By Rich Bailin, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@RichBailin)
AEW Dark: Elevation (Episode 12)
Taped in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Streamed May 31, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
Before the intro, we were sent backstage to Thunder Rosa, who congratulated Britt Baker on her title win last night. Yes, Britt said a new era would start, but with new champions and new eras come old enemies. Tonight, Rosa is going to show that Britt is still afraid of her because tonight Rosa is going to kick the crap out of Reka Tehaka…
Tony Schiavone said “Bring back the fans” and added that they have been waiting for this day for a long, long time. Tony introduced his broadcast team partner Paul Wight, who put over the crowd…
Bailin’s Breakdown: I just want to take a quick moment and say I hope everyone enjoyed Double or Nothing and the Memorial Day weekend. I believe these matches were taped prior to this past Friday’s Dynamite so it may benefit from having a good size crowd on hand.
1. “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens vs Brent Tate and Brandon Tate. The Tate Twins made their AEW tag team debut. Schiavone mentioned that they are the OVW (Ohio Valley Wrestling) Tag Team Champions. Late in the match, Bowens hit a side slam on one of the Tates while Caster climbed the top rope. Caster then hit the Mic Drop for the pinfall.
“The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens defeated Brent Tate and Brandon Tate by pinfall in 3:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: This was a different start to the show as it opened with the Rosa interview. Max Caster received a favorable reaction for his rap. You can immediately feel the difference in this show with fans in attendance. The match itself was typical of the Elevation matches we see, which means this was nothing more than a showcase for The Acclaimed.
After the Double or Nothing pay-per-view, Tony Schiavone spoke to Jungle Boy in the ring in an empty Daily’s Place. Jungle Boy said that he came close to winning a couple of big matches and he finally did it last night in the Casino Battle Royale. In two weeks, Jungle Boy has the biggest match of his career against Kenny Omega, and he is looking forward to it. Tony warned Jungle Boy that Kenny showed in the three-way at Double or Nothing that he and Don Callis will do anything to hold onto the title.
Christian entered the ring. Christian wanted to let Jungle Boy know that he wasn’t happy because he hates to lose. Christian has lived by the rule you have to hate to lose more than you love to win to be a champion in this business, especially in AEW. Christian has no doubt about Jungle Boy’s passion or what Jungle Boy can do in the ring. Christian met Jungle Boy when he was young when Jungle Boy’s father brought him to the Staples Center in Los Angeles and asked for Christian to take a picture. Christian saw it in Jungle Boy’s eyes back then and knew this is what Jungle Boy wanted to do.
Christian said as he has watched Jungle Boy’s latest matches, he has not been convinced that Jungle Boy hates to lose. But when Jungle Boy won the Casino Battle Royale, he saw something in Jungle Boy’s eyes he had never seen before. He said that Jungle Boy did it, and told him to go win the title. As Christian left the ring Matt Hardy confronted Christian. Hardy was upset because he and Christian were going to get rid of Jungle Boy in the battle royal. Private Party then attacked Christian from behind. Jungle Boy leapt over the top rope onto Hardy and Private Party then chased them off so he could check on Christian.
2. Leyla Hirsch vs. Robyn Renegade. Leyla got a huge pop from the crowd on hand as she made her entrance. Wight mentioned that Leyla has now entered the top five in the women’s division. Leyla dominated the match early. Renegade took over by catching Leyla’s knee and then slammed Leyla to the mat. Renegade lifted up Leyla but Leyla escaped with elbows to the Renegade’s head. Leyla with a release German Suplex, followed by a knee to the face and the cross-arm breaker for the win.
Leyla Hirsch beat Robyn Renegade by submission in 3:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: This was Leyla’s first exposure to a bigger AEW crowd and it appears AEW has yet another star on their hands. Now let’s get Leyla some mic time and a story to capitalize on it before they lose it.
Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison were backstage. Pillman is no stranger to chaos and is no stranger to adversity. Every time Pillman tried to get ahead, the snakes in the grass started to appear and that’s exactly what happened with Serpentico trying to get in his way. Serpentico has started a fight they cannot win and they will fight all four quarters. Garrison says tonight they rip the head off the snake and get back to their ultimate goal of winning the AEW Tag Team Championships
3. Thunder Rosa vs. Reka Tehaka. There was a massive reaction for Thunder Rosa. Excalibur joined the commentary team for this match. Rosa took control early. After a Rosa pin attempt Tehaka took over briefly with strikes. Tehaka attempted to lift Rosa but Rosa was able to slip out and hit a Death Valley Driver. Rosa then locked in the Peruvian Calavera choke for the submission.
Thunder Rosa beat Reka Tehaka by submission in 5:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A showcase win for Rosa, but it bears repeating the crowd was hot for everything she did, making a simple showcase more interesting.
Penta El Zero Miedo was backstage with Alex Abrahantes, who translated what Penta said: The Young Bucks, we meet once again but this time I have Pac with me. Jack Evans, we have faced each other many times, but tonight we meet on AEW Dark Elevation. Welcome to Casa Penta, Zero Miedo.
4. “Chaos Project” Luther and Serpentico vs. “The Varsity Blonds” Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison (w/Julia Hart). Pillman and Serpentico started the match. Pillman leapfrogged a charging Serpentico then hit Luther who was standing in the corner. Quick tags and double team maneuvers by the Blonds on Serpentico. Luther pulled Pillman out of the ring and attacked him, then threw Pillman back in the ring. Luther with a drop toe hold on Serpentico so that Serpentico landed on a prone Pillman. Luther then pounded Serpentico’ s head into Pillman repeatedly.
Luther threw Pillman outside the ring and directed Serpentico to climb the top rope so Luther could throw Serpentico onto Pillman. Julia Hart did 2 cartwheels towards Pillman and asked Luther to stop. Garrison ran into the ring and slammed Serpentico off the top rope. Pillman then tagged in Garrison and Garrison took over. Garrison set up Serpentico for a Doomsday type of move but Serpentico slipped out while Luther grabbed Pillman’s leg from outside the ring. Serpentico then used Luther and threw Luther onto Garrison who was on the floor.
Serpentico then hit a Swanton Bomb on Pillman for a two count. The fans started chanting Varsity as Luther set up and hit Creeping Death. Garrison broke up the pinfall attempt. Serpentico charged at Garrison who flipped Serpentico over the top rope. Garrison avoided a pump kick by Luther then hit Luther with a discus forearm followed by Pillman who landed a leaping clothesline onto Luther from the top rope for the pinfall.
“The Varsity Blonds” Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison beat “Chaos Project” Luther and Serpentico by pinfall in 7:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good match to keep the Blonds on top of the tag team ratings. Julia Hart, while kind of thrown in with them, has definitely added to the Blonds act. The Blonds now feel like an actual team instead of two guys with nothing else to do who were just thrown together. And they are also over with the fans in Jacksonville.
After Double or Nothing, Schiavone was back on the ring to introduce Dustin Rhodes, who said that they are men here in AEW and Nick Comoroto saw fit to hit him in the head a few times with his own bull rope. Dustin said Nick has awakened a beast and he does not care how big and strong Comoroto is.
Dustin said there have been many before Comoroto who tried to take Dustin down and keep him there but they have all failed miserably. Comoroto has the power and the strength but he does not have passion. Passion will see Dustin through the end of everything no matter what. Dustin said if Nick wants play stupid games, he will get a nice bug surprise upside your head. Friday night on Dynamite it’s a bull rope match and Comoroto is strapped to Dustin, and Dustin will Bulldog Comoroto’s ass straight to hell and you can count on that.
5. Nyla Rose and The Bunny (w/Vickie Guerrero, Private Party, The Blade) vs. Red Velvet and Big Swole. Vickie introduced Nyla and the Bunny again this week. Velvet and The Bunny started things off. Red Velvet drop kicked the Bunny and then both Velvet and the Bunny tagged out to their partners. Swole took out Nyla’s knee then followed up with a back senton for a two count. Swole tagged in Velvet and they both kicked Nyla then did a double face plant onto Nyla. Velvet then with a standing moonsault onto Nyla for a two count.
Velvet ran to the ropes but was tripped by Vickie. Velvet was able to avoid a charging Rose but as Velvet attempted to charge Rose, Rose lifted Velvet and the Bunny slammed Velvet’s throat onto the top rope. Nyla and the Bunny worked over Velvet. Nyla missed a knee drop which allowed Velvet to climb the top rope for a cross body and a two count. Nyla then chokeslammed Velvet. Nyla went to the top rope but missed a Swanton bomb when Velvet rolled away. Both Velvet and Nyla make the tag. Swole took over on Bunny, but Bunny was able to duck Dirty Dancing.
Nyla made a blind tag and charged at Swole. Swole slipped out of a Samoan drop attempt but Nyla boxed Swole’s ears. Swole responded by hitting Dirty Dancing and a pinfall attempt that was broken up at two by the Bunny. Velvet and the Bunny are sent to the outside. The Blade slipped something onto the Bunny’s hand. Inside the ring Swole missed a spin kick but hit Nyla with a headbutt. Nyla threw Swole into the ropes and Bunny hit Swole with the object and Nyla with the pinfall.
Nyla Rose and The Bunny beat Big Swole and Red Velvet by pinfall in 8:45.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good match between these two teams. Based on the booking, it felt like it could have really gone either way. The crowd was a little more subdued in this match, though their presence was still felt.
Joey Janela was backstage with Alex Marvez. Marvez said Adam Page knocked Janela around pretty good on Dynamite. Janela said that Page messed up his teeth. Marvez then asked about Janela and Sonny Kiss. Janela asked how many times he needs to explain himself. Janela said he had a migraine that just paralyzed him and he didn’t even know where he was. Janela and Sunny are like peanut butter and Nutella and apples and oranges. They will always be BFF’s and have each other’s back…
Bailin’s Breakdown: It felt at times during the promo that Janela was trying to manifest ROH’s Dalton Castle. It seems like Janela is headed for an eventual heel turn.
6. Jack Evans (w/Angelico) vs. Penta El Zero Miedo (w/Alex Abrahantes). Penta received a massive pop on his entrance. Evans stopped Penta from the hand gesture in his face then rambled a monologue on Penta that no one could make out. Evans danced and then did a handstand and Penta kicked him in the chest.
Evans slipped out of Fear Factor and attempted another handstand and was met with another kick in the chest. Penta attempted the Fear Factor again but Evans again slipped out and hit a spin kick onto Penta. Evans then tied Penta’s mask into the ropes and hit Penta. Evans is able to take over and is able to hit a Northern Lights suplex followed by a Michinoku driver for a two count.
Penta recovered and hit a kick to the face of Evans and two sling blades. Evans is able to send a charging Penta over the top rope. Evans attempted to leap outside onto Penta but Penta moved out of the way and then hit another slingblade outside the ring. Evans got his foot on the rope on the next pinfall attempt. After an Evans pin attempt while his feet were on the ropes, Penta nailed a superkick, followed by a destroyer from the second rope and the Fear Factor onto Evans for the pinfall.
Penta El Zero Miedo beat Jack Evans by pinfall in 7:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good match that was again aided by the fans in attendance. No surprise Penta went over. This type of match, while maybe not marquee, actually makes more sense in AEW’s rankings structure.
7. Tay Conti vs. Ashley D’Amboise. Tay also received a huge reaction as she came to the ring and was obviously excited to see it based on her reactions. Tay dominated the quick match winning with the TayKO followed by the DDTay for the pinfall.
Tay Conti beat Ashley D’Amboise by pinfall.
Bailin’s Breakdown: This was another showcase win for Conti. While other showcase matches pre crowd just felt thrown out there, this felt designed to get her a showcase in front of the crowd.
8. Jungle Boy (w/Luchasaurus and Marko Stunt) vs. J.D. Drake (w/Cezar Bononi, Ryan Nemeth). Jungle Boy had the reaction of the night with a massive pop as he made his entrance. It continued after his music stopped. Jungle Boy used his speed early to take the early advantage. An arm drag sent Drake to the outside and Jungle Boy used the opportunity to hit a dive through the ropes onto Cezar Bononi and Ryan Nemeth, who were on the floor.
Drake lifted Jungle Boy and bounced him off the ropes into a forearm shot that rocked Jungle Boy. Drake slowed the pace and used his power to take advantage of Jungle Boy. Drake hit a dropkick but Jungle Boy kicked out of the pin attempt at one. The crowd started to sing Tarzan Boy to hype Jungle who responded to punches and kicks to Drake. Jungle Boy hit a step thru DDT onto Drake for a two count. Drake told Jungle Boy to hit him So Jungle Boy did a couple of times until Drake connected with a spinning neck breaker.
Jungle Boy went to the outside and attempted to springboard off the top rope but Avalon grabbed Jungle Boy’s leg. Jungle Boy kicked Avalon off but Drake grabbed Jungle and slammed him to the mat. Drake hit a cannonball onto Jungle Boy into the corner then hit a dropkick for a two count. Drake was shocked Jungle Boy kicked out. Drake went to the second rope and started to yell at Luchasaurus and Marko Stunt. Jungle Boy power bombed Drake off the ropes then locked in the snare tap for the submission victory.
Jungle Boy beat J.D. Drake by submission in 8:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good match to end this week’s Elevation. Both men were made to look good, but Jungle Boy looks and now feels like a true star. Seriously, the crowd reaction to Jungle Boy for a match on Elevation was absolutely incredible to see. Tony said this was Jungle Boy’s 46th win since 2020 and then added that Kenny Omega has 45.
It wasn’t just Jungle Boy who was over tonight. Max Caster, Leyla Hirsch (which kind of surprised me the most), Thunder Rosa, The Varsity Blonds, Tay Conti, and Jungle Boy were all over with the fans in attendance. Extremely over. While it is way too early to tell if these were genuine reactions that will continue as AEW starts to get back on the road, or if it’s a new honeymoon phase now that fans are coming back, but AEW has to be happy with this weekend and the amount of people who seem to be genuinely over.
The format of this show was also better as it was much shorter than it has been lately clocking in at one hour 21 minutes. I would say if you have the time just scroll through this show for the crowd reactions alone and just allow yourself to be a part of it momentarily. If you are looking for specific matches this week, Varsity Blonds vs. Chaos Project, Jack Evans vs. Penta, Nyla Rose and The Bunny vs. Velvet and Swole, and the main event of Jungle Boy vs. J.D. Drake are all worth seeing, but this night and really all weekend belongs to the fans who packed Daily’s Place as they truly made these shows memorable.
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