By Briar Starr, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@briarstarrtv)
AEW Dark (Episode 154)
Taped in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios
Streamed July 26, 2022 on the AEW YouTube Page
1. Allie Recks vs. Kiera Hogan. Hogan started the match with strikes. Recks threw a right elbow and a leaping dropkick as a counter. Hogan then used a hip attack to regain her momentum along with a leg drop. Hogan quickly finished Recks off with a roundhouse kick for the win.
Kiera Hogan defeated Allie Recks via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Simple showcase for Hogan who had a short night. Another thing to note here is Recks made her AEW debut.
An AEW All Out Ad was shown.
2. Ryan Nemeth vs. Alex Reynolds. Reynolds hit a low-hanging dropkick to Nemeth and a crossbody block. Nemeth used a dropdown faceplant to Reynolds to get some offense. Nemeth followed up by sending Reynolds to the outside after he crashed into the ring post. Back in the ring, Nemeth performed a sunset flip. Reynolds countered Nemeth’s DDT attempt with a back elbow and a European uppercut. Reynolds used a running boot in the corner and came off the top rope with a stunner for the victory.
Alex Reynolds defeated Ryan Nemeth via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: A solid match between Reynolds and Nemeth. It felt like the match could’ve gone either way. The Dark Order and The Wingmen feud continues with tag team and single competition bouts.
3. Tracy Nyxx vs. Marina Shafir. Shafir targeted the left arm of Nyxx with strikes. She then continued using her kicks, which eventually sent Nyxx to the outside. Once Nyxx got back in the ring, Shafir rolled her up into a submission hold and quickly made her tap out for the win.
Marina Shafir defeated Tracy Nyxx via submission.
Briar’s Take: Another showcase win for Shafir. This was Nyxx’s Dark debut. Shafir continues to get better in the ring week in and week out.
4. Slim J vs. Blake Li. Slim J dropped an elbow drop combination to Li and got a two-count out of the maneuver. Li struck back with forearms to the face of Slim J, who then jumped off the top rope with a twisted heel kick and dropped Li with a flatliner. Slim J locked in a reverse STF and made Li tap out for the win.
Slim J defeated Blake Li via submission.
Briar’s Take: I was honestly wondering how this match was going to go with Li being an AEW regular and J making his debut. But J was one-half of a winning team with Ari Daivari at the ROH Death Before Dishonor pay-per-view, so it seems like they have plans for him.
5. Renee Michelle vs. Julia Hart. Michelle hit Hart with a back heel kick to gain momentum. Michelle continued with a back suplex pinfall attempt but was unsuccessful in getting a pinfall. Hart turned the tables with a standing kick and a cartwheel lariat. Eventually, Hart hooked the arm of Michelle and made her tap out to score the win.
Julia Hart defeated Renee Michelle via submission.
Briar’s Take: Another showcase win for Hart to get in-ring experience over Michelle, who made appearances on WWE television both in the Mae Young Classic and then with Drake Maverick on the main roster.
6. Mike Orlando vs. Cole Karter. After being caught off guard by Orlando, Karter threw a dropkick at Orlando to get momentum. Karter followed up with a spinning back elbow to the face of Orlando as well. Afterward, Orlando struck a backdrop and followed through with multiple strikes to Karter. Shortly thereafter, Karter hit a 450 splash and won the match.
Cole Karter defeated Mike Orlando via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Orlando had some quick offense. The victory ultimately went to Cole Karter, who was Two Dimes in the D’Angelo Family in NXT. It’ll be interesting to see how Karter does in AEW after getting a bounce-back win following his loss to Ricky Starks last week on Dynamite.
7. Cameron Stewart vs. Angelo Parker. Parker dropped Stewart by targeting the left arm. Parker hit a diving elbow on the back of Stewart before finishing him off with a face plant maneuver.
Angelo Parker defeated Cameron Stewart via pinfall.
8. Blake Christian vs. Ari Daivari (w/Slim J). As the bell rang, Daivari applied a side headlock on Christian, who fought back with a dropkick. Christian was distracted by Slim J, allowing Daivari to use a back elbow. Christian dropped Daivari with a backdrop to regain offensive control. Christian performed a half and half suplex and neck breaker combination on Daivari. Later, Christian’s leg was swept off the top rope by Slim J, and then Daivari took advantage by performing a frog splash for the win.
Ari Daivari defeated Blake Christian via pinfall.
After the match, Daivari did a post-match interview with Tony Schiavone and said that he and J are a team moving forward. He also said he will be searching for more talent for his stable.
Briar’s Take: Obviously with Daivari and J winning both of their matches here and together at ROH Death Before Dishonor, AEW seems to be high on them at this moment.
9. Peter Avalon vs. Dante Martin. Martin threw an early dropkick and went for an early cover. Avalon lifted up Martin and planted him with a Death Valley Driver. Avalon and Martin fought on the outside by striking each other with back and forth chops. Back in the ring, Avalon planted Martin with the scoop slam but missed a moonsault. Martin came off the top rope with a huge crossbody splash for a two count. Shortly thereafter, Avalon spiked Martin with a DDT after coming off the top rope. However, Martin hit Avalon with a double jump moonsault and got the win.
Dante Martin defeated Peter Avalon via pinfall.
Briar’s Take: Another nice match between the two that lasted a little longer than all the other matches earlier tonight. It’s the match that you would expect from Martin and Avalon to have albeit with the expected outcome as well.
10. Pac vs. LJ Clearly for the AEW All-Atlantic Championship. The match was taped at an Over The Top event in Dublin, Ireland. It started out slow after both Clearly and Pac dodged each other’s moves. Clearly sent Pac to the outside with a leg lariat. Back in the ring, Pac hit Clearly with a leaping missile dropkick. The two returned to the outside once more and Pac took advantage of his quickness by hitting Clearly with kicks. Clearly sent Pac down with a lariat. He followed up with a backbreaker on his knee. Shortly thereafter, Clearly hit a destroyer on Pac and almost got the pin. Pac got Clearly in his Brutalizer submission hold and made him tap out.
Pac defeated LJ Clearly to retain the AEW All-Atlantic Championship via submission.
Briar’s Take: Another unique setting for the AEW All Atlantic Championship. The match started slow, but it did pick up a gear toward the end with a couple of close near falls for Clearly.
Overall, this was a passable episode with most of the matches being brief showcases for the AEW talent. The show picked up some toward the latter half with Chrisitan vs. Daivari, but really this was a one-match show with the Pac vs. Clearly main event. Episode 154 clocked in at 1 hour, 12 minutes, and 53 seconds. Final Score: 6.0 out of 10.