On the final episode of AEW Dynamite in 2019, the show closed with a Dark Order beatdown of The Elite. It was meant to be a monumental moment for a group that had struggled to find its footing during the early days of Dynamite.
Unfortunately, one minion threw phantom punches from the mounted position, the clip went viral, and Dark Order became a laughing stock.
Appearing on Talk is Jericho, Evil Uno and Stu Grayson explained what happened on that night.
"Even though we would talk to them over and over, we would ask them 'are you trained? How long have you been wrestling? Can you throw a punch and a kick? No? Then choke.' I supposed most of them were not being fully honest because once they were in the ring, it could be stress or anything because you're on live TV, but what they said they could do, was not for real. When we'd see them punch the floor or walk around and trip, I was like, 'Jesus Christ, we should have asked if they can walk properly.' Some of them were too nervous to say they were green because they didn't want to be cut. I understand that, but you have to honest. If they had said, 'I'm nervous and green,' no worries, we'd get them in the back and not have them do much. We'd make it work, but they weren't completely honest," said Grayson.
Evil Uno added that even though he and Grayson weren't the ones messing up, their image was hurt by what the minions did.
"Whatever they did is attached directly to us. Dean [Malenko] opened my eyes and said, 'You need to take care and make sure 100% of everything they do. Whatever they do, it doesn't matter if it reflects bad on them, they aren't coming back. You are sticking around.' The first few months, those mistakes really hurt us as far as image," said Uno.
Uno continued, discussing exactly what went wrong during the segment and how they weren't expecting the segment to main event the show.
"Even on the lead up, we were nervous because that wasn't the original plan. We didn't know we were going to end the last Dynamite of the year with a big beatdown on all the faces. When we came in that day, we were told that was the plan. We were nervous because we weren't really a hot act. We were growing and felt if we were given a couple more weeks to build it up, it could work. We never consider ourselves a main event angle. We had no direction for the top. Our original plan was to have the losers from the show. That's why got Alex [Reynolds] and John [Silver] because they had lost a minute on the first two shows. If we get them, we have people who know what they're doing and they can have longer matches. We had no great reveal other than that. We weren't happy the segment happened to begin with. On top of that, we knew the reaction was flat and as soon as we came to the back, the phone is blowing up and it was picked up on instantly. Most of the local guys didn't understand that the camera is on at all times," he said. "They mistimed a lot of our timing. Some interactions were cut short."
Grayson added, "The main idea was every time a face would come in, they would hit a creeper like it was nothing, then I would come in and get the star down, and the creepers would pile on him. Next one comes in, he pops people around, I put him down, and every single time, they'd just swarm [the face] and were beating the piss out of Kenny and Cody. What are you doing? Why are you hurting the stars?"
As the calendar went from 2019 to 2020, AEW essentially erased the segment and the Dark Order vs. Elite feud from Dynamite.
"We were supposed to have a follow-up on the first show in January and they cut us entirely from the show and cut us the next couple of weeks as well. At that point, it was a moment where it was like, 'well, we're done. I don't think we can come back.' To Tony's credit, he thought of the Exalted One and had something to gear towards," said Uno.
The Exalted One was revealed as Brodie Lee on the March 18, 2020 episode of AEW Dynamite. The addition of Lee as the leader helped re-establish the group as a force in the company.
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