By Rich Bailin, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@RichBailin)
AEW Dark: Elevation (Episode 21)
Taped July 28, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina at Bojangles Coliseum
Streamed August 2, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
This week’s Elevation began with a re-airing of Tony Schiavone announcing Rampage for the United Center complete with the CM Punk chants that followed. The AEW Rampage trailer aired…
Tony Schiavone, Paul Wight and Eddie Kingston were at the commentary desk. Wight had to show off his Wingmen T-shirt as he lost a bet. Schiavone brought us back to the lineup for the show and sent it to ring announcer Justin Roberts…
1. Red Velvet vs. Angelica Risk. Velvet locked in an armbar early but Risk with a knee to escape. Risk sent Velvet to the corner then hit a couple of kicks and an enziguri to knock Velvet down. Risk then started to twerk and then tried to ram herself into Velvet, who moved out of the way. A short time later Velvet hit the Final Slice for the pinfall victory.
Red Velvet defeated Angelica Risk by pinfall in 2:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A quick showcase for Red Velvet to get us started this week on Elevation.
2. Lee Johnson (w/Dustin Rhodes) vs. Markus Cross. Johnson took over early with a dropkick. Johnson then went to lift Kross but Kross was able to roll Johnson up with a one count. Kross followed up with a couple of kicks to Johnson. Kross set up for a Dragonball punch but Johnson moved out of the way and hit Kross with a couple of superkicks. Johnson then lifted Kross and hit Brain Dog for the pinfall.
Lee Johnson defeated Markus Cross by pinfall 1:30.
After the match Miro came out with a microphone. Miro congratulated Johnson but said Johnson cannot take what is divinely Miro’s. Miro said Johnson’s career started in Jacksonville, but at Homecoming it is where he will be put to rest. Miro ended by saying this is the word of the Redeemer.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A simple showcase for Johnson and effective buildup post-match for the TNT title match this Wednesday.
Kris Statlander was backstage and greeted us Earthlings. She said she was gracing our screens once again. Since she has been back, she has been faster, more powerful, more galactic. She said sometimes your internal gravitational pull draws you to something and you don’t know why until you get there. And now it is time for her to become AEW Women’s Champion and she will be our leader eventually. She said her relationship with Best Friends works because they have one of the strongest bonds of any interspecies factions in the galaxy. She said they get each other by not fully understanding each other. They are an assimilating melting pot of quirks and it works. She then creeped closer to the camera…
3. Ashley D’Amboise vs. Kris Statlander (w/Chuck Taylor, Wheeler Yuta and Orange Cassidy). David Crockett joined the commentary team. Statlander did a cartwheel out of an armbar then cartwheeled around the ring to avoid D’Amboise. Statlander then bopped D’Amboise in the nose which D’Amboise did not like. D’Amboise drove her knee into Statlander’s stomach then went for an Irish whip that Statlander reversed into a power slam.
Statlander sent D’Amboise into the corner and charged but D’Amboise got the foot up. D’Amboise got on the second rope but Statlander lifted D’Amboise onto her shoulders and dropped D’Amboise with a face plant followed by a German suplex. Statlander then hit the Big Bang Theory for the pinfall.
Kris Statlander beat Ashley D’Amboise by pinfall in 2:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Statlander’s promo was a deep dive into her character and relationship with Best Friends that we have not heard before. While her character may not be for everyone, there was no denying that she spoke with a confidence that she hasn’t shown until this point. The match was another quick showcase to continue Statlander’s winning streak.
4. Rosario Grillo and Hunter Knott vs. Aaron Solo and Nick Comoroto (w/QT Marshall). Marshall joined the commentary desk. Marshall said he was saving the apology to Schiavone for Dynamite: Homecoming this Wednesday night. Grillo and Solo started the match. Solo took control early with a bodyslam and knee drop. Grillo was able to make the tag and Knott hit a low dropkick to Solo. Knott sent Solo to the ropes and Comoroto made the blind tag. As Knott bounced off the ropes, he was met with a clothesline by Comoroto.
Comoroto hit a Death Valley Driver into a backbreaker and threw Grillo into the ring. Comoroto setup Knott for a suplex but then also lifted Grillo with one hand and slammed him the mat. Comoroto then suplexed Knott onto Grillo. Comoroto tagged in Solo who climbed the top rope. Comoroto then hit Knott with a backbreaker but held on so that Solo could come off with the double stomp for the pinfall.
Nick Comoroto and Aaron Solow beat Rosario Grillo and Hunter Knight by pinfall in 2:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Another quick showcase match. Not much else to say about this one. It was a very odd explanation for Marshall being on commentary with Tony Schiavone and not apologizing while instead waiting for the big moment on Dynamite. As I have said, I fully expect Paul Wight to get physical in this segment and that’s why they are holding it for Dynamite. This whole story would be a perfect fit to stay on Dark Elevation.
5. Dani Jordyn vs. Yuka Sakazaki. Yuka took over early with a flying head scissors to send Jordyn outside the ring. Yuka then hit a cannonball off the second rope to Jordyn then threw Jordyn back into the ring. Yuka then went for her snap mare into a kick combo but Jordyn ducked the kick and hit Yuka with a dropkick. Jordyn suplexed Yuka out of the corner then sent Yuka into another corner. Jordyn charged but Yuka did a cartwheel off the top rope to move out of the way and hit Jordyn with a dropkick of her own.
Yuka went for a suplex but Jordyn held on and hit Yuka with a thrust kick. Jordyn then charged Yuka but was caught and slammed to the mat. Yuka climbed the middle of the top rope for her magical girl splash but Jordyn knocked her down then suplexed Yuka for a two count. Jordyn hit Yuka with a face plant for another two count. Yuka then hit Jordyn with a couple of forearm smashes then lifted Jordyn for an airplane spin and dropped her for the pinfall.
Yuka Sakazaki defeated Dani Jordyn by pinfall in 5:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: This was the most competitive match so far. Obviously, the result was never in doubt. They had a couple of moments that didn’t quite click, but nothing that really hurt the match and, in some ways, added a bit of realism.
6. Darby Allin (w/Sting) vs. Bear Bronson (w/Bear Boulder). Both men received televised entrances. Darby received the pop of the night. Allin hit Bronson with a shotgun dropkick immediately after the bell rang. Allin continued to charge at Bronson who kept throwing Allin off. Allin attempted a Coffin drop from the middle rope but Bronson caught Allin and slammed him to the mat. Allin retreated to the corner but Bronson pulled him out and locked in a bear hug. Bronson then slammed Allin to the mat and hit a back senton for a two count.
Bronson slowed the pace and landed forearms on Allin who was draped across the bottom rope. Bronson then lifted Allin into another bear hug. Allin repeatedly slapped Bronson in the face to get Brinson to release the hold. Bronson went to lift Allin for a belly to back suplex but Allin flipped out and chop blocked Bronson. Allin then hit Bronson with a Destroyer for a near fall. Allin then started bending Bronson’s fingers back but Bronson punched out of it and continued to pummel Darby with front and back clotheslines all while making sure Allin didn’t fall. Allin then ducked a running clothesline but was then turned inside out by another clothesline for another near fall. Bronson lifted Allin onto the top rope, Darby tried to fight out with back elbows but Bronson kept landing shots to Allin.
Bronson climbed the ropes and was going to suplex Allin to the mat but Allin reversed the momentum and landed on top of Bronson. Allin then locked in a sleeper onto Bronson. Bronson powered out and hit a cannonball in the corner with Allin on his back. Both men rolled outside the ring and Sting and Boulder helped their men back into the ring. Sting and boulder had a brief staredown without incident. Bronson lifted Allin and slammed him into the turnbuckle but held on to slam Allin to the mat. Allin reversed it into a stunner. Allin then hit a second rope coffin drop followed by the top rope coffin drop for the pinfall.
Darby Allin beat Bear Bronson by pinfall in 9:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Good big man/little man match, as most of Darby’s matches tend to be. Bronson was given a lot of offense and a couple of near falls, but there was no doubt this would end with Darby’s hand raised.
Overall, this was a very quick episode of Elevation. To be honest, I expected a shorter episode as they loaded up AEW Dark instead this week for that online show’s 100th episode. This was also a largely missable episode of Elevation. Not a lot happened beyond the good main event and hearing David Crockett on commentary. For an older fan like me who grew up on NWA/WCW, that was a nice little added bonus.