By Rich Bailin, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@RichBailin)
AEW Dark: Elevation (Episode 30)
Taped September 22, 2021 in Queens, New York at Arthur Ashe Stadium
Streamed September 27, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
Tony Schiavone welcomed us to Elevation from New York City. He was joined on commentary by Mark Henry and Eddie Kingston. Justin Roberts was the ring announcer…
1. Kayla Sparks vs. Thunder Rosa. Rosa received a monster pop from the New York crowd. Sparks and Rosa got tied up in the corner and Sparks pushed Rosa on the break. Sparks then slapped Rosa which enraged Rosa. Sparks had a brief moment of offense before Rosa took over again. Late in the match, Rosa had Sparks draped over the middle rope and landed a pair of dropkicks. Rosa then lifted up Sparks into the Fire Thunder Driver for the pinfall.
Thunder Rosa defeated Kayla Sparks by pinfall in 3:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: I won’t go into my weekly Thunder Rosa rant, as AEW gave us some movement on her issues with Nyla Rose and Jade Cargill on Dynamite. As usual though, this was another fine Rosa showcase with the added benefit of the hot New York crowd. From here on out, I’ll just call the reaction she receives The Rosa Pop.
2. TJ Crawford, Eric James, Kevin Tibbs and Dean Alexander vs. John Silver, Alex Reynolds, Alan “5” Angels and 10. Silver and Crawford started the match. As the “enhancement” team tagged out, so would the Dark Order. The match broke down early when Angels was stuck in the “enhancement” corner and all the other members of the Dark Order entered. Each member of the Dark Order Irish whipped a member of the enhancement team and hit them with shoulder blocks.
The Dark Order continued to maintain control and after eliminating the other three members of the enhancement team they had James isolated. Silver tagged in 10 and Reynolds and Angels also came in the ring. First Angels hit the Wing Clipper into a double DDT from Silver and Reynolds and then 10 locked in the Full Nelson for the submission victory.
John Silver, Alex Reynolds, Alan “5” Angels and 10 defeated TJ Crawford, Eric James, Kevin Tibbs and Dean Alexander by submission in 6:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: This match went a little long for my taste, but understood based off of having to showcase four members of the Dark Order. There were no signs of dissension and they all looked to be on the same page. Evil Uno, Stu Grayson and Colt Cabana were not at ringside and did not appear during this match.
3. Paul Wight vs. CPA, VSK and RSP in a handicap match. VSK asked for a test of strength to start. As Wight laughed at VSK, the Gunn Club came out to watch from the ramp. Wight locked into a test of strength with CPA, and VSK and RSP and pushed them off. Wight chopped VSK and CPA. RSP hit Wight from behind to no effect and then RSP put his hands around Wight’s throat in an attempted chokeslam. Wight held onto RSP’s wrist and pushed him outside the ring. Wight delivered a couple more chops to CPA and VSK. RSP came back in the ring and attempted to hit Wight low, but Wight caught RSP’s leg and hit the Knockout punch. Wight picked up CPA and VSK and hit a double chokeslam and pinned them both.
Paul Wight defeated CPA, VSK and RSP by pinfall in 3:30
Bailin’s Breakdown: Not a lot to say about this one as it was all Wight. It was fun to hear over 20,000 fans go quiet when Wight would chop someone. The Ginn Club just watched from the ramp and did not get involved in any way.
After the match Schiavone said they weren’t done yet and would be looking back on Grand Slam. We will be hearing from Britt Baker, Daniel Bryan, MJF, and Men of the Year.
Britt Baker: Britt was asked how it felt to beat Ruby Soho. Britt said of course she beat her. Britt said she was happy Ruby got her two minutes to shine after the last four years, but Ruby’s time is already over and we are back to the era of D.M.D. She said those three letters are plastered all over the AEW history books as the first women’s main event on Dynamite and Rampage, and the first women’s main event title defense. What’s next? Britt doesn’t care because the three letters will remain the same no matter who, where, or when.
MJF: MJF cut off the interviewer when he said it was MJF’s hometown. MJF said Queens was not his hometown. He is from Plainview Long Island, New York. That’s when he will be in his hometown. He said he beat Brian Pillman Jr without breaking a sweat. He called for someone please stop him. He said one has been able to stop his momentum or beat him cleanly and it’s because he is better than you and you know it. MJF said without him, AEW isn’t shit. He said you can keep on bringing in guys that came from VKM, but the only 3 letters that matter in professional wrestling are MJF.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Wait, I thought the three letters were D.M.D. And he is sure they aren’t CPA, VSK or RSP. Yeah, for a quick episode there are a lot of three letter names.
Bryan Danielson: Danielson was asked how he felt after the match. He said “Goddamn, I feel alive.” Bryan said when he came to AEW, he didn’t want to start slow, he wanted to come in hot and face the top guy. He felt he did that ad of course he wanted to win, but even though he didn’t win, what a great thing professional wrestling is. It’s magic. He said that was unlike anything he had done in wrestling. It’s hard to say if it was his toughest match because there was so much joy even in the pain. He has missed this. He has missed going out there and giving it all he had. He said he has been out of the ring since April but to be able to go full bore he hasn’t been able to do that in a long time. Danielson was asked where he goes from here. He said that he asked Omega for a rematch, but Omega said no. Danielson said that he knows how AEW works and knows they have a ranking system and there are a ton of guys here that he wants to kick their heads in and he will go through all of them. No matter how many guys that takes, his next goal is the AEW World Championship.
Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky: Page questioned why they couldn’t celebrate their win and had a mic shoved in their face. He said good because he wants to gloat about it for the rest of his life. Page said growing up he looked up to Chris Jericho. He said Jericho is a Canadian legend and icon and tonight they embarrassed him and dethroned a legend from Page’s home country. Sky said he doesn’t need to be asked anything. A year ago on Dark he asked if we were paying attention. He didn’t want this to happen but they took it there by under appreciating Sky and Page. Sky told anyone from New York or any indie darling wants their shot to come and take it. But from now on, anyone who takes that shot has to go through Sky’s dead body. It started with Jericho because Jericho started it all and made AEW what it is today. Sky thanked Jericho for that, but said Jericho took it too far by not stepping aside. He said now is the time for guys like him and Page, and they won’t let people step in front of them any longer.
Eddie Kingston and Homicide: Kingston said if it wasn’t for Homicide the New York scene would have died. Homicide said a goal of his was to always work Madison Square Garden, but tonight they are in Arthur Ashe Stadium, which is also a very historical building. Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz should all be proud. Kingston said they were planting their flag in New York City. As the saying goes, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere.
Brian Pillman Jr.: Brian said he was only in AEW a little over a year ago, so to be on this card is an absolute privilege but it also came with pressure. He said he felt no pressure or negative energy due to the family-like atmosphere AEW has. Win or lose their names will be latched in history.
Ortiz: Spending his entire life minus his time in the military in New York, he had never been to Arthur Ashe Stadium. He had watched the U.S. Open a couple of times but seeing how much different it looks for wrestling he just can’t wait. It’s hard to put into words how much it means to wrestle in NYC when he and Santana started wrestling on 116th ST and FDR drive. He said that to be able to support his family through wrestling and to do it in front of 20,000 people is crazy.
The Acclaimed: Anthony Bowens said he got chills when he walked into Arthur Ashe Stadium. He said he had the best job in the world. We then saw Max Caster practicing his rap.
An exclusive pre-Rampage segment aired with the The Acclaimed doing their rap and calling out Tony Khan for a rap battle. Khan eventually came out smiling. Tony said he’d never written a rap song and he wasn’t going to start today. Khan introduced Little Uzi Vert. The Acclaimed were shocked. Tony said, “My name is Tony Khan and I’m here to say, I’ll suspend the Acclaimed for another 30 days.” He added, “I’m the CEO and I don’t have to respond, but you’ll have to answer to the Varsity Blonds” The Blonds then fought the Acclaimed on the ramp.
Paul Wight: Wight said one of the reasons he joined AEW was to be a part of something that is building and growing. He can see the ebb and flow of this business and see what is popular and growing into something special. Coming to New York was one of those special moments which is a tough environment. And to pull off one of the biggest crowds for an indoor wrestling show is a huge feather to put in his cap. He also spoke of showing the younger talent it’s not how much you do it’s what you do. He said that’s the thing about the talent in AEW, they are so hungry to define this company and make their mark on this world and that energy is so positive and infectious, which is another reason he came to AEW. Wight said a fan that wants professional wrestling will be drawn to AEW, and he hopes they work Arthur Ashe Stadium a lot more in the future.
Bailin’s Breakdown: After only seeing three matches advertised for this episode of Elevation, I figured they would give us something more. I figured maybe they would re-air the Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson match from Dynamite or the CM Punk vs. Powerhouse Hobbs match from Rampage. I’m glad they didn’t go that route. Grand Slam was a big event for AEW and it was nice to hear some post-match interviews and soundbites regarding how much being there meant to the various wrestlers.
There was no match of the night though. I don’t know if I would call it the promo of the night, but Sky and Page seemed like a slight character shift to a more aggressive team moving forward.
I liked Mark Henry on commentary. If Wight will be wrestling more, Elevation could be a good spot for Henry. I also really liked the graphics on the entrance ramp and I hope they continue to use both. So while not the most exciting episode this week, I still thought it was a good episode and an appropriate episode to put that final stamp on Grand Slam week.