AEW Rampage is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT
Revolution is getting closer and closer which means I have less and less time to catch up on these shows, but despite several setbacks, I have made a great deal of progress and should be caught up right in time for the big show! Does this episode of Rampage bring the fun matches and exciting action to cleanse the palate after such a plot-heavy Dynamite? Let’s find out!!
Adam Cole Vs. Preston Vance
I guess The Dark Order are back on TV after Cole name-checked them in his promo last week, and Preston Vance is a guy who could really be something if given the right push. He’s certainly got a size and strength on his side as he gets an early lead on Adam Cole just by punching him a bunch and overpowering him, but in-ring experience is ultimately where it counts and Cole has it in abundance. Preston may be bashing him all over the place, but all Adam Cole needs is a precision strike on Preston’s knee, and the guy’s offense is torn to shreds which allows Cole to gain the advantage. He spends a while working over the knee by bashing it into the post and the steel steps, and even when Vance does get a word in edgewise with his strength, it doesn’t take long for Cole to put him back under his thumb. Things even out into a back and forth brawl after the commercial break with Vance getting some decent moves in such as the Spine Buster and a Discus Lariat, but Cole’s experience once again manages to put him back on top. I guess Vance’s big move is to put his opponent in a Full Nelson and then rag-doll him a bit, but Cole keeps managing to escape the hold before Vance can do anything with it. One attempt ends with Cole hitting a low blow behind the ref’s back which leaves Vance defenseless on the mat, and all it takes is a Boom Knee Strike from Cole to put Vance down for good and win the match. This was a perfectly fine match, though I would have liked to see Vance fight and lose at full strength rather than spend so much time nursing his leg, but perhaps they didn’t want to push him too hard in this match. After all, he is still pretty green so going move for move against someone like Cole might be above his skill level for the time being.
Dante Martin Vs. Powerhouse Hobbs – Face the Revolution Qualifier Match
I don’t know about you, but this is one of my favorite feuds at AEW; not because there’s much of an ongoing story or that each match feels like an epic clash, but because we’ve got two relatively young guys putting on great matches that are only going to get better each time they face each other. Hobbs manages to get a few cheap shots in before the bell rings, but Dante is able to tank them like a champ and comes back strong with his high-flying athleticism to pick away at Hobbs’s defenses and he eventually manages to Drop Kick him out of the ring. Conversely, Hobbs is a smart guy who only becomes better and more strategic with each match he’s in and manages to predict Dante’s next move. Dante goes for a Springboard Splash, but Hobbs yanks on the rope which forces Dante to fall back into the ring, and this gives Hobbs the opening he needs to fight back and hits a devastating shot on Dante who goes flying from the apron to the ramp! I like to see these two grow as Dante is getting tougher without losing any of his high-flying panache while Hobbs is more than happy to use his size to his advantage but knows that it’s better not to rely on that alone. With Dante’s momentum gone, he’s entirely on defense now and even with his added stamina, it proves difficult to protect himself from Hobbs’s incredible power which he uses to bully Dante during the commercial break. It’s not until Hobbs lifts him up for the Torture Rack that he has an opening and starts bashing Hobbs right in the head with his elbow. Hobbs drops him and now has an opportunity to hit some moves, and he manages to land a Springboard Uppercut as well as a Tor-Knee-Do that leaves Hobbs quite winded. Dante throws Hobbs into the ring and goes up top for a Shotgun Drop Kick, but even that can only get him a two count which means he’s gonna have to keep up the offense. He tries to give him an Irish Whip to start something, but Hobbs will not budge and instead yanks Dante to him and hits that AMAZING Spine Buster of his which ends up being enough to get the pin and win the match! This was a fantastic fight between these two and I would love to see more of both of them; both facing each other and in matches against other people! To wit, while Dante may have been the Baby Face in this, but I am so excited that Hobbs is going to the ladder match as it already looks to be the most epic collection of big dudes that AEW has put together! Keith Lee, Wardlow, and now Will Hobbs with three spots still remaining! Any chance we can get Cezar Bononi in there?
Serena Deeb Vs. Angelica Risk – Five Minute Rookie Challenge
Another week, another victim to Deeb’s Bonesaw Challenge as she easily destroys risk in a few minutes, but decides to toy with her since she has some time to spare. A Powerbomb from Deeb leaves Risk flat on her back and Deeb puts her in the Serenity Lock to which she taps out immediately; giving Deeb yet another win over wrestlers with only a fraction of her experience. If nothing else this does show that Deeb is very talented as a technical wrestler, but I’m still not feeling the angle and I can only hope that one of these rookies is going to show her up at some point to start a proper feud.
Trent Vs. Jay White
Trent is accompanied to the ring by Orange Cassidy
There’s been a lot of New Japan stuff on AEW recently, and I guess it’s good timing on Trent’s part to have returned right as he did given how entwined he is in all of that stuff. This is the first Jay White match I’ve ever seen and I’m told he’s supposed to be one of the biggest stars of New Japan. While I do think he puts on a decent match here with Trent, I wasn’t enthralled by it and I kind of want to see at least one more match with him before I form an opinion. Whenever I see a guy who everyone else says is great, I try to look for their unique selling point, and I don’t think I saw that here as he spends a lot of the match getting worked over mercilessly by Trent. Now that’s not to say that White was be squashed here as he does put up a good fight against Trent, but it’s not much different than other Trent matches I’ve seen recently and so White doesn’t stand out as much as he probably should. It also doesn’t help that the big turning point for him is when he tosses Trent over the ropes and it looks like he smashes his upper back on the apron; a bump that Trent should NEVER have to take ever again considering he had some pretty serious spinal surgery! Thankfully the commercial break is after that which gives Trent time to recover, and the match goes into a back and forth exchange after that. Trent hits a Springboard Moonsault to White on the floor, White hits a Flatliner and a Deadlift German for a two count, and Trent manages to land the Tornado DDT for a near fall of his own. Ultimately though, it comes down to who can hit their finisher first as Trent wants the Strong Zero and White is after his finisher Blade Runner. White ultimately comes out on top as he manages to avoid the Strong Zero which forces Trent to hit a less effective Pile Driver, and once White kicks out of that he gets his opening to hit the Blade Runner to pin Trent and win the match. A devastating loss for the Best Friends, but all does not appear to be lost as Cassidy and Jay have a staredown in the middle of the ring. It seems that sooner rather than later these two will be meeting in the ring, though for now, Jay White gets to celebrate his win as the episode comes to an end.
It seems clear that Wednesday’s show was all about building storylines while this was about entertaining the audience, and while not all the matches were great there were a few highlights that made it a fun episode overall. We’ll probably be seeing this arrangement on next’s week slate of episodes since we’re getting ever closer to the PPV, and frankly, it’s a formula that works perfectly for these shows; especially when they share the spotlight with guys like Dante Martin and Powerhouse Hobbs! I wouldn’t be surprised if that angle becomes a PPV match in the next year or so given how much the matches are getting each time the face-off in the ring!