The Ins And Outs Of AEW Dark 2/26 & 2/29/20: Critical Mrs.

Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dark: Joseph Janela did his best to give Kip Sabian brain damage en route to almost paralyzing Penelope Ford. Pretty standard AEW hardcore match stuff at this point, to be fair.

If you’d like to keep up with this column and its thinly veiled Best and Worst format, you can keep tabs on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dark tag page. Elle Collins is normally on this beat, but they’re under the weather so I’m filling in for the week. For more AEW, make sure you check out the weekly Dynamite version of this column, and keep track of all things All Elite here.

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You can watch the latest episode(s) of AEW Dark here:

All In: The Dr. Britt Baker DMD Double Feature


As you just saw, this week’s AEW Dark column technically covers two episodes: the full length one from Kansas City uploaded the day before Revolution, and the Revolution pre-show match uploaded on Tuesday night. Since both episodes featured Starbucks and Whataburger-hating dentist of the people Dr. Britt Baker DMD, I thought we’d start with her.

On the 2/26 episode, Baker gets a one-on-one match with recurring Local Talent and former Awesome Kong victim Miranda Alize, who you may have also recently seen on Impact losing to Jordynne Grace. That resume’s not especially hopeful when she’s paired with the woman who appeared to be the unofficial focus of All Elite Wrestling’s women’s division even before she turned heel and developed the delightfully awful personality of a classist and condescending medical professional. So poor Miranda’s dental damned if she does and dental damned if she doesn’t, and loses to the Lockjaw after a lot of instructional jawing (cough) from Britt. In fact, she’s so ready to lose that she’s tapping out to the stretch before Lockjaw’s even applied, and everyone just ignores it so Britt can finish the move.


Baker’s efforts are equally successful but much more entertaining to watch in 2/29’s only match, as she teams with Penelope Ford (who I would assume has never been to a dentist, and was just born with perfect teeth) against omni-not-present former Women’s Champion Riho and Yuka Sakazaki, the “magical girl” on whom Baker used a ring rope to perform oral surgery a few weeks ago on Dynamite. Sakazaki immediately earns points for going into this wanting to kick Baker’s ass, because remembering to physically show you hate a person you’re supposed to hate is an easy thing a lot of wrestlers (and wrestling fans) don’t pay attention to.

One of the weird secondary themes of the match is how AEW’s trying to gently massage the idea of intergender wrestling into its audience almost primarily through Kip Sabian, who lost a seafaring intergender foggy camcorder tag team match to Riho on the Jericho cruise and repeatedly interferes to get physical with her here. Sabian’s also the fulcrum for almost all of Penelope Ford’s intergender interactions because she’s his valet, so he just always seems to be around for it. Regardless, Sabian interferes a little too much in this match for what I assume is anyone’s liking, ultimately reversing Riho’s cradle counter to the Lockjaw on Baker’s behalf so she can lock the jaw and win the match.

Double feature notes:

  • Britt Baker turning heel has helped her in and out of the ring and was a great idea
  • Yuka Sakazaki is even adorable when she’s out for blood, somehow
  • I don’t know why we don’t spend more time talking about how awesome Penelope Ford is
  • We’re probably gonna get Riho vs. Kip Sabian on one of these shows soon
  • I’m excited for three months from now when Miranda Alize returns to Dark and sells a Brandi Rhodes spear by standing still for 20 seconds and then slowly falling forward

Children Of The Revolution


The remainder of the sub-20-minute 2/29 edition of Dark is mostly post-match interview from folks who did things of note at Revolution, which you can read about in full here.

In case you’d like to keep up with how everyone feels about things, (1) Colt Cabana is officially signed and happy to be here, presumably because he doesn’t have to wrestle Mr. Anderson anymore, (2) PAC metaphorically dances on the grave of Orange Cassidy and says his relationship with the Lucha Bros. is nobody’s business, and (3) Christopher Daniels thinks there’s no Exalted One leading the Dark Order and that it’s all a big bluff, which DEFINITELY won’t get him murdered by the Exalted One on Wednesday. Speaking of the Dark Order …


All In: The Dark Order Triumphs Over Mild Comedy


Evil Uno and [checks notes] Stu — y’all really need to call him something spooky so we don’t have to keep saying a guy named Evil Uno tags with “Stu” — get paired up against the comedy wrestling duo of Michael Naka-naka-nakazawa and The Librarian Peter Avalon, a character so unsuccessful his valet with the same day job is telling him to stop it with the attempts at cheap heat and read books about how he shouldn’t be a dick (pictured). Avalon wants Nakazawa to cool it with the comedy and not pour “Turkish oil” everywhere, so of course he’s slipping and sliding in a small amount of oil like he’s in a whirlpool within seconds. Nakazawa also uses the oil to escape a vertical suplex at one point, which I enjoy because I sincerely still laugh at DDT Pro jokes spots from 13 years ago.

Long story short, it’s cute, inoffensive, the right team wins, and I approve of any time Leva gets to be a performative weirdo on AEW programming. Bonus points if she ends up being the Exalted One, and we find out Dark Order’s just a book club that’s really into H.P. Lovecraft.

All Out: Luther Vs. Sonny Kiss, Just All Of It


Two major things:

1. I don’t understand why Sonny Kiss, of all people, is still relegated solely to AEW Dark. What’s the deal, honestly? Outside of any “wokeness” being “forced down your throat” you might assume from wrestling fans thinking diverse sexuality and people of color can add positively to a prime-time wrestling program advertising itself as the alternative to WWE’s norms, Sonny’s just a very good and unique pro wrestler who connects with fans and could at the very least be losing matches on the show people actually watch. With AEW continually signing all the people from WWE we’re sad WWE never bothered to use — Jon Moxley, Matt Hardy, Luke Harper, and so on — it’s not like spots are easy to come by, and Kiss isn’t doing enough to earn one. PUT SONNY KISS ON YOUR TV SHOW. Especially if you’re just keeping him around to lose to Luther.

2. Does being a “death match legend” mean you can just cheat during your matches and it’s fine? “Death match legend” Luther uses a ring bell during this match while the referee stands there with his hands on his thighs watching it, and wins with a camel clutch where he’s clawing Sonny’s eyes and biting him in the forehead. Is PAC the only person that can catch a disqualification in AEW? Do we just not care because it’s Luther on Dark?

Thumbs down for all of this.

Spears, In A Pickle


Finally, I’m extremely in the middle about the ongoing “Shawn Spears needs a tag team partner” story, as it’s mostly just a plot device to make Shawn Spears matches … slightly worse? It’s not like he’s lighting the world on fire anyway. Here, Spears tries out BRANDON CUTLER as his tag team partner against against Private Party and he and Tully Blanchard are like, “yes, an 0-9 LARPer is the man we’ve been waiting for.” Unsurprisingly, Cutler doesn’t do well enough fast enough and Spears bails on him, leaving him to lose 2-on-1. Hey, at least Private Party got a win!

I’ve mentioned it before, and I don’t know if they can actually organize and communicate everything well enough to do it, but I want Brandon Cutler’s 20-sided die entrance rolls to actually affect what happens in his matches. For example, he gets a CRITICAL MISS by rolling a 1 here, so his tag team partner completely abandons him and he gets beaten up by two guys at once. Makes perfect sense!


But if he’d rolled a 20, they should’ve called an audible and had him single-handedly crush Private Party and pin them both at the same time, so Spears and Blanchard get super impressed and ask him to be their permanent guy. And the scale should go from 1-20 with appropriate results. I just want a man’s actual wrestling career and actual on-screen wrestling content to be decided on the fly with a shoot roll of a 20-sider.

Anyway, that’s it for this week’s recap. Thanks for putting up with me, and make sure you’re back here next week for Elle and (presumably) more dancing Tony Schiavone GIFs.