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AEW Dark recap (Jan. 4, 2022): Hobbs vs. Cabana

Episode 124 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for the Cageside Seats stream from YouTube. Your commentary team this week was Excalibur and Taz. Before we get started covering this week’s show, here’s a follow up from Tony Khan regarding Jake Atlas’ debut on last night’s Elevation.

Tony Nese vs. Alan “V” Angels (w/ -1 and The Dark Order)

Nese brought a record of 6-1 to the ring as we started the show immediately with no intro. Angels came in 23-39. One of these things is not like the other! Excalibur plugged AEW merchandise and Taz plugged Hook shirts as Nese beat down Angels and mocked the fans in Jacksonville. Both of them made sure to remind us that Dynamite moves to TBS starting tomorrow night (be sure to set your DVR). Nese did a springboard moonsault but Angels got out of the way. Angels tried to go to the top but Nese cut him off so he landed on the “yam bag region” as Taz would say. Nese gave him a roundhouse kick for a near fall and sank a chinlock in. Angels tried to fight out but ate a chop and got set on the top rope. Nese went for a superplex but Angels gave him a headbutt. Nese responded with an uppercut and went back up, but Angels gave him a gordbuster and came off with a crossbody. Step up rana, enzuigiri, face plant trip, stomp to the back, middle rope moonsault for 2.9. Angels went for an inside cradle and Nese kicked out again.

The crowd was firmly behind Angels at this point and were happy when he kicked out of a piledriver. The chants of his name rang out through Daily’s Place. Angels went up for a frog splash, Nese moved, Angels landed on his feet, and Nese gave him a reverse German into the turnbuckle followed by Running Nese for the pin. You can’t blame him given the win/loss records of each man and the heat he generates picking off a fan favorite like Angels. This match set a high mark the rest of Dark would have to live up to.

Anna Jay (with Tay Conti and -1) vs. Dreamgirl Ellie

Jay came in 20-10 while her opponent Ellie was waiting in the ring with a record of 0-1. The look on Ellie’s face said she knew what she was here to do and that she wasn’t happy about it. She submitted Ellie with the Queen Slayer in a match that was a minute at the most.

The Gunn Club (Billy, Austin & Colten Gunn) vs. Rolando Perez, Austin Green & Donnie Primetime

Gunn Club were still undefeated coming in at 22-0. Their opponents were “making their trios debut” and you’ve never seen such a mismatched bunch. Green looked like a jacked up powerhouse, although not as “cut” as Billy Gunn, and he had to come in when both of his sons got easily taken off their feet. Billy sold for him by doing two shoulder tackles where Green didn’t move. He did the crotch chop and baited Green to move, he took the bait and got the boot, but eventually did a double knockdown on Austin and Colten and tagged in Perez. He makes “Fun Size” Marko Stunt look like a giant. Perez tagged in Primetime, the only normal looking man of the bunch, and he was the one to take the pin.

Marina Shafir vs. Valentina Rossi

Shafir came in 0-1 after an unsuccessful debut, but the good news for her is that Rossi came in 0-6 and was already waiting for her in the ring. Shafir unloaded with strikes, kicks, a hip throw and a combination triangle choke/armbar for the quick submission. The crowd politely applauded her dominant performance.

“The Infamous” Bobby Fish vs. Ryzin

Fish brought a singles record of 4-4. “Terror” Ryzin didn’t even have his record shown on the screen, but since he was waiting for Fish to arrive, you already know it’s not good. At least Taz took a moment to remind us that Ryzin had been on Dark previously and put him over as being tough... albeit a little whacky. Nese gave him a sliding elbow to the face and a roundhouse kick when he got back up. That was followed by an exploder into the ropes and another roundhouse kick for the quick win.

Leyla Hirsch, Red Velvet & Kris Statlander vs. Renee Michelle, Sofia Castillo & Marina Tucker

Rather than give you each woman’s win/loss record coming in I’m going to tell you what you really need to know — Michelle, Castillo and Tucker were “making their trios debut” and were waiting in the ring for the AEW starts to show up and kick their butts. Sometimes you have to call it like you see it. The heels worked over Velvet after Hirsch gave her a tag she didn’t seem to want, but we didn’t get to see the follow up as Castillo yanked Hirsch off the apron so Velvet had to tag Statlander in. Hirsch tagged herself in on Statlander and gave her a look before putting Michelle in a submission. The faces continued to argue even after picking up the win.

The Acclaimed (Max Caster & Anthony Bowens) vs. Blanco Loco & Axton Ray

Caster: “So you guys can’t be playin/you guys suck more than Nancy Reagan. We’re going to win matches and leave our stamp/The Acclaimed, the next world tag team champs.” Loco and Ray were making their tag team debut, so they’re not exactly the high caliber competition you’d want to prepare yourself for a world title shot... but that’s what makes The Acclaimed heels right? They’ll cheat when facing someone good and destroy anyone who’s not on their level. Loco took a double suplex as Taz took a shine to his name. Ray tried to fire up on Caster with elbows and kicks, tagged Ray, but after a miscue between the noobs Bowens slammed Ray hard and Caster hit the Mic Drop to pin him.

Jamie Hayter vs. Madi Wrenkowski

Hayter came in 4-4. Wrenkowski was waiting for her in the ring with a record of 3-8. Hayter shot Jacksonville a look when a “Ma-di” chant broke out. It didn’t sound like all of Daily’s Place was doing it though — just four or five determined people who didn’t give up. Neither did Wrenkowski. Hayter hit her with chops and a snap suplex and she still kicked out at one. This only made Hayer made so she hung Wrenkowski’s neck on the ropes and put all her weight down as Bryce Remsburg ordered her to break it up. The Madi chants started in earnest as she tried to fire up for a comeback, but Hayter quickly hit a brainbuster for three.

Dante Martin vs. Chandler Hopkins

Martin came in 21-8 for this match, while Hopkins waited for him in the ring with a record of 0-4. Taz spent his time complaining about how Martin screwed them and that his legal team was “looking into it.” He even complained that all of Martin’s high flying moves were taught to him in the two weeks he was part of Team Taz. Hopkins tried to take Martin down and do some ground and pound to soften him up, but Martin recovered and ran him over with shoulders then dropped him with a dropkick. Hopkins spilled out of the rang, ate a suicide dive, got thrown back in, and Martin did a springboard moonsault for the win.

Sammy Guevara vs. Ho Ho Lun

“The Spanish God” came in 10-2. Lun was (you guessed it) waiting for him in the ring and (you know it) making his AEW debut. If the name sounds familiar though it’s because Lun was briefly with WWE until he requested a release to go home to Hong Kong and take care of his ailing mother, which was granted. The crowd didn’t care one bit about that or his history on the independent circuit though, chanting “one more time” as Guevara gave him nasty chops. After Guevara showed off his breakdancing moves, Lun took him off his feet with a missile dropkick and did a little stomp on his head. Guevara returned the favor, did a knee strike, gave him the G-T-H and did a Cross Rhodes just to send a message to Cody.

Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Colt Cabana (w/ -1 and The Dark Order)

Hobbs came in 19-4. Taz: “That’s my man!” Cabana came in 25-12. Hobbs knocked Cabana down, started stomping on him, then stretched him while giving him a forearm to the side of the head for good measure. Shot to the body, head butt, and Cabana had finally sold enough. He went for the Flying Apple but Hobbs caught him by the waist, then hit a spinebuster for a near fall. “Finish this guy off Hobbs!” He mocked The Dark Order just to irritate Jacksonville and hit a right elbow. Hobbs laid in the strikes in the corner until Cabana got a boot up. Cabana went up for a moonsault, there was nobody home, and Hobbs picked him up for a Torture Rack to end the match. A dominant win against a seasoned pro wrestling veteran and in my view it should have been the main event.

Brian Pillman Jr. vs. JD Drake (w/ Cezar Bononi)

Speaking of which, Drake brought a singles record of 2-11 to the ring, while Pillman brought a singles record of 30-11. Now how often are you going to see a match where two wrestlers have the same number of losses, yet won of them has 15 times as many wins as the other? The answer is you’re not going to because other promotions don’t even bother to tell you the win-loss record. AEW does what Nintendon’t. Bononi tried to provide a distraction to give Drake an advantage, and then put the boots to Pillman while Drake argued with the ref. Pillman got his revenge by giving Bononi a dropkick then taking Drake out with Air Pillman.

Well at least that’s a plausible reason for Pillman to main event Dark, but I have a feeling he’s not overcoming the odds against the House of Black, especially as their roster grows larger.

What to watch/skip

This week’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by “P-P-P-P-Powerhouse.” The opening match between Nese and Angels was excellent. The co-main event between Hobbs and Cabana was must see. The rest of this show was ... okay. Nothing bad, no botches, but the sequencing of what matches aired when can only be described as strange at best. If you must skip anything the women’s trios match would be the one, because I couldn’t get into a match where the babyfaces are fighting with each other yet still easily pick up the win.

Cageside commentary crew! I welcome your feedback in the comments section below. I’m also on Twitter if you want to hit me up there. See you next Monday night for Elevation!