And I’m back on the Monday night circuit! That’s right sports fans; I have no complicated (and long) dinners to worry about this week, which means I was able to review AEW Dark: Elevation. Needless to say it was as eventful as that one tweet of mine yesterday that people still keep liking. If only they did that when we promote these reviews! In any event, this was a strong Elevation show. Good matches throughout (even if some underachieved at the finish), a great main event, several good promos and one knockout segment from Eddie Kingston. I hesitate to say this was Elevation at its best because somethings could’ve been a bit better but this was as strong an episode this show has had thus far. And on that, let’s review so I can go watch Person of Interest!
Lee Johnson defeated David Ali after pinning Ali with a Brainbuster onto the Knee. I’m honestly stunned that AEW hadn’t done this match prior to tonight. I’m happy it was done tonight because it wound up being pretty good. It was more a showcase for Ali than Johnson, and the Rhode Island native showed a lot of ability here. He’s shown his athleticism before but here he showed some nice striking and decent variety; he almost reminded me a bit of Lee Moriarty and Cesaro with his work in this match. Johnson sold really well for him, they had a few nice back and forth sequences and by the end had a quality bout. I actually think they held back a bit here and probably could’ve had a more eye popping match in terms of moves. Overall though this was a good start to the show. *** ¼
Eddie Kingston defeated VSK after pinning VSK with an Oklahoma Roll. AN OKLAHOMA ROLL! I haven’t seen that finish a match since Crash Holly beat Dean Malenko with it to win the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship on Sunday Night Heat back in 2001. Probably explains who agented this one then.
This was something straight out of a Beyond show in Worcester, Massachusetts, which makes sense because both these guys worked Beyond in the past. Of course Beyond is also really good and thus this match was also really good! After getting squashed a ton in his previous Dark/Elevation appearances, VSK has suddenly been given a ton to work with in two straight matches (first Orange Cassidy and now here) and looked impressive again. In fact he took most of this match it felt like, beating the tar out of Kingston in between Eddie attempting chops and Backdrop Suplexes. It worked because VSK is a very crisp worker and Eddie is so good at selling it’s not even funny. A second straight good match. *** ½
Ethan Page & Scorpio Sky defeated Baron Black & Fuego Del Sol after Page pinned Fuego following an absolutely terrifying Ego’s Edge. It took a shorter time for AEW and New Japan to agree to a working relationship than it did for Fuego to land on that move. Scary stuff. This was on its way to be a third straight match good match, only it got held up by being too short. While it went on though the work as solid. Baron Black and Scorpio Sky worked really well together, Fuego had some really exciting moments and Ethan Page could quite frankly just cut promos, hit his finisher and I’d be perfectly content with everything else he did. It was all really well done and just cut short before it could hit that extra gear. As such it was a borderline match. ** ¾
Paul Wight interviews Danny Limelight in yet another home run segment here. Limelight gives his entire story, from being a kid on the streets of New York to joining the Marines. Apparently the Marine recruiter, based on how Limelight was dressed, told him to try the Army instead and Limelight wouldn’t take no for the answer. He served several years in the Marines (very successfully), had a daughter and then eventually decided to pursue his dream of professional wrestling (which he wanted to do since discovering it in 1997). He left the Marines, started training, and worked his ass off until a connection with Johnny Mundo (actually pictured here) led to some doors opening for him at the start of the pandemic. He then worked in New Japan out in LA, got a shot in AEW and the rest is history. Really, really great stuff. This remains the best thing AEW does each week that no one knows about.
Thunder Rosa defeated Renee Michelle after submitting Michelle with this submission that I’ve quite frankly never seen before. Looked like a neck lock with her legs in a roll up position. Either way it was cool. This match was much better than I expected. It was easily, and I mean EASILY the best work from Renee Michelle on AEW Dark or Elevation. She looked significantly more confident than she had any other time out, looked smooth, showed off some creativity and just looked really, really good. I had honestly given up on expecting anything from her and this performance showed that there’s something there. Good for her and good on Thunder Rosa. She was also the best performer Michelle has faced in AEW and it showed, as Rosa fed perfectly for her while also still getting all of her stuff in. This was a pleasant surprise. *** ¼
Eddie Kingston proceeded to cut what might’ve been the promo of the year on AEW Dark: Elevation. What can I say; the man has no off switch! He went in on the Young Bucks, talking about grinding with them on the indies, how he came here because of them and now how they’ve turned on everything they represented. He told the Bucks that EW was his last stop and they would have to tear his heart out in order to stop him and Mox. Brilliant. Must see stuff.
Chuck Taylor defeated Vary “I Got Hit With That Awful Waffle So Hard I’m Beginning to Think I Might Be Juventud Guerrera” Morales after pinning Morales following an Awful Waffle that made Ethan Page’s Ego’s Edge look like Chris Jericho falling into a crash pad. Gnarly stuff. This was a short and solid sprint. Morales got a few cool lucha spots in, Big Dust hit him hard and ultimately Morales both lost the match and his headband! And then he had to watch Chuck do the hug with the Best Friends while wearing it. That’s the sort of humiliation reserved for me when I lose in poker in Red Dead Redemption 2. Such is life. Not long enough to be worthwhile but it was fun while it lasted. ** ¼
Leyla Hirsch defeated Dani Jordyn after submitting Jordyn with a Cross Armbar that she put on after reversing a Blue Thunder Bomb into an Arm Drag. That’s the sort of sequence that makes you feel better about Dani Jordyn not only not getting her entrance but not having the Burn Book FOR A SECOND STRAIGHT MATCH! We now go live to Angel El Elegante and his reaction to this news.
Another good match on this show. Must be something in that one Pepsi machine in the Bucks’ locker room. Then again it may be because this was a really good match up to begin with. Leyla is great, Dani Jordyn has been one of the unsung heroes of Dark the last year and these two just went full throttle. They didn’t get a ton of time but the pacing was great, the strikes were great, there was one gnarly German Suplex and some of Leyla’s counters, including that last one, were money. Just really well done, meat and potatoes wrestling from two pros, and I imagine it be even better if they were given more time. Strong stuff. *** ¼
Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky did an interview with Dasha Gonzalez where they ran down Sting and Darby Allin. Decent stuff but nowhere near some of the other promo segments on this show. Then again one of those segments was Danny Limelight telling his awesome story and the other was Eddie Kingston cutting a Promo of the Year contender. The competition was stiff.
Matt Sydal defeated Manny Smith after pinning Smith with the Lightning Spiral. Our first true squash on the show. Smith, who is pretty much new (he apparently has a football background), got in a few moves but overall just got kicked in the face a ton by Sydal before he finished the dude off. That’s fine; Sydal can use a dominant win. It just felt out of place compared to some of the other matches on this show. * ¼
Jade Cargill defeated Reka Tehaka after pinning Tehaka with Jaded (Double Underhook Electric Chair Slam). I was going to say the best thing about this segment was Jade’s theme music (boy is that a sweet tune) but in fact it was the return of Mark Sterling! Remember MJF’s lawyer? He’s back and he wants to represent Jade and Jade didn’t say no. I can’t believe it either. Perhaps it’s leading to him getting wiped off the face of the earth on Dynamite though so it’s all good. Other than that this was a squash. Jade did some impressive (and terrifying) things like a Pop Up Samoan Drop, Tehaka did a few headbutts and that was that. Basically what it should’ve been, with the added bonus of Mark Sterling. * ½
Marq Quen & Matt Hardy defeated Dean Alexander & Dillon McQueen after Hardy submitted Alexander with the Leech. Fun fact; Marq Quen wrestled this match like he had just come from working Wall Street all day. Why? Why not I say. Especially when you’re doing stuff like that incredible dive Quen did towards the end of the match.
This was a squash but it was an enjoyable one. Marq Quen is an exceptional talent who I feel hasn’t gotten a ton of chances to show it recently, so it was nice to see him strut his stuff and show off his athleticism. Meanwhile Hardy worked a solid match given his limitations, Alexander had a nice hot tag and Dillon McQueen is a highly charismatic individual. I thought he stood out on Elevation last week from a persona standpoint and this week showed he had some in ring ability too. Definitely someone to watch for on the Dark circuit. Well done squash. * ¾
Dr. Britt Baker DMD defeated Raychell Rose after pinning Rose with the Curb Stomp. A pinfall victory for the Doctor and not even a tease of the Lock Jaw; I have in fact seen everything sports fans. This was another well done squash. Rose (who Tony and Paul pointed out was a teammate of Britt’s archnemisis Thunder Rosa) got limited offense but looked and Britt is at an all time high in confidence right now. Everything looks crisp, everything comes easy; it’s really just all about the wait now for Britt and Shida. In the words of Mickie from Scream 2, IT IS GONNA ROCK! We’ll just ignore the fact that Mick was one of the killers. Hey; he was gonna blame the movies. * ½
Tay Conti defeated Madi Wrenkowski after ending Wrenkowski’s life with the DDTay. You have to feel for Wrenkowski; she went from getting pulverized by Nyla Rose last week to getting pummeled by Tay here. And not just with that DDT; there was a Senton spot Tay did while Wrenkowski was draped over the top rope that was just…OWW! How Wrenkowski can walk after that is beyond me. Believe it or not she actually got some offense in during this match and it was overall another really strong bout! Wrenkowski is a decent worker, Tay Conti has evolved into a borderline great worker and they meshed well together with some nice strikes and a good pace. You know, in between Tay nearly ending poor Wrenkowski a few times! Boy this is the show for multiple three star matches huh? *** ¼
Thunder Rosa did an interview with Alex Marvez about her new submission move! Oh and there was other stuff too. This was not a good interview for those who thought AEW had forgotten Thunder Rosa beat Britt Baker in that Lights Out Match, as AEW basically incorporated it into the angle, with Rosa making it clear she was going after whoever won the Shida-Baker match at Double or Nothing. She also called out Serena Deeb for the NWA Women’s Championship; hopefully that mean Serena’s coming back soon. Good stuff here that crossed a lot of boxes off.
Jungle Boy & Marko Stunt (Jurassic Express) defeated Luther & Serpentico (Chaos Project) after Marko pinned Serpentico with a Powerbomb/Cutter combo. Remember how there was that whole to do with Botchamania, AEW and YouTube the other day? Apparently YouTube has become such an asshole that AEW now can’t even play the original version of “Tarzan Boy” without getting potential strikes. I don’t know when YouTube joined the nWo but it’s disappointing. They didn’t even join the good nWo either; it’s like that 1999 nWo booked by Vince Russo.
Weird rant aside, this match was pretty good and honestly felt it be even better until poor Luther stayed in the ring a tad too long. That’s the book on Luther; he has a few good moments here and there, but if he sticks around longer than seven minutes he gets gassed and it looked like he got gassed here. Prior to that though this was fun; Marko Stunt had some really strong offense early on and sold well for both Luther and Serpentico, Serpentico is always a quality performer and Jungle Boy did what he could to keep the match humming in the back half. I find most matches get better as they go along; this was the rare match that did not. *** ¼
Alex Reynolds defeated Isaiah Kassidy after pinning Kassidy with a School Boy. Afterwards Matt Hardy and Marq Quen beat down Colt Cabana at ringside and held back John Silver as Hardy put Reynolds in The Leech, so that feud isn’t over. This match and segment was good for the first two thirds and then kind of fell apart in the final leg. It just felt like the timing on some of the things were off and the action wasn’t a crisp as the first half of the match. Overall though this was still good because the first half was that strong. They told a nice story of Kassidy working over Reynolds’ back, there was a callback to Kassidy giving Reynolds that concussion on Dynamite by Kassidy going up for a Leg Drop and missing, and everything just moved smoothly. Then we got to the end and it was less smooth. It happens unfortunately. Still good but this was on the way to being something stronger. ***
Jon Moxley defeated Danny Limelight after pinning Limelight after THE RETURN OF THE AVALANCHE PARADIGM SHIFT! Yes the move that nearly ended Darby Allin made its triumphant return to end the King of AEW Dark tonight, and it was so cool that we’re now going to relive it again!
If you thought this match would be the best thing on the show, pat yourself on the back because it was. I dare say this made it over the finish line and was a great match. They started off feeling each other out, Mox took control in the middle with some power, Limelight came back and it was back and forth the rest of the way. Every single time AEW gives Danny Limelight a test he aces it and this was no exception. He looked convincing standing toe to toe with Moxley in strike exchanges and made sure to get his most impressive stuff in, like a rope walk springboard Meteora and a breathtaking tornillo to the floor. And Moxley was Moxley, one of the best at it in the game, giving a ton to Limelight and working his ass off offensively. This was not a big time player coming in and taking it easy, this was the Jon Moxley you’d see on Dynamite, Bloodsport and New Japan Strong. Nothing else could’ve main evented on this night. ****
And with that the deed is done! See you all tomorrow for AEW Dark sports fans. Till then!
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RELATED NOTE: AEW Dark: Elevation Episode 9 (05/10/2021)