SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
AEW RAMPAGE HITS & MISSES
Toni Storm and Ruby Soho defeated Britt Baker and Jamie Hayter: MINOR HIT
The star power of each of these competitors has diminished a lot recently, especially Ruby Soho who is often part of the crew that breaks up backstage fights. The sequence of repetitive, high-schooley interviews leading to this tag match didn’t help matters either.
The match itself was a fun opener. Toni Storm rightfully picks up the win for the babyfaces, but surprised to see she pinned Baker. The announcers really should have sold that as a bigger deal. However, I’m not worried this means Storm loses to Baker in the tournament.
Eddie Kingston – Chris Jericho “Phone Call”: 50-50
Eddie Kingston made a “phone call” to the AEW announce desk right after the previous match.
Kingston’s words would read well if heard or transcribed. Some may argue how he would know to call right after the first match of a taped show, but I don’t think AEW kayfabe canon ever acknowledges that Rampage is taped. By that logic, perhaps this presentation isn’t too contrived.
However, why should we respect that kayfabe when the announcers frequently break character right after their individual segments? As was the case tonight again: Jericho went right back to praising babyfaces and joking with Excalibur.
If AEW was consistent with respecting kayfabe, I would defend this. However, at this point, defending that phone call would mean conveniently ignoring
Tony Nese and Mark Stirling Backstage Promo: MISS
The pair said they wanted to challenge an “undefeated phenomenon”…Danhausen. They didn’t even provide a grin to indicate self-awareness of how ridiculous this was.
Hook defeated J.D. Drake: HIT
Good to see Hook back in action. Dominant win that Rampage viewers are used to seeing.
Post-Match Promo by Danhausen: HIT
Danhausen came out and asked Hook to be at ringside with him for his match against Tony Nese next week. He gave him a chips as a “gift” – apparently as an apology for knocking Hook’s chips out of his hand on Dynamite a while back. Hook picked them up but then threw them back on the ground.
I’m really liking this “will they-won’t they?” story between Hook and Danhausen. The crowd ate it up as well (no pun intended).
FTR Backstage Interview: HIT
Apart from the needless “I’ll be damned if I let you go over on me” line, this was a strong promo to hype up Dax Harwood vs. Adam Cole in the Owen Hart Cup Quarter-Final on Dynamite next week.
Riho defeated Yuka Sakazaki to qualify for the Owen Hart Cup Tournament: MINOR HIT
Riho hasn’t been on television in a while, and I don’t know if most fans remember Sakazaki. She was on the original AEW Double or Nothing in 2019, and has apparently resigned with the company.
The match itself didn’t come across that well either. It was fine, but I’ve seen Riho have much better matches before. She logically picked up the victory, but most of the qualification matches thus far have featured talents with some name recognition. So, it’s understandable if Sakazaki dampened people’s investment in the match.
The announcers noted that Riho was wearing black, and it perhaps hints at a “change of attitude.” Please don’t tell me this is another heel turn story on the women’s roster with several missing chapters.
Shawn Spears Backstage Promo: IT HAPPENED
The promo on its own was very good, but the Shawn Spears character has taken too much damage for me see him as any kind of credible threat (even a successful cheater). I don’t know what “kryptonite” he’s talking about when next week is just a contract signing between MJF and Wardlow. If one of MJF’s conditions is that Wardlow needs to face Shawn Spears, especially after dominating Lance Archer, that will be really underwhelming. The only stipulation that would make it worth seeing is if Wardlow has a hand tied behind his back and only Spears is allowed to use a chair.
Men of the Year and Frankie Kazarian Promo Segment: HIT
This was the best part of the entire show. Lambert took apart Maryland, Ethan Page is a brilliant second wheel in this faction, and Scorpio Sky is starting to show some serious autonomy instead of just nodding along with a grin to everything his friends say. While the segment started with addressing the mixed-tag match with Guevara and Conti, it proceeded to Sky’s first TNT title defense, which he promised to Frankie Kazarian.
While I am not privy to Sky and Kazarian’s past friendship, this has been a well-told story on television. I don’t expect Kazarian to win, but he’s been carrying himself quite well these past few weeks. I’m looking forward to the match.
Scorpio Sky asking Lambert to lose the second TNT championship belt was just gold, no pun intended.
Amazing what you can do when Men of the Year aren’t too Lambert-centric, and they are confronting a straight-forward babyface.
Jungle Boy-Ricky Starks Brawl: HIT
Jungle Boy came out and assaulted Ricky Starks at the commentary desk and sent him running. He then posed with the FTW Championship with Taz vented on commentary.
This was good.
Main Event Promo: NARROW MISS
I appreciate how AEW showed clips of Takeshita’s Dark matches on Dynamite two nights ago, but putting him in the main event of Rampage straight from Dark isn’t a wise idea. All he said in his promo tonight was that he wasn’t afraid of Jay Lethal, Sonjay Dutt, or Satnam Singh.
In addition, I was just getting to know Jay Lethal for a while before an influx of new friends and opponents. If Lethal needed a babyface to pick on to build heat, what’s Lee Moriarty or Brock Anderson doing? How about Matt Sydal? At least the latter has some credibility with the AEW television-exclusive audience.
Jay Lethal defeated Konosuke Takeshita: MINOR HIT
The match was well worked but uninteresting. The only good it did was put a little heat on Lethal’s new faction, but there are so many better ways to accomplish that other than a lengthy television main event with a talent only a slice of your audience knows.
I should mention that Takeshita did show some credible offense. If AEW tells the right stories with him, he has a bright future.
Post-Match Brawl with Best Friends: NARROW MISS
Lethal’s faction tried to ambush Takeshita but Best Friends came out to save him. Orange Cassidy stood nonchalantly on the apron while Satnam Singh choked out his friend, Chuck Taylor. He then hopped down and called for Samoa Joe to come out. When Joe came out, security promptly held him back and the show ended.
This was such a jumbled mess mixed with isolated cool moments and some heat for the heels. The worst part is that Cassidy came off horrendously unlikable, valuing a crowd surprise instead of saving his friend from a dangerous beatdown.
I’ve barely tolerated Taz and Ricky Starks’s out-of-character excursions, but at least they haven’t recently done anything that AEW is trying to push as uniquely sinister. However, Chris Jericho on commentary right now makes no sense to me. In addition, Excalibur showing no discomfort (and occasional bouts of reciprocal humor) with Jericho is just too much.
Overall Show: NARROW MISS
Two years ago, if you told me that there would be two AEW television shows in a week, each featuring two lengthy women’s segments and matches, I’d be excited. However, the execution this week has been quite poor.
This week on AEW Rampage, we got two wrestlers in two lengthy matches who only a slice of the audience is familiar with. In addition, one of their opponents has been absent from TV for a while (Riho) or in the middle of establishing their characters to the audience (Lethal). It’s no wonder why home-grown AEW talents don’t get television time.
The women’s tag match was good, but had a terrible build.
The Men of the Year and Hook/Danhausen segments are the only things worth going out of your way to see.