Episode 176 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!
Angelico vs. Dante Casanova
Angelico brought a 2022 record of 5-1 to the ring for Dark. Casanova brought a record of 0-1. Coincidental to watching Angelico wrestle I got a very interesting Christmas present this year — a bottle of brandy straight from South Africa! The translation of the label into English is rip roaring hilarious, with a final sentence ripped straight out of pro wrestling — it tells you that you deserve this drink “you rough lightning.” The next time I watch Angelico stretch somebody the way he did in this match, I will take a sip and think “you deserve it, you rough lightning.” Casanova got in one spinebuster before he tapped. That’s it. SAP hit the ring for the post match celebration.
Brock and Arn Anderson were backstage. Brock: “A year ago at this time we were flanked by four or five individuals. Prerogatives changes. The Andersons were left alone in a corner. When you put a dog in a corner he’s liable to bite your ass.” Arn: “It’s always been the Andersons against the world. We stepped on a lot of necks. We kicked a lot of people in the head. We did a lot of bad things over 40 years. You go out and let him know right away. It’s going to be real personal. There was going to be a time when I had to dump you out of your nest. I won’t be able to be out there forever, but tonight I’m gonna dump you out of your nest. Show him who you are, show him who you’re gonna be, and most of all kick... his... ass.”
The WorkHorsemen vs. Hughes Brothers
JD Drake and Anthony Henry brought a record of 2-3 to this match. Despite that Excalibur put them over as “a tough team” and I’m inclined to agree. The Hughes Brothers brought a record of 0-2. I’d call them “a tough team” as well, and if you’re paying attention to Excalibur he dropped a subtle hint about them being “second generation stars.” Drake kicked out of a crossbody for two and then got into a battle of chops and forearms. Henry tagged in and blew a kiss to the crowd before a kick to the spine.
The WorkHorsemen cut off the ring while Taz pretended to be impartial about the Hughes family. Terrence hit a spinebuster and finally tagged Terrell, and Drake ate a ‘rana and a power slam for two. Terrell got ate a cannonball in the corner and then Henry got the assist from Drake for a backbreaker and the pin. Excalibur: “Every time The WorkHorsemen step in the ring you know it’s going to be a slug fest.” I hope they pick up more wins in 2023.
“Daddy Magic” Matt Menard was backstage with Lexi. He was so energetic I won’t even try to recap it. He mentioned hard nipples. That’s all I’ll say. Just watch the clip!
Fuego Del Sol vs. Lucky Ali
Fuego brought a 2022 record of 6-8 along with a microphone. “You heard the sirens so that means I need everybody’s attention. You are about to be elated, captivated, mesmerized and hypnotized by the Fuego Experience. Orlando if you’re ready let me hear you say OH YEAH. Now let my opponent hear you chant my name all match long.” Ali brought a record of 0-3. Taz and Excalibur were both annoyed by Fuego’s antics to the point they were rooting for Ali. Orlando was still rooting for Fuego. He did a shooting star press from the ring to the floor, threw Ali back in, did a tornado DDT, 1-2-3. This was as much of a squash match as Fuego has been in, and for this one he was on the winning side.
Matt Menard vs. Brock Anderson
Anderson came out 10-5. True to his promo earlier, Arn only walked out with Brock to the top of the ramp, then turned around and left. Menard brought a singles record of 17-2 on Dark. Menard managed to piss off Brock 15 seconds into the match by celebrating the fact he did a couple of simple arm drags. Taz: “I hope Brock arm drags this guy out of his boots.”
The funny thing is that every time Menard celebrated, the crowd celebrated right along with him, chanting “Daddy Magic” to boot. Jericho Appreciation Society is hugely over with Orlando. Menard bounced Brock’s head off the turnbuckle and said “How do ya like that?” They roared approval. Eventually Brock turned the tables and did it right back to Menard. Menard grabbed the turnbuckle to avoid a German suplex and ripped the pad off in the process. Brock hit shoulders to the midsection and Menard stumbled a bit. He came back with a sledgehammer to the back and tripped Brock face first into the exposed turnbuckle to get the pin. Taz: “I may not like Daddy Magic but that was crafty right there.”
Evil Uno (w/ The Dark Order) vs. Blake Li
Uno’s record on Dark before this match was 48-7. Li’s record was 0-5. Once again Universal Studio had their favorites before this match even began, chanting Uno’s name and booing whenever Li did anything right. They even chanted “you suck” at him. Harsh!! Li kicked him in the chin, Uno adjusted his neck and then dropped him with an elbow.Short arm lariat, Something Evil, 1-2-3. Not only was this a dominant win, Uno seemed to be debuting a new look, wrestling the entire time with his jacket open. A promo for AEW Fight Forever focused on playing as MJF in the game followed.
Red Velvet vs. Billie Starkz
Velvet brought a record of 29-7 on Dark. Starkz was waiting for her in the ring to make her AEW debut. Velvet clubbed her from behind before the opening bell and then put her in the corner for some body work. Snapmare, running dropkick, two count. Velvet mocked the crowd for chanting “let’s go Billie.” Starkz got a few forearms in, threw Velvet out, and did a suicide dive to knock her down. Taz: “Billie, no relation to Ricky.” I’d have been shocked if somebody didn’t make that joke. Velvet got the knees up on a senton atomico and hit double knees to Starkz’ back before a corkscrew kick to the head and a very cocky cover for the pin. Excalibur: “Red Velvet not even breaking a sweat here on Dark.” Stir it up!
Iron Savages vs. Jameson Ryan & Brandon Bullock
The Savages brought a record of 20-10 but their manager JT Davidson didn’t accompany them to the ring. Bullock and Ryan brought a record of 0-1. Taz made the second obvious joke of the episode: “If you mixed Action Andretti with Bear Bronson, you’d have Action Bronson.” Bullock and Ryan never stood a chance. Boulder stacked them up like cordwood, Bronson tagged in, Boulder put Bronson on his shoulders for the backpack cannonball, 1-2-3.
Mafiosa vs. Diamante
Diamante brought a record of 30-18 on Dark. Mafiosa was 0-6. Diamante tried to take out her opponent’s left leg immediately with kicks and a dragon screw. Mafiosa responded by putting a boot to her throat in the corner. Diamante came back with a forearm and a top rope crossbody, a clothesline, a stunner, and a German suplex. Mafiosa with a reverse kick, Diamante with a Code Red, and that’s the end of the match. Click click, boom boom.
AR Fox vs. Slim J (w/ Sonny Kiss and Jeeves Kay)
Main event time! Slim J brought a singles record of 2-0. Fox was billed by his 2022 Ring of Honor record as being 1-0. The bell rang, they tied up and worked their way into the corner, and the ref called for a clean break. Fox and J stared each other down and went right back to it. Fox got a wrist lock, J escaped and got his own, Fox rolled through, kipped up, cartwheeled, and got it back. They kept going hold for hold until Fox tried to do a leapfrog over J and J put on the brakes. Fox responded with a twisting brainbuster. Excalibur: “Where did he pull that one out of?” From years of being awesome that’s where. Kay interfered so that J could hit a running sliced break for 2. Taz and Excalibur argued about the pronunciation of challah bread while Kiss did some more dirty work from the outside. J stood on the ropes to choke Fox, then threw him out of the ring the hard way for Kay and Kiss to simultaneously stomp on him while ref Mike Posey was distracted. J stomped on Fox’s hands, went outside, and threw him into the entrance ramp before throwing him back in the ring. Suplex, near fall. Enzuigiri, near fall. J argued with Posey it was 3. Chinlock. Fox fought out but ate a big lariat. J screamed “eat it” and threw Fox into the turnbuckles in three corners, but finally got reversed on the fourth. Fox planted a boot square on J’s jaw, skinned the cat for a dropkick, ducked a clothesline and hit the enzuigiri. Back elbow, cutter, near fall. You can see the veteran experience of both of these men in every part of this match. J charged Fox into the corner, raked the eyes, hit a suplex and a flatliner, went to the top rope for a diving back elbow, 2.9. J was perplexed it wasn’t 3 as was Kiss, and the crowd started a chant for Fox. Fox hit the Iconoclasm for another near fall and pounded on the mat. J hit a back elbow, Fox yanked him out of the corner and hit a 450 splash, and THAT finally brought the main event to an end with a win for Fox. Taz: “What a battle right there.” He’s right! A very worthy main event.
What to watch/skip
Tonight’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by “Christmas In Hollis.” I got home a couple of hours before this show and wasn’t feeling super psyched after dealing with the travel conditions the last few days... but All Elite Wrestling delivered here. The best match was Slim J vs. AR Fox but I went with a BoJack Horsemen pun anyway just because. I’ll be shocked if the Hughes Brothers aren’t featured in a much bigger way on Dynamite or Rampage in 2023, but I could say the same about every tag team on this episode. My “skips” are Red Velvet vs. Billie Starkz (the poor kid got nothing), Fuego vs. Ali, and despite that nice bottle of brandy I got, Angelico vs. Casanova.
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!