AEW RAMPAGE HITS & MISSES 4/15: Texas Death Match main event carries the show, BCC vs. Gunn Club almost a miss, more

BY HITEN DAVE, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

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AEW RAMPAGE HITS & MISSES

The Blackpool Combat Club defeated the Gunn Club: NARROW MISS

I really wish AEW capitalized on Wheeler Yuta’s momentum from last week better by putting him out in front of the crowd on Wednesday. A brief backstage interview in the middle of the show didn’t do him justice.

That being said, Yuta was super over on AEW Rampage tonight, and he continued to showcase an evolving ring style of studying and anticipating his opponents moves. Moxley and Danielson were great as usual, and the Gunn sons were good foils.

The big red mark on this match was Billy Gunn, whose selling was weak, and there were far too many spots where he came across stronger than everyone else. Yes, he took the fall to Yuta, as he should have, but it was more of a surprise rollup that he instantly got up from. Shouldn’t the youngster who took a former AEW world champion to the limit last week get a decisive pinfall over a nearly-retired and less successful wrestler? The more I think about this, as well as Gunn’s disgraceful performance against Darby Allin several weeks ago, the more sour the taste in my mouth.

It was also interesting to see that Bryan Danielson and Wheeler Yuta came out of separate entrance tunnels tonight (heel and babyface, respectively). Not sure what to make of that or if I like it.

The Butcher defeated a wrestler (the announcers spoke over Justin Roberts’s announcement, and there was no name graphic on screen): IT HAPPENED

Quick, showcase win for Butcher who is going to go up against Wardlow on Dynamite next week. Shawn Spears was on commentary to talk up the match.

Dustin Rhodes Backstage Promo: 50-50

Dustin challenged CM Punk to a “bucket list/dream match” next week on Dynamite. His babyface tone is very good, but it’s more of a dream match for Dustin and Punk than me. The words he used contained a little too much humility for a television promo, especially when he called C.M. Punk the greatest wrestler in the world. That’s something you say backstage or on a podcast, not when you’re challenging him to a match that your character (hopefully) expects to win.

Ruby Soho defeated Robyn Renegade to qualify for the Owen Hart Cup tournament: MINOR HIT

Great to see Ruby Soho on television again. This wasn’t a good match for physicality, but I liked the performance of both wrestlers. Soho plays a good babyface in peril, and Renegade is no slouch as a heel either.

It seems like Robyn has an identical twin and, like the Bellas, is using that to trick the referee. I get a kick out of it, but it’s likely to come across polarizing and derivative on national TV. In any case, it would be better for the heel to get some television wins with this gimmick before their first loss. However, you’re not going to book Soho to lose an Owen Hart Cup qualification match. In such a scenario, just find Soho another opponent whose gimmick isn’t undercut by an early-career TV loss.

AEW Rampage Main Event Promo: HIT

When you cut out the belt-stealing and other silly stuff, Cole and Page can deliver on the mic. While I don’t think this feud is worth the Texas Death Match stipulation, this was a good, intense promo battle to build up their match.

“Hangman” Adam Page defeated Adam Cole in a Texas Death Match to retain the AEW World Championship: HIT

Once again, the build to this match has been underwhelming, as has the star power of both wrestlers, but the match delivered in spades. It wasn’t as good as some of Adam Cole’s Takeover or NXT TV special matches, but still a pretty great main event. I wouldn’t have had Adam Cole lose after gaining an advantage when Hangman took his time deliberating a move and deciding against it. Save that for when you actually want to put the despicable heel over.

I continue to maintain that if you just watch Hangman Page’s segments and matches in isolation, he comes across like a pretty good world champion. The problem is he just doesn’t stand out much in AEW’s ensemble product presentation, and stars like MJF, CM Punk, the Blackpool Combat Club, and even Chris Jericho feel a lot more “can’t miss” than him.

As far as Adam Cole is concerned, he is influenced a little too much by the people he hangs out with, which can lead to one too many moments of indulgence that undercut his star power.

Commentary: MINOR HIT

Excalibur and Taz were really good tonight, but I’ll continue to penalize the commentary for as long as Taz remains an on-screen heel character but morphs into someone else on commentary.

In addition, Ricky Starks continues to seem non-existent at the announce desk. Jericho wasn’t here this week to overshadow him either.

Overall Show: HIT

This show was carried by the main event. The opening match was a surprising disappointment for me, and the rest of the segments and matches weren’t too special. The live show made for a more engaged crowd and prevented it from being as jam-packed as other Rampages. Pretty easy watch.


CATCH-UP: 4/15 AEW RAMPAGE TV REPORT: Howard’s “alt perspective” on Adam Cole challenging Hangman for AEW Title, plus Blackpool Combat Club, Butcher, Ruby, more

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