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AEW Dark recap (May 17, 2022): Wheeler Yuta vs. Josh Woods

Episode 143 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for the Cageside Seats stream via YouTube. Your commentary team this week was Excalibur and Taz. Let’s get right into the action!

Max Caster vs. Tyler Uriah

Caster came out 55-28. “Platinum, back on my ego trip. Why you dress in all black like an emo chick? I got hype all on my name, I kick your ass like Mike Tyson on a plane. Everywhere we go it’s the same, because, everybody loves The Acclaimed.” Uriah was waiting for him in the ring to make his AEW debut. In case you had any doubt Acclaimed were getting over as babyfaces now, Caster went to someone at ringside and said “Who wants to do Bowens’ part?” The audience is finishing the rap when Bowens isn’t there.

Caster knocked Uriah silly with a backhand and gave him a flapjack to boot. Taz: “I feel like Caster could end this at any point.” He did not. Uriah got off a couple of clotheslines and a high back body drop. Uriah hit him with shoulders in the corner but Caster came back with a cross between a dropkick and a double foot stomp for the sudden win.

Layna Lennox vs. Marina Shafir

Shafir brought a record of 6-1 to the ring for this match. Lennox was waiting in the ring to make her first AEW appearance. She offered Shafir a hand for a Greco-Roman knuckle lock and got denied. Lennox had a little shine until she got kicked in the kidneys and sent head first into the middle turnbuckle. Shafir went outside to continue the beating and dropped her face hard on the ring apron before throwing her back in. Excalibur: “It feels like we are perilously close to a ref stoppage.” Shafir threw her around, kicked her in the back, hit a pump handle suplex and tied her up in knots for the submission.

Bear Country (Bear Bronson & Bear Boulder) vs. The Workhorsemen (Anthony Henry & JD Drake)

The Workhorsemen brought a record of 0-3 as a team. Bear Country brought a record of 14-9. Taz and Excalibur did their best to put over the idea this would be a fierce fight between two top tag teams, but I only saw one come out to the ring. Henry and Bronson tried a battle of strikes which the latter won before tagging in Boulder. Henry threw one last kick to escape and tagged in Drake. Drake threw two chops and Boulder no sold them both before yelling “Harder!” He caught the third attempt and gave Drake a right fist, a splash in the corner, and a scoop slam. Bronson tagged back. Taz was hungry because he fantasized about going to an all you can eat buffet with Bear Country and JD Drake (I guess Henry wasn’t big enough to picture there). The heels cut off the ring to work Bronson over.

Henry even dared him to tag his partner. Bronson sat on Henry to squish him and finally made the tag right as Drake did the same. Boulder cleaned house on both men with a double shoulder tackle. Taz: “If you asked him to haul ass it would take two trips!” Double Samoan drop. Bronson tagged back in, climbed to the top, got ready for the Bear Bomb but Henry made the save with a kick. Boulder took three, fired up, but ate a running knee strike. Drake helped Henry hit a DDT and Bronson avoided a cannonball in the corner, then hit a cannonball of his own on Drake. Both men got stacked up like cordwood in the corner and we got an assisted cannonball in the corner before the Bear Bomb onto Drake for three.

Devlyn Macabre vs. Emi Sakura

Sakura came out 28-25 for this match. Macabre was waiting for her to (you guessed it) make her AEW debut. It was sing along night for Sakura as she put Macabre in a surfboard, then she no sold for a while until Macabre made a comeback with a few kicks and a cutter for a near fall. That didn’t last long. Sakura did her “we will rock you” chops and crossbody. She hit a delayed backbreaker for two, pulled Macabre back up before the pin, gave her the Queen’s Gambit and then pinned her! It obviously got a little more physical than Sakura expected as she had a bloody lip after the match (or her lipstick was very smeared).

Angelico & Jora Johl vs. Baron Black & Anthony Catena

Johl was 3-3 and Angelico was 1-0 so far in 2022. Black and Catena were waiting for them in the ring for their first time together as a tag team. Both should be familiar to long time viewers of the Dark shows though, Black in particular being almost a staple of the program block. Taz got irate when Excalibur didn’t pronounce “Catena” right. Johl sold for him for a little bit then gave him a superkick and a big overhead suplex before tagging Angelico. Angelico grounded Catena with some mat work before Johl came back in. Catena escaped Johl and tagged in Black, who hit Johl with a backstabber and a lariat for a near fall. Angelico cut Black off with a kick to the spine and tagged back in to do the Navarro Death Roll and force Black to submit. Black’s going to get his big win one of these days!

Trent Beretta vs. Ryan Nemeth

Nemeth brought a record of 1-1 for 2022. Beretta’s overall record was 38-27. Nemeth tried to get Universal Studios to chant “Hollywood Hunk” and nobody was interested. He did succeed in giving Beretta a DDT out on the floor though, throwing him face first into the entrance ramp to make it worse. Nemeth was so confident he had the match in hand he started dancing and gyrating his hips back in the ring, and all his stalling cost him big as Beretta charged him for a huge dropkick and immediate pin. Peter Avalon ran out from the back to beat Beretta up, and Rocky Romero ran out from the back to make the save. The Roppongi Vice theme song played afterward as the heels took a powder.

Skye Blue vs. Amber Nova

Blue brought a record of 9-23 to the ring. Nova’s record was 0-1. She immediately complained that her opponent was only 12 years old and asked AEW to send out a real opponent to face her instead. Nova tried to choke her out with an orange rag but Blue wasn’t going down that easy. Nova did a bridging arm submission but Blue got a rope break. Blue hit her with a knee strike, a dropkick, and got a two count. She pulled Nova up, Nova got a reversal and kicked her in the face, Nova got her own near fall. Nova ate a kick to the face and Blue planted her face in the mat with a flatliner for three, throwing the orange rag at her after getting the win. Tony Schiavone hit the ring for an interview. “I am beyond grateful and excited for my future here in AEW.”

Yuya Uemura, Clark Connors, Karl Fredericks, Alex Coughlin & Kevin Knight (LA Dojo) vs. QT Marshall, Aaron Solo, Nick Comoroto, Brick Aldridge & Blake Li (The Factory)

Both teams were billed as “making their 10-man tag debut” for this contest, with the Dojo coming out first for the match. Marshall ripped up a fan’s note mocking him and you could tell he was happy to have even been noticed. Someone tell that dipstick who attacked Joe Black over the weekend that this is how pro wrestling works. If the heel rips up your sign or knocks your hat off your head, that doesn’t give you the right to come over the barricade and get physical with them. They get to mess with you, not vice versa. That’s the rules!

The fact this was a multi-man match gave me plenty of time to go on a segue, because even with two teams this well trained it’s still largely a cluster with this many men involved. The one thing I was left wondering is why Brick Aldridge and Nick Comoroto don’t team up regularly given they are much closer to each other in size and stature than Comoroto’s usual tag team partners. Comoroto signaled like he was about to put Coughlin away but he fought free and hit a delayed vertical to send Comoroto rolling out of the ring. At this point everybody on both sides hit the ring for a spot. Fredericks hit a suicide dive on the Factory (and nearly killed himself doing it) before Kevin Knight got a little help from Coughlin for an assisted electric chair to pin Aldridge. It was a mess... but it was a fun mess!

ROH Pure Championship Match: Wheeler Yuta vs. Josh Woods

Former Pure champion Woods came out first followed by current champion Yuta, representing the Blackpool Combat Club, with Excalibur noting this would be a rematch of their bout from Supercard of Honor 15. Woods 2022 record in AEW was 1-1. Yuta’s overall record in AEW was 24-19. There’s that inconsistency about the overall record or the current year record again. It’s May now. Shouldn’t everyone be going by their 2022 record at this point? The referee in charge was Paul Turner.

Yuta used his first of three rope breaks only a minute or so into the match. Taz complimented him on saving himself from injury even if he had to burn a break to do it. Yuta grounded Woods to work over the left arm and continued to torque it standing until he could bring Woods back down. He tried to snap it off with his legs, threw a chop, and grounded Woods one more time to try and twist the arm out of its socket. He stomped on it to boot. Yuta yanked Woods away from the ropes hard and put the hold back on. Woods countered with an arm drag, an ankle lock, and stomped on the back of the left knee. Forearms and shoulders in the corner. Five minutes were gone at this point. Woods went for a cover and Yuta kicked out as the judges and the crowd looked on.

Now it was Woods’ turn to work over a body part as he put all of his offense on Yuta’s left leg. Both men got caught in an inside cradle and tried to roll each other into a pinning predicament. Woods landed a knee to the jaw but Yuta kicked out at one. Yuta finally got to his feet but got a warning for using a closed fist, meaning he could be disqualified if he does it again and forfeits the title as a result. Yuta did a diving splash for a near fall and tried to cinch up a LeBell Lock. Woods counter it into an ankle lock. Yuta kicked him off and did a suicide dive onto him on the outside. Woods threw him onto the ramp and caught him with a shot when he came off.

Paul Turner started the 20 count which is part of pure rules matches, but only got to 15 before both men got back in, with Dasha Fuentes announcing ten minutes had elapsed. Both men traded forearms. Both men hit a pump kick. Both men fell down. Woods got up first but Yuta countered him with a suplex into the turnbuckle. He tried to get a pin moments later but Excalibur sold he couldn’t put all his weight on it due to his knee. Woods went for the ankle lock again. Yuta burned a second rope break to get free. Woods went right back to the ankle lock and Yuta used his final rope break. Naturally Woods went for it again, Yuta grabbed the ropes, and Turner refused to stop it. Woods dragged him back in and they traded rolling pins until Yuta trapped his arms with his feet and kept him down for three! Both men exchanged a handshake afterward.

Tony Schiavone hit the ring to interview Yuta. “Tony you’re right, we’ve known each other for quite a while, now here I am in AEW. Here I am the ROH Pure Champion. I hold two victories over Josh Woods, one hell of a competitor. It doesn’t stop in Japan for the Super Juniors and it doesn’t stop here in AEW. The work has only just begun.” Excalibur plugged him being in the B Block of Best of the Super Juniors before we went to a bonus match!

Keith Lee & Swerve Strickland vs. Chaos Project

Chaos Project brought a team record of 10-31 to the ring. Strickland brought a record of 4-3. Lee brought a record of 8-2. Clearly we were no longer in Universal Studios any more but Excalibur and Taz had dubbed in their own commentary for this contest. For comedy we had Serpentico trying and failing to chop Keith Lee. Lee knocked Luther off his feet with a shoulder block, but Luther hit an enzuigiri and tagged Serpentico in to make a cover. Lee yeeted Serpentico off him when he kicked out. Luther and Serpentico exchanged quick tags trying to soften up Lee, until Lee and Luther played hot potato with Serpentico. Lee gave Serpy a biel across the ring and then Swerve tagged in for the assisted Swerve Bomb. It wasn’t going to end any other way.

What to watch/skip

Tonight’s “what to watch/skip” for Dark is brought to you by a Josh Woods match with Silas Young that’s worth the five minutes you’ll spend watching the clip. You can save that five minutes back by skipping Sakura vs. Macabre, Shafir vs. Lennox, and Beretta vs. Nemeth. Nobody did anything terribly wrong in those three bouts, but the outcomes were beyond obvious with or without spoilers. Everything else was fine.

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 Monday for Elevation!