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AEW DARK ELEVATION REPORT
JANUARY 10, 2022
TAPED 1/5 IN NEWARK, N.J.
AIRED ON YOUTUBE.COM
REPORT BY DAVID BRYANT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Paul Wight, Mark Henry, Eddie Kingston
Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts
– My Hook shirt came in today, so I’m in a good mood. Let’s go!
– Tonight’s show opened with swaths of neon blue illuminating the stage as Jay Lethal entered with his tag team partner for the night, Sonny Kiss. (OMG! Sonny Kiss! This’ll be my first time writing a report on Sonny! This is cause for celebration. I’m gonna go put on my new Hook shirt, brb. Aaaaand, I’m back.)
(1) JAY LETHAL & SONNY KISS vs. JADEN VALO & CHRIS STEELER
Kiss and Lethal waved and pointed to their fans as they walked down the rampway together. Lethal high-fived a fan while Kiss made a heart with his hands. This is going to be a great match to start things off! (Fun fact: Sonny Kiss is a certified yoga instructor. That may not seem like vital information to you, but trust me, it is!)
Jaden Valo and his tag team partner Chris Steeler were already in the ring when Lethal and Kiss arrived. Kiss looked so enthusiastic I think his smile left an imprint on my screen! Valo also looked enthusiastic — almost as enthusiastic as he had the last time I saw him on Dark Elevation — but given his win-loss record, I cannot fathom why.
Lethal pointed to Steeler, and Steeler eagerly accepted Lethal’s challenge. After that, both men started off the match with nothing short of Adderall levels of speed. Steeler caught Lethal in a waistlock and clubbed his back. Lethal lurched into the ropes, but Steeler cracked Lethal’s jaw with a hard right hand. Lethal sought out an Irish whip but discovered a short-arm reversal instead. Steeler kicked Lethal’s stomach, but Lethal caught Steeler’s boot, ducked under his leg, and chopped him down with a clothesline! Steeler popped back up, but Lethal knocked him right back down with a knife-edge chop. Lethal then applied a front facelock and tagged in Kiss. (If you haven’t seen Sonny Kiss vs. Joey Janella in their no DQ match that appeared on the Dec 28 episode of Dark… drop everything that’s not expensive, and watch it! That match will improve the quality of your life.)
Kiss executed an Irish whip, the whip got reversed. (Fun Fact: Sonny Kiss is not Irish, but he is a vegetarian. That may not seem like vital information to you, but trust me, it is!) Kiss hit a Senton splash at the same time Lethal landed a basement dropkick, and then, out of the blue sky (not to be confused with Skye Blue), Kiss nailed a standing moonsault.
“That moonsault sent double knees right to his spleen!” Paul Wight said.
“I don’t even know where it landed, but spleen sounds fine,” Mark Henry replied.
Kiss snapped Steeler up in a fireman’s carry, but Steeler elbowed Kiss’s temple and raced to the Valo for the tag. Before Valo could get a foot through the ropes, Kiss was on him with a running forearm. Steeler spun Kiss around and kicked his chest in retribution, and then callously stomped on Kiss’s left foot. When Kiss doubled over to grab his foot, Steeler caught him in a Russian leg sweep. (All of this is happening very, very quickly.) Valo then rolled under the bottom rope and into the ring, grasping Kiss’s head, hitting Kiss with two stomps, and then punctuating his ongoing assault with an elbow drop! Valo made an angry face that looked like Popeye if he only ever ate lemons. (Either way, Wade was right about Popeye.)
“Look at that face on him!” Henry said. “That’s a face only a mother could love.” (What about just his hand?)
Valo covered Kiss and got a two-count, but both men quickly returned to their feet. Valo zipped Kiss toward the ropes, but Kiss reversed. Valo crashed back-first into the ropes, and Steeler grabbed him around the waist from the outside to stop his momentum. Kiss ran toward Valo, Valo ducked out of the way, and Kiss’ incoming pump kick missed Valo completely and went straight into Steeler. (One-hundred percent deserved.) Valo capitalized on Kiss’s brief distraction and hit Kiss with an open-handed chop to the chest! Valo then zipped Kiss toward the ropes, but in a moment of divine karma, Lethal grabbed Kiss’s waist to stop his momentum, just as Steeler had done for Valo.
Kiss pulled Valo into the ropes and hit him in the back of the head with an impressively flexible roundhouse kick. With Valo half out of it, Kiss tagged in Lethal. As Lethal stepped through the ropes, Kiss executed a rolling head kick to Valo. Moments after this, Lethal dashed through the ropes to the outside and hit Steeler with a tope suicida! Steeler sold this well, smashing into the steel barricade. Lethal jumped onto the apron, turned his attention to Valo, and Steeler grabbed hold of Lethal’s leg to yank him from the apron. Lethal, however, grabbed the top rope, refusing to allow himself to be manhandled. Steeler kept tugging at Lethal’s leg, and Kiss ran around the corner of the ring and nailed Steeler with a rolling elbow. Steeler hit the floor so hard he bounced! (Fun Fact: The back of Kiss’ shirt said, “Beautiful Badass.” That may not seem like vital information to you, but trust me, it is!)
Valo then rammed Lethal with his shoulder, but Lethal was on fire and unphased. Lethal jumped off the apron, did a flip over Valo (that is not a typo), landed on his feet, performed a handspring into the ropes, and executed his Lethal Injection finisher for the win!
WINNER: Jay Lethal & Sonny Kiss in 3:00
(David’s Analysis: This was a short but good match. All four men made the most of the time they were given. I’m pleasantly surprised to discover Lethal and Kiss have decent in-ring chemistry. I would not at all mind seeing another Kiss & Lethal tag match. Also, obviously, Kiss is one of my favorite AEW wrestlers, and someone I feel is often overlooked. His work wasn’t quite as crisp as some of the other originals in 2019, but it’s not 2019 anymore. Kiss has improved by leaps and bounds and standing moonsaults and flexible roundhouse kicks and he deserves another look. Kiss has worked hard, and hard work should be rewarded. Also, Fun Fact: Sonny Kiss has a pink Christmas tree. That may not seem like vital information to you, but trust me, it is.)
– Post-match, Kiss and Lethal waved to the crowd. Lethal stood on the second rope and raised his hand in victory while Kiss blew a kiss.
“Very polished! They looked like they were an established act,” Mark Henry said.
“Absolutely,” Tony Schiavone said.
“I would not at all mind seeing another Kiss/Lethal tag match,” David Bryant said.
– A graphic for the next match popped up on screen and informed us Vickie Guerrero will be appearing next! (Also, wrestlers.)
(2) NYLA ROSE & EMI SAKURA (w/Vickie Guerrero) vs. SKY BLUE & TINA SAN ANTONIO
Sky Blue’s music hit, and Mark Henry said, “I love this music.”
Right behind Sky Blue, Tina San Antonio came out, and Henry said, “I wonder where Tina’s from?”
Next, Nyla Rose and Emi Sakura stalked and sauntered onto the stage, respectively. Rose looked vicious in her golden face mask, and Sakura looked regal in her queenly robes. Vickie Guerrero looked perfect because she always looks perfect, and that’s not something we should question. Tonight, Guerrero wore a flowing, mist-white shirt with a shimmering silver necklace. This shirt was smartly coupled with obsidian black hotpants, milky white shoes, and a glistening white iPhone because no one can mix and match like fashion icon Vickie Guerrero.
Anyway… Sakura and Blue started things off. For a moment, it looked like both women would pounce straight into a collar and elbow tie-up, but things quickly devolved as Sakura chopped Blue and began shouting belligerently. Blue swirled around Sakura and stopped her trash-talking with a chop to the chest. Sakura made a face that looked like Blue had just broken a family heirloom. (I can’t swear that Sakura’s facial expressions haven’t cured the sick and raised the dead, but I don’t have proof it’s not true.)
Full of fury, Sakura sprinted toward Blue and attempted a big boot, but Blue caught her foot, spun herself around while keeping hold of Sakura’s leg, ducked underneath Sakura’s leg, and then rolled her up for a two-count! Afterward, Blue tried for a waistlock, but Sakura was as clever as ever and grabbed fistfuls of Blue’s hair. My favorite referee, Aubrey Edwards, ordered Sakura to release Blue’s hair and began to count. Before she could get to five, Sakura wrapped her arm around Edwards’ elbow and danced with her — and not metaphorically. No. This was some straight-up, square-dancing, toe-tapping, do-si-do. (I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking to yourself, “This must have been awful.” And it should have been awful, but it wasn’t. It was somehow awesome, and the crowd popped for it.)
When the referee and the wrestler finished square dancing, Sakura confronted a very confused Blue and poked her in the eye. Blue responded with a forearm, another forearm, another, another, and a fifth — and they all went straight to Sakura’s face. Sakura scrambled to make a comeback and attempted a clothesline, but Blue ducked and caught Sakura in the face with a knee lift. Blue ran into the ropes, and Guerrero grabbed Blue’s ankle, tripping her. Vickie then threw up her hands, looking all innocent and shocked that the referee would accuse her of interfering. She did this while modeling a pair of silvery hoop earrings. (J.C. Penny, eat your heart out.)
Sakura landed a senton splash and tagged in Rose. As Blue used the ropes to climb back to her feet, Rose attacked her from behind and choked her on the middle rope. The referee ran in to break things up, and Rose quickly whipped Blue across the ring like a human slingshot. Blue bounced off the ropes and right onto Rose’s shoulders for what would’ve been a Samoan drop had Blue not desperately fought her way out. Rose staggered a little, and Blue superkicked Rose in the face. Rose staggered a lot, and Blue scarpered away to tag in San Antonio.
San Antonio nailed Rose with a running clothesline, but Rose no-sold it. San Antonio then threw herself into the ropes, bounced off the ropes toward Rose, and Rose caught her with a sidewalk slam. Rose tagged in Sakura. Then, Rose splashed San Antonio, and Sakura splashed Rose while Rose was still on top of San Antonio. (I can only assume San Antonio has now become one with the mat.) Sakura dragged San Antonio into a neutral corner and did her signature We Will Rock You Chops, but this time you could actually hear her singing, “We will, we will chop you! Yeah!”
“Sakura performing her version of Karaoke,” Schiavone said.
“I think she said, we will chop you?” Henry seemed delighted by this.
“Yeah… I think she did,” Schiavone sounded utterly incredulous.
San Antonio fought off Sakura’s We Will Rock You chops with multiple forearms before turning Sakura around and pinning her against the turnbuckles. San Antonio backed off and ran toward the turnbuckles for a splash, but Rose grabbed Sakura’s arm, tore her away from the turnbuckles, and saved the heel team’s day. San Antonio crashed hard into the turnbuckles, and Rose hit her with a running clothesline from the apron. San Antonio hung on the turnbuckles in the scarecrow position, and Sakura executed a running crossbody to bring her to the mat. Then, one of the best things I’ve ever seen on Dark Elevation took place — Emi Sakura, Vickie Guerrero, and Nyla Rose posed together for a glorious, splendiferous, fabulous picture that is now my Snapchat story.
Sakura then walked over San Antonio, literally. She stepped right on San Antonio’s torso as she walked over her (deliciously evil), and then Sakura wrapped up San Antonio for the pin. However, Blue ran in for the save and kicked Sakura in the head. (Wow, that was snug.) Sakura clutched her kicked-in head. (I hope she’s just selling. I think she’s just selling. It’s hard to tell with her sometimes.) Blue then attempted to gore Sakura, but Sakura shoved her away, and Rose caught Blue to deliver a wicked spinebuster! Sakura tagged in Rose, and Rose kicked San Antonio in her mid-section, doubled her over, and executed a beast bomb for the win.
WINNERS: Rose & Sakura in 3:00
(David’s Analysis: That was good on so many levels. I don’t know that “everyone” would love that style of match, but I definitely do. I live for facial expressions in wrestling, and this match had it in spades. Emi Sakura is a storytelling genius and, as we’ve all known for many years, Vickie Guerrero is the absolute best at being the absolute worst.)
– After the match, Nyla Rose got on her hands and knees to taunt an unconscious San Antonio, even going so far as to lick San Antonio’s forehead. (Again, facial expressions.)
(3) FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) vs. PAT BRINKS & MYLES HAWKINS
Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood, a/k/a FTR (a/k/a Las Super Ranas), walked out on the ramp and flaunted their AAA Tag Team Championship belts. The camera cut to people making hand signs for FTR in the audience. FTR posed on the ring ropes in matching jackets and lifted their hands to acknowledge their fans.
Pat Brinks & Myles Hawkins were already waiting in the ring (which is always kind of a spoiler), and Wheeler and Hawkins started things off with feigned grabbling before Wheeler headed to his corner to randomly hug Harwood.
“Is that considered a tag?” Kingston asked
“I’d consider that a tag,” Henry answered.
“I would, too,” Wight added.
The referee did not consider it a tag. Wheeler then slapped on a wristlock and transitioned it into a side headlock. Hawkins then whipped Wheeler into the ring, but Wheeler caught him with a shoulder tackle, taking him down. Wheeler then John-Silvered (a verb that means flexing in public for no reason) in the middle of the ring. Wheeler and Hawkins locked back up, and Hawkins struggled to gain the upper hand as Wheeler kept a firm grip on his arms. Hawkins managed to wriggle free, wrap an arm around Wheeler’s neck and toss him into the ring ropes; he then caught Wheeler with a shoulder tackle of his own and mocked Wheeler by John-Silvering just as Wheeler had done moments before.
Wheeler grabbed Hawkins’ wrist for another wristlock, caught Hawkins in a side headlock, and tagged in Harwood. Wheeler then Irish whipped Hawkins across the ring and caught Hawkins with a drop toe hold at the same moment Harwood caught Hawkins with a running elbow drop. Harwood forcefully pulled Hawkins back up by his hair and shoved him into a neutral corner. He then delivered two devastating knife-edge chops, which echoed throughout the arena. Harwood slung Hawkins into the opposite corner, but Hawkins jumped up onto the second turnbuckle and dove over a charging Harwood. Hawkins then flitted across the ring to use the second rope for a springboard crossbody. Now fully in control, Hawkins led Harwood to the heel’s corner, using a wristlock like a dog leash and tagging in Brink. After a sharp shoulder tackle, Brink went for a cover but only got a one-count.
Brink applied a wristlock (lots of wristlocks) and tagged Hawkins back in. Brink held out Harwood’s arm, maintaining the wristlock, and Brink kicked Harwood in the wrist. (That was painful looking.) However, Harwood refused to succumb and nailed Hawkins with two uppercuts. Harwood then unleashed a flurry of offense, whipping Hawkins into the opposite neutral corner and hitting him with a dropkick! Harwood landed on his shoulder, which was taped up, and he grabbed at it, writhing in agony. Both the referee and Wheeler moved to check on Harwood, who had crawled into the corner, still holding his taped-up shoulder. The referee then got back to their feet to talk to Hawkins about what was going on. Wheeler tried to hold the ropes open for Harwood to exit the ring, but Brink ran at him, and Wheeler tossed Brink through the open ropes and onto the floor.
Then, Harwood popped back up, having played possum to prey on the heel’s sympathy (Wait. What?), Wheeler and Harwood were able to hit an unsuspecting Hawkins with a Big Rig to score a three count. (No, seriously. What?)
WINNERS: FTR in 3:00
(David’s Analysis: FTR is good at telling stories in the ring, but the kind of stories they excel at require more than three minutes. This match was ok. There was nothing wrong with it, and FTR looked strong, but it would’ve benefited from going at least three minutes longer.)
(4) RED VELVET & LEYLA HIRSH vs. NOTORIOUS MIMI & BECCA
The words “Stir it up, stir it up, stir it up!” filled the arena, and Red Velvet made her way to the ring with Leyla Hirsh. Velvet tried to get Hirsh to do the “stir it up” gesture with her, but Hirsh preferred normal walking and made her way to ringside. (BTW, Velvet has no joints. When entering the ring, she kicked her leg so high I thought it was gonna go all the way around.)
Meanwhile, Notorious Mimi and Becca awaited their squashing in the ring.
Mimi and Hersh started things off with a collar and elbow tie-up, but things quickly picked up pace as Velvet tugged Mimi to the mat with two arm drags; she then whipped her across the ring, let her bounce off the ropes, and nailed her in the head with a leg lariat!
Meanwhile, the announcers sung “No, no, notorious!” from The Notorious B.I.G.’s 1999, posthumous album “Born Again,” which sampled that particular hook from Duran Duran’s 1986 album “Notorious.” (Timely.)
Stuff was happening in the ring, but I was distracted. (Seriously, the announcers were singing. In harmony! Not very good harmony, but still — attempted harmony!) But, at some point, there was apparently a tag, and now Becca was in the ring with Velvet. Velvet had Becca wrapped up doing that Spanish-Fly-Looking-Japanese-Arm-Drag thing you see from time to time, and it looked great… but they were SINGING!
Anyway, Becca crawled toward the face’s corner (not wise), and Velvet trapped her there, stomping on her chest (told ya) before choking her with one foot while tagging in Hirsch. Hirsh slammed Becca with a running Meteora before using the ropes as leverage to deliver a double stomp to her chest. Hirsch jerked Becca up to her feet and hit a swift backdrop driver, throwing Becca so far she ended up in the heel’s corner. Upon realizing where she was, Becca made a desperate tag to Mimi. Mimi rushed Hirsch with a knee lift jawbreaker, grabbed Hirsch’s head, and flung her into the opposite corner. Mimi tagged Becca back in, and the two of them set Hirsch up for a double-team vertical suplex, but Hirsch countered by, somehow, amazingly, suplexing both Mimi and Becca at the same time! Hirsch tagged in Velvet.
Mimi ran at Velvet, but Velvet ducked and countered with an onslaught of clotheslines and a drop toe hold onto the middle rope, setting her up in the please-kick-me position. Velvet ran the ropes to get momentum (during which Hirsch made a blind tag), and then Velvet nailed Mimi with a running Meteora. Mimi was then on her knees, her eyes fogged over in the middle of the ring, and Velvet hit her with a spinning kick. Velvet then went for the cover, but because a blind tag had been made, one she was totally unaware of, the referee stopped the count and told her she wasn’t the legal woman. Velvet looked confused as Hirsch entered the ring. Velvet stepped aside, and Hirsch put on her cross-arm breaker finisher; Mimi instantly tapped.
WINNER: Velvet & Hirsch in 3:00
– After the match, Velvet was not clear about that blind tag (I don’t blame her) and exchanged heated words with Hirsch. Hirsch grabbed Velvet’s hand and raised it, but Velvet just rolled her eyes at the meager gesture.
(David’s Analysis: That match was also okay. There were some cool spots, like the vertical suplex counter, and I liked the story at the end. I’m guessing we’ll be seeing Velvet vs. Hirsch at some point down the line? If so, I’m here for it.)
(5) WILL HOBBS vs. RYAN CLANCY
OMG! Eddie Kingston is back on commentary! (Why couldn’t he have been there when they were singing?)
Anyway, Will Hobbs stomped his way to the ring, looking extremely furious and as if he were ready to destroy something. Ryan Clancy waited in the ring, looking ready to be destroyed. (This one should be short.)
“Opponent?” Kingston said. “He looks more like a sacrifice.”
Hobbs shoulder-tackled poor Clancy so hard I’m surprised his arm didn’t pop off. (Hobbs has the most intense look on his face right now. Like I’m scared.) Hobbs put Clancy on the top turnbuckles, clubbed him repeatedly across the chest, and then tossed the soon-to-be dearly departed Clancy to the apron. Hobbs then Biel threw Clancy off the apron and back into the ring and put him in a Torture Rack. Clancy tapped immediately because he probably has a family.
WINNER: Will Hobbs in 79 seconds.
(David’s Analysis: Hobbs wrestled like he’s a villain in a horror movie, and I believed him. Clancy was kinda cute. His premature demise was tragic, and he will be sorely missed. #ThoughtsAndPrayers)
(6) Q.T. MARSHALL (w/Aaron Solow, Nick Comoroto, & Anthony Ogogo) vs. ZACK CLAYTON
As Justin Roberts began to introduce Q.T. Marshall (and his factory of Garbage Pale Kids), Q.T. told him to shut up! (The crowd booed.) Q.T. Marshall wanted to make sure fans knew just how much he detested his opponent and just how closely tied his opponent was to the state they were in. He also wanted them to know that Zack Clayton was marrying JWoww (who I think he called JLo?).
“Snooki is in the building?” Schiavone asked.
“Who’s Snooki?” Eddie Kingston asked.
“Never mind,” Paul Wight answered.
Q.T. Marshall then implied Aaron Solow was going to have sex with Zack Clayton’s future wife. (Why?) Zack Clayton punched Q.T. Marshall before the bell, and good for him. Q.T. Marshall went down, and for the first time ever, I supported a referee’s decision to start the match while one of the competitors was on their back.
Clayton whipped Marshall into the opposite corner and ran at him, but Marshall clocked him with a back elbow. Overconfident, Marshall ran at Clayton, only for Clayton to floor him with a back body drop. Marshall staggered to his feet, and Clayton hit a spectacular dropkick to Marshall’s face! Clayton then clotheslined Marshall over the top rope and all the way to the floor before ripping off his jacket. The Factory headed to Marshall’s side, but Clayton ran them off when he grabbed Marshall and slammed him into the steel barricade. Having inflicted maximum damage, Clayton rolled Marshall’s battered body back into the ring.
Clayton hopped on the apron but looked over at The Factory. With his attention averted, Marshall nailed Clayton with a dropkick of his own, and Clayton collapsed on the apron. Clayton rolled under the bottom rope and back into the ring, where Marshall briefly distracted the referee by tossing his shirt to the ring canvas. The referee then had to turn around to push it out of the ring, using his foot. In that split second of distraction, Marshall choked the life out of Clayton. (This was a good referee distraction! I criticize bad ones, but I praise good ones. This distraction made sense, was done quickly, and the referee didn’t look as dumb as a goldfish.) When the referee turned back around, Marshall immediately let up, but the damage had already been done. Marshall stared out at the crowd, mugging and glaring, and Clayton used the recovery time to jump to his feet and throw strikes at Marshall, but when Clayton tried to Irish whip Marshall into the ropes, Marshall reversed it and came back with an elbow strike.
Marshall then showboated, and Clayton came back with two clotheslines. Marshall thrust a boot into Clayton’s stomach and attempted a bodyslam, but Clayton landed on his feet! Clayton went for a waistlock; Marshall went for a standing switch, and Clayton ran them both toward the ropes, grabbing on and forcing Marshall to release his waistlock. Clayton ducked a clothesline and then powerslammed Marshall to the mat. Marshall teetered into the corner, propping himself up on the turnbuckles. Clayton ran toward Marshall, and Marshall got a foot up. Clayton grabbed Marshall’s boot, but Marshall countered Clayton’s counter with a step-up enzuigiri.
Marshall hopped onto the apron and glowered at the crowd again before climbing up to the top turnbuckle. Once on the top turnbuckle, Marshall threw out his arms to gloat for the audience, and Clayton seized on this mistake, running up to Marshall and delivering a superplex! Stunningly, Clayton held on after the superplex. (“He holds on! He holds on!” Eddie Kingston shouted.) and delivered a fisherman buster immediately after. Clayton got a “kind of” believable near fall, but Marshall kicked out at two. Clayton looked frustrated and flabbergasted that Marshall had kicked out, and Marshall used Clayton’s moment of diversion to roll him up for a quick three-count.
WINNER: Marshall in 3:00.
(David’s Analysis: I enjoyed seeing Q.T. Marshall get beat up. Is he the best wrestler? No. Is he able to annoy me to the point of wanting to see him get his comeuppance? Yes. And that “yes” is a very important trait to have. That Clayton guy has a good look and clearly knew his way around the ring. His dropkick to Marshall was stellar.)
(7) ANDRADE EL IDOLO (w/Jose “The Assistant”) vs. AVERY GOOD
Andrade El Idolo came out with Jose “The Assistant” wearing his Comic-Con cosplay gear, and Jose helped him transform into his more threatening persona… a badass wrestler.
Avery Good was already waiting in the ring, so this one should be short, too. (Although, I should note, Good definitely looked like someone I would never, ever want to get into a fight with.) The crowd applauded Andrade as he stood on the apron and appraised their reaction. (His crowd reactions are weird sometimes… He’s a villain who thinks Darby is Sting’s son/slave/servant-boy, but the fans are still like, “We love you!”)
Good and Idolo started things off with a collar and elbow tie-up, but Idolo quickly slapped on a waistlock from behind and transitioned into a side headlock. Good whipped Idolo across the ring, but whatever he had planned did not work out because Idolo clobbered him with a shoulder tackle. Idolo then wrenched Good’s head into the world’s most vicious-looking side headlock (He had that headlock on him with all the intensity of a finisher!) and used his arm to wring Good’s neck.
“Why does he think Darby is Sting’s assistant?” One of the announcers asked.
“Maybe it’s just easier to pay people to like you?” Wight answered.
“Yeah, we know a lot of people who do that!” Kingston blurted out. (Well, damn. Save some tea for Kermit!)
Meanwhile, Good tried to work his way out of the headlock from hell by karate chopping Idolo’s kidneys. Idolo grimaced in pain and finally released his hold as Good thrust him into the corner. Good ran toward Idolo, grabbed his wrist, jumped on the ring ropes, and executed a springboard arm drag takedown (Nice). However, Idolo made his way back to his feet first and clotheslined Good so hard I think his heart got a concussion! Good then slunk his way down the turnbuckles, seemingly unconscious. Idolo walked around the ring but never lost his intensity. When he made his way back to Good, Idolo repeatedly mud-stomped his chest and then bent down to slap him across the face.
“That’s what I’ve been talking about!” Kingston shouted. “He’s been going around slapping people! Ever since that Cody match. I’d love to fight him!” (Oh… I’d love that, too. I’d hate having to root against Idolo, but I would cause it’s Kingston.)
Idolo pinned Good against the turnbuckles, and the crowd egged him on, wanting to see him chop Good across the chest. Idolo feigned going for a chop before quickly kicking Good in the stomach instead. Idolo then wagged a finger at the crowd.
“Good! Don’t do what they want,” Kingston said. “Do what you want!” (He’d make a good lawyer.)
“Who cares if they (are) booing him or cheering him. You’re trying to win!” Kingston continued. (I have to agree with this perspective. I mean, my sport is figure skating. Could you imagine if we just ignored the IJS scoring system and did whatever we wanted? Half the men’s team would be skating to Dua Lipa and looking like Sonny Kiss on a slip n’ slide. Noooo… If you wanna participate in a sport, you gotta pay attention to that “winning” thing.)
Idolo stalked his way around Good, controlling the pace of the match. He grabbed Good by the neck and then suplexed him into the turnbuckles. (That looked killer.) Idolo grabbed Good’s leg and teased a figure four. The audience was excited for it, but ever the heel, Idolo huffed at the crowd and made Good tap out to the La Muerte — By the way, I think muerte is Spanish for death-slash-murder and also exactly what I thought just happened over by the turnbuckles.
WINNER: Andrade in 3:00.
(David’s Analysis: I’m excited for Idolo’s feud with Darby Allin and Sting. Allin vs. Idolo might even top the very first Pac vs. Idolo match. I know that’s a reach, but you can’t tell me it’s not possible. Either way, I’m glad to see Idolo back in a top-tier feud. This might be the third week I’ve said this, but Idolo has all the ingredients to be a major star. His look, in-ring style, and general demeanor can overcome the supposed “crime” of having an accent. I mean, this man can make even a headlock look like death-slash-murder. That takes talent.)
(8) THE ACCLAIMED (Anthony Bowens & Max Caster) vs. KEVIN MATTHEWS & JOEY ACE
Ahhh, The Acclaimed – two men I love to hate.
Max Caster implored the audience to “listen” because I don’t think he didn’t want them “looking” too closely for fear they might notice he was sporting a chain from 1987 and a boombox from 1994. Anyway, let’s all “listen” to some brilliant music and whatever it is Max Caster does.
For those not watching, and because I’m a passionate patron of the arts, I’ll transcribe Caster’s poetry but leave out the offense parts.
“The Acclaimed got you running around/Got these ******* running around like **** ******* *****/Who are you to doubt me/I got **** ***** than ****** *****/You about to get your chin smacked/trying to work here cause *** ******** **** ** Impact/**** **** ***** Betty White/***** ** ****** **** Golden”
Anthony Bowens then calmly explained to the audience that The Acclaimed had arrived. Then they made a scissoring hand gesture that I will continue assuming is about arts and crafts.
“You know, Tony, I gotta tell you — that’s one of my favorite raps they’ve done,” Paul Wight said, disclosing he suffers from profound hearing loss.
Kevin Matthews and Joey Ace were already in the ring. Caster (who needs to shave) started things off against Ace. They lunged toward one another, locking up in a collar and elbow tie-up. Caster quickly turned the lockup into a wristlock, dragging Ace to the heel’s corner and tagging in Bowens. (How is Caster able to make even the simplest of tags look like a moral failing of society? My God. Someone punch him, please!)
Caster twisted Ace’s wrist in the wristlock and immediately handed Ace’s wrist to Bowens who also twisted Ace’s wrist in a wristlock before handing that wrist right back to Caster who, once again, twisted Ace’s wrist in a wristlock, then Bowens again, then Caster again, and then Caster kicked Ace’s now amputated arm. (Jerks.) Bowens chopped Ace’s chest not once but twice and then attempted an Irish whip, but Ace thankfully reversed the move. (Yay!) Ace charged toward Bowens, and Bowens dived over Ace. (Boo!) Ace charged again, and Bowens dove over him a second time. (Well, double crap.) Bowens slapped on a side headlock, dragged poor Ace toward a neutral corner, and then slung him across the ring in the exact same way I wish the earth would sling Bowens into the Sun.
The announcers are talking up what a good wrestler Bowens is, and they are not exactly wrong. In fact, he’s a great wrestler, but I think my Anthony Bowens voodoo doll will work better if we all stay focused on how much we hate him.
In less than five seconds, Bowens ran the ropes around Ace, landed a thrust kick to Ace’s midsection, landed a front kick to Ace’s chest, ducked under Ace’s clothesline, grabbed Ace’s well-wrung wrist, and pulled him into a ripcord neckbreaker. (Show off.) Bowens noticed the crowd applauding for him and shouted at them because he is a human crapcicle. Bowens slammed two forearms into the face of Ace, bullied him into the heel’s corner, and tagged in Caster. Caster and Bowens performed a double vertical suplex on Ace, and then Caster took control with two uppercuts. Caster tagged Bowens back in.
“They’re picking on the little guy! Typical bully stuff,” Kingston said. “And I love it!” (He was so close.)
Bowen’s struck Ace multiple times with his forearm, wrenched Ace’s wrist one more time for good measure, and threw him into a belly-to-back suplex. BUT Ace landed on his feet! Ace then caught the evil Bowens off guard with a step-up enzuigiri. Bowens careened toward his corner, tagging in Caster, and Ace dashed to his corner to tag in Matthews. Matthews clotheslined Caster; then he clotheslined Bowens; then he elbowed Caster, and then he dropkicked Bowens! (That was satisfying. Also, that dropkick that went so high, Matthew’s right foot almost cleared Bowen’s head! I actually rewound and paused the screen to make sure I didn’t hallucinate that. If that’s the only thing Matthews does this entire match, I am still impressed.)
“Nice standing dropkick!” Paul Wight said as the crowd applauded in agreement.
Matthews lept toward Caster, but the little weasel sidestepped him and let this dropkick-savant I’m just now a fan of crash and burn on the turnbuckles. Bowens hit Matthews with a forearm, and then Caster hit him with a back elbow. (And somehow, Caster managed to make even a simple back elbow look emphatically obnoxious.) Bowens Irish whipped Matthews, but Matthews reversed it. However, Caster caught Bowens and shoved him into the other team’s corner knocking Ace off the apron. Matthews jumped at Caster, and somehow, despite his size, Caster caught Matthews out of the air like a bug flying into his mouth. The crowd applauded as Caster powerfully bodyslammed Matthews to the mat. Caster then beat his chest, and the applause intensified.
“He’s been lifting weights!” Kingston said. (Okay, but let’s not encourage him.)
Caster pulled Matthews up, bent him over, put his head between his legs, and put out an imaginary cigarette (that was probably a joint) on Matthews’ back. The end looked nigh, but Matthews looked resolved, and somehow, with the unfettered determination of debt collector, Matthews tossed Caster into a back body drop and tagged in Ace. Ace climbed to the top turnbuckle and leaped toward Caster, but Caster caught him in midair with a dropkick. Caster tagged in Bowens, and with the tempo of the match at an all-time high, Bowens stopped a charging Matthews with a back elbow, a chop, another elbow, then a third elbow, and finally another chop; he finished this marathon of offense with a determinant thrust kick, grounding Matthews. This allowed him to grab Ace by the head, tag in Caster, and deliver a Mic Drop for the win. ($h!#)
WINNER: The Acclaimed in 4:00.
(David’s Analysis: If there was an Oscar for malevolence, The Acclaimed would have more gold than Omega. Mark my words, one day, The Acclaimed will win the AEW Tag Team Championships, and I will sue whoever sold me this broken voodoo doll.)
– After the match, Bowens celebrated with that insufferable hand gesture, and Caster began dancing in a way that ruined dancing forever, and… Oh God, now they’re doing the hand gesture thing together at the same time! And now they’re celebrating on the ring ropes like hyenas?! Why are they bouncing? Why is there so much tongue involved? I’m getting an ice cream headache without eating ice cream.
(9) DANTE MARTIN vs. ACTION ANDRETTI
Oh good! I get to report on Dante Martin. I like him. He seems like such a nice guy. He’d never pal around with a burp-basket like Bowens. Tony Schiavone introduced Martin as a human highlight reel, and I adore that nickname. It’s way better than burp-basket.
Martin came out looking intense. He flipped into the ring, posed, and then took off his hoodie. Action Andretti was already in the ring and acknowledged the crowd when he was announced. Both men started things off with an acrobatic wristlock exchange that included a roll, a handspring, a one-handed cartwheel, and a bunch of other Cirque du Soleil stuff that felt like a premium live event unto itself.
Andretti went into the ropes, rebounding toward Martin, but Martin dropped to the mat to go under him. Andretti leaped over Martin, bounced off the opposite ropes, and got totally leapfrogged by Martin while standing upright! (I’m looking for wires, and there are none.) Martin dropkicked Andretti and somehow kinda landed on his feet? (Is that how gravity works? It doesn’t work like that for me… Is there like a helium-infused energy bar I need to eat?)
The crowd applauded as Andretti shoved Martin into the ropes, Martin rebounded with a backward chop, but Andretti ducked it, jumped onto the ropes, springboarded off the ropes, and hit a flying enzuigiri. (How does he…) Martin stumbled into the turnbuckles and propped himself up in the scarecrow position, which allowed Andretti to spear him with all of his might, grab him by the neck, and snapmare him to the canvas. Andretti then hit a standing shooting star press out of a nowhere because he’s magic, and somehow that was only good for a one-count! (… Is there like a weight machine that makes you fly?)
“Everyone’s enzuigiring tonight!” Kingston exclaimed. (He literally invented a verb I will probably use now. This man is a genius without even trying to be.)
Andretti jumped onto the ropes for a springboard crossbody, but Martin dodged him, and he soared across the ring, crashing hard to the mat. Martin sized up Andretti and then ran at him with a back elbow, a second back elbow, some kind of standing switching (This is happening faster than I can type.), and some kind of Spanish-Fly-Looking-Face-Buster type thingy. Then Martin jumped to the apron, then he jumped from the apron to the top rope, then he jumped from that rope to a perpendicular rope, then bounced off the perpendicular rope, used it as a springboard, and backflipped in the air high enough to win a ladder match. That’s apparently a move he calls the Nose Dive, and it is absolutely unreal. Martin went for the cover, hooked Andretti’s leg, and the referee counted to three. (… Is there like a pixie dust blood transfusion I don’t know about?)
WINNER: Dante Martin in 2:00
(David’s Analysis: Did he get bit by a radioactive spider?)
– After the match, we got more classic moments from the announce table.
Schiavone asked, “Can we get a replay of that?”
“Yeah, can we get a replay?” Kingston said.
“The answer is no, we can not!” Schiavone announced, using the exact same voice he’d have used if he discovered an extra twenty bouncing around in the dryer.
(10) DARK ORDER (John Silver & Preston Vance & Alex Reynolds) vs. PRIVATE PARTY & THE BLADE (w/Matt Hardy)
Hardy Family Office came out first, with tonight’s representatives being Private Party and The Blade. Dark Order came out second, with a full entourage that stood on stage and cheered on their representatives: John Silver, Preston Vance, and Alex Reynolds.
Dark Order posed on the ring apron and did their mother monster hand gesture for the hard camera. Having shredded every last remnant of their scruples, Hardy Family Office maliciously attacked Dark Order from behind, knocking them off the apron mid-salute. The camera cut to Dark Order members still on stage, angered by the vicious assault but not coming to the aid of their teammates or anything. Hardy Family Office began mud-stomping all three Dark Order members by the guardrails, crushing them against the floor. The beatdown continued until Reynolds, and Isiah Kassidy got in the ring. Once it was clear two legal men were standing upright in the ring, the referee called for the bell. (OMG! That was perfect and exactly what I was asking for last week. It only took a split second to define who the legal men were and have the referee look like a competent, fair official, yet it adds so much value to the match. I highly doubt they read any of these reports, but I truly appreciate them making the effort.)
Reynolds wrapped Kassidy’s arm in a wristlock; Kassidy reversed the wristlock; Reynolds reversed Kassidy’s reversal, and Kassidy countered with a spinning enzuigiri!
“Ooh,” Schiavone exclaimed.
“Look at that,” Henry said.
“Enzuigiri is the move of the week,” Kingston spoke as if he were reading a menu at a restaurant that did not serve cake.
Marq Quen climbed to the top turnbuckle as Kassidy held Reynold’s in place for a neckbreaker. Quen jumped off the top rope with a double-stomp, and the duo executed a double-stomp-neckbreaker-mashup that looked wicked! Quen then ran the ropes to build up speed and did a beautiful Fosbury flop over the top rope onto Silver and Vance outside. Hardy stood over the carnage and vigorously carried out his delete chant. (That was good imagery which is something Hardy understands masterfully.)
Back in the ring, Kassidy pinned Reynolds for a two-count, then snatched up his head in a front facelock and tagged in Quen. Quen scooped Reynolds up in his arms and bodyslammed him to the mat; he then posed for the hard camera, mocking the Dark Order salute. Quen then executed a standing moonsault flawlessly, except that Reynold’s deftly rolled out of the way, leaving Quen to splatter down onto the mat. Just as it looked like Reynolds would gain the upper hand, Hardy interfered, clocking Reynolds with a hard right and allowing Quen to tag in Kassidy. Kassidy kicked a fallen Reynolds’ shoulder — given Reynolds’ prone state, the kick seemed less about hurting him and more about mocking him. Both members of Private Party punched Silver and Vance on the apron, knocking them down.
Quen clubbed Reynolds’ back twice, tossed him into the ropes, and gave Kassidy an opening to kick Reynolds’ in the stomach. With Reynolds still hanging on the ropes, Quen backed up and flung himself at Reynolds, but Reynolds was ready for him, bent over, and caught Quen with his shoulder, dumping him to the outside. Kassidy did a unique half-flip onto Quen’s back while Quen stood on the apron, and Kassidy held the ropes to keep him from flipping all the way to the floor. Kassidy then used Quen’s back and the top ring ropes as leverage to reverse flip himself back into the ring, grab Reynolds’ head and deliver a tornado DDT. (That looked so impressive I don’t think my report can accurately describe it. I think I’ve seen them do this move before, so the whole sequence might have a name, and I just don’t know what it is?) Kassidy hooked Reynolds’ leg and got a quick but fair two-count that was broken up by Silver. Silver pounded Kassidy’s head and shoulders (probably still angry about being punched on the apron for no reason) and only backed off at the referee’s behest. Kassidy tagged in The Blade.
The Blade pulled Reynolds to his feet only to punch him with a hard right and send him straight back down to the mat. The Blade taunted Reynolds to get up, and when Reynolds didn’t rise fast enough, he grabbed him by the hair and pulled him back to his vertical base. He then struck him in the face with a hard forearm. Reynolds collapsed again, and The Blade screamed at him to “Get up!” The Blade pulled Reynolds upright a second time and went to hit him, but Reynolds countered, striking The Blade multiple times with his forearm, which caused The Blade to fall to one knee. However, The Blade held fast to Reynolds’ arm as he struggled to make a tag. The Blade grabbed Reynolds’ hair, and Reynolds spun around The Blade’s body, using every bit of his effort to throw the man out of the ring and to the floor. Reynolds was finally able to make the hot tag to Vance, who quickly lit up the ring with a clothesline to The Blade, another clothesline to The Blade, a whip into the corner, a pump kick to The Blade’s face, a pump kick to Quen’s face, and a spinebuster on The Blade.
The crowd cheered as Vance captured The Blade in a full nelson. However, Vance backed too close to the ropes, and Hardy interfered again, grabbing Vance’s ankle. By the time Vance had turned his attention back to the ring, The Blade had recovered enough to capture him in his arms and swing him around for an efficient powerslam. The Blade then pinned Vance for a one, two, kickout!
The Blade ran at Vance, and Vance caught him with a back elbow. This caused The Blade to stumble backward, and Vance took the opportunity to hop onto the second rope by the turnbuckles and execute a flying shoulder tackle on The Blade before tagging in Silver. Nearly simultaneously, The Blade tagged in Kassidy. Silver raced into the ring, and both Kassidy and Quen met him with attempted offense, but Silver was on fire and undeterred. He hit Kassidy with a clothesline, hit Quen with a clothesline, performed a Biel throw on Kassidy, and finally, Biel threw Quen. Silver then John-Silvered and flexed his muscles mid-ring. Kassidy attacked Silver while he showboated, and with Silver on his knees, Kassidy mocked Silver’s flexing.
Kassidy whipped Silver into the ring ropes and ducked down in the looking-for-trouble position, and he found trouble. Silver rebounded off the ropes, grabbed Kassidy’s waist, and nailed him with a Liger Bomb. Silver covered Kassidy, hooking him with a roll-up, but The Blade ran in for the save. Reynolds ran in to counter The Blade. Reynolds ducked a clothesline from The Blade and kneed The Blade out of the ring to the floor. Reynolds went for a pop-up on Quen, but Quen dropkicked him and didn’t miss so much as a beat before jumping right back up to his feet.
Kassidy and Quen then attempted that half back-flip-ring-rope-assisted-tornado-DDT thingy they did earlier, but Vance countered and caught Kassidy on his shoulder. Quen moved to jump into the ring for the save, and Silver darted across the ring just in time to knock Quen off the apron. Reynolds and Vance lifted Kassidy up onto both their shoulders, and together, they implemented their Swinging Crucifix Slam for the win!
WINNER: Dark Order (Preston Vance & John Silver & Alex Reynolds) in 6:00
(David’s Analysis: This match was a great way to end a great Dark Elevation. It was chaotic but highly entertaining, and at this point, a non-chaotic Dark Order match would jar me more than a chaotic one. It’s amazing how talented Private Party is; it’s been three years, and they still surprise me every time I see them!)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Well, now I want to eat cake with Eddie Kingston, go clubbing with Sonny Kiss, go shopping with Vickie Guerrero, and audit a class taught by Mark Henry. I’d also like to see The Acclaimed participate in the Hunger Games, but only if it’s just the two of them. In closing: Wow! What a night this has been! Ten matches is about two matches too many for someone as loquacious as me, but even still, this has been the best episode of Dark Elevation I’ve reported on thus far. There is so much to like here. If you like high flyers, you got it; if you like brawlers, you got it; if you like fashion icons, comedic timing, or Comic-Con cosplay, you got it. AEW truly has it all.
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 episode of Monday Night Raw when Mark Henry fathered a hand?