Episode 180 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. Let’s go!
First time ever! https://t.co/tCMVaZpMzP— Billie Starkz • ビリー・スタークス (@BillieStarkz) January 24, 2023
Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. (w/ Rebel) vs. Billie Starkz
Baker brought a 2023 record of 2-0 to the ring. Excalibur noted it was a rare appearance on Dark, while Taz said she was just as good at helping with mental problems as dental problems, and Excalibur just thought he was confused. He said the teeth are connected to the jaw and the jaw to the brain.
Anyway... Starkz was waiting for her in the ring with a record of 0-1. They locked up, Baker took a wrist, a headlock takeover, a crucifix and a school girl. Lateral press, two count. In the early going it’s 100% Baker, but the crowd was chanting for the young Starkz a/k/a “Space Jesus.” Starkz exchanged rolling pins and then held her finger and thumb up to say she got +that+ close. She offered Baker a handshake, but then didn’t let go of it, and finally Baker hit her with a forearm to break it up. Slingblade from Baker for two. Baker choked her in the corner with her hands and a boot, forcing the ref to break it up each time. Rebel attacked Starkz from the outside while Baker yelled at him for stopping her. Baker took Starks down with a shoulder tackle for two. Starkz got up from a waist lock and got yanked back down with a handful of hair. Baker cranked on her head and jaw and Starkz yelled in pain. She tried to get up and ate a body shot, She fought free with elbows and threw some wild flailing strikes. She hit Starkz with a neckbreaker, but Starkz hit a back elbow and a boot when Baker chaged. Enzuigiri and a German suplex bridge got a two count for Starkz. She dragged Baker toward the center, went up to the top rope, but Rebel came in and took the moonsault. Starkz took a thrust kick, got rolled up for two, Starkz reversed a suplex for two and screamed. Baker is bleeding! Starkz put Baker on her shoulders but Baker wiped the blood from her nose on Starkz face and hit a butterfly for two. Tombstone piledriver got a 2.9! Starkz seemed confused it wasn’t three and didn’t know what to do. She kicked Baker in the chest but ate an elbow to the head and a Canadian Destroyer followed by a stomp to the back of the head for three. Baker laughed as the blood ran down her nose into her mouth. That’s a hell of a visual!! I don’t know if I would have led with this match — I can’t imagine anything else on Dark topping that.
Dark Order (Evil Uno, John Silver, Alex Reynolds) vs. Baliyan Akki, Marcus Kross & Vary Morales
Dark Order brought a record of 3-0. Their opponents had no prior record as a trio, but all three have been featured many times before on the Dark shows. Excalibur and Taz were concerned about the ever shrinking size of the Order, but they didn’t seem to be and wrestled like a typical match for them at Universal Studios. Akki got tossed into a powerbomb, Silver ran at Kross for the Pendulum Bomb, and Uno covered Kross for three. This was 100% paint by the numbers.
Tony Deppen vs. Serpentico (w/ Luther and Angelico from SAP)
A few fans at Universal Studios held up small sheets of paper reading Serp Section. Both Serpentico and Deppen were having their first singles match of 2023 according to the chyron.
Luther grabbed Deppen’s leg and he screamed “What are you doing?” Luther screamed back “I don’t know!” The crowd chanted S-A-P as Serp hit a headbutt, sized Deppen up, and charged right into a back elbow and a kick to the head. Angelico ran Deppen from one turnbuckle to the other while Serp kept Bryce Remsburg distracted. Serp covered Deppen for a two count and Luther argued with him. Deppen kicked out a leg and did a diving knee drop to the head. Luther screamed “Hey ref! closed knee!” Double knees to the face and a bridging suplex for a two count. Deppen went to the top rope and Serp got out of the way of the double stomp. Angelico tripped Deppen from behind and Remsburg threw him out of the building, drawing the ire of the crowd. Serp clapped Deppen’s ears. Luther thought he was tripping Deppen from the outside but tripped Serp instead. This time Serpentico took over for Remsburg... and threw Luther out! Taz: “I just hope someone ejects me from this.” Deppen tried a roll up for two. He kicked Serp in the head and did an arm drag then captured a leg and was able to keep Serpentico’s shoulders down for the win. Serp tried to charge him after and got tossed out, landing upside down outside the ring on his head. This entire match was comedy.
Cezar Bononi (w/ Peter Avalon) vs. Matt Sydal
Bononi was the latest man this episode to make his singles debut for 2023 on Dark. Sydal was listed by his overall Dark record of 32-4. Excalibur tried to explain away Avalon having long hair in a match taped last year by saying he went to costuming and makeup and having extensions put in to get his old look back. They put more thought into something that only Dark viewers would notice than many bookers put into entire storylines. Next time a feud starts with a cage match and ends with a singles match show them this. Sydal got a fluke roll up for three on the much larger Sydal, but the match was never the point. Nemeth ran out to help beat him down, and Top Flight ran out to make the save. A trios match will be the result!
Brittany J vs. Harley Cameron
Cameron was making her 2023 debut here straight from the Gold Coast of Australia, much like Toni Storm (which the announcers noted). Brittany J was waiting for her in the ring with a record of 0-1. Cameron acted cocky and nearly got rolled up, and J threw up the L on her forehead like this was a Smash Mouth video. The fans got into it and chanted “she’s a loser” at Cameron. Cameron whipped J into the corner hard and she sold her back. She got a boot up to the chest when Cameron charged in. J ducked a charge into the corner and hit a dropkick, then climbed painfully up to the second rope. She missed whatever she had planned, got taken down with a lariat, Cameron gave her a “kiss of death” and hit a backstabber for three.
Madison Rayne vs. Kaci Lennox
Rayne brought a record of 1-0 on Dark. Lennox was waiting in the ring with a record of 0-1. The two ladies locked up at the bell and Lennox pushed her into the corner. Stephon Smith called for a clean break. Lennox tried to throw an elbow but it was a swing and a miss. Rayne hit a kick. but Lennox caught her with a fireman’s carry and a slam for two. Rayne with a boot to the gut, a kick to the head, drilled her face into the mat and got the pin. The best match I’ve seen from Rayne in a long time — probably because it was the shortest and Lennox looked good right until the sudden victory.
Action Andretti vs. Bronson (Iron Savages)
Bronson was making his 2023 singles debut here. No Boulder, no JT Davidson. Andretti brought a 2023 record of 2-0. Taz tried and failed to make a joke saying you could combine Action and Bronson and you’d have Action Bronson driving an Andretti. Excalibur said maybe you meant he’d be driven by Mario Andretti. Andretti hit a torneo on Bronson for two. Enzuigiri from the apron, but Bronson broke up a springboard and sent Andretti crashing to the floor, then followed up with a suicide dive to wipe him out. Bronson yelled at the camera “You’re telling me that’s the guy that beat Jericho?” While he was busy yelling Andretti recovered, knocked him down, and hit a suicide dive of his own. Andretti and Bronson went all over the place until Bronson dropped him face first on the barricade and threw him into the steel steps. Posey started a ten count but Bronson sent Andretti back into the ring for a scoop slam. “Let’s go Action” chant. Bronson dragged Andretti toward the corner and went to the top but Andretti recovered and charged. Bronson knocked him back down with right hands. Andretti kipped up, hit an enzuigiri, leapt to the top rope and gave him a superplex! Bronson screamed in agony.
Andretti with a neckbreaker, a back breaker, a kip up, and a back elbow for a two count. He grabbed at his neck as Bronson grabbed at his jaw. Rana and a thrust kick from Andretti for two. Kicks to the chest of Bronson. Bronson got up, hit a lariat, a back suplex, 2.9. Bronson dragged Andretti back to his feet, tried and failed to hit a move, Andretti with a reverse rana and a thrust kick, and a running shooting star press for the win. Taz: “Not an easy win!” Not at all. Very fun bout between these two.
Mascara Dorada vs. Anthony Henry (w/ JD Drake)
Henry was making his 2023 debut here (surprise surprise). The former Gran Metalik a/k/a Mascara Dorada brought a record of 1-0 so far in AEW. Henry with a neckbreaker for two. Straight jacket applied. Lung blower, two count. Henry punted Dorada twice, hit the ropes, missed with a clothesline, ate a boot when he charged, and Dorada spun his way across the middle rope before throwing a dropkick. Asai moonsault to the floor! Springboard roll up for two. (Why would you do a springboard into that?) Russian leg sweep by Henry for two. Henry went to the top and missed a foot stomp. Boot to the face in the corner. Henry went up and Dorada threw chops from the second rope, then jumped off with a face buster. Henry kicked out at 2.9. Drake dragged Dorada outside, gave him the rebound shot off the ropes, fed him into Henry for a brainbuster, and Dorada kicked out! Henry went to the top rope for a sunset flip but Dorada flipped out of it, hit a thrust kick, went to the top, walked the ropes and did a flying elbow drop a la Macho Man for the pin. Solid main event!
What to watch/skip
And tonight’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by Billie Starkz on Twitter. I’m both very hopeful for and very nervous about her pro wrestling future. Like Nick Wayne she’s incredibly talented for such a young age, but this business has a way of chewing people up and spitting them out. I hope she can survive the grind and not lose the passion for pro wrestling she currently shows off in every match. As I expected the opener was my favorite part of the show, but Henry and Dorada tried really hard to one up it. Andretti vs. Bronson finished third which tells you just how good the competition was. Brittany J had the Universal Studios crowd behind her, but the focus was clearly on building Cameron, so credit to them both for doing what had to be done. My only “skip” this week is Sydal vs. Bononi because it wasn’t a match at all, just an excuse to do an angle.
Cageside commentary crew — share your feedback below in the comments section. If you love pro wrestling find me on Twitter as well. I’d love to talk to some of you instead of the bots that follow me. See you next week for new episodes of Elevation and Dark!