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AEW Dark recap (Mar. 16, 2021): Tension in Team Taz

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Episode 80 of AEW Dark featured Luchasaurus in a big man fight, Leyla Hirsch being a boss, Joey Janela losing his cool with Sonny Kiss, discord among Team Taz, and 10 bleeding from his mask.

All does not seem will within Team Taz. It appears as if a tiff has arisen between Brian Cage and Ricky Starks. They were victorious against the duo of Joey Janela & Sonny Kiss, however, the win may have caused cracks in their foundation.

Cage was steamrolling early, then Starks tagged himself in. When Starks was in trouble, Cage threw his hands up in the air. The Jersey boys found their groove to rock and roll on Cage with a diving splash from Janela and a 450 splash from Kiss. Cage stayed in the game, so Janela and Kiss went to town with kicks. Cage was woozy, but he still managed to power his way out of the situation with a double slam to both opponents. Starks tagged himself in. As Cage was taunting the crowd, Starks speared Kiss for the win. Cage appeared to be frustrated that Starks ‘stole’ the glory. Bickering picked up as Starks posed and continued as they exited to the back.

AEW Dark

For what it’s worth, it seemed like Taz was backing Starks’ strategic plays while on commentary. I can see a case being made either way. Starks did show urgency while Cage was hotdogging, but his tags were made on his own accord rather than part of a cohesive team. Once the heat steamed, Taz wanted things to cool down.

Team Taz wasn’t the only duo with troubles. The losing squad of Janela and Kiss came close to splitting. After their loss, Janela yelled at Kiss. The Bad Boy was worried about losing his contract and going back to working for a hot dog and a handshake. As the crowd booed, Janela apologized and hugged it out with Kiss

Here’s the Dark lineup with ratings (Dynamite, competitive, showcase, squash) on which matches are worth your time toward Dynamite:

  • Luchasaurus vs. Cezar Bononi (competitive)
  • Leyla Hirsch vs. Savannah Evans (showcase)
  • John Skyler vs. John Silver (showcase)
  • Tesha Price vs. Penelope Ford (showcase)
  • Chaos Project vs. Fuego Del Sol & Jake St. Patrick (showcase)
  • KiLynn King vs. Jazmin Allure (showcase)
  • Angel Fashion, Baron Black, Vary Morales, & Ryzin vs. Colt Cabana, Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, & 5 (squash)
  • Gunn Club vs. David Ali, Adam Priest, & Seth Gargis (squash)
  • Bear Country vs. Dean Alexander & Brick Aldridge (squash)
  • D3 vs. Nick Comoroto (showcase)
  • Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs vs. Varsity Blonds (showcase)
  • Vertvixen vs. Madi Wrenkowski (showcase)
  • SCU vs. Carlie Bravo & Aaron Solow (showcase)
  • Sonny Kiss & Joey Janela vs. Brian Cage & Ricky Starks (Dynamite)
  • Jack Evans vs. 10 (Dynamite)

The final two contests were relevant to Dynamite. Team Taz’s issues were previously mentioned. Evans continued his mercenary mission of meddling with the Dark Order to earn Matt Hardy’s money. The opening two bouts were badass. Those were my favorite of the bunch. Luchasaurus and Bononi had a big man fight, while Hirsch and Evans was a classic little versus big story, except with the twist of Hirsch being a little powerhouse. Bear County and Nick Comoroto had cool power moves. Take your pick as you see fit on the rest.

Watch the show here.

Excalibur teamed with Taz to call the action. Anthony Ogogo and -1 stopped by to join commentary. Justin Roberts was the ring announcer.

Luchasaurus defeated Cezar Bononi. Peter Avalon was ringside. Luchasaurus sent Marko Stunt to the back prior to the bout. That was not a smart move since Avalon became physically involved in the contest.

Other than an awkward mishap in the flow when running the ropes, this was a pretty satisfying clash of big men. Luchasaurus had momentum with strikes, a German suplex, and a corkscrew kick. That’s when Avalon hopped onto the apron as a distraction leading to a jumping boot from Bononi. Luchasaurus escaped a pickup to shove Bononi into Avalon. The dino crushed the Brazilian with a fireman’s carry slam. Bononi surprisingly kicked out on the cover. The beasts began throwing blows in the center of the ring. Luchasaurus ducked a clothesline to attack with a hook kick. A chokeslam and standing moonsault earned him the win.

Leyla Hirsch defeated Savannah Evans. Evans had a huge size advantage. She pie-faced Hirsch, who responded with a German suplex. Evans used her power to take control. Hirsch rallied with a leg kick, running knee strike, and a leaping takedown transitioning into an armbar for victory.

Afterward, Vickie Guerrero was being a loudmouth in the front row. Hirsch got in her face before exiting.

John Silver defeated John Skyler. -1 was ringside. Silver rallied for a running boot and an airplane spin slam to win.

Penelope Ford defeated Tesha Price. Kip Sabian was ringside. Ford was extra ornery on this evening. She used that superbad attitude to finish Price with a heel kick and a handspring cutter.

Chaos Project defeated Fuego Del Sol & Jake St. Patrick. Luther executed a powerbomb on St. Patrick early. Fuego was able to make the save. Fuego rallied on the hot tag to hit a tornado DDT to Luther. Serpentico broke up the pin. Chaos Project regrouped to clobber Fuego with their elevated flying double knees teamwork maneuver. 1, 2, 3.

KiLynn King defeated Jazmin Allure. King executed a giant swing for 10 revolutions. Allure’s comeback was cut short when King countered a cazadora to drive Allure’s face into the mat. That surprise impact was the end of Allure.

Colt Cabana, Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, & 5 defeated Angel Fashion, Baron Black, Vary Morales, & Ryzin. -1 was ringside. Dark Order handled business by hitting signature moves. Cabana stretched the tap out from Ali on a reverse Boston crab.

Gunn Club defeated David Ali, Adam Priest, Seth Gargis. The bad guys tried to sneak attack, but the tables were quickly turned with each Gunn hitting their finisher. Austin picked up the pin with a hip toss neckbreaker to Ali.

Bear Country defeated Dean Alexander & Brick Aldridge. Boulder hit a double slam to both men at the same time. A totem pole splash crashed onto the two-man pile for the double pin win.

Nick Comoroto defeated D3. QT Marshall was ringside. D3’s speed frustrated the hairy muscleman, but Comoroto eventually caught D3 for a backbreaker. Comoroto crushed his opponent with a military press into a powerslam for victory.

Varsity Blonds defeated Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs. Griff Garrison used a hot tag to put Isaacs down with a Falcon Arrow slam. Nelson broke up the cover. The underdogs connected on a teamwork combo slam, but the Blonds quickly regained control. A discus elbow by Garrison and a flying clothesline by Brian Pillman Jr. took down Nelson for the three count.

Madi Wrenkowski defeated Vertvixen. Wrenkowski recovered from a running knee strike to gain control with a small package and a drop toehold. A running axe kick closed out the bout.

SCU defeated Carlie Bravo & Aaron Solow. Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian took awhile to beat the opposition, but they pulled together for a Best Meltzer Ever teamwork piledriver.

10 defeated Jack Evans. Evans dominated early. 10 rallied with a spinebuster and a spear to the springboarding Evans. 10 locked in a full nelson. Angelico ran out to cause a distraction. Evans low-blowed the Dark Order minion and connected on a Phoenix splash, but 10 had the intestinal fortitude to kick out on the pin. 10 went back to the full nelson to ragdoll Evans into unconsciousness. 10 was bleeding from his mask. Commentary wondered if he had a broken nose or a tooth knocked out.

AEW Dark

This episode of Dark was anchored by the two tag team dramas. I don’t want Team Taz to break up, but Cage’s potential might be maxed out within that crew. There’s not much for him to do if there are no plans for him to win official titles. AEW hasn’t shown much interest yet in putting the FTW belt up for grabs. Personally, I’d love to see FTW defenses for a hoss division. As for Janela and Kiss, I think most will be rooting for Kiss to kick Janela’s butt in a breakup.

Two other minor story beats were savvy. Vickie Guerrero and Leyla Hirsch exchanging words could lead to an intriguing fight with Nyla Rose. I particularly liked how Bear Country appeared to keep their heads on a swivel after victory to thwart another potential attack from Butcher, Blade, and Bunny. That’s a nice piece of continuation.

Three cheers for some of my favorite moves. John Silver’s airplane spin slam, KiLynn King’s giant swing, and Madi Wrenkowski’s monkey flip were great. Those classics will never go out of style. Bear Country and Nick Comoroto showed creative power attacks that were exciting.

Share your thoughts on Dark. Who stood out most for episode 80? Which was your favorite match?