SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Brody King Won a “Royal Rampage” Battle Royal for the Right to Face Interim World Champion Jon Moxley: MINOR HIT
They utilized both rings from the War Games taping earlier, and they had a more Royal Rumble-style entrance (with new wrestlers coming in very frequently). You have to just see it for yourself instead of reading an explanation of the rules.
I do like this format more than the Casino battle royals, but not sure I’m in love with it. The camera shots showcasing both rings were a little wonky. As is usual with AEW Battle Royals, they missed a fair number of important spots/a lot of things happened while other wrestlers were making their entrances.
Production issues aside, the match itself was sufficiently entertaining. However, booking Brodie King to win at the expense of Darby, Hangman, Starks, Penta, and Keith Lee is extremely confusing. He seems talented for sure, but he’s been defined at a certain level as part of a faction for so long that this sudden push just feels too jarring. To an AEW and WWE-only viewer, this would be like of one of the Viking Raiders eliminating Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and Bobby Lashley to earn a shot at Roman Reigns. The only difference, of course, is that King is more talented than either Erik or Ivar. I just wish AEW did a better job of showcasing that talent in television singles matches, or in promos where he shows more autonomy within the House of Black hierarchy.
Hook Backstage Interview: I don’t know
I don’t know what Hook said or meant here. He spoke in a riddle, and I hope it’s not some kind of Danhausen effect.
Young Bucks defeated and Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi: MINOR HIT
The challengers had no character definition of build-up leading into this match. They didn’t show me anything special either. Long commercial break doesn’t help. Decent match with a fun closing sequence.
Jonathan Gresham Video Promo: HIT
I really appreciate how Gresham addressed not being on TV, and how he has to introduce himself to a wider audience. His mission statement is that he wants to be in the same conversation as Danielson and Claudio as the best technical wrestler in the world. It was as good a promo as he could cut for members of the audience still sorting through the new names. I just wish they would have built him up with additional video packages from his body of work in ROH.
Main Event Promo: HIT
Toni Storm was okay, but Nyla Rose is just a notch above every other woman on the mic. One of her quotes was very telling though: “all roads to the championship lead through me.” It’s sad to see how Rose has become more of a gatekeeper. She is so much more talented that! Title or no title, she deserves to sink her teeth into a long-term storyline.
Toni Storm defeated Nyla Rose: MINOR HIT
A fine match, but there just wasn’t anything good enough either side of the commercial for me to give this anything other than a “Minor Hit.”
Post-Match Brawl: IT HAPPENED
After the match, Nyla attacked Storm and Thunder Rosa came out to make the save. The champion and her challenger then posed together while keeping an eye on the championship. Paint-by-numbers stuff here.
Commentary: MINOR HIT
This is the first time I’ve gotten to write about Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, and Excalibur on commentary.
Jim Ross is not the J. R. of old. Apart from when he introduces the show, he just doesn’t energetically sell stories and characters the way he used to, even on much duller WWE programming in 2009. These days, he sounds like someone shooting a minimally produced YouTube video on an academic topic. That’s not necessarily bad, but it’s not something that will get sports fans excited.
Ross was arguably at his weakest from 2019-early 2022, and I thought his presence actually brought down the show’s quality. However, I think he’s picked it up a notch since his return from cancer treatment. I don’t mind him as now, except sometimes during Women’s matches.
Tony Schiavone is not someone I grew up watching. He certainly possesses a unique, sweet-goofy-uncle-like charm. I also appreciate how he fuels heat for certain wrestlers like Adam Cole and MJF. However, he often forgoes reinforcing key storytelling beats in favor of goofing off or just reacting like a fan. While that can be endearing at times, fans don’t necessarily need that to enjoy the show. At the end of the day, he doesn’t add much, and I never notice when he’s off commentary.
Excalibur is good at carrying a show but poor at emotionally investing people who aren’t already emotionally invested. He is like a friend who excitedly welcomes you to D&D club but expects you to have brought a completed character sheet, purchased all the rulebooks, and read his 120-page Google Doc containing lore on his home brew world.
Overall, the commentary neither adds to nor detracts from the show. Every announcer has their moments, but for the most part, it’s nothing spectacular.
Overall Show: HIT
Although there were few “hits” on this show, it certainly had a more epic vibe than other Rampages. Worth going out of your way to see, especially if you are a fan of Brodie King from his pre-AEW days.