SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Adam Cole vs. Frankie Kazarian – HIT
Frankie Kazarian has become the gatekeeper in AEW. He faced Christian Cage in his debut then took another loss to Adam Cole. They had a good match establishing Cole’s in-ring styles and showcasing his signature spots. After the match, Cole announced that he would be teaming with The Young Bucks to reunite the Super Kliq against Christian Cage and Jurassic Express next week at the Arthur Ashe Stadium show. I can’t imagine that match being anything less than four stars provided it is given the time on Rampage.
MJF – Brian Pillman Jr. Segment – HIT
Solid work from MJF to build up his upcoming match with Brian Pillman Jr. The focus was more on Pillman than last week’s bashing of Cincinnati. Pillman outsmarted MJF and Wardlow by attacking MJF from behind while Wardlow was out of the ring making him seem far more like a credible threat. Then then cut to a pre-taped sit down interview with Pillman and Jim Ross where Ross talked up the stakes of the match and why it was important for Pillman to defend his father and his family. Pillman echoed that importance. They’re giving a major spotlight to Pillman in an attempt to elevate him at their biggest show ever.
FTR vs. Dante Martin & Matt Sydal – HIT
A very good match showcasing the talents of Dante Martin. While his brother, Darius, has been out of action, Dante continues to make a name for himself with his in-ring style. He took the pin tonight showing that AEW is holding off on a mega push for him, but he’s now in the minds of fans.
Malakai Black – Cody Rhodes Segment – HIT
Overall, I liked this segment, but it felt WWE-esque with the tie-in to Cody Rhodes’ “Go Big Show” with the appearance of Rosario Dawson. We’re in a world where cross promotion is commonplace and almost expected, but involving non-wrestling characters always feels fake. Malakai Black went after Dawson who was front row when Rhodes came down the aisle from the crowd. From a storyline stand point, this makes little sense since we know Cody is an EVP who works backstage during the show. Why would he come out from the arena hallway? Despite that, the crowd enjoyed the return followed by the brawl that went into the crowd. It’s a hot angle because of Black’s instant popularity with the audience.
Chris Jericho – Dan Lambert Segment – HIT
Dan Lambert continued to run down the crowd and AEW as a whole. This time, he brought more MMA fighters with him to the ring. Chris Jericho had finally heard enough from Lambert and came out with Jake Hager. Jericho talked about his connections to MMA and highlighted that Hager is undefeated. Lambert retorted with wanting a match against Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky. Lambert said it would take place in New York next week. Jericho is a great antagonist to Lambert’s antics as he has the crowd on his side to combat Lambert and his insults.
Jade Cargill vs. Leyla Hirsch – HIT
Not a bad match by any means, but both wrestlers still need more experience. Leyla Hirsch is further along as an undersized wrestler with some technical ability while Cargill is still getting away with her look and body charisma. Cargill has a lot of room to grow which makes me excited to see when she gets the chance to face competitors like Riho, Hikaru Shida, and Thunder Rosa.
C.M. Punk – Powerhouse Hobbs Angle – HIT
The association with C.M. Punk feels like it has instantly elevated Powerhouse Hobbs and the rest of Team Taz. I loved Hook drawing in Punk allowing Hobbs to attack him and plant him on the table. Of course Punk against the big names is what most people want to see, but this is a nice detour.
Darby Allin vs. Shawn Spears – HIT
A good match between these two. This feud between Tully Blanchard and Sting continued as a call back to the late 80’s in Jim Crockett Promotions. I for one am not interested in seeing a 62-year-old Sting with a bad neck in a singles match with a 67-year-old Blanchard. A version of a multi-person tag match would work if both men were used sparingly.
Bryan Danielson – Kenny Omega Segment – HOMERUN
Tremendous build-up to their singles match. The biggest dream match in professional wrestling is just one week away and it will be televised on free TV. In just a matter of weeks, Danielson has proven how much more he is capable of outside the WWE environment. Anyone who is a fan of his should be excited to see him hit another gear as he faces new opponents. On the mic, he was as good as anyone going back and forth with Don Callis as Omega stared intently. Omega played the role of the heel champion, resisting before giving in to the fans and accepting a non-title match at the Arthur Ashe Stadium show. Being a non-title match, it seems likely that this will lead to a title program in the near future.
Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston vs. 2point0 – HIT
2point0 continues to be used in key spots against main event wrestlers. This match was really a set up for fans to get their moment with Minoru Suzuki and hit the key line in his entrance theme. Moxley and Suzuki brawled at ringside to build up to their match next week at Arthur Ashe.