By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 33)
Taped in Cedar Park, Texas at HEB Center
Aired March 25, 2022 on TNT
The opening video aired and the commentary team of Chris Jericho, Taz and Excalibur checked in. Lance Archer’s music hit and Archer brought out a student from Dustin Rhodes’s wrestling school, but Dustin attacked Archer from behind to stop the attack. After some brawling, the match began.
1. Lance Archer vs. Dustin Rhodes. Archer pulled off a turnbuckle pad to begin things. Archer worked over Rhodes until Dustin clotheslined Archer over the top rope. Dustin went for a Senton on the outside of the ring, but Archer moved. Archer hit a chop. Back in the ring, Archer jawed at Rhodes and kept working Rhodes over. Rhodes’s ear was busted open. Archer gouged Rhodes’s eyes and the first PIP began [c].
Back from break, Archer put Dustin down and bit Dustin’s finger. Archer was toying with Rhodes, but Rhodes fired up with some clotheslines. Rhodes flipped Archer off and went for the snap powerslam, but Archer cut Rhodes off and landed a belly-to-belly suplex. Archer ran at Rhodes, but Rhodes moved and punched Archer while standing on the second rope. Rhodes went for the bulldog, but Archer wouldn’t allow it. Rhodes tried again from the middle rope and landed it. Dustin then hit a Cross-Rhodes for a two-count.
Rhodes went for suplex, but Archer countered with one of his own. Archer then hit a full-nelson slam, but Rhodes kicked out immediately. Archer landed a choke-slam for a two-count. Archer put Dustin on the top and lifted him for the Black Out, but Dustin collapsed. Archer pointed to the exposed turnbuckle, but Rhodes threw Archer into it and bridged over to get the win.
Dustin Rhodes defeated Lance Archer via pinfall in 9:30.
After the match, Archer attacked Rhodes, throwing Dustin into the steps. Dustin bled from his forehead. Archer hit a running knee in the aisle. Some of Dustin’s students came down to try and save Dustin, but Archer attacked all of them. Archer then choke-slammed Rhodes through a table. Jay Lethal then cut a promo backstage with Lexy Nair. Lethal said it’s back to the drawing board for him. Lethal said he should be proud that Adam Cole and Ricky Starks had to cheat to beat him. Lethal then said there has to be a better way and said he has some thinking to do. We then cut to break.
McGuire’s Musings: God bless Dustin Rhodes. He made Archer look like a million bucks and Archer doesn’t even need help to look like a million bucks. I loved Dustin going over here as it was a tiny surprise and it also means this wasn’t just another ultimately meaningless Lance Archer match where he wins and moves on to … nothing? I liked the color, I liked the post-match, I liked all of this. I’m intrigued to see what’s next because clearly, this isn’t over. As for the Lethal interview … hell yeah, Lexy Nair! For those who haven’t seen her Between Two Ferns-ish talk show on AEW’s social media platforms, check those out. She’s the perfect foil in those and she gets the joke and she’s just great. She’s also the daughter of Diamond Dallas Page, from what I understand. So good for her. Anyway, color me curious about what happens with Lethal now.
Back from break, Fuego Del Sol was in the ring, cutting a promo. Fuego said he’d have to fight for everything he gets. Fuego said Jericho poked fun at him. Fuego said the people believed in his fire and fight. He then called out the House of Black. The lights cut out, in the most unsurprising moment of the night. Brody King, Buddy Matthews and Malachi Black appeared. The three beat the nonsense out of Fuego and posed. The Dark Order marched to the ring to confront the House of Black. The factions jawed at each other.
Lexy was then back with Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky and Dan Lambert. Lambert said the TNT title is no longer subject to an open challenge. Lambert said if someone wants a shot at it, they need to build a resume first. Sky said he can’t be beat and the open door is closed. We then hopped into the next match.
2. Alan “5” Angels and 10 vs. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly. Fish and O’Reilly immediately had control, working over Angels. Before long, 10 got the tag and over-powered O’Reilly. 10 landed a double shoulder-block from the middle rope on both guys as Excalibur threw to the next PIP [c].
Back from break, Red Dragon were working over 10, but 10 got the hot tag to Angels. Angels hit a leg lariat and an enziguri, but O’Reilly tried to cut him off. Ultimately, O’Reilly sunk in a guillotine. Red Dragon turned the mask around on 10 and hit Chasing The Dragon for the win.
Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly defeated Alan “5” Angels and 10 via pinfall in 7 minutes.
Red Dragon tried to attack their opponents after the match, but Jurassic Express made their entrance for the save. With their backs turned, Adam Cole ran down and took the tag titles to give to Fish and O’Reilly. We then cut to the promo from Nyla Rose that made the rounds online over the week. Nyla Rose then made her entrance for her match.
3. Nyla Rose vs. Madi Wrenkowski. Rose jumpstarted the match after Jericho named Rose the Sports Entertainer of The Week. Rose his the Beast Bomb and that was it.
Nyla Rose defeated Madi Wrenkowski via pinfall in 29 seconds.
McGuire’s Musings: The tag match was weird. I wasn’t sure how long it’d go, but I’d say of the seven minutes it went, maybe 2 and a half of it was actually televised? Something like that. The right team went over and I like Adam Cole coming down to steal the belts from Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus. O’Reilly and Fish are significantly less impactful without Cole in the equation, so to know he’s still a major player in their stories is a good thing. The Nyla Rose squash was expected. Not much more to say than that.
Back from break, QT Marshall was standing in the ring with a certificate of accomplishment he wanted to present to Hook. Hook’s music hit and Hook walked out. Marshall said it’s such a special night. The crowd chanted Hook’s name. Marshall revealed the certificate and Aaron Solow shot off a confetti cannon. The crowd chanted “You deserve it,” but Hook threw Solow into the certificate and walked out. Danhousen then walked out and tried to curse Hook, but Hook walked away.
We cut to the back and the Mark Henry main event segment. Henry asked what Starks’s plan is for keeping his title. Starks said Swerve was entitled and the last house he was in, he got evicted from, presumably being a WWE reference. Swerve said it’s his house and then the two talked over each other. Henry cut them off and said it’s time for the main event.
Excalibur ran down the card for Dynamite, which was only really the Darby Allin vs. Andrade match and the first match of the Owen Cup women’s tournament, which featured Bunny against someone who will I guess be both signed and compete Wednesday night.
4. Ricky Starks vs. Swerve Strickland for the FTW title. Starks made his entrance entrance to a big pop from the hometown crowd. The two locked up with Starks getting the best of the initial exchange. Starks landed a deep arm-drag takedown and posed to a loud reaction. Swerve came back with an eventual dropkick and mocked Starks’s pose. Dueling chants began from the crowd. Starks ran Swerve into the middle turnbuckle and Excalibur threw to the final PIP of the night [c].
Back from the break, Starks landed a tornado DDT. Starks sank in a modified abdominal stretch. Starks tried to lift Swerve, but Swerve countered with a knee strike and a leaping uppercut from the second rope. Swerve hit a leaping Flatliner for a two-count. Swerve went for a half-and-half but Starks countered and eventually, Starks went for a go-around, but Swerve moved Starks to the outside.
Swerve hit a running shooting-star press from the apron onto Starks on the outside. Swerve hit a double stomp for a good near-fall. Swerve lifted Starks, but Starks rolled through for a two-count. Starks shot Swerve to the outside, and out of nowhere, Powerhouse Hobbs took out Swerve and rolled Swerve back into the ring, where Starks hit his finisher and that was it.
Ricky Starks defeated Swerve Strickland via pinfall in 11:26.
After the match, Keith Lee showed up and beat up Starks’s entourage. Lee entered the ring and went after Hobbs while Swerve brawled with Starks. Referees ran to the ring to break things up and that closed the show.
McGuire’s Musings: Man, Ricky Starks is so good. This was the better-than-average, very good match that you would expect from these guys. I still think Starks needs to break way from Team Taz because I still think Starks is a headlining act with the right booking. But these guys were awfully good together and this was a much better match from Swerve than his first one was in AEW, in my opinion. It still doesn’t surpass his outing on NJPW Strong last week, but it was very good. Two very good wrestlers offering a very good wrestling match.
As for all of Rampage, it was fine. I still have issues with Tony Khan making an announcement/not an announcement/kind of an announcement every Friday morning, only to have nothing really be revealed on the actual show. But that’s just me. If nothing else, go out of your way to watch Hook be a badass, because there are very few things more entertaining in all of wrestling right now. Also, Dustin Rhodes is a gosh-darn treasure. I’ll have more to say in my exclusive audio review available to members … tomorrow morning. Yes, I apologize it is not the same night. But I’ll make it up to you. Promise.