AEW Rampage is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with another episode of Rampage Against The Machine as The Elite are up facing some stiff competition at the PPV and this week and this episode is here to prove that to them as well as the viewing audience! Is this the perfect tee up for the big title matches at the PPV, or are we gonna need the next two shows to really get the hype machine going for All Out in September? Let’s find out!!
Jurassic Express Vs. The Lucha Bros
Jurassic Express is accompanied to the ring by Marko Stunt while Lucha Bros are accompanied by Alex Abrahantes
It’d almost be redundant to say that both of these teams had a FANTASTIC match here, but DANG was this match awesome! Jungle Boy and Rey start things off with some great athleticism between the two with this one Cazadora into an Arm Drag from Jungle Boy that looked like wizardry and this great spot from Rey which was ADMITTEDLY a bit convoluted, but still very cool to see! For whatever reason he’s walking the ropes in Jurassic Express’s corner which I’d think would be the LAST place you’d want to be, and sure enough Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus try to shove him off. Of course Rey Fenix, being a wizard himself, bounces off the ropes instead of tumbles over and is right side up again to land a kick and a flipping arm drag. Showing off a bit? Sure. Still awesome anyway? ABSOLUTELY! Jungle Boy tries to go for the Snare Trap to end things quickly but Fenix rolls out of it and both guys tag in their respective partners which gives us Luchasaurus Vs. Penta for a bit, and I don’t know how to phrase this exactly but Penta’s got a STRONG presence to him that’s both very hammy and EXTREMELY menacing. His slow walk followed by taking off his glove is over the top, but ALSO belies a confidence that his opponent can’t do anything to stop him, and even when they try they regret it immediately! Luchasaurus learns this first hand when he grabs his hand mid-ZERO MIEDO, and Penta just DESTROY his left leg with a series of kicks! Luchasaurus doesn’t take it for long though and goes for the throat which prompts Fenix to come in with a top rope kick that looks like something from a Jackie Chan movie and the whole thing descends into chaos as we go to commercial! Now I can’t go over everything here move by move so we’ll speed things up a bit, but that was only like four minutes of action and the rest of the match is at that level! We get a few big moves and some swift tags back and forth (including a Frog Splash from Fenix onto Luchasaurus, but the next big spot was a Jungle Boy tag that led to a BIG Lariat followed by a Poisonrana for a two count. Fenix kicks out but Jungle Boy then finally locks in the Snare Trap right in the middle of the ring which is bad news for Fenix. Penta runs in to break up the hold, but instead of just kinda jumping on them like wrestlers usually do, Penta hauls back and gives Jungle Boy a freaking GOALIE KICK right into the skull! Now I watched it again and Penta DOES slap the leg so that terrifying CRUNCHING sound was NOT due to direct contact, but I still couldn’t tell you if he ACTUALLY kicked him or not and I wouldn’t think a swift kick to the temple is in Jungle Boy’s best interest. In any case, Fenix tags in Penta who starts tearing Jungle Boy apart, and the Bros go for Fear Factor but Jungle Boy escapes and tosses Penta out of the ring. Jungle Boy is now on the top turnbuckle with Luchasaurus holding Penta on the floor below… but in comes Fenix who rope walks his way to the corner and gives Jungle Boy a Top Rope Hurricanrana THAT SENDS HIM TO THE FLOOR! Thankfully, Luchasaurus, Penta, and even Marko Stunt were there to save him from landing right on his head, and Penta drags him to the ring and gets a two count. After all that we’re finally heading into the finish as Luchasaurus tags in but immediately eats a Hurricanrana which is enough to keep him down for quite a bit while which gives Lucha Bros time to finish off Jungle Boy with a Canadian Destroyer on the apron. Luchasaurus is all alone now and eats a bunch of Superkicks from both guys and do some sort of… I guess half a Canadian Destroyer which led to a pin where BOTH guys were on Luchasaurus. Not sure why the ref even bothered counting because there is NO way that was a legal pin! Luchasaurus kicks out, but The Lucha Bros follows up with an Assisted Pile Driver and that’s finally enough to keep him down for the three count. Lucha Bros win the match and will face The Young Bucks at the PPV! Speaking of whom, the Bucks run in to try and beat on the Lucha Bros, but Jurassic Express chase them off; showing mutual respect for their opponents who they just had a PHENOMENAL match with! I had my concerns about a spot here and there, but there’s no doubt that this was a show stopping match that made everyone look like super stars and is exactly what AEW needed to sell us on the title match at the PPV! Remember, this tournament was announced TWO WEEKS AGO which back then felt like WAY too little time to try and start building a story, but in three matches these four teams have done a fantastic job of making the PPV match feel important and like a genuine highlight to look forward to! I doubt the Lucha Bros are gonna win as they have that thing with Andrade to focus on while The Elite should probably stay as the top heel faction for a while, but whatever happens at the PPV there’s no doubt that it’s got more momentum behind it than anyone could have hoped for!
Miro comes out to the ring and is dragging Fuego Del Sol along with him. He says that he DOES forgive him for getting a contract, but that he still must PAY for accepting something that isn’t his… AND THEN HE RIPS HIS MASK OFF!! There are few things that will make you a heel faster in my book than messing with a luchador’s mask so good on Miro for going so far to make himself UTTERLY despicable which makes what happens next all the better! Eddie Kingston comes to the ramp with a mic in hand, is about to say something, but thinks better of it and just rushes the ring to spank Miro for being a jerk! Heck yeah, Eddie! Show that guy what happens when you mess with a dude’s mask! They brawl for a bit before the refs break them up so that they can save the REAL carnage for the PPV match, and while it’s definitely last minute and rushed, the segment did its job just fine in getting me hyped to see these two really go at it!
Tay Conti Vs. The Bunny
The Bunny is accompanied to the ring by The Blade
I wasn’t expecting a lot from this match, but it was actually pretty fun for what it was! The Bunny gets an early advantage by attacking Tay before the bell rings, and she seems to be clicking well with her opponent. The Bunny as a wrestler usually relies on her over the top shouting and flailing to establish her heel credentials, but against Tay the energy feels a lot more focused and the whole fight feels genuinely VISCERAL as Bunny is relentlessly attacking her with everything she’s got! Tay does a great job selling this which only helps Bunny’s offense look that much more convincing, and when Tay DOES get her comeback it looks very good as well! Lots of running, plenty of Judo throws, and chops for days as the two try to tear each other apart! Bunny’s selling is not as good as Tay’s so the match suffers a little bit there, but it’s a lot of fun and Tay starts hitting her with her finishers which gets some pops from the crowd. A Bossman Slam, three Punk Kicks into the corner, and a Tay-K-O leaves Bunny all but finished… but then things take a turn and sadly the match ends on a disappointing note. Tay doesn’t go for the pin after the Tay-K-O and is instead setting up The Bunny for another move when Penelope Ford comes down and starts yelling on the apron. Tay is COMPLETELY distracted by this and has just turned her back on Bunny as she watches Ford get yelled at by Ref Aubrey, and so OF COURSE Bunny goes to get some brass knuckles from The Blade! Tay turns around, eats a knuckle sandwich, and Bunny gets the pin to win the match. Look I’m glad to see Penelope Ford and all, but is this really the BEST way for her to screw over the Baby Face? This is the kind of ridiculous distraction spot I expect from WWE, and it just makes Tay look like a fool for letting it work so well! If nothing else, it does indicate that there is some sort of alliance between Bunny and Ford for the Casino Battle Royale, so perhaps Tay will get her revenge there. I certainly hope so considering how badly she got punked her at the end of an otherwise solid match!
Christian Cage & Frankie Kazarian Vs. Kenny Omega & Brandon Cutler
I wouldn’t usually want to give something like this away on free TV a week before their proper title match (this is very much a WWE move), but it makes sense in that Kenny Omega is still shaken from his loss to Cage a few weeks earlier and so giving him another win here will hopefully boost his confidence. That said, if I was putting this together on Kenny’s behalf I probably would have had him go out there with one of the Bucks or even one of the Good Brothers instead of the admitted stooge Brandon Cutler. You know; just a little extra insurance in case… well we’ll see soon enough. It starts off perhaps a bit shaky for The Elite as Kazarian takes Cutler out almost immediately, but Kenny gets the upper hand with the help of an interfering Michael Nakazawa. As soon as Cage tags in though, it all falls apart as Kenny crumples in the corner and begs Cutler to tag in. He tentatively does so and both Cage and Kazarian take him apart, but with more interference from Nakazawa and Omega, they eventually manage to cut Kazarian down and Omega’s back in and toying with him; though is still apprehensive of Cage who’s glaring at them in the corner. I’m still a bit miffed about how Kazarian’s been treated these last few weeks, especially when Kenny lets Cutler back in to poke at his corpse for a bit, but Kazarian eventually escapes and gets the tag to Cage who admittedly SHOULD be the primary focus on the Baby Face side of this. Cutler RUNS to his corner as fast as he can to make the tag, but Kenny jumps off; leaving Cutler to his fate as he ends up eating a bunch of chops in the corner from Cage. He goes up to the middle rope to land a bunch of punches when Kenny, seeing an opening, runs in and scoops him up for the One Winged Angel, but Cage escapes and shoves Kenny into the corner to then land a bunch of punches on him instead. Cage drags Kenny out and lands a Reverse DDT that Cutler tries to break up by diving at them, but he misses by a mile, so again; GREAT idea letting the Stooge act as your insurance policy! Then again, I GUESS he does his job well enough as Cage is setting up for the Kill Switch on him as he’s still the legal man which gives Kenny a chance to roll out, grabs the lags, pull on them so he falls over, and yanks so that his junk hits the post. Feeling sufficiently good about his chances now, Kenny goes for the V-Trigger on Cage who is being held by Cutler… BUT THEN CAGE ESCAPES AND KENNY’S KNEE HITS CUTLER INSTEAD! Kazarian rushes in to take a few swings at Omega which distracts him long enough so that Cage can grab him for the Kill Switch, and this ends up being the last straw as Omega scrambles away and runs up the ramp; effectively leaving the match rather than face Cage’s finishing move again. Instead, Cage grabs Cutler and lands the Kill Switch and gets the win right in front of Omega which is probably only SLIGHTLY less traumatic for him than taking the move himself, and the episode comes to an end as Kenny and Callis sheepishly walk their way up the ramp with Kazarian and Cage standing tall in the ring!
Rampage is finding the right mix of explosive action and bite sized plot progression that is making it a fun and swift viewing each week with this episode probably being the best they’ve done so far! Of course the CM Punk episode is going to be the one that everyone remembers, but this had solid to great matches across the board, and I even dug the little bit of time that Miro and Kingston had to set up their match at the PPV! They know what works now and with a bit of tweaking here and there it could end up being the most exciting hour of televised wrestling we have right now!