Arena: Michelob Ultra Arena
City: Las Vegas, Nevada
The last show going in to Sunday’s PPV, it’s Saturday morning, and you know what that means… it’s time for our Rampage Review!
BRYAN DANIELSON vs MATT SYDAL
Backstory: The BCC beat Sydal and Dante Martin last week
Matt Sydal seems to be the guy AEW goes to when they want a good, long, flashy match with a clear winner.
‘AE-Dub’ chants rang out as we began with groundwork by Danielson. Regal joined Taz and Excalibur on comms and was defensive about the Dragon’s health ahead of Sunday.
Another round of grappling saw Sydal come out on top before both retreated and started again, leading to a full-nelson takedown from Danielson before dropping Sydal back-first across the knee, following with chops in the corner and vicious European uppercuts, culminating with a fish-hook and a beautiful roll-through before continuing to treat Sydal’s mug as a punching bag, much to the crowd’s delight.
Speeding up, Sydal briefly shook off the dominant Dragon with a leg lariat ahead of the first break.
Back in control as we returned, Danielson grabbed a two-count but was thrown off when Sydal flipped to his feet out of a snapmare and followed with a quick spinkick. Chops and strikes came next until Sydal was caught attempting another spinkick but surprised BD again, turning it into a hurracanrana. Danielson-like high kicks to the head brought Sydal close to victory with a 2, before he headed topside.
Cut-off, the Dragon went for a top-rope butterfly but Sydal fought it off and hit a meteora. Which Danielson rolled-through into a single crab in a very smooth transition, drawing ‘ooohs’ from the crowd. Next came YES! Kicks to the chest, vicious looking and sounding.
Heading back to the top, Sydal again took advantage of his speed, countering a suplex into a sunset flip from upstairs for another very near fall. After exchanging strikes in the middle, BD ducked a spinkick and smashed through Sydal with a busaiku knee, hammer and anvil elbows and a choke for the inevitable victory.
Hell of an opener. Danielson looked great here as Regal left to be replaced by Mr Starks.
WINNER: Bryan Danielson
YOUNG BUCKS vs Taylor Rust & John Cruz
Backstory: The Jacksons’ last match before they face the Hardys this weekend
Next came a bit of a surprise. The Hardys music hit but the Bucks came out in full Hardy mode, along with Gangrel, to face Taylor Rust and John Cruz. Usually, I can’t stand how over-the-top the heel Bucks are, but Nick Jackson’s Hardy Dance was just excellent.
Pulling off all the Hardys greatest hits: whisper in the wind, the Matt leg drop from the top (before Jackson thought better of it and hit an elbow), they were rewarded with ‘You still got it’ chants from the crowd, who were enjoying this. A brief flurry from Rust and Cruz led to dual superkicks, a Twist of Fate and the best Swanton ‘Jeff Hardy’ has performed since the clock struck midnight in December 2009.
After the inevitable victory, Gangrel was the recipient of a BTE Trigger, or about to be as the Hardys music struck again, this time Matt & Jeff joining us, about to strike with stereo Twists of Fate until Brandon Cutler interfered. For which he was treated to an Impaler DDT, a Twist of Fate and a Swanton as the Bucks fled.
WINNER: The Young Bucks
Darby Allin, blaming Kyle O’Reilly for Sting’s injury, challenged O’Reilly for Sunday. Otherwise, he’d interfere in all of the Elite’s matches.
Max Caster vs Dante Martin
Backstory: Caster kicked Dante in the nuts on Dark.
Pre-match, Caster called the Gunn Club the ‘Ass Boys’ and Bowens led the crowd in ‘I say ‘ass’, you say ‘boys’’ chants. The Ass Boys didn’t like that very much. The Acclaimed were very over with the crowd.
Amidst the fun and games, Dante struck with a plancha, but was walloped by Billy and sent inside to a waiting Caster, for which Aubrey sent all of the non-combatants packing.
Aiming to slow the high-flyer by targeting the legs, Castor had Dante on the mat as the ads arrived.
A belly to back and a missed diving footstomp from Caster welcomed us back, before a couple of near falls as Dante struck and moved, avoiding the larger Max. A HIGH cross body got another close count against a reeling Caster, before quickly following-up with a Nose Dive for the win.
Barely any of this was televised. Good for what it was.
WINNER: Dante Martin
A Cole/Joe promo package aired, Cole said he’d be a franchise player for years to come, starting with victory on Sunday. Joe said Cole’s ‘time is near’.
Presentation time. After Sammy Guevara smashed the previous one, a suited and booted Scorpio Sky would receive his brand-new, custom-made TNT title belt. Which looks very nice, same design with some purple added in kind-of Lakers colors.
Cut to a video of Sammy, Tay and Frankie breaking in to American Top Team headquarters. After preventing Frankie from doing it, Sammy smashed the trophy case with a bat, before stealing a bunch of titles. Everyone here was booed. This continues to baffle.
Sky challenged the three to a six-person on Sunday including Paige Vanzant. If they win, neither Frankie or Sammy can challenge for the title again. A crowd that’d been hot all night were lukewarm here, including chants of ‘shut the F up’ and ‘WHAT?’
Unlike Punk and Page, there is no ‘who’s the heel?’ intrigue, they’re all heels. Even the announcement of the match was booed when they ran through the PPV, while every other match was cheered.
Sunday’s shaping up to be a loooong card after the matches added tonight. Both of which could easily be saved for next week’s TV, though I appreciate that Paige’s debut means something and Darby is a big star for the company.
KRIS STATLANDER vs RUBY SOHO, OH Semi Final
Backstory: On Dynamite, Red Velvet pointed out Statlander’s injuries to Soho, the winner will meet Britt Baker in the final
Honestly, this felt like the first real wrestling since the opener. Ruby cut a sincere babyface promo, saying she’d lost momentum and needed the win. An aggressive Statlander seemed to be the heel here but was favored by the crowd.
Leveraging her strength, the larger Statlander took Ruby down before running on the spot in homage to Danielson, controlling with a headlock and running through Soho with a shoulder charge and shaking off a takedown from the smaller girl.
Twice early Ruby pulled her punches because the two are/were friends. After an armdrag by Soho, a second was blocked, before Ruby fought dirty with a kick to the knee, angering Statlander who crashed through her opponent with a clothesline. So far, Statlander not only looked better but was definitely the crowd favorite.
We returned with much of the same, Statlander crushing Ruby in the corner, hauling her to the top but Ruby fought out with weak-looking elbows and a top-rope hurracanrana but was then planted with a powerbomb for a very near fall. Missing a charge into the corner, Statlander damaged her shoulder, leading to her dropping Ruby from a gorilla press, allowing Soho to hit No Future but Stat fell to the outside.
Returning to the ring, Soho attacked the shoulder. Blocking a charge in the corner, Statlander whipped Ruby up face-first into the buckle with a reverse wheelbarrow and followed up with a fisherman’s falcon arrow for an incredibly close fall. Heavy booing by the crowd when Ruby kicked out.
A vicious short clothesline followed, but Statlander failed to lock in a hold because of her shoulder, allowing Ruby to roll-up Stat for the extremely unpopular win.
Everything here said the wrong woman won. When Britt came out afterwards, she was cheered; Soho booed when she picked up the mic to respond. Ruby pointed to what she’d just done to her friend, imagine what she’d do to Britt. Soho’s promo work was better than her wrestling.
WINNER: Ruby Soho
- Danielson vs Sydal
Thanks for reading. Enjoy Double or Nothing.