After Dark-Week 5

After receiving some good feedback after last week’s After Dark, I’ve decided to stop rating all matches that happen on Dark and Dark Elevation. The majority of these matches aren’t there to be 3-5 star matches but often serve another (equally important) purpose.

Like last week, there were 5 women’s matches this week on AEW’s YouTube properties. Red Velvet, Skye Blue, and Yuka Sakazaki appeared on both shows. Let’s get in…

Jan. 30-Dark Elevation

Red Velvet vs Billie Starkz

Billie Starkz is back! This time wrestling Red Velvet. Billie’s gear looks awesome. Red Velvet, beautiful as always.

Starkz does a hella-impressive German Suplex early on as well as a double-overhook back suplex (almost looked like she was going to setup ‘Jaded’, lol). Billie looks like she fits right in on this stage.

This match is also a good refresher for what Red Velvet can do ahead of her match against Jade Cargill this Wednesday. Red is like super sonic quick and a violent bumper. In saying that, I can’t help but feel Red Velvet’s in-ring style is more typical of what you see in a babyface than a heel.

Billie sells really well. She’s got credible power, and the athleticism to hit a beautiful Swanton Bomb for two as well as take a brutal looking Poisonrana. Again, in-ring, Billie Starkz looks like she could get signed yesterday but it’s her facial expressiveness that really stands out. At every point in this match, she’s just so expressive. She goes from looking a bit cocky/naive to feeling betrayed/angered to firing up to selling that she’s in peril seamlessly. At 18, she’s a mammoth prospect. 

Red Velvet looks smoother than ever. She’s always had the turbo speed down but the sequences in this match where just so tight. 

Winner: Red Velvet (3:21)

Athena & Diamante vs Yuka Sakazaki & Skye Blue

Earlier on in the episode, Athena had a backstage interview in which she ripped the mic away from Lexy Nair, sent her packing and then proceeded to find Diamante to interview her. It’s a funny segment and a smart way to explain why Diamante, who recently got beaten up by Athena, would partner with her. Basically, Athena promises Diamante that if they win, she’ll give her a shot at the ROH Title. We also get a segment where Yuka Sakazaki may or may not have joined the Dark Order?

I’m glad we get Yuka’s music! So fun. Madison Rayne accompanies Skye Blue, also wearing a backwards snapback in support of her friend.

Yuka comes up with a really clever way of blocking Athena to get in the ring by laying on the mat and kicking at feet but Mike Posey didn’t seem to know how to treat this maneuver.

Awesome enziguri from Athena to Skye Blue who was perched on the top rope. Diamante & Athena throw Skye into the barricades in brutal fashion.

Athena hits a forearm on Skye in her corner where you’d swear she knocked her out. She has such an incredible worked strike that she can pull out at any point.

Yuka shows off some very credible strikes on Athena. Better than I remember actually. We get an action packed sequence with all four women. Diamante hits killer a German on Yuka. Athena catches Skye’s roundhouse kick attempt and then power bombs her.

Yuka wins with a spinning face slam of some type. Hard to nail down what exactly that was. Athena faked an ankle injury. I’m not sure if that’s something she’s going to carry forward to try and get out of a match with Yuka or just a ploy she was using in the moment to try to jump her.

Winner: Yuka Sakazaki & Skye Blue (7:11)

Jan. 31-Dark Elevation

Red Velvet vs Sofia Castillo

I’m not all that familiar with Sofia Castillo, she hadn’t been on Dark since 2021 and that was in a trios match. Sofia, 24, apparently has a background in DANCE! I don’t know if this is a trend but it’s certainly something I’m noticing more is dancers doing pro wrestling and looking ahead of their tenure.

Castillo got a lot more offence in this match than I would’ve expected including a sort of pendulum kick on the ropes and a hard guillotine stunner on the middle rope that she definitely went all in on, Landing butt first hard on the apron. Looked great. And she has something to her kicking game. 

Red Velvet has this incredible running back heel kick where she just floats up, hits it and then flips in mid air, landing on her opponent. I do wonder if she could turn that into a combination after landing on someone sort of like a Lou Thesz Press.

Red wins a with a new submission that’s actually really nice. It’s a hammerlock that uses a leg and then she uses her free leg to thwart escape efforts until she hooks the other arm with that free foot and wrenches back. I love finishers with a setup that can create a struggle to lock in and also provide an opponent multiple stages to break out. Hopefully this is something they’re moving forward with for Red Velvet.

Winner: Red Velvet (4:46)

Skye Blue vs Renee Michelle

As Excalibur identifies, a real “Fire vs Ice” look to these two women’s respective gears. This was a pretty solidly worked match. Michelle had a decent waistlock roll thru into a German Suplex. Skye had a really nicely placed super kick. Overall, it’s hard to garner much heat in this atmosphere. There’s not really much more to say.

Winner: Skye Blue (2:31)

Yuka Sakazaki vs Avery Breaux

Ok. What’s the deal with Avery Breaux? According to Cage Match she has 13 matches, 6 of which have been on AEW and another match on NXT Level Up (as Sierra St. Pierre).

Yuka is such an enormously endearing little entity. She keeps copying Avery’s hand gestures gimmick as if she’s just trying to return a kindness and Breaux gets angrier the more she does it. She truly is magical. 

Yuka’s endearing nature never stops with her little war cries when committing to an offensive move and whimpers in pain when she’s selling. And even before finishing the match with her Magical Girl Splash she gives herself a reassuring “okayyy”.

I really really hope Yuka Sakazaki become a full-time mainstay on this roster. She’s so great. 

Winner: Yuka Sakazaki (4:15)

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