AEW Elevation: July 26, 2021

The PG Era Rant for AEW Elevation, Episode 20 (“Mostly Killer, A Tad Filler”), July 26, 2021.

TONIGHT! Eddie Kingston returns to the solo act as he faces Serpentico! Jora Johl is put through his Hardy Family paces against Luchasaurus! It’s big meaty men slapping meat when Bear Bronson goes against Wardlow! Jungle Boy prepares for his six-man tag by taking on Marq Quen! Angelico looks to tie Marko Stunt in knots! Scorpio Sky hopes to avoid an upset against Fuego Del Sol! Women’s tag action as Kris Statlander and Tay Conti face Madi Wrenckowski and the Bunny! PAC is back in singles action against Best Friends’ Chuck Taylor! And the Lucha Bros face off against the Dark Order’s Alan Angels and Preston Vance!

Also in action – Yuka Sakazaki, Thunder Rosa, and a trio of Billy and Colten Gunn and Brock Anderson of Team Nightmare!

From Garland, TX.

Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Paul Wight. Eddie “Mr. Excitement” Kingston joins them for the first few matches.

Opening match: Marq Quen (w/Angelico, Isaiah Kassidy, and Jora Johl) (one-half of #4 team, 14-5) vs. Jungle Boy Perry (w/Luchasaurus and Marko Stunt) (#2 men, 12-2). Quen gets the velvet rope treatment for his entrance. Kingston is startled by Jungle Boy’s pyro. “I didn’t want it for my entrance, but I forgot about others!” Wight assures him they have fire extinguishers.

Quen is bemused by the singing as the match begins. Lockup, and Quen gets a waistlock, but Perry reverses to a hammerlock and headlock takedown. Quen with a neck-scissors, but Perry escapes only for Quen to dodge a headlock. They stand up to reset, and we go International~!, with Perry having an O’Connor Roll blocked only to cradle off a moonsault attempt for one, and back to the headlock takedown. Perry switches to a knuckle-lock and gets his flipping armdrag, but Quen backflips out of it and sticks the landing!

So Perry dropkicks him and kips up on his own. Perry chops Quen, who comes back with a knee smash. Back elbow by Perry and he clubs away, but Kassidy jumps on the apron for a Silly String attempt. Perry catches Quen and runs Private Party together before measuring Quen for big chops. Quen skins the cat backwards off of a chop and forearms Perry, then works him over in the ropes. Kassidy trips Perry, and everyone yells on the outside as Quen chokes Perry against the turnbuckle. Big chop to Perry, then a Hammer Throw.

Side note: Kingston and Wight are INCREDIBLE together on commentary.

Quen with a second Hammer Throw, but a charge eats knee. Perry runs into the Side Effect by Quen, though, but Quen doesn’t cover. He wants Twist of Fate, but Perry shoves him off and gets a back elbow and right hands. Perry trips Quen and lariats him hard for the comeback. Suplex try, but Quen escapes only to get sent to the outside. Perry follows with a tope suicida, then another one to Kassidy for good measure. Quen is back up and nails a quebrada, but it hits Luchasaurus by mistake. Quen and Perry get a double clothesline and everyone’s down on the outside – okay, both wrestlers are. Johl and Angelico check on Private Party with the ref counts. Quen’s in at 8, Perry at 9.

Perry with a SUPERKICK to Quen, then he gets sent to the apron and TAGS Quen hard. He goes up, but Quen with a Pele to stagger him and he follows. Superplex try, but Perry headbutts Quen down and sets up to follow. Kassidy draws Marko Stunt in, allowing Angelico to hold Perry’s foot and Private Party to get Gin And Juice. It took too long (Kingston and Wight are all on it), and Perry’s up at two. The referee ejects Stunt as Quen goes up top, but the Shooting Star Press misses and Perry’s Snare Trap ends it at 8:59. Special bonus bit: Kassidy and Angelico were in Quen’s line of sight, trying to move the rope to him, but Luchasaurus chases them away. What an opener. ***1/4

AEW Elite GM app ad.

Yuka Sakazaki (4-1) vs. Amber Nova (0-2). Kingston says Dallas loves Yuka, and Tony asks how you couldn’t.

Wight: “Don’t take Nova lightly; she can go.”

Kingston: “You have to be able to go to be in AEW.”

Yuka with a snapmare to start, but Nova pulls herself up and gets one of her own. They exchange cradles for two-counts, then Yuka gets a headlock. Waistlock by Nova, armlock by Yuka, so Nova slugs out and gets a hammer throw. Yuka comes back with a hiptoss and dropkick, but Nova escapes a suplex and gets a Rude Awakening for two. Nova goes ground and pound as Kingston is impressed with how hard her shots are. Yuka is sent into the corner and Nova smashes her before adding a back heel kick. She tosses Yuka down (Kingston: “Get on her, she’s hurting!”), but Nova pulls out the WASHRAG OF DOOM, cleans herself, and rubs it in Yuka’s face. She throws the rag onto Yuka, which angers her, but Nova cuts her off and gets a Northern Lights for two.

Yuka grabs the ropes to block an Irish whip and forearms Nova, then gets a running gamengiri in the corner. She goes up, landing a spinning back elbow on Nova, then leaps up to the top for a missile dropkick for two. Yuka gets a fallaway slam (almost a Northern Lights bomb, per Kingston) and goes to the ropes, but the springboard splash this the knees and Nova gets two. Yuka with forearms to a charging Nova, ending with a rolling elbow and hammerlock airplane spin facebuster to win at 5:04. Yuka’s got some great underdog energy, which will be useful against people AEW wants to be heels. *1/2

Thunder Rosa (#2 women, 19-2) vs. Myka Madrid (debut). Note to Kenny and company: if Thunder Rosa isn’t the one to dethrone Britt Baker, you dun goofed. She is crazy over, and carrying the Texan flag only helps.

Rosa with a waistlock to sart, but Madrid switches to a wristlock. Rosa into a headlock-hammerlock-headlock-hammerlock-headlock-takedown combination, but Madrid gets back up and tries to hold the arm. Rose slaps the ribs to reverse and gets the arm, adding shoulderblocks and dropping Madrid. Rosa gets a top wristlock to keep control, then they exchange deep armdrags. Rosa with a hammer throw, but a charge eats elbow. Madrid comes off the top, but is intercepted by Rosa with a dropkick! Rosa stomps away on Madrid and chokes her against the middle rope with her shin as Wight and Kingston joke about how confident Rosa is.

Rosa works Madrid over in the corner as she gets a chant, but a charge is caught by Madrid into a Tarantula (Kingston calls out Tajiri too). Diving legdrop misses, though, and Rosa gets the Mizline and double knees. Shotgun dropkick follows, setting up a suplex try. Madrid shoves off, so Rosa improvises with a Claymore and Peruvian Choke to win at 3:42. Rosa gets a huge pop. *

AEW Dynamite ad.

Jora Johl (w/Private Party, The Blade, and Angelico) (0-3) vs. Luchasaurus (11-4). Kingston doesn’t understand why Johl is being treated like dirt, leading to a discussion as to what’s dues paying and what’s straight-up hazing. Interestingly, the rest of Jurassic Express stays in the back (Stunt has a match coming up, Perry is cooling off).

Johl isn’t sure how to handle Saurus, but charges after Angelico’s distraction… and gets caught. Big chop by Saurus as commentary goes on a hilarious rant about body types, but Johl ducks a blind charge and SUPERKICKs Saurus. That just ticks him off, so Saurus lands a pair of chops and a release German suplex. Angelico’s back up, so Saurus chokeslams him onto everyone else and Tailwhips Johl. Pin with one hand ends it at 1:21. NR Commentary is almost worth watching this episode even if you’re not a fan of gratuitous dark matches.

Scorpio Sky (10-1) vs. Fuego Del Sol (1-22). Now normally, Ethan Page would come out and do commentary on Sky’s matches, but (1) Eddie Kingston’s already there, and (2) Ethan is still recovering from that coffin match in kayfabe. Tickets still available in Charlotte for Fight for the Fallen. Fuego gets a very nice pop from the Dark crowd, which thrills Kingston even.

Face-off to start, but Sky shoves Fuego away and gets shoved back. Aggressive lockup, and Sky gets Sol in the corner. Sol ducks a cheap shot on the break and shakes his head. Sky is impressed with the thinking, and we lock up again with Sky getting a waistlock. Fuego reverses and rides Sky like he’s a bronco before Sky lands a back elbow and slugs down Sol. Backbreaker is escaped, though, and Sol gets a dropkick and deep armdrag. Sky gets up and tries a slam, but Sol slips out the back only to run into a rising knee and cross-chop from Sky (Kingston: “This is professional wrestling! Do not play here!”)

Wight: “This isn’t where the Big Boys play?”

Kingston: “We’re going there now?”

Tony: “Don’t give me PTSD, guys.”

Sky works over Fuego as the crowd chants for Fuego, then gets an uppercut and listens for the boos. Fuego fights back only to get kicked, and Sky with a big-time backbreaker and hold. Sky goes to take the mask off (MASSIVE heel heat for this), but the referee tells him to stop that. Sol recovers with a back elbow and knees before leaping off the middle rope with a dropkick and kip-up. Fuego with an enzuigiri after a block, and he follows with a corner spear. Stinger Splash misses, though, and Sky tries the TKO. Fuego escapes and low-bridges Sky out on a charge, and Sol follows with an Asai moonsault from the middle turnbuckle to the outside! TORNADO DDT OF DEATH is set up… but Sky shoves him off and lands a running boot. TKO connects for the pin at 5:05. Crowd was into this one. **1/4

Angelico (8-6) vs. Marko Stunt (18-26). Rounds 3 of Hardy Family Office vs Jurassic Express, as the HFO looks to avoid the sweep. The Angelico vibe is really over. Marko Stunt even gets a nice pop, considering he’s just a mascot and enhancement guy. Kingston calls Stunt a “little pitbull”, which is a neat analogy. Angelico is NOT taking Stunt seriously.

We observe there’s about 16 inches of height difference between the two as Stunt flexes for the crowd, to Angelico’s amusement. Hey, it gets him over. Marko ducks a lockup and grabs a headlock, which Stunt puts back on because Angelico had to drop to one knee to shove him off. Stunt with a slingshot headlock takedown into a front chancery, but Angelico leverages on top for one. Stunt with a satellite armdrag on Angelico, but he runs into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Angelico toys with Stunt and shakes him by the hair, then stomps him right in the gut as Kingston puts over Angelico’s AAA credentials. Stunt tries to fight back, but Angelico knees him down and gets a spinning kimura and armbar into some wacky neck choke. He pulls the hair, so the ref forces a break.

Stunt grabs the bottom rope for dear life to stop Angelico from dragging him, then he rolls away as Angelico goes to the apron and kicks the middle rope into Angelico’s groin to take over. He boxes Angelico in the corner, adding a running dropkick to the face and running pump kick to a seated Angelico. Stunt slides through Angelico’s legs and gets a springboard crossbody, then a rana. Angelico bails, so Stunt follows with a tope suicida into a Tornado DDT on the floor! (Fuego Del Sol needs to steal that move.)

Back in, Stunt goes up top, and the elbowdrop connects. Stunt races right into a big boot from Angelico, though, and Angelico gets a hammerlock Torture Rack to get the win at 4:46. He holds it for too long and keeps attacking after the bell, though, but the referee separates them so no damage is done. Perfectly good big/little match. *1/2

Let Us Take You Back to Bunny vs Statlander, as Orange Cassidy intercepts the knuckles and gets Statlander the pin. Later, Blade knocks out Cassidy, but Statlander gets the pin anyway. This leads to…

…Alex Marvez interviews The Bunny about troubles with her and The Blade. Bunny asks if it’s being implied they’re losers, and Marvez backtracks. The only reason Blade lost was because of Statlander, of course. Bunny has the overwhelming urge to rip Kris’ face off and drag her down the Rabbit Hole. Sweet Revenge? “Sure.” And with that…

The Bunny (5-3) and Madi Wrenckowski (3-5) vs. Tay Conti (#3 women, no chyron) and Kris Statlander (#4 women, 10-0). Kingston confirms that Bunny has no soul, while reminiscing about giving Madi a seminar back in the day. Conti high-fives all the kids at ringside on her way down. Kingston says Statlander will be Women’s Champion by 2023. Faces share a boop for camaraderie.

Statlander and Bunny start. Except Bunny brings Madi in and shoves her into some armdrags. Conti in for a judo takedown and roll-over into sayonagis. Catatonic follows, for two. Statlander back in, and they trap Madi into a Spin Cycle-like slam. Conti tags back in as Statlander holds Madi’s fists to her own ears, and Conti adds a SUPERKICK for two. Bunny with a kick from the apron, so Conti knocks her silly and sends her to the apron. Madi avalanches Conti for two. Madi with a Nash choke and she brings Bunny in, who gives Conti a hairpull slam and sliding forearm for two.

Madi back in with forearms , but a blind charge misses and Conti with a gutbuster. Both women get high roundhouse kicks for the double-down, and Bunny and Statlander tag in for the hockey fight. Statlander cuts off a ripcord and tries an uppercut, but has to block a backslide and the two just slug it out. Statlander wins that with a roundhouse kick into a Falcon Arrow for two. Big Bang Theory is set up, but Bunny cradles out of it for two before landing her own SUPERKICK for two. Bunny just about loses her mind, then tries a TKO, but Statlander shoves her into Madi. Madi tags herself in and charges into a powerslam for two, Bunny saves.

EVERYBODY INTO THE POOL and the face with stereo kneelift expresses (though Bunny bails out early). Statlander tosses Madi into a pump kick for Conti, and the Big Bang Theory wins at 5:41. Good job advancing the story without giving anything away. *1/2 Conti and Statlander pose with a very confused Aubrey Edwards post-match.

Bear Bronson (9-11) vs. Wardlow (5-1). BUT FIRST, Jake Hager comes out to join commentary as Kingston goes to the back to prepare for his match. Hager: “Maybe I came here to fight; maybe I just came here to have some fun. We’ll see.” Wardlow sees Hager on commentary and the two glare at each other. No sign of Bear Boulder, who I think is still rehabbing his injury. Wardlow turns his back on Bronson during intros, then flips off Hager.

Staredown to start. Lockup ends in a stalemate. Wardlow again looks at Hager before locking up again, and after a long struggle, we again break without a winner. Wardlow with a waistlock takedown on Bronson, who comes back up with a right cross. He ducks a right hand and begins a slugfest with both men rocking the other. Wardlow seems to win, but Bronson blocks the coup de gras and gets his own. Exploder try, but Wardlow elbows out and gets a release German suplex. Suplex throw by Wardlow, then a fireman’s carry, but Bronson elbows out. Wardlow retains control with a kneelift and sets up a powerbomb, but Bronson backdrops out and Earthquakes him for two.

Bronson with the trapping clotheslines, but he goes off the ropes for the exclamation point only to get destroyed with a lariat. Wardlow rushes Bronson in the corner and works him over with uppercuts and shoulderblocks. Spinebuster out of the corner follows. Wardlow sets Bronson on the corner, and the Casualty of War gets the ref stop at 4:32. Wardlow yells for Hager to get in, and Hager takes the headphones off before just staring at him like a piece of meat. A little slow for the purpose, but when they got started it was a decent hoss fight. *1/4

Alex Marvez joins the Elite GM Tournament winner, as he picks Lee Johnson’s opponent tonight on Elevation. If he wins, he’ll face Miro on August 4. The winner’s decision? Luther. Aubrey Edwards even gives him a special belt for winning. Go get it for your phone now.

So let’s do this, shall we?

Luther (w/Serpentico) (12-27) vs. Lee Johnson (w/Dustin Rhodes) (8-2). I’m wondering who all was on the list of contenders the Elite GM winner could pick from, because I doubt they wanted to make Johnson’s final obstacle seem overwhelming for him. As a reminder, if Johnson wins, he gets a TNT Title shot against Miro. If? The winner’s name is James Darnell, and he gets his own chyron. Kingston’s back on commentary for some reason. Guys, I think these matches are shown out of order.

Lockup, and Johnson gets a headlock. Johnson ducks a spinkick from Luther and gets an armdrag, but Luther comes back with knees to the gut and a snapmare before hooking a top armlock. Johnson reverses the arm work, so Luther slugs him into the corner and chops him. Johnson goes up and over on a hammer throw, then gets a standing rana and dropkick. Armdrag and lock follow from Johnson as he backs Luther into the corner, but Luther with an enzuigiri off a corner whip try. Luther dumps Johnosn and distracts the ref so that Serpentico can toss Johnson into the guardrail.

Dustin keeps Serpentico away, but Luther gets a cannonball senton off the apron before tossing Serpentico into Dustin. Who no-sells. Even when he’s not wrestling he gets beat up. Luther sends Johnson into the guardrail right in front of Darnell, who gives Luther a high-five. Back in, Luther stomps away and gets a butterfly suplex for two. Slam by Luther, but a half-senton misses. Luther drags Serpentico in, but his attempt to slam him onto Johnson misses. Twice. Does this count as outside interference?

Dustin gets rid of Serpentico, and Johnson with a shoulderblock that doesn’t affect Luther. Enzuigiri rocks him, SUPERKICK rocks him more, and a slam and second SUPERKICK finally gets him down for two. Johnson boxes Luther down, but runs into a pump kick for two. Luther is ready to go up, despite Serpentico’s reservations, and Johnson stops him and dropkicks him. He then boots Luther off the apron, and of course he lands on Serpentico. Johnson with a tope con hilo onto both men. Back in, springboard dropkick knocks down Luther. He goes up again, and a corkscrew headbutt wins it at 6:52. Dustin checks on Johnson’s neck post-match. This was so much better than it had any right to be, as Luther knows how to act against high-fliers. **

But Miro comes out (much to Kingston’s surprise: “Do we even have a format?”), and commentary begs Johnson to head out through the crowd. Miro has a mic, and he says that while the last opponent was picked by fans, his next is picked by God. At Homecoming, Johnson is next against the wall. Raise the belt and pose. (Not sure I like Miro’s new music btw.)

Rampage ad.

Eddie Kingston (part of #3 team, 17-6) vs. Serpentico (11-36). Oh, come on guys, you couldn’t give poor Serpentico a few minutes to rest? He took a bigger beating than Johnson in that match! Serpentico does his pose a the top of the ramp… but he’s checking his head as he heads down, clearly still suffering a little from the Luther/Johnson match. Obviously, there’s no one joining Schiavone and Wight on commentary for this one. The ranking reminds me: if they’re bringing Death Triangle back, they need to close the book on Eddie/Penta.

Serpentico races in with dropkicks at the bell to keep Eddie off-guard, but his chop is tanked. He begs off, but Eddie knocks him over with one chop (Serpentico’s timber fall is great – even better when they do it again ten seconds later). Eddie with a Kitchen Sink to Serpentico, who bails out. Eddie follows and sends him into the guardrail, then takes him around the world in guardrails. Commentary jokes Serpentico should be used to this thanks to Luther. Crowd is totally into Kingston.

Back in, Serpentico intercepts Eddie returning with a pair of SUPERKICKs to the leg, then he works Eddie over in the corner. The headbutt hurt Serpentico more, unfortunately, but Serpentico recovers with some clubbering. Kingston reverses a Hammer Throw but charges into a boot, and Serpentico goes up. Diving crossbody gets two. Serpentico stumbles back to the top as Eddie checks on a cramp, but Serpentico leaps into an Exploder. Saito suplex and Backfist to the Future ends it at 3:40. I’ll give this an extra half-star because Serpentico sold the previous match during this one. *1/4

All Out ad.

BUT FIRST, Jade Cargill with Smart Mark Sterling. Eddie Kingston returns to commentary. Schiavone quotes Jade’s catchphrase, which catches Wight and Kingston off guard. Sterling: “YEE HAW!” Sterling says he hated the barbecue in Texas since it wasn’t vegan. And he wants the crowd to try it, maybe they’ll like it. Anyway, on to business: they’ve been taking meetings everywhere in Hollywood, but they had to go to Texas for an opportunity. Not just for Jade, mind you – also an opportunity for the fans. (Okay, not the Texas fans – they wouldn’t understand him anyway. Just the ones in smart states like New York.)

See, they’re looking for the next partner for the Jade Brand. Submit your offer on Twitter. Or call 347-SMART-40. (Please prank that number.) And who wouldn’t want to team with the unbeaten Cargill? She’ll be the next great pro wrestling crossover star. The Jade Brand can’t be shut down (compared to Texas with two inches of snow). Kingston: “Bless his heart.” So why do you want to team with Jade? Hit the catchphrase, that’s why. Kingston jokes that Sterling is the prosecutor who sent him to jail.

Lucha Brothers (Rey Fenix and Penta El Cero Miedo) (w/Alex Abrahantes) (12-8) vs. Dark Order (Alan Angels and Preston Vance) (4-3 as a team). So, uh, we’re just putting the Death Triangle back together and pretending the whole Eddie/Penta thing didn’t happen? I hate to say it like this, but that feels so much like a TNA move. Fenix is back from what in kayfabe was an attack by the Elite. Lucha Brothers are acting as babyfaces here, which is half the question. The other half will have to wait because Kingston’s done with commentary. ALL THE MASKS tonight.

Fenix and Angels start. Lockup, and Angels backs Fenix into the corner and gives a clean break. Fenix then returns the push to the corner, giving a clean break in turn as the crowd chants for Penta. Fenix trips Angels, who cradles Fenix for two. Waistlock, but Fenix escapes only to be caught in a small package for two. They exchange waistlocks, and Angels gets a sunset flip for two before both flip to their feet for a standoff. Penta and Vance tag in, and the crowd is 100% behind Penta. Vance puts the Dark Order Claw on Penta, who just steps back and tosses the glove to Abrahantes. This time he catches it first time. CERO! MIEDO!

So Vance backs Penta into the corner and chops away, only for Penta to escape and chop back with loud ones. Vance with a corner clothesline and he backs up, but Penta follows with a gamengiri only to run into a pump kick. Penta back with a SUPERKICK, but he runs into a lariat, so Fenix with a SUPERKICK to Vance. Angels knocks down Fenix, so Penta gives Angels the Sling Blade. Penta wants Vance’s best shot, so Vance shoves him by the head. Penta kicks his leg out of his leg, and Fenix enters with a big chop before Penta tosses Vance into a pump kick from Vance.

Area Code Kick from Fenix and he stomps on Vance’s back as Penta holds him in place, which all happens so fast the cameraman can’t get out of the way. It gets two. Fenix with a chop, but Vance escapes and brings in Angels, who gets a diving crossbody and knocks Penta off the apron. Angels leaps over a charge by Fenix and dives onto Penta, and back in, he gets an enzuigiri to Fenix. Penta catches Angels with a SUPERKICK, then a double SUPERKICK to Angels has him half-dead. Fenix and Angels are legal… I think.

Fenix with a big chop to Angels to flatten him and he gets a fireman’s carry, but Angels escapes and gets Vance in. Both Lucha Bros eat Steinerlines, then Vance lands pump kicks in the corner on both in turn. SPINEBUSTER OF DOOM to Fenix, but the powerbomb is escapes and Fenix chops down Vance and tries a rolling rana… only to be caught into the powerbomb. Angels back in, and the springboard moonsault gets two, Penta saves viciously. Vance enters and is tossed, so Penta gets Fenix up top for the Fear Stomp, but Vance trips Fenix and spears Penta. Angels goes up with Fenix, but they lose their balance and Fenix lands on the apron.

They go back up after an enzuigiri from Angels (with Angels picking Fenix up), and a one-man Spanish Fly gets an unbelievably close two. Angels lands This Is Gonna Suck to Fenix, and Vance with the full nelson, but Fenix runs to Penta, who gives Vance a gamengiri. Rolling cutter by Fenix to Vance, who tags in Angels. Fenix with a double-jump spinkick, and he and Penta do the Wazzup Stomp. Fear Factor Stomp ends it at 8:54 as Fenix dives onto Vance with a somersault tope suicida. Holy cow that was beautiful. Vance didn’t drag this down AT ALL. ***1/4

Brock Anderson (3-1) and Bily Gunn (16-2) and Colten Gunn (17-0) vs. Chandler Hopkins, Cameron Cole, and Izzy James (first time as a trio). Colten and Billy even help Anderson do the Smoking Gunn taunt. Interesting: Colten Gunn stole a win from Brock Anderson in tag competition last week. Team Nightmare comes out in matching sky-blue outfits.

Hopkins and Anderson start. Lockup, and Anderson works the arm. He and Colten trade off a few times to keep control of the arm, and Anderson yanks on it before switching to a headlock. He spins to a hammerlcok, but Hopkins elbows out only to run into a back elbow. Elbowdrop from Anderson gets one. Billy tags in as Anderson has a headlock, and he sets up the Famouser, but Hopkins escapes and races to tag in James. James’ chops do nothing to Billy, and Billy alley-oops James and gets a kneelift. Big boot by Billy leads to a clothesline from Anderson for two, and James scrambles to bring in Cole. Cole with a clothesline to the back of Anderson’s head for one, then he stomps away.

Shoulders in the corner and he brings James back in, who works Anderson over with chops and punches. Hopkins in to keep it up, ending with a SUPERKICK. Hopkins tells Billy to suck it, but he can’t capitalize and Anderson backdrops him into James. Hot tag Colten, who clotheslines everyone and Stinger Splashes both Cole and James. Colt 45 try to James, with Billy destroying Hopkins with a Famouser, and that’s that at 3:59. So are they going to follow up on Colten cheating last week? 1/2*

MAIN EVENT: PAC (with the Lucha Bros and Alex Abrahantes) (5-1-1) vs. Chuck Taylor (with Best Friends) (12-4). So that’s Penta, Fenix, Abrahantes, Yuta, and Orange at ringside for those keeping track. Now to be fair, before Trent’s injury I think they were teasing a Trios feud between Death Triangle and Best Friends, but now Andrade’s here and I think they’re mixing and matching who does what. Commentary asks about what Andrade’s plan is, and again no sign of Kingston to clarify if he and Penta are still a team.

Lockup, and PAC backs Taylor into the ropes and teases a clean break before grabbing the arm. Taylor reverses the armlock, so PAC breaks it and reverses, so Taylor kips up and reverses that to flip PAC to the mat. The crowd chants “BASTARD” at PAC, and I’m not sure if they’re doing it in a face sense or a heel sense. PAC with a headlock takedown, and he keeps Taylor from getting neckscissors out of it. Taylor pulls himself up and we go International~!, with PAC jumping over a monkey flip and stopping himself from running into a dropkick. PAC then makes the mistake of pointing to his brain, so Taylor backdrops him out and follows with a plancha.

All the seconds make sure nothing gets started, and Taylor throws PAC in. PAC is quickly up and tries a back suplex, but Taylor lands on his feet and gets a Falcon Arrow for one. Taylor kicks away at PAC, then adds a forearm to drive him seated into the corner. PAC catches Taylor coming in with a calf kick, then boots Taylor down and tosses him to the outside. PAC follows, and again all the ringsiders make sure it’s one-on-one. PAC sends Taylor into the guardrail, then tries to intimidate a little girl… who fistbumps him. PAC sends Taylor into the apron as the chant becomes “Let’s Go Bastard”. So that answers that. Back in, PAC with a head kck and bulldog choke. The Friends get Taylor back up, but PAC rocks him with an elbow and quiets the crowd. Or tries to.

Boot to the back of the head follows, and PAC barks into the camera. Running knee rocks Taylor and PAC goes after Orange and Yuta to get them back. Hammer throw to Taylor, and PAC poses. PAC goes up as Taylor crawls, landing a missile dropkick as Taylor pulls himself up. PAC slowly goes up, staring at Taylor the whole time, but Taylor forces PAC to leap over him before flooring him with a Steinerline for the double-down. (Taylor smirks at Penta as he rolls up.)

Both men are up at 6 and they slug it out, with PAC winning that only for Taylor to get Sole Food out of nowhere. PAC gets a pair of spinkicks, but leaps into a powerbomb from Taylor for two. Now Taylor goes up top, but PAC tries to stop him. He fails, with Taylor hammering him down, but PAC kips up and lands a gamengiri to rattle Taylor. PAC now follows Taylor up, and it’s a superplex by PAC for two. PAC thinks about what his next move should be, then drags Taylor to the corner. PAC up top, but Taylor pops up and PAC lands on the apron. PAC somersaults in but runs into a flying knee from Taylor. Piledriver by Taylor gets two. (Gonna be honest, I thought it was the finish.)

Taylor picks PAC up, looking for the Awful Waffle, but PAC lands on his feet and catches Taylor with a SUPERKICK. Taylor’s down in Black Arrow position, and PAC goes up and nails it for the pin at 11:35. One thing I’ve noticed about PAC is that he’s slowed himself down quite a bit in AEW as compared to his PWG and WWE time. Now, normally that would be fine, but I think he sometimes stalls too much. This match could’ve been a B-show Match of the Year Contender, and instead it was merely very good. **3/4

Best Friends help Taylor up, and the two stables face off, but the referee asks Best Friends to leave without starting anything, which they do. Death Triangle celebrates, with Fenix holding PAC on his shoulders… but here comes Andrade El Idolo from the back with Chavo Guerrero! The Death Triangle begs them to come to the ring, and Andrade starts to remove his jewelry and shades… but Chavo talks him out of doing anything when he’s outnumbered. Andrade smoothly backs to the back.

FIGHT FOR THE FALLEN!

  • Painmaker vs Nick Gage!
  • FTR vs Santana and Ortiz!
  • Elite vs Hangman and Dark Order!

Look, normally I’d complain about a 2+ hour show, but the matches were all semi-meaningful and a lot of them were just fine to watch. Go out of your way to see Luchas/Dark Order and Jungle Boy/Quen, in fact. Sky/Fuego, Luther/Shotty, and PAC/Taylor were also worth seeing for a highlight package, and of course you want to hear Eddie Kingston on commentary and the pop for Thunder Rosa. All in all, this was a very good episode, where the length wasn’t even that big a deal.

STATS:

BELL-TO-BELL – 74:10 over thirteen matches (average time 5:42)

MATCH OF THE NIGHT – Lucha Bros vs Dark Order

FIVE STARS:

  1. Jungle Boy Perry
  2. Alan Angels
  3. Rey Fenix
  4. Eddie Kingston
  5. Chuck Taylor

What a show! Let’s have Dark tomorrow be a palette cleanser before Fight for the Fallen!