SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Jungle Boy defeated Bobby Fish: HIT
Good match. This was a different kind of challenge for Jungle Boy as he had to wrestle a more technical style, but they still managed to keep it sufficiently exciting for a television match. I hope JB continues to sell that shoulder at Full Gear tomorrow.
I haven’t been a fan of Bobby Fish getting so much television time as a solo act, but I can get behind him as Adam Cole’s hired henchman.
Post-Match Segment: HIT
Adam Cole came out and attempted to give JB a Conchairto (sp?), but Christian Cage and Luchasaurus ran in for the save. They babyfaces then proceeded to beat down Bobby Fish. I thought this worked fine to hype up their PPV match.
Miro/Bryan Danielson Video Package: HIT
Good, straight-forward, sports-like promotion for the match I am most excited about on this Pay Per View. Interestingly, Danielson shined more than Miro in this.
Hangman Page/Super Clique backstage confrontation: HIT
I didn’t think I’d like this, but what an excellent segment. Getting Adam Cole out of that was a good start, as this was supposed to be between old friends. It made sense for Page to apologize for his part in ending the friendship, as he is not blameless in this saga. However, it wasn’t all self-defeating and moping, as he then pointed out how the Bucks screwed him too, and that while there may not be beef between them right now, there will be if they decide to stick their noses in his match. I have been very critical of the Elite’s scattershot storytelling, but this made perfect sense to me. Good rounding out of some loose ends in the story.
Jade Cargill defeated Santana Garrett: MINOR HIT
While I think Santana Garrett could guide Jade Cargill to a serviceable, semi-lengthy match, it makes sense for Cargill for squash someone with an 0-3 record who was also squashed by the Bunny in AEW canon. This wasn’t anything special, but not everything on TV is meant to be a home run.
Post-Match Brawl: HIT
It was fun seeing Red Velvet shove cake into Sterling’s face, and then brawl with Cargill. Good build to their tournament match. I like that AEW is not letting us forget ongoing non-PPV storylines.
Eddie Kingston/CM Punk video package: MINOR HIT
I haven’t been as high on this storyline as others. The basis of it is very implausible; while it is easy for me to believe that Kingston was unfairly ridiculed in his career, I just can’t buy that CM Punk, of all people, was among that crowd. However, I’ve seen more than one instance of people fighting for social causes I believe in not living by the same ideals, so I’m slowly trying to just take this for what it is and buy into what Kingston is saying. If you just divest yourself from Punk’s legacy and take his current AEW character at face value, this is good stuff.
Dante Martin defeated Ariya Daivari: HIT
Very good, athletic contest. I wouldn’t have minded if it went longer. Martin has been on a real hot streak in the ring lately, despite very weak character work.
I don’t know who Ariya Daivari is, but he’s been on national television and is popular in this region, so I’m alright with him getting some time in this match.
Post-Match promo with Team Taz: MISS
Team Taz offered Dante Martin a contract to join them. It makes sense that they would want someone with his in-ring hot streak in their ranks, but I don’t know about heel Team Taz competing with heel Lio Rush. If Lio Rush couldn’t make it tonight (his grandma passed, so condolences to his family), I would have postponed this segment to another time. If you don’t follow social media, you would be wondering why he’s not out to shield his client from other solicitors. Alternatively, make it explicit that he’s not in the arena tonight.
Dante also looks really weak by not immediately rejecting both heels. It’s not like they are blackmailing him or playing to his interests in any way. I also wasn’t impressed by Ricky Starks’s mic work in this segment.
Main Event Interview: MISS
Despite being the victim of a vicious steel chair assault two night ago, Cassidy could care less for tonight’s match. He treated it like a complete formality. While I understand his character rarely ever gets worked up, he has previously shown passion in the right moments, and the assault on Dynamite warranted a bit more emotion on his part.
That being said, while I have been more tolerant of this feud than others, I can’t help but share Cassidy’s apathy. This shouldn’t be main-eventing tonight’s show. The whole promo felt more like “let’s just get it done” instead of “here’s why you should care for the final match of our long rivalry.” The only entertaining part was Best Friends dressed up as actual lumberjacks.
If we’re going to get a nice closure to this feud tonight, I’m low-key hoping for bald Jack Evans to show up and screw Matt Hardy at the end.
Matt Hardy defeated Orange Cassidy in a Lumberjack Match: MISS
Most people will either find this match highly entertaining with a bad finish, or overbooked with a horrible finish. Matt Hardy tempting the heel lumberjacks to knock out Orange Cassidy for cash made them brawl with the babyfaces at ringside, who tried to stop them. I found that part entertaining; it wouldn’t be a lumberjack match without substantial lumberjack involvement. I also didn’t mind them interjecting in the match itself as Hardy did promise them a huge sum of money for knocking out Orange Cassidy. However, I was hoping for the babyface to overcome the odds and put an end to this feud at last. Instead, Cassidy lost via a brass knuckles strike from the Blade, followed by an elbow drop from Matt Hardy that visibly seemed to miss him. I believe this makes them 1-1 in singles matches on television, and the post-match beatdown suggests this feud isn’t done yet.
While I am not as bothered by this feud as others are, I can’t help but cringe a little at what we saw tonight. People aren’t really looking forward to the feud continuing, and it’s not a good decision to even tease ignoring public opinion on this. It’s not as though the wrestlers are unaware of this either; the pre-match promo seemed to echo a very apathetic sentiment.
The commentary was mostly fine tonight.
Interesting note from Jericho in the opening about the how AEW has squared turnbuckle posts, which hurt more than the rounded ones in “other companies.” Happy to take his word for it that they hurt more. I also appreciate him dropping words like “pugilist” but could do without his condescending “Google it” immediately after.
Overall Show: HIT
For the most part, this was a fine episode of Rampage. The first 40 minutes were especially excellent. I admire how AEW is getting braver with putting video packages on their television shows, even recapping key angles from previous shows. They struck a nice balance between hyping Full Gear and also advancing some TV storylines. While I have some reservations about the TV storylines themselves, I liked the overall structure of the show. When you have a talent roster this large, with lots of little storylines that can’t all be fitted into a PPV, it is good to not just completely forget about them during a PPV week.
Note on the Countdown to Full Gear Special
This was excellent. I especially liked some of the dimension they gave to the women’s championship match, such as Tay Conti’s martial arts background (although I have could have done without the “showing her ass comments, which sounds like something an ignorant man scripted into this feud). If they used even a quarter of this material on television to promote the match, I wouldn’t be so disappointed in how unimportant the women’s championship match feels.