SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Dustin Rhodes defeated Lance Archer: NARROW MISS
This match for AEW Rampage was very suddenly put together two nights ago on Dynamite. I’m surprised Lambert is still managing Archer. It’s weird to have both Lambert and Jake Roberts managing someone who barely appears on TV anymore (and has lost most of his recent television matches).
The match itself was solid, but I didn’t expect Dustin to win. Archer’s demolition of Dustin two years ago in the TNT title tournament is still fresh in my mind, but I suppose Archer’s stock has dropped considerably in the last year.
You can argue this wasn’t a clean victory, since Rhodes did ram Archer into an exposed turnbuckle, but Archer did pop right up after the finish, which made the pin even more confusing. This sort of stuff is the kind of thing that completely takes me out of the moment.
It should also go without saying that Dustin Rhodes is fantastic for his age.
Post-Match Beatdown: HIT
Archer dished out an extended beatdown on Dustin Rhodes after the match, which suggests the feud will continue outside of this AEW Rampage match. If that’s the case, I’m happy to see Dustin in an actual feud instead of popping up for random matches here and there. He has a lot of storytelling power left to give.
Jay Lethal Backstage Interview: (Cautionary) HIT
Lethal was asked about how his loss to Adam Cole hurt him in the rankings. He reflected on his two losses in AEW, to Starks and Cole, and how they both had to cheat to beat him. He wondered what he could do, suggesting that there “ought to be a better way.”
My words can’t do this justice. I think this was a great character-building promo. Maybe a hint at a heel turn, or perhaps he’ll form or join a faction. Whatever the case, it’s good to put over the “agony of defeat.” It’s a fundamental part of great pro-wrestling storytelling.
However, the key is the follow-up. There has to be an actual, tangible change in Lethal’s character direction after this, whether or not it involves a heel turn or faction. He might need to be off TV for some time after this, but hopefully not for so long that most fans forget about this interview. Given the AEW Rampage viewership, it would be worth showing highlights of this on Dynamite.
Fuego Del Sol in-ring segment with House of Black: MINOR HIT
Fuego first cut a fiery promo hitting back against “kid in pink” comments and thanking the crowd for sticking with him. He then called out House of Black, who responded in kind by ambushing him and laying him out.
As House of Black went to leave, Dark Order came out to challenge them. This was very random, but it made sense in a WWE-like way where you can argue they were just coming out for their match, which was next.
Overall, this was fine for what it was. Long-time Rampage viewers will know Fuego as someone who lures you in emotionally before getting squashed, thus putting over his heel opponents as ruthless bullies. I hope he’s not stuck in this role for the rest of his career, but he’s fine in it for now.
Scorpio Sky + Dan Lambert + Ethan Page Backstage Promo: MINOR HIT
They announced that the TNT titles (yes, plural), are no longer up for an open challenge. Good work overall.
ReDragon defeated Dark Order’s Alan Angels and Preston Vance: MINOR HIT
Nice action with a long commercial break. Decent for what it was.
Post-Match Angle with Adam Cole: MISS
After the match, ReDragon went to beat down their opponents some more, but Jurassic Express came for the save. Meanwhile, Adam Cole stole their tag-team title belts from where they were dropped and ran backstage with them.
I’ve seen angles where stealing title belts works, but this didn’t work for me at all. Adam Cole came across more like a rambunctious child instead of a master of mind games. If I had any inclination that Cole would find a way to beat Hangman Page in their next match, those thoughts completely vanished after this.
Nyla Rosa-Thunder Rosa Video Promo Battle: HIT
Rosa was good, but Rose was simply outstanding. She has such great wit, on the level of Miro. And like Miro, it’s sad to see her without a title these days.
Nyla Rose defeated Madi Wrenkowski: HIT
Quick squash. Good follow-up to an excellent promo. I also got a kick out of Jericho awarding her the “Sports Entertainer of the Week” award for her attack on Rosa last week. I would have given it to her for her promo earlier, but hey, I’ll take it.
QT Marshall Giving Hook Certificate of Accomplishment: HIT
This was a great little segment to continue a fun AEW Rampage mini-feud. Worth going out of your way to see, I think.
The only weird part was Danhausen coming out to put his effects on Hook as Hook was making his way back up the ramp. I understand him doing that to people that Best Friends are feuding with, but this was just too random.
AEW Rampage Main Event Promo: HIT
Two weeks of pretty decent main event interviews. Starks and Swerve were good here. Not outstanding, but good.
Ricky Starks defeated Swerve Strickland to retain the FTW Championship: HIT
Good main event. Starks won after interference from Powerhouse Hobbs. Starks’s hometown crowd came alive for this one.
Three random people were standing behind the commentary desk. According to Taz, these were Ricky Starks’s “cobbler, nutritionist, and barber.” He called them Starks’s “entourage” and tried to sell it as Starks being a “star.” This would work for a lot of people, but Starks’s presence on commentary each week just eats away at his star power. Shouldn’t an entitled “star” have better things to do? The three members of the entourage all came across a little too contrived, but this played well into what happened after the match.
Post-Match Angle with Keith Lee: HIT
After the match, Starks’s entourage came down with a flag that touted Starks’s popularity in Austin, TX. The flag’s width spanned the width of the entrance ramp, so it provided a perfect opportunity for, you guessed it, one of his entourage members to be chucked through the flag by Keith Lee as the other two were holding. Lee and Swerve then brawled with Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs to conclude the show.
I could have done without the brawl, but the beginning of the segment was fun. It would have been much better if, say, Starks spent some time in his promos playing up his entourage coming to support him at his home town and really ramping up heat for the, but it was still fine. Good fundamentals of pro wrestling that advances the feud to the next week.
AEW Rampage Commentary: MINOR HIT
Jericho’s constitution is still pretty inconsistent, especially in the way he still loathes Dan Lambert (whose character aligns a lot more with Jericho’s current heel character). He also can’t help but get behind some babyfaces. It’s not like any of that is leading anywhere either (e.g., wanting to recruit them); he’s just not disciplined at that announce desk. That is why I don’t like active wrestlers being on commentary full-time.
However, this was a better week for Jericho. I particularly got a kick out of his “Sports Entertainer of the Week” award, which seems set to be a weekly feature. Nyla Rose definitely earned it this week, but I would give it to her for her promo on Rampage tonight rather than the attack on Rosa two nights ago.
AEW Rampage Overall Show: HIT
It’s difficult to reconcile how good this episode of Rampage was until I reflect back on everything. While it did contain more misses than previous weeks, it had some pretty good hits (such as the Jay Lethal and Nyla Rose promos, as well as the Hook segment.)