The John Report: AEW Rampage 02/17/23 Review
This week’s AEW Rampage featured The Elite in action, plus Swerve Strickland vs. Dustin Rhodes in the main event.
This is AEW Rampage from the Sames Auto Arena in Laredo, Texas. Check out the AEW PPV listing archive only on TJRWrestling as well. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. This was taped after Dynamite.
It’s Friday night and you know what that means. The commentary team was Excalibur, Jim Ross, Chris Jericho and Tony Schiavone. They called it Rampage Slam Dunk since it aired at 7pm ET before the Friday night NBA All-Star festivities (celebrity game and Rookie-Sophomore game) that aired on TNT.
AEW Trios Tag Team Titles: The Elite (Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) vs. AR Fox, Darius Martin & Dante Martin
Don Callis joined commentary. The wrestlers brought many basketballs down to ringside for this match.
The challengers cleared the ring quickly. Fox hit a dive on the Bucks on the floor. Fox hit a dive over the top onto Omega. Fox did a somersault dive over the top onto Young Bucks on the floor. The Elite took a timeout on the floor. Omega faced off against Fox with Omega hitting a running shoulder tackle. Dante hit a cross body block off the top onto Omega for a two count. Omega tried a suplex, Dante landed on his feet, hit an enziguri kick and a dropkick. Fox hit a corner clothesline and kick on Omega. Dante jumped off the top with a dropkick on Matt and threw a ball at Omega. Fox hit a 450 Splash on Matt for a two count. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for the action. Matt did a Powerbomb into kicks by Omega/Nick at the same time. Dante and Darius were held against the ropes for about five seconds as Nick jumped off the top with a senton bomb for two as Fox made the save. Omega tried a charge, Dante knocked him down, then a bunch of chaos after that with a lot of kicks and Fox hit a double Cutter. Matt dropped Fox with a Cutter after that. Fox tried a moonsault off the ropes, but he ate a triple superkick from The Elite. Nick hit a twisting dive off the top onto two guys on the floor. Omega with a V-Trigger knee on Darius and a One Winged Angel for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Elite (Kenny Omega, Nick Jackson & Matt Jackson)
Analysis: ***1/4 A good match as you’d expect from these guys. I don’t think it was at the level of their recent Dynamite match together. This match had some more comedy spots with the basketball and other things getting involved in the match. There were still a lot of cool moves from both sides, but as usual in The Elite’s matches there was also a lot of chaos with random spots and guys running into the ring illegally to do moves.
After the match, the lights in the building went black. Malakai Black and Brody King were standing on the ramp with some headgear on. The lights briefly went out, then HOB were gone and that was it.
Analysis: It was a warning by House of Black that they are coming for The Elite soon. That’s probably going to be a match at Revolution.
The Gunns were interviewed by Lexy Nair about a Fatal Four-Way Tag Team Title defense at Revolution. Colten complained about The Acclaimed just being added to the match and Austin didn’t care who was in the match. Austin said, “welcome to the Gunn show” and that was it.
They showed Orange Cassidy talking to Orange Cassidy outside somewhere. Wheeler Yuta bragged about how he gets to learn from the Blackpool Combat Club. Yuta worked so hard for this ROH Pure Title while Orange held his All-Atlantic Title. Cassidy said he was there to be his best friend, but clearly, they are not anymore. Orange told Yuta if he wants this title then come take it and Wheeler said he plans on it.
Analysis: There’s a random new match by two guys that are faces. Later in the show, it was made official for Dynamite next Wednesday.
Daniel Garcia vs. Ricky Starks
Starks opened up with a barrage of punches and a back body drop. Starks did a rope walk followed by a punch to the arm with Jericho saying “quite the undertaking” for that move as an Undertaker reference. Garcia got some offense with a leg whip against the ropes, then a forearm off the apron and they went to a picture-in-picture break.
When Starks tried a charge, he collapsed while selling the left knee injury. Garcia charged into a Starks clothesline. Starks hit a spinning sidewalk slam on Garcia for two. Garcia hit a uranage slam for two. Garcia applied his Dragontamer submission, Sammy Guevara showed up to pull the ropes back and Action Andretti showed up to send Sammy into the steel steps. Starks ran the ropes and hit a Spear. Starks hit the Rochambeau slam on Garcia for the clean pinfall win. It went about nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ricky Starks
Analysis: **3/4 I thought Ricky Starks did a nice job of selling the knee, being able to overcome it and get the win clean. Garcia didn’t get that much offense. This story feels similar to the Daniel Bryan-MJF story where Bryan kept winning matches to get the title match while in this case, it’s Starks getting wins to get another match against Jericho. It’s fine, but not that interesting of a story.
Post match, Sammy Guevara showed up saying he doesn’t ask for much, but he wants a match with Action Andretti. Sammy said he’s going to beat his ass. Jericho applauded that.
A video aired previewing Evil Uno facing Jon Moxley on Dynamite next week. Uno had some confidence saying he’ll bring respect to Dark Order. Uno said Moxley will respect him.
Analysis: I pick Moxley to win there. Shocking.
TBS Championship: Jade Cargill (w/Leila Grey) vs. Vertvixen
Cargill is 52-0 going into this match. Jade tossed Vixen across the ring. Jade with a pump kick and a Jaded slam for the pinfall win in less than one minute.
Winner by pinfall: Jade Cargill
Analysis: It was yet another squash win by Cargill as usual. Jade is 53-0 now.
The Swerve/Dustin match was up next in the main event.
There was a split screen interview conducted by Mark Henry for the main event. Swerve Strickland trash talked Dustin while complaining that Trench wasn’t there and blamed Dustin for it. Dustin said that hell is coming for him and he is coming with it. Mark let us know it was time for the main event since that’s his catchphrase.
Swerve Strickland (w/Parker Boudreaux) vs. Dustin Rhodes
Dustin hit Parker in the ribs with a steel turnbuckle on the way to the ring. Dustin knocked Swerve out of the ring. Back in the ring, Dustin punched Swerve repeatedly with a ten count punch. They each countered moved and Dustin hit a release German Suplex, which is not a move that Dustin did often. Swerve bit the hand to get out of a move followed by a jumping kick to the head. Swerve with a pump kick from the apron to knock Dustin down on the floor. Swerve hit a running dropkick to Dustin’s head against the steel barricade. The camera focused on Swerve, which allowed Dustin to do a blade job and he was busted open on the floor. They went to a PIP break.
The show returned with a Swerve working over a bloody Dustin leading to a jumping flatliner. Dustin was bleeding a lot. Swerve hit a running kick for just a one count as Dustin popped back up. Dustin hit a powerslam followed by two clotheslines and the uppercut punch. Swerve with an elbow to the head, Dustin got a boot up and Dustin hit a Code Red for a two count. They each got kicks, then they ran the ropes and did a midair cross body block collision. Both guys were on the apron with Swerve hitting a Death Valley Driver slam on the apron. Dustin came back with a superplex off the middle ropes. Dustin hit a safe piledriver for a two count. Swerve counted a move into a pin attempt for two. Dustin hit the Cross Rhodes neckbreaker onto the mat. Dustin hit the Final Reckoning neckbreaker/slam for two as Parker pulled Dustin out of the ring. Parker whipped Dustin into the steel steps. It went about 14 minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Dustin Rhodes
Analysis: ***1/4 A rare DQ finish to an AEW match. That kind thing doesn’t happen much in AEW, but it’s a way to further the story and build to another match. Dustin sold really well with the blood loss, Swerve was aggressive and Dustin nearly got the win too. I thought they both did very well.
Post match, Parker went into the ring with Swerve as Swerve used a chain to Dustin’s head. Security went into the ring and Parker easily beat them up. Parker brought a cinderblock into the ring. Parker put Dustin’s head against the cinderblock, Swerve took way too long and here comes Keith Lee making his return.
Keith Lee appeared behind Swerve and Parker with Lee having white hair now. Lee unloaded on Parker with strikes and a headbutt. Parker jumped in front of Swerve to take a shot for him although it looked very sloppy. Lee cleared the ring of Swerve and Parker. Lee helped Dustin Rhodes get back up to his feet. The announcers signed off and that was it.
Analysis: Welcome back to Keith Lee. It was not a clean exchange of moves. I’m assuming we get Lee against Swerve at the Revolution PPV on March 5th. It makes sense to do it.
Three Stars of the Show
- The Elite
- Ricky Starks
- Swerve Strickland/Dustin Rhodes
This Week: 6.75 out of 10
Last Week: 5
A much better effort than last week and some recent Rampage shows. The match quality was much improved while they advanced some stories well. I’m not going to call it a great show or anything like that, but certainly okay with an episode like this.
The women’s division continues to be a downer with a one minute match along with no story advancement. That’s AEW. You get used to it after a while.
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