Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dark: Shoko Nakajima returned to face Riho, Sonny Kiss fought Jimmy Havoc, and SCU saved Jurassic Express from the Dark Order.
If you’d like to keep up with our ongoing coverage of AEW’s YouTube series that showcases the dark matches from the previous week’s Dynamite, you can follow the tag here. You should also be keeping up Brandon Stroud’s Ins and Outs of AEW Dynamite for recaps of AEW’s flagship show.
First of all, you can watch AEW Dark here:
And now let’s talk about the Ins and Outs of AEW Dark for February 11, 2020:
Boop To The Brain
Diamante is one of the all-time great jobbers. She sells like nobody else, and she was a key ingredient to important NXT women’s division moments like “Ember Moon, this is your head,” and that time Bianca Belair did squats while holding her in a military press, just to prove she’s the EST. Diamante does the job beautifully here too.
Scheduling issues aside, Kris Statlander is a complicated prospect. She has unmatched talent and a great look, but she’s also relatively green and completely dedicated to an alien gimmick that revolves around nose-boops. And don’t get me wrong, I like silly gimmicks. But I’ve also been around this block enough times to know how quick fans are to dismiss a wrestler, especially a female wrestler, for being seen as too silly or meta or self-aware. And Statlander has such a promising upside that it would be a real shame if she started getting written off as a joke wrestling fans who are a little hostile to fun.
So probably the best thing AEW can do with her is let her be herself while also kicking ass. Don’t run away from the gimmick, but show that that’s not all there is. Let her be dangerous. Diamante puts Kris over as dangerous very effectively. Even when Kris makes Diamante give herself a wet willy, Diamante sells it there at the end like her fingers have gone into her brain. It’s silly, sure, but you still wouldn’t want it to happen to you.
Best Friends’ Best Bro Battered
Speaking of talented wrestlers who get dismissed because of their gimmicks, Orange Cassidy was the highlight of this match, as he so often is. Although their real opponents were Chuck Taylor and Trent, The Hybrid 2 make a point of going after Cassidy as soon as they have a chance, punching him in the face and beating him down at ringside. I’m not entirely sure if that’s because they think he’s weak, or because they think he’s a threat. I think it depends on how meta Jack Evans and Angelico are as characters.
It’s like when people in the DC Universe make fun of Aquaman for talking to fish, and you’re like “Dude, let the man live, he just saved your life when your cruise ship was attacked by a kraken.”
In any case, Cassidy has his revenge (and justifies the effort to take him off the board) when he causes The Hybrid 2 to crotch themselves/each other just by swinging his arms around and getting out of the way at the right time. Cassidy has practically invented his own martial art, built on slouching as offense.
Nice to see Chuck Tayler looking strong and the Best Friends picking up wins. I was complaining about the opposite happening for weeks, so I can only conclude that this column is affecting the product. Well done to me and the product.
Big Swole Beats The Brazilian
Big Swole is wearing ’90s Storm gear, which is a pretty great look for her. It also reminds me that her husband Cedric Alexander has worn Black Panther gear before, so it’s good to know they’ve got their couples costumes sorted. Christi Jaynes is dressed as her own superhero OC, Captain Brazil, who’s also got feathers on for Carnivale, because of course she does. I’m told Jaynes is actually American-born, but honestly it’s not my job to police people for their Brazilian-ness.
Big Swole continues to look like a star on the rise here. This was less of a squash than Statlander taking apart Diamante, but Swole’s win was never in doubt. And that’s fine. I’d like to see Swole and Statlander both get more time on Dynamite in the near future, and considering how much of last week’s Dark was setting up stuff for Dynamite, I’m hoping that’s where these two women’s matches are pointing.
With Nyla Rose winning the Women’s Championship just as Britt fully turned heel and the Nightmare Collective fell apart, I’m hopefully that AEW is finally going to get their shit together when it comes to telling women’s stories. Nyla and Britt both need babyfaces to come after them, and the short list should be Big Swole, Kris Statlander, and Hikaru Shida. And heck, make one of those feuds a triangle and you can give all three something to do!
The Bucks Buck Books
This was the darkest of dark matches here on AEW Dark. The Young Bucks, who are constantly in the Tag Title scene and literally run the company, up against The Librarian Peter Avalon and QT Marshal, a man who enjoys apples. I was watching Dark with a friend who had to leave as this match was starting, and I said, “But you’ll never know whether or not the Young Bucks can beat these guys!” and we had a good laugh.
But at the end of the day, this wasn’t a match about the drama of competition. It’s an opportunity for entertaining people to be entertaining, and the Bucks are great at that. So, it should be said, are the Librarians. Leva Bates may not be the strongest worker, but she’s perfectly suited for book-based ringside comedy. And Peter Avalon is the perfect old school heel. Even when he’s annoying, you’re only hating him exactly as much as he wants you to.
QT Marshall’s role is much more vague. He seems to exist just to fill open spots in random matches, with no regard for face or heel alignment. And I suppose that makes sense, since apples also have no moral alignment. All apples are true neutral.
I liked that they’ve got Avalon playing the role of the old school wrestling guy who doesn’t like the Young Bucks, and the Bucks just spamming him with showy moves is a fun (and appropriate) way to be dismissive of that kind of criticism.
My only objection to having silly dark matches like this on AEW Dark is that it doesn’t really seem like the match with the least stakes should be the Main Event, but it is the one with the biggest stars in it. I think we need to rethink how main events work on a show like AEW Dark, or just stop calling them that.
That’s all for this week. Join me next time, for more matches too elite for TV.