SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
FTR defeated Top Flight to retain the ROH Tag Titles: HIT
All caveats about FTR’s booking and the ROH scene aside, this was an excellent match featuring two recognized teams. Great to see Top Flight returning to tag-team action again.
Powerhouse Hobbs Video Package: MINOR HIT
I’m always a sucker for these, and AEW should continue doing them. However, I wasn’t really sure what Hobbs was trying to convey here.
Jericho Appreciation Society – Claudio Castagnoli Promo: HIT
The goal of this segment was to set up a match between Claudio and Jericho where if Claudio loses, he has to join the Jericho Appreciation Society. I’m actually intrigued by this, and I thought everyone involved here did a pretty decent job.
Toni Storm Sit-Down Interview: HIT
While there wasn’t anything special in Toni’s words, this segment was all about her presentation. Reflecting on her match with Hayter and her title reign with two black eyes and a hoodie on really added a new dimension to her character. You almost wouldn’t even recognize her if you just saw a still image of this. Pretty effective.
Darby Allin (w/Sting) defeated Anthony Henry (w/JD Drake): MISS
Darby Allin, a wrestler who deserves to sink his teeth into an actual storyline, fought a long-commercial-ridden match with someone who isn’t properly introduced to the wider AEW audience. I’m sure this match was good if you were there in person and followed these two in the Independent scene but…meh.
Athena Backstage Interview: MINOR HIT
I was intrigued by Athena’s character development last week, and this was a solid follow-up to the Mercedes Martinez run-in. However, there was a slight air of awkwardness to Lexy Nair going back and forth with her, and that dragged down the first part of the promo for me. Regardless, I love seeing the announcers at least trying to be human beings instead of robots. She should keep at it.
Hikaru Shida defeated Queen Aminata: IT HAPPENED
Quick squash. Nothing much here. Good to see Hikaru Shida back. Looks like she’ll be feuding with Penelope Ford and the Bunny (another duo who I haven’t seen in a while).
Main Event Promo: IT HAPPENED
Nothing much to this other than the fact that 10 wasn’t with his Dark Order buddies for the promo. Another week of a more serious John Silver as well, which is refreshing.
FTR Backstage Interview: HIT
Why do we keep getting segments in between the main event promo and the main event? It just kills the flow a little.
Anyway, it looks like we will be getting Dax Harwood vs. Bryan Danielson on Dynamite. You can make a case that FTR are just having a “good match” tour now and aren’t featured in any major story, but I’ll take that over no FTR on TV. Can’t wait for the match.
Rush, Butcher, and Blade defeated Dark Order (John Silver, Alex Reynolds, and Preston Vance (10)): MINOR HIT
A solid main event whose only purpose was to build to Vance turning on Dark Order and costing them the match. This has been building for weeks and I’m glad to see Vance finally looking like he’ll be a menacing heel. The inclusion of Evil Uno and Negative One added an arguably needless sense of doubt, but I think it served its purpose well.
A very compelling post-match angle involving a beatdown of Dark Order and Preston Vance tossing his mask at Negative One. A lot of AEW fans will remember how close Vance was with Negative One, so this turn definitely hits some emotions. This is the best content I’ve seen from Dark Order in a while. Perhaps this is six months-one year too late, but I still liked it. Curious to see where things go from here.
Commentary: MINOR HIT
Jim Ross, Excalibur, and Tony Schiavone tonight. They were fine.
Overall Show: HIT
Another very good episode of Rampage. Yes, most storylines are B- or C-tier, but what we saw was mostly good. An hour well spent.