Tonight, All Elite Wrestling celebrates the 100th episode of AEW Dark. The YouTube show, originally conceived to air the previous week’s dark matches while previewing the upcoming episode of Dynamite, has transformed through the pandemic era into a place for independent wrestlers to showcase their talents. Let’s take a look back at why AEW Dark is so special.
AEW Dark has always done commentary well. Under the original format, a different wrestler joined the booth each week. It was a fun way for them to show some personality. Since the transition, however, the commentary team has settled to Excalibur and Taz, occasionally joined by a guest. In recent times, this has been in the form of fellow Knife Club member Ricky Starks. This is really what you should be watching for. Excalibur and Taz provide hilarious banter throughout the show each week, and their work has honestly made AEW Dark my favorite weekly content.
The pandemic hit wrestling hard. WWE and AEW set up home bases without fans, many promotions went on hiatus, and the indie scene was dead. Cue AEW Dark and the transition to a showcase for independent wrestlers. Countless wrestlers have been granted the opportunity not only to work during the pandemic, but to perform on a platform large than most of them had seen. It has been extremely cool to see so many deserving talents get these chances.
With the aforementioned opportunity, so many have knocked it out of the park. Since the pandemic era rebranding, Dark has featured a number of excellent matches in a way you wouldn’t see on Dynamite. While the outcomes are as predictable as can get, Dark does not follow the typical squash match trope. I personally recommend checking out Shawn Dean vs. Rey Fenix from AEW Dark 5/19/20 as the perfect example. Additionally, Dark has acted as a great showcase for character work as well. Anything from The Acclaimed is a great place to start for this.
In addition to the names like Shawn Dean and The Acclaimed, Red Velvet, The Varsity Blonds, Powerhouse Hobbs, Top Flight, and more have been signed to AEW contracts. All of these names earned those contracts by coming in and performing on Dark. Without the show, we wouldn’t have seen most of these talents in AEW, especially not this soon. The Acclaimed and The Varsity Blonds go a step further even, as they are teams that were formed after each member started appearing on Dark, and now they’re both compelling duos in a loaded tag division. Even guys who haven’t been signed but are traveling with the promotion, like the extremely over Fuego Del Sol and more recently Wheeler Yuta, have been such great standouts brought to us through Dark.
All of these factors combine to make AEW Dark such a fun, special show that every wrestling fan should check out. Here’s to the next 100!