AEW Elevation: March 29, 2021

The PG Era Rant for AEW Elevation Episode 3 (“Wait, you’re doing HOW many matches?”), March 29, 2021.

TONIGHT! Fuego Del Sol searches for that elusive first win, but Ethan Page is undefeated one-on-one in AEW! Frankie Kazarian battles rising star Danny Limelight! Ryan Nemeth and JD Drake go after Best Friends Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy! Bear Country wants their hands on the Butcher and the Blade, but they have to go through Private Party first! Ryo Mizunami battles KiLynn King in a slugfest! Tag team specialists go one on one as Jungle Boy battles Jack Evans! Thunder Rosa and Alex Gracia square off in a battle of Texas talent! And Scorpio Sky has his first match since his change in attitude facing off against Mike Sydal!

PLUS: Gunn Club, Hikaru Shida/Tay Conti, Joey Janela, Alan Angels/Preston Vance, Penelope Ford, Leyla Hirsch. and GYAAAAAAAAAAAHN MOXLEY!

From the AEW Arena.

Jon Moxley isn’t feeling his best, given everything he’s been through and everything Eddie’s been through. But in order to feel better, he’s going to beat somebody up. He’s happy for the opportunity.

WE HAVE AN OPENING! After the show I’ll go back and mark down who made the opening credits.

Opening match: Ryan Nemeth and JD Drake (first time teaming) vs. Orange Cassidy (18-10-1) and Chuck Taylor (30-19). This came about due to last week, when Cassidy beat Nemeth. Nemeth attacked post-match, so Taylor ran in for the save, but Drake – who lost to Taylor on Dark – completed the angle. New music for Cassidy, which indicates we’re meeting him in a very interesting time of his life. (Did I get the reference?)

Taylor and Nemeth start. Nemeth with a kick to stop a lockup and he goes behind to ride Taylor down. He brings Drake in, but Taylor armdrags everyone. Drake gives him one back, so Cassidy tags in. With his sunglasses on. Just kidding, Cassidy tags right back out. Taylor with another armdrag and hold, but Drake backs him into the heel corner and Nemeth takes over. Knees in the corner, but Taylor reverses and chop away. Cassidy in, and a not-quite-double-team back elbow gets Cassidy one, three times over. No, Orange, that doesn’t count as three.

Taylor in now, and Cassidy half-heartedly shoves Nemeth down into a Boston Crab, Drake saves. Nemeth tosses Taylor outside, and Drake gets the rebound forearm. Back in, Nemeth pounds away as Orange gets his sunglasses knocked off. Nemeth with a nostril hook, and Drake comes in with a big slam to set up a headbutt/fistrop combo for two. Taylor fights out of a chinlock but runs into a Manhattan drop and clothesline. Nemeth with a knee to an abdominally stretched Taylor and he chokes him in the ropes.

Uppercut by Nemeth, and Drake in, but Taylor drop-toe holds Drake into a seated Nemeth before getting an uranage. “Hot” tag to Cassidy, and it’s HANDS IN POCKETS as we get the kick sequence. Drake chops Cassidy down to cut off the final kick, but Cassidy kips up and gets a no-hands rana and kip up. Drake tries a powerbomb, but Orange blocks. Drake tries a suplex, but Orange reverses to a Stunner and Tilt-a-whirl DDT, Nemeth saves.

Nemeth with a dropkick to Cassidy, then the Ziggler DDT for two, Taylor saves. Drake and Taylor are legal, but Taylor chucks Nemeth only to get chopped by Drake. Overhead suplex to Orange, but he runs into Taylor’s flying knee. Orange Punch as Cassidy’s legal, Taylor dives onto Nemeth, and Beach Break wins it at 7:03. Surprisingly good match. **1/4

Kip Sabian, Penelope Ford, and Miro come out for sarcastic congratulations. They promise there won’t be a fight and Sabian wishes them luck. Miro, on the other hand, wishes them survival because he’ll go Iron Sheik (though not as explicit) on their bodies. See you soon! Everyone heads to the back. JUST KIDDING SABIAN AND MIRO SWITCH TUNNELS AND ATTACK! Miro beating Taylor with his shoe is the highlight.

Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Enormous Broadcast.

Bill Collier (debut) vs. Jon Moxley (29-2-1, #4 men). People are excited about seeing Big Bill on Elevation – not just Wight – but man, did he draw a bad card to start with. Collier looks a lot like a certain 7-footer who couldn’t be taught, although he’s Moxley’s height.

Lockup, and Moxley gets the arm. He gets a takedown and switches to a keylock. Collier rolls through and reverses, but Moxley shoves him into the corner and chops away. Collier replies, so Moxley gets a forearm and top rope eye rake. Roundhouse right by Moxley, but Collier whips him and gets a dropkick and headlock takedown. Moxley reverses to a headlock of his own, and Collier puts his head down and pays for it. Crossface punches on Collier, getting two. He goes to a surfboard, then a double hammerlock, then teases a Penta armbuster while doing small joint manipulation.

Moxley switches to an STF with a nostril hook. Suplex by Moxley gets two, and he grabs an armlock right off the kickout. Knee strike to the nose by Moxley, then a Yes Kick (Schiavone actually calls it a back leg front kick). Three kicks, but Collier is trying to fire up. He catches Moxley’s big boot and gets forearms, but Moxley breaks a full nelson and gets a German suplex. Piledriver try, but Collier backdrops out. Moxley charges into a boot, and Collier with clotheslines. Moxley slips out of a slam and they slug it out, but Collier catches one and gets a fallaway slam and kip up. Corner clothesline, but Moxley comes off the ropes with one of his own. Piledriver gets two. Bully choke gets the TKO at 5:20. Moxley gives Collier some respect post-match. Tough night at the office for Mox. *1/2

Earlier Today, Cody Rhodes came out to present a special Nightmare Family weightlifting belt to a member of the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of North Florida.

Penelope Ford (w/Kip Sabian) (15-6 overall) vs. Leila Grey (0-2). Hm – if this was the Russo Era, there’s no way Taylor and Cassidy wouldn’t have a receipt for ol’ Kip. No sign of Miro, which is consistent to how he feels about being around family and the ring.

Ford with a series of armdrags to start. They slap each other, then Ford yanks Grey down by the hair and chops her in the corner. One misses and Gray with a right hand, but Ford sends Grey into the corner. Charge misses and Gray with an uppercut and snapmare. Shotgun dropkick gets one. Ford with a jawjacker to regain control, then a schoolboy for one. Ford gets a back kick and kneelift, then a roundhouse kick to floor Grey. Back elbows by Ford in the corner, and Ford gets the handspring elbow and a smash into the middle turnbuckle. Ford drags Grey to the apron and slugs her before adding the double jump double knees. Back in, it gets two.

Middle rope leg choke and a kiss for Sabian, then the catapult choke. Grey ducks a clothesline and gets the comeback into a Thesz Press. Ford cuts it off with a spinning heel kick. Gut Check wins it at 3:39. Grey doesn’t seem that good compared to other enhancement talent, and Ford needs someone who can take the bumps for her. 3/4*

Rex Lawless, Brandon Watts, and Randy Summers (first time as a trio) vs. Gunn Club (Austin, Billy, and Colten) (11-0 as a trio). Gunn Club give gives some love to Wight on their way in. Watts and Summers are a mixed-race tag team known as Milk Chocolate, in one of those things you can only get away with on the indies. (Watts is black, Summers is white.)

Austin and Summers start. Lockup, and Austin with the headlock. Summers to the hammerlock, but Austin reverses. Summers slugs Austin and backs him in the corner. Austin goes up and over on a corner whip, then gets a running trip into a leaping Hennig neck snap. Lawless and Billy tag in, and after going nose-to-nose, they agree to a lockup. Lawless with a go-behind, but Billy reverses. Lawless elbows out, but Billy with an uppercut. Lawless with a forearm off the ropes, but Billy with a low kick and SUPERKICK to take over.

Austin back in, and it’s a Gunn triple-team ending with a Colten hanging neckbreaker for two. Austin must have tagged Colten in, but Colten returns the favor and throws Austin into Lawless. Austin’s second charge airballs, and Lawless with a big boot. Watts comes in and goes ground and pound. He brings Summers in, and a back suplex/lariat combo gets one. Summers brings Lawless in to sledge away on Austin.

Blind charge eats boots, Watts and Summers are disposed of, but Lawless stops the hot tag… enzuigiri. Hot tag Colten, and everybody goes flying. Avalanche Express on Milk Chocolate, then a tilt-a-whirl on Watts and a dropkick to Summers for two, Lawless saves. Billy sends Lawless out, and the 3:10 to Yuma ends Summers at 4:54. Austin and Colten are getting better on every outing, but I’d like to see them against a top trio. *1/4

Alex Marvez interviews Thunder Rosa about the Lights Out match. She’s excited that she was the first Mexican wrestler to have this type of match in AEW. She thanks all the fans who watched it over and over. She won’t take all the credit (unlike Britt). But what’s next? Well, she’s ready to face Alex Gracia tonight – and Rosa has trained Gracia and gotten to see her get better. This is about representing empowerment and representing Latinas…

…which Diamante takes exception to. Rosa just assumes Diamante’s jealous. Diamante, though, points out Rosa isn’t even in AEW technically. But for her win, Rosa put a target on her back. Rosa says she’s used to it. Diamante wants a match, and Rosa will be ready whenever.

Joey Janela (w/Stupid Sexy Sonny Kiss) (1-1 in singles 2021) vs. Chandler Hopkins (debut). Unfortunately, Janela does not run over to praise Kiss’s butt.

They lock up, and Janela with a waistlock, but Hopkins reverses and takes down Janela. Test of strength begins, with Janela getting Hopkins bridged. Hopkins slides out into a hammerlock into a headlock takedown, but Janela switches to legscissors and Hopkins kips out and acts like it was easy. Janela slaps him for his insolence, causing Hopkins to fire away in the corner. Janela reverses and chops him hard as they go around the world, but Hopkins comes off the ropes with a headscissors. Blind charge misses and Janela with a German suplex. Janela with a big right and a chop, then a running cross chop. Hammer Throw gets two. Back suplex out of an arm twist gets two. Janela to the surfboard as commentary notes that Janela likes to control the pace.

Hopkins gets up and punches out, but Janela dumps him. Janela follows with a tope, then throws Hopkins back in and celebrates, so he turns around into a plancha from Hopkins. He goes up, but Janela slams him off. Hopkins with a rolling back kick, but the handspring 540 kick misses. Janela showboats, so Hopkins gets an enzuigiri. Nice one, Joey. Hopkins runs headfirst into a forearm, but recovers with a C4. He doesn’t go for the pin but goes up top instead, and the big frog splash gets a very close two.

He goes up again, not sure what to do next, but a shooting star press hits the knees. Janela shakes it off before nailing a Hansen lariat and SUPERKICK. Falcon Arrow gets two – probably because Janela only leaned on him to cover. Discus forearm is blocked, and Hopkins with a Pele. Running forearm by Hopkins, but Janela catches Hopkins sleeping and gets a Death Valley Driver. Heartbreak Elbow wins it at 7:16. I think this may be a theme in Elevation – allowing the unknown talent a chance to show their stuff. Janela being super-arrogant maybe continuing a theme of his frustration leading to a potential heel turn. Or he’s just Joey Janela. *3/4

Dasha finds Jack Evans (“Again!”). He asks Evans how to prepare, but all Evans needs is his coffee to knock Jungle Boy out. And just to show how disappointed he is with having to face Jurassic Express, he’ll use Jungle Boy’s body to knock out Luchasaurus and Marko Stunt. Angelico dances throughout the interview. (“There is no music playing.” “It’s all up here.”)

Alex Gracia (0-5 in 2021) vs. Thunder Rosa (11-5 overall). As Rosa herself noted earlier, she trained Gracia. Both use the Tex/Mex quasi-lucha style, and I’m always down for a student/teacher match. Remember how good Fuego vs QT was? This could be good too.

Lockup, and they exchange holds and tangle on the mat. Gracia with a front facelock into a hammerlock into a headlock takedown, with Gracia rolling her over for one. Headscissors, but Rosa escapes and keeps head control. Rosa with a deep armdrag, but Gracia gets one of her own. Rosa with an armdrag into a cradle for one, and Gracia with a flying hiptoss. Both women get legsweeps for one, then both try a dropkick before we get a stalemate. They’re enjoying the heck out of this match.

Gracia with a waistlock, but Rosa goes up and over in the corner, rolling Gracia through into a dropkick for two. Rosa to the surfboard, then she slams Gracia’s head down. Turnbuckle smash and chops in the corner, then a cut-off kick and snapmare into a soccer kick for two. Gracia fights back with forearms, but Rosa cuts her off and sends her head-first into the top turnbuckle. Boot choke in the corner follows. Blind charge (off a very awkward cross-corner whip) eats elbow, and Gracia with a headscissors.

Rosa flips out of a tilt-a-whirl and gets a Russian legsweep, then the Mizline in the corner. Double knees to the jaw, then a shotgun dropkick, gets two. Rosa goes for an Island Driver, but Gracia slips out the back and attacks the kidneys. They slug it out, which Rosa wins with a roundhouse kick, and the Fire Thunder Driver gets the win at 5:05. Gracia was kind of sloppy, and this match was a disappointment as a result. 3/4*

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Leyla Hirsch (4-3) vs. Vipress (0-1). Well, Hirsch looked real good last week in the main event of Elevation, so let’s see what happens here. The little I’ve seen of Vipress did not impress me.

Birsch with a quick single-leg and she goes for an amateur pinfall. Half-nelson gets one. She keeps the ride after the kickout and keeps trying for an amateur pinning predicament. Vipress can’t reverse, and Hirsch keeps head control into another one-count. She goes for a side waistlock, and finally Vipress elbows out and makes the ropes. Vipress drops Hirsch on the middle rope, then kicks away on her arm. She hammerlocks the arm around the middle rope, then delivers ax kicks to the back. Boot choke with a pull of the bad arm in the corner follows.

Vipress stomps a mudhole in Hirsch, then gets a rolling armdrag. Hirsch catches a kick and delivers a lariat with her other arm. She checks her bad arm, then picks Vipress up with one arm only for Vipress to elbow out and get a cradle for two. Running kick misses, and Hirsch German suplexes Vipress over and over, powering through the pain. Cross armbar ends it at 3:31. Just a showcase match. 1/2*

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Danny Limelight (3-1 singles) vs. Frankie Kazarian (10-0 overall in 2021, one-half of the #1 team). Fortunately, if Kazarian loses, he doesn’t have to split up with Daniels. The same will be true on Wednesday should he lose to Christian Cage. No sign of Daniels here.

Lockup, and Limelight gets the leverage and does the salsa. Kazarian with a drop toe hold into a side facelock on the next lockup, and he maintains the arm when Limelight tries to break. Limelight manages to reverse, but Kazarian rolls through and gets a drop toe hold into his own armbar. Monkey flip by Kazarian, but Limelight lands on his feet and gets a floatover armdrag and Epico handstand into a mule kick. He springboards off the top to a rana, then adds a casadora. Kazarian reverses to a German, but Limelight lands on his feet only to run into a kneelift and lariat. WRESTLING!

Kazarian with a big chop on Limelight in the corner, and he cuts off a comeback attempt to slug Limelight down. Bradley beal across the ring, then a Hammer Throw into a Russian legsweep for two. Kazarian goes back to controlling the arm, keeping Limelight grounded. Limelight rolls to get to his feet and escape, adding close-quarters forearms, then gets popped up before countering with a Frankensteiner for two. Kazarian and Limelight struggle over something before Kazarian just throws him down. (Nice save.)

Back suplex by Kazarian, then a Hammer Throw that floors Limelight. Big chop by Kazarian to follow, then another Hammer Throw. Kazarian charges into an elbow and kicks him away, then goes up and does the ropewalk diving clothesline. Yes Kicks follow by Limelight, including the last one being spun to the back of his head, but they fight over a Victory Roll and Kazarian drops him in what’s almost a Vertebreaker for two. Quick slam by Kazarian, then a springboard legdrop. Limelight rolls to the apron, but Kazarian tries to suplex him back in.

Limelight fights away and kicks away Kazarian, then gets a shoulder to the gut and SUPERKICK back in. Springboard double stomp off the middle rope gets Limelight two. Double Jump DDT attempt, but Kazarian keeps his base and shoves Limelight into the turnbuckle, then hooks a cross-face chicken-wing of all things for the submission at 8:37. This felt like a fight, and I loved it. *** Christian Cage comes out after the match to congratulate him.

Fuego Del Sol (0-6 in 2021) vs. Ethan Page (2-1). As close as Fuego has gotten lately to winning that first match, I’m not betting on it here. Though they have to give him that first win soon or the momentum will be lost. AEW usually doesn’t do upsets on Elevation or Dark, but every once in a while they should consider it. Also, which is Page’s non-win in a six-way ladder match considered on the same level as a one-on-one defeat? Don’t like that.

Page with some knees to Fuego, and he tries the Ego’s Edge right away, but Fuego slips out and gets a pop-up dropkick. Running spear in the corner and he wants the TORNADO DDT OF DEATH, but Page throws him off and runs him over with a shoulderblock. Page stomps away on Fuego, adding a backbreaker. Page chokes him against the bottom rope, then walks over and Hammer Throws Fuego. He mocks the crowd trying to clap up Fuego before stomping his back.

Elbow to the spine, and he goes to a gut wrench. That’s just what this match needs: a rest hold. Fuego fights his way up and elbows out, but Page holds the trunks and adds a T-Bone into a backbreaker (while taunting Fuego) for two before picking Fuego up. Page yells at the crowd before shoving around Fuego as Fuego crawls to Page’s feet. Page picks Fuego up, so Fuego slaps Page. Blind charge by Page misses, and Fuego gets a Lionsault and SUPERKICK.

Another Tornado DDT try, but Page catches him and puts him back on the top rope. He drops Fuego back-first onto the turnbuckles before throwing him aside. Ego’s Edge ends it at 5:24. Wow, how much of Ethan making him look bad was in character – admittedly, when your name’s All Ego, you’ll do that – and how much was Page having a bad day? He just looked like he wanted to show up Fuego. 1/4*

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AEW Women’s World Champion Hikaru Shida and #1 Contender Tay Conti (first time teaming) vs. Jazmin Allure and Tesha Price (also first time teaming). And hey, the Dark Order comes out to support Conti. Allure and Price have matching outfits.

Price and Conti start, but Allure tags herself in and they double-team Conti. Conti runs them together and does judo throws to Allure before bringing Shida in with a hiptoss. Conti shows Shida how to do it right, so Shida tries again, but Allure with a jawjacker to stop it. Price in, and she goes up and over Shida before hitting a back elbow. Uh oh, it’s screamin’ Tesha this week. Full nelson try, but Shida reverses to a suplex. Allure cuts off Shida, but Conti pump kicks Allure into next week. Stereo running knees in the corner, then stereo ipponzeis, and they both go for a figure-four choke, but everyone makes the ropes. Conti with the DDTay for the pin at 2:14 on Price. Just what they needed. 1/2*

Jack Evans (w/Angelico) (1-3 singles in 2021) vs. Jungle Jack Perry (w/Luchasaurus and Marko Stunt) (one-half of #2 team) (3-0 singles in 2021). Between the techno music of TH2 and Tarzan Boy being used by Perry, this match may have the best music in AEW. With how much they love the guy, you’d think they would throw in intentionally that he’s the son of Hollywood royalty just to make him MORE popular.

Lockup, and Perry with the headlock. Evans arm twists out of it, and the two keep rolling and reversing until Perry gets a headlock takedown. Perry cartwheels over a trip and gets a second headlock takedown, with Evans reversing to leg-scissors and Perry kipping up out of it. Both do a legsweep for a one count, and both try a dropkick at the same time. Perry with a go-behind into a headlock, but Angelico jumps on the apron and that allows Evans to nail the 540 kick. (Luchasaurus tells Angelico to stay out of it.)

Evans sends Perry into the timekeepers’ table before screaming into the house mic. Back in, Evans with a sliding elbowsmash and knees to the head. Russian legsweep gets two. Evans sends Perry into the corner and adds a flying Bionic elbow and floatover suplex for two. Evans keeps pounding Perry down, then slams Perry and adds an armbar. Perry stacks him for two, then powerbombs out of it. An Evans charge eats elbow and Perry chops away, getting a rebound lariat. Suplex try, but Evans gets a small package for two and lands another 540 kick.

Handspring elbow sends both men to the floor. They fight on the floor, with Perry getting a roundhouse kick, but Evans throws Perry into the apron. Flying spinkick off the apron to the floor knocks Perry down. Man, Evans loves that 540. Back in, Evans goes up, but Perry meets him and cuts him off. Evans slips out of a superplex try and gets a spider suplex on Perry. He goes to the top and adds a moonsault try, but handsprings out of it only to run into an overhead suplex by Perry.

German suplex with bridge gets two. Evans flips over the top of another one, and the Backslide Clutc gets two. Evans goes out the back of a slam and gets Northern Lights into a Michinoku Driver for two. Evans goes up top, but Perry catches a missile dropkick into the Snare Trap for the tapout at 8:17. Wow. If this had 15 minutes on Dynamite it would be Match of the Week without any trouble. ***1/4

SPECIAL BONUS MATCH: QT Marshall and Lee Johnson vs. Adam Priest and Aaron Frye. Because what this show needed was more matches. Both sides are teaming together for the first time. QT Marshall will have an exhibition match on Dynamite against Cody Rhodes, and there’s no way that’ll end in Marshall snapping and turning heel, nope, no sir, definitely not.

Marshall and Frye start. Marshall gives a clean break, but Frye punches him and Marshall beats him down. Back elbow out of the ropes and Johnson in with a kick and dropkick. It gets one. Marshall back in, but they can’t get on the same page and Frye runs them together before yanking Marshall off the ropes. Frye boxes away on Marshall, but Marshall comes back only to eat a Knee Plus. Priest in next, and he stomps a mudhole in Marshall. German suplex after ducking a clothesline, and he adds an uppercut. Priest fires away on Marshall, adding an enzuigiri, but Johnson tags in off the bump. Diving neckbreaker on Priest, but Frye gets a dropkick so Marshall tags himself in. He disposes of Frye, and the Diamond Cutter ends Priest at 2:48. Right, okay, they’re not on the same page, got it. 1/2*

KiLynn King (2-1 this year) vs. Ryo Mizunami (#4 woman, 7-1). They say styles make fights. Well, ewhen styles mesh, this could get fun. King is a relative newcomer, in only her second year in wrestling, but she’s got the look she needs which is half the battle. Mizunami has 16 years’ experience, so we’re talking rookie/veteran here. Mizunami even gets the ref to get funky to her music.

They fire themselves up with the crowd’s help before the lockup, and Mizunami gets a waistlock. King reverses into a takedown and front facelock. Mizunami tries an arm twist, but King reverses back to the headlock. They run into each other and neither one moves. We get a shoulder tackle duel, as Round 2 also is a stalemate. We go lightning round, which Mizunami wins with a kick to the gut, but after a corner whip, King explodes out to floor Mizunami. Mizunami takes the chance to wake herself up, and King wants a test of strength (King is 6’0 and Mizunami is 5’3).

And yes, King holds her hand too high, so Mizunami kicks King and gets a knuckle lock to take advantage in the test. King recovers and the two rock back and forth, with King having to bridge, and Mizunami holds the arm down for a left-up, right-up, bridge off of one-counts. King blocks with the legs and rolls up, but Mizunami has King broken down. Mizunami breaks to nail a forearm, but they slug it out and of course Mizunami wins that. Running forearm in the corner by Mizunami, then big chops into the Kobashi machine gun. Mizunami dances up the exclamation point, then PULLS THE ROPE and adds a corner clothesline.

Lightning legdrops get a two, brother. King with a knee to the gut and snapmare to stop the momentum, then a falling elbow smash for two. King now chops Mizunami, who tells her to do it again. King winds up, and she does her own machine gun into a Thunder chop to finish. Mizunami is suitably impressed, but King wants Mizunami to do HER worst. Mizunami fires away, adding her own last shot, and King adds a big boot to stop it.

Mizunami with a clothesline and guillotine legdrop for two, and she goes for the triangle hold. King makes the ropes. Mizunami runs into a spin kick and standing enzuigiri, then King adds a German suplex and shotgun dropkick. Spinebuster gets two. She wants Kingdom Fall, but Mizunami escapes and fires herself up. She blocks the big boot and gets a Saito suplex. King is dazed and walks into a spear, and Mizunami goes to the top. Nagoya Jam wins it at 9:33. That was a blast to watch. **1/2 Look, I know Mizunami will get the lion’s share of the credit and probably should as the veteran, but this was King’s best match in AEW. Plus, the two of them looked to be having so much fun in there. This was a very good indie match. Code of Honor post-match is accepted, then Mizunami chops the ref for fun.

Dark Order (Alan Angels and Preston Vance) (2-3) vs. Vary Morales and D3. Cabana, Silver, and Reynolds guide Angels and Vance out. No sign of Conti, so who knows if she’s official yet. Also no sign of Brodie Jr, which is probably for the best because I’m not ready for him to tell Wight to shut up.

D3 and Vance start. Vance powers D3 into the corner, but D3 with a right hand and headlock. Vance shoves him off and knocks him down on a tackle, then adds a forearm smash to cut off International~!. Angels in, and D3 gets back body dropped into a missile dropkick from Angels. Morales tags in to stop the trouble, getting a hammerlock on Angels. Angels reverses control to a low hiptoss and crucifix for two, then another armdrag. Morales runs to the ropes to break, then slaps Angels, which earns him a receipt from a grinning Angels. Then a forearm. Because seriously, what was he expecting?

Angels tries a suplex, but Morales gets oiut only to run into a belly-to-belly suplex for two. Double jump moonsault airballs, and D3 and Vance come in as Vance runs him over. Second-rope clothesline on D3, then a spinebuster. Morales grabs at Vance’s mask, so Angels clotheslines him off the apron. D3 with a cradle with tights for two, but Vance with a running boot. Angels in with the rope-hang crossbody into Vance’s full nelson for the win at 3:57. They’re really making the full nelson his finisher? 3/4* Even the announcers note the move isn’t done that often anymore.

Dasha interviews Ethan Page, who isn’t surprised he won. He’s going to back up the wins, but for some reason, AEW wants to overlook him. Why wasn’t there a red carpet for him? Where’s the star treatment? He hasn’t even been treated nice by anyone (well, a couple people). But he’s not going to overlook the talent the way AEW does; he’s going out to watch the rest of the show.

Spotlight on Bear Country. They’ve been a team for 3-4 years at this time, but before then they were going nowhere as singles. They were both trained by Brian Myers, so why not give it a whirl? They have value apart, so they should have more value together. It took time to mesh; if you look at them as rookie tag teams, they look different. They didn’t just want to be indie stars, they wanted to be TV stars. Bronson was called Bear since childhood. It’s nice to make a living wrestling, but he wants to provide for his family. They didn’t know what to expect when they were called to Dark to face Uno and Stu, and they impressed Tony and Cody so much that they were invited back. With that, the doubt was gone and they were sure they were going to make it. They wanted to be different and do their best. They’re not handshake guys; they’re fighters. When they heard that AEW wanted to showcase tag teams, they knew they had to be in it. They’re here, and they plan on staying for a long time. This is a place they can hurt people and make a living doing it – in Bear Country.

And with that:

Bear Country (Bear Bronson and Bear Boulder) (5-0 in 2021) vs. Private Party (Isaiah Kassidy and Marq Quen) (w/Matt Hardy) (1-0 in 2021). Bear Country really want a match with Butcher and Blade, but Hardy is sending his other guys after them instead. Not much more to say after that spotlight, so let’s go.

Kassidy and Bronson start. Kassidy takes his time removing his bling from around his neck, then they lockup with Bronson throwing Kassidy down. Headlock, and we go International~!, with Bronson catching Kassidy in a bearhug and suplex. Quen in, and he handstands and gets an enzuigiri. He pokes the bear (well, slaps the bear), leading to Bronson getting a back elbow and senton. Boulder in, and he avalanches Quen into a clothesline from Bronson. Back elbow and clothesline in the corner on Quen as Hardy is nervous, and Quen is so dead he can’t even be whipped across the ring.

But a blind charge eats boots, and Quen gets a missile dropkick. Blind charge eats Boulder’s boot, though, and he brings Bronson in to work the back. Bronson mauls Quen in the corner, and Kassidy tries to break it up before being scared off. He does get an enzuigiri on Bronson, allowing Quen to get a dropkick and pound away before choking him. Twelve to six elbow on Bronson, and Kassidy in to keep Bronson in the corner. Hardy adds a couple of cheap shots behind the ref’s back, and Kassidy keeps stomping the mudhole.

He covers for one, then uses a front facelock to keep Bronson from tagging in. Quen stomps Bronson’s back and Private Party goes for a double-team, throwing Bronson back-first into the corner. Kassidy with a back elbow, and both men hit Poetry in Motion. Kassidy gets two off of it. Quen in, and the two keep front facelocks to keep Bronson away from Boulder. Bronson gets to his base, but Quen with a kneelift and he smacks Boulder, who no-sells. Bronson back body drops Quen, hot tag Boulder. He slams both guys (Kassidy shrieks like a girl while in it), then avalanches both men at once.

Quen has an enzuigiri blocked, then Boulder catches Kassidy on his shoulders. Quen dives, but Boulder catches him, too, and it’s a fallaway slam/Samoan Drop combo. It gets two on Kassidy. Bronson tagged in, but Hardy’s on the apron to distract the ref… only Marko Stunt pulls him off the apron to avoid anything. Bear Country is as confused as anyone else, which allows Quen to kick out the Totem Splash. Double enzuigiri, and Kassidy cradles Bronson with tights for the pin at 8:05. ** Not a fan of Jurassic Express and Bear Country going after each other. Stunt apologizes to Bronson, but Boulder is furious and nearly chokes out Stunt. Perry and Luchasaurus come out to cool things off, but it doesn’t work and we have a pull-apart brawl. Crowd isn’t into this at all – both teams are better faces.

Mike Sydal (first singles match in AEW) vs. Scorpio Sky (3-1 in 2021). Mike unrolls his yoga mat and does the splits during his entrance. Sky now has “The Face of the Revolution” in his introduction. Wight says Sky is still recovering from a torn meniscus.

Lockup, and Sydal gets a headlock. Tackle goes nowhere, and they circle before locking up again. Sky with a waistlock takedown, floating over to a front facelock, then a side headlock. We go International~!, but Sydal gets a prone kick before cartwheeling away from Sky and getting a dropkick and armdrags. He keeps control of the arm, so Sky goes to the ropes and gets a cheap kick off the break. Sky dodges a whirlwind clothesline and heads outside, then catches Sydal getting in with an enzuigiri. Sky boxes away on Sydal in the corner with taped fists, then gets a snapmare and rakes the eyes.

Elbowdrop gets two. He pounds away on Sydal’s head, then adds a shot to the back and ground abdominal stretch. He tosses Sydal out of the ring as Sydal starts pulling himself up, then catches him coming back in with a kick before throwing him in. Back in, backbreaker and he holds it over the knee. Sydal flips out of a back suplex and gets a dropkick to begin the comeback. Matrix dodge leads to an enzuigiri. Running elbow and he goes up and over, landing a SUPERKICK when Sky charges. Leg trip and standing moonsault gets two.

He wants a suplex, but Sky blocks is and fires away. Sydal comes back with a roundhouse kick, but Sky recovers with rolling Germans. TKO try, but Sydal slides out and clubs away. Sky gets a waistlock, but Sydal escapes only to run full-force into a chop block. Heel hook gets the submission at 6:28. Sky keeps the hold on until Matt runs out to save his brother. But as Matt checks on Mike, Ethan Page pounds away on Matt and runs him over. Sky is impressed and leaves with Page. This seems to be leading to a tag match coming up, which I’m fine with. *3/4

And after two and a half hours, it’s over. That show was WAY too long. Which is a shame, because if you cut out the showcase matches and just put the eight matches I hyped up top, you have an incredible show. AEW needs to figure out what to put on Elevation and what to put on Dark – if you put the feature matches on one and the showcases on the other, you’d have a theme and make both easier to watch.

STATS

BELL TO BELL: 92:11 (!!) over sixteen (!!!) matches (average time 5:46)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Perry/Evans

FIVE STARS:

  1. Jungle Boy Perry
  2. Ryo Mizunami
  3. Frankie Kazarian
  4. Jack Evans
  5. Chandler Hopkins

Still better than Raw? For now…

Oh, your credits list — Powerhouse Hobbs, Jungle Boy, Lee Johnson, Danny Limelight, Madi Wrenckowski, Miro, Ryan Nemeth, Orange Cassidy, Brian Pillman, Riho, Ryzin, Shawn Dean, Big Swole, Matt Sydal, Tay Conti, Alan Angels, Preston Vance, Abadon, Austin Gunn, Baron Black, Bear Boulder, Bear Bronson, Billy Gunn, Max Caster, Colten Gunn, Nick Comoroto, Ethan Page, Fuego Del Sol, Griff Garrison, Leyla Hirsch, Red Velvet.