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AEW Dark recap (Feb. 1, 2022): Kiera Hogan knows best!

Episode 128 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. Let’s get right into the action!

Anthony Ogogo vs. Marcus Kross

Ogogo came out with a record of 8-1 and a microphone. “Cut my music! Boys and girls. I’ve got a few things I want to get off my chest. I’m a bit pissed off you see last summer I was the hottest thing in wrestling. And then I went away for a while right? Oi fatty shut your mouth before I break your jaw alright? We signed a bunch of stars like Adam Cole and CM Punk and I thought lovely jubilee I can’t wait to knock these guys out. Instead I’m here in Orlando wrestling in front of Mickey Mouse mugs, and I’m wrestling this Dragon Ball Z look alike bum.” Kross was standing there waiting the whole time he was cutting this promo. When the match finally started Kross (or as Taz called him “Dragon Ball Z Jones”) had a few moments of hope and one inside cradle but ultimately ate a pop up uppercut leading to a victory by knockout. The promo was longer than the match.

Penelope Ford vs. Angelica Risk

Ford brought an overall record of 29-12 to the ring, where the winless Risk was waiting with her 0-1 record for 2022. Once again the inconsistency about whether or not they bill a wrestler by their total W/L record or their current W/L record rears its ugly head. Risk had the boots put to her and her head rammed into a turnbuckle before Ford dragged her across the ropes by her face. Talk about rope burn. Risk managed a near fall before Ford wrapped her legs around the ropes to choke her out, threw a boot in her face, and applied a sleeper. Risk fought out with elbows to the gut and kicks before hitting a series of lariats. Ford charged into a back elbow, Risk hit a missile dropkick from the second rope, but missed with a hip attack in the corner. Handspring elbow from Ford led to a Muta Lock and the match came to an abrupt end. Ford gave Risk a lot here — and vice versa. Somehow it still looked a little sloppy but I think I enjoyed it more than Orlando did.

QT Marshall (w/ Nick Comoroto & Aaron Solo) vs. Toa Liona

Marshall brought a 2022 record of 1-0. Liona brought an overall singles record of 0-1. Orlando obliged our expectations with a “Q-T-SUCKS” chant. I’m not going to lie — it depressed me that a guy with the potential of Lion was losing to Marshall here, even with Taz trying to put him over as “bigger than you think” when you see him on TV. On the plus side Marshall is a good hand even if the fans can’t stand him so this was a fun competitive match right up to the point Marshall hit him with a diamond cutter out of nowhere to pick up the win. The wrong guy won but at least it was an enjoyable showcase for Liona.

2point0 (w/ Daniel Garcia) vs. Kidd Bandit & Ish

2point0 brought a record of 7-3 and Daniel Garcia to the ring. Ish and Kidd Bandit were making their tag team division debut and looked just as much like Dragon Ball characters as Marcus Kross. That leads me to wonder — why have there never been any pro wrestlers in the U.S. who dressed up like Gohan, Vegeta or even Master Roshi as their full time gimmick? Probably because Toei would sue, although I’m sure there are lucha libre wrestlers who have gotten away with it. This squash match ended with Kidd Bandit taking Two for the Show as expected.

Lance Archer vs. Jordan Costa

Archer was 44-9 following his win on Elevation and just like last night he threw his opponent all the way down to the ring. Costa tried a rear naked choke but that never had a chance — nor did he. Archer gave him a choke slam and put the claw on his face to bounce his head off the canvas like a basketball before Costa finally died, because when facing Lance Archer, everybody dies.

Marina Shafir vs. Reka Tehaka

Shafir brought a 2022 record of 1-0. At first I wasn’t even sure she was ready for a match as she came out with a hoodie on, but once she took it off she looked ready for a MMA fight. Tehaka came out 0-12 and Taz proclaimed himself “a big fan” and called her “well accomplished in the ring.” Shafir was unimpressed and begged Tehaka to put a hand on her chin. Tehaka tried putting the boots to her and a shoulder tackle instead. Then she unloaded with a fisherman neckbreaker and did a hip toss into a side headlock. Shafir caught her in a leg triangle in the process but Tehaka escaped. Shafir took over with a big kick that put Tehaka down and then sank in a rear naked choke. Given her MMA background taht should have been the end of the match, but that wasn’t how these two laid it out. Tehaka came back with headbutts but Shafir trapped a leg and arm for a standing sub.

The Factory (Nick Comoroto & Aaron Solo) vs. Cam Stewart & Dante Casanova

The Factory’s tag team record here was 2-4. “The Factory all over this episode of Dark” quipped Excalibur. Perhaps he’s right — Ogogo, Marshall, Comoroto and Solo — and we weren’t even halfway through the show by this point. Stewart and Casanova were making their debut in the tag division in this contest. Casanova and Martin took turns trying to take Comoroto off his feet with dropkicks, and he ran them over with a double clothesline. He stacked them up in the corner to make a sandwich, then hit a simultaneous draping DDT and gorilla arm press. Solo got the tag even though the match was already over and did a double foot stomp to pick up a cheap win and get The Factory some more heat.

Tony Nese vs. Zack Clayton

Nese brought a record of 7-1 and his six pack of abs to the ring. Clayton was waiting for him in the ring with a 2022 record of 0-1. It’s not like Clayton had a bad physique himself, but he wasn’t chiseled out of granite the way Nese is. Clayton got a dropkick and a lateral press for a near fall but it didn’t get much better than that for him. Nese pulled him into a corner and tried to destroy his left knee with the ring post, then stomped and kicked it repeatedly when he came back in. Nese grapevined the leg and kicked Clayton in the head after he let go. Nese mounted Clayton to throw hammerfists at the knee. Clayton kicked Nese in the mush with his right foot to get free but Nese did a chop block baseball slide to the left leg. He missed Clayton diving back into the ring and Clayton fired up with right hands. Power slam for another near fall. Clayton hobbled around the ring and begged Nese to get up. Nese did and kicked him right in the head, which led to him doing the Running Nese for the pin. We already knew Nese was good but the more I see of Clayton the more I appreciate him.

Kiera Hogan vs. Mazzerati

Hogan brought a 3-1 record to the ring, where Mazzerati was waiting for her to make her AEW debut. Mazzerati tried to get off to a fast start with an offensive onslaught in the corner, but after a swing and a miss she got tripped into the ropes and taken down with a thrust kick. Hogan hit a running clothesline and a sliding boot to the face, went for the cover, and Mazzerati kicked out at two. Mazzerati hit a reverse kick and threw Hogan down with a handful of hair yelling “Just, like, that.” The newcomer’s got some attitude!

Mazzerati got on top for some ground and pound and then sank in a chinlock. Hogan fought back to her feet and nailed her with a dropkick. Taz: “It’s awful hard to flip a Mazzerati. Those things stay low to the ground!” Hogan did a leg drop and Mazzerati kicked out. Mazzerati missed twice with a spinning head kick but did catch her with a right cross. Hogan responded with a roundhouse kick for the three count. I loved everything about this. The more Hogan is on my screen the better, and I’d like to see Mazzerati back again after this performance.

The Dark Order (Alan “5” Angels & Preston “10” Vance) w/ -1 vs. Ariya Daivari & Invictus Khash

Angels came out 24-41, Vance came out 49-17, and the fans chanted “happy birthday” for Vance (this infuriated Taz). Daivari and Khash were competing together for the first time. It’s a little surprising to me they wouldn’t give Daivari a singles match, but perhaps he’ll get one in a future episode. Khash and Daivari blatantly double teamed Vance without a legal tag and the impotent ref stood there and did nothing. Danhausen needs to send him a tweet. Angels didn’t make matters better by distracting the jabroni wearing stripes to complain, which caused Vance to get double teamed even more. Angels got the tag and the whole psychology of this match was off to me. Shouldn’t the little man have been taking the two-on-one beatdown and the big man have been the one to clean house? Whatever. Daivari did a frogsplash and was pissed he didn’t get the three count. Vance got tagged back in and put Khash in a full nelson for the submission. This was one more tag than was needed for a squash match if they had booked it correctly. Tony Schiavone tried to do an interview but got interrupted by (guess who’s back) QT Marshall and The Factory.

Marshall: “I’ve got something I want to ask you guys — something I want to ask you, idiot. Back up, I come in peace. Tony you get out of here sir. I’ll conduct this interview. Vance, Angels, you guys could have been something and now you’re literally just the horse’s ass.” A fan yelled “They’re not joining The Factory” and Marshall yelled “Shut up you little crap!” He offered them a spot in the group with a handshake and they teased it before flipping Solo and Comoroto the middle finger. They got thrown out as a fan yelled “The Factory sucks!” Marshall: “The Factory doesn’t suck. The Factory is sacred.”

Dante Martin & Matt Sydal vs. Bear Country (Bear Bronson & Bear Boulder)

Bronson and Sydal started off the match for their respective teams. Sydal went for a single leg and got thrown off with ease. He went for it two more times and got put in a headlock and taken down with a shoulder tackle. Martin tagged in. Boulder did as well. Martin did a leapfrog and a dropkick to send Boulder out of the ring, but made a mistake trying to dive on him outside, as he was caught and slammed into the apron. Sydal tried to help and wound up being laid out too, but the faces got their revenge by doing a double moonsault off the stage. Back in the ring they tried to double team Bronson but there was a Bossman Slam in response. Boulder tagged in to work over Martin. Boulder tried to break his back before Bronson came back in. Bronson teased a standing moonsault then sat on Martin instead. The fans obliged with a “holy shit” chant. Beats a stinkface I suppose.

Boulder tagged back in and the fans chanted “do a flip.” He went to the second rope for a moonsault but Martin got out of the way. The fans still chanted “holy shit” for him anyway. Bronson tagged in but so did Sydal. Sydal took him down with the question mark kick for a near fall. Sydal: “You want a flip? I’m gonna suplex him!” The suplex was blocked so he went for an inside cradle and got two. Bronson missed a cannonball into the corner, all four men wound up in the ring breaking up a near fall from a standing moonsault, then Boulder picked up both men for a double power slam. Sydal sent Boulder out with a rising knee strike and Martin did a dive to wipe him out. Martin did his springboard moonsault and picked up the pin on Bronson. This one was worthy of being on Dynamite!

Joey Janela (w/ Kayla Rossi) vs. Lee Moriarty

Excalibur: “TAIGASTYLE, all caps no spaces.” I guess that means Moriarty is like the late great Daniel Dumile. Janela came out first though with a record of 34-32. Moriarty’s record had been wiped clean as AEW informed us this was his first singles match of 2022. It took until February for him to have one? Either that’s a huge backlog of episodes taped or a failure on the booker’s part. Janela is now sporting a do rag for some reason. At least the spots on it match the ones on his trunks. Janela gave Moriarty a Death Valley Driver on the ring apron and the match could have ended right there.

Instead Janela went for a flying European uppercut and Moriarty kicked out. He went up to the top rope and Moriarty sent him crashing down with an arm drag. The ref started a double ten count and got to seven before they stood up. Janela sold a knee injury and Rossi ran in to give Moriarty a ‘rana, and Janela hit a Liger Bomb to follow up... but Moriarty still kicked out! The Paper Bag Bandit looked on at ringside as the two took turns countering roll ups for near falls, then smashing each other in the face with forearms when they got up. The ref started another double count, Moriarty got up first, and tried to bridge the shoulders for a pin. Enzuigiri from Moriarty, Head kick from Janela. Janela hit a lariat so hard his do rag came off. He went for the brainbuster but Moriarty did a European clutch and picked up the pin on a shocked Janela. Excellent main event!

Tony Schiavone interviewed Lee Moriarty after the match. “Thank you Tony. The last time you and I talked I said that I was the future of All Elite Wrestling. The problem is I can’t wait for the future. I have a family to take care of right now. I have bills to pay right now, and tomorrow is never guaranteed. I can’t wait for the future, I’m focused on being at the top right now. The first thing I need to do is become consistent. I’ve picked up wins here and there but I’ve fallen short more than I’ve won. From here on out it’s a new attitude and a new focus because I’m here to win right now!”

What to watch/skip

Tonight’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Testarossa” since Taz got me thinking about fast cars with his commentary. I have no “skips” this week but I recommend watching Bear Country vs. Sydal & Martin, Janela vs. Moriarty, and Hogan vs. Mazzerati again. The wrestlers to keep your eye on are Zack Clayton, Toa Liona, and (even though I shouldn’t have to say it) Ariya Daivari. They’re all worthy of picking up a win on the Dark shows and perhaps moving up to Rampage or Dynamite if Tony Khan is so inclined.

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!