By Rich Bailin, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@RichBailin)
AEW Dark: Elevation (Episode 18)
Taped in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Streamed July 12, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
Thunder Rosa’s entrance played as ring announcer Justin Roberts introduced her. Tony Schiavone and Paul Wight were on commentary…
1. Dreamgirl Ellie vs. Thunder Rosa. Rosa dominated the bulk of the match. She ended it with a Death Valley Driver followed by the Peruvian Calavera choke for the submission victory.
Thunder Rosa beat Dreamgirl Ellie by submission in 5:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Rosa had her working boots on tonight as this was a slightly longer showcase than we have seen in recent weeks.
An ad aired for the new mobile game from AEW, Elite GM, which will be available for download on July 15.
2. Matt Hardy (w/ HFO) vs. Fuego del Sol. Fuego received a televised entrance this week. Matt Hardy had a mic as he made his entrance. He asked the other members of HFO if they had seen a bigger loser than Fuego. Hardy said he would go 3-0 this week, tonight beating Loser #1, tomorrow loser #2 and finally beating the biggest loser #3 on Dynamite, Christian Cage. The bell rang and Del Sol immediately charged after Hardy. Hardy took over as Del Sol attempted a Tornado DDT but Hardy dumped him over the top rope. Hardy hit Del Sol with a Side Effect and then lifted Del Sol onto the top rope. Del Sol fought out of it and was able to hit a flying head scissors to send Hardy to the mat. Del Sol tried to lift Hardy on his shoulders but Hardy slipped out and hit the Twist of Fate then hooked in The Leech for the submission win.
Matt Hardy beat Fuego Del Sol by submission in 4:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Del Sol put up a decent fight as usual but, in the end, Hardy pulled off another win. Is it in Hardy’s contract that he has to talk on every show? Just curious.
3. Riho vs. Amber Nova. Riho used her speed early to keep Nova off balance. Riho charged at Nova who was in the corner but Nova caught her with her legs and kicked Riho to the floor. After a bodyslam by Nova to Riho, Nova took out a rag and wiped her hands. I guess she is a mechanic? Nova with a Northern Lights suplex for a two count then Nova rolled up Riho in an armbar. Nova covered Riho lazily and Riho slipped out then hit a 619 on Nova. Riho hit a cross body block from the top rope for two. Riho then climbed to the top again and missed the double stomp. Riho then hit a Northern Lights suplex of her own for a two count, Riho then hit the top rope double stomp for the pin fall.
Riho beat Amber Nova by pinfall in 6:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good back and forth match even though there seemed to be a couple of spots that looked off. A nice win for Riho and a good showing from Nova though.
Dustin Rhodes was backstage with Lee Johnson. Rhodes was asking Johnson if he was ready. He said that Jungle Boy was very impressive. Johnson called it the opportunity of his life and Dustin said Johnson was bringing it.
4. Powerhouse Hobbs (w/Hook) vs. Baron Black. Black punched Hobbs to no effect before he was even introduced. Hobbs shook off a couple of chops from Black then hit a spinebuster for the pinfall.
Powerhouse Hobbs beat Baron Black by pinfall in 1:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Pure dominance from Hobbs. You have to feel a little sorry for Baron Black at this point. Still one of the few AEW wrestlers with as many matches but still zero wins.
5. KiLynn King vs. Yuka Sakazaki. Yuka tried a roll through, but King caught her and hit a pump-handle side slam for a two count. King then hit a lariat for another 2 count. Yuka then trapped King’s arm behind her then lifted King up and slammed King. Yuka then climbed to the middle of the top rope and landed the Magic Girl splash for the pinfall.
Yuka Sakazaki beat KiLynn King by pinfall in 6:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good back and forth match meant to reintroduce Yuka to the AEW audience. King looked really good here as well.
6. “The Acclaimed” Anthony Bowens and Max Caster and “Chaos Project” Luther and Serpentico vs. “Gunn Club” Billy Gunn and Colten Gunn and “Varsity Blonds” Griff Garrison and Brian Pillman Jr. (w/Julia Hart). The Acclaimed came out to another great reaction. Chaos Project came out to the Acclaimed’s music. After some back and forth the match started to break down. Luther is tagged in as is Pillman Jr. As Luther entered the ring, Billy Gunn also came in and decked Luther. Luther not knowing that Pillman was tagged in left Luther vulnerable to being hit with the top rope clothesline from Pillman for the pinfall.
Gunn Club and Varsity Blonds beat Chaos Project and The Acclaimed by pinfall in 6:30.
After the match, Max Caster took the mic and asked Miami if they wanted to hear a freestyle on the Varsity Blonds right now. Bowens took the mic and said he had a better idea. They want the Tag Team titles but as of today they are ranked third and the Varsity Blonds are ranked second, which means the Blonds are standing in the Acclaimed’s way. Bowens said that the Blonds have two options, they could get in the ring now or they could hightail it out of there and hang out with their cheerleader friend behind the bleachers. The Blonds then chased the Acclaimed off but not before they threw a jacket at Julia.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Ok, that last line was not what was said exactly just not sure what was actually said needed to be repeated. I’ll just say they mentioned the Eiffel Tower. Seriously though, I loved every bit of the post-match and have been looking forward to an Acclaimed and Varsity Blonds program for a while. These two teams while being thrown together have the ability and are over enough to carry AEW’s tag division for years to come.
7. Alan “5” Angels vs Brian Cage. As usual the Dark Order came out together but then left Angels to himself. Cage also came out alone. Angels used his speed throughout and kept Cage off balance. Angels tried to stretch Cage’s arms behind him but Cage powered out and then power bombed Angels followed by another power bomb that Cage turned into a back breaker over his knee and then finally hitting the Drill claw for the pinfall.
Brian Cage beat Alan “5” Angels by pinfall in 3:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: I’d call this one a showcase match for Angels with a Cage win. It’s odd that Cage would give up so much offense to Angels, even being dropped from a clothesline. I don’t mean to always rag on Angels matches as he is a really good wrestler and is being booked as a scrappy competitor. At times, they just go too overboard with it and give Angels just a bit too much offense.
Luchasaurus is backstage with Jungle Boy, who said he wasn’t a promo guy but he is the first to hit 50 wins and tonight he has Lee Johnson who is a great guy and competitor. Jungle Boy said he was looking for the next record to break and Luchasaurus said the first to 51 wins.
8. Leyla Hirsch vs. Kelsey Heather. Late in the match Heather attempted a pump kick that Leyla avoided. Leyla then hit a reverse German followed but a kick to the face and then locked in the arm bar for the submission victory.
Leyla Hirsch beat Kelsey Heather by submission in 1:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: OK, I do have to take AEW to task for this one. During the Elevation after Double or Nothing, Leyla came out to a massive pop and I said then that I can’t wait to see the reaction she would get once they were on the road, as the pop she received back then was a little surprising. Now obviously I don’t know all the ins and out’s backstage, but I don’t believe Leyla has had a match or maybe just one since Double or Nothing. It feels like a missed opportunity to capitalize on Leyla’s growing popularity. Obviously it’s not too late to fix that. I just hope they do.
9. Scorpio Sky (w/Ethan Page) vs. Capt. Shawn Dean. Ethan Page joined Tony and Paul on commentary this week. Shawn Dean received a televised entrance. Dean had control early until being sent on the apron. As Dean tried to reenter the ring Sky hit Dean with a leaping Flatliner. Later Dean hit Sky with a DDT and then a dropkick to Sky who was in the corner. Dean tried to hook Sky’s arms but Sky slipped out and hit Dean with the TKP for the pinfall.
Scorpio Sky beat Shawn Dean by pinfall in 3:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: As in the Angels match, this felt like a showcase for Dean with a win for Sky. This match made me feel even more sorry for Baron Black as even Dean got a televised entrance and a majority of the offense and Black can get neither.
“Smart” Mark Sterling and Jade Cargill were behind a podium. Sterling says that they have decided to study a specific part of Jade’s contract that allows her to do modeling and movies and TV shows so Jade is now needed elsewhere. They are going to make Jade the next big crossover star in wrestling. Jade then said she was headed to Hollywood where all her dreams will come true. Jade then said she was destined for greatness and she was that bitch.
10. Tay Conti vs. Labrava. This was Labrava’ s AEW debut. Conti started with a pump kick to Labrava -KO then multiple judo throws. Later, Tay hit the Tay-KO for the pinfall.
Tay Conti beat Labrava by pinfall in 3:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Another showcase win for Tay, which was her 19th and she remains number second in the Women’s rankings.
11. Lee Johnson (w/Dustin Rhodes) vs. Jungle Boy (w/Luchasaurus). Jungle Boy received another great reaction from the crowd. They shook hands to start the match. The match was back and forth early with neither man really gaining an advantage. Johnson wound up on the apron and Jungle Boy leapt up in the air and hit a flying head scissors that sent Johnson outside. Lee caught Jungle Boy in a torture rack then spun Jungle Boy around in an airplane spin.
Johnson stopped then started again and made himself dizzy which allowed Jungle Boy to recover and hit Johnson with a DDT. Johnson quickly recovered then hit a Blue Thunder Bomb on Jungle Boy for a two count. Johnson charged Jungle Boy but hit a belly to belly that sent Johnson into the corner followed by a belly to back suplex for a two count. Jungle Boy held on then lifted Johnson to the top rope and tied Johnson to the Tree of Woe. Jungle Boy then hit Johnson with a low dropkick.
Jungle Boy attempted a pump-handle, but Johnson slipped out with an inside cradle for a 2-count followed by a DVD and a superkick for a 2 count. Johnson then started to punch himself in the face for motivation. Jungle Boy then hit a brainbuster and the pump-handle DVD for a two count. Johnson avoided a clothesline and attempted to roll up Jungle Boy for a 2 count. They traded cradles and two counts until Jungle Boy was able to lock Johnson in for the final three count.
Jungle Boy beat Lee Johnson by pinfall in 8:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A really good back and forth match with both men looking good. A strong candidate for match of the night. It was mentioned that this was Johnson’s first AEW match to be held outside of Daily’s Place.
A video aired on Miro recapping his title reign up until this point. Miro called himself the Redeemer and the undefeated TNT Champion. He wants to be God’s favorite champion. This title has made Miro different so he will change it as it changed him.
12. Red Velvet vs. Leila Grey. Late in the match Velvet hit the Chef’s kiss roundhouse kick for the pinfall.
Red Velvet beat Leila Grey by pinfall in 3:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A showcase win for Red Velvet, who also made her first AEW appearance outside Daily’s Place.
Jora Johl was backstage and was speaking Punjabi. He said since the day Matt Hardy gave him this offer, he had been thinking about it. And he accepted the offer. He said he was doing it so he can reach his dreams and also reach for the dreams of India and be a role model. Tonight is his first test from Matt Hardy and they are dreams fulfilled.
13. Jora Johl and “Private Party” Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen vs. Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor and Wheeler Yuta. Private Party wanted Johl to take off his vest as he was wearing a Milwaukee Bucks jersey underneath. Taylor and Kassidy started the match. After a bodyslam from Taylor, Kassidy tagged in Johl. Johl took off his jersey and Private Party told him to put it back on and then Quen tagged in. Yuta also tagged in. As Yuta was sent into the ropes, Kassidy lifted the ropes and Yuta fell through onto the floor. Quen dove on top of Yuta who was still outside the ring.
Private Party tagged in and out while ignoring Johl. Yuta was able to dropkick both Kassidy and Quen and Johl is finally tagged back in, Johl took off the jersey and Yuta tagged in Orange Cassidy for the first time. Johl and Cassidy traded standing switches then Cassidy sent Johl into a high knee from Taylor who had blind tagged Cassidy. Cassidy with a Tope Suicida onto Quen as Taylor hit a uranage to Johl and tagged in Yuta.
Yuta climbed the top rope and hit Johl with a splash for a two count that Kassidy broke up. Private Party then hit Silly String on Yuta and threw Johl on top to make the pin attempt. Quen from outside the ring held Yuta so Johl could hit Yuta. Johl hesitated and Orange Cassidy came up behind Quen and hit Quen with the Orange Punch. Yuta then rolled up Johl for the pinfall.
Wheeler Yuta, Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy beat Jora Johl, Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen by pinfall in 6:00.
After the match Private Party yelled at Johl and dragged him off.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A decent match that was back and forth throughout. The story was that this was Johl’s first attempt at impressing the HFO but not wanting to go along with what the HFO and especially Private Party wanted.
14. Hikaru Shida vs. Julia Hart (w/Varsity Blonds). Shida took control early hitting her running knee strike on Hart. Shida called for Hart to attack her with forearms to no effect. Hart was able to hit a couple of clotheslines and her split leg drop for a two count. Shida attempted a bulldog but Julia landed in a split and then rolled up Shida for a two count. Hart was then able to land a couple of kicks but then Shida caught Hart’s leg and slammed Hart knee first to the mat. Shida then locked in the Full Metal Muffler and Hart quickly tapped out.
Hikaru Shida beat Julia Hart by submission in 4:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good outing for both women though Hart’s inexperience came through a couple of times. As young as Hart is though that is to be expected and working with talents like Shida will only help Hart to improve even more.
15. Angelico (w/Isiah Kassidy, Marq Quen, Matt Hardy) vs. Darby Allin (w/Sting). Darby and Sting received the monster pop as expected. Fast paced back and forth to start. Angelico took over when Darby leaped off the top rope and landed on his leg badly. Angelico immediately started to work on Darby’s bad leg. Darby broke free by working on Angelico’s arm and wrist. Angelico with a roundhouse kick that dropped Darby. Angelico then lifted Darby in a modified Texas Cloverleaf and spun Darby.
Angelico continued to work on Darby’s leg using his arms to lock in a modified figure four as Tony and Paul explained it. Angelico lifted Darby onto the top rope but Darby grabbed Angelico by the wrist and threw him to the mat. Darby then came off the middle rope for a sunset flip for a two count followed by a couple of other quick roll up for two counts. Darby then hit a flipping cutter on Angelico then climbed on the top rope and hit the Coffin Drop for the pinfall.
Darby Allin beat Angelico by pinfall in 6:30.
After the match, Matt Hardy and Private Party entered the ring. Christian Cage ran out and chased off Hardy as Sting hit Stinger splashes on Quen and Kassidy. Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky came out and stared down Darby and Sting. Sting then took the mic and said he didn’t need the mic but it felt good anyways. He said it was great to be back in Miami with Darby. The crowd then chanted for Darby. Sting said AEW wins again (?). The fans started to chant A-E-W. Darby then took the mic and said Wednesday will be AEW’s first coffin match and it will be Darby’s pleasure to close the coffin on Ethan Page.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Now that is how you send a crowd home happy from the end of a Dynamite taping. As for the match it was a good back and forth match and I wouldn’t mind seeing it in a longer form without the HFO hanging around. Overall, this was a good and yet needlessly long episode of Elevation. The show clocked in at an hour 53 minutes (which is still less than Dark on Tuesdays most times).
This was pushed as a loaded episode and in that aspect they did not lie. The matches of the night go to Jungle Boy vs. Lee Johnson and Darby Allin vs. Angelico. We also had a few storyline developments with Jora Johl joining the HFO, and the start of The Acclaimed and the Varsity Blonds program. Again, I really hope they have a program and not a one and done match. We also had seven women’s matches, which was great. Again, though, can we have the signed members working against each other?
The Shida vs. Hart match was the only one of the seven between two contracted talents (at least I think Hart is signed). I understand Riho (to a point), Yuka Sakazaki, and Red Velvet having showcase matches, but it seems that’s all Tay Conti and Thunder Rosa have been doing lately. I hope they start to mix up those matches soon and give us maybe Tay Conti vs Red Velvet or Thunder Rosa vs. Leyla Hirsch.