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AEW Dark Elevation recap (Aug. 16, 2021): All Eyez on PAC

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Episode 23 of AEW Dark: Elevation is in the books! If you missed the live broadcast click here for the Cageside Seats stream. Let’s talk about what went down. This week’s commentary team was Tony Schiavone and Paul Wight.

2.0 (Jeff Parker & Matt Lee) vs. Duke Davis and Gannon Jones

Having this be the opening match was good timing since earlier in the day AEW announced 2.0 would have a tornado tag match with Darby Allin and Sting on Dynamite this week — Sting’s first match on TNT in over two decades.

This short match ended with Two for the Show, a double team flapjack that smacks the recipient into the ring ropes neck first on the way down. Schiavone wasted no time after the finish promoting the tornado match again for the Fertitta Center in Houston, Texas.

Diamante vs. Julia Hart (w/ Varsity Blonds)

The “numbers game” didn’t favor Diamante here since nobody came out to back her up. Then again you wouldn’t expect babyface wrestlers like the Blonds to interfere to help Hart unless somebody else interfered first and they had to “even the odds.” This match got more time than I expected, and Hart looks better every week. She hit a nice standing moonsault for a near fall. Diamante blocked a bulldog, distracted the ref by ripping off a turnbuckle pad, then knocked Hart out with a chain around her hand when Paul Turner wasn’t looking. Just to emphasize what a rudo she is, she beat up Hart after the match, which caused Big Swole to run out and make the save. A whole crew of referees had to get between them.

Joey Janela vs. Alan “5” Angels (w/ The Dark Order)

I appreciate the storyline continuity from Elevation as they brought up Janela attacking his former partner Sonny Kiss on last week’s show and aired a replay of said same. Janela was more than eager to play up his new heel personality for the crowd.

Between Angels being a fan favorite and Janela being a dick, the crowd was well behind Angels, but he couldn’t put Janela away with This Is Gonna Suck. Janela nailed him with a brain buster and screamed “IT’S OVER” but Angels countered him with a Spanish Fly. Janela and Angels traded rolling near falls until Janela grabbed a handful of the tights for three. Heels gotta be heels. Two solid matches on Elevation back to back.

Hikaru Shida vs. Kiera Hogan

I know Fire ‘N Flava disbanded a couple of weeks ago on Impact, but I was still surprised when I heard Kiera Hogan had taped a match with Hikaru Shida for Elevation.

Hogan tried to beg for a time out and got smacked in the face. It wasn’t long before forearms, chops and hammerfists were flying. Hogan drilled Shida with a kick for two, but Shida did her own version of a Big Swing (a spinning front chancery) in response before pinning her with the Falcon Arrow. Hogan held her own for her AEW debut and hopefully there’s more to come.

Lance Archer vs. Reggie Collins

Archer threw his opponent down to the ring as Jake “The Snake” Roberts looked on. The crowd erupted for him manhandling his opponent, and Archer wasted no time destroying him with The Blackout. He left without even getting his hand raised — quick in, quick out.

Thunder Rosa vs. Ray Lyn

Rosa left Lyn hanging on the ropes and hit her with a nasty dropkick that shot Lyn back into the ring. Lyn tried to get a near fall and got put in a rear naked choke in response. Somehow she got back to her feet and hit a snapmare and a couple of kicks before going for a reverse figure four. Rosa transitioned out of that into an ankle lock but got kicked off. Rosa finally finished her with the Thunder Driver. Much more competitive than I expected it to be.

PAC vs. Anthony Bowens

If you were wondering about the Tupac Shakur reference in the recap this week, here’s why “all eyes” were on this match — Schiavone still referred to him as “The Acclaimed’s Anthony Bowens” but Max Caster was nowhere to be seen and Bowens had new entrance music. To make matters more intriguing Max Caster removed all references to AEW from his Twitter bio and put his “AEW ring worn gear” up for sale before the show.

Even without reading the spoilers you’d know that PAC was going to win based on the drama with Bowens’ former tag team partner. Aubrey Edwards did her best to enforce the rules but PAC was hellbent on destroying Bowens outside and inside the ring, and he teased a Black Arrow without doing it just to be a jerk before locking in The Brutalizer. This was fun.

Brian Cage vs. Joey Keys

Eddie Kingston joined commentary from here on. Keys looked like a poor man’s Dolph Ziggler. Cage stood on the second rope and played to the crowd before superplexing Keys back into the ring, then quickly dispatched Keys with the Drill Claw. A total squash.

Sammy Guevara vs. Serpentico (w/ Luther)

Luther tried to help Serpentico by beating up Guevara on the outside, but Guevara sent him into the barricade for his trouble. Paul Wight: “If I wanted to set a school bus on fire, I’d listen to Luther, otherwise no.” Speaking of which Luther told Guevara to chop Guevara on the outside, but Guevara moved and he hit the ring post with a loud CLANK. Serpentico tried a suicide dive and hit his own partner, Guevara tried and wiped them both out, and Guevara threw him back into the ring to land the G2H. Shawn Spears and Tully Blanchard came out to beat Guevara down with a Death Valley Driver into a steel chair. Nobody from the Inner Circle came out to make the save. This match was more about the post-match beatdown to set up Spears vs. Guevara on Dynamite this week.

Jade Cargill vs. Kate Arquette

Arquette had zero offense in this match. Glam Slam, 1-2-3, Cargill is still “that bitch.”

The Lucha Brothers (Penta El Zero Miedo & Rey Fenix) w/ PAC vs. The Hybrid 2 (Angelico & Jack Evans)

Penta and Fenix are so over that the crowd sings along for their trademark spots. They are well beyond being heel or face at this point — they’re just a cool act to watch. You can’t really go wrong with putting them against the equally experienced Angelico & Jack Evans. It’s weird to think they’ve both been AAA World Tag Team Champions but have never won or lost the titles to each other. Fenix and Penta did the Fear Factor on Evans and Penta made the cover. Great finale!

What to watch

PAC vs. Anthony Bowens signaled the end of Max Caster in AEW and hopefully the beginning of better things for his former partner. You can’t rebuild somebody unless you break them down first and Bowens knew that was his role. Ray Lyn really surprised me and I want to see more of her after the Thunder Rosa match. Lance Archer had one of the best IDGAF squashed you’ll see in 2021. You can’t go wrong with the Lucha Brothers in the main event, but honestly you can’t go wrong with 90% of this show.

What to skip

The only duds were Cargill vs. Arquette and Cage vs. Keys, but the winners were put over so strong that the matches achieved their intended purpose.

Cageside commentary crew! Get up off those seats and leave your feedback in the comments section below. See you tomorrow night for AEW Dark!