By Rich Bailin, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@RichBailin)
AEW Dark: Elevation (Episode 23)
Taped August 11, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at Petersen Events Center
Streamed August 16, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
Tony Schiavone and Paul Wight welcomed us to Elevation. Schiavone thanked Wight for everything he has done and hyped the main event of Lucha Brothers and TH2. Schiavone also said Eddie Kingston would be joining them later. Justin Roberts was the ring announcer.
1. “2.0” Matt Lee and Jeff Parker vs. Duke Davis and Ganon Jones. Parker went to stomp Davis who was on the mat, but Davis grabbed Parker’s foot and stood up. Davis then pushed Parker into 2.0’s corner then tagged in Jones, while Parker tagged in Lee. Jones worked over Lee and Parker but Lee was able to get a leg lock on Jones while Parker came off Lee’s back with an elbow drop. Lee tagged in Parker and then knocked Davis off the apron. Both Parker and Lee lifted up Jones and dropped him throat first on the ring ropes (Two For The Show). Parker covered Jones for the pinfall victory.
“2.0” Matt Lee and Jeff Parker defeated Duke Davis and Ganon Jones by pinfall in 3:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A basic showcase for Lee and Parker. They did show they can work with a larger team. The win puts 2.0 on the right track for their Texas Tornado match with Sting and Darby Allin on Dynamite.
2. Julia Hart vs. Diamante. As Hart made her entrance, Schiavone thanked Wight again for his help with QT Marshall last week. Wight said he would address QT a little more on Dynamite. Later, Hart performed a standing moonsault for a two count. Diamante pulled herself up and blocked a bulldog attempt. Diamante slammed Hart to the ground with a handful of Julia’s hair, then went to the corner and pulled off the top turnbuckle. As the referee went to put the turnbuckle back up Diamante went to the opposite corner and grabbed a chain which was in the middle turnbuckle and punched Hart for the pinfall.
Diamante pinned Julia Hart in 5:00.
After the match, Hart tried to plead her case to the referee. Diamante saw this happening and started to attack Hart again. Big Swole ran out to chase Diamante off but not before getting a couple of shots in.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good back and forth match with an unnecessary ending as it didn’t feel like Diamante was in enough trouble at the time to cheat. The post-match attack continued the issues between Swole and Diamante which was nice to see.
Before the next match they showed Joey Janela’s attack on Sonny Kiss last week.
3. Joey Janela vs Alan “5” Angels. Angels came out to a good reaction with the rest of the Dark Order. They left quickly before the bell rang but Paul mentioned that they seemed to be arguing off camera. As the bell rang Angels ran right into a superkick from Janela. Janela then threw Angels over the top rope. Later, Janela hit Angels with a brainbuster and lifted Angels up on his shoulder and said “It’s Over” Angels slipped out and pushed Janela into the ropes and when Janela came off hit Angels hit a Spanish Fly. Angels attempted to hit the wing snapper but Janela rolled him up for a two count. They traded pinfall attempts until Janela holds on to Angel’s tights and gets the pinfall.
Joey Janela beat Alan “5” Angels by pinfall in 4:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good back and forth match with Janela showing a more aggressive side while he was on offense.
4. Kiera Hogan vs Hikaru Shida. Hogan did not receive a televised entrance. Hogan attempted a shoulder tackle early but Shida didn’t budge. Hogan told Shida to run the ropes and, as Shida did, Hogan grabbed Shida’s hair and pulled her down to the mat. Later, Hogan hit a low single leg kick to Shida’s face which garnered a two count. After some more back and forth including a spinning front chancery by Shida to Hogan, Shida lifted up Hogan and hit the Falcon Arrow for the pinfall.
Hikaru Shida defeated Kiera Hogan by pinfall in 5:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Hogan had a good first showing and while this is probably true, Schiavone and Wight acted like they didn’t know who she was despite her being an Impact Wrestling regular. Tomorrow, I expect Excalibur to tell us more about Hogan than anyone else ever has when she faces Kris Statlander on AEW Dark. A good back and forth match. I do find it almost criminal that Shida has not had a match on Dynamite since losing the AEW Women’s Championship.
5. Lance Archer vs. Reggie Collins. Archer threw Collins down the ramp as his entrance music played. Archer threw Collins into the ring then out of the ring. Archer then powerbombed Collins on the apron before the bell even rang. Collins punched Archer to no effect and Archer leveled Collins with a lariat. Archer hit Collins with the Hellacoaster and put him in the corner. After a couple more forearms to Collins, Archer said “I think I’m done” and hit Collins with a Blackout from the top rope for the pinfall.
Lance Archer beat Reggie Collins by pinfall in 1:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A quick dominating showcase win for Archer. The crowd was behind him every step of the way.
6. Thunder Rosa vs. Ray Lyn. Rosa got her massive pop once again. Early in the match, Rosa draped Lyn over the top rope and then kicked Lyn on the back. Rosa locked Lyn in a rear naked choke but Lyn was able to break free with a snap mare. Lyn then locked in a reverse figure four leglock that Rosa reversed into a knee bar. A short time later Rosa picked up Lyn and hit the Fire Thunder Driver for the pinfall.
Thunder Rosa beat Ray Lyn by pinfall in 4:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Lyn was able to get in a little more offense than opponents do in a typical Thunder Rosa Elevation match but not by much. Rosa’s winning streak continues.
7. Pac vs. Anthony Bowens. Bowens came out to new music, but still wore his Acclaimed gear and carried the boom box. Pac got a very good reaction from the crowd. Later, Pac climbed up to the top rope and hit a missile dropkick on Bowens for a two count. Bowens reached out for a tag, then raked Pac’s eyes then hit a vertical suplex for a two count. Pac used Bowen’s momentum to hit a release German suplex then climbed up to the top rope and teased the Black Arrow. As the fans cheered, Pac shook his finger then hopped down and locked in the Brutalizer on Bowens for the submission win.
Pac defeated Anthony Bowens by submission in 7:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Another good back and forth match. The crowd was solidly behind Pac until he didn’t do the Black Arrow. It is a shame what happened to The Acclaimed. First, Bowens was injured so Max Caster worked singles for a while. Bowens came back and The Acclaimed got back to the top of the tag team ratings, and now Caster messed up with his rap. While I hope they wind up back together sooner than later, if that isn’t in the cards then Bowens has a good shot as a singles wrestler based on what I saw in this match. Working with guys like Pac will only help to make him better.
8. Brian Cage vs. Joey Keys. Eddie Kingston joined the commentary team. Page curled Keys early then tossed Keys over his head. Keys was able to hit a backstabber on Cage. A short time later Cage hit the Drill Claw for the pinfall.
Brian Cage beat Joey Keys by pinfall in 2:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: It wasn’t mentioned for obvious reasons, but Joe Keys is an ROH Dojo wrestler who I’ve also seen in Maryland Championship Wrestling for a number of years. He has been on the ROH TV show more recently and even teamed with The Foundation a couple of weeks back. None of that mattered to Cage, who made quick work of Keys leading into his own match on Dynamite against Ricky Starks.
9. Sammy Guevara vs Serpentico (w/Luther). Guevara hit a high knee that sent Serpentico back into the ring. As Guevara entered the ring, Serpentico was able to hook Guevara and drop him to the mat for a two count. Guevara rolled to the ring apron, but Serpentico jumped over the top rope and hit a double stomp to Guevara’s midsection. Guevara rolled to the floor and then moved as Serpentico dove over the top rope, causing him to hit Luther instead. Guevara dove over the top rope onto both Serpentico and Luther. A short time later, Guevara hit Serpentico with another high knee then lifted him up for the GTH (Go to Hell) and the pinfall.
Sammy Guevara beat Serpentico by pinfall in 5:30.
After the match Guevara backed up the ramp and Shawn Spears ran out and attacked him. Tully Blanchard followed, carrying a chair. Spears picked up Guevara and hit him with the C4 on top of the steel chair.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A slightly longer than expected match with Serpentico getting a bit more offense than expected. The post-match attack by Spears was simple and logical leading into his match against Guevara on Dynamite.
10. Jade Cargill vs. Katie Arquette. Arquette was announced as being from Pittsburgh and received a hometown pop. Arquette hit a couple of back elbows and celebrated, but Cargill came back with a pump kick followed by a slingshot that looked like Arquette was supposed to hit the corner but instead hit face first on the ring rope. Kingston and Wight said they liked that better. Cargill lifted up Arquette for a pump-handle flip slam followed by Jaded for the pinfall.
Jade Cargill beat Katie Arquette by pinfall in 2:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: I have never been in the ring, so I don’t necessarily enjoy critiquing performers’ work. That said, this was very rough in spots and I’m not sure if it was Cargill’s inexperience or nerves from Arquette. On the first slam Jade attempted, it looked like she almost dropped Arquette. The slingshot did not look good at all. Again, I have never been in the ring, so maybe I’m wrong and this went as planned.
11. Angelico and Jack Evans vs. Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero Miedo (w/Pac, Alex Abrahantes). Fenix and Angelico started the match as the fans chanted Cero Miedo. Fenix tied up Angelico early until Evans came in and kicked Fenix. Fenix and Angelico continued to go move for move until they wound up face to face. Fenix extended his hand to Angelico but Angelico kicked it away and both men tag out. Penta did his usual Cero Miedo to Evans and Evans responded with a spin kick the Penta ducked. Penta then dropkicked Evans in the midsection as Evens went to bounce off the ropes.
Penta charged the corner where Evans was but Evans moved out of the way then was able to hit a spin kick on Penta that sent Penta outside the ring. Evens went for a baseball slide into Penta but Penta moved out of the way and Evans wound up outside the ring as well. Evans charged and Penta backdropped Evans into the ropes and kicked Evans in the midsection again. Penta made the tag to Fenix and they did the assisted splash on Evans. Fenix sent Evans into the ropes and charged but Evans backdropped Fenix who landed on his feet on the ring apron. Angelico took out Fenix’s legs.
Evans and hit a series of double team moves on Fenix. Angelico then tied up Fenix in what was called a Delfin clutch but Penta kicked Angelico on the head to break up the hold. Angelico lifted up Fenix as Evans climbed the top rope. Evans came off the top rope with a double stomp while Angelico hit a back body drop on Fenix. Evans then kicked Penta to knock Penta off the apron. Evans did a flipping moonsault on Fenix for a two count. Evans and Angelico attempted an Irish whip on Fenix but Fenix blocked it by hooking his leg on the bottom rope.
Fenix then started to fight his way back to Penta hitting kicks to both Evans and Angelico. Fenix then hit his leaping cutter on Angelico and made the tag to Penta. Penta hit a slingblade on Angelico and then another on Evans. A short time later Evans jumped off the top rope but landed into a superkick from Fenix. Fenix then tagged in Penta and they hit the assisted Fear Factor on Evans. Fenix then dove over the top rope onto Angelico as Penta made the pinfall.
Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero Miedo defeated Angelico and Jack Evans in 10:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: So, I’m guessing the Hardy Family Office wants nothing to do with the Death Triangle, as Evans and Angelico came out alone for the first time in weeks. Seriously, though, and for the second week in a row, a Lucha Brothers match was the match of the night. No real surprise there though.
This was a better than average episode of Elevation and they managed to keep the tough Pittsburgh crowd invested throughout. I also enjoyed that we didn’t get a card full of showcase/enhancement matches and we are seeing more matches with contracted talent facing one another.
This episode was slightly longer than the last couple of weeks at an hour and 21 minutes, which was expected as well. It felt like a quick watch though and I was also entertained throughout more so than I have been some weeks.