The SmarK Rant for AEW Rampage – 04.28.23
Taped from Sunrise, FL
Your hosts are Jim Ross, Excalibur & Tony Schiavone
Jay White & Juice Robinson v. Ricky Starks & Shawn Spears
Is Shawn Spears SERIOUSLY the best guy they could come up with as Starks’ new partner in this thing? What about Action Andretti, who has fallen off the face of the earth lately? Look, I’m not saying Chris Jericho isn’t deserving of his spot, but Ricky Starks was supposed to be elevated by their feud and now he’s doing tag team matches against Temu Bullet Club and teaming with the 10 10 10 guy on the C show opener. Big brawl to start. Back in the ring, Ricky beats on Juice with chops in the corner and Spears drops a leg for two. Spears with the punches in the corner and the crowd doesn’t quite get to 10, but your average Florida Man can’t count that high anyway. The Bullet Club cuts off Spears’ run and double-team him in the corner, and Juice hits a senton for two. White with the chops and he goes to a chinlock, but Spears fights out and makes the hot tag to Ricky. Starks with a tornado DDT attempt, but Juice blocks it, so he hits a suplex instead and continues running wild. Starks takes him to the top for a superplex and Spears comes in with a splash for two. White escapes the death valley driver, but Spears powerbombs him for two. Starks gets rid of Juice outside, but White hits the Blade Runner on Starks for the pin at 10:00. This was a decent Dark main event but who could possibly give a shit about any of these guys right now? Certainly not the crowd tonight. **1/2.
Meanwhile, the Hardyz reveal that Isiah Kassidy is apparently missing, and we cut to the Firm beating him up in a warehouse after kidnapping him from an Applebee’s where he was eating corn bread and drinking a Long Island Iced Tea. So they threaten to do bad things to Kassidy, and Matt reveals that the Firm Deletion is next Friday. And then they “chokeslam” Kassidy off-camera and onto the concrete, at which point Matt does some acting right out of The Room and runs off to find them. Oh dear. This was bad.
Dustin Rhodes & Keith Lee v. Brady Pierce & Charlie James
Dustin and Keith double-team Pierce with a backdrop, so the other guy comes in and gets destroyed by Lee as well. Then Dustin comes in and demands to be bieled, so Keith biels him into the jobbers as requested and then powerbombs one of the geeks for the pin at 2:08. And then the dumbest stable name in the business, the Mogul Embassy, comes out for the staredown.
Meanwhile, Tay tries to convince Sammy that MJF isn’t actually his friend.
Anna Jay v. Ashley D’Ambroise
Still not clear what Anna Jay is supposed to be at the moment. Anna blocks a charge in the corner and necks Ashley on the top rope, then bends her around the post and chokes her out on the ropes. Anna with a neckbreaker for two and chokes her out some more and then chokes her out for an encore. So I guess she’s still a heel? Fite takes a break and we return with Anna finishing this lengthy squash with the rear naked choke at 5:54. 1/2*. And then Julia Hart appears and attacks, but Anna bends her around the post and wins that battle.
Meanwhile, the Outcasts have new shirts with Britt’s black eye.
Daddy Ass & The Acclaimed v. eh who cares?
Fameasser and the Acclaimed drop the mic on a guy.
Cash Wheeler v. Jay Lethal
Mark Briscoe is ringside as the Special Enforcer here, and I’m still wondering why the hell he didn’t win the ROH TV title from Samoa Joe. Lethal stops to hug the enforcer and curry favor, and they exchange chops in the ring before Jay slams him a few times and tries his Fargo Strut. Wheeler comes back with an armdrag to prevent any premature strutting and works on the arm, but Lethal escapes and does some flips, before Cash clotheslines him to the floor. Cash tries a baseball slide and hurts his own knee in the process, but he goes up and Sonjay pushes him off to put Lethal in control. This gives us a funny bit at ringside as Mark Briscoe points out that he didn’t see anything, but that was because he was busy getting distracted by Sonjay’s friends. Back in the ring, Lethal puts him down with chops, but Cash tries a sunset flip and Lethal drops an elbow on him to break that up for two. Oh my god if you thought the crowd was dead for Dynamite that’s nothing compared to how quiet they are during the commercial break for a Rampage match at the end of the night. Lethal goes to an abdominal stretch while JR references Wilbur Snyder and how the move used to be “almost automatically a submission”. Good lord I’ve been watching wrestling for 40 years and it was a joke move even in the early 80s. Literally no one alive watching this show would possibly remember a time when the ABDOMINAL STRETCH ever submitted anyone. Lethal gets a hiptoss to cut off Cash’s comeback and finally gets his strut on, but he goes up for the Macho elbow and lands on Cash’s foot. Cash makes the comeback for real this time and slugs away, then follows with a DDT for two. Lethal escapes a piledriver and hits the Lethal Combination, but Cash catches him in a Gory Bomb for two. Sonjay tries to run in and Briscoe stops him, but the Lethal Injection finishes at 12:22. Well this one kind of showed why Dax is usually the guy to do singles matches. **
Astonishingly, this show is reportedly going to continue after Collision debuts, which is just mind blowing because they barely care about it as it is. I was tempted to turn this episode off midway through and I only finished it because I was reviewing it but even then I was 50/50. This was like an episode of Dark Elevation in terms of star power and easily one of the worst episodes of the show in its short history. And the show bouncing around the schedule for the next two months isn’t going to help anyone care much more about it.