By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
AEW Rampage (Episode 102)
Taped July 19, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts at TD Garden
Aired July 21, 2023 on TNT
Excalibur, Chris Jericho, and Tony Schiavone checked in on commentary. Ring announcer Justin Roberts delivered introductions for the Royal Rampage match starting with the first four entrants: Darby Allin, Swerve Strickland (with Prince Nana), Jay Lethal (with Sojay Dutt), and Nick Wayne…
1. The Royal Rampage for a shot at the TNT Championship. Allin and Lethal started in the ring with red ropes that was closest to the stage, which I’ll label the first ring. Swerve and Wayne fought in the second ring, which had blue ropes. Jericho noted that all four wrestlers were from the Seattle area and had competed in the Defy promotion.
No. 5 was Minoru Suzuki, who entered the ring with Lethal and Allin. Lethal talked Suzuki into doubling up on Allin.
No. 6 was Brian Cage, who entered the ring with Wayne and Swerve. Cage worked over Wayne and hugged Swerve. Meanwhile, Lethal and Suzuki’s alliance fell apart.
No. 7 was Ethan Page, who went right after Lethal and ended up trading blows with Suzuki.
No. 8 was Komander, who was accompanied by Alex Abrahantes. Komander went to the second ring and jumped off of Cage’s shoulders and then DDT’d Swerve on the way down. Komander also worked over Cage.
No. 9 was The Butcher, who entered the first ring and clotheslined Page.
No. 10 was Big Bill, who joined the action in the second ring and attacked Wayne and Komander. Bill put Wayne down with a big boot and then hit a Blackhole Slam on Komander.
In the first ring, Page eliminated Lethal, who then grabbed the hand of Page. Suzuki helped push Page over the top rope while Lethal pulled him to the floor to eliminate him. Moments later, Butcher stuffed Suzuki’s Gotch style piledriver attempt and eliminated him from the match.
No. 11 was The Blade, who joined the Butcher in double teaming Allin at ringside as the show cut to a picture-in-picture break. [C]
No. 12 was “Brother Zay” Isiah Kassidy, who entered the second ring with a springboard crossbody block on Swerve.
No. 13 was Toa Liona, who was in ring one. Excalibur said things just went from bad to worse for Allin, who was being roughed up by Butcher and Blade. Liona grabbed Allin’s arms and then Butcher grabbed his feet and they swung him into a corner of the ring.
No. 14 was Matt Sydal. Excalibur recalled Sydal being The Joker in a Casino Battle Royale (Sydal had a bad slip and would probably like to forget that match). Sydal and Kassidy teamed up for Gin & Juice on Swerve.
No. 15 was Bishop Kaun, who went right after Butcher and Blade because they had already turned on Liona.
In ring two, Kassidy took a powerbomb/clothesline combo move from Cage and Bill. Cage tossed Kassidy over the top rope to eliminate him.
In ring one, Liona and Kaun booted Butcher and Blade from the apron to eliminate them.
No. 16 was Matt Hardy, who went after Swerve in the second ring. Hardy followed up with a neckbreaker on Cage and followed up with a clunky DDT on Bill.
No. 17 was Matt Menard, who was cautious about entering the first ring where Kaun and Liona had Allin down.
Meanwhile, Cage eliminated Sydal from the second ring. Menard entered the ring and teased going after the Gates of Agony duo, but turned and put the boots to Allin.
No. 18 was Jeff Jarrett, who brought out a guitar and was accompanied by Karen Jarrett and Satnam Singh. Jarrett went right after Hardy.
No. 19 was Angelo Parker, the final entrant in the first ring. Parker went after Kaun and Liona, but he was quickly cut off.
No. 20 was Jake Hager, who was the final entrant in the second ring. Hager shot Jericho a look before heading to the ring as the show cut to a PIP break. [C]
During the break, Hager took a suplex from Cage. Bill shoved Hager against the ropes and then Komander helped shoved Hager over the top to eliminate him. Bill eliminated Komander moments later.
All four heels set up for a move on Allin in the first ring coming out of the break, but he slipped away. The heel teams started fighting near the ropes and Allin crashed into them, but none were eliminated initially. Kaun and Liona finally eliminated Parker and Menard.
In the second ring, Hardy eliminated Jarrett. Cage and Swerve performed a double team move on Hardy, and then Bill clotheslined Hardy over the top rope to eliminate him. Bill tried to chokeslam Wayne, but Wayne stayed on the apron. Swerve ran over and pushed Bill over the top rope to eliminate him.
Wayne climbed to the top rope of the first ring and performed a split-legged dropkick on Kaun and Liona. Wayne followed up with Wayne’s World on Kaun. Allin and Wayne clotheslined Kaun over the top rope to eliminate him.
Wayne returned to the second ring. Wayne was backdropped onto the apron by Cage, who went for a clothesline and tumbled over the top to the apron when Wayne ducked it. Swerve went for a big boot that Wayne ducked and Cage caught. Wayne tried to shove both heels to the floor, but Swerve held on while Cage was eliminated.
Swerve caught Wayne leaping from the ropes and dumped him face first onto the turnbuckle so that he landed on the apron. Swerve wrenched Wayne’s arm over the top rope and then Wayne fell off the apron and was eliminated. Meanwhile, Liona charged Allin, who ducked and held the top rope down, causing Liona to go over the top rope to the floor.
The final two were Allin and Swerve. With Allin down, Swerve entered the first ring and delivered a kick to the back of Allin’s head. Swerve jawed at Allin and then ran the ropes, but Allin sent him over the top rope. Swerve skinned the cat. Allin tried to pry his fingers from the ropes.
Nana entered the ring and hit Allin with his skateboard. Allin went after Nana, but Swerve returned to the ring and attacked Allin from behind. Jericho asked how this was legal and then Schiavone said anything goes in a battle royal (ugh). Nana set the skateboard so that its wheels were facing upward and then Swerve powerbombed Allin, whose back landed on the front wheels (good lord).
Swerve tossed Allin over the top rope, but Allin held on to the top rope. Swerve went up top and jumped toward Allin, who put his boots up, only for Swerve to stop short of his feet. Swerve went for a brainbuster, but Allin slipped away and wrenched Swerve’s neck over the top rope. Allin ran the ropes and performed a suicide dive that drove Swerve off the apron and caused both men to the ring floor at ringside. Allin’s music played.
Darby Allin won the Royal Rampage to earn a shot at the TNT Championship.
A replay showed that Swerve’s feet hit the ground before Allin landed on the floor… [C]
Powell’s POV: I didn’t have my hopes up for the Royal Rampage, but I actually thought this was a fun match. Big Bill, Gates of Agony, and Nick Wayne stood out in addition to the final two of Allin and Swerve. Poor Swerve continues to come off like he’s always the bridesmaid and never the bride. That said, I really liked the suicide dive finish because it fits with Allin throwing caution to the wind. Conversely, that skateboard bump that he took was brutal. I also could have done without Nana getting involved. It felt odd that heel Jericho wondered why it was allowed while nice guy Schiavone was the one who justified by saying everything is legal.
The Acclaimed made their entrance for the six-man tag match while their opponents were already inside the ring. Max Caster rapped on his way to the ring and labeled Harley Cameron a reject from the Barbie movie. He said she turned Johnny TV into Johnny Gonorrhea…
2. Billy Gunn and “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens vs. Johnny TV, QT Marshall, and Aaron Solo (w/Harley Cameron). There was a loud “QT sucks” chant as the match started. Marshall had a large bandage on his back that stemmed from his match with Pentagon Jr. in Mexico. Marshall still took the bulk of the bumps for his team heading into a PIP break. [C]
The heel trio took out Caster and Bowens on the floor. In the ring, TV hit a springboard kick on Gunn and then Marshall dropped him with a Diamond Cutter. Solo performed a top rope double stomp on Gunn. TV covered Gunn for a good near fall. They set up for the Scissor Me Timbers spot on Gunn, but Caster and Bowens returned to break it up.
Gunn caught Solo leaping from the ropes and gave him a Cobra Clutch slam. Bowens hit Solo with The Arrival and then Caster landed the Mic Drop. Gunn covered Solo and got the three count.
Billy Gunn and “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens defeated Johnny TV, QT Marshall, and Aaron Solo.
After the match, Caster took the mic and said they would rise to the top of the trios division on Saturday’s AEW Collision…
Powell’s POV: This was fine for what it was. The heel near fall would have been much more believable if Gunn and The Acclaimed weren’t challenging for the AEW Trios Titles on Collision.
Excalibur announced the following for Saturday’s AEW Collision: FTR speak, Skye Blue vs. Taya Valkyrie, Action Andretti and Darius Martin vs. Jay White, and Juice Robinson, the show opens with Ricky Starks celebrating his Owen Hart Cup tournament win, and CM Punk will appear live and Excalibur said he’ll be looking for a fight…
Excalibur hyped the TBS Title match… [C] A video set up the main event and then Mark Henry delivered his usual line…
Justin Roberts said the main event was an open challenge and the time limit was television time remaining. Nyla Rose came out with Marina Shafir, but she did not accompany her to the ring. Kris Statlander was out next…
3. Kris Statlander vs. Marina Shafir for the TBS Championship. Excalibur ran through the Dynamite lineup (see the main page). Shafir took offensive control and performed a side suplex. Shafir covered Statlander, who kicked out at one. Shafir pressed her barefoot on the face of Statlander, which got some boos.
Statlander took a series of kicks and then fired up and caught the leg of Shafir before firing back with punches. Statlander powered up Shafir in electric chair position and dropped her face first to the mat. A short time later, Statlander powered up Shafir and suplex her and then covered her for a two count.
Statlander set up Shafir for a move, but Shafir slipped out and applied a standing figure four. Statlander kicked her way free and then avoided a big kick. Statlander put Shafir down with a discus lariat and then hit the “Friday Night Fever” inverted piledriver and scored the pin…
Kris Statlander defeated Marina Shafir to retain the TBS Championship.
Statlander looked into the camera while doing sign language while Excalibur closed the show with a plug for Collision…
Powell’s POV: A good episode of Rampage. The Royal Rampage match made the show feel more important than usual and filled a lot of time in an entertaining way. The other two matches were quick, harmless, and showcased popular babyface acts. I suspect the last two matches were edited for time purposes. They seemed to be showing more replays than usual during the final match and those could have been easy edit points. Either way, they could easily fill the full hour with the Royal Rampage in future years by either stretching it out or by adding entrants.