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AEW Dark recap (Dec. 21, 2021): The Mad King and the Extremely Cute Wrestler

Episode 122 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 video as the action went straight to the ring.

The Gunn Club vs. Lee Johnson and Brock Anderson (w/ Arn Anderson)

Austin Gunn was 20-2 and Colton Gunn was 30-1. Weird that they were billed by their individual records this time. Johnson and Anderson brought a team record of 5-2 to the match. The Universal Studios crowd chanted “Where’s your daddy?” at the Gunns. Brock turn his turn working over Austin and then Colton before Johnson tagged in. Johnson did an arm drag and arm wringer and tagged Brock back in. Colton put him down with a lariat and tagged in Austin for some ground and pound. Brock low bridged Austin and Johnson came back in. Johnson teased Cross Rhodes but Austin raked the eyes and Colton came back in. He put the boots to Johnson in the corner as Aubrey Edwards gave him a warning and the fans chanted “ASS-HOLE.” Austin tagged in to continue Johnson’s beat down. By the way is it just me or have the Orlando taping crowds gotten a little more lively lately?

The Gunns kept cutting off the ring and getting heat until Johnson fired up with punches and leapt out for the tag. Brock ran wild with lariats and shoulders to the gut. Double DDT to both Gunns led to a near fall. Colton gave Brock a kidney shot from the apron and Austin did an inside cradle for the pin. “The Enforcer” Arn did not look happy about that! As the old saying goes “this feud must continue.”

Abadon vs. Charlette Renegade

Abadon’s singles record coming in was 19-2. Renegade was waiting for her in the ring, making her third AEW appearance, 0-2 in her prior matches. Abadon was all over her immediately. She hit a back senton and a trapped the arm before driving Renegade face first into the mat for an easy win. If this went a minute it wasn’t even a second longer.

Eddie Kingston vs. Colin Delaney

Kingston brought a singles record of 29-10 while I sat here perplexed that they were putting this match third. I also figured (WW)ECW veteran Delaney would at least get an intro, but he was waiting for Kingston in the record with a prior AEW record of 0-1. Delaney made the mistake of chopping Kingston and got a hard receipt along with a dozen in the corner. Delaney returned the favor after kipping up to his feet with some forearms. Taz noted “he made Delaney” and Excalibur didn’t take the hint at first, until he finally wised up and said “he owes you some royalties.” Delaney came over the ropes with a stunner for a near fall. The crowd roared when Kingston recovered and made his comeback, and the last two big moves were a Saito suplex and a DDT before you could count the pin for three. This was fun and could have easily gone a few minutes longer.

Penelope Ford vs. Willow Nightingale

Ford’s singles record was 16-6 coming in. Nightingale’s record? 0-4. Well then. Nightingale kicked out of a pinfall and Ford screamed “Are you kidding me?” Then she got to hit a pounce and nearly sent Ford flying out of the ring! Unfortunately she missed on the moonsault off the ropes and Ford knocked her down with a dropkick before applying the Muta Lock for the submission. This was a squash but it went longer than I expected and Nightingale got more offense than you’d expect. This led to a Sonny Kiss interview backstage with Tony Schiavone. Naturally Joey Janela and Kayla Rossi interrupted.

Brandi Rhodes vs. Robyn Renegade (w/ Charlette Renegade)

Rhodes brought a singles record of 12-3 to the ring, where Renegade was already waiting with her record of 0-7 along with her sister. Wait? She recovered from the match with Abadon that fast? I don’t think I would’ve booked the show this way... but I also wouldn’t have put Eddie Kingston vs. Colin Delaney third, so leave a comment below if you think this was a mistake too. Charlette’s role here was to interfere repeatedly and force Rhodes to overcome the odds, but this brought Arn Anderson down to the ring to “enforce” the law. Charlette backed down and Rhodes hit the enzuigiri and a pop up elbow for two. Robyn side stepped a charge to the corner then seemed to get lost on her next spot, stopping to reposition Rhodes before doing a frog splash, which only got a near fall either way. Rhodes hit a pump kick and locked in the Stretch Mark for the tap. This whole match was awkward.

Jora Johl vs. Julius Coleman

Johl’s singles record coming in was 2-8. The good news for him though was that Coleman was already waiting in the ring and making his AEW debut tonight. Johl gave him a cradle shock and a running boot to the jaw for the pin to improve to 3-8. There was nothing to it. In fact it went short just so the following vignette from The Wingmen could be aired.

Isaiah Kassidy (w/ Jora Johl) vs. Carlie Bravo

Kassidy brought a singles record of 23-15 to the ring. Bravo was waiting in the ring with a record of 0-3. What’s up with bringing Johl back out so fast though? I realize they’re both in the Hardy Family Office, but it’s not like Kassidy was at ringside for Johl’s match. Kassidy did a torneo over the ropes to wipe Bravo out, but apparently didn’t land it flush as Bravo immediately socked him with a right hand. More of this match was fought outside than inside, and Johl got thrown face first into the stage for trying to interfere. Bravo hit a scissor kick and nearly got the upset win. Kassidy knocked him off the ropes with a corkscrew kick and pinned him seconds later. Score another win for “Zay.”

Kiera Hogan vs. Shalonce Royal

Hogan’s singles record was 3-4 while Royal’s record was 0-1. Oh no, Shalonce Royal? If you’re not familiar with her she sang opera during her last AEW match, and she did it again for this match. I was inordinately pleased when Hogan kicked her right in the throat. The roundhouse kick finished her off and Hogan reached the .500 mark. Hopefully in 2022 she’ll do even better than that.

Bear Country vs. Zack Clayton and Mike Orlando

Following their win on Elevation last night, Bear Country brought a team record of 11-4 to this match. Clayton and Orlando were waiting for them in the ring to make their tag team debut, so that record was inevitably improving to 12-4. I don’t really have a problem with squash matches, but when the only non-squash Dark matches feature Brandi Rhodes and Penelope Ford, you’re just not thinking with your head. Those are the women who need strong dominant singles wins to build up their credibility the most! I suppose AEW’s answer to my objections was to have Clayton and Orlando work over Bronson for a while, but he recovered so quickly to tag in Boulder it was like they did nothing at all. Boulder took out both men with a Samoan drop, DDT combo. Bronson got on Boulder’s shoulders for the Bear Bomb and the carpenter named Orlando got nailed to the mat. Tony Schiavone hit the ring for a post-match interview. The Acclaimed came out to accept their open challenge and book themselves a tag bout for Dark next week.

Preston “10” Vance (w/ -1) vs. Leroy Patterson (w/ Howdy)

Vance had a record of 35-6 coming in. Patterson was waiting in the ring to make his AEW debut. Apparently Patterson and Howdy are both from the “Go Big Show.” Patterson’s ring outfit was poor fitting and tore to shreds immediately, gimmicked to show off his sizable waistline, and Taz begged Excalibur to explain what they were calling. Excalibur: “What are we even doing here?” -1 stole Howdy’s cowboy hat and ran away, and the commentators were forced to compare this entire segment to a Benny Hill sketch. Vance put Patterson’s spine on the pine and locked in the full nelson to bring this to a merciful end.

Red Velvet vs. La Rosa Negra

Velvet’s singles record was 31-8. Negra’s record was 0-1. At this point in the show I was begging for an upset, especially since Negra appeared to easily be the bigger and the stronger of the two women. She held Velvet up in a delayed vertical suplex just to prove my point and hit a gordbuster for a near fall. Velvet went to the top rope with her and brought her off very awkwardly, nearly compressing her head into her neck. Velvet hit a bulldog, double knees to the back, a kick to the jaw and the Final Slice. The wrong woman won and Velvet should be better than that after 40 matches to boot.

Capt. Shawn Dean vs. Lucas Chase

Dean came in 3-4, while Chase waited for him in the ring with a record of 0-1. At this point in the show I had seen so many sloppy, bad, or one-sided matches I was having a hard time maintaining interest in Dark this week. Dean hit a splash for the pin in a super fast match and I had no objections to that.

Matt Sydal vs. Serpentico (w/ Luther)

Serpentico brought a singles record of 12-56. I don’t want you to think about that for too long, because if I did it would irritate me. Sydal brought a record of 30-26, which isn’t that great either, but at least he’s not losing nearly five times as many matches as he’s won. Okay now I’ve done it — I’ve actually thought about it. Luther is the worst thing to happen to Serpentico in his life. He’s a terrible mentor, a terrible partner, and terribly annoying to boot. If this was boxing or MMA, Serpentico would have fired him a long time ago. Then again with a record of 12-56 no athletic commission would sanction Serpentico for a match, so he should be thankful to be in the squared circle. The whole match I was begging for Luther to shut up and for Sydal to finish Serpentico off. I don’t envy Taz or Excalibur having to call a match while Luther screams “HEAD BUTT” over and over.

Serpentico tried a suicide dive to the outside, Sydal got out of the way, and Serpentico crashed into Luther to finally close his big yap. Sydal started working him over with kicks and came flying into the corner at top speed before a near fall. Sydal went to the top for the meteora and connected but Serpentico kicked out, and sadly at this point Luther got back to his feet. Excalibur questioned whether Shalonce Royal or Luther could hit a higher note, and I’d call that a dead even tie. Sydal missed with a roundhouse kick and Serpentico hit a flatliner for a near fall. He nearly fell through the ropes trying to climb the turnbuckle, but Sydal got out of the way before a stomp. Sydal hit the roundhouse kick and the lightning spiral for the pin. Taz: “Thank God, I’m getting a headache with this guy out here, Luther screaming, shut up!!” You’re the voice of the people Taz. Thank you.

What to watch/skip

In honor of Eddie Kingston’s Nuyorican heritage this week’s segment is brought to you by the late great Big Pun. Unfortunately this was a rare episode of AEW Dark that didn’t light my world on fire, and I have to try exceptionally hard to find the positives. Let’s see... La Rosa Negra looked good before Red Velvet nearly killed her, that’s one. Eddie Kingston got to whip Colin Delaney’s ass, that’s two. Hmm. After struggling for a while I finally concluded that Bear Country killing some jobbers was number three. You can skip almost everything else including the main event, because Luther is the most annoying human on planet Earth.

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!