The Ins And Outs Of AEW Dark 10/22/19: The Rub

Previously on the Ins and Outs of AEW Dark: Kenny Omega insisted on having a hardcore match with Joey Janela, Sonny Kiss and Kip Sabian put up with the Librarian Peter Avalon, and there SCU teamed with CIMA against the Hybrid2 and 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 October 22, 2019:

All Out: The Bad Boy Versus This Other Guy

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The lack of promos in AEW (Jericho, Cody, and Librarians aside) is really becoming an issue for me. This is the second time I’ve watched Brandon Cutler wrestle, and I feel like I don’t know him at all, mostly because I’ve never heard him speak. I know he took a long hiatus from wrestling, but how does he feel about being back? What are his goals in AEW? Does he talk like a nerd, like you imagine a guy with a D&D shirt might, or is he more of a regular joe? I just need to see something outside the ring to really care about this guy.

Joey Janela is less of a problem in that regard, because his personality is so obvious in how he dresses, wrestles, and generally presents himself, but I still wouldn’t mind hearing him talk on AEW TV at some point.

The match is fine, but it never overcomes my lack of investment in the characters. Cutler’s a cipher who lost his one previous match pretty quickly, so it means nothing for Janela to beat him. I know this is just a dark match, so it’s a little ridiculous to be like “Why doesn’t this match matter?” but if you’re going to make a show out of your dark matches, I’m going to have to react to it like it’s a show.

All Out: Hey, There’s A Women’s Match

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Hey, it’s Nyla Rose! Remember how she was built up to compete for the AEW Women’s Championship, failed to win it on the premiere episode of Dynamite, and hasn’t appeared on TV since, because Dynamite can only seem to manage one women’s segment a week? At least she’s on Dark this week, because I have missed her.

Unfortunately, she’s facing the Librarian Leva Bates. As I’ve said before, I don’t despise the Librarians as much as a lot of fans do, because it’s so self-consciously terrible that it kind of circles back around to funny for me.

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The problem is that Leva Bates, despite her years of experience on the indies, just isn’t a very good in-ring worker. She’s better at character stuff, which I guess is why her indie gimmick is playing a different character on every show, but her wrestling always feels awkward. Ironically, the Librarian gimmick could actually help with that, because she comes off like an awkward questionably athletic nerd, but that’s not enough for a match against Nyla Rose.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Nyla’s a bad wrestler. She does her “big scary lady” thing well, and it’s worked for most of the matches AEW has put her in. But at this point in her career, she’s just not capable of carrying a worker as limited as Leva to a good match. Nyla should be wrestling people like Allie and Hikaru Shida, and she’ll look great.

There’s fun stuff in the match, like Avalon using books as distractions, but it just doesn’t hold together. I really want to see AEW do better with their women’s division. This is not the road that goes in that direction.

All In: More Backstage Stuff

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When Cody’s interview segment with QT Marshal started, I was thinking “Why are they devoting this segment to a producer when they could be getting a wrestler over?” But then they revealed that Marshal is going to return to wrestling in AEW, so that’s pretty cool. I don’t have any attachment to this guy, but now when I see him in the ring I’ll have a sense of what his story is. More of that, please.

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Speaking of getting wrestlers over, Scorpio Sky looked fantastic in SCU’s match against the Best Friends last week, when he filled in at the last minute for Christopher Daniels and heroically wrestled most of the match in one shoe. Giving him this chance to talk about all that, alongside Frankie Kazarian, only makes him look better. Scorpio has gone from the SCU member I know the least to my favorite out of the trio.

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And then there’s PAC. You can’t go wrong letting PAC cut a promo while covered in blood. The only possible mistake I see is putting this stuff on YouTube when it could be on TNT.

All In (I Guess): Send The Crowd Home Happy

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On a different show, this match might have been an “All Out,” because I definitely had some issues with it. For one thing, it’s another of those eight-man dark matches that work fine as entertainment for the live crowd, but don’t work as well when you declare them part of a weekly show. That’s sort of the Dark Gambit of AEW Dark: We get a second weekly show built out of dark matches, but we have to accept that they’re dark matches even though they’re on a show.

But are they really dark matches in the traditional sense, when AEW has made such a big deal about how all wins and losses matter, even on this show? I’m sure I’ll get some flak for this, but I don’t like the optics of this match. The Rhodes Brothers and the Young Bucks, four white men who represent the core of the AEW establishment are fighting four men of color who (with the exception of the rarely seen T-Hawk) have been getting more attention on AEW than anyone expected, and already look like stars.

It’s just a weird look, especially after Private Party knocked the Bucks out of the Tag Team Title Tournament, for three guys who run the company and one guy whose brother runs the company to treat these other four like their enemies, and gain a victory over them like they’re “putting them in their place” or something. People will say I’m reading too much into it, but I didn’t create these optics, I’m just observing them.

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That business aside, though, it’s hard not to enjoy this match because it’s full of really talented guys having fun, and everybody gets some good spots in. Isiah Kassidy does his impression of the Young Bucks’ muscle pose, and Matt Jackson and the Rhodes are just like “oh come on,” but then MJF is so angry he has to be kept out of the ring.

MJF was a major part of this match, actually, despite just being at ringside. His role as the asshole who will eventually turn on Cody is some great long-term storytelling, although there was a “no homo” moment between the two of them that I could have done without. But I also loved the moment when he takes a million years to set up a suicide dive, and then doesn’t do it. That kid was born to be a heel.

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Dustin Rhodes also gets a lot of shine in this match, and I continue to love everything he’s doing lately. I particularly love the bit where he’s really high energy for a couple of minutes and then makes Isiah Kassidy wait while he catches his breath. Despite all his years as Goldust, I feel like Dustin doesn’t get the proper credit as one of the all-time great comedy wrestlers, and the “One Last Ride” gimmick gives him a lot to work with in that regard, because he finally gets to acknowledge that he’s incredibly old to still be working at the level he is.

Dustin eventually gets the pin in this match, which was one redeeming factor in the dynamics of the whole thing for me. This was my least favorite episode of AEW Dark so far, but there was still a lot that I enjoyed, and I certainly don’t regret watching it (which is more than I can saw for Raw most weeks).

That’s all for this week, join me next time for more wrestling too elite for TV!