Episode 189 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for a replay from Cageside Seats. Excalibur and Taz called the action like always — and let’s get right to that action!
AR Fox vs. Nick Comoroto
Comoroto is the first to arrive for this episode of Dark, and it’s also his first singles match of 2023. Taz admonished Comoroto for his hat being “too similar” to Jake Hager’s. Fox brought a singles record of 1-0 on Dark for the year, and made sure to make his way around ringside to high-five the Orlando fans. Not surprisingly they were chanting for him before the match even got underway.
Comoroto threw the lollipop he’s always sucking on in Fox’s face, then after a little back and forth ran him over “like a medium sized bus” according to Tax. Fox responded with a bulldog and a pair of flying elbows, but got caught trying a lariat in the corner and was thrown down hard to a chorus of boos. This broke out another “A-R Fox” chant as Comoroto threw him hard into the turnbuckle and mocked Orlando for supporting him. Scoop slam and a disdainful smirk. Fox tried body shots and got pie faced. Comoroto hit another scoop slam. Then he pie faced Fox again. Then he went for yet +another+ scoop slam. Fox escaped but ate a clothesline for two.
Okay it’s time to stop the recap for an aside — is it any wonder Comoroto hasn’t moved up to the main roster yet? Even though he has the look of a modern day Bruiser Brody, he has only slightly more in-ring acumen than that seven foot stiff wrestling Brock Lesnar this weekend. It’s not just that Comoroto has only a few moves, it’s that he doesn’t do more +between+ the moves. Why didn’t he try stnading on Fox for a pin? Why didn’t he throw him outside and throw him into the steps? He goes one thing for heat and can’t come up with another. He needs to step his game up.
Fox eventually made a big comeback with dives and hit a senton atomico for 2.9. Comoroto avoided the next move off the top and hit a running lariat followed by a slam. Somewhere in the match Fox might have busted up one eye as Taz was pointing out a shiner. Comoroto tried to use the ropes for leverage on a pin but Mike Posey waved it off. Fox hit a series of kicks and a cutter, floated across and hooked the leg, and got a two count. He went up the ropes, Comoroto cut him off and gave chase, and Fox elbowed him until he fell to the mat. Senton! Opposite side of the ring, 450 splash, 1-2-3! Fox worked his ass off to get a good match out of Comoroto and “bah gawd” he did it. That’s the experience of a wrestling veteran.
Queen Aminata vs. Skye Blue
Aminata was taking her first Dark match of 2023. She was adorned in more regal attire than “Your Highness” Emi Sakura and it suited her. Blue was wearing nothing but her traditional blue attire and sported a Dark record of 3-0. Aminata offered her a respectful handshake and Blue accepted. The crowd was quickly chanting for Blue, and she responded with a step up knee, an arm drag, an arm wringer, and finally got knocked down with a shoulder tackle. She kipped up, Aminata got a roll up, and finally Aminata slowed Blue down by launching her across the ring with a German suplex. She followed up with a perfectly timed shot to knock Blue out to the floor.
Aminata clearly understands getting heat better than Mr. Comoroto. She beat Blue up on the outside, let the ref start a ten count, tried to kick Blue when she came back in and ate a neck breaker and a face buster, which the crowd approved of. Blue went to the top rope and waited for Aminata to get up before a diving crossbody to the floor. She threw Aminata back in and went up to the top for another crossbody, but this time to the inside and not the outside, and Aminata kicked out at two. “Boo/yay” forearms back and forth. Flying elbow from Aminata. Roundhouse kick from Blue. Headbutt from Aminata and an Air Raid Crash, but she couldn’t recover to make the cover. Hip attack in the corner. High stack. 2.9! Aminata screamed in rage and pulled Blue up to her feet, but ate a thrust kick and Skye Fall for the win. Blue keeps improving!
Evil Uno vs. Alexander Moss
Uno brought a Dark (Order) record of 2-0 to this episode. Moss was waiting for him in the ring with no singles record in AEW for 2023. Since it was fairly obvious who would win this going in let me compliment Moss for a moment — the man clearly put in some hard work in the gym. He looks well defined from head to toe, and not in that absurd “elevated liver enzymes” way Scott Steiner used to look. Uno gave him a sit out piledriver and Orlando begged for “one more time.” He gave them what they asked for and pinned Moss. I’d like to see what the kid has when he’s +not+ booked for a squash.
Steph de Lander vs. Marina Shafir
Shafir came out sporting a Dark record of 15-4. If you recognize her opponent though it’s the woman formerly known as Persia Pirotta, now making her AEW debut under a variant of her real name Stephanie De Landre.
A lot of people were dismayed when she was released from NXT, feeling that WWE missed a big opportunity to do more with her, and she certainly had both the look of a star and was allowed to do more with Shafir than most of her opponents, actually matching her strength and blocking some of her offense early on. Shafir made the mistake of kicking her in the face and Lander stood up to trade shots with her. Just when things seemed to be heating up, Shafir stepped under a high boot from Lander and trapped her in a submission for the win. Give Lander five more minutes next time!
Zack Clayton vs. Schaff
Clayton brought a Dark record of 2-0 to the ring where Schaff was waiting with no prior record on Dark for 2023. Even though Excalibur noted that Schaff “turned heads” when AEW went to the Pacific Northwest, he wasn’t booked to win here. He did get a cannonball in the corner and a one count on Clayton before he took over, gave Schaff a pearl harbor on the ropes, then snapped off a power slam. Back elbow, lariat, fisherman buster, pin. About what you’d expect. Clayton is getting better at making the crowd hate him though.
Top Flight vs. Liam Gray & Adrian Alanis
Dante and Darius Martin brought a record of 1-0 for 2023 on Dark. Gray and Alanis were waiting in the ring with a 2023 record of 0-2. Sometimes you don’t need spoilers to know who is going to win — right? At least when one good AEW tag team faces another you could see it going either way. Too bad this wasn’t Top Flight vs. Iron Savages, Naturally Limitless, FTR or Best Friends just to name a few.
AEW tried to sell us on Darius taking the two-on-one beating. Dante tagged in and hit a flying crossbody for two. Darius tagged back and ate a jawbreaker while Dante got knocked off the apron. Suplex crossbody double team before Dante rushed back in for the save. Gray got thrown out and then elbowed off the apron. Dante tagged in, Darius kicked him in the head, and Dante slammed him for the pin. Top Flight needs more top tier competition. On the plus side they’ll be fighting for the titles at Supercard of Honor on Friday in a “Reach for the Sky” ladder match.
QT Marshall & Aaron Solo (w/ Harley Cameron) vs. Austin Green & Vary Morales
Marshall and Solo were taking their first tag team match of 2023. Morales is a Dark veteran but was teaming with Green for the first time in this contest. The camera people made sure to get a shot of Harley Cameron at ringside every chance they could get.
That’s not surprising since Tony Schiavone has gone on the record as saying “QTV will make Harley a star.” The big man Green was dismantling the heels for a while on his own, tagged in Morales and put him on his shoulders, but a chop block to the knee ended whatever he was planning. He got clotheslined outside and Marshall hit the Dirt Sheet Driver on Morales for the win. At least Green got a little bit of shine.
Brady Booker vs. Serpentico
Serpentico brought a singles record of 0-3 on Dark for 2023. Booker brought a record of 1-0. Booker may also look familiar to some of you. In fact he still has a bio on WWE’s website. I’m surprised that doesn’t return a “page not found” by now. Serp stomped on his fingers, hit a dropkick, went outside and climbed to the top rope. His senton missed by a mile and he flopped like a fish. Perhaps Luther should have thrown him off? Booker knocked him over with a shoulder block, slammed him hard, hit a big splash and Serp kicked out at 2.9. He went for a torture rack and missed. Serp hit a thrust kick and went to the top rope again, and this time his senton hit the mark, but Booker kicked out at 2. Serp shook the ropes like Batista and went for it a third time. Booker got out of the way and hit a power slam, then applied the torture rack for the tap out victory — screaming “Yeah! Yeah! Let’s go!” to the delight of no one there.
Konosuke Takeshita vs. Cole Karter (w/ “Shotty” Lee Johnson)
Karter arrived first for the main event making his AEW Dark debut for 2023. Takeshita brought a Dark record of 6-0. Orlando was firmly behind Takeshita from the moment he arrived to the opening bell. Your referee for this match was Aubrey Edwards.
Both men played to the audience by having Takeshita take the beating for a while, causing him to sell his back and Karter to get a near fall from a falcon arrow. Takeshita started to fire up with forearms but Karter clubbed him in the back. Takeshita skinned the cat from outside of the ring back in and hit Karter with a rana, then did a suicide dive over the top to the floor — back stiffness be damned. He got up selling it but managed to throw Karter back in and hit a blue thunder bomb for 2.99. Double down. Takeshita got up first. Karter knocked down Takeshita and signaled for a dive off the ropes as Orlando chanted “Cole Karter sucks!” He blocked it the first time but Karter went for it again, and nobody was home when he tried the 450 splash. Knee to the back from Takeshita. Elbow to the head from Karter. Jumping knee from Takeshita. Flying knee for 3! Lee Johnson attacked Takeshita after the bell to send us off the air.
What to watch/skip
Tonight’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by AR Fox on Twitter. Feel free to compliment him on the great work he’s done since becoming a full time member of the AEW roster! No one could have gotten a better match out of “Nicky” on this episode. Keep your eyes on Steph de Lander going forward. Skip Clayton vs. Schaff, Uno vs. Moss, and QT & Solo’s tag match. Go out of your way to watch the opener and the main event. The rest is firmly in the middle.
Cageside commentary crew! Share your feedback below in the comments section. See you next week for new episodes of Elevation and Dark!