By Rich Bailin, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@RichBailin)
AEW Dark: Elevation (Episode 20)
Taped in July 21, 2021 in Garland, Texas at the Curtis Culwell Center
Streamed July 26, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
The broadcast team of Tony Schiavone, Paul Wight and Eddie Kingston introduced the show and mentioned a few of the matches that would be airing. Schiavone said Kingston would be joining them for a portion of the show, then sent it to ring announcer Justin Roberts as Marq Quen made his entrance for the opening match…
1. Jungleboy (w/Luchasaurus, Marko Stunt) vs. Marq Quen (w/Isiah Kassidy, Angelico, Jora Johl). Kingston mentioned how Quen was trained by Amazing Red. Kassidy hopped up on the apron and attempted the silly string but Jungle Boy slipped out and pushed Quen into Kassidy. Jungle Boy chopped Quen and the third chop sent Quen over the top rope. Quen flipped back into the ring with a forearm that rattled Jungle Boy.
Later, Quen got up and hit an Asai moonsault from the top rope onto Luchasaurus who was on the floor. Quen and Jungle Boy then clotheslined each other. Both men make it in the ring by the count of 9. Jungle Boy hit a thrust kick that sent Quen to the corner. Jungle Boy charged and Quen flipped him onto the apron. Jungle Boy leapt up to the top rope but Quen hit Jungle Boy with a Pele Kick. They battled on the top rope with Jungle Boy getting the advantage and knocking Quen down.
Quen distracted the referee as Kassidy snuck into the ring and so did Marko Stunt. The ref saw Stunt and removed him from the ring but Kassidy snuck back in and he and Quen hit Gin and Juice onto Jungle Boy for a two count. Quen went up to the top rope again and attempted a shooting star press but Jungle Boy rolled out of the way and immediately locked in the snare trap on Quen for the submission victory.
Jungleboy beat Marq Quen by submission in 9:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good back and forth match and probably the right match to start the Elevation tapings with. I personally could have done without everyone at ringside and maybe AEW should consider making it a rule that everyone can only have one other person with them at ringside. I doubt it will happen but there is no doubt it would be less of a distraction.
An ad for AEW Elite General Manager aired.
2. Amber Nova vs. Yuka Sakazaki. Nova slipped out of a vertical suplex attempt and hit a neckbreaker on Yuka for a two count. Nova then mounted Yuka with punches. Nova then took her mechanic’s rag and wiped her hands and face and then shoved it in Sakazaki’ s face. Nova hit a Northern lights suplex that caught Yuka for a two count. Yuka took over with a second rope back elbow then a missile dropkick off the top rope for a count of two. Yuka then slammed Nova to the ground and attempted her magical girl splash. Nova got her knees up and rolled up Yuka for a two count. Yuka hit a rolling elbow then lifted Nova up in a torture rack and into an airplane spin. Yuka slammed Nova down and got the pinfall
Yuka Sakazaki defeated Amber Nova by pinfall in 5:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: An ok back and forth match. Nova received a little more offense than I expected. Nova needs to work on her punches but other than that the match was fine for what it was.
3. Thunder Rosa vs. Myka Madrid. Rosa received her now weekly massive pop. Rosa then dominated the majority of the match. Rosa then locked in the Peruvian Calavera choke for the submission victory.
Thunder Rosa beat Myka Madrid by submission in 4:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Another week, same result. It makes sense to have her out there every week as you can argue she gets the loudest reaction of the night. But now that Rosa is “All Elite” though, please let her face other talents who are the same.
4. Luchasaurus vs. Jora Johl (w/Hardy Family Office).Luchasaurus came to the ring alone. Angelico got on the apron so Luchasaurus chokeslammed him on the other members of HFO. Luchasaurus then hit his spin kick on Johl for the quick pinfall.
Luchasaurus beat Jora Johl by pinfall in 1:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A quick win for Luchasaurus this week.
5. Scorpio Sky vs. Fuego Del Sol. Del Sol received another televised entrance this week and also got a great reaction as well. Sky hit a back elbow on Fuego early. Sky then attempted a backbreaker that Fuego slipped out of. Del Sol then hit a dropkick followed by a couple of armdrags. Fuego ran the ropes and avoided a couple of Sky’s strikes but Sky then hit a knee to Del Sol’s face followed by a double thrust to Del Sol’s throat.
Sky toyed with Fuego as the crowd chanted for Fuego. Fuego tried to fight back but Sky hit a backbreaker then went after Del Sol’s mask. The referee talked down to Sky and the distraction allowed Del Sol to hit Sky with an elbow. Del Sol landed a middle rope dropkick followed by an enzuigiri. Sky retreated to the corner but Del Sol speared him. Del Sol charged again but Sky moved and Del Sol’s head hit the top turnbuckle.
Sky attempted a TKO but Del Sol flipped out of it. Sky charged towards Del Sol but Del Sol pulled down the top rope and Sky wound up outside the ring. Del Sol hit a springboard moonsault and rolled Sky back into the ring. Fuego attempted the Tornado DDT but Sky slipped out then hit a big boot to Del Sol. Sky followed up with the TKO for the pinfall.
Scorpio Sky beat Fuego Del Sol by pinfall in 5:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: An okay back and forth match. Schiavone called Del Sol’s popularity part of a grassroots movement and it is hard to argue that. I don’t know if he would be a priority to sign at this point but his popularity has to at least make Tony Khan think about it. The only problem I see is we already have Marko Stunt and Alan ‘5” Angels as the undersized fight from behind babyfaces. I’ll take the heat for that comment but it’s hard to argue that those three don’t play similar roles.
6. Angelico vs. Marko Stunt. Marko and Angelico both came to the ring alone this time. Out of an Irish whip Stunt hit a tilt a whirl armdrag on Angelico who responded with a tilt a whirl backbreaker on Stunt. Angelico toyed with Stunt then locked him up in a submission. Stunt held on to the bottom rope as Angelico tried to grab him. Angelico went onto the ring apron and Stunt rolled back into the ring. As Angelico entered the ring Stunt kicked the middle rope to hit Angelico low.
Stunt went on the offensive with punches then hit a running dropkick and then a running boot to the face to Angelico who was in the corner. Stunt slid underneath Angelico then hit a splash onto Angelico from the middle rope. Stunt then was able to hit a springboard huracanrana. Angelico rolled to the floor but Stunt flew thru the ropes with a spinning DDT. Stunt then hit an elbow onto Angelico from the top rope. Stunt came off the ropes but was met by a big boot from Angelico. Angelico then lifted Stunt in a torture rack/arm lock for the submission win
Angelico beat Marko Stunt by pinfall in 4:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Stunt had the majority of offense in this one. When Stunt landed the spinning DDT, Wight said good thing it wasn’t a tornado DDT or Fuego would be upset. Result was never in doubt but they made the most of the time they had.
Tony Schiavone sent it to a video recapping the issues between Kris Statlander and The Bunny.
The Bunny was backstage with Alex Marvez. The Bunny asked if Marvez called her or The Blade losers. Bunny said that the only reason Blade lost was because of the alien. Bunny asked if Marvez ever had the urge to rip someone’s face off. Marvez said no. She said that is exactly what she will do to E.T. then drag her down the rabbit hole. She told Marvez that sounded like sweet revenge.
7. Tay Conti and Kris Statlander vs. The Bunny and Madi Wrenkowski. Statlander and The Bunny started the match but Bunny refused to lock up and tagged in Wrenkowski. Bunny then pushed Madi into Statlander. Statlander tagged in Conti who hit a series of Judo throws on Wrenkowski. Statlander and Conti used double team and quick tags on Wrenkowski.
Wrenkowski reversed an Irish whip and The Bunny kicked Conti in the back. Conti turned around and hit The Bunny then slammed Bunny’s head into the top turnbuckle. Wrenkowski drove Conti into the same turnbuckle then threw Conti down to the mat. Bunny tagged in and took control on Conti. Bunny tagged Wrenkowski back in but she missed a corner splash. Conti lifted Wrenkowski and slammed Wrenkowski onto Conti’s knee. They both got up and kicked each other.
Conti and Wrenkowski both made tags and Statlander and the Bunny went at it trading punches. Statlander went for the Big Bang Theory but Bunny rolled out and rolled up Statlander for a two count. Bunny hit a superkick to Statlander for a two count. Bunny tried to lift Statlander but Statlander got out and pushed Bunny into Bunny’s corner.
Wrenkowski tagged in and was met with a powerslam by Statlander for a two count. Bunny broke up the count and Conti ran into the ring. Conti and Statlander had The Bunny and Wrenkowski in opposite corners. Conti and Statlander then ran around the ring a couple of times kicking The Bunny and Wrenkowski in the face as they went around. Conti then hit Wrenkowski with a superkick into a Big Bang Theory by Statlander for the pinfall.
Tay Conti and Kris Statlander beat The Bunny and Madi Wrenkowski by pinfall in 6:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: So now Conti is going to be in random tag matches? That being said, this was a good back and forth match. And it was good to see Conti and The Bunny go at it. Kingston was really putting over Statlander during the match guaranteeing a Championship run in two years and calling the Big Bang Theory the most dangerous move in wrestling.
Jake Hager made his entrance and then joined Schiavone and Wight on commentary. Kingston had left. Hager said he may be in a fighting mood.
8. Bear Bronson vs. Wardlow. Bronson received a televised entrance. Wardlow had his back turned to Bronson as Bronson entered the ring. Wardlow then flipped off Hager as the match started. Bronson and Wardlow traded punches. Wardlow with a go behind into a release German suplex followed by a vertical suplex. Wardlow went to lift Bronson but Bronson backdropped out of it and sat on Wardlow for a two count. Bronson clubbed Wardlow in the front and back and Wardlow would not go down.
Bronson ran the ropes to charge Wardlow but Wardlow met Bronson with a lariat. Wardlow rammed Bronson into the corner and hit a series of shoulder blocks and elbows. Wardlow then carried Bronson to mid ring and hit a spinebuster. Wardlow then hoisted Bronson to the top rope and hit the Casualty of War for the knockout victory.
Wardlow defeated Bear Bronson by ref stoppage in 4:30.
After the match, Wardlow and Hager stared each other down.
Bailin’s Breakdown: More of a test for Wardlow than we typically see on Elevation. A good but quick back and forth “big man” match.
Alex Marvez was backstage with James Darnell, who won the Elite General Manager contest. Since he won, Darnell was allowed to pick Lee Johnson’s opponent and if Johnson wins he gets a shot at Miro for the TNT Title at the Homecoming show next week on Dynamite. Darnell chose Luther. Aubrey Edwards presented James with a title belt.
9. Luther (w/Serpentico) vs. Lee Johnson (w/Dustin Rhodes). Kingston was back on commentary for this match. Darnell was sitting in the front row. Johnson used his speed early to take early control. Johnson attempted an Irish whip but Luther hit a drop toe hold and sent Johnson outside the ring. Serpentico held Luther so Luther could do a cannonball to Johnson. Luther threw Serpentico into Dustin Rhodes but Dustin didn’t move.
Serpentico backed off and Luther drug Johnson over to Darnell. Luther wanted Darnell to hit Johnson but instead Darnell rubbed Johnson’s face. Luther then sent Johnson back into the ring. Luther hit a double underhook suplex for a two count. Luther attempted a back senton but Johnson rolled out of the way. Serpentico entered the ring and Luther tried to bodyslam Serpentico onto Johnson a couple of times but Johnson rolled out of the way again. Luther then threw Serpentico and Johnson who flipped Serpentico over the top rope. Johnson then hit a step up enziguri followed by a superkick and a bodyslam. Johnson hit Luther with lefts and rights then charged at Luther but Luther hit Johnson with the big boot for a two count.
Luther was going to go up to the top rope but Johnson kicked Luther. Johnson then hit Luther a couple of more times before Luther fell on top of Serpentico. Johnson landed a Tope con Hilo onto both Luther and Serpentico then sent Luther back into the ring. Johnson then went on the top rope and did a spinning dive onto Luther for the pinfall
Lee Johnson beat Luther by pinfall in 7:00 to earn a TNT Championship match.
After the match, Miro made his entrance. Miro said tonight the fans picked his last opponent, his next opponent was chosen by God. Miro said at Homecoming, Johnson was next against the wall.
An ad for Rampage aired.
Bailin’s Breakdown: I hope Johnson is ok after that finish. It looked like he landed on the back of his head and neck. It would have been more impressive looking had it hit clean. Miro coming out was a simple set up for the TNT Title match coming at AEW Homecoming.
10. Eddie Kingston vs. Serpentico. Serpentico made his entrance alone selling the effects of “helping” Luther in the previous match. Serpentico started the match landing a couple of dropkicks that dazed Kingston. Serpentico then chopped Kingston to no effect. Kingston then chopped Serpentico and Serpentico fell flat down. Kingston with a knee to Serpentico midsection and Serpentico rolled outside the ring. Kingston followed. Kingston threw Serpentico around the ringside area.
Kingston threw Serpentico back into the ring and as Kingston re entered Serpentico kicked Kingston in the knee. A short time later Serpentico climbed to the top rope and hit a cross body block for a two count. Serpentico went up to the top rope again but was caught by Kingston who hit a pair of side suplexes followed by the spinning back fist for the pinfall.
Eddie Kingston beat Serpentico by pinfall in 4:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: I thought this match would be even quicker than it was. Serpentico put up a good fight. Kingston tries to make everyone he’s in the ring with look good. Also, Schiavone and Wight spoke about QT Marshall and his apology for Schiavone on Dynamite. I still think this is where Wight gets physically involved for the first time in AEW.
An ad for All Out aired.
Jade Cargill and “Smart” Mark Sterling made their entrance. Sterling introduced himself and Jade. Sterling said the BBQ in Texas sucked and that he prefers Vegan. They were having a great time in Hollywood but had to fly back to Texas for a big opportunity for Jade and the people at home. They are looking for the next great partner for the #JadeBrand. He asked who wouldn’t want to team with Cargill and she will be the next great crossover star in the sport of wrestling. For monetary purposes, Jade said she was that bitch.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Ok enough of this. It’s the same thing every week now with Cargill and Sterling. Judging by the fans in attendance they agree with me. I hope it leads somewhere soon because I don’t see the AEW fanbase even caring if Cargill is not good enough in the ring. I don’t know if she is or not at this point. There is no doubt she does have some crossover potential but if she doesn’t wrestle then is it really a crossover?
11. Dark Order’s Alan “5” Angels and 10 vs. Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero Miedo. Fenix and 5 started the match. They traded holds and used their speed early with neither gaining an advantage. Fenix showed 5 some respect with a bow then they both tagged in their partners. After Penta did his normal schtick, 10 lifted Penta and drove him into the corner and Penta. After a kick by 10 to Penta, Fenix ran in and punched 10. Angels ran in and leveled Fenix with a forearm. Penta then with a slingblade to Angels.
Fenix and Penta take over with double team moves including a double stomp to 10’s back for a two count. Fenix lifted up 10 and 10 attempted a vertical suplex but Fenix hit 10 with a knee to the face which sent 10 into his corner. Angels tagged in and top rope cross body. Later Angel hit Fenix with a top rope Spanish Fly for a very close near fall. Finally, Penta and Fenix caught Angels in the double stomp Fear Factor for the pinfall.
Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero Miedo defeated Dark Order’s Alan “5” Angels and 10 in 9:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: This is not a complaint, but I am surprised that they went with this match as opposed to a spotlight match for the Lucha Brothers in their first match back as a team. It was a really good back and forth match, but everyone knew Lucha Brothers would be the ones with their hands raised. The fans did seem a little more subdued early, but by mid match they were back to their normal loud selves.
12. Brock Anderson and Billy and Colten Gunn vs. Izzy James, Cameron Cole and Chandler Hopkins. Late in the match Billy hit a Fameasser on Hopkins and then Colten followed with Colt 45 for the pinfall.
Brock Anderson and Billy and Colten Gunn beat Izzy James, Cameron Cole and Chandler Hopkins by pinfall in 4:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: This match should have been placed more at the beginning of the show than near the end.
13. Pac (w/Penta, Rey Fenix, Alex Abrahantes) vs. Chuck Taylor (w/Orange Cassidy, Wheeler Yuta). After some early back and forth, Taylor missed a dropkick as Pac held onto the ropes. Pac went after Taylor who backdropped Pac over the top rope followed by a plancha onto Pac. Taylor got a 1 count after a sit out slam. Taylor sent Pac into the corner but Pac kicked Taylor’s leg as Taylor approached. Pac sent Taylor outside and then rammed Taylor into the ringside barrier.
Pac slammed Taylor’s head into the ring apron a couple of times before sending Taylor back into the ring. Pac locked in a reverse chinlock followed by an elbow to the back of Taylor’s head. Pac continued to methodically work over Taylor. Pac climbed up top but Taylor moved out of the way as Pac landed on his feet. Taylor hit Pac with a lariat. Both men are down and get up at the count of five. They traded punches back and forth. The pace picked up with Taylor hitting Soul Food followed by Pac with a series of kicks and then Taylor hitting a sit0out powerbomb on Pac for a two count.
Taylor went up to the top rope but Pac jumped up and kicked Taylor in the head. Pac hit a superplex for a two count. Pac set up Taylor for the Black Arrow and climbed up top. Taylor popped up and Pac dropped down and hit Taylor with a shoulder tackle. Pac flipped over Taylor then charged but was met with a high knee by Taylor who was in the corner. Taylor then piledrove Pac for a two count. Taylor went for the Awful Waffle but Pac flipped out and hit Taylor with a thrust kick. Pac then climbed up to the top rope and hit Taylor with the Black Arrow for the pinfall.
Pac defeated Chuck Taylor by pinfall in 11:00.
After the match, Andrade El Idolo and Chavo Guerrero and their unnamed executive consultant made their entrance. Andrade teased coming to the ring by taking off his jewelry and walking toward the ring. Chavo talked Andrade down. Death Triangle stared them down as the show went off the air.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good back and forth match to end a long episode of Elevation. The Andrade tease was fine but there is no way his first physical contact with any member of the Death Triangle would be on Elevation.
Overall, this episode felt like a small downgrade over last week’s show. I mentioned last week how much of a difference the crowd has made. The big difference this week is 33 minutes. That is how much longer this episode was compared to last week’s show. I’m not saying the crowd was not hot because they definitely were, but by the main event you definitely could feel the difference. There were definite moments of silence and generally a more subdued crowd.
The shift started right around the Jade Cargill segment and continued throughout the rest of the show, which was about 40 minutes. I hope AEW recognizes this and goes back to 90 minutes or shorter for Elevation. It could be as simple as having the Jurassic Express/HFO matches happen consecutively and switch the order of the six-man tag and the Lucha Bros/Dark Order match. They could have potentially saved 10-15 minutes and still had all the matches and segments they wanted. My fear is when they do the live Rampage shows, they will have enough time to tape their first three-hour edition of Elevation. I hope I’m wrong.
I know this report has also been a little long but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the improvement that Eddie Kingston made to the commentary this week. He worked well with Schiavone and Wight and actually helped them along the way at times also. The matches of the night were the opening match and the main event. I also enjoyed the women’s tag match and the Dark Order vs. Lucha Brothers tag match.