Arena: Van Andel Arena
City: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Last Week’s Rating: 375,000 overall; 0.11 in 18-49 demo
The above rating was the lowest-ever in the regular timeslot. Along with the lowest-ever demo for males 12-34, 18-49 and something like 30,000 total viewers, 18-34. If anyone in AEW was surprised, that’s concerning. It’s one thing to put out a bad line-up, quite another to not even realize it.
It’s Saturday morning, and you know what that means… it’s time for our Rampage Review!
Jon Moxley vs Mance Warner, Eliminator Match
Backstory: Warner won a match at Ric Flair’s Last Match PPV
William Regal joined on comms. Warner got a brief promo – not a great one – pre-match.
In a rush to introduce himself, Mox met him in the aisle where they fought around ringside with chops, punches and a snap suplex by the champ through a chair. JR was on his ‘they know how to fall’ ‘ish again.
The setting changed, the action didn’t: more chops and blows to the face leading to some technical wrestling via a dragon screw into a figure 4 from Moxley. Brutal shots to the face which you could both see and hear from the champ saw the action spill back outside, Warner responding by flinging Mox into the steps, crotching then clotheslining him off the rails, a DDT on the steps following as the break beckoned.
Post-break, Mox was brought down by a chop-block, then a spinebuster, kicking out twice at 2, double-birding the challenger as the obligatory blood made its entrance. Looking for toys, Mance had a chair punched into his face as a ‘we want tables’ chant began, as did the blood on Warner’s forehead.
The action nearing its end, Moxley struck with an elbow suicida, superplex, hammer-and-anvil, bite to the bloody forehead, Warner rebounded with a clothesline, ‘kick your head in’, piledriver, ‘kick your head in’, Mance passed out in the choke.
Much like Wednesday’s main event, the likely outcome became all-but guaranteed by the match stipulation.
WINNER: Jeeeeeyooooon Moooxxxx-ley 😉
Ricky Starks w Lexi. Approached by the Nightmare Factory and his ex-partner Aaron Solow on a recruiting mission. Ricky wasn’t interested: ‘damn sure don’t need your help, kiss my ass’. Starks’ delivery and intensity are top-notch. ‘We’ll get him’ promised QT.
Konosuke Takeshita vs Ryan Nemeth
Backstory: Takeshita needs one of those ‘win’ things to half-justify his ROH title shot
Nice pop for Takeshita, continuing as he flew out the box with a diving shoulder-block. This guy just has a knack for upping pace and intensity, the crowd loved it. Huge blue thunder bomb, a violent driving knee, 1,2,3. Turns out Avalon was hungry too; Takeshita fed him a knee.
WINNER: Konosuke Takeshita
Best Friends/Cassidy promo, gonna go for the trios titles. Danhausen joined in with their ‘hands in, ‘trios’ on three’.
Madison Rayne vs Leila Gray
Backstory: Rayne’s debut, had words w Jade Cargill on ‘a very special’ Dark Elevation
Not sure of Rayne’s exact age – do know I was a lot younger when she was with the Beautiful People – but she looks great. Has a nice presence too. Hathaway’s dancing to Gray’s entrance was superb.
A series of standing switches ended after a hard shot to the face from Leila, Rayne kept things slow with pinning predicaments and arm-drags, Stokely threw a tantrum on the stairs, distracting Rayne – not sure why – who took a spill off the apron. And what does the heel getting the advantage mean EVERY SINGLE TIME? Ads.
A wicked enziguri from Madison brought us back, a northern lights suplex bagged a two count, Leila one of her own with a side effect. Weak looking strikes before a dead crowd ended with Cross Raynes for the victory. The crowd did count along with the pin.
Post-match, Jade came out. ‘This is my show’ (not sure why anyone would want to admit to that). Challenged Rayne to meet her on Weds. Kiera Hogan snuck in but was hit with another Cross Raynes.
The match was very slow.
WINNER: Madison Rayne
Lucha Bros/Andrade/Rush video package, LB’s challenged the latter to make the match on Weds ‘Lucha Rules’.
Swerve in our Glory vs Tony Nese & Josh Woods, Street Fight
Backstory: Nese & co have been trying to get Swerve fired, Woods laid-out Lee last week
Pre-match, even Keith Lee acknowledged that their opponents would be a ‘footnote’ en-route to a proper opponent. Almost makes you wonder why the match is happening. Sterling did at least tell us a bit about Josh Woods.
Starting off with all four brawling around ringside, Lee allowed Woods several shots, then dropped him with the double palm-strike. Nese flung his protein powder at Lee but then ate it, literally and figuratively, when Strickland blasted him with a kick to the face. Lee seemed to legit wash his eyes out. While doing so, Woods drove Strickland into the steps with a sick-looking twisting suplex.
Returning, the heels had Swerve perched precariously on the apron, above a table set-up at ringside. Lee fought them off, then broke up a pin after Nese blistered Strickland with a kick, afterwards running through both heels in the ring, flinging Nese out of the corner into Woods. Impressive sequence, crowd very into the big man.
Distracted by Sterling and double-DDT’d onto a chair, Swerve made the save with a 450 off the top onto all three. A table snuck-in, set-up by Nese, who was dropped via knee from Swerve, only to be struck from behind by Sterling. Meanwhile, Limitless took out both heels on the outside, leaving Sterling alone with Strickland laid-out across the table. Heading up, quickly discovering his mistake, Smart Mark was intercepted by Lee, eating wood as he landed.
A crazy superkick-aided German suplex off the apron through a table followed by Woods on Lee. With both big guys taken out, Swerve soared, nailing a Swerve Stomp on Nese for the popular victory.
Anyway, smart on AEW’s part responding to the ratings drop by using their ace-in-the-hole Tony Nese in the main event.
Fun match though.
WINNER: Swerve in our Glory
Battle of the Belts:
- Claudio vs Takeshita, ROH title
- Wardlow vs Jay Lethal, TNT title
- Rosa vs Hayter, AEW Women’s title
- Jericho vs Mox, AEW Title
- Brody King vs Darby Allin, Coffin Match
- Lucha Bros vs Rush & Andrade, Tornado Tag
- Jade Cargill vs Madison Rayne, TBS title
Anyone not predict the winner of every match beforehand? Anyone?
Around this time last year AEW was hot: Punk, Bryan, Cole, NY debut. They drew over a million viewers several times in July/Aug for Dynamite, topped a million both nights of Fyter Fest, and did about 1.4 following All Out. Twelve months on and it feels as if momentum is shifting.
There’s a buzz about WWE. People who stopped watching are watching again (and I’m not even one of them). Hunter enjoys the fans’ goodwill. If HHHe regularly gives fans what they want – and all the signs suggest he will – it won’t be long before more of them stop thinking about AEW as the cute alternative and start noticing its flaws.
The TV hasn’t felt urgent for months. It’s rarely bad; often miss-able. Not enough happens to hook viewers. Essentially it’s ‘here’s a bunch of solid to very good wrestling matches with obvious outcomes.’ Battle of the Belts is Saturday and again seemed to catch them by surprise: they had nothing ready involving any of their champions because none of them are involved in any current feuds (excepting the world title which they’ve saved for Dynamite).
And the epitome of these problems is Rampage. To paraphrase a famous Canadian, it’s where ‘you’d put the hose.’
If you’re starving for some wrestling, the main event was fun with a few crazy moves, but don’t go out of your way.
Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!