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AEW Dark recap (Aug. 16, 2022): Knowing is half the battle

Episode 157 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for the stream. Excalibur and Taz called the action from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Tonight a former ROH Pure Title champion faced down pure evil... or did he? Let’s get to it!

Ari Daivari vs. Fuego Del Sol

Fuego came out first for the opening match sporting a 2022 record of 5-5. He came alone but unfortunately for him Daivari did not, flanked as he was by Parker Boudreaux and Slim J, sporting a 2022 record of 2-1. Taz put over Daivari’s massive wealth and even said he probably bumped into him in New York while talking to a hedge fund manager. Excalibur: “Taz if I had your money I’d burn money.” Taz: “I actually stole that line from one of our broadcast colleagues. He wears a cowboy hat. You don’t know who he is.” I bet I do. The Orlando crowd was firmly behind Fuego and against Daivari. Fuego reversed an arm wringer and did a head scissors takeover. Daivari rolled through and floated over into a front headlock, then put the arm wringer back on. Daivari sent Fuego out to the apron but he came back in for another head scissor and a northern lights suplex for a near fall.

Daivari took over again and whipped Fuego into a turnbuckle hard as Slim J laughed and Boudreaux stared menacingly (some say that’s the only emotion that he has or ever shows). Daivari and Fuego traded strikes. Slim J grabbed a boot from the outside and Daivari hit a back elbow for a near fall. Daivari choked Fuego using the ropes until Aubrey Edwards pulled him off, so Slim J took over for him while her back was turned. Fuego ducked a clothesline but got caught in a sleeper. Daivari screamed “give up Fuego” and Edwards grabbed his arm to check if he was conscience. He pulled up before the third drop.

Fuego got to his feet and hit a neckbreaker that left both men down. Flying elbows and kicks from Fuego. Daivari floated him to the apron, Fuego hit a knee and a dragon sleeper in the ropes. He did a double stomp from the ropes and Daivari kicked out at 2.9. Daivari spiked Fuego in the middle of the ring and set him on the turnbuckle for a chop. He went up for a superplex but Fuego swept the legs and did another double stomp, leaving Daivari in a tree of woe. Fuego did a coast to coast dropkick but again Daivari kicked out before 3. Daivari charged the corner and missed, but Boudreaux pulled him out of the ring seemingly to safety, but Fuego hit a moonsault on the floor. Slim J and Boudreaux took exception and surrounded him, and Daivari posted him on the outside. He threw Fuego back in for a lariat, yelled “kiss my ass” to the crowd and hit a frog splash for the win.

Tony Schiavone interviewed Daivari afterward. “Mr. Schiavone, if you will hold on one second while I tell all these pieces of poor garbage to shut their mouths. I told everybody in the wrestling world that my money, my investments just keep going up and up, which is why I could purchase the best guys to have my back. We are the Trustbusters, and if anybody ever wants to step to us, we will trust... bust... your ass!”

Robyn Renegade vs. Willow Nightingale

Renegade brought a record of 2-8 for 2022 and was accompanied to the ring by her sister Charlette. Nightingale brought a record of 5-6. Nightingale sent her reeling with an overhand chop and threw a hip attack, lariat, and diving crossbody for good measure. Charlette threw a kick to the face when the ref wasn’t looking and Robyn took over with chops to the chest. She got cocky and licked her hand for a third one and missed, then Nightingale gave her a receipt right back. Renegade hit a backstabber and went for a rear naked choke but Nightingale backed into the corner turnbuckle to shake her off, shake her off. Taz mocked Excalibur for his “1950’s reference” when he said that she was rockin’ Robyn. Charlette did the twin magic switch and hit a fisherwoman buster suplex for two. Nightingale hit a spinebuster and pulled the straps down. Doctor bomb for the pin!

Brock Anderson vs. Serpentico

Serpentico was thankfully not accompanied by Luther. His record was 13-87. Anderson was accompanied by his father Arn and brought a singles record of 14-11. For whatever reason Serpentico was wearing Road Warrior style spikes. Maybe if he could have kept them on during the match they would have helped. Normally I can suspend disbelief in situations like this, but watching a kid who looks like a young version of “The Enforcer” sell for an absolute dork stretched beyond believably real into unreal. I kept waiting for Brock to hit a spinebuster and finish him off. Serpentico went to the top rope and missed as usual. Brock hit a DDT and a clothesline in response. Side slam. Spinebuster as expected! 1-2-3. Excalibur called it a “huge victory” and that too stretches credulity.

Abadon vs. Mafiosa

Abadon brought a record of 34-3 to Universal Studios. Mafiosa was waiting for her with a record of 0-4. It’s weird to say this but Abadon seems to have toned down her scary look slightly. The hair would even be Harley Quinn-esque if she put it into ponytails. The makeup seems less drastic too. Meanwhile Mafiosa continues to look like a imitation brand Deonna Purrazzo. Abadon hit a cutter, a kick to the gut, a kick to the jaw, a senton to the spine, and Mafiosa fought back with some punches to the gut. Abadon immediately came back with Black Dahlia for the win. This was 98% squash and 2% Mafiosa.

Angelico vs. Baliyan Akki

Angelico came out 6-3 for 2022. Akki was waiting to make his AEW debut, although we’ve seen him accompany Emi Sakura to the ring many times, and we know he’s a Choco Pro veteran. Akki did his best to match the technical stylings of Angelico, but got overwhelmed by a back elbow and a series of strikes. Akki kicked his way out of a wrist lock and hit a drop kick before throwing a series of kicks. Angelico went right back to his grappling though and tied Akki up in knots while sitting on his back for the submission! Speaking of Emi Sakura...

Emi Sakura vs. Renee Michelle

Sakura brought a record of 18-8 to the ring. Michelle was waiting for her with a 0-1 record. Sakura was in no mood to be nice to her opponent, overwhelming her immediately and cackling like an anime villain. Michelle made a comeback with a missile dropkick and the crowd got behind her for a moment, but Sakura immediately smashed her face into the canvas and they switched allegiances for the “we will rock you” chops and crossbody. Double underhook backbreaker, splash, and a knee to the face for a two count. Queen’s Gambit finisher her off. She mimed a spot of tea afterward.

Josh Woods vs. Cobra

“The Technical Beast” Josh Woods brought a record of 4-3 to the ring. Cobra was waiting in the ring for him to make his AEW debut. Cobra looked like he might be a little bigger and stronger than Woods, which they sold early by having it be a stalemate. Cobra offered a handshake and Woods immediately took advantage and took over to work the left arm. Cobra got out with a knee and clubbed him in the back, throwing him into the corner for more knees to the body as the ref warned him to back up. Woods ducked a clothesline, picked the ankle on a leapfrog, hit a German suplex with authority, and cinched up a submission for the sudden tap. Cobra looked pretty good for the minute or so they let him take control in the match, but it’s no surprise that Woods won here with or without Tony Nese and “Smart” Mark Sterling. Bring Cobra back and let him beat Serpentico.

Rohit Raju vs. Invictus Khash

Raju brought a 2-2 record to this contest. Khash was waiting for him with a record of 0-1. I got distracted from the action by commentary, which isn’t how it’s supposed to work, but for some reason Excalibur claimed Taz had cameras spying on him in the shower and Taz didn’t deny it! Strange. Excalibur: “In venues that don’t have a shower, I demand that they bring me a camping shower.” Taz: “Yeah they roll it in on wheels.” Or maybe I couldn’t get into this match because it was two guys with a combined five singles matches between them and neither one had a winning record. Raju hit a jumping knee, went to the top rope, and did a diving double foot stomp for the pin. At least one of them has a record over 500 now. Taz called to the production truck for a replay as Tony Schiavone hit the ring for an interview with Raju. “Tony you’ve been doing this a long time. You tell me, what does my future hold? Bright, bright as in ‘his mother calls him sun because he shines like one’ bright. You nimrods go outside and pay attention to that star in the sky, that’s me, shining since day one. You will pay attention to wrestling’s brightest star, Rohit Raju.”

Charlette Renegade vs. Skye Blue

Renegade came out with a singles record of 1-5 accompanied by her sister Robyn. Blue brought a singles record of ... actually they never even showed it on the screen? I’m not sure why. I even rewound the episode to double check and it simply wasn’t there.I guess that’s because everybody involved was too busy promoting Dynamite tomorrow night, sponsored by House of the Dragon and featuring “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson vs. “Dragon Slayer” Daniel Garcia, two out of three falls. Blue hit a sloppy ‘rana and a better thrust kick for a near fall. I kept waiting for another case of twin magic in this contest. Blue hit a bad looking crossbody for another near fall. Renegade sat out with her for a near fall. Blue isn’t normally this bad so maybe it’s just a total lack of chemistry. Sure enough after Blue hit a twisting neckbreaker Renegade rolled out and tried to switch places, but the referee caught it in and threw Robyn out. Blue hit a thrust kick and smashed Renegade face first into the mat for the pin. Excalibur: “Charlette beaten for the second time here.”

Bear Country vs. Axel Rico & Victor Iniestra

Bronson and Boulder brought a tag team record of 16-10. Rico and Iniestra were making their debut here. Much like Elevation last night we’ve got an episode with a lot of one sided and very quick matches. In fact to this point in the show I’d say the opening match between Daivari and Fuego was the longest and most competitive by far. Bronson sat on Iniestra when he tried a sunset flip to the outside and tagged in Boulder. Boulder hit a double clothesline and stacked up everybody in the middle of the ring, Did he get a haircut? He looks different tonight. Bronson tagged in and got thrown by his partner onto the pile in the corner, and he dragged both carcasses to the middle of the ring for a double pin. Do you want to see how that looked? Well you’re in luck!

Kayla Rossi vs. Avery Breaux

I feel like this is the first time we’ve seen Rossi since Joey Janela left AEW. She was accompanied by Diamond Sheik to “make her AEW debut” even though we’ve seen her plenty before (as Excalibur was sure to note). Breaux brought a singles record of 0-2. I’m not saying Taz and Excalibur are Matt Riddle fans, but they were both making “broooo” jokes. Rossi caught her in a crossbody and did curls before throwing her into a firewoman’s carry and dropping her, kipping up, then doing a standing moonsault and stopping before the ref counted three. Breaux hit an enzuigiri in response but then got distracted by the Sheik. Rossi hit a lariat and a nasty brainbuster for three. Rossi’s re-debut was a success.

Cezar Bononi vs. Marcus Kross

Bononi brought a record of 2-8 and The Wingmen (Nemeth and Avalon) with him. Kross was waiting for him with a record of 0-2. He still has the best platinum blonde hair of an AEW “carpenter” bar none. Even an early 1980’s Ric Flair would compliment him on how shiny and well coiffed it is. Sadly looking good doesn’t matter since this was a match to finally get Bononi another win, and the announcers made sure we knew that by putting over what a big strong muscular beast of a man Bononi was. The crowd was not at all into Kross when he was on offense, and there were even Wingmen chants before that. You’d probably not hear that anywhere but Orlando. Bononi planted Kross like a tree for the victory.

Blake Christian vs. Powerhouse Hobbs

“All Heart” Blake Christian came out first with a record of 1-2. Hobbs brought a record of 51-21 and Taz criticized him for not changing his old Team Taz gear. “It’s probably him taking a shot at me, taking a shot at Ricky Starks too, but (he) has a lot of momentum here.” Taz did put him over for being “smart and methodical” about how he picked apart Christian, especially when Hobbs was beating him up on the outside. He rolled back in the ring to make Aubrey Edwards break the count, came back out, dragged Christian like a dead body, and threw him back into the ring. That actually seemed to wake Christian up, as he hit a 450 to the back looking for a pin. Hobbs kicked out at one. Spine on the pine, 1-2-3, it’s over. Another win for the No. 2 contender in the men’s division.

What to watch/skip

This week’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by G.I. Joe. I honestly don’t care how little the wrestler who faced Josh Woods has to do Hasbro — whenever I see his name I’m going to hear Chris Latta screaming “CO-BRA!” I’d like to reiterate here that the opening match really was the best worked match of this long episode of Dark, but I’d also recommend you watch Rossi’s in-ring debut, Bear Country doing bear things, and Woods vs. the impressive looking Cobra. By implication you could skip all of the rest but the only thing you should go out of your way to skip is Blue vs. Renegade. The rest 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 next Monday for Elevation!

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