By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 42)
Live from Las Vegas, Nevada at Michelob Ultra Arena
Aired May 27, 2022 on TNT
The opening video aired and the commentary team of Tax, Excalibur, William Regal and Ricky Starks was introduced as the two wrestlers opening the show stood in the ring. The bell rang and away we went.
1. Bryan Danielson vs. Matt Sydal. Danielson worked a head-lock and wouldn’t let go. Before long, Sydal countered with a flying snap-mare takedown. The two locked up again and Danielson locked in a full-nelson takedown. Danielson landed a backbreaker and went to a series of European Uppercuts. Danielson sank in somewhat of a surfboard after rolling through into it. It didn’t last long and Sydal hit a leg lariat as the first PIP began [c].
Back from break, Danielson hung onto this headlock and went for a pin, only to get a two-count. Danielson went for a snap-mare, but Sydal countered with a pair of knees. Sydal kept at it with kicks and chops, eventually getting a two-count out of it. Sydal kicked Danielson in the head for a two-count. Sydal went to the top rope, but Danielson cut him off. Sydal got the best of it and pushed Danielson to the mat.
Sydal went for the Meteora, but Danielson caught him and sank in a single-leg crab. Danielson went for a knee-bar, but Sydal made it to the ropes for a break. That resulted in Sydal kneeling and Danielson landing some kicks. Daneilson and Sydal were on the second rope and Sydal reversed something into a wild sunset-flip powerbomb. Back on their feet, the two traded blows. Sydal went for a kick, but Danielson ducked and hit his running knee before landing a bunch of elbows, making Sydal essentially pass out for the win.
Bryan Danielson defeated Matt Sydal via ref stoppage in 11:04.
McGuire’s Musings: A very good opening match, and damn if I’ve said this once, I’ll say it again: Matt Sydal can gosh darn go, gosh darn-it. He’s looked really, really good in some of his previous AEW outings (see: CM Punk) and he looked great here, too. So much of that credit goes to Danielson, of course, but Sydal always shows so much fire and guts, you can’t help but believe in the guy. Meanwhile, Danielson continues to be on a hell of a roll, looking more ruthless every week. I kind of hope he can find a more meaningful program after Sunday and the BCC can have some singles success.
Back from break, we got a Hook/Danhousen video package. The Hardy Boyz music then hit and the Young Bucks came out with Gangrel while the Bucks looked like the Hardys. It was fairly funny.
2. The Young Bucks vs. Jon Cruz and Taylor Rust. Nick stole every mannerism Jeff Hardy ever had, complete with the dance. Matt tagged in and mocked Matt (Hardy) before landing an elbow off the middle rope onto Cruz. Cruz ultimately rolled out of everything and tagged in Rust, who fired up, but eventually was the victim of a super-kick party. Cruz then tagged in, but Matt hit a Twist of Fate and Nick landed a Swanton Bomb for the win.
The Young Bucks defeated Jon Cruz and Taylor Rust in 2:38.
After the match, the Bucks attacked Gangrel and went for a BTE Trigger, but the Hardys made their entrance for the save. When the Hardys made it into the ring, the teams stared each other down, but Brandon Cutler attacked the Hardys. Gangrel then came back in and laid waste to Cutler. The Hardys landed the Twist of Fate/Swanton combo on Cutler.
McGuire’s Musings: The Hardys bit was fun and thankfully kept short. I feel like I’ve seen Gangrel more in the last two weeks than I have anyone in my family between this and his 59 appearances and the MLW tapings a couple weeks ago. My only gripe here is that Taylor Rust deserves better. When “The Young Bucks in action” was announced, we all knew it would be a squash, but I would have never thought they would have jobbed Rust out like that, especially with his semi-recent return to NJPW. But I digress.
We then got a Darby Allin promo. Allin called out Kyle O’Reilly for taking out Sting and he challenged O’Reilly to a fight on Sunday. From there, a video on the Max Caster/Dante Martin feud history. Martin was already in the ring as Caster made his entrance. Caster had some lines about Martin not getting laid and his brother being injured. The Gunn brothers kept yelling nonsense into the mic until Martin hit a splash onto them from the top onto the outside. Billy Gunn stepped in, though, and attacked Martin, rolling him inside the ring. The ref then rang the bell to start the match after ejecting Caster’s entourage from ringside.
3. Max Caster vs. Dante Martin. The two hit each other with a series of moves before Martin fired up. Caster ultimately cut him off, but right as the match started, we got our second PIP [c].
Back from break, Caster had control, but Martin came back with an elbow and a sunset flip for a two-count. Caster went for the leg, but Martin rolled Caster up for a two-count. Martin hit a series of elbows. Martin landed a cross-body from the top rope for a two-count. Martin hit a double springboard mooonsault for the win.
Dante Martin defeated Max Caster via pinfall in 6:14.
McGuire’s Musings: Huh? The finish sort of came out of nowhere, and for having two of the company’s youngest, more intriguing in-ring workers, we got about 2-and-a-half minutes of actual television wrestling. I expected so, so much more out of that. The crowd felt confused, too. Even the pin looked awkward. Yikes.
Scorpio Sky, Dan Lambert and Ethan Page were in the ring. Lambert made fun of AEW fans. Lambert said the new TNT belt was put together in less than a week. Page unveiled the belt, which was gold and looked pretty nice, complete with some purple jewelry. Sammy and Tay appeared on the video screen as they were breaking into America’s Top Team. Frankie Kazarian was with them. Sammy smashed a glass belt case with a pipe and the three took three different MMA belts. Sky got the mic and started screaming and said if Sammy and Tay and Kaz want a match with Page, Sky and Page Van, they got it. If Sammy and his crew loses, none of them can challenge for the TNT title ever again.
McGuire’s Musings: More of the same from the most obnoxious program AEW has going. I couldn’t possibly care less about someone breaking into America’s Top Team and stealing some MMA belts. Oh, wait. I can. And that’s if it’s incorporated into this pro wrestling angle. Hopefully Sunday marks the end of this.
Back from break, we got the Mark Henry segment. Ruby Soho said she’s been losing her confidence, but then she earned her opportunity to be in the Owen Hart Cup. She said this could make her career, even if that means beating her friend. Statlander chimed in saying she’s been in AEW since the beginning and she’s got nothing to show for it. She got a blown-out knee, no championships and her friends leaving her, among other things, in what was probably the best promo of Statlander’s AEW career. Henry then said it’s time for the main event, so here we go. Excalibur then ran down the Double or Nothing card.
4. Kris Statlander vs. Ruby Soho in an Owen Hart Cup tournament semifinal match. The two locked up and Statlander worked a head-lock. Soho came back with a head-scissors, but Statlander took Soho down and taunted her a bit. The two locked up again and eventually, Statlander threw Soho and posed. Statlander took Soho down and got a one-count. Soho went to punch Statlander, but held her punch and the two faced off. Soho went for an arm-drag, but Statlander blocked with an elbow and ultimately landed a tough lariat before the final PIP [c].
When we returned, Statlander had control and landed a European Uppercut before putting Soho on her back and going to the second rope. Soho fought her way out of it, but Statlander came right back with a power-bomb. Statlander ran at Soho, but Soho moved and Soho eventually hit No Future, which took Statlander outside the ring. Back in the ring, Soho went to the top rope and drove Statlander’s arm into the mat. Soho worked a double wrist-lock, but Statlander got to the ropes for a break.
Soho found herself on Statlander’s shoulders and Statlander threw her into the turnbuckle. Statlander landed a German Suplex and her finisher for an awfully close near-fall. Statlander hit a clothesline and went for a Spider Crab, but Soho kicked her way out. Soho then rolled Statlander up and got the pin.
Ruby Soho defeated Kris Statlander via pinfall in 10:08 to get to the Owen Hart Cup tournament final.
After the match, Britt Baker’s music hit. Baker was wearing a Johnny Depp shirt. The fans booed Soho and Soho said she did what she had to do. Soho said Statlander is her friend and Baker should see what she did to her. Sos said she’d hurt Baker real bad and she’s got a receipt coming. Soho slammed the mic and the show ended.
McGuire’s Musings: Poor Ruby Soho. Damn, people. Like she said in her post-match promo, “I get it, I get it,” as the fans booed her out of the building. Throwing Baker, the most beloved villain in all the land, out there with a microphone wasn’t going to help, either. Ruby can’t catch a break, though. Everyone cheered when she won the battle royal to get a title shot, but then she lost the match, faded away and now that she’s actually getting another glimpse of prominence, the masses have decided they’re in love with New Kris Statlander. Anyway, the match was pretty good, and in fact, it exceeded my expectations. Statlander is doing a great job showing more edge and it’s obviously working with those who watch. You just had to know that when Baker won the other semi-final and Statlander wasn’t even initially booked to be in the tournament … well, yeah. The outcome was all but elementary.
All told, this was an odd episode of Rampage. It’s just one guy’s opinion, but while I enjoy and push for the live version of this show for the chaos and energy, this one fell a little flat. The Bucks gag was funny until it kind of wasn’t, America’s Top Team lost some hardware, the main event was solid, Danielson is a beast and Caster vs. Martin was … definitely six minutes of something, somewhere. I’ll have more to say in my audio review.