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 18, 2020:
All In: Jimmy Havoc Fights A Child
Marko Stunt is super over with the AEW crowds, but there are a lot of people on the internet who seem to object to the presence of a tiny wrestler who looks like a little boy on the AEW roster. I get where that idea comes from, but I actually like Stunt as the ultimate underdog. How many times does Jimmy Havoc get to be the big man in a match? I like getting to see Havoc do that, especially since his whole thing is being intimidating and mean anyway.
Marko gets some offense in here, but it’s all of the small-quick-guy variety, which seems entirely appropriate. Ultimately he’s no match for Havoc, who gets some heat on his way to his next feud, which I can only assume will take place entirely on Dark (lucky me).
Mostly In: Hearts Of Darkness
I’ll admit I’m never more disappointed than when Stronghearts shows up without bringing Lindaman. That tiny nude man fascinates me. But this week it’s just T-Hawk and Cima, who are here to fight the Dark Order. I currently find the Dark Order a lot more interesting as a rising evil faction with mysterious goals than I find them as a tag team. I was a little iffy on the initial video segments that made them look like a cult of incels, but lately all of the giving out masks and trying to recruit other wrestlers has been pretty fun.
Of course it all needs to lead somewhere before too long. Right now everything seems to be built around the impending arrival of the Exalted One, who I still think is probably Matt Hardy (unless WWE convinces him to go to NXT instead). Anyone less impressive than Matt would be a letdown after all this. I mean, I love Luke Harper as much as anybody, but the last thing I want is for him to get stuck in a cult gimmick AGAIN. Christopher Daniels has been hinted too much not to be disappointing, and anybody else already on the roster would just seem random.
Anyway, this is a fine match (although it looks pretty painful for Cima), but I’m really just impatient to see the Exalted One and also Lindaman. Maybe Lindaman is the Exalted One, and that’s why he’s not always with the rest of Stronghearts? No, probably not. The Dark Order would all have to wrestle in tiny little shorts if that were the case.
All In: Love And Violence
If we’re going to do relationship dramas on wrestling shows, I’ll at least take this over the Rusev/Lana/Lashley thing. Kip Sabian didn’t “steal” Penelope Ford. You never get the impression she cheated with him while still dating Joey Janela, nor does it seem like Joey particularly wants her back. Joey Janela’s problem with Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford seems to be that Kip and Penelope are assholes, and he’d like them to go away. I can’t be the only one who finds this much more believable.
The nature of a No-DQ Falls Count Anywhere Hardcore Match means that this is pretty much also a handicap match in which Joey has to fight Penelope as well as Kip. It still seems like AEW is building up to intergender wrestling. Tony Khan’s talk about nobody wanting to see men do violence to women doesn’t really hold water if Joey Janela can still do this:
Remember kids: Men doing wrestling moves to women isn’t allowed unless the man throws the woman directly into another man and then they both fall through two tables that only sort of halfway break.
This is also a reminder that Penelope Ford can work. I feel like there’s going to come a moment when the AEW Women’s Division starts to have more room for contenders, and then Penelope’s going to step right in like she belongs there. I expect the same from the Bunny.
I liked this match, which was hardcore without getting into blood-and-staples territory. Sometimes you just want to watch two silly men try to kill each other with tables and kendo sticks, and they don’t always need to walk through thumbtacks to make it worthwhile.
Halfway In: Nightmare Library
As far as I can tell, QT Marshall’s character is “Guy who eats apples and does whatever is asked of him.” He was literally on the heel team in last week’s main event, and this week he’s on the face team. He’s like a more meta Big Show, where he just alternates week-to-week.
Or maybe he’s finally settling into something. For whatever reason, Brandi Rhodes accompanies her brother-in-law and their apple-loving friend to the ring, and it sort of gives you the sense of an expanded “Nightmare Family” faction. I could be totally off-base with that and they just randomly inserted Brandi here so she could do a spot with the Librarian Leva Bates.
Also, as a side note, it’s weird that the Nightmare Collective was a scary heel thing and the Nightmare Family is supposed to be a likable babyface thing. Y’all must know that “Nightmare” is the scary word there. Unless you’re Mike Bloomberg, the word “Collective” doesn’t particularly instill terror.
This moment of Leva being dragged across the ring by Dustin’s boot is possibly my favorite Leva Bates spot I’ve ever seen. She’s so committed, and looks so uncomfortable. Dustin’s great too. The way he notices she’s there immediately, but just presses on without trying to remove her from his leg. He’s just like, “Well here’s another thing I have to deal with.”
Leva’s around for this match because the Other Librarian Peter Avalon is tagging with Shawn Spears, which makes no sense whatsoever. Shawn’s supposed to be auditioning potential partners, but he already teamed up with Avalon and it went terribly. Commentary says that Spears is giving the Librarian another shot, but why would he do that? He’s not, you know, nice.
If this is the dark match you want to have, fine. But just say Spears and Avalon were booked to tag together and have no choice. That would immediately make everyone’s behavior make a lot more sense.
That’s all for this week. Join me next time, for more matches too elite for TV.