The SmarK Rant for AEW Rampage – 05.05.23
Taped from Baltimore, MD
Your hosts are Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone & Excalibur
The Lucha Bros & El Hijo del Vikingo v. QT Marshall, Powerhouse Hobbs & Aaron Solo
QT shows off with his handspring skills to start, so Vikingo springboards into a dropkick and then beats on him with kicks in the corner. That sets up the amazing 450 rana, and then he does the equally amazing Phoenix splash from outside the ring for two. Solo comes in and beats on Fenix with forearms, but Fenix takes him down with the ropewalk wristlocks and then hits him with a spinkick and tries to roll into a kneebar. Over to Hobbs, and he walks into a superkick from Penta. But Hobbs cheerfully no-sells it and destroys all three luchadors to take over. Hobbs with a delayed suplex on Penta, so delayed they should call it “Mike Coppinger’s apology to Tony Khan”, and QT gets some cheapshots on Penta outside before tossing him into the post. Back in the ring, Solo dropkicks him in the corner and follows with a snap suplex for two. Penta fights back with sling blades on the QTV geeks and makes the hot tag to Fenix, who clears the ring to set up triple dives. Back in the ring and they triple-team Solo with a 450 from Vikingo into a double team splash from the Lucha Bros, which gets two. Solo manages to hit Fenix with a DDT, but Vikingo slams him, and then QT powerbombs Vikingo. Penta with a destroyer on QT, and Fenix hits Hobbs with a cutter and everyone is out. Hobbs and QT recover and double-team Fenix into a diving stomp from Solo for two. Vikingo hits a destroyer onto QT, on the apron, and QT bumps onto the table that’s there, but Harley saves him from certain table-related death. Back in the ring, the Lucha Bros finish Solo with the Fear Factor while Hobbs tries to murder Alex Abrahantes at 12:28. There was, like, half of a great match here but it went way too long and they completely lost the plot at the end and it got pretty hard to follow. ***.
Meanwhile, Chris Jericho is locked in his dressing room, but apologizes for being unable to perform his announcing duties until he can find a way to ensure he’s not in the same building with Adam Cole moving forward. OK, that’s actually kind of a clever way to do the brand split justification.
Jade Cargill v. Gia Scott
Jade quickly tosses Gia around and finishes with Jaded at 0:30.
Meanwhile, Sonjay Dutt and his friends are pretty convinced that Mark Briscoe is going to guarantee them the tag team titles at Double or Nothing. Huge if true!
Mark Briscoe v. Preston Vance
Briscoe quickly puts Vance on the floor with a forearm, so Vance terrorizes the Briscoe children at ringside and Mark hits him with a somersault senton as a result. They brawl on the floor and Mark puts him in a chair and dives onto him. And that goes badly for him, allowing Vance to take over. Back in the ring, Vance tosses Briscoe around while Tony references the Flair-Luger blood finish from 1988. Vance with a chinlock and Briscoe fights out of that and makes the comeback for the slugfest before putting Vance down with a lariat. Mark with an attempt at an exploder that ends up more of a flatliner, which gets two. Vance escapes the Jay Driller, but Vance puts him down with his own lariat and they head to the floor again. Vance goes for a chair, but then changes his mind and spears Briscoe from the apron instead for two. Jose the Assistant takes the ref and Vance goes low for two. But then he disrespects Jay and Mark gets all fired up and tosses him for a dive. Back in for the running boot in the corner and Jay Driller to finish at 11:52. Man, Vance had all that heat after turning on the Dark Order and it literally went nowhere and now he’s just a guy. Match was OK but it was another one that went too long and ran out of steam. **1/2.
Meanwhile, Dustin Rhodes is hyped about his return to Austin TX in two weeks, but Swerve and Brian Cage attack him to ruin his buzz. And Keith Lee makes the save, although too late. Just saying, Keith Lee turning to join up with Swerve again would be a hell of an angle.
THE FIRM DELETION:
Stokely and his crew arrive at the Hardy Compound and smash up the mailbox to introduce themselves, so Matt unleashes the drone on them and uses space and time powers to make it nighttime. So the Hardys shoot literal fireworks at them to provide distraction, and everyone brawls in the forest. This proves to be Big Bill’s element, as he throws people into trees to give the heels the advantage, although Matt hits Page with a snap suplex on the ground for two. Ethan manages to escape the Twist of Fate, perhaps because Matt yelled “TWIST OF FATE” first and gave away the spot, and Ethan beats him down for two.
Meanwhile, Jeff chokes Bill out with a stick, but can’t put him away. And then Matt’s kids try to murder Stokely in a go kart. So then we cut to the ring in the compound, as Matt and Ethan continue their battle, but in a ring this time, and then Moriarty does some spots with Hook in the ring. Stokely tries to save and call a spot (“German…”) but that doesn’t work on Hook and Moriarty has to save him. Ethan brings a table into the ring and slams Matt through that, and Fite takes a break before we can learn what becomes of Matt.
Back and Ethan makes the mistake of monologuing too much, allowing Matt to hit the Twist of Fate for two. Meanwhile, Stokely runs into Matt’s evil gardener and creepy kids and that goes even worse for him than the other things that have gone badly for him so far. Back in the forest, the Firm tries to burn Matt and Jeff alive, but Kassidy saves with a swanton off the Deletion Dome. Back in the ring, Stokely gets beat up by Reby and the crazy kids. Kassidy puts Bill through a table outside, while back in the ring all the babyfaces confront Ethan 4 on 1, and the Twist of Fate and swanton deletes the Firm. But then Jeff wanders off into the woods and burns his symbol into the ground to end the show. I’ll just say, I’ve had enough of cinematic matches after the pandemic for one lifetime, and this was not for me. But I can see how others might enjoy it. For me, it’s been done, several times now, and I no longer care about the weird lore of the Hardy Compound and his multiple personalities and creepy family.
For me, this whole episode was a big miss. They’ll be lucky to sell 61,000 tickets to Wembley with this kind of poor Rampage booking.