The Ins And Outs Of AEW Dark 2/4/20: Into The Juicer

Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dark: Nyla Rose won a Table Match against Shanna, and the Dark Order demolished Sonny Kiss.

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 4, 2020:

All In: This Is Almost A Show Again

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With the Holidays and the Jericho Cruise finally behind them, AEW seems to be treating Dark like a real show, which pleases me, as someone who’s job is watching this show. I’d still like to see the return of interview segments and getting-to-know-you video packages, but this episode had four matches plus a couple of segments, and it was a watchable 70-ish minutes long. Dasha Gonzalez is still missing, and outspoken Kiss fan Tony Schiavone is hosting from the side of a highway near the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, but it still feels more like a thought-out episode of online TV than Dark has in a month or two.

All In: Dinos And Dragons

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Brandon Cutler and Sonny Kiss are apparently keeping the tag team together, despite how disastrously things went for them last time. I’m not sure what their team should be called, but I’m pretty sure the theme is being true to yourself, no matter how much it got you bullied in high school.

They may be jobbers (and in Kiss’s case, I may find that endlessly frustrating), but they’re pretty fun to watch, and well matched against the smaller two-thirds of Jurassic Express, Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt. I’m sure Marko and Sonny in the ring together is exactly what Jim Cornette has been waiting to see, but I liked it just fine. Especially when they danced together (I know, I know, I’m everything that’s wrong with wrestling today).

There was a weird slow moment where Cutler lays on the mat with his legs in the air and waits for Stunt to step through them, which I feel like would have been Twitter’s #1 gif from this show if it had happened in a women’s match. The speed and precision of Jungle Boy pretty much makes up for that, and Sonny Kiss got an all-too rare opportunity to show what he can do as well.

I object to last week’s tag match because of how much Kiss looked like a victim of the Dark Order, but as much as I would have loved to see him and Cutler get a surprise win this week, I didn’t really mind how things went. The Jurassic Express are both legit and genuinely over, and Cutler took the pin this time, so it doesn’t become a story about one weak link. More TV time for Sonny Kiss please, and if he needs to bring Brandon Cutler with him, you know, that’s fine.

All In: We Can Just Agree To Stop

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So we get a segment of Brandi Rhodes in therapy, where she seems to be trying to move past her need for the Nightmare Collective, and also deal with the harassment she gets on social media. Unfortunately, she keeps having visions of the evil version of her therapist saying evil things to her. Also the therapist might be a stuffed animal. I’m not exactly sure what’s happening here or quite where it leads, but combined with what happens next it definitely casts doubt on the continued existence of the Nightmare Collective as we’ve known them. And you know what? Great.

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Brandi doesn’t come out for Mel’s match against Hikaru Shida, possibly because her therapist just said that she’s been spending too much time with the Nightmare Collective, but Awesome Kong and Luther are in attendance.

As far as the actual match goes, Hikaru Shida is clearly the star. Mel does fine as a street-tough brawler, but she’s not on Shida’s level as an in-ring performer. Hikaru carries her through, but the focus is on Kong and Luther causing trouble on the outside. Then Kong makes a clumsy effort to hit Shida with a kendo stick behind the ref’s back, and hits Mel instead.

That leads to Shida pinning Mel, and Mel taking it out on Awesome Kong with a ringside beatdown in which Luther takes Mel’s side. It definitely looks like Kong is being written off of TV, but whether that’s because of legit injury or a final season of GLOW that needs filming. For someone who debuted by volunteering as tribute and immediately letting some cultists shave her head, Mel hasn’t turned out to be all that loyal.

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Backstage after the match, Doctor Sampson confirms that Kong has suffered a back injury and will be out indefinitely. So where do we go from here? Are Mel and Luther still connected to Brandi, or between their betrayal of Brandi’s right hand woman and Brandi’s attempts to deal with her issues, should we assume that connection is also broken? My hope is yes.

The Nightmare Collective hasn’t really panned out, and didn’t seem to be going anywhere beyond keeping Kris Statlander from realizing her potential. So honestly, let’s just shut it down. Brandi can declare it was a phase that she’s done with, Kong can go be a TV star, and Mel and Luther can do whatever. Maybe the Dark Order can scoop them up now that they’re free agent cultists. They could use a female member, and Luther definitely vibes with their whole thing. Let’s all just move on.

All In: AEW’s First Seafaring Intergender Foggy Camcorder Tag Match

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When word got around that AEW had done an intergender tag match on the Jericho Cruise, it didn’t sound like they were planning to release it. It seemed like something that Kenny Omega wanted to do to see how it would go over, but we know Tony Khan has said he doesn’t like intergender wrestling and it wouldn’t be a part of the AEW product.

When you watch this match with an open mind, you’ll notice two things: First, it’s a great match. Kenny and Riho are a fantastic team, and Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford give it their all as well, and the whole thing just meshes perfectly. The second thing you’ll notice is that they seriously were not planning on releasing this match, because it is entirely shot on one foggy camcorder at ringside.

There’s also no commentary, but I don’t know that I want to hear Jim Ross call an intergender match in 2020, so that’s fine.

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But if you get over the amateur production, this match really shines through, and you understand why they released it. They also included Kenny’s post match promo that just puts over the entire idea of intergender wrestling, which seems really pointed. It’s hard to look at everything that’s happened so far and not imagine that Kenny is trying to convince people that intergender should be a part of AEW.

Personally, I’m all for it. As long as they still have at least one women’s division match per show (and more would be great, don’t get me wrong), it gives more women opportunities, and it just makes things feel modern. And if TNT doesn’t like it, you can always keep it to YouTube and PPVs. (But it would be silly for TNT to object, considering how many TV shows and movies they show where men and women fight each other.)

Almost Entirely In: Tully Versus Friendship

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Shawn Spears is still looking for a tag team partner, but it seems his search is limited to the bottom of the AEW Workers barrel. This week he’s partnering with a debuting (but probably just guest starring?) Colin Delaney, former WWE ECW star and brother of that Bon Appetit guy who goes to restaurants and orders everything on the menu, against the Best Friends.

Chuck Taylor comes out of this match looking great, which I’ve been waiting to see in AEW. Shawn Spears comes out of this match looking like a guy who can’t make friends. Delaney ends up better friends with the Best Friends, joining in on their hug at the end of the match. But as usual, the real star is Orange Cassidy, who gets to share the ring with living legend Tully Blanchard, a guy who knows a thing or two about putting his hands in his pockets.

I’m constantly torn, as I suspect a lot of us are, between thinking that it’s a problem that AEW isn’t letting Orange Cassidy wrestle matches, and thinking that they’re doing the perfect slow burn with him, where he’ll eventually end up in a singles match and everyone’s brains will explode at how good he actually is. Time will tell, I guess.

That’s all for this week. Join me next time, for more matches too elite for TV.