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AEW Dark recap (Sept. 27, 2022): Leon Ruffin ain’t bluffin’

Episode 163 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for the stream. Excalibur and Taz were on commentary this week. After a rather short episode of Elevation last night I was more than ready for 11 matches on Dark tonight. Let’s get to it!

Fuego Del Sol vs. Jay Malachi

Fuego brought a record of 5-6 for 2022 to the ring. Malachi was waiting for him in the ring to make his debut. I was immediately thrown by his name being pronounced “Ma-lat-chee” instead of “Malakai.” Excalibur was just as confused. Taz acted like he didn’t even hear it. “There are four producers talking to me at all times. It distracts me.” The good news for Jay no matter how his last name is pronounced is that he’s in the ring with one of the few guys he’d be allowed to go 50/50 with making his debut. Fuego tried to set up for a tornado DDT, got floated to the apron, grabbed Malachi’s neck through the ropes and cranked, then did a double stomp to the spine. He hit the tornado DDT, but instead of going for the pin he stretched the neck for a tapout instead. Somewhere in all of this he got a bloody lip too.

Leila Grey vs. Tiara James

Grey brought a 2022 Dark record of 1-2. The chyron was actually that specific — just Dark shows. Meanwhile James had an overall record of 0-1. I’m starting to believe this is done just to get people who cover the Dark shows discussing it in their recaps. They are consistent in their inconsistency and that can’t be by accident. That sounds too “lizard people run the government” though so I’ll let it go. Meanwhile Taz explained that Queens is a borough with a lot of different neighborhoods in it — Flushing, Jamaica, and so on. “I should have done this last week before Bronson was on.” Grey got the pin, did a dance, and blew a kiss to the crowd. That’s a face thing to do for a “baddie.” Who minds seeing Grey dance?

Jeeves Kay vs. Gus De La Vega

The so-called “Trust-Butler” Kay was accompanied by the entire Trustbusters faction for his match to make his 2022 singles debut. Vega was waiting for him in the ring with a 0-2 record. The entire faction entered the ring (with Kay holding the ropes open for them all) and Daivari giving him a pep talk before the match proper began. Kay took off the gloves, threw them in Vega’s face, and it was on like Donkey Kong. Second rope uppercut. Rope burn with the top rope to make Vegas suffer. Kay stomped on him in the corner as a fan wearing a cheese head looked to be on the verge of passing out. Kay picked up Vega and turned him “inside out” as Excalibur would say to get the pin. Here’s a replay of the finish.

Jora Johl vs. Blake Li

Johl brought a record of 6-4 for 2022 to Universal Studios for this match. Li was waiting for him in the ring with a 0-2 record. Johl hit a vertical suplex, flexed his biceps, and Li smacked him in the mouth. Johl hit him with a couple of elbows, Li returned the favor and hit a dropkick, he went for a springboard and missed and got hit with a pump kick for the immediate pin. Taz: “This pump kick was really on point.” It looked good. No question.

Anna Jay A.S. vs. Kelly Madan

Jay (A.S.) brought a record of 26-3 along with “Cool Hand” Angelo Parker to the ring. Madan was waiting in the ring to make her AEW debut. She smiled and gave thanks to the crowd and Jay was not impressed by her sucking up. I was impressed by her physique though. Madan looked like someone who has done a lot of reps in the gym. It didn’t help her though as she submitted to Jay’s Queen Slayer in a quick one sided match. I know it gets old to say this but I hope they bring her back and give her more time. Jay gave her a +second+ submission after the bell rang and her hand was raised just to get some extra heat.

Ryan Nemeth vs. Arjun Singh

Nemeth’s singles record before this bout began was 6-16. Singh’s record was 1-3. Nemeth jumped him before the bell and put a crippler on him for good measure, then tried to lead the Orlando crowd in a chant for him. Singh responded with a suplex and Nemeth had to roll out to the ring apron to recover, where he snapped Singh’s neck off the ropes and went right back to cranking on his face. He tried again to start a “let’s, go, hunk” chant and a few overly polite fans took him up on it. I mean literally a few. You could probably pick out the three people who did if the camera was scanning the whole crowd. Singh fired up for a comeback but missed a running knee and ate a pendulum DDT. Nemeth used his Hunk ‘o Love finisher for the pin even though the DDT would have been enough all by itself. At least it gave Taz an excuse to say Nemeth has “a garbage attitude.”

Leon Ruffin vs. Bshp King

Ruffin was all smiles as he made his way to the ring with a 0-4 record and a Leon Ruff jacket on. He should get an updated jacket to match his non NXT name. King was waiting for him with a record of 0-2. King ate a cutter and a Crucifix Bomb after taking 80% of the match to that point, and Ruffin immediately pinned him for three as Excalibur called it “a great come from behind victory.” I’m pleased he got his first AEW win but I wish it had gone longer.

Angelico vs. Caleb Konley

Angelico brought a 2022 record of 3-1 to this contest. Caleb “With a K” Konley was waiting for him with a 0-1 AEW record. Konley hit an atomic drop and a punch to the jaw and started celebrating prematurely. He kept trying to put on a side headlock and Angelico finally dropped his “yam bags” on the ropes in response, then beat him up outside of the ring. He put Konley through the ropes and pulled back on the chin as a bored Matt Hardy look-a-like in the crowd rested his head on his chin. Konley tried to fire up and took a thumb to the eye. He tried again and got hammered with elbows before being submitted in the middle of the ring with an Argentine back breaker. With so many quick matches tonight that might have been one of the better and/or longer worked ones for the entire episode... and it wasn’t even all that long.

Renegade Twins vs. Mila Moore & Mylo

The Twins brought a 2022 record of 2-1 as a team. Moore and Mylo were already waiting for them in the ring and one woman seemed to be at least a foot taller than her partner. They both got beat up before we could even learn who was who, then hit with a double team spinebuster for the quick pin. How are the Twins going to get better working squashes?

Nick Comoroto vs. Shaheem Ali

Comoroto brought a singles record of 8-14 to this match and apparently had decided to take fashion tips from The Wingmen. He was wearing a leather jacket and a feather boa for who knows what reason. Ali was waiting in the corner to make his AEW debut. Comoroto laid on the top rope unimpressed as the bell rang, sucking on a lollipop he apparently unwrapped during his entrance. Taz: “Spit it on our stage manager, he keeps trying to bother me as I’m working out here.” Comoroto grabbed Ali by the mohawk to pummel him in the face, picked him up and threw him down, dropped an elbow on him and saluted the crowd. If this is Comoroto’s attempt at a face turn I’m not buying it. He looks like a bear, he should act like one. The Alabama Slam for the win was the only part of this act I liked. Excalibur: “I like to call it the water wheel but the last time I did J.R. got on my case.”

Dante Martin vs. Anthony Henry

We’re already to the main event and we’re not even 45 in. Damn. Henry brought a record of 2-5 to the ring and was accompanied by his Workhorsemen tag team partner JD Drake to the apron. Martin also brought backup in the former of Matt Sydal and had a record of 37-17. It felt like all of the time they had saved in quick matches leading up to Martin and Henry was given back to this bout. Henry took advantage of that time by working Martin over for a long time to build up the heat. Martin started his comeback with slaps and forearms. He avoided Henry in the corner, hit an enzuigiri, and a diving crossbody for two. Martin hit a sit out bomb for two. He crawled to the ropes, Henry charged and missed sliding to the floor, then hit a twisting springboard to the outside to knock Henry off his feet.

Henry tried a bridging shoulder capture for a near fall. He wrenched both of Martin’s arms behind his back, but Martin reversed it, and we had rolling near falls. Henry kicked his arm, Martin hit a pump kick, Henry hit a lariat and a brainbuster, and Martin kicked out at 2.9. Henry tried to snap Martin’s left arm off then throw Martin out. Martin landed on the apron and immediately turned it into the Nose Dive for the pin. Drake ran down for a two on one beatdown on Martin and Sydal ran in to make the save with a steel chair in hand.

Tony Schiavone hit the ring to interview both men. Martin: “One of them just wasn’t enough. JD Drake if you want to come down to the ring, do it on our terms. How about next week we do this — the Workhorsemen vs. me and Sydal.” Sydal: “This writes itself. We’re not leaving until we get a tag team match with these two. You tell me Schiavone - do we get it right now or do we need approval?” He said they needed approval, so that’s where we end.

What to watch/skip

This week’s “what to watch/skip” for AEW Dark is brought to you by this Leon Ruff promo from GCW. Whether you call him Ruff or Ruffin, Leon ain’t bluffin’. I felt like he and King were just getting started when Ruffin pinned him almost out of nowhere, which might be a reminder of the fluke-y way he became North American champion in NXT, but that just feels lazy to me when I know Ruffin is better than that and can do so much more. Watch his match, watch the main event, watch Fuego vs. Malachi, watch Leila Grey dance, and watch Johl’s pump kick. Skip the rest. There were too many short one-sided matches this episode, which is disappointing given I wanted an episode that went long this time. Oh well.

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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