By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Rampage (Episode 98)
Taped June 21, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois at Wintrust Arena
Aired June 23, 2023 on TNT
The Rampage opening aired and then pyro shot off on the stage. The broadcast team was Excalibur, Chris Jericho, and Tony Schiavone. The teams were already in the ring for the opening match…
1. Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, Kyle Fletcher, and Swerve Strickland (w/Prince Nana) vs. Yoh, Trent Beretta, Chuck Taylor, and Rocky Romero. Taylor rolled Strickland into a La Magistral cradle for a two count. A shot time later, Ospreay spun Romero around several times before performing a backbreaker. Ospreay acted dizzy and stumbled to his corner to tag out. Cobb executed a standing moonsault on Romero for a two count heading into a picture-in-picture break. [C]
Late in the match, Cobb put Yoh down and then Ospreay rolled him into a pin for a near fall. Ospreay followed up with an elbow strike and then scored the pin…
Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, Kyle Fletcher, and Swerve Strickland defated Yoh, Trent Beretta, Chuck Taylor, and Rocky Romero in 9:40.
Powell’s POV: The match was well worked. They didn’t bother to mention Yoh’s name when the match graphic was shown on AEW Dynamite, and the lack of televised entrances didn’t even give the broadcast team a chance to talk about him. This was what one would expect in terms of it being all action and Ospreay going over head into his match with Kenny Omega at Forbidden Door.
A brief video package featured Toni Storm discussing her Forbidden Door match against Willow Nightingale for the AEW Women’s Championship. Saraya and Ruby Soho stood next to Storm while she said her title is the only one that matters…
Adam Cole made his entrance dressed in non-wrestling attire. Cole set up for the “boom” part of his entrance when he was interrupted. AEW World Champion Maxwell Jacob Friedman walked onto the stage and called for his music to be cut. MJF thanked Cole for giving him the confidence to face Hiroshi Tanahashi at Forbidden Door.
MJF referred to Cole as “partner” and said he talked to Tony Khan and got Cole booked in a match against Tom Lawlor at Forbidden Door. Lawlor and Royce Isaacs attacked Cole from behind and put him in simultaneous submission holds while MJF claimed he would hurry to the ring to save Cole. MJF took his time. Once he entered the ring, Lawlor and Isaacs left. MJF said he was “this close” to the heel duo and then wished Cole luck at Forbidden Door…
Excalibur set up the company’s daily fantasy sports partner’s weekly ad… [C]
Powell’s POV: MJF’s first appearance on Rampage didn’t last long, but it was comical. He got a measure of revenge on Cole, who manipulated MJF into accepting his title match with Hiroshi Tanahashi on Sunday. Lawlor is a former NJPW Strong Openweight Champion and a former MLW Heavyweight Champion. It’s good to see Lawlor booked on the Forbidden Door show after he didn’t make the cut for his year’s G1 tournament.
Ring announcer Justin Roberts introduced The Acclaimed and Daddy Ass. Max Caster rapped on his way to the ring and included a line about Joe Biden’s son avoiding tax returns (he takes jabs at both sides). Anthony Bowens delivered his usual lines…
2. Billy Gunn and “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens vs. Axel Rico, Darius Latrell, and Koda Hernandez. Bowens performed The Arrival on one opponent and then Caster hit the Mic Drop for the win.
Billy Gunn and “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens defeated Axel Rico, Darius Latrell, and Koda Hernandez in roughly 1:00.
Afterward, Harley Cameron walked onto the stage with a mic and was accompanied by a couple of men who wore white face masks with black hoodies. She described herself as generous and an amazing musician. The fans booed loudly as Cameron entered the ring.
Cameron made her pitch to align with The Acclaimed and said they would go straight to number one. Cameron started to sing, but Billy cut her off and said she was hurting his ears. Billy described Caster as the greatest rapper in the world and said that he and Bowens do their thing.
The masked men entered the ring. Cameron called for her music to play. Cameron started to rap while the masked guys danced. Cameron snuggled up to Bowens and had a line about how he’s into her. Bowens stopped her and asked if she said he was into her. Bowens asked if she was kicked by a kangaroo when she was a kid. Bowens pointed to his gear and said he is gay. The fans cheered.
QT Marshall and Aaron Solo came out. Marshall called for the disrespect to end and said Cameron’s rap was incredible. Caster and Bowens left the ring. Meanwhile, one of the masked men revealed himself to be John Hennigan (f/k/a John Morrison). Jericho referred to Hennigan as Johnny TV. Schiavone said it looked like QTV just got another new member…
Powell’s POV: Johnny TV? The fans booed Cameron loudly, but it came off as go away heat rather than good heat from my perspective. I can’t believe they are adding to QTV rather than pulling the plug, but it’s good to see Hennigan join his wife Taya Valkyrie in AEW. H/T to Cagematch.net for the names of the enhancement trio.
A video package featured Prince Nana and Swerve Strickland talking about The Mogul Embassy debuting on AEW Collision. Strickland spoke about his match with Hiroshi Tanahashi and said he had to do what he had to do to get gold…
3. Anna Jay (w/Matt Menard, Angelo Parker) vs. Skye Blue in an Owen Hart tournament match. Both entrances were televised. Jay caught Blue with a kick and then dumped her to ringside. Jay went to the floor and put Blue down with a DDT. Blue posed with Menard and Parker for a moment. Back in the ring, Blue punched Jay in the gut heading into a PIP break that turned into a full screen break. [C]
Blue threw a weak looking kick while on one knee. Jay shot Blue over the top rope. Blue landed on the apron and hit Jay with a forearm shot. Parker climbed onto the apron and was knocked down by Blue. Jay took advantage of the distraction, but Blue came right back with a crossbody block from the ropes for a near fall.
Jay threw a kick at Blue and then followed up with a Backstabber for a near fall. Jay hooked Blue on her back and then fell back to drive her face into the mat, which resulted in another near fall. Jay applied the Queen Slayer sleeper hold. Blue escaped by falling to the mat and driving Jay’s head into the corner. Blue followed up with a Code Blue and scored the pin…
Skye Blue defeated Anna Jay in 9:20 to advance to the semifinals of the Owen Hart Cup tournament.
A brief video package spotlighted the AEW Collision eight-man tag main event with CM Punk, FTR, and Ricky Starks vs. Jay White, Juice Robinson, Colten Gunn, and Austin Gunn… [C]
Powell’s POV: The match was comparable to a lot of the developmental matches that we see on NXT television. Both wrestlers are improving, but they are still a work in progress. Blue will face the winner of Wednesday’s Britt Baker vs. Ruby Soho match in the semifinals. By the way, nearly every commercial break has an ad for AEW Collision, so they continue to push the new Saturday night show aggressively.
Mark Henry set up a brief hype package for Jack Perry vs. Douki. Both wrestlers spoke briefly…
Excalibur entered auctioneer mode while running through the lineups for AEW Collision and Sunday’s Forbidden Door pay-per-view… Entrances for the main event took place. Excalibur explained that Douki and Kanemaru are part of the Just Five Guys faction along with Sanada, who will defend the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Perry on Sunday.
Excalibur noted that Hook will be in Perry’s corner at Forbidden Door, yet was “nowhere to be found” for this match. Jericho said it annoys him when fans sing along with entrance music and they should be suspended from attending future shows…
4. “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry vs. Douki (w/Yoshinobu Kanemaru). Excalibur said Douki was trained by Ultimo Dragon. Jericho called Dragon one of his greatest rivals and said that Douki must be very good if he was trained by him. The match spilled over to ringside where both men traded chops before Perry ran Douki into the barricade. Perry picked up Douki and dumped him on the apron heading into the final PIP break. [C]
Douki caught Perry with an enzuigiri coming out of the break. Schiavone and Jericho wished Jim Ross the best and said they hope he gets well soon (I don’t believe they ever bothered to explain what was going on with Ross during the show unless I missed something).
Perry went to ringside and pulled the timekeepers table closer to the ring while the broadcast team said it was out of character for him. Douki connected with another enzuigiri. Douki went up top and dove at Perry and put him through the table with a senton.
Douki sent Perry back to the ring. Perry came right back and there were some boos. Douki countered into brainbuster for a near fall. Douki followed up moments later with a DDT for another near fall. Douki set up for a wheelbarrow move, but Perry rolled him into a pin for a two count. Perry performed a Poison Rana and then hit Douki with an elbow strike. The boos grew louder and Perry looked to the crowd. Perry applied Sanada’s Skull End finisher and forced Douki to tap out. Excalibur said Perry sent a clear message to Sanada.
Jack Perry defeated Douki in 10:10.
After the match, Perry went to the ropes and spoke into the camera, but it was tough to make out what he said. Perry went to the opposite corner and looked to the crowd. Some fans were cheering. Perry blew a kiss to the sky.
Sanada’s entrance music played. Perry dropped off the ropes and watched as the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion walked out dressed in a suit with the title belt over his shoulder. Jericho said Sanada looked like the second coming of Antonio Inoki with his suit and shades. Sanada entered the ring. Perry approached him and they went face to face. Perry nudged Sanada with his head. Sanada held up his title belt and then exited the ring. Jericho closed the show by questioning who Sting’s partner will be…
Powell’s POV: An entertaining main event with good work from both men. Douki really brought it. I would be worried about the crowd turning on Perry, but it sure seems like the company is ready for it. After all, Perry went over the top in labeling Hook as his best friend when he asked him to be in his corner, and Perry was definitely more aggressive in this match than usual. In other words, I suspect that Perry’s time as a babyface is coming to an end. If so, I look forward to seeing how he does as a heel.
Overall, it was a typical Rampage with a lot packed into an hour. There was plenty of hype for Collision and Forbidden Door, though I don’t know if anything beyond the final segment with Sanada and Perry would have really moved anyone who was on the fence about ordering the pay-per-view. I will have more to say about Rampage in my same night audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).
Make ProWrestling.net your home for live reviews of AEW Collision and AEW Forbidden Door this weekend.