AEW ELEVATION: May 31, 2021

The PG Era Rant for AEW Elevation: Episode 12 (“This Counts as a Breather Episode”), May 31, 2021.

TONIGHT! Tag team action as the Varsity Blonds take on Chaos Project! Red Velvet and Big Swole take on Nyla Rose and the Bunny, who will have a huge entourage! Penta El Cero Miedo has a Lucha Underground reunion as he faces Jack Evans! And fresh off his win in the Casino match, Jungle Boy Perry goes one-on-one with JD Drake!

PLUS, Thunder Rosa, The Acclaimed, Leyla Hirsch, Tay Conti, and THE FANS!

Thunder Rosa is the cold open, sarcastically congratulating Britt Baker for winning the Women’s Title. A new champion has old enemies, like herself. She is making herself the #1 Contender, starting tonight, and will show why Baker is still afraid of her. There was a lot of Spanish that I couldn’t follow, sorry.

From the AEW Arena. WITH FANS!

Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and AEW’s Resident Battle Royal Expert.

Opening match: The Acclaimed (Max Caster and Anthony Bowens) (#5 team, 16-5) vs. Brandon and Brent Tate (debut). “We gotta fight the girls from Sister, Sister?” “Identical twins, too bad you’re both ugly!” “You’re like the vaccine, just two little pricks!” The crowd loves all of this. The Tates are the OVW Tag Champions and recognized as such.

Bowens starts with Brandon (I think). Bowens shoves him back and slugs him down in the corner, adding corner chops. He knocks Brent off the apron, then brings in Caster for the neckbreaker/dropkick combo that THE FANS approve of. It gets two. Caster with a spear in the corner on Brandon, then a back suplex for two, Brent saves. (By the way, commentary hasn’t said which one is which yet either.) Brandon with a chop block on Caster, then a double hiptoss neckbreaker by the Tates into a double elbowdrop, getting less than one for Brent.

He runs into a big boot, then Bowens and Caster hit a sunset flip into a neckbreaker. Bowens stands over Brent and lifts him up into a reverse rack, but Brent slips out. Brandon stops Brent and tags in, and Brent gets an enzuigiri only for Brandon to run into a discus punch from Bowens. Caster turns Brent inside out with a Steinerline, and the Critically Acclaimed ends Brent’s night. Acclaim to Fame pins Brandon at 3:44. Good choice for an opener. 1/2*

We go to last night as Tony Schiavone interviews Jungle Boy Perry. Jungle/Omega will be in two weeks. This interview is taking place after the show when everyone’s gone home, with Perry in street clothes. Perry says he’s been close before, but he’s done it this time and it was worth the wait to do it in front of THE FANS. Now, he’s got the biggest match of his life with Kenny Omega. Speaking of, Schiavone talks about what Omega and Callis will do to remain champion… and here comes Christian Cage.

He apologizes for jumping in, but says he’s upset – he doesn’t like to lose. To be a champ, you have to hate to lose more than you love to win. But Christian has no doubt this is Perry’s life’s dream, then he remembers taking a picture with Perry and his dad back in 2005. Cage, though, isn’t convinced that Perry has that hate-to-lose. Cage repeats what he said that night: go get the gold. But before we can go any further, Matt Hardy comes out, furious at being betrayed during the match last night. He and Cage argue, allowing Private Party to jump Cage from behind for a 3-on-1. So Perry dives out of the ring onto Hardy and Private Party, sending them running before checking on Cage.

Leyla Hirsch (11-3, #5 women) vs. Robyn Renegade (0-2). No face time for the hosts, which is fine. Hirsch is a big hit with THE FANS right now.

Lockup, and Renegade shoves Hirsch away and poses. She then piefaces Hirsch, which is a big mistake, as Hirsch gets a double-leg and pounds away. She takes the back and rolls her around, then messes with her hair before letting her up. Hirsch grapples Renegade and looks for the arm, but Renegade bails to the ropes. Hirsch ducks a lariat and gets a crucifix for two, then another for two, before Renegade stacks Hirsch for two. Straight right from Renegade and she picks her up, but Hirsch slides out into a sunset flip for two. Renegade catches the Shining Wizard and gives Hirsch a back body drop.

Double knees in the corner and she shoves Hirsch down before covering with one foot… for one. Renegade toys with Hirsch, which infuriates her, but Renegade cuts off a strike with a chop only for a slugfest to ensue. Renegade with a knee to the gut and she picks Hirsch up again, but Hirsch elbow out and gets a release German suplex and Shining Wizard. Armbar gets the submission at 3:20. Note to self: don’t get Leyla Hirsch angry. 1/2*

Brian Pillman says he’s no stranger to chaos, since every time he gets ahead, the demons show up. It’s like how Serpentico tries to get in his way, but he’s started a fight he can’t finish. Garrison adds that they’re ripping the head off the snake, and they’ll be back on their way to being AEW Tag Champions.

Thunder Rosa (13-2, #2 women) vs. Reka Tehaka (0-5). Huge pop for Rosa’s entrance. Let’s see if Thunderstruck gets sung like the talent would do. Excalibur takes over for Schiavone in this match.

Lockup, and Rosa trips Tehaka into an STF and front facelock and yes, THE FANS are chanting Thunderstruck. She goes to a waistlock, but Tehaka reverses to a headlock. We go International~!, ending with an armdrag by Rosa,. She follows with a slam and running senton for two. Tehaka chops to take control and hangs Rosa on the top rope, landing a pump kick before Rosa can escape. It gets one. Tehaka with a chop, but Rosa reverses to a snapmare and soccer kick. Modified keylock follows, but Tehaka stacks her for two.

Rosa switches to a double armlock before picking Tehaka up and chopping her in the corner. Tehaka escapes with a Samoan headbutt, then gets a Hammer Throw only for Rosa to sidestep and send Tehaka into the post. Rosa follows with a clothesline and double knees, then a shotgun dropkick. Butterfly suplex gets two. Tehaka tries to fight back with chops and rights, adding a cross-chop after sending Rosa into the ropes. Samoan Drop is set up, but Rosa slides out and chops away on Tehaka. Now Rosa has Tehaka up into a Death Valley Driver, and the Peruvian Choke ends it at 4:28. Tehaka looked decent in this one, and that’s something Rosa’s good at – making her opponent look okay. 3/4*

Pento El Cero Miedo yells in Spanish. According to Abrahantes, he said that they will meet the Young Bucks on Friday. Penta and Evans have met all the time in Mexico, but this is Elevation, and this is Casa del Penta. CERO!

Chaos Project (Luther and Serpentico) (9-12) vs. Varsity Blonds (Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison, w/Julia Hart) (11-4, #4 team). Man, THE FANS missed live wrestling so much they’re giving Chaos Project a pop. Schiavone’s back after taking the last match off. Chaos Project is one of the few name teams with a losing record. And wow, the Blonds are wildly over. The Blonds are looking to rebound after losing the tag title match.

Pillman leaps over Serpentico, knocks Luther off the apron, and works Serpentico with armdrags before a wristlock. Big chop as he holds the wrist, then a corner clothesline and in comes Garrison. Garrison with a slam and Pillman returns with a slingshot senton. He then brings Garrison in with a legdrop, getting Pillman two. Garrison is tagged in now, and they get a dropkick Hart Attack for two. Pillman wants back in, and the Blonds get a hanging double back suplex for two. (Schiavone calls him “Flyin Brian” out of habit.)

He tries a suplex, but Serpentico escapes only to get hit with a BACK body drop. Luther gets hit as well, but he recovers to drag Pillman out of the ring and send him into the barricade. Back in, Luther tags in and throws Serpentico into double knees on Pillman for two. Butterfly suplex by Luther, then a pair of kneedrops, and he tags Serpentico in. Serpentico is less than thrilled, as he gets drop toe held into giving Pillman some headbutts to the gut (Luther MAY have added a few more) for two. Serpentico with a snapmare and soccer kick, then a ground cobra clutch.

Serpentico tosses Pillman from the ring and tags in Luther, then knocks Garrison off the apron so Luther can work Pillman over on the floor. He slams Pillman on the floor, then asks Serpentico to go up top. Serpentico eventually agrees, and they get ready for a rocket launcher, but Julia Hart gets in the way and Garrison slams Serpentico off the top. Pillman gets back in, and Luther’s blind charge eats boot, hot tag Garrison.

Clotheslines to Serpentico, into a slam. Long-distance Stinger Splash misses, but Garrison recovers with a huge big boot. Second try works, and a flapjack follows for two. Pillman tags in and they want the spike powerbomb, but Luther intercepts Pillman and Garrison is dumped. Serpentico kicks Pillman off the top and tosses Luther onto Garrison, then goes up with the senton bomb for two. Luther is brought in legally, and he gives Pillman some knee strikes to set up Creeping Death. It connects, but Garrison saves. Garrison backdrops Serpentico out, but Luther boots Garrison. Another pump kick misses, and the Discus Punch into Air Pillman pins Luther at 7:36. THE FANS were into this one. **1/2

Last night, Tony talked to Dustin Rhodes in the empty arena. We see clips of Nick Comoroto using the cowbell to KO Dustin so he could be eliminated, explaining their Bullrope match coming up on Friday. Dustin says Comoroto saw fit to knock him in the head, but in doing so he awakened the beast. He doesn’t care about Comoroto’s size and strength, because he’s faced many before that tried to end his career and failed. Here’s where the differences are: Comoroto has the power, but not the passion. Passion drives Dustin, and it will see him to the end. Comoroto played stupid games, and he’s getting a prize upside his head on Friday. Dustin says he’s unbeaten in bullrope matches, and he doesn’t care how far he has to drag Comoroto; he will bulldog him to Hell.

Big Swole and Red Velvet (5-0 as a team) vs. Nyla Rose (32-13) and The Bunny (15-6). I forgot how much THE FANS love to hate Vickie Guerrero. “Where’s all my fellow cougars at?” She makes Roberts model for the ladies before kicking him out of the ring. And then Vickie calls the Bunny “Allie”, which I believe was the name she gave up when Havok killed her in Impact. Blade and Private Party accompany them to ringside. No sign of fellow dancer KiLynn King at this show. Schiavone sings along with SWOLE! SWOLE!

Velvet and Bunny start. Velvet with a waistlock, but Bunny stomps on the foot to reverse. She takes Velvet down and slaps her hair around before getting a headlock. We go International~!, ending with a leg lariat from Velvet as Swole and Rose enter. Swole with a kneelift and she strikes away, adding a chop block and senton on a kneeling Rose for two. Velvet tags back in, and they kick her down before getting a double Flatliner to set up Velvet’s moonsault for two.

Spinkick by Velvet, but Vickie grabs the leg. Velvet ducks Rose, but runs into a double-team Hotshot and spinebuster for two. She picks up Velvet by the throat and tosses her into the Bunny’s boot in the corner. Rose adds a cannonball, and Bunny tags in with a sliding elbow for two. She steps on Velvet’s hand as Schiavone cringes over the stud in Bunny’s tongue. She yanks Velvet down by the hair to cut off a comeback, then gets a Hammer Throw with Vickie tripping her as she lands. Bunny stands on Velvet’s head before bringing Rose in for a series of body blows.

Snapmare and soccer kick follow, then Rose drops the elbow on Velvet’s head while mocking the stir it up. Slam by Rose, but the kneedrop misses. Velvet with a dropkick and she goes up, and the diving crossbody gets two. Forearm shots to Rose, but she runs into a goozle. Chokeslam by Rose gets two. Now Rose goes up top, but the senton bomb airballs, and THE FANS cheer Velvet on to get the hot tag to Swole.

Bunny bumps like crazy for Swole cross-chops, then Swole with a forearm and cutter. Bunny ducks Dirty Dancing, but she runs into the Samoa Joe uranage in the corner for two. Bunny stomps on the foot, but Swole looks for a back suplex only for Rose to tag herself in and run over Swole. Samoan Drop is teased, but Swole elbows out. Rose disorients Swole with an ear clap, but Swole ducks a clothesline and gets Dirty Dancing for two, Bunny saves. Bunny dumps Velvet, but Swole knocks Bunny outside. Big headbutt by Swole, but Bunny hits Swole with an international object and Rose covers for the win at 8:49. No chemistry in this match and the heat segment went on too long. **

Alex Marvez asks Joey Janela about his match with Adam Page. Janela reveals he got a chipped tooth from the match. Marvez then asks why Janela abandoned Kiss, and Janela says he got a migraine from the match and couldn’t think straight. Janela couldn’t even remember where he was. He and Kiss are still a thing, like “apples and oranges”. His words, not mine. He’ll watch Sonny’s back, friends to the end. Janela then says Marvez is his friend, but apparently he ghosted Marvez on the beach. Hey, service is bad on the beach. Let’s try again next week. Janela as a space cadet heel could work.

Jack Evans (w/Angelico) (16-27 total) vs. Penta El Cero Miedo (w/Alex Abrahantes) (8-4). Yes, THE FANS are doing the Angelico dance. Well, a few of them are. I guess this confirms that the Death Triangle are at least tweeners – or at least Penta is a face even if PAC remains a heel. Penta gets a huge pop and exchanges the Cero Miedo hand sign with a kid in the front row. A huge Cero Miedo chant breaks out.

Penta removes the glove to start as Evans warms up his kicks. Even tossing it to Abrahantes gets a pop. Evans cuts off the Cero Miedo and taunts Penta, but the ring isn’t as well mic’d as before. Schiavone: “He’s monologuing, guys!” So Evans gets a clap-up from THE FANS and break dances, only to get kicked hard with upside down. Evans escapes the package piledriver, but tries to back roll only to get kicked AGAIN in the gut while upside down. Fear Factor is escaped again, and Evans recovers with a 540 kick before pounding away.

He then ties Penta’s mask to the middle rope, leaving him open to a dropkick. The ref frees Penta as Evans picks him up and sends Penta into the buckle. Double knees in the corner sets up a snap suplex by Evans for two. Hammer Throw by Evans, then the handspring elbow and springboard kick set up the twisting moonsault press for two. Evans goes up, but Penta dodges the 450 only to walk into a Northern Lights suplex and Falcon Arrow for two. Penta stops a back body drop with a huge kick, then gets a pair of Sling Blades for two.

Silencio Chop in the ropes on Evans, but he gets low bridged to the outside and Evans tries a Space Flying Tiger Drop… that misses as Penta adds a Sling Blade on the floor. Back in, it gets two (Evans’ foot is on the rope). Penta sets the foot on the middle rope and kicks the rope hard to hurt Evans. He adds a running thrust kick in the corner, but a third Fear Factor try leads to an Evans jack-knife for two, as Evans is again in the ropes. Evans protests, then turns around into a SUPERKICK. Penta goes up, shoves off Evans, and gets a Destroyer off the middle rope. Fear Factor ends it at 6:56. Lots of stalling, but Penta is crazy over. *3/4

Tay Conti (#3 women, 13-3) vs. Ashley D’Amboise (0-3). Conti has been a major star in the no-fans era, and it’s great to hear THE FANS embrace her when she comes out. Conti is absolutely thrilled to hear them, too.

Lockup goes nowhere. D’Amboise with a waistlock takedown, but Conti shoves her off and gets her own waistlock. D’Amboise reverses, but Conti goes behind and cradles her for two. Knee to the gut and Hammer Throw, but D’Amboise avoids the charge and gets a cradle for one. Dropkick follows, but Conti elbows out and gets a monkey flip for one. She wants a cross armbreaker, then adjusts to ground headscissors. D’Amboise gets to the ropes. She sends Conti outside, but when she follows she runs into a forearm and whirlybird backbreaker. Back in, Conti with a judo throw and she maintains wrist control into a pump kick. Clotheslines follow. Hammer Throw leads to a pump kick in the corner, then another from the side. D’Amboise doesn’t want to be dragged, so Conti kicks the arms away and gets Gory 2 Sleep into the DDTay for the win at 3:31. Conti was having a blast out there. 1/2*

J.D. Drake (with Cezar Bononi, Peter Avalon, and Ryan Nemeth) (3-8) vs. Jungle Boy Perry (with Luchasaurs and Marko Stunt) (de facto #1 contender, 6-1 in 2021). The shirt is gone! Not sure where it went, but the the Wingmen don’t seem to mind that Drake has gone back to a singlet. If you watched yesterday, you know darn well that Perry is crazy over. THE FANS are totally into this one, and Stunt helps pump them up. I wonder if this was the first match taped.

Lockup, and Drake sends Perry into the corner. Chop misses from Drake, but not from Perry. Perry with a waistlock, but Drake elbows out in the corner and gets a forearm. Hammer Throw follows, but Perry stops a charge and gets a rana and big chop of his own. He blocks Drake’s return and does a lucha armdrag to him, following with a dropkick as Drake bails and everyone regroups to the cheers. Perry then dives onto Nemeth and Bononi to be safe, but Drake picks him up and hits him with the rebound forearm.

Back in, Perry tries to fight from underneath only for Drake to slam him back down. Perry kicks away, but Drake catches the boot and ducks an enzuigiri to stomp Perry. Senton follows for one. We HIT THE CHINLOCK as Stunt fires up THE FANS, so Perry elbows out only to run into a dropkick for two. Drake kicks Perry’s spine and demands a fight back, then drops him with a roundhouse for two. Drake chokes Perry in the corner as we get a Tarzan Boy singalong. Drake works over Perry in the corner, but Perry fires up with kicks and a back elbow on a charging Drake.

He strikes away for the comeback, adding a low dropkick and return lariat. Drake backdrops Perry to the apron, but he comes back with a step-through DDT for two. Yes Kicks to Drake, but Drake gets to his feet and tanks a clothesline. He ducks another one and gets a swinging neckbreaker as Perry rolls to the apron on the Wingmen’s side. Everyone makes sure there’s no interference, but Avalon prevents Perry from springing in and after a fight outside, Drake catches Perry with a uranage. Cannonball follows, then the Claymore for two. Drake goes up, but Perry is up before Drake can react. Sunset flip bomb and Snare Trap get the win at 7:34. Schiavone notes that the Perry/Omega match in two weeks will be between the two men with the most AEW wins. Worthy main event. **3/4

Well, if having a crowd back means we’ll have more reasonable shows in terms of match total (if not length), I can live with it. I sincerely hope Daily’s Place remains the site for Dark and Elevation, though I imagine one or the other will be filmed from Dynamite sites. This would limit the length of the shows, likely to only two or three matches before Dynamite (assuming Rampage is from the same site – they haven’t said).

But here’s the key part: having fans is HUGE. I know I overdid the gag of noting them, but man the difference between “just the extras at ringside providing atmosphere” and “a full crowd playing along with every match” is phenomenal. I can tell you from experience: fans MAKE wrestling. You can do okay without it, but a bad show can become salvageable and a good show can become great with a hot crowd.

Thus far, AEW hasn’t provided any reason for the crowd to stop enhancing the show, and man, is Dynamite going to be fun from now on. I just hope I still have good shows to review.

STATS

BELL TO BELL – 45:58 over eight matches (average time 5:45)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT – Perry/Drake

FIVE STARS:

  1. Jungle Boy Perry
  2. Brian Pillman Jr.
  3. Max Caster
  4. JD Drake
  5. THE FANS

Let’s have more fun tomorrow!