This week there were four matches across AEW’s YouTube shows (two a piece) and while that’s on the lower end compared to most weeks in 2023, we’re seeing the amount of time for Dark/Elevation in general starting to be cannibalized by Ring Of Honor tapings but across the whole “Tony Khan Wrestling Universe”, we’re actually getting more wrestling and more women’s matches, thanks to Ring Of Honor.
This week, Dark Elevation had a distinct Joshi flavour to it, which I’m always in Joshi favour of. And on Dark, we got a very intriguing match-up that didn’t disappoint.
Alright, let’s get into it.
I will never not smile when a wrestling show opens with Maki Itoh’s entrance. And even though Maki Itoh’s entrance is pretty fool proof as far as being fun and getting a great crowd reaction I have often felt something ends up being off a bit with the timing of it. But this was the best rendition of her entrance I’ve ever seen in AEW.
Her opponent, currently in the ring; Hey! It’s Ashley D’Amboise! I was going to say these are two of my favourite talents not signed to AEW but if the rumours are true, D’Amboise may in fact be D’All Elite!
So this match actually had a pretty cute story within the match of D’Amboise being too quick and too smart to fall for Maki Itoh’s Kokeshi Headbutt. Maki misses the Kokeshi early on. A headbutt sends D’Amboise into the corner where Maki does the 10 punches followed by a Tornado DDT. Lots of head-based offence. She goes for the Kokeshi Headbutt again, this time anticipating the dodge from D’Amboise, so she stalls by doing a twirl and then committing to it but Ashley has even scouted this, dodging it again! Finally, Maki’s head connects after receiving a dropkick, she rebounds off the ropes and hits the Kokeshi on D’Amboise who hasn’t get gotten off the mat after delivering her dropkick. Whoever drew this up, thank you.
Itoh dodges a running knee and rolls up D’Amboise into a single leg Boston Crab and then turns it into like a Liontamer/Texas Cloverleaf where she also traps one of the free arms. Very, very nice submission, as D’Amboise taps out.
Maki Itoh looks like she’s actually rounded out her game very nicely since the last time we saw her in AEW and she’s as over as ever. Ashley D’Amboise, I’m convinced can have a good match with anyone. She’s an awesome dance partner and sells like a merchant.
Winner: Maki Itoh (3:11)
I’ve never seen Mizuki wrestle before. I’m aware of her just from Twitter, seeing her on match graphics for TJPW. Emi just flattens and mauls Mizuki off the bell and then gives her the Mexican Surfboard. Mizuki comes back with a Hurricanerana Pin which was pretty slick. After dodging a crossbody against the steps, Mizuki races up to the top rope and lands a diving double foot stomp onto Emi Sakura. Damn!
Back in the ring Mizuki hits a move where it looks like she’s about to be caught on a crossbody but then she twirls suddenly. I’m not sure how that’s physically possible. The two exchange some very nice pinning combinations. Emi eventually wins with a very deep stacked pin. Very good little exhibition. I really hope we get to see Mizuki in some longer matches.
Winner: Mizuki (3:26)
We’ve seen Brittany J before (24/2-years/33 matches) but Kiah Dream is completely new to me. Hard to gleam much from this match as it was a very short squash. The Renegades are still on their path. They’re 23, been wrestling for 3 years. They had moments in this match where their offence looked a bit more stiff, more flush. It’s funny to me how when I first started watching these girls I couldn’t tell them apart and now I’m questioning if they’re really twins. Anyway, their character work is gaining traction I feel, their in-ring is solid. They win this match with a Hart Attack. It was a squash. A rep.
Winner: The Renegades
This is an inspired matchup. Dream Girl Ellie is someone who I feel is very innovative and is always trying to create original spots during her matches. Marina Shafir does this as well but by a different means. Marina simply will not sanction spots that look too soft, flimsy or contrived. She doesn’t go through the motions for the sake of a spot working. It’s like she’s—get this—trying to make pro wrestling look real. Crazy, right?
Marina opens this matches by just manipulating Ellie’s body into doing what she needs her to do. Ellie reverses an attack in the corner and gets a Scorpion Kick to Marina’s head and this is what I mean by Marina not overselling something that doesn’t sanction it. She sold that the kick hurt, maybe even stunned her, but she quickly shook it off and was now more pissed off. Really nice drop toe-hold from Ellie followed up by a half dozen frantic kicks to Marina’s head, arm and side. There is so many little details in this match that I just love. Of course if you follow me, you know how much I love Marina Shafir but Dream Girl Ellie, now that we’ve got Ring Of Honor and the new Saturday show (supposedly called AEW Collision) coming, I’d really like for Tony Khan to find DGE a spot because she is like a modern day Chris Kanyon. So innovative, creative and thoughtful. Anyway, I adored this dynamic as you can probably tell. Go watch this match. It’s beautiful. Oh, I guess I should say Marina Shafir wins with Greedy but I don’t think I’ve seen this variation where she clasps one of her opponent’s hands. God, I’m absolutely desperate to see Marina get pushed.