SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
AEW RAMPAGE HITS & MISSES
Eddie Kingston defeated Jake Hager: NARROW MISS
Jake Hager never did anything for me, and now his credibility has sunk even below where he was in WWE. Lance Archer, Miro, and others have the monster role covered very well. Hager is too unremarkable by comparison. He’s fine as a sidekick, tag partner, and imposing background figure for Jericho, but it’s difficult to watch his singles matches.
What made this match worse was that the referee didn’t disqualify Kingston for a blatant crotch grab and let him off with a warning. What are we to make of that? The referee is an Eddie Kingston superfan?
The only saving grace of the match was that Kingston displayed decent non-verbals, and the crowd was behind him throughout.
Britt Baker, Rebel, and Jamie Hayter Backstage Interview: HIT
Strong mic work from Baker addressing Toni Storm’s involvement with Thunder Rosa and the Women’s Championship. Best promo she’s cut in months. What made it even better was that she actually mocked Schiavone like a true heel, instead of buddying up to him. The promo would have been perfect if Schiavone responded the same way he does to Adam Cole or MJF.
However, I must acknowledge the weirdness of both Cole and Baker getting belts to carry for their Owen Hart Cup tournament victories. At least little trophies would be more Owen Hart-like. When you combine this with a confusing new championship, a “renegade” FTW championship, multiple belts from other promotions, and weaknesses with the recent storylines for the TNT, TBS, and World championships, it’s all too much.
Ortiz Video Promo: HIT
Ortiz cut a serious promo explaining that he is going after Jericho’s hair to take away his vanity. You can rightfully take issue with that stipulation coming before Blood and Guts. However, given the circumstances, this was a good promo. He was as serious as you can be for a hair vs. hair match. No cheesy “snip snip” gestures; just the simple objective of vanity destruction.
Jay Lethal and Satnam Singh defeated Davey Vega and Matt Fitchett: IT HAPPENED
Quick Squash. Singh did most of the work and the only highlights were a Big-Show-like turnbuckle chop and a cross-body. Am I excited to see Singh in the ring again after this? Nope. Does he have sufficient nonverbal charisma to make up for limited in-ring skills? Not really.
Hookhausen Backstage Interview: MISS
Danhausen rambled before he and Hook both drove off in vehicles. The cars were supposed to be cool I guess? I don’t know, this act is starting to lose me.
Kris Statlander defeated Red Velvet: MINOR HIT
The genesis of this feud, like I’ve said many times before, skipped several chapters. That makes it so difficult to invest in the match beyond the basic pro-wrestling we see in the ring (which itself is hurt by a long mid-show commercial break).
That being said, I liked the match. Statlander has shown a lot of improvement in recent weeks.
Post-Match Brawl: IT HAPPENED
After the match the Baddies beat down Statlander. Anna Jay came out for the rescue but was dispatched, and then came Athena who was stopped by officials. Simple stuff to build toward an eventual Athena vs. Cargill match. Now please give us some promo battles and a deeper story between the two.
Miro Highlights Package: HIT
Nothing new from last week’s Dynamite. They just showed the best lines from his promo there. Probably a good idea since it aired after the MJF segment and many fans probably forgot about it.
Ethan Page Backstage Interview: HIT
Ethan Page addressed his upcoming match against Miro in the All-Atlantic Championship tournament. Weird how Men of the Year constantly find themselves squaring off against other heels, but this was a fine promo. Although he sometimes shouts too much, I very much enjoy Ethan Page’s mic work.
However, the concept of the All-Atlantic Championship itself is really confusing. Why are only non-Americans competing for an ATLANTIC championship? And why does the belt feature flags of countries no where near the Atlantic Ocean? I never thought there could be a championship more confusing than the FTW title.
Main Event Promo: MINOR HIT
I have very limited knowledge of NJPW and have only seen two Will Ospreay matches before. My main positive takeaway from his two appearances so far is that he has slightly better nonverbal and verbal charisma than Jay White (who I was underwhelmed by). However, given that he is among the top wrestlers in NJPW, is it worth giving away wasting his first AEW match in a throw-away television tag? I don’t think I’d be going out of my way to see this main event if I wasn’t writing this column.
FTR and Trent Beretta were fine.
FTR and Trent Beretta defeated Will Ospreay and Aussie Open: MINOR HIT
Good match, but the NJPW wrestlers didn’t show me anything that current AEW wrestlers can’t provide.
In addition, what does is say for the credibility of Will Ospreay and Aussie Open if they are pinned by Trent Beretta? Why should I be excited to see them at Forbidden Door now? Perhaps some additional mic work and an actual story between Ospreay and a likable top babyface would win me over.
Commentary: MINOR HIT
The two-man booth of Excalibur and Taz was a breath of fresh air after last week’s fifth grade wizardry.
Overall Show: MISS
Two good matches made skippable by character presentation flaws, booking issues, and commercials. That leaves about three minutes’ worth of promos that are worth checking out (each of which were in service to stories that have serious issues of their own). A ho-hum episode of Rampage to cap off a disappointing week for AEW. Hope they come back strong next week.