The PG Era Rant for AEW Elevation Episode 29 (“Tonight on FOX: When Wrestling Friendships GO BAD”), September 20, 2021.
From NewArk, New Joizey.
Your hosts are Tony, Paul, and the King.
TONIGHT! Good friends become better enemies! Team Factory’s QT Marshall takes on Team Nightmare’s Dustin Rhodes! The Dark Order continues to fracture as Evil Uno and Colt Cabana face Alan Angels and Preston Vance! And New Jersey’s boys go one-on-one as Joey Janela tackles Sonny Kiss!
PLUS — Gunn Club, Orange Cassidy, Hikaru Shida, Thunder Rosa, Santana/Ortiz, and Private Party!
Opening match: Thunder Rosa (#2 women, 26-2) vs. Kaia McKenna (debut). Paul Wight growling “THUNDER” never gets old, and in fact the announcers agree.
Lockup, and McKenna uses the hair to get a hammerlock but the ref forces a break. They exchange armlocks, with Rosa getting knee strikes and a judo throw before controlling with a keylock. Armdrags by Rosa follow, then a dropkick. A do-si-do sends Rosa into the turnbuckle, and McKenna follows with a hairpull throw for not even one. Kingston: “Very lazy cover there. Just call it what it is.” McKenna works the ribs in the corner, but Rosa goes to the eyes to get separation. She sends McKenna into the corner and chops away hard, then gets a snapmare and punt to the chest. McKenna tries to fight back, getting a jawjacker, but Rosa sends McKenna into the middle rope and gets a dropkick to the back, then another to the face off the bottom rope. Fire Thunder Driver ends it at 2:40. Just a walk in the park for Rosa. 1/2*
Gunn Club (Austin, Billy, Colten) (13-0) vs. Ray Jaz, Anthony Bennett, Anthony Bennett’s Kid’n’Play hairstyle, and Leon St.Giovanni (debut as a trio). The Gunns have new tights, new music, and a new attitude. Paul Wight excuses himself from this match, and Kingston understands that one.
Austin and Bennett start. Bily jumps Bennett from behind, though, and Austin tosses St.Giovanni and brings in Colten to work over Bennett in the corner. Billy takes over, getting a backbreaker on Bennett. He taunts Jaz in the corner before sending Bennett to the Gun ncorner where the kids taunt him. Austin in, and he mocks the begging for a hot tag before going for a crossbody, but missing. Colten tries to cut off the tag only for Bennett to get a jawjacker. Billy is low-bridged, hot tag St.Giovanni. Middle-rope springboard elbow to Colten, but Billy cuts him off and sends him into the Quick Draw to get Austin the win at 2:18. Somehow, turning heel made them stick out even more. 1/4* Wight, true to his word, refused to talk during the entire segment.
December 8, AEW will be in Long Island.
Evil Uno (21-8) and Colt Cabana (18-6)vs. Alan Angels (10-18) and Preston Vance (25-4). Has there ever been a split tease like this where the crowd not only refused to take sides, but utterly rejected the idea they should split at all? Silver and Reynolds come out with Angels and Vance, while Uno and Colt come out alone – not even Stu Grayson is with them. Wight makes a point that the Dark Order needs a strong leader (which Uno isn’t) or else things will fall apart. Kingston notes that there’s only so many spots at the top and things will fall apart.
Colt and Angels start. Colt with a single-leg, but he doesn’t want to follow up. He spins Angels around into an armbar takedown, but again doesn’t follow up. He goes back to the arm, but Angels rolls through and gets a headlock. They go back and forth, with Angels getting a dropkick and demanding Uno. Uno reluctantly agrees. Uno tries to talk to Angels, but he shoves Angels and Angels with a double-leg and punches. Colt and Vance try to break it up, but Angels runs through them and dives onto Uno in frustration. Colt continues trying to play peacemaker. Back in, Vance tags in, but Uno begs off and seems to indicate this isn’t Vance’s fight. Vance shoves down Uno, so Uno pops up and tells him if that’s how you want it, fine.
They try to go International, with Vance getting the better of it, then he catches Uno as Angels tags in for a dropkick/fallaway slam combination. Angels with forearms to Uno, but Uno slams on the brakes and bails out. Angels goes to follow, but Colt again tells him to stop. Angels has had enough and slugs Colt, which allows Uno to boot Angels off the apron. Uno comes out and tells Silver and Reynolds to look at whose side they’re on, and back in, Colt tags in but can’t bring himself to slug Angels, holding a front facelock into a suplex instead, for two. Uno back in, and he chops Angels in the corner. Angels fires back and clears out of the corner with a discus forearm, then gets the tag to Vance.
Uno begs off completely as Vance charges in and Colt tries to make the fight end, but Vance slugs Uno and tosses Colt. Clotheslines to Uno and pump kicks in the corner, followed by a ten-punch try that Colt attempts to stop. Vance slugs Colt away and catches Uno with a spinebuster, but Uno catches him to the apron only for Vance to return with a spear for two, Colt saves. Finally Colt’s had enough and elbows Angels who tried to attack him from behind, and he and Vance slug it out leading to Colt getting Flip Flop and Fly. Vance with a full nelson, Colt breaks, but Angels tags in. Colt sends the young guns together and hits Vance with the Flying Apple, then an elbow to Angels as Uno gives him a pump kick.
Back in the ring, Uno is just about done with Angels’ behavior and RIPS THE MASK OFF ANGELS, which everyone hates, and it fires Angels up. Uno sends him back down and tells him to get back in line, so Angels gets a jack-knife pin for the win at 7:41. Everyone glares at Uno after the match for pulling the mask off, but Angels offers to pick him up. Uno, though, is too upset with himself and walks off. I don’t know where the heck they’re going with this, but I hope it’s to a reconciliation. **1/2
Orange Cassidy (#1 men, 15-1-1) (w/Chuck Taylor and Kris Statlander) vs. Mike Verna (0-1). Wight, in the understatement of the century: “Orange Cassidy’s not a guy who lets pressure get to him.” Kingston: “You know, being friends with Chuck Taylor’s just a bad move in general.” Verna had some good appearances a few months ago.
Verna flexes at Orange as the crowd chants Freshley Squeezed. Verna wants a test of strength, and Orange looks to lock up… but decides on HANDS IN POCKETS instead. SHIN KICKS OF DOOM follow, but Verna with a gut kick to cut it off. Orange ducks some clotheslines and gets a dropkick, and the elbowpad comes off. Orange Punch connects to win at 1:14. Orange is crazy over. Taylor returns the sunglasses and we HUG IT OUT.
Private Party (Isaiah Kassidy and Marq Quen, w/Matt Hardy) (9-2) vs. Teddy Goodz and Jorge Santi (debut). Tony puts over the shows this week, which are in front of AEW’s largest live audience.
Santi and Quen start. Quen stays on his feet after a shoulderblock, then gets a rana on Santi and cheapshots Goodz. This allows Private Party to double-team and switch off, with Kassidy getting a high leg lariat. Chops and forearms in the corner as Kingston apologizes for being unprofessional about the referees last week. Meanwhile, Stinger Splash by Kassidy misses, and Goodz gets the hot tag and smacks both men around. He runs into a double SUPERKICK, though, and an atomic drop and enzuigiri combo sets up a double-stomp out of a camel clutch. Kassidy puts Goodz on the top, and Gin and Juice wins it at 1:58. Private Party needed a steamroll win.
AEW Elite GM app ad.
Hikaru Shida (#4 women, 40-4) vs. Masha Slamovich (0-1). Slamovich is someone a lot of organizations had their eye on, and if you know the news, you know how that turned out. Kingston wants them to make a HOLY SHIDA shirt on PWTees, and Wight wants royalties for it.
Shida gives a clean break against the ropes, but they shove each other and Slamovich attacks with forearms. Shida with a flying kick to floor Slamovich, then takes the arm. Slamovich tumbles and cartwheels out to try an armdrag, but Shida blocks only for Slamovich to recover with a lariat. Slamovich with stomps against the ropes, then a gutwrench suplex for two. Shida tries to fight back up, but Slamovich keeps her down only to run into a rana. Shida with the ten-punch countalong, but Slamovich shoves her off at 4 so Shida gives her a headbutt and dropkick out of the countalong position!
Running knee follows, then a brainbuster for two. Shida tries a piledriver, but Slamovich backdrops out and kicks Shida hard in the head. Forearm smash sets up a dragon suplex for a very close two for Slamovich. Shida fakes out Slamovich and gets a right before landing a Dominator. Running sliding uppercut floors Slamovich, and the Katana wins at 3:37. Tougher match than expected for Shida. *1/2
Joey Janela (w/Kayla Rossi) (8-3) vs. Sonny Kiss (8-10). Wait, this isn’t the main event? This one was set up by Janela falling into his ugly ways and abandoning Kiss, then just when it looked like they were going to reconcile, Janela kicked him into next week. Kayla Rossi gets a name during intros. Both men are from New Jersey, so hopefully they get time here to blow this off.
Kiss with a discus forearm out of the gate and he mounts Janela to slug him down. Janela bails, so Kiss dropkicks him to the floor and goes up top, landing a moonsault off the top to the floor on Janela! He punches Janela against the guardrail and slugs him down as Janela crawls away, only to sucker Kiss in and get a forearm. Janela catches the ref as Rossi spears Kiss, but one of the shots from Kiss busted Janela open. Janela with a brainbuster on the outside to make a point, and after walking it off, he brings it back in for two. Janela with a surfboard on Kiss, but Kiss fights out and kicks Janela loopy, ending with a roundhouse kick.
Janela recovers with a SUPERKICK out of nowhere and goes up, but Kiss cuts him off and slams him off, walking him halfway across the ring as he does. Moonsault kneedrop gets two. Janela with a jawjacker and lariat to fold up Kiss, and Kiss rolls out to the apron. Janela goes up and dives onto him with a senton bomb, but Kiss misses and Janela wipes out on the apron! Kiss dives out of the ring into a DDT on Janela and everyone’s down as we get an AEW chant. Back in, Kiss goes up, but Janela catches him with a palm strike. Janela goes up with him, and it’s a SPANISH FLY for Janela, somehow only getting two!
Janela follows up with a piledriver, then a second one, but somehow it’s still only two and yeah you’ve earned that shocked face. Crowd chants for Sonny as Janela goes up, but Kiss catches the Heartbreak Elbow with a crucifix for the pin at 5:05! But before Kiss can celebrate, Rossi knocks him over and steps on his throat as Janela gets a chair. Janela smokes Kiss with a chair as no one comes out to help, and Rossi with a moonsault stomp onto the chair on Kiss’s back! Please tell me Kiss finds a partner who can match Rossi. Leyla Hirsch maybe? **1/2
Santana and Ortiz (#4 team, 7-3) vs. Avery Good and TJ Dunn (debut). Avery Good is short for “A Very Good Professional Wrestler”, and he was aloso known as Dasher Hatfield back in the day. Crowd is absolutely behind Santana and Ortiz.
Dunn and Ortiz start. Ortiz escapes a side headlock and gets a single-leg dropkick, then goes behind Dunn to bring in Santana for a springboard crossbody. Ortiz with a half-senton, then Santana leaps off Ortiz’s back for a moonsault. Good enters and gets smoked by Ortiz before they give him a Spin Cycle slam, and Ortiz is legal again as Dunn tries to fight back. Ortiz with a dropkick in the corner, and Santana with a launch cannonball. Powerbomb/SUPERKICK combo wins at 1:18. The crowd loves it.
Dustin Rhodes (8-2) vs. QT Marshall (w/Aaron Solo and Nick Comoroto) (22-5). I realize this show’s been in the can for a week, but there’s a lot of people who feel maybe scrapping this match in light of what was said about Dustin on Dark Side of the Ring would’ve been the right idea. Marshall is “originally from Freeholm, NJ, but now residing in Atlanta, GA”, just so we know who the heel is.
We start hot with a slugfest, with Rhodes bouncing out of a Hammer Throw with a clothesline. They go outside with Rhodes landing an uppercut, and back in, Rhodes has to tell Solo to back off and leaves himself open for Marshall to land a kneelift. Back elbow follows and Marshall milks the crowd reaction before getting two. Rhodes fires back with rights, but he runs into a dropkick for two. Marshall chokes him against the middle rope, and Solo adds a forearm shot. Marshall gets two off of it despite holding the ropes.
Marshall with a neck crank, then an elbowsmash. We HIT THE CHINLOCK as Kingston claims Moxley’s asking him to bury Marshall. Kingston declines to do it directly. Dustin fights back with rights, but Marshall cuts him off only for Rhodes to get clotheslines for the comeback. Kneeling uppercut sets up the powerslam (called in advance by Kingston). Bulldog try is stopped and Marshall gets an enzuigiri. Powerbomb by Marshall gets two. Marshall wants the Diamond Cutter as Dustin is half-dead.
But Dustin catches Marshall mid-move into the Director’s Cut for two! Bulldog is tried again, but Marshall throws him off only to run into a boot. Dustin goes up but gets caught by Marshall, and Marshall goes up top with him for a superplex for a close two. Dustin catches Marshall mid-SHOCKED FACE for two. Code Red by Dustin gets two. They slug it out, but Marshall with a kick and GOLDUST TAUNT. Dustin recovers and avoids the Diamond Cutter again, getting a running bulldog off the ropes.
He wants Shattered Dreams now, but Solo’s on the apron and Dustin has choices on who to hit. Lee Johnson pulls Solo off the apron and brawls him to the back. This gets the ref’s attention, allowing Shattered Dreams to hit, and the Reckoning gets the pin at 6:36. Give Marshall and Dustin enough time and it’s going to be good. **1/2
- Cody Rhodes vs. Malakai Black!
- Britt Baker challenged by Ruby Soho for the Women’s Title!
- Kenny Omega non-title against Bryan Danielson!
Just something to call attention to – each of the three grudge matches started in their own way, and none of them with a lockup. The Dark Order tag began with the older members pleading for calm and not interested in having the stable implode, trying to talk sense into Alan Angels. Sonny Kiss, entering second, kept his eyes on Janela and knew Janela would try to jump the gun, catching him doing so and reversing momentum. And with Rhodes and Marshall, they both hate each other so much that they just ran at each other fists flying. In each case, there was a different character beat being explored.
All three feature bouts brought it tonight and are worth exploring, if for no other reason than the stories being told all helped them. Let’s hope for more of the same tomorrow.
BELL-TO-BELL – 32:27 over nine matches (average time 3:36)
MATCH OF THE NIGHT – Pick a feature bout, any feature bout
- Alan Angels
- Sonny Kiss
- Dustin Rhodes
See you tomorrow for more!