12/20 AEW DARK ELEVATION REPORT: Bryant’s report highlighting Kingston and Henry’s entertaining commentary, Hardy Office vs. Dark Order, plus Andrade, Rosa, Bear Country

By David Bryant, PWTorch contributor

Full results and analysis on this week's episode of AEW Dark Elevation

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

AEW DARK ELEVATION REPORT
DECEMBER 20, 2021 (Recorded 12/15)
GARLAND, TEXAS
AIRED ON YOUTUBE.COM
REPORT BY DAVID BRYANT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mark Henry, Eddie Kingston

Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts


-Dark Elevation opened with assorted shots of the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. I saw no empty seats and some AEW t-shirts customized to include the Texas flag. The building looked small, but it also looked packed, and the people in it looked happy. Tony Schiavone informed us Ruby Soho would be joining them on commentary for the forthcoming match — and we’re off to the races!

(1) LADY BIRD MONROE & JESSICA JAMES & GIGI REY vs. NYLA ROSE & THE BUNNY & EMI SAKURA (w/Vickie Guerrero)

Nyla Rose’s music blared as the team of Rose, the Bunny, and Emi Sakura made their way to the ring accompanied by the one and only human drama mask, Vickie Guerrero. That night, Guerrero’s fashion ensemble consisted of slimming black slacks paired with matching black shoes and a bright red Nyla Rose T-Shirt. (That is a nice contrast — casual yet officious — dark but with a daring splash of color. Well done!) The wrestlers also wore clothing; it was okay.

At ringside, Guerrero corned the cameraman and screeched in his face. (For which I assume he thanked her.)

The director briefly cut to the commentary table, and it appeared Soho would not only be joining them for this match but also replacing Kingston. (Wait. What? Nooo!)

The match kicked off with Rose and Gigi Rey. Rey went for an elbow and collar tie-up, but Rose dodged Rey’s lunge and shoved her into the heel’s corner. This allowed Rose to bombard the face’s corner and slug Jessica James clean off the apron. Lady Bird Monroe stepped through the ropes and confronted Rose.

The referee spent an inordinate amount of time convincing an obstinate Monroe to leave the ring while Rey got slaughtered behind his back. (Monroe must really hate her teammate…) When the heel team finally ended their onslaught (having either worn themselves out or concluded Rey was now dead), Monroe took this (yes, that) as her cue to step back onto the apron and free up the referee. This denied her friend (frenemy?) the chance to recover.

Rose charged Rey in the corner and hit a hard body avalanche before promptly tagging in Sakura. Sakura gleefully pulled Rey to the center of the ring by her hair and proceeded to Biel threw her into one of the neutral corners. Sakura then revved up the crowd for her “stomp, stomp, chop” routine, and they ate it up. The highlight of this spot was watching Guerrero stomp and clap at ringside like she was in a western hoedown. (Give this woman an award for existing.)

Sakura hit a running crossbody on Rey and managed to do this while making magnificent facial expressions. When she bounced off Rey’s body, Sakura stopped to mug for the camera. (Being completely serious for a minute, I have been impressed, week after week, by Sakura’s uncanny ability to play to both the audience and the camera at the same time. That is an art unto itself.)

Sakura lightly tapped her palm on Rey’s back and set her up for a Queen’s Gambit. However, Sakura decided not to execute her finisher and instead pursued plans. (Normally, I’d complain about this being stupid, but I bought into it because of Sakura’s brilliant facial expressions.) Sakura walked Rey to the heel’s corner and tagged in the Bunny. (Oh, boy. Business is about to pick up!)

The Bunny allowed Rey to scurry across the ring and tag in James. James rushed the Bunny and nailed her in the chest with a forward kick followed by a series of kicks to both sides of the Bunny’s legs. James attempted a dropkick, but the Bunny sidestepped her, and she crashed to the mat. The Bunny gave her two straight knee strikes to the face, followed by a ropes-assisted running knee. The Bunny then allowed Monroe to make a blind tag because she’s not very good at stuff.

Monroe rushed toward the Bunny and, in a move of desperation, the Bunny flung James at Monroe.

Soho said, “The Bunny is insane.”

Henry calmly replied, “She’s a lunatic. I hate to say that, but she is.” (I laughed at this exchange. It’s not so much what Mark Henry said; it’s more that he said it in the same voice I imagine he uses to renew his driver’s license.)

The Bunny bent Monroe over the second turnbuckle and delivered a dropkick to her tailbone. Monroe sold this perfectly, and the Bunny tagged in Sakura. Sakura dragged Monroe into the don’t-kill-me-with-your-moonsault position and climbed to the second rope. Before leaping, Sakura took a beat to spread her arms wide and smirked at the crowd. Sakura then hit a twisting senton splash and looked straight into the ringside camera as she pinned Monroe for a two-count. Sakura’s face is more than just telling a story here; she’s got a whole paperback novel written in her eyes. (Is Dante Martin seeing this?)

The remaining women jumped into the ring and started brawling with each other. (This seemed random.) The heels tossed the babyface team members to ringside, and Sakura tagged Rose. Rose looked dastardly as she waited for Monroe to climb to her feet. Once Monroe had managed to stand all the way up, Rose slammed a hard lariat into the center of her chest. Rose delivered a merciless powerbomb to Monroe, and the director cut to a shot of Soho’s disapproving glower. Rose looked at Soho, and Soho stared back, curling her lips into a smile. Rose pointed at Soho and then finished Monroe with a Beast Bomb for the three-count.

WINNER: Nyla Rose & The Bunny & Emi Sakura in 4:00

– A stirring advert aired touting Dynamite’s upcoming move to TBS. (I think this will be a net-positive for them, especially if the West-Coast airing of Dynamite returns to an 8pm timeslot.)

(2) RED VELVET vs. MADI WRENKOWSKI

Madi Wrenkowski made her way to the ring first, stopping to wipe her feet on the apron. Next up was Red Velvet. Velvet walked down the ramp with just the right amount of confidence. She winked at the camera and smiled yet somehow managed not to look cocky.

With a voice as dry as the desert, Mark Henry said, “I saw red velvet cake in catering.”

“Why am I not surprised you’d bring that up?” Eddie Kingston stifled a chuckle.

Velvet captured Wrenkowski in a twisting wristlock and yanked her arm before going for a pair of arm drags. Wrenkowski fought back to her feet courtesy of a forearm to Velvet’s face and applied a side headlock. Velvet thrust Wrenkowski into the ropes. Wrenkowski bounced back, and Velvet dodged Wrenkowski by dropping down into a wicked side-split. This gave Velvet an opening which she capitalized on by executing a svelte leg lariat.

“Nice leg lariat,” Kingston said.

Wrenkowski rolled to the corner and clutched her mouth. Velvet reached for Wrenkowski’s wrist, and Wrenkowski gave it to her. (The only awkward thing to happen in the match, so far.) Velvet Irish-whipped Wrenkowski into the far corner and then sprinted toward her, planning a kick of some sort. However, Wrenkowski caught Velvet’s foot and sent her crashing to the floor. (The name of the move she used isn’t coming to me, but whatever it was, it looked good.)

Wrenkowski followed that with an elbow drop to Velvet’s back and then slammed Velvet’s head face-first into the mat. Wrenkowski went for a cover but only got about half of a one-count. Wrenkowski slung Velvet into the ring ropes, and Velvet used the extra momentum Wrenkowski had gifted her to execute a springboard crossbody off the bottom rope.

Velvet hit a flurry of offense that included clotheslines and a drop toe-hold. The drop toe-hold resulted in Wrenkowski leaning on the second rope, and Velvet delivered a running Meteora followed by a standing moon sault. This was enough to get a two-count, but Wrenkowski kicked out, more determined than ever.

“Madi is tougher than pronouncing her name. There’s like seven consonants in there!” Mark Henry said. (He should try commentating on a hockey game.)

Velvet was not dissuaded and jumped to her feet, ready to fight. Wrenkowski hit her with a smashing forearm and looked poised for a comeback until Velvet landed a thrust kick in her gut and followed up by executing her Final Slice finisher. With that, Velvet got a three-count.

WINNER: Red Velvet in 2:00

– Post-match, Velvet showboated for the camera and celebrated her win with finesse.

– Eddie Kingston was then distracted by thoughts of eating cake, slicing cake, and having the “cake of the day.” Someone, get this commentarial-mastermind some cake! (and then let him eat it alone at a random card table with no other tables, people, or catering around for miles.)

(David’s Analysis: I wish I had the money to pay Eddie Kingston to follow me around and make sarcastic comments about my life. It would make everything boring fun. If this man ever writes a book, I’ll be the first in line to buy it. The match itself was short but nice. Wrenkowski looked credible, while Velvet looked dominant. Good job, both of them.)

– An advert aired for Battle of the Belts on Jan. 8 in Charlotte, N.C. (Update: I still haven’t gotten tickets to this one, but I did just purchase tickets for this week’s Dynamite. Sooo, we’ll see. I personify the word “pro” in procrastinate.)

(3) BEAR COUNTRY (Bear Boulder & Bear Bronson) vs. CHAOS PROJECT (Serpentico & Luther)

Chaos project came out first, and Luther kindly dragged Serpentico by his mask. Once in the ring, Serpentico released his signature streamers, and Luther continued endeavoring to eat them. (I have questions.) Bear Country came to the ring wearing masks that looked like the plot of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. (I have more questions.)

Luther and Bronson started things off. The two men almost went for a collar and elbow tie-up, but Luther ducked and punched Bronson. Luther and Bronson traded forearms to the face, and then Luther shoved Bronson. Next, both men ran at each other with dueling clotheslines, but neither looked phased in the least. Bronson made a “come here” motion with both hands, and Luther charged at him a second time. For a second time, both behemoths collided, once again, stopping each other in their tracks.

Luther kicked Bronson’s stomach, punched his head, bounced into the ropes, and missed a big boot. Bronson capitalized and finally landed an efficient clothesline to take Luther down. Realizing he was on the lam, Luther rolled to his corner and tagged Serpentico. Serpentico ran in and jumped toward Bronson, and Bronson caught him with an exploding suplex.

Mark Henry said, “What did he think would happen?” (Good point.)

Bronson tagged in Boulder, and both men cornered Serpentico. With Bronson’s help, Boulder delivered an assisted running elbow in the corner. Boulder then grabbed Serpentico’s right wrist and slung him over his shoulder like a damsel in distress. (The size difference here is striking, and Serpentico is making Bear Country look downright treacherous.) Serpentico lurched off Boulder’s shoulders (That rhymed!) and sent a knife-edge chop into Boulder’s chest. Boulder no-sold the chop like the arm it came from was made of paper.

Serpentico stepped back, observing the total no-sell, turned to his tag team partner in the corner, and gave the world’s saddest shrug. (I want to hug him so bad rn.) Serpentico returned his attention to Boulder and tried to reason with him. Unfortunately, pro-wrestling has no mercy rule, and Boulder grabbed Serpentico’s throat, hosted him over his head, and delivered multiple backbreakers. (Good, God.) At long last, Boulder tired and tossed a seemingly unconscious Serpentico to the ground like a ravaged ragdoll. He then tagged in Bronson.

Serpentico was so disoriented he crawled to one of the neutral corners and stretched out his hand in an attempt to tag what I’m guessing was the ghost Boulder had knocked out of his body. Bronson cold-heartedly grabbed the little guy’s arm, put him in a wristlock, and promptly threw him into the opposite corner. (Is this pro-wrestling’s version of tragedy porn?)

Mark Henry muttered, “This poor kid, man.”

Bronson ran at Serpentico’s shattered carcass, but Serpentico miraculously slid to the outside and mustered a top rope stunner. (Nice!) Bronson stumbled along the ring ropes, and Luther charged at him with a clothesline from the apron. (The first helpful thing he’s done all match.) The referee was well protected in this spot. She was busy counting out Serpentico, who didn’t want to get back in the ring because he didn’t want to unalive himself. (By the way, that’s how you do a referee distraction without making people at home question their ability to operate heavy machinery. I complain to high heavens when referee distractions are done poorly, so I feel like I should offer high praise when they’re done well. Good job, everyone!)

Serpentico seized the opportunity Luther’s clothesline had given him and delivered a sideways falling headbutt onto Bronson before tagging in Luther. Luther kicked Bronson’s shoulder, rammed his head into a turnbuckle, and clubbed him repeatedly with Serpentico’s decimated body. (Serpentico really needs to have a heart-to-heart with Luther about personal space, personal well-being, and how streamers work.)

Luther went for a cover; however, using Serpentico as a foreign object simply wasn’t enough, and Bronson kicked out at two. Luther tagged in the hollow corpse of Serpentico because I guess kneeling on the apron with your head in your hands is a sure sign you’re “ready to go!”

Resigned to a life of everlasting misery, Serpentico hobbled to his feet (sort of) and stumbled over the middle rope. Luther grabbed Serpentico (For the love of God! Do you not have religion? Why are you doing this to him?) and reverse suplexed the man, who probably has a family, onto Bronson. Serpentico struggled to remember he was even in a match but eventually pinned Bronson for a two-count. Serpentico rolled onto all fours and somehow, with the unfettered determination of a time-share salesman, got to his feet and put Bronson in a standing arm-bar. Serpentico punched Bronson’s liver while Bronson looked… annoyed. Serpentico continued to punch until Bronson stood upright and stared down at him like a bully with a magnifying glass. (Please be gentle with — ) Bronson ran Serpentico’s head into Boulder’s fist ( — you know what, never mind.) and sent him flying through the air with a humungous back body drop. Bronson tagged in Boulder, and Serpentico tagged in his abuser.

Luther ran at Boulder, and Boulder nailed him with a clothesline before shoulder tackling an all but incapacitated Serpentico and knocking him to the ground, where he probably feels at home by now. Boulder lifted and dropped Luther with a massive body slam and then lifted and dropped Serpentico with a second massive body slam. (I feel like I should send flowers and a card to Serpentico’s family.)

Boulder then used Serpentico as a weapon because that’s his side-job and whipped him into Luther for a crossbody. He then ran at both Luther and Serpentico with a body avalanche, crushing Serpentico into his tag team partner, who probably watches Serpentico sleep with a butcher’s knife in his hand. (Blink twice if you’re a hostage, and I will personally ask someone else to rescue you.)

Boulder lifted Serpentico for a powerbomb (He isn’t even the legal man!), and Luther tried to execute a running crossbody to stop Boulder from hurting Serpentico. (Oh, now he cares!) However, Boulder caught Luther without dropping Serpentico and performed a powerbomb/front slam dubstep remix. The crowd popped for Serpentico’s pain because they’re callous, and both members of Bear Country mugged for their cold-hearted fans.

Boulder tagged in Bronson and put him on his shoulders for an assisted front splash. Bronson then covered Luther and got the win.

WINNER: Bear Country (Bear Boulder & Bear Bronson) in 5:00

(David’s Analysis: I am fascinated by Serpentico and Luther’s friendship, or partnership, or one-sided symbiotic relationship. Honestly, I’m not sure what to call it, but it feels like watching a murder in slow motion.)

– A lower third digital on-screen graphic advertising Hook vs. Bear Bronson popped up in the corner. That should break the internet.

(4) ANDRADE EL IDOLO (w/Jose “The Assistant”) vs. KAUN

Andrade El Idolo walked out wearing his usual pinstripe suit and a black mask he borrowed from Roman Sionis. Tony Schiavone pointed out that this was the first time we’ve seen Idolo since his match with Cody Rhodes. Schiavone was putting over the flaming table big time. (Regardless of how the spot went, he should put it over. Retrospect often leaves out the details, and it’s a dazzling visual that people suffered for. They might as well get all they can get out of it.) Meanwhile, Jose “The Assistant” helped Idolo take off his suit.

Idolo trudged to the ring, looking like an absolute monster. He grabbed the squared ring post, strolled across the apron, and stepped through the middle rope. Once in the ring, he raised his fist and posed for the hard camera. Kaun was introduced as making his AEW debut, and Mark Henry called him an outstanding athlete. (Coming from Henry, that’s one heck of an endorsement.)

Kaun and Idolo locked hands in a test of strength which Idolo won, allowing him to shift into a waistlock. Kaun desperately pried at Idolo’s fingers until he was able to tear free and clamp on a wristlock. This time, it was Idolo trying to pry Kaun’s fingers open, but he fell to one knee as he struggled to do so.

As Kaun bent down, Idolo grabbed his hair from behind and overpowered him, backing him off into the turnbuckles. The referee began to count, and Idolo let go of Kaun’s hair. Kaun quickly whipped Idolo around so that Idolo became the one pinned in the corner and then, inexplicably, slapped Idolo in the face. (Death wish much?) This only served to infuriate Idolo and gave him the adrenaline to power out of the corner, shove Kaun back into the corner, and slap Kaun across the face. (After Kaun’s unprovoked slap, I’m actually rooting for Idolo here.)

Kaun sold the slap, bending all the way over, and Idolo kicked Kaun in the stomach twice before launching him into the opposite corner. Idolo rushed Kaun, and Kaun caught him with his shoulder and used the leverage of Idolo’s motion to toss him over the top rope. Idolo gave Kaun no quarter and immediately slapped on a rope-assisted armbar. Idolo broke up the armbar at the referee’s behest and got back into the ring.

Idolo bullied Kaun into a seated position in the corner and quickly rammed his arm into Kaun’s throat before backing off. (I’m still rooting for Idolo. That slap was entirely unprovoked.) Apparently, the crowd was with me on this because they cheered and applauded as Idolo mud stomped Kaun in the corner. (Idolo is the heel here, right?) Idolo let Kaun up so he could sling a few life-damaging chops across his opponent’s chest. Idolo then looked at the crowd for a second and seemed to enjoy their adoration.

Idolo slapped on an arm-ringer and coupled it with two back elbows. Idolo Irish whipped Kaun into the opposite corner and charged toward him. Kaun got an elbow up, cracking Idolo’s jaw and knocking him into the center of the ring. Idolo ran at Kaun, but Kaun caught him with his shoulder a second time, and instead of dumping him over the ropes, Kaun set Idolo up for a powerslam. Idolo struggled free, but Kaun managed to force him back onto his shoulders a third time and plunged a double knee gutbuster into a still defiant Idolo. Kaun covered Idolo and got a one-count. Kaun got to his feet and hesitated, contemplating his next move.

Mark Henry said, “He’s standing there like he’s waiting for a horn to grow out of his head.”

Kaun went for a running senton splash, but Idolo got his knees up, cracking his back.

“We told ya!” Eddie Kingston said.

(Kingston and Henry are the dressing on my salad.)

Idolo cupped the back of Kaun’s head and pulled him upright. Kaun shoved Idolo into the ring, and Idolo bounced back to execute a Divorce Court. He then ensnared Kaun in a double reverse arm-bar, quickly tapping him out.

WINNER: Andrade El Idolo (w/Jose “The Assistant”) in 4:00

(David’s Analysis: Idolo should be the AAA Mega Champion, and I’m still kind of annoyed he isn’t. In fact, of all the recent WWE signings, Andrade El Idolo’s performance has surprised me the most. I’ve watched his first match with Pac three times. That’s not to take anything away from Danielson, Punk, or Cole, but I knew they were good when they signed. Enjoying their matches wasn’t a “surprise.” However, to be honest, when I first saw they’d signed Idolo, I was somewhere between ambivalent and doubtful. His work in WWE hadn’t been offensive, but it was closer to boring than good. He was very much the “hotel coffee” of “coffee.” I had no idea that was WWE’s fault. In AEW, Idolo has been amazing. He went from “hotel coffee” to “flaming Dr. Pepper.”)

(5) THUNDER ROSA vs. AMBER RODRIGUEZ

Thunder Rosa’s entrance video played on the full screen, and the director cut to a cool shot of Rosa in the tunnel surrounded by red, white, and green lights. The cameraman followed Rosa out of the tunnel while she held up the Texas flag and wore gear inspired by the Mexican flag. (This looked good. They should do that again.)

Fair warning; my AEW Women’s Division favs are Britt Baker, Thunder Rosa, Emi Sakura, Abadon, and fashion icon Vickie Guerrero. If I ever seem overly praising of these women, it is because I stan them like a twink stanning K-pop.

Applause welled up from the crowd as the camera cut to Rosa’s numerous fans. Tony Schiavone noted the nice ovation she received, and I’m glad to see it. (I want her re-match against Britt Baker injected straight into my veins.)

Amber Rodriguez awaited Rosa in the ring as the crowd broke into a loud Rosa chant. (That’s gotta be intimidating for Rodriguez, but if it was, she did a good job no-selling it.) Rodriguez smirked at the crowd, scowling and even sticking out her tongue in disgust. She was making damn sure everyone in the Curtis Culwell Center knew it was a-okay to boo her. Schiavone informed us this was Rodriguez’s first-ever AEW match.

The two women circle each other like caged lions and then lurched forward into a collar and elbow tie-up. Rodriguez shoved Rosa. (The crowd’s “Thunder Rosa” chant is so loud it’s almost drowning out the announcers.) The two competitors went back to a collar and elbow tie-up, this time throwing all their weight into it.

Rodriguez made the first move, capturing Rosa in a waistlock. Rosa fought against Rodriguez’s arms and countered with a wristlock takedown. Rosa tugged Rodriguez back to her feet and administered a vigorous hammerlock. Rodriguez refused to resign herself to defeat and delivered a pair of elbow strikes to Rosa’s temple. Rosa sent Rodriguez into the ropes, Rodriguez bounced back, and Rosa caught her with a roll-up, scoring a two-count. Rosa whipped Rodriguez into the opposite ropes, grabbed her arm, and executed a snug, sharp, beautiful arm-drag takedown. Rodriguez struggled against Rosa and grabbed her hair before quickly letting go. Rodriguez pushed her shoulder into Rosa and managed to force the other woman into a corner where she pinned her back-first against the turnbuckles.

“She’s a former fitness instructor!” Eddie Kingston said.

“I’d love to hear what you have to say about that,” Mark Henry smirked (probably).

“Oh no, I’m not getting into any kind of — it’s 2021, Mark!” Eddie Kingston said.

Rodriguez hit Rosa with a knife-edge chop, Rosa stumbled away. Rodriguez followed her and cornered her a second time. This time, she kicked Rosa in the guts and plunged a knee into her ribcage. Rosa ended up bent over, and Rodriguez used her neck to pull her upright. (That looked savage.) Rodriguez delivered a second knife-edge chop and gloated at the crowd’s reaction, smiling and waving her hand like it hurt.

Rosa used Rodriguez’s imprudent self-distraction to her advantage and delivered multiple forearms and chops. (The crowd was into every last blow.) Rosa restrained Rodriguez with a waistlock but was unable to cinch it tight enough. Rodriguez squirmed her way out and mule kicked Rosa. Rosa fell to her knees, and Rodriguez attempted a spinning kick, but Rosa caught her leg. Rodriguez then used her other leg to execute an enzuigiri. Rodriguez threw her arms wide to mug for the crowd before covering Rosa and getting a one-count. Rosa shook her head, attempting to clear the cobwebs left behind by Rodriguez’s aforementioned enzuigiri.

Mark Henry said, “She’s loopy, guys.”

Schiavone concurred, saying, “Yeah… that kick…”

Finally clearing her head, Rosa overpowered Rodriguez and elbowed her midsection before tossing her into a corner. There she unleashed a hailstorm of forearms and chops to the crowd’s great delight.

“It’s like a violence party!” Eddie Kingston exclaimed with childlike joy.

“They have those?” Mark Henry asked.

Rosa knocked Rodriguez to the floor, leaving her prone against the bottom turnbuckle. Rosa backed up and struck Rodriguez with a sliding lariat, which sent Rosa over the bottom rope and onto the apron. Rosa climbed to the top rope and used the ropes’ leverage to slam a Meteora into Rodriguez’s chest.

Struggling to breathe, Rodriguez leaned over the second rope in the “please kick me” position, and Rosa complied with her request, gifting her a dropkick to the back. The crowd was going nuts, and Rosa soaked it in as she built up momentum to execute a dropkick reminiscent of Shibata.

Mark Henry said, “I’m in pain watching that.”

The crowd continued to celebrate Rosa’s hot streak as she delivered her Fire Thunder Driver and got the win.

WINNER: Thunder Rosa in 3:00

(David’s Analysis: As short as that was, it was enjoyable. Thunder Rosa is immensely talented.)

– Post-match, Rosa pointed to the camera and shouted something along the lines of, “I’m coming for the TBS Championship. You hear me? That’s my championship!” She climbed the turnbuckles and waved the Texas flag for the audience.

“Wave that Texas flag, girl,” Mark Henry said. “Wave it!” (Henry stans Rosa confirmed!)

(6) THE HARDY FAMILY OFFICE (Matt Hardy & The Blade & Isiah Kassidy) vs. DARK ORDER (Stu Grayson & Preston Vance & Evil Uno)

The Hardy Family Office (Matt Hardy & Isiah Kassidy & The Blade) made their way down the ramp as Hardy’s flaming pyro roared to life behind them. Next up was Dark Order (Stu Grayson & Evil Uno & Preston Vance). Several other Dark Order members accompanied them onto the stage but left when the match started. Once Grayson, Evil Uno, and Vance made their way to the ring, they performed the Dark Order salute, and several crowd members joined them.

Uno and the Blade were up first. They cautiously circled one another and lept into a collar and elbow tie-up. The Blade got the better of Evil Uno and clutched his wrist to apply a twisting wristlock. Evil Uno countered that wristlock with a wristlock of his own and transitioned into a side headlock. The Blade tried for a standing switch, but Evil Uno caught him from behind. Evil Uno executed a standing switch of his own and reapplied a wristlock which the Blade escaped by kicking Evil Uno’s midsection. The Blade slammed his forearm into Evil Uno’s back with enough force you could hear it, loudly. The Blade then strode to his corner and tagged in Kassidy. (This was a well-executed exchange and a great start to the match.)

Kassidy ran toward Evil Uno, attempting a kick, but Evil Uno caught his leg and dropped him face-first onto the mat. Evil Uno then stomped on both of Kassidy’s hands, and the crowd seemed plenty pleased. Kassidy continued to look pained as Evil Uno applied another wristlock and tagged in Grayson. Grayson kicked Kassidy in the gut, and both Evil Uno and Grayson executed a double Irish whip on Kassidy to send him into the ropes. Kassidy countered the Irish whip by hooking both arms under the top rope. (Why do wrestlers keep slinging their opponents into the ropes? It rarely works!)

Grayson charged toward Kassidy, and Kassidy used Grayson’s own momentum to toss him over the top rope and onto the apron. Evil Uno picked up Kassidy, anticipating a double-team move, but when Grayson tried to jump onto the top rope and use it as a springboard, Hardy snatched his leg and yanked him off the apron mid-jump. Grayson staggered on the floor, shocked by Hardy’s audacity. Hardy continued his audacious assault with a Twist of Fate onto the floor.

Dark Order rushed over to see if their teammate was okay. Grayson lay on the ground, looking out of it. As Dark Order crowded around Grayson, Hardy slid into the ring, bent over on all fours, and assisted Kassidy in performing a Poetry In Motion over the top rope. Dark Order caught him perfectly. Hardy and Grayson celebrated in the ring, hugging one another. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Hardy picked Kassidy’s pockets just then.) Kassidy jumped to the outside and rolled Grayson back inside; he then dropped an elbow onto Grayson and went for the cover. One, Two — nope.

Kassidy applied a front face lock and used his leverage to march Grayson into the heel’s corner and tagged Hardy. Hardy climbed to the second rope and did that finger-guns thing he likes to do right before jumping onto his opponent. Hardy then jumped onto his opponent, ramming a flying elbow into Kassidy’s back. After this double-team, Hardy hastily rolled Grayson onto his back and went for the cover, getting another two-count.

Hardy dragged Grayson back into the heel’s corner and tagged Kassidy back into the match, who immediately tagged in the Blade. Both Kassidy and the Blade stormed the face’s corner and knocked Evil Uno and Vance to the floor. Grayson was propped up in the corner like a scarecrow, and Kassidy charged toward him only for Grayson to roll out of the way. Grayson reached over the ring ropes and punched Hardy off the apron. Grayson then turned back around and ran toward the Blade, ducking a clothesline.

“Get him, Gray, get him!” Eddie Kingston said. (I couldn’t agree more.)

Grayson got him and applied a waistlock which he turned quickly into a release German suplex.

Eddie Kingston said, “Ooooooh!”

Both men climbed to their feet, but Kassidy flagitiously grabbed Grayson’s trunks from behind and yanked him into the turnbuckles. Grayson charged forward, Kassidy swung a clothesline, and Grayson ducked around him, hitting yet another release German suplex. With both men down, the Blade helped Kassidy up, but then Grayson jumped back onto his feet and ran toward them. The Blade and Kassidy went for a double-team clothesline on Grayson, but Grayson evaded them both by performing a matrix popup. (That looked cool.) Not stopping for even a single second, Grayson immediately nailed both men with a double Pele kick. Grayson used the respite provided by his momentary advantage to tag in Preston Vance.

Vance barreled into the ring and hit Kassidy and the Blade with a double clothesline. Both men rebounded, and Kassidy landed in one neutral corner while the Blade landed in the other. Then Vance preceded to pump kick Kassidy in corner number one before running around the ring to pump kick the Blade in corner number two. Hardy decided to jump into the fray, but Vance ducked his clothesline and wrapped Hardy up into a spinning belly-to-belly suplex! The Blade dashed toward Vance, and Vance caught him with a spinebuster.

Eddie Kingston exclaimed, “Spinebusteeeer!”

Evil Uno climbed to the top rope and lept off for a flawless senton onto the Blade. Evil Uno wisely went for a quick cover, but Kassidy dove in to break up the pinfall. Vance grabbed Kassidy and tossed him toward the ropes. Kassidy once again hooked his arms over the ropes to stop his momentum, but Vance flashed across the ring and clotheslined Kassidy over the top rope to the floor.

Blinkingly fast, Hardy ripped Vance from the ring and ran his head into the metal barricade. (Ouch!) Back in the ring, Evil Uno held the Blade in a waistlock, but the Blade countered his waistlock with a standing switch. Evil Uno ran to the ropes, taking the Blade with him, and grabbed the top rope, using its inertia to knock the Blade to the mat.

Evil Uno spun back around, hoping to capitalize, but the Blade distracted the referee with absolutely nothing (And why not? We all know professional wrestling referees have the attention span of a goldfish.) With the referee hopelessly distracted (God help us if wrestlers ever bring laser-pointers to the ring), Kassidy hit Evil Uno from behind with an apron enzuigiri.

The Blade slugged Evil Uno with a hard right, and Hardy jumped in, illegally, to deliver a Side Effect right in front of the goldfish-brained referee. Seeing absolutely nothing wrong with this (really?), the referee counted as the Blade grabbed Evil Uno’s leg and scored another near fall.

Getting a small sliver of poetic revenge, Vance ripped Hardy from the ring and ran his head into the same metal barricade Hard had used against Vance. The Blade went for a suplex, but Evil Uno shrugged him off. The Blade hit Evil Uno with a forearm smash, and Evil Uno backed himself into a corner. The Blade charged at Evil Uno but was stopped in his tracks when Evil Uno got his foot up, plowing it into the Blade’s face.

Vance blind-tagged Evil Uno and then reached over the ring post to immediately tag in Grayson. Evil Uno hoisted the Blade onto his back, Grayson climbed to the top rope, and together they pulled off their finisher, The Fatality.

Vance jumped in the ring (Was he tagged in?) and put the Blade in a full nelson. The Blade tapped, and Dark Order won via submission.

WINNER: Dark Order (Evil Uno & Stu Grayson & Preston Vance) in 6:00

(David’s Analysis: Despite being refereed by a goldfish, that was a very good match. They had a lot of action packed into just under six minutes, and everyone should be proud… except maybe the person who scripted the referee. I won’t ramble further about protecting referees, but please see last week’s rant.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Like most Dark Elevations, this was a nice show from start to finish, peppered with joyous comments courtesy of Eddie Kingston and Mark Henry. I gotta admit, I was always a little ambivalent toward Mark Henry during his original WWE run, but he has lit a fire under my @$$ with his commentary. He is so good that I’ve started listening to Busted Open Radio just to catch more of his wit and wisdom. Thank you all for reading! I truly appreciate it. I’m still working on my sign-off, but until next week, watch out for chimpanzees; they seem super friendly, but they will bite you.

Oh, and one last thing! Merry Christmas to everyone… even goldfish referees.

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