AEW ELEVATION: March 22, 2021

The PG Era Rant for AEW Elevation Episode 2 (“This Show Better Not Go To 11!”), March 22, 2021.

TONIGHT! Orange Cassidy faces Ryan Nemeth! Leyla Hirsch goes to war with Ryo Mizunami! Ethan Page takes on the Dark Order’s Alan Angels! Red Velvet and Big Swole team up against Leva Bates and Madi Wrenckowski! And speaking of Velvet, she’s our Spotlight of the Week!

PLUS – Team Taz, Max Caster, Danny Limelight, Tay Conti, Lee Johnson, and the Varsity Blonds in action!

From the AEW Arena.

Opening match: Tay Conti (with Brodie Lee Jr) (7-2, #2 woman) vs. Ray Lyn (0-1). If there’s no opening and we just go to matches each week, I think I can live with that. It’s not like Tony and Paul are as fun as Excalibur and Taz… or trying to be. Tony even mentions Lyn’s OVW title run.

Lyn flexes to start, and a lockup goes nowhere. Conti gets the arm into a hammerlock, but Lyn gets in front and pulls the hair to take Conti down. Conti pops up into a top wristlock and bridges down Lyn, who uses the hair to get back up. Lyn tries a cheap shot on a break, which infuriates Conti into a fireman’s carry and judo armdrags. Pump kick misses, and Lyn with a dropkick for one. The two get nose-to-nose before blocking each other’s kicks, but Lyn gets a roundhouse only for Conti to get a backfist-style kick. Double hairpull slam leads to both being down.

They go to forearms from their knees, then slaps to each other, then more forearms, before Conti breaks a full nelson into a Stunner. Catatonic into a backbreaker by Conti and Lyn rolls outside. Conti kicks her head off from the apron, then follows her and runs her shoulder-first into the post. Back in, Conti leaps off the top over Lyn and comes back with a pump kick and flying knee in the corner. Hammerlock DDT gets the pin at 4:11. These two had zero chemistry. 3/4* Schiavone (about Brodie Jr seeing Conti do a samba): “Keep your eyes up front, kid.”

Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and the Large Presentation, who run down the big matches for tonight.

Lee Johnson (w/Dustin Rhodes) (2-1) vs. Adam Priest (0-3). Last week, Johnson was given a feature on his rise from student to AEW regular and Team Nightmare member.

Lockup, and Priest grabs the arm. Johnson kips up and reverses, taking Priest down and switching to a hammerlock, snapamre, chinlock sequence. Priest fights to his feet, so Johnson goes to a headlock takedown. Priest legscissors out, and Johnson jack-knifes for two, with Priest bridging out to a backslide attempt. Johnson gets the better of it for one, then they exchange armdrags and get a stalemate. Code of Honor is offered, but Priest shoves Johnson. He reverses a waistlock and gets a Northern Lariat. Running cross chop in the corner and uppercut follows. Yes Kick by Priest floors Johnson, and Dustin yells at Johnson to stay in it.

Priest with a snap suplex for one. Then another one. Johnson chops from his knees to try to get back into it, only for Priest to boot him down and get an Atlantis Stretch neckbreaker (!!) for two. Johnson keeps fighting back, but Priest corners him and kicks away. Hammer throw is reversed, and Johnson nails a running chop of his own, then catches a boot only for Priest to land the enzuigiri and German suplex for two. Priest toys with Johnson, but a German suplex is blocked and Johnson with a leaping hangman’s neckbreaker.

Clotheslines cue the comeback. Johnson fakes Priest to the outside and follows with a somersault… essentially into a guillotine legdrop on the outside! That’s how you recover! Back in, piledriver is reversed and we begin a pinfall reversal sequence, ending when Johnson tosses Priest into the buckle bomb. Brain Dog (Fisherman’s Oshigoroshi) gets the win at 5:43. Athleticism can cover for more than a few sins. *3/4

Dasha is backstage with Ryan Nemeth. Nemeth admits Cassidy has the look that is cool… nah, he’s lying. Nemeth is a trained, athletic, serious professional wrestler and is offended by Cassidy’s lackadaisical attitude. Cassidy may think he’s cool, but Nemeth is a hunk and is HOT.

Varsity Blonds (3-1) vs. Fuego Del Sol & Jake St.Patrick (0-1). So the Blonds are going to face the Pinnacle on Wednesday, meaning this is a good warm-up match for them. Wight talks about being friends with Pillman Sr.

Garrison and Fuego start with a Code of Honor. Waistlock by Fuego, but Garrison reverses to a waistlock takedown and rides him on the mat. Arm twist into a side headlock, which he keeps on after a shove-off attempt and gets a takedown. Another block of a shove-off as the crowd is doing the duel chants. Third try, and Fuego trips Garrison and gets a dropkick. Garrison comes back with a lariat and we tag out. Pillman gets a waistlock takedown on St.Patrick, then a second one into a front facelock. Armbar and twist by Pillman, but St.Patrick twists out into a hook kick and dropkick. Running uppercut misses, and Pillman with corner clotheslines. Pillman lets Garrison tag himself in, then throws St.Patrick off of a waistlock into a big boot by Garrison.

Garrison won’t let Fuego tag in, and it’s a slam into Garrison slingshotting Pillman into a senton. Pillman slingshots Garrison into a legdrop in return, and the Blonds add a double back elbow. Pillman taunts Fuego (sadly not the Roll Camera), then toys with St.Patrick in the Varsity corner. Chops by Pillman, and Garrison enters for a kick and neckbreaker combo. Garrison adds a legdrop for two, brother, then again cuts off the tag with a front facelock. Pillman with a corner clothesline as Garrison traps St.Patrick, then he stomps away. St.Patrick with uppercuts to both guys, but his dive for the tag is caught by Pillman into the Maple Leaf Crab.

St.Patrick powers his way out and somersaults away, hot tag Fuego. Garrison is knocked down, and a satellite headscissors knocks Pillman into him. Tornado DDT is teased, but Pillman escapes. Garrison tags himself in on an O’Connor Roll try, so Fuego’s TORNADO DDT OF DEATH doesn’t matter. Garrison with the Discus Punch wins it at 5:48. Pillman is slow to get up on the outside, selling his opponent’s finisher. The Blonds just get wrestling, and I love it. *1/2

AEW Casino app ad.

Max Caster (4-1) vs. Ryzin (0-1). Caster was asking for some good lines on Twitter earlier today. “Yo, Ryzin, you should get a different name / like Water, cuz you’re going down the drain.” “Your red hair got you lookin’ like a maxi pad.” That’s the best people could do?

Ryzin tries a waistlock, and they jockey for position until Ryzin gets a headlock. We go International~!, but Ryzin blocks the hiptoss and after getting blocked in return lands a dropkick. Ryzin targets Caster’s knee (he didn’t land well on the dropkick sell), but he runs into a lariat. Caster with a knucklelock and armbar, draping said arm of Ryzin’s over the top rope. Cross chops in the corner, and he rides down Ryzin and stomps on the arm. Caster showboats, allowing Ryzin to recover and get a single-leg trip, going back to the knee.

Caster shoves him off into the buckle, catching Ryzin in a Northern Lights backdrop and top wristlock. Ryzin makes the ropes. Snapmare by Caster, then a soccer kick and keylock from a camel clutch position. Ryzin flips him for two and goes back to the knee. Caster stops Ryzin, but the leg can’t support a suplex. Small package (after a struggle) gets two for Ryzin, but Caster stomps away and gets a hammerlock Flatliner for two (thrice over, as Caster’s cover is nonchalant). Caster with the arm takedown and another top wristlock, but Ryzin gets legscissors to break.

Caster grabs the beard and taunts Ryzin, who ducks down to deliver a dragon screw. He sends Caster into the middle buckle and gives last rites, but the middle rope springboard moonsault hits the knees. Caster with an armdrag and pullback neckbreaker, and he gets another camel clutch keylock. Again Ryzin makes the ropes. Front suplex by Caster, but the knee gives out. Ryzin slugs away, but Caster ducks a clothesline and gets a brainbuster. He guts it out to go up top, and the Mic Drop wins at 6:35. This felt like someone told them they weren’t allowed to win until after six minutes, which hurt the flow of the match. Never be afraid to go home early. *1/4

Spotlight on Red Velvet. She’s the daughter of a pro boxer in Colombia, but she didn’t feel like a boxer and wanted to do a different style of fight. After a stop-off in pro dancing, she became a wrestler – something she’s loved since she was 9. Beauty and fighting? Let’s go with it. She started training in 2015 and has never looked back. Cody talks about her first mic performance against Jade Cargill on Dynamite and felt she rose to the occasion. He hopes she’s an AEW lifer because she filled in for Brandi, but she’s more than just a fill-in – as the fact that she was chosen to be in the Shaq match shows. Velvet says she has experience and passion, and the blood of a fighter, “so bring me everything that you’ve got.”

Along those lines:

Leva Bates and Madi Wrenckowski (first time teaming) vs. Red Velvet and Big Swole (1-0). Schiavone beats me to it: Bates and Madi have fought twice before, splitting the series, although Madi cheated to win her match. While Bates will team with anyone, Madi seems more reluctant. Both Velvet and Swole dance along to Swole’s music, which kind of makes me miss Nikki Savoy.

Bates and Velvet start with a Code of Honor. Lockup, and Bates with a headlock takedown. Velvet gets the legscissors into a break, then they exchange armdrags. Madi tags in, maintaining arm control and wrenching away. Velvet rolls and kips through, but Madi stops her by going to the eyes. Velvet charges out of the corner with a lariat, and it’s Swole and Bates in. Swole knocks Bates over, then gets a knee strike, snapmare, and back uppercut for one. Swole goes CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY, but Bates escapes with a jawjacker and suplex for one.

Bates goes back to the arm as Madi comes in to pound on Swole in the corner. Snapmare, but Swole throws Madi off and gets a low Flatliner for two. Shots to Madi’s back, then more clubs, before she gets a straitjacket chinlock. Swole swings Madi around in the hold for two. Madi tries to fight out of Swole’s grip, throwing her down to the splits and getting a running knee. She gives Swole a blatant choke, and Bates of all people comes in to protest so Madi can keep it going. Bates, though, refuses to tag in because of the cheating, so Madi clocks her with her book and Bates walks off.

Velvet, meanwhile, gets the hot tag and scores the Austin straddle in the corner. Standing moonsault gets two. Madi swings and misses, so Velvet gets a spinning heel kick and Just Desserts to win at 4:54. So for those wondering if they were just going to ignore the story of Bates and Madi… they didn’t. *1/4 Hang on, though, because Vickie Guerrero is here with Nyla Rose and Jade Cargill to stare the winners down. Velvet and Swole invite them in, but the heels pass on it and walk back with nothing happening.

Dasha is with Ethan Page. He doesn’t care about 5 – all he needs are his wins and losses. He’s going to add more numbers to his win column tonight. But on top of that, he’s going to do Dark Order a favor and get rid of 5, since they don’t seem to like him as much as they let on.

Ricky Starks (5-1) and Will Hobbs (5-0) (w/Hook) vs. Jorel Nelson and Royce Isaacs (0-2). First time I’ve seen the individuals in a team given separate records instead of “Making AEW Team debut”. Nelson and Isaacs have been on last week’s Elevation too.

Hobbs and Nelson start, and Hobbs backs Nelson into the corner and delivers shoulders to the gut. Nelson fights out, but Hobbs gets mad and lifts Nelson up by the ears to a fireman’s carry. Nelson escapes and gets an elbow to the head, but Hobbs tosses him into the corner. Blind charge eats boot, and Nelson goes up to the middle rope and dives INTO A POUNCE by Hobbs. Open gut punch by Hobbs and a Hammer Throw in the corner, and Hobbs toys with Nelson. Starks in, and he chops away on Nelson.

Nelson with an elbow to the jaw and an uppercut, and Isaacs tags himself in to keep on the advantage with Starks’ arm. Isaacs lifts Starks up, but Starks escapes and they exchange elbow shots. Starks with a running forearm to Isaacs and he clears the cobwebs before getting a kneelift and elbow strikes. He boxes away on Isaacs and dances around him, but Isaacs surprises Starks and lands a neckbreaker into a Nelson crossbody, Hobbs saves. Isaacs runs into the SPINEBUSTER OF DOOM on Hobbs, while Hook trips Nelson and Starks gives him Rochambeaux for the win at 3:38. This felt like it should have been more of a squash than it was. *

Oustide the Ring ad.

Danny Limelight (2-1) vs. Baron Black (0-4). A couple of students getting time to shine? I’m down. Limelight appears to have been promoted to star, as he gets the entrance and Black doesn’t. Wight goes over Limelight’s credentials as a USMC close combat martial arts instructor.

Lockup, and Limelight goes to the arm. Black reverses and maintains wrist control, but Limelight reverses, so Black breaks and chops Limelight hard. Another chop against the ropes and Limelight is reeling, but he gets a floatover armdrag when Black puts his head down. Limelight with the Primo handstand into a mulekick, then a double jump rana sends Black to the outside. Limelight with a twisting plancha to follow. Back in, Limelight dives into a Manhattan Drop, and Black adds a shoulderbreaker. Black with a spinning lariat in the corner, then a T-Bone for two.

The two exchange chops, with Black getting the better of it. Straitjacket chinlock into a bow-and-arrow variant, but Limelight rolls through and gets a double stomp. Limelight cuts off Black with an elbow shot, then goes the apron and gets a gamengiri. He goes up top, leaping over Black, then sliding behind and getting a release German suplex. 540 kick try is caught and Black gets the Texas Cloverleaf out of it. Limelight makes the ropes. Schiavone called it a Boston Crab in a WCW moment, but Wight corrects him.

On the apron, Limelight ducks a big chop and shoves Black into the post to the floor. He runs the apron and kicks Black in the face, then springs off the bottom rope to get a double stomp on the floor. Back in, casadora is blocked, but Limelight reverses to Morir Sanando (Spanish for “To die dreaming”) – a sleeper with bodyscissors – for the tapout at 4:49. Limelight looks real good. **

Ryan Nemeth (2-3) vs. Orange Cassidy (w/Chuck Taylor) (17-10-1). Nemeth blows kisses to the crowd, even though no one wants them. Taylor/Cassidy will face Miro/Sabian in the future in an Arcade Brawl, and if the heels win, Taylor is part of Team Miro for life. Schiavone and Wight talk about how the slacker attitude of Cassidy is mind games and a ploy for a false sense of security.

Along those lines, Nemeth begs Cassidy to get to the middle of the ring, where he stops Cassidy from putting the hands in the pockets and gets a waistlock takedown. He rides Cassidy, who scrambles to his feet, and GETS THE HANDS IN HIS POCKETS ANYWAY to escape and get a cradle for one. Cassidy fakes the pockets again and gets the better of Nemeth in a wrestling sequence, ending with a lucha armdrag and taking TRANQUILO to a higher form. He even rolls away from Nemeth’s elbowdrops as he goes to the outside, then back in, and the hands are in the pockets, much to Nemeth’s dismay.

Cassidy dodges a legsweep and gets a dropkick and kip-up before removing the armpad. Orange Punch is caught, and Nemeth with a back suplex for one. Nemeth pounds away and swivels the hips before dropping a knee. Fistdrop follows. He tries to hook the nostrils, but the ref stops it. Hammer Throw by Nemeth, but he dances rather than follow up. Nemeth runs into Cassidy in the corner and gets kneelifts, then wraps Cassidy’s arm around the top rope. Armdrag takeover and Nemeth works the arm. After a one-count, Nemeth gets another Hammer Throw and begs Cassidy to get up. Cassidy does the Flair Flip and suckers Nemeth into the corner, then goes up top with a crossbody.

Floatover DDT attempt, but Cassidy’s arm stings him and Nemeth takes over with divorce court and a hammerlock with handstand. Nemeth keeps stomping the arm and stalks Cassidy, having a DDT blocked but getting a dropkick. Cassidy uses a tilt-a-whirl into a DDT for two, though he can only hook with one arm. Cassidy goes up, but dives into a SUPERKICK and the Ziggler DDT for two. Rude Awakening try, but Cassidy escapes into the Mousetrap for the pin at 6:58. Nemeth freaks out and gets the Rude Awakening, which draws Chuck Taylor in. JD Drake charges Taylor – well, they DID meet a few weeks ago on Dark – and the Best Friends are down. If this is a tag match on Dark, I’m all for it. Nemeth’s best AEW match in my opinion. **

Ethan Page (1-1) vs. Alan “V” Angels (5-0). I doubt Ethan’s reading this, but I don’t think I ever apologized to him for an argument we had a couple years ago. Ethan, you were right, as it turns out, and I was acting out of misunderstanding and frustration. Brodie Jr fires up Angels as they head to the ring.

Lockup, and Page gives a clean break while patting Angels on the head. Angels returns the clean break and head pat on the next lockup, then suckers Page into an armlock. Angels goes up and over before catching the arm again. Page slugs down Angels and tosses him to the apron, where Angels flips back in. Another armlock by Angels, but Page slams him to break it. Angels escapes a charge and a clothesline, then gets a step-up rana. Clothesline in the corner leads to the five-punch countalong. Dropkick by Angels, but he runs into a boot and Page sends him into the corner.

He runs over Angels when the latter leaves the corner, then picks him up and chops him in the ropes. Page tries a tilt-a-whirl, but Angels lands on his feet and gets a Russian legsweep for one. Page avoids the backsplash against the ropes, sending Angels crashing into the ropes, and Page adds a butterfly draping backbreaker. Page to the waistlock and ride, and Angels has trouble breaking with elbows. Angels finally uses slaps to get out, then wins a slugfest and kicks away on Page. Page ducks a roundhouse kick, but he runs into a cross chop. Angels with an enzuigiri to hang Page up, and this time the backsplash connects.

Shiranui by Angels gets two. Angels with the Dark Order salute and he tries the Wing Snapper, but Page rolls him out. Roundhouse kick by Page, then a tilt-a-whirl slam gets two. Page wants some sort of powerbomb, but Angels lands on the middle rope and backflips over Page. Roundhouse kick by Angels, but Page recovers with a Steinerline. Razor’s Edge ends it at 7:09. Perfectly reasonable seven-minute match that would be at home on Dynamite. **1/4

Page wants the mic post-match (berating Justin Roberts for making him bend over to pick it up). Page has a message for those watchign at ringside – no need for money or praise, but he gave them a lesson on how to be the best (“You’re welcome, on the house!”). To those at home, get used to Page and the winning streak, because he’ll be here for a long time.

Ryo Mizunami (#5 woman, 6-1) vs. Leyla Hirsch (4-2). Yes, we’re already at the main event. Mizunami is coming off of her loss at Revolution. This ought to be a hard-hitting match, though if anyone cheers for either the Russian-born Hirsch or Mizunami with a USA chant I’m disowning the entire ringside area.

Lockup, and after a struggle, Hirsch gives a clean break only to add a forearm. Mizunami charges into more forearms, but Ryo with a shot and she no-sells a tackle. Another shoulderblock goes nowhere, and after an argument, Mizunami charges and gets caught with a forearm by Hirsch. Mizunami won’t let that stand and gets two tackles to follow up, then chops away in Hirsch. Hirsch asks for more, and gets more, finally being staggered as Mizunami gets the Kobashi machine gun chops, including a Brodie Lee tribute before the exclamation point.

Mizunami pulls that rope to fire herself up, but Hirsch recovers and rushes Mizunami into the corner for more forearms. She trips Mizunami and gets a pair of double-knees, but Mizunami catches her and throws her into the corner instead on the second one. Mizunami with a forearm to the head, then a slam and legdrop for two, brother. Camel clutch by Mizunami, then a stomp when Hirsch begins to break. Hirsch fights from underneath, then gets to her feet with forearms. Mizunami cuts her off again, but Hirsch escapes a slam and they clang heads.

Hirsch with a clothesline and she picks Mizunami up, headbutting the gut before being kicked away. Hirsch recovers, scales the ropes, and gets a Frankensteiner and running knee. German suplex follows, then a judo roll into a cross armbreaker try. Mizunami blocks it and drags Hirsch to the ropes. Hirsch with more forearms, but Mizunami fires back and gets a wind-up clothesline. Lariato is signalled, but Hirsch sledges the extended arm and fires back with short-arm clotheslines before running into a lariat. Running legdrop gets two, brother, and Mizunami transitions into a side triangle.

Hirsch escapes and reverses to a cross armbreaker try, kicking away on Mizunami only to get stacked for two. Mizunami with the powerbomb counter, but she can’t follow up and Hirsch gets a lariat for two. Hirsch picks Mizunami up by the hair and gives her another one, for another two. Angle Slam by Hirsch gets two, and Mizunami kicks out into applying a triangle choke, rolling Hirsch around the ring for the tapout at 7:59. My back may have given out just watching this match. **1/2

Today’s lesson, kids: you can never go wrong going home early. Look at Caster/Ryzin: there was a lot of repeating the same arm locks and knee work that didn’t seem to go anywhere. Yes, they were given 6-8 minutes and probably wanted to show they were worth it, but I guarantee you no promoter will get mad if you go short on the undercard. The story of the match should be more valuable than the action of the match, and I’ve seen people make the mistake of going long and losing the crowd. Sometimes, you’ll just know when to end. It’s a skill people need to learn… for example, if I’m wrestling, the time to go home is when the match before mine ends! (rimshot)

But hey, we’re still done by 8:30, which is good. If Elevation and Dark split up the tryout matches, my life will be easier.

STATS

BELL TO BELL – 57:44 over ten matches (average time 5:46)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT – Mizunami vs Hirsch

FIVE STARS:

  1. Ryo Mizunami
  2. Ethan Page
  3. Leyla Hirsch
  4. Orange Cassidy
  5. Danny Limelight

See you tomorrow for more of the goods!