvy enough to understand that as long as he gets in a plethora of moves then we don’t care if he eats the pin. At least, for now. Sooner or later we’re going to want more for the masked Fuego – perhaps a run at the tag team division with not-at-all Cody Rhodes – but until then, they can bank on him giving his all, putting on fantastic matches, and making his opponent look like a million dollars.
If you watch any AEW Dark match this week, make sure it’s this one.
Winner: Tony Nese
The Bastard PAC vs. Tiger Ruas
This, on the other hand, made zero sense. If anyone was built for the squash format, it’s Tiger Ruas. After all, in the previous two match’s he’s had in AEW, he’s been booked to go over with very little trouble. It looked – for all intents and purposes – as if they were going to build him up into a serious contender with an unblemished record, but instead, they had him lose to The Bastard PAC.
This in itself is not a bad thing. PAC is one of the best wrestlers in the world today, so any ring time that you get with him can only shine a light on you. But why do it now? On AEW Dark? Why not build it over the coming months and then have Pac and Ruas face-off? Has AEW gone sour on him already?
I doubt that, this was probably about ratings/YouTube clicks. And no matter how much of a good technical bout it was – and it was – it just seems a wasted opportunity to me when they could’ve put it together, down the road, on a PPV and made some serious bank.