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AEW Dark recap (Jan. 17, 2023): Butcher & Blade vs. The Final Boss & Yuta

Episode 179 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for the stream via Cageside Seats. Excalibur and Taz called the action as usual... but before anything else RIP Jay Briscoe. This is a very sad day and I offer my condolences to all of his family, friends and fans worldwide.

Kiera Hogan vs. Danika Della Rouge

Hogan brought a record of 10-3 on Dark to tonight’s episode. Rouge was waiting for her in the ring with a singles record of 0-1. Hogan hit her with a ‘rana and some forearms but Rouge flapjacked her and threw some closed fists despite the ref’s instructions. Hogan countered with a pair of back elbows when Rouge charged, tripped her into the ropes, then nailed her with a hip attack. Hogan signaled for her to get up and hit a baseball slide foot to the face in the corner. Leg drop to the back ... and Rouge kicked out! Rouge ate a roundhouse kick and an inside hook suplex and +that+ put her away.

Brian Cage (w/ Prince Nana) vs. Carl Randers

Cage brought a record of 25-0 on Dark. That would not change tonight with no disrespect to Mr. Randers, who was making his promotional debut in this match. He charged Cage and got lifted right into the air and dropped on his face, then hit with a thrust kick. He picked Randers up for some curls, tossed him, and flexed the pecs and biceps. Randers tried to make a comeback with a pair of enzuigiri kicks, Cage caught him in mid air, he escaped and attempted a rana which was turned into a powerbomb and another onto a knee. Buckle bomb, discus lariat, pin, 100% squash. 26-0. The difference between this match and last night’s match should show you how much respect both Cage and AEW have for Willie Mack.

Sammy Guevara & Daniel Garcia vs. Brian Cook & Deimos

J.A.S. members Guevara & Garcia had no prior record as a team. Fortunately for them they were as likely to be assigned a win as Cage was in the prior match, given Cook & Deimos were making their debut in AEW’s tag team division. Commentary seemed more interested in talking about AEW’s upcoming debut in Winnipeg and how much they loved Canada as a whole.

Snap suplex and some showboating from Guevara. Leapfrog, back flip, dropkick, kip up. Excalibur: “Guevara making it look easy tonight.” Guevara teased a suicide dive then did a slide under the ropes to throw a chop. Back in the ring Garcia gave Deimos a DDT, ran the ropes like Guevara, then slide under the ropes to throw a chop too. Guevara gave him a hug and Garcia wanted none of it. Garcia hit an elevated lung blower, Guevara tagged in, and the GTH to Cook finished off the match so Guevara could stick out his tongue. Garcia got another hug that he wanted nothing to do with. Let’s have this odd couple keep wrestling together. I enjoyed this!

Ari Daivari vs. Action Andretti

Andretti was making his official 2023 debut in AEW in this bout. Daivari brought a 2023 record of 1-0 and a microphone and said J.A.S. had been kicking his ass for a few weeks, so he had “a proposition” for him. “You lay down, and let me beat you, and in return I’ll make sure The Trustbusters have your back and the Jericho Appreciation Society leaves you alone for good. What do you say?” Andretti: “You know what Daivari? Call me crazy but I think you might be right. Dealing with the Society for the last few weeks has been very stressful. Maybe joining you guys and having the Trustbusters have me back is what I need to do.” The ref called for the bell.

Andretti laid down, and when Daivari got on top Andretti went for an inside cradle and got a two count. We got a regular match after that including Daivari trying to cheat to win with a thumb to the eye (infuriating Aubrey Edwards). Andretti tried to run the ropes for a suicide dive but Daivari cut him off with a clothesline by getting back in fast then raked Andretti’s face across the ropes. He pulled Andretti up by the air, Andretti missed wildly with shots from behind half blinded, but he connected with a handspring elbow and tried desperately to clear his eyes. Back breaker neck breaker combo sent Daivari to the floor and this time Andretti got to do his suicide dive! Split legged moonsault and Daivari kicked out at 2.9. Daivari raked the eyes again and did a series of chops. He missed a charge in the corner though and Andretti did a torneo off the top. Running shooting star press (which he beat Jericho with) for three! I’m very pleased with the booking and wrestling of this match.

Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Jaiden

Hobbs brought a 2022 record of 8-0 on Dark. Jaiden was making his AEW debut and got a nice response from Portland, which just made Hobbs laugh at the kid getting a pop. Jaiden tried to strike a pose on one knee and got booted in the face for his trouble, then taken over with a delayed vertical suplex. Hobbs yelled at him, hit a big spinebuster, put Jaiden on his back and slammed him for the pin. If that was more than a minute, it was a minute and +one+ second. Taz: “You can look in this man’s eyes and see... that’s a bad man.”

“Daddy Magic” Matt Menard & “Cool Hand” Angelo Parker vs. Eddie Pearl & Ricky Gibson

Menard & Parker brought a record of 10-1 on Dark to this match. Pearl and Gibson were waiting in the ring and never got their full introduction (or their win/loss record shown) because they got jumped before the opening bell. That should tell you just about how this match went. I was already looking forward to the main event before this was over. Excalibur: “Parker and Menard giving the opposition a little bit of a taste.” A taste of what? An elevated double team DDT for the easy win. Menard signaled they want belts around their waist and I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened in 2023.

Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta vs. The Butcher & The Blade

Butcher & Blade brought The Bunny and a 25-0 record on Dark. Castagnoli and Yuta brought their title belts and an overall AEW tag team record of 4-1. Butcher & Blade ran up the ramp to hot start the fight before they could even get in the ring let alone get the opening bell. Butcher choked Yuta out on the barricade right in front of the fans then double teamed Castagnoli and threw him face first into a steel chair. Yuta tried to make a comeback but easily got put down again. Castagnoli was thrown into the ring and Rick Knox called for the bell. Blade choked Castagnoli on the ropes and Bunny did it too from the outside for good measure. “Bunny Did It Too” sounds like a VHS tape you would have rented behind the curtain in the 1980’s. If you know, you know.

Butcher and Blade reveled in their one-sided dismantling of Castagnoli as the crowd chanted “Claw-dee-oh” and Bunny covered her ears. Butcher got the tag as Castagnoli crawled to Yuta, but Yuta was down and out on the floor and not available to take the tag. Castagnoli tried to fight off both men in the corner with elbows but could not, and Butcher kicked Yuta off the apron to the floor just to keep the beating going. Taz complimented the heels on “singling out the bigger man.” Blade tried to sink in a rear naked choke and put Castagnoli out. Castagnoli escaped with a jaw breaker, but Butcher & Blade double teamed him again for a near fall. Butcher pounded on Castagnoli’s back and drew a warning from Knox. Castagnoli rocked Butcher with an enzuigiri, side stepped him when he charged the corner, and Yuta finally got the hot tag! Yuta promptly beat the crap out of the freshly tagged in Blade. Elbow off the top, kip up, reverse elbow, German suplex bridge, Butcher broke up the pin. Claudio ran in for an assisted DDT and gave Blade a European uppercut, then threw Yuta off the top rope onto Blade for the win! Taz: “Oh man, The Bunny is pissed. I haven’t seen the rocket launcher in forever!”

What to watch/skip

This week’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by Dem Boys (RIP Jay Briscoe). You definitely don’t want to skip the main event — it’s classic old school tag team wrestling. Heels beat up the faces, faces make the big comeback at the end. Some might decry that as being too formulaic, but a chemist will tell you that a formula is good when you always get the right results, and the crowd definitely loved this one. Daivari and Andretti also did the classics and it worked just as well. Guevara and Garcia are a fun team I hope stays together. The rest of the show was arguably skippable... but I enjoyed it anyway!

Cageside commentary crew — share your feedback below in the comments section. If you love pro wrestling find me on Twitter until Elon makes us all pay for it. See you next week for new episodes of Elevation and Dark!

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