A pair of high-profile names made their AEW debuts Tuesday night on Dark. Josh Woods arrived as the current ROH Pure champion, and Marina Shafir moseyed in from Ronda Rousey’s Four Horsewomen stable.
Josh Woods is the current Pure champion of ROH. Pure refers to a specific ruleset showcasing technical wrestling. He is a member of the Foundation, headed by Jonathan Gresham, aiming to purify the word of professional wrestling. With ROH’s uncertain future as they head toward a hiatus, that freed up Woods to seek other opportunities.
Woods’ opponent for his Dark debut was Shawn Spears (at the 51:00 mark).
Woods received no special entrance. Excalibur described him as being on quite a tear on the independent scene. Woods extended his hand for the Code of Honor handshake. Spears wagged his finger to decline and replied, “Not here.”
Woods was treated as the better technician in the bout by hooking submissions on the savvy veteran. Spears was in serious trouble on an ankle lock. Spears rolled through to send Woods out of the ring. Woods sprang up with speed to climb the turnbuckles and fly with fury. Spears dodged the flying stomp then pounced to snatch Woods for a C4 to win.
That was a solid outing from Woods but nothing spectacular. The match was too short for them to hit an extra gear. As a fan of Woods, it was a bummer to see him receive the jabroni entrance treatment. Say what you will about the popularity level of ROH, but he was a major champion for that promotion. My initial reaction is AEW mishandled Woods’ debut, but there are too many unknowns in the equation to make a hardline declaration. If both parties are agreeable, then I’d love to see Woods sign with AEW. His ring skills are excellent in the Pure style. I believe he is more polished than the current young technicians of Daniel Garcia and Lee Moriarty. Woods also has the size to take on AEW’s heavyweights.
Marina Shafir opened Dark against Kris Statlander. Shafir is known as one of Ronda Rousey’s Four Horsewomen along with Shayna Baszler and Jessamyn Duke. She wrestled primarily in NXT and participated in Raw Underground. On Dark, Excalibur described Shafir’s skills as a strong judo and mixed martial arts background.
Shafir executed plenty of offense in a back and forth affair. She focused on mat wrestling with a few slams mixed in. When Statlander went for Big Bang Theory, Shafir escaped to counter with an ankle lock. Statlander broke free, poured on punishment, then secured a spider crab submission to win.
Shafir looked strong. She competed evenly against a major player in the women’s division. As one who doesn’t watch NXT, I was impressed by Shafir’s ability to flow smoothly. She also worked well displaying anger and toughness in the ring. I think Shafir would be a good fit for AEW. I’d love to see her in a technical bout against Serena Deeb.
Shafir offered post-match comments thanking AEW for the opportunity.
I am not owed a damn thing. Thank you @allelitewrestling and @TonyKhan for the opportunity. @callmekrisstat, problems are like shadows, and if you have a shadow, then you have a problem. Till next time.. #TheProblem pic.twitter.com/vhgTQwK5Vw— Marina Shafir (@MarinaShafir) December 15, 2021
Were you impressed by Josh Woods and Marina Shafir in their AEW debuts? Would you like to see them become All Elite?