The SmarK Rant for AEW Rampage – 03.03.23
Live from San Fran, CA, in the Palace of Cows.
Your hosts are Jim Ross, Excalibur, Chris Jericho & Tony Schiavone
Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta v. Aussie Open v. Dark Order v. Top Flight
We get an immediate brawl and Top Flight dives onto everyone, but the Aussies slam them into each other on the floor and double-team Darius in the ring. Meanwhile Bennett & Taven are watching at ringside, for the four of you wondering what the Kingdom was up to these days. Top Flight comes back and double-teams Fletcher with a springboard senton from Dante while Jericho brings up winning Juventud’s mask for the millionth time. Over to Reynolds, but the Aussies work him over with double-teams until Claudio tags himself in and beats on Alex with forearms. Silver comes in and slugs away on Claudio, then runs wild on everyone outside as well. Back in the ring, Silver tries a bodypress and gets caught and slammed for two. Claudio cuts off Reynolds and oh also Rush & Vance are also watching backstage as we jam more and more into the segment. Claudio with a backdrop suplex for two on Reynolds, and a Saito suplex gets two. Claudio with a chinlock and Alex fights out of that, so Yuta comes in and Reynolds catches him with a double stomp to the back. Top Flight hits everyone with a dive outside, but the Aussies hit Darius with double superkicks and the pendulum powerbomb for two. Davis accidentally clotheslines Fletcher and Dark Order makes a comeback off that, hitting Darius with their finishing sequence, but Yuta steals the pin with his cradle at 9:45. Much like on Dynamite, there was just WAY too much stuff going on here and there was never really any focus to the match. **1/2.
Meanwhile, Jon Moxley and Hangman Page are set to do battle in the Texas Death Match on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Jungle Boy is promising to literally bury Christian Cage alive at the PPV. I guess that’s actually the match stip. I wouldn’t have had “Tony Khan imports the Buried Alive match into AEW” on my bingo card for 2023 but here we are.
Riho v. Emi Sakura
Holy cow (palace), Emi has escaped the confines of Dark again! Emi quickly chops Riho on the ropes and tosses her by the hair before choking her out in the corner. Riho tries a bodypress and Emi slams her for two, but Riho comes back with a running knee into a snap suplex for two. A headscissors puts Sakura on the floor and Riho tries to follow with a dive, but Emi backs away from it and splashes her into the railing. She suplexes Riho onto the railing for another splash. Back in the ring, Sakura ties Riho up with a submission hold and then gets two with a one-foot cover while Tony razzes Jericho about sports entertainers doing that. Riho comes back with a drop toehold into the ropes for a 619 and flying bodypress for two. Sakura splashes her in the corner for two, but Riho gets a series of rollups for two. Sakura tries a moonsault and misses, but she escapes Riho’s dragon suplex. So Riho uses a headscissors into a rollup for the pin at 9:30 instead. Obviously they’ve worked together a million times and it’s always good. ***1/2.
Meanwhile, the three contestants for the Women’s title do promos in a video package. This leads me to ask: What the hell happened to Hikaru Shida? They were doing the angle with her being conflicted and accidentally helping the heels win, and then she disappeared and hasn’t been mentioned since.
Powerhouse Hobbs v. Serpentico
So, good for Hobbs and I’m fine with him getting a renewed push, but the whole “Book of Hobbs” thing for weeks on end didn’t actually go anywhere or lead to anything. Hobbs quickly finishes with the burning hammer at 0:39.
Meanwhile, Takeshita is feeling sad about his win-loss record and wants to go back to Japan (Crowd: “NOOOOOOO!”) but Don Callis interrupts and offers some help with his problem. Glad to see that’s finally going somewhere.
Meanwhile, Mark Briscoe is feeling good, and hanging out with the Lucha Bros to set up a trios match against Mark Sterling’s guys on the pre-game show.
Gotta say, the PPV card is remarkably toned down by Tony Khan’s “more is more” standards. They might even get this one under four hours for once, even with the Iron Man main event. Also you can apparently watch it at something called Dave & Busters.
Swerve Strickland & Parker Boudreaux v. Dustin Rhodes & Keith Lee
Keith Lee attacks Parker and mauls him in the corner for a bit. Lee was announced at 348 pounds but there is ZERO chance that is accurate. He looks terrible, like an old blues musician in the final act of a documentary series on VH1 or something. Over to Dustin, who slugs on Parker before getting cut off. Swerve comes in and drops elbows on Dustin. Swerve with the diving uppercut and he stops to dance, which disgusts the announcers. Really now, complaining about too many histrionics in the ring when the former Goldust is in there? Swerve runs Dustin into Keith on the apron and rolls him up for two, but Dustin fights back with the powerslam and it’s hot tag Lee. He runs wild and we get a brawl on the floor with Swerve diving off Lee and onto Dustin, but Parker hits Lee with a LAME running boot on the ropes that falls flat, and Swerve hits the diving stomp for two off that. Parker hits Lee with a corner splash, but Lee slams them both and Dustin hits Swerve with the Destroyer. Keith tosses Dustin into Parker and then finishes with the Ground Zero at 11:00. Keith Lee looked ROUGH and tired out, Parker was a disaster, but Dustin and Swerve were good so it mostly evened out in the end. Kind of a trainwreck of styles, to say the least. ***. I’m still not seeing the upside with Boudreaux, like at all. There’s a million other guys on the roster just as tattooed and physically impressive that they could be pushing in that spot.
A very uneven show in the ring but it did a good job of hitting all the beats for the PPV so it’s a win this week.