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AEW Dark Elevation recap (Nov. 21, 2022): Fake group hugs vs. real Best Friends

Episode 90 of AEW Dark: Elevation is in the books. If you missed the live broadcast click here for the Cageside Seats stream. The announce team of Ian Riccaboni, “Daddy Magic” Matt Menard and Paul Wight called the action. I hope you enjoyed Full Gear on Saturday!

RUSH and The Butcher & The Blade vs. Doug Love, Channing Thomas & Brett Gosselin

RUSH, Butcher & Blade were 1-0 as a trio while Love, Thomas & Gosselin were working together as a group for the first time. I don’t think you have to ponder who was going over in this match for very long. It’s not like guessing who will be part of Final Battle 2022. RUSH pretended he’d hit a big move and then laid on the mat for a nap all tranquilo style, then finally gave Doug Love the bull’s horns before pinning him. Elbow bumps for his partners all around before they kicked Love’s corpse out of the ring. A promo for AEW Heels followed.

Hikaru Shida & Willow Nightingale vs. Emi Sakura & Leva Bates

Sakura and Bates came out first, billed as “making their debut as a tag team” on Elevation. Shida and Nightingale had worked together before so their team record was 1-0. Double ten punches in the corner on their opponents to start the match. Sakura kicked Shida in the back to give Bates the advantage in the ring. She immediately tagged out to Sakura who came in to trade chops before Sakura sat on her for a spot of tea. Eventually Shida escaped and gave Nightingale the hot tag. Spinebuster on Sakura for two. Shida tagged back in. Menard: “Tagging in and out real quick. That’s what you got to do.” Sakura hit a back breaker and walked over Shida disrespectfully. Shida took her off the ropes electric chair style but Sakura raked the eyes and hit her in the head with a book from Bates. Shida still kicked out. Riccaboni: “That might have been a loaded book.” Menard: “If that was a hard cover it would’ve gotten the job done.” All four women hit the ring. Cannonball into the corner on Bates, followed by a Katana Kick from Shida for the pin. This team needs a shirt!

Brian Cage (w/ Prince Nana) vs. Brandon Cutler

Cutler came out with an Elevation record of 1-4. Wight: “I love Cutler. He’s such a joy to watch do anything.” Cage came out to the ring with a record of 9-0 on Elevation. That’s about to be a perfect 10-0. Cage looks like he ate Cutler for breakfast. Wight joked that Cutler should save the money he spends on his shoes for the hospital bill. Prince Nana stole Cutler’s cold spray and started yelling to bring Cutler over. Cutler ducked and he sprayed Cage instead! Cutler took the cans back and sprayed Nana until he fell down, then rolled up Cage for a near fall. Cage immediately responded with a discus clothesline, a power bomb, and what nearly looked like a Lesnar style F5 for the pin. Lesnar would certainly envy his physique. Wight: “As soon as he needed to shift gears, Cage went to a level that Cutler couldn’t even dream about.” I can’t say it better than that, but I wish that AEW had shared a gif of it that I could share with all of you.

Daniel Garcia & 2point0 vs. Tracy Williams, Leon Ruffin & Tony Deppen

Obviously Menard had to leave the commentary position for this one. As a trios Garcia and 2point0 brought a record of 7-3 to this match. Williams, Ruffin and Deppen were teaming for the first time together in AEW. Riccaboni did his best to put over the accolades of the men facing Garcia’s crew. Ruffin got the hot tag and jumped over and slid under every one of them, but finally got caught in a double DDT by 2point0 and put in a dragon sleeper by Garcia for the submission win. This was squash-tastic.

Mercedes Martinez vs. JC

Martinez came out with her ROH Women’s Title on and a record of 14-3. Menard returned to commentary and Riccaboni “reluctantly” congratulated him on the win. JC brought a record of 0-2 to this non-title bout. Martinez did a loooooong delayed vertical suplex to pop the crowd then lit JC up with chops. JC tried a jawbreaker and a few kicks but that just pissed Martinez off. She hit a spinebuster and put on the Brass City Sleeper for a quick submission.

Wheeler Yuta vs. Zack Clayton

Clayton brought a record of 6-5 to this contest. Yuta brought a record of 17-11. Clayton tried to use his size to overpower Yuta early. Yuta fired up after a dropkick and Menard couldn’t resist calling him an “ugly dude.” Yuta started elbowing him in the head and then trapped his shoulders to the mat by tying him up in knots for the pin. Quicker than you’d think.

Private Party (Isaiah Kassidy & Marq Quen) & Matt Hardy vs. The Trustbusters (Ari Daivari & Sonny Kiss) & Encore

Daivari introduced Encore and said “If you help us get the win tonight you will be $50,000 richer. This should be easy because we all know Matt Hardy can’t use the Twist of Fate.” That brought out Hardy & Party with a team record of 5-1. I don’t think they ever showed the other side’s record, but since they’ve never teamed with Encore before, they’d be “making their AEW trios debut” or something like that. Kiss did the splits for a near fall and tagged Daivari. He tagged Encore but Kassidy tagged Quen and he ran wild flipping and flying. The announce team couldn’t decide whether to do karaoke of Digital Underground or Bobby Brown. It’s weird that Riccaboni said RIP to Tupac Shakur and didn’t even mention Shock G. Hardy got the tag and cleaned house before giving Daivari a Side Effect. He tagged back out and Kassidy hit a Swanton Bomb for the pin. Matt hit Daivari a post-match Twist of Fate on Daivari and pocketed all of his cash. Menard: “You think he gives us a cut?”

Alex Reynolds (w/ Dark Order) vs. Kip Sabian (w/ Penelope Ford)

Sabian brought a 2022 record of 7-1 to this contest. Reynolds brought a record of 28-14. Sabian jumped him before the bell could even ring. Ford walked around the ring with the box while Sabian went up top for the double stomp. He connected with it but then quicker than a hiccup Reynolds countered the pinfall into a schoolboy for three. An enraged Sabian attacked Reynolds after the match until the ref made him stop, and the crowd booed both Sabian and Ford as they walked away. Sabian took time to yell at the camera man near the entrance ramp but we couldn’t hear what he said over the music in the arena.

Ethan Page gave an interview backstage. “The Firm won. I said where is Lexy Nair? We need to talk to her about the big victory.” Nair: “Actually I was here to ask you if you saw Matt Hardy hit the Twist of Fate.” On cue Hardy walked in, apologized to Page, and handed him the fifty grand he stole from Daivari. “It was worth every penny.” Hardy and Private Party agreed that it was not only worth it, it was orgaaaaaaaaasmic (you need to hear that in the “Broken Matt” voice). Page sulked. “That’s not what I was here to talk about.”

Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent Beretta) & Orange Cassidy vs. The Factory (Aaron Solo, Cole Karter & Lee Johnson) w/ QT Marshall

Best Friends were in the middle of being introduced, record of 6-3 as a team on the screen, then they were jumped by The Factory and their music cut off. The Factory’s team record didn’t even get displayed on the chyron as a result.

Menard described The Factory as “running a train” on their opponents and Riccaboni tried to clean it up with a Quad City DJ’s reference. I’m not sure that makes it better. The Factory mocked the Friends by doing a group hug. Cassidy waited on the apron for a tag. Beretta finally got there for it and Cassidy took out all three men, punctuating it with a DDT on Johnson and then giving Orange Punches sall around. Taylor and Beretta hit the ring for triple simultaneous piledrivers and Cassidy made the pin. Then we got the REAL group hug to close the show. After all... you’ve got to give the people what they want!

So what happened to the Athena match against Victoria Andreola? Where did that go?

What to watch/skip

Tonight’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by “Winds of Change,” another fresh(ly squeezed) track from Jefferson Starship. This episode of Elevation was a mixed bag. Honestly I enjoyed it +but+ a lot of these matches were over so quickly it was hard to even appreciate the talent in the ring. Six matches with more time would have been better than nine that went this fast. If I told you to skip anything I’d wind up telling you to skip everything so you might as well watch the whole show.

Cageside commentary crew! Share your thoughts in the comments section below and find me on Twitter for even more wrestling talk. See you for a recap of AEW Dark tomorrow after it airs at 7 PM ET, 6 CT.

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