SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
AEW RAMPAGE HITS & MISSES
Jon Moxley defeated Dante Martin: HIT
Martin cut one of his better AEW promos to promote this match on Dynamite, and I like how the company showed a highlights package of their matches together. Jericho staying true to character on commentary and jaw-jacking with William Regal was also great (albeit Taz occasionally playing defense for Martin was weird considering he reminded us of his lawsuit against him not too long ago).
The match itself was worked in a more technical and hard-hitting style. If you were expecting a Martin high-spot classic, you would be disappointed. Personally, I liked this change of pace for him. It fits the tone that Blackpool Combat Club are trying to set.
Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee Backstage Promo: MINOR HIT
They were just playing up tensions between the two stemming from Strickland eliminating Lee after Lee saved him. Powerhouse Hobbs and Ricky Starks then suddenly came into camera view to remind them that they are unbeaten against Lee and Strickland.
This was okay. Nothing more, nothing less.
House of Black – Death Triangle Video Promo: MISS
Meh. At first, I wondered why this feud was still continuing, then we were reminded reminded (way later in the show) that Penta and Malakai Black will wrestle in the AEW All-Atlantic Championship tournament. If you watched this promo battle in isolation, you would never know that championship stakes are on the line (unless you actually retain Excalibur’s match rundowns from previous shows). Disappointing.
Max Caster and the Ass Boys defeated Leon Ruff and Bear Country: MISS
Quick squash. Ruff took the most damage. Caster’s rap made light reference to Vince McMahon’s NDAs and the January 6th hearings, which was mildly entertaining. However, the excessive scissoring gestures are such a bad addition to this gimmick that it underwhelms basically everything. Awful.
Hookhausen Backstage Interview: IT HAPPENED
Danhausen announced that they would take on New Japan Dojo “Masters” next week. No explanation of who those people are or how meaningful that would be.
Jade Cargill defeated Willow Nightingale to retain the AEW TBS Championship: MINOR HIT
The match was hurt by a lengthy commercial, but I like what I see from Willow Nightingale. Her theme music is pretty nice too! Hope to see more of her.
I also got a kick out of how Jericho announced Cargill as the Sports Entertainer of the week (Stokely Hathaway on commentary next to him helped add to the moment).
After the match, the Baddies ganged up on Nightingale, but Athena and Kris Statlander made the save.
Jay Lethal, Satnam Singh, and Sonjay Dutt Video Promo: MAJOR MISS
Sonjay Dutt is almost going out of his way to make Satnam Singh’s Indian heritage an integral part of being a heel. That is extremely counter-productive and something I’d expect from Vince McMahon. As an Indian himself, Dutt should know better than to play for cheap heat like that. The pro wrestling business has had enough of this. Present your friend as a more nuanced character with motives other than an Indian takeover and maybe he’ll get over more.
Lethal and Singh were fine, but the subtle damage that promos like Dutt’s do is too much to overlook.
Main Event Promo: MINOR HIT
This is a nice, logical feud centered around Darby Allin wanted to avenge Sting. Darby, Fish, and O’Reilly all played their parts well here.
Darby Allin defeated Bobby Fish: MINOR HIT
Decent match with Fish logically trying to work over Darby leg. Darby got the win with a creative pinfall.
I wish Darby’s victory was a smidge more dominant than this. I understand they were building to the post-match angle, but you can do than with a steel chair attack from behind while Darby is celebrating.
Darby has a lot of range in the type of matches he’s able to have, and I hope it pays off for him when he’s in championship contention again.
Post-Match Angle: HIT
After the match, Fish beat down Allin and O’Reilly came out with a chair but before he could make it to the ring, the lights went out and Sting appeared. He nailed O’Reilly with a baseball bat to then teamed up with Darby to Pillmanize Fish’s leg.
This was a crowd-pleasing way to bring the show to a close.
Commentary: MINOR HIT
Chris Jericho stayed in character throughout most of this show, and he also kept the wizardry to a minimum. Although Tazz hasn’t been in character for weeks, he also hasn’t really appeared with Team Taz in a while either, so I’m starting to not mind it as much. In addition, Hathaway and Regal also added to the commentary tonight. So, overall, I’d say this was an above-average commentary night for Rampage.
My only gripe was that Jericho veered back to his old ways too much in the post-match angle of the main event, and Excalibur just happy acknowledged him as “the Wizard.” They just couldn’t control themselves for two more minutes.
Overall Show: MISS
Sonjay Dutt alone nearly tanked this show for me, and there were some other forgettable segments too, but the major elements of this show delivered.