Date: May 13, 2023
Location: Little Caesar’s Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Commentators: Excalibur, Tony Schiavone, Jim Ross
The shuffled up schedule continues as we are on at 10pm Saturday this week, again thanks to various playoffs. That has led to some less than thrilling cards in recent weeks but AEW has the ability to pull off a great one if given the chance. Hopefully they do that here so let’s get to it.
Acclaimed/Billy Gunn vs. Butcher and the Blade/Kip Sabian
After a rap about how Butcher has the “worst mustache since Vince McMahon”, we start fast with Blade getting caught in the wrong corner and backdropped out of it for a crash. Scissor Me Timbers makes it even worse as this is one sided so far. Butcher comes in to send Bowens hard into the corner as the fans want Gunn. We take a break and come back with Bowens kicking his way out of trouble and handing it back to Gunn. House is cleaned, including a powerslam on Blade. Everything breaks down and the Arrival into the Mic Drop finishes Blade at 8:13.
Rating: C. The Acclaimed continue to be perfectly fine choices to open the show, as the fans are still going to respond to anything they do. You could easily heat them up for a Trios Title match and that is probably where things are going. Other than that, Butcher and Blade are still a solid midcard team and Sabian continues to be a thing for reasons I don’t quite get.
QTV talks about AEW going to England and we cut to Powerhouse Hobbs, once again with his namesake book. He seems confident that he’ll be back.
Toni Storm vs. Allysin Kay
The rest of the Outcasts are with Storm, who gets kicked down to start. Saraya grabs Kay’s boot for a distraction though and Storm takes over. They head outside with Kay being sent into various things to keep her in trouble. Back in and Kay makes the comeback, including a hard clothesline for two. A sunset driver plants Storm but the Outcasts offer a distraction, allowing Storm to get two off a small package. Kay is sent into the corner for the hip attack, followed by Storm Zero for the pin at 4:58.
Rating: C. It was nice to have Kay around as she is someone who can work with anyone you put her in the ring with at any given time. Other than that, it is nice to see Storm getting a win as she hasn’t had a showcase match in a bit. The Outcasts still aren’t great, but Storm is the most successful member around here so featuring her makes sense.
The Gunns aren’t happy about losing their titles or with shoddy refereeing but Ethan Page comes in. Page wants some help with something and the Gunns are in.
Action Andretti vs. Kyle Fletcher
Feeling out process to start with the bigger Fletcher powering Andretti around. Andretti comes back with a dropkick into a spinning moonsault for two. One heck of a running boot to the face sends Andretti outside though and we take a break. Back with Fletcher kicking him in the face for a rather arrogant two. Andretti grabs a super hurricanrana for two but Fletcher kicks him in the back of the head, setting up a spinning Tombstone for the pin at 9:19.
Rating: C. Well, it was much more impressive than Fletcher’s match on Ring Of Honor two days ago, but it’s still hard to buy into the idea of Fletcher being a serious threat to Orange Cassidy and the International Title. I’m still not sure why half of an outside tag team is getting a singles title shot but at least the match should be good. Andretti is about where I was expecting him to be, though he could use another win to give him another boost.
Here are the Hardys and Brother Zay (Isiah Kassidy) to brag about getting rid of the Firm. Now they want the Tag Team Titles but here are the Gunns to interrupt. They bring up Ethan Page, but Matt wants nothing to do with Page. He does have an idea though: a tag match between the teams, and when the Hardys win, Matt owns Page’s contract. Deal, though I can’t imagine that’s what Page had in mind.
The Mogul Embassy and the Dark Order are ready for the main event.
Mogul Embassy vs. Dark Order
Swerve Strickland/Brian Cage vs. John Silver/Alex Reynolds, with Prince Nana and Evil Uno at ringside. Strickland sends Reynolds into the corner to start and snaps off the anklescissors but it’s way too early for the Swerve Stomp. Silver comes in for a pose off with Cage before actually managing to give Cage a World’s Strongest Slam. Swerve isn’t having that though and low bridges Silver to the floor as we take a break.
Back with Silver reversing Cage’s suplex into one of his own, allowing the double tag to Reynolds and Swerve. Reynolds gets to clean house, including a tiger driver into a piledriver for two on Strickland. The Stomp misses again and the Order hits their sequence into the rollup for two, with Cage making the save.
Cage pulls Silver’s dive out of the air and drives him into various things, allowing Swerve to get in a kick to the back of the head. Back in and Cage powerbombs Reynolds, setting up an F5/cutter combination…..for two. Why? On what planet is it acceptable for Alex Reynolds to kick out of a sequence like that? Silver comes in for an enziguri to Cage and Reynolds is back up to kick Swerve in the face. Cage isn’t having that though and it’s the JML Driver/Drill Claw for the stereo pins at 10:29.
Rating: C+. The match was good enough, but they lost me with Reynolds kicking out of what could be an awesome double team finisher. If they were just going to have the pin take place about a minute later, why even bother doing the big spot? Other than that, it was the Dark Order making a bigger team sweat a bit before falling short, which is more or less their last year plus.
Post match the Gates of Agony come in to beat up Evil Uno. Keith Lee and Dustin Rhodes come out with various metal objects to chase off the villains to end the show. Lee and Strickland starting having issues in November and were officially done in December. Why have they not had a singles match yet?
Overall Rating: C. The spring of punting continues, as AEW somehow manages to make Rampage feel even less important week after week. There were things happening here and the wrestling was completely fine, but there is a grand total of nothing that you need to see on this show, either in the ring or from a storytelling position. It’s ok to have something happen in a big story around here, because all of the lower level stories that get time around here are at a lower level for a reason. These shows get old fast, and that has been the case with Rampage for too long now.
Acclaimed/Billy Gunn b. Butcher and the Blade/Kip Sabian – Mic Drop to Blade
Toni Storm b. Allysin Kay – Storm Zero
Kyle Fletcher b. Action Andretti – Spinning Tombstone
Mogul Embassy b. Dark Order – Double pin
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