Super Wrestling: AEW Rampage (03-04-2022)

AEW Rampage is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT

Sure it’s the final episode of Rampage before the PPV, but you know what’s even BETTER about this? With this recap I’m fully caught up on AEW; just in time for Revolution! If nothing else, I feel VERY accomplished for pulling this off and hopefully, my efforts will be rewarded with a great PPV show! Does this final Rampage close up all the loose ends before Revolution, or should I not have even bothered trying to catch up and just jumped to the big show? Let’s find out!!

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Sammy Guevara Vs. Darby Allin Vs. Andrade El Ídolo– TNT Title Three-Way Match

So you’re telling me that after both of these guys lost their title shots, and while both Scorpio Sky and whoever wins the Face of the Revolution Ladder match are waiting for their shots, Darby and Andrade just get another chance to win the belt? Well in their defense, this IS a really good match and a great way to kick off Rampage! Since Sammy and Darby are teaming up on the PPV in a Trios match against Andrade, it’s clear who the odd one out is and he knows it so his strategy is to try and keep his distance while Darby and Sammy beat each other to heck and back. What’s wild though is that while Darby and Sammy are clearly aware of this and do team up from time to time to attack Andrade, the plan ultimately works because they spend much more time fighting each other and this allows Andrade to save his strength and strike when it is most effective. There’s an early spot where Sammy has Darby on the turnbuckle and picks him up for some sort of Avalanche Pile Driver move, but then Andrade runs in and slides under Sammy for a Powerbomb. Showing an incredible amount of strength and balance, Sammy manages to hold Darby upright while Andrade walks them away from the corner before slamming both down onto the mat! A very cool (if a little silly) spot and it gives Andrade a chance to get the heat on both of them during the commercial. Unfortunately, he still seems to be underestimating them because he goes for several pins while he is in control, but they keep getting broken up because he doesn’t toss the other one out of the ring while he’s trying to win the match. Sammy and Darby team up once again and have Andrade on the ropes, but then they make the same mistake and start going after each other before finishing off Andrade. Darby Shoves Sammy out of a Springboard move to the floor below and Andrade is right here to Scoop Slam him in the middle of the ring! Still, Darby has his second wind now and starts getting dealing some Damage to Andrade; eventually putting him in the Tree of Woe which allows Sammy to hit a Coast to Coast Dropkick. They continue to work over Andrade whose whole strategy is finally collapsing, but this also means that Darby and Sammy are getting in each other’s way. After trading pinfalls for a bit, Andrade tries one last-ditch effort to steal a pin which ends with him eating a Stunner from Darby and a GTH from Sammy.  As soon as Sammy hits his move though, Darby throws him out and goes for the pin which is broken up by a top rope splash from Sammy. Sammy then throws Darby off to get the pin, and with Darby feeling the effects of that Splash, Sammy is able to keep Andrade down for the three count to win the match and retain his title! A fantastic match that was definitely of PPV quality, but all is not well as Sammy tries to shake Darby’s hand and is simply blown off. Sammy has held onto his title and in the grand scheme of things that’s probably more important than the Trios match on Sunday, but it does not bode well for their chances. Frankly, I would have put this on the Sunday show and just forgotten about the Trios match, but I’m not gonna complain about having good wrestling!

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Evil Penta, Bastard Pac, and Brother Abrahantes (wow, he’s gonna stick with that robe, huh?) are in the ring and call out The House of Black. The House of Black answer the call and show up in the ring, and Abrahantes introduces them to their newest ally; Erick Redbeard, the former Erick Rowan! AEW security, who are getting a lot of work recently, run into the ring to keep them from fighting, but Redbeard runs through them and even does that Big Man Explosion spot where all the little guys gang up on him and he just RARGGH to send them flying! Not sure why the Baby Faces (or at least nominal Baby Faces) are being so rough with the security guys, especially when Penta tries to snap one of their arms to make a point! Seems a bit cruel to me, though he is doing some sort of Death gimmick so whatever. I’m just glad to see Redbeard back after his brief appearance on the Brodie Lee tribute show!

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We cut to Dan Lambert and Scorpio Sky in the back. Lambert confirms that Sky will get his title shot on the next Dynamite in exchange for Paige VanZant signing her AEW contract on Sunday. I kind of wish that Tony Khan or someone there would serve as the authority as I feel like there’s an untapped well of promos and angles where we get to see these negotiations for matches. They don’t even have to be that much of a Heel about it, but it would help to see the wrestlers and managers genuinely strive and work to get the matches instead of just telling us that they talked to the boss man off-screen.

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Keith Lee Vs. JD Drake

What!? The final member of The Wingmen is here too!? Heck yes!  Seriously, every one of these guys is great in their own way and they are always fun to see; even JD Drake who seems like the odd one out in the group. Now that I look at them, Drake and Lee have similar builds; it’s just that Lee is twice his size and a hundred times more charismatic! Drake is not without his charm, especially when interacting with his Wingmen buddies, but Lee just exudes confidence and swagger with every move he makes and it’s still baffling that WWE couldn’t find a way to make him work! Drake tries to buck up to Lee and actually looks really good here! He’s got a lot more agility than you’d expect from a guy like that, and he gives Lee a run for his money, but Lee is in fact LIMITLESS and manages to overcome Drake with his own incredible speed! Drake eventually tries for a Splash from the top rope, but Lee catches him out of midair and puts the big guy on his shoulders before SLAMMING him to the mat with the force of an Earthquake, and he gets the pin to win the match! The Wingmen try to run down and beat him up, but it takes very little effort from Lee to scatter them to the wind with terrified expressions on their faces! Honestly, the only thing about this match that I didn’t like was that they had to cut to commercial which hits extra hard on matches this short, but it was still great to see Lee in action one more time before the big Ladder Match on Sunday!

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We cut to a video from Wednesday where CM Punk, still covered in blood, cuts a promo from the medical area where he brings the fire and the fury! No more sympathy from this guy; it’s gonna be a blood bath on Sunday! I still kind of wish they kept things a little bit ambiguous going into it and that MJF didn’t just outright call himself THE DEVIL, but aside from that they have done a great job building to this and I can’t wait to see it play out on Sunday!

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Serena Deeb Vs. Leila Grey – Five Minute Rookie Challenge

Grey tries to outsmart Deeb by running around the ring, but Deeb catches her and submits her in less than a minute. She keeps attacking Grey after the match, and finally, we get someone to run down and give Deeb a taste of her own medicine. Unfortunately, it’s Shida who is a great wrestler but this feud has been driven into the ground and I don’t want to see them try and reignite it.

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Ethan Page Vs. Christian Cage – Face of the Revolution Qualifier

I said in the Cassidy/Bowens qualifier that Cassidy won the final spot, but it turns out that this match has six openings and not five. Hey, if it means we get another great fight here and one more person in the ladder match, then I think I’ll find a way to forgive myself for my error. So does this live up to the rest of the Qualifier matches we’ve seen? Eh, for the most part. While it’s certainly not one of the highlights like the Cassidy/Bowens fight, it’s still a decent main event. The story of the match is that Page is bigger and stronger, but Cage has the experience to outwit him at every turn. Page starts with a flurry of punches, but Christian manages to cause just as much damage with a Middle Rope Uppercut. Page tries to throw Christian into the steel steps, but instead Christian manages to fight back and leap off of them into a DDT on the floor. The only time Page really gets the upper hand is when Christian tries to charge him and instead finds himself flat on his back since Page charges back and is the bigger one in this fight. He sets up Christian for the Ego’s edge, but once again Christian’s experience wins out as he wriggles away and hits a Spear for a two count. Christian signals for the Kill Switch, but Page uses his strength once again and sends him flying into the ring post which leaves him nice and vulnerable for another Ego’s Edge attempt. Once again though, Christian slips out of it and lands behind Page to land a Kill Switch to get the pin and win the match. While I don’t think Christian will do a bad job in the Ladder Match, I feel that Page would have been a better fit as another big guy to trade blows with Hobbs, Wardlow, and Keith Lee, and the post-match angle doesn’t do much to dissuade me of that. See, if Christian hadn’t won, there wouldn’t be any reason for Jurassic Express to come out and celebrate with him and that feels more important to the show than the match itself. With Jurassic Express in the ring, The Bucks and Red Dragon come down to taunt them and steal their belts away. However, there’s some tension as Red Dragon and The Bucks are ultimately going to be facing each other for those belts, and while they are arguing, Luchasaurus reaches down to snatch the belts back and Jungle Boy leaps over the ropes to wipe them all out! Hey, it may not be a steel cage coming down and the Heels reigning unholy beatings on the Baby Faces like we got for the last PPV, but it was a nice way to end the show!

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The first half of this show is everything that I want in a PPV build as it felt like big matches that related to the big show but didn’t actively undercut them. Having Baker pinned on Dynamite drained a lot of my enthusiasm for the Women’s Title match, and while I’m ambivalent about the Trios match, the opener did a lot to make it look like they’re gonna have an exciting fight. Heck, just having Keith Lee come out and be awesome is enough to sell me on the show, and there was no need to have him come to blows with anyone who’s already going to be in the ladder match! The second half did drop off a bit with Deeb/Shida feud being teased and the final match feeling rather perfunctory, but it was still a solid episode of Rampage. Now there’s nothing left for AEW to do before the PPV and while there has been some shaky storytelling here and there, it’s a very well stacked card and should be a fantastic show! Don’t let me down, AEW! Give us the Ring of Honor Invasion!

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