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AEW Dark recap (Sept. 6, 2022): Claudio Castagnoli is a ‘swinger’

Episode 160 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for the stream. Excalibur and Taz were in the broadcast booth (or the edit suite) for these matches. It’s a big (swing) episode so let’s get right to all of the action!

Tony Nese & Josh Woods vs. Storm Grayson & Brandon Gore

Nese & Woods brought a 5-1 record as well as their manager “Smart” Mark Sterling. Grayson and Gore were working together for the first time as a team, even though we saw Gore last night on Elevation teaming with JDX instead. Coincidentally Woods & Nese were also on yesterday’s show picking up a win. Sterling fooled Gore into thinking he was offering a business card so the heels could get the heat. Grayson tried to get a hot tag and run wild but was quickly overwhelmed and hit with the double team finisher you can watch below.

Marina Shafir vs. Laynie Luck

Shafir brought a record of 16-6 along with her tag team partner Nyla Rose and her manager Vickie Guerrero. Luck brought a record of 0-3. She really didn’t need the extra help to win this match though. In fact she completely no sold Luck having an arm trapped and threw her out of the ring, then distracted Bryce Remsburg so Rose could attack her on the floor. Remsburg seemed aware there was some chicanery though and admonished them both, but meanwhile Shafir applied the bow & arrow to Luck and then locked in an arm bar. Luck rolled her onto her shoulders for a near fall and threw a forearm when they stood up, so Shafir planted her into the ring with one arm in return and knelt on her head before trapping the arm and cranking it back for the submission. Rose hit the ring cackling with joy and ran victory laps as Shafir mouthed “I am... the PROBLEM.”

Zack Clayton vs. Serpentico

Serpentico was accompanied by Luther and brought a record of 13-90 to this match. Clayton brought a record of 1-4, which normally wouldn’t bode well on a Dark show, but given he’s facing Serpentico his odds of success were high. Taz put over the fact that Clayton was a big strong athletic dude from Jersey Shore (the reality show, much more so than the area itself). The crowd in Chicago were not behind Clayton at all and turned up the heat by working Serpentico over in the ropes and yelling “He’s nothing! You hear me?” We already know that Clayton, it’s not exactly news. Luther provided a distraction and Serpentico started throwing strikes, hit a ‘rana and a bulldog, and Clayton kicked out at two. “Serp” shook the ropes Batista style and went for a head kick, but Clayton countered into a fisherman buster and got the win as the boos rained down. As long as he’s not facing Hook I’m all in favor of using Clayton this way.

Julia Hart vs. Missa Kate

Hart honored the House of Black with a 15-3 record. If it’s true that Malakai Black is going to take some time off (or possibly be released) how will that effect this new push for Hart? Well we won’t worry about that for now since Hart’s facing Missa Kate, who brought a record of 0-1. Hart hit her with knees to the face and she went down selling her head and neck. Kate returned the favor with a pump kick, a takeover and a rear chinlock. An angry looking Hart got out of it, threw her down, and pummeled her with ground and pound until ref Aubrey Edwards pulled her off. Hart stared daggers into Edwards then went back to work. Kate got a boot up in the corner but Hart swept the leg and threw her into the turnbuckle, then blindsided her and sent her face first into the ropes. Hartless Lock brought the match to a sudden violent end. I already like the new “harder” Julia Hart, but the more I see of Missa Kate, the more I like her too.

Serena Deeb vs. Sierra

And we move from one vicious submission to an even more vicious submission artist in the 20-2 Deeb. Even Excalibur quipped “you want to talk about a mean streak” as she walked down to the ring. Taz: “She’s not looking to make friends. She’s got a million dollar smile but a real bad attitude.” Sierra was waiting for her in the ring with a record of 0-2. For some reason Excalibur decided to say the food court at Universal Studios was better than the food in Chicago, and as a life long fan of all things food from the Windy City, I couldn’t disagree more. Deeb mocked Sierra and got tripped in response, Sierra walked over her back, and the look on Deeb’s face screamed “how dare you” when she got up. She laid into Sierra fiercely and yelled “you want to disrespect me,” kicked her to make her get back up, hit chops and a clothesline, then gave her a catapult neck first into the bottom rope. The crowd just cheered Deeb on. She hit a snapmare, wrapped Sierra’s arm around her own neck, and cranked on the hold. Sierra countered into an arm drag, threw some forearms and elbows, landed a thrust kick, but ate a chop block to the back of the knee. Deeb pounded said same knee into the mat repeatedly, slid through Sierra’s legs, then sat on her back for the very same submission we saw last night. Ouch. Here’s a replay!

Private Party vs. Robert Anthony & GPA

And speaking of people we saw last night, here’s Quen, Kassidy and their private bouncer, bringing a record of 32-22 to the co-main event. Anthony & GPA were waiting in the ring to have their first AEW match as a team. The crowd was chanting “Pri-vate Par-ty” before the action even began. GPA actually got a little bit of shine in the match, so Quen and Kassidy had a discussion in the corner and regrouped, and Quen tagged in Kassidy before GPA tried a roll up. The pin wouldn’t have worked either way. GPA promptly got double teamed in the heel corner... or is it the face corner in this case? When the announcers are comparing you to Ryan Nemeth, probably heel, but definitely not to these fans. Anthony got a hot tag and gave a long delayed vertical suplex to Kassidy for a near fall. Anthony teased a piledriver but Kassidy bull rushed him into the corner for a clean break. Quen wiped out GPA on the floor after getting the tag, then ran back in to team up for Gin & Juice and score the pin. They took bows for the crowd afterward. I thought Matt Hardy might come out to acknowledge their victory, but that didn’t happen here.

Claudio Castagnoli (c) vs. Ari Daivari (ROH Title Match)

Daivari brought a singles record of 3-1 to the main event. Castagnoli was accompanied by William Regal and brought a 2022 ROH record of 3-0 to this match. Regal left the ramp and joined the commentary position. “Mr. Maniac! You bit of cotton candy. I’d like to let you melt in my mouth.” Taz was perplexed by this “awkward relationship” between Excalibur and Regal. Regal: “Nothing awkward about it. I’m an eccentric English gentleman!” He’s also a national treasure... in any country he’s in. Anyway back to our Swiss Superman in the ring, who the crowd was very firmly behind from the moment he walked out, and he even forced Daivari to accept a handshake on his back when he wouldn’t give one at the start of the match. They laughed at that. They booed Daivari when he shoved Castagnoli in response. Castagnoli double legged him and went for the Big Swing but he escaped. Not for long though. Castagnoli threw him into the barricade and hit a European uppercut. Daivari avoided a second one though and Castagnoli started selling a leg like he had jammed his knee after missing Daivari.

Castagnoli pounded on the knee in the ring and shook it to get the numbness out, and Daivari promptly started kicking him in said same. Castagnoli tried to press Daivari overhead but lost his balance, and Daivari started working on the leg and the knee again. Daivari hit a dropkick and went for the cover. Castagnoli kicked out at one. Castagnoli recovered enough to finally hit the Big Swing and nearly got 10 revolutions before he had to let go due to the pain. Regal: “He’s smart enough to know when to pull back.” Daivari and Castagnoli fought on the second rope until Daivari kicked the knee and snapped his neck off the ropes. He went for a crossbody and Castagnoli kicked out at one again. Daivari went for ground and pound. Regal: “You won’t hear me moaning about rubbing an elbow across the forehead or in someone’s eyes.” Daivari hit a neckbreaker in the ropes and then wrapped the knee around the steel ringpost to rile up the crowd even more.

Castagnoli managed to kick Daivari away before he could do it a third time, hobbled out of the ring for an uppercut, then picked Daivari up to press him over the ropes back into the ring. Daivari tried to dive onto him, caught him in mid air, but Castagnoli got sent into the ring post and fed into the ring before he was hit with a frog splash for a two count. Regal sold the fact that Castagnoli was the man who put him into retirement. He rolled up Daivari for a two count then hit a strike that left both men down. He got up with a fierce look in his eyes and overwhelmed Daivari with strikes before a pop up uppercut in the middle of the ring. Ricola Bomb!! One, two, three. Castagnoli retains the ROH World Title in an excellent main event. It’s not the best that he’s ever looked, but it’s the best Daivari has ever looked, and that should tell you everything you need to know. Castagnoli shook Daivari’s hand again even as he was laying on the ground selling the defeat.

What to watch/skip

Do I even need to tell you to watch a Claudio Castagnoli match? Probably not — but go watch it anyway! A lot of this show felt like a repeat of last night, down to the same athletes being featured and the shows both being under an hour, but the matches here had more “oomph” even though that’s not a real word. For sheer intensity I recommend Deeb vs. Sierra, for a surprising amount of offense in a squash I recommend Hart vs. Kate, and because I enjoy Woods & Nese as a team I recommend the opener. You could skip the rest but nothing here was abominably bad.

Cageside commentary crew! Share your feedback in the comments section below. If you love pro wrestling you can find me on Twitter to discuss it there too. See you next Monday for a new episode of Elevation!

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