Emi Sakura def. Queen Aminata
Kicking off the show with Sakura didn't get me too excited out of the gate, but this was serviceable. I'm sorry but I just don't get the appeal of Sakura. If you're a fan, that's great, but I feel like we know nothing about her and her matches aren't anything out of the ordinary. This was a decent outing and Aminata impressed me more than anything Sakura did. At least Sakura is working with the younger talent and helping elevate them in defeat.
Frankie Kazarian def. Ren Jones
Kazarian was involved with the Elite segment last week on Dynamite, but it feels like he's starting to slowly move away from the Elite Hunter gimmick. I don't think he's wearing all black anymore, though I wish he could get some character development on the mic. He can still very much go in the ring, which is why I'm looking forward to him facing Adam Cole in Cole's in-ring debut on Dynamite this Wednesday.
Penelope Ford def. Layna Lennox
Ford is getting a bit more television time these days now that she's aligned with The Bunny, though it's more a matter of when and not if they'll lose to the returning duo of Tay Conti and Anna Jay. Ford remains a work in progress, but more matches like this will give her the experience she needs. This was about as long as it should have been and the win gave Ford a small momentum boost.
The Butcher and The Blade def. Turbo Floyd and Truth Magnum
After many months, Butcher and Blade are finally back in the tag team ranks. Oh joy. Look, they work well together and (as I've said before) I appreciate their intensity, but they do nothing for me as characters. Worse yet, I wouldn't be shocked to see them leave the H.F.O. at some point for Malaki Black as that would be a better fit on paper (even though Black doesn't need them). To Butcher's credit, he had a solid showing in his return here and he was more animated than usual.
Jade Cargill def. Shawna Reed
Most of Cargill's matches largely follow the same formula: the bell rings, she hits a few moves followed by her finisher, and then it's over. This was no different. It wasn't the smoothest squash I've seen her have yet, but it accomplished what it needed to in giving Cargill another win and keeping her dominant. Based on what we saw last week on Dynamite, it looks like she and Nyla Rose will on a collision course eventually after Rose eliminated her from the Casino Battle Royale.
Tay Conti and Anna Jay def. Ella Shae and Jaylee
Similar to Butcher and Blade, we haven't seen Conti and Jay in action together for a long time, but in this case, I was actually excited to see them reunite. They were really starting to find their footing as a tandem prior to Jay getting injured, so hopefully Jay being back gives both of them some direction going forward, starting with a mini feud with Ford and The Bunny. This was a basic squash with Jay looking good whenever she tagged in and didn't seem to show signs of ring rust.
Daniel Garcia def. Lee Moriarty
Garcia strikes me as a guy that would really thrive in Ring of Honor's Pure division. I don't know if he's completely gotten over with the AEW audience yet, but AEW sure is pushing him aggressively and he's had strong showings in all of his matches. Speaking of ROH, Moriarty competed at their Death Before Dishonor pay-per-view over the weekend as he was announced for it prior to getting signed by AEW. This was a really fun and well-wrestled match while it lasted. Moriarty was an easy pickup for the promotion.
Nyla Rose def. Skye Blue
This was a weird match to position as the main event considering Blue isn't (as far as I know) under any sort of contract to the company despite her recent appearances on AEW programming. That said, I was looking forward to this because Blue works great as an underdog babyface and Rose tends to be at her best against smaller opponents. I wish it had more time, and there were some clunky moments, but what we got was sold and Blue did an excellent job of selling for Rose's offense.
A 40-minute edition of Elevation? My prayers have been answered! In all seriousness, I can absolutely get used to this being the new format for the show. It's short, sweet and straight the point. Eight enhancement matches was also the perfect number, but I'd also be fine with them having less so they can be more competitive and get more time. This was an easy watch and I especially enjoyed Garcia vs. Moriarty.