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AEW Dark recap (Apr. 25, 2023): Harley revs up against Mafiosa

Episode 193 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. Here we go!

Harley Cameron (w/ QTV) vs. Mafiosa

Cameron brought a record of 1-0 for 2023, while Mafiosa brought a record of 0-1. The latter was the fan favorite in Orlando, which Cameron used to get heat by imitating her “hey, come on” yells and hand gestures sarcastically. She hit knees to the gut and did a Russian leg sweep before giving herself a round of applause. She took out her phone to get a selfie with Mafiosa for QTV. Mafiosa fired up with strikes and kicks in response and got a “Ma-fi-osa” chant. Cameron responded with a neckbreaker and tossed back her hair. She blew a kiss to the crowd, wagged her finger, hit a backstabber and made the cover for three. That was that.

Backstage Brock Anderson and Brian Pillman Jr. had some camera time. Anderson said they wrestle because it’s “in their blood” and the only thing they know. Pillman: “We don’t have a choice! When you have the last name Anderson or Pillman, we don’t have a choice. It’s the one thing we do best. We wrestle because we’re big and bad. We’ve got the looks that kill and a lineage that will.”

Lee Johnson vs. Blake Christian

Johnson brought a record of 1-1 on Dark for 2023. Christian brought a 2023 record of 2-0. Christian offered a handshake and got shoved in the chest instead for the heat to get things started.

Johnson grounded Christian and stood over him to lay in closed fists despite the admonishment of the referee. Despite his heelish ways there was a small but notable segment of the crowd cheering him on. “All Heart” still had the bigger support of the two. He hit a backbreaker and an enzuigiri and when Johnson fell into the ropes he did his version of a 6-1-9, followed by a springboard corkscrew kick. Catapult into the turnbuckle, another enzuigiri, and a near fall. The way Christian strings together moves is really something to see. Johnson did a go behind into a blue thunder bomb for two. Taz quipped that Excalibur’s nickname should’ve been “Some Heart.” Christian did a back body drop into a roll-up, countered into a roll up, then hit a Spanish Fly for 2.9. He dragged Johnson toward the corner, climbed to the top, and Johnson got out of the way before the 450. Christian speared him on the apron instead and did a Fosbury flop over the ropes. He went for a springboard 450 after throwing Johnson back in, but “Shotty” got the knees up and covered for two. Thrust kick by Johnson. Trip by Christian. Stomp to the back of the head (not quite a curb stomp) and Christian got the sudden pin. Excalibur: “It was a back and forth match that could have gone either way.” Perfect description of that finish!

Cezar Bononi & Ryan Nemeth (w/ Peter Avalon) vs. Brock Anderson & Brian Pillman Jr. (w/ Arn Anderson)

The Wingmen brought a record of 0-1 for 2023 to the ring. Taz was jealous of Avalon’s Members Only jacket. Pillman and Anderson brought a record of 2-0. I was jealous of Arn’s Adidas tracksuit!

Avalon put the badmouth on Pillman as he took a 2-in-1 beating from The Wingmen, then grabbed himself a handful of hair and laid in a right hand behind the referee’s back. Bononi and Nemeth continued to double team and play to the crowd, with Nemeth swiveling his hips while the cameraman had a seizure zooming in and out on him. Tell the production people he’s not Shakira okay? Arn finally had enough of Avalon’s interference and took care of business himself. Brock got the hot tag and hit a gut wrench suplex that Bononi broke up. Pillman came in to lend a hand (and a kick to the jaw) before Bononi was clotheslined out. Anderson countered Nemeth into an inside cradle and got the win, which Excalibur called “a crafty victory” as Arn got in to raise the hand of his son and tag partner.

Mei Suruga & Emi Sakura (w/ Baliyan Akki) vs. Reka Tehaka & Ashley D’Amboise

Sakura and Suruga were teaming together for the first time this year. That seems strange since it’s late April, but I’ve been covering all of the Dark and Elevation shows, so I know that’s an accurate record. Tehaka and D’Amboise were teaming together for the first time ever and they got pearl harbored before the match could get underway.

Coincidentally it was widely reported today that Ashley D’Amboise had just inked a deal with AEW, to which I can only say “it’s about time.” Sakura and Suruga did their senton cross bomber before Sakura got the double underhooks and paraded around with an inverted D’Amboise for a backbreaker. Tehaka broke up the pin and hit Sakura with a headbutt. Akki grabbed her legs from behind and Suruga did a diving foot stomp to her back. Sakura gave her a crossbody into the steel steps for good measure. She went to the top rope and yelled “I am your highness” before hitting D’Amboise with the moonsault for the pin. All four women did well here.

Backstage Ryan Nemeth had some things to say. “You probably know me best as the Hollywood Hunk, but you and I have a lot more in common than you might think.” He talked about going to a private academy, an expensive college, being on the dean’s list, but then he had a dark time afterward of having to “work a real job.” He even tried to drum up crocodile tears for his three months of part time work. He said it was all worth it to achieve his dreams: “Don’t, give, up.” He then assumed the camera wasn’t still on and said “Did the fake tears look good? Okay pump it out on socials.”

Zack Clayton vs. Jake Logan

“The Reality” brought a Dark record of 3-0 to the co-main event. Logan was already waiting in the ring to make his AEW debut. He too got run over by Clayton before the official bell to start the match.

Clayton mocked the crowd and yelled “they don’t care about you” at Logan, which fired him up for an elbow strike and a second rope moonsault, but he missed the latter. Clayton turned him inside out with a clothesline and promptly showed him that Reality Sucks. “That’s how it’s done. I’ll keep doing it every single week because you’re looking at The Reality.”

Tony Nese & Josh Woods (w/ “Smart” Mark Sterling) vs. Alex Reynolds & John Silver of The Dark Order

Varsity Athletes brought a tag team record of 14-3. Dark Order brought a Dark record of 2-0 along with brand new theme music.

Nese started the match with a bicep flex on one knee and got no respect from Reynolds or the crowd. Crossbody for a two count. Woods made the blind tag and threw Reynolds hard into the turnbuckle. Reynolds came back with a drop kick, kipped up, then dropped back down to make the cover for one. They traded chops, then Woods snapped his neck in the ropes and stomped on him before Nese tagged in. The heat was the two of them cutting off the ring to beat down Reynolds while Silver had to wait impatiently — so impatiently he ran in and got thrown out — not by the ref but by the heels themselves. He got back to the apron and Reynolds kicked both men away so he could tag Johnny Hungee. Nese took a series of kicks and a brainbuster for two. Woods tried to run in but Silver arm dragged him out. Reynolds did a suicide dive to wipe Woods out then made the legal tag. Sterling distracted the ref as Ari Daivari ran out from the back to shove Silver off the top rope. Nese took advantage but Reynolds still kicked out, and Evil Uno ran out to even the odds and take Daivari out. Back in the ring Woods ate the assisted uppercut and Reynolds and Silver did their back to back slew of finishing double team moves to pin Nese. A fun main event!

What to watch/skip

Tonight’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by the same opponents you saw tonight except that it happened at SHINE 74. That just tells me that Cameron and Mafiosa was a good match to book at this taping, and in fact could have been given more time than it got, but I digress. Skip Clayton vs. Logan. That’s it. I have no real issue with their match but it was a glorified squash while the rest of the bouts had at least a little more to it than that.

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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