By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
AEW Rampage (Episode 87)
Live from Kingston, Rhode Island at Ryan Center
Aired April 7, 2023 on TNT
Jim Ross welcomed everyone into the show. He was joined by Tony Schiavone and Excalibur on commentary. Ethan Page was already in the ring and Hook’s music hit. Hook made his way to the ring and the first match will be under FTW rules.
1. Hook vs. Ethan Page for the FTW Title. Hook’s music played for a bunch of seconds after the bell rang and the two started the match. Hook pulled out a table and it was legal because these are FTW rules. Hook beat the hell out of Page on the outside of the ring as the two fought into the crowd. The two brawled up the stairs through the crowd. Hook threw a drink in Page’s face and riled the crowd up. Page took control and told the crowd to kiss his ass. Hook laid in some strikes as Page sat on a chair in the crowd. We got our first PIP of the night [c].
Back from break, Page kicked Hook over the guardrail and back to ringside. Hook responded by suplexing Page on the floor. Hook grabbed a pair of chairs from under the ring and Page went for an Ego’s Edge on a table, but Hook fought out and went for a T-Bone suplex onto a table, but Page fought out of that. Ultimately, Page, landed a powerslam through the table. A “Holy s—” chant broke out. Page went for a cover on the outside and got a two-count out of it. Page set up a table in a corner.
Page went for a chair shot, but it backfired and the chair bounced off the rope and hit Page in the head. From there, Hook hit a Twist Of Fate for a two-count. Page came back with a boot to the face. Page went for an Ego’s Edge through a table, but Hook countered into a Red Rum and Page instantly tapped out.
Hook defeated Ethan Page via submission in 9:13.
After the match, Hook pointed to the table and hit a T-bone suplex on Page through the table. The crowd reacted accordingly. After that, we got a QTV segment, and no, I’m not writing about that.
McGuire’s Musings: That was a hell of a brawl to open the televised portion of the night and both guys worked hard. I loved the idea that Hook swam into waters he hasn’t been in previously and it gave the match an extra layer that made everything just a little more intriguing. There was no way they were setting up tables without using them and I’m happy the post-match included Hook making good on his implied promise. Hook is sneaky. You’ll forget about him for a minute, or even – gasp! – get a little bored with the act, but he always finds a way to grab everyone’s attention in quick order. This was his first real brawl on AEW TV and it was a good one. Kudos to Page, too, who played his part well. He’s underrated at being a good traditional wrestling heel. This was very good.
Back from break, Matt Menard and Angelo Parker walked to the ring with microphones. Parker said tonight is the night The Acclaimed becomes part of JAS. The Acclaimed made their entrance and Caster’s rap included a shot at Marjorie Taylor Green as well as Twitter Blue Checks.
2. The Acclaimed, Matt Menard, and Angelo Parker vs. The Infantry, LSG and Bobby Somebody. Sorry, I didn’t catch everyone’s names from the jobber team. Bowens began the match, but both Parker and Menard quickly started taking control over the job guys. The Acclaimed tagged in and hit Scissor Me Timbers. Things broke down a little and they teased a four-way scissor party, but The Acclaimed were the only two who did it. Caster tagged in and landed the Mic Drop for the win.
The Acclaimed, Matt Menard, and Angelo Parker defeated The Infantry, LSG and Bobby Somebody via pinfall in 2:04.
After the match, everyone celebrated, but Jake Hager suplexed Billy Gunn and the JAS brawled with The Acclaimed, so that’s the end of that fun story. Menard and Parker and Hager got the best of The Acclaimed and posed for the cameras. From there, we got the announcement from Swerve. Turns out, Swerve merged with … someone he’s going to tell us about later. We went back to the ring and Lee Moriarty’s music hit.
3. Darby Allin vs. Lee Moriarty. The two locked up and Allin took control early with a side head-lock. Jack Perry was shown watching the match backstage. Ditto for Sammy Guevara. Allin rolled up Moriarty for a two-count and the crowd chanted “Let’s go Darby!” The two had a test of strength and Moriarty got the best of it. Moriarty stomped on Allin’s chest and I guess Allin was hit by a car last night because Excalibur had a lot to say about it. The action spilled outside and Moriarty ran Allin into the guardrail. Allin and Moriarty went back and forth, but Moriarty distracted the ref and Big Bill hit the hell out of Darby before we went to the next PIP [c].
McGuire’s Musings: I’ll tell you what: I’m actually surprised they pulled the trigger on the JAS/Acclaimed stuff this soon. It seemed like they could have gotten more out of it based on entertainment value alone. But it appears we’re working toward a traditional tag for DON … or perhaps a six-man that’ll get Billy Gunn back in the ring for a minute. Either way, the post-match on the eight-man tag was fun, if only because I’m the only one who didn’t see it coming tonight. Swerve teasing a merger for later in the show was laying it on thick – especially with the 51 percent line – but we’ll see where this goes.
Back from break, Darby hit a shotgun dropkick. Darby went to the top, but Moriarty hit the ropes to push Darby off the top. For his efforts, Moriarty got a two-count. Moriarty worked a full-nelson. Eventually, Moriarty landed a snap-dragon suplex for a two-count. Moriarty draped Darby over the top rope and kicked Darby’s head. From there, Moriarty landed a super-plex from the second rope, but Darby came right back, fired up and went for a Scorpion Death Drop. Moriarty countered and the two countered each other a bunch. Darby landed a Code Red and hit a splash onto Big Bill. From there, Darby hit the Coffin Drop for the win.
Darby Allin defeated Lee Moriarty via pinfall in 10:55.
After the match, Darby backed his way up the ramp, but Swerve’s music hit. Swerve came out and shared a stare down with Darby. Out of nowhere, Brian Cage attacked Darby and it turns out Swerve’s merger is with The Embassy. We got a sit-down between Jade Cargill and Taya Valkyrie. It was mediated by RJ City and Valkyrie said she has been using Jaded for years. Jade called Valkyrie a bitch and the two teased a brawl, but then Smart Mark said he will see Valkyrie in court.
McGuire’s Musings: The Embassy/Swerve merger doesn’t do much for me, but it appears Swerve has had this vision of teaming with a jacked white dude who can instill fear in people and because it didn’t work out with Parker, here we are. Does this mean Brian Cage is officially staying with AEW/ROH? Probably. I just hope they can figure out a way to make me care. The match between Darby and Moriarty was really pretty good. If you believe Darby was actually hit by a car yesterday – and why wouldn’t you, because that guy’s crazy – it puts even more of a shine on how good these guys looked. I still hope for more for both Big Bill and Lee Moriarty, but perhaps someday we’ll get it. Meanwhile, the Cargill/Valkyrie segment was little to nothing. All told, I was hoping for so much more.
When the show returned, we got the Mark Henry segment, but it was a pre-tape and … meh.
4. Anna Jay vs. Julia Hart. Jay jumpstarted the match and attached Hart, but Hart came right the hell back and ran Jay into guardrails all across the outside. Back in the ring, Hard slammed Jay’s head into her knee a bunch. Jay pulled Hart to the outside and rammed Hart into a guardrail. From there, Jay threw Hart into a guardrail via her head. We then got our final PiP of the Rampage night [c].
Back from break, Hart fired up and kicked Jay. Hart landed a standing moonsault for a two-count. Jay came back and slammed Hart for a two-count. Jay worked a sleeper hold, but Hart worked her way out and landed a clothesline. Hart hit a back elbow and placed Jay on the top rope. Hart went for a super-plex, but Jay countered … until Hart flipped Jay off the top. Hart landed a moonsault from the top for a good near-fall. Jay went for a Queen Slayer and ultimately got it, but Hart rolled to the outside, which meant both women rolled to the outside. Hart sprayed mist into Jay’s face, rolled Jay up and that was it.
Julia Hart defeated Anna Jay via pinfall in 9:48.
McGuire’s Musings: This was a really pretty good match and I’m really happy the women got the main event slot. Julia looks notably better than she did before and man, I don’t know who she’s training under, but it looks like she’s grown in wrestling years by about one hundred thousand years since the last time we saw her in a wrestling ring actually wrestling. I’m a fan of mist gimmicks, too, but I know I’m probably in the minority, so if it turns out that Julia keeps using it, I’m in. I’d love to say more, but I gotta head over to Battle Of The Belts. Come say hi!