Arena: Peterson Events Center
City: Pittsburgh, PA
Before we get into the show, a few thoughts about the latest ‘huge announcement’. Despite not being a New Japan viewer, this is an intriguing idea with tons of possibilities which should feature some awesome wrestling. I’m looking forward to it.
It also did a great job beginning the build for a potential Jay White/Kenny Omega match and a wider Elite/Bullet Club/Undisputed conflict – ‘single-handedly sold-out Madison Square Garden’.
That said, for the casual fan, the irregular viewer, the new viewer – the presumed target of these announcements – this simply will not mean very much.
It’s Saturday morning, and you know what that means… it’s time for our Rampage Review!
ADAM COLE VS TOMOHIRO ISHII w/ ROCKY ROMERO & ORANGE CASSIDY, OWEN HART QUALIFIER
Story going in: Part of the hype for the upcoming AEW/NJPW PPV
An exchange of shoulder tackles saw Cole come off worse, Ishii in complete command as he beat Bay Bay around ringside until chopping the post when Cole ducked.
Ground and pound, a knee to the spine, a chinlock and a neckbreaker followed, the Japanese attempting to fight his way up from the mat. In beginning to paint-brush the import with slaps to the face, AC awoke the dragon, Ishii stepping forward into his opponent’s strikes before introducing his fist to Cole’s face and Cole’s face to the mat.
A rapid exchange saw Ishii land a powerslam, fight out of a headlock with a backdrop suplex for a count of two, Cole punch his way out of a powerbomb, both evade superkick/lariat attempts until AC finally snatched up the Stone Pitbull, dropping him neck-first across the knee.
Back from the break, Cole was draped across the top buckle, awaiting a delayed high-angle superplex. Missing with a sliding lariat, Ishii succumbed to a superkick but avoided the Boom, landing the lariat at the second attempt for a near fall. Knee then met neck again as Cole gained one of his own.
Ishii was out on the mat, got groggily to feet, and was greeted with a superkick only to shake it off to the delight of the crowd, returning an enziguri and dropping Cole as the ref began the double count.
A further headbutt/superkick/lariat exchange left Ishii on top until Jay White came out and dropped Rocky Romero, leading to the low blow and the Boom as Cole joined O’Reilly and Samoa Joe in the Owen Hart tournament.
Excellent last few minutes to cap a gripping, high-paced, hard-hitting opener.
WINNER: Adam Cole
Outside, earlier today, the Jericho Appreciation Society were trying to gain access, despite being banned. Jericho said he ran the place, the rules didn’t apply. Tried to bully security. Garcia said it didn’t matter if he had to go alone, he’d win anyway.
Danhausen’s finally done it. What Lexi Nair failed to do despite weeks of trying (she should probably be fired). Turns out all you had to do to make him talk was destroy Hook’s chips, which Danhausen believed were the source of his power:
‘You wanted my attention, you got it now.’
LANCE ARCHER VS SERPENTICO
Story going in: Archer is the latest payee in MJF’s attempts to take down Wardlow
Serpentico dove through the ropes onto Archer as he made his entrance, but didn’t phase the big man. It went downhill from there. Blackout, foot on the chest, 1,2,3. Continuing the beating, Archer mimicked the Powerbomb Symphony with chokeslams. Don’t know about you but I’m convinced Wardlow’s losing now.
WINNER: Lance Archer
Tony Nese/Mark Sterling video package, not much to it, ‘Premiere Athlete’ etc.
EDDIE KINGSTON VS DANIEL GARCIA, ALL ALLIES BANNED FROM RINGSIDE
Story going in: Kingston’s looking for revenge after Jericho’s new group – including Garcia – beat-up the ‘Mad King’. Eddie promised this would be a taste of what he’d do to Jericho.
Loud ‘Eddie’ chants – as loud as this crowd got anyway – not much of a reaction for his opponent.
Attacking with chops and slaps, Kingston forced Garcia’s retreat to the outside, pausing briefly to pay tribute to Shinjiro Ohtani. Flinging Garcia into the ringsteps, Eddie missed a follow-up, injuring his ribs as the action made its way back inside.
Taking over, Garcia controlled things down on the mat, targeting the ribs whenever Kingston attempted to fight back. Aggressive shots to the face in the corner led to a bite fight, ending with Eddie being flung into the ring post as the ads arrived.
A chest-reddening exchange of chops greeted us on our return, Eddie continuing to fight from underneath but being cut off by shots to the ribs every time he did. A suplex gained a two-count for the Sports Entertainer.
Garcia continued the punishment, torturing Kingston in a Boston Crab, then a sharpshooter, refusing to break as the ribs continued to take the brunt of his attack.
Finally back on the offensive, the Mad King struck with a poke to the eye, enziguri, exploder, one, two… kick out. Kingston’s signalling for the Back Fist briefly woke a crowd made quiet by Garcia’s dominance, before it put the youngster to sleep for the count of three.
After, Kingston threatened to literally whip Garcia before deciding he’s saving it for Jericho.
The improvement in Garcia’s gear can’t be overstated. Huge upgrade. Still doesn’t quite feel like a fit among the Sports Entertainers though. In Eddie’s case, his threat to Jericho wasn’t worth much as he was dominated for most of the match.
WINNER: Eddie Kingston
‘Instant Chemistry’ (no, they’re not actually called that) Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland joined us along with Tony. Who immediately annoyed Lee by referring to last week’s loss to Team Taz as entertaining. It’s nice when the wrestlers care about losing.
Swerve said they’d pay Team Taz back in blood, ‘the war’s far from over’. If these two aren’t made into at least a semi-permanent tag-team, we riot.
A ‘broke-ass Kenan and Kel’ is how Ricky Starks referred to them when he responded from the commentary booth. The saga continues.
Busy, Tony was back again with Toni (we almost had a mid-90s R&B group) Storm, Britt Baker and Jamie Hayter. All three having qualified for the Owen Hart tournament. Storm implied Britt was inexperienced, hadn’t done much outside Pittsburgh. She might see her later, if Britt made it.
Before the final match, next week’s Dynamite: Deeb vs Shida part 3,672, FTR face-off in the Owen Hart tournament, Sammy vs Sky – ladder match, TNT title (the Men of the Year and Lambert cut a hell of a babyface promo on Wednesday), Undisputed Elite vs Dante Martin (poor Darius is injured again), Varsity Blondes, Lee Johnson and Brock Anderson, Archer vs Wardlow.
Busy on her phone, Jade ignored the pre-match promo, Sterling did it for her.
MARINA SHAFIR VS JADE CARGILL, WOMEN’S TBS TITLE
Story going in: Jade is going for 30-0, Marina’s been on a roll (so we’re told) and Jade’s been taking her lightly.
I use the phrase ‘so we’re told’ because for those of us who only see what’s on TV, well, we don’t see her. It breaks the old adage of storytelling: show don’t tell. Which is why Shafir drew a reaction last week which made the word dead dig itself up and shoot itself.
Well, at least the people reacted to Marina this week. The same way they react to Sammy Guevara. Meanwhile, Jade was loudly cheered, because a heel you see regularly and you see as a star is better than a nobody you’ve been given no reason to care about.
Getting straight in Jade’s face, Shafir targeted the legs before locking on a sleeper. Countering with power moves, Jade dumped the challenger with a fallaway slam, sending her outside where the ‘Baddie Section’ took it out on Shafir, before infringing on Adam Cole’s gimmick with the Bucks as the champ took a double kiss to the cheeks from her followers.
A belly to back in the middle led to a near fall for the champion, Cargill flexing after laying in shots from the mount. Taking advantage, Marina launched a vicious kick and the front chancery. A few ‘boring’ chants from a minority.
Returning from the break, continuing to target the legs, Marina hooked a knee-bar until Cargill grabbed the ropes, then smacked Jade’s leg into the post, dragging her outside before dropping Sterling as we saw the Baddies trying to help Jade to her feet.
Distracting Marina just long enough, they allowed Jade to strike with a pump kick that came flying in from off the screen and a really vicious, painful looking rock bottom onto the table at ringside.
Returning to the ring, a nonchalant cover, Jericho style, allowed Marina to grab a leg hook as she screamed at Jade to ‘solve me’. Which the champion promptly did, booting her way out and following up with Jaded for the win.
Exceptionally slow and basic, anyone searching for a pulse in the crowd would’ve been doing so for a long time. There’s no doubting Jade’s look and presence, nor can you argue against a title defense main eventing, but from an entertainment standpoint, this shouldn’t have closed the show.
WINNER: Jade Cargill
AEW has really begun to take Rampage seriously again over the last few weeks. Everything here had a build, everything here had a purpose, everything here was not just advertised but given promo time on Dynamite, if not an A show, it at least felt like it mattered.
GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO WATCH…
- Cole vs Ishii
Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!