SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Bryan Danielson vs. Nick Jackson: HIT
Very good match. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, considering their different styles, but they put on an entertaining TV opener. I wouldn’t be surprised if the match went longer but had to be edited down a few minutes.
A rare post-match brawl that was easy to follow and well done. This advanced the storyline between JB/ Cole and Danielson/Omega. The others rightfully stayed in the background.
Ricky Starks Video Promo: MISS
This had quite a bit of pizzaz, but Starks said a lot of nothing. The psychology of “only big men succeed” is something a heel would believe, so it feels like both wrestlers are mis-cast here. Either that, or they think the substance for this feud so far is pointless to talk about. I guess we’re supposed to just forget that the origin of this feud was honor vs. dishonor.
Starks coming back to commentary and saying “producer/director all me” like a child completely undercut the serious tone of the promo. He’s been doing this for a while now; saying something witty or doing something cool then patting himself on the back with a cackle. Maybe there is a way to do it that preserves solid heel heat, but Ricky just doesn’t know how to do it. This is not a top-shelf heel behavior. He can do better than this.
C.M. Punk Video Promo: HIT
Very well done. Punk is rightfully looking to advance up the card and advocated for himself well here.
Thunder Rosa vs. Nyla Rose vs. Jade Cargill: HIT
Nice exhibition by three wresters who need more TV time (especially Thunder Rosa, who has been an afterthought on Dynamite since her famous victory over Britt Baker). I’m also happy to see someone win a no-DQ match by simply striking their opponent with many chair shots. It’s so logical to just keep hitting your opponent until they stay down, yet we rarely see it.
As usual, the women’s match on Rampage suffers from a lengthy commercial break in the middle. However, there was enough action on either side of the break for me to be able to evaluate the match.
Malakai Black Video Promo: HIT
This was good. The tail end of the promo seemed to suggest Black is moving on from the Nightmare Family. Good for him.
Sammy Guevara Promo: MISS
He didn’t have much to say regarding his upcoming match with Bobby Fish, but what he did say was delivered very weakly.
Main Event Promo: MINOR HIT
WWE should learn from AEW how to make undercard feuds at least moderately entertaining. That being said, AEW should also take a page out of WWE’s playbook and learn how to actually build up heat for wrestlers on television instead of shoulder programming. I feel like I know more about who Reginald is than Jack Evans, and I would be much more interested in seeing Reggie get his head shaved than Jack Evans. Even if this is intended to be undercard fodder, at least explain the characters to us, especially when it is a television main event. If I wasn’t responsible for writing these columns, I wouldn’t have stayed up to see this match.
That being said, I enjoyed Matt Hardy and Orange Cassidy’s performances in this promo segment, but you won’t miss much by skipping this.
Orange Cassidy vs. Jack Evans in a Hair Vs. Hair match: MINOR HIT
The match itself was entertaining, although probably not television main-event worthy.
Looked like they were too short on time, so they didn’t finish shaving Evans’s head. Then again, a partial hair cut is worse than a full hair cut, so it’s excusable.
The final send-off with involving the Dark Order and “-1” was a touching way to end the show in Brodie Lee’s hometown.
The commentary was fine tonight, especially in the opener. The Excalibur and Taz duo is the best this company can offer. Everyone else has potentially harmful weaknesses.
Overall show: HIT
This was possibly the strongest “standard” edition of Rampage thus far. Good show.