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AEW RAMPAGE HITS & MISSES
Bryan Danielson defeated Matt Sydal: MINOR HIT
Matt Sydal is an excellent opponent for top stars to spar with on Rampage on their way to major matches. Tonight, he wrestled a very grounded, technical style that showcased his range of skill.
Bryan Danielson showed virtually no signs of ankle problems given the highlights we saw on Dynamite from when the last Rampage went off the air. This didn’t bother me much since we didn’t see that on the actual show.
William Regal on commentary was great too.
Hookhausen Video Package: HIT
This was just a highlights package, but good on AEW for keeping the feud in people’s minds.
Young Bucks defeated Taylor Rust and Jon Cruz: HIT
This entire match, from the entrances to the finish, was a Hardy Boyz parody, and I loved it. Nick Jackson was dressed and wrestled as Jeff Hardy, while Matt Jackson impersonated Matt. Accompanying them was Gangrel, which was weird to see against the Xtreme theme song. Brandon Cutler came out dressed like Lita. It ended up being much more entertaining than a formulaic pre-PPV squash.
Post-Match Stuff: MINOR HIT
After the match, in true heel fashion, the Bucks attacked Gangrel. The Hardys came out to make the save, and Gangrel recovered to send the Bucks running while the babyfaces beat up Cutler. The Hardys forgave Gangrel far too quickly for agreeing to come out to a parody of them just minutes earlier.
In any case, I’m glad the Bucks did this instead of a promo on AEW Rampage this week. They really needed some heat back, and this was a better way to get it instead of relying on their unpredictable mic skills.
Darby Allin Video Promo: MINOR HIT
Darby Allin challenged Kyle O’Reilly to a match at Double or Nothing, citing that it was him who took out Sting by injuring his leg. I’m glad they actually made something out of that angle instead of just having Sting show up next week like nothing happened (though he still could at the PPV).
They couldn’t do a PPV without a Darby Allin match, and this challenge couldn’t have happened unless O’Reilly lost in the Owen Hart Cup (which he did two nights ago). Can’t really say “too little too late” for the build, and I’d much rather have a Darby Allin match pad the show instead of Sammy Guevara in his current character.
My one concern is that the basis of the promo suggests Darby has a personal grudge against Kyle. If they start the match with an ordinary collar-and-elbow tie up, it will be a disservice to the story. I don’t mind a good wrestling match, but please start the match with brawling.
Dante Martin defeated Max Caster: 50-50
Before the match, they showed highlights of Caster vs. Martin from the first ever Dark: Elevation, which Caster won. That set the table for tonight’s contest quite well.
The Max Caster entrance (Gunn Club included) was amusing. After weeks of the Acclaimed and Gunn Club producing some of the worst AEW television ever, this was actually entertaining (albeit the “scissoring” has got to go).
This match itself, however, was mired by a long commercial break and kind of an abrupt ending. I think it would have gone over better on another Rampage.
Samoa Joe-Adam Cole Video Promo Battle to Hype Owen Hart Cup Finals: HIT
Very good promo work by both wrestlers. I much prefer Joe when he’s calmly menacing instead of frothing at the mouth, and Adam Cole is a much better character without the Undisputed Elite cracking insider jokes in the background. More of this, please.
Men of the Year Unveil New TNT Championship Belt: NARROW MISS
Dan Lambert was back to trashing AEW fans tonight, and I like the new purple and gold TNT title belt.
In the middle of this, Sammy Guevara, Tay Conti, and Frankie Kazarian (again?!) appeared on the titantron. They were at the American Top Team headquarters and vandalized a display case holding their UFC championships. I suppose. I could barely hear what they were saying, and Frankie’s association with them is just baffling, but it was all leading to the announcement of a mixed Trios match at Double or Nothing.
I would go on a rant about how Paige VanZant hasn’t appeared on television in many weeks, and there’s little heat to see her wrestle or get beaten up, but this story is bad enough without even getting into that. So long as the feud is over after Sunday, I’ll be happy.
The best I can say about this week’s segment is I disliked it a little less than last week’s stuff.
Main Event Promo: HIT
Very good babyface promo work from both Ruby Soho and Kris Statlander. Soho spoke frankly about her underwhelming past few months, and Statlander was very down to earth instead of alluding to some confusing character change that’s been showcased more on shoulder programming.
Robot Excalibur Bulldozing Through Upcoming Matches: IT DIDN’T HAPPEN!
For once, it didn’t happen. Excalibur and Taz took turns hyping up the matches for Double or Nothing. However, I wish they presented this rundown BEFORE the main event promo.
Ruby Soho defeated Kris Statlander to Advance to the Finals of the Owen Hart Cup Tournament: HIT
Tepid crowd notwithstanding, this was a strong match. Both wrestlers worked very hard, and I think they delivered.
Post-Match Promo: WEIRD HIT
After the match, Tony Schiavone came down to interview Ruby Soho and before it could even begin, Britt Baker’s music hit and she came onto the ramp. Ruby stopped her from talking and gave a heartfelt, babyface go-home promo.
The crowd booed Soho vociferously. They seemed to either be upset that she beat Statlander or interrupted their beloved Britt Baker (who is a heel, in case you forgot after seeing this).
Don’t hold out hopes for Britt Baker turning babyface anytime soon, but I hope this doesn’t lead to Soho becoming Baker’s lackey (like Velvet to Cargill).
Commentary: MINOR HIT
“Back to normal” commentary since Jericho wasn’t there. Nothing special.
Overall Show: HIT
There was plenty to like on this week’s AEW Rampage, and the misses weren’t that egregious.
However, the crowd reaction for Soho after the main event is a little concerning. The AEW women’s roster is too stacked with heels, and Baker probably doesn’t want to turn babyface. Tony Khan will have to address this soon.