By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 70)
Taped December 7, 2022 in Cedar Park, Texas at the HEB Center
Aired December 9, 2022 on TNT
Jim Ross welcomed everyone in. The commentary team was Ross, Excalibur and Tony Schiavone. We had no entrances and went right the ring.
1. Jon Moxley vs. Konosuke Takeshita. The two locked up to begin the match and the crowd was hot. Moxley worked Takeshita’s arm. Moxley worked a head-lock until Takeshita reversed it. The two traded chops. The chops turned into forearms. Takeshita eventually kicked Moxley, but Moxley came back to try a Death Rider, but Takeshita got out of it and the two reset. Moxley stuck out his hand to shake it, but pulled away and flipped Takeshita off. As a result, Takeshita slapped the hell out of Moxley.
In a corner, Moxley chopped the hell out of Takeshita and went for one more, but Takeshita moved and the two went back to traded elbows. With Moxley on the outside of the ring, Takeshita landed a summersault dive into Moxley. Don Callis was shown in the crowd watching the match. Speaking of the crowd, Takeshita and Moxley went over the guardrail and fought into the crowd as we got our first commercial break [c].
Back from break, the wrestlers were in the ring and Moxley hit a pile-driver for a near-fall. Moxley was bleeding like hell from the head. Moxley went for another pile-driver, but Takeshita countered into a back-body-drop. Takeshita nearly took Moxley’s head off with a lariat. Takeshita then landed the Takeshita Line. Moxley rolled to the apron, but Takeshita kept control and Moxley found his way into the ring, where Takeshita hit a DDT.
The wrestlers got to their feet and exchanged more forearms. It ended when Moxley hit a massive lariat. Moxley went for a Paradigm Shift, but Takeshita got out of it and a hell of knee into a brain-buster for a great near-fall. Moxley wound up on the top rope and Takeshita followed him. Takeshita went for a super-plex, but Moxley countered and threw Takeshita. Takeshita came right back and went for a German Suplex, but Moxley blocked it. Takeshita responded by landed a nice Blue Thunder Bomb for another great near-fall.
The two hit stereo elbows and Takeshita landed that German Suplex for again another great near-fall. Takeshita went to the top rope and went for a frog-splash, but Moxley got the knees up. Moxley then got in the hammer and elbow strikes. Moxley then hit the Death Rider, but Takeshita kicked out at one and holy hell that Texas crowd went nuts. Moxley came back with a jumping knee and got a two-count out of it. Moxley stomped on Takeshita and went for an arm bar, but Takeshita worked out of it and stomped on Moxley.
Moxley hammered down on Takeshita’s neck and went for a sleeper but Takeshita fought back as well as he could. The crowd was chanting Takeshita’s name. Ultimately, the ref stopped the match (though it should be pointed out that Takeshita didn’t tap out – or at least not that I saw).
Jon Moxley defeated Konosuke Takeshita via ref stoppage in 14:06.
As soon as the bell rang, Hamgman Page’s music hit and he came to the ring with a microphone. Page spoke for a second and then just beat the hell out of Moxley. The action spilled outside the ring and the two brawled. The BCC tried to break it up, but at first it didn’t work. Inevitably, Claudio pulled Moxley away after Moxley threw Hangman into the ring post. We then got a promo from Will Hobbs (so Powerhouse is gone?). The vignette was much like the last one we saw, which is far more real and raw than anything we’ve seen before now.
McGuire’s Musings: White hot. And bless Jon Moxley because that opening match was strictly designed to make sure Takeshita knew he made the right decision by moving to America because AEW has his back and boy does AEW have his back. That match was great and definitely worth going out of your way to see. All things considered, it’s probably the best Rampage match in six months, so while it’s easy for me to be cynical about Tony Khan constantly telling us Rampage will matter one day, this company sure did deliver here. Takeshita is a superstar after that match and it wasn’t not like the star-making Wheeler Yuta performance we saw when he bled everywhere a bunch of months ago. This time, it was Moxley getting color, but that drama added to the legend of Takeshita. More of this, please.
Back from break, we got a very quick congratulations for Hook because it’s his one-year anniversary. From there, we got a promo from Stokely Hathaway. It was designed to remind everyone that Lee Moriarty still exists, I think. It was then back to the ring.
2. Hikaru Shida vs. The Bunny for the Regina Di Wave Championship. It was announced that whomever wins the match will get a shot at Jamie Hayter. The women locked up and Shida took Bunny to the ground before a break. The two pushed each other and exchanged elbows. Shida hit an enziguri before Bunny essentially choked Shida with her legs. As Shida sold pain from that, we got our next PIP [c].
Back from break, the wrestlers traded thrust kicks. Bunny went for the Rabbit Hole, but Shida countered by hitting a Rabbit Hole of her own. Before the ref could count three, Penelope Ford threw the Kendo Stick into the ring to distract everyone. Shida went outside to confront Ford, and Bunny tried to help but instead kicked Ford. Back inside the ring, Shida hit a Driver for a two-count. Shida then landed the spinning kick/knee for a win.
Hikaru Shida defeated The Bunny via pinfall in 7:26.
Right after the match, Jamie Hayter’s music hit and the two stared each other down while Hayter stood on the ramp. From there we got a promo video for Mercedes Martinez vs. Athena. Athena weirdly said she needs to win because it would mark the push she needs in AEW (even though the match happens at a Ring Of Honor PPV?). We went back to the ring.
3. Big Bill and Lee Moriarty vs. Clayton Bloodstone and Izzy James. Moriarty began the match with Bloodstone and eventually kicked Bloodstone’s head, which took Bloodstone down. Moriarty worked two separate submissions on both opponents with a smile on his face. Big Bill tagged in and James tagged in and Bill smashed James. Bill kicked Bloodstone out of the ring. James came off the top, but Bill caught James by the neck and hit a big choke-slam for the win.
Big Bill and Lee Moriarty defeated Clayton Bloodstone and Izzy James via pinfall in 2:01.
As soon as the match ended, we got an interview with FTR. Cash spoke first and said they lost their chance at making history at Dynamite. Dax chimed in and said they are the most wild animals in the world. Dax said they are going to finish the FTR/Briscoes history at Final Battle. After that, we got a promo from Ortiz and Eddie Kingston. Ortiz talked about how he’s worked hard to be respected. They aimed their comments at House of Black.
McGuire’s Musings: The women’s match was fine. It dawned on me that people seem to forget that Shida was a champion in AEW and when she wrestles, it should have more weight than it sometimes has. Her winning here to go on and face Hayter should be a very good match and a very good tone-setting bout for Hayter’s reign as champion. I’m not sure if they were teasing a Ford/Bunny breakup because of that wayward kick near the finish of the match, but if they did, I think both could do well by it. Meanwhile, the tag squash was what it should be and count me among those who would like to see Big Bill and Lee Moriarty get a bit of a tag push. It makes sense, it would elevate The Firm and it would give two very good and always-improving wresters reason to be on TV more often. Kingston and Ortiz worked with House of Black? I don’t know about that.
Back from break, we got the Mark Henry segment. Henry asked Kip Sabian why Sabian wouldn’t face Orange Cassidy himself and Sabian said he found someone from across the pond to bring class to the title. Cassidy was dismissive, of course. Sabian called out Danhausen and Danhausen appeared with Mark Henry in his screen. The two argued over who would say “It’s time for the main event,” and Henry said it. We then got a Tony of matches announced for the Final Battle pre-show. We got a promo from Shane Taylor, who said STP went onto revolutionize the six-man tag titles. From there, we got the rundown of the Winter Is Coming card and we didn’t get anything new announced.
4. Orange Cassidy vs. Trent Seven. Kip Sabian made his entrance first and Trent Seven’s music hit. Seven was wearing an AEW scarf. It’s the battle of who can roll into the ring slower. Cassidy went to put his hands in his pockets, bur Seven stopped Cassidy and the two twirled their mustaches. Cassidy eventually put his hands in his pockets and Seven chopped Cassidy, so Cassidy took off his sunglasses and sold the chop. Seven went for an overhead chop, but Cassidy moved and then did a secret handshake with Seven.
Things then got serious and Seven slammed Cassidy, but Cassidy rolled to the outside, where Sabian confronted Cassidy. Seven followed Cassidy and chopped the hell out of Cassidy. Seven went for another one, but Cassidy moved and Seven hit his hand on the post. Penelope Ford, who was with Sabian, ran to the back and the wrestlers got back into the ring, where Cassidy hit his soft kicks. Seven responded with a DDT. Instantly, The Butcher, Blade and Bunny’s music hit and those three came to the ring. Best Friends brawled with Butcher and Blade as we went to our final PIP [c].
Back from break. Seven hit a super-plex for a two-count. The wrestlers tried to fire up. Seven landed a chop and threw Cassidy into the corner, but Cassidy went up and over. In response, Cassidy was on the bad end of a slap. Seven tried a splash onto Cassidy, who was on the outside, but Cassidy pulled Sabian in the way instead. Back in the ring, Cassidy went for the Orange Punch, but Seven countered, until Cassidy countered with a Stungun Millionaire. Seven came back with a slam of his own for a two-count.
Seven his a series of slaps to the back of Cassidy’s head. Seven landed a short-arm lariat for a two-count. Trent tried something, but Cassidy countered and before long hit a DDT. Cassidy went to the top, but Seven caught Cassidy when Cassidy came off the top and landed a twisting pile-driver for a two-count. Seven lifted Cassidy, but Cassidy rolled Seven up for a two-count and then hit the Orange Punch into the Beach Break for the win.
Orange Cassidy defeated Trent Seven via pinfall in 11:55.
As soon as the match ended, Kip Sabian attacked Cassidy. Sabian got in Seven’s face and Seven got up to stomp out Cassidy. Dustin Rhodes’s music hit and Dustin came down to land a snap power-slam on Sabian. Dustin then beat the hell out of Seven. The crowed was happy to see Dustin and the show ended as Dustin offered his hand to Cassidy and Dustin put on Cassidy’s shades.
McGuire’s Musings: That was fun for what it was. I’m a fan of Trent Seven, so I was happy to see him get the call. Something tells me we probably won’t see him again on AEW TV (or, if we do, it will probably be on YouTube), but I thought he matched up well with Cassidy. When you think about it – and clearly some people in AEW had thought about it – the mustache gimmick doesn’t have all that much distance between the pockets gimmick and that provided an entertaining first few minutes of the match. Unless you don’t like that stuff. In that case … well … it’s what you make of it, I suppose. It was a fine-enough match, but it wasn’t no Moxley vs. Takeshita. Then again, what is? Even so, both matches didn’t have much doubt when it came to outcome, but they also serve as a pretty stark metaphor for what makes Rampage a show worth seeing and what makes Rampage a show you can afford to skip. That opening match was a great wrestling match with drama, star power and really compelling in-ring work. That last match was quirky, fun and in-ring work that had its limits. Someone in AEW knows the difference. It’s just been a while since we’ve seen the former. I’ll have more to say in my audio review.