By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 34)
Taped in Columbia, South Carolina at Colonial Life Arena
Aired April 1, 2022 on TNT
The opening video aired and the commentary team of Excalibur, Taz, Chris Jericho and Ricky Starks chimed in. Excalibur threw it to the ring immediately for the first match.
1. “The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson vs. “Top Flight” Dante Martin and Darius Martin. Dante and Nick began the match. The two spilled outside and went for simultaneous dropkicks before staring each other down. The two rolled back into the ring, but Matt clotheslined Dante to give the Bucks the edge. Matt tagged in, but Darius interfered and before long, Top Flight had control via a double dropkick.
Darius worked over Matt’s hands and tagged in Dante, who got a two-count. Darius tagged back in, but Matt hit him in the throat and danced. Nick tagged in and went for a springboard move, but Darius countered. Dante eventually hit a tope suicida to both Bucks, who were on the outside. The Bucks stalled on the outside. On the apron, Nick hit a super-kick on Dante and then Matt hit one on Darius. Back in the ring, the Bucks landed a tandem Buckle Bomb and the first PIP began [c].
Back from break, Dante had control over Matt inside the ring. Dante hit a super-kick and a hella high shotgun dropkick. Matt cut him off with thumbs to the eyes and tagged in Nick, but the Martin brothers hit a series of moves which resulted in a two-count. After another set of double-team moves, Dante hit a German Suplex for a two count. Dante then went to the top, but, Matt threw Dante to the guardrail. Nick and Darius were the lone two in the ring and they traded blows. After trading blows for a while, the Bucks hit the BTE Trigger for the win.
“The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson defeated “Top Flight” Dante Martin and Darius Martin via pinfall in 10:50.
After the match, Excalibur threw to a video package featuring Kris Statlander. In the end, she said, “Welcome to the other side of Kris Statlander,” and then we cut to break.
McGuire’s Musings: Boy, you can tell the Young Bucks like Top Flight. And for good reason, by the way. No hate on that. But that match was essentially the Martin dudes having the ability to show every bit of innovative, high-flying talent they have while the Bucks took it, fought back a little and then in what seemed like out of nowhere, got the win. So, good for both teams, really. The Bucks did help out their pals and Top Flight did their best to seize the moment. Elsewhere, I’m happy to see the Statlander repackage. It’s about time and with this new seriousness, I hope it eventually puts her into a title picture.
Battle Of The Belts 2 was announced for my birthday weekend (April 16), so to hell with that. Kidding. Anyway, back in the ring, Dan Lambert was there with his team. Lambert said Sammy and Tay have a high school king-and-queen prom gimmick. Ethan Page took the mic and said Sammy and Tay took naked photos with the TNT title. He wondered if Fuego took the photo. Van Zant then grabbed the microphone and made an Orange Cassidy joke. Lambert took the mic and said the interview is over. Sammy then appeared on the video screen and Sammy and Tay wrecked Lambert’s car with a pair of sledgehammers.
We then went backstage for an interview with Hook. Before Hook could talk, Danhousen interrupted and said he’s come to take over the airwaves and make all the monies. Danhousen tried to curse Hook again after last week, but Hook walked away. Danhousen yelled, asking what was up with that. The segment ended. The House of Black made their entrance.
2. “House of Black” Malakai Black, Brody King, and Buddy Matthews vs. Fuego Del Sol, Evil Uno, and Stu Grayson. Matthews and Grayson began the match and traded forearms, taking each other down. Grayson hit a splash on Matthews, who was on the outside. Back in the ring, Grayson worked Matthews’s arm and Fuego tagged himself in. This was a very pro-Fuego crowd. Fuego went for a Tornado DDT, but Matthews caught him and tagged in King. King threw Fuego outside the ring, the House of Black posed and we went to a PIP [c].
Back from break, Matthews was working over Fuego, but Grayson tagged in and it wasn’t long before things broke down. King clotheslined Uno, but Fuego got the blind tag. It didn’t matter, because King ran on the apron to hit a cannonball to Uno and Grayson. In the ring, Fuego and Black were going to go at it, but the rest of the House rolled into the ring and circled Fuego. Grayson pulled Matthews outside the ring and Fuego rolled up Black, but Black kicked out. Fuego landed the poison-rana on Black. Fuego went for the Tornado DDT, but Black hit a back-heel kick and pinned Fuego.
“House of Black” Malakai Black, Brody King, and Buddy Matthews defeated Fuego Del Sol, Evil Uno, and Stu Grayson via pinfall in 8:17.
After the match, Jericho announced that the House of Black were the Sports Entertainers of the Week. We then went to a Young Bucks promo. The Bucks said FTR couldn’t beat the Young Bucks. The Bucks accepted FTR’s challenge. The match will happen in Boston at Wednesday’s Dynamite. We then cut to the ring for the next match.
3. Jamie Hayter vs. Skye Blue in an Owen Hart Cup tournament qualifier. The two began by trading go-behinds, but that ended when Hayter hit a back elbow. Blue landed an arm-drag and worked Hayter’s arm. Blue ran at Hayter, but Hayter caught her and suplexed her into the turnbuckle. Hayter threw Blue into the middle buckle and jawed at the crowd.
Hayter lifted Blue for a suplex, but Blue trolled through for a two-count. Blue got a series of two-counts, but Hayter cut her off with a back-breaker. Blue tried to fight her way back with some forearms, but Hayter threw Blue to the ropes. Blue responded with a running knee strike. Blue hit a knee for a two-count. Blue looked to follow up, but Jayter caught Blue with a back-drop.
Blue kicked Hayter and went to the top. Hayter cut Blue off and went for a super-plex. Hayter landed it and rolled through into a brain-buster. Hayter then hit the Ripcord for the win.
Jamie Hayter defeated Skye Blue via pinfall in 5:37.
After the match, we cut to a Penta promo. Penta told House of Black to not mess with the Death Triangle. Excalibur then did his quick rundown for the Dynamite card on Wednesday. We then cut to the backstage promo. Mark Henry started talking, but Powerhouse Hobbs cut him off and said he’s going to open up the book of Hobbs on Keith Lee. Hobbs said Lee would not bask in glory until thou shalt bask in defeat. Lee responded by saying Hobbs needs to check himself and get into science fiction because the Keith Lee he will face is unreal. Lee said he will teach Hobbs a lesson. Lee said Hobbs’s end is near. Henry yelled that it’s time for the main event. We went to break.
McGuire’s Musings: Maybe it’s just me, but I really, really like the House of Black presentation. I think note for note, they are getting everything right. It doesn’t hurt that the faction has three very good workers, but beyond that, the thing works very well. So well, in fact, that I’m not sure they need to be wasting their time with Fuego Del Sol. But I digress. The women’s match was as expected, though Skye Blue got a lot more in than I thought she would and it was fun to see. I wonder if this means we’ll see more of her in AEW or if this was just a “we need women to fill out this tournament” move. Either way, good for her for getting some shine.
4. Keith Lee vs. Powerhouse Hobbs. The match began with the crowd singing “Oh, bask in his glory.” The two locked up and then chest-bumped. Hobbs sunk in a side head-lock. Hobbs went for a shoulder-block, but Lee didn’t move. Lee then clotheslined Hobbs to the outside (after Hobbs tried to take him down a bunch of times). Excalibur threw to the final PIP of the night [c].
Back from the break, Hobbs was in control after running Lee into a guardrail. In the ring Hobbs hit a stiff falling lariat for a two-count. Hobbs grabbed Lee by the face, but Lee came back with a pair of chops and a forearm. Lee tried to lift Hobbs, but Hobbs stopped him … but Lee came back with a lariat. Lee signaled that he was going to lift Hobbs, but Hobbs back-body-dropped Lee and wow. Hobbs then hit a snap power-slam for a two-count. And wow again.
Hobbs ran at Lee, but Lee moved and threw Hobbs all the way across the ring and wow, wow again. The two traded blows, but it ended with a Lee head-butt that knocked Hobbs down. Ricky Starks ran to the ring with a chair, but Lee punched the chair away. Meanwhile, Swerve ran to the ring to help and Hobbs hit a spine-buster, but the ref was distracted. When everything settled, Lee hit his finisher on Hobbs for the win.
Keith Lee defeated Powerhouse Hobbs via pinfall in 10:56.
After the match, Starks hit his finisher on Swerve through a table. Hobbs grabbed a chair and hit Lee with it. Hobbs called for a table and Starks gave him one. Team Taz set up the table in a corner and Starks beat up Lee with his shoe. Starks was bleeding. Lee started to fight back, but Hobbs speared Lee through the table in the corner. The show ended with Hobbs taunting Lee.
McGuire’s Musings: This was very bit the hoss match one would hope for and come to expect from these two. It’s a very specific match, but a very good one, especially if you’re into A) that style of match and B) that style of wrestler. This viewer is. So take that with a grain of salt. It’s a shame this match is going to be overlooked by the ROH show (PS: From what I understand, there’s going to be more than a few tag titles up for grabs on Wednesday, but perhaps I have wrong information). Those two could work all day every day, as far as I’m concerned. A lot of chemistry, they didn’t wade into waters they knew they shouldn’t and in the end, even though the finish was a bit of a smoz, the right guy went over. The post-match stuff gets interesting because a Keith Lee/Swerve tandem taking on Team Taz could get real good, real quick. So, let’s just say there’s a lot of hope there.
In all, a fine episode of Rampage. It’s probably the most overlooked show of the weekend, and to add salt to the wound, part of that will be because of how good and news-making the Supercard of Honor was. But, if you own two companies and you have a pool of some of the best wrestlers in the world, I guess that’s bound to happen. An embarrassment of riches, as they say. Speaking of things to say, I’ll have a lot more of it during my audio review.