By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 85)
Taped in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Streamed April 20, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
Dark started out with a Darby Allin video package cutting a promo to Jungle Boy. Allin told Jungle Boy that he wants him to show up Wednesday and that he has to turn that switch and fight him. Allin closed the video by saying if he wants to win the championship to turn that switch…
Briar’s Take: A nice video package that was refreshing to open up Dark for a change. It would be nice if AEW used Dark more to hype up their Wednesday shows, even if it’s a video package like this.
Excalibur then welcomed us to Dark and was joined on commentary by Taz and special guest Ricky Starks…
1. Will Allday vs Joey Janela. Janela hit Allday with a release German suplex early in the match. Allday countered back with a jumping suicida to the outside on Janela. Back in the ring, Allday attempted a senton atomico, but Janela rolled at the last second. Janela hit a back elbow and threw a kick to the back of Allday. Janela then followed up with another release German suplex. Allday gained momentum with a forearm, but Janela performed a Death Valley Driver to win the match.
Joey Janela defeated WIll Allday via pinfall.<//i>
Briar’s Take: A surprisingly good matchup. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Allday more often in future episodes of Dark.
2. Ryzin and John Skyler vs “SCU” Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian. Kazarian put Skyler into a side headlock when the bell rang. Kazarian then hit the release German suplex on Skyler before tagging in Daniels. Ryzin tagged in and threw a clothesline that laid out Daniels. Daniels fired back by planting Ryzin and Kazarian leg dropped Ryzin after coming back into the match. Kazarian executed a back suplex on Ryzin, came back with a leg lariat to stop Kazarian in his tracks. Ryzin missed a splash in the corner, which allowed Kazarian to tag out. Daniels threw Ryzin over the top. Daniels bulldogged Ryzin and a threw a clothesline at Skyler at the same time. Kazarian and Daniels then hit the Best Meltzer Ever on Ryzin to score the victory.
SCU defeated Ryzin and John Skyler via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Another good outing by SCU. Daniels and Kazarian show that they are at the top of their game.
3. Ashley and Steff MK vs Big Swole and KiLynn King. King threw a shotgun to dropkick to Steff MK, but Steff quickly tagged in Ashley. Steff and Ashley then doubled up on King with a double back suplex and a double superkick. Swole threw a punt kick at Ashley and followed with a cutter to Steff after being tagged in. Swole performed a bulldog and dropkick combination on Ashley and Steff. Swole hit the big rolling elbow strike to Steff MK to get the victory.
Big Swole and KiLynn King defeated Ashley and Steff MK via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: The match was slow in some spots and could never really get out of gear. That said, a nice effort from both teams.
A Ricky Starks video package was shown with Starks talking about his match with Adam Page Wednesday night…
4. Brick Aldridge and Cole Karter vs. The Butcher and The Blade (w/The Bunny, Private Party). Butcher and Blade hit a double shoulder tackle. Blade threw Karter to the outside for a brief period of time and Private Party teamed up on Karter and threw him back into the ring. Blade hit the swinging neckbreaker on Karter. Butcher and Blade hit Full Death on Alridge to get the victory.
The Butcher and The Blade defeated Brick Aldridge and Cole Karter via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Aldridge and Karter never really had a chance to take down Butcher and Blade. Thankfully, AEW keeps Butcher and Blade matches brief on Dark.
A Ryan Nemeth, JD Drake, and Cezar Bononi video segment was shown. Nemeth was showing street attires to Drake.
5. Jake Manning vs. Sonny Kiss. Kiss hit the corkscrew kick on Manning and sat Manning out with the stunner to get the victory.
Sonny Kiss defeated Jake Manning via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Well, that math was very brief.
An AEW Casino Double or Nothing mobile game ad was shown.
6. Jay Lyon, Midas Black, and Ken Broadway vs. Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, and “10” Preston Vance. Uno hit a shoulder tackle on Lyon and an atomic drop. Grayson threw an uppercut at Broadway with Uno throwing a kick to the head. Grayson then lifted Broadway over with a belly to belly suplex. Vance tagged in and threw Grayson right on top of Black. Vance executed a delayed vertical suplex on Black. Vance hit a cutter on Lyon and a spinebuster on Broadway. Uno and Grayson finished off Broadway with Fatality to get the pinfall.
Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, and “10” Preston Vance defeated Jay Lyon, Midas Black, and Ken Broadway via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Dark Order dominated this match and really nothing more.
6. Andrew Palace vs Billy Gunn. Billy planted Palace with a backbreaker. Billy followed up with a scoop slam and quickly won with the Fameasser on Palace.
Billy Gunn defeated Andrew Palace via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A momentum victory for Billy ahead of his match with QT Marshall on Wednesday night.
7. Dante Martin vs Fuego Del Sol. Del Sol hit a knockout shot to Martin and covered him, but only got a two count. Del Sol followed up with a flying spear in the corner, but Martin fired back with a single leg dropkick and a huracanrana. Martin attempted a single leg crab submission, but Del Sol quickly got to the ropes to break the hold. Del Sol hit a leaping distance dropkick to Martin and almost got the upset victory. Martin threw a kick to the head of Del Sol and then the 450 splash to win the match.
Dante Martin defeated Fuego Del Sol via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A good outing from Martin. It was intriguing to see him in singles action, as he and his brother Darius are normally paired with each other in their Top Flight tag team.
8. Queen Aminta vs. Diamante. Diamante fired away on Aminta as the bell rang, but Aminta hit multiple back elbows. Diamante countered with three rolling suplexes to Aminta. Diamante threw a low dropkick in the corner and went for the cover, but Aminta kicked out at two. Diamante then put Aminta into the body scissors and made her tap out.
Diamante defeated Queen Aminta via submission.
Briar’s Take: A brief match.
A Scorpio Sky podcast ad aired.
9. Hayden Backlund and Kit Sackett vs. “The Varsity Blonds” Griff Garrison and Brian Pillman Jr. Garrison hit multiple side headlocks before tagging in Pillman, who hit a swinging neckbreaker on Backlund. Pillman performed another swinging neckbreaker on Backlund as Garrison made his return to the ring. Garrison followed with a back body drop on Sackett and sat him out on the mat. Pillman and Garrison hit the powerbomb combination on Sackett to win the match.
The Varsity Blonds defeated Hayden Backlund and Kit Sackett via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Chalk that up as another victory for the Varsity Blonds.
10. Alan “5” Angels vs Max Caster. Caster threw a knee lift across the midsection to Angels. Angels followed with multiple chop kicks, but Angels was quickly planted down with a shoulder block. Angels followed with a Russian leg sweep and attempted a cover, but Caster kicked out at one. Angels leapt onto Caster to the outside of the apron before returning to the ring. Caster got the momentum back with a back body drop. Angels hit a step-up enzuigiri on Caster and a running kick. Angels looked for the wing snapper, but Caster threw a mule kick. However, Caster used the chains to Angels to get the victory.
Max Caster defeated Alan “5” Angels via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A good competitive matchup between Caster and Angels. One of the best matches on the card so far as both men were great.
11. Baron Black vs. Powerhouse Hobbs. Hobbs laid out Black with a forearm and then performed a spinebuster to stop Black’s momentum. Hobbs hit Town Business on Black to win the match.
Powerhouse Hobbs defeated Baron Black via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: As is usually the case with most Hobbs’ matches, this one was quick and painless.
12. Dean Alexander vs. Pac. Pac delivered stomps to Alexander right after the bell rang, not giving Alexander any chances. Pac made Alexander tap out to the Brutalizer for the victory.
Pac defeated Dean Alexander via submission.
Briar’s Take: Excalibur and Taz used the Pac beatdown as a follow up that Pac was still angry with The Young Bucks from last week. This match barely kicked into gear and was over before it even started.
All in all, this episode of Dark flowed smoothly and there were some good matches. I liked how AEW started out with a video package on Darby Allin talking about his TNT Championship match with Joey Janela on Wednesday night. The video package made watching Dark worthwhile, even though the clip will most likely be uploaded to their social media pages. Despite that, the opening match between Will Allday and Joey Janela was solid and definitely worth going out of your way to watch. Dante Martin vs. Del Sol was good as well, and Max Caster and Alan Angels had one hell of a match that probably could have been featured on Dynamite. Episode 85 clocked in at 1 hour, 27 minutes, and 26 seconds. Final Score: 8.0 out of 10.