AEW Dark: Elevation Summer Wrap-Up
As we look forward to All Out this Labor Day weekend, let us look back to the previous three months of action from AEW Dark: Elevation and see who stands out. Fifteen episodes of Elevation (May 31st to August 30th) contained almost a hundred singles matches and over thirty tag matches. There were also a handful of trios matches but those stats weren't recorded since the sample size was so small. I looked at workers who appeared at least three times when collating the stats to create this final table.
While Shida and Jungle Boy had more total strikes, Nyla Rose made the most of her ring time by averaging almost 5 strikes per minute. A couple of surprises as Anthony Bowens quickly rose to the top despite not being a singles competitor until the second half of the summer. It's also surprising to see Fuego del Sol with such a high strike/minute rate (he placed 4th overall, beating out Shida and Thunder Rosa in that category).
I was surprised to see Red Velvet at the top for strikedowns/minute. Will Hobbs and Jade Cargill are being presented as powerhouses (it's in Hobbs' name after all) while Red Velvet is more a plucky fighter. When looking at the average strike-down rate, Nyla Rose and Jora Johl are at the top. Average rate is simply the sum of their individual match rates, divided by their number of matches. Nyla Rose tracked an impressive 50% while Johl had 47% (Cargill placed 3rd for this metric). Johl is one of the newer faces in AEW and I look forward to seeing where he goes.
The top three here is what I expected out of the strike-down category. Big hosses, meaty hunks of meat, whatever your preferred descriptor may be. Just outside of the top three was Brian Cage who also had an impressive grapple/minute of 1.80.
Typically reversals are in the domain of nimble high flyers, but our number 1 in reversals/minute is The Machine Brian Cage. I cant wait to see him move beyond his feud with Team Tazz as I think he's one of the most versatile performers on the roster and can work with anyone. Possibly the biggest surprise was looking at the numbers and seeing that the top performer (as measured by average reversal rate) was Ashley D'Ambroise. She only had three matches but ended up with a 25% reversal rate average across said matches.
Total offense usually favors those that have the most ring time (Jungle Boy and Shida are the top two in ring time, followed by Angelico). Offense/minute paints a different picture as the rankings of that column tend to be dominant performers who don't give much time for their opponents to counter. Outside of the top three listed above though and things get more complicated. The next two are Thunder Rosa and Fuego del Sol (I'm a big fan of Fuego, but dominant he is not). After them we have Shida and then Julia Hart. So maybe offense per minute shouldn't be categorized as "dominance" but more of a "fighting spirit".
There isn't much time during Dark matches to lay in a lengthy submission move, but two performers found ways to incorporate holds more that the rest. Angelico (12 moves for 69 seconds) and Thunder Rosa (7 moves for 42 seconds).
As it was in the spring, the tag team action on Elevation is mostly thrown together duos or teams looking to bolster their overall win record. The MVP of the summer was Penta el Zero M as he had good runs with both Eddie Kingston and Rey Fenix. The Acclaimed had some good momentum going (number 1 in the strikes column) until Castor's mouth wrote a check that couldn't be cashed and got himself pulled from action. I was hoping to see Chaos Project take a win somewhere but this was not the case. While they weren't the bottom of every category (they actually got more offense per minute than Lucha Bros) they didn't take the top spot of any either. Next season I'm going to record number of double team moves in a blatant attempt to give Dr. Luther and the Snakeman a pyrric victory.
One of the things that I really enjoy about Elevation is the momentum that workers create through their in ring work. Sure the extra wins help, but they also build a repertoire with the audience. It's not hard to see when a worker is being put in a position to succeed and are ready to move onto a TV feud. In the spring it was Nyla Rose. This summer it looks to me that Thunder Rosa and Tay Conti are laying the foundations for pushes later this year. There have been complaints that some talent is being wasted on the YouTube shows, but I don't see it that way. Both the aforementioned talent in Rosa and Conti have maintained strong crowd reactions and are being set up as credible challengers for the AEW Women's championship. I can't quite figure out what the direction is for Hikaru Shida as she's unbeaten over eight matches, but I don't see her getting a rematch anytime soon. If anything she's shown more heel tendencies and maybe Dark is a testing ground for this change in character. Likewise Anthony Bowen could be testing his act as a solo competitor after Caster got pulled.
This weekend is AEW All Out and while you don't need to watch Dark or Dark Elevation to get ready for the PPV, I find that these episodes on YouTube are full of great action and moments of character that there just isn't room for on Dynamite or Rampage.