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AEW Dark recap (Nov. 8, 2022): Toni Storm and Hikaru Shida bring the thunder

Episode 169 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for the stream courtesy Cageside Seats. Excalibur and Taz called this show, and without further adieu, let’s brace for the oncoming storm.

Zack Clayton vs. Blake Li

Clayton brought a record of 5-4 in 2022 to this contest. Excalibur described him as “starting to put it together” which sounded like a backhanded compliment. Li brought the same number of losses without a single AEW win to his name. Clayton refused a handshake, overpowered Li, then sarcastically extended his hand. Li did a go behind and Clayton shook him off with a reverse elbow, then laid in closed fist strikes on the ground. Li ate a power slam and a fisherman buster for the finish. Taz: “That’s a rough landing you know.” No, I don’t know, and I hope to never experience it firsthand!

Kayla Rossi (w/ Diamond Sheik) vs. Ashley D’Amboise

Rossi came to this match 2-0 in AEW. D’Amboise on the other hand was 0-5. She too offered a handshake and was refused it by her opponent, and just like the last match, Rossi took immediate advantage. The only difference is she didn’t offer a sarcastic handshake after. Rossi did a firewoman’s carry into a Samoan drop, kipped up, and a twisting body press that looked like the finish — but she pulled D’Amboise up before the three count. Diamond Sheik told her “it’s done” so Rossi made her next move the last move, and you can see it below.

The Gunns (w/ W. Morrissey) vs. BK Klein & Jarett Diaz

FTR’s entrance music hit, but the 13-3 Gunns came out dressed up as FTR like it was Halloween. Klein & Diaz were waiting in the ring to have their first tag team match in AEW. Taz: “Our live crowd in Jacksonville not happy with the Gunns!” Well that was the point bro. Excalibur: “They certainly are getting under the skin of FTR, which is not easy with athletes of that caliber.” Austin spent so much time showboating he nearly got rolled up by Diaz. Colten tagged in for a hard lariat and a near fall. Klein got knocked off the apron, Diaz went to tag him and nobody was there. The Gunns both went down through their own ineptitude though so when Klein tagged in he had no idea who the legal man was. Colten eventually hit him with the Colt 45 for the pin. Excalibur: “The Gunns playing a little possum there.” If that’s what you want to call it sir, more power to you. Morrissey hit the ring to give Klein a choke slam for good measure and took the mic. “Big Bill, top Gunns, out.”

Peter Avalon (w/ The Wingmen) vs. Brandon Cutler

Avalon brought a record of 5-20-2 to this contest. Cutler’s record was 10-23-2. Excalibur called the fights between these men “a staple of the pandemic era” for AEW Dark, even though he noted that when the two wrestled to a draw it was neither taped nor televised. The action quickly spilled outside where Cutler gave Avalon a high back body drop. When he fed Avalon back in he got a beatdown from The Wingmen for his trouble. Too bad that Cutler didn’t have Michael Nakazawa or John Silver to watch his back. Cutler nearly got counted out but got back in at 9.99.

Both men exchanged punches on their knees and then on their feet, with “boos” for Avalon and “yays” for Cutler. Cutler unzipped his hoodie for a chop, regretted it, and promptly zipped it back up. Sit out powerbomb by Avalon for two. Cutler grabbed the cold spray, did a Thesz press and sprayed Avalon, then gave it to Cezar Bononi and Ryan Nemeth for good measure before the ref confiscated it. Avalon hit the Martini and Cutler kicked out. Avalon went outside for a steel chair. Stephon Smith warned him not to use it. Leva Bates came out from the back and took it away from him. Cutler did a reverse DDT and Avalon kicked out. Top rope ‘rana from Avalon. Cutler tried to roll through but Avalon maintained the pinfall and got the win, and he shook his head in disappointment afterward.

The Blonds (Brian Pillman Jr. & Griff Garrison) vs. The Factory (QT Marshall & Cole Karter)

Marshall and Karter were working as a team for the first time here. The (Varsity) Blonds brought a record of 6-0 on Dark. “QT sucks” chant right after the bell. I was a little surprised Marshall didn’t stop the match and grab a house mic to tell everyone that if they didn’t stop being rude he’d leave. Pillman throw Marshall out, Garrison did a suicide dive onto him on the floor and fed him back in, Pillman went to the top rope but Karter shoved him off. Karter missed Garrison and ate a roaring elbow, but Marshall rolled him up with a handful of his trunks to get the three count. That’s that.

Anna Jay A.S. vs. Sio Nieves

Jay brought a record of 28-4 in 2022. Nieves brought a record of 0-1. Jay choked her on the ground with both hands while screaming like a banshee. Then she put on the rear naked choke (a/k/a Queen Slayer) for the win. Excalibur called it “dominant” and Taz said she was in control the whole time. They were both right.

Kip Sabian vs. Marcus Kross

Sabian brought a 2022 record of 6-1 and his signature cardboard box. No Penelope Ford though. Kross’ record this year was 0-3. I think you already know how this one went based on the stats alone. Taz said he wanted to see Sabian wrestle with the box on his head. I want to see him play conductor to the crowd with the box on his head. Kross got an inside cradle for a near fall. They exchanged forearms and kicks on the feet. Kross hit a springboard kick off the ropes for another near fall. Kross got sent into the turnbuckle, picked up, and slammed down on his face for the pin moments later. Here’s how it looked.

Athena vs. Diamante

Diamante’s record on Dark before this bout was 20-12. Athena was 11-2. Diamante got some shine early before a backbreaker and a back heel trip. Athena climbed the ropes with Diamante in a headlock and got reversed onto the entrance ramp before Diamante threw her back in. Diving ‘rana and a stunner from Diamante for a near near fall. Athena rolled out to recover and threw Diamante into the barricade repeatedly when she gave chase. Shotgun dropkick for good measure. Diamante was thrown back in, Athena went to the top but missed Diamante, then she clobbered her instead and laid in the ground and pound as the ref warned her to let go of the hair. Lung blower for the pin. That’s new! Post-match kick to the jaw. That’s not new. That’s the heel turn continued.

Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Rico Gonzalez

Hobbs brought a record of 9-0 on Dark to this match. Gonzalez was waiting for him in the ring to make his AEW debut. Taz: “He might just want to leave. This is going to be bad.” Hobbs threw Gonzalez around with ease and hit a spinebuster for three. 30 seconds tops.

John Silver, Alex Reynolds & Evil Uno (w/ -1) vs. Troy Hollywood, Fulton & Ativalu

19-8, 30-11, 26-14 were Uno, Silver and Reynolds respectively. Their opponents got no individual records on the chyron and were listed as “making their trios debut.” Well then. This was a match just to please the Jacksonville faithful and commentary didn’t even pretend otherwise. Dark Order took their turns doing their finishing moves and Excalibur barely had time to finish his promo for Final Battle before the ref counted three.

Eddie Kingston & Ortiz vs. AR Fox & Caleb Konley

Kingston and Ortiz had a record of 4-0 as a team heading into this contest. Fox and Konley were teaming together for the first time in AEW. Fox and Konley jumped them early and Fox his a senton atomico for a near fall. Kingston and Konley tagged in and the “Eddie” chants rang out. Rapid fire chops. Konley got a boot up and hit a ‘rana. Kingston clotheslined him out of his shoes and tagged Ortiz back in. Fisherman bomb, 1-2-3. I’m not saying the results of these matches was predictable, but they were as predictable as Kingston trying to beat up his opponents after the match. He even started throwing chairs at the ring. Taz: “He’s going full Terry Funk here. I love it!” Ortiz talked him out of it but the crowd wanted more.

Toni Storm & Hikaru Shida vs. Mei Suruga & Emi Sakura

Sakura & Suruga brought a tag team record of 1-0. Shida 52-10, interim women’s champ Storm 17-2. Storm and Sakura started the match. Sakura hit a knee to the body and a slap to the face. Pump kick and dropkick from Storm. Suruga was knocked off the apron with a hip attack. Storm whipped Sakura into the corner then monkey flipped her out twice. She signaled for the hip attack to finish it early, but Suruga grabbed her leg from the outside and Sakura hit the Mongolian chop, then sat on Storm for a spot of tea.

Suruga tagged in and cut Storm off when she tried to crawl for the tag, and bit Storm’s hand to boot. Sakura tagged back in for “we will chop you” and the flying crossbody. Suruga tagged back in and got forehead to forehead with Storm. Storm hit a neckbreaker. Sakura tagged in and got kicked in the head, and Shida finally got the hot tag. Jumping knee from Shida. Ten punches in the corner. Missile dropkick by Shida. Sakura kicked out at two. Sakura countered Shida face first into the mat and tagged in Suruga.

Sakura grabbed a handful of hair and went for a double suplex, but Storm ran in to counter it, and they both got laid out. Sakura did the steamroller senton with Suruga. Suruga did a high roll up on Shida for a near fall. Shida caught Suruga jumping off the ropes and hit a brainbuster. Enzuigiri. Sakura cut off Shida when she went to the ropes and stood on her with one foot cackling. “I am your highness! Ah ha ha ha.” She missed with a moonsault. Excalibur: “She went from your highness to your lowness.” Storm hit four backbreakers in a row on Suruga. Shida suplexed Sakura into her. Storm did a double hip attack on both. Shida hit the Katana on Suruga and got the pin. Easily the best and most competitive match of the entire show.

Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta vs. The Wingmen (Cezar Bononi & Ryan Nemeth)

The Wingmen brought a record of 3-2 on Dark to the main event. William Regal joined commentary for this match, and he said Excalibur was “a lovely lava cake” who could “flow all over him any time.” Castagnoli was 11-2 and Yuta was 16-11 in 2022. Yuta played face-in-peril until Castagnoli got the hot tag and the crowd in Jacksonville went wild. He hit running uppercuts back and forth across the ring, did a dance to mock Nemeth, and hit one more uppercut for the exclamation point. He was about to do the Big Swing, Bononi broke it up, and Yuta ran in to lend a hand. Once they cleared the ring Castagnoli gave the people what they wanted. Yuta him him with a dropkick when Castagnoli let go, Castagnoli applied the Texas cloverleaf, and Nemeth tapped out as rapidly as any man has ever tapped. Regal: “Gentlemen, thank you and good night.”

What to watch/skip

Tonight’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by “Watch What’s Next.” Let me be frank. You could skip everything but the last two matches of this episode and miss nothing. If you want good wrestling matches on a Dark show this week watch Elevation. It’s not often that Monday night outshines Tuesday, but this time it wasn’t even close.

Cageside commentary crew — share your feedback in the comments section below. If you love pro wrestling you can find me on Twitter too. See you next Monday for another Elevation recap after it airs at 7 PM ET!

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