By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 68)
Taped November 23, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois at Wintrust Arena
Aired November 25, 2022 on TNT
Jim Ross welcomed everyone into Rampage instead of Dynamite (happy Thanksgiving!) and we have the team of him, Excalibur and Tony Schiavone calling the action. JR said it’s Friday afternoon, and boy, is it. Ian Riccaboni joined in on commentary for the first match.
1. “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler vs. “Top Flight” Dante Martin and Darius Martin for the ROH Tag Team Titles. Dax and Darius began the match and Darius had the upper hand. Cash tagged in and chopped Darius, but Dante tagged in soon after. Cash hit Dante with a series of strikes. Darius got a blind tag in and the the Top Flight guys landed a series of moves on Cash for a one-count. Dax tagged in and chopped Darius. Darius returned the favor and the two exchanged blows. Cash tagged in and things broke down as Top Flight rolled up FTR a couple times. Dante tagged in, but Cash rolled to the outside to slow things down. We got our first PIP [c].
Back from break, all four men were in the ring and Top Flight clotheslined FTR to the outside. Darius hit a Tope before Dante went for his leap spot, but kind of slipped on the ropes. Inside the ring, Dante landed a cross-body block for a two-count. After a replay, we found Dax and both Top Flight guys in the ring. Dax chopped the hell out of them and Cash tagged in. Dante went for a super-plex, but Dax cut him off and FTR hit a double-team move for a two-count.
Dax clotheslined the snot out of Darius. Dax then officially tagged in, but the Martins worked over Dax and Dante got a good near-fall. Darius hit a DDT and Dante hit a splash, but Cash broke up the pin attempt. Cash and Darius fought until Darius landed a standing Spanish Fly. Dax came back to hit a brain-buster on Darius. After that, Dante rolled up Dax a bunch of times, but only got two-counts out of them. Dante went for the Nose Dive, but FTR countered into a Big Rig for the win.
“FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler defeated “Top Flight” Dante Martin and Darius Martin to retain the ROH Tag Team Titles via pinfall in 11:11.
After the match, we got a Powerhouse Hobbs vignette before going to break.
McGuire’s Musings: That was a good match and I wonder why it’s not the main event. Top Flight looked very good for being away from each other as a team for so long and some of those near-falls were executed perfectly. Though while it was fun to see the clash in styles from both teams, I am kind of bothered by how much the rules weren’t enforced. So much of this saw all four guys in the ring and that’s not what I expect from an FTR match. I just don’t understand why we can’t just get one damn tag match in any company at any level where it’s two tag-teams being tag-teams. It always breaks down and it always feels like there’s no actual tag rules. Bah-humbug. This was a fun match, though, and it’s definitely worth your time if you missed it because you were out doing Black Friday things.
Chris Jericho made his entrance with the rest of JAS. Cool hand got the mic first and yelled that everyone should honor The Ocho. Jericho asked if there was any doubt that he’s the great ROH world champion of all time. Jericho said he’s beaten everyone who’s been thrown his way. Jericho said he’s bled for the title, he’s earned the title and not even Claudio could slow him down with a cheap shot. Jericho asked who’s going to uncrown him as the king of ROH. Claudio’s music hit.
Claudio said Jericho is not the greats ROH champion and he said he knows he can beat Jericho. Claudio said the most important thing to do is believe in yourself. Claudio said he’s the best pro wrestler when he doesn’t doubt himself. Claudio said he has to beat Jericho. Jericho said Claudio he should be more worried about the Blackpool Combat Club because it’s falling apart at the seams. Claudio said he needs a shot at the ROH title. Jericho said Claudio can forget it because there’s nothing Claudio can offer him. Daddy Magic spoke up and said Claudio was once a fantastic sports entertainer. Daddy Magic said Claudio would make a great addition to the JAS and in response Jericho said he’d give Claudio one more chance, but if Claudio loses, he has to join JAS. Claudio accepted and the match will happen at Final Battle.
From there, we went backstage where Toni Storm was interviewed. Storm looked upset and said deep down, she’s proud of Jamie Hayter. Storm said Hayter didn’t beat her one-on-one and Hayter needed Britt and Reba’s help. Storm said she broke her face losing the women’s title and she’ll break it again to get it back. We then went back to the ring.
McGuire’s Musings: I can’t say the Jericho ROH run has been doing much for me, so I’d be happy to see the belt return to Claudio and we can all return to our lives. The stip is kind of dumb because JAS already has a comically large number of people in it, and I don’t know that I could stand another “guy who, against his will, is teaming with people he doesn’t like” angle. Suffice to say, if Claudio doesn’t win at Final Battle, I might put in my resignation. Meanwhile, I’m all for the Storm/Hayter rematch, so book it, pal. Actually, book it without any nonsense. Storm and Hayter can carry a great match on their own.
2. Darby Allin vs. Anthony Henry. Sting accompanied Darby. Henry and Allin locked up to begin the match and Excalibur explained that Darby is leading the series between the two, 3-2. Henry kicked Allin’s back a few times. Henry lifted Darby and placed Darby on the apron. Eventually, Darby ran at Henry and hit his splash through the ropes on JD Drake. Still, Henry came back by slamming Allin on the apron before we got an another commercial break [c].
Back to the action, Henry hit a neck-breaker from the top for a two-count. Darby soon came back with a Code Red, which was enough to land a two-count. On the outside, Drake hit a forearm on Allin and celebrated, but Sting walked over and beat the hell out of Drake. Allin and Henry went to the top rope and Henry hit a super-plex. Allin came right back, though and landed a Scorpion Death Drop. Allin fired up and had blood on his teeth. Allin landed the Coffin Drop for the win.
Darby Allin defeated Anthony Henry via pinfall in 8:09.
After the match, we went backstage to an interview with Athena, who talked about being suspended for hitting Ref Aubrey. Athena refused to apologize for Ref Aubrey and then said she beat trash bag wrestler after trash bag wrestler. Athena asked Mercedes Martinez when she’d put her ROH women’s title on the line. We went back to the ring.
3. Hikaru Shida vs. Queen Aminata. Before the match could start, The Bunny and Penelope Ford made their ways to the ring. Aminata jumpstarted the match and kicked Shida in the head a couple times. Aminata went for an Air Raid Crash, but Shida countered into a rollup for a two-count. Shida elbowed Aminata and landed a Falcon Arrow before hitting her finisher for the win.
Hikaru Shida defeated Queen Aminata via pinfall in 1:17.
McGuire’s Musings: The Darby Allin match went too long. I know Henry and Darby have had some good matches on the indies and as Excalibur pointed out, it’s been a fairly even series elsewhere. But Henry hasn’t been positioned as a player in AEW and we can praise the Workhorsemen all we want, but we rarely see them outside of YouTube, so I can’t think going eight minutes would make a lot of sense to the casual viewer. Elsewhere, the Bunny/Ford arrival to watch Shida win a squash before simply walking back was kind of odd. I guess that means Shida will work with either one or both of them, which is fine because the women’s division needs programs that aren’t just centered around titles. Still, Bunny and Ford’s presence here was sort of pointless.
We came back to the Mark Henry segment. 10 wasn’t with Dark Order, further expressing dissension in those ranks. Rush said he wanted to fight and stop talking, so Henry did the catch phrase. From there, we got an FTR promo backstage and during it Dax said he etched his name with the greatest wrestlers in the world in 2022. Dax called out Bryan Danielson for Wednesday and it looks like we’re going to get it on Dynamite. We’ll also hear from MJF on Wednesday, it turns out.
4. The Butcher, The Blade, and Rush vs. John Silver, Alex Reynolds, and Preston “10” Vance. Dark Order made their entrance without 10. The match began with all five guys brawling. Butcher and Rush took out Silver on the outside while Reynolds and Blade fought inside. Reynolds hit an elbow and a kick. The heels cut Reynolds off and Butcher tagged in to hit Reynolds a few times before tagging back in Blade. Reynolds got out of trouble and tagged in Silver, who cleaned house and posed. Silver went to dive at Butcher, but Butcher caught him and Rush hit an elbow before we got our final PIP [c].
Back from break, Butcher was beating up Silver in the ring, but Silver came right back with a slam, but before he could get the hot tag, Rush cut him off. Evil Uno and Negative One appeared on the stage and ushered 10 to the ring. But wouldn’t you know it, 10 clotheslined Silver. Rush landed the Bulls’ Horns on Silver and got the win.
The Butcher, The Blade, and Rush defeated John Silver, Alex Reynolds, and Preston “10” Vance via pinfall in 7:25.
After the match, 10 flipped everyone off and Negative One was upset. 10 hit a Discuss Lariat on Evil Uno and they tore the mask off Uno. The heels set up a table and Rush and 10 threw Reynolds through the tables. Rush and 10 posed together. 10 walked toward Negative One, took off his mask and threw it at the feet of Negative One. Negative One was upset as the heels posed over him to end the show.
McGuire’s Musings: I like it. Dark Order needed a shakeup and Rush needed a boost. The end of the episode suggested 10 is more aligned with Rush than he is Butcher and Blade and maybe this makes for a solid tag-team going forward. The drama with Negative One was well done, too, and I’m curious to see what 10’s motives were, assuming we get a mission statement promo from him coming out of this. The match itself was fine for what it was, but it was nothing special, really. Dark Order had to lose if only because they were undermanned. Either way, this was a very effective angle to end the show.
In all, this was without question the best 4 p.m. hour of wrestling TV I’ve ever seen in my life. Most notably, that’s because this is the only 4 p.m. hour of wrestling TV I’ve ever seen in my life, but that’s splitting hairs. The tag match was good and, wrestling wise, it went downhill from there. But we have developments that are intriguing and the announcement of Dax vs. Danielson on Wednesday is certainly noteworthy. I’ll have more to say in my audio review.