The SmarK Rant for AEW Rampage – 11.18.22
“Full Gear Friday”
Not gonna lie, I was hoping they’d wrap up the tournament here so we could get Cage v. Page on Rampage. Preferably in a cage.
Live from Jersey
Your hosts are Jim Ross (who immediately confuses the show with Dynamite), Excalibur, Chris Jericho & Tony Schiavone
Meanwhile, Lance Archer tries to attack Starks backstage again, but Starks fights back and they brawl all the way out to the ring to start the match.
Full Gear eliminator tournament: Lance Archer v. Ricky Starks
And now Excalibur is mixing up the show titles, which earns him a pointed bit of snark from JR. They continue fighting into the crowd before getting to the ring, and Starks dives off the stairs onto Lance. But then Archer dives over the railing and clotheslines Starks before tossing him into the ring to start the match. Starks slugs away and puts Archer on the floor, but Lance chokeslams him onto the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Back in the ring, Archer beats on him in the corner to set up the Blackout, but Ricky fights out of that and hits him with a flying shoulder. Archer won’t go down, so Ricky gets all fired up and clotheslines him. And then Archer fires back with a lariat for two. Ricky with a tornado DDT for two. Starks tries the finish, but Archer just powers out and then Pounces him. But Ricky rebounds off the ropes and spears him for the pin at 5:27. This was a lot of fun and I like that it started differently than Rampage usually does. *** And then Archer chokeslams him on the stairs in the name of sportsmanship, leaving Starks at a bit of a disadvantage heading into the pre-show tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara think that the egos are too big on the BCC side and they won’t be able to co-exist in the four-way. And then Sammy hints that he wants the title as well.
FTW title: Hook v. The Firm’s Lee Moriarty
I don’t normally engage in WWE-style name changing, but they kind of need to change either Lee Moriarty or Lee Johnson’s first name to something else because they’re too easily mixed up in the undercard on similar geek heel teams. Maybe just go by Moriarty? Hook takes him down with some slick mat wrestling and then reverses into a gut wrench suplex, but he gets distracted by Stokely and Moriarty boots him to the floor. Back in, Moriarty slugs away in the corner and ties him up for some boots before putting the boots to Hook in the corner. Hook fights him off, but Moriarty gets a bridging butterfly suplex for two. Moriarty works the arm while showboating and talking trash, and we get some SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION on Hook’s hand, but then Hook grabs the hand to block and fires back with a lariat to make the comeback. Hook with the STO into a release fisherman’s suplex, but Moriarty runs him into the turnbuckle. Moriarty goes up with a flying knee to the back for two (“Put your feet on the ropes!” advises Jericho) and works the arm a bit more, and a rollup gets two. He rolls into the Border City Stretch, but Hook reverses out to the Redrum to retain at 8:35. Felt like it went too long for where Hook is at, but it was a good match. ***
Meanwhile, Rush continues trying to court Preston Vance while John Silver makes jokes, so Silver talks himself into a match with Rush and Vance doesn’t want any part of helping him out. Well that plan backfired on John.
Athena v. Madison Rayne
It’s the “real” TV debut of EVIL ATHENA and her jobber-murdering ways from Dark. And Athena attacks Rayne at the bell, but Madison kicks her down in the corner and chases her to the floor. Rayne charges out there, but Athena rams her into the railing. Back in the ring, Athena gets a handspring in the corner and follows with a suplex that both of them sell for some reason. Rayne tries a Crossroads, but Athena reverses to a badly sold stunner, and Athena finishes with a gutbuster at 2:45. Stop putting Madison Rayne on TV. They have tons of enhancement talent that Athena could have destroyed and looked way better doing it. *1/2 And then Athena continues beating on Madison and Aubrey goes to stop her, so Athena DECKS her and lays her out. That one drew a pretty shocked reaction from the crowd. And Mercedes Martinez returns from the dead and makes the save. The Athena gimmick that organically came from Twitter nerds getting outraged is a winner, I will say that.
Meanwhile, Best Friends challenge the Factory to a match on the PPV, and luckily Trent emailed a spooky video of Danhausen, hiding behind spooky gears. “Was that Danhausen? That’s literally just Danhausen.” However, for the moment the graphic only lists a “very evil, very mysterious partner” so we’ll see, I guess.
Speaking of spooky videos, The House of Black check in again with another video, this time beating up jobbers in training.
Kenosuke Takeshita & Jun Akiyama v. Eddie Kingston & Ortiz
Well this is a bonkers main event. It’s so cool that Eddie has been campaigning for this match forever and Jun was like “Sure, let’s do it.” Eddie wants him right away, but he has to start with Takeshita instead. So he works a headlock and takes Takeshita down with a belly to belly, and it’s over to Ortiz. They double-team Takeshita for a bit and Eddie hits Akiyama with a cheapshot to knock him off the apron, so Akiyama comes in and returns the shot on Eddie before bringing Ortiz to the corner for some punishment there. Piledriver on Ortiz gets two. They take turns hitting running elbows on Ortiz in the corner and Takeshita hits a back suplex for two, but Ortiz fights back with chops. So Takeshita slugs him down and brings Akiyama back in, and he hits Ortiz with a back suplex for two. Akiyama and Takeshita double-team Ortiz with knee strikes. Takeshita pops up to the top rope, but Ortiz brings him down with a cutter and Eddie comes in with the hot tag. Neckbreaker on Takeshita and he hits Takeshita with the chops in the corner after telling Akiyama to watch him do it. Butterfly suplex gets two and Jun comes in to save, but Eddie is WATCHING. Ortiz with a snap suplex on Takeshita and they hit a double suplex for two. Ortiz with a northern lights suplex for two, and Kingston hits a nasty DDT for two. And Eddie keeps eyeballing Akiyama while doing it. Some real serial killer vibes there. Takeshita and Eddie trade chops, and Takeshita comes back with the Warrior clothesline and brings Akiyama in. But Eddie tags out to Ortiz as they keep delaying that meeting. Akiyama puts him down with the jumping knee, but Eddie breaks up the exploder and we get a chop battle, although Eddie isn’t legal. It’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and Takeshita hits Ortiz with the Blue Thunder bomb and everyone is out. Akiyama and Kingston continue trading chops, but Eddie hits him with an exploder and Akiyama returns fire. Akiyama puts him on the floor with an enzuigiri and hits Ortiz with an exploder to finish at 12:21. Man we really still need that Kingston v. Akiyama singles match because this was only a cruel tease. ***1/2 Man they need to just give Takeshita a full time contract and put him on TV as a top guy, though. There was someone who was getting crazy over and could have been a difference maker. Throw some money at DDT and get it done, TK!
I really enjoyed this episode, much more so than most AEW shows lately. A very fun hour, which is what Rampage should be.