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AEW DARK ELEVATION REPORT
FEBRUARY 21, 2022
TAPED 2/16 IN NASHVILLE, TENN.
AIRED ON YOUTUBE.COM
REPORT BY DAVID BRYANT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentators: Excalibur, Mark Henry, Paul Wight
Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts
– Hi guys! Welcome back! Thanks for visiting PWTorch, and thanks for checking out this report. I say it every week, but I also mean it every week: thank you for choosing the only report that turns a one-hour show into a five-hour read.
-Tonight’s Dark Elevation taping came to us from the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. (Unsolicited Tourism Advice: If you ever find yourself in the Nashville area, take the time to eat at Henrietta Red. It can be hard getting a table, but the tomato toast is worth it.)
-Dark Elevation opened with Tay Conti’s music, and the bubbly team of Tay Conti & Anna Jay & Red Velvet came out of the face’s tunnel. Atop the stage, Velvet got her teammates to join in as she performed her signature “stir it up” gesture, and then they all three headed to the ring. The team of Arie Alexander & Freya States & Angelica Risk was already waiting in the ring. (BTW, not that you care, but I was thrilled to see Risk get a match on Rampage this week! However, I was a little disappointed she had to wrestle as a face because that meant she couldn’t showcase the bombastic heelishness that makes her character so mesmerizing.)
(1) RED VELVET & TAY CONTI & ANNA JAY vs. ANGELICA RISK & ARIE ALEXANDER & FREYA STATES
Conti and Alexander started things off with a feigned test of strength before Conti grabbed Alexander’s wrists and executed a monkey flip. Post-flip, Conti stayed on top of Alexander and went for the cover but only got a one-count. Both women popped right back up to their feet, but Conti quickly swept Alexander’s legs out from under her. Alexander crashed to the canvas and rolled onto her back. Conti then grabbed her arm and performed a vicious falling arm crank. (That looked painful.)
“Why are people applauding that?” Henry asked. “Call an ambulance!”
Alexander hustled to the heel’s corner and tagged in States. States was a good bit taller than… everyone and made sure the crowd knew it. While emphasizing her height, she patted Conti on the top of her head. Conti was not okay with that and nailed States with four open-handed chops to the chest. But, to my great surprise, States no-sold the chops!
A graphic bug for AEW’s new mobile game popped up, and it prominently featured Hook.
Conti went for an awkward sunset flip, but States proved to be too gargantuan in size and blocked the maneuver by simply refusing to budge. States grabbed Conti’s frame, manhandling her into an upright position, but Conti fought her way out with a forearm to Alexander’s chest and forced her into the face team’s corner. Conti let out a ferocious scream and ran at Alexander with a back elbow. Finally, this offensive seemed to phase Alexander. (Well, sort of. Maybe.) Conti hit Alexander with a leg lariat and tagged in Jay.
Conti then swung Jay toward States, and Jay slammed into the towering athlete with a running elbow. Jay swept the legs of an already reeling States, and States collapsed into a seated position in the corner. Jay then tagged in Velvet, who was bursting with energy. Velvet held States against the turnbuckles with her boot before performing a roundhouse kick. She then ran the ropes and plunged into States with a dropkick before executing a standing moonsault. Velvet covered States but only got a two-count.
States (whose size advantage really is quite intimidating) jumped to her feet, caught Velvet off guard, and executed a spinning backbreaker. Velvet sold the backbreaker like she’d been murdered, and I think she had been a little bit. States tagged Alexander in, and with Velvet draped back-first across the bottom rope in the heel’s corner, Alexander nailed her with a backward falling headbutt.
“Was that a reverse headbutt to the stomach?” Wight asked.
“Yes it was,” Henry said.
“That is not good for the neck.”
Alexander tagged in Risk, who clambered into the ring with an all but crazed attitude. (Hey, do you all remember when WWE tried to sell us a cologne called “Attitude” that zero people asked for? Wasn’t that wild? I still don’t know what that smelled like. I imagine it was burning tables and beer.)
Risk patted her backside, aimed her butt at Velvet, and slammed Velvet with her posterior. Immediately afterward, Risk pulled Velvet deeper into the ring and went for a cover, but Velvet kicked out at one. Risk looked perturbed and talked trash to the crowd as she defiantly returned to her feet. Risk then turned around and took a jawbreaker from Velvet. Velvet scurried to the face’s corner and tagged in Jay. Risk attempted to clothesline Jay, but Jay ducked, grabbed Risk, paused for a second, and then hit a northern lights suplex. Jay shoved Risk into a neutral corner and struck her with a back elbow followed by a forearm. Jay then backed up and went charging toward Risk to deliver a running, spinning leg lariat. (Nice!) Jay then swept Risk’s legs out from under her.
“Leg whip,” Henry said, “and a trip!” (He’s a poet and don’t know it.)
Jay ran the ropes, rolled across the canvas, and hit Risk with a rolling kick to the side of her head. Jay covered Risk and got a two-count. (The crowd booed the kick out.) Jay put Risk in a wristlock, but Risk fought back with a knee to Jay’s midsection. This allowed Risk to momentarily escape, but a moment was all she needed. Risk ran to the heel’s corner and tagged in Alexander. However, Jay was ready for her and ducked Alexander’s incoming clothesline. Jay clobbered Alexander with a Dangerous Jay Kick.
States ran in to help her teammate, but the face team saw this coming, and both Velvet and Conti sprinted across the ring to spear States in the corner. Meanwhile (and almost off-camera), Jay slapped on a Queen Slayer. Within moments (again, almost off-camera), Alexander tapped out.
WINNER: Velvet & Conti & Jay in 4:00
(David’s Analysis: I like the participants in this match, but this wasn’t their best work. Some of the moves were stalled and sloppy, and part of the ending was almost left on the cutting room floor. Though, to be fair, that one isn’t the wrestler’s fault. However, there were bright spots. I really enjoy Risk’s character, Jay’s kicks are wonderful, and Velvet is fun to watch in the ring.)
– After the match, Velvet, Conti, and Jay celebrated mid-ring. Conti and Jay looked more than happy.
– An advert for AEW Dynamite stated, “We’ve only just begun.” I loved the ad; it had great editing, but I still wonder who these are for. Is there really a demonstrable subset of viewers out there who watch Dark but aren’t aware of Dynamite?
(2) DANIEL GARCIA & 2POINT0 & THE GUNN CLUB (w/Billy Gunn) vs. CHICO ADAMS & DEAN ALEXANDER & ARIE LEVY & DOMINIC GARRINI & KEVIN KU
Oh, I love ten-man matches! These kinds of matches are perfect for me because I like my wrestling like I like my bullet trains — crowded and impossible to follow.
Daniel Garcia and 2point0 came out first and stopped at the bottom of the rampway. The Gunn Club’s music hit, and Austin Gunn and Colten Gunn came out first, with their father trailing behind them. Billy Gunn (58-year-old wrestler and Fountain of Youth Alchemist) wore a Gunn Club t-shirt with the words “Gunn Club” marked out and the words “A** Boys” scrawled underneath. (Keep in mind, this is being worn by their father. He may look younger than them, but he is their father.) The other ten-man team — Chico Adams & Dean Alexander & Arie Levy & Dominic Garrini & Kevin Ku — awaited their opponents in the ring.
“Now is a good time to tell a joke,” Wight said. “What do you call a magician with no magic?”
“What’s that?” Henry asked.
Lee and Ku started things off with a collar and elbow tie-up that was quickly transitioned into a waistlock with Lee in control. Lee executed a release German suplex on Ku, and the crowd popped. (That’s how you start off a match with a bang.) Lee pulled a discombobulated Ku back to his feet and hit him with a heavy clothesline. Lee then tagged in Parker. Parker stepped through the ropes as Lee shoved Ku toward his tag team partner, and Parker hit him with an assisted uppercut. Parker then tagged in Lee. Lee whipped Ku into the upstage left corner, and Parker smashed into him with a running forearm. 2point0 then executed a drop toe-hold combined with a flying elbow!
“Give ‘em a little taste,” Wight said.
Austin Gunn tagged himself in, which prompted 2point0 to argue with him over the blind tag. This brief argument bought Ku just enough time to crawl his way to the face team’s corner and tag in Garrini. Garrini taunted Austin by patting his backside (um… okay…) before running at Austin with a clothesline. Austin ducked and fired back with a clothesline of his own, followed by an Irish whip. However, Garrini reversed the Irish whip and assumed the “looking-for-trouble” position. Austin leapfrogged over Garrini, tagged in Colten, and executed a leg sweep. As soon as Garrini found his bearings, Colten stole them again with a dropkick out of nowhere. The Gunn Club then worked together to deliver an assisted blockbuster to Garrini.
Parker and Levy were tagged in simultaneously, but the action was stalled as 2point0 began arguing with The Gunn Club again. Levy decided to take advantage of the argument by running toward the heel team, but they floored him with a double back elbow takedown. They did this without impeding their ongoing argument in any way. 2point0 and The Gunn Club each grabbed one of Levy’s limbs and performed a four-man pancake slam.
Meanwhile, Daniel Garcia was on the apron (still following the rules for some reason) and desperately wanted to be tagged in so he could partake in the ongoing beatdown. Parker obliged, and Garcia shot out of the corner; he nailed Levy with a running forearm followed by a second forearm to one of Levy’s tag team partners. Alexander jumped into the ring and ran at Garcia with a clothesline, but Garcia blocked him, caught him, and executed a backdrop suplex. Garcia then slapped on a sharpshooter and picked up the win via submission.
WINNER: Garcia & 2point0 & The Gunn Club (w/Billy Gunn) in 4:00
(David’s Analysis: That was not quite the cluster**** I was expecting. The teams mostly refrained from entering the ring for no reason, and the action was easy enough to follow. Let’s hope tonight’s other two ten-man tags keep it up!)
– After the match, Garcia refused to release the sharpshooter as the referee admonished him.
– An advert for Rampage aired, and this one exclusively featured Darby Allin. At one point, Allin swung his skateboard at the camera. These solo ads help make AEW’s wrestlers look like megastars, IMO.
(3) THE BUNNY vs. KAITLAND ALEXIS
The Bunny came out first wearing her bunny mask. Matt Hardy’s pyro blasted behind her, and once again, I’d forgotten she was in the HFO. (I can’t even blame AEW this time. I think my brain is broken.) The Bunny hopped to the ring and looked like a lunatic. She then tried to bite the camera. The Bunny’s opponent, Kaitland Alexis, was already in the ring. Alexis looks a lot like a young Alanis Morissette. (I know that’s not vital information, but I figured you oughta know.)
The Bunny and Alexis started things off by circling one another. Alexis looked all business, and The Bunny looked all Bunny. After some casual hopping (and not-so-casual biting at the referee), the two competitors locked up with a collar and elbow tie-up. Alexis got the upper hand and quickly shifted to a waistlock. The Bunny went all out, assaulting Alexis’ hands until she was able to escape. However, as soon as The Bunny turned around, Alex kicked her in the stomach, and The Bunny doubled over.
Alexis then mocked The Bunny by skipping around and pretending to be crazy and bad at stuff. The Bunny was irate and took Alexis down with a clothesline mid-hop. The Bunny then grabbed her black leather jacket from the corner and used it as a weapon to choke Alexis as the referee implored her to stop. Once the jacket was wrestled away, The Bunny whipped Alexis into the upstage left turnbuckles. Alexis crumbled to the ground, and The Bunny briefly choked her with her boot before engaging in mud-stomps to Alexis’s chest. The Bunny then backed up and ran at Alexis with a sliding elbow that looked like it might have missed. However, The Bunny quickly made up for this possible error by glowering for the camera with a wicked facial expression worthy of the great Vickie Guerrero herself.
The Bunny pulled Alexis up by her hair, and Alexis plunged an elbow into The Bunny’s midsection. The Bunny responded by clubbing Alexis across her back, holding onto Alexis’s hair, and delivering multiple knee strikes to Alexis’s stomach. The Bunny then ran the ropes and nailed Alexis with one more, bigger knee lift. This was enough to send Alexis flying down to the mat.
The Bunny grabbed Alexis’s hair, pulled her half-conscious body upright, and executed a Down The Rabbit Hole. The Bunny hooked Alexis’s leg, covered her torso, and the referee counted to three.
WINNER: The Bunny in 3:00
(David’s Analysis: Maybe I’m imagining things — or maybe she’s just worn me down over time — but I feel like The Bunny is actually improving. This was not nearly as painful as I thought it would be. I’m starting to enjoy The Bunny’s “crazier” antics, but I feel like they don’t belong in a buttoned-up group like AHFO. I think she should consider going solo and doing promos in a boiler room.)
– After the match, The Bunny slowly stalked toward a ringside cameraman, leaned over the middle rope, and snapped her teeth at the lens.
– An advert for Revolution aired. This one focused on CM Punk vs. MJF and included still photographs of Piper vs. Valentine at Starrcade ‘83.
(4) PRIVATE PARTY & THE BUTCHER & THE BLADE & ANDRADE EL IDOLO (w/Jose) vs. CARLIE BRAVO & BARON BLACK & CHANDLER HOPKINS & JAMESON RYAN & SHAWN DEAN
Carlie Bravo, Baron Black, Chandler Hopkins, Jameson Ryan, and Shawn Dean came out first to Shawn Dean’s music.
“Another ten-man tag,” Excalibur said. (Ugh…)
“I like the concept! The more, the merrier,” Wight said. (-_-)
After the first party of five made their way to the ring, the second party of five (this one more private) walked out of the heel’s tunnel. The team included Private Party, The Butcher & The Blade, and Andrade El Idolo. Idolo paused on the ramp to remove his black-death-murder-mask and perform his truncated striptease. The crowd popped.
“I think I’m done on this side,” Henry said, referring to the pyro.
“Are you cooked enough with the flames?” Wight asked.
Once in the ring, Kassidy and Black started things off for their respective teams. Both men feigned a collar and elbow tie-up, but Black quickly went around Kassidy, grabbed him around the waist, and executed a waistlock takedown which was transitioned into a front facelock. Kassidy tried to elbow his way out, and Black transitioned the front facelock to a wristlock and then a cravat headlock. Kassidy managed to muscle his way out of Black’s grasp and slug him with a forearm.
Black ran the ropes; Kassidy leapfrogged Black; Black rebounded off the downstage ropes, and Kassidy caught him with a kick to the stomach. Black grabbed Kassidy’s wrist and attempted to whip him across the ring, but Kassidy executed a short-arm reversal into a step-up enzuigiri to take Black down. Kassidy then tagged in Quen, who executed a slingshot senton off the apron, over the top rope, and onto Black’s prone body. Quen showboated and mocked Black. This act gave Black an opening to surprise Quen with an atomic drop. With Quen now on the lam, Black tagged in Hopkins.
“Boy, that Quen loves to showboat, doesn’t he?” Wight asked.
Black held Quen in a full nelson so that his partner, Hopkins, could execute a handspring enzuigiri onto Quen. However, Quen ducked at the last moment, and the enzuigiri was planted directly into Black’s face. Hopkins returned to his feet immediately, but Quen dropkicked him to the mat. Quen maintained command of Hopkin’s person via a wristlock as he tagged The Butcher. The Butcher took over the wristlock, but Hopkins flipped his way out of the lock. The Butcher tried to reapply the wristlock, but Hopkins escaped yet again. However, Hopkins wasn’t able to get far because The Butcher seized hold of him and executed a pendulum backbreaker.
The Butcher put Hopkins on his shoulders and tagged in The Blade. The Blade knelt down on one knee, and The Butcher tossed Hopkins onto The Blade’s knee for an assisted gutbuster. The Butcher & The Blade waited for Hopkins to get back to his feet, and then both men ran at him with hard-hitting shoulder blocks. Hopkins used the turnbuckles to pull himself up into the scarecrow position, and The Blade darted toward him. However, Hopkins got his foot up, and The Blade crashed into his boot. Hopkins then leaped toward the face team’s corner and tagged in Ryan.
The Blade took Ryan off his feet with a big right hand and then chopped, punched, and kicked Ryan into the downstage right corner. There, The Blade held Ryan against the ropes and choked him as the referee began a five-count. Ryan punched his way out of the corner and executed an inverted atomic drop onto The Blade. Ryan then tagged in Dean, and The Blade tagged in Quen.
“Nothing to do with wrestling, but there’s a lot of blond tips in this match,” Wight said.
Dean ran at Quen with two clotheslines, both of which took Dean down, and then Kassidy randomly ran in (Man, y’all were doing so good following the rules and making sense…) to attack Dean, but Dean caught him with a back body drop. Den then executed a tilt-a-whirl DDT that looked fantastic. Dean rapidly got to his feet and tagged in Bravo. Dean put Quen in a full nelson headlock and held him in place for a kick (similar to what their team had attempted earlier), and this time it worked! Bravo pump kicked Quen. Dean quickly followed that up with a flatliner, and Bravo went for the cover.
Everyone (except Idolo) ran into the ring, causing total pandemonium that no one could have possibly seen coming. Stuff happened. More stuff happened. Wight used the words “pure mayhem,” and I’m purely over it. Finally… order was sort of, kind of, maybe restored for now. Quen clocked Bravo with a ripcord lariat and tagged in Idolo. (The only person to remain dignified throughout this entire match.) Idolo stepped over the ropes and stared down a fumbling Bravo in the opposite corner. Idolo held out his arms, mugged for the crowd, and then ran at Bravo, executing a shotgun Meteora.
Idolo tossed Bravo toward the center of the ring, put him in a front facelock, and executed a headlock DDT. Having done a crazy amount of damage in a brief amount of time, Idolo tagged in Kassidy. Kassidy looked gleeful as he climbed into the ring because he realized he was being gifted the pinfall. Kassidy hooked Bravo’s leg, covered him, and the referee counted to three.
WINNER: Private Party & The Butcher & The Blade & Idolo (w/Jose) in 5:00
(David’s Analysis: I liked the match except for when I didn’t like the match. Everyone running in for a brawl makes no sense because pre-established rules exist. That said, I was into the action the entire time… except for when I wasn’t.)
– After the match, team Idolo put Kassidy on their shoulders, and Matt Hardy sauntered his way onto the stage. Hardy stared at Kassidy and nodded his approval. Kassidy then looked from Hardy to Idolo as if contemplating something. (Hm… interesting.)
(5) RUBY SOHO vs. HALEY J.
Ruby Soho ran out of the face’s tunnel. Her bright orange hair matched the orange lapels of her jacket, and I’m just now realizing that orange and black are really good colors for her. The crowd applauded for Soho and seemed genuinely excited to see her. Soho went to multiple sides of the ring to greet her many fans.
Haley J. was already in the ring, awaiting Soho’s arrival. Haley J. shook her head at Soho’s display of enthusiasm as if disgusted, and when Soho offered to shake Haley J.’s hand, Haley J. shoved Soho in response. (Not cool.) Soho went from looking happy to murderous, and I hope Haley J. is proud of herself. Soho grabbed Haley J.’s hands in a Greco-Roman knuckle-lock and executed a knuckle-lock takedown.
“Haley brought that on herself,” Henry said, and I agreed.
Soho threw Haley J. into the downstage right corner of the ring and speared her. Soho then went for multiple shoulder blocks as the referee called for her to break things up. When Soho did not break things up, the referee put an exasperated arm between Soho and the mean girl who’d shoved her. Soho finally backed off because she’s not mean like Haley J., and Haley J. used that momentary opening to trip Soho and send her face-first into the turnbuckles. Haley J. kicked Soho in her midsection three times, grabbed her arm, and whipped Soho into the opposite corner. Soho reached out with both hands to stop herself from hitting the turnbuckles. Soho then clubbed the side of Haley J.’s face with a back elbow. Haley J. staggered around the ring as Soho climbed onto the bottom rope.
Having barely gathered what remained of her wits, Haley J. ran toward Soho, who jumped in the air, grabbed Haley J.’s head with her knees, and rammed Haley J. headfirst into the middle turnbuckle.
“That hurt me watching it,” Wight said.
Soho ran to the opposite ropes and then back toward Haley J., kicking her in the head. This got a good reaction, so Soho did it a second time and then a third. Soho went for a backdrop suplex, but Haley J. countered with a thumb to Soho’s eye. (Ew.) Haley J. captured a stumbling Soho and hit her with a short-arm clothesline. This floored Soho, and Haley J. quickly covered for a one-count.
Haley J. pulled Soho back up by her hair, but Soho managed to push her off. Haley J. then attempted to kick Soho, but Soho caught her leg. Soho pulled Haley J. toward her, nailed her with a knee lift, clocked her with a superkick, and took her out with a No Future. Soho then covered Haley J. (Who, may I remind you, shoved her earlier.) and got the righteous win.
WINNER: Soho in 2:00
(David’s Analysis: I’m surprised they aren’t using Soho more.)
– After the match, Soho touched her eye, and the referee checked to make sure her vision was okay. Soho assured him it was.
(6) LANCE ARCHER vs. JOEY O’REILLY
Archer’s music hit, and… oh look, he’s once again graciously sharing his entrance with a local jobber. It’s so rare they get entrances, much less helped to the ring by their more famous opponents. Archer tossed the half-dead body of Joey O’Reilly (Oh, yeah. He clearly beat this guy up.) down the ramp, and O’Reilly sold it like he’d been launched out of the center of a tornado. The crowd gave Archer the biggest pop I’ve ever heard him get on Dark or Dark Elevation. (Even though he’s an evil murder hawk, they clearly still appreciate his recent efforts — and for that matter, so do I.)
Fans applauded as Archer stalked down the ring toward his battered opponent. (This was an odd image. I get supporting Archer’s in-ring work, but it looked like the fans were cheering an ongoing felony.) The felonious Archer grabbed O’Reilly by the neck and chokeslammed him onto the apron as Justin Roberts continued his ring announcing. O’Reilly’s consciousness was no longer with us, and Archer tossed this wrecked shell human being into the ring. The referee immediately rang the bell because that seems fair.
Archer needless chokeslammed an already destroyed O’Reilly for a second time and executed his Blackout finisher. However, instead of merely covering O’Reilly, Archer began to punch him with his closed fist. Feeling this was unfair (Wait. Really?), the referee began counting. When Archer did not stop, the referee called for the bell and ended the match that never should have begun in the first place.
WINNER: Archer at 23 seconds
(David’s Analysis: I’m enjoying Archer’s character a lot more since he came back. He’s got a renewed intensity, and I hope they don’t just “forget” him and let him languish on Dark Elevation. Give him another proper feud. Also, where is Miro?)
– A video package aired for Kiera Hogan. This was another Who We Are video, and I enjoyed hearing her story, and I’d love to hear her song. However, when I went to purchase the album, I discovered it was only being released as a CD — at least for now. I hope AEW will eventually release this collection on vinyl or add it to Apple Music for those of us who no longer consume music via compact disc. If you do consume music via compact disc (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that), Who We Are Vol. 1 is now available to order at this link: https://www.shopaew.com/aew-music-presents-who-we-are-vol-1.html
It features 21 tracks, and most importantly, it features Sonny Kiss.
(7) SKYE BLUE & AQA & KIERA HOGAN vs. LEYLA HIRSCH & EMI SAKURA & NYLA ROSE (w/Vickie Guerrero)
Nyla Rose’s music hit, and we all know what that means! (Vickie Guerrero.) Emi Sakura walked out first, followed by Leyla Hirsch and Nyla Rose. Coming up behind all of them was Vickie Guerrero! Tonight, Vickie Guerrero wore her “No Excuses, All Business” t-shirt, and when I say wore it, I mean she flaunted it. Her look served like a waitress in a jam-packed diner. She paired her night-shaded shirt with silvery double-hoop earrings, black leather pants, and an attitude worthy of being branded as cologne.
Guerrero stopped at the bottom of the ramp to model her outfit for the cameraman as she yelled at him for his gross incompetence and asked to speak to a manager. (I’m assuming.) enough about fashion icon Vickie Guerrero. There were also wrestlers involved in this, and all three women on team Guerrero made their way into the ring and posed for the hard camera. Each one of them did a great job expressing their characters using stance and facial expressions — especially Rose, who looked like she was ready to break everything in sight.
Skye Blue’s music hit, and Blue entered alongside Kiera Hogan and AQA. (I know some people were rather down on AQA’s match with Jade, but I saw charisma and potential. I also really liked how open and honest she was about struggling with anxiety during her “Wrestling Gal” interview. The story of what led to her WWE release hit close to home, and I wish more people had the courage to speak out about that kind of stuff. I promise; it helps those who can’t.) Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked again…
Rose and AQA started things off with a collar and elbow tie-up, but Rose overpowered AQA almost instantaneously and threw her face-first onto the mat.
“Wrong weight class,” Henry said. (IDK why this line got me, but it definitely did.)
Rose pulled AQA back upright and attempted a bodyslam, but AQA was able to fight her way out of it and landed on her feet. She then ducked a clothesline from Rose, clocked Rose with a forearm, landed a dropkick, ran into the ropes, and attempted a flying crossbody. I say attempted because Rose swatted AQA out of the air like she was shooing a fly. To add insult to injury, Rose stepped on AQA’s hair before grabbing her by the torso and tossing her across the ring and into the heel’s corner. Rose distracted the referee for a moment while Hirsch and Sakura ganged up on AQA in the corner. Emi Sakura bit AQA’s hair. (Does… does she know how hair works?) Then, ever the kind soul, Vickie Guerrero broke things up and helped AQA regain her senses by whacking the ever-loving daylights out of her face. (This all happened very quickly, and the referee’s distraction seemed at least plausible.)
Rose tagged in Hirsch, and Hirsch came in looking sadistic and spiteful. She backed up and ran toward AQA, who still lay heaped in the heel’s corner. Hirsch nailed AQA with a running Meteora and a rope-assisted dropkick. Hirsch maliciously dragged AQA into the center of the ring and covered her for a two-count. (Sakura got down on her hands and knees, put her face by the mat, and counted along with the referee. She then weighed in to let us know that she thought the kickout was fair.) Hirsch whipped AQA across the ring, but AQA came back with a big-air dropkick. Hirsch splattered to the mat, and AQA covered her, getting only a one-count.
“Nice dropkick!” Wight said.
“Right in the mouth!” Henry added.
AQA scrambled away from Hirsch and tagged in Hogan. Hogan flitted into the ring like a lightning bolt. She dodged a pump kick from Hirsch, nailed Hirsch with a big boot, and then executed a shotgun dropkick that sent Hirsch into the downstage right turnbuckles. However, Hogan wasn’t done; she ran around the ring in a circle, came barreling back around, and hit Hirsch with a sliding drive-by kick. Hogan hooked Hirsch’s leg, pinned Hirsch to the mat, and scored a two-count. Upon kicking out, Hogan put Hirsch into a front facelock and backed her toward the face’s corner. There, she tagged in Blue.
Blue and Hogan joined forces to execute a double wristlock takedown followed by stereo superkicks. Blue covered Hirsch just as her teammates had done, but she was still only able to get a two-count. AQA shouted encouragement from the ring apron as Blue got back to her feet. Blue turned to face Hirsch, but Hirsch hit her with a hard shove to the chest, sending Blue flying into the ropes. Hirsch then scarpered away to the heel’s corner, where she tagged in Sakura. Sakura went for a clothesline, but Blue ducked, caught Sakura in a wristlock, tripped her, executed a snapmare takeover, held onto the wristlock, captured Sakura’s other arm, and pulled her down into a crucifix pin. The referee counted to two. (This sequence was fast-paced and well-executed. Props to both athletes.)
Sakura pulled herself up in the downstage right corner, and an overly-optimistic Blue bolted toward her, only for Sakura to jump out of the way; Blue crashed into the turnbuckles. Sakura pinned Blue against the turnbuckles and performed her crowd-pleasing We Will Rock You Chops. (Seriously, why is this act not being treated like a bigger deal? She is so entertaining.) Blue sold every chop and made the offensive look as painful as it was amusing. Sakura backed up, charged forward, and landed a running crossbody on a still smarting Blue. Sakura mugged for the ringside camera before tagging in Rose.
Rose didn’t just enter the ring; she stomped her way into the ring and leered over Blue like a real-life Babadook. Rose apprehended Blue’s person, threw her body over her shoulders, and attempted a Samoan drop, but Blue countered with two back elbows to Rose’s head. Blue made it to her feet, grabbed Rose’s skull, and executed a jawbreaker which sent Rose floundering. This gave Blue the chance to run back to the face’s corner and tag in AQA. AQA ran at Rose with a clothesline, but Rose ducked it and kicked AQA in mid-section, doubling her over. Rose grabbed AQA and threw her like a rag doll into the upstage left corner. Rose then went for a body avalanche, utterly crushing AQA. Rose visually called for a running cannonball by making a rolling motion with her hands. (Is it really wise to telegraph your next move to your opponent?) Rose backed all the way up into the opposite corner, ran at AQA, and executed her planned running cannonball only for AQA to sveltely move out of the way. (It is not wise.)
Rose fell onto her back, and AQA climbed to the top rope to deliver her signature shooting star press. However, concerned for AQA’s safety, Vickie Guerrero courteously reached up to stop her from risking her life for the enjoyment of fans who couldn’t care less about her medical bills. Ungrateful for Vickie’s physical advice, AQA kicked her away, but before she could perform her shooting star finisher, Rose jumped to her feet and bodyslammed AQA off the top rope. (See, Vickie knows best, after all.) With AQA lying flat in the ring, Rose ran the ropes, bounced off, and leaped into the air for a big splash. However, AQA swiftly rolled out of the way and tagged in Blue. Rose tagged in Hirsch.
Hirsch ran at Blue with a clothesline, but Blue ducked and hit Hirsch with a knee lift. Blue then swung Hirsch into the ropes and connected with a running knee to Hirsch’s chest. Blue went for a big clothesline, but Hirsch slid underneath it and caught Blue in a waistlock. (This happened so fast it was like the blink of an eye.) Hirsch rammed Blue into the ropes and attempted an O’Connor Roll, but Blue countered by grabbing the ropes. This threw Hirsch backward, and Blue pinned Hirsch for a quick one-count. Hirsch jumped back to her feet, and with blistering speed, Blue floored Hirsch with a superkick out of nowhere. Blue’s arms windmilled as she scurried toward Hirsch’s prone body, hooked Hirsch’s leg, and covered her for a one, two — interference! Rose broke up the count with a falling axe-handle!
Rose clutched Blue’s throat, lifted her into the air, and choke slammed her to the mat like the canvas itself had offended her. Hogan ran in to get Rose off Blue, landing a kick to Rose’s side. Sakura then ran in to save Rose and grabbed Hogan, swept her up, and executed her Queen’s Gambit finisher. (I know this is breaking the rules, totally chaotic, and everything I was complaining about earlier, but most of that is being mitigated by the Rule of Cool. For more information on the Rule of Cool, please see: https://tvtropes.org/Main/RuleOfCool)
Before Sakura could do more damage, AQA ran in and dropkicked Sakura. Sakura tumbled out of the ring. Hirsch ran in and release German suplexed AQA so savagely as to toss her out of the ring alongside Sakura. Hirsch then spied Blue climbing up from the mat, and the moment Blue got on all fours, Hirsch shot across the ring to nail her with a running knee strike. Blue plunged backward in a whirlwind of hair and landed with her legs tucked under her body. Hirsch covered Blue, pulling up one of her legs, and the referee counted one, two, three. Hogan tried to run in for the save but was too late, and Hirsch picked up the win.
WINNER: Hirsch & Sakura & Rose (w/Vickie Guerrero) in 6:00
(David’s Analysis: This is my match of the night thus far. It was comedic, athletic, and easy to follow. I loved the added touch of Hogan trying to make the save but falling short. Some of my favorite moments from this match include Sakura counting along with the referee, AQA selling like Chromatica Oreos, Rose looming over Blue like she wanted to devour her soul, and Vickie Guerrero’s earrings. I haven’t seen the main event yet, so that match might top this match, but if it doesn’t — that would mean Emi Sakura and Nyla Rose got my not-very-coveted “match of the night” two weeks in a row. Either way, good job to all involved; I enjoyed every minute of this.)
(8) CHAOS PROJECT & THE WINGMEN (w/Ryan Nemeth) vs. JAY LETHAL & LEE JOHNSON & FRANKIE KAZARIAN & BROCK ANDERSON (w/Arn Anderson)
“Oh, my favorite music!” Henry said as The Wingmen’s theme noise filled the arena.
The Wingmen (Cezar Bononi & JD Drake & Ryan Nemeth & “Pretty” Peter Avalon) came out together, followed by Chaos Project (Serpentico & Luther). Hm. How did this pairing come to be? I want the backstory. Also, Henry and Wight have spent an inordinate amount of time discussing Peter Avalon’s hair. Luther grabbed Serpentico’s mask and dragged him to the ring because I’ve clearly not shaken my fist at the sky enough today.
Next out was a team of normal people — Jay Lethal & Lee Johnson & Frankie Kazarian & Brock Anderson. Arn Anderson accompanied Brock Anderson and was specifically introduced as being his father.
“We’ve had thirty men compete in ten-man tags tonight,” Excalibur said. (questioning his life choices.)
“It looks like school just let out — all these people out here,” Henry said. (lamenting the upcoming anarchist’s ballet we’re about to witness.)
“Ha, ha, ha,” Wight added (crying on the inside.)
Serpentico played with Avalon’s hair at ringside, and suddenly this was all worth it. Lethal and Avalon (and his aforementioned hair) started things off for their respective teams.
“Peter Avalon’s hair does look fantastic,” Wight said.
Lethal lunged at Avalon, but Avalon ducked underneath him and mocked his Ric Flair strut. (which he is still doing.) Avalon then “woo-ed” while Lethal looked on with his hands on his hips. Avalon lunged at Lethal, but Lethal ducked underneath him and performed his actual Ric Flair strut. (which, like I said, he is still doing in public and on national TV.) Avalon and Lethal got into a full-blown “woo” exchange. To be clear, there is no offense happening — they are just “woo-ing.” Having woo-ed enough, Avalon kicked Lethal in the stomach and went for an Irish whip, but Lethal reversed the whip, tossed Avalon into the ropes, and caught him with a hip toss paired with a cartwheel dropkick. (And a “woo.” He also paired it with a “woo.”)
Lethal tagged Johnson, and Johnson applied a wristlock on Avalon. Avalon kicked his way out of the wristlock and tagged in Drake. Drake attempted a bodyslam on Johnson, but Johnson countered and ran the ropes. Drake tried for a clothesline, but Johnson ducked underneath his arm and planted Drake with a dropkick. Johnson shoved Drake into the face’s corner, where Anderson hit him with a superfluous back elbow. Anderson then tagged himself in.
Anderson trapped Drake in a wristlock, pulled his arm over his head, and executed a belly-to-back suplex. As soon as both men got back to their feet, Anderson re-captured Drake’s arm a second time and tagged in Sydal. Drake managed to pull away from Anderson’s wristlock and hurried to the heel’s corner, where he tagged in Serpentico. (Hopefully, this will go well for him.) Serpentico stepped through the ropes and into a dropkick. (The world hates me.) Panicked and in pain, my poor Serpentico tagged in Luther.
Luther stepped through the ropes and went for a spinning leg lariat, which Sydal ducked underneath. (That went really high and was impressive. I was not expecting that from Luther.) Sydal kicked Luther multiple times, getting both sides of his body, and then Serpentico ran in to help Luther. (Why? He abuses you all the time!) Serpentico tried to pick Sydal up for a bodyslam because even small men dream big, but Sydal easily countered Serpentico’s bodyslam with a reverse front facelock. While still holding poor Serpentico, Sydal grabbed Luther and simultaneously executed a final slice and a jawbreaker. The final slice was received by Serpentico, and the jawbreaker was received by Luther.
“What the hell was that?” Wight asked. (It was the Rule of Cool, Wight. It was the Rule of Cool.)
Sydal performed a standing mariposa (something he is particularly good at) onto Luther splayed body. Luther sold the impact by clutching at his mid-section like he’d been hit by an eighteen-wheeler truck. (Now you know how Serpentico feels every day of his life.) Sydal pulled Luther back up, pushed him into the ropes facing the hard camera, and went for an Irish whip, but Nemeth grabbed Luther’s ankle and stopped Sydal. Sydal fought off Nemeth and reattempted the whip, but Luther reversed it into a step-up enzuigiri. (For a comedy act, he is deceptively good in the ring.) Luther pulled Sydal into the heel’s corner and trapped him there. He then planted two knee strikes into Sydal’s midsection and punched Sydal four times in the face before the entire heel team joined in, beating up Sydal. You’d think the referee would turn around due to the ruckus this caused, but no, something in the face corner had her distracted. I didn’t see what it was, so I’m going to assume the canvas caught fire.
Luther tagged in Serpentico and bodyslammed a very pained Sydal. Together, Chaos Project executed an assisted drop toe-hold, and then Luther began using Serpentico’s head as a weapon. He clubbed Sydal’s torso repeatedly with Serpentico’s child-sized skull. (There has to be a hotline for this.)
“Luther, no!” Wight exclaimed.
“Smashing the head of Serpentico into Matt Sydal’s sternum,” Excalibur recited as if he were calling a basic headlock.
“I wonder if Serpentico’s health insurance provider sees him do this and raises his rates?” Wight asked.
Clutching his caved-in head, Serpentico waddled to his feet and put Sydal’s arm in a wristlock. He then mercifully tagged in Drake. Drake immediately tagged in Avalon. (the one with long, flowing hair.) Avalon (which sounds a bit like Revlon) joined forces with Drake to deliver a headbutt-fist-drop combo on Sydal. Avalon then hooked Sydal’s leg and got a two-count.
“What does he do to his hair?” Wight said. “I mean, it is fantastic.”
“I don’t know. I think he’s using — ”
“He looks like an 80s action hero!” Wight interrupted Henry to continue expressing his undying love for Peter Avalon’s hair.
Bononi tagged himself in and plunged his knee into Sydal’s midsection, pulled Sydal upright, and attempted a delayed Vertical Suplex, but Sydal struggled his way out of it. Landing on his feet, Sydal mustered every remaining shred of his strength to deliver a spinning back kick to Bonini. Bonini tagged in Serpentico. (For the love of his insurance provider, please stop doing that!)
Serpentico ran into the ring, but just as he did, Sydal tagged out to Kazarian. Fresh and energized, Kazarian clotheslined Serpentico once, twice, and then swung a fist at Avalon. Avalon bent over through the middle rope, and Kazarian sent him flying off the apron with a leg-drop bulldog.
“A lot of kinetic energy from Frankie Kazarian,” Excalibur said. (Your linguistic choices fascinate me.)
Kazarian hit Serpentico with a dropkick and knocked him into the ropes, where he collided with Drake on the apron. The collision was so intense Drake was forced off the apron, while Serpentico was probably suffering from a brain hemorrhage. Kazarian rolled Serpentico up with an O’Connor Roll, yet somehow, someway, with the unfettered determination of my editor telling me I can’t use the word **** in this report, Serpentico kicked out at two. (OMG!)
Nemeth tried to run into the ring, but Kazarian caught him in his peripheral vision, jumped up off of Serpentico’s glass-like body, and speared Nemeth into the downstage left corner.
“He speared the ice cream cake!” Wight said. (I haven’t had ice cream cake in forever, and now I want ice cream cake.)
“He looks like swirled sherbet,” Henry said, referencing Nemeth’s outfit.
Arn Anderson shoulder tackled Nemeth on the outside, and Nemeth crashed to the floor. Back in the ring, Kazarian bodyslammed poor Serpentico, jumped onto the middle rope, jumped off the middle rope, and executed a springboard leg drop. Kazarian then covered Serpentico but only got a two-count because Luther interfered. Suddenly, chaos (not the project) erupted for no reason whatsoever.
“Ah, here it is, guys…” Wight’s face remained stoic as he watched his colleagues make all rules meaningless.
“Now we have a full-on donnybrook on our hands,” Excalibur exclaimed. (Sure.)
Stuff happened. More stuff happened. A suicide dive was performed by Lethal! More stuff happened. Finally, Kazarian cleared the ring so the wrestling portion of the match could continue. However, the very clever Serpentico sneaked up behind Kazarian and rolled him up for a quick two-count. Serpentico whipped Kazarian into the ropes, but Kazarian came back with a sinister kick to Serpentico’s delicate ribcage. Kazarian tagged in Anderson, and Anderson planted Serpentico with an unconscionable spinebuster.
Anderson tagged Johnson, who performed a frog splash onto Serpentico’s possibly pulverized body and then tagged in Lethal. Lethal climbed to the top rope and performed a spectacular Hail To The King diving elbow drop onto Serpentico’s definitely pulverized body. Lethal hooked Serpentico’s leg, covered him using an unfair amount of weight, and the referee counted to three. (Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about Serpentico’s hair?)
WINNER: Lethal & Johnson & Kazarian & Anderson (w/Arn Anderson) in 7:00
(David’s Analysis: This match was also very entertaining. I’m not sure which match I enjoyed more — this one or Hirsch & Sakura & Rose vs. Blue & Hogan & AQA? Maybe I liked them both the same amount?)
FINAL THOUGHTS: If you only have time to catch one match on this week’s Dark Elevation, I recommend… this is hard. If I have to pick, I’m going to go with Rose & Hirsch & Sakura vs. Blue & Hogan & AQA because Vickie Guerrero was at ringside for it. But if you have time to watch a second match, I highly recommend the ten-man cluster-match at the end. I don’t normally like cluster matches, but that one was good. Actually, you know what? Check out both matches. That’s my suggestion. They were both a lot of fun. They both had comedy but not too much comedy. If you like comedy, you’ll probably like the penultimate match best, and if you like bedlam and uproar, you’ll probably like the final match the best. So… take that for what you will.
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, if you ever find yourself in the Nashville area, take the time to figure out how you lost yourself in the Nashville area because blackouts are dangerous.
It’s nice to see some joy in reviewing pro wrestling. Everyone is so serious nowaways. I do wonder how you’d go reviewing Raw though.
One thing, and this would be helpful to all reviewers.. An idea on who are heel and face (Serpentico excluded, that’s just abuse man! though kinda funny sorry) would be handy.. I’d have sworn Tay Conti was a face.
Also, I am stealing Paul Wight’s magician joke 🙂