SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Malakai Black vs. Lee Johnson: HIT
Although I continue to feel nothing but apathy for the Nightmare Family, this served its purpose of continuing to get Malakai Black over. Malakai’s mannerisms are very compelling, and Lee Johnson made a better foil for him than Brock Anderson. I also thought this sort of match is a nice of change of pace for Rampage openers; we don’t need a spot fest every single week.
My only criticism of the match is that it went too long. A wrestler who non-Dark/Elevation viewers barely even know got too much offense against someone who steamrolled through Cody Rhodes.
Miro-Kingston Segment: HIT
This is exactly the segment that should have aired last week instead of an illogical brawl. Miro explained his heelish case against Kingston well and Kingston delivered the best response he could. I’m not really a fan of this God-bashing; I’d rather deities play a more background role to these sorts of stories. However, I like that there is a sports angle as well, revolving around Miro’s neck.
I do wish this feud had more time to breathe. Eddie Kingston’s strength is his promo skills, and AEW needs to let him shine in multi-week promo battles as part of lengthy, personal feuds.
Kris Statlander vs. Rebel and Jayme Hayter: HIT
The match itself did a fine enough job of making Kris Statlander look strong going into her title match against Britt Baker. They managed to get the crowd into it by the end. However, Kris Statlander is another AEW wrestler whose character’s story just hasn’t been told well enough on the television shows. I love her eccentricity and enjoy seeing her segments, but I can’t bring myself to be as emotionally invested in her as I need to.
I’m also not sure if letting Statlander manhandle Jayme Hayter does justice to the energy they put into selling Hayter’s return a few weeks ago. Perhaps they now understand how heavy-handed they were in trying to sell the return of someone very few fans remembered.
Main Event Promo Battle: MISS
2.0 and Daniel Garcia continue to elicit nothing but apathy from me, and this wasn’t Darby’s best mic work either. I can’t blame him though; the story going into the match has very little substance for him to chew on.
Darby Allin vs. Daniel Garcia: HIT
My problems with Daniel Garcia’s character aside, I think the work in this match was fine. Daniel Garcia brings a different, more technically-adept brand of professional wrestling to AEW, which I appreciate. In addition, Darby Allin is always going to deliver a serviceable match.
It was nice to see C.M. Punk with Chris Jericho on commentary, but I don’t think it added to the match. Punk’s current “happy to be here” character just doesn’t do much for me.
Note: I may have a more positive impression of this match because my feed on the TSN live stream in Canada did not have a commercial in the middle of the match.
Post-Match Brawl: HIT
I don’t usually like these, but this week’s brawl was fine.
I’ve provided a detailed analysis of Rampage’s commentary in previous columns, so I’ll keep my thoughts brief this week: Excalibur was fine, Jericho was more tolerable, and I am able to convince myself that Tazz basically has two separate television characters. In addition, Mark Henry’s role is largely to provide a couple of short comments in the first match, and then disappear backstage for interviews. If you can accept these caveats, Rampage’s commentary is fine.
Overall show: HIT
This show did a serviceable job of promoting All Out and progressing some television stories. If you are looking for quick hits, check out the final two minutes of each match, and the Miro-Kingston segment. However, if you are looking to get hyped for All Out, watch only the Miro-Kingston segment and then skip to the Countdown to All Out show.