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AEW Dark recap (Apr. 18, 2023): What’s Rock Hard cookin’?

Episode 192 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 action from Universal Studios as always. Let’s get cookin’!

Juice Robinson vs. Pat Buck

Buck makes his in-ring Dark debut in this match, with Excalibur noting we’ve seen him backstage many times before. Robinson brought a record of 2-0 in Dark, representing Bullet Club Gold on tonight’s show. Taz put over Buck as “an excellent trainer and a fine mind in the business” and even suggested Robinson could add him to the Club after having a match with him. “Buck’s fundamentals are solid. He’s trained many of the stars you’ve seen here. Just Google it. You’ll figure it out.”

Robinson didn’t seem very interested in that idea, nor in having a fair contest, as he kept yelling at referee Rick Knox for trying to assert his authority in the match. He even insisted Knox was counting too fast. He finally speared Buck into the barricade and slammed him on the floor to take control in the match as a fan held up a single sheet of paper that said “I came to get Rock Hard.” Robinson yelled at a fan (not the one with the sign) and said “Shut up kid! I’ll beat up your dad!” Orlando cheered this. Snapmare and chinlock from Robinson. Buck fought out and got kicked in the gut. Snap suplex from Buck. Elbows, atomic drop, and a right to Robinson’s jaw. Bulldog. Power slam from Buck for 2.9. He pulled down the shoulder straps showing he’s pretty “rock hard” in his own right. Body drop from Robinson and a chop in response. Buck yelled “That’s all you got?” He threw another chop. Buck hit an enzuigiri and rolled Robinson up for two. Robinson finally finished Buck with the Juice Is Loose for three. Now that’s how you kick off an episode of Dark (or finish it).

The Renegades vs. Brittany J & Kiah Dream

Robyn and Charlette brought a record of 2-0 on Dark to this match. J and Dream were waiting in the ring to make their debut as a tag team. Excalibur: “Taz, do you know how old I am? My social security number is two.” That’s also the percentage chance J and Dream had of winning a Dark match against the Renegades. Stephon Smith made a token effort to insist they not double team their opponents by starting a count when they didn’t immediately leave the ring. He didn’t disqualify them for anything they did while still in it though. Dream got a hot tag and hit Robyn with a dropkick, but ate an even bigger one in return. Charlette tagged in and they did a double team neckbreaker for the win. This lead us to an Iron Savages promo.

Hunter James vs. Cole Karter

Karter entered first sporting a Dark record of 0-1 for 2023, wasting no time flipping off a fan while he was on the entrance ramp. James was waiting for him in the ring to make his AEW debut. You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking his record would be the same as Karter’s in a minute or two, but of course James’ record would be improved to 1-1 by that point. Anyway here’s the positives for James — he was on shape, he had the proper boots and tights, and a distinctive blonde mohawk. Karter hit him with a spinebuster and a DDT off his shoulder for three, proving none of that matters when you’re the carpenter. Hopefully James can at least be a regular JTTS going forward.

Iron Savages (w/ Jameson Ryan) vs. Jeeves Kay & Sonny Kiss (w/ Slim J)

Kay & Kiss brought a record of 0-1 on Dark for 2023. The Savages brought a record of 2-0 for the year, and they were also sporting a new managers in Mr. Ryan, one who looked like he should be in the ring competing himself — shirtless, muscular, and sporting Zubaz. Slim J interfered to help his Trustbusters cohorts get the advantage and rile up the Orlando crowd. Kiss slapped Bronson in the face, ate an elbow to the back, but kicked Boulder off the apron so he couldn’t make the tag. Kay tagged in for the double team and it backfired as Bronson gave them a double piledriver. Boulder finally got that tag and cleaned house (while showing off some backne when he flexed). Taz: “I remember when he used to just be a bear!” Boulder missed on a moonsault. The Trustbusters hit a double suplex and made a double cover but Bronson did a senton onto the pile to break it up. Ryan took J off the apron so he couldn’t interfere again. Kiss and Kay ate a double slam from Boulder. Bronson tagged in and was splashed off the top of Boulder’s shoulders for the pin and the win. Afterward we went backstage for a segment where Zack Clayton interrupted Cole Karter with an offer.

Dream Girl Ellie vs. Marina Shafir

Shafir brought a record of 11-3 for 2023 to this contest. She took her sweet time taking off her socks and tossing them into the crowd while Ellie waited for her to get in the ring, sporting a record of 0-1 for the year.

Ellie tried in vain to kick her way out of a full mount by Shafir. Shafir stood up on her own and paint brushed Ellie with a slew of kicks, applied a hammerlock, and tried to remove Ellie’s arm from her socket with a slam. Shafir threw Ellie and did the Greedy submission to finish this off. It was a one hundred percent squash. Can it be more than 100? Then this definitely was a 110% squash.

Jora Johl & Rohit Raju vs. Ariel Levy & Jarett Diaz

Johl and Raju brought a tag team record of 1-0 for the year to the co-main event of Dark. Levy and Diaz were making their tag team debut.

Johl had his way with Diaz before tagging in Raju. Diaz tried to fight off both men all by himself and got spiked right on his head. Levy got mad and tried to step in and the referee wouldn’t allow it. Double teaming is fine, but if you don’t make the tag, it’s not fine. That’s pro wrestling logic for you. Johl cracked the jaw of Diaz and Levy was left in the ring to take strikes from both men before the pin, and Excalibur quipped that neither Johl or Raju were being paid by the hour for this quick contest. It didn’t need to be any longer either.

Angelico vs. Christopher Daniels

Angelico brought a Dark record of 16-4 to our final bout of the evening. Daniels brought a 2023 record of 2-0 on Dark.

Taz quipped that Daniels was the man of a thousand holds and he had probably been in 900 of them, but Angelico might be the man of 1,005 holds. Excalibur referenced Dean Malenko and Taz remarked that he was a good man “even though he broke my neck.” Angelico tripped Daniels into the middle turnbuckle, hit lunging knee strikes, choked him until the ref called for a clean break, then took off his flove and threw it into Daniels’ face. Angelico took Daniels down and torqued the ankle, but Daniels was able to crawl on his elbows to the ring ropes to force a break. Angelico picked him up for a fall away slam and hooked the leg for two. Daniels fought off a hold with shots to the gut, gave Angelico a high back body drop, then hit him with a clothesline and an uppercut before throwing him out of the corner with a modified Iconoclasm for two. Angelico fought off Daniels with elbows and tried to float over on the ground for a pin. Angelico tried a STF but Daniels got another rope break. Punches and kicks from Angelico. Angel’s Wings from Daniels. 1-2-3! Sudden win and exactly what you’d expect from a seasoned vet like the Fallen Angel.

What to watch/skip

Tonight’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by “Chosen One.” It’s hard to articulate just how proud I am of Juice Robinson’s journey in pro wrestling. He went from being a hippie and an afterthought to being a legitimate “top guy” in both Japan and the United States. Whatever the future holds for him in AEW he’s already been a huge success in pro wrestling in my eyes. I know the roster is crowded (something Konnan has been complaining about) but I’d like to see Bullet Club Gold be more than just people collecting a paycheck. Actually I’d say that for all four men in the opening contest and main event. I know Buck is doing just fine as a producer and trainer but clearly he can still go in the ring. Angelico has a very unorthodox charisma he doesn’t get to show off in singles action nearly enough. Everything between these two matches was skippable. Not bad — just skippable. Predictable and one-sided. I’d still watch ‘em though. Whaddya know — I just did!

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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