Episode 180 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast Click here For current through the cageside seat. Excalibur and Taj called the action as usual. Let’s go!
Dr. Britt Baker DMD (w/ Rebel) vs. Billy Starks
Baker brings a 2-0 record to the ring in 2023. Excalibur noted that this was a rare appearance from Darhk, while Taj said that he was just as good at helping with mental problems as he was with dental problems, and Excalibur just thought he was delusional. He said the teeth are connected to the jaw and the jaw to the brain.
Anyway… Starkz was waiting for him in the ring with a record of 0-1. They locked up, Baker took a wristlock, a headlock takeover, a crucifix and a schoolgirl. Lateral press, two count. Early on it was 100% empty, but the crowd was chanting for Tarun Starkz a/k/a “Space Jesus”. Starkz exchanges the rolling pin and then holds up his finger and thumbs up saying he’s +that+ close. He offered Baker a handshake, but then didn’t let it go, and Baker eventually hit him with an arm to break him up. Slingblade by Becker for two. Baker chokes him in the corner with his arm and a boot, forcing the ref to break it up each time. Rebels attack Starks from outside as Baker yells at him to stop. Baker dropped Starks with a shoulder tackle for two runs. Starkz stepped back from the waistlock with a handful of hair. Baker cranks his head and jaw and Starks screams in pain. He tried to get up and ate a body shot, he fought free with elbows and threw some wild flailing strikes. He hit Starkz with a neckbreaker, but Starkz hit a back elbow and a boot as Baker fought back. Enzuigiri and a German suplex bridge get a two count for Starkz. He drags Baker to the center, climbs to the top rope, but Rebel comes in and takes a moonsault. Starkz takes a thrust kick, rolls up for two, Starkz reverses a suplex for two and screams. Baker is bleeding! Starkz puts Baker on his shoulders but Baker wipes the blood from Starkz’s face from his nose and hits a butterfly for two. Tombstone Piledriver got a 2.9! Starkz seems confused that it’s not three and doesn’t know what to do. He kicked Baker in the chest but ate an elbow to the head and a Canadian Destroyer and a stomp to the back of the head for three. Becker laughed as blood dripped from his nose and mouth. It’s a hell of a visual!! I don’t know if I would have led this match — I can’t imagine anything else in Dark Topping.
Dark Order (Evil Uno, John Silver, Alex Reynolds) vs. Balian Akki, Marcus Cross and Vary Morales
The Dark Order posted a 3-0 record. As a trio they have no previous record of opponents, but all three have appeared on Dark Show many times before. Excalibur and Taz were concerned about the Order’s shrinking size, but they didn’t seem to wrestle as a typical match for them at Universal Studios. Akki was thrown into a powerbomb, Silver ran into a cross for a pendulum bomb, and Uno covered the cross for the three count. It was 100% paint by numbers.
Tony Deppen vs. Serpentico (Luther & Angelico from SAP)
Some fans at Universal Studios held up small sheets of paper reading Serpent Section. Both Serpentico and Deppen had their first singles match of 2023, according to Kyron.
Luther grabbed Deppen’s leg and he yelled “What are you doing?” Luther shouted back, “I don’t know!” The crowd chants SAP as Sarp hits a headbutt, Saiz Deppen up top and a back elbow and a kick to the head. Angelico ran Deppen from turnbuckle to turnbuckle while Serpent kept Bryce Remsburg distracted. Serpent covered Dapen for a two count and Luther argued with him. Deppen kicked a leg and dropped a diving knee to the head. Luther yelled, “Hey Ref! KNEE OFF!” Double knees to the face and a bridging suplex for a two count. Deppen goes to the top rope and moves out of the way for a double stomp. Angelico shoves Deppen from behind and Remsburg throws him out of the building, drawing the ire of the crowd. Snake into Deppen’s ear. Applause. Luther thought he was tripping Deppen on the outside but tripped Serpent instead. This time Serpentico took over the Remsburg… and tossed Luther! Taj: “I just hope someone gets me out of this.” Deppen for two. Tried a roll up. He kicked Serpent in the head and managed to grab a leg with an arm drag and put Serpentico’s shoulders down for the win. Serpent then tried to charge him and his head fell upside down outside the ring. The whole match was comedy.
Cesar Bononi (Peter Avalon) vs. Matt Sydal
Bonnie was the last person on this episode of her solo debut for 2023 on Dark. Sydal was listed by his overall dark record of 32-4. Excalibur tried to explain Avalon’s long hair in a match taped last year, saying that he went into costuming and makeup and put in extensions to get back his old look. They put more thought into something that only dark viewers would notice than many bookers put into the entire story line. Show them the next time a feud starts with a cage match and ends with a singles match Sydal got a fluke roll up for three on a much bigger Sydal, but the match was never a point. Nemeth ran out to help beat him, and the top flight ran out to save. A trio of matches will result!
Brittany Jay vs. Harley Cameron
Cameron made his 2023 debut here straight from Australia’s Gold Coast, much like Tony Storm (which the announcers mentioned). Brittany Jay was waiting for him in the ring with a record of 0-1. Cameron acted wild and almost rolled up, and Jay threw LT in his forehead like it was a smash mouth video. Fans got into it and chanted “He’s a loser” at Cameron. Cameron whips Jey hard into the corner and he sells him. As Cameron charged he received a boot to the chest. Jey counters a charge in the corner and hits a dropkick, then climbs painfully to the second rope. He missed everything he had planned, got taken down with a lariat, Cameron gave him a “kiss of death” and hit a backstabber for the three count.
Madison Rayne vs. Casey Lennox
Rayne carries a 1-0 record against Darke. Lennox was waiting at ringside with a record of 0-1. The two women lock up on Bell and Lennox pushes her into the corner. Stephen Smith calls the clean break. Lennox tried to throw an elbow but it was a swing and a miss. Rayne hits a kick. But Lennox caught him with a fireman’s carry and a slam for two. A boot to the gut, a kick to the head, his face drilled into the mat gets the pin. Best match I’ve seen from Rayne in a long time — probably because it was the shortest and Lennox looked good until the sudden victory.
Action Andretti vs. Bronson (Iron Savage)
Bronson was making his 2023 solo debut here. No Boulder, no JT Davidson. Andretti carries a 2023 record of 2-0. Taz tried and failed to make a joke that you can combine Action and Bronson and you want Action Bronson to drive an Andretti. Excalibur said maybe you mean he will be driven by Mario Andretti. Andretti hit Tornio on Bronson for two runs. Enzuigiri from the apron, but Bronson breaks a springboard and sends Andretti crashing to the floor, then follows up with a suicide dive to eliminate him. Bronson yelled at the camera, “You’re telling me that’s the guy that beat up Jericho?” While he was busy screaming, Andretti recovered, knocked him down and hit a suicide dive of his own. Andretti and Bronson went all over the place until Bronson dropped him face first into the barricade and dropped him into the steel steps. Posse starts the ten count but Bronson sends Andretti back into the ring for a scoop slam. “Let’s go to action” is the slogan. Bronson pulled Andretti into the corner and went to the top but Andretti recovered and charged. Bronson backs him up with a right hand. Andretti keeps up, hits an enzuigiri, jumps to the top rope and gives him a superplex! Bronson screamed in pain.
Andretti with a neckbreaker, a back breaker, a keep up and a back elbow for a two count. Bronson clenched his jaw as he grabbed his neck. Two thrust kicks by Rana and Andretti. Kick to Bronson’s chest. Bronson gets up, hits a lariat, a back suplex, 2.9. Bronson drags Andretti to his feet, tries and fails to hit a move, Andretti hits a reverse rana and a thrust kick and a running shooting star press for the win. Taz: “Not an easy win!” Not at all. There is so much fun going on between these two.
Mascara Dorada vs. Anthony Henry (w/ JD Drake)
Henry was making his 2023 debut here (surprise surprise). The former Gran Metalik a/k/a Mascara Dorada has a 1-0 record thus far in AEW. Henry with a neckbreaker for two. Straight jacket fitted. Lung blower, count two. Henry stomps Dorada twice, hits the ropes, misses a clothesline, eats a boot while charging and rolls his way across the middle rope before Dorada throws a dropkick. Come to the floor moonsault! Springboard roll up for two. (Why would you do a springboard to that?) Russian leg sweep by Henry for two. Henry goes up top and misses a foot stomp. Boot to the face in the corner. Henry goes up and Dorada throws a chop off the second rope, then jumps off with a mouth buster. Henry kicked out at 2.9. Drake drags Dorada to the outside, gives him a rebound shot off the ropes, feeds Henry for a brainbuster, and Dorada kicks out! Henry went to the top rope for a sunset flip but Dorada flipped out, hit a thrust kick, went to the top, walked the ropes and dropped a la Macho Man for the pin. Tough main event!
What to watch/avoid
And tonight’s “What to Watch/Avoid” brings you Billy Starks on Twitter. I am both very hopeful and very nervous for his pro wrestling future. Like Nick Owen, he’s incredibly talented for such a young age, but this business has a way of chewing people up and spitting them out. I hope he can survive the grind and not lose the passion for pro wrestling that he currently shows in every match. As I expected the opener was my favorite part of the show, but Henry and Dorada tried really hard to make it one. Andretti vs Bronson came third which tells you how good the competition was. Brittany J had the Universal Studios crowd behind her, but the focus was clearly on making Cameron, so credit to both of them for doing what needed to be done. My only “skip” this week is Sydal vs. Bononi because it wasn’t a match at all, just an excuse to do an angle.
Cageside Commentary Crew — Share your feedback in the comments section below. If you love pro wrestling Find me on Twitter For example. I’d like to talk to some of you instead of the bots that follow me. See you next week for new episodes of Elevation and Dark!