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AEW Dark recap (Aug. 17, 2021): Aliens need friends too!

Episode 103 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for the Cageside Seats stream. Let’s talk about what went down on our regularly scheduled Tuesday night party — private, or otherwise. Excalibur and Taz were on commentary.

2.0 vs. Skyler Andrews & Sam Adams

Matt Lee and Jeff Parker got one last chance to shine before their Texas tornado tag match with Sting and Darby Allin on Dynamite this week. That made Skyler Andrews and Sam Adams the jobbers of the moment. They didn’t even have an AEW record going in as this was their tag team debut. The former Ever-Rise were working heel in front of this Pittsburgh crowd, even mocking Sting’s signature spots in the match. Andrews ate Two for the Show for the pin and the crowd booed in response. Solid opener.

Tay Conti vs. Rebecca Scott

Ricky Starks joined commentary with his FTW title in tow. Like our previous match we had a newcomer with no AEW record in Scott. Conti held her in place to hit her with chops, played to the crowd, and hit one more each time they encouraged her. When Scott tried to fire up she got overwhelmed with forearms and arm drags. Tay finished her with the DD-Tay per usual. The shorter Conti’s matches are the better, and this was one of the best.

Lee Johnson & Brock Anderson (w/ Arn Anderson) vs. Joey Keys & Spencer Slade

Ricky Starks was replaced by Thunder Rosa on commentary. Having seen Keys on Elevation last night I had little hope for his team here... and I was right. In fact Keys was the one who ate the pinfall at the hands of Arn Anderson’s son after a high back bodydrop and a DDT. Solid match but nothing special.

Matt Hardy (w/ Private Party) vs. Wheeler YUTA (w/ Chuck Taylor)

It’s hard for me to believe YUTA had a WWE tryout and they weren’t interested, but then again it’s hard to believe a lot of things about WWE of late. Commentary pointed out that he hails from Philadelphia and would thus be well familiar with Pittsburgh, and the crowd certainly seemed to be behind him against “Big Money” Matt. Private Party provided a distraction when YUTA went outside so Hardy could hit him with a missile dropkick from behind and drop him across the barricade. YUTA fired up after a failed sleeper hold attempt and got a shotgun dropkick for a near fall. Hardy tried the Side Effect and YUTA kicked out. YUTA blocked the Twist of Fate and went up the ropes, but he was distracted by Private Party and Hardy cut him off. YUTA knocked him off and hit a crossbody for two. Hardy took off his boot and claimed his ankle was broken, Party distracted the ref, and Hardy clocked YUTA with the boot for the pin. Taylor immediately came in to protest and got jumped. Orange Cassidy casually walked down to make the save and decked Hardy with the Orange Punch, leaving YUTA and Taylor to clean house on Private Party. An excellent match! Hardy was carried to the back by Party to sell his “injury” afterward.

Penelope Ford vs. Masha Slamovich

Thunder Rosa returned on commentary for the AEW debut of Masha Slamovich. Almost every time somebody is making their debut on Dark, they’re going to lose. That’s not a bad thing though. It reminds me of New Japan, where the students in the dojo pay their dues for a while, and eventually they get an upset win and start their ascent.

Ford used Slamovich as a base to show off her athleticism, then hit her with the double missile dropkick and double knee drop on the ropes and ring apron respectively. Slamovich nearly got the upset with a bridging suplex, but Ford did her back bridge Indian death lock for the submission. Rosa got upset with Ford giving Slamovich a post victory beatdown and ran down from commentary to make the save. A fine effort all around.

Kris Statlander (w/ Best Friends) vs. Kiera Hogan

Ricky Starks was back following Rosa’s departure. Kiera Hogan returns for the second night in a row! Statlander tried to boop Hogan but she was having none of it. Hogan went for a guillotine choke but Statlander countered into a delayed vertical suplex as Orange Cassidy looked on and the crowd roared. Hogan kicked out of a sit out powerbomb but not the Big Bang Theory. I want to be sad that Hogan is now 0-2 in AEW, but I’m happy that AEW trusted her to have two good matches with two stars of their women’s division. If Fuego Del Sol got a contract, Kiera Hogan should get one too.

Death Triangle (w/ Alex Abrahantes) vs. Chaos Project & Cole Karter

Taz and Excalibur like to refer to newcomers getting anything close to a pin as “a huge upset” but let me tell you that even as AEW veterans, Chaos Project plus anybody beating Death Triangle would be “a huge upset.” Ricky Starks tried to compare Chaos Project to Team Taz, and Taz was having none of it. PAC was about to finish the match when Andrade El Idolo and his flunkies came out, allowing Karter to get his only near fall of the match. Fenix single-handedly took out Chaos Project on the ramp. Penta hit Zero Fear on Karter for three. This went almost exactly how you’d expect save for Andrade’s appearance.

Nyla Rose (w/ Vickie Guerrero) vs. Tina San Antonio

San Antonio was yet another debuting wrestler on Dark this week. Said debut didn’t last long. Nyla Rose destroyed her with a Beast Bomb in less than a minute. Vickie Guerrero started screaming afterward and my ears started bleeding. Skip this.

Dark Order (10, Alex Reynolds & John Silver) vs. Rickey Shane Page, Andrew Palace & Bill Collier

All of the Dark Order’s opponents were “already in the ring” which didn’t bode well for their chances after the opening bell. 10 applied the Full Nelson after back to back moves from his teammates and got the technical submission. Crowds are into the Dark Order so it worked.

Frankie Kazarian vs. Brandon Cutler (w/ Michael Nakazawa)

Brandon Cutler was the very definition of a geek in his track suit, neon color tennis shoes, and transparent full face mask. Kazarian clocked him right in said mask repeatedly and threw Nakazawa over the barricade in the process. Kazarian toyed with Cutler when they got back in the ring and wasted so much time that Nakazawa got back and swept Kazarian’s legs. The crowd started chanting “Cutler sucks!” Nakazawa distracted the ref and ate a right hand, but he threw the cold spray to Cutler in the process. He tried it and it didn’t fire, so he turned it around in his own face thinking it was a dud and fired it on himself! Kazarian immediately applied the crossface chicken wing. Too much comedy in this match.

Jurassic Express & Varsity Blonds (w/ Julia Hart) vs. The Wingmen (Cezar Bononi, Peter Avalon, Ryan Nemeth & JD Drake)

Taz and the entire Pittsburgh crowd sang Jungle Boy’s theme song. There are too many cooks in the soup for me on eight man matches — it’s hard for anybody to really shine. It was a very long set up just for Jungle Boy to put Ryan Nemeth in the Snare Trap and tap him out immediately. We could have done that in a one-on-one match and saved a lot of time.

Dante Martin vs. Lee Moriarty

Dante Martin sold his ribs and his left arm throughout the match. His springboard moonsault press was impressive, as is most everything Martin does, which is why he got this main event spotlight. Despite that arsenal of moves in his toolbox, he won the match with a sunset flip, which even Taz was perplexed by. It was a good showing otherwise.

What to watch

Go out of your way to see Hardy vs. YUTA. Even though “Big Money” got the win, Wheeler YUTA looked good and had the crowd all the way behind him. Kiera Hogan looked good for the second night in a row in a loss. Death Triangle had a one-sided massacre of the kind you like to watch.

What to skip

Nyla Rose vs. Tina San Antonio was a dud, and Vickie Guerrero’s screaming afterward was insufferable. Being The Elite fans might have enjoyed Cutler vs. Kazarian, but for me it went way too long — Kazarian should have killed that geek with one move. The eight man tag was “okay” but Jungle Boy was so over that a singles match would’ve been more effective.

Cageside commentary crew! Get up off your seats and leave your feedback in the comments section below. See you next Monday for Elevation!

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