AEW RAMPAGE HITS & MISSES 4/29: A hit show with caveats, Hook and Danhausen shine, more

BY HITEN DAVE, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Hook reveals his top goal in pro wrestling
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AEW RAMPAGE HITS & MISSES

Darby Allin defeated Swerve Strickland to qualify for the Owen Hart Cup Tournament: HIT

The match was good, athletic fun. I’m just a bit torn because both of them deserve to be in the Owen Hart Cup Tournament. However, in AEW canon, Allin is the more established talent, and frankly he’s done plenty of favors recently, so good to see him pick up a win.

Weird to see Jericho gush on Darby Allin and Owen Hart after he burned someone in the face two nights ago. Taz and Ricky Starks also couldn’t help but admire the action in this match and only weakly acknowledged their hatred for both men (better than nothing, I guess?). The Starks character, at the very least, should be more forceful in prosecuting a case against his rivals whenever he has an audience. It’s okay to occasionally balance it with some praise/respect, even as a heel, but Starks the announcer is just far too different from his television character.

Starks did interfere in the end to cost Swerve the match. However, all he did was grin like a teenager and run away from unarmed, semi-retired Sting. When you combine this with how he used to run from Sting despite having an overwhelming numbers advantage, clumsily losing the AEW Dynamite Diamond Ring Battle Royal, having Lee no-sell multiple chair shots from him, and his inability to outshine Jericho on commentary, I can’t take his character seriously at all.

Oh, and there were no entrances for either wrestler.

Shawn Spears Promo: IT HAPPENED

This was a very standard Rampage promo hyping up Big Cass as Wardlow’s next opponent.

Jericho, Santana, and Ortiz Segment: HIT (with several caveats)

Jericho was gloating about his flaming attack on Eddie Kingston two nights ago on Dynamite, and awarded himself his “Sports Entertainer of the Week” award. Then Santana and Ortiz came out to ambush him. The only bad thing about this segment is the timing (more on that below), and the fact that Jericho wasn’t taken away from commentary afterward.

Excalibur expressed momentary disgust when Jericho gloated, then happily rolled on with the show alongside him. I yearn for the days when

Anyway, they ideally should have opened the show with this. Shoot Jericho coming to desk and gloating while Taz and Starks clap and Excalibur expresses disgust. Then have Santana and Ortiz attack him, just like they did here, while also ensuring he doesn’t return to commentary for the rest of the show.

The Baddies (Jade Cargill, Kiera Hogan, and Red Velvet) defeated Skye Blue, Willow Nightingale, and Trish Adora: HIT

The formation of the Baddies (especially the involvement of Velvet) missed several chapters, and I litigated that case last week. However, there’s no denying that Velvet is better off with Cargill in this role. She was going nowhere fast as a babyface. Yes, it does continue to hurt the shallow babyface depth chart in the AEW Women’s Division, but that’s a separate conversation.

As a faction leader, Cargill comes across like a true paragon of this division. She is slowly building more star power with me than Britt Baker.

I’ve also had the fortune of seeing a video package on Kiera Hogan, and she has tremendous babyface potential down the road. Happy that she is more likely to get consistent television now.

The match itself was a fine showcase for the heels. Great diversity in this contest as well. Some fans may argue that Willow Nightingale should be a more credible threat than this, but we haven’t seen her story told on AEW television. At least she wasn’t the one to take the fall this week on Rampage.

Darby Allin and Swerve Strickland backstage interview: HIT

Darby, regretting his tainted win from earlier, offered to give Swerve “another five minutes” of potential action. Swerve respectfully denied and suggested he needs to get back together with Keith Lee and take care of Team Tazz once and for all.

I really liked this! More of this kind of follow-up, please.

Keith Lee defeated Colten Gunn: HIT

The Gunn Boys without Billy are fantastic! Colten made a great foil for Keith Lee here. Nice, extended squash.

By the way, Excalibur is STILL sitting next to Jericho without even a hint of discomfort.

Hardy Boyz Backstage Interview: 50-50

Jeff Hardy was to address his upcoming match against Bobby Fish for qualification into the Owen Hart Cup tournament. However, he seemed to be talking as though he’d already won and focussed more on the exciting “dream matches” he can have in that tournament. Matt Hardy thankfully brought the promo back into focus, addressing Bobby Fish directly.

The Undisputed Elite Backstage Promo: MISS

Adam Cole responded to the Hardy Boyz promo, defending his man, Bobby Fish. Fish added an unimpressive joke to conclude.

Danhausen – Hook – Tony Nese In-Ring Segment: HIT

You have to go out of your way to watch this and make up your own mind. I loved it! This is a cool new direction for Hook and Danhausen; teaming instead of feuding. It’s like Rock n Sock connection if you take Mankind without any hardcore history and Rock from around ’97. Nese with Mark Stirling is a good feud to keep Hook and Danhausen occupied for a few weeks.

Gunn Club (sans Billy) and Acclaimed Backstage Confrontation: IT HAPPENED

The Acclaimed offered to ally with the Gunn Club. The Gunn Sons said they would take the request to their dad.

Not sure what to make of this. Curious to see where it goes.

Mercedes Martinez Video Promo: MINOR HIT

Mercedes talked up her upcoming match against Deonna Purrazzo for the ROH Women’s Championship. Apparently one of them is an interim champion? This story wasn’t well explained.

Good promo package, but it didn’t do enough to introduce Deonna Purrazzo. It was tilted more in the direction of Mercedez. I need more to get emotionally invested in seeing this match.

Main Event Promo: 50-50

Samoa Joe did a good job setting the stage for the main event. He concisely conveyed how ROH has tremendous attachment to Philadelphia, which makes me more palatable to seeing an ROH title match on AEW television. Trent’s rebuttal was weird and bland. I can’t believe I was excited to see where this guy’s character was heading after the haircut and serious disposition months ago.

Samoa Joe defeated Trent Beretta to retain the ROH TV Championship: MINOR HIT

The match was fine but not something worth going out of your way to see, unless you are nostalgic for ROH.

Ian Riccaboni (an ROH announcer) joined the commentary desk for this match. Due to how crowded the Rampage announce desk is (and Chris Jericho’s presence), he didn’t get an opportunity to make much of an impression on new fans like myself. I’m sure the people who know him loved seeing him, but tonight he just blended into the background rather quickly. Based on limited evidence, he came across personable and agreeable, which seemed to work against him as he didn’t want to take any sort of lead role in calling this match.

Post-Match Segment with Dutt, Lethal, Satnam Singh, and Joe: MINOR HIT

Ian did his best to sell the Joe-Lethal brawl and tried to explain their history in a more artful way than Excalibur ever could. While the short time limit didn’t let him flex his full muscles, I could see shades of a good announcer there. His effort made me invest in this segment a little more as a ROH newbie.

Commentary (sans Ian Riccaboni): MISS

The Rampage commentary dynamics tonight ruined my experience of show, especially in the first half. I’ve sprinkled my analysis throughout the report instead of providing a wall of text here.

Overall Show: SOFT HIT

This show had a lot of hits with several caveats. If you’re an ROH (or Impact Wrestling) fan, there’s plenty for you here. If you’re just looking for an entertaining way to pass an hour, this wasn’t bad. However, if you, like me, only watch AEW and value logical storytelling, character consistency, and the role of announcers in accentuating heat for storylines, this was a disappointing show.

The one major segment worth going out of your way to see (even if just to form your own opinion) on Rampage is the Hook-Danhausen-Tony Nese stuff.


CATCH-UP: 4/29 AEW RAMPAGE RESULTS: Darby vs. Swerve in Owen qualifier, Joe vs. Beretta for ROH TV Title, Keith Lee vs. Colten Gunn, more

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