The SmarK Rant for AEW Rampage – 03.18.22
Taped from San Antonio, TX
Your hosts are Excalibur, Taz, Ricky Starks & Chris Jericho
Darby Allin v. The Butcher
Butcher beats on Darby in the corner and chases him to the floor, but Darby slips back in and hits Butcher with one of his suicidal topes. Back in, Butcher catches him on a senton attempt and turns it into a backdrop suplex for two, despite Darby’s attempts at SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION. Butcher just pummels him with forearms to put him down, despite Darby’s attempts to bite his fingers. Jericho of course notes that this is a dire threat to Butcher’s career as a rock guitarist. Butcher stomps him down and swings him around by the neck before tossing him across the ring. That’s a uniquely vicious spot. Back to the floor for more punishment, as Butcher flattens him with a lariat and Ricky Starks can’t help but laughing at someone else’s pain. Back in the ring, Butcher hits a corner clothesline not once, not twice, but THRICE, and then misses a charge on the fourth one. Darby tries a dropkick out of the corner and Butcher catches him and takes him down with a cloverleaf. Darby makes the ropes, but Butcher hauls him to the floor while Darby jumps on his back and tries to slug him down. So Butcher just backs into the post and then swings Darby’s face into the railing a few times, and then once into the stairs for good measure. Darby fights back with a Code Red off the stairs and then hits a Coffin Drop to the floor, which results in a countout win at 10:18 for Darby. Was that the first countout in AEW? I can’t recall seeing another one. Butcher just beating the stuffing out of Darby there and it ended up being a hell of a match. ***1/2 And the AFO tries for the beatdown afterwards, but the Hardys make the save and Matt throws out the challenge to Andrade RIGHT NOW. The heels decline, so instead they’re going with an 8 man Texas Tornado match on Dynamite, which at least is in Texas. If it was another Beach Blast in Cleveland situation that would be embarrassing.
Meanwhile, Scorpio Sky is sick of losers making excuses. Also, Dan Lambert is the co-TNT champion apparently.
Legit Leyla Hirsch v. Red Velvet
I know the “red” in Red Velvet doesn’t have anything to do with Russia (as far as we know) but we should probably take her off TV for six months anyway. Just to be sure. They fight on the ramp before the bell and Velvet suplexes her on the ramp, and into the ring for a standing moonsault that gets two. Leyla slugs away in the corner, but Velvet returns fire until Hirsch trips her up. That gets two, and Hirsch chokes her out on the ropes while Starks reveals that he can read Japanese and thus understands the mysterious message on Leyla’s top. SPOILER: It says “Legit”. Huge if true. Hirsch beats on Red with kicks on the ropes, which gets two. Velvet fights back, so Hirsch takes her down by the arm and we take a break. Back with Velvet making the comeback with a bulldog, and that gets two. Leyla catches a kick and hits her with an overhead suplex, and then gets a german suplex into the cross armbreaker, but Velvet makes it to the ropes. Leyla misses a charge and lands on the floor in an awkward bump, but finds her turnbuckle wrench under the ring. But then Kris Statlander in her non-alien gear stops it from being used, and Velvet gets the distraction pin at 8:00. Just kind of a meandering match with a bad finish. *1/2
Meanwhile, QT Marshall invites his prize student, Hook, to Rampage next week to receive the prestigious, first annual QT Marshall Certificate of Achievement. Sounds important!
The House of Black v. Bear Country & Fuego del Sol
So you have Malakai Black as a single, and with Brody King it’s the Kings of the Black Throne, and then when you add Buddy Matthews it’s the House of Black? Do Buddy and Brody have a specialized name as a team as well? Bronson pounds on Black to start, but Malakai nails all the geeks with kicks to clear the ring. Buddy comes in with a double stomp on the arm of Bronson, and Brody clotheslines him to the floor. Fuego tries to springboard into the ring, but King just swats him out of the air, leaving Boulder to go 3-on-1 with the Black Family. So that goes badly for him, but the Blacks stop to pose and Fuego tries his own comeback. But then he gets triple-teamed and Buddy hits Matthew’s Law to finish at 3:22. An impressive squash. *
Meanwhile, Penta and Alex continue cosplaying as dark wizards or whatever this is.
Max Caster v. Keith Lee
Caster’s dismissal of Keith and his “Henry the 8th sounding voice” is quite the diss. Caster talks more trash, but Lee grabs the wrist and powers him up, while Jericho advocates for “burying the young guys!” Keith keeps trying to throw Caster across the ring, but Max wisely clings to the ropes with well timed cowardice. Finally Keith catches him and gets his overhead suplex, but Powerhouse Hobbs comes out to watch and Caster takes a breather before sending Keith to the floor. They fight out there and that goes badly for Caster, as he tries to run away again and Lee hauls him back out for more beatings. Starks: “He’s showing a lot of huevos ranchos, as they say here in San Antonio!” I don’t speak Spanish but I feel like he didn’t get the right saying there. Back in the ring, Caster gets a cheapshot and missile dropkick and slugs away on Keith to take over, and a dropkick gets two. Caster chokes him out on the ropes and Bowens gets a shot in. But then Keith fights back with the pounce while Excalibur namedrops SASKATCHEWAN, which I believe is the first and probably only time that’s been mentioned in AEW. We’re like the DQ finish of provinces! Lee makes the comeback and chops away on Caster, and then finishes with the Ground Zero at 9:48. But then Hobbs decides to give it a go and runs down for the attack, with Ricky Starks and the Acclaimed joining in, until Swerve makes the save to end the show. Another not great showing from Lee, but to be fair Max Caster as a single isn’t any good either. This was pretty plodding. *
A very, VERY skippable show, although the Darby-Butcher match was worth checking out if you stuck around after the beach volleyball or whatever was on TNT tonight. I think even AEW knew this episode was a complete throwaway because there was nothing to the rest of it.