Top Five AEW Dark Matches in company history

Scenes from the tag-team match between Kenny Omega, and Adam Page vs. Private Party on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, during All Elite Wrestling Dynamite at Landers Center in Southaven.010820aewwrestling05
Scenes from the tag-team match between Kenny Omega, and Adam Page vs. Private Party on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, during All Elite Wrestling Dynamite at Landers Center in Southaven.010820aewwrestling05 /

AEW Dark has been a crucial part of the continuation of storylines and the stacking of records in the first two years of the company’s existence. The YouTube-based show hasn’t only benefited the company from a kayfabe perspective, but has also provided exposure to hundreds of independent wrestlers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dark has also helped develop a good crop of new stars for the company. People like Tay Conti, The Acclaimed, Brian Pillman Jr., Top Flight, and many more have all gained a ton of fanfare and acclaim from their tenure on Dark. With the recent introduction of Dark: Elevation, the shows have proved to be a multi-faceted breeding ground for the company.

In light of AEW recently celebrating the 100th episode of Dark, I’ve decided to rank the top five Dark matches in AEW history.

A quick note: No matches from Dark: Elevation have been included on this list

5. Stronghearts (Cima, El Lindaman, and T-Hawk) vs. Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, and Marko Stunt) – Jan. 21, 2020

AEW’s partnership with Oriental Wrestling Entertainment hasn’t been able to keep a glass full so far due to the pandemic, but the glimpses we experienced in late 2019/early 2020 were brilliant. Jurassic Express was nowhere near as polished and seasoned as we’ve come to know them today, but this was still an excellent six-man tag team match.

Stronghearts came into this match 0-1 as a trio, with that loss coming against SCU at the Double Or Nothing PPV. Jurassic Express came in with a 1-0 record and ended up winning the bout, with Jungleboy getting the pin on El Lindaman.

4. Lee Johnson vs. Ben Carter – Sept. 22, 2020

Ben Carter rose to the top of independent wrestling quicker than most. Carter began his in-ring career in 2018, training with Seth Rollins and the Black And Brave Wrestling Academy. Within two years, he was working for top independents like GCW, Black Label Pro, and Warrior Wrestling.

Carter had a small three-match stint with AEW in the fall of 2020, which included a good match against Scorpio Sky on a special Saturday Night Dynamite. The run also included a great match against Nightmare Factory trainee Lee Johnson on an episode of Dark. Both guys came into this match winless, but Carter pulled out the win. This was the match that put Johnson on the map for AEW fans and eventually got him signed to a rumored six-year contract in February 2021.

3. Jack Evans vs. Kenny Omega – AAA Mega Championship Match – Nov. 26, 2019

Kenny Omega has been one of the pillars of AEW since the company sprung into existence and has also been used to launch a lot of their sideshows like Dark and Rampage. Omega appeared regularly on the first few editions of Dark and had some great bouts, some of which will be on this list.

Jack Evans is one of the very few people that AEW has underutilized so far, but despite that, Evans has had a few really good matches.

This was Omega’s first defense of the title that he won from Rey Fenix at AAA’s Heroes Inmortales XIII event, but it was also the first time that the championship had appeared or been defended on AEW programming.

2. Matt Sydal vs. Dante Martin – June 28, 2021

Dante Martin has been in a tag team with his brother Darius Martin since 2017, but he has just recently got the chance to dabble in singles competition. With Darius out of action due to a knee injury since March, Martin has gotten to face guys like Eddie Kingston, Sonny Kiss, and Shawn Dean.

Martin also had a singles bout against Matt Sydal recently, and it’s my favorite Dark match of the year. Sydal has been severely underrated now for a while, but he’s had a ton of good matches this year in AEW.

Martin has been gaining a lot of fanfare in his singles encounters and I believe it started with this match. The two revisited this match on an episode of Dynamite a few weeks later, but it didn’t live up to this encounter.

Honorable Mentions:
Kenny Omega vs. Kip Sabian – Dec. 10, 2019
Bea Priestley vs. Kris Statlander – Dec. 17, 2019
Kenny Omega & Riho vs. Kip Sabian & Penelope Ford – Feb 4, 2020

1. Kenny Omega vs. Joey Janela – Oct. 15, 2019

This match still stands as one of my favorite matches that AEW had ever produced and it really set a high standard for Dark in only the show’s second episode ever. As noted before, Omega played a substantial part in launching Dark, and putting on the best match in the show’s history was a great way to reel in viewers.

The episode that contains Omega/Janela stands as the second most viewed full episode of Dark to this day. The match received four and a quarter stars from Dave Meltzer and has an 8.34 rating on Janela, unfortunately, failed to capitalize off the momentum of this match, although the pair did have another great bout on Dynamite a few weeks later.

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