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AEW Dark Elevation recap (July 18, 2022): Was Leon Ruff enough for Ethan Page?

Episode 72 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 Excalibur, Caprice Coleman and Mark Henry called this week’s action. Would Leon Ruffin walk ten miles on his hands and knees for a chance to wrestle Ethan Page? Let’s find out!

Bobby Fish vs. Blake Li

Fish brought a record of 8-4 to the opening contest for Elevation. His opponent Li was already waiting in the ring with a record of 0-1. Excalibur noted that he was a trainee from QT Marshall’s Factory, which caused Mark Henry to immediately question his wisdom. Fish buckled Li’s knee with a kick, did a senton over the ropes, and made the cover with a forearm to the face for two. Fish scooped Li up and slammed him into the ropes, applied a sleeper, but Li was able to spin out and land an elbow to the corner. Fish responded by knocking Li off the apron, sending him into the barricade, and knocking a beer out of a fan’s hands. They showed the fan laughing on camera so I guess he wasn’t too mad about it. Fish applied the knee bar, Li tapped, and Fish kept it on even as the ref told him to let go. He finally relented and climbed the ropes to celebrate his (easy) victory.

Nyla Rose & Marina Shafir vs. Skye Blue & Brittany

Vickie Guerrero accompanied Rose and Shafir to the ring, sporting records of 71-31 and 9-5 respectively. Their poor victims tonight would be Blue & Brittany, working together for the first time as a tag team in AEW. Henry said they had bitten off more than they can chew. Coleman: “Sometimes you get these opportunities and you have to take it. It’s not what you want but you make the best of what you have.” Henry: “This is a case where you might as well just go home.” Rose and Shafir immediately started dissecting Brittany. She tried a few forearms on Shafir and they were completely no sold. Rose hit the ropes to splash her, posted her in the corner, and whipped her across to the opposite corner. Rose grabbed her hand to wave at Blue, but Brittany escaped and gave Blue the tag. She kicked Rose on the chin and went to the top for a crossbody, but Rose kicked out at two. She immediately got clotheslined for her trouble. Shafir gave her a hip toss and stood on her, hit a release German suplex, and Brittany broke up the pin. Blue hit a kick and we had a double tag. Rose immediately ran over Brittany and hit a scoop slam. She hit a running kick, tagged Shafir, hit a Beast Bomb, Shafir kicked her in the back of the head and applied Greedy for the tap. It was 95% one sided and 5% Blue getting a few hope spots. I dig Shafir’s new hairstyle.

Julia Hart vs. Amber Nova

Mark Henry: “I’m afraid of the dark guys. I didn’t do this — the lights just went out!” They went out for Hart to “honor” the House of Black, entering with a 2022 record of 7-3. Nova was waiting for her with a record of 0-3. You might as well change that to 0-4 before the bell even rings. Hart immediately laid in the strikes and put a boot to Nova’s throat in the corner. Nova tried to return the strikes and got whipped down with a handful of hair. Moments later she cranked on the neck and like Fish earlier refused to immediately let go of the submission when the ref called for the bell. Coleman: “That is scary.”

Ethan Page vs. Leon Ruffin

Page was accompanied by Dan Lambert and brought a record of 29-10 to this contest. Ruffin was waiting for him with a record of 0-2. Page dominated the former NXT North American champion early, Ruffin hit a couple of spots to wow the crowd, and Page beat him down and climbed the ropes to pose like he’d won and rile up the Savannah faithful. Mark Henry kept talking about weight classes as Page hit a vertical suplex and mocked Ruffin. Backbreaker by Page. Ruffin managed a few strikes, a rebound lariat, a cutter and stacked Page up for a 2.9 near fall. Page grabbed Ruffin off the ropes and went for the Ego’s Edge, but Ruffin countered it and got a roll up for another near fall. Page hit a power slam and Ruffin kicked out before three, and Page laughed and smiled like he was surprised. I think the crowd was chanting “Leon Ruffin” here but I’m not 100% sure. Page hit a high boot and a gigantic release Ego’s Edge for the pin. Henry: “He gave Ethan Page all he could handle, had no quit in him, but he just ran out of steam guys.” AEW should sign Ruffin.

Dark Order (Evil Uno & Preston Vance) vs. Terrence & Terrell Hughes

Uno was 65-35 and Vance was 66-24 coming out for this match. The Hughes brothers were waiting in the ring and Mark Henry said he’s known them both since they were little kids. They’re the real life sons of D-Von Dudley, so of course he’d know them like that. I’m kind of surprised they’re on Elevation instead of signed to NXT 2.0 — they certainly have the size and athleticism that WWE looks for. They may be too much “pro wrestling” and not enough “sports entertainment” though as the E seems to prefer athletes without a wrestling background who they can mold into what they want. Terrence got Uno down for some ground and pound, tagged in Terrell for some running knees, and he walked over Uno with disrespect before making a cover. Uno tried to fight back with elbows but got thrown down and Terrence got tagged in. Uno got the hot tag and Vance ran wild on both of the Hughes brothers. Uno gave Terrell a DDT on the apron and Terrence ate the discus lariat for three. Not quite long enough for me to know how good the Hughes brothers are but I certainly didn’t see them botch anything or miss any spots. Keep an eye out for them.

Angelico, The Butcher & The Blade vs. Jameson Ryan, Brandon Bullock & Bryce Cannon

What’s an episode of Dark or Elevation without a six person tag? I’ll answer for you — a better episode. It’s also complete nonsense to have Angelico team with The Butcher & The Blade, but luckily for them their opponents were “making their trios debut” and here to be fed to the wolves. I tried to be fair and get into this match but the best parts about it were Caprice Coleman on commentary and the match ending quickly thanks to Drag the Lake followed by a Navarro Death Roll. At least making a total squash out of it made it less of a mess than the usual six person Dark match.

Tony Nese vs. John Walters

Nese was accompanied by “Smart” Mark Sterling for the main event and brought a record of 18-4 to the ring. Walters was waiting for him in the ring to make his AEW debut, although Excalibur and Coleman were sure to note that Walters was a former ROH Pure Champion. This was also a good excuse for them to plug Death Before Dishonor in Lowell, Mass. on Saturday, tickets still available and streaming on PPV at 8 PM ET via Bleacher Report. If I wasn’t half the continent away I’d want to attend in person just to see The Briscoes vs. FTR and Samoa Joe vs. Jay Lethal. Walters gave Nese a good fight until he hit him in the throat, snapped his neck off the ropes, hit a +hard+ missile dropkick and finished him off with the running knee. I was honestly disappointed since I know Walters and Nese could have gone ten minutes without breaking a sweat. This was three at most — maybe less.

What to watch/skip

As you might have already guessed this week’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by The Fabulous Thunderbirds. I would have recommended the main event if they had been given more time but I must reluctantly suggest you skip it, along with the mercifully short co-main event. The highlight here was definitely Page vs. Ruffin, followed closely by Dark Order vs. Hughes Brothers. Three out of those four people are worth a developmental deal at the very least, and the fourth is Page so he’s already signed and doing just fine. I keep getting this feeling he could be world champion material given how he’s got the little things down. It’s not just your in-ring technical acumen, it’s the “music between the notes” and Page does all the rights things to rile up a crowd while making his opponents look good. Those are your most valuable players in professional wrestling.

Cageside commentary crew! Share your thoughts in the comments section below and find me on Twitter too for more pro wrestling talk. See you tomorrow night for AEW Dark!

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