AEW DARK Stacks Card with Debuts and Returns of Several Up-And-Coming Indie Wrestlers

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This week’s AEW DARK may have been the biggest one yet as the company aired 10 matches, all but one of which featured some of AEW’s up-and-coming indie stars. It continued a pattern the company set two or-so months ago of featuring indie wrestlers, many of whom are from the Florida/Georgia local scene and have a connection through QT Marshall‘s wrestling school. Cody Rhodes from day one has talked about wanting to develop wrestlers in AEW and not just sign big names and in a lot of ways, the wrestlers who have been taking part on DARK recently, represent that first crop of developmental talent. Just ask Preston Vance and Anna Jayy, both of whom worked their way through the One Fall Power, now Nightmare Factory, to become contracted wrestlers with AEW. Perhaps one of these DARK staples will be the next to join them. Here’s a look at the 10 indie wrestlers from tonight’s AEW DARK.

Dani Jordyn: Dani Jordyn made her AEW return after first debuting for the promotion on an episode of Dynamite in November 2019. A student from the Nightmare Factory and trained by both Marshall and AR Fox, Jordyn has been wrestling for just over three years. The “Real Mean Girl,” Jordyn has worked for World Wrestling Network, Berwyn Championship Wrestling, NWA Powerrr, Queens of Combat, ACTION Wrestling, and Southern Honor Wrestling, which has served as her home promotion for the last two years. She’s still green but has a high ceiling, one that AEW will certainly look to capitalize on as she continues to grow and train.

Mike Reed and Ryan Rembrandt: Wrestling out of Orlando, the 38-year-old Mike Reed made his AEW debut in March on an episode of DARK. Trained by Larry Sharpe, the 16-year indie veteran high flyer and technician, Reed, has been a part of the East Coast indie scene since 2005. Primarily known as a tag team specialist, five of Reed’s seven career titles have come alongside five different partners and in four different promotions. Reed has spent time with East Coast Wrestling Association, New York Wrestling Connection, Chaotic Wrestling, NWA, I Believe in Wrestling, and NXT, where he teamed with Robbie Grand for a match against TM-61 in 2018.

Teaming with Reed was another Marshall/Fox trainee in the “Remarkable” Ryan Rembrandt, who made his pro wrestling debut in 2017 and his AEW DARK debut this week. Rembrandt has wrestled for WWA4 as part of his training with Fox but not much else is known about the young star. He’s definitely someone who is benefitting from his training with Marshall however and looks to have a very bright future as he continues to pick up experience in the wrestling industry.

Jon Cruz: Wrestling out of Puerto Rico, the 36-year-old Jon Cruz has been in the industry for 13 years. Originally trained by Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley at Team 3D Academy, Cruz has wrestled for all the U.S. majors taking part in matches for NWA, TNA, ROH, Major League Wrestling and WWE. Cruz is also known for his time in the World Wrestling Network family of promotions, wrestling for Evolve, Full Impact Pro, and WWN. Recently, Cruz has primarily been with PWX and Fest Wrestling. Winner of the Florida J-Cup in 2018, Cruz has also claimed nine titles in his career. Cruz made his AEW debut in March.

Shawn Dean: Trained by the WWA4 Pro Wrestling School and AR Fox and currently working with Marshall at the Nightmare Factory, the Chicago native is still getting his feet wet in the world of pro wrestling. A lifelong wrestling fan, Dean is known for his vlog series on Twitter as well as for his role as a former contributor to FanSided’s Daily DDT. A pro wrestler since 2018, he’s wrestled for ACTION Wrestling, WWN, Evolve, and more. Dean made his DARK debut on March 25th and has been featured on the show each of the past three weeks, facing off against Jimmy Havoc, Sammy Guevara, and Colt Cabana. It’s clear he is someone AEW is looking at as a potential future star.

Jason Cade: Wrestling out of New York, the 29-year-old Jason Cade has been on the scene since 2012. Trained by Norman Smiley, Cade has been emerging as a name to watch with recent appearances in Major League Wrestling, where he was a regular in 2018, Ring of Honor, IMPACT Wrestling, and WWE. Cade is most known for his time in Full Impact Pro and World Wrestling Network from his early career, as well as recently with the Wrestling Revolver, Premiere Wrestling Xperience (where he is the current heavyweight champion), GCW, Black Label Pro, and Combat Zone Wrestling to name a few. He’s won nine titles in his career. Cade is certainly a name to watch on the indie scene especially after a successful AEW DARK debut this week.

Alan Angels: Just 22 years old, Alan Angels is another trainee from the Fox/Marshall tree as he’s spent time in WWA4 and the Nightmare Factory. Wrestling out of Georgia, Angels primarily wrestles for ACTION Wrestling and Southern Fried Championship Wrestling, his home promotion. He’s also wrestled for Scenic City Invitational and is a former champ in Southern Honor Wrestling. Despite having wrestled for just four years, Angels is on the rise and already starting to build a name for himself. This week marked his third DARK appearance. His second was his most notable as Angels gave Kenny Omega quite the battle in their six-plus minute match on April 22nd.

Skyler Moore: Making her in-ring return to AEW for the first time since January of this year, Skyler Moore is also new to wrestling, having competed in just 10 known matches according to Cagematch. Trained by the 3D Academy, Moore is from Pittsburgh, much like her opponent on this week’s DARK as she faced AEW’s women’s ace, Dr. Britt Baker, DMD. Moore may be green but she’s certainly a name on peoples’ radars as evidenced by her WWE tryout in April of last year, and her chance to wrestle on DARK now twice in her very young career.

Lee Johnson and Musa: Trained by Fox, and Marshall at the Nightmare Factory, Lee Johnson is another example of an exciting young wrestler on AEW’s radar. Johnson made his debut for the promotion in March for AEW DARK against his trainer, and since then has wrestled three additional matches for AEW, including twice on Dynamite. Johnson has also wrestled for IWA-MS, Absolute Intense Wrestling, and WWN. Upon his match against Brodie Lee, Johnson received praise from Tony Khan for his performance as much like many of the names on this list, he’s someone AEW has their eye on to develop into a future star.

Johnson was joined by Musa on this week’s DARK as the duo teamed up for the second time on the show, the first coming against Best Friends. Musa made his AEW DARK debut that night and made his Dynamite debut a few days later on April 29th, a week after his partner in this week’s DARK match did so, both in losing efforts to Wardlow. Currently training at the Nightmare Factory, Musa has wrestled for New Era Wrestling, Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment, Pro Wrestling Bushido, and more.

Stay tuned to Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TNT and AEW DARK weekly on YouTube.