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AEW Dark recap (Feb. 15, 2022): Yo! Yo! Yo! The Acclaimed are wrestling solo!

Episode 130 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 start I think All Elite Wrestling was a little confused on social media this week — they thought Dark was both tomorrow and today!

The Dark Order (John Silver & Alex Reynolds) vs. Ariya Daivari & Invictus Khash

38-25 and 34-31 were Silver and Reynolds as they made their way to the ring. Daivari and Khash were already waiting for them with a record of 0-1 so far in tag team action. Silver and Khash started things off. Khash tried to take Silver down with a shoulder tackle and he no sold it, then delivered a powerful one of his own. Arm drags, another shoulder tackle, and a bicep flex. Silver slammed Khash to the mat and tagged in Reynolds, and with an assist he went for a near fall and got the two count.

Reynolds went top rope but Khash pulled him down with a handful of hair to tag in Daivari, who did a big splash for his own near fall. He snapped Reynolds neck with another hair grab and tagged Khash back in to cut off the ring for the beatdown, and Khash turned up the heat by letting his partner pull on his arm for extra leverage. The fans in Orlando obliged and booed the dirty tactics. As Silver looked to them for encouragement they chanted “Johnny Hungee.” Reynolds kicked Daivari away and leapt out for the hot tag. Silver gave Daivari a high back body drop and a power bomb for 2.5. Taz said Silver had no bicep and no tricep — “just one big bitrep.” Khash tagged in and they doubled teamed him for an air raid crash, but Reynolds ran in to make the save. Daivari got cracked with an uppercut and sent to the outside, and The Dark Order did a German suplex into a bridged pin for the win. Solid work from all four men in this opening match!

QT Marshall (w/ The Factory) vs. Pat Brink

Marshall brought a combined record of 40-28 to the ring along with all of his flunkies. Brink was waiting for him in the ring sporting an AEW record of 0-2. As I was watching this contest I had to stop for a moment and reflect on the fact that Brink was Kaleb O’Neal in FCW over a decade ago. It honestly seemed like his career would begin and end there, so I admire the resilience he’s shown to still be in the wrestling business after all this time. The crowd was firmly on his side just because of their disdain for Marshall, and he treated Brink like crap just to turn it up another notch. Brink finally made a comeback with a shoulder tackle, punches, and a series of clotheslines into a power slam. Marshall rocked him with an enzuigiri and signaled for the Diamond Cutter, but Brink blocked it and gave him a sit out powerbomb for a near fall. Brink picked Marshall up for another move but Marshall countered it into the cutter and got the win, all to a chorus of boos. Taz: “Pat Brink put up a good fight!” That he did. The match was a little slow at times but the story was well told.

Max Caster (w/ Anthony Bowens) vs. Cameron Stewart

“Yo! Listen, listen. Yo, yo. Ay! The Acclaimed got the whole crowd open, ‘bout to beat down this fake Macaulay Culkin. Hey what do you know? This the damn deejay from Hustle & Flow. Your name’s Cam, I got a question — did your mom name you after her profession?”

Other than knowing this is the first of two solo matches for The Acclaimed, here’s the other thing you should know — Stewart had a record of 0-1 in AEW. Caster had his way with his hapless foe as Bowens looked on from ringside. Stewart fought his way out of a superplex and came off the top rope for a crossbody, but Caster caught him in mid-air. Taz said that’s not something you should do because you can tear both biceps. Stewart countered it but that didn’t stop Caster from dropping him anyway and doing a Mic Drop that was nearly coast to coast for the pin. The match was 98% one-sided and that’s as it should’ve been.

Tony Nese vs. Carlie Bravo

“The Premiere Athlete” Nese brought a record of 8-1 to the ring. By comparison Bravo had a singles record of 0-4, but he did have a small contingent of fans at Universal Studios. Excalibur took a moment to plug the implosion of the Inner Circle, the no DQ match between Mercedes Martinez and Thunder Rosa, and the battle between Lee Moriarty and Bryan Danielson on Dynamite tomorrow. He had plenty of time to do so as Nese was having his way with Bravo. He snapped his neck off the ropes and hit a moonsault but Stewart still kicked out before three. Nese hung him in a tree of woe, laid on his back and “did some leg work” as Taz said by kicking his foe. Next up? An abdominal stretch. Bravo hits some elbows to get free and connected with a back drop. Clothesline, shoulder tackle, spear to the gut from Bravo before Nese rocked him with a kick to the jaw. A belly to belly pile driver ended Bravo’s night. He might be 0-5 on paper but he’s a good opponent to feed to the veterans.

This led to a backstage interview between Alex Marvez and Fuego Del Sol, and the latter had a few things to say before his match with Anthony Bowens tonight in the form of a rap.

Emi Sakura vs. Angelica Risk

Sakura came out 12-4 with her regalia on, but sadly no flunky to take the cape or crown when she hit the ring. Risk was already waiting for her and sported an AEW record to date of 0-2. Sakura begged Risk to hit her with her best shots, and that backfired when she ate a hip attack in the corner and a swinging neckbreaker for a near fall. She went for a second neckbreaker but got countered into a backbreaker, and hit with a chop and a crossbody in the corner. Queen’s Gambit and a big slam face first for the pin followed. Squash-tastic.

2point0 (w/ Daniel Garcia) vs. Metro Brothers

Matt Lee and Jeff Parker brought a record of 8-3 to this match. JC and Chris Metro were waiting for them in the ring with a record of 0-1. Taz got a laugh out of me by claiming “Iron” Mike Sharpe was Canada’s greatest athlete, above both members of 2point0 and even hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. Two for the Show quickly finished whichever Metro got his neck snapped off the ropes. It hardly matters. This was a minute, 90 seconds at the most.

Michael “MT” Nakazawa vs. Joey Sweets

This was Nakazawa’s first singles match of the year. He certainly wasn’t dressed like he was going to wrestler. He had his tan pants, AEW dress shirt, backstage lanyard and producer’s headset on. His opponent Joey Sweets was waiting in the ring with a record of 0-2. Nakazawa even kept the headset on during the match. That didn’t stop him from hitting a headbutt and applying a chinlock, although he did have to tuck his lanyard into the headset first for some reason. The headset finally came off after a clothesline and a dropkick from Sweets. Sweets went to the second rope and tried to dive on him but Nakazawa cut him off and something got bleeped out as he crashed and burned. Nakazawa dragged him “by the yam bags” across the top rope and hit a spear for a near fall. Sweets tried to snap him in two but Nakazawa grabbed the ropes to break up the pin, then clonked Sweets with his laptop while ref Mike Posey was distracted. Nakazawa picked him up and slammed him for a pin where his head was buried in his opponent’s crotch.

This was all comedy from beginning to end and whether it worked depended on how much you like Being The Elite. An interview with Jora Johl followed where he promised Tony Schiavone that he had learned a lot and that 2022 would be his year. We’ll see.

Frankie Kazarian vs. Luke Sampson

Kaz brought an overall singles record of 61-29 to the ring. Sampson’s AEW record by comparison was 0-1. Yeah, you knew where this was going with or without spoilers, but I still think Sampson looks like a younger “Big Sexy” Kevin Nash. Kazarian nailed Sampson with a couple of leg drops but he kicked out at two. Sampson picked him up for a hard slam and laid in elbows in the corner. Kaz recovered for a knee lift and a clothesline to send Sampson reeling. Kaz followed up with double knees to the back and applied the crossface chicken wing for the submission. I know this was not Sampson’s day but I do like his look.

Jora Johl vs. Axel Rico

A.F.H.O.’s Johl came out sans Matt Hardy (or anybody else) to make his singles debut for 2022. Rico was waiting for him in the ring to make his AEW debut. They made sure to point out he was from San Juan, Puerto Rico but I think I could have guessed that by his low rent Carlito haircut and mustache. All he was missing was an apple to take a bite out of and spit into Johl’s face. Johl gave Rico a buckle bomb and a knee to the back of his head, then stomped on his back for good measure. Rico fought his way to his feet but Johl dropped him with a headbutt and laid in the right hands on the ground. Rico escaped a fireman’s carry but still ate a pump kick to the face for the pin. Johl made good on his promise... at least for tonight.

The Dark Order (Preston Vance & Alan Angels) vs. Chaos Project (Serpentico & Luther)

Chaos Project brought a 2022 tag team record of 0-1 to the co-main event. Vance and Angels were 25-42 and 50-17 respectively. -1 and a slew of Dark Order members accompanied them to the ring. I had to walk away for a minute because Luther’s screaming was legitimately giving me a migraine. A couple of ibuprofen and a piece of chocolate got me ready to continue the recap. Luther took Angels down with a leg lariat and tagged Serpentico in, and then he threw Serpentico into Vance head first. He tried to do the same to Angels but Angels pulled down the ropes. When he went outside Serpentico tossed him into the steels steps as -1 looked on in concern.

Luther choked Angels on the ropes as Luther screamed gibberish into the camera. He and Serpentico continued to cut off the ring and work Angels over, with Luther using his partner like a blunt object any time he felt like it. Serpentico tried and failed to do the same, and this led to a Blue Thunder Bomb from Angels before Vance got the tag. Luther tried to lend a hand but got a spine on the pine for his trouble. Angels did a suicide dive through the ropes to put Luther out of commission and Vance sunk in the full nelson for the submission. The ending was never in doubt.

This was followed by a video package for Anthony Bowens’ new song “Underneath Me” from the album Who We Are, available (as you know) from ShopAEW.com with all proceeds going to the Bootsy Collins Foundation. Time for the main event!

Anthony Bowens vs. Fuego Del Sol

Fuego brought a 2022 record of 1-1 to this match. “Yo! Listen! Yo! The Acclaimed about to beat Fuego Del Sol, it roughly translates to flaming butt hole. This is your worst fear. Honestly, I forgot you even worked here. I wish Florida had a mask mandate, so we could cover the rest of your ugly ass face.” An incensed Fuego gave Bowens a spear immediately after the opening bell. That momentum didn’t last long though as the bigger and stronger Bowens took control and tried to wear Fuego down, forcing him to fight back repeatedly and finally stagger Bowens with a step up enzuigiri and a pair of dropkicks. Fuego hit a shooting star press for two but Bowens shrugged him off with authority. Fuego knocked Caster off the apron and that was a mistake as Bowens immediately kneed him in the head and hit a twisting DDT with Fuego’s body draped from the ropes. As Mark Henry would’ve said, “you could count to a thousand” for that pin. That’s all she wrote!

What to watch/skip

This week’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by (who else) Max Caster. Even though this week’s episode was over 70 minutes long it didn’t feel like it. I’m having to dig deep for something to tell you to skip, so if you absolutely pushed me to the breaking point, I’d nominate Nakazawa vs. Sweets. I enjoyed it but I have no problem understanding why 99% of the viewing audience wouldn’t!

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 unless there’s another special edition of Dark first!