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AEW Dark Elevation recap (May 24, 2021): NJPW reunion

Episode 11 of AEW Dark: Elevation featured the debuts of Ren Narita and Rocky Romero, as well as an NJPW reunion of former tag team champions.

The hook coming into Elevation was AEW opening the Forbidden Door to NJPW wrestlers Ren Narita and Rocky Romero. Narita is a young lion, and Romero is an accomplished veteran. Both put on exciting performances.

Romero headlined with JD Drake in the main event. Romero was given a first-class entrance with his own rap theme song on the big screen. Drake was joined by Peter Avalon, Ryan Nemeth, and Cezar Bononi ringside. The blue collar sex symbol meant business, as evidenced by removing his shiny club shirt to wrestle.

The story of the contest was Romero using his speed and technical savvy to counteract Drake’s power. Romero was rocking early until Drake connected on a pop-up spring-back forearm hammer.

Back in the ring, Romero ran into a bear hug slam by Drake. The hefty lover missed on a Vader bomb. Romero seized control for a tornado DDT. Romero focused on working the arm. That affected Drake down the stretch when he couldn’t properly complete suplexes.

Romero scored a hot rally with a flying hurricanrana, flying shotgun dropkick, and sliced bread, but Drake kicked out on the cover. Drake came back with a running cannonball into the corner. He went high risk and paid the price on a missed moonsault. Romero pounced for a Magistral cradle to earn victory.

Immediately after the three count, the Wingmen stormed the ring to stomp Romero. All of a sudden, Trent ran in to save Romero. He was joined by Chuck Taylor, Orange Cassidy, and Kris Statlander. Romero and Trent were four-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions in NJPW. The duo celebrated the reunion with a jumping high-five. A group hug was shared as the Roppongi Vice theme music played.

Ren Narita’s AEW debut came against Royce Isaacs. Narita was fundamentally sound, but Isaacs used veteran tricks to control the action. Isaacs caught a spinning wheel kick for a slam and also grabbed Narita’s legs off the turnbuckles for a Texas Cloverleaf. Narita persevered with forearm shivers, slams, and suplexes. He used a chin lock to transition to an abdominal stretch to set up a bridging suplex. Isaacs kicked out on the pinfall, so Narita used a second bridging suplex to secure the win.

Here’s the Dark: Elevation lineup with ratings (Dynamite, competitive, showcase, squash) on which matches are worth your time toward Dynamite:

  • QT Marshall vs. Robo (showcase)
  • Leila Grey vs. Abadon (squash)
  • Thunder Rosa vs. Ashley D’Amboise (showcase)
  • Gunn Club profile (Dynamite)
  • Lee Johnson vs. Daniel Garcia (showcase)
  • Nyla Rose vs. Robyn Renegade (squash)
  • Ethan Page vs. Alex Reynolds (competitive)
  • Tay Conti vs. Queen Aminata (squash)
  • Mike Sydal vs. Pentagon (competitive)
  • Scorpio Sky vs. 5 (competitive)
  • Matt Hardy vs. Fuego Del Sol (showcase)
  • Royce Isaacs vs. Ren Narita (showcase)
  • Rocky Romero vs. JD Drake (competitive)

The final two bouts were the best of the bunch. Romero and Drake had good chemistry, and Narita and Isaacs showcased their skills. The Gunn Club profile provided character development. That’s worth watching if you are interested in Billy and his boys. Take your pick on the rest of the matches. There were several strategic moments throughout the show for fans of cerebral action.

Watch the show here.

Tony Schiavone and Paul Wight handled commentary duties. Justin Roberts was the ring announcer.

QT Marshall defeated Robo. Anthony Ogogo, Aaron Solow, and Nick Comoroto were ringside. QT showed up his opponent by playing patty-cake on his head and slapping him in the face. Robo responded with an atomic drop, a suplex, and a powerslam. QT cut Robo’s rally short to finish on a backbreaker flatliner combo then a cutter.

Abadon defeated Leila Grey. The living dead girl vomited blood on stage. She did her zombie tricks to win via Gory neckbreaker.

Thunder Rosa defeated Ashley D’Amboise. The ladies worked classic wrestling holds, then Rose thundered to take control for a pendulum submission smashing D’Amboise’s head into the turnbuckle. Rosa used a fireman’s carry front slam to set up the Peruvian necktie submission to win.

Gunn Club profile. Billy didn’t know he’d still be wrestling at his age, and he loves the opportunity to tag with his sons. Billy was on the road often when Austin and Colten were growing up, but they appreciate Billy’s sacrifices to provide for them as kids. Billy made sure his sons graduated college before even considering careers in professional wrestling. Now that they are all in AEW, Billy is proud that he is sharing the end of his career with them.

Lee Johnson defeated Daniel Garcia. Garcia was in control and talked trash between strikes. That fired Johnson up to unload a flurry of clotheslines, a reverse neckbreaker, and a shoulderbreaker/neckbreaker over his knee for victory.

Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page are already in the tag team rankings. To rub salt in Darby Allin’s wound of losing the TNT Championship, they also want to take singles matches to break into the men’s rankings. Sky and Page will do so against Dark Order goons, 5 and Alex Reynolds.

Nyla Rose defeated Robyn Renegade. Vickie Guerrero was ringside. Rose played with her food then closed with a Beast Bomb.

Ethan Page defeated Alex Reynolds. Scorpio Sky was ringside. For some odd reason, the Dark Order declined to have anyone watch Reynolds’ back. Bad move. Sky scored a cheap punch to Reynolds, although, it didn’t affect the outcome. Reynolds had momentum early, then Page knocked him off the turnbuckles. Page focused on the damaging the lower back with a rope-hung double underhook backbreaker. That strategy paid off when Reynolds back was too weak to execute a fisherman’s suplex. In the end, Page used the referee as a distraction. Reynolds attempted a fisherman’s suplex once more. This time, Page pulled the referee into the mix. The resulting confusion allowed Page to capitalize with the Ego’s Edge to win.

Tay Conti defeated Queen Aminata. Conti steamrolled her opponent. Judo throws led to a hammerlock DDT for victory.

Pentagon defeated Mike Sydal. Alex Abrahantes and Matt Sydal were ringside. Pentagon was more powerful, while Sydal had the advantage in shiftiness. The match was back and forth then came to an abrupt finish when Pentagon crushed Sydal with a package piledriver. The move came out of nowhere.

Scorpio Sky defeated 5. Ethan Page was ringside. Dark Order allowed their man to go solo again. Luckily, Page minded his own business and did not interfere. 5 had momentum with his speed. Sky reversed an Irish whip to shoot for a low takedown transitioning to a heel hook to win.

Matt Hardy wants to be transparent. He created HFO, because he wanted to make money. Wrestlers never know which day will be their last in the business, so he wanted to make the most money he can while he still can. Along the way, Hardy lost focus on why he came to AEW. He will survive and thrive on the way to the top. Money Matt is going to start making people put reverence on his name.

Matt Hardy defeated Fuego Del Sol. Fuego climbed the corner, presumably for a tornado DDT, but Hardy snatched him for a crucifix bomb. Fuego escaped a Twist of Fate to kick Hardy in the gut. The masked man made a foolish error of doing a hand motion to excite the crowd before a tornado DDT attempt. Hardy easily escaped after Fuego wasted precious seconds. Hardy swiftly locked in the Leech submission to win.

The NJPW matches stole the show. Rocky Romero and JD Drake was a nifty war. Romero’s strategy and technique complemented Drake’s ramrod power. The match held suspense throughout without knowing who would prevail in the end. The Roppongi Vice reunion was a fun nod to the past.

Ren Narita looked good in victory. His crisp skills offered a nice change of pace from the slapdash style prevalent in AEW. Royce Isaacs finally got to show what he’s capable of. He has been on the squash side of tag team bouts, but this singles match allowed him an opportunity to shine. The style of both wrestlers was enjoyable in this bout.

Tough night for the Dark Order as they were bested by Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page. Alex Reynolds and 5 fought hard, however, Sky and Page elevated to another level in crunch time. Those wins did well in continuing to establish Sky and Page as serious threats. They will need their A game when wrestling Sting and Darby Allin at the Double or Nothing PPV on May 30.

Share your thoughts on Dark: Elevation. Who stood out most for episode 11? Which was your favorite match?

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