14th Jul2021

‘AEW Dark: Elevation – Episode 18’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Welcome to Nerdly, I’m Phil and this is a review of this week’s AEW Dark: Elevation, the eighteenth episode of AEW’s “developmental” brand which – this week – has been stacked with matches featuring some of AEW’s biggest names. So much for developmental!

Match #1: Thunder Rosa def. Dreamgirl Ellie

My Thoughts: Thunder Rosa gave Dreamgirl Ellie a lot of leeway in this match, reverting back to her standard “let your opponent put in the work and showcase themselves before squashing them” routine after the past few weeks doing traditional squash matches.

My Score: 2 out of 5

Match #2: Matt Hardy def. Fuego Del Sol

My Thoughts: I can’t believe I have to give a Matt Hardy match a decent score. But I do. Why? Because Guego Del Sol matches get top-ranking scores all the time here on Nerdly. Am I biased? Yes. But I absolutely love Fuego… you might even call it fanboying!

My Score: 3.5 out of 5

Match #3: Riho def. Amber Nova

My Thoughts: There was something off about this match for the entire duration. Yes, some spots looked clumsy but there were way too many pauses here to keep anyone’s interest. At least Amber Nova got to showcase her persona here.

My Score: 1.5 out of 5

Match #4: Powerhouse Hobbs def. Baron Black

My Thoughts: Even though Black got in some early offence this was a squash match, with Hobbs hitting a decisive spinebuster for the win.

My Score: 1 out of 5

Match #5: Yuka Sakazaki def. KiLynn King

My Thoughts: So I’m guessing KiLynn’s back to being a heel after her face run for most of the pandemic? Whatever. I still wanted King to win. Unfortunately she didn’t and unfortunately I don’t think these two gelled in the ring either… plus it looked like King was selling Sakazaki’s kick-outs more than she was!

My Score: 1.5 out of 5

Match #6: Gunn Club and Varsity Blonds def. Chaos Project and The Acclaimed

My Thoughts: This 8-man tag team match felt a little too “WWE” for me. Though it looked like the whole thing was little more than a set-up for the post-match face-off between the Varsity Blonds and The Acclaimed which seems to be kicking off a programme between the two teams.

My Score: 2 out of 5

Match #7: Brian Cage def. Alan “5” Angels

My Thoughts: Well this was a surprise. Angels dominated for most of this match until the final minute where Cage hit a backbreaker and then the drillclaw for the win. Despite losing, Angels hasn’t looked better.

My Score: 2 out of 5

Match #8: Leyla Hirsch def. Kelsey Heather

My Thoughts: Where the hell has Leyla Hirsch been? She got a huge pop at AEW’s last PPV infront of a live audience and since then she’s not been on TV! It looks, especially judging by how much offence Kelsey Heather got in, like AEW has lost confidence in Leyla. I hope not, she seriously deserves to make her way into the Women’s title picture. Seriously.

My Score: 2 out of 5

Match #9: Scorpio Sky def. “The Captain” Shawn Dean

My Thoughts: This match played out very much like the Cage/Angels match. Dean got in all the offence, including a great DDT, with even a near-fall before Scorpio Sky hit the TKO for the win.

My Score: 2 out of 5

Match #10: Tay Conti def. Labrava

My Thoughts: Tay Conti dominated over the debuting Labrava – in very much the same way AEW built Britt Baker’s rankings for the AEW Women’s title match by having her “squash” debuting/extra opponents. A cas of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it maybe?

My Score: 1.5 out of 5

Match #11: Jungle Boy def. Lee Johnson

My Thoughts: This was a perfectly balanced match with both men delvering a fantastic match. Of course Jungle Boy was going to win to keep his 50+ match winning record going but at times this actually looked like it could go either way.

My Score: 3.5 out of 5

Match #12: Red Velvet def. Leila Grey

My Thoughts: Another well-balanced match with both women putting on a great display of wrestling. Red Velvet got the win… in her FIRST match outside of Daily’s Place!

My Score: 2 out of 5

Match #13: Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor and Wheeler Yuta def. Jora Johl and Private Party

My Thoughts: Jora Johl made his debut as a part of the Hardy Family Office here and did a brilliant “dance” with Orange Cassidy as the two kept up a stream of standing switches that, despite being a simple move, looked fantastic… and a lot of fun! I like the fact Johl sold his role in HFO, as a necessity not actually a desire to be there, throughout the match.

My Score: 2.5 out of 5

Match #14: Hikaru Shida def. Julia Hart

My Thoughts: On paper this looked like it was going to be a quick squash match; however Shida gave Julia Hart a lot of leeway and Hart made the most of it. Hart looked a little green but that will change given more time and more experience in the ring facing opponents like Shida. My favourite womens match of the night.

My Score: 2.5 out of 5

Match #15: Darby Allin def. Angelico

My Thoughts: A thoroughly decent main event that told its story well. Though I thought it might have gone on a little longer. Instead we got some post-match shenanigans between the HFO and Darby/Sting and then the Men of the Year (Scorpio Sky/Ethan Page) got into a staredown with Sting and Allin before the duo closed the show on the mic.

My Score: 3 out of 5

News of the Night:

  • The Acclaimed and the Varsity Blonds are feuding
  • Jora Johl has joined the HFO

Final Verdict: 2.5/5

A show that got better as it went along, this was – once again – too long for its own good. Surely not every “dark” match on the evenings card actually has to be a Dark (or Elevation) match on TV?

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