AEW Dark recap (Mar. 23, 2021): Brian Cage defends the FTW title

AEW Dark recap (Mar. 23, 2021): Brian Cage defends the FTW title
AEW Dark recap (Mar. 23, 2021): Brian Cage defends the FTW title

Episode 81 of AEW Dark featured upsets, a fish hook submission, and Brian Cage putting the FTW title on the line.

AEW Dark

Here’s the Dark lineup with ratings (Dynamite, competitive, showcase, squash) on which matches are worth your time toward Dynamite:

  • Chaos Project vs. Alex Reynolds & John Silver (showcase)
  • Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs vs. SCU (showcase)
  • Miranda Alize vs. Penelope Ford (showcase)
  • Adam Priest, Jake St. Patrick, & Baron Black vs. Gunn Club (showcase)
  • Jack Evans vs. Dante Martin (competitive)
  • Brian Cage vs. Brandon Cutler (competitive)
  • Ashley Vox vs. Alex Gracia (showcase)
  • Vary Morales & Seth Gargis vs. Sonny Kiss & Joey Janela (squash)
  • Fuego Del Sol vs. JD Drake (showcase)
  • Shawn Dean vs. QT Marshall (showcase)
  • Jazmin Allure vs. Bunny (showcase)
  • Colt Cabana, Evil Uno, & Stu Grayson vs. Carlie Bravo, Brick Aldridge, & Dean Alexander (showcase)
  • Angel Fashion & D3 vs. Nick Comoroto & Aaron Solow (squash)
  • Cezar Bononi vs. John Skyler (showcase)

Martin versus Evans is my top pick of the bunch. Martin pulled out creative athleticism. Cutler battled Cage hard. That’s worth watching if you can suspend disbelief. SCU put on yet another solid tag bout. Ashley Vox used a fish hook submission, which is badass.

Watch the show here.

Excalibur teamed with Taz to call the action. Ricky Starks and Anthony Ogogo stopped by to join commentary. Justin Roberts was the ring announcer.

Alex Reynolds & John Silver defeated Chaos Project. -1 was ringside. Silver ran wild on the hot tag for a bevy of suplexes and slams. Luther used his size to take control. Chaos Project set up their teamwork finisher, but Reynolds shoved Serpentico off the turnbuckles. Reynolds then hit a suicide dive to Luther. Back in the ring, a teamwork Dark Destroyer put Serpentico down for Reynolds to pin.

SCU was interviewed by Alex Marvez. They don’t care about the buzz for PAC and Fenix. That duo has every right to a title shot. What matters to SCU is being ranked #1. They will quietly rack up wins until they have a championship contest. Due to sacrifice of the separation stipulation, SCU will fight long, deep, and hard to become champs.

SCU defeated Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs. The underdogs were well prepared and gave SCU a run for their money, but the veterans were too much to handle in the end. Christopher Daniels finished with a Best Moonsault Ever to Isaacs.

Penelope Ford defeated Miranda Alize. Kip Sabian was ringside. Ford battled with aggression, while Alize showed heart. Ford turned the tide with a gutbuster then a bridging fisherman’s suplex for victory.

Gunn Club defeated Adam Priest, Jake St. Patrick, & Baron Black. The match broke down with the Gunn sons hitting a teamwork back body drop into a neckbreaker. Austen picked up the pin on St. Patrick.

Dante Martin defeated Jack Evans. Martin dumped Evans out of the ring crashing down onto the stage.

The action spilled to the floor. Evans used an Irish whip to send Martin toward the barricade, but Martin flipped over the hurdle.

Martin ran back to leap for a Canadian Destroyer on the floor. Martin then rolled Evans into the ring for a 450 splash and victory.

After the match, Angelico attacked Dante. Brother Darius ran in to even the odds. A future matchup may be in the works once Darius Martin can get cleared by the medical staff.

FTW Championship: Brian Cage retained against Brandon Cutler. Hook was ringside. Cage caught a flying Cutler for a DVD.

Cutler rallied with strikes and a suicide dive. Cage put him down again with a pumphandle facebuster. Cutler came back again to wobble Cage and hit a powerbomb off the turnbuckles. Cutler connected on a springboard elbow drop, but Cage was too strong to stay down for three. Cutler went high-risk again. This time, Cage caught him for a Drill Claw. That ended that.

Ashley Vox defeated Alex Gracia. An exchange of leg sweeps and roll-ups led to Vox cinching an arm lock to fish hook Gracia. The pink girl tapped out.

Sonny Kiss & Joey Janela defeated Vary Morales & Seth Gargis. After last week’s belittling from Janela, the Jersey boys were back on track. They fought footloose and fancy-free. Gargis ate a bunch of kicks and a flying splits leg drop by Kiss to end it.

JD Drake defeated Fuego Del Sol. Ryan Nemeth was ringside. There was no exploration for the unusual pairing of Drake and Nemeth. Even commentary wondered what common ground brought the two together. Fuego had speedy bursts to stay alive, but Drake crushed him for the most part. The big man escaped a sliced bread to run the ropes and deliver a single-leg shotgun dropkick to win.

QT Marshall defeated Shawn Dean. Dean escaped a cutter attempt, but he got too fancy leaping off the ropes and ended up eating a surprise cutter from QT.

Bunny defeated Jazmin Allure. Blade and Butcher were ringside. Bunny found pleasure in dishing out pain. A thrust kick and an inverted facelock standing elbow drop booked her a trip to the pay window.

Colt Cabana, Evil Uno, & Stu Grayson defeated Carlie Bravo, Brick Aldridge, & Dean Alexander. -1 was ringside. The Dark Order did what needed to be done. Uno and Grayson hit their Fatality finisher on Bravo to win.

Nick Comoroto & Aaron Solow defeated Angel Fashion & D3. Comoroto brought power, while Solow brought slickness. A Pedigree variation by Solow to Fashion earned the quick win.

Cezar Bononi defeated John Skyler. Peter Avalon was ringside. Skyler was unable to overcome Bononi’s strength. A fireman’s carry slam variation planted Skyler for the three count.

Yeah for an FTW title defense. Boo that Brian Cage looked like a schmuck against Brandon Cutler. Cage is supposed to be a dominant machine, and we have Cutler taking Cage to the limit. Cage used his superior strength advantage to recover, but he never should have been in a position needing to recover. Honestly, it was kind of ridiculous and embarrassing for Cage. Cutler has his spot in AEW. That spot is not coming close to defeating Cage in a cold match with no story buildup. As it pertains to Dark, Cage’s matches should be pure destruction. To make matters worse, Will Hobbs handily defeated Cutler last week. Cage needs to step his game up.

Outside of that analysis, the match did have some cool moves with Cage using his strength in an impressive manner. Unfortunately, that is sacrificing the big picture for the little picture.

Dante Martin was the star of the show. First, he shocked with an upset of Jack Evans in singles action. Second, his creativity was outstanding. Dark is a perfect avenue for him to try out his sweet ideas.

The show had a variety of neat moves. My favorites were Aaron Solow’s Pedigree variation by folding the arms on the back instead of a double underhook, Cezar Bononi’s choke into a spinning swing, JD Drake catching a suicide dive from Fuego del Sol to bounce him off the ropes for a brutal forearm blast, and Ashley Vox using a fish hook submission for victory. Vox was another upset win on the card. She earned success in ruthless fashion. Not even the UFC allows fish hooks. That made me a fan of Vox.

Share your thoughts on Dark. Who stood out most for episode 81? Which was your favorite match?

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