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AEW Dark recap & reactions (Jan. 14, 2020): Gunn full of charisma

Episode 15 of AEW Dark from Southaven, MS featured a tribute to Memphis Wrestling legends, Darby Allin in action, the feud between Nyla Rose and Shanna getting explosive, and Billy Gunn and Austin Gunn as a father-son tag team.

Here’s the lineup with ratings (watch, solid, okay, pass) on which matches are worth your time:

  • Tribute to legends of Memphis Wrestling (pass)
  • Brandon Cutler vs Darby Allin (okay)
  • Nyla Rose vs Shanna (watch)
  • Gunn Club vs Shawn Spears & Peter Avalon (okay)

The tribute was an acknowledgment of legends with no promos. Allin was not as explosive as I was anticipating. His match was less of a showcase and more of a closely contested contest. The women had very good story development. The main event was a comedy bout. It is worth watching if you enjoy humor in the grappling arts or are curious to see Billy Gunn’s son, Austin.

Watch the show here.

Excalibur started off the show with guest Dave Brown on commentary. Brown was an announcer for Memphis Wrestling. The screen had a throwback effect of blue tint and squiggly lines on the side. The episode also had sporadic microphone noises, but I’m not sure if that was a throwback effect, actual technical difficulties, or my headphones.

Tony Schiavone and Dasha Gonzalez officially welcomed us to the show.

Tribute to legends of Memphis Wrestling

AEW honored Memphis Wrestling legends: “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant, Brian Christopher (represented by brother Kevin Lawler), Dave Brown, Lance Russell (represented by son Shane Russell), Austin Idol, “Dangerous” Doug Gilbert (representing Tommy Gilbert, “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert, and himself), Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson), and Lanny Poffo (representing Angelo Poffo, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and himself). Justin Roberts listed off accolades for each introduction. There was a ten bell tribute for the deceased.

Brandon Cutler vs Darby Allin

Brandon Cutler controlled the pace throughout. So much so that a fan chanted, “Let’s go, Cutler!” That fan was drowned out with louder chants of, “Let’s go, Allin!” Top move was a switch moonsault by Cutler. The landing ended up being double knees to Allin’s head. I’m not certain, but I think it may have been an accident resulting in a cool looking move. Other highlights were a big spinning slam by Cutler, a torture rack by Cutler, and a suicide dive by Allin.

For the finish, Cutler missed a springboard attack. Allin went up and over for a stunner.

Allin won via Coffin Drop on the very next move.

Nyla Rose vs Shanna

Shanna ambushed Nyla Rose from behind during Rose’s entrance. Shanna went for a running attack, but Rose caught her for a spinebuster on the floor.

Rose pulled out a table. Rose tried to powerbomb Shanna off the apron onto the table. Shanna escaped and hit a cutter. Rose grabbed the rope to prevent falling backward onto the table. Shanna wound up for a spear through the ropes. Both women smashed through the table.

Officials had to separate the two from continuing the fight. I believe the decision was a no contest, since the opening bell never rang.

Backstage, Alex Marvez interviewed Shanna. Shanna said Nyla’s a bully. Nyla attacked Shanna from behind and threw whatever random objects she could find on top of Shanna. Nyla looked into the camera. “Listen up, because you made this sh*t personal.” Shanna then jumped on Nyla’s back as the two fought some more before being separated.

Gunn Club vs Shawn Spears & Peter Avalon

Billy Gunn and Austin Gunn came out for their second father and son tag team bout in AEW. This was a fresh match. Their unaired first bout was acknowledged and counts in the record books. Austin took the mic to rowdy up the crowd and convince Billy to do his thing. Billy stepped in. “If you’re not down with the Gunn Club, we’ve got two word for you.” The crowd did their part with, “Suck it!”

Tully Blanchard and Leva Bates were both ringside for their respective wrestlers. Commentary let us know that Shawn Spears is still looking for a tag partner and is having a tough time finding takers. Peter Avalon entered with a mic to insult the Memphis area. He claimed that Jerry “The King” Lawler’s restaurant has food so bad that it will give you a stomachache to feel dead on the toilet, like another Memphis king (Elvis Presley). Bates disapproved and apologized for Avalon’s nastiness.

The match had several comedic moments, such as loud karate screams from Austin, the bad guys referring to Austin as Ass Boy, and a pelvic thrust into Spears’ face after he mocked the action.

For the finishing sequence, Spears clotheslined Billy over the ropes, then Austin clotheslined Spears over the ropes. Austin hit the Fame-ass-er on Avalon.

Surprisingly, Avalon kicked out. The action tussled around a bit more. The end was Austin headbutting his way out of a superplex. Avalon fell into papa’s arms for a big slam. Austin closed the deal with a senton atomico to win.

Shanna and Nyla Rose stole the show. They displayed the type of intensity and fighting spirit that makes me open my wallet to see more. Their story is simple. Shanna wants to beat the crap out of a bully, but can she? It is too bad this wasn’t shown on Dynamite. It was the best women’s segment of AEW’s week.

Austin Gunn was impressive in his televised AEW debut. That match was only his 21st professional outing. Austin has a very bright future. He is a smaller clone of his father and has a ton of charisma. The fans even took a shine to him with chants of, “Ass Boy!” It seemed like Austin has unique moves and a good feel for the ring, but that match wasn’t heavy on wrestling to know for sure. I’d love to see the Gunn Club be a regular team for AEW.

Darby Allin’s performance gave me mixed feelings. From a kayfabe sporting aspect, it was a disappointing outing. Cutler has zero singles wins in AEW, while Allin has pushed top guys to the limit. Cutler was in control of the match for the most part. Allin should have been more dominant. From a sports entertainment aspect, it was enjoyable enough. Both men hit cool moves.

Last note. It was nice to listen to Memphis legend Dave Brown on commentary. I had never heard of him before last week. Brown did well with his deep, golden voice. I miss that vocal trait in today’s wrestling announcers.

Who stood out most for episode 15 of AEW Dark? Which match was your favorite?

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