Reviews

A Collective Review of AEW Dark 1/14/2020 by Lance Augustine

Welcome to the weekly TJRwrestling review of AEW Dark. Last week, we saw an abbreviated show that only had two matches, although a third took place but never aired. The reasons for the third match being cut are different depending on who you believe. The two matches that did air saw Awesome Kong picking up a win in a squash opener and an above-average main event featuring SCU taking on AEW Dark veterans The Hybrid 2 and Kip Sabian. As always, you can check out my in-depth review of last week’s show and every other episode of AEW Dark so far here.

AEW Dark consists of matches that are taped before and after that week’s episode of Dynamite, which they post on the AEW YouTube channel the following Tuesday. I will post the show at the bottom of the review. What kind of episode are we going to get this week? Let’s find out!

AEW Dark from Southaven, Mississippi 1/14/2020

It’s episode 15 and we are a week removed from AEW scoring a huge ratings win in the “Wednesday Night War”. Dynamite was a good show last week, although it wasn’t AEW’s strongest outing to date. The biggest thing to come out of it was the return of Diamond Dallas Page, who will be in a six-man tag team match on this week’s episode. I will also mention that tomorrow night’s edition of Dynamite is being branded as “Bash at the Beach”, which is awesome.

The Dark intro plays and we are straight to ringside with Excalibur and the guest commentator for the night, Dave Brown. Dave was a legend in the Memphis territory for years as he served as the voice of Memphis wrestling, along with Lance Russell. I bet he didn’t think he would be sitting beside a masked dude doing commentary in 2020, though. They throw it to the control room to get the night started.

Tony Schiavone and Dasha Gonzales join us in the control room, and they start putting over the celebration of Memphis legends that AEW has put together for the evening. Tony talks a little bit about Lance Russell, before throwing it down to Justin Roberts who is in the ring with a few of the Memphis wrestlers they will be honoring. First up, he introduces “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant who was one of the trainers of “Hangman” Adam Page. Kevin Lawler is introduced next, who is the brother of Brian Christopher. For those who don’t know, Brian was best known as Grand Master Sexay in the WWF during the Attitude Era, and was one half of the tag team Too Cool. Dave Brown is next to be introduced, followed by Shane Russell, who is the son of late Memphis great, Lance Russell. They mention how Lance was influential in starting the career of Jerry “The King” Lawler. Justin then introduces Austin Idol, who had a long-time feud with Jerry Lawler that lasted years in the Memphis territory. “Dangerous” Doug Gilbert is up next and is soon followed by his father Tommy Gilbert and brother “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert.

The Rock and Roll Express, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, have their turn to be honored. If you remember, they played a role late last year in the tag team feud between The Young Bucks and Proud and Powerful. “Leaping” Lanny Poffo is the next to be introduced, and is the brother of all time great, “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Their father, Angelo Poffo, is also mentioned here and had a solid wrestling career himself. Obviously, the Macho Man is one of the most recognizable wrestlers of all time, often overshadowing other members of his family. Justin asks for the crowd to stand as they ring the bell to honor those Memphis legends who have passed away.

Back in the control room with Tony and Dasha as they put the finishing touches on the segment, before sending it down to the ring for the first match of the night.

Brandon Cutler vs. Darby Allin

Let me just start by saying that Allin is super over with the crowd and is a future star in the industry. Cutler has been underwhelming thus far, but he isn’t terrible. Also, listening to Dave Brown try and call this match should be a real treat.

The match starts with both men locking up in the center of the ring. Cutler gains the advantage and takes Allin to the mat with a scoop slam. He covers Allin for a two count. Allin rebounds and takes Cutler down with a shoulder tackle. Allin follows it up with a kick to the face of Cutler. He charges into the corner, but Cutler gets the feet up. He follows that up with knees to the head, followed by a two count. Cutler throws Allin hard into the corner, and Allin falls to the mat. Cutler continues to work on the arm of Allin, and throws him into the opposite corner. He follows that up with a spinning slam for a two count. Allin recovers and gets a near fall with a backslide. He follows that up with an armbar, but Cutler gets to the ropes. Both men are on the mat with Allin getting to his feet first. Cutler makes a comeback and hits a flying kick to the head. He picks Allin up in a torture rack position, but Allin reverses and grabs Cutler by the fingers and hits the Code Red for a two count.

Allin takes too long to capitalize, and Cutler takes him down with a leg sweep. Cutler continues working on Allin with the ropes, and hits a leg drop with Allin draped on the second rope. Allin recovers and hits a dive to the outside. Aubrey Edwards is checking on both men, as they continue to fight on the outside. They roll back in the ring, with Allin taking the advantage. He attempts a Coffin Drop but Cutler catches him. He doesn’t have control long as Allin hits a float over stunner for a two count. Allin follows that up with a Coffin Drop from the top and gets the win in about 9 minutes.

Winner: Darby Allin
Match Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Match Notes: Surprisingly enough, this was a competitive match. Both men got a good bit of time to shine, with Cutler having one of his better matches since joining AEW. Allin has really unique offense and he didn’t shy away from it here. Allin takes on Pac this week on Dynamite and that should be a good match. Allin going over here was the right move, so it served its purpose.

After the match, Tony and Dasha give us a quick recap of what went on last week on Dynamite, before we are back at ringside for the next match.

Nyla Rose vs. Shanna

Shanna attacks Nyla as she is making her entrance. She hits her with shots, before Nyla recovers and grabs a table from underneath the ring. She sets up the table and attempts to powerbomb Shanna through it off the apron. Shanna counters her, and follows that up by spearing Nyla off the apron through the table. That spear was slop city. I only say that because they insisted on showing three replays of it. Referees come down to the ring to separate the two, and the match is called off.

Quick Thoughts: Obviously, I can’t rate a match that didn’t take place. It was a good brawl, but I don’t think having segments like this on Dark is the best use of their time.

Alex Marvez is in the back interviewing Shanna. Before she can get anything out, she is attacked by Nyla again. Nyla talks some trash, before the referees get back to split the two up once again.

Tony and Dasha are back and go over the upcoming AEW shows that are coming down the pike, including the next AEW Pay-Per-View, Revolution. I will also make the observation that Tony couldn’t seem less interested in what he just saw between Nyla and Shanna. It’s time for the main event.

The Gunn Club (Austin and Billy Gunn) vs. Peter Avalon (w/Leva Bates) and Shawn Spears (w/Tully Blanchard)

Austin grabs a microphone and tries to entice Billy to “do his thing” on the mic. Billy grabs the mic and does the “suck it” bit with the crowd. Less effective than when they do it in the WWE. Tully Blanchard is once again out with Spears, and I for one will say that he deserves more than this. Avalon is out last and talks trash to the crowd and The Gunn Club, as the match begins.

Billy and Spears are the two to start the match. Spears taunts Billy with the crotch chop. The two tie up, with Billy gaining the advantage and hitting multiple shoulder blocks. Gunn returns the favor with a crotch chop of his own, much to the delight of the fans. Spears jumps to the outside to regroup. He gets back in the ring, as Billy tags in Austin. Austin and Spears spend a lot of time feeling each other out, before Spears takes him to the corner and hits some chops. He tags in Avalon, who continues to work on Austin in the corner. Austin reverses Avalon and hits an arm drag. He hits some more offense on Avalon before he is joined in the ring by Billy and Shawn Spears. Austin makes the tag and Billy attempts a fallaway slam on Avalon, but Bates pulls him down. Avalon makes a quick tag and both men trade chops on the corner. Spears goes for the ten punches but takes too much time, allowing Billy to regain the advantage enough to make a tag.

Austin is back in, and continues to hit Spears with some shots in the corner. He goes for a dropkick, but Spears reverses and throws him to the mat. He follows that up with multiple shots to the ring posts. He tags in Avalon and he continues to work on the arm of Austin. Avalon takes a shot at Billy on the apron which causes a distraction with the referee. They double team Austin behind his back, with Spears making a legal tag when the referee turns around. Spears continues working on Austin, but he recovers and makes the tag to Billy, just as Spears makes the tag to Avalon. Billy cleans house of both men. Billy grabs Avalon and goes for a powerbomb but it cut off by Spears. Billy and Spears go to the outside, which allows Avalon to roll up Austin for a two count. Austin recovers and hits the Fameasser, but Avalon kicks out at two. Austin climbs to the top, but Spears grabs the leg and crotches him on the rope. Avalon goes for a Superplex, but Austin hits a headbutt and knocks him to the mat. He follows that up with a senton from the top and gets the win around the 13 minute mark.

Winner(s): The Gunn Club
Match Rating: 2.75/5 Stars

Match Notes: The Gunn Club had a really nice showing in this match. Austin sounds, and moves in the ring a lot like his dad, which is not a bad thing. Billy Gunn is one of the more underrated performers of all time and he showed that he still has it after all these years. This is probably the closest that Peter Avalon will get to any main event match in the foreseeable future. Don’t ask me why Tully Blanchard has been reduced to being on Dark. I know he is there to give the rub to Spears, but they need to be on Dynamite, at least some of the time. There was nothing terrible about this match, and it was a solid way to end the night.

After the match, Tully and Spears contemplate on what to do next, as the show goes off the air at 54:49.

Overall Show Rating: 5 out of 10

Another average outing for the Dark brand. I didn’t grow up with Memphis wrestling, which was a little before my time, but it was cool to see some of these guys being recognized. Why they didn’t have this segment on Dynamite after promoting it heavily is still a mystery. Obviously, guys like Brian Christopher and “Macho Man” Randy Savage made splashes in the industry outside of the Memphis area, and with both of them being deceased, it was nice to see them memorialized by members of their family. The opening match with Allin and Cutler wasn’t bad, but wasn’t anything special. Alpine continues his ascent up the ranks, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as a focal point moving forward. The brawl with Nyla and Shanna was alright, although I think you are wasting airtime having an angle like this on a show that isn’t even an hour long. The main event had some cool spots, and Austin Gunn has some potential to be a player in the future. Lastly, for the love of all that is holy, give Tully something to do other than being on Dark every three weeks.

What did you think of episode 15 of AEW Dark? Loved it? Hated it? Wondered who the dudes were in the beginning of the show? Either way, keep the conversation going over @collectiveheel on Twitter and let me know your thoughts. Support the site. Support each other. I’ll be back soon enough with some more Collective Thoughts.