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AEW Dark recap (Apr. 11, 2023): Willow-the-wisp

Episode 191 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for the Cageside Seats replay. Excalibur and Taz called the show. Enough jibber jabber — let’s go right to the action!

Matt Taven vs. Brian Pillman Jr.

Pillman is our first arrival on Dark tonight, sporting a 2023 record of 2-1 on the show. Taven had an overall record of 2-1 representing The Kingdom, even though neither Mike nor Maria accompanied him to the ring. Bryce Remsburg called for the bell and Orlando was hot for the action, while Taven was hot at being slapped by Pillman.

Pillman kicked him in the face for good measure, hit a chop, but Taven slid under him and hit a dropkick before yelling his own name. Pillman duck under, leapfrog, Taven dropped down, and Pillman saw him go low and did a strut on his back. Pillman faked Taven out and went over the barricade to mug with the fans, then did another Flair strut (or if you prefer Fargo strut) before getting back in. Pillman hit a top rope crossbody for two. Pillman went for a crab and Taven got the rope break. Taven threw Pillman out and hit a nasty looking dropkick through the ropes. Taz: “I like that, I like what he did there, I like Taven, I like Maria, I like Mike, I’ve known them all a long time, they’re good people.” Taven tried to stretch Pillman from behind but he flipped his way free and got a roll up near fall. Shoulder tackle, clothesline, chop, suplex, near fall, Taz complimented the splotch of red in Pillman’s hair, and Taven decided to make it redder by spiking him head first into the mat for the pin. This was a fun opening match!

Lee Johnson vs. Blake Li

“Big Shotty” Lee Johnson came out 0-1 on Dark for the year. Good news for him though as Blake Li was already waiting in the ring for him. They may have had the same record on paper, but it’s the oldest trope in covering Dark matches — winner gets the entrance, loser gets none. They might need to subvert our expectations more often but I’m not saying we need to go as far as “it’s a swerve bro” booking. Either way Johnson dominated this short match bell to bell and finished his hapless opponent with a fisherman neckbreaker.

Part of the reason this match was so short is they gave the extra time to a solo interview with Toni Storm talking to a camera, vowing she was going to give the losers of AEW everything that they deserve. Don’t take my word for it though — here’s hers.

Josh Woods (w/ Varsity Athletes & “Smart” Mark Sterling) vs. Daisy K

Woods brought a record of 2-0 on Dark to this match. K was 0-0. “The Goods” Woods tossed him with a gut wrench suplex, laid in an elbow strike, paint brushed him with a boot then got caught in a roll up. Woods responded with a big knee and a move Taz called the “West Palm Beach Pole Ringer.” I don’t have a better name for it than that but it was impressive and it was the finish.

This quick match was also followed by an interview segment with Jake Roberts and Lance Archer, who insisted to whoever would be listening (presumably Tony Khan) AEW should stop wasting his time.

Willow Nightingale vs. Diamante

Diamante came out with a an overall record of 23-12 on Dark for the main event. Nightingale brought a record of 2-0 for on Dark for 2023, clapping her hands and getting the fans in Orlando to perform along with her. She loves to have fun and they do too. Excalibur wasn’t having fun though as he berated the ROH announcers for stealing the “Remix Jones” gimmick from Taz.

Diamante caught Nightingale in the ropes and snapped her neck before a dropkick sent her to the floor. She grabbed Nightingale by the neck and stretched her out on the ringpost, flexing her biceps to show off her strength, then dropping repeated elbows and knees on Nightingale’s back. Nightingale fought off the vice grip on her chin but ate a knee and a hard chop before being set on the top turnbuckle for another chop. Remsburg told them both to get down as Diamante went up to the second rope, but Nightingale hit a headbutt and a dropkick to get back into control. Hip attack and a lariat in the corner. High boot landed flush. Spinebuster. Two count! The crowd chanted for her but she missed a cannonball into the corner but ate a missile dropkick and got planted for a near fall. German from Diamante. Back elbows from Nightingale. One back in return. Pounce from Nightingale! She pulled down the straps, hit the Doctor Bomb, and that was that!

What to watch/skip

Tonight’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by Mr. T. I’m not sure why I was randomly nostalgic for Laurence Tureaud today, but since I am I’m just rolling with it. I hope you enjoy it too. It’s hard to tell you to “skip” anything on a sub-30 minute edition of Dark... but I will say that Woods and Johnson both had incredibly predictable and one-sided contests. If you watched the opener and the main event you’d be watching the best parts of this episode hands down.

Cageside commentary crew! Share your feedback below in the comments section. See you next week for new episodes of Elevation and Dark!

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