AEW Dark recap: Konosuke Dark



Episode 182 of AEW Dark is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for the stream via Cageside Seats. Excalibur and Taz called the action as usual. Let’s go!

Blake Christian vs. Serpentico

Serpentico brought a record of 1-0 along with his SAP brethren and a new SAP theme song. Christian also brought a record of 1-0. Serp led the crowd in Orlando in a “S-A-P” chant. Christian took an arm and Serp reversed it to throw a chop. Christian gave him one back. Arm drags. Serp went outside, Christian ran the ropes for a suicide dive but Serp cut him off with a kick. Head scissor and a flatliner by Serp for two. More chops from Christian. Thrust kick, DDT and a “self-assisted” headbutt from Serp for two. Serp hung Christian on the ropes for a chop. The crowd called for another and Christian blocked it and went corner to corner, then hit a snap suplex and kipped up. The crowd turned and was chanting “All Heart” for Blake. Backspring corkscrew kick sent Serp to the floor. Christian went for his dive again and this time he wasn’t cut off. Diving knee strike off the ropes and a Spanish Fly. Springboard 450 for the pin. That was a fun opener and I always enjoy seeing “All Heart” come out on top!

Rush vs. Aiden Park

“El Toro Blanco” brought a record of 4-0 in 2023 along with Jose the Assistant. Park was waiting in the ring for him to make his AEW debut. It didn’t take long for the match to spill outside of the ring where Rush started using anything that wasn’t nailed down for some dirty tactics. Aubrey Edwards didn’t seem concerned about it when Park was thrown back in, which I guess is the old wrestling trope of “If I didn’t see it it didn’t happen.” Park tried to fire up and got cut off with a chop and a hard right. Rush jumped on him in the corner and ran on his head — and +this+ Edwards was concerned about. He teased hitting the horns then laid down in a classic Tetsuya Naito “tranquilo” pose, reflecting his Ingobernable status. He finally hit the Bull’s Horns and dragged the carcass of Park to the center for a pin. This was a squash, but it was a vicious squash, which is fun too.

Megan Meyers vs. Kiera Hogan

Hogan brought a 2023 record of 2-0 to Orlando straight outta Hotlanta, while her opponent Meyers was waiting in the ring for her first match of 2023. She took a side headlock, was shot off and knocked Hogan down with a shoulder tackle. Hogan responded with a leapfrog and a dropkick. Meyers did a bunch of athletic moves you wouldn’t expect of a jobber, including hanging herself upside down and using her legs, but Hogan eventually tripped her into the ropes and did a hip attack to the back, but Meyers still kicked out of the leg drop. Meyers appeared to lose part of her outfit in the middle of the ring and the ref did nothing to kick it out of the way. Sliding dropkick and roundhouse kick by Hogan, and then a suplex for the pin. The crowd must have been late into the taping as the response was muted at best.

Dante Casanova vs. Dalton Castle

The Boys came out to help Dalton Castle do his usual shtick, which was fitting since this was officially his first match of 2023. This introduction really needs Bobby Cruise not to mention Ian Riccaboni on commentary, but I’ll take what I can get. Casanova was waiting for him with a singles record of 0-1, and he seemed annoyed about having to wait through Castle’s entrance, as he mocked the peacocking when he was introduced. The crowd was awake for this one and chanting for Castle right away.

Excalibur couldn’t resist pointing out the similarity of Dalton Castle’s entrance music to “Radio Ga Ga” by Queen. I’m a little surprised Tony Khan hasn’t tried to buy the rights to the song in perpetuity as he did in the past for Ruby Soho and Jungle Boy, but perhaps the estate of Freddy Mercury won’t even take offers — or the price might be too high even for the son of a billionaire. Casanova tried to rock Castle with a boot and he responded with a series of suplexes. Running knee, discus lariat, Bangarang, pin. This was slightly more competitive than a complete squash, but on a scale of 1 to 10 that only makes it a 2. Castle’s victory was never in doubt.

Slim J vs. Mascara Dorada

Dorada brought a record of 2-0 to this contest. Slim J was flaked by Jeeves Kay and Sonny Kiss, bringing a 2023 record of 1-0. I briefly considered a “Will the Real Slim J Please Stand Up” joke for the title of this week’s recap, but these days the deepfake AI videos of Eminem are so good it’s starting to become hard to tell who the real Slim Shady is! Taz: “I’m begging you to call the match.” Fine Taz, I’ll get more focused too. Dorada tried to surfboard J but his weight came down on top for a near fall and Dorada had to reset. Taz: “If you had some kind of a judo background maybe you could play into that.” Subtle Taz, and by subtle I mean not at all. Double dropkick and both men missed leading to a standoff. Slim J eventually bailed and Dorada gave chase, and the crew of Ari Daivari’s miscreants beat him down while Stephon Smith caught the same flu Aubrey Edwards had earlier — the one that causes blindness to anything not directly in front of you. Back in the ring a diving reverse DDT by Slim J led to a near fall. Even Excalibur got mad at Mr. Smith missing all of the dirty tactics and yelled at him to turn around. Dorada ducked a charge and hit a drop toe hold, then gave Slim J a backbreaker, but J too his back for a rear naked choke. Dorada fought out with elbows and did a backspring elbow. J rolled out again as Dorada adjusted his mask and did a torneo to the floor to wipe out everyone, garnering a “lu-cha, lu-cha” chant from Orlando. They fought outside for a bit and Dorada did a slightly awkward springboard splash for a near fall. He put J on his shoulders, J fought out and hit a lung blower for 2.9. Dorada’s nose got busted up somewhere in all of this. J missed a moonsault off the ropes, but Dorada did not, and he got the pin.

The Outrunners vs. Logan Cruz & Tyshaun Perez

The Outrunners have been on Elevation before but this was billed as their first match on Dark. Excalibur quickly noted they had been seen on both Elevation and Dynamite. Cruz and Perez brought a record of 0-1 to this contest. Stephon Smith actually decided to enforce the law in this match, demanding that The Outrunners make legal tags. They did a power slam neckbreaker combo for the quick win and immediately got interviewed by Lexi in the ring. “They got the best tag teams now!” “AEW you’re looking at the youngest men alive, the speedboat dreamboats, the hustle, the muscle, Truth Magnum, Turbo Floyd, the Outrunners. Tell em Turb!” “Now, the Outrunners are in the biggest company in the world, All Elite Wrestling, to show everybody here exactly who we are. If you haven’t seen the Outrunners…” “… you haven’t seen nothing yet!”

Baliyan Akki vs. Rico Gonzalez

Akki was accompanied by Mei Suruga and this was listed as his 2023 singles debut. It was also likely to be a successful debut because Gonzalez was waiting for him in the ring with a record of 0-1. Gonzalez hit a deep arm drag and ate a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker in response. Akki kicked the leg out of his leg, stretched out an arm, hit a scoop slam and went outside to the top rope. Dropkick right to the top of Gonzalez head. I would have made that the pin — even Taz said the same. Nevertheless the two threw chops at each other and Gonzalez was getting the better of it for a little bit. Akki responded with a roundhouse kick off a striking combo for a near fall. Gonzalez hit a rana and a springboard moonsault for two. Akki with a backbreaker, a back heel kick, and another near fall. Akki with a brainbuster on his knee, to the top rope, and a gigantic frog splash more than halfway across the ring for the pin. I enjoyed that a lot!

Konosuke Takeshita vs. EJ Nduka

Takeshita brought a record of 3-0 on Dark to the main event. You may know his opponent EJ Nduka from Major League Wrestling, or you may know him as Ezra Judge from NXT, but either way he was making his AEW debut here. The two men circled and sized each other up at the opening bell. Takeshita nodded and they walked up and stared each other down before finally locking up.

Nduka overpowered him into the ropes, tried to swing on the break, but Takeshita ducked it and hit him with a chop. They went blow for blow until Nduka hit a forearm and a pair of spears into the corner. Excalibur put him over as a former Toronto Argonaut football player. Takeshita recovered and knocked Nduka off his feet, but ate clubbing blows to the face. Takeshita responded with a big forearm. Nduka hit a kick when Takeshita charged him in the corner. Nduka could have gone for a pin off the spear mid-ring but had other plans. He decided to go forearm for forearm. Taz called that “inexperience” on Nduka’s part. “Maybe it was the way he was trained. I’m not really sure.” Takeshita hit a Blue Thunder Bomb and Nduka kicked out. Takeshita missed with a knee strike the first time but hit it the second time and followed with a brainbuster. He begged Nduka to get back up and hit a driving knee “right down the middle” as Excalibur said to close out the main event. Excalibur asked if he could do the same to MJF tomorrow night. You’ll have to tune in to find out!

What to watch/skip

Tonight’s “what to watch/skip” for Dark is brought to you by How to Cook That. I only recently discovered this channel but the host is a lovely Australian lady named who spends as much time debunking viral “life hacks” as she does cooking, which I think is fantastic. Konosuke Takeshita is +also+ fantastic. You’re guaranteed a good match on any show he’s on, but he’s definitely a highlight reel of Elevation and Dark since he first showed up. Honestly though my “must sees” have to include Akki vs. Gonzalez and Dorada vs. J, both of which over-delivered on a packed episode. You can skip The Outrunners (except for their promo), and I suppose you can skip Hogan vs. Meyers, but I enjoyed that more than the crowd did. Everything else was a fun hour of pro wrestling action.

Cageside commentary crew — share your feedback below in the comments section. If you love pro wrestling find me on Twitter as well. I’d love to talk to some of you instead of the bots that follow me. See you next week for new episodes of Elevation and Dark!

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