1/3 AEW DARK ELEVATION REPORT: Jake Atlas’s debut, Jay Lethal, Riho, Scorpio, Dark Order, Skye Blue, plus great quips from Henry, Wight, Kingston on commentary

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
JANUARY 3, 2022 (Recorded 12/29/21)
JACKSONVILLE, FLA.
AIRED ON YOUTUBE.COM
REPORT BY DAVID BRYANT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Paul Wight, Mark Henry, Eddie Kingston

Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts

– The show started with Riho’s entrance, and she was already in the ring by the time Tony Schiavone broke the news that Eddie Kingston was not on commentary tonight. (But, at least we get Paul Wight. He’s also very fun.)

(1) RIHO vs. VALENTINA ROSSI

Valentina Rossi was already awaiting Riho’s arrival in the ring, and a chyron informed us Rossi has a 0-6 record. (That seemed unnecessarily cruel. The production truck should be ashamed of themselves.) However, Rossi looked confident (really?) and excited (head injury?) for the upcoming match. Rossi acknowledged the fans with a celebratory smile and raised her hand, making a chef’s kiss motion for the crowd. With that, the referee rang the bell, and off we go!

“Riho is only 98 pounds,” Paul Wight said. “My left foot weighs 98 pounds!” (Told ya he was fun.)

Riho and Rossi circled one another, lurching into a quick collar and elbow tie-up, which Riho transitioned into a side headlock. Schiavone said Rossi has only been wrestling for seven months and has a ballet background. (REPRESENT!) Rossi then shoved Riho forward, snatching her hair from behind.

Riho looked more annoyed than pained and defied Rossi’s offense, turning on her heels to slug her in the chest with multiple forearms. Riho then attempted to Irish whip Rossi, but Rossi reversed the Irish whip and sent Riho into the ring ropes. Riho ricocheted off the ring ropes and jumped into a crossbody which Rossi caught midair (nice) and transitioned into an offensive front bodyslam. (That looked vicious, ya’ll.)

Rossi went for a cover, but Riho stopped the count doing her back-bend-matrix-escape-thingamajig, ran into the ropes, rebounded toward Rossi, and landed a dropkick to Rossi’s midsection. Riho celebrated for the crowd as they applauded her momentum. Then, Riho quickly jumped back into the action to prevent Rossi from recovering. Riho stomped Rossi, pulled her up by her hair, and ran toward the ropes, but Rossi snatched Riho’s hair a second time and flung her to the mat like deadweight. Rossi then seized a disoriented Riho and delivered multiple hard-hitting Muay Thai knee strikes to Riho’s midsection.

Riho crumpled to the ground, clutched her ribs, and gave an absolute masterclass in selling. Rossi heartlessly yanked Riho back up only to send her crashing down again with a Russian leg sweep. With Riho clearly pained and afflicted, Risso went for the cover and scored a two-count. (Random aside: Rossi’s ring gear looks phenomenal. I know a thing or two about stonework, and that outfit contains all of it.)

Risso then made the not-so-veteran move of gloating too long, and Riho seized on the reprieve she’d been bestowed, using it to recuperate. Once her energy bar had fully regenerated, Riho leaped up courtesy of several blows to Rossi’s midsection, used the corner turnbuckles for support, and kicked Rossi in the chest with both feet. Rossi reeled, and Riho jumped her, wrapping her legs around Rossi’s neck to deliver a JR’s-BBQ-quality tilt-a-whirl headscissors takeover.

Riho sent Rossi tumbling into the middle rope with a drop toe-hold, which forced Rossi into the “please kick me” position. Riho then backed up, ran forward, and nailed a tiger feint kick on Rossi. (Helpful hint: If you’re ever wrestling Riho and fall toward the ropes, land on the bottom one.) Riho raced up the turnbuckles to the top rope, dove off into a crossbody, nailed it perfectly, and went for the cover. However, Riho failed to hook Rossi’s leg, and Rossi kicked out at two.

“Valentina sounds like a fine wine,” Mark Henry said. (It was funny in the moment.)

Riho looked at the referee in disbelief, making sure her cover hadn’t been a three-count; he assured her it had not. Riho then grabbed Rossi and flung her into the corner, letting her land in the scarecrow position. Riho backed up and ran forward but took a little too much time. This allowed Ross to sidestep Riho and gave her the chance to repossess control of the match. Rossi grabbed Riho’s arms and hit a picture-perfect straight jacket neckbreaker (Are you sure it’s only been seven months?) to score a two-count. If I hadn’t seen her win-loss record before the match, I might’ve genuinely believed Rossi was about to win!

Rossi climbed back to her feet but clutched her chest from Riho’s earlier offense, and this very, very short lull was enough for Riho to spurt across the ring, crawl under the ring ropes, stand upright on the apron, and deliver a top rope stunner to Rossi! While Rossi clutched the underside of her jaw in agony, Riho bounded to the top rope. Rossi knew that a flying double foot stomp would end things for her at this point and tore toward the ropes in desperation, smashing a forearm into Riho’s jaw. Rossi then climbed the ropes and set up a superplex, but Riho fought her off with two kidney punches and a forearm. This knocked Rossi backward into a modified tree of woe.

Riho looked down at her opponent, steadied her resolve, and lept through the air to smash both her feet into Rossi’s chest, landing her signature flying double stomp. Rossi clutched her chest (selling so well, I actually felt bad for her) and sat up mid-ring. Riho darted toward Rossi and crashed into her with a running Meteora. Riho wrapped her arms around Rossi, held her down for the pin, and the referee counted to three.

WINNER: Riho in 4:00

(David’s Analysis: Quick note. Do yourself a favor and check out Riho vs. Emi Sakura in Riho’s farewell match with Gatoh Move Pro Wrestling. It’s hard to comprehend just how good these two women are until you’ve seen them in a full-length, high-stakes match. If you dig into their complete body of work, you will never look at Riho or Sakura the same way again. Second note: Rossi has only been doing this for seven months? Are you kidding me? If she’s doing that at seven months, can you imagine what she’ll be doing in a year’s time? I hope they have plans for her because if they don’t, they’re not missing a boat; they’re missing a fleet.)

– Post-match, Riho waved to the crowd and lit up the world with her Mary-Tyler-Moore-quality smile.

– For the third week in a row, a stirring advert aired touting Dynamite’s upcoming move to TBS. (The card for their debut episode on TBS is stacked! It feels like a PPV, and I, for one, cannot wait.)

(2) ANDRADE EL IDOLO (w/Jose “The Assistant”) vs. J.P. HARLOW

(I am unabashedly excited to report on another Andrade El Idolo match. This guy has been exquisite since coming to AEW!)

J.P. Harlow waited in the ring, and Idolo made his entrance wearing his signature BDSM-pimp suit mashup. Jose “The Assistant” helped him transform from gimp-pimp to total badass, and the announcers put over how intimidating Idolos entrance looked. (It is a very good entrance.) When Idolo removed his mask, the crowd applauded at getting to see his face, and he stared out at the audience, appraising his fans’ reaction before continuing onward to the ring. Harlow looked nervous, and I do not blame him.

The ring bell was rung, and both men circled one another. The bout began with a collar and elbow tie-up, but Idolo quickly overpowered the smaller Harlow and backed him into the turnbuckles. The referee called for a clean break, and Idolo obliged only to come back with a knife-edge chop to Harlow’s chest. This allowed Idolo to dominate Harlow with an angry-looking wristlock. Harlow fell to one knee and had to fight his way back to his feet. When he made it back to his vertical base, Idolo welcomed him with a forearm to the face.

“He is a handsome guy,” Mark Henry said of Idolo. “He is a handsome guy.”

“He’s in a relationship, Mark,” Paul Wight deadpanned, probably making Eddie Kingston proud.

Harlow was on all fours and crawled toward the ropes, but Idolo’s raisin-sized heart had no room for mercy, and he sliced Harlow across the back with a knife-edge chop. Harlow wailed in pain, and Idolo ripped him up and whipped him across the ring toward the turnbuckles. However, Harlow grabbed the corner ropes and used them as leverage to leap over an incoming Idolo. Idolo ran at Harlow again, this time with a clothesline, but Harlow ducked. Idolo then spun back around and smacked Harlow in the chest with a lariat.

Harlow hurtled to his back, and Idolo snatched Harlow’s arm, wrenching it into a wicked hammerlock. Harlow screamed like he was being murdered. (During Harlow’s murder, the announcers talked about the children’s song “The Hokey Pokey.”) Idolo rammed Harlow’s already-smarting shoulder into the turnbuckles, grabbed his arm, wrapped it around the middle rope, and yanked it upward like a psycho ripping the arms off his sister’s Barbie dolls. (Did you know “The Hokey Pokey” is called “The Hokey Cokey” in England? Sounds like a song about drugs.)

Idolo propped Harlow’s body on the corner ropes and gave him a stiff knife-edge chop. The crowd called for a second chop, and Idolo feigned giving it to them but then opted for a kick to Harlow’s midsection instead. The crowd booed, and Idolo wagged a finger at them as if to say, “I decide what I do, not you!” Idolo then whipped Harlow across the ring and into the opposite turnbuckles. Idolo charged Harlow, who jumped out of the way and into a pendulum kick, catching Idolo, the audience, and the announcers off guard. Harlow walked down the apron and speared Idolo through the ropes. Harlow then flipped over Idolo’s back, ran into the opposite ring ropes, rebounded back toward Idolo, and was stopped by a big boot. Idolo stood over Harlow, looking down with the cold indifference of a horror movie villain.

Harlow bumbled around the ring on all fours as Idolo stalked him, looking mildly amused. Harlow reached for the ring ropes to pull himself back up, and Idolo kicked his hand away. Harlow tried to scarper away to safety, but Idolo grabbed his hair, yanked him into his arms, and prepared to deliver a bodyslam. Yet, somehow, with the relentless determination of that one guy on Grindr who never stops, Harlow managed to struggle out of the bodyslam, land on his feet, and windmill kick the living daylights out of Idolo’s head.

Idolo staggered and sold excellently but did not fall to the mat. Harlow kicked Idolo in the guts and went for a swinging neckbreaker, but Idolo grabbed Harlow’s arm and hit him with a Divorce Court. Idolo then slapped on some type of submission. I’m not sure what that move was called, but it looked ferocious. In a matter of seconds, Harlow tapped out.

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

(David’s Analysis: Like I said in a previous report, Idolo is doing a fantastic job in AEW. He’s been on point with everything they’ve asked him to do, and I’m still a little annoyed he’s not the AAA Mega Champion, but I have a feeling big things are coming his way. Harlow did a nice job selling throughout the match. This was a very one-sided contest, but what little offense Harlow got in looked good.)

– An advert aired for Battle of the Belts on Jan. 8 in Charlotte, N.C. (Update: Sadly, I am not attending. Things are not looking good with the Omicron variant dominating N.C.’s landscape at the moment. Duke University just announced they’re postponing in-person classes; UNC has given postponement options to the deans of their individual school, and UNC-Charlotte, which is nearest the Bojangles Coliseum, has announced they are switching to virtual learning. As much as I love AEW, I love my parents not being sick more.)

(3) MEGAN BAYNE vs. LEILA GREY

Megan Bayne made her entrance with two Greek-garbed acolytes kneeling on the stage before her; she wore a winged headdress and was announced as “The Greek Goddess” Megan Bayne. Bayne walked to the ring with an imperial sneer as her acolytes (and not the referee) held the ring ropes open for her. Leila Grey then sauntered to the middle of the ring, smiled at the crowd, and offered up an endearing wave. A chryon noted Bayne has a 0-3 win-loss record, and another chyron noted Grey has a 0-10 win-loss record. (This one could actually be interesting.)

“She’s the daughter of Athena!” Mark Henry said, all-knowing and wise.

Both competitors circled one another and locked up with a collar and elbow tie-up. Bayne took control of the tie-up and backed Grey into a corner. The referee ordered them to break things up and began to count. Bayne backed off with a smirk and looked every bit like the dayglow-yellow version of Wonder Woman I assume she was going for.

As soon as Grey stepped out of the corner, Bayne lunged toward her, but Grey caught Bayne in a waistlock, which Bayne powered her way out of and reversed into a waistlock takedown. Bayne threw Grey back into the corner and nailed her with multiple shoulder block spears to the gut. Bayne then pulled Grey into the center of the ring and went for a vertical suplex, holding her up for an extended period of time while the audience clapped. (Why are they clapping for this? She’s coming off 100 percent heel.) After dropping her opponent to the mat, Bayne held out her arms and rotated in place as the audience’s applause continued.

Grey hit Bayne with two forearms to the face and a kick to her quad, but Bayne shook off both, pulled Grey into the ring ropes, and slammed knee strikes into her midsection. Bayne then whipped Grey across the ring, catching her mid-rebound and doling out a tilt-a-whirl powerslam for a cover. (During the count, Bayne held Grey’s face down using her forearm.) When the referee got to two, Bayne yanked Grey up by her hair, stopping the count to prove a point.

“I think that was a mistake,” Schiavone said.

“Definitely an ego move,” Wight said.

Grey kicked Bayne in the chest.

“Yeah, that did not help her out one bit,” Henry said.

Bayne shook off Grey’s kick and ran toward her in the corner, but Grey hit her with a hard back elbow to the face. Bayne then went for a splash, but Grey sidestepped her, and she landed gut-first on the top turnbuckle. Grey charged a swaying Bayne and hit her with a rising knee strike. Things were looking up for Grey, right up until the moment Bayne nailed her with a pump kick out of nowhere. Bayne then wiped her feet on the mat as if scuffing dirt over her fallen opponent’s face.

Grey didn’t move from her spot, but Bayne picked her up and executed a tombstone piledriver before pinning her for the victory.

WINNER: Megan Bayne in 3:00

(David’s Analysis: Bayne looked fierce. Her wrestling is not yet in “Thunder Rosa” territory, but she’s not bad and has the size to look both dominant and strong. Grey sold well and exuded a determined yet buoyant energy throughout the match. Also, hearing Mark Henry’s deadpanned insistence that Bayne had to be from Greece because she had wings on her boots was a riot.)

– A graphic of Scorpio Sky and Ray Jaz popped up on-screen as Schiavone said, “Up next, Scorpio Sky!” He didn’t even mention Jaz. Jaz’s face was like… right there, and he didn’t mention him. Poor Jaz.

(4) SCORPIO SKY (w/Dan Lambert) vs. RAY JAZ

Scorpio Sky made his way to the ring with Dan Lambert, who looked like a shaven version of the Cookie Monster. Already in the ring, Ray Jaz jumped up and down, warming up and flexing for the camera. Sky removed his vest and smiled at the fans, and the director cut back to Dan Lambert, who was now waddling with the grace of a walrus-like abstinence symbol.

Mark Henry talked up Ray Jaz saying, “Ray Jaz — I know him well. He’s been around a while.”

Meanwhile, the referee called for the bell, and the match started. Both men locked up in an intense collar and elbow tie-up. Sky then transitioned into a waistlock before deciding to slide Jaz into a side headlock. Jaz thrust Sky toward the ropes, but Sky bounced back with a shoulder tackle. For what I assume are sadistic reasons, the director once again cut to Lambert as he wandered around ringside looking like a disgruntled dad who’d forgotten where he parked his car but was too proud to admit it.

Anyway, back in the ring (please keep the camera in the ring), Sky had Jaz on the ropes; his arms went for another waistlock, but Jaz clocked him with several back elbows. Sky backed off and hit Jaz with a running shoulder tackle before crouching over his opponent’s prone body and repeatedly pummeling him in the face with right hands. The referee begged Sky to stop, but Sky ignored him because it’s not like he has power over the match or anything. Finally, with only the smallest spark of compassion kindling inside his ice-cold heart, Sky let up, and the referee took an inordinate amount of time to admonish him for… finally stopping?

Dan Lambert, looking like a wax figure someone left in the oven, gleefully grabbed Jaz by the neck and tried to choke him to death on the bottom rope. (Can someone please help this homeless P.E. teacher find his car?) Scorpio Sky hit a pendulum backbreaker and scored a two-count. Sky then stood over Jaz and cinched his head using a cervical lock while looking like he wanted to break the man’s neck entirely.

Jaz punched his way back to his feet and went for an Irish whip, but Sky countered with a reversal. Sky then attempted to takedown a rebounding Jaz, but Jaz rolled over Sky’s back and hit him from behind with a leg lariat. Sky tossed Jaz onto the apron, but Jaz landed on his feet and hit him with a shoulder block to the gut. Jaz then leaped over the top rope, snatched Sky’s arms, and covered him to score a two-count.

Meanwhile, Lambert (who I’m gonna assume is Weight Watcher’s version of Jabba the Hut) looked both disappointed and pleased at his “top team” prodigy’s performance. It was a peculiar facial expression, but one you simply could not look away from. (That could actually be a description of Lambert’s entire AEW career.)

Undeterred, Sky hit Jaz with a running boot, brushed off his shoulders, put Jaz in a fireman’s carry position, and dropped him to the mat with a TKO. Sky hooked Jaz’s leg, and the referee dropped to the mat for a three-count.

Looking like MJF if he time-traveled through hell, Lambert lumbered his way back into the ring and congratulated a now gloating Scorpio Sky on not getting his balls stapled to his legs by Chris Jericho.

WINNER: Scorpio Sky (w/Dan Lambert) in 3:00

(David’s Analysis: Dan Lambert is the best thing to happen to AEW’s heel division since MJF. He’s so good that he’s too good. He is one of the most hated heels of the last several years and certainly one of my favorite things to hate. Although, I have to admit, it was nice seeing Adam Page dress up as him for Halloween.)

(5) DARK ORDER (John Silver & Alex Reynolds w/Negative One.) vs. MIKE ORLANDO & SHAYNE STETSON

John Silver and Alex Reynolds made their way on stage with Negative One. Other Dark Order members, including Evil Uno, stood on the stage in support of Silver, Reynolds, and Negative One as they walked down to the ring. Mark Henry was amused at having so many “numbers” on stage. He remarked that there was a five, a ten, and a negative one, all in the same place.

“Why is six afraid of seven?” Henry asked. “Because seven, eight, nine.” (Too cool for school.)

Mike Orlando and Shayne Stetson were already in the ring, awaiting Dark Order’s arrival. The referee rang the bell, and Silver and Stetson started things off with a collar and elbow tie-up. Silver quickly transitioned the tie-up into a side headlock and then ran into the ring ropes, crashing back into Stetson with a shoulder tackle. Silver did his signature flex, and the crowd went wild! (Interestingly, Reynolds was also applauding.)

Silver ran the ropes as both Stetson and Silver took turns dodging one another. Stetson dodged Silver with a leapfrog, and Silver cartwheeled right over Stetson’s body. This was a cool moment. Silver ended the exchange with a dropkick and popped right back up to tag in Reynolds.

“He’s so explosive,” Wight said of Silver. “He’s like a keg of dynamite.”

Silver kicked Stetson’s midsection, Reynold’s hit Stetson with an uppercut, Silver kicked Stetson in his midsection a second time, and then Reynolds kicked Stetson hard enough to send him down to the mat. Orlando (I love the name Mike Orlando, btw.) ran into the ring to aid his tag partner because rules are for fools, and Reynolds ducked a clothesline before nailing Orlando with a back elbow. To finish Orlando off, Reynolds ascended to the second turnbuckle and hit a missile dropkick to Orlando’s chest. Reynolds then wrapped Stetson up to deliver a modified bulldog, but the setup did not look very well executed. (Orlando looked like he was helping a lot.) However, the move itself was nice. Reynolds then rolled Stetson over for a two-count.

“Stetson has had over 100 wins as a high school wrestler,” Schiavone informed us.

Stetson bulldozed Reynolds toward the heel’s corner, and Orlando reached out from the floor to pick Reynold’s ankle. Reynold’s refused to go down, turned around, and tried to kick Orlando through the ring ropes. Stetson capitalized on Reynold’s averted attention by shoving him through the ropes and dumping him to the floor.

Orlando picked Reynolds up to drive him back first into the ring apron and then tossed him back into the ring — damage done. Stetson grimaced as he pulled Reynolds up and rammed his head into the turnbuckles. With Reynolds dazed and trapped in the heel’s corner, Stetson tagged in Orlando.

Reynold’s tried to fight back with multiple forearms, but the assault outside the ring had been too much, and Orlando was able to maintain his upper hand with a hard clothesline. Orlando then shouted at the fans before tagging Stetson back in. With Reynolds propped up in the corner, Stetson slung Orlando toward him, but Reynolds caught Stetson with a forearm. Orlando then decided to charge Stetson himself, but Stetson sidestepped him, and he crashed into the turnbuckles. Stetson then attempted a clothesline, but Reynolds rolled underneath him and managed to tag in Silver.

The crowd popped for Silver, who shot from his corner like a cannonball, hitting multiple clotheslines and whipping Stetson clear across the ring. When Stetson rebounded, Silver caught him with a back body drop and flexed for the hard camera. However, Silver took a split second too long, and when he returned his attention to Stetson, Stetson rolled him over into a backslide cover. The referee dropped to the mat to make the count, but Silver kicked out before she’d even managed to tap the canvas. He then fought back with a storm of offense punctuated with a brainbuster for a one, two — Orlando jumped in the ring and broke up the count!

Reynolds scampered through the ropes to rid Silver of Orlando by hitting him with forearms and flinging him into the ropes with an Irish whip. Orlando attempted a clothesline, but Reynolds ducked underneath, continued to dash across the ring, and leaped onto Stetson at ringside with a tope suicida. With Orlando distracted by Reynolds, Silver took him down and hung him on the middle rope in the “please kick me” position. He then hit him with a pump kick at the exact same time that Reynolds hits him with a drive-by kick from the outside. Silver then wrapped his arms around Orlando, put him onto his shoulders, executed a spinning rack bomb, and tagged in Reynolds. (The crowd loved all of this.)

With Reynolds tagged in and Stetson back in the ring, both members of Dark Order hit Stetson with a step-up enzuigiri, followed by a rolling elbow, followed by a stunner, and topped off with a German Suplex. With Stetson still held down in the post-German suplex position, Reynolds jumped over Silver and pinned Stetson to score a three-count.

WINNER: Dark Order (John Silver & Alex Reynolds w/Negative One.) in 4:00

(David’s Analysis: Dark Order matches are the pro-wrestling equivalent of a keg party, and that’s a good thing.)

– Post-match, Dark Order celebrated for the fans. Reynolds struck up Dark Order’s signature salute, Silver flexed his muscles, and Negative One imitated Silver. It was a nice moment, and I’m sure everyone in attendance enjoyed it.

(6) SERPENTICO vs. JAKE ATLAS

Given this is Jake Atlas’ debut (He was formerly a part of WWE’s 205 Live.), I’m surprised this match didn’t main event the show. Either way, I love reporting on Serpentico matches, so off we go!

Wait. Is that Eddie Kingston’s voice I hear? Kingston is back on commentary?! Finally, a win for all of humanity!

Serpentico came out first and, mercifully for him, sans-Luther. Serpentico launched his usual (non-edible) streamers and mugged for the crowd. Next up was Jake Atlas, and his jacket glittered brighter than Vickie Guerrero’s golden shirt. Holy… You know what, I wanna go rhinestone something thing.

Fans applauded Atlas as he removed his runway-ready jacket, and Serpentico used this moment to attack Atlas with his back turned. (That’s not nice.) Serpentico assailed him with a series of shots to his stomach, chest, and back, slinging forearms like dishes with impossible speed. (Did the referee really just start the match?)

“Serpentico is all over Jake!” Eddie Kingston said. “He couldn’t even get out of the, um, what do you call it? Starting block?” (Never change.)

Serpentico headbutted Atlas, and the impact propelled both of them backward. Serpentico went for a clothesline, another clothesline, a kick, and then an elbow, but Atlas dodged all of this, cartwheeled away, and hit Serpentico with a one-legged dropkick.

“Nice dropkick there!” Kingston exclaimed.

“Where’s Luther?” Henry asked. “This might be the only time we get to see Serpentico not getting beat up by his friend.”

Atlas then landed a clothesline, an uppercut, and a pump kick, one right after the other. Having beaten him up almost as badly as his “friend” would have, Atlas rolled poor Serpentico into the center of the ring.

“Well, either way, he’s getting beat up,” Kingston said. “So, we’re getting what we wanted!” (*narrows eyes*)

Desperate for a comeback, Serpentico lurched into a clothesline but missed. Atlas then nailed a lariat of his own, taking Serpentico to the ground. (If I ever make it to a meet and greet, my gift to Serpentico will be Tylenol and soup.)

“Poor Serpentico,” Kingston said. (Hey, that’s my line!)

Atlas pinned Serpentico, but he kicked out at two. (Stay down, dude!) Atlas attempted a suplex, but Serpentico wriggled out of his grasp and super kicked him. Then, he jumped toward Atlas for what might have been a crossbody, but Atlas caught him in midair. However, Serpentico refused to allow Atlas to slam him to the mat and instead countered with a flatliner. This scored Serpentico a two-count.

“Well, you know, their relationship’s kind of weird,” Kingston contemplated Luther and Serpentico’s… association. “It’s, uh, you know… kind of abusive.” Kingston then went on to expound on what Serpentico was wearing. (We are so, so lucky to have this man’s commentary for this match.)

Frustrated, Serpentico straddled Atlas and pounded away at his head with fists and elbows. Serpentico then grabbed his mask and used his own brain as a weapon against Atlas, nailing his opponent with a falling headbutt. Both men were left floundering in anguish until Serpentico made it to his feet first and sent Atlas into the far corner. Atlas reversed Serpentico and caught him around the waist to execute a release German Suplex!

“Poor” Serpentico literally did a whole rolling backflip due to the force of that very mean suplex. (There is no way his spine is not now liquid.) Serpentico turned to face Atlas and was immediately smashed with a flying knee strike that sent him halfway across the ring. Serpentico landed in one corner, and Atlas climbed the turnbuckle to execute a cartwheel DDT for the victory.

“How amazing was that?” Henry exclaimed after seeing Atlas’ finisher. (Touche.)

WINNER: Jake Atlas in 3:00

(David’s Analysis: I’m team Serpentico all the way… well, we’re not really a team; it’s just me, but still… can he please have a break? I think he needs to heel… everything? But as for Atlas, he had a good debut here. He’s an exceptionally talented athlete and a good signing for AEW. Again, I am surprised they didn’t have his debut match main event the show. Also, I don’t know if you caught it from my report, but Kingston was back on commentary, and it was enjoyable.)

(7) SKYE BLUE vs. ANGELICA RISK

Skye Blue made her way to the ring wearing an airbrushed jacket and a backward baseball cap.

“She spells her name wrong,” Eddie Kingston said. (OMG, he’s back for this one, too! I’m gonna go add his name to the commentator’s list at the start of this report. Hang on just one second. Okay, back.)

Angelica Risk was already awaiting Blue in the ring. (I’m glad to see her back again! I really enjoyed Risk’s last performance on Dark Elevation. She is great at facial expressions, and I love facial expressions.) Risk taunted the audience and strutted like an even more obnoxious version of that one person at every wedding who thinks the videographer came to film them dance drunk.

Risk and Blue locked up in a collar and elbow tie-up, then broke apart to size one another up. They then dove back in for a second collar and elbow tie-up, still equally matched for strength, but this time Blue managed to back Risk toward a corner. However, Risk switched things around and pinned Blue against the corner instead. The referee broke them both up, and Risk took the moment to cheap-shot Blue with a forearm to the chest. Super proud of her evil self, Risk swaggered to the middle of the ring, letting the audience know just how much of a self-absorbed prick her character really is.

As a reward for her swaggering, Blue superkicked Risk and took her down for a one-count. Surprised by this turn of fate (karma), Risk rolled to the outside to regroup.

“That Skye Blue spells her name wrong, but she’s no slouch, folks!” Kingston said.

Risk fumbled around the outside of the ring, selling the dropkick expertly, and Blue used this time to implore her to get back into the ring. (Blue is also doing a good job here. Her facial expressions are more subdued, but that’s to be expected from a serious babyface.) When Risk refused to get back in the ring, a frustrated Blue stepped onto the apron and went for a drive-by punt kick to Risk, but Risk countered by grabbing Blue’s ankle and yanking her face-first to the mat.

Risk then got into a brief yelling match with an angry fan in the front row before grabbing Blue and ramming her into the barricade in front of the fan. (This is good stuff.) Then, right after ramming her into the barricade, Risk took a moment to talk more trash to the same fan. (I love this!) Risk then rammed Blue’s head into the apron, turned back to that same fan a third time, and smacked her bottom at him like she was Miley Cyrus at the VMAs. (I think I used that analogy last time she was on, too.)

“One, Two, Three, Four…” Kingston barked in an effort to teach the goldfish-brained referee how to count.

Risk plunged another forearm into Blue’s chest and then rolled her into the ring for a cover and a one-count. Risk got in the camera’s face and yelled, “ONE!” while looking both shocked and insufferable. Risk decided to try covering Blue a second time and this time scored a two-count. Risk waited for Blue to get back to her feet, and Irish whipped her into the corner. Risk then dashed toward Blue, hoping to splash her, but Blue spun into Risk with a back elbow. Blue propped herself up in another corner, Risk ran toward her, and she got her foot up to kick Risk in the face. Risk held her jaw, looking exasperated and more than a little dazed. Risk then ran back toward Blue a second time, but Blue jumped out of the way and onto the apron, allowing Risk to crash into the turnbuckles. Blue then nailed a beautiful roundhouse kick from the apron to the back of Risk’s head.

“Nice kick from Skye Blue,” Eddie said, “who still spells her name wrong.”

Blue ascended the turnbuckles and leaped onto Risk with a flying crossbody. Blue popped back up and made a “come here” gesture with her left hand while Risk slowly clambered back to her feet. Risk took Blue’s “come here” offer and ambled toward her at a quick but drunken pace. Blue easily ducked Risk’s clothesline, grabbed her hair, and hit her with a knee lift. Blue whipped Risk into the ropes and stopped her with another knee strike. Risk tumbled forward as Blue cartwheeled beside her to deliver a cartwheel mule kick. (Kingston seemed impressed.) Blue then slapped a full nelson onto Risk, pulled Risk upright, and executed a full nelson face slam to win the match.

WINNER: Skye Blue in 3:00

(David’s Analysis: This was a good match for the time given. Like I said the other week, the future of AEW’s women’s division is looking bright. Risk has such a tremendous upside, and Blue is, to quote Kingston, no slouch. )

– Post-match, Roberts said, “Your winner is Sky Blue!”

“Who spells her name wrong!” Kingston shouted.

(8) JAY LETHAL vs. TROY HOLLYWOOD

Jay Lethal came out for his third AEW match to loud and deserved applause. Lethal basked in the fans’ adulation while Troy Hollywood warmed up in the ring. The referee wasted no time and started the match immediately.

Lethal proved his fighting spirit by lurching toward Hollywood. Hollywood attempted a clothesline, but Lethal ducked only for Hollywood to catch him with a knife-edge chop. Hollywood kicked Lethal in the stomach, grabbed his arm, and attempted an Irish whip only to be countered with a short arm reversal followed by a forearm.

Kingston listed Lethal’s many accomplishments throughout his illustrious career and made Lethal sound like a million bucks. (And he sorta-kinda is.) While Kingston extolled Lethal’s achievements, none of the announcers were shy in letting us know what Hollywood had achieved as well. This whole conversation was brilliant because it made Hollywood seem like a credible threat to Lethal while making Lethal sound like a star.

Lethal spun toward Hollywood, probably planning a back elbow, but Hollywood countered him with a pump kick. Lethal bent over, and in an instant, Hollywood snatched him around the waist, hoisted him in the air, and delivered a belly-to-back suplex. However, Lethal landed on his feet! Hollywood went for a back elbow, but Lethal used the ropes to give him enough momentum to hip toss Hollywood and execute a swift, crisp cartwheel dropkick. The crowd rightfully applauded this fast-paced exchange, and Lethal raised his hand to encourage their support.

Lethal then rushed Hollywood in the turnbuckles, but Hollywood sidestepped Lethal and hit him with a throat thrust. Commandeering command of the match, Hollywood whipped Lethal across the ring and into the ropes. Hollywood then bent over in the please-kick-me position and awaited Lethal, who opted not to kick him, but instead decided to wrap him up for a suplex only to be countered with a gourdbuster! (This is intense.) While Lethal wobbled his way into a seated position, Hollywood taunted the crowd, proudly showboating.

Then, in a lightning-fast exchange, Hollywood punched Lethal across the back; Lethal attempted a flatliner; Hollywood countered that flatliner; Hollywood attempted a fireman’s carry; Lethal countered that fireman’s carry; Hollywood attempted a windmill kick, and Lethal dodged it expertly. Lethal then grabbed hold of Hollywood’s leg and slapped on a figure-four leglock, only for Hollywood to counter that leglock with an inside cradle for a two-count.

Lethal ducked a clothesline, grabbed Hollywood, and executed a backbreaker followed immediately and seamlessly by a flatliner. (The crowd was applauding.) Lethal hooked Hollywood’s leg and went for the cover but only got a two-count. Lethal then bodyslammed Hollywood and signaled to the crowd that he was about to go up to the top rope. Lethal climbed ascended to the top turnbuckle, and just as he was about to leap, he saw Hollywood running toward him. Lethal smartly jumped over Hollywood to land on his feet. Lethal went for a superkick, but Hollywood blocked him. Hollywood went for a pump kick, but Lethal blocked him. Lethal ducked under a spinning kick from Hollywood; Hollywood ducked under a clothesline from Lethal, and Lethal finally landed a superkick.

Lethal signaled for a Lethal Injection, but Hollywood yanked him backward with a snap German suplex, and despite Hollywood playing the heel, the crowd was impressed and let him know it. Hollywood grabbed up Lethal’s leg and went for a cover, gaining a two-count. Hollywood slammed his palm against the mat twice, and with both men on their knees, Hollywood put Lethal in a front facelock. Lethal tried to fight to his feet, but Hollywood jerked him back down to the mat. Lethal continued to fight back, struggling against the facelock. The crowd clapped to Peter-Pan Lethal back to life, and their encouragement somehow worked! Lethal got to his feet, shrugged off the facelock, and chopped Hollywood across the chest. Hollywood recaptured Lethal in another front facelock, but only for a second. Lethal quickly pulled himself free and delivered a knife-edge chop straight to Hollywood’s chest.

Now desperate, Hollywood tried one last time for a front facelock, but this time, instead of shrugging him off, Lethal countered him with a back body drop. Lethal rallied, ran into the ropes, slid underneath Hollywood’s oncoming offense, and leaped into a Lethal Injection! The crowd roared as Lethal covered Hollywood, and the referee counted to three.

WINNER: Jay Lethal in 5:00

(David’s Analysis: Lethal is an incredible talent. I remember his entire TNA/Impact run, and somehow, he has gotten even better. If Lethal can overcome the impediments put in place by certain accusations, Tony Khan could have a legitimate star on his hands.)

– Afterward, the director cut between the crowd and a celebrating Lethal as the crowd gave the match they’d just witnessed a standing ovation.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you only have time to watch three of these eight matches, I’d recommend Skye Blue vs. Angelica Risk, Dark Order vs. Mike Orlando & Shayne Stetson, and Jay Lethal vs. Troy Hollywood. If you have time for a fourth, check out Serpentico vs. Jake Atlas to catch a noteworthy debut and the awesome commentary that accompanied it.

Thank you all for reading. I truly appreciate it. And as always, I’m still working on my sign-off, but until next week, remember that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones at the people who sold it to them.

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