By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 180)
Taped December 17, 2022 in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios
Streamed January 24, 2023 on the AEW YouTube Page
Excalibur and Taz were on commentary…
1. Billie Starkz vs. Britt Baker (w/Rebel). Baker landed a lateral press suplex for an early two count. Starks looked for a tombstone, but Baker countered the move by rolling her into a pinning predicament. Baker hit a switchblade and went for the pin, but Starkz kicked out at two. Starkz came back with an enzuigiri and followed up with a release German suplex. Starkz nearly got the win with a tombstone. Baker eventually turned things with a Candian Destroyer and a Stomp to win the match.
Britt Baker defeated Billie Starkz via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: While some may have viewed this match as a showcase on paper, it turned out to be a really good match. Baker wasn’t able to put Starkz away as quickly as one would think. As such, Starkz, who is only 18 years old, came off like she put up a good fight to the end. This match is worth checking out for sure.
2. Vary Morales, Baliyan Akki, and Marcus Kross vs. “Dark Order” Evil Uno, Alex Reynolds, and John Silver. The three Dark Order members teamed up on Morales and threw kicks at him. Morales tagged in Akki,. Uno landed a hanging neckbreaker. Akki powered through by throwing kicks to Reynolds and then tagged in Kross. Uno powerbombed Morales before Kross was put away with a slam.
Evil Uno, Alex Reynolds, and John Silver defeated Vary Morales, Baliyan Akki, and Marcus Kross via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A solid showcase match from the Dark Order team, who hit all their spots.
3. Serpentinco (w/Luther, Angelico) vs. Tony Deppen. Deppen hit a knee strike before laying out for a missile dropkick. Serpentinco had brief flashes of momentum as Angelico was able to bounce Deppen off the top turnbuckle padding while the ref was distracted. Deppen threw rights and lefts and hit a diving knee drop to the back of Serpentico’s head. Shortly thereafter, Deppen countered an arm drag from Serpentinco and hooked his leg to score the win.
Tony Deppen defeated Serpentinco via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Meh, I wish I could say this felt like an upset for as much as the announcers were trying to play it up to be. Serpentinco has lost so many matches that it didn’t feel like an upset. Additionally, there was just too much comedy for me in this match with the referee throwing out Luther and Angelico. Nonetheless, a nice win for Deppen.
4. Cezar Bononi (w/Peter Avalon) vs. Matt Sydal. Bononi hit a lariat to the back of Sydal to catch him off his guard and planted him into the turnbuckle. Sydal began firing back with round kicks and the hurracanrana and rolled him up for a quick victory.
Matt Sydal defeated Cezar Bononi via pinfall.
After the match, Sydal was attacked by Ryan Nemeth. The Wingmen beat up Sydal until he was saved by “Top Flight” Dante Martin and Darius Martin.
Briar’s Take: I was surprised to see this match end so quickly. I was thinking the match would go at least five to six minutes, but Sydal finished Bononi off in 30 seconds or so. I suspect that this will lead to a tag team match on next week’s Dark.
5. Brittany Jade vs. Harley Cameron. Cameron power slammed Jade for a two count. Jade came back with a dropkick. Cameron hit back with a lariat and the Backstabber to win the match.
Harley Cameron defeated Brittany Jade via pinfall.
6. Kaci Lennox vs. Madison Rayne. Lennox dropped Rayne with a fireman’s curry, but Rayne regained momentum by driving her fast first into the mat and scoring the win.
Madison Rayne defeated Kaci Lennox via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Short and sweet back-to-back women’s matches from Rayne and Cameron, who essentially had showcase matches.
7. ‘Iron Savage’s’ Bronson vs. Action Andretti. Andretti took down Bronson with a torpedo from the top rope and continued with an enzuigiri. Andretti attempted a enzuigiri, but Bronson countered and landed a diving sucidia. Shortly thereafter, Andretti blindsided Bronson with a diving sucidia of his own. The two fought briefly on the outside where Bronson slammed Andretti face-first into the guardrail and into the steps. As the two returned to the ring, Andretti landed a big suplex from the top rope. Later, Andretti hit a thrust kick to Bronson and nearly got the victory with a two count. Eventually, Andretti got the win with a running shooting star press.
Action Andretti defeated Bronson via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Andretti picks up another quality win and continues to shine as one of AEW’s rising stars. This match was definitely one of the better matches on this card, with a lot of back-and-forth action between the two.
8. Anthony Henry (w/JD Drake) vs. Mascara Dorada. Henry dropped Dorada with a kick to the chest and twisted the head using his feet. Henry hit a neck breaker on Dorada. Henry continued to use his quick feet by throwing a punt kick to the back and kicks to the midsection. Dorada began his comeback by flying off the ropes with a dropkick.
Shortly thereafter, Dorada landed a moonsault on Henry on the outside and took out Drake in the process. Dorada hit a springboard into a rollup before being caught with a Russian leg sweep off the ropes. Henry missed with a diving foot stomp. Dorada struck with a diving facebuster instead. Dorada performed a diving elbow drop on Henry for the win.
Mascara Dorada defeated Anthony Henry via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A quality match with both men showing off awesome moves. Dorada previously wrestled as Gran Metalik in WWE before doing some work for New Japan.
Overall, this was kind of a weird episode. This show was taped last month and the matches weren’t shown until now. It started with a hot opener between Baker and Starkz before going through a few brief matches. The Sydal and Bononi’s match caught me off guard with how short the match ended up being while the main event was fairly decent. If you’re short on time, I would highly recommend Baker vs. Starkz, as well as Bronson vs. Andretti and the main event. Episode 180 clocked in at 58 minutes and 24 seconds. Final Score: 7.0 out of 10.