3/21 AEW DARK ELEVATION TV REPORT: Bryant’s famous asides and match analysis for Anna Jay & Ruby Soho vs. Sakura & Bunny, Chaos Project vs. Top Flight, Nyla Rose, Gunn Club, Julia Hart

BY DAVID BRYANT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

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

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

AEW DARK ELEVATION REPORT
MARCH 21, 2022
TAPED 3/16 IN SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
AIRED ON YOUTUBE.COM
REPORT BY DAVID BRYANT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

AEW Commentators: Tony Schiavone and Excalibur

Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts

– Thank you for visiting PWTorch, 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 (featuring a not-at-all narcissistic amount of mirror-selfies.)

-Tonight’s AEW Dark Elevation taping emanated from the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas. Of all the cities I’ve traveled to, San Antonio rivals Warwick, England as one of the prettiest. Its legendary River Walk shimmers all night long, its food is worth breaking every one of your FitnessPal goals, and it’s home to several other-worldly nightclubs. If you enjoy club-hopping, I recommend Pegasus, which is an absolute labyrinth of a nightclub. I also recommend the world-famous Heat on North Main Avenue. (Even Ariana Grande went there once!)

-Dark Elevation opened with my favorite fashion icon, Vickie Guerrero, serenading the unappreciative crowd.

“Excuse me! Excuse me!” Guerrero crooned into the microphone. “You know what makes me disgusted? It’s having to see Tweedledum and Tweedledee in the ring.” Guerrero pointed to the referee and Charlotte Renegade. “Oh, and sweetheart, you better turn around.”

What a class act Gurrero is. In just a few short sentences, she reassured Renegade that her character compares to those which are timeless and classic, and she also warned Renegade of an incoming attack. Guerrero truly has a heart of gold. Tonight, she also has a shirt of gold — aurum-tinted leopard-print, to be exact.

(1) ROBYN RENEGADE (w/Charlotte Renegade) vs. NYLA ROSE (w/Vickie Guerrero)

Robyn Renegade turned around, and Nyla Rose greeted her with a running body block. Guerrero cackled to lighten the mood. Rose then bodyslammed Renegade and followed that up with an immediate senton splash. Rose threw a badly damaged Renegade into the upstage right corner, ran full speed toward her, and crushed her with a body avalanche. Renegade collapsed to a seated position, and Rose hit her with a running cannonball.

Guerrero hopped onto the apron. (Why? Her competitor has this more wrapped up than a mummy.) Guerrero began to talk to the referee. (Maybe she wanted to compliment him on slimming properties of vertical stripes?) During this unnecessary distraction, Charlotte Renegade (who is apparently Robyn Renegade’s similar-looking sister) ran into the ring to execute a Bella-twins-style switch. When Rose turned back around, Renegade number two had replaced Renegade number one, and she rolled Rose up for a quick one-count.

Renegade number two slammed Rose with her forearm, and Rose looked bored. Rose grabbed Renegade number two and absolutely shattered her endoskeleton with a Samoan drop.

“Break her!” Guerrero held a Barbie doll over her head and snapped the toy in two. “Ahhhhh!” Guerrero added.

Rose leaned back and roared for the crowd, and Renegade number one hopped on the apron to come to her sister’s aid. Rose superkicked Renegade number one off the apron, scooped up Renegade number two, and executed a Beast Bomb to pick up the win.

WINNER: Rose at 77 seconds

(David’s Analysis: That was… quick. I liked it, but it was quick. So, there isn’t really a lot to say about it. I will say this: Guerrero looked great! Tonight, fashion icon Vickie Guerrero wore a shimmering gold leopard-print shirt, sleek black pants, and a haircut every self-respecting flight attendant would die for.)

– After the match, Rose snarled at the camera and looked terrifyingly monstrous as she did so. (BTW, props to Rose for another stand-out moment in facial expression history! If my blood could curdle, it would have, but it didn’t because that idiom makes zero sense.) Once Rose had finished brilliantly mugging for the camera, Vickie Guerrero gifted the Renegade sisters a Nyla Rose t-shirt to make them feel better. (She truly does have a heart of gold, and by gold, I mean cold and metallic.)

– An advert for AEW Rampage aired, and because it starred Darby Allin, I won’t make jokes.

(2) SKYE BLUE vs. JULIA HART

Skye Blue came out first and skipped down the rampway. She wore a black and blue airbrushed jacket, posed for the hard camera, and waved at her fans. Julia Hart came out next, wearing her best pirate cosplay. Hart walked down the ramp but seemed a bit more reserved than usual. While she did wave to the fans, I didn’t sense the usual glowing cheer she always leads with.

“She’s very, very young,” Schiavone said. “The youngest on the roster.” (Oh, wow. I knew she was young, but I didn’t know she was the youngest on the roster. That was a fun factoid to learn.)

Blue and Hart started things off with a collar and elbow tie-up, but Blue quickly transitioned that tie-up into a hammerlock. Blue utilized her freshly applied hammerlock to execute an arm-drag that looked as awkward as me in church. (Blue and Hart have had good matches before, so I’m hoping that move was a fluke and not a sign of things to come.) Blue rolled Hart up with a backslide pin and got a quick one-count. (That pin looked awkward, too, but I‘m going to assume that was just residual awkwardness from Hart being unsure about the arm-drag she took… sort of took.)

Hart swiftly rolled up Blue for a one-count of her own. (Okay, now THAT looked good. I think we’re getting back on track.) Hart swung a clothesline at Blue, but Blue ducked; Blue went for a high roundhouse kick, but Hart ducked; Blue trapped Hart in a headlock, but Hart shoved Blue off. Hart missed a clothesline; Blue missed a superkick; Hart missed a superkick, and yup, we’re definitely back on track. (That was some solid fast-paced action.) Both women stood face to face as the crowd applauded their flurry of offense, and interestingly, Blue and Hart both seemed surprised by the crowd’s reaction. I don’t know why. I think it was at least a little deserved.

Blue offered Hart a handshake, but the normally jovial Hart rejected her handshake and shoved her palm into Blue’s face as if she was trying to exorcise her soul. (Did Hart get that eye patch from one of those weird antique shops run by the Devil? You should never shop at an antique shop run by the Devil; it rarely works out.) This display of poor sportsmanship angered Blue because duh, and Blue shoved Hart with both hands. Hart flipped her hair out of her eyes and shoved Blue hard enough to force her into taking a step back. Both women ran at each other at the exact same time and began pummeling one another in an unrestrained cyclone of furious forearms.

“They’re swinging for the fences!” Excalibur said.

It turns out Blue’s side of the fence was greener, and she ascertained the upper hand. Blue grounded Skye with a vertical press and began pounding away at her torso like it had personally offended her. (To be fair, she’s got a point. I mean, Blue did offer an amiable handshake, and Hart did pie-face her in response!)

“Both ladies, if I can use that term, went to the fisticuffs,” Schiavone said. (Well, that wording felt more awkward than that one time Blue tried to arm-drag Hart, and that “one time” was like two minutes ago.)

Hart escaped Blue’s wrath by rolling out of the ring, and in a moment of acting brilliance (no sarcasm intended), Blue blew a kiss toward Hart with a look of smoldering disdain. (Oof. That cut deep.) Blue jumped over the top rope to go after Hart, but Hart scarpered back into the ring. While stepping through the ropes, Blue looked up to spot her opponent, and her gaze was met with a superkick that took Blue clean off the apron.

Hart jumped out of the ring again, grabbed Blue, and mercilessly threw her into the ringside steps, looking as pleased as a Hitchcock villain. (These two are serving with their facial expressions tonight.) Hart rolled into the ring to break up the referee’s count while Blue writhed on the ground, clutching her spine.

“This is a lot more aggression out of Julia Hart than we’re used to seeing, Tony,” Excalibur grossly understated.

“I like wrestlers being aggressive; I really do,” Schiavone said, “but this is a little more than that — and… and now she’s taunting her!”

Hart was indeed taunting Blue as the referee began to count Blue out. Blue struggled to get her feet, using the apron for support, and pulled herself up onto the apron using the middle rope. (You know, I would have just stayed out of the ring because I’m pretty sure Hart bought that eye-patch at Needful Things R Us.) Blue only made it halfway through the ropes before Hart kicked the back of her head like she was trying to kill her. (Shoulda stayed out.) Blue fell the rest of the way through the ropes and collapsed onto the canvas.

Hart trapped Blue in the downstage right turnbuckles and hammered her with five forearms and a fist. Blue took no more than half a breath before Hart nailed the top of her head with three more fists. (Good, God!) Blue crumpled, and Hart mud-stomped her chest like she Austin stomped Vince at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

“Julia is just — once again, she’s increasing the aggression,” Schiavone said. (You could almost hear Schiavone shaking his head as he spoke those words.)

Hart threw Blue to the mat with an STO and hit her, sort of, with a standing moonsault. (Come on, y’all! If you’re gonna serve crisp acting, don’t pair it with soggy moves…) Hart covered Blue and got a two-count.

“I think… I think that eye patch in the pre-match graphic might have been photoshopped on,” Excalibur said randomly.

“Ha-ha,” Schiavone laughed, and for some reason, so did I.

“I had to look at it three times,” Excalibur clarified… randomly.

Hart snatched Blue in a front face lock, shoved her toward the upstage right turnbuckles, and went for a Chyna-rific handspring back elbow, but Blue smartly rolled out of the way. Blue superkicked a surprised Hart and scurried to cover her as fast as humanly possible, but Hart still kicked out at two.

Blue went for a waistlock, but Hart executed a standing switch, followed by a plunge into the ropes and an O’Connor roll. However, Hart’s O’Connor roll was countered by a sudden press pin, and Blue got another frantic two-count. Blue hit Hart with multiple forearms, trapped her in the upstage left corner, and hit her with a chop so loud the audience gasped. Blue whipped Hart into the opposite corner, showboated for a moment (why?), and ran toward Hart. However, having been given time to regroup, Hart side-stepped Blue, tackled Blue’s waist, and drove Blue face-first into the middle turnbuckle.

Hart went for the cover, and it looked like she somehow botched it. (How do you botch a cover?) Hart went for the cover again, and this time Blue helped her out a little bit. Hart then used the ropes for leverage. (Oooh, okay. That’s what she was trying to do. She was trying to make sure she was in the right place for that particular spot.) The referee ignored Hart’s very obvious cheating and counted to three.

WINNER: Hart in 5:00

(David’s Analysis: Okay, so, I didn’t like the sloppiness of the match portion of this match; however, there were things I very much enjoyed. This match had some Guerrero-quality acting, and as my readers know, I harp about acting more than thespian harpist. While I’d give the in-ring action a C minus, I would definitely give the acting a solid A. They packed a lot of character development into a matter of minutes; Hart sold her personality changes well, and Blue’s facial expressions added to this by expertly selling the gradual hardening of Hart’s heart.)

– After the match, the referee literally had to chase Hart all the way to the edge of the ramp in order to raise her hand. (She was pissed.)

(I wonder if we can embed gifs and memes into these reports? I need to remind myself to ask Keller about that.)

(3) AARON MERCER & MASADA vs. THE GUNN CLUB (w/Billy Gunn)

(Did you know the Turritopsis Dohrnii Jellyfish is immortal? I feel like Billy Gunn knows.)

Colten Gunn, Austin Gunn, and their younger brother, Billy Gunn, made their way to the ring first. Also, Billy Gunn wore a shirt that said Ass Boys, which means I get to write the word “ass” in this report without getting yelled at. (Yay!) Yet, for some reason, Colten and Austin don’t seem nearly as happy about it. The Gunn Club’s opponents, Aaron Mercer & Masada, were already in the ring preparing to lose.

Austin and Masada started things off with a collar and elbow tie-up that Masada quickly transitioned into a side headlock. Austin countered almost immediately with a whip into the ropes; however, Masada rebounded into Austin with a shoulder tackle to take him down. (He went down hard.) Masada picked Austin back up off the mat with a wristlock, and Austin feverishly tried to tag in Colten to no avail. Masada tagged in Mercer, who took over Masada’s wristlock, and in a last-ditch effort to not lose his arm, Austin attempted a hurried clothesline. Mercer ducked Austin’s clothesline and used the opportunity to re-capture him in a side headlock. On the apron, Colten Gunn looked extremely frustrated for his brother, and on the floor, Billy Gun looked like a Greek statue.

Austin tried to fight back by reversing Mercer’s headlock, but Mercer pushed him into the ring ropes and caught him with another wince-inducing shoulder tackle. (The Gunns’ characters are total sleaze-tacos; however, I’m actually starting to feel bad for them, RN. Geesh.) Austin scooted backward toward his team’s corner like a dog wiping its butt on the carpet, and Colten tagged himself in. (Thank God.)

Excalibur rattled off a series of upcoming dates like a cocaine-fueled auctioneer, and it’s somehow both infuriating and impressive at the same time. Like, I didn’t catch any of that, but still, good job!

Colten whipped Mercer into the ring ropes and attempted to shoulder tackle Mercer, but it appeared as though Mercer might have broken Colten’s shoulder. (Are these guys under contract? They are coming across like the Terminator robot.) Colten clutched his shoulder, and Mercer ran toward him. However, Colten got a fist up, and Mercer’s face plowed into Colten’s knuckles. This was enough to take Mercer off his feet. (Finally!) Colten celebrated by saying mean stuff to the audience before pointing at Mercer and asking his brother if he wanted some of Mercer for himself. Colten’s brother assured him that he did, and so, Colten tagged in Austin.

Austin caught Mercer in the downstage right corner and proceeded to stomp his chest until the referee broke things up. Austin then yelled, “Shut up!” at the referee in a voice that was probably more amusing than he intended it to be. However, Austin did back off enough to break the count because we all know how DQ-prone AEW’s referees are. Austin nailed Mercer with three forearms and then rushed over to tag in Colten.

Colten confined Mercer to the corner again and hit him with four short-arm clotheslines. The referee once again called for a break, and once again, she got a wrestler up in her face for her efforts. (And just like that, the pity I felt for the Gunn Club vanished as quickly as a wrinkle on Billy Gunn’s face.)

“Wow, listen to that,” Excalibur said as the crowd booed vociferously.

“A very visceral reaction from the crowd,” Schiavone said, as fans actually stood on their feet to show their displeasure.

Colten’s refusal to follow the rules prompted a frustrated Masada to attempt to get in the ring. However, a quick on her feet referee stopped him from interfering. This brief (and well-executed) distraction allowed Austin to attack Mercer behind the referee’s back. A split second later, the referee turned back around, and Austin looked as innocent a bear hiding a pick-a-neck basket.

Colten flattened Mercer against the turnbuckles with a splash, grabbed him by the neck, dragged him across the upstage ring ropes, and slammed Mercer’s head into the top turnbuckle. Colten then tagged in Austin, and I hope he gets his comeuppance for that attack behind the referee’s back moments ago. Colten Irish whipped Austin toward Mercer in the corner, and Mercer caught Austin with his shoulder, catapulting him over the top rope and to the floor. (Comeuppance!) Colten went for another Stinger Splash on Mercer, but Mercer sidestepped him, and Colten splashed the unforgiving turnbuckles. Mercer tagged in Masada; Colten staggered out of the upstage left corner, and Masada grabbed him by the hair and tossed him out of the ring. (More comeuppance!)

Austin darted back in the ring and sprinted toward Masada, but Masada knocked him to the ground with a clothesline. Austin popped back up, and in the blink of an eye, Masada knocked him back down. Masada whipped Austin into the ropes; however, a rebounding Austin avoided Masada’s shoulder block attempt by leapfrogging him entirely. This allowed Colten the opportunity to tag himself in, and together the Gunn Club tripped Masada, sending him face-first into the canvas. Colten seized hold of Masada’s person, and before Masada had a chance to fight back, Colten executed a Colt 45 for the win.

WINNER: The Gunn Club (w/Billy Gunn) in 4:00

(David’s Analysis: Good match. Everything in it was solid, and the wrestlers made every move count. The referee distraction was done properly and without making the referee look like the Tweedledum Guerrero accused them of being earlier. This wasn’t a five-star match or anything, but for Dark Elevation, it was good. Masada and Mercer definitely have something to offer. They come off like bad@$$es. Oh, wait. Billy’s t-shirt said Ass Boys, so I’m allowed to actually type out the word “ass.” They were badasses.)

– After the match, Schiavone and Excalibur introduced the next match as follows:

“Up next, Top Flight vs. Chaos Project!” Excalibur said, “with Serpentico and Luther.”

“Dr. Luther,” Schiavone added.

“Actually, he was disbarred.”

(4) TOP FLIGHT vs. CHAOS PROJECT

(I love both these teams in very different ways, and I have no idea who to root for.)

Serpentico came out of the tunnel first, followed by his abusive partner Luther. (I’m going to miss Paul Wight’s commentary on this one. He’s taught me so much about Luther’s resume.) Anyway, Walt Disney Animation Studios model and world-renown ASMRtist Luther dragged Serpentico to the ring by his ears, which, for some reason, are a part of his mask.

“You know, I heard Luther discovered a discarded sewing machine on the side of the road and began designing ring attire,” Excalibur said. (Bless you for trying to fill Wight’s shoes.)

“Of all the things you’d find on the side of the road,” Schiavone added, “a sewing machine is the last thing I’d pick up.” (Really? I would’ve gone with “a used condom,” but hey, you do not you.)

Serpentico shot out his Spiderman streamers, and Luther tried to eat them because of course he did. Speaking of Spiderman, Dante Martin and Darius Martin (aka Top Flight) (aka Spiderman) came out next. Dante slingshotted himself over the top rope, and Darius posed behind him. (If Dante is Spiderman, what does that make Darius?)

Honorary Ninja Turtle, Darius Martin, started off the match with Luther as his opponent, and hopefully, Serpentico will come out of this unscathed. (I love the Martin brothers, but they had better not add one drop of suffering to the lifetime of everlasting pain already inflicted on my poor Serpentico.) Luther took a moment to speak whale to the audience while Serpentico politely waved to a fan at ringside. The crowd began chanting at both men, and I couldn’t make out what they were saying. It may or may not have mattered. Feel free to use your imagination.

Luther caught Darius with a knee to his midsection, followed by multiple right hands and a kick to his chest. Darius collapsed in the upstage left corner, and Luther charged toward him like an Elephant with human-sized ears. However, Darius somehow saw Luther coming and stepped out of the way. Because wrestlers have the self-control of Wile E. Coyote, Luther was unable to stop his momentum and crashed sternum-first into the turnbuckles. (Sternum is such a weird name for a body part. It sounds like the last name of a strict, indecisive nun.)

Darius struck Luther’s chest three times with hard chops, but Luther countered this offensive with a back elbow. Luther then whipped Darius into Chaos Project’s corner and tagged in Serpentico. Serpentico ardently entered the match and looked determined to — nope. He was taken down by a drop toe hold. Darius wrenched Serpentico’s arm into a wristlock and tagged in his web-slinging brother. Dante entered the match with a death-defying springboard double foot stop onto Serpentico’s wrist as if doing so took no more effort than a Sunday morning stroll. Dante pulled Serpentico down to the mat with a wide-angle arm drag, and Darius pulverized him with a basement dropkick. Dante grabbed Serpentico’s leg, and Serpentico begged him to stop, but he did not. (Beating up Serpentico is like beating up Negative One, except Negative one is bigger and stronger.)

Dante tagged in Darius. Darius and Dante both took turns chopping and kicking at Serpentico’s helpless body. This happened multiple times in a row, and there were witnesses. Working together, Top Flight threw Serpentico out of the ring… head first. Dante celebrated his viciousness, and I think he’s forgetting the lessons he learned in his movie. (With great power comes great responsibility, asshole!) Poor Serpentico clutched his battered chest, and Luther approached him for a high-pitched pep-talk.

“You know, if Serpentico could just get away from Luther, he could really prosper!” Excalibur said. (Then stage an intervention!)

Serpentico got back onto the apron, and Darius ran toward him. Serpentico defended himself with an apron enzuigiri and then climbed to the top rope to execute a flying crossbody block. A split second before Serpentico jumped, Luther touched his butt. (Okay.) Serpentico splattered across Darius’s chest, and Darius splattered to the mat. Serpentico briefly celebrated not dying, and the audience cheered his celebration. (That was adorable.) Serpentico covered Darius but did not hook Darius’s leg, and Darius kicked out.

“Nothing like a thumb in your rear end to mess up your timing when you’re trying to do a flying crossbody,” Schiavone made jokes about Serpentico’s sexual assault.

Darius stumbled into the downstage right corner and hung in the scarecrow position. Luther stepped into the ring, grabbed Serpentico without his permission, and threw him at Darius. (Does that count as a tag? Please let that count as a tag.) Luther then executed a body avalanche on Darius, but luckily for Darius, his body was protected by a now steam-rolled Serpentico. (If you’ve never seen A Serbian Film, watching this match is what watching that feels like.) (Also, if you’ve never seen A Serbian Film, don’t.)

Former Ghostbusters lawyer (and apparently the legal man), Luther, grabbed Serpentico’s teeny tiny skull and slammed it into Darius’s full-grown head. Both men went down because despite being a public defender for ghost-busted ghosts who could not afford representation, Luther does not understand how pain works. Finally, mercifully, Serpentico collapsed into an all-consuming void of implacable unconsciousness, and in the process, his body draped itself over Darius like a dead leaf falling to the ground. Instead of performing CPR, the pitiless referee dropped to the canvas and counted to two. Darius kicked out easily because Serpentico was momentarily unalive.

“Serpentico is —” Excalibur was interrupted by Schiavone.

“—okay! Serpentico is okay. See, his arm moved.” (I hope I never get crushed by a falling piano in front of Schiavone. He’d probably try to play it.)

Serpentico attempted to revive himself (and his chances) while Luther looked on with deep concern. (Really?)

“Take a look at Luther’s face,” Excalibur said.

“I try not to,” Schiavone said.

Serpentico tagged in Luther, and Luther executed a butterfly suplex on Darius. Luther went for the cover, but Darius kicked out at two. Luther then tagged Serpentico back in because not being entirely dead is a sign someone is one-hundred percent ready to go.

“Luther’s had a lot of experience in deathmatches,” Schiavone said. (Serpentico has a lot of experience in near-death matches, yet I’m the only one who seems to care.)

Darius attempted a step-up enzuigiri on Serpentico, but Serpentico ducked, and Luther caught the kick instead. (Joy. This is the feeling of joy. It’s a fragile flame that burns inside your chest like a second heart.) Darius tagged in Dante, and Serpentico literally begged Dante not to hurt him, but Dante hurt him anyway. He hurt him with two body blocks, a back elbow, and an Irish whip. However, poor Serpentico managed to reverse Dante’s overly aggressive Irish whip and made a rousing comeback with — nope. Luther grabbed Serpentico over by the ropes for some reason and held him in place while Dante ran at him with a pump kick.

Serpentico ducked! He ducked the kick! Instead of kicking Serpentico, evil Spidey kicked Luther! Serpentico ran toward a surprised Dante, but Dante did a spinning backflip over Serpentico that got more height than a laced joint. Dante went for a suplex; Serpentico performed a standing switch; Dante performed a standing switch of his own and destroyed poor Serpentico with a reverse suplex. Dante covered his victim with pride and got a two-count for his cruelty.

Dante tagged in Darius, and Darius grabbed a delirious Serpentico and demolished his dome by driving his head down into the turnbuckles. (Try saying that three times fast.) Darius left Serpentico hanging in the corner. Dante ran at Serpentico, but somehow, someway, with the unfettered determination of my bladder in the morning, Serpentico found the will to keep fighting. He clocked Dante with a back elbow and kicked Darius to the mat. With both members of Top Flight down, Serpentico ascended the ropes to the encouraging claps of a clearly bloodthirsty crowd.

A split second before Serpentico executed a flying crossbody, Luther once again touched Serpentico’s butt. (Are we really building this match around a story about sexual harassment in the workplace?) Distracted by being taken advantage of by Luther, Serpentico plummeted from the turnbuckle, and Darius speared him with his shoulder. Still trying to cope with having been violated by someone he thought was his friend, Serpentico’s presence of mind was distracted as Dante executed a flipping stunner, and Darius rolled him up to get a cheap win.

WINNER: Top Flight in 5:00

(David’s Analysis: Top Flight winning was the right call, but I would have been okay with either team taking the victory because I find Luther and Serpentico immensely entertaining. BTW, if you haven’t seen it, Chaos Project cut a rare promo on last week’s episode of AEW Dark. It’s short but worth catching for the lulz. I’d also like to say that it’s great seeing Darius Martin back in action. I have now fully convinced myself that there was never a fifth Ninja Turtle because they were saving the unused color of yellow for him.)

(5) RUBY SOHO & ANNA JAY vs. EMI SAKURA & THE BUNNY

(This is gonna be fun!)

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

Miraculous monarch of marvelous majesty, Emi Sakura, accompanied her tag team partner, The Bunny, to the ring. The women who have the honor of wrestling the great and powerful Sakura tonight will be none other than the punk-rock princess of power and prowess, Ruby Soho, and her tag team partner, Anna Jay, who may or may not be Lady Legasus from Teen Titans Go. (She is.)

Once these athletes made their way to the ring, Soho and Sakura started the match off with a collar and elbow tie-up. Soho speedily shifted her portion of the tie-up into a side headlock, and Sakura countered by whipping Soho across the ring. Sakura attempted to take Soho down with a shoulder tackle, but Soho stood her ground. (I am so confused about who to root for. I stan both of these competitors, and my private stan-finsta account is going to erupt into a glittery inferno about two hours after I’ve finished writing this report.) Sakura took a swing at Soho, but Soho ducked and grounded Sakura with a double leg takedown.

Soho ran the ropes, but The Bunny clocked her across the back of her head, thus stopping her momentum. Sakura jumped back to her feet, ran toward Soho, and slammed a forearm across her back. Soho fell to one knee, but Sakura helped her to her feet and ran her, ribcage-first, into the stage right ring ropes. Soho flew backward like a yanked puppet and crashed to the unforgiving canvas. Seeing how successful that last move was, Sakura decided to repeat it. However, this time, Soho used the momentum of her rebounding body to catch Sakura in a roll-up! The referee counted, but Sakura kicked out at two!

Soho tagged in Jay, and both athletes worked together to double Irish whip Sakura across the ring. As Sakura bounded from the ropes toward the belligerents attacking her, she attempted a double clothesline counter. However, Soho and Jay were shrewd enough to see her coming and ducked both clotheslines, caught Sakura’s torso, and executed a double flatliner on a totally innocent Sakura. This offensive was good enough for Jay to score a two-count.

Upon kicking out, Sakura managed to escape Jay’s grasp long enough to hasten to her corner and tag in The Bunny — an athlete who puts the word technical in technical(ly a) wrestler. The Bunny got in Jay’s face and began acting (BTW, acting is where she really shines, IMHO. I cringe at some of her wrestling, at least for now, but I delight in her acting.) like the meanest girl in Mean Girls and proceeded to pie-face Jay. Jay clobbered The Bunny’s chest with not one, not two, not three, but four, yes FOUR, forearms. Jay would have kept going had The Bunny not found the wherewithal to attempt a clothesline. However, Jay ducked that clothesline and caught The Bunny in a wristlock. The Bunny instantly reversed Jay’s wristlock, and Jay instantly reversed The Bunny’s reversal. (That was actually good.)

Jay whipped The Bunny into the upstage left corner and nailed her with a spinning leg lariat. (Told you she was secretly Lady Legasus.) Jay then threw The Bunny to the mat with a fearsome snapmare takeover and went for a pin. Jay hooked The Bunny’s leg, but her cover was still only good for a one-count. The Bunny squirmed away from Jay and tagged in Sakura.

Sakura promptly went for a clothesline, but Jay ducked and countered with a sudden northern lights suplex. Jay pulled Sakura back up (I would’ve gone for a pin there), and Sakura accidentally raked Jay’s eyes a lot. Sakura pulled Jay into a one-arm hook and savagely (I mean, elegantly) raked her claws (I mean, well-groomed nails) across Jay’s back. (See. There was nothing sinister about that at all. Friends scratch each other’s backs all the time. “You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours.” Denial is fun.) Sakura hooked Jay’s other arm and pulled her into a delayed Queen’s Gambit. In fact, it was so delayed that, whilst holding Jay upside down, Sakura had the time to turn and face all four sides of the ring. (She is strong AF.) After executing a perfect Queen’s Gambit, Sakura went for the — oh, crap. She tagged in The Bunny.

(If y’all lose this match, it will be because Sakura didn’t go for the pinfall right then and there.)

With Jay still on the ground, convalescing from one of the best Queen’s Gambits I’ve ever seen, The Bunny stomped her torso four times. That’s right, four times. She could have done it once. She could have done it twice. She could have done it three times just to be nice. But instead, she did four, which is one kick more than was needed to even the score. (Is that a limerick? Did I just make a limerick? Let me go check. Nope. That did not follow the a-a-b-b-a pattern, so all I made was a pile crap… What were we talking about? … Wrestling! Oh, crap! That’s right; I’m sorry! I have ADHD.)

The Bunny accosted Jay in the corner and kicked her multiple times, of which I will not make rhymes, but of which I will definitely warn her — that rascally rabbit is about to choke you with her boot! The Bunny choked Jay with her boot. The referee forced The Bunny to break up the choke. The Bunny grabbed a fistful of Jay’s hair and dragged her to the heel’s corner; there, she tagged in Sakura.

Before exiting the ring, The Bunny swung Jay into the downstage right corner, and she hung there in the scarecrow position. Sakura chopped Jay across her chest, backed up, and began to stomp and clap! Soon, the audience had begun stomping and clapping along to Sakura’s infectious cadence, but instead of performing her “We Will Rock You Chops,” Sakura rebuffed the audience’s excitement and ran toward Jay, executing a crossbody block. Sakura then hopped out of the ring, ran around to the face’s corner, and yanked Soho off the apron.

As soon as she had taken Soho off the apron, Sakura slid back into the ring, taunting Soho to follow her. Soho tried to follow her into the ring, but ever the stickler for rules, AEW’s referee diverted his attention to prevent Soho from entering the ring without being tagged first. This distraction allowed The Bunny to illegally run in and clock Jay with a forearm to the face. The Bunny cackled evilly with the dark air a horror movie villain, and Sakura laughed breezily with the light air of chiming bells. Sakura then executed a Vader-esque corner slingshot splash onto Jay. Sakura moved to tag in The Bunny, and Jay finally found an opening to make the hot tag to Soho. The crowd roared as Soho entered the ring.

The Bunny went for a clothesline, but Soho ducked. Soho executed a thrust kick, a chest kick, a boot block, and a knee lift. (This happened at breakneck speed.) Soho slammed The Bunny’s head into the downstage right top turnbuckle and dashed toward her. The Bunny moved out of the way, but Soho didn’t miss a beat. She turned right back around and clocked The Bunny with multiple forearms, an uppercut, a headbutt, and another forearm. Soho ran at The Bunny, attempting another uppercut, but The Bunny moved out of the way again. This did not deter Soho in the slightest. Instead, Soho grabbed hold of the top rope and executed her signature Deadly Nightshade on The Bunny. The Bunny collapsed to the mat, Soho hooked The Bunny’s leg, but she was only able to get a two-count because Sakura saved her friend from failure.

Furious at Sakura for having broken up the count, Jay jumped through the ropes and ran into the ring to clothesline Sakura. However, Sakura ducked Jay’s clothesline and knocked Jay to the ground with a chop. The Bunny set up Soho for a Down The Rabbit Hole, and Sakura set up Jay for a Down The Rabbit Hole, but before they could perform stereo Down The Rabbit Holes (like they did last week), Jay and Soho countered. Jay grabbed Sakura’s arm and trapped her in a Queen Slayer, and Soho grabbed The Bunny’s arm and executed a No Future. Soho then covered The Bunny and got a three-count for the win.

WINNER: Ruby Soho & Anna Jay in 5:00

(David’s Analysis: This was a match full of excellent action, exceptional acting, and excessive honorifics for which I am partially (entirely) responsible. I loved this match, but that’s not surprising given it featured both Sakura and Soho. If you like the kind of stuff I like — and by now, you probably have a good idea whether you do or don’t — consider checking it out!)

– After the match, Excalibur informed us that we would hear from “The Murder Hawk Monster” Lance Archer next. (They even had a graphic to accompany Excalibur’s announcement.) With that, Lance Archer’s music hit.

Lance Archer stormed his way down to the ring and looked every bit of the monster his moniker proclaims him to be. Archer stepped over the top rope in a single bound and pulled a microphone from his pocket.

“Finally!” Archer said. “Finally, I’m back in the great state of Texas. My home state of Texas!”

The crowd cheered.

“But, the one thing that I’m the most proud of — a thing that I’ve never done and never will do,” Archer continued, “is to live in this cesspool you call San Antonio.” (Classy…)

“See, this is your fault.” Archer pointed to the crowd. “You’re the reason everything’s changed. I used to come out here for you, and I almost paralyzed myself for you.” Archer pointed directly at the hard camera, now. “But no more and never again.”

The crowd showered Archer with a chorus of boos.

“The simple savagery — SHUT UP!” Archer glared at the audience, pausing as the groundswell of boos grew louder. “The simple savagery I’m about to unleash on AEW is something of Greek mythology. AEW Management, I’m talking directly to you now. Pay attention. You can’t hide me in the dark for much longer. And when I step into the light, you are going to regret everything these people made me do.”

(Goodnight, this crowd is loud.)

“And when I said, ‘everybody,’ I did not stutter because I mean every… body… dies.” Archer dropped the mic and looked at the camera with a mix of anger, determination, and resigned sorrow.

(David’s Analysis: This was the best thing on this show so far, and it should have been on Dynamite or Rampage. There is no excuse for a moment like that being relegated to a show on YouTube. That was an illustration of the definition of the word primetime.)

– After the promo, as Archer was walking to the back, he spotted a fan with a sign that read: “Lance Archer Sucks.” Archer read the sign and then stormed the planted fan, punched him in the face, knocked him to the floor, and pulled him over the barricade. Archer then threw the fan into the ring.

“Where is security?” Excalibur asked. “Why aren’t they doing anything?”

“They’re too afraid to get involved,” Schiavone offered. (Really?… Well, at least you tried.)

Archer pointed ominously to the audience, tossed the unfortunate fan into the turnbuckles, and executed a running body avalanche. Archer then hoisted the fan onto his shoulders and destroyed him with his Blackout finisher.

“I’m shocked. I… I’m stunned,” Excalibur said. “What the hell have we just seen?”

(David’s Analysis: No excuse.)

(6) THE FACTORY (Q.T. Marshall & Nick Comoroto & Aaron Solo) vs. DARK ORDER (John Silver & Evil Uno & Stu Grayson)

The Factory came out first. The three members of The Factor selected to wrestle that night were Q.T. Marshall, Aaron Solo, and Nick Comoroto. Anthony Ogogo joined them on stage but walked to the back as they made their way to the ring. After The Factory made their entrance, a URL imploring us to “join dark order” appeared on the big screen, and Dark Order’s music swelled throughout the Freeman Coliseum. Dark Order was represented by the team of John Silver & Evil Uno & Stu Grayson. Several additional members of Dark Order came out to accompany their stable-mates on stage, but they walked to the back before the match started. Once Dark Order reached the ring, they stood on the apron and made Lady Gaga’s signature Mother Monster hand sign.

Uno and Solo started things off. Uno put up his hand, offering to begin the match with a test of strength, but Solo rejected Uno’s gesture and kicked him in the stomach instead. Solo captured Uno in a side headlock, but Uno shoved him off, sending him flying into the ring ropes. Solo shoulder tackled Uno hard enough to send Uno into the opposite ropes. Uno rebounded with a shoulder tackle of his own. Uno’s shoulder tackle was firm enough to send Solo tumbling to the mat.

Uno ran the ropes; Solo dropped to the canvas; Uno jumped over Solo, and then he caught Solo around the waist, executing an inverted atomic drop. Solo clutched his groin, and Uno swept Solo’s legs, knocking them out from under him. Uno followed this up by simultaneously stomping on both of Solo’s hands. Uno then poked Solo in the eyes. (Isn’t Uno a face?)

Solo tagged in Comoroto, and Uno turned to the crowd, polling them to see which member of Dark Order they wanted him to tag in. The crowd popped for Silver, and Uno chose to tag him in. Silver barged up to Comoroto and bumped his chest. Silver then John-Silvered mere inches from Comoroto’s face. Instead of being infuriated, Comoroto petted Silver’s head like it was a crystal ball, and Silver did not seem pleased. Silver pie-faced Comoroto, who came back at him with a clothesline. Silver ducked Comoroto’s clothesline, ran the ring ropes, and took Comoroto off his feet with a baseball slide. With Comoroto on all fours, Silver bent down and petted his head.

Much like Silver, Comoroto did not appreciate being petted. Comoroto picked Silver up, held him over his head, and attempted a delayed gorilla press drop. However, Silver countered Comoroto’s planned gorilla press drop, but wriggling his way out of Comoroto’s arms and landing on his feet. Comoroto raced toward Silver, but Silver put up his foot, and Comoroto ran directly into a kick of his own making. Silver climbed onto the second turnbuckle in the downstage right corner and leaped off to perform a missile dropkick onto Comoroto. Silver tagged in Grayson.

Comoroto was subjected to a double Irish whip courtesy of Silver and Grayson; however, when on the rebound, Comoroto dropped them both with a running double clothesline. Comoroto captured Grayson, bulldozed him into the heel’s corner, and nailed him with a multitude of shoulder blocks. Somehow, to my great surprise, Grayson managed to shove Comoroto off of him; he then elbowed both of Comoroto’s teammates and pump-kicked Comoroto in the face.

With Comoroto on the mend, Grayson ran the ropes and jumped onto the second rope for a springboard of some kind, but Marshall (the human version of vanilla ice cream) picked Grayson’s ankle off the rope and tripped him. With Grayson laying splayed on the ground and still partly tangled in the ring ropes, Comoroto fell onto him with a running elbow drop. Comoroto pulled Grayson upright, spun him around, and planted him face-first into the top turnbuckle of the heel’s corner. Comoroto tagged in Marshall.

Marshall, the least exciting member of a curling team you didn’t know existed until the Olympics, entered the ring to a cacophony of boos. Marshall soaked up the crowd’s boos like they were an energy drink, and he used that energy to punch Grayson in the chest. Marshall then took it upon himself to visit the face team’s corner and punch Uno off the apron. Grayson tried to fight for Uno’s honor, but Marshall quickly doubled him over with a knee to Grayson’s midsection. Marshall then attempted a vertical suplex, but Grayson countered with a knee strike to the top of Marshall’s head.

“In all my time,” one of the commentators said, “I’ve never seen someone with so much arrogance.”

Grayson ducked a clothesline from Marshall; Marshall grabbed Grayson’s leg from behind; Grayson hopped back up on one foot and executed a step-up enziguri. Grayson dove toward the face’s corner to tag in Silver, but Solo yanked Silver off the apron to prevent the tag. Marshall clotheslined Grayson and covered him for a pin. Grayson kicked out at two. Marshall then tagged in Comoroto.

“Have we seen Solo in the ring yet?” Excalibur asked.

“I don’t think we have,” Schiavone said.

“Well, not in a legal capacity,” Excalibur clarified, “but he’s certainly made his presence known in this matchup.”

Comoroto and Marshall picked up Grayson for a double vertical suplex, but Grayson fought his way free, backflipped out of his opponent’s arms, and landed on his feet. Marshall and Comoroto ran at Grayson, hoping for a double clothesline, but Grayson ducked and clocked them both with a double Pele kick. With Comoroto and Marshall neutralized, Grayson tagged in Uno, and Comoroto tagged in Solo.

Uno came barreling into the ring, clotheslined Solo, chopped Solo, punched Solo with his right hand, punched him with his left hand, punched him with his right hand again, punched him with his left hand again, and then finally punched him one last time with his right hand. Uno attempted to Irish whip Solo across the ring, but Solo reversed the whip. Solo swung a clothesline at a rebounding Uno, but Uno ducked underneath him, ran into the opposite ropes, and bounded back toward Solo with a running boot. Uno instantaneously followed that running boot up with a neckbreaker. Still filled with energy, Uno ran toward the heel’s corner and kicked Comoroto off the apron and down to the floor.

Uno briefly showboated; the crowd briefly cheered, and then Uno executed a Something Evil on Solo. Uno covered Solo and hooked his leg but was only able to get a two-count. Uno tagged in Grayson. Grayson climbed atop the downstage right turnbuckles, and Uno held Solo in place for a Fatality finisher, but Marshall interfered to prevent it from happening. Marshall punched Uno and ran at Grayson, looking for a Stinger splash. However, Grayson moved out of the way at the last second, and Marshall collided with the turnbuckles. (He collided hard but not hard enough because he’s still here.)

Solo moved on Grayson, but Grayson stopped him in his tracks with a jumping knee strike. Solo fell backward, but Uno caught him with his feet, pushed Solo’s body toward Grayson, and Grayson executed a belly-to-belly suplex on Solo. That particular suplex was extra special because it sent him into Marshall and hopefully hurt him a lot.

With Marshall heaped in the downstage right corner and Solo lying in the “moonsault” position, Grayson ascended the turnbuckles once more. Uno ran at Marshall, hitting him with a running cannonball, and Grayson leaped off the top turnbuckle to execute a 450 splash onto Solo. Grayson hooked Solo’s leg and pinned him, but Solo was saved when Comoroto broke up the count.

Uno grabbed Comoroto’s hair, and Comoroto stared him down. Uno tried to beg off but was promptly thrown out of the ring by an infuriated Comoroto. Comoroto then seized Grayson’s arm and swung him into the downstage left corner. Comoroto went for a spear, but Grayson dove over Comoroto and tried to execute a Nightfall. Solo countered with a superkick to Grayson, and Marshall followed up Solo’s superkick with an Ace cutter. Comoroto attempted his spear a second time, and this time he connected, goring Grayson all the way down to the canvas. With Grayson thoroughly pummeled, Solo hooked his leg, covered him, and got a one, two — Silver broke up the pin!

The crowd burst into spontaneous applause as Comoroto ran toward Silver. Silver did the “Bad Bunny” duck, and Comoroto threw himself over the top rope, hurtling toward the floor. Silver returned to the face’s corner to make the tag. (Oh, yeah. Rules. I forgot about those.) Once the tag was made, a whirlwind of cataclysmic proportions was unleashed, and Silver hit Solo with a running boot, tossed Solo with a release German suplex, and ran at Marshall, who stopped Silver’s momentum with a popup strike. (Ugh… Marshall is the human equivalent of the last five minutes of class before school lets out.)

Q.T. Marshall, a man with the flavor of water, ran at Uno with a running boot, but Uno caught his leg. Uno used his sudden advantage to nail Marshall, a man who probably still uses wallpaper in 2022, with a leaping neckbreaker. Uno then clotheslined Marshall, a man who puts the dry in paint over the top rope, sending him crashing to the floor below. (I feel bad for the floor.)

Uno tried to tackle Comoroto, but Comoroto caught him in a forward powerslam. While Comoroto dealt with Uno, Grayson jumped back into the ring, hopped onto the middle rope, and executed a springboard DDT onto Comoroto.

“Stu Grayson is great,” Schiavone said. “He is such an athlete — such a competitor.”

Grayson ascended the upstage left turnbuckles and leaped off onto Solo; however, Solo caught him in midair with a forearm. Solo Irish whipped Grayson toward the opposite corner, and Grayson used Solo’s whip to gain the momentum to jump clean over the ring post and execute a death-defying (I hope) summersault plancha onto Marshall at ringside.

Back in the ring, Silver clotheslined Solo, let out a primal scream, and executed a Spin Doctor. Silver hooked Solo’s leg, went for the cover, and got a three-count to pick up the win.

WINNER: Dark Order (John Silver & Evil Uno & Stu Grayson) in 8:00

(David’s Analysis: This was a solid match. There was a lot of great action, and Grayson’s plancha at the end looked like something you’d see in the circus. Watching Silver and Comoroto pat each other’s heads was very amusing, as were most of Marshall’s antics. I recommend checking out this match. )

– After the match, Grayson and Uno posed on the turnbuckles while John Silver John-Silvered in the ring.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Once again, it was great to see only six matches on this show. It is far more fun reporting on six matches that go five minutes than ten matches that go two minutes. I hope AEW keeps this trend going because those few extra minutes allow wrestlers to tell better stories, and it feels like the crowd gets more invested because of it — I know I get more invested. The best part of this show, in my opinion, was Lance Archer’s promo. I feel very strongly that something like that should be placed on Dynamite or Rampage. The whole thing didn’t last more than three minutes, but it made a strong case for Archer being a future top guy in AEW. My match-of-the-night goes to Dark Order vs. The Factory. My second favorite match was Emi Sakura & The Bunny vs. Ruby Soho & Anna Jay. If you have the time, both of these matches are worth watching.


CATCH-UP: 3/22 AEW DARK TV REPORT: Jay Lethal vs. J.D. Drake, Blake Christian vs. Rohit Raju, Hobbs vs. Del Sol, more

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