AEW RAMPAGE HITS & MISSES 7/29: Anna Jay and Lee Moriarty shine, Wardlow a miss, more

BY HITEN DAVE, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

AEW Rampage hits and misses
PHOTO CREDIT: Anna Jay Twitter

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AEW RAMPAGE HITS & MISSES

Orange Cassidy and Best Friends defeated Jay Lethal, Sonjay Dutt, and Satnam Singh: MISS

The setup to this match on Dynamite was awful in so many ways. I have talked about how I haven’t been a fan of Sonjay Dutt’s mic work, and he certainly hasn’t gotten any better. As someone of Indian heritage myself, it’s extra disappointing.

In addition, while I was bullish on Trent Beretta as a gatekeeping, badass babyface for weeks, he’s now a more amplified version of Chucky T. Pick a lane, and stick to it, please. Don’t just remind us of your ability to work an aggressive style when you have to conclude an NJPW-based story.

Satnam Singh is a cross between Omos and the Great Khali. He just did one slow running cross body and tagged right back out. In fact, the match reminded me of an AJ Styles and Omos vs. New Day match on Raw. Just toss in a heel manager who wrestles in a suit and isn’t very funny.

This would have at least an entertaining opener if not for the poor setup, Trent’s character conundrums, and Dutt’s poor execution of comedy.

Post-Match Stuff with Wardlow: MISS

After the match, the heels beat down the babyfaces and Wardlow ran out to make the save. I will echo Chris Jericho on commentary: “What kind of allegiance does Wardlow have with Orange Cassidy?”

While I can assume they are building towards Lethal challenging for the TNT title, this set up made no sense. I would like to say I look forward to the Wardlow-Lethal rivalry, but Lethal hasn’t been a part of single interesting story in AEW so far. In addition, why should the guy who lost his chance at the ROH television title be challenging for the TNT title?

Alternatively, maybe it’s Satnam Singh vs. Wardlow. Unless Singh can do more than chokeslam setups and a running cross body, brace yourselves for a marginally better version of Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez.

FTR Highlights Package: MINOR HIT

They showed highlights of FTR’s title defense and post-match promo at Death Before Dishonor. I thought it was good, but a little haphazardly put together.

Ethan Page defeated Leon Ruffin: IT HAPPENED

Squash victory for Page. Stokely Hathaway was shown backstage watching the match, impressed by Page’s performance. Curious to see how a Hathaway vs. Lambert verbal duel goes.

Cole Carter/QT Marshall Backstage Interview: MISS

I barely know who Cole Carter is, and QT Marshall wants him in the Factory (who almost exclusively wrestle on shoulder programming).

Cole Carter not being able to say a word, listening to QT, and just making exaggerated angry facial expressions when QT left did not do him any good at all.

Lee Moriarty defeated Matt Sydal: HIT

Very good match either side of the long commercial break. It was far from just a mid-show spot fest one might expect when reading this match on paper. What added to it is the character work of Moriarty, whose heel turn story has played out on TV over the past couple of weeks.

Curious (and excited) to see how the Moriarty-Hathaway alliance plays out.

Britt Baker Backstage Promo: 50-50

Britt seemed to be trying to stoke tension between Toni Storm and Thunder Rosa. This was just “okay.” I’d much prefer Britt in a long-term upper-midcard storyline instead of just spinning her wheels and nipping at the champion‘s feet every now and then.

Claudio Castagnoli. Wheeler Yuta, and Chris Jericho Promo: MINOR HIT

Claudio’s part was fine. The fan reaction made it come across a smidge more special. I hope he can restore pride to the ROH World title after the horrendous booking quagmire it was in recently.

Claudio also introduced ROH Pure champion, Wheeler Yuta. Jericho at the commentary desk interrupted him before he could talk. Thankfully, Yuta was able to interrupt him right back and challenge him to a match. Yuta certainly has to adjust his promo style if he wants to come across as more of a badass, but he needs reps like tonight to find his groove.

While there wasn’t any stellar mic work here, the crowd reaction and Jericho’s non-verbals really added to the moment.

People can make valid criticisms of the comedy that Jericho inserts into everything he’s a part of, as well as the sheer abundance of title belts on these shows. However, it didn’t bother me that much tonight.

The Acclaimed Music Video: NARROW MISS

There were a ton of references to Billy Gunn’s old WWF character here. While the “Ass Boys” chant alone is enough to engage a newer audience despite lack of context, this video went too far into the insider/clubhouse realm. It also really pushes the idea that the Gunns have no character traits (even roast-worthy ones) outside of being derivatives of their father. If this continues, I worry that they won’t ever truly be able to form their own identity as a tag team.

I don’t want to discount the Acclaimed’s work in putting this together though. Good, bad, or indifferent, I like seeing wrestlers flex their performative talents in various ways. And this video did have its entertaining moments. I just thought it was a bit counterproductive in the grand scheme of things.

Main Event Promo: 50-50

Ruby Soho was fine, and while Anna Jay’s performance was better than on Dynamite, she still comes across like she’s just playing the role of heel. It’s weird because I wanted her to go heel again during her babyface run, but her excellence seems to lie in being a quiet, serious, enforcer-type heel. I don’t think this half-bombastic “sports entertainer,” half “choker” gimmick suits her. It reminds me too much of how Jericho’s “wizard” line killed any investment I had in his dastardly actions. Perhaps Chris Jericho is not the best mentor for her.

By the way, it was kind of rich how Dark Order didn’t seem upset at all two nights ago when they lost Anna Jay. Nothing can shake their spirit, it seems.

Anna Jay (or Anna JAS) defeated Ruby Soho: MINOR HIT

Good in-ring performance, especially by Anna. A better match than expected for sure. If she can keep improving in the ring, perfect a certain move set, and subtract some of the contrivance in her promos, she will be a money heel someday.

However, Jericho’s commentary was very counterproductive to selling her as any kind of serious threat. In addition, Excalibur’s perpetually neutral-excited tone of voice did little to sell the fact that using her cast to win is a heelish move worthy of condemnation.

In addition, considering how much Ruby has been phased away from television lately, I would have waited before booking this match tonight. Have Anna beat someone else and before pairing them off in a storyline (independent of who they are friends with).

Commentary: 50-50

Ross, Schiavone, and Excalibur stayed for a third straight hour of commentary this week, and they were joined by Chris Jericho. I thought Jericho was actually fine (and true to character without being annoying) for most of the night, but things got way overboard in the main event.

Overall Show: NARROW MISS

I can’t give this show a complete “MISS” because it was a really important night in the young careers of Lee Moriarty and Anna Jay. I suggest you check out their stuff. Everything else can be skipped.


CATCH-UP: 7/29 AEW RAMPAGE FIGHT FOR THE FALLEN TV REPORT: Page vs. Ruffin, Soho vs. Ana Jay main event

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