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AEW Dark Elevation recap (July 26, 2021): Lee Johnson wins a title shot

Episode 20 of AEW Dark: Elevation featured Lee Johnson winning a title shot and Andrade interrupting PAC’s celebration.

Miro’s next challenger for the TNT Championship has been determined. Special guest James Darnell won an Elite GM video game tournament. His prizes were a custom title belt and the right to pick Lee Johnson’s opponent. Darnell went with Luther. If Johnson wins, then he would gain an opportunity at being crushed by Miro with the TNT title on the line.

When it was time for the bout, Lee Johnson was flanked by Dustin Rhodes, while Luther had little buddy Serpentico as support. Chaos Project cheated early when Serpentico rammed Johnson into the guardrail then held Johnson up for a cannonball from Luther off the apron.

The tide turned when Johnson evaded a running senton and teamwork body slam attacks. Johnson rallied with a variety of kicks. After peppering punches, Johnson lost steam when running the ropes into a big boot. Johnson stayed focused and knocked Luther off the apron down onto Serpentico. Big Shotty followed with a tope con hilo. A springboard dropkick put Luther’s shoulders on the mat so Johnson could launch for a corkscrew back splash. 1, 2, 3. Johnson has a title shot in his pocket for Dynamite: Homecoming on August 4.

Miro came out on stage to cut Johnson’s celebration short. The Redeemer reminded Johnson that his last opponent was picked by a fan, but his next opponent (Miro) was picked by God.

Andrade El Idolo also made an unadvertised appearance. After PAC’s match, PAC celebrated atop Fenix’s shoulders. Andrade surprised everyone by coming on stage. PAC’s feet were back on the mat while El Idolo removed his jewelry. Andrade walked toward the ring, but executive consultant Chavo Guerrero advised not to rush with the numbers against them. Andrade backed away, and the fans expressed their discontent.

Even though this was on Elevation and not Dynamite, my instincts from watching professional wrestling for decades kicked in with a suspicious eye toward Fenix when PAC was sitting on his shoulders. If the Lucha Bros do indeed turn on PAC, it will be interesting to see if Fenix uses that celebration tactic to lull PAC into a false sense of security. If Death Triangle remains a unit, then Andrade is going to need backup. More surprise reveals to El Idolo’s staff would be tantalizing as well.

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

  • Marq Quen vs. Jungle Boy (competitive)
  • Amber Nova vs. Yuka Sakazaki (showcase)
  • Thunder Rosa vs. Myka Madrid (showcase)
  • Luchasaurus vs. Jora Johl (squash)
  • Scorpio Sky vs. Fuego Del Sol (showcase)
  • Angelico vs. Marko Stunt (competitive)
  • Bunny & Madi Wrenkowski vs. Kris Statlander & Tay Conti (showcase)
  • Bear Bronson vs. Wardlow (showcase)
  • Lee Johnson vs. Luther (showcase)
  • Eddie Kingston vs. Serpentico (showcase)
  • 5 & 10 vs. Lucha Bros (competitive)
  • Chandler Hopkins, Cameron Cole, & Izzy James vs. Brock Anderson & Gunn Club (squash)
  • PAC vs. Chuck Taylor (competitive)

The hoss fight between Bronson and Wardlow is my #1 pick to check out, because HOSS FIGHT! If big men getting funky isn’t your jam, roll with Lucha Bros versus 5 & 10. That tag bout had a rapid pace with plenty of firecracker moves. Quen versus Jungle Boy was another spirited affair to dive into. Those are my top three choices from the bunch.

Watch the show here.

Tony Schiavone and Paul Wight handled commentary duties. Eddie Kingston joined the booth for a handful of matches. Justin Roberts was the ring announcer.

Jungle Boy defeated Marq Quen. Luchasaurus, Mark Stunt, Isiah Kassidy, Angelico, and Jora Johl were ringside. Jungle Boy was on a roll with a suicide dive to Quen then a second suicide dive to Kassidy. Quen came back with a springboard moonsault onto bodies below. JB and Quen flattened each other with a double clothesline. They made it back in the ring at the count of 9. Private Party played Stunt like a fool tricking him into causing a referee distraction, so they could hit Gin & Juice on Jungle Boy. JB kicked out on the cover. Quen missed a shooting star press. Jungle Boy promptly pounced for the Snare Trap submission to win.

Yuka Sakazaki defeated Amber Nova. The underdog got her knees up on a springboard splash. Sakazaki rebounded with a rolling elbow and an airplane spin slam for victory.

Thunder Rosa defeated Myka Madrid. Thunder Rosa wore down her opponent to cinch in the Peruvian Necktie submission.

Luchasaurus defeated Jora Johl. Private Party, Blade, and Angelico were ringside, while the dinosaur rolled solo. Luchasaurus chokeslammed Angelico off the apron onto HFO, then the dino roared with a tail whip kick to pin Johl.

Scorpio Sky defeated Fuego Del Sol. Sky tried to remove Fuego’s mask. That fired up the plucky upstart for a burst of offense. Sky shed off the tornado DDT then blasted Fuego with a big kick. Sky used the TKO maneuver to finish the contest.

Angelico defeated Marko Stunt. The little man was rocking with a suicide dive tornado DDT. Back in the ring, Stunt ran into a big boot from Angelico. The submission master hoisted Stunt up for a Torture Rack variation to earn the W.

Bunny was interviewed, or pestered by, Alex Marvez about her losses to Kris Statlander. Bunny has the overwhelming urge to rip off the alien’s face as sweet revenge.

Kris Statlander & Tay Conti defeated Bunny & Madi Wrenkowski. Bunny and Statlander collided with fisticuffs. Bunny escaped Statlander’s signature moves, but she still took a thumping and tagged out to her partner. Conti and Statlander gained momentum on a series of running corner attacks to both Wrenkowski and Bunny. The alien hit the Big Bang Theory piledriver to pin Wrenkowski.

Wardlow defeated Bear Bronson. Jake Hager was on commentary scouting Wardlow. This bout was big boys throwing big blows and landing big slams. Bronson escaped a powerbomb via back body drop then sat down for a butt drop onto Wardlow’s chest. Bronson kept the pressure on with back and forth clubbing lariats. Bronson ran the ropes, but Wardlow wound up for a crushing clothesline. Wardlow tenderized bear meat in the corner with should blocks and elbow strikes. After a hefty slam, Wardlow connected on his hanging KO knee strike in the corner.

Eddie Kingston defeated Serpentico. This contest had a comedic flavor in the way Serpentico sold Kingston’s attacks. Kingston caught the flying masked man to unload two exploder suplexes and a spinning backfist for victory.

Jade Cargill entered the ring wearing a cowgirl outfit. Mark Sterling did the talking. He began by insulting Texas BBQ. Mr. Esquire prefers vegan BBQ. Cargill had a great time in Hollywood. They are looking for the next great partner for the Jade brand. Sterling is taking offers through Twitter and telephone at 1-347-SMART-40. Jade is going to be the next crossover star in professional wrestling.

Lucha Bros defeated 5 & 10. Alex Abrahantes was ringside. Back and forth action with Fenix kicking out of a Spanish Fly from 5 and also surviving a full nelson submission from 10. Fenix was able to make it to his corner for Pentagon to kick 10 in the head to break the submission. Fenix followed up with a rolling cutter. The Lucha Bros put 5 down with a combo flying stomp package piledriver.

Brock Anderson & Gunn Club defeated Chandler Hopkins, Cameron Cole, & Izzy James. The good guys handled business with Colten closing on the Colt 45.

PAC defeated Chuck Taylor. The Lucha Bros, Alex Abrahantes, Orange Cassidy, and Wheeler Yuta were ringside. The match culminated with Taylor surviving a superplex and PAC surviving a piledriver. PAC escaped Taylor’s clutches to land a head kick. PAC took flight for a Black Arrow to win.

Solid action combined with a number of chuckles made this episode of Elevation enjoyable overall, considering the format. Eddie Kingston meshed well on commentary to bring a little bit of levity. I got a laugh out of Colten Gunn helping Brock Anderson shoot his finger six-shooter.

Another giggle was provided by Tay Conti and Kris Statlander dancing with referee Aubrey Edwards.

Fuego del Sol stood out by showing flash with a moonsault from the middle turnbuckle inside the ring over the ropes down to the floor.

One thing I wasn’t feeling was Mark Sterling doing all the talking for Jade Cargill. Elevation is the show to elevate talent. It doesn’t help Jade improve on promos if she barely speaks. Even though Jade’s Hollywood story has potential, this version of Sterling isn’t very appealing so far. I much prefer his hacky lawyer background.

Closing on a positive note, I have mentioned how promos for AEW’s YouTube shows really help entice anticipation for the contest. Case in point, Bunny’s interview with Alex Marvez. That quick recap and threat for violence grabbed my attention enough to wonder if the bout would take the next step between Bunny and Kris Statlander. Alas, nothing of consequence occurred in this instance, but at least the promo piqued my curiosity as a viewer for the random matchup. And credit to Marvez for having fantastic tone inflection throughout his chat with Bunny. He does good work on these shows.

Share your thoughts on Dark: Elevation. Who stood out most for episode 20? Which was your favorite match?

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