Angles Spoil Action
The chat, the sneak attacks, the bits and bobs of carefully plotted wrestler shenanigans which often fall flat on Rampage.
Hobbs talking about how he’ll win.
Jade Cargill talking about how she did win.
Samoa Joe wanting to win there and then.
The first two are meh. The last is interesting, firstly because the man who was proposed by ‘Smart’ Mark Sterling was Josh Woods, also because Sterling actually had a good a line, which was that Tony Nese had more abs than Joe had had matches in AEW. And one other thing.
Wrestlers can just decide they’ll have an Open Challenge to their belt, it seems. Because wrestlers always get to decide that, don’t they? There’s never been a match committee in any promotion and there is nothing in AEW about rankings…
Except when it suits them. I know I go on about this, but in AEW (the WWE seems to be a lost cause in this situation), the swerves Tony and the team seem to have have less effect if rules are ignored.
Nothing to work against. Title wins are big swerves, but if anyone can challenge, there’s less shock when they win.
See how this works, Tony?
Not that a Joe v Josh match wouldn’t be exciting; we’ll be having it soon too. It just galls.
To The Good Stuff, Then
The Rampage matches. A warm welcome from the first (and perhaps match of the night), one in the middle which left you wanting more and a closer that was both knock down and drag out.
Darby Allin v Sammy Guevara
This was part of the Heavyweight Tournament, which has added a frisson, that CM Punk situation and the vacating of the belt has allowed delicious possibilities, hasn’t it?
I said so on this very website.
And these two turned it on; when Sammy can stick a Superplex, hold on, hit a Suplex before Darby blocked it, half get his own Suplex in, go over the top rope with Sammy whilst still connected, then finish off with a Suplex on the outside, things are very good.
Then there was Sammy’s Cutter as Darby dived through the ropes, Darby trying joint manipulation after a Code Red, taking the wedding ring off Sammy’s finger, then falling to a high knee, Sammy placing the ring back on his finger and giving us a middle one in return.
Sammy looked to be in trouble as he wobbled from one rope, over the buckles, to another but then executed a lovely Cutter.
And the end was flamboyant but fun; Anna Jay distracted the ref, Tay grabbed Darby’s leg and Sammy threw him back first onto his upended skateboard – ooh, those wheels smacking onto your sacrum!
A quick GTS later and Sammy advanced. And also advanced his profile with AEW fans, what a hard-hitting and entertaining match.
The Middle Match
I’ve reported recently that Madison Rayne’s matches had been a bit lacking in crowd noise. And this one with Serena Deeb was a bit quiet too – but something different; they respectfully clapped the moves.
And quite rightly – from a massive Deeb clothesline to a sweet Rayne Basement Clothesline and the tap from two huge Deeb knee smacks to the mat, this Rampage match promised so much and was stopped too early.
But there was a reason for that…
The Rampage Main Event
For the ROH Heavyweight/World title. Can I just point out that neither champ Claudio Castagnoli, nor challenger Dax Harwood are ROH wrestlers, but Jonathan Gresham was…
And Lord Regal seemed forced onto the side of the ring, trying to make it look like he was getting a closer view of the match but actually looking a bit like a spare part.
Were his ‘yummy, yummy, yummy’ comments too much for AEW? If so, that’s disappointing, his chat added so much to Rampage matches.
This match though? Well, it was never really possible that double-belt tag team champ Dax was going to win a singles title, that tag team called FTR are so successful and loved.
Didn’t mean they couldn’t put on a stupendous match though. This one was almost about Claudio and Dax topping each other, both going over the top in the middle of a Vertical Suplex, Dax favouring his knee, Claudio having such presence of mind that he threw Dax to the corner but pushed his head down so that his lower neck and legs hit the ringpost, Claudio recovering well from a nicely executed Piledriver to throw uppercuts and then a Superplex, Dax replying with a Sheer Drop Brainbuster.
In the middle of all this, there was an advert break – well done, AEW…
Didn’t stop the great action though, a so sweet Dax Ligerbomb for a long 2 count, Claudio countering a Superplex in mid air to a Cross Body which the champ tuen countered to a pin attempt.
And after a 6 revolution Swing, Claudio locked in a Sharpshooter, transitioned into a Crossface when Dax reached for the ropes, only to find Dax rolling through to a Sharpshooter of his own.
The end came with Castagnoli hammering Forearms and another Sharpshooter – it was academic, Dax was already out.
The match built beautifully, Dax was protected at the end, both men showed their brilliance and if the Rampage crowd were a bit quiet, they seemed to be because they were tired, not disconnected.
Wrestling Wins Out
That’s why this Rampage was so good, wrestling matches, good wrestling matches and not too much chat.
I’ve been saying it for months; are you listening, Tony?