Thunder Rosa def. Dreamgirl Ellie
Rosa received a good reaction for the crowd when she made her entrance. That's encouraging because her entire AEW run up to this point has happened in front of limited or no fans, so I'm glad we know for sure that she's over with the audience. This marked Ellie's AEW debut and she fared well for herself, but I have no idea why this needed to last as long as it did. At least Rosa dominated a majority of the matchup. I like Rosa adding a submission finisher to her arsenal, though.
Matt Hardy def. Fuego Del Sol
Fuego won his very first match in AEW just last week. I was surprised by how popular Fuego was with the crowd. Clearly they've been watching the Dark shows, Sammy Guevara's vlog, his social media or whatever it might be. He's turned into a total underdog and has grown on me as well. He pushed Hardy to the limit here and had a strong showing before eating defeat as Hardy prepares to face Christian Cage on Wednesday's Dynamite.
Riho def. Amber Nova
Nova has competed in a number of promotions I'm familiar with, including AEW in the past. As for Riho, I'm curious if she's going to become more of a regular for AEW again going forward or if her appearances will continue to be infrequent and relegated to the Dark shows. Nova was on offense for most of the match, but Riho fought from underneath and was beloved by this crowd. This was a well-worked affair aside from Nova failing to kick out of a pin attempt at one point toward the end.
Powerhouse Hobbs def. Baron Black
Hobbs proved he doesn't get paid by the hour by putting Black away within a minute, if that. He completely destroyed Black and defeated him with that patented spinebuster of his. He's in an odd spot in this Team Taz storyline with Brian Cage and Ricky Starks having their issues with each other, but the important thing is that he's continuing to rack up wins and is being booked perfectly.
Yuka Sakazaki def. KiLynn King
Other than the women's tournament earlier this year (where her matches were taped over in Japan), we haven't seen Sakazaki compete in AEW since before the start of the pandemic in 2020. I was looking forward to seeing her back in action here against an equally talented King, but this match was just not good. There were a few missed spots and it wasn't very smooth at all. For whatever reason, they didn't click, and that's unfortunate. Hopefully Sakazaki's outing against Penelope Ford on Wednesday is better.
Varsity Blonds and Gunn Club (Colten and Billy Gunn) def. Chaos Project and The Acclaimed
Acclaimed getting such a big reaction when they came out made me smile. Their pre-match raps are going to become even more fun now that they're delivering them in front of new crowds every week. It's well documented that I couldn't care less about Chaos Project and Gunn Club, but this was a super enjoyable eight-man tag team affair that the crowd was into. The post-match angle was really well done with Acclaimed running down Varsity Blonds and challenging them to a future match to determine who should be number two in the AEW World Tag Team Championship rankings. Speaking of Varsity Blonds, congrats to them for officially being signed to deals by AEW as of today.
FTW Champion Brian Cage def. Alan "5" Angels (Non-Title)
I'm not sure if the crowd knew how to react to this. Cage is clearly headed for a face turn based on his recent dissension with the rest of Team Taz (and specifically Starks), but he was in heel mode here against Angels, who is a well-liked member of The Dark Order. Angels scored some offense, but this was mostly about Cage and establishing his dominance ahead of his upcoming outing with Starks on Night 1 of Fyter Fest this Wednesday.
"Legit" Leyla Hirsch def. Kelsey Heather
Fun fact: Heather became the first person to appear on WWE and AEW programming on the same night, as she later appeared on WWE Raw (also taped last week) as one of the women with Bobby Lashley. I've never heard of her before and she's already making history, so kudos to her. She was in control early on before Hirsch took her down and tapped her out within seconds. This was short, sweet and exactly what it needed to be.
Scorpio Sky def. Shawn Dean
It will be Ethan Page, not Sky, who will be competing against Darby Allin in a Coffin match this week on Dynamite, but it's nice that Sky is maintaining momentum as a singles competitor in the meantime. I still don't think Page and Sky should be long for the tag team division, but there's no doubt they work well together and are making the most of their tandem. Dean is skilled in his own right, so this was a nice little match while it lasted.
Tay Conti def. Labrava
Conti's last six months of experience on the Dark shows and Dynamite have paid off based on how much the crowd was into her here. She's another top prospect in the women's division that should be back in title contention before long. This wasn't very long, but that actually worked to her benefit since she hit all of her signature spots and won decisively. This was Labrava's AEW debut and she was fine.
Jungle Boy def. Lee Johnson
Jungle Boy cut a promo with Luchasaurus beforehand backstage talking about what's next for him after being the first in AEW to score 50 wins. He's absolutely a star on the rise and the reactions he's been getting lately prove that, but his promos need a lot of work. He and Johnson had terrific performances here and had an entertaining encounter. Johnson has plenty of potential as well and it was cool to see them both showcase their skills in front of a crowd that appreciated it.
Red Velvet def. Leila Grey
Velvet is a work in progress but has potential, so the Dark shows are the perfect place for her to get experience and improve. That said, I can't say I blame the crowd for being relatively quiet during this contest. I didn't know Miami was Velvet's hometown, but they weren't exactly rallying behind her. There wasn't anything technically wrong with it, but it only existed to give Velvet a win as well as experience like I mentioned. At least it was kept on the shorter side.
Best Friends (Orange Cassidy and Chuck Taylor) and Wheeler Yuta def. Jora Johl and Private Party
I love how Johl came out wearing a Milwaukee Bucks jersey because he probably knew the crowd wasn't going to know who he was and that was an easy way to get heat. He revealed beforehand that he accepted Hardy's offer to join the H.F.O., and then in his first match as a member of the group, he lost. That was weird, but at least Yuta got to pick up another victory. Hopefully he remains a regular with AEW. This was honestly underwhelming given the level of talent involved.
Hikaru Shida def. Julia Hart
Hart has improved leaps and bounds since making her first AEW appearance not too long ago. This wasn't her match to win, obviously, but she looked credible in defeat. Shida is slowly working her way back up the rankings with wins on the Dark shows, but it's strange she hasn't appeared on Dynamite at all since losing the AEW Women's World Championship at Double or Nothing. Similar to Rosa, Shida winning with a submission move (the Full Metal Muffler it's called) for a change was refreshing.
Darby Allin def. Angelico
The crowd was pretty lifeless for the last few matches but came alive for this one, which should come as no surprise considering how over Allin is (not to mention that Sting was in his corner). Allin has a Coffin match coming up at Fyter Fest Night 1, so this was basically a warm-up for him. Both of these guys are athletic high-fliers, but this told a simple story with Allin selling Angelico's offense before battling back and emerging victorious. Post-match, Sting, Allin and Christian Cage teamed up to get the better of the H.F.O. Allin and Page also faced off before their big Coffin match while Sting addressed the crowd.
I love that Elevation is on the road for the first time. It really enhanced my enjoyment of this episode by a lot. Per usual, the biggest issue with the show was its length. I was stoked when it only went 45 minutes last week with six matches. The show was back to what it's been at around two hours this week and I don't understand the reasoning behind it. I realize they want to get as many people on the show as possible, but you can tell the crowd was losing interest in the later matches. Making this show an hour again, which is what it was pre-pandemic, would be ideal. Otherwise, this was a thumbs-up show with plenty of notable names and quality wrestling.