By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 54)
Taped August 17, 2022 in Charleston, West Virginia at the Charleston Coliseum
Aired August 19, 2022 on TNT
Jim Ross said hello to everybody and introduced Tony Schiavone, Excalibur and Chris Jericho as the commentary team along with himself. Claudio’s music then hit and Claudio Castagnoli made his way to the ring with Wheeler Yuta. Castagnoli called out Ricky The Dragon Steamboat as one of his idols. The crowd chanted “Ricky!” Castagnoli said he wants to defend his ROH title and therefore, he’s issuing an open challenge. Dustin Rhodes cut Castagnoli off and said he’d accept the challenge.
Dustin walked to the ring and said he had been dreaming for 34 years about holding a world title. Dustin said winning his title is a dream of his. Dustin said he’d give Castagnoli the best Natural Dustin Rhodes he’s ever seen. Castagnoli responded by saying the two have a lot in common and Dustin has had his best run in AEW. Castagnoli said Dustin still has the same fire and accepted Dustin’s challenge for next week. The two shook hands and Castagnoli raised his belt. From there, we went to a promo with Ruby Soho and Ortiz and Ortiz yelled a bunch, which was a lot of fun. We went back to the ring.
1. Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee vs. Private Party for the AEW Tag Titles. Lee and Kassidy began the match and Lee tried to re-create the spot where Lee threw Kassidy a thousand miles, but Kassidy landed on his feet. Swerve tagged in and hit an uppercut before jumping off the top to run into a back elbow. Swerve found himself on the outside and Kassidy landed a tornado dive onto Swerve on the outside. We then got our first IP [c].
Back from break, Private Party had control, but Lee quickly got the hot tag and cleaned house. Lee inevitably did throw Kassidy a thousand miles. Lee landed a touch lariat for a two-count. Quen tagged in and Lee rag-dolled him. Swerve tagged in and hit a kick for a good near-fall. Swerve then hit the JML Driver for the win.
Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee defeated Private Party via pinfall in 5:58.
After the match, Lee shook the hands of both guys in Private Party. We then went backstage, where we got a promo from QT Marshall and The Nightmare Factory. Powerhouse Hobbs interrupted everything and called QT out, saying he would take out Ricky Starks. QT said he’d get the job done and then we went back to the ring.
2. Hook vs. Zack Clayton for the FTW Title. Clayton made his way to the ring with a microphone and said he’s the biggest star in West Virginia. Clayton said it was a shame he had to win the FTW title in the “cesspool” that is West Virginia. Clayton said he’d bring the title back to a state people respect, which is New Jersey, and we can all have a laugh at that. Hook’s music hit and to the match, we went. Hook choked Clayton and that was it.
Hook defeated Zack Clayton via ref stoppage in 13 seconds.
From there, we went to Daddy Magic backstage. Daddy Magic said it was a hell of a victory. He asked what if the FTW title was held by a sports entertainer and then we got a commercial break.
McGuire’s Musings: A lot here. First, let me go on the record to say Dustin Rhodes and Claudio Castagnoli are going to have the match of the week next week, and yes, that includes whatever comes of the AEW world title unification match. Secondly, the tag match kind of surprised me because I was of the thought that Private Party would get a little more shine, but so it goes. A match less than six minutes was not what I had in mind, but even so, it furthered the story between Swerve and Lee a tiny bit considering how Lee shook hands and Swerve didn’t. Thirdly, I’m so damn glad that Hook match turned out the way it did. I was loud about how annoyed Clayton’s presence made me last week, both with my Rampage review last week and my McGuire’s Monday column on Monday. All told, it was a very solid, very busy first 15 minutes of the hour.
Back from break, we got an interview with Billy Gunn, who said he’s coming for his sons with The Acclaimed on Dynamite. From there, because we got “such a short match from Hook,” we got a stand-by match that included Buddy Matthews.
3. Buddy Matthews vs. Serpentico. Murphy dropkicked Serpentico to start the match. The action spilled to the outside, where Murphy threw Serpentico into the guardrail. Back in the ring, Matthews hit the pump-handle slam for the win.
Buddy Matthews defeated Serpentico via pinfall in 1:08.
After the match, Miro’s music hit and Trio walked out with Malikai Black’s mask. Murphy and Miro brawled. Miro and and Murphy fought in the ring, but it was mostly Miro stopping the hell out of Murphy. Miro kept yelling about the pagans and ultimately super-kicked Murphy out of the ring. From there, we got a backstage segment with Britt Baker and her crew. Baker said called Thunderstorm the most toxic tag-team in all of wrestling. Baker made fun of both Thunder Rosa and Toni Storm.
McGuire’s Musings: I do like the idea that we can add a match at a moment’s notice if one match goes shorter than expected. Even if it’s a tiny bit cheesy for some, I think it pays respect to the realism pro wrestling always hopes to convey. That said, Matthews beat the hell out of Serpentico, but Mrio beat the hell out of Murphy. I’m curious about two things there. One, the CJ Perry/Julia Hart stuff could be a lot of fun, but I don’t know know how that could play out because Julia is gaining momentum as a badass goth wrestler and CJ Perry is … Miro’s wife? Would Perry get the best of it? I don’t know. Secondly, there was no paint on Miro’s eye, so I guess we’re done with the mist leaving permanent damage on wrestlers who endure it. In some ways, it’s sad. In others, it’s easy to understand.
4. Penelope Ford vs. Athena. Athena taunted Ford and then landed an arm-drag to take control. Ford ran into a knee from Athena. Eventually, Ford hit a dropkick to Athena’s back. With Athena on the apron, Ford hit a leg drop and kept slamming Athena’s head on the apron as we went to the next PIP [c].
Back from break, Athena covered Ford for the win. Yeah, that sounds generic, but that’s what happened.
Athena defeated Penelope Ford via pinfall in 5:40.
After the match, The Baddies came out and Jade Cargill had a sledgehammer. Cargill ruined Athena’s wings and then went to the ring to attack Athena with it. The heels stood tall and we went to a video between Moxley and Punk. Excalibur ran down Dynamite and the All Out cards, including the return of the Casino Battle Royal at All out. We then went to break.
Back from break, we got the Mark Henry segment. Ariya Daivari spoke and said they would become the first-ever AEW trios champions. Chuck Taylor and Trent spoke on behalf of their team and Trent said the belts were made for them. Orange Cassidy interrupted Henry saying “It’s time for the main event,” was his line, which was funny.
5. The Trustbusters vs. Orange Cassidy, Trent Beretta, and Chuck Taylor in an AEW Trios Titles tournament match. Daivari and Taylor started the match, but Slim J and Trent tagged in. Trent slammed Slim J for a pin. Parker Boudreaux tagged in and beat the hell out of everyone. While the Trustbusters were gaining control on the outside of the ring, we went to our final commercial break [c].
Back from break, Slim J went after Orange Cassidy, but Trent landed a half and half on Slim J before Cassidy tagged in and hit the weak kicks. Cassidy landed a cross-body on Slim J and then took out Daivari with a DDT. Boudreaux came in and took Cassidy down, but Trent and Taylor tagged in. It didn’t matter because Boudreaux beat the hell out of all the Best Friends. The three Best Friends hit a triple dropkick on Boudreaux.
Cassidy and Slim J faced off and Slim J had control. Slim J went to the top and hit a tornado splash on the Best Friends on the outside. Daivari got a blind tag and landed a frog splash on Cassidy for a two-count. On the outside of the ring, Taylor and Boudreaux fought before Cassidy hit the Orange Punch on Boudreaux. Inside the ring, Sonny Kiss interfered to give the Trustbusters the upper hand and Slim J landed a reverse DDT for a good near-fall on Cassidy. Out of nowhere, Danhausen spooked Kiss and Slim J. The Best Friends trio hit their finisher for the win.
Orange Cassidy, Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor defeated the Trustbusters via pinfall in 10:32.
After the match, Best Friends and Danhausen posed to close the show.
McGuire’s Musings: That was a fine enough main event, but nothing particularly special. I know last week’s Rampage was The Trustbusters Show, but you had to know that Best Friends weren’t going out in the first round of this tournament. The star, coming away from it, was Slim J, who was the best Slim J a Slim J can be, and good on him for it. The Danhausen spot was a mild surprise for me, but even so, I guess that means we should start wondering when he becomes an official member of Best Friends. It would make sense, and don’t tell me it wouldn’t be entertaining. Anyway, the most intriguing thing here is what happens next for the Trustbusters. They had a hell of a week last week, but this week, they took the loss. Is it back to Dark and Elevation now that some of the superstars are back? Or are the Trustbusters here to stay? I’ll have more to say in my audio review.
So far, up to the main event, kind of a haphazard episode; nothing really standing out here as essential wrestling programming.
I like The Trustbusters new theme song.
Private party and Ford both lose. It always annoys me when “AEW Originals” get pushed further down. I know. Times change. But talent that took the risk in the first place (before Mr Monopoly took over) should be treated better.
The finishing maneuver used in the trios match is an example of trying to get too innovative for your own good. It looked a bit silly in execution and not particularly finishing move worthy for the amount of set up required.