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AEW Dark recap (Dec. 14, 2021): Did Shawn Spears have the goods on Josh Woods?

Episode 121 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for the Cageside Seats stream from YouTube. Your commentary team this week was Excalibur and Taz. Let’s talk about what went down on Dark tonight! There was no intro as this packed broadcast went straight to the ring for some wrestling.

Marina Shafir vs. Kris Statlander (w/ Orange Cassidy)

Kris Statlander brought a record of 27-5 to this match. Former NXT wrestler (and MMA fighter) Marina Shafir was already waiting for her in the ring, making her AEW debut in this match. The two immediately went into a lockup and Statlander overpowered her into the corner, breaking clean on the instructions of Aubrey Edwards. The duo traded arm wringers and Shafir overpowered her until Statlander applied a hammerlock. Back and forth they went, which was clearly by design, as this entire match felt like a tryout for Shafir in front of a live audience.

Shafir used her hips as a weapon and hit a judo throw to show off her MMA background. Statlander responded with cartwheels and booped her nose! Shafir kicked her in the head, in the back, then tried to rip Statlander’s nose off in return. Shafir dropped her to a knee with body shots and applied a wrist lock. Statlander made a comeback and hit a gordbuster for two. Shafir did a pump handle driver for 2.9 and immediately followed with ground and pound. She went for a kimura but Statlander drove her into the corner. Statlander hit shots to the body and tried to hit The Big Bang Theory but Shafir countered into a leg lock. Statlander kicked her away and got an inside cradle for two. Backbreaker/clothesline, kick to the head, and a spider crab finally got Statlander the win.

Honestly even though everyone’s favorite alien won the match, Shafir was the one who shined here. I’ve got to think they are high on signing her based on the booking tonight.

Nick Comoroto vs. Dean Fleming

Comoroto came to the ring sporting a 15-14 record. Fleming was waiting for him in the ring and looked like a man who had been picked up on the street outside Universal Studios in his dress shirt and tie... except he had wrestling boots on. Dress shoes would have completed the clueless look. Comoroto begged Fleming to hit him, no sold every strike, then leveled him with a knee to the body. Comoroto took off his tie, put it around his own neck, then hit a waterwheel drop trying to drive him straight through the floorboards. Squash City!

Riho and Ryo Mizunami vs. Emi Sakura and Mei Suruga

“Massive joshi tag team action!” Taz was right about that. Sakura and Suruga were billed as “making their tag team debut” even though we’ve seen her at Sakura’s side helping her out time and time again in a less official capacity. Riho came in 16-4 and Mizunami was 18-7, both billed by their singles record. Aubrey Edwards lost control of the match immediately as all four women got in the ring to mix it up, the heels in control before the bell, the faces clearing the ring afterward. Suruga and Sakura blatantly double teamed Riho and Suruga cackled when caught like an anime antagonists. “Oh ho ho ho!” I wouldn’t want every joshi wrestler in AEW to do that, but it makes me smile when Suruga does it.

Mizunami made a comeback for her team and put Suruga in a rolling head and arm triangle. Suruga had to get to the ropes to escape, then tried to put Mizunami out with a sleeper, but she too got a rope break. Suruga did a nasty double stomp to the back and a tornado code red for two. Riho tried to make the save and ate a back breaker, then Suruga did an assisted rolling senton for a near fall. Mizunami caught Suruga and threw her backward right on her head, then Riho tagged in and hit Suruga with a rising knee. She missed the double stomp and got rolled up, then she and Suruga traded rapid fire near falls, until Riho escaped a Code Red with strikes and went to the top rope. Sakura interfered and Suruga dragged her off the top. Suruga hit a flying elbow and Sakura held onto Mizunami’s leg to keep her from making the save, but RIho still kicked out. She put Suruga away with a knee strike.

Jade Cargill (w/ Mark Sterling) vs. Valentina Rossi

Cargill brought her undefeated record of 20-0 to this bout. Rossi brought her unflattering record of 0-5. The fans chanted “Jade’s gonna kill you.” They were right. Cargill gave her a Canadian backbreaker, a pump kick to the face, and a Glam Slam for the pin. Ouch.

Angelico vs. Invictus Khash

TH2’s Angelico came out with a singles record of 9-8. Meanwhile his tag team partner Jack Evans is dealing with la policia in Mexico City, which is never a good situation to be in. Khash was waiting for him in the ring with an AEW record of 0-3. One fan loudly yelled out “Make him humble!” Iron Sheik memes will never die. Excalibur gave a shout out to Khash’s trainer, the late Buddy Wayne, and I appreciate that more than he could possibly know. Khash got a bear fall for less than a one count but it still caused Taz to say it was “a hard feat” to hang with Angelico. He did more than hang — he took control and forced Angelico to fight off multiple pin attempts. Angelico finally got back on top with a double stomp to the chest, a roundhouse kick, an enzuigiri, grapevined the legs and forced Khash to tap out to a death roll. Khash looked good but sadly the crowd was dead for most of the match.

Tay Conti (w/ Anna Jay and -1) vs. Heather Monroe

Conti brought a record of 40-7 along with her friends for this match. Monroe brought a record of 0-2. Conti nearly got rolled up on a cross armbreaker attempt and had to let it go. Monroe talked some smack, gave her a neckbreaker, laughed, and got a near fall. Conti and Monroe did the “boo/yay” spot and Conti got the better of it. Conti went to the top rope, Monroe avoided, Conti hit a release German suplex followed by a series of pump kicks in the corner. The D-D-Tay finished Monroe off. She got way more offense than I expected. Afterward we got a promo from Sonny Kiss for a rematch with Joey Janela.

Lee Johnson and Brock Anderson (w/ Arn Anderson) vs. Tony Donati and Faboo Andre

Johnson and Anderson came to the ring with an record of 4-2. Donati and Andre were back for their second match, sporting a record of 0-1 in AEW. I will say this for them — they had matching trunks. Other than that they looked like two geeks and got squashed like it too. Poppa Arn was pleased to see his son drop Tony Donati with a gordbuster for the pin and did an interview with Tony Schiavone afterward. He said he got in too much trouble the last time someone gave him a mic so we went to Johnson and his son for comments instead, but they got interrupted by the Gunns to set up a future fight between all four.

Ryan Nemeth (w/ Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi) vs. Chuck Taylor (w/ Wheeler YUTA)

Nemeth came to the ring 5-9. Taylor came in 21-11. Nemeth tried to get the pin using his feet on the ropes. YUTA broke it up and Nemeth screamed “You’re no hunk!” Taylor immediately gave him an inside cradle for the pin. The Wingmen hit the ring to give Taylor a beatdown and Orange Cassidy walked down to make the save. The heels decided to take a powder, having no interest in a fair fight whatsoever. Kris Statlander ran down from the match so the Best Friends could give the people what they want!

Josh Woods vs. Shawn Spears

Spears walked out with a chair in his right hand, singles record of 16-4, red hood draped over his head like a prize fighter. Josh Woods was waiting for him in the ring to make his AEW debut. To be honest I had a little trouble wrapping my head around this one — the current ROH Pure Title champion having a figurative and literal “dark” match — but at least he had credibility here and didn’t get smashed like most people making their AEW debut. Spears took control with some knee strikes with the left knee pad pulled down, and he made a show of pulling it back up to make Orlando boo him more. Woods took advantage by going for an ankle lock and blasting him with a rising knee strike in the corner before going for the ankle again. Spears screamed in pain and teased tapping out but managed to kick Woods away. Woods went to the top rope, Spears got out of the way, Spears hit the C4 and the match was over. Sign, Josh, Woods. Sign him retroactively. Sign him twice! Up next was Joey Janela’s response to Sonny Kiss for their fight in two weeks time.

Nyla Rose vs. Zeda Zhang

Rose brought a singles record of 24-5 and surprisingly Vickie Guerrero did not accompany her for this match. Zhang was waiting in the ring with a record of 0-2. You know what that means. Beast Bomb, pin. 90 seconds bell to bell if not less.

Arjun Singh vs. Tony Vincita

Singh entered first with a record of 0-3. Vincita was waiting for him in the ring to make his AEW debut. This is one of those rare cases where “somebody’s oh has got to go” only it was in the opposite column on the stat sheet. Vincita shouted “Who’s the man?” and someone quipped “Not you!” right back. Wrestling fans are the best, especially in small venues like this. Vincita knew he was getting a reaction and continued to play to the crowd, showing an incredible awareness of his environment. He hit a missile drop kick for a near fall as the crowd politely chanted “Singh, Singh, Singh” — prompting Vincita to yell “Your boy sucks!” Readers, I would sign Vincita just for managing to get heat in an absolute nothing of a match like this. That takes skill. The crowd was actually pleased to see Singh pick up his first win as a result — it’s just too bad his back was to the camera when he hit his finisher. Maybe the post-match tweet from All Elite Wrestling will help.

Evil Uno, Alex Reynolds, and Colt Cabana vs. 2point0 and Daniel Garcia

2point0 brought a 9-7 record while Garcia came in 9-9. 28-16, 22-13 and 25-11 were Uno, Reynolds and Cabana respectively. Reynolds got shoulder blocked into the barricade and the heels cut off the ring for a three and one beatdown when he got thrown back in, causing a “you suck” chant to break out. Taz pretended it was directed at his partner instead. “Excalibur I apologize for these rude people.” After a prolonged beatdown Uno got the hot tag and single-handedly took out 2point0. Cabana tagged in for a round of dropkicks and a Flying Apple to everyone. 2point0 backed Uno into the corner, Reynolds got on top of them and hit a superplex, and Garcia kicked out as Cabana threw elbows everywhere. Unfortunately for him a Two For the Show was his fate as AEW Dark went off the air with one last plug for Hangman Page vs. Bryan Danielson tomorrow night!

What to watch/skip

This week’s “what to watch/skip” for AEW Dark is brought to you by Wrestle and Flow. Mei Suruga was amazing in her debut and it’s clear that Emi Sakura has trained her very well. I’m super stoked that Josh Woods made his AEW debut and looked good even in taking the L. Singh vs. Vincita was the best match between two winless guys you’ve seen in a while and it was almost entirely due to Vincita getting the Orlando crowd to react. Angelico vs. Khash was better worked but didn’t have nearly the heat. There’s a lesson in that. Skip Cargill vs. Rossi, Rose vs. Zhang and Comoroto vs. Fleming if you skip anything, even though all three were quick and the last one made me laugh. Another fun episode of Dark top to bottom.

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