AEW Rampage is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back with more Rampage action, and I can finally say that this is THE final show before the Full Gear PPV! For weeks everything has been inching ever closer to the big event and no matter what happened there was always a LITTLE bit more time to line everything up. The Dynamite Show did about as well a job of that as you could ask for, but even so, this is their last chance to tie up any loose ends that may still be dangling! Does this last leg of the current story arc get us where we need to go, or are they looking towards the future and what happens after the big show? Let’s find out!!
Jungle Boy Vs. Bobby Fish
Jungle Boy’s new scraggly facial hair must be giving him a serious confidence boost because the bell rings and he drops Fish to the mat under a hellacious rainfall of fists! He then pushes him to the corner and lands a bunch of forearms before trying some fancy moves on the ropes, but this is where his hubris gets the best of him as Fish YANKS him down and Jungle Boy tumbles his way to the floor! This error on Jungle Boy’s part gives Fish the advantage for a good chunk of the match, and even when Jungle Boy tries his fancy moves and manages to land the Springboard Arm Drag, he can’t quite get out from under Bobby Fish’s assault; culminating in a brawl on the apron where Bobby drops down and kicks Jungle Boy’s legs out from under him so that he tumbles once again to the floor. Fish stays in control for the commercial break, but Jungle Boy eventually manages to fight back with some strikes and a low Drop Kick that’s followed by a Lariat that drops Fish to the mat. Not to be outdone, Fish straight-up football tackles Jungle Boy and pushes him clear across the ring into the corner, and follows that up with a Back Drop for a two count! Still, Jungle Boy has some momentum again and things go back and forth with Jungle Boy getting a German Suplex into a bridge as well as a Roll-Up for near falls, while Fish gives him an Exploder into the ropes before working over the shoulder. These kicks to the shoulder however end up being Fish’s undoing as Jungle Boy catches him mid-kick and transitions into the Snare Trap. Fish does his best to keep him from locking it in, but after a few elbows to the head by Jungle Boy, he’s no longer able to fight back and passes out almost as soon as Jungle Boy fully locks in the move. It’s not over yet however as Adam Cole runs down and attacks Jungle Boy with Fish getting back up to help in the assault. Fish holds Jungle Boy in place while Cole gets some chairs, and they start threatening the con-chair-to when Christian Cage and Luchasaurus run down to make the save. Adam Cole runs away but Fish is caught, and instead of running to save his buddy, Cole just stays on the ramp while Cage lands the Kill Switch on Fish. It wasn’t the most exciting match from either guy, and the ending felt a bit rushed, but it was a solid match and a fun opener to the show. The one thing I didn’t like is how Cole left Fish to get attacked at the end as I really want them to push this reformed Undisputed Era angle a bit longer before finding cracks in the façade, and something like this wouldn’t have happened for several weeks at least. Besides, isn’t the ultimate goal to turn Cole Baby Face!? Let him stick up for his friend; it wouldn’t have hurt the story!
Cole and The Bucks are cutting a promo (no Bobby Fish to be seen) when Adam Page comes in from the side and interrupts them. He says he’s sorry for being a jerk and costing them a shot at the titles over a year ago, which is kind of a moot point since they won them only a few months later, but now that the apologies are out of the way, Page lets them know that if they DARE to interfere with his title match… well it won’t end well. If you’ve been watching AEW long enough to follow this story where Page was teased to have a Heel turn and acted like a jerk to The Elite, this makes a lot of sense even if The Elite are now the bad guys. PERHAPS the threats of reprisals were a bit unnecessary as Page works better as a guy trying to improve himself than as the UNSTOPPABLE BADASS, but with the Callis assault at the end of Dynamite, I can see him doing everything he can to tie up loose ends and steel himself for whatever shenanigans may unfold.
Jade Cargill Vs. Santana Garrett
Cargill is accompanied to the ring by Smart Mark Sterling
I’m not sure why they didn’t just do another TBS Tournament match on this show, especially since Cargill’s next opponent (Red Velvet) is RIGHT THERE in the audience, but Cargill is pretty good at having squash matches, and this is no exception. Jade wastes no time tearing Garret apart with a flurry of heavy strikes before throwing her out of the ring, but instead of finishing her off and ending the match, she goes over to Velvet and yells at her for a bit. Garret gets ONE shot while Cargill is distracted, but then gets utterly destroyed; even getting thrown over the barricade and at Red Velvet! Cargill throws her back into the ring and Garret tries to do some sort of Backflip move, but she lands right in Cargill’s waiting arms so that she can land the Jaded and win the match. Seriously, if you KNOW that’s her finisher, why would you go for a move like that!? The match was fine for what it was, but it was simply there to build to the post-match angle where Red Velvet jumps the barricade and spears Cargill outside the ring. If that wasn’t bad enough, this is ALSO the one-year anniversary of Cargill signing with AEW so Mark Sterling has a cake prepared for her! A cake that gets dutifully shoved in his face by Red Velvet like the stooge he is! Cargill and Velvet have a VERY intense brawl until the refs break it up, and it’s a pretty good setup for whenever their TBS Tournament match is, which I guess more or less answers the question as to why they didn’t just that match here. I’m not sure if it will be as good as that brawl was, but it’s certainly the first thing to get me interested in seeing it!
Dante Martin Vs. Ariya Daivari
Much like the Jungle Boy match (including scruffy facial hair), this is about Dante Martin getting a bit too big for his britches and getting ahead of himself early on in the match. He’s in his hometown, he’s doing all his flippy stuff, and he’s running circles around this Daivari guy, but then he goes for a springboard move, and Davari yanks the leg which sends him flying towards the turnbuckle. Dante is pretty much out for the rest of the match as Daivari lands a series of moves including the Leg Drop, Kitchen Sink, and Drop Kick; all while Dante can barely get in more than strike here or there. He gets his second wind with a Sunset Flip for a two count and a Step Up Enziguri that knocks Daivari to the ground, but he quickly recovers and lands a Neckbreaker followed by a Clothesline that nearly knocks Martin out. Daivari then goes to the top turnbuckle and lands a Frog Splash which probably would have been MORE than enough to take out Dante, but he kicks out at two and Dante finally starts to make his proper comeback. Daivari tries to pick up Dante who instead grabs the leg and flips him over for a two count. Daivari tries to charge him in the corner but Martin gets the elbow up, and Daivari tries to charge him AGAIN to which Dante just jumps over the guy. Now instead of hitting the ropes, Daivari goes FLYING out of the ring to the floor below which allows Dante lands a Springboard Dive from the top rope to wipe him out. Dante throws him in, lands another Springboard Dive, and gets the pin to win the match. Much like the Jungle Boy match, it wasn’t the most exciting thing I’ve seen Dante Martin do, and while the ending had a bigger punch to it, it still doesn’t feel like a FULL STORY was told. Still, the action was good and AEW is VERY keen on making Dante a star! As soon as the match is over, Ricky Starks takes the mic and starts to sell Dante on joining Team Taz, and the best part is that Will Hobbs runs down with a contract! Just give him some time and see what he says! It’s certainly an interesting angle and I’d be curious to see what happens with either choice; if he joins Team Taz and goes full Heel, or if he refuses and we get to see Lio Rush and Dante Vs. Hobbs and Starks.
Orange Cassidy Vs. Matt Hardy – Lumberjack Match
The Hardy/Cassidy feud (much like the Sammy/Hardy feud now that I think about it) is feeling pretty long in the tooth at this point, but they do come up with a very creative idea to give this match some unique flavor! It turns out that most of the Lumberjacks milling about outside the ring are Heels, so Hardy starts the match by putting a bounty on Cassidy’s head; giving them an incentive to not just go after Cassidy, but to take out the Baby Face Lumberjacks which include the Best Friends! Cassidy is forced to watch his back at all time, but despite a good opening salvo he soon succumbs to the numbers. It’s not until the Best Friends are back up that Cassidy gets some breathing room as they all dive on the Lumberjacks and free him from their onslaught. Catching his second wind, Cassidy joins them in their assault on the Lumberjacks who fold like paper bags, and with the Lumberjacks dealt with, Cassidy now has to focus on Matt Hardy who is not keen on a fair fight. He tries to bail, but the Best Friends throw him back in (ACTUALLY fulfilling their role as Lumberjacks) and Cassidy lands a Cross Body from the top turnbuckle. Hardy starts selling his nose like Cassidy had broken it again but it’s a fake-out and he lands a Side Effect on Cassidy for a two count. Trying to press this unearned advantage, he goes for the Twist of Fate only for Cassidy to escape and lands a Swinging DDT. Cassidy gets to the top rope to try and put Hardy away, but Isiah Kassidy knocks him off which leads to the Lumberjacks, both Baby Face and Heel, to start running in and attacking one another. After all the chaos has subsided, it’s finally back to Hardy and Cassidy. Hardy goes for the Leech, but Cassidy lifts him up and lands the Beach Break which should be enough to pin Hardy and win the match! Cassidy doesn’t go for the pin however and instead lines up his sights for the Orange Punch. Perhaps he was expecting what happens next as a bunch of Heels get on the apron and try to stop him, only to eat Orange Punches from Cassidy. However, The Blade manages to run in and smash him across the face with the Brass Knuckles behind the ref’s back which allows Hardy to get the pin and win the match. Hardy locks in the Leech after the match is over, and the Heel lumberjacks overwhelm the Best Friends; including The Bunny who gets the brass knuckles and decks Statlander in the face just as the episode comes to an end.
The show had a lot of good stuff, though it turns Dynamite really was the Go Home show for Full Gear as the only match that had anything to do with it was the Jungle Boy/Bobby Fish match as well as the backstage segment between Page and The Bucks afterward. Still, we had some good action throughout and a main event with a REALLY cool angle to it that I don’t think I’ve seen before. Having Hardy use his money to twist things in his favor works for his character and adds a genuinely unique angle to the match, though I’m not sure that having the Heels win so decisively at the end of the show is what you want to send audiences away with before the PPV. It’d be one thing if the feud had anything to do with the show, but as far as I can tell, no one involved in this is having a match. Heck, there isn’t even a Battle Royale to give some fan favorites something to do! The PPV is up next and I’m sure it will be a good show, and honestly, if you weren’t sold it BEFORE this Rampage, there was probably nothing they could have done to convince you short of… I don’t know, having John Cena debut?