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Winfree’s AEW Dark: Elevation (Ep. 5) Review 4.12.21

April 13, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
AEW Dark: Elevation
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Winfree’s AEW Dark: Elevation (Ep. 5) Review 4.12.21  

OK everyone, we’re on the heels of the biggest wrestling event of the year so let’s see what AEW can do to build on the overall momentum in professional wrestling. Oh, not a good start as we’re back to the 2.5 hour run time. There’s no reason for a show like this to be this long, just none.

Straight to action.

Match #1: Zack Clayton vs. 10 w/ -1

They tie up and trade holds, neither man finds much of an advantage to being. Clayton goes to kicks to take over. After a slap 10 double legs Clayton then lands a German suplex. Clayton hits a drop kick and goes on offense. Standard heel offense from Clayton, he drops 10 over the top rope then hits the hangman on the bottom rope. -1 slaps Clayton as Clayton sticks his head out of the ropes to mock him, that leads to 10 firing up and running roughshod over Clayton. 10 hits a running kick and a spinebuster, tries the full nelson but Clayton shoves him off then hits a snap powerslam for a near fall. 10 slips off the shoulders of Clayton and gets the full nelson to win.


Rating: 1.5 stars

Clayton seemed to have the fundamentals down, 10 is coming along nicely and could maybe do with a step up in competition.

Match #2: Hayden Backlund vs. Miro

Backlund has no music, this bodes ill for him. Miro starts mauling Backlund right away. Backlund rolls out of the ring, he’s able to grab the arm of Miro and drive him into the ring post but Miro shoves him back into the ring and hits a clothesline. Freefall Catatonic from Miro, the Game Over follows and we’re done.


Rating: Turban. . . SQUASH

I’ve got nothing really to say here, this was exactly what you’d expect and what it should have been.

Match #3 – Tag Team Match: Tay Conti and Hikaru Shida w/ -1 vs. Katalina Perez and Leila Grey

Conti and Perez start things off. Strikes from Conti, then a judo hip toss and in comes Shida. Perez tags Grey and they hit a double suplex on Shida. A bit of offense from Grey and Perez, Shida and Perez start trading strikes that ends with Shida flooring Perez with a right and tagging in Conti. Conti runs wild, looks like Perez missed a cue there at one point. Shida back in and she lands a drop kick. Perez hits Shida, Conti pump kicks her for good measure. A double triangle choke follows to wear down everyone, Conti and Perez head out of the ring while Shida then clobbers Grey with an enziguri then the Katana knee strike to win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Tay Conti and Hikaru Shida won

Rating: Butternut. . . SQUASH

I’m not opposed to matches like this, but I also question the necessity given my big complaint about these shows is the run time. Conti eyes the title as she and Shida post post match. They’re still friendly but one has to imagine some kind of match between the pair is coming.

Match #4 – Tag Team Match: Carlie Bravo and Dean Alexander vs. The Hybrid2 (Jack Evans and Angelico)

Angelico and Bravo start us off. They trade arm wringers and escapes, Angelico is getting the better of this. Some running of the ropes, again Angelico gets the better of things. Evans tags in and goes through his usual schtick, he keeps taking Bravo down with his kicks and gymnastics. Evans cheap shots Alexander then tags Angelico back in. Bravo eventually tags in Alexander, Alexander runs wild for a bit but Evans kicks him to put a stop to that. Evans disposes of Bravo, Angelico locks up the Navarro Death Roll and Alexander taps out.

OFFICIAL RESULT: The Hybrid2 won

Rating: Calabaza. . . SQUASH

Decent little showcase for Evans and Angelico.

In the back Dasha interviews Thunder Rosa about Diamante getting in her face a few weeks ago. Rosa says of course she’s got a huge target on her back, she’s one of the best in the world. She’s switching between English and Spanish, she says she’s ready for Diamante whenever Diamante wants.

Match #5: Orange Cassidy w/ Best Friends and Kris Statlander vs. John Skyler

Skyler implores Cassidy to wrestle, as this man done no tape study? Cassidy puts on his elbow pad, and avoids a tie up. Kick from Skyler but he can’t find a European uppercut. Cassidy with a backslide, then some mat wrestling from Cassidy. Skyler intercepts a dive attempt with a slingshot spear and he’s on offense now. Cassidy eventually fights back, they run the ropes and Cassidy hits the around the world DDT. Beach Break follows and Cassidy wins.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Orange Cassidy won

Rating: 1.5 stars

Cassidy’s style doesn’t lend itself to being the leader in a squash match so I’ve got to actually rate this. Cassidy’s character work remains solid.

We get a video package for Sean Dean talking about his Navy service and transition to wrestling after football didn’t quite pan out. He reads out the tweet from Tony Khan announcing his hiring by AEW and mentions that came just a week after he lost his job. Decent little highlight for Dean.

Match #6: Konosuke Takeshita vs. Danny Limelight

They tie up with Takeshita getting the edge as they trade arm wringers and mat wrestling sequences. Limelight eventually gets a hammerlock, Takeshita counters into a side headlock and they resume trading holds. They run the ropes, Limelight gets some roll ups to frustrate Takeshita. A slap from Limelight follows then a leg kick but Takeshita takes him down with a calf kick and takes over on offense. Takeshita hits a diving clothesline then a second rope senton for a near fall. Limelight with a thumb to the eyes and gets on offense after the cheap tactics. Takeshita takes a few kicks to the back and chest but just fires up because of them. Chops from Takeshita in the corner. Limelight back to the eyes and hits a swinging neckbreaker. Some trash talk from Limelight, Takeshita starts laying into him with forearms. Limelight lands kicks but runs into a blue thunder bomb from Takeshita. Takeshita with a running yakuza kick in the corner (cheeky commentary line from Excalibur who has joined us about that be a hell of a kick) then a brain buster but all that only for a 2 count. Limelight fights out of a German suplex attempt, they start trading strikes again then trade running strikes until Limelight runs into a pop up sit-out powerbomb for a near fall. Takeshita runs into a kick in the corner then gets caught in a reverse triangle choke over the top rope. Limelight with a double springboard into a tornado DDT for a near fall. Hard elbow from Takeshita then a discus lariat. Takeshita wants a German suplex, Limelight rolls through for a victory roll but Takeshita powers out and hits a wheelbarrow suplex with a bridge to get the win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Konosuke Takeshita won

Rating: 2.5 stars

You know what, that was a really solid match. Both men looked pretty darn good, but the guy they’re probably going to have more immediate plans for in Takeshita won. Very enjoyable stuff.

In the back Joey Janela and Sonny Kiss talk, Janela thought they were wrestling the two guys from Puerto Rico when they’re actually wrestling Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page. Janela says they’re coming for Sky and Page, and they’re coming hard. Is anyone amused by this?

Match #7 – Tag Team Match: Midas Black and Jay Lyon vs. FTR (Cash Wheeler and Dax Hardwood) w/ Tully Blanchard and Wardlow

Dax and Lyon start us off. Dax accidentally knocks the mask off of Lyon. Some headlocks from both men, then Dax lands a shoulder block and a Saito suplex. Cash tags in and they double team Lyon. Some quick tags from Dax and Cash while they isolate and abuse Lyon. Dax tosses Lyon out of the ring, Blanchard slaps him because he’s a heel. Eventually Lyon hits a handspring round house kick and tags out to Midas. Midas with some strikes but runs into a brainbuster. Dax calls for the end, tags Cash and they hit the spike piledriver to win.


Rating: Acorn. . . SQUASH

Delicious squash.

Match #8 – Tag Team Match: Pac and Rey Fenix vs. Andre Montoya and Vary Morales

Fenix and Montoya start us off with Fenix getting the best of it. Morales with a blind tag, flies onto Fenix with a hurricanrana but Fenix kicks him in the corner and tags in Pac. Montoya tags back in, gets tossed off and we get stereo super kicks then Pac and Fenix mock the Young Bucks pose. Pac lays into Montoya for a bit, tags in Fenix and they take turns kicking the crap out of Montoya. Fenix drags Montoya over to his corner and lets him tag Morales in. Morales eats a discus forearm, then a really fast running kick to the back of the head. Pac back in and resumes abusing Morales. Morales avoids a corner rush and tags Montoya, Montoya fights off both men for a moment then Morales dives onto Pac on the outside. Montoya is feeling it but gets a kick caught, Pac tags in Fenix and they double team Montoya in the corner with more kicks. Pac kills Morales with a German suplex just for good measure, then Fenix tags him in and they hit a double team move, Fenix tags back in and hits a frog splash to end things.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Fenix and Pac won

Rating: Caserta. . . SQUASH

Didn’t need to be as long as it was, but the story there was Pac and Fenix dragging things out just to screw with the Young Bucks so there was at least logic behind it.

Match #9: Baron Black vs. Dante Martin

They tie up, trade some mat wrestling escapes in the typical indy sequence to stare off. Black goes to strikes but Martin quickens the pace for a bit before getting caught in a German suplex. Abdominal stretch from Black, Martin fights out into a roll up but winds up eating an atomic drop. Martin with a kick in the corner then hits a lariat and starts in on his offense. Double springboard into a moonsault from Martin. Black catches Martin on the top rope but Martin back flips out of a German from the top, then flips out of another suplex attempt. Super kick from Martin, then a 450 splash ends things.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Dante Martin won

Rating: 1.5 stars

Not a bad showcase for Martin, but nothing super memorable if you’ve seen him wrestle before.

Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky are in the back, Page says they’ve requested this time to air some grievances. He specifically wants to talk about Janela and Kiss, and Page runs down his singles record but somehow despite that Janela got a TNT title shot. Scorpio mentions Sonny Kiss got a TNT title shot with a poor record as well, while Scorpio had to win a grueling ladder match to get a shot. Here sits Page who’s never been pinned in AEW yet no shot, here’s Scorpio who got close to taking the belt not getting a rematch. So they’re here to take what’s owed them.

Match #10: Britt Baker w/ Rebel vs. Skye Blue

Baker starts in with the wrestling hold, Skye working to keep up but is a step behind thus far. Elbow from Baker after Skye has some success. They run the ropes, Skye hits a low drop kick then a kick to the face and Baker powders to regain herself. Skye misses a baseball slide and eats a super kick. Fishermans neckbreaker from Baker on the floor. Skye eventually rolls back into the ring, tries to fight back but eats a bunch of rights from Baker. Skye gets some offense in, a nice wheel kick in the corner but is eventually caught and slammed face first into the buckles. Baker kicks Skye in the face again, hits the Air Raid Crash then declines the glove and instead hits a Rollins style Blackout stomp to win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Britt Baker won

Rating: Citrullina. . . SQUASH

They gave Skye a bit of offense but this was a squash at the end of the day. Post match Schiovone interviews Baker, she says she’ll play the rules, and rack up wins until she’s the top contender.

Match #11 – Tag Team Match: Andrew Palace and Cole Karter vs. QU Marshall and Nick Comoroto w/ Aaron Solow

Marshal takes over early, beating down both opponents before tagging in Comoroto. Comoroto runs wild with power moves, hits a back breaker on Palace. Marshall back in to work his offense. Comoroto back in and they’re just wearing Palace out. Palace avoids a corner rush and tags out, Karter gets walloped by Comoroto. Comoroto with a military press into a powerslam on Palace, Marshall hits the Diamond Cutter on Karter to win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Nick Comoroto and QT Marshall won

Rating: Delicata. . . SQUASH

Pure squash, but Comoroto got to showcase his power which is good.

Match #12: Mike Sydal vs. MT Nakazawa

Nakazawa gets a call on the headset, Mike uses yoga to remain calm. Mike starts working strikes, Nakazawa goes for some nipple twisters then hits a shoulder block. Arm drags from Mike as he’s in control. Nakazawa is clearly outmatched athletically, but he catches Mike with a drop toe hold into the corner. Nakazawa crotches Mike around the ring post. The hentai slide follows and an atomic drop for a near fall. They start trading forearms with Mike getting the better of it. Nakazawa misses some offense, and then Mike hits an enziguri. Super kick then a standing moonsault from Mike gets a near fall. Nakazawa looks to be bleeding from the mouth, Mike avoids a shot from the laptop and rolls up Nakazawa to win.


Rating: 1.5 stars

I appreciate Nakazawa’s attempts at character, and his facial expressions are still great, but this kind of schtick has a very short shelf life and personally I’m a little over it. Post match Nakazawa blasts Mike with the laptop, Mike more or less no sells it and chases Nakazawa away.

In the back Pac and Rey Fenix talk, they’re coming for the Young Bucks and promise that the Bucks will get even worse than the jobbers they just killed. They’ll be leaving Dynamite with the title belts.

Match #13: Leyla Hirsch vs. Shanna

Hirsch with some quick wrestling takedowns and gets on top riding Shanna. Shanna gets into the ropes, she’s out matched on the mat. Shanna with a go behind, Hirsch reverses her and they’re back trading holds on the mat. Shanna fights up and starts working the arm standing. Hirsch rolls slips free and they reset. Quick little back suplex from Hirsch, they wrestle up to their feet and Shanna has to get into the ropes to avoid an armbar. They start trading hands and Hirsch winds up chasing Shanna out of the right but runs into a knee. Shanna with some ringside brawling to get into full control before they head back into the ring. Knee strike from Shanna, she tries to choke Hirsch with her shirt then Hirsch grabs an armbar. Hirsch looks to switch into a triangle choke, Shanna counters with a really low elevation slam then hits a shining wizard. Shanna tries the Tiger Driver, but Hirsch counters into the armbar and this time Shanna taps.


Rating: 1.5 stars

Not the cleanest match, but Hirsch has been a solid developing talent during these shows. Post match Shanna and Hirsch get a little chippy and square off, we might get some more stuff from those two.

In the back Takashita is about to get interviewed but here comes Kenny Omega. Omega dismisses the interview guy for mispronouncing Takashita’s name claiming to speak Japanese, then calling over MT Nakazawa to do his translating. He welcomes Takashita to AEW and is happy to see him again. AEW is doing some scouting, and Omega brings people from Elevation to Dynamite. Omega talks about meeting Takashita in Japan and a bit of their history, referencing how Takashita helped him out but now that Omega is a star it’s time for Takashita to pay him back. Omega asks Takashita to help him teach the Sydal’s a lesson. Takashita speaks Japanese, seems to accept but when told he’ll be teaming with Nakazawa not Omega he gets the best disappointed expression. OK, Takashita can definitely stay.

Match #14: Brandon Cutler vs. Penta el Zero M w/ Rey Fenix and Pac

Wight geeks out just a bit about Dungeons and Dragons as Cutler made his entrance, if you’re into that he was part of a one shot alongside Joe Mangainello at one of the official launch events that’s worth looking up. Penta takes off his right glove at the start of the match then he and Cutler start shoving. They tie up, trade arm wringers and escapes before Penta with a spinning toe hold and starts working the leg on the mat. Penta declines the running of the ropes and kicks Cutler in the body. Cutler avoids a corner rush and lands kicks but misses a springboard and eats a super kick. Penta runs into a drop kick, out of the ring and Cutler wants to dive but runs into a kick. Penta heads up top, misses a double stomp and eats a kick from Cutler. Out of the ring again, this time Cutler hits the suicide dive. Back into the ring but Cutler takes too much time staring at Pac and Rey, so Penta with a super kick from the apron then a diving senton onto Cutler. Kicks from Penta before they head back into the ring where Penta resumes kicking Cutler. Penta tries the package piledriver but Cutler fights out of it and starts running wild with offense. Suplex from Cutler gets a 2 count. Another super kick from Penta, he rolls up Cutler but can’t get the pin. Cutler counters a pumphandle with an arm drag then hits a DDT for a near fall. Penta kicks Cutler off of the ropes, hits the Pentagon driver for a near fall. Cutler is struggling back to his feet, he avoids a chop and hits a reverse DDT for a near fall. Cutler to the apron, but gets caught on the dive into the Sacrifice arm breaker. Penta has had enough of this, Fear Factor follows and Penta wins.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Penta el Zero M won

Rating: 2 stars

Good little match, they gave Cutler plenty of shine despite the winner never really being in doubt, and Penta is still a really good professional wrestler.

Match #15: Thunder Rosa vs. Diamante

They tie up quickly then Diamante gets a side headlock. Rosa with a firemans carry then they resume fighting in the clinch. Diamante with chops in the corner. Rosa fights back with arm drags and Diamante heads out of the ring to slow things down. Rosa sets for a dive, has to wait while Diamante looks at her, then hits a baseball slide. Ringside brawling from Rosa, she’s focusing on the arm of Diamante as they brawl around the ringside area. Diamante eventually hits a shiranui off the apron to lay out Rosa and take over. Mounted punches from Diamante, but she runs into a wheelbarrow facebuster from Rosa. Rosa back to the arm and is really doing a number on it. Diamante drops Rosa into the corner, then hits a basement drop kick. Some crossface blows from Diamante on the mat then she tries a suplex but Rosa counters into an armbreaker. Rosa with a meteora in the corner, then her own basement drop kick. Butterfly suplex from from Rosa gets a 2 count. Rosa briefly forgets which arm she’s working, but remembers. Diamante avoids a piledriver attempt but gets caught in a modified Rings of Saturn and has to scramble to the ropes to save herself. Rosa with a kimura roll into the full kimura lock, but Diamante rolls her up to force a kick out then lands a clothesline. I think Diamante is left handed, she does a lot of her work with the left arm and that’s the one Rosa has been working. Diamante with knees to the body then a snap suplex into a cover for 2. Rosa tries a death valley driver but Diamante counters into a cutter and gets another near fall. They start trading rights in the middle of the ring, Diamante wants the Code Red but Rosa counters with an Alabama Slam. Rosa gets the Fire Thunder Driver to win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Thunder Rosa won

Rating: 2.5 stars

Good stuff from both women, they again gave the clear loser plenty of time to shine and show off while not taking too much away from the winner.

Match #15 – Tag Team Match: Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky vs. Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela

Janela and Scorpio start us off. Scorpio gets the better of this early with a shoulder block and strikes. Page tags in and starts in on the body blows. Janela gets an arm wringer and tags in Kiss who drops onto the arm. Scorpio tags in and eats a double hip toss. Janela tags in and they double team Scorpio for a near fall. Scorpio drives Janela into the corner, then yanks Janela off the top rope to the mat. Page tags in, they drag Janela out of the ring and abuse him in the ringside area for a bit. Back in the ring Page trash talks and stomps on Janela. Scorpio back in and is also working the body of Janela. Janela eventually fights back with a sunset flip for a near fall but then eats a hard clothesline. Page back in, cheap shots Kiss and goes to work on Janela. Backbreaker from Page then Scorpio tags back in. Scorpio hits a backbreaker as well, he and Page are showing off for each other beating up Janela. Janela starts fighting back on Page with strikes, but Page doesn’t let him near Kiss. Another chance for Janela to fight back, he gets on the second rope and is able to escape the corner then rolls free and tags Kiss. Kiss runs wild for a bit on both Scorpio and Page. Flipping slam from Kiss gets a near fall, Scorpio and Page are out of the ring and Janela and Kiss hit them with a double plancha. Scorpio sent back into the ring, but Janela walks into a DDT for a near fall. Page tags in and starts laying into Janela. Page wants the Egos Edge, Janela avoids it and lands a super kick then a moonsault from the top. Kiss tags back in, they hit a double team move and Scorpio has to break up the pin. Janela and Scorpio wind up on the outside, Kiss lands a roaring elbow onto Page and heads up top but Scorpio shoves Kiss off the top rope and then kicks Kiss. Page with a shoulder block, hits the Egos Edge to get the win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky won

Rating: 2 stars

Kiss and Janela really aren’t the right team to try and get a great match out of, but they’re serviceable. Scorpio and Page continue to gel as a team, they’re definitely a tandem to pay attention to.

Match #16 – Tag Team Match: Ryan Nemeth and Cezar Bononi w/ JD Drake vs. Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent) w/ Orange Cassidy and Kris Statlander

Taylor and Nemeth start us off. Nemeth out wrestles Taylor to start. Taylor gets an arm wringer, then tags Trent. Trent gets a cheap shot from Nemeth and they start trading strikes. They run the ropes, and Trent lands a back elbow. Northern lights suplex from Trent gets a near fall. Taylor back in, the double team Nemeth and keep him isolated. Nemeth avoids a corner rush and Bononi floors him from the apron. Bononi tags in and starts stomping on Taylor. Nemeth and Bononi isolate Taylor for a while. Bononi hits a back suplex, Taylor fights free after Nemeth tags in then tags Trent. Trent runs wild on Nemeth, then plancha’s onto Bononi on the outside. Back in the ring Trent with a tornado DDT and tags Taylor. Sole Food into a back suplex onto Nemeth but Nemeth kicks out of the pin at 2. Trent back in, Bononi trips up Trent then Nemeth hits the jumping DDT to take over. Bononi tags in and hits a pump handle throw for 2. Nemeth back in, Bononi attacks Taylor on the floor but Taylor posts him. Trent hits a Saito suplex, then the Strong Zero connects and that’s it.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Best Friends won

Rating: 2 stars

Bononi still seems a little raw but he’s big enough and has a decent look. Trent looked smooth for recently returning from injury.

We get a group hug from the best friends to close the show.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
There's good to be found here, Takashita's debut in particular along with Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page continuing to roll. But the biggest problem here is still the run time, I know it's getting old but I'm going to keep saying it as long as it's true: there's no reason for this kind of program to be 2.5 hours long. You could easily cut a bunch of these matches out, or just take this 2.5 hour session and split it into two episodes that are both quite strong. Unfortunately as it stands the excess and length make Elevation a bit of a chore to get through.