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Cazer’s AEW Dark Review 3.21.23

March 21, 2023 | Posted by Andrew Cazer
AEW Dark - Toni Storm vs. Billie Starkz Image Credit: AEW
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Cazer’s AEW Dark Review 3.21.23  

What an electric introduction from Excalibur for Dark 188. We’re back for the latest episode of AEW Dark. We only have five matches on the card so it should be a fun comfy episode tonight. We have Toni Storm, The Wingmen, Juice Robinson and more announced for the card, so some familiar faces and some new faces as well.

Juice Robinson vs. Leon Ruffin

Ruffin in control early with an aggressive side headlock as he screams at Juice. Juice to his feet and escapes but Ruffin trips him up and locks a sideheadlock back in. Juice crotches Ruffin on the ropes before tossing him outside face first. Ha. Juice follows Ruffin outside to continue his attack before sending him face first into the ring post and back into the ring. Juice with a cover for two before getting into Aubrey’s face for the slow count prompting a loud Aubrey count. Ok. Ruffin catches Juice with a kick to the back of the head and a hanging neckbreaker. Ruffin escapes Juice by bouncing off the ropes gingerly and then bounces off the ropes with a lariat to Juice. Ruffin with a springboard cutter to Juice he slowly crawls for the cover but Juice rolls away to avoid it, thank goodness I’m sick of seeing cutters kicked out of on Dark. Ruffin struggles to bring Juice back into the ring because he’s just a puny little man. Love that Juice is selling the cutter but also just kind of being a prick to regain his strength. Ruffin with a dive to Juice outside before tossing him back in with a kick to the head and cannonball senton. Ruffin covers for two. Ruffin up top for the frogsplash but Juice with the knees up just in time. Juice with a cannonball to Ruffin then attempts a powerbomb but Ruffin counters with a roll up and bridge attempt for two. Back to their feet and Ruffin with a series of strikes and a weak roundhouse kick to Juice. Ruffin back to the sideheadlock and then goes for the cutter again but Juice counters with a german suplex and a left arm lariat and covers for two. Juice with a modified DDT to Ruffin and covers for the victory.
Rating: ***1/2
Review: This was actually really good, Juice might’ve sold me on being a huge fan of his going forward because everything he did in this match just worked. Ruffin is a solid hand as well, I’m not as sold on him as others are as he’s good but his size can work against him. He has been solid to good in every match on Dark though so it’s not like he’s bad. It’ll be interesting to see how he can continue to improve and grow within AEW’s system after his NXT run.

– We get a hype video for this weeks AEW Dynamite and all the matches set for that show including Vikingo vs. Kenny.

Kiera Hogan vs. Leila Grey

Kiera the former baddie now facing off with Leila, interesting match up here given they should have a fair bit of history. They exchange words before locking up and Leila backs Kiera into the corner. Leila with a slap to the face of Kiera and begins to taunt before getting slapped herself. Kiera sends Leila into the corner with a dropkick and then a sliding boot in the corner. Kiera attempts a kick but Leila screams and blocks it before sending Kiera into the middle rope neck first. Leila covers for two. Leila attempts a lariat and Kiera blocks it with a superkick and then sends Leila outside. Kiera pulls at the hair of Leila to pull her into the ring but Leila blocks it and asks Kiera who the real baddie is before hitting her with a kick to the head. Leila back inside and covers for one. Leila continues control working over Kiera and dropping her with a lariat before strutting around the ring to taunt Kiera. Leila with a suplex and back to the taunting. Leila locks in a sleeper hold but Kiera fights free and drops Leila with a double sledge. Leila with a front knee and sends Kiera into the corner before doing a running knee strike and bulldog out covering for two. Kiera attempts a roundhouse kick but she’s rolled up and Leila steals the victory.
Rating: **1/2
Review: This match was not bad but had a few points that felt slower than necessary or just weren’t great. That said it feels like we might be building up a bit of a story between Leila and Kiera on Dark and i’m here for it.

– We get a behind the scenes look at AEW All Access set to premiere March 29th. It looks INTERESTING.

The Iron Savages vs. The Wingmen (Ryan Nemeth & Cezar Bononi)

The Iron Savages lost their heat seeking manager, Taz explains that he’s been fired. Probably for the best he was not adding to the group at all. Boulder and Bononi kick this one off with a lockup but Bononi takes control avoiding a splash in the corner from Boulder and then picking him up for a HUGE body slam. Boulder is up quickly and then picks Bononi up for a big body slam of his own. Nemeth in and he takes a body slam as well. Boulder tags in Bronson and he works over Nemeth in the corner. Bronson with a double under hook backbreaker and covers Nemeth for two. Bronson lifts Nemeth up for a body slam and Bononi with the blind tag. They work over Bronson while the referee is distracted with Boulder. Bononi with a suplex and covers for two. Nemeth works over Bronson as Taz talks about March Madness. Bononi into the ring but Bronson drops him with a splash and tags in Boulder. Boulder takes down both Bononi and Nemeth lifting Nemeth onto his shoulders and catching Bononi for a body slam at the same time. Boulder covers for two but somehow Nemeth kicks out. They attempt the double cannonball to Nemeth but Bononi blocks it. Bronson dives into a powerbomb from Bononi who tosses Bronson into a DDT from Nemeth. Nemeth covers for a near fall but Boulder breaks it up just in time. Bononi looks for a chokeslam but it’s broken up by Bronson. Boulder with a chokeslam of his own they set Nemeth up on the shoulders of Boulder, Bronson with a tope to Bononi then he heads up top and Boulder lift him up for the assisted splash and Bronson covers for the victory.
Rating: ***1/4
Review: This match was really good for what it was. Neither of these teams really look to be advancing up the card anytime soon but it is cool to see them face off and seeing The Iron Savages get a nice victory. Im glad they decided to go back to them as a babyface team because it just feels much more natural.

– They promote ROH Supercard of Honor set for Friday March 31st.

The Renegades vs. Avery Breaux & Mafiosa

Excalibur just breaking down the fourth wall and telling everyone the Renegades are not twins, im shattered. Avery starts with Charlotte and has a brief moment of offense Charlotte regains control and Robyn pulls Mafiosa off the apron outside. Robyn back to the other side and tags in. The Renegade sisters continue working over Avery utilizing every second of the five count. They prevent Avery from making a tag but she nails Robyn with a jawbreaker and tries to make the tag, she’s stopped momentarily but finally Mafiosa tags in. She hits Charlotte with a high kick and she has a burst of energy laying out Robyn and then a split legdrop onto Robyn and covers for two. Avery inside and she is caught up with Charlotte before being sent to the outside. Robyn with a big kick to Mafiosa then tags in Charlotte they hit a combination Slingblade on Mafiosa and she covers for the victory.
Rating: N/A
Review: This was a bit of a squash, the match wasn’t bad but could’ve been better. The Renegades are good but they’re only as good as their opponents. Avery and Mafiosa are decent but this was nothing special. The Renegades continue to improve though.

Toni Storm vs. Billie Starkz

Starkz comes out with some ugly nasty mask on and the crowd is pretty underwhelmed by it. Starkz has been doing well on these Dark appearances so I’m surprised the crowd wasn’t as receptive to her on this show. Toni is quick to attack Billie early and stomp away at her in the corner. Toni tosses Starkz across the ring and stomps away at her. Billie Starkz on the apron and Toni hits her with a hip attack that sends her right outside. Toni continues to work over Starkz on the outside completely dominating. Toni sends Billie face first into the ring post outside before finally tossing her back inside. Toni with a chop and sends Billie into the corner for a big boot. Toni grabs the broken Rabbit mask and rubs it on her ass before tossing it up the ramp. Starkz is able to recompose during this and nails Toni with a series of kicks but Toni catches one of them and drops Starkz with a german suplex. Starkz onto the apron and Toni tries the hip attack again but Billie moves just in time. Billie with a Tope through the second and third rope taking out Toni. Billie heads up top and hits a swanton onto Toni covering for two. Billie lifts Toni onto her shoulders but Toni pulls at her hair to escape. Toni attempts a kick but Billie catches her foot, Toni slaps her and Billie responds with a death valley driver and cover for two. Billie up top but Toni sweeps her legs and she falls to the mat. Toni with a hip attack followed by a half and half suplex then the storm zero and Toni covers for the victory.
Rating: ***3/4
Review: This was superb for a main event of Dark and is what AEW Dark matches need to be more often. Toni DOMINATED this match but gave Starkz just enough offense to make you believe in her briefly and then Toni quickly took back over and ended Starkz before she could even see it coming. Toni is great at playing it up as a heel and Starkz is so good for her age. It’ll be interesting to watch the continued development of Billie Starkz in AEW, that finishing sequence was brutal especially when as a fan you’re thinking wow this is an 18 year old getting spiked on their neck like that. Again great stuff.


The final score: review Good
The 411
This really was a fantastic episode of AEW Dark and I fear that we could be on our way back to the extended episodes next week. That's not all bad but this is a great example of why the shorter episodes are better. The matches felt like they got a bit more time, the talent featured was a little different and we got to see talent like The Iron Savages and Renegades who have been around for a while start to take that role of primary superstar not feeder. The good matches on this card were very good and the weaker ones like the Renegades match was short and the Keira/Leila match left a bit to be desired but they did a good job setting up a future story and i'm always here for that. I think we see more squash matches and a longer show next week and i'm cool with that especially as we got a really solid show this week.

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AEW Dark, Andrew Cazer