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AEW Dark recap (July 20, 2021): Dustin Rhodes earns revenge


Episode 98 of AEW Dark featured Dustin Rhodes earning revenge on QT Marshall’s Factory, Diamante continuing her feud with Big Swole, and the Acclaimed getting dirty with the Varsity Blonds.

This edition of Dark was a quicker one at 47 minutes, so let’s jump right in. Here’s the Dark lineup with ratings (watch, competitive, showcase, squash) on which matches are worth your time toward Dynamite:

  • Ryan Mantell vs. Blade (squash)
  • KiLynn King vs. Thunder Rosa (showcase)
  • 5, 10, & Varsity Blonds vs. The Acclaimed & Private Party (competitive)
  • Promise Braxton vs. Abadon (squash)
  • Bunny vs. Big Swole (showcase)
  • Chad Lennex vs. Wardlow (squash)
  • Aaron Solo vs. Dustin Rhodes (competitive)

The 8-man tag contest was the most exciting of the bunch. Thunder Rosa and King had a short yet physical match. Rhodes and Solo round out my top three picks for the show with a bout driven by emotion.

Watch the show here.

Excalibur teamed with Taz to call the action. Justin Roberts was the ring announcer.

Dustin Rhodes opened the show with a promo. He has been in the professional wrestling industry for five decades and learned that there comes a time in life when you have to choose sides. Aaron Solo chose the wrong side aligning with QT Marshall and the Factory. Dustin hasn’t forgotten Solo hitting him from behind with a metal chair. Solo will be stepping into Rhodes’ backyard of Texas for the Dark main event, and Dustin is going to kick ass.

Blade defeated Ryan Mantell. Bunny was ringside. Complete domination finished with a Doctor Bomb.

Thunder Rosa defeated KiLynn King. Thunder was getting outmuscled, so she dropped down for a jawbreaker. That paved the way for running knee strikes and a dropkick in the corner. Thunder followed with a butterfly suplex. King came back with a German suplex. Thunder escaped a suplex for a backstabber counter. That dropped King for Thunder to cinch in the Peruvian Necktie submission.

The Acclaimed & Private Party defeated 5, 10, & Varsity Blonds. Julia Hart was ringside. Max Caster dissed his opponents in the form of a rap. He also teased the Texas crowd as haters. Caster wants to bounce like Texas’ Democrat lawmakers. The closing punchline was a present of French baguette bread for Hart. I suspect the intention was sexual innuendo.

During the match, Brian Pillman Jr. was hit by Silly String from Private Party. Isiah Kassidy attempted a step-up flying attack off Marq Quen’s back into the corner, but Pillman caught him to slam on top of Quen. Hot tag to Griff Garrison to clean house. Hotter tag to 10 for a spinebuster. Hottest tag to 5 for a moonsault. The bad guys broke up the pinfall. The match broke down into hectic exchanges of moves all around. Anthony Bowens grabbed his boombox to use for nefarious purposes. Hart prevented contact by snatching the foreign object. 5 took advantage for a standing Spanish Fly. Bowens kicked out on the cover. 5 climbed the corner, but Caster grabbed his foot. That allowed Private Party to pop in for Gin & Juice. Caster followed with a flying elbow drop for victory.

After the match, Bowens served up a rude message. He felt bad about teasing Hart last week. From the bottom of his heart... he doesn’t give a shit. The Acclaimed are tired of playing second fiddle to a team who’s strongest member is a cheerleader who loves to be tag teamed. The Acclaimed are going to make life a living hell for the Varsity Blonds until they pass them in the rankings and receive a tag title shot.

Abadon defeated Promise Braxton. The newcomer connected on a few punches then ran the ropes into a pop-up powerbomb by Abadon. The Living Dead Girl ended it with the leg wrap DDT.

Bunny defeated Big Swole. Blade was ringside. Swole picked up momentum, then Diamante made her presence known by calling Big Swole a big mouth. Bunny capitalized on the distraction. When Swole rebounded, Blade caused a referee distraction. Diamante pounced to kick Swole in the head. Bunny won on a roll-up grabbing the tights.

Afterward, Diamante backed away with a grin and engaged in long-distance trash-talk with Swole.

Wardlow defeated Chad Lennex. The underdog fired himself up only to run right into a chokeslam. Wardlow promptly finished the bout with his patented corner knee strike KO.

Backstage, Big Swole had a message for Diamante. Swole doesn’t like people messing with her money or her winning steak. Diamante did just that. They can have the match Diamante wants any place, any time.

Dustin Rhodes defeats Aaron Solo. QT Marshall and Solo worked the crowd with insults. Nick Comoroto was ringside as well. Solo ambushed Dustin before the bell, but the Natural quickly overcame the assault to clothesline Solo out of the ring. QT helped Solo regain control with a cheapshot punch to Dustin as the referee was distracted. Dustin rallied with an atomic drop, powerslam, and Code Red.

Solo kicked out of the three count. After back and forth kicks, Solo earned the edge with a German suplex and a corkscrew kick. Dustin refused to lose. Solo went for a Pedigree to finish, however, Dustin countered for a catapult into the corner. Solo was too slick and bounced back for a double stomp. Dustin evaded Solo’s advances by running the ropes to and fro then connecting for a bulldog to win.

Dustin Rhodes was the star of this episode. He started with a passionate promo and backed up his words in the ring. Dustin added flash with the Code Red, but he took it home with his bread and butter bulldog. Dustin has conquered Nick Comoroto and Aaron Solo. With Anthony Ogogo on the injury list, all that remains is a match with QT Marshall. Even though QT lost his battles to Cody Rhodes, there is still enough reason for the former tag partners to collide.

Thumbs up for the feud building taking place on Dark. The Acclaimed went way over the line with their insults to Julia Hart. As a result of their treatment of her, a more compelling reason was created for the Varsity Blonds to step up. It has become more than just business. Now, it is personal. Time for the Blonds to turn up the heat. Diamante and Big Swole have also taken the next step to stoking the fire to cook their beef. A case of simple interference added fuel for their eventual clash. These little moments go a long way in creating desire to see both future matchups.

Picking up on discussion of crowd reaction from the Elevation recap, Thunder Rosa is super over.

Share your thoughts on Dark. Who stood out most for episode 98? Which was your favorite match?

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