By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Rampage (Episode 40)
Taped May 11, 2022 in Elmont, New York at UBS Arena at Belmont Park
Aired May 13, 2022 on TNT
The Rampage opening aired. Pyro shot off on the stage and then the broadcast team of Excalibur, Chris Jericho, Taz, and Ricky Starks checked in. The participants for the opening match were already in the ring…
1. “Death Triangle” Pac, Penta Oscuro, and Rey Fenix (w/Alex Abrahantes) vs. The Butcher, The Blade, and Marq Quen (w/The Bunny). Jericho gave his sports entertainers of the week award to The Butcher and The Blade. Fenix was on an offensive roll when he tried to twist through the ropes and was kicked to ringside by Quen heading into a picture-in-picture commercial break. [C]
Quen performed a big top rope dive onto Pac and Penta at ringside. The Butcher picked up a near fall on Fenix. Kyle O’Reilly was shown watching the match in the crowd while the broadcast team plugged his Owen Hart Cup tournament match against Fenix for Dynamite. Fenix eventually made a hot tag to Penta.
Penta was catapulted by Quen, but he DDT’d The Butcher on the way down. Pac tagged in and hit multiple suplexes. Fenix tagged back into the match and partnered with Penta to hit the Fear Factor. Pac tagged in. Penta and Fenix took out Butcher and Blade with dives to the floor. Pac hit the Black Arrow on Quen and pinned him to win the match.
“Death Triangle” Pac, Penta Oscuro, and Rey Fenix defeated The Butcher, The Blade, and Marq Quen in roughly 10:30.
After the match, the lights went out. When the lights turned on, the “House of Black” members Malakai Black, Brody King, and Buddy Matthews stood on the apron and ropes. The lights went out again and when they turned on, House of Black were gone… [C]
Powell’s POV: A fairly random opening match showcase win for Death Triangle. I assume they will face House of Black at Double Or Nothing in what has the potential to be a terrific six-man tag match. By the way, I’m filling in for Colin McGuire on Rampage coverage this week because he is attending tonight’s MLW event in Philadelphia.
Shawn Spears sat on a chair on the stage with a hood over his face. He stood up and was introduced by Justin Roberts. His opponent was already in the ring…
2. Shawn Spears vs. Bear Boulder. This was listed as Boulder’s singles debut in AEW. Spears did the 10 bit in the face of Boulder, who grabbed him by the throat and then pressed him over his head. Spears slipped away, but Boulder caught him running the ropes and power slammed him. Spears avoided a charging Boulder, who crashed into the corner. Spears stood on the ropes and threw punches at Boulder, who took him out of the corner by the throat.
Boulder sent spears back into the corner and splashed him. Boulder climbed onto the middle rope and started to remove Spears’ wrist tape. Spears thumbed Boulder’s eyes and then powered him up and walked around the ring before hitting him with his C4 finisher and pinning him.
Shawn Spears beat Bear Boulder in roughly 1:20.
After the match, Spears grabbed a chair from ringside and hit Boulder with it a few times. Spears looked into the camera and said, “Wardlow, the giant killer cometh”…
Powell’s POV: Is Wardlow a giant? Fine, I get what they are going for by having Spears beat a super heavyweight. Spears is a good set-up man for Wardlow to plow through, as the Spears character has no redeemable qualities, so fans should take pleasure in watching Wardlow plow through him.
Tony Nese and Mark Sterling were interviewed by Lexi Nair on the backstage interview set. Sterling used a crutch and wore a neck brace and said their match with Hook and Danhausen wouldn’t happen. Nese said he beat Danhausen in record time and could beat him and Hook by himself…
3. Riho vs. Ruby Soho in an Owen Hart Cup tournament match. Both entrances were televised and the wrestlers shook hands prior to the match. Martha Hart was shown watching from a luxury box. Riho caught Soho in a single leg crab and then went for a bridge. Soho reached the ropes to break it heading into a partial PIP break. [C]
Riho performed a crucifix bomb for a near fall. She went for a running knee, but Soho cut he off and then performed a wicked suplex for a near fall of her own. Soho stood up and kicked Riho, then covered her for another near fall. Soho hit her finisher and scored the pin.
Ruby Soho defeated Riho in roughly 9:15 to advance to the Owen Hart tournament semifinals.
Afterward, Soho helped Riho to her feet and raised her arm. The updated brackets showed that Soho will face the winner of Red Velvet vs. the replacement for the injured Hikaru Shida…
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match that benefitted from not feeling entirely predictable. I had Soho winning, but I didn’t feel like it was a slam dunk by any means.
Backstage, Billy Gunn stood and addressed the seated Austin Gunn, Colten Gunn, Max Caster, and Anthony Bowens. Billy said he knows something about factions and feels they could be one the greatest of all time. The teams offered ideas for hand gestures and catchphrases. Billy said he had a lot of pull in AEW and used it to get them a match. The wrestlers wondered if it was for AEW Double Or Nothing. Billy said it would take place on Monday’s AEW Dark Elevation. Caster did a spit take and then all four wrestlers actually celebrated the news…
TBS Champion Jade Cargill, Kiera Hogan, and Red Velvet made their entrance and stood on the stage. Mark Sterling came out using the crutch and continued to wear a neck brace. The women headed to the ring for an interview with Tony Schiavone while Sterling hobbled behind them. Cargill told Schiavone to cut the shit, then had the cameraman show off her baddie’s section in the crowd.
Schiavone said Hikaru Shida was injured in her match against Serena Deeb and would not be able to face Red Velvet in their scheduled tournament match. Sterling said his professional opinion was that Red Velvet should win by forfeit and move on in the tournament.
Schiavone said that Tony Khan informed him that Red Velvet will face a replacement opponent. Schiavone labeled the person as one of Velvet’s longtime friends. Kris Statlander made her entrance and stood on the stage… [C]
Powell’s POV: I was surprised when Statlander wasn’t booked for the tournament to begin with, so she’s a welcome addition.
Mark Henry hosted his weekly segment with the main event players. Scorpio Sky stood with Ethan Page and Dan Lambert on one side of the screen while challenger Frankie Kazarian was on the other. Page wondered why Kazarian was given a title shot to begin with. Sky said it’s because he gave Kazarian his word. Kazarian said he wanted a one-on-one match. Sky said he meant it when he said he wanted to put some respect back on the TNT Title and told Page and Lambert to take the night off. “It’s time for the main event,” Henry concluded…
Excalibur delivered his auctioneer-paced sprint through the AEW Dynamite lineup for Wednesday. He also announced Red Velvet vs. Kris Statlander in a tournament match for next week’s Rampage (at another TBD special start time), and plowed through the previously announced AEW Double Or Nothing pay-per-view lineup…
Frankie Kazarian made his entrance for the main event to a mild reaction. Sammy Guevara and Tay Conti were shown sitting in the crowd with title belts over their shoulders. Scorpio Sky made his entrance and was not accompanied by Ethan Page or Dan Lambert. Jericho and Excalibur noted that the title belts are the AAA Mixed Tag Team Championship belts.
Powell’s POV: Just what AEW needs, even more title belts. Good lord.
4. Scorpio Sky vs. Frankie Kazarian for the TNT Championship. After a few minutes of back and forth action, Kazarian performed a fisherman’s suplex in a bridge and got a two count. Sky sent Kazarian to ringside and then performed a flip dive onto him heading into a PIP break. [C]
Late in the match, Kazarian pulled Sky over the top rope into a cutter on the way down. Kazarian covered Sky for a near fall. Kazarian went for a crossface chicken wing. Sky tried to kick out of the corner, but Kazarian maintained the hold.
Dan Lambert ran out and argued with referee Rick Knox. Ethan Page followed and hit Kazarian with the title belt. Sky landed on top of Kazarian and got a near fall. Sky followed up with a TKO and scored the pin while Jericho stated on commentary that Sky had no idea that Page interfered in the match.
Scorpio Sky defeated Frankie Kazarian in 11:40 to retain the TNT Championship.
Afterward, Kazarian told Sky about the interference. Sky acted upset with Page, who told him that he did it for the team and for Sky. Page asked Sky whose team he is on. Page and Sky went nose to nose. Sky turned and blasted Kazarian with the title belt. Lambert said he loved it when a plan comes together. “Hey, Sammy, where are you and Whorehausen going right now?” Lambert asked. Sammy Guevara grabbed a chair and then and Tay Conti charged the ring, causing Sky, Page, and Lambert to leave to close the show…
Powell’s POV: The finish was done in a way where Sky could argue that he was unaware of Page and Lambert interfering. That part was fine in the moment. But it was was another bad finish with referee Rick Knox being the only person in the building who was unaware of the interference taking place right behind him. And I guess Sky was in cahoots with Page and Lambert all along? If so, this seemed like a pretty elaborate plan just to swerve Kazarian while risking that he might beat Sky before Page and Lambert arrived at ringside.
Overall, a decent hour of television given the circumstances. It didn’t feel like a throwaway show with a TNT Title match and an Owen Hart Cup tournament match, but they also were smart not to give away too much on the latest afternoon airing of the show. I will have more to say about Rampage coming up shortly in my audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of Rampage by grading it below.