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AEW Dark Elevation recap (Apr. 17, 2023): Maki f’n Itoh

Episode 111 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 show — and let’s get right to it!

Maki Itoh vs. Ashley D’Amboise

Our favorite fallen idol has returned! Itoh lip synced her theme song for all the MJF scarf wearing fans in Long Island, with D’Amboise in the ring waiting for her, both making their official 2023 debut in AEW. Itoh knocked her down with a shoulder tackle but missed her falling kokeshi headbutt. D’Amboise tried to ram her head into the turnbuckle twice and it did nothing, so then she rammed her own head into the turnbuckle to fire up and flipped D’Amboise the double birds. She climbed the turnbuckle for ten punches, waved to the crowd, hit a tornado DDT, and D’Amboise kicked out at two. She missed on a second attempt at the headbutt then ate a leg lariat for a near fal. Shotgun dropkick sent her into the ropes but she rebounded with a headbutt and yelled “Okay!!” D’Amboise kipped up, but Itoh rolled through on her into a crab, then applied the Itoh Deluxe for the submission. Hooray! Menard: “How do you like that? She went from Lance Storm to Dean Malenko.” Indeed she did!

Jericho Appreciation Society (Jake Hager, Matt Menard & Angelo Parker) vs. Zack Clayton, Jack Tomlinson & Mike Magnum

Paul Wight had to call this one by himself. Wight: “I’m kind of worried about my broadcast partner. He didn’t warm up.” This was yet another debut for the episode — the first time Hager, Menard and Parker were competing in trios action. Menard beat down Tomlinson and tagged out to Parker as the opposition did to Magnum. (Oh and for what it’s worth the opponents were also “debuting” as a trio.) Parker hit a single leg dropkick right on Magnum’s chin. Tomlinson tried to pull him back to his feet, but that may have been a mistake since Hager tagged in. They tried to double team him and he hit a double suplex and adjusted his purple fisherman hat. Clayton tagged in and gave his own teammates a double clothesline before bailing. Parker and Menard hit a double DDT on Tomlinson for three.

Matt Hardy & Isiah Kassidy vs. Bobby Orlando & Brett Gosselin

It’s time for the Hardy Party, and for once with no interruption from Matt Page. Hardy and Kassidy sported a 2023 record of 1-0 as a duo. Orlando and Gosselin were waiting for them in the ring. Hardy was handed a mic by someone at ringside. “Long Island, New York! Are you ready to DELETE, DELETE, DELETE.” Kassidy: “Yeah! Yeah! Ay we’re not here for a long time, but we’re here for a good time. If you’re ready to party Hardy with Hardy party, can I get a huh yeah!” Gosselin and Orlando were the third straight act to be “debuting” on Elevation tonight. Hardy wasted no time trying to delete Orlando’s arm before tagging in Kassidy. Gosselin tried and failed to make the save and got his neck snapped off the ropes. Kassidy climbed the ropes. Menard: “Night of the ten punch here on Elevation!” Orlando clubbed him in the back, kicked him, and tagged in Gosselin. He tried to taunt Matt Hardy and it backfired when he immediately got a hot tag. Gosselin was deleted into every part of the turnbuckle. Kassidy tagged back in and leapt off Hardy’s back for a splash. Twist of Fate by Matt. Swanton by Kassidy. 1-2-3. That’s that!

Emi Sakura vs. Mizuki

Mizuki got a well deserved entrance for her AEW debut, and Wight was sure to mention she’s Yuka Sakazaki’s tag team partner in DDT. Sakura came out with her robe and crown sporting a record of 8-0 on Elevation for the main event. Menard: “I love her. Her majesty.” She mimed a cup of tee leaning on the ropes before the bell got the match underway. She took Mizuki down and started pounding on her quicker than a hiccup, then whipped her across the ring with a handful of hair. Menard: “Maybe they have a history we’re not familiar with. Feels like Emi could put this one away at any time here.” Mizuki made a comeback though with a dropkick into the face all the way through the ropes, but she ate a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker into the knee. Sakura went for a crossbody into the steel steps but Mizuki got out of the way, then did a double stomp from the top rope. Menard: “Holy smokes!” That’s not what the crowd was chanting Daddy.

Mizuki got a near fall as Wight joked that the action was so fast paced that ref Rick Knox might need to get his pacemaker tuned up. Sakura: “I am your highness!” Mizuki and Sakura traded roll ups but Sakura got the better of it and got a flash three count. Wight: “For a second there it looked like the Queen was getting put through the trials.” I agree. Mizuki offered her a handshake and Sakura refused and left the ring. Bring Mizuki back and give them five more minutes!

What to watch/skip

Tonight’s “what to watch/skip” is brought to you by Maki Itoh. This was a very short episode and a very enjoyable one. I recommend not skipping anything because it started strong and ended just as strong, and we had some comedy with J.A.S. and Hardy Party in between. I suppose if you’re trying hard to find a complaint about the episode there’s one — why isn’t Maki Itoh on Dynamite or Rampage doing her shtick? She needs a bigger spotlight than this!

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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