By Rich Bailin, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@RichBailin)
AEW Dark: Elevation (Episode 90)
Taped November 16, 2022 in Bridgeport, Connecticut at Total Mortgage Arena
Streamed November 21, 2022 on the AEW YouTube Page
Ian Riccaboni was on commentary this week. He was joined by Paul Wight and Matt Menard. Dasha Gonzalez was the ring announcer…
1. Rush, The Butcher and The Blade (w/ Jose) vs. Doug Love, Channing Thomas and Brett Gosselin.Butcher, Blade and Rush took turns beating up the other team. Finish came when Rush gave the Bull Horns to Love and pinned him.
Rush, The Butcher and The Blade defeated Doug Love, Channing Thomas and Brett Gosselin by pinfall in 2:20.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Not much here but a dominant showcase for Butcher, Blade and Rush.
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2. Leva Bates and Emi Sakura vs. Willow Nightingale and Hikaru Shida. Sakura attacked Nightingale from behind then did the same to Shida before Bates joined in. Sakura and Bates attempted a double clothesline but Shida broke through and Nightingale dropped Sakura and Bates with clotheslines of her own. Late in the match Bates was holding Shida so that Sakura could come off the top. Nightingale came in the ring and stopped Sakura. Nightingale lifted Sakura up for a Spicolli driver while Shida hit Bates with a backbreaker. Nightingale then hit Bates with a cannonball in the corner and Shida followed up with the Katana for the pinfall.
Willow Nightingale and Hikaru Shida defeated Leva Bates and Emi Sakura by pinfall in 4:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: An ok back and forth match. A small criticism is that I don’t think that Shida needed to get the pinfall in this match.
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3. Brandon Cutler vs. Brian Cage (w/ Prince Nana). After a full nelson slam from Cage to Cutler, Nana got on the apron with Cutler’s cold spray and wanted Cage to hold Cutler. Nana sprayed and Cutler ducked so the spray for Cage in the eyes. Cutler then sprayed Nana in the eyes. Cutler rolled up Cage but got a 2 count. Cage got up and hit Cutler with a discus lariat. Cage then lifted up Cutler for a powerbomb but then held on and lifted Cutler back up into the Drill Claw for the pinfall.
Brian Cage defeated Brandon Cutler by pinfall in 2:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Not much to this match that was billed on commentary as a California Civil War.
4. Angelo Parker, Matt Menard and ROH Pure Champion Daniel Garcia (w/Jake Hager) vs. Leon Ruffin, Tracy Williams and Tony Deppen.Williams and Parker started the match with Williams having the early advantage. Menard came in to try and double team but Williams avoided and then got a blind tag from Deppen. Deppen dropkicked Menard and tried to come off the ropes but was kicked by Parker then clotheslined by Menard. Deppen was able to make the tag to Ruffin who ran around avoiding everyone inside and outside the ring. When Ruffin slid back into the ring he was cut off by Menard and Parker and Double DDT’d. Garcia then locked in the dragon sleeper and Ruffin quickly tapped out.
Angelo Parker, Matt Menard and Daniel Garcia defeated Leon Ruffin, Tracy Williams and Tony Deppen by submission in 2:45.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Too short, but the potential was there to have a good competitive match. Instead, just another showcase for the JAS.
5. ROH Women’s Champion Mercedes Martinez vs. JC in a non-title match. Menard was back on commentary for this match. Mercedes controlled the early portion of the match and then lifted JC up for a vertical suplex and held it for an extended period. JC tried to come back with a jawbreaker and some strikes. JC then ran the ropes but was dropped by a spinebuster from Martinez. Martinez then locked in the Brass City Sleeper and JC tapped out.
Mercedes Martinez defeated JC by submission in 3:30.
After the match, Martinez called out Athena in front of the camera.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A fine showcase for Martinez in her first match back from injury. A showdown with Athena is definitely on the horizon
6. Zack Clayton vs. Wheeler Yuta. Yuta got in Clayton’s face as the bell rang. The ref tried to separate them and Clayton punched Yuta. Clayton got a couple more strikes in but Yuta quickly recovered and came off the top rope with a forearm. Yuta then reversed a suplex attempt and got Clayton up and slammed him down on his shoulder. Yuta came back with hammer elbows then rolled Clayton up in the seatbelt and got the pinfall.
Wheeler Yuta defeated Zack Clayton by pinfall in 1:55.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Another match that could have gone on slightly longer and been more competitive.
7. Matt Hardy and “Private Party” Marq Quen and Isiah Kassidy vs. Encore, Sonny Kiss and Ari Daivari. Daivari, Kiss and Encore were already in the ring and Daivari had a mic. Daivari introduced Encore and told him that if he can help them win, they will give him $50,000. Daivari said it would be easy because Matt Hardy could not use the Twist of Fate. Encore hit Kassidy from behind then tagged in Kiss. Kiss suplexed Kassidy then did a split leg drop for a near fall. Kassidy made the tag to Quen who cleared the ring then dove outside the ring onto Encore.
Quen threw Encore back in then climbed the ropes and landed with a 450 onto Encore. Kiss broke up the pin attempt and then press slammed Quen and followed up with a standing back flip. Kiss and Daivari tried a double team but Quen flipped out and tagged in Hardy. Hardy sent Kiss and Daivari out of the ring and tagged in Kassidy. Kassidy lifted Encore onto Hardy’s shoulders as Quen came off the top rope with a dropkick. Kassidy then came off the top rope with a Swanton bomb and got the pinfall.
Matt Hardy and Private Party defeated Encore, Sonny Kiss and Ari Daivari by pinfall in 3:15.
After the match Daivari spoke down to Encore while holding on to the 50k. Hardy gave Daivari a Twist of Fate and then took Daivari’s money.
Bailin’s Breakdown: An ok back and forth match. Kiss stood out the most and was being talked up on commentary as the most underutilized and possibly most athletic wrestler they have on the roster. While most athletic could be up for debate (though Kiss is definitely up there), I can definitely agree she may be one of if not the most underutilized on the roster.
8. Alex Reynolds vs. Kip Sabian (w/Penelope Ford). This match was a rematch from two weeks ago on Elevation. As Reynolds was posing on the apron prior to the bell, Sabian attacked from behind. Sabian followed up with a springboard dropkick. Sabian lifted Reynolds onto the top turnbuckle and climbed up. Reynolds bit Sabian on the ear.
Reynolds then attempted a butterfly suplex but couldn’t get Sabian up. Instead, Reynolds with a boot to the face of Sabian. Reynolds then sent Sabian to the opposite corner and went for the big boot again and missed. Sabian hit Reynolds in the back of the head with an enzuigiri and followed up with a cannonball. Sabian then hit Reynolds with the Anarchist suplex. Sabian climbed the top rope and hit Reynolds with a double stomp. Sabian lazily covered Reynolds and Reynolds rolled up Sabian and got the pinfall.
Alex Reynolds defeated Kip Sabian by pinfall in 2:00.
Sabian kicked Reynolds after the match until being sent away by the referee.
Bailin’s Breakdown: While I have criticized other matches not going as long this episode, this match was fine being quick as it was a rematch and they are trying to tell a story. I would not be surprised to see a rubber match on Elevation in a couple of weeks.
Lexy Nair was backstage with Ethan Page. Page was happy that Matt Hardy and Private Party won their match. Page claimed it was due to his advice. Nair asked Page if he saw the Twist of Fate at the end of the match. He had not. Matt Hardy came in with Private Party and apologized to Page for doing the Twist of Fate and gave Page the 50k he took from Daivari. Hardy said it was worth every penny.
9. Aaron Solo, Lee Johnson, and Cole Karter (w/QT Marshall, Nick Comoroto) vs. AEW All-Atlantic Champion Orange Cassidy and “Best Friends” Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor. The Factory attacked Best Friends and Cassidy on the entrance ramp before the bell rang. Once the bell rang it was Beretta and Johnson in the ring. Johnson with a couple of strikes to Beretta then he tagged in Karter and Solo. Karter and Johnson sent Beretta to the corner and when Beretta came out dropped him with a double flapjack. They brought Taylor in the ring and sent him to the opposite corner then took turns hitting Beretta and Taylor.
The Factory then mocked The Best Friends and hugged in the middle of the ring. Carter and Johnson then went back after Beretta and Taylor but were sent over the top rope to the floor, leaving Solo in the ring. Taylor and Beretta hit the sole food half and half combo on Solo. Marshall got on the apron to distract the referee and Comoroto used the distraction to come in the ring and shoulder tackle Beretta and Taylor.
Cassidy came in with a high cross body onto Solo and then dove through the ropes onto Comoroto. Cassidy then with a tornado DDT on Johnson. Cassidy then hit Karter, Johnson and Solo with Orange punches. Everyone came back into the ring. Beretta piledrove Carter, Taylor piledrove Johnson while Cassidy gave Solo a Beach Break all at the same time. Cassidy covered Solo and got the pinfall.
Orange Cassidy and Best Friends defeated Aaron Solo, Cole Karter and Lee Johnson by pinfall in 3:40.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Way too quick to amount to much. Best Friends and OC were not going to lose this one but to have all 3 members of the Factory team being taken out at the same time was a bit much.
While slightly better than last week’s episode, the matches were all too short to amount to meaning anything. Four trios matches in this episode didn’t help matters much either. It’s like AEW wanted to cram as many people on this episode as they can and I don’t know if anyone really benefited from any of it. Take out two matches, and make two others slightly longer and more competitive and this episode improves dramatically. Episode 90 clocked in at 47 minutes and 48 seconds.