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AEW Dark Elevation recap (Feb. 27, 2023): Camera man, zoom it!

Episode 104 of AEW Dark: Elevation is in the books. If you missed the live broadcast click here for the Cageside Seats stream. Paul Wight and Matt Menard called the action as usual. Here we go!

Emi Sakura vs. Rachelle Riveter

Sakura brought a 2023 record of 1-0 on Elevation to her match with Riveter, who was waiting in the ring to make her AEW debut. Wight call her a “tremendous athlete in incredible condition” and just judging by cosmetics you’d have to agree. Sakura immediately pushed her into the ropes and threw a hard chop. Riveter eventually responded with a couple of forearms but ate three hard chops in the corner back, Sakura missed with a senton and Riveter hit a jumping clothesline for a near fall. Riveter went for a move and got reversed, Sakura mimed drinking tea and did her flying crossbody, hit a scoop slam and went up the ropes saying “I am your highness! I am your queen!” She hit a moonsault to prove it for the win.

The Kingdom (Mike Bennett & Matt Taven) w/ Maria Kanellis vs. EJ Sparks & Aguila Aguirre

“Thy Kingdom come.” All three members entered together with a Dark Elevation record of 2-0. Wight: “I forgot everything Dasha said when Maria Kanellis walked down the ramp.” Normally I wait until the end of a recap to discuss the article title, but when I remember the lewd way the New Japan cameraman used to follow Maria Kanellis to the ring, I hear the Iron Sheik in all of his WWF glory yelling “Camera man, zoom it!” Sparks & Aguirre had no prior AEW record. Taven and Sparks started the match out, Bennett tagged in, and hit a discus punch followed by some chops. Taven came back in for a boot to the face and a missile dropkick. Sparks hit a step over kick to escape and make the tag, but Aguila immediately ate a high back body drop. He got a hold of Bennett for some offense but Taven hit him with an enzuigiri and they took turns double teaming him. Bennett hit a Death Valley Driver and Taven hit a running knee for the pin. The camera loves Maria, and I love The Kingdom, so it all works out.

Marina Shafir, Diamante & Nyla Rose (w/ Vickie Guerrero) vs. Mazzerati, Miss Anna May & Brittnie Brooks

Our heel trio accompanied by Vickie Guerrero were working together for the first time in the six-person division. The same could be said of their opponents. Shafir put Brooks in an arm lock and scooted backward toward the heel corner to tag Diamante, who single-handedly knocked her teammates off the apron. She threw Brooks into the waiting boot of Rose and tagged her in. Brooks tagged in Mazzerati, who took a beating, and Miss May ran away when she could have helped her team. Shafir and Rose hit a double team DDT and Shafir made the cover. Total 10,000% squash.

Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Daniel Evans

Speaking of total squashes, Hobbs brought a 2023 record of 5-0 along with his “Book of Hobbs.” Evans was waiting for him to make his AEW debut. Now don’t get me wrong, Evans has a decent build and physique next to any average schmoe, but compared to the stacked and jacked Hobbs, he looked positively scrawny. Hobbs treated him like that too, laying him across the ropes and pounding on him, then hitting a huge spinebuster. Phoenix loved it and was chanting for him the whole time. He threw Evans on his shoulders, threw him down on his face, and went from 5-0 to 6-0 just like that. Wight: “When you thoroughly eviscerate an opponent like that you don’t have to do anything extra.”

Ethan Page, Matt Hardy & Isiah Kassidy (w/ Stokely Hathaway) vs. Watson, Braxton & Ice Williams

Hardy, Kassidy and Page brought a trios record of 1-0 on Elevation. As is his wont Page interrupted the Hardy Boyz music, but he also brought Hathaway to continue the interruption, and he said he was very happy Hook was nowhere in sight. Kassidy said nobody in Phoenix cares about that, they just want to party hardy with Hardy Party, “Let me get an aw yeah!” The music started again and they went down to face Watson, Braxton and Williams in their AEW debut.

This match was essentially the greatest hits version of the story we’ve seen for months now: Kassidy doesn’t like Page, Page does all of Hardy’s moves, Kassidy does some high flying, and the only difference here is that this time Page let Hardy hit the Twist of Fate without yelling at him or threatening to fine him for doing it. He got the pin immediately afterward as a result. Even Matt Menard was surprised that Page didn’t take issue with him doing the move.

ROH Women’s World Champion Athena vs. Danielle Kamela

Athena brought a record of 12-0 to the ring and the ROH Women’s Title around her waist. Kamela was waiting for her to make her 2023 AEW debut. Athena gave her a cheap shot before the bell could ring and a shot to the throat right after. She immediately grounded Kamela and wailed on her with closed fists. Wight: “I’m honestly surprised she hasn’t been fined yet.” Fined for what — being awesome?” Menard: “She’s the Mike Tyson of the women’s division.” She left Kamela on the apron and hit a baseball slide dropkick to send her to the floor. Wight: “She has zero sportsman like qualities.” I don’t want her to have any Paul, thank you very much. She tried to hit a running knee into the steel steps and Kamela got out of the way then took advantage with a clothesline. She threw Athena back into the ring to hit a couple more, a neckbreaker, a face buster, and got a near fall. Athena continued to grab her knee in pain as Kamela went to the top rope, but Athena hit the ropes to cause her to lose her balance. Athena hit a knee to the face, went up to the top herself, and hit the old O Face for the pin. All the pain in her knee was gone in victory, but for Kamela the pain had only begun. Athena smashed her face into the women’s title and sarcastically shook her hand.

Konosuke Takeshita vs. Lee Johnson (w/ Cole Karter)

Johnson was making his 2023 debut in this match. Takeshita brought a record of 11-0 on Elevation and got a standing ovation from Phoenix before the match could even begin — a well deserved one.

Menard: “How is Cole Karter going to factor into this one?” I was wondering the same thing myself. Johnson was overconfident and started doing push-ups during the match, but Takeshita was able to skin the cat and hit a huge clothesline. He floated Johnson over the ropes to the floor and did a suicide dive onto Johnson & Karter. He threw Johnson back in as Phoenix chanted for Takeshita, then hit a pair of running boots in the corner. Johnson avoided a third one and went for a roll up. Springboard neckbreaker by Johnson for a near fall and Takeshita was selling his jaw. Johnson teased the end was near and mocked Takeshita selling the pain. Tilt a whirl sitout slam by Takeshita. Takeshita begged Johnson to get up, missed with the knee, Johnson hit a superkick, Takeshita hit a knee, both men ran the ropes and Takeshita connected first. He hit the flying knee to finally finish Johnson off. Takeshita may have been legit selling his jaw as there was a little blood coming from his mouth after the match.

What to watch/skip

Tonight’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by Maria’s Instagram. If you think a live camera likes her, imagine what Maria Kanellis can do using her own camera! It still amazes me that WWE let her go not once, but twice. The must watch matches tonight are Takeshita vs. Johnson and The Kingdom vs. Sparks & Aguirre. My lone skip is the women’s trios match. Special shoutout to Hobbs for taking an obvious squash and still getting the crowd into it through his sheer charisma. This was a breezy fun 45 minutes of action.

Cageside commentary crew! Share your thoughts in the comments section below, as well as your pro wrestling talk in general. What was your favorite match? I want to know. See you tomorrow night for AEW Dark!

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