You are currently viewing AEW Dark recap: Willow must unseat Jade

AEW Dark recap: Willow must unseat Jade

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Episode 178 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast, click here to stream via Cageside Seating. Excalibur and Taz called the action as usual, so let’s get to it!

Juice Robinson vs. Travis Williams

Robinson was billed as making his 2023 debut for this inaugural competition. His opponent, Williams, was waiting in the ring to make his AEW debut. Aubrey Edwards called the bell and the two immediately hung up. Robinson overpowered him, knocked him down, pushed him into a corner and nearly broke…but he kicked Williams in the gut. Williams attempted a shot with Enzuigiri, an assist, and an elbow, but missed the corner and got to the ground. Robinson gave him a solid clothesline, and he hit a cannon ball into the corner, standing guard, and kicked Williams at second. Robinson argued with Edwards that the number should have been three. Williams got a few inside suspenders and hit Robinson with a drop kick and a German superex for a near-fall. Robinson blocked a swinging DDT on Williams and then smashed his head into the mat for his first win in AEW of 2023. Excalibur: “It’s similar to a DDT but when you put weight on it, it pushes the guy down harder.”

Willow Nightingale and Robby Suho vs. Emi Sakura and Diamante

Sakura and Diamante were described as making their 2023 tag team debut. Same goes for Nightingale & Soho, and at least Kron has been consistent about it (for a change). Sakura and Diamante attack faces before the opening bell and Sakura imitates having tea. Diamant goes diving and Suho punches her in the face. All four ladies fought outside and we finally got the buzzer when Suho and Diamante made their way inside. They didn’t stay there for long. Nightingale gave Sakura a Death Valley driver to the floor and then ate a kick from Diamante, who swept Suho’s legs off the apron and stuffed her head into a steel chair. She backed up to charge but Nightingale cut her off with a +pounce+ (dot). Back in the ring, Suho hit Diamante with a Destination Unknown for a count of three. Excalibur teased that this was all in preparation for Friday’s street fight at Rampage. Speaking of which – if there’s one person I’d love to see dethrone Jade Cargill and end her winning streak, it’s the charming and tough Miss Nightingale. I hope AEW sees how fans in Portland respond to it on this show – I hope Tony Khan sees how fans react to it in +every+ city they go to.

Jake Hager vs Steve Meggs

Hager brought a dark record of 4-0 to this match. I love the former Jack Swagger, but that fisherman hat has got to go. (The bags are very bad). Migs was waiting in the ring to make his AEW debut, which I didn’t expect to last long. Meggs grabbed the hat to tease Hagar, and politely returned it, continuing to strike anyway. Migs came back with a knee lift and then picked up the hat again to tease him to put it on. Hager immediately plowed through him with a clothesline the moment he touched his ring dome and got the pin, shouting “Don’t touch, Hattie” to the camera afterwards.

Big Bill & Lee Moriarty (w/ Stokely Hathaway) against The Voros Twins

Moriarty and Bell had a tag team record of 1-0. The Voros Twins have a record of 0-1. Bill wasted no time destroying the twins, so much so that Excalibur quipped “it didn’t matter” which one he was hitting. He is not mistaken. Moriarty was awarded the scrapbook pick card. He slammed some knees to his body, elbow drops, and slams to the head, and wanted to rally the Portland wrestler Voros Twin into the ring to fight and make a hot tag. Every time I write “Voros” I want to write “Vogon” instead. Maybe they could have won Big Bill up with some Vogon hair? Mostly not. Nobody likes Vogon hair. Choking Bell hit one Furon on the other and stood on the pin pile. He is seven feet tall after all, and as awful as a Vogon poem is, you can’t teach that.

Joss Robinson said he “embarrassed hometown ham and eggs” and vowed to show everyone why he was called “hard rock”. The Dark Order came to talk to him. He wasn’t a fan of their jokes. “Are you three lamenters as dumb as I think? Yes. I have a club, Bullet Club, and to be perfectly honest if I were the last three people on the planet we wouldn’t be friends. I’d sit at the other table for lunch. Bullet Club for life.”

Tye Milo & Anna Jay vs. Til Piper & Kelly

Teal Piper and Kel were making their tag team debuts, though Piper had been part of a battle royal in AEW before, which Excalibur was sure to notice. Piper was announced as the daughter of the late Roddy Piper, as if the crowd of wrestling fans in Portland couldn’t tell. Milo and Jay brought their bad attitude and 11-2 record to the ring. Kel tries to open a file on Melo immediately but Melo is unimpressed and says she waited for Piper to come in. It was all a ruse as she immediately attacked Kel when she went for the tag. She and Jay worked on Kel for some time and taunted the crowd for wanting Piper in. Jay even hit her in the face to get a little extra heat. Keel finally escaped with a push kick away and caught Piper cleaning the house for a few seconds until Milo hit the pump kick. Milo hit DD-Tay and Jay locked on the Queen Slayer to end the match.

Ethan Page, Matt Hardy & Isaiah Cassidy vs. Sebastian Wolfe, Judas Icarus & Caleb Tenenti

The Hardy Party achieved a 1-0 record after their match on Elevation. Big interrupts the music and says that last time Zee didn’t dance, so this time he was going to make Zee do it, and sing the music to them. Wolfe, Icarus, and Tinte were making their debut trios for AEW. The crowd was cheering loudly for Hardy a few minutes later, louder even than Page’s yelling into the microphone. Hardy hit the V1 and Cassidy started dancing, and Paige started the “That’s cool” chant. “Watch out behind you, Matt,” he yelled, and Matt caught the man charging and cracking the neck. Page: “See a costume? We’re a well-oiled machine.” My meaning: I literally hate you. Deletion and side effect. Cassidy’s sign of Sinton. Paige asked Cassidy to comment on him and the crowd booed. Excalibur: “People in Portland say what Taz and I think.” Page: “I’m your boss. Tag me now!” Page hit the Twist of Fate and made the pin.

ROH Women’s Championship: Athena (c) vs. Marina Shafir (with Vickie Guerrero)

Shaffer accompanied Vicky Guerrero (she actually went down the ramp this time) and earned a record in 2023 of 2-0. Defending ROH Women’s Champion Athena brought in the belt and a record of 23-2. The bell rang and Shaffer went right behind the champion, trying to hook her on the notes, forcing Athena to hug the ropes for dear life for a clean break. Taz: “Athena gave up on the ropes. You’re good now.” She called a “time out” and walked out of the ring to regroup, humiliating a fan who reached out for a top five. Shaffer started hitting her with blows when she came back. Athena tried to crawl and Athena pulled her back, even though she was holding on to the circular apron. She got out of the ring again and spun Shaffer’s head into the ring post, then pounded her chest and threw Shaffer to the floor. Guerrero yelled at Athena and Athena scared her all the way back up to the ramp. Shaffer returned to the ring while Athena was away. Athena hit her backside blocking a double leg attempt and sank on fish hooks until Paul Ternid called for a clean break. Excalibur: “This is unusual. Usually Shaffer is the aggressor.” It’s also unusual because Athena acts heel…but the crowd loves it when she does…and Shaffer is the actual face…but they never really cheered her on the win. This is the quietest Portland crowd the entire recording had. To be fair, they were probably just tired. They did Rampage, Dark, and Battle of the Belts V matches all in one night. That’s a lot. Shaffer fires and they remain silent, then explodes when Athena knocks her down with a kick. Shaffer attempted a leg kick and Athena fell through the ropes to the floor. Athena took her belt and tried to walk away, but Shaffer caught up to her and gave her a judo throw down the ramp, then threw her into the ring apron before throwing her back into the ring. Shaffer electric bomb for two. “It’s three” Guerrero yells and Taz laughs at her antics. Shaffer tried to choke her naked in the back but Athena slammed her into the turnbuckle and banged on the back to shake Shaffer. Shaffer put it back on and Athena, carrying it, got up, climbed the ropes, and then fell backwards at the point where she had almost fallen asleep. The camera swept into the crowd and the fans seemed unfazed. They excited enough to count lightly with Paul Turner taking eight in their list ten. Shafir hit Athena with elbows and knees while Guerrero yelled “one more time” but Athena stomped on Shafir and both hammer fists rained down. Shaffer reversed it, Athena kicked it away, then lowered the ropes to send Shaffer to the floor. Taz: This thing turned into a vicious fight. Athena made a suicide dive through the ropes and the crowd came to life, then threw Shaffer into the steel steps. Run your knees down the steps and chant “A-the-na.” She caught Shaffer again and put a cross face, Shaffer tried to roll her for a pin but Athena turned it around and hugged Shaffer with a bunch of chests to get the three count. I’m glad the fans finally got into the game at the end. Shaffer grabbed a handful of hair while Athena was partying outside, so she hit Shaffer with the belt to let her go. Paul Turner yelled “match over, get out of here” but for once Athena was right to use the belt as a weapon – she was defending herself right? right.

What to watch / skip

This week’s “What to Watch / Skip” is presented in Dark Willow’s Twitter account. If we can’t take it off Cargill, can she at least challenge Athena for the ROH title? I wouldn’t even expect her to win the ROH title in the latter case – only having a match like Shafir would only get the crowd reaction twice because they would actually be behind Nightingale. It’s hard to say why Shafir didn’t connect with the crowd, but going back to his NXT days was problematic. It’s definitely not her ring acumen or her looks. Their promotions aren’t the best, but I don’t think cutting great promotions would help either. Anyway, this show was about 40 minutes shorter than Elevation and I’m happy with it as a whole. You can skip The Firm’s varsity, Hager vs. Migs wasn’t much, but neither match really bothered me. good episode.

Cageside Commentary Crew – Share your feedback below in the comments section. If you love pro wrestling Find me on Twitter Until Elon pays us all for it. See you next week for new episodes of Elevation and Dark!

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