3/14 AEW DARK ELEVATION REPORT: Bryant’s signature asides, top Wight and Henry quips, match analysis of Chaos Project vs. Dark Order, Lethal, Nyla, Soho, Kaz, Bunny

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

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

AEW DARK ELEVATION REPORT
MARCH 14, 2022
TAPED 3/9 IN ESTERO, FLA.
AIRED ON YOUTUBE.COM
REPORT BY DAVID BRYANT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mark Henry, and Paul Wight

Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts

– While writing this report, I got the sad news that wrestling legend Scott Hall died. It’s hard to write something humorous and fun after such somber news, but I’m going to try. However, before I kick things off, I wanted to simply say that my thoughts and prayers are with Hall’s friends and family. Scott Hall was a big part of any millennial’s youth, and he was a big part of mine. His soul may have left this world, but his legacy will live on.

– Thank you for visiting PWTorch.com, and thank you for taking the time to read my insane funhouse of rambling absurdities that masquerade as wrestling recaps. If you’d like to follow me on Twitter, you can do so at @IamDavidBryant. I promise no more than half my feed is made up of Wordle scores.

-Tonight’s Dark Elevation taping emanated from the Hertz Arena in Estero, Fla. Estero is a small village incorporated in 2014 that sits sixteen miles south of Fort Myers, Fla. It has a population of 36,939 people, and it has an arena.

-Dark Elevation opened with a wide shot of the stage as Nyla Rose’s entrance video popped up on the big screen.

(1) KATALINA PEREZ vs. NYLA ROSE (w/Vickie Guerrero)

Nyla Rose looked both intimidating and stunning as she made her way out of the heel’s tunnel. However, no matter how camera-ready Rose’s appearance might be, she is no match for fashion icon Vickie Guerrero. Tonight, Guerrero wore a carbon-black sleeveless top with a button-down V-neck. She paired this classy casual wear with plaid leggings and crinkled knee-high boots. It is also important to note that Vickie Guerrero recently got a haircut, and I therefore predict millions of Americans will also get haircuts this year because Vickie Guerrero is a trendsetter.

(BTW, while I hate to take away from Guerrero by mentioning anyone else’s appearance, I feel compelled to give some props to Rose. Rose has looked great recently. The last couple of times I’ve seen her, she’s appeared slimmer, in better shape, and generally more “refreshed.” I feel like this has improved her in-ring performance, and I hope she keeps up whatever it is she’s doing.)

Rose’s opponent, Katalina Perez, was already in the ring. Perez had hair so pink it was beyond pink. Perez was trained by Jay Lethal, so I always expect good things whenever I see her on Dark or Dark Elevation. Let’s see if she lives up to those expectations tonight! (Oh, and one more interesting tidbit of trivia, the last time Perez wrestled on Dark Elevation, it was against another of my favs, Thunder Rosa. The match aired on YouTube on Jan 28, 2021, and it lasted approximately two minutes. Rosa won.)

Bravely but unwisely, Perez attacked Rose behind her back, and the referee rang the bell. (Of course, they did.) Rose turned around amid an onslaught of forearms and kneed Perez in her mid-section. Rose then scooped Perez up for a bodyslam, but Perez squirmed her way out of Rose’s grasp and clubbed Rose across the back with another forearm. (Rose looked more annoyed than injured.) Perez ran into the stage-right ring ropes, rebounded, and was caught by a leg lariat to her chest.

“Well, she definitely woke up the ‘Native beast,’” Wight said, referencing Perez’s pre-match attack.

Perez used the ropes in the downstage left corner to pull herself upright and hung in the scarecrow position. Rose tackled Perez with a backward splash which crushed her against the turnbuckles. Perez stepped forward, dumbstruck by the “Native Beast’s” offense, and walked right into a clothesline from Rose. (That clothesline grounded Perez so hard, I think the ring shook!)

“Did you hear the thump on that, Mark?” Wight asked. (I don’t know if he heard it, but I am pretty sure there is zero air in Perez’s lungs, RN.)

Perez bumbled around the ring on all fours while Rose licked her lips. (Is Rose the villain here? Because I’m having a hard time seeing why I shouldn’t root for her to win. I mean, Perez attacked her before the bell when her back was turned! Rose has every right to be annoyed with her.) Rose picked up Perez and launched her into the downstage right corner. The referee told Rose to back off, and she immediately did so with her hands up and palms facing outward. (That’s a very face-like thing to do?)

Unable to continue holding herself up in the scarecrow position, Perez collapsed into a seated position. The sound of Perez hitting the mat caused Rose to look over her shoulder and smile. Perez leaned back against the bottom turnbuckle, and Rose ran toward her, executing a running cannonball.

At ringside, Guerrero held a Barbie doll above her head and broke it in half, screaming, “Break her!” (I assume this is a reference to Rose’s other nickname: “The Barbie breaker.”) Rose heeded Guerrero’s words, picked Perez up, held her on her shoulders, jumped in the air, and executed a hellish looking Beast Bomb. The referee dropped to the mat and counted to three.

WINNER: Rose at 83 seconds

(David’s Analysis: This was a total squash, and I felt like Rose came off as the face instead of the heal. However, if you’re going to do a squash, this is how you should do it. Perez got in almost zero effective offense, bumped like a basketball, and Rose looked like an unstoppable monster. Guerrero definitely added to the match with her Barbie doll spot, and I liked that spot enough, I wouldn’t mind seeing it more.)

– After the match, fashion icon Vickie Guerrero catwalked her way into the ring, holding a t-shirt in her hands. Guerrero stood over Perez’s unconscious body and held up the t-shirt, which read: “I Survived Nyla Rose, and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt.” Guerrero then draped the t-shirt over Perez’s face, and I hope Perez wears it because it would be imprudent to decline fashion advice from a clothing savant like Guerrero.

“I don’t know if you can call that surviving,” Wight said.

“Well, she is still alive,” Henry said. “I think.”

– An advert for AEW Dynamite on TBS aired for the fans who wondered why the turnbuckles read TBS.

(2) FRANKIE KAZARIAN vs. TIGER RUAS

(Kazarian is stupid talented, and I’m saying that before even seeing this match. I’d love to see Kazarian vs. Sky for the TNT title. There’s a lot of story to be had there.)

Tiger Ruas waited in the ring while Kazarian made his ring entrance. During the entrance, Wight and Henry put over how talented Kazarian is, and it’s clear he’s a beloved locker room leader. Once in the ring, Kazarian took off his zip-up hoodie and threw it to a fan in the audience. Kazarian pointed and nodded to whoever caught it. (They were off-camera.)

Tiger Ruas wrestled barefoot — a nod to his legitimate Jui-Jitsu background, which he also played up during his stint in WWE. (An interesting bit of Ruas trivia: He finished fourth at the XVI Pan American Games in the Men’s Freestyle 84 kg competition against Cuba’s Humberto Arencibia. All of that to say Ruas is a legitimate IRL badass, and you should not cross him.)

Kazarian and Ruas cautiously circled one another as the bell rang. Ruas made the first move attempting a skilled roundhouse kick that Kazarian sveltely dodged. Ruas acknowledged Kazarian’s agility by bobbing his head whilst holding a knowing finger to his temple. The crowd chanted for Kazarian as both men jumped into a collar and elbow tie-up. Kazarian and Ruas remained in the aforementioned collar and elbow tie-up as they whirl-winded their way around the ring. They visited multiple parts of the ring, including the upstage left turnbuckles, before finally landing firmly in the downstage left corner. The referee began to count, ordering them to break things up. The referee’s count was stopped as the two continued to fight out of the corner, but they still remained in the tie-up for a few more moments until Ruas finally threw off Kazarian. Both men then stood in the ring staring at one another with a peculiar mixture of what I can only describe as “disdainful respect.”

Meanwhile, on commentary, Henry and Wight are talking about the extremely relevant topic of California, and despite being thrown by it a little, I’m not complaining. This conversation was notably entertaining. It included lines like these:

“Mark, you and me hanging in California…” Wight mused. “I love California evenings. Get me some wine, a fire pit —”

“I could see the three of us getting some wine and sitting by a fire pit together!” Schiavone said, hoping to be included. “We could have avocado toast, Mark!”

“That is so California of you guys,” Henry said, terrified of avocado toast. “I am such a Texan. Give me some ribs, and — I don’t even drink beer, but maybe a beer?”

Back in the ring, Ruas caught a leery Kazarian with an arm drag. Kazarian quickly rolled through, and both men separated again. Ruas once more nodded to acknowledge Kazarian’s formidability. Kazarian rushed in, capturing Ruas in a wristlock; Ruas reversed the wristlock, and Kazarian grabbed the top rope to flip his way out of Ruas’s wristlock. Kazarian reapplied a wristlock on Raus; Ruas reversed it again; Kazarian reversed that reversal and Irish whipped Ruas toward the stage right ring ropes. Ruas reversed Kazarian’s Irish whip and attempted to catch a rebounding Kazarian with a hip toss. However, Kazarian countered Ruas’s hip toss by executing one of his own. Ruas jumped back up, but Kazarian yanked him back down with an arm drag of his own. Ruas got back to his feet, hurried toward Kazarian, and Kazarian caught him with a dropkick.

The audience burst into applause, and Kazarian very briefly posed for them. Kazarian then cornered Ruas against the downstage left turnbuckles. Kazarian chopped Ruas and performed another Irish whip, but once again, Ruas reversed it. Ruas ran at Kazarian, and Kazarian sidestepped him, allowing Kuas to collide with the turnbuckles. Kazarian then jumped over the top rope and landed on the apron. Kuas attempted a clothesline, but Kazarian ducked; Kazarian attempted a clothesline, but Kuas ducked, and as he ducked, Kazarian caught him with an apron enzuigiri.

The crowd burst into applause again. Kazarian quickly hopped off the apron to fist-bump a fan before rolling right back into the ring. This momentary lapse in judgment was all it took for Ruas to see an opening, and he clocked Kazarian with an enzuigiri as soon as he stepped into the ring. (On commentary, Henry and Wight are lamenting that a man of Kazarian’s talent hasn’t gotten more title opportunities.) Ruas caught Kazarian in a well-executed German suplex before going for a pin. Despite how good that German suplex looked, Ruas only got a one-count out of it.

“We’ve got a women’s title match in a cage coming up at this week’s St. Patrick’s Day Slam!” Schiavone pitched.

“Nothing says St. Patrick’s day like San Antonio,” Henry added.

“Yeah, I don’t think that’s a thing, Mark,” Wight said. (Wight must not have spent much time on the Riverwalk because that seems like a place where it would very much be a thing.)

Back in the ring, Ruas Irish whipped Kazarian, but Kazarian reversed it and caught Ruas in a backslide cover, getting a two-count. Both men got back to their feet, and Ruas slugged Kazarian directly in the middle of his stomach. Kazarian staggered backward before falling to his knees.

“What a shot!” Wight exclaimed.

Ruas kicked at Kazarian’s head and then captured him in a cobra clutch. Kazarian tried to force a break by grabbing Ruas’s head, but Raus countered by using the clutch to pull Kazarian down to the mat. Ruas’s firm grip on the clutch forced Kazarian into a pinning predicament, and Ruas got a one-count. Kazarian fought his way back up, but Ruas STILL kept him trapped in his cobra clutch. Kazarian began punching away at Ruas’s head as he forced himself completely upright. Finally, Ruas released the cobra clutch. Kazarian went for a clothesline, but Ruas ducked underneath it. Kazarian was undeterred and clobbered Ruas with a hard elbow, knocking him to the mat.

Kazarian struck Ruas with a clothesline and whipped him toward the ropes. Ruas reversed, but his reversal wasn’t enough to phase Kazarian, who came back at him with a flying forearm. Then, with the speed of a frightened cat, Kazarian scooped up Ruas and executed a bodyslam which he immediately followed with a springboard leg drop. (This is awesome.)

Somehow, someway, with the unfettered determination of a friend who bought hot sauce and wants you to try some, Ruas made his way back to his feet. Kazarian quickly nailed him with a knife-edge chop, but Ruas countered with a chop of his own. Kazarian then went for another chop, but Ruas stopped him and began a flurry of offense that included a karate chop, a punch, a knee, and a second knee.

“What a good striker,” Wight said.

Ruas cartwheeled away from Kazarian and then ran toward him, attempting a basement dropkick. However, Kazarian rolled out of the way before roaring back to life. Kazarian hit Ruas with a spinning back kick and a knee to the chest. Kazarian went for a clothesline, but Ruas ducked and grounded him with an armbar. Kazarian put all his weight on Ruas’s armbar, forcing Ruas into a pinning predicament. Kazarian got a quick one-count, but Ruas managed to force him off. Kazarian crouched toward Ruas with obviously planned offense, but Ruas caught him with an inside cradle, getting a two-count.

Ruas attempted a roundhouse kick, but Kazarian ducked and caught him in a schoolboy rollup, getting a two-count of his own. Ruas kicked out with force, and both men got to their feet. Kazarian smashed Ruas’s face with a forearm, and Ruas smashed Kazarian’s chest with a high knee strike. Ruas went for a bodyslam, but Kazarian battled his way onto his feet. Kazarian seized Ruas from behind and applied a crossface chicken wing. Both men went down, but Kazarian maintained his submission hold. Ruas was forced to tap out.

WINNER: Kazarian in 6:00

(David’s Analysis: That was fantastic! I would not have minded those two men wrestling the entire hour. I don’t know if this will end up being my match-of-the-night, but regardless, you should consider checking it out.)

– After the match, Henry said, “Stay with us! We’re coming right back with The Bunny and Emi Sakura!” (Does this show have commercial breaks in other countries or something?)

(3) SKYE BLUE & KILYNN KING vs. EMI SAKURA & THE BUNNY

There was not a commercial break (at least, not on my end), but we did get right back to the next match as Skye Blue’s peppy music filled the arena. Kylian King & Skye Blue came out together, and King wore blue and black ring gear to match Blue’s look.

(WARNING: I’m mildly biased in Sakura’s favor.)

The next wrestler to come out was world-renowned empress of the royal court of everything, Emi Sakura, and her tag team partner, The Bunny. Sakura sneered deliciously as she made her way down the ramp. Her music was a delight. It started with a clap-clap-stomp and was accompanied by flaming pyro. Sakura wore a beautiful crown and regal robe. The Bunny wore a bunny mask. Once in the ring, the team of The Bunny & Emi Sakura mugged for the camera. (I have to give credit where credit is due, The Bunny knows how to “mug” like a character from Five Nights at Freddy’s.)

Blue and The Bunny started things off with The Bunny skipping around Blue before finally agreeing to enter a collar and elbow tie-up. The Bunny bulldozed Blue into the upstage left corner, and the referee called for a break. The Bunny broke up the hold but disrespectfully shoved Blue and then smushed her palm against Blue’s face. Blue looked unamused. Both women backed out of the corner. The Bunny ran at Blue with a clothesline, and Blue quickly ducked it. Blue then captured The Bunny in a second collar and elbow tie-up, which The Bunny countered with a knee to Blue’s midsection. The Bunny then pulled Blue to the mat with a snapmare takeover. The Bunny slammed Blue into the heel’s corner and tagged in the immaculately prepared Sakura.

The Bunny and Sakura jointly Irish whipped Blue across the ring. Sakura caught Blue on the rebound with a kick to her midsection, and The Bunny immediately followed Sakura’s kick with a rope-assisted knee to Blue’s chest. The Bunny did her Five-Nights-At-Freddy’s mug for the camera again, and this time, Sakura joined her because she’s a team player.

Sakura then screeched like a well-tuned violin and slammed her boot into Blue’s back, stomping away at her torso. Sakura turned to greet King on the apron, but Sakura may have been a little overzealous because she accidentally knocked King off the apron when offering her a Covid-friendly elbow bump to the face.

“The Bunny is a big fan of The Puppet Master,” Wight said.

“Of course, she is,” Schiavone responded.

Sakura whipped Blue into the ropes and caught her on the rebound with a rolling crucifix pinning predicament. The referee dropped to the mat to make the count but only got to two. Blue then superkicked Sakura like it was a perfectly appropriate thing to do in public, and Sakura reeled backward. Blue immediately took unethical advantage of Sakura’s disposition by pinning her. However, Sakura escaped at two when she accidentally poked Blue in the eye a few times.

Blue put Sakura in a wristlock and tagged in King. Together, Blue and King ganged up on Sakura to Irish whip her into the upstage ring ropes. Sakura brilliantly grabbed hold of the top rope and stopped her inertia dead in its tracks. That did not deter Blue and King’s group-chat style bullying, and Blue plunged her knee into Sakura’s torso, tossed her to the ground with a snapmare, and watched with the callous indifference of a sociopath as King executed a running Meteora on Sakura for no good reason other than it being a wrestling match. Proud of herself for hurting Sakura, King went for the cover, but Sakura heroically kicked out at two!

King tagged in Blue, and Blue slapped a wristlock on Sakura. Sakura screamed something nice at the top of her lungs, and Blue shifted into a side headlock. Sakura managed to counter that headlock by whipping Blue across the ring and into the ropes. When Blue came vaulting back toward Sakura, Sakura caught her with a shoulder tackle, but Blue barely budged. Both women stared at one another in shock.

“Oooh!” Schiavone exclaimed.

“Uh oh,” Wight said. “Things just got a little serious.”

Blue swept Sakura’s legs out from under her, and Sakura crashed to the ground. Blue then ran into the stage right ring ropes (probably planning to do something malicious to Sakura), but thankfully, The Bunny grabbed hold of Blue’s hair to stop her. Blue turned around to confront The Bunny with a clothesline, but The Bunny ducked, pulled Blue back against the ropes, and then shoved Blue toward Sakura. Sakura caught blue and executed a Queen’s Gambit to the fan’s delight! (I’m the fan.)

“Emi Sakura has so much experience,” Wight gushed.

Sakura began stomping and clapping, and the fans began to stomp and clamp alongside her. Realizing this was her cue, Blue hurried over to the turnbuckles and quickly got into the proper position to take Sakura’s “We Will Rock You” chops. (That looked… not so great.) The fans clapped and stomped along with glee, but instead of giving them her signature “We Will Rock You” chops, Sakura backed up, howled like an angelic banshee, and executed a running crossbody onto Blue in the corner. Afterward, Sakura mugged for the camera, looking as evil as the best Disney villain. (She is ridiculously good at her job.) Sakura then tagged in The Bunny.

The Bunny stomped on Blue’s hand and then did some kind of weird trash-talking thing to King in the corner. I think there was a shimmy involved. (Why was there a shimmy involved?) The Bunny turned her attention back to a doubled-over Blue and kicked her in her midsection.

“The Bunny is vicious,” Schiavone said. “You know she is a big horror movie fan.” (Oh? Is she? Maybe she’s not so bad after all. Yo, The Bunny, HMU if you need recommendations; I’ve got an unsettlingly large collection.)

The Bunny threw Blue into the heel’s corner, choked Blue with her boot, and tagged in Sakura. The referee started counting in an effort to get The Bunny to stop choking Blue with her boot. The Bunny began excitedly counting along with the referee, stopping right before he got to five. (That was cute. I liked that bit.)

“Will you clean up after yourself!” Henry exclaimed in a high-pitched female voice for reasons I missed. “Maybe wash the dishes once in a while!” (What is this about?)

“Everybody, that’s Mark Henry doing that voice,” Wight clarified. (Okay, but why?)

Sakura chopped Blue’s chest twice, and Blue decided that justified chopping Sakura REPEATEDLY. Finally, Sakura was able to protect herself by caressing Blue eyeballs. Sakura whipped Blue into the heel’s corner, but seconds before crashing into the turnbuckles, Blue stopped her momentum. Sakura looked stunned, making a fantastic facial expression that included an “O” shaped mouth. Blue took advantage of Sakura’s surprise by rolling her up for a two-count.

As soon as Sakura got herself upright, she tried to tackle Blue, but Blue escaped the ill-fated tackle by crawling underneath Sakura’s legs toward the face’s corner. There, Blue tagged in King. Sakura ran toward King, hoping to stop Blue and King from double-bullying her again, but King smacked Sakura across the face with her forearm. King then stepped through the ropes while Sakura pointed at her, ran toward her, and attempted a clothesline. However, King ducked Sakura’s clothesline, caught Sakura’s arm, and executed two short-arm clotheslines. King then punched Sakura’s chest before executing a final short-arm clothesline that knocked poor Sakura to the ground.

OMG, have you not heard of respecting your elders?! (I’m pretty sure Sakura is older than you. Actually, I don’t know. I’d have to check Wikipedia. My point stands regardless.)

Incensed by King beating up such a kind soul, The Bunny ran into the ring like a horror movie villainess, but she was instantly knocked to the canvas by King. King dashed at Sakura in the corner, but Sakura dodged her, and King crashed into the turnbuckles. Sakura sprinted at King, but King leapfrogged Sakura and executed a swinging powerbomb. King covered Sakura. The referee dropped to his knees and counted (way too quickly), but Sakura kicked out.

King clutched her own hair in frustration at the referee’s super-fast count and then captured Sakura in a front facelock. Whilst still in the facelock, Sakura gored King and forced her into the heel’s corner. Sakura tagged in The Bunny, but instead of immediately helping Sakura, The Bunny started skipping around the ring. (FML) By the time The Bunny got around to wrestling, King had recovered and shoved Sakura into The Bunny.

“Just like bumper cars!” Wight said, making callous jokes at the expense of Sakura.

King attempted a double clothesline on both The Bunny and Sakura but missed, falling on her face. Blue climbed to the top turnbuckle and jumped off of it toward both Sakura and The Bunny (totally cheating). Luckily, Sakura and The Bunny were able to lurch out of the way, and Blue hurtled to the canvas. Sakura and The Bunny then executed stereo superkicks on King.

With both King and Blue on the mend, Sakura and The Bunny grabbed each of them in a reverse front facelock and simultaneously executed a Down The Rabbit Hole. It happened like this — Sakura’s Down The Rabbit Hole was executed on Blue, and The Bunny’s Down The Rabbit Hole was executed on King. (AKA stereo Down-The-Rabbit-Holes.) The Bunny then covered King, the referee dropped to his knees, and counted to three using a reasonable cadence.

WINNER: Sakura & The Bunny in 6:00

(David’s Analysis: This was fun! Blue & King should be proud of their work in this match. Also, The Bunny is improving, and Sakura is fantastic in the ring. This match was good. There were some parts that were silly, and there were some parts that were a little awkward, but overall, it was a very enjoyable watch. I am pleased they gave this match a decent length. I would much rather have slightly fewer matches that go a little longer than have ten matches that go two minutes.)

– After the match, The Bunny continued to look Five-Nights-At-Freddy’s levels of crazy. Sakura looked magnificent. (And of course she did.)

(4) JAY LETHAL vs. MERRICK DONOVAN

Jay Lethal came out first, looking enthusiastic and ready to entertain his fans. He did some of his old-school mannerisms on the rampway, and I’m just gonna leave it at that. He certainly looked and carried himself like a star on his way down the ramp, and Wight put over that Lethal was a former Ring of Honor champion. (I wonder if Wight said that of his own volition or if he was directed to say it. Maybe him saying that is an indication of things to come? Eh. Probably not. I have an overactive imagination. But hey! Who knows, right?)

“What an unbelievable talent,” Henry said. “I get excited every time he comes to the ring.”

“I like him because of his character backstage,” Wight said. “He’s a really good dude.”

Merrick Donovan was awaiting Lethal’s arrival in the ring. A chyron noted that Donovan was making his AEW debut. Donovan warmed up in the upstage right corner, shuffling his feet as he did so. Lethal sized him up from the opposite corner. The referee rang the bell.

Lethal and Donovan circled one another, and the crowd seemed very into Lethal. Donovan and Lethal traded shots until Donvan got in multiple forearms to gain the upper hand. Donovan Irish whipped Lethal, Lethal reversed the Irish whip, and tossed Donovan out of the ring and down to the floor.

“Lethal is a class act from the word, ‘Go,’” Schiavone said, “and he is a talented guy!”

Lethal slid under the bottom rope and delivered multiple knife-edge chops to Donovan’s chest. (You could hear the impact.) Lethal then slammed Donovan’s head against the ring apron. Lethal chopped Donovan; Lethal slammed Donovan’s head against the apron again; Lethal then chopped Donovan again, but this time, Donovan countered with a chop of his own!

Donovan threw Lethal back into the ring like a sack of not-so-heavy bowling balls and jumped onto the apron to follow after him. However, Lethal quickly spotted Donovan and hit him with a running dropkick through the ropes, knocking Donovan back down to the floor. Lethal played to the crowd before executing a slingshot plancha over the top rope onto Donovan. Donovan crashed to the ground, and Lethal immediately got back up. Lethal then did what I’m not going to just start referring to as “the Lethal strut” from now on. The crowd popped for the Lethal strut.

“That’s the thing about Lethal and the strut,” Wight said. “Lethal is in his name, and he’s got such extravagant offense.” (I think someone Quantum-Leaped into Wight’s body halfway through that thought.)

Lethal tossed Donovan back into the ring and attempted to follow him. However, Donovan caught Lethal as he was coming in and crushed his throat against the rope. Lethal fell back down to the floor and then stumbled back into the ring. Donovan grabbed hold of Lethal and executed a ripcord flatliner. Lethal sat up after the move and was clutching his nose. Donovan paused to look pleased with himself.

“Quit celebrating and cover him!” Henry said.

Donovan finally went for the cover but only got a two-count.

“That’s the problem with some of these talents,” Wight said. “They get in front of these big crowds; they get on T.V.; it gets away from them. It’s hard for them to focus.”

Donovan put Lethal in a prolonged sleeper hold, and the two men struggled across the canvas as he fought to get out of it. The crowd clapped for Lethal, hoping to Peter-Pan him back to life, and it appeared to work. Lethal countered Donovan’s sleeper with four elbows to his midsection. This was enough to get Lethal back to his feet, but it wasn’t enough to get him out of the sleeper hold. Lethal then ran toward the downstage left corner and ducked in the process so as to run Donovan face-first into the top turnbuckle. That forced Donovan to release his grip and fall backward.

Donovan ran at Lethal for a splash, but Lethal jumped out of the way, allowing him to collide with the turnbuckles at full speed. Lethal immediately grabbed Donovan’s leg and wrapped him up for a pinning predicament. The referee dropped to the canvas, but Lethal only got a two-count. Donovan got back to his feet, and Lethal swept his legs, grabbed his legs, and executed a jackknife pin. Donovan kicked out at two.

Still having complete control over Donovan’s legs, Lethal “wooed” and put Donovan in a figure-four leg-lock. However, before Lethal could gain much of an advantage with the leg-lock, Donovan countered by grabbing Lethal’s neck and pulling him into an inside cradle. The referee dropped to the mat again, and Donovan got a two-count. Both men instantly hopped back to their feet. Donovan went for a clothesline, but Lethal ducked and caught his torso. Lethal then executed a backbreaker immediately followed by a flatliner.

“Oooh!” Wight said.

Lethal revved up the crowd for his finishing move, shouted the words, “Lethal injection!” and jumped into a forward handspring. Sure enough, Lethal executed his Lethal Injection finisher on Donovan to score the pinfall.

“Great man. Great guy,” Schiavone said. “We love Jay Lethal.”

WINNER: Lethal in 4:00

(David’s Analysis: This match was okay. It’s my least favorite Jay Lethal match since he arrived in AEW. It wasn’t bad, though. Even Jay Lethal’s worst is better than most people’s best. It just wasn’t on par with his usual top-notch work. Also, it felt strange how badly the announcers wanted us to know that Jay Lethal is really, really, really liked.)

– After the match, Lethal soaked up the crowd’s adulation while the direct cut to a replay of Lethal’s finisher.

(5) RUBY SOHO vs. AMBER NOVA

Up next, Amber Nova waited in the ring as Ruby Soho’s music hit. Soho celebrated her way down to the ring, rocking out to her music and sticking out her tongue. Once Soho reached the ring, she hooked the middle rope, posed on the apron, and faced the hard camera. She then made her signature facial expression, and I’m sure more than a few fans took pictures to commemorate the moment. By the way, Amber Nova has a really neat U.S. American flag-themed outfit complete with a studded jeans jacket and white boots. (It made me think of Liberty Bell from GLOW. I liked her, and I liked it.)

Soho started off by offering her hand for a handshake. Nova accepted the handshake but then used Soho’s hand to tug her forward and ram a knee into her midsection. Soho fell into a kneeling position, and Nova strutted around, celebrating for the displeased fans. Nova then pulled a bandana from her outfit and threw it at Soho as a sign of blatant disrespect. Soho looked both amused and like she was about to kill something. (That something is probably Nova.)

Soho jumped up, speared Nova, grabbed her legs, and drove her into the downstage right turnbuckles. (Yup, it was Nova.) Soho then hit her with four short-arm shoulder blocks, backed up, ran forward, and cracked her jaw with a forearm. Nova collapsed in the corner, but before she could fall all the way down, Soho grabbed her hair and tossed her into the center of the ring. Soho stalked toward Nova, hit Nova with a spinning back kick, planted a kick into Nova’s chest, and then butted Nova’s head. The crowd was raucously cheering for Soho’s offense.

“Man, listen to that crowd!” Henry said. “They love them some Ruby.”

Soho’s headbutt to Nova had been so impactful that it knocked Nova out of the ring and down to the floor. Ruby bounded through the ropes and jumped off the apron to join her. Nova, however, was clever enough to see the danger and quickly rolled back into the ring. Soho followed suit. However, as soon as Soho got into the ring, but before Soho could get to her feet, Nova nailed Soho across the back with a double axe-handle. She then continued to assault Soho’s back, clubbing her with two forearms and a knee to her shoulder blades.

Nova flipped Soho over and attempted to pin her, but Soho kicked out before the referee could even get down to count to one. Nova grabbed Soho’s bright orange hair and looked to be setting up for a snapmare takeover; however, Soho stopped her with several hard jabs to Nova’s stomach. Nova released Soho’s hair, but only for a moment. As soon as she gathered her wits, Nova re-seized Soho’s hair and threw her back first onto the mat. Nova hooked Soho’s leg and went for a pin, but she only got a one-count.

When Soho sat up, she was selling how much pain her back was in by reach behind her; this allowed Nova to hook Soho’s arms and apply an abdominal stretch submission hold. Soho tried to force her way back to her feet, but she was tangled up too awkwardly, and Nova slammed a hard knee into Soho’s stomach, bringing her back down. (Ouch!) Soho collapsed back to a seated position, still trapped in Nova’s relentless one-arm abdominal stretch.

Nova shifted her stretch into a rear chin lock, and Soho looked to be on the edge of defeat, just then! Soho pushed at Nova’s chin, pulled at Nova’s hands, and reached in vain for a ring rope that was much too far away. Somehow, in truly miraculous fashion, Soho managed to battle her way back to her feet and forced Nova to break her hold much the same way Lethal had forced Donavon to break his sleeper hold — what had happened was Soho ran Nova into the top turnbuckle, which left her no choice but to release her vice-like grip.

Soho moved Nova into the corner, and Nova caught Soho in a headscissors. Nova then executed a reverse version of Soho’s signature Deadly Night Shade move, which is a modified headscissors driver into a turnbuckle. Soho teetered backward, and Nova executed a sunset flip on Soho, but Soho rolled through, jumped back up, and nailed Nova with a running pump kick.

“That’s some classic Soho for you,” Henry said. “When in doubt, kick ‘em in the face!”

“We should put that on a t-shirt,” Wight suggested, “When in doubt… Kick ‘em in the face!”

Soho plowed a forearm into Nova’s chest, and Nova collapsed to the mat. Nova crawled toward the downstage left corner and propped herself up. Soho ran toward Nova, but Nova got her foot up. Soho then caught Nova’s leg, held on tight, and jumped up to slam her knee into Nova’s face. Nova fell forward, and Soho executed her Deadly Night Shade driver into the middle turnbuckle. (BTW, when researching that move, I found a cool clip of Soho doing it way back when she went by the name of Heidi Lovelace. Research is fun!)

Soho grabbed Nova’s waist, pulled her forward into a waistlock, shifted her hips, and executed a backdrop driver. Nova hit the mat so hard she rolled!

“Right on the back of the head,” Henry said.

Nova was barely present as Soho reached down to grab her arm. Soho took command of Nova’s arm, wrenched her to her feet, and executed a No Future. Soho pinned Nova; the referee then dropped to the canvas, and in a matter of three seconds, Soho had won the match.

WINNER: Soho in 4:00

(David’s Analysis: This was a good match for a show like Dark Elevation. It wasn’t “perfect” in all places, but it gave Nova more experience in front of a big crowd (She’s been with AEW a few times before), and it showcased the best of Soho. Soho always looks incredibly happy to be there entertaining fans. I hope she actually feels as happy she looks because her enthusiasm is infectious and endearing.)

(6) CHAOS PROJECT vs. DARK ORDER (John Silver & Alex Reynolds)

(Oh, fun. A Serpentico match. This won’t be upsetting at all.)

Chaos Project (one of my favs) came out first. Their logo filled the screen before the director crossfaded the image into a shot of the stage. Luther and Serpentico came out of the heel tunnel. (I cannot and will not imagine them as heels. They are simply too delightful. Why would anyone dislike either one of them?) Luther grabbed Serpentico’s head and ran him down the rampway before deleteriously throwing him into the ring. (Oh, yeah; that’s why.)

Poor Serpentico, already a little battered and bruised before the match even started, posed in the middle of the ring and released his Spider-man (but not Dante Martin related) streamers. Luther, again, tried to eat the streamers. (I actually researched this while looking for a cure for Luther. It turns out Luther’s condition has a name. It is called “pica,” and it means the desire to eat things that are not food.)

Dark Order’s music filled the area, and the URL “joindarkorder.com” filled the screens. John Silver & Alex Reynolds, the two men representing Dark Order tonight, made their way to the ring. Preston Vance, Evil Uno, Alan Angels, and Anna Jay accompanied the team of John Silver & Alex Reynolds onto the stage, but Reynolds and Silver went to the ring alone.

“You ready to join the Dark Order, Mark?” Wight asked. “Instead of negative one, you could be plus four-hundred.” (Wooooow.)

“Wow,” Henry echoed what was in my mind.

John Silver & Alex Reynolds stood on the ring apron and raised their paws to do the Mother Monster hand sign. The crowd was extraordinarily into it. This might have been the most “into it” I’ve seen a crowd be in quite a while. In response to the crowd’s reaction, Silver and Reynolds decided to walk over to the other side of the ring and do it for the fans who were facing the hard camera as well. The fans were elated. (I don’t entirely get it, but if it makes this many fans this happy, then sure.) John Silver then briefly John-Silvered before taking off his jacket and tossing it to ringside.

“Before this show, I did research on Luther,” Wight said. (Me, too!) “Did you know that Luther is a formula one championship driver?” (OMG, I love this man! Wight is one of my favorite things now.)

Reynolds and Luther started the match off with a collar and elbow tie-up. Luther got the better of it and managed to back Reynolds into the upstage left turnbuckles.

“Just think,” Wight said. “In that ring right now is a man that is used to driving two-hundred and fifty miles an hour.” (He also speaks sixteen languages, raises mummies from the dead, and is a wizard convoy to the United Nations! Luther is so amazing! I would not have known any of this had it not been for Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Wight.)

Luther went for a clothesline on Reynolds, and Reynolds ducked Luther’s clothesline before nailing him with a dropkick. However, Luther swatted away Reynolds’ dropkick like Kong swats airplanes, and Reynolds backed up to regroup. Luther then clocked Reynolds with a back elbow. This sent Reynolds into Chaos Project’s corner. Suddenly, Luther grabbed hold of both of the referee’s shoulders and spun her around to look at him. (I’m assuming she asked a complicated question about speaking Tibetan to Ancient Egyptians.)

Noticing that Luther was preoccupied and not wanting the fans to go unentertained, Serpentico decided to fill in for Luther until he was done explaining time-traveling race cars to the referee. Serpentico grabbed Reynolds’ hair, and Reynolds’ elbowed him slightly, sending Serpentico flying off the apron, across the floor, and probably near the barricade. (That was cruel and unusual punishment.)

Having finished explaining the intricacies of veterinarian exorcism, Luther stepped away from the referee and moved on to continue his match with Reynolds. Reynolds met Luther with a dropkick off the top rope! (That looked great! But… poor Luther.) Luther collapsed backward, and Reynolds covered him to score a two-count.

Reynolds pointed to Silver and got the crowd excited for a tag. He stepped over Luther’s body to make the tag, and in a justified act of self-preservation, Luther grabbed hold of his ankle, preventing it. Silver jumped through the ropes to help his tag team partner, and Serpentico followed suit. However, the referee was only able to stop one of them, so she stopped Silver. Noticing that his friend was being unfairly beaten up by Reynolds, Serpentico decided to save Luther, despite being only slightly larger than Marko Stunt.

Also, Serpentico just happened to decide to stop helping Luther around the time the referee turned around. (It was a coincidence. Coincidences happen. Serpentico is innocent and precious.) Luther browbeat Reynolds into Chaos Project’s corner. Once there, Luther held him in place with his boot and tagged in Serpentico. Serpentico adorably celebrated getting tagged into the match. (Has he not seen his other matches? He should watch his other matches. He might not remember them from all the unconsciousness.)

Luther bodyslammed Reynolds, and Serpentico hit Reynolds with an assisted bulldog. (And by “assisted bulldog,” I mean, Luther grabbed Serpentico’s delicate head and executed a running bulldog on Serpentico — Reynolds just happened to be underneath Serpentico when this particular abuse took place.) Once again, Luther grabbed Serpentico’s brittle skull and used it to hammer Reynold’s torso not once, not twice, but three times. Serpentico tried to stand but collapsed into the terrifying darkness of the unconscious human mind. As he did so, his body lightly draped over part of Reynolds’ splayed torso. This was good for a two-count.

“I would’ve said hook the leg,” Henry said, incredulously, “but he looked a little out of it,”

“I would’ve said, ‘Hook the consciousness,’” Wight said. “You should hook the consciousness before making the pin.”

A probably concussed Serpentico gallantly fought through his many injuries to somehow get back to his feet. Once he had fearlessly regained his footing, Serpentico applied a side headlock on Reynolds. Reynolds tossed poor Serpentico high into the air with a belly-to-back suplex, but thankfully, Serpentico did a full front flip and landed on his feet. Serpentico hit Reynolds with a superkick and a flatliner. Serpentico quickly covered Reynolds, hoping to end his own misery, but Reynolds pitilessly kicked out two.

Luther shrieked something unintelligible. (Well, I mean, unintelligible to human ears. The Aboriginal spirits he was speaking to understood him.) Serpentico noticed Luther’s ghostly conversation and rushed to tag him in. Luther trapped Reynolds in the corner, kicked him in the stomach, and nailed him in the chest. Luther grabbed Reynolds’ head in what might have been an attempted iron claw, but Reynolds countered with multiple blows to Luther’s gut. Reynolds finished off his series of body shots with a straight right to Luther’s jaw. Reynolds then tried to tag in Silver, but Luther grabbed ahold of the back of Reynolds’ tights. (I assume because the tag was sticking out, and friends don’t let friends look silly.) Reynolds darted toward Luther in an unfriendly manner, but Luther plowed through him with a deadly-looking clothesline! Luther covered Reynolds but only got a two-count.

“Wow!” Wight said. “That clothesline tore Alex Reynolds’ scalp off!” (Does… Does Wight think the skin on your chest is your scalp?)

Luther tagged in Serpentico and made a high-pitched noise as he backed up to run at Reynolds.

“He sure shrieks a lot,” Schiavone said with uncultured disdain. (OMG! Tony, don’t be stupid. He speaks sixteen languages, and one of them is obviously whale.)

Reynolds sidestepped Luther, and Luther crashed into the turnbuckles. Serpentico ran to deliver a superkick, but Reynolds sidestepped that, too, causing Serpentico to superkick Luther by accident. Every the kind soul, Serpentico quickly apologized to Luther.

“A taste of his own medicine,” Wight said. (You tell ‘em!)

Reynolds made the hot tag to Silver, and Silver shot out of the corner like he’d been launched from a catapult. Silver ducked a clothesline from Serpentico, knocked Luther off the apron with a forearm, floored Serpentico with a clothesline, and immediately followed that up with a second clothesline. Silver grabbed poor Serpentico’s baby-doll head, and Biel threw him across the ring like he weighed nothing because he weighs nothing. Silver continued harassing Serpentico by grabbing the poor soul a second time and Biel throwing him across the ring a second time. (Nooo!)

“He’s just slinging Serpentico’s guts all over the ring,” Wight painted an accurate picture.

Silver flagitiously Irish whipped Serpentico, but Serpentico valiantly countered it with a reversal. However, when Serpentico attempted to jump Silver, Silver caught him in midair and destroyed him with a sitout powerbomb. Silver covered Serpentico (stay down, dude), and the referee counted to — Luther broke it up. (I can’t do this…)

The referee pleaded with Luther (probably asking about the healing power of sign language monkeys), and Luther ignored her. (He should get paid for that kind of advice, anyway.) Silver grabbed Luther’s arm, stopped Luther in his tracks, and executed a step-up enzuigiri. Luther leaned on the ropes to shake off the cobwebs (And maybe some spiders? He probably has spiders in there.), but Silver refused to allow Luther even a short respite. Instead, Silver ran at him with a pump kick that knocked Luther through the ropes and down to the floor.

Courageously, Serpentico re-entered the fray, superkicking Silver. Silver stumbled toward Dark Order’s corner, and Reynolds tagged himself in. (Oh no.) Serpentico ran toward Silver, but Silver sidestepped our daring hero and watched him splatter across the turnbuckles. Silver hit Serpentico’s twink-like body with a brutal leg lariat; Reynolds hit Serpentico’s egg-shell-like skull with a ruthless rolling elbow; Silver hit Serpentico’s twig-like spine with a dangerous step-up enzuigiri; Reynolds hit Serpentico’s swan-like neck with a horrific stunner, and Silver hit Serpentico’s depression-glass-like torso with a German Suplex.

Never one to be reticent, Reynolds grabbed both of poor Serpentico’s legs and executed a jackknife pin. The referee dropped to the canvas and counted to three, thus ending a despicable crime in public.

WINNER: Dark Order (John Silver & Alex Reynolds) in 5:00

(David’s Analysis: This was great! OMG, it was so good. I love Chaos Project, obviously, and Dark Order makes great foils for them. There weren’t many botches, and even the referee played her role perfectly. If it weren’t for Kazarian vs. Ruas, I’d give this match of the night. If you like comedy mixed with comic-book-style action, this match is for you. If you despise that kind of thing, you’ll despise this match. It really is one of those love it or hate it type things.)

– After the match, Luther tried to congratulate Dark Order from behind by violently draping his arms across their shoulders. However, Dark Order was tuckered out from the match and collapsed under the force of Luther’s good sportsmanship. Not wanting Dark Order to miss out on their chance to celebrate their victory, Luther and Serpentico tried to wake them up using their fists. (And at one point, the entirety of Serpentico’s body. SMH. The treatment of this man has to be unconstitutional.) Then, several other Dark Order members ran into the ring. Realizing that the other Dark Order members wanted to help wake up Silver and Reynolds themselves, Luther and Serpentico graciously fled the ring to make room.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I enjoyed this show. I don’t know if you will because I have peculiar tastes. (I love humor, action, and in-ring storytelling.) But regardless of what style of wrestling you like, there was something on this show for everyone. (Well, maybe not the Texas deathmatch crowd.) Anyway, not that my awards actually mean anything, but this week’s match-of-the-night goes to Kazarian vs. Ruas. In fact, picking that match was a pretty easy choice. It wasn’t that all the other matches were bad. Heavens no! (In fact, I also recommend checking out Chaos Project vs. Dark Order and Skye Blue & Kilynn King vs. Emi Sakura and The Bunny.) It’s just that Kazarian vs. Ruas was that much fun. However, that’s only my opinion. Your opinion might be different, and the only way to know for sure is to watch the show and find out. 😉

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, sometimes even “bad guys” can be good guys.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*