SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
AEW RAMPAGE HITS & MISSES
Hangman Page and John Silver defeated Butcher and Blade: MINOR HIT
The setup to this match on Dynamite was underwhelming, to say the least. While addition of Hangman in place of Alex Reynolds certainly added a bit of star power, it still felt underwhelming.
It’s sad to see where Hangman has landed after a hot title win and good feud with Bryan Danielson. His title reign was mostly underwhelming, and he feels like a complete non-factor on the shows since losing his title. Yes, I know he will likely be heated up again when Omega returns, but I’d really like to see him excel in stories outside of the Elite bubble.
The match itself was a solid opener, with two heavy-hitting heels squaring off against solid crowd favorites. However, it’s nothing to sing home about, especially considering the poor build and lack of storyline implication.
Wheeler Yuta and Daniel Garcia Promo Package: MINOR HIT
This was a nicely put together package to hype up their match at the ROH PPV. I still wish they would explain what “Pure Rules” are, and it was odd to see Garcia portrayed in a more sympathetic light so suddenly. Many AEW wrestlers are under the false assumptions that throwing heavy, real-life-based bombs out of the blue is the key to emotional investment, and that’s not always the case.
Claudio Castagnoli In-Ring Promo: MINOR HIT
Apart from when Claudio claimed to value fan cheers more than championships, this was alright. I wish they told a story between Claudio and Gresham for three-four weeks instead of that underwhelming feud with Lee Moriarty. I could have also done without Claudio semi-dancing to his music at the end.
Wardlow Video Promo: HIT
This was short, simple, and effective. Good to keep Wardlow in people’s minds, and he continues to make a good accounting of himself.
Lee Moriarty defeated Dante Martin: MINOR HIT
The setup to this match last week on Rampage was pretty bad, and the lack of entrances really undercuts a talent’s ability to get over.
While it was nice to see two young studs put on a show, I don’t think the match was stellar enough to out shadow the damage done to Moriarty’s character last week. The obligatory mid-match commercial break didn’t really help either.
The finish was interesting with Moriarty holding the rope to pin Martin.
Post-Match Stuff: MINOR HIT
Sydal, disgusted with Moriarty’s tactics, challenged him to a match next week on Rampage. Moriarty also refused to take Stokely Hathaway’s business card.
At least we’re seeing character direction and some week-to-week storytelling for Moriarty now. The performances were alright as well.
Serene Deeb-Mercedes Martinez Video Promo: MINOR HIT
Very short with not much in the way of new dialogue. What each wrestler said was fine.
Britt Baker and Jamie Hayter defeated Skye Blue and Ashley D’Amboise: MINOR HIT
Extended squash, but I thought Baker and Hayter performed well as relentless heels. I usually rate these as “IT HAPPENED” but the match was effective enough to deserve a “MINOR HIT” instead.
Max Caster and Austin Gunn Rap Battle: IMPOSSIBLE TO RATE
Austin Gunn’s portion at the beginning had too many personal references I didn’t know about for me to care. It would have gotten over more with me if I had more insight into the life of Max Caster.
After that, there were times when I was entertained, and other times when I just couldn’t understand what Caster was saying or implying. On the scale of “entertained” vs. “confused,” I lean more toward “entertained,” but not by much.
Main Event Promo: MINOR HIT
Is Christopher Daniels just someone they bust out now for ROH nostalgia? It seems like it, considering his last match was with Danielson the night Tony Khan announced his purchase of ROH. Before that, I was led to believe the Young Bucks retired him.
If you’re a fan of ROH, this main event between Daniels and Lethal is probably more appetizing for you than me.
In any case, the promo work alone was fine. Daniels made a good account of why he is challenging Lethal (even though his friendship with Joe is not established on AEW television), and Lethal was alright. Nothing stellar, but okay.
Jay Lethal defeated Christopher Daniels: MINOR HIT
Solid wrestling match, and I can see why old-school ROH fans would eat up any remaining Christopher Daniels matches. However, as a non-ROH fan who isn’t impressed with AEW’s introduction of ROH content, if I didn’t have to write this column, I don’t think I would have stayed awake to see it.
Post-Match Beatdown of Christopher Daniels: MISS
The beatdown itself was fine, but Caprice Coleman’s over-reaction to a gentle-looking toss from Satnam Singh, Jim Ross’s comparative lack of energy, and Sonjay Dutt’s exaggerated facials just ruined it for me.
Although there was no Jericho tonight, the commentary fell a little flat. It had its moments, but Ross wasn’t as good as he has been the last few months. In his defense, this was an underwhelming card that had to follow the barbed wire match.
Overall Show: MISS
Although the Wardlow promo is my only “HIT” of the show, you would miss nothing if you skipped that. I would instead refer you to the rap battle, which is worth going out of your way to see, and make up your mind.
In addition, while I like that Moriarty isn’t being phased off AEW TV after challenging for a world title, his story isn’t compelling enough yet.
Other than that, this was a nothing-burger of a show. Even some long-time ROH fans I know were unenthused tonight. It just felt a little empty and non-substantive. This would have been an underwhelming show even without the Vince McMahon retirement, but considering that context, this was utterly forgettable.