By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Rampage (Episode 99)
Taped June 28, 2023 in Hamilton, Ontario at FirstOntario Centre
Aired June 30, 2023 on TNT
The broadcast team was Excalibur and Tony Schiavone, and Justin Roberts was the ring announcer…
1. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Komander (w/Alex Abrahantes) for the ROH Championship. Late in the match, Komander performed a late DDT for a good near fall. He followed up with a La Magistral for another two count. Komander executed a double jump Phoenix Splash for yet another near fall. Castagnoli eventually caught Komander leaping from the top rope with an uppercut. The referee called for the bell with the idea being that Komander was knocked out.
Claudio Castagnoli defeated Komander to retain the ROH Championship.
Powell’s POV: A competitive match with Komander picking up some quality near falls before Claudio put him away. I like the idea of going with a knockout finish, especially if it’s something they intend to really establish in Castagnoli’s matches.
2. Shawn Spears vs. The Blade (w/The Butcher). The match quickly spilled over to ringside where Spears worked over Blade with chops in front of the fans. Spears threw Blade back inside the ring. Butcher clotheslined Spears while the referee was somehow tied up with Blade. Spears eventually rallied and hit his C4 finisher on Blade before pinning him…
Shawn Spears defeated The Blade.
Powell’s POV: The match was fine. Spears is back in “Perfect 10” mode. It’s kind of sad that he’s clinging to a gimmick that worked in NXT years ago, yet never clicked on the WWE roster, nor do I see it working in AEW.
Harley Cameron came out and sang on the stage. Johnny TV and QT Marshall walked out. Two production crew members rolled a red carpet over the ramp. The trio headed to the ring and then their opponents made their entrance…
3. Matt Hardy and Brother Zay vs. QT Marshall and Johnny TV (w/Harley Cameron). Schiavone said he likes the Johny TV name because it fits with QTV. Excalibur asked what he thought about the Brother Zay name. Schiavone said he’s pretty cool. Zay ended up at ringside where he posed next to a surprised Cameron. Zay took out Marshall on the floor, but TV hit him with a dive.
Late in the match, Hardy and Zay cleared both heels from the ring. Hardy dropped down on all fours. Zayn ran the ropes and then jumped off Hardy’s back into a dive onto his opponents on the floor. Hardy put TV down with a Side Effect. Zay went up top and was distracted by Zay. Marshall pulled Zay down in another case of interference missed by a referee. TV hit Starship Pain on Zay and then pinned him.
QT Marshall and Johnny TV defeated Matt Hardy and Brother Zay.
Afterward, Ethan Page came out and checked on Hardy. Marshall and TV taunted Page, who removed his shirt and punched Marshall. TV kicked Page. Billy Gunn and Anthony Bowens ran out and chased off the heels
Powell’s POV: Let’s just say that I don’t share Schiavone’s enthusiasm for everything, er, the Johnny TV or Brother Zay names. I’m guessing that Jeff Hardy can’t get into Canada due to his legal issues in the United States. But where was Max Caster? I have no idea why the company continues to invest in QTV, but I hope Johnny TV is a replacement for Powerhouse Hobbs, who should be his own man.
The Mark Henry segment set up the main event…
Excalibur did his speed reading through the AEW Collision and AEW Dynamite lineups. The new additions to Dynamite were Kenny Omega vs. Wheeler Yuta, MJF and Adam Cole in action in a blind eliminator tournament match, and a Jon Moxley promo…
Powell’s POV: They didn’t list the blind eliminator tag team tournament brackets on Dynamite despite advertising that they would, and now they’re not even listing the opponents for MJF and Cole. Strange.
4. Taya Valkyrie vs. Hikaru Shida. Valkyrie was the heel and taunted the fans for chanting Shida’s name at one point. Late in the match, Shida put one foot on the bottom rope outside the ring and another foot over the ropes and then just stood there and waited until Valkyrie knocked her down. Weird.
Shida suplexed Valkyrie on the floor and then performed a meteora off the apron despite the fact that she’d been selling a knee injury. Shida performed a running elbow strikes and got a near fall. Valkyrie picked up Shida and tossed her bad knee into the corner. Valkyrie followed up with double knees in the corner and covered Shida for a two count. Valkyrie went for her finisher. Shida tried to counter, but Valkyrie sat on top of her and got a two count before Shida rolled her over into a pin for the win…
Hikaru Shida defeated Taya Valkyrie.
Powell’s POV: I guess Valkyrie’s push is over now that she lost to Kris Statlander. Rampage opened with the show’s true main event, as it often does. Castagnoli vs. Komander was the highlight of the night, while other three matches felt missable if you are short on time.
I hope you enjoyed the slightly stripped down approach I’m taking with Rampage coverage for the time being. My reviews should be available over the weekends more often than not. I am looking for a volunteer who is interested in taking over Rampage coverage on a weekly basis. If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org