Episode 96 of AEW Dark featured Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss burying the bad vibes, Ryan Nemeth on the receiving end of a terrible surprise, as well as Eddie Kingston and Pentagon prepping for their upcoming tag title shot on Dynamite.
When Janela leaned in for a hug, Kiss shoved him to the ground. Kiss reminded Janela about supporting him for his matches, while Janela left Kiss high and dry to get beat up. Janela tried to put the blame on Alex Marvez enticing him to spend time at go-go bars. Janela finally admitted that there is no one to blame. He doesn’t want Bad Boy Summer to turn to Sad Boy Summer without Kiss as his tag partner and best friend. They spent the worst year of their lives together. Janela wants to be there for Kiss the way Kiss was there for Janela.
Kiss issued an ultimatum. Janela can either exit through the door or they can settle their issues with a hug. When Kiss turned his back, Baker tried to convince Janela to strike from behind. Janela reached into his pocket for a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses. He wanted to go for tag team gold. Kiss broke into a big smile and hugged Janela. Baker kept doing a superkick motion trying to get Janela to act out.
Three cheers for a positive reconciliation. At least I hope it is a positive ending to this mini story. Janela is a tough book to read. I can’t tell if his actions were sincere or not, however, he sure did look happy during the hug. Baker was hilarious trying to rile up a double cross. Credit to AEW for acknowledging the potential for chicanery then swerving for the makeup between Janela and Kiss. That actually caught me off guard more than a heel turn from Janela would have.
While a breakup feud would have been interesting, Janela and Kiss never really got a chance to be winners in the tag division. Fans will be behind them as they climb up the rankings while Janela earns Kiss’ trust again, so there is plenty of room to roll with a renewed friendship before exploring a potential breakup again. In the meantime, let’s see some Bad Boy Summer go-go bar vignettes.
Here’s the Dark lineup with ratings (watch, competitive, showcase, squash) on which matches are worth your time toward Dynamite:
- Ryan Mantell vs. Lance Archer (showcase)
- Terrell Hughes & Terrence Hughes vs. QT Marshall & Aaron Solow (showcase)
- Natalia Markova vs. Abadon (showcase)
- Carlie Bravo vs. Matt Sydal (showcase)
- Tre Lamar vs. Blade (showcase)
- Big Trouble Bishop vs. Bear Bronson (showcase)
- Baron Black & Ryzin vs. Fuego Del Sol & Marko Stunt (showcase)
- Viva Van vs. Kris Statlander (showcase)
- Chad Lennex & Zachariah vs. Varsity Blonds (showcase)
- Prince Kai vs. Angelico (showcase)
- Wheeler Yuta vs. Ryan Nemeth (showcase)
- Hunter Knott & Rosario Grillo vs. Shawn Spears & Wardlow (squash)
- KiLynn King vs. Tay Conti (competitive)
- Will Allday, Jason Hotch, Chandler Hopkins, & Dean Alexander vs. Colt Cabana, 10, 5, & Alex Reynolds (showcase)
- Jack Evans vs. Mike Sydal (competitive)
- Ashley Vox vs. Red Velvet (showcase)
- Chaos Project vs. Pentagon & Eddie Kingston (showcase)
Whittling down 17 matches to my top picks, King versus Conti was the best, Evans versus Sydal was the most flexible, Bishop versus Bronson had an interesting flavor of tall man against burly man, and the Hughes boys had some cool callbacks to papa Devon.
Watch the show here.
Excalibur teamed with Taz to call the action. Ricky Starks joined commentary for a few matches. Justin Roberts was the ring announcer.
Lance Archer defeated Ryan Mantell. Jake Roberts was on commentary. The Monsterhawk did some murdering to start the bout. Mantell landed a few punches and also escaped Blackout. Archer put Mantell down for good with a helicopter slam.
QT Marshall & Aaron Solow defeated Terrell Hughes & Terrence Hughes. Nick Comoroto was ringside. The Hughes brothers pulled twin magic for Terrell to clean house. They worked together to land a flying headbutt to the groin. When Devon’s boys went for the 3D finisher, QT pulled one out of the ring. QT tagged in and hit a cutter for the win. Afterward, QT hit a cutter to the other Hughes brother.
Abadon defeated Natalia Markova. The Russian scored some offense, but the living dead girl crept back to win with a leg hook DDT.
Matt Sydal defeated Carlie Bravo. Mike Sydal was ringside. Matt landed a variety of flashy moves and closed out with a spinning leg lariat leading to a Lightning Spiral slam.
The Lightning Spiral gets @MattSydal the win! He’s locked and loaded and READY for tomorrow’s showdown with @AndradeElIdolo on #AEWDynamite’s #RoadRager!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) July 6, 2021
Watch #AEWDark NOW: https://t.co/za5YJpc7rY pic.twitter.com/GK2kwIBivy
Blade defeated Tre Lamar. Matt Hardy and Bunny were ringside. Blade hammered Lamar for much of the contest. Lamar picked up steam, but then he missed a flying elbow drop. Blade clobbered Lamar with a lariat. Bunny slipped in brass knuckles for Blade to connect on a loaded KO punch.
OUCH! #TheBlade uses the brass knuckles to score the victory. Will we see the same fate for @orangecassidy and @callmekrisstat in tomorrow’s mixed tag match against #TheBlade and #TheBunny at #RoadRager?— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) July 6, 2021
Watch #AEWDark NOW: https://t.co/za5YJpc7rY pic.twitter.com/H0YiGrxAY9
Bear Bronson defeated Big Trouble Bishop. Bear Boulder was ringside. Bishop was a very tall man. He held his own as the newcomer. Bronson was too burly in the end. He ran a streak of a high-crotch suplex, running corner splash, a second high-crotch suplex, battering lariats, and a butt drop to win.
Fuego Del Sol & Marko Stunt defeated Baron Black & Ryzin. Black and Ryzin had the power advantage for slams, but Fuego and Stunt rallied with their speed for double moonsaults to the outside. Believe it or not, Fuego actually connected on a tornado DDT. Stunt hit a suicide dive to take out Black, so Fuego could safely pin Ryzin for the three count. Sammy Guevara’s vlog crew celebrated Fuego’s first win in AEW.
TORNADO DDT…1-2-3! @FuegoDelSol picks up his FIRST WIN in #AEW! What a moment for Fuego, @realmarkostunt and @sammyguevara’s Vlog Crew!— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) July 6, 2021
Watch #AEWDark NOW: https://t.co/za5YJpc7rY pic.twitter.com/xhlgBVXLil
Kris Statlander defeated Viva Van. Orange Cassidy was ringside. The alien cartwheeled around the ring to boop Van on the nose. Statlander took charge to finish with the Big Bang Theory piledriver.
Varsity Blonds defeated Chad Lennex & Zachariah. Julia Hart was ringside. Dustin Rhodes accompanied his students, but he did not remain for the match. Hot tag to Griff Garrison setting up Brian Pillman Jr. incoming on a springboard clothesline for victory.
Angelico defeated Prince Kai. Angelico used an ankle pick takedown to transition into the Navarro Death Roll submission.
After Angelico’s win, he had an extended dance session. It took so long that his music stopped, and he still kept dancing. Wheeler Yuta made his way to the ring for the next bout. Angelico gave a shoulder bump to Yuta upon his exit from the stage.
Upset alert: Wheeler Yuta defeated Ryan Nemeth. The Wingmen were ringside and forcibly styled Yuta’s hair when he was knocked out of the ring. Nemeth was too cocky on the gyrating neckbreaker attempt. Yuta escaped and used a low trip to trap Nemeth in a tricky pin for the surprise win. Everybody was shocked. Yuta didn’t even believe it himself.
Shawn Spears & Wardlow defeated Hunter Knott & Rosario Grillo. The Pinnacle ran roughshod over the competition. Wardlow slammed his opponents into oblivion then tagged in Spears for the C4 finisher. Spears was crotchety the entire time. The idea was to show he has a mean streak.
Tay Conti defeated KiLynn King. -1 was ringside. King was close to winning on a pumphandle side slam. Conti rallied with fast-paced offense. On the apron, King caught a kick and turned it into a slam. Back in the ring, Conti countered a hip toss into a hammerlock DDT for victory.
The Varsity Blonds were asked what’s next for them. The duo will keep winning with consistency until the tag team titles are around their waists.
Colt Cabana, 10, 5, & Alex Reynolds defeated Will Allday, Jason Hotch, Chandler Hopkins, & Dean Alexander. -1 was ringside. The Dark Order strut their stuff. 10 exploded for a spinebuster to Alexander. 5 followed for a frog splash to win.
Jack Evans defeated Mike Sydal. Matt Hardy and Matt Sydal were ringside. Angelico joined for Evans’ entrance, but he went to the back to relax from his earlier win. Sydal had momentum until Evans shoved him toward the referee. Sydal stopped short, which allowed Evans to pounce from behind for a back slide bridging pin to win.
Red Velvet defeated Ashley Vox. Velvet took control with an axe kick to Vox hanging between the ropes. Lil Cupcake continued her offensive barrage with running double knees to the back. That paved the way for a spinning head kick for victory.
Pentagon & Eddie Kingston defeated Chaos Project. Alex Abrahantes was ringside. The rugged fight flowed in favor of Penta and King. Kingston hit a back drop suplex to Serpentico, then Pentagon followed with a package piledriver to win.
At 17 matches, the action all kind of blended together. The top moment that stands out in my mind was Wheeler Yuta’s upset win over Ryan Nemeth. That added some much desired unpredictability to the broadcast. I’m curious to see if Yuta becomes a player on AEW’s YouTube shows. The brush with Angelico then the victory would seem to be the start of setting up a minor storyline for Yuta. Surely the Wingmen will want payback. That in itself could last a month. Yuta would be a solid pickup for AEW’s roster. He has shown a unique set of skills in MLW, ROH, and elsewhere. Yuta is also slick on the steel drum.
“I Shot the Sheriff”— YUTA (@WheelerYuta) March 28, 2020
Longer version available on Instagram
IG: wheeleryuta pic.twitter.com/diDu6fk5Nl
It is time for Lance Archer to dump the Blackout move. When jabrones are escaping from it, that’s not a good look. Tre Lamar and Big Trouble Bishop caught my eye as newcomers. Lamar is capable of nifty athletic moves, and Bishop used his height well, especially dipping into the big man arsenal for the sidewalk slam. KiLynn King’s pumphandle side slam was very cool.
Share your thoughts on Dark. Who stood out most for episode 96? Which was your favorite match?