By Rich Bailin, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@RichBailin)
AEW Dark: Elevation (Episode 91)
Taped November 23, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois at Wintrust Arena
Streamed November 28, 2022 on the AEW YouTube Page
Ian Riccaboni, Matt Menard and Paul Wight were on commentary. Dasha Gonzalez was the ring announcer.
1. The Bunny (w/ Penelope Ford) vs. Blair Onyx. Bunny dominated the match, finally hitting Onyx with Down the Rabbit Hole for the pinfall.
The Bunny defeated Blair Onyx by pinfall in 1:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A quick showcase for The Bunny, who is making a comeback after some recent injuries
An ad for AEW Heels aired.
2. Brandon Cutler vs. Man Scout Manning.Manning was reading a book in the corner and stuck it in his singlet as the match started. Manning took the book back out as he had Cutler in a headlock. Cutler sent Manning to the ropes and Manning ran the ropes back and forth reading his book, not knowing Cutler was not running as well. Cutler eventually tripped Manning and took control of the match. The finish came with Cutler having Manning up for an airplane spin that made both men dizzy and stumble around the ring. Cutler rolled up Manning for the pinfall.
Brandon Cutler defeated Man Scout Manning by pinfall in 3:30.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Purely a comedy match. The surprising part was that it didn’t involve the cold spray.
An ad for AEW Fight Forever aired.
3. Maki Itoh and Emi Sakura vs. Nyla Rose and Marina Shafir (w/ Vickie Guerrero). Itoh sang/lip synced her way to the ring. Sakura did not seem impressed. Rose and Sakura started the match. Sakura held her hand out for a handshake but pulled it away. Sakura and Rose traded chops and forearms. Rose got irritated and tried to lift Sakura for a chokeslam but Sakura slipped out and pushed Rose. Both women tagged in their partners. Itoh pie faced Shafir and Shafir responded in kind, sending Itoh to the mat. Rose and Shafir had Itoh isolated in their corner and tried a double team.
Itoh headbutted both Rose and Shafir and then DDT’s Shafir and went for the cover. Rose tried to back senton Itoh but Itoh moved and Rose hit Shafir. Itoh then did her diving headbutt to both Rose and Shafir. In the opposite corner Itoh and Sakura were mounting punches on Rose and Shafir. Shafir knocked Itoh off and sent her out of the ring. Sakura sent Rose out of the corner with a huracanrana and got a 2 count on the cover. Rose got up and speared Sakura then lifted her up for the Beast Bomb and got the pinfall.
Nyla Rose and Marina Shafir defeated Emi Sakura and Maki Itoh by pinfall in 4:15.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A pretty good match that would have benefitted from a backstage promo or something on commentary on why Rose and Sakura were on opposite teams. Granted, they haven’t teamed in a while but absolutely no mention was made of them teaming many, many times on past Elevations. That being said if Rose and Sakura want to have a feud then fine by me as the match was noticeably improved when they were in the ring.
An ad for AEW Heels aired.
4. Konosuke Takeshita vs. Ari Daivari. Don Callis came out about a minute into the match to observe. Daivari was on the offensive and came off the top rope with a cross body. Daivari then locked in a body scissors on Takeshita. Takeshita rolled out and Daivari tried to run the ropes. Takeshita held onto Daivari’s tights and picked him up for a Blue Thunder Bomb that put a smile on Callis’s face. Daivari and Takeshita traded forearms with Takeshita getting the advantage.
Takeshita then ran the ropes and hit Daivari with a flying clothesline. Takeshita followed up with a boot to Daivari’s face and then lifted him for a vertical suplex. Takeshita went for a springboard but Takeshita saw Callis and got distracted. Daivari rolled out of the way and caught Takeshita with a superkick. With Takeshita on the mat, Daivari climbed to the top rope and landed a frog splash onto Takeshita. Takeshita and Daivari started to trade forearms while running the ropes. Takeshita got behind Daivari and connected with a rolling German Suplex into a bridge and got the pinfall.
Konosuke Takeshita defeated Ari Daivari by pinfall in 4:45.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A really good back and forth match. I personally am glad Takeshita is back. Callis scouting him was interesting. As much commentary talked about him being a star I wonder if we will see other managers scout Takeshita a la Randy Savage back when he debuted in the WWF.
Kip Sabian was shown in a dark room wearing a suit. He said that he had no issue with Alex Reynolds, they had a match, Sabian won, case closed. Then he heard Reynolds say how they were alike, and how Sabian got a lucky pin or that it was any man’s match to win. Sabian said Reynolds agreed with those statements and what did Reynolds do in the rematch? Sabian took his eyes off the ball for three seconds. Now that is luck. Sabian called Reynolds a very good professional wrestler but they are nothing alike. Sabian said Reynolds did not know what it was like to be him. Setback after setback, alienated, left in the cold, forgotten. Sabian then said he embraced the change because this is art. Sabian said he will go for Round 3 but it will be perfectly clear at the end of that match that Reynolds will be nothing more than a footnote in Sabian’s story of redemption…
Bailin’s Breakdown: I liked Sabian’s delivery in that promo a lot. Very calm but very serious as well. I look forward to his next program after this one with Reynolds finishes up.
5. Lee Moriarty vs Robert Anthony. Moriarty had the early advantage but then started to play air guitar which allowed Anthony to recover. Moriarty ran the ropes but Anthony caught him with a gut-wrench slam. Anthony then hooked Moriarty into a surfboard but then let go and face planted Moriarty. Anthony took too much time and Moriarty with a flatliner into the corner on Anthony. Moments later Moriarty rolled up Anthony but then transitioned into a crossface and Anthony tapped out.
Lee Moriarty defeated Robert Anthony by submission in 4:20.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good showcase win for Moriarty
6. Joe Alonzo and GPA vs. Jay Lethal and Satnam Singh (w/ Sonjay Dutt).Singh and Lethal dominated with the finish coming after Singh planted Alonzo with a sidewalk slam. Lethal then lifted Alonzo onto his shoulders for Singh to chokeslam him. Lethal then pinned Alonzo.
Jay Lethal and Satnam Singh defeated Joe Alonzo and GPA by pinfall in 1:40.
Lexy Nair was backstage with Ethan Page. Matt Hardy and Private Party showed up and were getting ready to leave the building. Page told them they had a match tonight. Hardy and Private Party argued with Page but Page said he had a meeting with Ari Daivari and Mark Sterling. Daivari and Sterling show up and say let’s have the meeting now. Daivari is upset that Hardy stole 50k from him last week. Hardy said talk to Page as he is the boss. Page said he can’t give Daivari the money because he spent it already but said that Daivari can use the Twist of Fate whenever he wants too. Sterling said he has an idea and he and Daivari walk off. Hardy was upset and stormed off as well.
7. Davey Bang, Freedom Ramsey and Yabo vs. Rocky Romero and “Best Friends” Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta. Yabo was dressed as a clown. He and Romero started the match. Yabo had a balloon and offered it to Romero but let go and the balloon deflated. Yabo tried to kick Romero but Romero caught his foot then kicked Yabo back. Romero then came off the ropes and took Yabo down with a huracanrana. Ramsey tagged in as did Taylor. Romero and Taylor took Ramsay down with a double shoulder tackle.
Bang ran into the ring and was caught with a double hip toss. Taylor fought both Bang and Ramsay but ran to the opposite side of the ring and was caught by a kick from Yabo. Bang and Ramsay then double drop kicked Taylor. Ramsay tagged in Yabo who started to juggle. After juggling he threw one of the balls at Taylor then ran towards him. Taylor connected with a high knee and tagged in Beretta. After a few moments Best Friends hit their half and half/sole food combo then hugged in the middle of the ring. They then hit Strong Zero on Bang and got the pinfall.
Chuck Taylor, Trent Beretta and Rocky Romero defeated Davey Bang, Freedom Ramsey and Yabo by pinfall in 3:50.
Bailin’s Breakdown: When I said Yabo is dressed as a clown I really mean it. Big clown shoes and all. It has worked well enough for him to get a match on Elevation so I won’t hate on it but it’s not for me.
8. Laynie Luck vs. Athena.As soon as the bell rang Athena decked Luck with a forearm smash. Athena smashed Luck’s head against the mat twice then threw her outside the ring. Athena threw Luck into the ring steps twice and then back into the ring. Luck tried to roll up Athena but when Athena kicked out, she dropped Luck with a kick to the face. Athena then locked in a crossface submission on Luck and Luck tapped out.
Athena defeated Laynie Luck by submission in 2:00.
Athena continued to attack Luck after the match and called out Mercedes Martinez while doing so.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A couple of weeks ago I said I didn’t consider Athena a full-fledged heel until she attacked someone fans know and like. Then she punched Aubrey Edwards. Heel turn complete and completely on display in this match. I am looking forward to Athena’s match with Martinez at Final Battle.
9. Matt Hardy and “Private Party ” Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen vs. Luther, Serpentico, and Isiah Moore.Kassidy and Serpentico started the match. Kassidy hit a huracanrana followed by a dropkick early then made quick tags in and out with Quen and Hardy. Moore came into the ring and Hardy and Private Party suplexed them both. They then hit a triple team combo on Luther. Serpentico sent Kassidy to the heel corner. Kassidy fought off Serpentico and Moore but was caught by a clothesline from Luther.
Luther hit Kassidy with an enziguri and a backbreaker then tagged in Serpentico. Luther body slammed Serpentico 3 times onto Kassidy. Serpentico tagged in Moore. Moore sent Kassidy into the ropes but Kassidy slid under and pulled Luther down by his ankles. Kassidy then kicked Serpentico and then came back into the ring and tagged in Quen.
Quen backdropped Serpentico onto Moore and then dove over the top rope onto Luther and landed on his feet. Quen tagged in Hardy. Hardy caught Moore and Serpentico into a neckbreaker/DDT combo. Hardy slammed Moore’s into the turnbuckles shouting “Delete” after each one then set up for Poetry in Motion for both Quen and Kassidy. Hardy then propped up Moore on the top rope and lifted him for a modified Ego’s Edge. Kassidy then came off the top rope with a senton followed by a 450 by Quen and Quen got the pinfall.
Matt Hardy, Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen defeated Luther, Serpentico and Isiah Bradley by pinfall in 4:30.
After the match, Mark Sterling came out with Daivari, Josh Woods and Tony Nese. Next week it will be Woods, Nese, and Daivari vs. Hardy and Private Party.
Bailin’s Breakdown: An ok match. Next week’s match has the potential to be one of the better Elevation matches in recent memory. Before this match started, Riccaboni voiced over the match graphic and said Chaos Project was teaming with Silas Young. The graphic had Moore so I don’t know how that slip up stayed in.
10. Aaron Solo and Nick Comoroto vs. Eddie Kingston and Ortiz.Solo and Comoroto came out alone. Ortiz and Solo started the match. Solo stunned Ortiz with a knee to the midsection and quickly tagged in Comoroto. Ortiz got caught in the Factory’s corner and was double teamed. Comoroto then lifted Ortiz for Solo to dropkick him into a suplex. Solo and Comoroto kept Ortiz from tagging in Kingston.
Comoroto had Ortiz down and jumped on his back twice. On the third attempt Ortiz rolled over and his knees caught Comoroto below the belt. Comoroto still kept Ortiz from tagging out but Ortiz came out of the corner with a clothesline and made the tag to Kingston. Kingston hit both Solo and Comoroto with rapid fire chops. Kingston then hit an Exploder suplex on Solo then tagged in Ortiz. Kingston scoop slammed Solo and Kingston came off the middle rope with a leg drop.
Comoroto broke up the cover then clotheslined Kingston off the apron. Comoroto hit a pair of backbreakers before holding Ortiz for a double stomp from Solo. Solo then made the cover but it was broken up by Kingston. Comoroto lifted up Kingston then dropped Kingston neck first on his knee. Solo and Comoroto sent Kingston into the ropes with a double Irish whip. Ortiz grabbed Solo and rammed him head first to the middle turnbuckle. Kingston hit a charging Comoroto with an enziguri. A dropkick from Ortiz sent Comoroto outside the ring. Ortiz then sent Solo into a DDT from Kingston. Ortiz then rolled up Solo and got the pinfall.
Eddie Kingston and Ortiz defeated Aaron Solo and Nick Comoroto by pinfall in 5:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good back and forth match. Ortiz did most of the work in this one. Wight kept calling him Ricky Ortiz. The result was never in question but at least Comoroto and Solo can get convincing near falls.
Clowns aside this was a very solid episode of Elevation. The matches that were supposed to be competitive had the time to do so and we are starting to see small storylines emerge which is a rarity for Elevation and usually never more than one at a time. Sabian/Reynolds have been building over the last few weeks, as has Athena’s almost whole change in attitude, and Ethan Page harassing Matt Hardy and Private Party. Now we have Don Callis scouting Takeshita. That’s four matches with story support in this episode alone.
I still want to know why Nyla Rose and Emi Sakura were fighting against each other this week. But back to Takeshita, he and Daivari are my match of the night. In addition to Riccaboni invoking Silas Young’s name inexplicably, did anyone else notice that tonight’s episode listing says eight matches when there were most definitely ten matches? Episode 91 clocked in at 1 hour 2 minutes and 55 seconds.