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AEW Dark Elevation recap (Mar. 20, 2023): Hardy Party in Winnipeg

Episode 107 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 in Winnipeg. The wrestling community lost a big name on Sunday so I offer condolences to the friends and family of Matt “Kid Zombie” Mann.

Skye Blue vs. TFA

Blue brought a record of 5-3 in singles competition for 2023. TFA (a/k/a Taryn From Accounting) was making her AEW debut here and jumped Blue before the bell even rang, going for a cover right away. Knee driver, another cover, stomping on her back and kicking her in the spine after she kicked out. Neither Menard nor Wight could seem to figure out what TFA stood for even though she literally has “Death” and “Taxes” written on her outfit. Does she need to wear a suit and tie like Irwin R. Schyster then? Blue got floated to the apron but responded with a right hand and a top rope crossbody for two. Standing switch, knee to the body from TFA, she picked Blue up and drover her into the mat for a near fall. She tries again. got kicked in the head, then rolled up on what Menard called “a sunset flip variation” for the pin. It almost had to be a roll up finish given the size difference between the two. I like what TFA showed us here.

Jake Hager vs. Adam Knight

Before Jake Hager came out, Menard and Wight were sure to plug “Fighting for a better world, together.” Angelo Parker accompanied Hager to the ring, sporting a record of 1-0 so far on Elevation. Knight was waiting in the right set to make his AEW debut. If you don’t know “Outlaw” Adam Knight, he’s a seasoned independent wrestling vet along with being a writer and stuntman. Wight kept calling him “Alex Knight” though. Hager was not impressed and wiped him out with a lariat, pointed at his opponent, and did his run up the ropes to splash on Knight when he leapt off. Hager got the pin. Parker gave him his purple fisherman hat back.

Emi Sakura vs. Zoe Sager

Sakura’s record on Elevation coming in was 7-0, and if I’m not mistaken they gave her new and more ominous entrance music. Wight certainly seemed impressed by it. Sager was waiting for her in the ring, also making her AEW debut. Sakura immediately nailed her with a chop to the chest, then side stepped the receipt. Sager knocked her down with a dropkick, and Sakura grabbed a handful of hair and whipped her across the ring. Scoop slam, foot on the chest. one count. Sakura raked her nails across Sager’s back in the most deliberate way I’ve seen someone do in a while. Perhaps it was more obvious because of Sager’s outfit. Sakura held Sager upside down for a while but she escaped and hit an enzuigiri and a knee to the face. Sager went to the top rope for a missile dropkick and a two count. Sager went for a suplex but got countered and driven right into the mat, then whipped into the corner for Sakura’s patented flying crossbody. “I am your highness! I am your highness!” She stretched Sager out in a rolling surfboard (I can’t remember seeing that before) then hooked her head for the submission. Impressive!

Brandon Cutler vs. Jason Gieger

Cutler came out with his cold spray and face mask, sporting a 2023 record of 1-0 on Elevation. He used the spray to polish up a fan’s title as he marched to the ring. Wight: “This guy could have fun in a maximum security prison!” Gieger was waiting for him to make his AEW debut. Menard: “Looks a little grumpy if you ask me.” Wight: “With those abs I’d be grumpy too. Looks like he needs a sandwich!”

Gieger was having his way early until we got an exchange of the “boo/yay” punches. Palm strike from Cutler, Macho Man elbow drops, dance moves, and Gieger tried to counter into a rear naked choke. Cutler rode him backward into the turnbuckle to try and shake him off, then put him in a fireman’s carry for an airplane spin... which always leaves both him +and+ his opponent dizzy. Gieger recovered first and went for a rear naked choke, so Cutler spun the opposite direction then fell onto Gieger for a two count. Gieger went for the submission again but Cutler floated over when he refused to let go and got his shoulders to the mat for three! Cutler used his cold spray to sooth his neck after the match. This was a fun bout.

Hardy Party (Matt Hardy, Ethan Page & Isiah Kassidy) with Stokely Hathaway vs. Sebastian Wolfe, Massive Damage & Mo Jabari

Even in Winnipeg, Ethan Page couldn’t resist interrupting Hardy Party’s music, as the group was introduced with a record of 3-0. They booed him and he said “Whoa whoa guys don’t you see the maple leafs? I’m Canadian, and I want to be a good Canadian host.” Matt Hardy: “And I’m happy to be back in the +wonderful+ Winnipeg!” Kassidy: “If you’re ready to party Hardy, can I get an HUH YEAH?” Page asked him for a “HUH YEAH AY” instead and he obliged. The crowd sang along with it. Menard: “That was tremendous Paul!” Damage, Jabari and Wolfe were waiting in-ring for their trios debut.

Page and Hardy were working together fluidly, doing a double team elbow drop off the ropes, and Kassidy said “Hey Canada it’s time for some shots” and started doing punches in the corner. He got cut off but recovered to leap across the ring and tag in Page, who scooped up Jabari for a near fall. All three members of Hardy Party hit a Side Effect at the same time, then Jabari was fed to Page for Ego’s Edge and the pin. The crowd might have hated Page at the start, but they loved him and the rest of Hardy Party at the end. The only person who wasn’t happy was Stokely Hathaway, who got in the ring to jump on Jabari and choke him out. I guess that means he’s ready for Hook!

Top Flight vs. Shaun Moore & Michael Allen Richard Clark

Top Flight brought an Elevation record of 3-0 to the ring. As good as is to have Darius Martin back, I can’t lie and say I don’t miss seeing what Martin could do in singles action. Clark and Moore were waiting for the Martins, set to make their tag team division debut. It didn’t take Winnipeg long to start a “let’s go Top Flight” chant.

Shaun Moore showed off some impressive athleticism in this match, while his partner Clark was enjoying doing push-ups in the middle of the match. Dante got the hot tag from his brother Darius and lit up Moore with forearms, which may have been inspired by Moore having “Fight Me” written on his trunks. Flying crossbody for a near fall was broken up by Clark. Darius used his brother as a post for a DDT and Dante flew out of the ring to wipe him out. Darius gave more a scoop slam and Dante jumped high off the top rope to splash Moore for the pin. Wight: “He had so much hang time he could clap his hands twice before he landed!”

Athena vs. Taylor Rising

Athena brought her ROH Women’s Title and a 2023 record of 8-0 to the ring along with her laughter and cocky attitude. Menard: “My favorite part of Monday nights, right here! Athena right back where it all started here in Canada. Yeah, back in Toronto in October. That’s where all this attitude change started.” Menard: “Good research!” Taylor Rising was waiting to make her singles debut in AEW, in yet another “Proving Ground” match against the world champion.

Athena tried to take advantage by brawling with her on the outside, got whipped into the steps in response, then gave Rising a nasty looking power bomb on the black mats in front of the entrance ramp. This got the Winnipeg crowd to chant “holy shit” but neither Menard nor Wight made the usual crack about how it would affect their YouTube rating. Back in the ring Rising spiked Athena for a near fall and went to the top rope. Athena got out of the way and sent Rising flying with a dropkick. She put on a crossface to tap RIsing out and wouldn’t let go even after Rising called for the bell, then jumped on for some ground and pound. You know what comes next. Athena threw Rising over the top rope to the floor, grabbed her title belt, and spiked Rising into it head first after singing “Oh Canada!”

Dustin Rhodes & Keith Lee vs. Levi Night & Jessie V

Dustin Rhodes came out first and got a nice ovation from the crowd. Lee came out wearing a cape that he shook off, gave Rhodes a fist bump, and their record teaming together so far was 1-0. Menard reminded us that their tag team name is “Naturally Limitless.” Knight and V were waiting in the ring for their debut in AEW’s tag division.

There are things I like and don’t like about Lee’s current evolution. I like the silver trunks, the silver hair and beard, and the fact that he looks like he’s more relaxed and comfortable. I don’t like that Lee is once again in a tag team instead of getting to shine as a soloist. Lee gave V a spinebuster, and Rhodes did a little quarter turn spin as he slammed Night to the mat for the pin. Total squash.

Alex Reynolds & John Silver vs. Tony Nese & Ari Daivari (with Mark Sterling)

Nese was introduced first as a man who would finally give the Winnipeg Jets a championship if he was on the team, while Daivari was introduced as a man who prefers to buy his health care in America, all courtesy of their manager “Smart” Mark Sterling. Their record on tonight’s program was 1-3. Silver and Reynolds got a nice pop from Winnipeg and were sporting a record of 1-0 on Elevation.

It didn’t take long for the numbers game to overwhelm Silver as the heels cut off the ring and double teamed him with fists, while Reynolds complained from the opposite corner. Nese kicked Silver in the head for a near fall and he had a glazed look in his eyes. He recovered long enough for some palm strikes, ate a series of kicks, floated through a German selling his knee, and we got a double tag. Meeting of the minds for the heels. Nese and Daivari got thrown out for a suicide dive by Reynolds to wipe them both out. Menard: “Most underrated talent on the AEW roster!” Knee, powerbomb, Nese broke up the pin on Daivari. Reverse DDT on Reynolds. Silver broke up the double team with a pump kick and ate a superkick. Reynolds and Silver did their stunner/German/floatover combination get the pin before Daivari could break it up and the show went right off the air!

What to watch/skip

Today’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by West Coast Pro Wrestling, who renamed their June 9th show “Kid Zombie” in Matt’s honor. Thank you for that, and thank +you+ for reading my reports each and every week. I’ve lost a lot of friends in the wrestling world over the decades, but I’ve made quite a lot of news ones too, and at times like this I’m glad it brings us all together. Perhaps that sentimentality is influencing me right now but I have very little to “skip” on this episode. I’d hate to say Rhodes & Lee, but I might have to given how one-sided it was. Athena usually destroys people but Rising got more shine than V and Night did as a team. I really want to see more of Taryn From Accounting. She’s a “hoss” in the most complimentary way I can mean it. Imagine her versus Awesome Kong or Jessicka Havok! That would be some fun shit.

Cageside commentary crew! Share your thoughts in the comments section below, as well as your pro wrestling talk in general. See you tomorrow night for AEW Dark!

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