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AEW Dark recap & reactions (Mar. 31, 2020): Hager chokes out Moxley

Episode 27 of AEW Dark from Jacksonville, FL featured Sammy Guevara, Darby Allin, Preston Vance stepping up as a newcomer, and Jake Hager choking out Jon Moxley.

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

  • TNT Championship half-bracket reveal (watch)
  • Matt Sells vs Sammy Guevara (okay)
  • Shawn Dean vs Shawn Spears (pass)
  • Preston “Vanilla” Vance vs Darby Allin (solid)
  • Faboo Andre vs Jon Moxley (pass, but watch the aftermath)

The matches were all showcase bouts. Sammy Guevara was entertaining as usual. Shawn Spears had a squash. Preston Vance versus Darby Allin was a genuine match. Vance looked great as a newcomer, and Darby did cool Darby stuff. Jake Hager made an appearance after Moxley’s squash.

Watch the show here.

Tony Schiavone and Cody Rhodes welcomed us to the broadcast. They also served as commentary. Dasha Gonzalez was the ring announcer.

One side of the TNT Championship tournament was revealed:

  • Shawn Spears vs Cody Rhodes
  • Sammy Guevara vs Darby Allin

The other side of the bracket will be revealed Wednesday night (Apr. 1) on Dynamite.

Matt Sells vs Sammy Guevara

Guevara was in control until he gloated too much. Sells came back with the rear view to bounce Guevara’s head on the mat.

After a kick-out, Guevara rebounded with a cutter and a delayed vertical suplex. Sells had one more burst of offense in him before Guevara hit a Burning GTS to win.

After the match, Guevara grabbed the mic. Another W for Sammy. Nobody can do what he does. He is the best at everything. Sammy is the ruler of all the wrestlers, and they will bow to their king.

Shawn Dean vs Shawn Spears

Spears was solo without Tully Blanchard. He used chain wrestling, a big lariat, and a running DVD to win.

Preston “Vanilla” Vance vs Darby Allin

Vance is trained by QT Marshall at the Nightmare Factory. Allin posed in the corner, so Vance attacked with a German suplex off the turnbuckles prior to the opening bell.

Vance continued the pressure with a beating on the floor. Allin recovered via evasive maneuvers, but Vance maintained momentum back in the ring. Allin dodged a corner strike and launched into a suicide dive.

Allin also connected on a Lionsault and a Code Red. Vance battled back with a ripcord cutter and a pop-up cutter. In the end, Allin escaped a vertical suplex then rallied with an over-the-shoulder stunner and a Coffin Drop to win.

Faboo Andre vs Jon Moxley

Andre’s nickname is “The Monarch of Manliness” and hails from the butterfly garden. Apparently, Moxley had been working the camera during the show before it was time for him to have a match.

Moxley started with aggression, but Andre countered out with finesse. It didn’t take long until Mox buzzsawed through Andre. Moxley won with a Gotch piledriver then an STF submission to win.

After the match, Jake Hager ambushed the champ. Hager slammed Moxley then transitioned into an arm triangle choke. Hager grunted with each squeeze as oxygen escaped Moxley’s body.

AEW Dark

Dasha’s hands up in the background is a perfect reaction to nobody helping Moxley.

Moxley was choked out. Hager woke him up with a slap across the face. Hager swaggered to the back. A referee tried to help Moxley, but Mox took him down with a double leg before regaining his wits. That’s a slick reference to how semi-conscious MMA fighters react on muscle memory when they have no clue what just happened after a loss.

The headline for this episode of Dark was more build for the brewing feud between Jon Moxley and Jake Hager. The presence of those two made this episode feel important. It didn’t matter that Moxley was involved in a simple squash match. The champ in action will always bring excitement. The little bit of story build at the end was the cherry on that sundae. I’m more a fan of the Inner Circle than Moxley, but that attack makes me desire to see Moxley kick Hager’s ass. Well played by AEW in grabbing my emotions.

Preston “Vanilla” Vance was the show-stealer. He displayed a solid arsenal of maneuvers and definitely has the look with a chiseled body. Vance took me by surprise with his tenacity toward Darby Allin. I was not expecting this bout to be so competitive. Vance is someone who should get a roster spot with AEW in time.

Faboo Andre had my curiosity with his name and butterfly personality. Too bad he didn’t get much of a chance to flap his wings against Moxley. I’m hoping he gets a callback as Shawn Spears’ tag partner so we can have more exposure to the Faboo gimmick.

We’ll close with a minor detail. One thing I appreciate about this episode is giving all the enhancement talent the intro on the left side of the graphics. It’s a little thing, but the eye picks up their name first as we read left to right. That’s giving them a little bit of respect to allow a bigger chance of their name sticking in our memory banks.

Who stood out most for episode 27 of AEW Dark? Which match was your favorite?

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