This week’s AEW Rampage featured FTW Champion Ricky Starks defending his title against Swerve Strickland while Lance Archer faced Dustin Rhodes.
It’s Friday and you know what that means. The commentary team was Excalibur, Taz and the yeller Chris Jericho.
Lance Archer made his entrance carrying some student from Dustin Rhodes’s students from the Rhodes Wrestling Academy, so Dustin went after Archer in the aisle and sent him into the ring post. Dan Lambert was at ringside to support Archer, so Dustin teased a move on the floor, but Archer hit Dustin in the back to save Lambert. Archer sent Dustin into the ring to start the match.
Analysis: They are both from Texas with Dustin living in Austin while running a wrestling school, so that’s why they booked this match there.
Lance Archer (w/Dan Lambert) vs. Dustin Rhodes
Dustin is 52 years old while Lance is 45 years old, so they are two of the oldest guys on the roster. Archer ripped off a turnbuckle pad to expose the steel. Dustin fought off Archer and Dustin delivered a clothesline that sent Archer over the top to the floor. Dustin went for a dive on Archer on the floor, but Archer moved and Dustin hit the floor hard. Back in the ring, they exchanged some strikes with Archer hitting an uppercut to the face. Dustin was bleeding from the left ear. Archer hit a splash out of the corner for two. Archer did some eye gouging. They went to a picture in picture break.
Dustin got some momentum going with punches, then he charged, and Archer got a boot up to knock him down. Archer bit some fingers, Dustin came back with punches and two clotheslines that failed to knock Archer down. Dustin with the classic uppercut, but Archer blocked a powerslam and Archer hit a side belly to belly suplex. Dustin was able to come back with some punches to the head with the fans chanting along. Dustin wanted a bulldog out of the corner, Archer got out of it with a shove, Dustin with a boot to the face and then Dustin hit a bulldog off the middle ropes. Dustin hit the Cross Rhodes neckbreaker that brother Cody uses as a finisher and that got a two count. Archer countered a Dustin move leading to a vertical suplex across the ring. Archer hit a Full Nelson Slam with Dustin kicking out at one, which showed Dustin had a lot left. Archer hit a Chokeslam for two. Archer wanted the Blackout finisher, but Dustin collapsed to the mat. Archer walked Rhodes towards the exposed steel turnbuckle where Dustin pulled the tights to send Archer into the steel (it was more like Archer’s hand hitting the steel with Archer’s head not coming close to the steel) and Dustin did a jackknife cover for the pinfall win after ten minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Dustin Rhodes
Analysis: *** A good match between two veterans. There were some believable nearfalls for Dustin near the end of the match with the crowd getting into it, but I honestly didn’t think Dustin was going to win. Dustin rarely wins television matches while Archer is booked like a threat occasionally and then he loses the bigger names. I like how hard-hitting the match was. The finish was clever because if you’re going to expose the steel, you might as well use it for the finish.
After the match, Archer went after Dustin and rammed Dustin’s face into the steel steps a few times. Dustin went down while the camera moved away and Dustin did a blade job. Archer hit a running knee on Dustin against the turnbuckle. There were guys from Dustin’s wrestling school that ran at Archer, who knocked them down easily. Archer picked up Dustin and gave him a Chokeslam through the table at ringside. A bloody Dustin was out on the floor.
Analysis: The post match attack likely means there’s a rematch coming. Dustin doing the blood job is something AEW likes to do nearly every week on their shows. I assume they will do the match again soon with Archer getting the win back.
Jay Lethal was interviewed by Lexy Nair, who is rarely on television. Lethal said he’s got a great record, but he only has two blemishes on them – Adam Cole and Ricky Starks. Lethal said he took them to the limit while adding that they both had to cheat to beat him. Lethal said that they get more opportunities and more money than he gets. Lethal said he has some thinking to do because there’s got to be a better way.
Analysis: Good luck with that.
Fuego Del Sol was in the ring doing a promo. Fuego said that commentary called him an undersized underdog. Fuego shouted about how he fought back against the House of Black guys and for a moment, the fans were chanting his name. A light “Fuego” started. Fuego said that the fans believed in his fire, his heart and his fight. Fuego called out House of Black saying he was ready to fight.
The lights went out, then they came on and the House of Black trio of Malakai Black, Buddy Matthews and Brody King were in the ring with spotlights. Buddy picked up Fuego and launched him into a knee smash by Black. King hit Fuego with a brutal Fire Thunder Driver. Brutal move. The House of Black trio stood tall.
Analysis: It was a way to have House of Black destroy a jobber like Fuego, who is barely on the show.
Some Dark Order guys (Evil Uno, John Silver, Alex Reynolds and Stu Grayson) went down to the ring to face off with House of Black. Malakai kept his guys back as they had a staredown. Dark Order checked on Fuego in the ring.
Analysis: That should lead to a win for House of Black in a tag team match.
The trio of TNT Champion Scorpio Sky, Dan Lambert (the “co-TNT Champion” according to himself) and Ethan Page were interviewed by Lexy Nair. Lambert said no more open challenges for the TNT Title while Page said that Sky spent months before he was granted a title match and when he got it, he took it. Sky said that he hasn’t been beaten in 380 days. Sky said if you want a shot, get it the hard way. Sky said to consider the open door closed.
Analysis: The “open challenge” concept that they had for Sammy Guevara is more of a babyface thing. A heel champion like Scorpio shouldn’t have an open challenge.
Alan “5” Angels & Ten vs. ReDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish)
Kyle worked over Angels with kicks to the lower legs. Fish tagged in with strikes along with a kick to the leg. Angels pulled the top rope down to send Fish out of the ring and Ten tagged in with clotheslines on Kyle. Ten was holding onto one of Kyle’s arms, Fish went in and Ten hit him with a shoulder tackle. Ten hit a shoulder tackle off the turnbuckle. They went to a picture in picture break.
The Kyle/Bobby team were in control of Ten, who hit a clothesline on Fish and then Kyle jumped on Ten’s back. Ten was still able to get the tag, which led to Angels hitting a cross body block of the top followed by a leg lariat on Fish. Angels with an enziguri kick on Fish. Angels with a Northern Lights Suplex, but Kyle fought back with a deep guillotine choke and then Ten gave Fish a spinebuster onto Kyle to break the hold. Kyle was gouging at the mask leading to the high/low kick combo from Fish and Kyle. Kyle lifted up Angels while Fish kicked him for the Chasing the Dragon double team move. Fish covered Angels to get the win after seven minutes.
Winners by pinfall: ReDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish)
Analysis: **1/4 A decent tag team match to put over the pushed Kyle/Bobby team against the Dark Order guys that are rarely featured in TV matches. There was no point in the match where I’d say it looked like Ten/Angels might win. Every time Ten is in a match they put over his power as well as potential, but AEW never seems to want to push him that much. Anyway, easy win for the Kyle/Bobby team.
Post match, Kyle and Bobby tried a cheap attack, but AEW Tag Team Champions Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus ran out there with Christian Cage. Adam Cole went down to ringside to steal the Tag Team Titles just he stole the AEW World Title on Dynamite.
Analysis: Adam Cole’s character is now a belt thief. What a gimmick.
A video aired about Nyla Rose destroying AEW Women’s Champion Thunder Rosa on Dynamite. Thunder did a promo about seeking revenge.
Nyla Rose (w/Vickie Guerrero) vs. Madi Wrenkowski
Jericho awarded Nyla Rose the award for being the: “Chris Jericho Sports Entertainer of the Week.” Hopefully he only gives the award to heels. Nyla ran over Madi with a running body attack. Rose tossed Madi across the ring and then a senton splash. Nyla with a knee to the gut and a Beast Bomb for the pinfall win after about 30 seconds.
Winner by pinfall: Nyla Rose
Analysis: 1/4* The Beast Bomb is a cool finisher. AEW only books one women’s match on their TV shows so I guess they felt the need to make it really quick this week.
QT Marshall was in the ring with Aaron Solo to present the first-ever “QT Marshall Certificate of Accomplishment.” QT introduced us to Hook, who got a big pop from the crowd. Hook is Taz’s son with Taz wondering what this is about. Hook was dressed in a sweater and track pants. Marshall said nobody a mentor would get jealous when a protégé surpasses him, but not Marshall. QT said that this is something Hook can tell his grandkids about this. Marshall showed the certificate. Some fans chanted “you deserve it” while Hook wasn’t impressed. Marshall held the framed certificate and Hook whipped Solo’s head into the frame.
Analysis: Thrilling. The fans clearly like Hook and AEW should do more with him, but they are taking their time. There’s no rush.
Hook left up the ramp, Danhausen walked out to try to put a curse on him and Hook just walked away. Excalibur was SCREAMING about Hook wasn’t even fazed while Jericho screamed about how it didn’t work. Jericho: “What kind of powers does Hook have?” Danhausen left looking shocked.
Analysis: I realize this is all tongue-in-cheek stuff with the announcers screaming about Hook no-selling the curse stuff. I just think AEW could do more to try to explain what Danhausen does with the “curses” gimmick. I get that Danhausen has a “very evil” following on social media, Youtube and all that, but you can’t assume everybody watching knows. Just try to explain it a bit, AEW.
It was time for the main event interview by Mark Henry. The FTW Champion Ricky Starks with Powerhouse Hobbs was interviewed on the split-screen with Swerve Strickland on the other side. Starks took a shot at Swerve saying he keeps saying “Swerve’s House” yet he was evicted from his last house (a reference to Swerve being released by WWE). Swerve said he’s entitled as hell, so he’s taking Rampage and making it Swerve’s House. They kept bickering, so Henry shut them down and did his catchphrase: “It’s time for the main event.”
Next Wednesday on AEW Dynamite:
* Darby Allin vs. Andrade El Idolo
* FTR vs. Gunn Club
* Owen Hart Cup Women’s Tournament Qualifying Match: The Bunny vs. ???. The opponent is a new signing for AEW. The rumor is it may be Toni Storm, but I don’t know for sure.
(They just did a women’s tournament for the new TNT Title at the end of 2021 and now there’s another tournament.)
Next Friday on AEW Rampage:
* AEW Rampage: House of Black vs. Fuego Del Sol, Evil Uno & Stu Grayson.
They said AEW’s social media will have more match announcements in the days ahead.
Swerve Strickland made his entrance for the “coveted” FTW Title. Swerve is 1-0 in AEW while Taz said there was no way Swerve was going to beat Starks. That led to the entrance of FTW Champion Ricky Starks, who had the big man Powerhouse Hobbs by his side. They are part of Team Taz. Some of Ricky’s friends were behind the announcers because Austin, Texas is Ricky’s “adopted” hometown.
FTW Champion: Ricky Starks vs. Swerve Strickland
The fans were chanting for both guys as Starks hit the move with an armdrag. Starks did a hand gesture that people in Austin use (thanks Taz), so that drew some cheers. They did a bunch of moves avoiding eachother until Swerve regrouped and hit a dropkick while mocking Ricky’s pose. Swerve and Starks did some strikes to the face, Swerve charged, Starks avoided him and Starks sent Swerve into the turnbuckle.
Starks went for a moonsault off the ropes, Swerve moved and Starks did a DDT off the ropes for a two count. Swerve made his comeback with a knee lift, then two clotheslines and a running uppercut. Swerve jumped off the middle ropes with a forearm to the back. Starks charged, Swerve moved and Starks hit the turnbuckle, so Swerve came back with a leaping flatliner for a two count. Swerve went up top, Starks back up, Swerve jumped over him and they battled over some moves. Swerve sent Starks out of the ring, then a kick to the face and Swerve with a pump kick on Starks on the floor. Swerve hit a running Shooting Star Press off the apron onto Starks on the floor. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them as Swerve went up top and hit a double foot stomp on Starks for a two count. Starks countered a Swerve move for a rollup for two. Swerve got a rollup for two, Starks kicked him out of the ring and Swerve hit Starks with a forearm. The referee was looking at Starks, so Hobbs ran over Swerve on the floor. Swerve was sent back into the ring, Starks picked up Swerve and hit the Roshambo powerslam for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ricky Starks
Analysis: ***1/2 A great match between two talented wrestlers. Their styles meshed well, they have similar abilities in the ring and both guys have a lot of charisma as well. That running SSP by Swerve on the floor was awesome. It was a cheap win for Starks again, which has happened a few times for him thanks to Hobbs being around ringside. Starks is a guy they need to push in a bigger way because the meaningless FTW Title is nothing to get excited about.
The Ricky Starks entourage were standing on the apron with the sign that said Austin, Texas loved Ricky Starks. That led to Keith Lee showing up to beat up Ricky’s entourage and toss them into the barricade. Lee got into the ring to fight with Hobbs while Swerve and Starks got into a brawl as well. The referees went to the ring to try to break it up. Lee and Hobbs were punching eachother until the time ran out and that was the end of the show.
Analysis: It should obviously lead to Lee & Swerve facing Starks & Hobbs in a match next week or soon after.
Three Stars of the Show
- Ricky Starks
- Swerve Strickland
- Dustin Rhodes/Lance Archer
This Week: 6.75 out of 10
Last Week: 6.5
I enjoyed the main event between Starks and Swerve. They are talented athletes that got some time to put on a good match. The opener between the veterans Archer and Dustin was a hard-hitting fight with a bit of a surprising result with Dustin getting the win.
Once again, nothing on Rampage ever feels like that big of a deal. It’s nice for some people to get some TV time that don’t always get it.
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