This week’s AEW Rampage saw Claudio Castagnoli defend the ROH World Title against Dax Harwood while Sammy Guevara faced Darby Allin in the AEW World Title tournament.
I missed Rampage last week due to being so busy doing previews for AEW All Out as well as previews/reviews of the two WWE shows. I honestly don’t think I had a single person ask me where the Rampage review was. It’s not a great show most weeks, but I know Tony Khan recently said that he wants to make Rampage better and with the AEW roster being a bit healthier now, maybe it will improve. They certainly have more star power on this week’s episode, so hopefully it’s a nice preview of what’s in store for the future of AEW’s “B” show.
This is AEW Rampage from the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. This was taped after Dynamite on Wednesday. Check out the AEW PPV listing archive only on TJRWrestling as well. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
It’s Friday night and you know what that means. Jim Ross was on commentary with Excalibur, Tony Schiavone and the wizard known as Chris Jericho. They went right to the action with the introductions for the first match on Youtube.
It was a Grand Slam Tournament of Champions quarterfinals match with the winner of this matchup facing Jon Moxley next Wednesday on Dynamite.
Sammy Guevara (w/Tay Melo) vs. Darby Allin
They are two AEW originals that have wrestled many times in the past. Allin and Sammy locked up, then let go to exchange some slaps to the face. They went for pin attempts, but then Allin got a hold of Sammy with an armbar. They battled by the turnbuckle with Sammy hitting a jumping kick to the head while Allin was on the top rope. Sammy hit a superplex off the top, then he hit a second suplex and did an Eddie Guerrero shake to boos since fans don’t like when wrestlers do that. They held onto the suplexes they went over the top leading to Allin hitting a suplex on the floor. Tay stood in front of Sammy to stop a dive, so then Allin did it anyway, Sammy pushed his wife away and Sammy hit a Cutter on the floor during a suicide dive attempt. Great spot. They went to a 90-second picture-in-picture break.
Sammy was in control in the ring with forearms to the back followed by a superkick. Sammy went up top, he jumped off with a Shooting Star Press where he landed on his feet when Allin moved, so Allin hit a Code Red slam. Allin was distracted by Tay on the floor, so Sammy hit a superkick followed by a kiss from Tay. More kissing from Sammy & Tay led to a spot with Allin hitting a suicide dive on the floor. Back in the ring, Allin took off Sammy’s wedding ring and stomped on Allin’s left hand while taking the ring. Jericho named Allin the sports entertainer of the week for doing that even though Sammy is in the Jericho Appreciation Society group. Sammy got back up with a knee to the back and Sammy put the ring back on his left hand while doing a middle finger salute to the crowd. Jericho: “That’s what he thinks of you, Schiavone.” Sammy with an enziguri kick to the head, then a double springboard Cutter and that got a two count for Sammy. Sammy went up top, he took way too long and jumped off with his imitation Coffin Drop, but Allin moved out of the way. Anna Jay was on the apron to distract the referee so Tay handed Sammy the skateboard, and Sammy hit a low blow. Sammy gave Allin a Powerbomb onto the skateboard on the wheels. Sammy hit the GTH (Go To Hell) for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sammy Guevara
Analysis: ***1/4 A good match as usual between them with the cheap finish for the heel. They did some creative spots as you would expect from high fliers like these two guys. This was not a predictable match, so I was into it for the most part. Sammy won because of his allies at ringside while Allin’s old uncle Sting wasn’t there. Maybe there was good catering backstage or something? I don’t know. From a logical point of view, it makes Allin look dumb for not having Sting out there to prevent cheating from the heels. That’s wrestling. Babyfaces are dumb while heels are smarter. Anyway, they probably could have had Allin get some more nearfalls in the match because he never really got momentum.
That win means Sammy Guevara will face Jon Moxley in the Grand Slam Tournament of Champions Semifinals next Wednesday on Dynamite. Chris Jericho faces Bryan Danielson in the other semifinal match.
Analysis: I think Moxley will beat Sammy in that match while Danielson will beat Jericho. Danielson is my pick to win the AEW World Title with the story being that he beat Hangman Page to avenge that loss, then beat Jericho to avenge the All Out loss and beat Moxley to avenge the loss from earlier this year. Moxley winning makes sense as well since he’s the “face of AEW” in many ways and MJF will get the title shot most likely at Full Gear, but Bryan is a face too. Anyway, there are lots of options. I want Bryan to win.
They showed some AEW Dynamite highlights of MJF sucking up to the crowd until Jon Moxley arrived to tell MJF that he was full of crap, which MJF admitted. MJF proclaimed that he will be the AEW World Champion when he gets his title shot.
Let’s Hear from Samoa Joe
The ROH TV Champion Samoa Joe made his entrance with Jericho saying there was a time when Joe was his favorite wrestler and he still is one of his favorites in the business. Lots of “Joe” chants for the big man.
Samoa Joe said it feels good to be back here in AEW. Joe apologized for being away while telling us that he owed us more violence in the future. Joe said that the ROH TV Champion is in the house and he’s open for business.
It was “Smart” Mark Sterling with Tony Nese and Josh Woods with Sterling talking about how Nese has more abs than Joe has had matches in AEW. Sterling said that Woods saved Sterling’s life, so he thinks that Josh deserves and should be awarded that title. Joe said that he agreed with Sterling while saying that Woods is an incredible athlete. Joe told Sterling he’ll get everything he asked for because Woods deserves an opportunity at the championship right here and right now. Sterling said no, it’s not happening right now and they’re not doing it in Buffalo (easy heel heat). Sterling said they’ll do it in Albany next week on Rampage.
Analysis: A simple promo from Samoa Joe to set up a match for next week. Sterling is a good talker that knows how to get cheap heel heat, but nobody really sees his guys as threats. Joe should beat Woods in that match on Rampage.
Miro did a promo in a darkened room talking about how when he began this year, he thought that his God had a master plan. Miro claimed he was the right choice because he is flawless. Miro wanted his god to “belt The Redeemer now.”
Analysis: I guess Miro is going for one of the 27 titles (I made up the number, relax people who don’t get sarcasm and then tweet me about it) that is available to AEW superstars. Fine.
Madison Rayne vs. Serena Deeb
The crowd barely reacted to them during their entrances. Rayne got an armdrag takedown, Deeb with a kick to the ribs and Rayne sat down after a sunset flip attempt with Rayne getting a two count. Deeb shoved Rayne, then Rayne shoved back and Deeb hit a clothesline followed by some punches. Deeb with an uppercut followed by a neckbreaker for two. Rayne got a jumping kick to the head followed by a forearm to the chest. Rayne with a sliding lariat for two. Deeb countered a move and slammed her down. Deeb applied the Serenity Lock submission pulling on the leg leading to Rayne tapping out to give Serena the win after four minutes.
Winner by submission: Serena Deeb
Analysis: *3/4 A quick match that wasn’t given much time. No story at all. The crowd sounded dead and they put fake crowd noise in at times during the match. The women’s division in AEW is treated like such an afterthought. The women’s match on Dynamite only got six minutes with half of it in picture in picture while this match only got four minutes. I feel bad for the women of AEW.
Jade Cargill and The Baddies were interviewed by Lexi Nair. Jade said “cut the shit” with the swear word getting married. Cargill mentioned she’s 37-0 while saying Athena did nothing. Cargill bragged about her success. That was it.
Powerhouse Hobbs was interviewed by Lexy Nair, who said he had an “unexpected win” at All Out. Hobbs said if you want something done, you have to get it done by yourself. Hobbs said he put Ricky Starks’ ass six feet deep and he can open up the Book of Hobbs while showing the world that he’s the mammoth, the beast and “The Monstar” Powerhouse Hobbs.
Analysis: That’s a guy they should push right now. I was disappointed that the Hobbs win over Starks was such a short match given less than five minutes, but it made Hobbs look dominant, so I hope he gets a push.
Mark Henry conducted the split-screen main event interview between ROH World Champion Claudio Castagnoli with William Regal and Dax Harwood on the other side. Regal said that he hired Dax out of obscurity 13 years ago (for WWE developmental leading to NXT) and Regal spoke about how Claudio was the ultimate competitor with Regal on his side. Claudio said he thinks Dax can win singles titles, but not tonight. Harwood said he knows he’s the underdog tonight. Harwood said that Regal pulled him out of security, but this is how Dax fights for his family and he will become the ROH World Champion. Mark Henry did his catchphrase: “Looks like there’s been enough talk, it’s time for the main event.”
This Wednesday on Dynamite in Albany, New York:
* Toni Storm & Hikaru Shida vs. Serena Deeb & Britt Baker – Maybe they’ll get more than six minutes.
* AEW Grand Slam Tournament of Champions Semifinals: Jon Moxley vs. Sammy Guevara.
* AEW Grand Slam Tournament of Champions Semifinals: Chris Jericho vs. Bryan Danielson.
Next Friday on AEW Rampage:
* ROH TV Championship: Samoa Joe (c) vs. Josh Woods.
It was main event time with ROH ring announcer Bobby Cruise doing the introductions. Dax Harwood was out first carrying one-half of the ROH, AAA and IWGP Tag Team Titles. ROH’s Caprice Coleman joined commentary for the main event. The ROH World Champion Claudio Castagnoli was up next with William Regal joining him. Claudio is 4-0 in ROH matches this year. The commentary team for this match was Excalibur, Jericho, JR and Coleman.
ROH World Championship: Claudio Castagnoli (w/William Regal) vs. Dax Harwood
They shook hands with Jericho saying he hated the Code of Honor handshake. Claudio hit a running shoulder tackle. They each got some nearfalls, then got back up and Harwood got some chops leading to Claudio hitting uppercuts. Claudio hit an uppercut that sent Harwood into the ropes leading to Harwood connecting a short clothesline. Claudio lifted up Harwood near the ropes leading to a suplex spot over the top to the floor. The first match on the show had a similar spot.
The action picked up as they exchanged forearms in the ring. Claudio managed to send Harwood hard into the ring post leading to Harwood bumping to the floor. Claudio hit a sliding dropkick that sent Harwood into the barricade. Claudio applied an abdominal stretch, Harwood with a hiptoss to get out of it and Claudio came back with a clothesline. Claudio set up Harwood on the top rope, then Harwood delivered repeated chops and punches to knock Claudio down. Harwood went up top and hit a top rope headbutt to the shoulder for a two count. They exchanged some holds, then Harwood managed to pick him up and hit a piledriver for a two count. Harwood went up top, Claudio met him with an uppercut and Claudio hit a superplex for two. They went to a picture-in-picture break again.
The full screen action returned with about six minutes left in the show. Claudio rocked Harwood with uppercuts, Harwood with chops and Harwood came back with a backslide pin for two. Claudio kicked Harwood in the head, but Dax caught Claudio with a slingshot Liger Bomb (sitout Powerbomb) for two. Harwood continued the offense with two rolling German Suplex while Coleman correctly mentioned the damage to Claudio’s neck in the match. Harwood went for a belly-to-back suplex off the top, but Claudio countered into a cross body block and Harwood turned it over for a two count. More strikes by both guys leading to a flurry of uppercuts from Claudio that knocked Harwood down. Claudio hit an uppercut to knock Harwood down. Claudio did a Giant Swing followed by the Sharpshooter that a Bret Hart superfan like Harwood probably doesn’t want to tap out to. Claudio with a Crossface, but then Harwood countered into his own Sharpshooter because of the Bret Hart superfan thing I mentioned earlier. Claudio was able to power out of the submission leading to boots to the head and Claudio delivered elbows to the side of the head. Claudio applied a Sharpshooter on Harwood again and this time Harwood tapped out.
Winner by submission: Claudio Castagnoli
Analysis: **** Awesome match. They are two of my favorite guys in AEW, so I enjoyed it a lot. It was obvious who was going to win since Claudio is a strongly booked singles wrestler against a tag team guy like Harwood, but that didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the match. Harwood has had several great singles matches in AEW, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him win a singles title at some point in the future. They both sold the physicality of the match well. There wasn’t a body part that was worked on or anything like that, but I thought it was an entertaining match the whole way. I would have liked a finish with a different move since they were fighting over the Sharpshooter a lot, but I guess it’s a way to show that Claudio can beat guys in different ways. Harwood is tough and put up a fight as you would expect.
Claudio Castagnoli celebrated the win with the ROH World Title in his hands. Jericho said he’s never been ROH World Title before, so maybe Claudio needs some opponents. That’s a tease of a future match. Regal shook hands with Harwood and raised his hand. Claudio shook hands with Harwood and they hugged. Claudio raised his title in the air to end it.
Analysis: I really hope Claudio gets an actual storyline as the ROH World Champion instead of just random matches. Yes, the matches are good, but you need stories too.
Three Stars of the Show
- Claudio Castagnoli
- Dax Harwood
- Sammy Guevara/Darby Allin
This Week: 7 out of 10
Last Week: No review.
It’s good to see AEW attempting to make Rampage a better show this week. It was only a three-match episode, but the main event between Claudio/Harwood was tremendous and I highly recommend it. While I doubt anybody expected the tag team guy Harwood to win, he has been great in singles matches and put up a fight against Claudio, who kept the ROH World Title.
The Sammy/Allin match was okay. I wouldn’t call it great or anything, but a competitive match with the heel Sammy outsmarting the face Allin thanks to his allies at ringside. The women’s match was only given four minutes as AEW’s boss continues to book that division poorly.
If you’re into story advancement, there really wasn’t much of that. Just some quick segments to build to other things. I know the majority of AEW fans just care about random good matches, but a lot of wrestling fans want those intriguing stories too. AEW is lacking in that department these days.
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