SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
AEW DARK ELEVATION REPORT
MARCH 28, 2022
TAPED 3/23 IN AUSTIN, TEXAS
AIRED ON YOUTUBE.COM
REPORT BY DAVID BRYANT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
AEW Commentators: Excalibur, Paul Wight, and Mark Henry
Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts
– Thank you for visiting PWTorch.com, and thank you for taking the time to read these reports — they come from the heart but contain 50 percent less angina. If you would like to follow me on Twitter, you may do so at @IamDavidBryant (I promise my timeline features a normal amount of Vickie Guerrero fan art.)
-Tonight’s AEW Dark Elevation taping emanated from the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park just outside of Austin, Texas — a city that was founded in 1839 yet was somehow named for Steve Austin.
–Dark Elevation opened with Excalibur informing us that Paul Wight and Mark Henry have returned to the announce booth. (Praise Jesus!) Excalibur also informed us the next match will feature Lee Moriarty (Sweet!) and Serpentico. (Oh, boy.)
(1) LEE MORIARTY (w/Matt Sydal) vs. SERPENTICO (w/Luther)
Serpentico came out wearing a cool sequenced cape (like the superhero he is) and was accompanied to the ring by Luther.
“Done some more research on our friend, Luther,” Wight said. “Come to find out, he’s done some extensive work at the Jacques Cousteau Research Foundation in dolphin communication!” (I missed you so much.)
Serpentico entered the ring and shot his Spiderman streamers while Luther, the lifelong rival of legendary environmentalist Jane Goodall, tried to eat them.
“Luther has an honorary Ph.D. from Woods Hole University,” Wight continued. “Which is the most prestigious marine biology university in the world!”
(I am shook. If it weren’t for the genius of Paul Wight, I would literally be walking around this earth with incorrect information. All this time, I’d thought it was the “Cousteau Society” and the “Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution” (Institutes differ from Universities.), and all this time, I have been terribly, terribly wrong. Thank you, Mr. Wight! Thank you.)
“I would have to call bull—” Mark Henry got interrupted before he could ask if bulls were a part of Luther’s research.
“Are you saying that’s why he screeches so much?” Excalibur asked. “He’s communicating with dolphins?” (And whales! Last week, in this very report, I clarified that whale was one of the 16 languages spoken by Dr. Luther! Remember, you heard it here first.)
Lee Moriarty, who is not an expert in marine biology, came out next and was accompanied by Matt Sydal, who is an expert in washboard abs. Excalibur pointed out Sydal was using crutches to walk to the ring because of his knee injury.
“High flying leads to high risk,” Wight said.
“High risk leads to no reward — in my book,” Henry added. “I gotta keep my feet on the ground.”
After the bell, Moriarty and Serpentico circled one another, sizing each other up. (or down in Serpentico’s case.) Both men lurched into a collar and elbow tie-up, with Moriarty muscling a waifish Serpentico into the stage left ropes. The referee called for a break, and Moriarty broke up with Serpentico. Knowing he needed to capitalize on every opportunity if he hoped to win, Serpentico responded by kicking Moriarty in the heart. Moriarty doubled over, and Serpentico slung him toward the ropes via an Irish whip. However, Moriarty countered Serpentico’s whip, threw Serpentico’s pint-sized body into the stage right ring ropes, and Serpentico used the ropes’ momentum provided by those ropes to flip over Moriarty’s back. Moriarty was not amused; he swept Serpentico’s toothpick-like legs and kicked him while he was down like he were a paper-thin dog. (Evil.) Moriarty went for a cover, but Serpentico courageously kicked out.
A lower-third, digital on-screen graphic popped up advertising ROH’s Supercard of Honor. Interesting…
Moriarty trapped poor Serpentico in a chickenwing over-the-shoulder crossface. Serpentico struggled to get to the ropes, and so Luther valiantly rescued him by pulling Serpentico out of the ring like he were a kitten stuck in a tree. (Why is the crowd booing that? That was the definition of platonic chivalry!) Moriarty started screaming at Luther for having protected his friend, and Serpentico defended Luther’s honor by climbing onto the apron and lightly superkicking Moriarty. Serpentico then hopped over the ring ropes, bounced into the up stage ropes, and used the resulting inertia to land a double axe-handle drop onto Moriarty’s normal-sized neck.
Serpentico then posed for the crowd, who reacted by saying, “boo… (…ooook him more?”) Moriarty cheap-shotted Serpentico by standing directly in front of him and punching him in the face. Moriarty then boyhandled poor Serpentico by throwing him into the up stage right turnbuckles. However, Serpentico heroically shoved Moriarty off and went on the offensive. Serpentico hit Moriarty with a double-boot, a hurricanrana, and a single-leg dropkick. Serpentico then covered Moriarty, but Moriarty had the audacity to kick out at two.
Serpentico helped Moriarty into the downstage right corner, but Moriarty tripped and drove his face into the turnbuckles. Serpentico cautiously attempted to slap Moriarty back to his senses with a punch to the chest followed by a therapeutic kick to the stomach. This worked, and Moriarty thanked Serpentico by punching him mercilessly. Serpentico tossed Moriarty into the ring ropes and caught his rebounding body with a knee to the midsection. Serpentico covered Moriarty, but, once again, Moriarty unfairly kicked out at two.
Excalibur ran through some upcoming dates, and by “ran through,” I mean bolted like a cheetah stole his mask.
“That South Carolina show,” Wight said. “I tell you what. I wanna lace my boots back up for that one. South Cackalacky — I’m gonna get back in the ring.”
“You do that…” Henry said.
“Come on, man. Come on down with me. Lace-up your boots, too!”
“My boots don’t even have laces in them anymore,” Henry said. “They’re sitting in my closet like paperweights.” (Oh, come on! You know, if you and Wight were to team together in 2022, you’d be absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt, a tag team.)
Moriarty executed a Saito suplex on Serpentico, who went flying through the air like he were a wingless angel waiting for a bell to ring. The moment Serpentico got back to his feet, Moriarty kicked him with a big boot because Moriarty has the soul of a sadist. Serpentico tried to pull himself upright in the corner, but Moriarty hit him with a running Meteora. However, Serpentico pulled himself up by his bootstraps and found his fighting spirit because Serpentico has the soul of a precious flower.
Serpentico threw Moriarty into the ring ropes and attempted a rolling elbow strike, but Moriarty floored him with a probably illegal clothesline. Poor Serpentico held himself up using the top ring rope, and Moriarty ran at him like Serpentico’s comfort meant so little as to be less important than winning this match! He clocked Serpentico with a step-up enzuigiri in front of eye-witnesses, and Serpentico flailed his way toward the center of the ring. There, Moriarty clocked him with an open-handed chop so hard it turned Serpentico’s precious-flower-soul into a daisy chain. Moriarty kneed Serpentico in the head five whole times, and Mark Henry said something that got bleeped. (And I, for one, don’t blame him.) Moriarty bullied poor Serpentico into another chickenwing over-the-shoulder crossface, and Serpentico tapped out because even he has hard limits.
WINNER: Lee Moriarty in 4:00
(David’s Analysis: Lee Moriarty is one of the most underappreciated wrestlers on AEW’s roster. I look forward to seeing his match at ROH’s Supercard this Friday live on pay-per-premium-event. While I enjoyed all four minutes of this match, I wish they’d been given more time. Some of the best bits of Chaos Project’s schtick are Luther’s antics, and there wasn’t really enough time for him to do much here. From a technical standpoint, however, the match was solid and well-paced.)
– After the match, Henry told us Abadon (OMG!) is coming up next.
(2) ABADON vs. DANNI BEE
The sound of chimes filled the ring as Abadon’s music hit. (Abadon’s theme is called “Brimstone” and is currently available on Apple Music!) Abadon crawled out of the face’s tunnel (I love that), and she looked just like my friend Heather who does award-winning makeup for haunted houses. (Hi, Heather!) Abadon stood up on her knees atop the ramp and stuck out her blood-soaked tongue.
“Mark Henry covered his eyes as soon as Abadon came through the tunnel,” Excalibur said. (Blasphemy!)
“I can’t take my eyes off her,” Wight said. (because he has good taste.)
“Is she done yet?” Henry’s meek voice barely registered. “Is she done?”
“No, she’s not done, Big Daddy,” Wight said. (…and suddenly, I never want to hear my boyfriend call me that again.)
Abadon posed on the ropes for the hard camera, and the fans seemed open to cheering her. (That’s awesome!) Abadon’s opponent, Danni Bee, side-eyed Abadon like she was wearing skinny jeans in 2022, and as soon as the bell rang, Bee ran toward Abadon with reckless abandon. (The closed captions keep calling Abadon “Abandon,” and it is confusing me.) Abandon — I mean, Abadon caught Bee with an arm hook, and Bee hilariously tried to beg off. (Great use of facial expressions there.) Abadon declined Bee’s frantic request for mercy and threw her into the ropes like the ropes had personally offended her. Bee rebounded, and Abadon blasted Bee with a back elbow hard enough to exorcise a demon.
Bee wisely rolled out of the ring to collect her wits, but Abadon wasn’t much of a wit collector and nailed Bee with a wrecking-ball dropkick through the ropes. Abadon then performed a running cannonball off the apron. (Did y’all see Dustin Rhodes’s apron cannonball on Rampage? How is he alive? They’d have had to scrape my lungs off that floor with the same shovel they used to bury my corpse.) Bee took the landing of Abadon’s cannonball a little awkwardly, and I hope she’s okay.
Bee clutched the back of her head while Abadon played up her awesomeness to the crowd. Having given Bee a brisk respite, Abadon grabbed her opponent by the neck and tossed her back into the ring. The crowd began cheering for Abadon, and Abadon paused to look out at them. An “Abadon” chant started up, and even I found that to be a little surreal.
“Listen to that crowd?” Wight said.
“Yeah, Austin, Texas must be Abadon country,” Excalibur seemed almost as surprised as I was.
Abadon crawled (or more like slinked) her way back into the ring. Bee slowly backed away like she was the final girl in a horror movie. Abadon ran toward Bee but was stopped in her tracks when Bee kicked Abadon in the stomach. Bee looked… taken aback that her offense had worked but quickly gathered her bearings and executed a jawbreaker. Abadon grabbed her own mouth and stumbled backward but did not fall down.
Then, Abadon straightened her spine and let out a loud, operatic scream that I’m sure would make Adele jelly. Bee, who I’m guessing is not a music lover, ran the ring ropes and went for a clothesline. However, Abadon countered Bee’s clothesline and took her down with a round-a-bout lariat. The crowd cheered with approval, and Abadon genuinely smiled. (Hm. I didn’t know her facial muscles went in that direction.)
“Was that a smile?” Wight asked.
“I think so…” Excalibur answered.
Abadon screeched melodically, ran the ropes, and executed a rope-assisted running senton onto Bee. Bee sat up, looking like she’d been halfway murdered, but a worker like Abadon never does anything halfway. So… Abadon screamed like a teenage banshee at a Kid Laroi concert and executed a Black Dahlia on Bee for the win.
WINNER: Abadon in 2:00
(David’s Analysis: I want to take Abadon to one of Heather’s haunted houses to see if they can tell each other apart.)
– After the match, Abadon slithered around the ring, staring at the camera (and probably planning to haunt the cameraman’s dreams.)
“Look how she contorts herself,” Wight said.
“How about not looking?” Henry replied.
(3) PENTA OSCURO (w/Alex Abrahantes) vs. JPH
There was a brief blackout, and when the lights came up, a tombstone was on stage. Penta Oscuro’s music hit, and Pento rose up from behind the tombstone. Penta then shouted “Woo!” (But not in a Ric Flair way.), and the vibe of his music picked up pace as Alex Abrahantes walked out to join him on stage. Penta walked down the rampway with a shovel thrown over his shoulder like a rifled musket. (Sorry, I went to the Revolutionary War museum up in Pennsylvania recently, and it has thrown off my analogies. Good museum, by the way. If you’re ever in Philadelphia, I recommend it.)
“Penta Oscuro is the dark side of Penta’s personality that was brought out by the black mist of Malakai Black,” Excalibur explained. (I personally love this version of Penta. It is a great way to enhance his mystique while his brother is unfortunately absent.)
Penta’s opponent, JPH, was already awaiting his arrival in the ring, and a chyron noted that JPH was making his AEW debut. (Good luck with that.) However, despite the portent of all of wrestling history, JPH looked confident and ready to fight. (Well, you know what they say… Denial is not just a river in Egypt because it is also the name of a bay in Southern Australia.)
Once the bell rang, both men stalked around the ring, and the crowd loudly chanted “Cero Miedo.” Penta made his infamous hand sign and used it to pie-face JPH. JPH came back at Penta with a kick, but Penta caught JPH’s boot, spun him around, and captured him in a waistlock. Both men executed an exchange of standing switches, but JPH managed to shove Penta into the stage left ring ropes. Penta bounced off the ropes and kicked JPH in the chest. JPH went for a clothesline, but Penta ducked. JPH went for a second clothesline, and Penta ducked a second time. Penta then floored JPH with a sling blade out of nowhere. (That looked incredible!) Penta went for a hasty cover but didn’t hook JPH’s leg, so JPH was able to kick out.
“That sling blade is one of my favorite moves Penta does,” Wight said. (You and me both, buddy.)
Penta held JPH against the stage right ring ropes and delivered two open-handed chops. Penta then attempted to Irish whip JPH, but JPH reversed the Irish whip. JPH jumped onto the apron, jumped from the apron onto the top rope, and attempted a springboard something-or-other. We’ll never know what kind of springboard he was trying for because Penta superkicked him in mid-air. (And yes, that looked as stunning as it sounded.)
JPH went for a clothesline, but Penta countered with a Pentagon Driver. Penta then punched JPH three times in the kidneys and momentarily played to the crowd. As the audience began to swell, Penta seized JPH’s arm and executed his Sacrifice finisher. Penta covered JPH, the referee dropped down to the mat, and the match was over in three.
WINNER: Penta (w/Alex Abrahantes) at 97 seconds
(David’s Analysis: This was a good match, but again, it was too short. I liked the last couple of weeks where they had fewer matches, but each match went longer. Penta is hella entertaining, though, so I can’t complain about that.)
(4) FRANKIE KAZARIAN vs. BRANDON CUTLER
Music from the world’s worst ‘80s-themed prom played over the loudspeakers, and Brandon Cutler made his way to the ring alone. As Cutler walked down the ramp, wearing something I’m pretty sure Austin Powers would’ve said no to, he sprayed sports spray at the cameraman. Frankie Kazarian came out next, and his pyro roared to life as bright-orange flames billowed from the stage to the sky. Kazarian took a split second to pose atop the rampway and then made his way to the ring.
Cutler began by hilariously “air-boxing” at Kazarian, who looked at Cutler exactly how you’d expect him to. After a few seconds of whatever that was, Kazarian kicked Cutler in the stomach, and Cutler flew across the ring like he’d put on a jetpack backward. Kazarian trapped Cutler in a corner and punched him several times before landing two knife-edge chops across Cutler’s chest. Cutler (the Ringling Bros. Clown College version of a pro-wrestler) sold these blows as if he were auditioning for a cartoon about stupidity. Kazarian then threw him out of the ring, and I’m surprised there wasn’t a “boink” sound when he landed.
Cutler stood, dusted himself off, ran into the ring, kept running, and threw himself out the other side. (Sad trombone?) Kazarian leaned against the ropes and watched Cutler walk around the ring like a pouting child. (Did I mention his outfit looks like a pastiche of everything we’ve tried to forget about “Saved By The Bell”?)
Cutler tripped over the barricade. (I can’t believe I actually had to write that.) Cutler hopped around on one foot while his opponent leaned against the ropes and wondered how long it would take Cutler to figure out a way to accidentally pin himself.
“In a drawer full of knives, Brandon Cutler is a spoon,” Henry said.
Cutler climbed into the ring, tripped over the middle rope, and executed a flapjack drop onto his own face. (This is probably the easiest paycheck Kazarian has ever earned.) Cutler pulled himself upright and was then clotheslined by Kazarian, and because Kazarian is Superman, Cutler went flying out of the ring like a drunken acrobat.
“Is he ever going to be able to stand upright in the ring?” Henry asked.
Cutler crawled around ringside on all fours, which is probably safer than standing because I imagine if he did, he’d find a way to bash his head into the ringpost. Cutler made his way to a can of sports spray and began talking to it. (Drugs? Is that what it is? Is it drugs?) Kazarian hopped out of the ring and commandeered the can. Cutler then tripped again, but this time he crashed into Kazarian, and Kazarian crashed into the steel steps. (It’s definitely drugs.)
Surprised by his good fortune and looking like an antonym for the word “dapper,” Cutler threw Kazarian back into the ring and climbed atop the turnbuckles. (Why in God’s name would you… NVM) Because he has the equilibrium of a balloon, Cutler could not stand upright on the top turnbuckles and climbed down. He then attempted to stand on the second turnbuckles, but his fear of heights got the better of him. Finally, he settled on climbing all the way up to the bottom turnbuckles and jumping off — or falling off. I don’t know; he gave himself a facebuster.
Kazarian executed a needless guillotine legdrop on Cutler. (Seriously, why even attempt offense on this man? Give him five more minutes, and he’ll find a way to shoot himself with a knife.)
“What a waste of a good move,” Herny said correctly.
Kazarian walked over to Cutler, who was hunched in the downstage right corner, and Cutler tripped Kazarian because tripping is a thing for him. Kazarian stood back up, and Cutler attempted to mount him in the corner, repeatedly punching the turnbuckle next to his head. (Stop being mean to Dante Martin.) Kazarian ducked out of the way and allowed Cutler to continue punching the turnbuckle pad because why not?
Cutler punched the turnbuckle seven times as the crowd chanted along. (I will never get this time back.) Finally, Kazarian got bored and kicked Cutler off the turnbuckles.
“There’s dumb,” Henry said, “and then there’s just stupid.”
Kazarian executed a back body drop on Cutler, followed by a running clothesline. Kazarian put his “opponent” into crossface chickenwing, and Cutler tapped out.
WINNER: Kazarian in 4:00
(David’s Analysis: No comment.)
(5) JAMIE HAYTER (w/Rebel) vs. RACHÈ CHANEL
Jamie Hayter came out of the heel’s tunnel and posed on stage. Rebel then ran out after her, and she looked Soho levels of happy. Hayter and Rebel respectively strutted and hopped down the rampway to the ring. Once in the ring, Hayter glared at the hard camera, and Rebel whispered (yelled) something into her ear. Raché Chanel, Hayter’s opponent, was already in the ring awaiting the match. Chanel shimmied as her name was called. She had a pretty good look, and she definitely had stage presence galore.
Hayter and Chanel circled one another while Chanel primped her hair. When Hayter lunged forward, looking for a collar and elbow tie-up, Chanel held up both hands and asked for her to hold on a second — she was not yet ready. To my great surprise, Hayter “held on a second.”
Chanel looked at Hayter with the expression of a child about to raid her mother’s makeup. Chanel reached into her boot and pulled out a large orange comb. She then waved the comb in the air like it was a winning lottery ticket. (I know this sounds horrible, but it’s actually very entertaining because Chanel is a very good actress. I have no idea if she can wrestle, but she needs a T.V. show now.)
Carefully — very carefully — Chanel approached Hayter and began to comb her hair. Hayter looked confused, and Chanel looked like she was in the wrong metaverse. (I actually just laughed out loud. I have no idea why the last match irritated me so much, and yet this bullcrap is sending me. Go figure…) When Chanel had finished, she stepped back to admire her handiwork. She seemed pleased, and so did Hayter. Hayter modeled her new hairstyle for the hard camera while Chanel celebrated her in-ring success. (I’ve never seen Hayter smile so big. This is good for her. This is nice.) Chanel asked Hayter if she’d help fix her hair in return, and Hayter punched her lights out.
Hayter mounted Chanel and clobbered her with forearms. Hayter then stood up and strutted for the fans. Chanel was furious at Hayter for not combing her hair like she was supposed to (Was she supposed to? Why are they both out here, again?) and grabbed her around the waist, rolling her up for a one-count. Hayter popped back up, executed a swinging backbreaker, and finished Chanel off with her Brainbuster finisher.
WINNER: Hayter in 2:00
(David’s Analysis: That felt more like a skit than a match, but it was an entertaining skit. I’d love to find out if Raché Chanel can wrestle because she has personality for days — and to quote Enzo, “You can’t teach that.”)
(6) MAX CASTER (w/Anthony Bowens) vs. SONNY KISS
(Fun Fact: I stan Sonny Kiss.)
Sonny Kiss’s beautiful blond mug popped up on the overhead screens, and her energetic music filled the arena with everlasting joy. Kiss did a split on the top turnbuckles and waved to her fans from that bendy position. (Fun Fact: Sonny Kiss attended a performing arts high school and studied dance.)
“I love seeing Sonny Kiss out here competing,” Wight said. “The positive energy. Wow!”
Yes, if happiness came to life, Sonny Kiss would be its child.
Max Caster, who is both the antithesis of happiness and the thesis of puke-puddle, came out next. He wants us to “listen” because he has more of his flop-era to share. Still, as a patron of the arts, I will transcribe the drizzle-$h!#s he calls lyrics. Max Caster’s word-vomit went as follows:
“Sonny Kiss, you’re losing to the Acclaimed tonight because you can’t get on T.V. to save your life. Yo, you shouldn’t even get a verse. You would still be a loser in the metaverse. I’m leaving with my hand raised up. You got silicone in your pancake butt. I thought you had ass. Where’s that jelly? Looking like Plank from Ed, Edd, and Eddy.”
I have an ice cream headache without eating ice cream and feel cheated. How is he — why would they — God, he’s an idiot!
“Burb-basket” Bowens, who should really consider getting a better nickname, used his sky-diving voice to tell us, “THE ACCLAIMED HAVE ARRIVED!” (I wonder if he has problems checking into hotels? I feel like he does.)
“It’s about to get weird, guys,” Wight said.
Bowens and Caster fingered each other, and Wight did not lie.
“There it is,” Henry commented on two men fingering each other in public. “It is weird.”
“I thought you were going to say that about Caster and Sonny’s ‘butt-off,’” Excalibur said.
Wait. What? What’s a butt-off?
“Max Caster’s got a nice butt,” Henry said. “He’s athletic. I’m just saying.”
Okay… Does a butt-off mean I get to see Caster’s butt? I’m not saying I want to see it (I do), but shouldn’t he save that for his OnlyFans or something? Oh my God… can you imagine the raps he’d post if he had an OnlyFans? You know what? NVM. I don’t want to see it that bad. (Fun Fact: Sonny Kiss has a BrandArmy, and it’s only $9.99 a month. That may not seem like vital information to you, but trust me, it is!)
Max Caster began the match by twerking, and I’m suddenly okay with this match taking place. Whilst twerking, Kiss kicked Caster in his voluptuous ass.
“Talk about getting your ass kicked!” Henry laughed.
Caster hooked Kiss’s arms behind her back, and she countered by dropped down into a split while executing an arm drag. Caster stumbled into the upstage left corner, and Kiss ran toward him. Caster caught Kiss with his shoulder and flipped her over the top rope and onto the apron. Kiss nailed Caster with a leg lariat so high it cleared the top rope. Kiss then climbed to the top turnbuckle, but Caster swept her legs and sent her crashing balls-first into the top turnbuckle. Kiss’s clutched her groin in pain as Caster, a human wart-stick, took advantage of Kiss’s predicament by executing a leaping back elbow onto our protagonist.
“No comment,” Henry said. (Yes, Caster’s actions are despicable to the point of speechlessness.)
Caster performed a belly-to-back suplex on Kiss, hooked her leg, and covered her for a two-count. Caster pulled Kiss up by her ear (That’s right. HER EAR!), and Kiss began elbowing Caster’s midsection multiple times. Kiss then began hammering away at Caster’s head with her forearms, and Caster ran like the cowardly douche-dumpster he is. Kiss caught Caster’s arm and whipped him toward the downstage right turnbuckles. However, Caster reversed Kiss’s Irish whip and sent Kiss into the turnbuckles so hard she almost flew right through the middle rope.
Caster tore Kiss away from the turnbuckles and executed a swinging neckbreaker on Kiss mid-ring. Caster went for the cover but did so arrogantly — using only one hand and not hooking the leg. As a result, Kiss easily kicked out. (Fun Fact: Sonny Kiss has a Bachelor’s in Exercise Physiology!)
Caster applied a grounded cobra clutch, and the announcers argued over whether it was a “grounded” clutch or a “kneeling” clutch. Kiss fought her way back up to her feet and escaped Caster’s “whatever” clutch by striking him in the groin with her butt. (Is that what a butt-off is?) Kiss whipped Caster toward the downstage ring ropes, but once again, Caster managed to reverse Kiss’s whip. Kiss ran the ropes; Caster attempted a clothesline; Kiss ducked Caster’s clothesline, leapfrogged Caster, grabbed Caster’s waist mid-leapfrog, and executed a sunset flip on Caster. (That was cool AF.) Kiss covered Caster but only got a two-count.
Caster nailed Kiss with a pinpoint accurate dropkick, jumped on top of her torso, and began hammering away at the small of Kiss’s back with his knee. Then, with his knee firmly planted against Kiss’s spine, Caster applied a chinlock. Kiss reached for the bottom rope in vain, and the crowd began to clap in support of Kiss. Kiss used the crowd’s energy to pull herself back to her feet.
“Sonny is a fan favorite,” Wight said.
“How could Sonny not be a fan favorite?” Excalibur said.
(Fun Fact: Sonny Kiss was a fan favorite at the 2014 Hudson County Teen Arts Festival, where she won first place in the dance category.)
Kiss elbowed Caster’s stomach, and Caster bashed Kiss across the back with his forearm. Caster then attempted another belly-to-back suplex, but this time, Kiss landed on her feet like the well-trained gymnast she is. Caster ran the ropes again, but Kiss caught Caster with a flying back elbow, flooring him. Kiss then dropkicked Caster and performed a backflip in the process! The crowd cheered her athleticism. (Fun fact: Sonny Kiss was trained by Bill Gunn, and now she’s in a butt-off.)
Caster pulled himself up into the scarecrow position (oh, no), and Kiss ran toward him. Caster rolled out of the way, and Kiss crashed into the turnbuckles. (ugh) Kiss nailed Caster with a pump-kick. (yay) Kiss then climbed to the second turnbuckle and dove off onto Caster, executing a hurricanrana. (stupendous™)
Kiss bent over and mocked Caster’s twerking attempt from earlier in the match. Kiss slapped her buttocks, ran toward Caster, and nearly decapitated the little dildo-donkey with a wicked-looking windmill kick! Kiss covered Caster and hooked his leg, but Caster kicked out at the last second. Kiss beat the mat with her fist in frustration and climbed back to her feet.
Kiss ascended the top turnbuckle while the audience chanted, “Let’s go, Sonny!” Kiss paused to catch her breath, and at that moment, Caster ran to the turnbuckles and ripped Kiss out of the corner by one leg. Kiss crashed to the mat back-first, and it looked painful. Caster dragged Kiss into the moonsault position, went up top, and executed a Mic Drop on Kiss. Caster covered Kiss, the referee dropped to her knees, and Caster got a three-count for the win.
WINNER: Caster in 5:00
(David’s Analysis: This was a fun match and the first match of the show I thoroughly enjoyed. Caster and Bowens are delightfully hateable characters, and Kiss is delightfully lovable — and that is a fun fact.)
– After the match, Caster stroked Bowens’ fingers in a very, very different manner than he did at the start of the match. It looked like he was trying sensually milk a cow.
Wight said, “It gets weirder every week.” And again, Wight did not lie.
(7) HIKARU SHIDA vs. MADI WRENKOWSKI
Pounding drum beats filled the arena, and burgundy light spilled out of the on-stage tunnels. Hikaru Shida made her way through the glowing light and dense fog as she carried a kendo stick with her to the ring.
“Definitely one of my favorites here in AEW,” Wight said.
“It’s definitely good to see her back,” Henry replied.
“Absolutely,” Wight agreed. “Good to see her back.”
“She loves my impressions!” Henry added.
Shida’s opponent, Madi Wrenkowski, was already waiting for her in the ring. (Good to see Wrenkowski back!) And… here we go! Shida and Wrenkowski began the match with a collar and elbow tie-up, which Shida got the better of. Shida backed Wrenkowski into the stage left ring ropes and immediately backed off. Shida and Wrenkowski walked away from the ropes, and both women jumped straight into a second collar and elbow tie-up. However, Wrenkowski managed to gain the upper hand by grabbing ahold of Shida’s hair. Shida’s face contorted from the intense pain, and Wrenkowski slammed Shida head-first into the top turnbuckle.
Wrenkowski ensnared Shida in the corner and began hammering away at her chest with hard-hitting forearms. The referee called for a break, and when Wrenkowski did not break things up, the referee moved in to force the break-up. Wrenkowski ran back toward Shida, but Shida was ready for her and caught her with her shoulders. Shida dumbed Wrenkowski torso-first across the top turnbuckles, climbed onto the apron, backed up, ran forward, and nailed Wrenkowski with a running knee strike. Wrenkowski landed on the apron perpendicular to Shida, and Shida jumped back into the ring. Shida ascended the turnbuckles, took hold of Wrenkowski (who was still on the apron), and executed an inside-out superplex. Shida covered Wrenkowski but only got a two-count.
Shida attempted to execute her Falcon Arrow on Wrenkowski, but Wrenkowski landed on her feet. Wrenkowski grabbed Shida from behind and executed a sit-out facebuster but was unable to make the cover. Wrenkowski ran into the ropes, rebounded off of them, and attempted a Scissors Kick. However, Shida jumped out of the way, turned back around, and cuffed Wrenkowski across the back of her neck with an overhead axe-kick. Shida rapidly pulled Wrenkowski up from the canvas and executed her Falcon Arrow finisher. Shida hooked Wrenkowski’s leg, covered her, and got the pin.
WINNER: Shida at 98 seconds
(David’s Analysis: This was another match that was good for what it was, but what it was, was too short. It’s hard to tell any kind of story in less than two minutes.)
– After the match, Shida celebrated on the turnbuckles and held her kendo stick over her head.
(8) RUBY SOHO & ANNA JAY vs. THE RENEGADE TWINS
Ruby Soho’s music played first, and the screens lit up in day-glow colors. Soho ran out, bursting with all the excitement of a bubble-fueled rocket ship. Anna Jay ran out right behind Soho, and both teammates fist-bumped one another atop the ramp. The director cut to several shots of excited fans as Ruby Soho & Anna Jay made their way to the ring. Soho and Jay briefly mugged for the hard camera before turning their attention to their opponents, The Renegade Twins. (Oh! We saw them last week. Welcome back!)
Charlette and Robyn Renegade were dressed in identical outfits and wore identical makeup. (Okay, but don’t you two go doing that switcheroo thingy you did last week.)
“As great as Anna Jay and Ruby are,” Henry opined, “they’re not twins, and they’re not a tag team. I think The Renegade Twins have the advantage here.” (OMG, Henry has wrestling-related amnesia.)
The bell rang, and Soho and Charlette started things off. Both athletes sprung into a collar and elbow tie-up, but the tie-up was short-lived. Charlette clutched the back of Soho’s head and executed a stationary facebuster, throwing her to the canvas. Charlette taunted Jay as she applied a side headlock to Soho. Charlette then threw Soho into the ropes, but Soho came back with an attempted shoulder tackle; however, Charlette leapfrogged Soho. Charlette attempted to run the ropes herself, but Soho caught her around the waist with a standing waistlock.
In an amusing exchange, Soho stuck her head around Charlette’s left side, and Charlette tried to grab her but failed. Soho then stuck her head around Charlette’s right side, and once again, Charlette tried to grab Soho but failed. Soho then transitioned into a side headlock. Soho held onto the side headlock for a few moments before deciding to yank Charlette down to the mat with a side headlock takeover. Charlette fought her way upright, plunged both hands into Soho’s chest, and pushed Soho toward the ropes. Jay reached over the ropes and made a blind tag as Soho continued her momentum. Soho ducked underneath a clothesline, hammered Charlette one last time, and hopped onto the apron. Jay rushed Charlette and executed a fantastic running blockbuster.
Jay threw Charlette face-first into the up stage left turnbuckles. Startled and in pain, Charlette stood in the reverse scarecrow position while Jay ran toward her with a spinning leg lariat. Charlette crumbled to the mat; Jay hooked Charlette’s leg and covered her. However, Jay only got a two-count because Robyn ran into the ring to break things up. Thankfully, the referee forced Robyn back onto the apron.
Charlette sent Jay into the ring ropes, and Jay came back at Charlette with an elbow. Robyn then reached over the top rope and grabbed Jay’s torso. Soho jumped into the ring to counter Robyn’s interference, and Jay hit Robyn with a back elbow that sent her tumbling off the apron. The referee chided Soho and forced her back into the face’s corner. During this time, Robyn and Charlette made a tag. The referee did not see this tag, but I’m not sure how much that would matter, given Robyn and Charlette looked identical.
Robyn and Charlette attempted to double-team Jay with a Vertical Suplex, but Jay managed to fight her way out of it. One of the twins attempted to kick Jay, but Jay caught that twin’s leg and swung it into the other twin, forcing her to kick her own sister. (That was kind of clever.) Jay then rushed toward the faces corner to tag in Soho. Both twins ran toward Jay and Soho, and Jay and Soho simultaneously executed flatliners on Charlette and Robyn. The crowd applauded.
Robyn (I think that’s Robyn) attempted to kick Soho in the stomach, but Soho caught her leg. (Someone needs to teach these twins how to kick without getting their legs caught.) Soho executed a step-up enzuigiri on Robyn. Soho trapped Robyn in a wristlock, walked her to the face’s corner, and tagged in Jay. Soho then pummeled Robyn with her No Future finisher, and as Robyn fell backward from the force of the finisher, Jay caught her in the Queen’s Slayer. Robyn and Jay fell to the mat, but Jay kept Robyn in her signature submission hold, and Robyn was forced to tap out. (Hey, there was no switcheroo! Good job keeping it clean and fair… sort of.)
WINNER: Soho & Anna Jay in 2:00
(David’s Analysis: Again, nothing in this match was offensive, I liked the characters involved, and the action made sense, but it was too short. I couldn’t even microwave popcorn in the time it took to put on this match.)
– After the match, Henry admitted his pre-match predictions were wrong. (Shocking.)
(9) ROPPONGI VICE (Trent Beretta & Rocky Romero w/Orange Cassidy & Chuck Taylor) vs. THE FACTORY (Q.T. Marshall & Aaron Solo w/Nick Comoroto)
Blue lights lit up the haze suspended above the stage, and The Factory, represented by Q.T. Marshall and Aaron Solo, made their way to the ring. Nick Comoroto followed behind them. They all wore matching shirts, but somehow Marshall’s looked douchier than the others.
“This is a match with a lot of political intrigue behind it,” Excalibur said. (Oooo…. Let’s not…) “The Factory recently showed up at New Japan Strong and said they felt they could add something to the product. New Japan responded with this tag team matchup!” (Oh. Different politics. That’s not what I was expecting. My mind has been places.)
The team of Rocky Romero & Trent Beretta came out of the face’s tunnel. There was an eyepatch. (Why was there an eyepatch involved? I feel like I should know.) Also, Romero’s wardrobe looks very 1990s Versace. Anyway… Orange Cassidy and Chuck Taylor accompanied Roppongi Vice to the ring. Cassidy’s arm was still in a sling from the injury he sustained during the Face of the Revolution ladder match.
Before the match even started, Comoroto took down both Beretta and Romero with a double clothesline. Solo then began stomping on a debilitated Romero while Q.T. Marshall (the human equivalent of waiting in a long line) threw Beretta into the steel barricade! With both members of Roppongi Vice outside of the ring suffering injuries, the referee rang the bell and started the match. (What, and I cannot emphasize this enough, the f***!)
The beatings continued outside the ring.
“The bell has rung,” Excalibur said. (And nobody sees anything wrong with that? Nobody? What if he were to start counting them out, RN? What if they had a life-threatening injury? Why in God’s name would an impartial official start a match with one team beaten down and outside the ring?)
“The Factory with a distinct advantage here in the early goings,” Excalibur observed. (Ya think?)
“Look at Q.T. walking around like he is the cat that stole the canary,” Henry said. (Ah, yes. Q.T. Marshall. He’s like the candy corn of candy.)
Back in the ring, finally, Solo stomped away at Romero’s torso like his ribcage was on fire, and then he covered Romero. Still, despite the beat down, the steel barricade, and lobotomized referee, Romero managed to kick out at one. Solo ripped off his shirt in frustration and threw it at Romero. Solo then apprehended Romero in a front facelock and tagged in Q.T. Marshall, aka the younger version of Dan Lambert.
Marshall slammed his forearm into Romero’s chest, walked Romero to the center of the ring, and punched him directly in the head. Romero fell to the mat. Marshall strutted around the ring like a fully-molted peacock, and Romero used that gifted time to recover enough to climb to his feet. Romero punched Marshall in the stomach twice, and Marshall responded by kicking Romero in the stomach. This caused Romero to double over and allowed Marshall to tag in Solo. Marshall held Romero in place while Solo kicked away at his midsection.
Solo maneuvered Romero to the downstage right turnbuckles and chopped his chest. Romero stumbled out of the corner, using the downstage ring ropes to hold himself up, and when Solo moved on him again, Romero responded with two chops and three forearms. However, that still wasn’t enough to gain the upper hand, and Solo plunged his knee into Romero’s stomach. Solo pulled Romero toward him and lifted him into the air for an attempted vertical suplex. Romero managed to fight his way out of the aforementioned suplex and landed on his feet. This caught Solo off guard, and Romero was able to detain him in a waistlock, but Solo elbowed his way out and ran the ropes. As Solo rebounded toward him, Romero caught Solo with a Hurricanrana in the middle of the ring.
Solo rolled toward Q.T. Marshall, who looks a bit like a black and white movie in a land full of color, and Marshall took control of Romero, throwing him into the stage left ropes. However, Romero held onto the ropes and stopped himself dead in his tracks. Marshal hurried toward Romero, but Romero caught him with an uppercut followed by a running sliced bread.
“I’m surprised the ring didn’t get covered in Chia Pet fur,” Wight said. (Ha. Good one!)
Romero tagged in Beretta, and Marshall tagged in Solo. Beretta and Solo sprinted toward one another. Beretta floored Solo with a double arm takedown. Marshall ran in, and Beretta planted him high on his shoulders with a half-in-half suplex. Solo barreled toward Beretta, but Beretta dodged him, seized his waist, and executed a release German suplex on Solo. The crowd cheered, and Orange Cassidy raised his hand in a vigorous and energetic show of support. Beretta threw Solo into the corner, smashed him with a flying back elbow, and executed a rope-assisted tornado DDT! After this fantastic offensive, Beretta tagged in Romero.
Beretta draped Solo’s lifeless body over the top rope while Romero ascended the turnbuckles. Romero leaped off the top rope and slammed into Solo with a flying dropkick. Solo flipped off the top rope, landed on the mat, sat up, and got knocked back down again with a sliding knee strike from Beretta! Romero covered Solo, frantically hooking his leg, but Solo managed to kick out in the nick of time. Beretta stepped back onto the apron, just long enough to make a legal tag to Romero. (Why bother? This referee clearly does not care about rules.) Romero and Beretta set up Solo for their Strong Zero finisher, but Marshall, the human version of an Atari game, ran into the ring to stop the match from ending. Romero jumped off the top rope and ran at Marshall, but Marshall struck Romero in the jaw like he were Will Smith at the Oscars. Romero nearly fell over backward, but Marshall caught him and tossed him out of the ring.
Beretta ran at Marshall and blindsided him with a clothesline that knocked Marshall over the top rope and down the floor. Beretta hyped the crowd for a tope suicida, but just as he was about to jump through the ropes, Comoroto hopped onto the apron to block him from executing the move. The crowd deflated like a three-day-old party balloon, and Beretta got distracted arguing with Comoroto. While Beretta and Comoroto argued, Solo snuck up behind Beretta and dropped him with a corkscrew kick. Beretta teetered his way into the downstage left corner, and Solo charged toward him. However, right before Solo collided with Beretta, Beretta caught him with a back elbow. Beretta ran the ropes, but before he could execute his next offensive move, Marshall clocked him with a popup punch.
Marshall lifted Beretta into a suplex, and Solo executed a neckbreaker on Beretta midway through the suplex. Solo covered Beretta, and the referee counted, but Romero broke up the pin with a double axe-handle. All four men are now in the ring.
“Marshall should really be going to the referee and saying, ‘Hey, do something about that,’” Henry said. (Why? This referee clearly thinks he’s refereeing a tornado tag!)
Romero punched Marshall; Marshall punched Romero; Romero punched Solo, and Marshall planted a knee into Romero’s chest. Marshall then ran the ropes, but both Beretta and Romero managed to muster the strength to take him down with a leaping double knee strike. Marshall rolled out of the ring with the charisma of a marshmallow, and Romero went after him with a suicide dive.
Meanwhile, back in the ring, Beretta picked Solo up, placed him over his back, and shouted for Romero to climb the turnbuckles. Romero once again ascended to the top rope, jumped into the air, and together, Beretta and Romero performed their Strong Zero finisher on Solo. Beretta hooked BOTH of Solo’s legs, and the referee dropped to the mat, counting one, two, three. Roppongi Vice picked up the win.
WINNER: Roppongi Vice in 6:00
(David’s Analysis: That was a solid match. I wish it hadn’t started with a beatdown beforehand, and it got a little chaotic at the end, but I enjoyed the athleticism and appreciated the story behind it.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Okay, so this was not the best episode of AEW Dark Elevation. Most of the matches were way too short, and two of them felt like sketches more than matches. In fact, five of the nine matches were two minutes or less. I much prefer the format of the previous two weeks — fewer but longer matches. Now for match-of-the-night! (Not that my opinion is in any way definitive, but…) My match-of-the-night award goes to Max Caster vs. Sonny Kiss. Caster and Bowens are perfect in their roles, and it’s almost impossible not to like someone as energetic and cheerful as Kiss. In my opinion, Roppongi Vice vs. The Factory was the second-best match of the night, and it was a very solid bout. If you have time to watch three matches, check out the Roché Chanel vs. Jamie Hayter skit. It wasn’t a spectacular match, but it was definitely different.
Thank you all for reading. I truly appreciate it. And as always, I’m still working on my sign-off, but until next week, remember, if you see someone eating eggs in a restaurant, it is inappropriate to scream, “OMG, they’re eating babies!”
CATCH-UP: 3/23 AEW DYNAMITE TV RESULTS: Sage’s “alt perspective” report on CM Punk vs. Dax Harwood, Jay Lethal vs. Adam Cole, The Hardy’s & Sting & Darby Allin vs. Private Party & Butcher & Blade, More.