SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
AEW DARK ELEVATION REPORT
JUNE 20, 2022
TAPED 6/15 IN ST. LOUIS, MO.
AIRED ON YOUTUBE.COM
REPORT BY DAVID BRYANT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentators: Excalibur, Mark Henry, & Anthony Ogogo
Ring Announcer: Dasha Gonzalez
– Hey! Welcome back to the one report that isn’t about Vince McMahon jacking his hammer. Instead, I will regale you with a riveting recap of Dark Elevation and a detailed rundown of Q.T. Marhsall’s horrible, no good, very white face.
– Tonight’s AEW Dark Elevation taping emanated not-live from the Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, MO, or as The Assboys might say, “Somewhere.” However, that somewhere isn’t just anywhere. That somewhere is home to the birth of the first waffle cone, the first journalism degree, and the first half of McDonald’s logo.
– Before the start of the show, an advert aired for AEW Forbidden Door, which I assume was named for pride month.
– The show started off with Excalibur introducing his “tag-team” partners for the night: “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry and “Random Commentary Lottery Winner” Anthony Ogogo.
(1) MERCEDES MARTINEZ & SERENA DEEB vs. TOOTIE LYNN & HEATHER RECKLESS
Serena Deeb came out of the heels’ tunnel with her arms flung wide, sporting an appropriately colored coldhearted-blue kimono.
“This is a very interesting tag team, Mark,” Excalibur said. “You have two wrestlers who respect each other but don’t like each other.” (Then why are they teaming? It can’t be “to get wins” because they both have fantastic win/loss records, and Martinez holds one of only sixteen championships recently featured in AEW.)
Speaking of Martinez, she came out to a superb reaction, wearing her ROH Women’s World Championship and a badass jacket. The team of Tootie Lynn and Heather Reckless were already awaiting Deeb and Martinez’s arrival in the ring. (As I’ve mentioned in previous weeks, I very much enjoy Lynn and look forward to what she brings to the ring tonight.)
Deeb and Martinez debated who should start the match with the kind of mutual disdain you’d expect from a WWE tag team, and it appeared that Deeb won the heated argument. (Why are they a team again?)
Deeb and Lynn started things off by sizing each other up before joining arms in a collar and elbow tie-up. Deeb pulled Lynn into a side headlock and instantly transitioned into a hammerlock. Lynn flailed about in an attempt to free herself, but her efforts were thwarted by a single-leg takedown courtesy of the ever-wicked Deeb. Deeb wasted no time applying a Gedo clutch on Lynn, followed by an inverted legscissors roll-up-looking thing for a one-count. (Deeb is very bad to her very core, but she is also very good at what she does.)
Deeb used her leg scissors to roll Lynn across the canvas so that she could more effectively capture Lynn in a cross-arm breaker. Lynn managed to escape the cross-arm-breaker by getting her foot on the rope.
“Serene Deeb is so good — and I mean this wholeheartedly — she is one of the best wrestlers,” Ogogo said. “I don’t mean one of the best female wrestlers; I mean one of the best wrestlers on the planet.” (I still don’t get why he’s doing commentary, but I agree with him on this.)
Martinez held out her hand, asking for a tag, but Deeb flat out ignored her. In fact, she did worse than ignore her; she actively mocked her. (Again, why is this happening? Did they lose a bet? Is this the result of some kind of tag-team-spin-the-bottle? What was the story here?)
Deeb hit Lynn with a European uppercut and then whipped her across the ring. However, Lynn found her bearings and rebounded on Deeb with a dropkick. Deeb fell to the ground and struggled to get back to her feet. Lynn went for a second dropkick, but Deeb lurched out of the way and into her team’s corner to avoid it. This repositioning by Deeb allowed Martinez to tag herself in.
Deeb seemed to ignore Martinez’s tag and put Lynn’s legs in a grapevine. Reckless ran into the ring to save Lynn, and Deeb caught her with an abdominal stretch. Martinez, the legal woman, entered the ring and joined in on the fun by placing Lynn in a modified crossface.
(Maybe this is happening because both Deeb and Martinez are headed to Ring of Honor when/if they ever get a T.V. deal? If so, that’s great news for Ring of Honor because these two athletes are two of the best women’s wrestlers AEW has to offer. However, I’d still like a kayfabe story explaining why someone of Martinez’s disposition would want to team with someone of Deeb’s disposition and vice versa.)
While maintaining her grapevine submission hold, Deeb executed a vertical suplex on Reckless. The referee finally managed to convince Deeb she was no longer the legal woman, and Deeb begrudgingly released her grapevine hold to scowl in the referee’s face before getting back onto the apron. Meanwhile, Lynn refused to tap out of the crossface, and Martinez decided to try a different strategy, releasing the hold.
As Martinez passed Deeb, Deeb tried to argue with her, but a perturbed Martinez retorted, “You had your chance.” Martinez then picked Lynn up and draped her across her shoulder; however, Lynn used her catlike agility to escape Martinez’s arms and land on her feet. Lynn rushed to her team’s corner and tagged in Reckless.
Reckless burst out of the corner like a bolt of lightning. Reckless ducked a clothesline from Martinez and kicked Martinez’s shin. Reckless then alternated kicking Martinez’s left and right hamstrings and punctuated her offense with a missile dropkick to Martinez’s kneecaps. With Martinez on all fours, Reckless rallied her energy and executed an enzuigiri on Martinez’s skull.
“Talk about Heather Reckless,” Henry said. “More like Heather-Reckless-Abandon!”
Reckless ran the ropes and went for a shoulder tackle, but Martinez caught her with a spinning spinebuster that landed like a personified exclamation mark. (OMG)
“She is the champ,” Ogogo said. “There’s a reason why she wears that belt around her waist; she is the champ!” (She is a champ.)
Reckless pulled herself up into the scarecrow’s position, but she did so in the half-heel-half-face team’s corner. Deeb held Reckless in place as Martinez struck her with a running forearm. Deeb then tagged herself in, and, staying true to her flagitious character, Deeb trash-talked Martinez. (Is this a blackmail situation? Did Jericho cast a spell and trap them in a 1980s sitcom?)
Deeb hit Reckless with a running elbow, and Martinez hit Reckless with a running boot. Reckless then crumbled into a seated position, and Martinez hit her with a running dropkick! Reckless tried to escape the ring, but Deeb, the legal woman, arrested Reckless’s legs and executed a catapult into the bottom rope.
Deeb then executed her Detox finisher but didn’t go for a cover. Instead, she got up and wandered around Reckless’s fallen body, looking at Lynn expectantly. (This might be a case of someone missing a cue, but I’m not sure. It could just be for effect.) Lynn then ran into the ring to attack Deeb, and Deeb stopped her with a boot to the stomach.
Martinez entered the ring to counter Lynn and hit Lynn with a forearm to her shoulder blades. Deeb then placed Reckless in a Serenity Lock at the same time that Martinez applied her Brass City Sleeper to Lynn. Lynn and Reckless tapped out simultaneously.
WINNER: Martinez & Deeb in 5:00.
(David’s Analysis: I was very pleased with this. Last week, I complained about some of the match lengths, but this felt like the perfect length for this kind of match. It was just long enough to showcase the exceptional talents of Deeb and Martinez, tell a compelling in-ring story, and not overstay its welcome. I would still like to hear the out-of-ring story about why these two are teaming up, but I’m okay with the concept itself because it’s going to lead to what could possibly be one of the best women’s matches in AEW history — or maybe ROH history. I guess we’ll see.)
– After the match, Deeb and Martinez glared at one another while the referee raised both their hands.
– An advert for DraftKings aired, and while it sounds like a fly-by-night warehouse that sells rotary fans, it’s actually not.
(2) FRANKIE KAZARIAN vs. ANDRADE EL IDOLO (w/Jose “The Assistant”)
Speaking of good wrestlers, here comes Andrade El Idolo dressed as the world’s most buttoned-up baseball player with O.J. gloves. Jose “The Assistant” helped Idolo strip out of his pinstripe suit and gimp mask, and then the man who should have won the casino battle royal the other week walked to the ring.
Frankie Kazarian, fresh off his future match at Slammiversary, came out next. Bright orange flames roared to life around him, and you could almost feel the heat. (Mark Henry definitely did.) While Kazarian finished making his way to the ring, Excalibur ran through dates like Taylor Swift before Alwyn.
Kazarian and Idolo began with a collar and elbow tie-up, and Idolo quickly gained the upper hand, backing Kazarian into the upstage right turnbuckles. However, Kazarian refused to be bullied into submission so early in the match and fought back, causing both men to roll across the upstage ropes into the opposite corner. The referee broke things up, and Idolo and Kazarian’s struggle devolved into a shoving contest.
Idolo went for a facelock, but Kazarian executed a switch into a wristlock. Idolo countered Kazarian’s wristlock, and Kazarian countered Idolo. Idolo then gored Kazarian’s stomach, and both men went to their knees. Kazarian slapped on another wristlock, but Idolo turned that into a Greco-Roman knucklelock and almost managed to take charge of the match, but Kazarian tripped him with a leg sweep. (At some point during this rapid-fire exchange, there was also a one-count.)
Kazarian applied a canvas-based side headlock, and Idolo battled his way back to his feet. Once on his feet, Idolo threw Kazarian into the stage left ring ropes, and Kazarian rebounded toward Idolo with a shoulder tackle. Idolo no-sold the tackle and swung a huge clothesline in Kazarian’s direction. However, Kazarian ducked under the clothesline, hit the opposite ropes, ran back toward Idolo, and executed a flying forearm followed by an arm drag.
Kazarian then pulled out a side headlock takeover and grounded Idolo once again by holding onto the headlock. Kazarian grabbed Idolo’s wrist, twisted Idolo over, and pinned him for a one-count. After kicking out, Idolo fought his way back to his feet with two punches to Kazarian’s midsection. Idolo then attempted to execute a back body drop, but Kazarian landed on his feet. Kazarian then applied a waistlock, but Idolo executed a standing switch, catching Kazarian in a waistlock of his own. Kazarian tugged Idolo’s wrists, but when he was unable to pry himself free, Kazarian ran toward the downstage ring ropes and dumped Idolo out onto the floor.
When Idolo tried to get back into the ring, Kazarian swung at him with a clothesline. Idolo ducked to dodge the clothesline, but this allowed Kazarian the chance to catch Idolo with a guillotine legdrop through the ring ropes. This offensive sent Idolo flying off the apron, and he again crashed onto the floor.
Hoping to go after Idolo, Kazarian tried to slingshot himself out of the ring, but Jose “The Assistant” stood in his way, asking for a time-out. For some reason, Kazarian stopped what he was doing and backed up because he didn’t want to hit the pipsqueak interfering in his match. Kazarian then slid under the bottom rope, scared off Jose, and went after Idolo with a hard right hand. Jose “The Assistant” moved to interfere a second time, and Kazarian turned around to shove his finger in Jose’s face. This distraction allowed Idolo to attack Kazarian from behind and shove him into the square-shaped ring post. (They really looked at a steel ringpost and said, “This needs to be more dangerous; let’s add edges.”)
Idolo picked Kazarian up by his neck, bounced his face against the ring apron, and rolled him into the ring. Upon entering the ring himself, Idolo stomp-kicked Kazarian’s face, and the crowd booed vociferously. Idolo stopped to tell the crowd to stop booing him for doing his job, and Kazarian seized that opportunity to attack Idolo with three knife-edge chops to the chest.
Idolo prevented Kazarian from landing a fourth chop by planting his forearm into Kazarian’s face. This was enough to send Kazarian to his knees. Idolo waited for Kazarian to get back to his feet and cut through Kazarian’s chest with a chop of his own. Idolo then dumped Kazarian to the mat with a snapmare takeover, ran the ropes, and hit Kazarian with a blistering fast dropkick. Idolo covered Kazarian, hooked his legs, and went for the pin, but Kazarian kicked out at two. (It was more like one and a half. This is a very fast-paced match. I’m almost out of breath typing it.)
Idolo put Kazarian in an elbowlock and tried to force him onto his back, but Kazarian refused to be pinned. Idolo ground Kazarian’s elbow into his knee, almost sitting on Kazarian’s arm. Then, somehow, someway, with the unfettered determination of a bear-trapped contortionist, Kazarian managed to use his free leg to backheel kick Idolo’s spine.
Upon breaking the submission hold, Idolo kicked Kazarian in the back, pulled Kazarian to his feet, and whipped him across the ring. However, Idolo then bent over mid-ring in the “looking for trouble” position, and he found trouble when Kazarian rebounded toward him, grabbed his head, and pinned him with an inside cradle for a two-count.
Both men stood up, and Kazarian then leaped into the air with Dante-Martin-like nimbleness and executed an insane-looking crucifix bomb on Idolo. Kazarian pinned Idolo a second time and got another two-count.
Kazarian hit Idolo with a knife-edge chop, and Idolo answered Kazarian’s blow with a big boot to the face! Idolo then attempted a DDT, but Kazarian drove his shoulder into Idolo’s midsection and rammed him into the downstage right turnbuckles!
Kazarian struck Idolo, but Idolo countered by whipping him across the ring. Kazarian rebounded with two elbows and a whip of his own. Idolo reversed Kazarian’s whip, and Kazarian rebounded onto Idolo, executing a flying elbow. The two men swirled around each other, and then, out of nowhere, Kazarian caught Idolo with an inside-out facebuster! Kazarian covered Idolo and scored a two-count.
Idolo and Kazarian returned to their feet. Kazarian put Idolo in a crossface chicken wing, and Idolo backed Kazarian into the downstage right corner. Idolo removed Kazarian from his person with a snapmare takedown. Kazarian ran back toward Idolo, and Idolo caught him with a surprise powerslam into the turnbuckles, and no one died.
Idolo rallied, and the crowd got behind him. Idolo ran to the upstage left turnbuckles, turned back around, ran toward Kazarian in the downstage right turnbuckles, and hit Kazarian with a running Meteora. This spectacular exchange was only good enough to score Idolo a two-count. (WTF!)
“Both of these men have delivered serious damage to the other competitor,” Henry said. “And they always try to win.”
Idolo looked frustrated and exhausted, while Kazarian stared at the ceiling and tried to regain his senses.
“This has been an extremely physical match-up,” Excalibur said.
Idolo tried to go to the top rope for a moonsault, but Kazarian jumped onto Idolo’s back, striking him with multiple forearms. Idolo hit Kazarian with a back elbow, and Kazarian fell backward. However, Kazarian immediately returned to his feet and hit Idolo, who was still on the ropes, with a low blow. Kazarian put Idolo on his shoulders, backed up into the middle of the ring, and executed a cyclone suplex into a bridging pin. The referee dropped to her knees and counted to two.
Kazarian went for another crossface chickenwing, but Idolo countered that with a back elbow. Idolo ran toward the ropes, and Kazarian chased after him. Just as Idolo bounced off the stage right ring ropes, Kazarian stopped him in his tracks with a blasting forearm. Kazarian then ran the ropes, returned to Idolo, ducked Idolo’s clothesline, and hit Idolo with a spinning back kick followed by a knee!
Kazarian went for a running clothesline on Idolo in the corner, but Idolo countered with a backbreaker followed by a flatliner into the turnbuckles. Kazarian staggered out of the corner, and Idolo caught him, tucked his head under his arm, and executed his signature hammerlock DDT. Idolo then covered Kazarian, the referee dropped to the canvass, and Idolo won the match with a three-count.
WINNER: Idolo in 9:00 minutes
(David’s Analysis: I spent the last half of the most recent Casino Battle Royal praying Idolo would win. Sadly, he didn’t. IDK if the AAA rumors are true, but I do know he would have been a new and refreshing entrant into the title scene, and he would have had a spectacular match at Forbidden Door because he always has spectacular matches. This match was no exception. If you get a chance, do check it out. Kazarian and Idolo beat the crap out of each other for our entertainment.)
– After the match, Jose “The Assistant” climbed into the ring to applaud Idolo, and Idolo climbed onto the second turnbuckle to mug for the fans.
(3) NYLA ROSE & MARINA SHAFIR vs. WASTELAND WAR PARTY (Heidi Howitzer & Max “The Impaler”)
Nyla Rose’s music roared to life. (If you haven’t heard Rose’s interview with Thunder Rosa on Busted Open, check it out. It’s a great listen and features honest answers to difficult questions about what it’s like to be a member of both the professional wrestling community and the LGBTQ+ community.) Rose came out alone. (I hope Vickie Guerrero is okay. Her podcast hasn’t been updated since May 20, and I noticed in her latest tweet that it seemed like she might be going through difficult times. If she is, I wish her and her family the very best with all my heart and look forward to her return.) Marina Shafir came out next and joined Rose on the stage. Together, they walked to the ring.
Already in the ring were New South Tag Team Champions, Wasteland War Party (Heidi Howitzer & Max “The Impaler”). I am SO excited to see these two back. I love their online presence, and they were fantastic in the ring last week. I hope AEW is considering bringing them in full-time. They are truly unique acts with an impressive, professional look.
Rose and Max started the match. (These two were a great choice to start things off. I was looking forward to their match last week and was disappointed they weren’t given much time. I still want to see a full-on rematch between these two powerhouses.)
Both competitors immediately jumped into an intense collar and elbow tie-up. Neither individual was willing to budge an inch, and they held each other’s torso’s like their arms were made of iron. Max and Rose swayed back and forth for a second before breaking the tie-up. The moment the tie-up had broken, Rose and Max made intense eye contact as if they were no more than two blinks away from catching a murder charge.
Rose slammed her forearm into Max’s chest, and Max NO-SOLD IT. Like they literally just stood there as if Rose’s arm was made out of balloon animals. (I’m living!). Max then doled out a forearm of their own, and Rose hardly flinched! Both athletes exchanged hard lefts and rights until Max caught Rose’s fist with their hand. (You did not read that wrong. Max caught Rose’s fist and turned her punch into a modified Greco-Roman knucklelock. Max’s eyes were HUGE during this. I can’t imagine what barbaric ideas were crawling around their brain at that particular moment.) Remarkably, Rose was unable to get the best of Max’s test of strength, and so she resorted to planting a knee into Max’s stomach.
Max doubled over like they’d been hit by a mac truck, and Rose dropped an atomic bomb of an elbow across Max’s unforgiving shoulders! (If you’re confused as to why I’m so excited to see these two wrestle, think of it like this: For fans of indie women’s wrestling, this match is a little bit like seeing Mark Henry vs. Keith Lee but if both men were in their primes and less famous.) With Max doubled over, Rose seized a handful of their hair and tried to walk Max to the heel team’s corner, but it felt less like a walk and more like Max bulldozing her there. Rose tagged in Shafir.
Shafir came into the ring in boxer-mode, planting seven jabs into Max’s torso. Max was affected by this, and by affected, I mean angry. Max shoved Shafir, and she didn’t just fall backward. Shafir tumbled backward. Shafir quickly returned to her feet and sized up Max. Shafir feigned going for another collar and elbow tie-up and instead went for an octopus stretch, but she was unable to fully apply it because Max countered with a side headlock. Shafir wrenched her head free from Max’s headlock and jumped onto Max’s back. Shafir attempted a sleeper choke, but Max was having none of it. Max walked Shafir to the face team’s corner, bent over sideways with Shafir still on their back, and ran Shafir into the turnbuckles. Max tagged in Howitzer.
Howitzer trapped Shafir in the face team’s corner and drove her elbow right into the center of Shafir’s chest. Before Shafir could recover, Howitzer followed that up with double overhead chops. Howitzer captured Shafir in a full nelson lock and rammed her head into the top turnbuckle multiple times. Howitzer tagged Max back into the match.
Max backed up into the center of the ring, and Howitzer whipped Shafir into Max, who executed a leaping body avalanche. The crowd applauded Wasteland War Party, and Max “The Impaler” noted the reaction.
“Mark, if they score the win,” Excalibur said, regarding Wasteland War Party. “This would definitely be an upset.”
“Not only would it be an upset,” Henry said. “But this would be one of those matches that people remember for a long time.” (You mean like Christian and TLC matches?)
Max went for a huge clothesline, but Shafir saved her life by ducking underneath Max’s arm. Max went for a back elbow, but Shafir dodged that as well. Shafir then kicked Max’s left hamstring and tagged in Rose.
Rose missile dropkicked Max’s knees, and Max went to the mat for the first time in this match. Rose tried to promptly retain her hard-won advantage with eight forearms smashed into Max’s shoulders. However, Max managed to battle through Rose’s offense and speared Rose, sending her into the heel team’s corner. Max delivered shoulder blocks to Rose, but because they were bent over, they did not notice when Shafir tagged herself in.
While Max continued to give Rose shoulder blocks, Shafir snuck up behind Max and nailed them with five kidney shots. Max slowly stood upright like a monster in a horror movie and turned to face Shafir. Max stalked Shafir, and with their attention averted, Rose was able to ascend to the top rope. Shafir then punched Max in the face, and Rose jumped off the top turnbuckle to execute a top rope diamond dust on Max. (Did you know that because of the New Madrid fault line, the St. Louis Gateway Arch was built to sway up to 18 inches during an earthquake or a Quake by the Lake. I feel like that engineering marvel just came in handy.)
Max sat up, and Rose kicked them back down with a kick to the head. Shafir then hit Max with a leg lariat from behind and went for the cover, but her offense was only good for a one-count. (“Damn!” ~ Ron Simmons)
Howitzer ran in and attacked Shafir from behind, striking her with a back elbow. Howitzer stepped in between Max and Shafir and planted a forearm into Shafir’s chest, followed by a knife-edge chop. Howitzer helped Max into the face team’s corner, and Max tagged Howitzer into the match.
Shafir kicked Howitzer, captured Howitzer’s leg, and rolled Howitzer up for a pin, but Howitzer kicked out at two. However, Shafir kept hold of Howitzer’s leg and rolled backward, forcing Howitzer into her Greedy Lock submission hold. Shafi pulled back on her finisher, and Howitzer was forced to tap out. (Even monsters have ligaments.)
WINNER: Rose & Shafir in 4:00
(David’s Analysis: This was the match I was looking for last week, and I’m so glad we got it this week. I only caught one slightly “clunky” moment in the entire match, and it was minor enough that I’m pretty sure most people would not notice. AEW, please sign Heidi Howitzer and Max “The Implore,” and please give us an epic Wasteland War Party vs. Nyla Rose feud on national T.V.)
– After the match, a video package highlighted Sonny Kiss for pride month. (Fun Fact: The only time this month I’ve seen Sonny Kiss on Dynamite is in ads about how sometimes Sonny Kiss is on Dynamite.)
(4) SWERVE STRICKLAND & KEITH LEE vs. MATT FITCHETT & DAVEY VEGA
Swerve Strickland’s name glistened across the big screen, and Strickland came out first. The music then switched to Keith Lee’s entrance theme, and Lee joined Strickland on stage. Strickland moved to high-five Lee, but Lee brushed Stickland off, held his head high, and walked past Strickland as if he were the help. Strickland chased after Lee and tried to get Lee to mug beside him on the rampway. Once again, Lee wanted nothing to do with his tag team partner.
When Strickland got to ringside, he turned to the camera and assured us that he and Lee were on the same page. Already awaiting Strickland & Lee’s arrival were two of Wardlow’s plaintiffs who took up wrestling after losing a lawsuit that gave me a migraine headache. Their names were Matt Fitchett & Davey Vega.
Strickland and Vega began the match with a Collar and Elbow tie-up that Strickland quickly transitioned into an armbar. While this was happening, the crowd sang for Lee as he conducted them like a maestro, and the director cut away from the action to show this to us.
Vega headbutted Strickland to escape his predicament, and Strickland staggered along the stage right ring ropes. Vega seized Strickland and whipped him into the upstage left turnbuckles. Vega then ran toward Strickland, but Strickland leaped over him and executed a headscissors takeover. Both men hurried back to their feet, and the crowd popped.
Strickland speared Vega and used the momentum of that spear to force Vega into the upstage left corner. Strickland chopped Vega across his chest, snapmared Vega into the center of the ring, climbed to the second turnbuckle, and leaped into the air, executing a diving elbow.
Instead of pinning Vega, Strickland walked over to his team’s corner and tried to have a healing conversation with Lee.
“This is not the time or place to talk about that,” Henry correctly noted.
Strickland returned his attention to Vega, but he was too late, and Vega managed to tag in Fitchett. Together, Fitchett & Vega unleashed a flurry of offense that involved a double Irish whip, a baseball slide, and an assisted senton. However, all of this action was only good enough to score them a one-count.
Strickland went for a lateral press, but Fitchett quickly countered with a wristlock. Fitchett used that wristlock like a leash to force Strickland to follow him into Fitchett’s team’s corner. Fitchett the tagged Vega back into the match.
Vega and Fitchett tried to start a kicking contest, but Strickland countered with a flurry of chops to both men’s chests. However, after a good bit of action, Vega and Fitchett countered Strickland’s knife-edge chop party with a double kick to Strickland’s guts and an Irish whip. However, instead of working to capitalize on their Irish whip, both Vega and Fitchett bent over in the middle of the ring to assume the “looking for trouble” position. Strickland gave them trouble by stopping midway through his rope-run to kick both of them in the chest.
Strickland, Vega, and Fitchett engaged in a round of do-si-do, but Strickland put an end to it by swinging a clothesline at Fitchett, which Fitchett ducked. However, Strickland then clobbered Vega with an inside-out lariat! Fitchett then came up behind Strickland, and the moment Strickland turned around, Fitchett hit him with a dropkick. Strickland reeled on the ropes for a second before rebounding with what looked like an attempted hammerlock DDT, but Fitchett shoved Strickland off of him and executed a second dropkick! This dropkick caused Strickland to collapse against the upstage ring ropes, and Lee took the opportunity to tag himself into the match. The crowd roared to life.
Fitchett continued to run the ropes as Lee entered the ring. Strickland caught Fitchett mid-run and executed a popup. Lee then knocked Fitchett out of the air with both his forearms. The crowd absolutely loved this simple yet effective offense.
“Boy, they love them some Keith Lee,” Henry expounded.
Lee and Strickland stared at each other. Strickland began trying to explain himself to Lee, and suddenly it looked like Lee was running at Strickland with a body avalanche. Strickland lunged out of the way, and it then became clear that Lee had been aiming for Vega, who had come up behind Strickland. (As far as the whole “tag team miscommunication” trope goes, this one was done well.)
Lee commandeered a freshly avalanched Vega, and Biel threw him into Fitchett. Both Vega and Fitchett crashed to the mat. Lee picked up Vega and powerbombed him onto his Fitchett’s fallen body. Lee then kept hold of Vega, lifted him up onto his shoulders, and turned to face Strickland, who was standing on the top rope, calling for a Swerve Stomp. Lee looked like he was about to accept Strickland’s double-team offer, but at the last minute, Lee turned to face the hard camera and executed a Spirit Bomb on Vega for the win.
WINNER: Strickland & Swerve in 4:00
(David’s Analysis: Lee and Strickland are very talented in the “acting” department, and that helped them tell a decent story within a very short amount of time.)
– After the match, the referee raised both men’s hands, and Strickland held out his fist to Lee, begging him for a fist bump. Lee looked angry, and then sad, then resigned to forgiveness. Lee fist-bumped Strickland. (Shouldn’t this moment have taken place on T.V.?)
(5) REBEL vs. ANNA JAY (w/Dark Order)
Rebel came out first, and I’m just now noticing her logo is a pair of crutches. Rebel pointed to the tunnel as if Britt Baker was going to come out and then mocked the fans at home for thinking they’d have the chance to see the blessing that is Britt Baker. Rebel then made her way down the apron while continuing to mock the crowd for thinking her friend would do friend things for her.
The second person to come out was Anna Jay. Jay was accompanied on stage by John Silver, Preston Vance, and Alex Reynolds. (Silver wore a red and white shirt with the words “I’M THE BEEF” emblazoned across the front.) The rest of Dark Order stayed on the stage as Anna Jay made her way to the ring. Once in the ring, Jay did the Mother Monster salute, and she actually managed to make it look cool.
The match began with a collar and elbow tie-up, which Rebel immediately shifted into a side headlock. Jay reversed Rebel’s headlock and floored Rebel with a side headlock takeover. Jay went for a pin, but Rebel countered that with a headscissors escape.
Both women returned to their feet, and Rebel tried to reapply her side headlock, but Jay countered with an attempted Suplex. Rebel countered Jay’s suplex by shoving her. Jay went into the ropes, and Jay rebounded toward Rebel. Rebel executed a knee lift. Rebel then went for a Vertical Suplex, but Jay landed on her feet, executed a Dangerous Jay Kick, and made Rebel tap out to the Queen Slayer. (That was fast.)
WINNER: Jay at 46 seconds
(David’s Analysis: Excalibur called this one of the quickest victories in the history of AEW’s women’s division. That pretty much sums up the entire match, and there isn’t much to really “analyze.” However, I will remind everyone reading at home that Anna Jay is secretly Lady Legasus from Teen Titans Go! I was originally going to insert that recurring bit into the match, but there wasn’t time.)
(6) TONY NESE (w/Mark Sterling) vs. WARHORSE
Tony Nese came out first, accompanied by “Smart” Mark Sterling, an attorney whose legal mind is so great it requires a neck brace to support it. Nese unzipped his jacket and showed off his CGI enhanced (I assume) abdominal muscles. (Seriously, he looks like he swallowed a rock climbing wall.)
“Remember, Sterling was representing Wardlow — I mean… the plaintiffs in their lawsuit match against Wardlow,” Excalibur said. (Ah, yes. The lawsuit match. A little-known quirk of the American judicial system invented by… I want to say… Brett Kavanaugh?)
Warhorse was already awaiting Nese’s arrival in the ring, and being a bit of an indie icon, he got a nice ovation from the crowd and headbanged appropriately.
After the bell rang, Nese approached Warhorse and pointed to his flexed bicep. (He should have pointed to his abs, but I guess they were already pointing, so it’d be rude to point back.) Warhorse headbanged in response to seeing Nese’s bicep, and Nese offered to shake Warhorse’s hand. Warhorse accepted the handshake, and Nese punched him in the throat.
Nese racked Warhorse’s arm by wrapping it around the top rope and then executed an over-the-top-rope bulldog. Warhorse recoiled all the way from the downstage ropes to the upstage ropes. Nese jumped back into the ring, cornered Warhorse, and kicked him in the stomach seven times.
Nese then whipped Warhorse out of the corner, but Warhorse used his rebound off the opposite turnbuckles to crash into Nese with a body avalanche. Warhorse attempted to trap Nese in a wristlock, but Nese stomach-muscled his way out of the hold and whipped Warhorse into the corner again. Nese then ran toward Warhorse, but Warhorse got his foot up in the nick of time. Warhorse hopped onto the second rope and celebrated his upper hand, but his celebration was costly because Nese used that time to recover and deliver a European uppercut to Warhorse’s jaw.
Nese attempted a superplex, but Warhorse headbutted him off the ropes, and then Warhorse executed a top rope missile dropkick.
“Have you ever seen a flying horse?” Henry asked.
“One time in Germany, but I’ll talk more about that later,” Excaliber said.
Warhorse rallied the crowd and began to beat his own head against the turnbuckles to the tempo of their claps. (This seems like a horrible use of his time.) Warhorse hit Nese with two clotheslines and put him on his shoulders in the fireman’s carry position. However, Nese raked Warhorse’s eyes and landed on his feet.
Nese smashed Warhorse’s face with a spinning back kick, and Warhorse fell into a seated position in the upstage left corner. Nese then executed his Running Nese finisher, pinned Warhorse with his rock-hard abs, and got the win.
WINNER: Nese in 3:00
(David’s Analysis: Warhorse was very over with the crowd, and his character is quite appealing. However, Nese’s offense was more ab-pealing, and therefore, Nese won. )
– After the match, Mark Henry asked us, “How close was that?” (Not very.)
(7) RUBY SOHO vs. MIRANDA GORDY
Ruby Soho bounced out of the face’s tunnel and sported her pride-themed jacket, which was covered in a dazzling array of sharp, shiny spikes. Soho wasted no time getting to the ring and handed her jacket to a staff member who is probably very wary of talent right now due to Wardlow-related PTSD. Soho got on the apron and turned to face the hard camera, but before she could strike a pose, Miranda Gordy attacked her from behind and kicked her off the apron.
Gordy jumped out of the ring, slugged Soho with two forearms, and then rolled Soho back in. Gordy then grabbed Soho by her hair, but Soho stomped on Gordy’s foot, kicked Gordy’s chest, executed a spinning back kick, and punctuated that offense with a forearm to Gordy’s face. Soho then attempted an Irish whip, but Gordy reversed it into a clothesline and rammed Soho’s head into the top turnbuckle.
“Miranda Gordy is a second-generation wrestler,” Excalibur explained. “Her father was the late, great Terry Gordy.”
Gordy hit Soho with a stiff chop, and Soho mouthed something to the camera. (Probably a request for Advil.) Gordy then left Soho unattended to walk all the way to the downstage ring ropes to celebrate her upper hand. (Why? What is wrong with these local wrestlers. They have the attention span of a very fruity fruit fly.)
Gordy ran at Soho, but surprisingly, she had recovered and hit Gordy with six forearms interspersed with bouts of shoving. Soho attempted to set up her No Future finisher, but Gordy whipped Soho into the ropes. However, Soho came back at Gordy, caught her around her waist, and executed a Saito suplex. Soho then celebrated her upper hand with the crowd. (I’m going to mail them some Adderall. They need it more than I do.)
Soho climbed the turnbuckles, but Gordy had recovered and knocked Soho off the top rope, causing her to fall groin-first onto the turnbuckles. Gordy put Soho in the fireman’s carry position, but Soho was quick to escape. Soho captured Gordy’s upper body and executed her Destination Unknown finisher. Soho then pinned Gordy, and the referee counted to three.
WINNER: Soho in 2:00
(David’s Analysis: I really hope they start rehabilitating Soho. She has so much undeniable charisma, a memorable move set, and sells for the furthest reaches of the back row. She is a top-of-the-deck card who, for some reason, got lost in the shuffle. They could make good money if they chose to bet on her. Gordy didn’t get to do a ton in the way of offense during this match, but she has an impressive look and towered over Soho.)
(8) Q.T. MARSHALL (w/Aaron Solo, Nick Comoroto, & Anthony Ogogo) vs. MATT SYDAL
Q.T. Marshall, a man who puts lead inside children’s balloons, came out first, followed by Aaron Solo, Nick Comoroto, and Anthony Ogogo. (Wasn’t he just on commentary a minute ago?)
“This was so important he had to leave the commentary booth!” Excalibur explained. (I have to give them credit for at least trying to make it make sense. Though I still don’t understand why he was on commentary in the first place?)
Matt Sydal came out next, and the crowd seemed surprisingly into him. The director cut to people getting on their feet to applaud as he made his way down the ramp.
“And his opponent,” Gonzalez said, “from St. Louis, Missouri—” (Okay, that explains it.)
Sydal slid into the ring and basked in the fans’ adulation. Marshall rolled to the outside because basking in happiness burns his skin. Sydal turned to face both the hard camera and the crowd opposite the hard camera, raising his hand in the form of a peace sign, or as Marshall calls it — “the dirty hippy.”
The bell rang, and the crowd vociferously hazed Marshall for existing in public. Marshall and Sydal started things off with a traditional collar and elbow tie-up, and Marshall appeared to be getting the better of it at first, backing Sydal into the downstage left corner. However, just as Sydal reached that corner, he turned Marshall around and shoved him into the turnbuckles. The referee called for a break, and Sydal held up his hands and slowly backed away like a fan who had encountered Marshall at a meet and greet.
Marshall dove toward Sydal and caught him in a waistlock, which Marshall quickly turned into a side headlock. Sydal tried to turn that side headlock into a waistlock, but Marshall performed a standing switch into a hammerlock, which is also the name of the tool Marshall uses to escape the basement his family locks him in.
Marshall then went for a snapmare, but Sydal countered that by… landing on his feet? (Holy crap.) Sydal executed a snapmare of his own and then sliced Marshall’s chest with a knife-edge chop. Sydal attempted to Irish whip Marshall across the ring, but Marshall reversed the whip. However, Sydal refused to let go of Marshall’s hand and turned the whip into an impressive-looking tilt-a-whirl headscissors takedown. The crowd delighted in Marshall’s pain and misfortune.
Sydal applied a wristlock and wrenched it over his shoulder, only for “Muffin Top” Marshall to counter his wristlock with a kick to Sydal’s visible abs. Marshall punched Sydal in the head and adjusted his waistband. Marshall then attempted a bodyslam on Sydal, but Sydal leaped over Marshall’s shoulder, landed on his feet behind him, and executed a slice (was that an alternate version of the Final Slice?) on Marshall. Sydal covered Marshall, but Marshall prolonged our suffering by kicking out at two.
Sydal jumped up from covering Marshall to execute a standing Mariposa, which looked breath-taking, and Excalibur expounded on how Sydal learned that move in Japan. (I feel like “Japan” is probably Excalibur’s password.)
Q.T. Marshall, a man whose password is “password,” jumped back to his feet, caught Sydal just as he was about to climb the ropes, and punched Sydal in what might have been his throat. (He would be evil enough to go for the throat.) Marshall tried to press slam Sydal, but Sydal jumped out of Marshall’s hands and executed a second headscissors takedown. Sydal followed this up with a spinning heel kick and another near fall.
Q.T. Marshall, a man whose idea of a bachelor party was listening in on a party line, grabbed Sydal’s waist and threw him into the ring ropes, hotshotting Sydal’s throat across the middle one.
“He’s such a low-down dirty dog,” Henry said, belittling dogs.
Q.T. Marshall, a man who wants you to know he’s smart because everything reminds him of Schrodinger’s cat, choked Sydal on the middle rope, and Aaron Solo ran over to cheap shot Sydal with a punch to the face. Marshall picked Sydal up in his arms and executed a pendulum backbreaker to score a two-count. Marshall then applied a rear chin lock, which is appropriate because Marshall is both a purveyor of headaches and a pain in the rear.
The crowd helped rally Sydal back to his feet, and just as it looked like something good might happen, Marshall plunged an elbow into the back of Sydal’s neck. Marshall then attempted a belly-to-back suplex, but Sydal turned Marshall’s suplex into a sunset flip in mid-air. (That was every bit as exciting as it sounded.) Sydal went for a cover, but Marshall kicked out at two. (Dammit.)
Sydal kicked Marshall’s hamstrings and started to run the ropes, but Solo grabbed Sydal from the outside.
“Oh, come on!” Henry exclaimed.
Sydal then executed a spinning leg lariat, and Marshall somehow caught him in mid-air, transforming Sydal’s spinning leg lariat into a backbreaker. Marshall went to cover Sydal, but God had mercy on the state of Missouri, and Sydal kicked out at one. The crowd chanted, “Q.T. sucks,” but Marshall refused to suck less. Instead, Marshall plopped Sydal onto the apron and attempted a vertical suplex off of the apron. However, Sydal was also tired of Marshall sucking and countered his suplex with a top rope stunner.
Sydal tried to climb to the top rope, but Solo, a man so repulsive he’ll always remain Solo, grabbed hold of Sydal’s leg and tried to yank him to the floor. Because rules are paramount in AEW, the referee ejected Solo, Ogogo, and Comoroto from ringside.
“This is like Christmas!” Henry said.
Q.T. Marshall, a man so stupid he thinks watching a pay-per-view involves staring at paper, charged toward Sydal. However, because Sydal is smart, he sidestepped Marshall, and Marshall crashed into the downstage right turnbuckles. Marshal stumbled around the ring like a bumbling elephant while Sydal climbed the ropes and jumped off to execute a flying Meteora. Sydal then began kicking the crap out of Marshall’s hamstrings and ribcage, ending the onslaught with a spinning kick.
Q.T. Marshall, a man so stupid he named the All-Atlantic title, swung Sydal into the ropes and then bent over in the middle of the ring and waited for Sydal to kick him. Sydal kicked him. Marshall seemed surprised. Sydal then hit a roundhouse kick, and that knocked Marshall into the downstage left corner. Sydal then executed a dropkick on Marshall before covering him to score another two-count.
Sydal attempted a lightning spiral, but Marshall blocked it by hitting Sydal in the back of the neck with his elbow. Marshall raised his hands in a shape reminiscent of DDP and called for a Diamond Cutter. However, because Marshall foolishly telegraphed his next move to the entire world, Sydal countered Marshall’s attempted Diamond Cutter with a backslide pin. Sadly, Marshall kicked out at two.
Sydal ran the ropes, but Marshall caught him with a popup forearm to the jaw. (Crap.) Marshall then ripped off both of his elbow pads and went for a suplex. (Double crap.) Sydal countered Marshall’s suplex in mid-air! (Less crap!) Sydal executed a hurricanrana, pinned Marshall, and got a quick, merciful three-count. (Zero crap! Calorie-free!)
WINNER: Sydal (Thank God.) in 8:00
(David’s Analysis: That was another good, fun match that was made more fun by how naturally hateable Q.T. Marshall is. Also, Sydal’s gymnastics were spellbinding, and the crowd loved him. )
– After the match, Sydal acknowledged his hometown fans, and Q.T. Marshall forgot his password.
FINAL THOUGHTS: AEW Dark Elevation was pretty good this week. The three squash matches were what they were, but there were also three good matches I feel I can easily recommend. This week’s match of the night goes to Kazarian vs. Idolo. If you only have time to watch one match, watch that one. If you have time to watch two matches, check out Rose & Shafir vs. Wasteland War Party. If you have time for three matches, add Sydal vs. Marshall to the mix, so you can join me in enjoying hating Q.T. Marshall.
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, don’t picture Vince McMahon jacking his hammer. That’s a horrible and disgusting image, and you shouldn’t read articles that put it in your head.
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