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AEW Dark recap (Apr. 20, 2021): Darby Allin and Ricky Starks steal the show

Episode 85 of AEW Dark featured surprise promos from Darby Allin and Ricky Starks to steal the show.

The YouTube title for this edition of Dark was, “You Never Know Who Might Show Up!” The exclamation mark meant AEW better have surprise stars bringing heat. That’s exactly what happened.

Darby Allin opened the program to promote his TNT title defense against Jungle Boy on Dynamite. Lots of people compare Allin and Jungle Boy as alike. Allin disagrees. Jungle Boy is everybody’s friend, while Allin is here for championships. He offered advice for Jungle Boy to ditch the smile and turn the switch. Allin wants him to bring the fight.

That critique adds an interesting layer to the TNT matchup. There is potential for Jungle Boy to evolve with a mean streak in earning victory. If Jungle Boy doesn’t heed that advice, I can see Allin snapping to an extent and forcing Jungle Boy to break through the veneer exterior to become Jungle Man.

Ricky Starks has a prime opportunity to climb the charts by competing against #1 Hangman Page on Dynamite. Starks is eager to be Hangman’s huckleberry. Starks pointed out Hangman’s penchant to fall under pressure. Whereas, Starks makes diamonds when under pressure. It is time that Starks makes his way to the top.

Great setting, music, and low-key attitude from Mr. Absolute. While Hangman versus Starks looks nice on paper, the contest had no sizzle. That was until this promo. Starks’ confidence, motivation, and sass paints him as a hungry contender ready to take out the cowboy. I am now curious to see if he can.

Adding humor to the promo lineup was Ryan Nemeth and his wingmen, Cezar Bononi and JD Drake. Nemeth persuaded Drake to sexy up his look by trying a few new garments. Drake wasn’t interested in the shiny and mesh tops, but he was receptive to the floral print ensemble. Drake took exception to Bononi doubting his ability to be sexy, so Drake left in a huff to try on all of Nemeth’s suggestions. Nemeth was pleased with the unintentional good cop/bad cop routine. Dark left us with a cliffhanger waiting to see Drake strut his stuff.

Billy Gunn was eager to get payback for QT Marshall’s sucker punch on Dark: Elevation. QT called down the thunder, and now he is going to get it on Dynamite. There will be no place for QT to hide when they step into the ring for a singles contest.

QT had a bonus response that did not air on Dark. QT is tired of daddy helping his kids get opportunity they don’t deserve. QT experienced that growing up as a ball player behind the coach’s son. Billy does a disservice to the fans. Not QT though. The people want QT on their TV.

I don’t disagree with QT’s last statement. Even though I don’t believe for a second that he can defeat Cody Rhodes, I’ve enjoyed every second during his run as the Factory godfather.

Those promos are the perfect material to spice up Dark. Zesty, rich, and full of passion. Keep them coming.

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

  • Joey Janela vs. Will Allday (showcase)
  • Ryzin & John Skyler vs. SCU (showcase)
  • Big Swole & KiLynn King vs. Ashley MK & Steff MK (showcase)
  • Brick Aldridge & Cole Karter vs. Butcher & Blade (squash)
  • Sonny Kiss vs. Jake Manning (squash)
  • Jay Lyon, Midas Black, & Ken Broadway vs. Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, & 10 (squash)
  • Billy Gunn vs. Andrew Palace (squash)
  • Fuego Del Sol vs. Dante Martin (competitive)
  • Diamante vs. Queen Aminata (showcase)
  • Hayden Backlund & Kit Sackett vs. Varsity Blonds (showcase)
  • Max Caster vs. 5 (competitive)
  • Baron Black vs. Will Hobbs (squash)
  • PAC vs. Dean Alexander (squash)

Caster versus 5 and Fuego versus Martin were the top matches. Allday took Janela to the limit. All the rest were various levels of butt kicking. In my favorite contest from the bunch, Diamante’s aggression is always a delight.

Watch the show here.

Excalibur teamed with Taz to call the action. Ricky Starks stopped by to join the booth. Justin Roberts was the ring announcer.

Joey Janela defeated Will Allday. Sonny Kiss was ringside. Allday took charge for the majority of the contest. The tide turned on a moonsault attempt from Allday. I suppose Janela caught him for a cutter or something? I honestly have no idea why Allday ended up the one in pain. Janela took advantage to win via Death Valley Driver.

SCU defeated Ryzin & John Skyler. Hot tag to Christopher Daniels leading to the Best Meltzer Ever for Frankie Kazarian to pin Ryzin.

Big Swole & KiLynn King defeated Ashley MK & Steff MK. The MK twins are of Tongan heritage. Red Velvet was ringside. Hot tag to Swole leading to a game of pinball. Swole headbutt Ashley followed by a head kick from King finishing with a rolling elbow strike from Swole to win.

Butcher & Blade defeated Brick Aldridge & Cole Karter. Bunny, Private Party, and Matt Hardy were ringside. Butcher and Blade handled business to win with a neckbreaker powerbomb combo to Aldridge.

Sonny Kiss defeated Jake Manning. Joey Janela was conspicuous by his absence. Kiss scored a headscissors takedown off the turnbuckles. A split-legged stunner earned victory. Afterward, Kiss cut a promo. Kiss vowed to shake ass and kick ass when entering AEW. Now, the games are over.

Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, & 10 defeated Jay Lyon, Midas Black, & Ken Broadway. -1 was ringside. The Dark Order had little trouble in this contest. 10 hit a spinebuster to Broadway. Uno and Grayson finished Broadway with Fatality.

Billy Gunn defeated Andrew Palace. Austin Gunn and Colten Gunn were ringside. Billy took out his aggression from being sucker punched by QT Marshall on Dark: Elevation. A tilt-a-whirl slam and a Fame-Ass-er sealed the deal.

Dante Martin defeated Fuego Del Sol. The masked man connected on a Coast to Coast dropkick. Martin shed Fuego off on the tornado DDT attempt. A heel kick put Fuego on his back. Martin pounced for a 450 splash to win.

Diamante defeated Queen Aminata. Diamante was extremely aggressive, but Aminata caught her with an inside cradle. Once Diamante kicked out, she went on the attack with a German suplex, two clotheslines, and a bodyscissors straitjacket choke for victory.

Varsity Blonds defeated Hayden Backlund & Kit Sackett. The Blonds were in control with leg drops and neckbreakers. Backlund grabbed the mullet of Brian Pillman Jr. to stifle their flow. Hot tag to Griff Garrison leading to a teamwork flying powerbomb for the three count.

Max Caster defeated 5. Caster rapped about 5 being an incel with a shrimp dick. Anthony Bowens and 10 were ringside. 5 was in control looking to finish with a wingsnapper. Caster escaped by using a mule kick to the gut. Bowens went over to the timekeeper’s table to grab the boombox. 10 blocked a clear path to toss. 5 intercepted. As the referee was taking the boombox away, Caster grabbed his platinum chain. 5 dropped Caster with a spinning head kick. As 5 was on top for the cover, Caster popped 5 with a loaded punch to switch positions for an easy pin. Bowens assisted in hiding the evidence.

Will Hobbs defeated Baron Black. Hook was ringside. Black attacked prior to the bell, but he was no match for Powerhouse. Hobbs still pummeled his opponent. A spinebuster was followed by an inverted DDT. 1, 2, Hobbs pulled Black off the mat to finish him with an over-the-shoulder powerslam.

PAC defeated Dean Alexander. Fenix and Pentagon were ringside. PAC stormed the ring to stomp a mudhole in Alexander. The Brutalizer submission earned swift success.

Quick rundown of thoughts. Will Allday looked sharp. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought Joey Janela was the jabroni. I’d like to see more from the MK twins. Assuming Ashley and Steff have the adequate skills, they might be able to add toughness and roughness as bruisers in the women’s division. I love Diamante’s submission finisher. It looks cool and functional. Max Caster continued his dominance over the Dark Order. When will they learn to outsmart The Acclaimed and their shenanigans? Maybe -1 can brainstorm a game plan next time.

Share your thoughts on Dark. Who stood out most for episode 85? Which was your favorite match?

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