“A Special Tag Team Edition…” – AEW Dark – 19th November, 2019 Review

After a pretty strong episode of Dynamite from Nashville, Dark was essentially a “Tag Team Edition” of the weekly supplement and recap show from the previous week’s antics in the Municipal Auditorium.

After strong outings for both Taz and MJF behind the announcers’ booth on AEW Dark, ‘The Natural’ Dustin Rhodes started off the show by joining Excalibur under the headset for All Elite Wrestling’s weekly YouTube effort. I’m a huge Dustin Rhodes fan and I’ve been a follower and supporter of him since his days as Goldust in ‘the other company’ but sadly, I don’t think doing commentary is the way for Dustin to go. It all felt a bit forced throughout the show and maybe for all the in-ring experience, his lack outside-the-ring experience was the problem here, as I don’t think he ever really gelled with his announce partner over the hour. 

Private Party vs Best Friends w/ Orange Cassidy

In many ways, this tag team affair is pretty much what AEW were alluding too all those months ago when the Young Bucks boasted the promotion setting their sights on having the best tag division in the world. When you look at these teams they really do have the in-ring ability to go ‘all the way’ and both duos seemingly can be put into any combination of matchups with any other teams to create an interesting, provocative and, above all, this-could-go-any-way showdown. This particular matchup was a prime example of that in my humble opinion.

After some innovative offence from Kassidy and Quen, the Best Friends flipped momentum with a double-team suplex on the outside and followed up with a pristine Sole Food to draw a near fall on Kassidy. Despite Dustin Rhodes’ often half-coherent rambling and failed comedy moments providing the soundtrack, the action in the ring continued thick and fast with a Marq Quen getting a hot tag and upping the pace to where a Private Party win was teased with a plethora of double team manoeuvres beating their opposition.

A failed Gin & Juice saw the enigmatic Quen hung upside down in the corner, with his partner hurtled into him with a powerbomb from Chuck Taylor for good measure. After a quick hug, Trent Baretta and Chuck Taylor assumed the position so to say, finishing off Kassidy with a scintillating Strong Zero double foot stomp/reverse driver to get a clean pinfall victory.

Of course, wherever Orange Cassidy is there is undoubtedly some absurdity to follow – though it is notable that this didn’t really happen to the extent it has on more than occasion. I don’t quite ‘get’ Cassidy, but I’m not entirely sure I’m supposed to and I guess I’m ok with that. How long his character gets to roll along in its current state though is anyone’s guess. Sorry for voicing the ‘unpopular opinion’.

Big Swole & Kris Statlander vs Britt Baker & Riho

You wanted tag team action, right? Well, whether you did or didn’t, it’s what you were getting on this weeks edition of AEW Dark, as the women of All Elite Wrestling took to the ring in Music City, USA.

Statlander did a good job of impressing in her first official AEW appearance, with some nice chemistry with Big Swole and an acknowledgement that being on ‘free TV’ or not – it’s all about maximising your time. One of the newest acquisitions for AEW, Statlander is athletic and solid in the ring, which in my book is about as good a start as you’d want in this line of work. Her exchanges with the current AEW Women’s Champion were definite highlights of the match and though the two may not meet for the title any time soon, I’d be very interested to see a one-on-one meeting between the two. The newbie also gave a good account of herself against the good doctor, with a flurry of offence against Britt Baker that really sold her as a legit player (at least in my eyes) when you compare her against some of the other members of the fledgeling women’s division.

After ejecting the champ from the ring, the powerhouse and all-round bad girl Big Swole made a bad call and misfired with a ripcord elbow, taking out her own partner and paying for the miscue with a superkick from Baker before being thrown to the outside. It almost seemed inevitable at this point that Baker would capitalise on a downed Statlander and lynched in Lockjaw to get the submission win for her team.

Make no mistake, both Britt Baker D.M.D. and Riho are better served as singles competitors but it was good to see them try on a different pair of shoes this week and the constant reminder on commentary was that this would no doubt be a short-lived pairing as Baker surely must have her eyes on her partner’s gold. However, despite Baker and Riho nabbing the victory, the real star of this match was newcomer Kris Statlander. She’s one to keep an eye on.

Undesirable to Undeniable: Justin Roberts

Ring announcer Justin Roberts is undoubtedly one of my favourite voices to ever stand in the centre of a wrestling ring and I think he’s the perfect fit for AEW. Cody gave Roberts props early by saying that he appreciated everything he did for his wife Brandi in showing her the ropes on the mic and also that Roberts’ job was far from the easy walk in the park as most people tend to think it is. I’ve done ring announcing myself, whilst it wasn’t for a major wrestling promotion or in front of thousands of people…I can attest it’s no ‘walk in the park’. There is more to it than just stand and reel off hometowns, weights and names.

Roberts genuinely seems to absolutely love his gig and I was totally unaware that post-WWE, he tried his hand at pretty much everything and anything – including arm wrestling announcing!  It’s good to see him in good spirits, having an appreciation for his opportunity and falling in love all over again with the crazy world of pro-wrestling. A much better segment this time around after a somewhat flat Jimmy Havoc edition on a recent edition of Dark.

Dynamite Recap

The next video package was a recap of the MJF/Cody segment from Dynamite, minus the fantastic exchange with Le Champion, Chris Jericho. Definitely one of my favourite things from last week’s episode and I’m totally sold on Maxwell Jacob Friedman as public enemy number one following his heinous double-cross of his mentor and the emergence of the new monster: Wardlow.

Up next the backstage brawl between Proud N Powerful and the Young Bucks was shown again, complete with the now reoccurring powerbomb through the staging spot that Santana and Ortiz have utilised on more than one occasion in recent weeks. However, and maybe unrelated, we did confirmation of a one-on-one match for this week’s Dynamite between Rey Fénix and Nick Jackson, which is certain to be a gem to behold.

After a repeat showing of the upset of Dynamite history thus far (after Scorpio Sky tarnished Chris Jericho’s perfect record with a roll-up in the tag team main event) we got a rundown of the matches heading your way from Indianapolis for what should be on paper at least, another strong showing from All Elite Wrestling.

#StrongHearts vs The Young Bucks

So prior to being put through the stage at the conclusion of a beatdown from Santana & Ortiz, the brothers Jackson took the main event spot against Lindaman and T-Hawk and seeing as though this was a ‘tag team edition’ of Dark, it seemed only fitting that the Young Bucks would be on the marquee this week.

This match was pretty much everything you should have expected from these teams: high spots galore, technical prowess and a succession of crazy, cringe-worthy strikes. You really can’t appreciate just how swift and agile both teams are, with a special mention to the lightning fast #Stronghearts in their effort against Matt & Nick Jackson. It’s insane that these guys can continue to come up with innovative and entertaining matches time after time whilst seemingly getting very little wrong and making few, if any, mistakes along the way.

A spot-hungry ending to a match that for me was shorter than I would have liked saw an incredible sequence from the “one-man wrecking crew” ‘slick’ Nick Jackson, whereby he landed a picture-perfect springboard facebuster on Lindaman before hitting a moonsault on T-Hawk on the outside. The Bucks hit a double superkick on T-Hawk to take him out of the equation before hitting their photo finish Meltzer Driver double team in the middle of the ring to score a decisive 1-2-3. Fun, fast and frenetic… I could have easily watched another 5 or 10 minutes of these two teams going up against each other.

Photos from AEW, Tweets from @tde_wrestling and @ReyFenixMX

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