AEW Rampage is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
We’re back another episode of Rampage which often ends up being the better of the two shows; mostly because they can get in and out with a bunch of good matches while Dynamite tries to figure out what the direction is for the next few weeks. That said, Dynamite had a pretty solid show with a fantastic main event, so is this one of the few times where Rampage isn’t the more exciting show of the week? Let’s find out!!
Adam Cole Vs. Evil Uno
As a diehard Evil Uno fan, this wasn’t exactly a fun match to watch. The guy doesn’t even get his entrance and it’s over in less than two minutes which is quite below what I expect to see from the de facto leader of the Dark Order! Oh sure he gets to do that Hanging Neck Breaker thing and gets a bit of a hope spot after that, but then Cole gets the knees up on a Senton attempt and that’s pretty much it for Uno. He gets one Rolling Elbow after that before a High Knee from Cole that knocks him out cold. For good measure, Cole hits another kick to the face and a Boom Knee Strike, and then finally goes for the pin to win the match. The goal was clearly to make Adam Cole look strong which is good because of what they do after the match, but I know Uno can put on a better showing than this! Maybe he and Stu can get a decent match challenging Jurassic Express for the Tag Team Titles, but for now, let’s hear what Cole has to say.
Cole starts listing off all the guys he beat in singles competition and reiterates that OFFICIALLY he has never lost a singles match. Sure, there was that thing with Orange Cassidy a week ago, but that was a Lights-Out match and doesn’t count in the record books! Still, even as the words are coming out of his mouth it’s clear he doesn’t believe them as e feels the need to reassert himself here as the best in this business, and what better way to do that than to go for the AEW World Title? Assuming of course that Hangman Adam Page can survive the TEXAS DEATH MATCH with Lance Archer, it would be pretty interesting to see those two lock it up in the ring, and it wouldn’t be the first time a challenger to Hangman went through Evil Uno first.
Sammy Guevara Vs. Isiah Kassidy – TNT Title Match
Kassidy is accompanied to the ring by AHFO (Andrade-Hardy Family Office)
I guess you can say that this is something of a reigniting of the Sammy/Hardy feud from a year or so ago, though this time Hardy is throwing one of his guys at Sammy instead of getting in the ring himself. Given how poorly that feud went for him and his head, I can understand why. Still, Kassidy is probably not the guy to try and dethrone Sammy as he can’t get a word in edgewise during the opening few minutes and it’s not until Matt Hardy hits a Side Effect behind the ref’s back that Kassidy can start getting the heat. It only lasts as long as the commercial break however as Sammy manages to fight back. His ribs are still bothering him from the ladder match so he can’t get Kassidy up for a GTH, but he does land a solid kick to the face and goes up top for a Splash. Seeing Kassidy in trouble once again, AHFO needs to come to his rescue for a second time by having Andrade’s music hit. Sammy spends nearly a minute looking at him so of course, Kassidy gets back up, but this still proves to be ineffective as Sammy just throws him off the turnbuckle and he’s back to being flat on his back. Thankfully Kassidy manages to do something right on his own in this match as he rolls out of the 450 Splash and manages to hit both a Back Breaker AND a Back Stabber which gets him a two count on Sammy. He keeps up the heat for a bit with a very good Cutter through the ropes and a Suicide Dive, but Sammy is not out of this yet and manages to turn this back into a competitive fight. Sammy takes care of Marq Quen with a Moonsault (the one guy outside the ring who HASN’T successfully interfered yet), and hits a Double Springboard Cutter on Kassidy for a two count. Seeing only one way to finish this match for good, he hoists Kassidy up on his shoulder and fights through the pain to hit the GTH which gets him the pin to win the match and retain his title. I guess you don’t want to burn Sammy out to quickly with absurdly dangerous and incredibly intense matches, so having him go up against Kassidy in a straightforward match like this was a prudent call, and even if I think Kassidy should have done a little bit more on his own, I thought that it was a fun match. It’s not over yet however as AHFO get in the ring to intimidate Sammy when none other than Darby Allin comes out to back him up and chase off the Heels. Presumably, this is retaliation for Andrade hounding him the last few weeks, but it also looks like a direct challenge to Sammy for his title. See, now THAT’S gonna be the high-risk and super-intense match that Sammy needs to save up his strength for.
We get a few quick promos from the back as QT Marshall promises to send out his prized MYSTERY student to take care of that upstart punk Hook and Kris Statlander takes a chair shot from Leyla Hirsch. Nothing too interesting (I’m still slightly resentful that QT is who AEW chose to be the embodiment of sensibility in a feud with Hook) but it keeps these angles fresh in people’s minds while AEW looks for a place to put the matches.
Thunder Rosa Vs. Mercedes Martinez
This was a bit of a weird one, and honestly, I’d go so far as to call it a misstep. When you have a new wrestler on your roster and are hyping them up with interference spots and promos, you want them to make a splash when they finally get into the ring. That’s why Hook has been tearing it up in all his matches since they spent a year building him up outside the ring. This is the first AEW match for Mercedes Martinez, and for a lot of people (like me), this is the first match they’d ever see her in. The end result? Rosa beats her to a pulp all the way around the ring while Martinez gets a LITTLE bit of offense here and there including an Avalanche Death Valley Driver. None of this manages to slow Thunder Rosa down, however, and so Martinez eventually grabs a pipe and just bashes her across the face with it for a DQ. Kind of underwhelming if you ask me, but there’s a plot twist! Apparently, she was hired by Britt Baker to take out Thunder Rosa, and while the pipe was a good start, it’s not quite the humiliating defeat that Baker wanted. Okay, so she’s a hired gun who is more than willing to go about it dirty. Why did she even bother with the match then? Why not just put on a ski mask and bash Rosa in the locker room? I mean obviously, she’s here to be a wrestler and not a pipe-wielding mercenary, but this match and this angle just aren’t making her come across as someone worth taking seriously in the ring. I’m sure we’ll see more from her and we’ll get some great matches soon enough, but this was not a great start as far as I’m concerned.
Ricky Starks Vs. Jay Lethal – FTW Title Match
Starks is accompanied to the ring by Powerhouse Hobbs
I’m not usually a guy who says that the old-timers should leapfrog over the younger talent, but Jay Lethal is fantastic and certainly proves it once again in this match. He starts off slow but decisive as he gets the better of Starks and is already in his head. With Starks already getting worked up and frustrated, Lethal is able to overcome him with ease; tripping him as he runs the ropes and following up with not one but TWO Suicide Dives outside the ring! It’s not until Hobbs starts intimidating Lethal that Starks gets a second wind and manages to avoid getting thrown into the post in a very creative way; following up with a Clothesline to Lethal which starts the commercial heat segment. Lethal is regaining some of his momentum when we return but Starks is nice and warmed up, so they start throwing out some very cool athletic moves back and forth until Lethal finally lands a shot with a Clothesline that leaves them both gasping for air on the floor. It looks like Lethal is back in control as he dodges a Corner Splash and hits several pin attempts back-to-back, but Starks is far from done and manages to hit a Liger Bomb for a two count. With both of them already exhausted, they start trading blows back and forth in the middle of the ring. Ricky throws everything he has with a flurry of punches, but Lethal is more precise and hits a Corkscrew Enziguri that takes Starks to the mat. Seeing where this is going, Hobbs gets on the apron to try and distract Lethal but eats a Drop Kick that sends him to the floor. Starks has already recovered, but Lethal is not done with Hobbs yet and goes for a Suicide Dive on Hobbs… which misses entirely, and Lethal wipes out on the floor. It looks like Lethal has made a fatal mistake in his match… but he gets a last-minute reprieve as Dante Martin comes out of NOWHERE and leaps off the ropes to knock out Hobbs on the floor below! Lethal gets a quick pep talk from Dante and goes back in to finish off Starks by hitting a Cutter and setting up for the Lethal Injection. It takes a bit of doing as Starks is not ready to give up just yet, but Lethal finally manages to go for the move… only for Starks to catch him and reverse it into a Rochambeau. Starks gets the pin to win the match and retain the FTW title, and the episode comes to an end with him and Hobbs gloating up the ramp as Lethal and Dante look very sad in the middle of the ring.
Much like the Dynamite that preceded this, it was a decent enough episode that was anchored by a REALLY strong main event. However, I’d still give the edge to Dynamite as CM Punk and MJF ended up being slightly more engaging than the FTW title match, and even with that the rest of Rampage felt a bit stale. Dynamite is moving forward with some interesting storylines while Rampage is just keeping a few of them warm between matches. I’m excited to see where this Adam Cole thing is going however as that could easily be a PPV match if they want to wait that long on it, though I would insist on Evil Uno getting involved in some way! Adam Cole has The Bucks, The New-Disputed Era, and even Britt Baker, so why not make it a factional feud between them and the Dark Order? You get that one for free, AEW, but only because I like Uno so much!