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AEW Dark recap (Nov. 23, 2021): Moriarty gets the main event!

Episode 118 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for the Cageside Seats stream. Let’s talk about what went down on YouTube. Your commentary team was Excalibur and Taz. There was no intro this week as AEW went straight to the ring!

Alex Reynolds & John Silver (w/ -1 & The Dark Order) vs. “Captain” Shawn Dean & Carlie Bravo

Dean & Bravo brought a record of 0-3 to this match. Reynolds & Silver were 6-0 coming in. Silver did a high crotch takedown on Bravo immediately, then grounded him with an armbar and a knee. He got up and hit a forearm to the face but Silver knocked him down with a shoulder tackle. Reynolds tagged in for a double team move and tagged right back out. Silver unloaded with chops and kicks as the crowd chanted “one more time.” Bravo blocked it and hit a forearm to the face, but Silver did a waist lock takedown. Dean made a blind tag and a back senton before an elbow drop to set up a near fall. The heels cut off the ring for a bit as -1 paced on the outside. Silver finally escaped and ran over Bravo before kipping back up to his feet. Cravate neckbreaker for two. Dean does The Deal but Silver breaks it up. The ref loses all control as everybody hits the ring. Silver and Reynolds do a jack knife roll up combo to secure the victory. Fun match but a mess at the end.

Karma Dean vs. Riho

Riho is 10-2 following her win last night. Dean was making her AEW debut. It ended quickly with Riho’s double foot stomp but Dean tried some hair pulling and dirty tactics to gain an advantage. It didn’t work. It never works on Riho. To beat Riho you need somebody at ringside to pull her off the ropes when she goes to the top.

2point0 & Daniel Garcia vs. Gabriel Hodder, Adrien Soriano, & Matthew Omen

2point0 were 7-3 and Garcia was 7-6 coming in. Their opponents were already waiting in the ring to make their AEW trios debut. Taz spent his time complaining about “that loud mouth, big mouth” Bryce Remsburg. Jeff Parker took some forearms to the face but Matt Lee was able to make a blind tag and they hit Soriano with Two for the Show. Garcia put him in a Scorpion Deathlock and refused to let go as Soriano tapped. This may have been even faster than Riho’s match with Dean. Schiavone let them talk trash to fill additional time before we moved on to our next match.

Notorious Mimi vs. Kiera Hogan

Hogan came in 2-4. Her opponent Mimi was waiting in the ring with a record of 0-1. Hogan said in a recent interview that she feels “lost in the shuffle” in AEW, and frankly I wouldn’t mind seeing her more often myself. Mimi pulled her hair and Hogan responded with a dropkick. Mimi gave her a big boot to the jaw and hit a side slam for a near fall. Mimi pounded on her back but Hogan hit a leg drop on the back of her head (Taz marked out for that). Hogan gave her a boot to the jaw in the corner and sent her back to the center of the ring for a roundhouse head kick and a pin, improving her record to 3-4.

Bear Country vs. Chad Lennex & Caine Carter

Bear Boulder and Bear Bronson came in 9-2 overall. Lennex and Carter were making their team debut. Lennex tried to get a hot start, Boulder no sold it and floored him with ease. Elevated overhead press. Bronson dropped him straight down on his face, screamed and tagged Bronson in. Lennex tried a boot to the gut and a sunset flip. Carter ran in to make the save and he sat on Lennex while pile driving Caine. Boulder tagged back in, picked up and slammed both mean, and tagged Bronson. Boulder picked up Bronson and gave him the assisted splash onto both men for the pin. Now that was a very literal squash.

Anthony Greene vs. Jameson Ryan

Greene entered first with a singles record of 0-2. The fact he was entering first though was a good sign, as was the fact his opponent Ryan was waiting for him in the ring with a singles record of 0-1. Greene got the first near fall, both men did a criss cross running the ropes, and Greene hit a suplex and unloaded with a hard chop. Ryan ate a suplex backward onto his head and Greene came off the ropes with a crossbody. Kick to the gut and a crucifix driver for a dominant victory, improving the former August Grey’s record to 1-2.

Tony Schiavone came in to interview him afterward. “Man, do I love AEW!” Schiavone says that Greene gets a match with Adam Cole on Dark next week. “Tony Schiavone, I was feeling good, and now I’m feeling great. I’m not here to be some one and done. Adam Cole I said I wanted the best, and now the alternative is going to the top of All Elite Wrestling.”

Joey Janela (w/ Kayla Rossi) vs. Zack Clayton

Clayton brought a record of 0-2 to the match and was already waiting in the ring for the 10-4 Janela. Rossi distracted Clayton when he had the advantage and Janela nearly got a schoolboy. Clayton put Janela in a delayed vertical suplex and walked around the ring before bringing him down hard. Rossi grabbed Clayton’s boots and Janela hit an uppercut. I don’t know if the story they’re trying to tell is that Janela can’t win without Rossi’s help but intentionally or otherwise that’s what they were doing. Janela teased going coast to coast and then jumped down to piss the fans at Universal Studios off, then looked at the camera and said “Don’t ever fall in love with the Jersey shore!” The next time he went to the top rope Clayton rolled out of the way and hit a power slam. Janela hit a thrust kick but Clayton kicked out. While Janela was on the outside Rossi hit a moonsault. Janela tried to bring in the timekeeper’s bell and was stopped. He came off the ropes with an elbow and hooked the leg for the pin. Taz: “You gotta give an assist to Rossi.” You sure do Taz, you sure do.

In a backstage interview Bear Country declared that nobody was hungrier and they were ready to break the limbs of the best technical wrestlers. “We want blood, and we want championships. AEW is Bear Country.”

Valentina Rossi vs. Emi Sakura (w/ Lulu Pencil)

Sakura came into this match 8-2. So yesterday on Elevation they told us that Lulu Pencil wasn’t accompanying Sakura because she went back to Japan, but here she is, so that’s an unintentional tip of the hand to how long ago these Dark matches were taped. Rossi had a singles record of 0-4 in AEW before the opening bell. Sakura tried to rip the hair out of her head and Taz quipped that usually girls from Jersey are the ones doing that instead of the other way around. Sakura put her in the bow and arrow, stomped on her back, got the double underhooks, and raked Rossi’s back with her fingernails. Rossi tried some right hands and got cut off with a chop to the chest both times. Rossi blocked a suplex and did a splash in the corner before a neckbreaker for a near fall. Pencil nearly had a heart attack seeing this. Sakura gouged the eyes to get out of a sleeper and stomped out “we will rock you.” Crossbody. Top rope bomb. She pulled up Rossi before the pin, then hit the Queen’s Gambit and made the cover with a knee on her face. Sakura gave Rossi more than any match she’s had in AEW before. I like Rossi but she needs to work on her strikes. Those right hand punches aren’t very believable.

Brick Aldridge vs. Matt Hardy (with Jora Johl)

“Big Money” Matt Hardy came in 20-10. Brick Aldridge was waiting in the ring with a singles record of 0-1. “What’s your name?” “Brick Aldridge.” “What’s my name?” “Matt Hardy.” “You may know my name, but you don’t know who I am. I am Big Money Matt Hardy and after tonight you will learn to say my name with reverence!!” Johl provided the assist so that Aldridge spilled to the outside, and Hardy worked him over on the apron before hitting a pair of neckbreakers. “Say my name with reverence!” Aldridge fought back with punches to the body but Hardy put him in a sleeper. Aldridge drove him backward into the turnbuckle twice to escape, hit him with an elbow, and went to the second rope. Hardy cut him off and went up himself. Aldridge hit punches to the ribs, shoved him off, and did a diving headbutt. He writhed around in pain before making the pin and only got a two count as a result. Hardy threw a forearm, the Side Effect was blocked, Aldridge scooped him up and hit a shoulder breaker. Johl tried a distraction, got knocked off the apron, and that gave Hardy long enough to recover and avoid Aldridge coming off the ropes. Side Effect, Twist of Fate, and the pin. Nice to see him pick up a win without doing The Leech, even if Johl had to help him do it. Aldridge could teach Valentina Rossi how to throw better pulled punches.

Lee Johnson & Brock Anderson (w/ Arn Anderson) vs. The Acclaimed

Johnson & Anderson entered first with a tag team record of 4-1. Caster: “It’s The Acclaimed, yeah Max and Anthony. We about to take apart the Nightmare Family. We beat Shotty’s ass a while back, and 2005 wants their hairstyle back. And Brock looks straight out the 80’s. I bet you only get with 50 year old ladies.” Bowens: “Universal Studios! The Acclaimed have arrived.” By Max Caster’s standards that was a PG-13 rap.

Anderson and Johnson were in control of Caster early, but Bowens tagged in and unloaded on Johnson with chops. He missed the dropkick though and Johnson connected with his. Anderson tagged back in and got his eyes raked. Anderson got sent hard into the ring apron and Bowens worked over the back. Caster tagged in and hit kicks to the gut, and as the ref warned him to get out of the corner Bowens choked Anderson from behind. Back breaker by Caster. He dragged him to the corner and grapevined the legs until Bowens came in off the tag. Anderson tried to get back up with punches but took a knee to the gut. He low bridged Bowens to the floor with knees to the gut. Caster distracted the ref so that Anderson couldn’t make the legal tag. They cut off the ring with quick tags to work him over. Anderson hit a DDT but Caster tagged in before he could get to the corner. Anderson hit a spinebuster on him and finally Johnson got the legal tag! Neckbreaker for Caster. Kick to the face for Bowens. Step up enzuigiri for Bowens. Two win on one, one wins on two. Caster and Johnson both kiped up to their feet. Johnson hit a frog splash and Bowens broke it up at the last second. Caster with a missile dropkick. Anderson tagged in and knocked Caster down twice then hit spears to the gut. Bowens fed a steel chain to Caster and he hit Anderson in the gut to make the pin. The Acclaimed run away before Johnson and Anderson could get their revenge.

Wardlow vs. Rolando Perez

Wardlow brought a singles record of 21-3 to the ring. His diminutive opponent Perez was making his AEW debut. Taz: “We’d better get a body bag for homeboy! This is gonna be real bad, I promise!” He ran at Wardlow and Wardlow no sold everything he did. Perez fell to his knees and begged for mercy. He kissed Wardlow’s boots. Wardlow picked him up and threw him down hard, then hit three more powerbombs after the crowd begged for just one more. Overhead press into the Casualty of War. The ref immediately called for the bell. You can’t get a more one sided Wardlow match than that. He hit two F10’s after for good measure. Taz: “No more Wardlow. Just leave poor Perez alone!”

Nick Comoroto (w/ Aaron Solo) vs. Lee Moriarty

Main event time! Moriarty entered first with a singles record of 1-6. Comoroto brought a singles record of 14-12. How does a guy who looks like the living reincarnation of Bruiser Brody have a record that’s barely over .500? He’s so big he looks like he ate Moriarty for breakfast. As you might expect the “taiga style” of Moriarty was no match for Comoroto early, and Solo was there to make sure Moriarty couldn’t mount any successful comebacks. Moriarty finally knocked Comoroto to the outside with an uppercut and went outside to work over the left arm. He tried to throw Moriarty into the ring post but ended up hitting it with his left shoulder instead with Moriarty escaped. Moriarty worked over the arm on said post before coming back in. He hit a DDT/shoulder breaker combo for two and applied a kimura. Comoroto got back into control but was selling his arm and Moriarty kicked it to escape. Moriarty got a boot up as he was charging in, but Comoroto picked him up one handed with his good arm. He was too busy showing off though because Moriarty went for an arm bar, Comoroto tried to defend it, and Moriarty cradled him for the big pin!

Tony Schiavone went to interview him afterward. “I don’t feel 100 percent, but, since the first day that I stepped into an AEW ring I faced almost every style you can think of. Catch wrestling, strong style, lucha libre. After every single fight I learned, I adapted, and I evolved. Tonight I overcame a massive obstacle in Nick Comoroto. The next step is continuing my rise and showing why taiga style is the style and Lee Moriarty is the future of All Elite Wrestling.” Well done young man!

What to watch/skip

This week’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you the “taiga style” of the Wu-Tang Clan. I loved seeing Lee Moriarty get the big win over a much bigger man in the main event and I encourage you to watch it more than once. Great psychology throughout as Moriarty broke down his opponent to gain an advantage so that the roll up felt like a big deal instead of a cheap finish. Johnson & Anderson vs. The Acclaimed was excellent, and to my surprise Zack Clayton looked like more of a star in his match with Joey Janela than vice versa. I have nothing to tell you to skip. Even the squash matches were so short, brutal or one-sided that I found them entertaining. Yup. Not a single boring thing this week. My only ask is that Kiera Hogan get more matches and they be longer and against better competition.

Cageside commentary crew! Leave your feedback in the comments section below. I’m also on Twitter if you want to hit me up. See you next Monday night for Elevation!