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AEW Dark recap (Dec. 20, 2022): Kenny Omega is on Dark!

Episode 175 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for the stream via Cageside Seats. Excalibur and Taz called the action for this episode. Here we go!

Kenny Omega vs. Hagane Shinno

Shinno brought a record of 1-2 to this match. Omega brought a record of 22-4-1. Excalibur informed us this was Omega’s first singles match since November of 2021. Taz said this was a rare appearance and then admitted calling it “rare” was an understatement. The bell rang and Omega lead a “Ha-ga-ne” chant for his opponent. Omega traded holds and then took Shinno down with a shoulder tackle before walking across his back. He offered Shinno a hand, then pulled it away to slick back his hair, then put a boot to his throat in the corner for a four count. “You’re not me! You’ll never be me.” Shinno fired off kicks to Omega’s taped up right shoulder. The action spilled to the outside and Shinno avoided a One Winged Angel by landing on the entrance ramp, but then got power bombed into the ring apron. Another power bomb into the ropes back in the ring, Omega drove him down hard and Shinno kicked out at two before literally being kicked out of the ring.

Omega threw Shinno into the barricade and beat him up outside for a while before feeding him back in. He fish hooked the nose and drove an elbow into Omega’s head. Everything he’s doing is heel tactics but Universal Studios isn’t booing him for it. At least they are applauding Shinno to make a come back. Scoop slam, elbow drop, two count as Shinno kicked out again and Omega gritted his teeth in frustration. “Boo/yay” elbows back and forth and at least the crowd figured out who was who for this spot. Omega mouthed off again and said “You’re not Ospreay.” Back heel kick by Shinno. Flying back elbow by Omega. DDT by Shinno and Omega rolled out, Springboard moonsault to the floor wipes out Omega!

Missile dropkick back in the ring and a two count before Omega kicked out. Omega blocked a suplex, hit reverse elbows in the corner, a kick to the face, and set Shinno up top. Superplex blocked by Shinno. Chops to Shinno’s back. Forearms to Omega’s face. He fell off but came back with a running knee, then hit the superplex and crawled for the cover. 2.999! Omega signaled for the end but Shinno avoided the V Trigger and hit a roundhouse kick. Russian leg sweep into a near fall for Shinno. Kicks to the face. Omega caught the next kick and hit a snapdragon suplex and a right arm lariat. Shinno kicked out +again+. V Trigger! One Winged Angel. 1-2-3! The only bad thing about this match was that it went first, because I could see many people just watching this and turning the show off. Omega raised his hand in a show of respect afterward.

Action Andretti vs. Invictus Khash

Commentary went out of their way to point out Andretti’s upset win over Jericho. Khash brought a record of 0-2 to this match. Khash and Andretti traded arm wringers early. Khash tried to pull on the hair when they got up, Andretti got in the ropes for a break, and Stephon Smith admonished Khash for not letting go.

Andretti fired up and hit a torneo off the ropes for a two count. Chops in the corner machine gun Eddie Kingston style. Khash reversed a whip out of the corner with another handful of hair and laid in ground and pound. Andretti with a jawbreaker, elbow, lariat, backbreaker & another neckbreaker before a pair of suicide dives. The crowd chanted one more time but got a 450 and a running shoot star press. Another win for the action-packed Action Andretti!

Marina Shafir vs. Angelica Risk

Shafir brought a record of 15-6 to this contest. Risk was 0-5. Risk actually managed to ground Shafir for a few strikes but she came back with a backbreaker and an armbar for a lightning quick tap.

Julia Hart: “Why is House of Black so evil? Who said anything about being evil? Good people can do bad things, and bad people can do good things. It’s all perspective and the mask you hide behind. I came here as a cute cheerleader but then the House of Black showed me what violence can do. I’m getting bored explaining myself so I’ll be in the ring. Just remember - the house always wins.”

Parker Boudreaux vs. Gus De La Vega

Boudreaux brought a 2022 record of 4-0 to this match. Vega brought a record of 0-3. The outcome here is just as predictable as it was in the last match. This was a one-sided destruction of about a minute and change. I was more entertained by Julia Hart’s promo.

Angelico & Chaos Project vs. Jay Marte, Jarrett Diaz & Richard Adonis

Angelico and his dance moves came out first. Taz: “Why is he hanging around with these two knuckleheads?” I couldn’t have put it better myself. The chyron told us this was their first match together as a trio, as if that wasn’t already obvious. The same was true for their opponents waiting for them in the ring. It’s time for me to interject an opinion — I didn’t want to be right about what I said after the first match but at this point in the show everything that followed was bad. Not “bad” in terms of botched moves, or “bad” in terms of an unresponsive crowd, but “bad” in terms of being non-competitive and uninteresting compared to Shinno and Omega putting on a pro wrestling clinic worthy of an AEW PPV or New Japan card.

Serpentico made a hot tag and Luther “ran wild” on all three men, stacking them like cordwood in the middle of the ring. Orlando actually chanted for him after this. Serpentico did a running suicide dive onto the pile. Angelico tagged in and did the Navarro Death Roll to Adonis to make him tap out. At least this match got some time.

Tony Schiavone interviewed the men he dubbed “Spanish Announce Project.” Angelico: “Not only can you enjoy my expertise inside the ring, now you can enjoy it verbally in Spanish.” Serpentico said a whole bunch of things and followed it up with “S-A-P.” Luther yelled something I can only assume was “I’m freaking crazy!” Moving on.

Julia Hart vs. Sahara Seven

Hart brought a record of 17-3 to this match. Seven was 0-2. If you rewound this episode just to listen to Hart’s entrance theme, I wouldn’t blame you. The full song lasts longer than this match did. She put on the Hartless Lock, submitted Seven, and wouldn’t immediately let go even when Mike Posey tried to pull her off. Incidentally her look just keeps getting better. I love the new hat!

Backstage to Lexi and The Wingmen. “Guys, I gotta ask. What do The Wingmen have planned for 2023?” To find out watch the clip below.

Dean Alexander & Rosario Grillo vs. Jeff Jarrett & Satnam Singh

It’s so weird to hear Jeff Jarrett’s TNA music from 2003 in 2023. He and Singh were teaming together for the first time as a team. As if the music wasn’t enough of a throwback, he also brought a guitar with him to the ring. At least he should feel at home at Universal Studios given they used to tape IMPACT here. Fun fact for those of you reading — I attended one of those tapings in the 2000’s right around the time a bunch of people were suspended for “elevated liver enzymes” by WWE, so I helped the Impact Zone lead a chant of “li-ver en-zymes” for Scott Steiner. Fun night! Anyway just like a classic Impact Zone match the crowd here chanted “Jarrett sucks!” Singh hit a double chokeslam, tagged in Double J, and he hit The Stroke for three. What a throwback match in every sense of the word. Tony Schiavone interviewed them both afterward.

Jarrett: “Schiavone! You damn right we go way back. If there’s one thing you know” (booooo) “these morons haven’t changed in 15 years. If there’s one thing you know, wherever I go, I leave a mark. Max Caster you know that oh so well. You came out with your silly rap and I wrapped this guitar around your head. Grand Daddy Ass, Baby Boy Bowens, there’s more where that came from.” (Boring! Boring!) “Seven foot five, size 24 shoe, boys one way or another, The Acclaimed is going to soon be referred to as former tag team champions, and you’re looking at one half of the brand new champions. Choke on that!”

The Wingmen (Peter Avalon & Ryan Nemeth) w/ Cezar Bononi vs. Sage Scott & Jake St. Patrick

Avalon and Nemeth brought a record of 1-3. Scott & Patrick brought a record of 0-1. The crowd was already in a mood after Jarrett’s segment so they were more than happy to boo Nemeth too. Avalon tagged in for a near fall as Nemeth twirled around on the apron. Clothesline turned St. Patrick inside out for two. Nemeth came back in for a double elbow drop and a two count while Bononi flexed his biceps for the crowd. Chin lock by Nemeth. St Patrick hit an enzuigiri to break free and tag in Scott. Avalon broke up a near fall, St. Patrick caught a Manhattan Drop and a boot to the face, Nemeth hit Scott with the Hunk o’ Love for the pin. Excalibur: “I feel like I’ve seen that before but Nemeth loves to steal things.”

Kip Sabian (w/ Penelope Ford) vs. Caleb Konley

Sabian brought a 2022 record of 6-2. Konley’s record was 0-2. Sabian booted him in the gut immediately. Leg lariat for two. Sabian conducted the crowd and Konley rolled him up for a near fall. One day someone should actually pin him while he’s doing that just to make the point his showboating can backfire spectacularly. Today is not that day though. I’d do that with somebody like Wardlow. Elbow strike and suplex by Konley for two. While Julia Hart’s look is evolving, Penelope Ford’s is devolving. If she’s going for a dark gothic look, she should take her notes from House of Black. If not I have no idea what she’s trying to turn into. Sabian called for a cannonball in the corner, did it, then did a neckbreaker using the ring ropes for an assist to get the pin.

Eliminator Match: Jade Cargill (w/ Red Velvet & Leila Grey) vs. Dream Girl Ellie

Cargill brought a record of 43-0. Ellie brought a record of 0-1. I’d ask you how somebody with a losing record is worthy of even being in an eliminator match to earn a title shot, but sometimes in wrestling you have to ignore logical questions and just go with it. Fall away slam and kip up by Cargill. Pump kick. Implant buster. 1-2-3. At least this was as one sided as you’d expect given their respective records.

Ricky Starks vs. Cezar Bononi (w/ The Wingmen)

At the one hour mark, it’s time for Ricky Starks. First though we had to be introduced to his opponent Cezar Bononi, who for the entire year of 2022 had only one match before this main event. At least he won it. Starks brought an “absolute” record of 39-8 overall. He went behind Bononi, kicked him in the gut, was shot off and hit with a shoulder tackle. Bononi threw him into the corner and put the boots and fists to him. Starks ducked a high boot, Bononi picked him up, but Starks escaped and hit a DDT using the ropes. Nemeth and Avalom both interfered from the outside but Bononi bonked into them and Starks hit a spear for the sudden win.

Starks: “Hey. Listen. Obviously last Wednesday” (Ricky, Ricky, Ricky) “thank you. Last Wednesday didn’t go as planned but I’ve got a lot to share with all of you tomorrow night in San Antonio. What I’ve got to say is going to be absolutely great. Why? Because I’m absolute Ricky Starks baby!” That’s where Dark ends.

What to watch/skip

This week’s “what to watch/skip” for Dark is brought to you by Omega challenging Ospreay to a match at Wrestle Kingdom 17. The show could have recovered from putting Omega vs. Shinno first by having a competitive match between Starks and Bononi go last, but they blew it by making the main event a glorified squash. I’m going to try really hard to find the positives though so here goes nothing — Cargill’s match was short, Hart’s music rules, S.A.P. might be amusing as a trio going forward, and it did make me laugh to see vintage TNA in Orlando again for one night. That’s about it.

Cageside commentary crew — share your feedback below in the comments section. If you love pro wrestling find me on Twitter until that’s no longer a viable option. See you next week for new episodes of Elevation and Dark!

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