AEW travels to sunny Orlando, Florida every few months to film certain episodes of their own YouTube wrestling series, AEW Dark, at Universal Studios. A quarter of the roster participates in matches on a massive, multi-session mega card meant to support Dynamite and Rampage, lay the groundwork for Pay-Per-Views, and maybe, just maybe, pad out the show.

The matches are filmed on the same sound stage that TNA used to record in back in the day, as the Young Bucks noted when they appeared on the show earlier this year on Being the Elite.

The best thing, though? Sometimes viewers even catch a glimpse of a potential AEW star who attracts the attention of someone and uses that exposure to land a greater opportunity in the future.

A specific example is Action Andretti, who technically began working on Dark Elevation on January 5th in Newark against Dante Martin, and again in tag team action in defeats to Private Pary and then the Varsity Athletes at the Washington DC show in January and October, but who really caught people’s attention — see Chris Jericho — in October for his Darkmatch against QT Marshall.

He took advantage of that exposure to defeat Jericho on Dynamite, land an AEW contract, and *spoiler alert* score two victories over (Bear) Bronson and Invictus Khash at the Darktapings.

Billie Starkz

Did a similar breakout star emerge in this round of Darktapings, or did a new stable form a la The Trust Busters earlier? In the future, these three stars, together with the Spanish Announce Project, also known as Chaos Project and Angelico, may have more significant roles in AEW, especially if their matches receive favorable reviews.

1. Billie Starkz – AEW Debut

One of the most popular names in independent wrestling right now is Billie Starkz, and for good reason—a four-year pro who turned 18 back in October, Starkz spent the majority of her time working regional indie shows in the northeast before joining GCW and becoming a staple of their programming, with 40 of her 318 matches—per Cagematch—coming in the organization. Starkz was one of the few competitors at this round of Darktapings to compete in two matches, losing to Red Velvet and then Britt Baker.

According to those in attendance, the latter match was both very good and provided another chance to see DMD with a bloody nose, which has practically become a yearly tradition in AEW. Although Starkz is young, AEW might sign her on if they like what they see from her and start the process of making her one of their performers nxt in line for a significant opportunity in a few years.

2. Hagane Shinno – Orlando AEW Dark Debut

Shinno made his AEW debut by defeating Michael Nakazawa at the Tokyo Game Show in Tokyo, Japan, back in September as a part of the promotion’s, uh, promotional campaign for their Fight Forever video game. Since mid-November, Shinno has been a consistent member of the AEW Dark Elevation roster, losing to Angelico in his American debut for the company in Newark, defeating Nick Comoro in Indiana, defeating Juice Robinson in Cedar Park,

Shinno, who was probably hand-picked by Omega due to their shared history in DDT, was given the rare treat of wrestling none other than the “Best Bout Machine” in his first singles match of 2022 before a match with Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom 17. Shinno lost the match, but he took part in a competition that will undoubtedly attract a lot of attention from fans throughout the industry. A pleasant way to spend a Saturday night.

3. Tony Deppen – First AEW Win

The former Ring of Honor Television Champion Tony Deppen, who was branded the “Schmuck from Shamokin” by Ian Riccobanni during his tenure with Violence Unlimited – Brody King, Chris Dickinson, and Homicide – is enjoying a moment in the larger Tony Khan Galaxy.

Read More: Action Andretti’s Win Over Chris Jericho on AEW Dynamite Upsets AEW Fans!

Deppen has since worked seven matches on Dark or Dark Elevation, including one on the most recent Darktapings in Orlando. He was a guest of honor during the Wheeler Yuta-Daniel Garcia battle at Final Battle and took part in a trios match during Death Before Dishonor Zero Hour.

So why is Deppen on this list, you ask? Well, because in his most recent AEW Darkmatch against Surpentico, the pride of Eastern Pennsylvania actually prevailed, which isn’t all that shocking when playing against Mr. 100 defeats but is still nice.

Read More: William Regal Ends His Time with The Blackpool Combat Club and AEW!

Could this be the beginning of Deppen’s journey to greater heights in AEW? Could he join the ranks of the Darkregulars who are waiting for the return of Ring of Honor television? Or was this just a sweet way to give a veteran a win after a year of pushing people aside? Hopefully, we’ll find out soon enough.

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