The SmarK Rant for AEW Rampage – 07.21.23
By Scott Keith on 22nd July 2023
The SmarK Rant for AEW Rampage – 07.21.23
Taped from Boston, MA
Your hosts are Excalibur, Tony Schiavone & Chris Jericho
This is a two ring battle royale with Royal Rumble staggered entrances. We’ve got Darby Allin, Swerve Strickland, Jay Lethal and Nick Wayne to start, with Darby v. Lethal in the red ring and Wayne v. Swerve in the blue ring. Nick runs wild on Swerve right away, but gets hit with an uppercut. Minoru Suzuki is next in the red ring and does his whole entrance with no rushing, before helping Lethal beat on Darby in the corner. Brian Cage is next for the blue ring, amazingly working double duty on this show and the ROH PPV at the same time. Does he have some kind of time portal to accomplish this feat? He goes after Nick Wayne and drops him with a nasty backdrop suplex. Ethan Page is next for the red ring, as he goes after Lethal and runs wild as a babyface.
Kommander is next for the blue ring and he walks the ropes into the ring, which seems ill-advised, but he jumps off Cage’s shoulders and DDTs Swerve. Kommander is also working the ROH PPV at the same time. That’s some 80s Hulk Hogan international date line shit right there. Butcher is next for the red ring and slugs it out with Darby in the corner. Big Bill is next for the blue ring, reuniting his team with Brian Cage, and he smashes the little guys impressively to get his shit in. Jay Lethal tries the Lethal Injection and gets thrown out by Page at 7:44, but Suzuki takes out the ankle of Page and Jay pulls him out at 8:00. Butcher and Suzuki smash each other in a fun sequence but Suzuki tries the piledriver and Butcher backdrops him out at 8:40. Blade is out for the red ring next and Darby gets double-teamed as a result. Brother Zay is out for the blue ring, and Toa Leoni is next for the red, and Darby gets murdered by hosses as a result.
Meanwhile Cage and Bill work Nick Wayne over in the blue ring while Jericho drops a primo 80s metal deep cut reference with “blackout in the red ring”. Matt Sydal is next for the blue ring while Butcher & Blade double-team Toa, and Sydal forms a new team with Zay and they hit Gin & Juice on Swerve. But then Cage tosses Zay out at 14:03. Bishop Kaun is out for the red ring to really stack the deck against Darby even further, but they go after Butcher and Blade and put them out at the same time at 14:51. This leaves the Gates of Agony and Darby in the red ring at this point, for those like myself having trouble following both rings at the same time. Matt Hardy is next for the blue ring and he does his greatest hits. Daddy Magic is next for the red ring while Sydal gets thrown out of the blue ring at 16:34. So Menard goes after Darby as well, but JEFF JARRETT is here for the blue ring and hopefully gets the rightful shot at the TNT title out of this after months of being the ratings king while the bookers hold him down. He’s like LA Knight, but with actual talent and a unique character not stolen from people who have drawn money.
Cool Hand Angelo is the last man for the red ring and does not much, and then Jake Hager is the last guy for the blue ring. And he’s got no hat. Suspect is hatless, repeat, hatless. Everyone wanders around and does battle royale stuff on the ropes, and Hager fights off the Bill/Cage team before succumbing to Cage’s suplex and then getting thrown out by Bill at 21:45. Kommander gets destroyed and tossed out like garbage at 22:00 as well. Darby escapes a four-way elimination attempt and dropkicks Toa and Bishop to the apron, but they pull 2.0 out at 23:25, leaving them against Darby in the red. Matt Hardy dumps out Jeff Jarrett at 23:44, continuing Jeff’s battle with the glass ceiling in AEW. But Cage and Bill toss out Matt at 24:00. Bill goes after Nick Wayne, and Nick uses the Benoit guillotine trick to pull Bill out at 24:34. Then Nick pops into the red ring and helps Darby put Bishop Kaun out at 25:00.
Back in the blue, Nick hits Cage with a stunner and puts Cage on the apron, then dumps him out at 25:45. Swerve also goes over, but hangs on and pulls himself back in. Nick tries a dive and Swerve drops him on the turnbuckle and out to the floor at 26:17, while Darby dumps Toa Leoni, leaving us with Darby and Swerve as the final two. So Sweve hits Darby with the kick to the back of the neck, but Darby backdrops him to the apron, only for Prince Nana to run in and hit Darby with the skateboard. That allows Swerve to choke out Darby with his own chain and then powerbomb him onto the skateboard, wheels up. OUCH. Swerve throws him out to the apron, but Darby hangs on, so Swerve goes up for the Swerve stomp on the apron and Darby blocks that. And then Darby spears him off the apron, to the floor, and wins the match at 29:29 because he went through the ropes and not over the top. Bit hard to follow at times but mostly a tremendously fun Royal Rumble riff. I have to think that Nick Wayne is gonna get some revenge on Swerve at some point, too, since this is the second match already where he’s been screwed over. ***1/2
The Acclaimed & Daddy Ass v. QT Marshall, Johnny TV & Aaron Solo
Max rapping about “seeing Harley naked and now I’m thinking Arbys” might be the filthiest thing he’s ever gotten through the censors. I can only assume they didn’t get the joke there. QT tries the cutter on Billy, who reverses out and slugs him down. Our heroes clear the ring and stop for a scissoring, but TV cuts off Caster with a superkick and QTV works him over in their corner as Fite takes a break. Back with Daddy Ass getting the hot tag and running wild while the heels go flying for him. Bowens beats on QT, but TV saves with a high kick, so Bowens superkicks him as well. QT manages to hit a Diamond Cutter on Billy and Solo hits a diving stomp for two off that. The QTV guys do their own Scissor Me Timbers on Billy, but the Acclaimed break it up and Billy hits the One and Only on Solo, and Caster drops the mic to finish at 8:47. The QTV geeks are really in the perfect position for them, as they’re credible enough to put up a fight but can lose all their matches and get their heat back on TV later. **1/2
So uh Collision certainly seems like a show that is happening on Saturday. Announcing more than one match might be preferable in the future.
TBS title: Kris Statlander v. Marina Shafir
Not much of a main event but then there’s only 5 minutes left in the show anyway. Kris takes her down to start and they fight for a suplex. Marina ties her up with some submission stuff on the mat and beats on her, but Kris fights back with an electric chair drop and delayed suplex for two. So delayed they should call it LA Knight’s push, am I right? No, I’m messing with you, he’s very overrated, keep him in the midcard. Statlander goes to finish and Shafir reverses to a wacky leglock to escape, but Statlander puts her away with the Big Bang Theory at 5:11 to retain. Moderately better than the usual Shafir match, I guess, but she’s still out there like some kind of weird ChatGPT recreation of a wrestler and I don’t know why they keep wasting their one women’s match per week on her. **
The Royal Rampage was great again this year and took up most of the show, so that’s a thumbs up from here.