By Don Murphy, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@DonThePredictor)
Editor’s Note: Please welcome longtime Dot Net Member Don Murphy to our staff of writers. Don previously wrote for outlets such as Sportskeeda.com and 1Wrestling.com. I am thrilled to have him join us for Rampage coverage. Don is already slacking off by going on vacation next week, but his reviews will be weekly from that point on. Enjoy.
AEW Rampage (Episode 105)
Taped August 9, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio at Nationwide Arena
Aired August 11, 2023 on TNT
The Rampage opening aired… Excalibur, Tony Schiavone, and Chris Jericho were on commentary…
1. Darby Allin vs. Brian Cage (w/Prince Nana). For the first several minutes of the match, Cage dominated Allin with several impressive strength moves including walking up the ring steps while holding Allin in a vertical suplex position and a Samoan drop through the timekeeper’s table. Interestingly, Jericho was in complete heel mode on commentary and didn’t sell any of the after-effects of the entire Jericho Appreciation Society walking out on him on Dynamite.
After the picture-in-picture break, Allin attempted a comeback beginning with a reverse DDT only to be stopped by Cage with a couple of powerbombs for a near fall. Allin eventually gained the momentum by tripping Cage on the ring apron with his belt and delivered the coffin drop.
The finish saw Allin go for another Coffin Drop, only to distracted by Nana, which allowed Cage to knock him off the ropes. Cage hit what could only be described as modified F5 for a near fall. Jericho criticized Cage for not hooking the leg as a tribute to the late great Gorilla Monsoon (nice touch). Cage attempted a Samoan Drop off the second rope, with Allin reversing it into a backslide for a near fall. Cage then attempted another modified F5, but Allin rolled him up for the three count.
Darby Allin defeated Brian Cage.
After the match, Luchasaurus came out and chokeslammed Allin while Christian Cage was shown looking on from the back. Production cut to a young Darby Allin fan in the crown in tears…(another nice touch)…
Don’s Take: A solid match with the announcers continuing to sell the upcoming match at All In between with Allin and Sting taking on AR Fox and Swerve Strickland. They also had to pivot to continue to sell the eventual showdown between Allin and Luchasaurus, which I assume we’ll get that match a week later at All Out in Chicago. I’m looking forward to the days when Allin can exist in a story without having to rely on Sting for the save. I’m also looking forward to Brian Cage being positioned more prominently. He has more singles potential beyond the Mogul Enterprises faction.
Backstage, Renee Paquette interviewed Dr. Britt Baker DMD about her upcoming match with the Bunny on next week’s Dynamite. Baker spoke about how she respected The Bunny for working her tail off – get it? Baker concluded by stating that she would be the AEW Women’s Champion at Wembley Stadium… [C]
After the commercial, a brief vignette of Eddie Kingston aired. He mentioned how challenging the NJPW G1 tournament was and vowed to defend the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship in all promotions.
Don’s Take: Because if it’s one thing AEW needs, it’s another championship.
2. Orange Cassidy vs. Johnny TV (w/Harley Cameron, QT Marshall, Aaron Solo) for the AEW International Championship. Harley Cameron sang the group to the ring. The match started with standard chain wrestling with the heels trying to enter the ring while Cameron distracted the referee. Cassidy turned the referee around to catch the heels resulting in Cameron, Solo, and Marshall being ejected.
Wheeler Yuta distracted Cassidy on the far side of the ring which gave Johnny the upper hand. The referee ejected Yuta from ringside as the show headed to commercial. [C]
After the commercial, Yuta joined the announcers on commentary. During the back and forth action, Yuta explained that his problems with Cassidy didn’t stem from any disrespect as a competitor. Rather, he disagreed with his personal philosophies and thought that at one time, Cassidy had his back, but he was wrong.
After Johnny missed “Starship Pain” and an attempt at a Spanish Fly, Cassidy countered with a flying DDT and standard one. With Johnny groggy, Cassidy hit the “Orange Punch” and “Beach Break” for the win.
Orange Cassidy defeated Johnny TV to retain the AEW International Championship.
After the match, Cassidy challenged Yuta to come to the ring. Jon Moxley and Claudio Castagnoli came out. The Blackpool Combat Club surrounded the ring before heading to the ramp. Yuta said that the BCC could have Cassidy sent to the hospital. He added that this would be beneath them. He said he wanted to defeat Cassidy physically, mentally and emotionally and challenged him to a match “next week in Nashville.” It wasn’t specified if this would be on Dynamite or Rampage…
Don’s Take: While I continue to enjoy Cassidy’s journey, Yuta would be the right guy to take the International Championship off of him. He did great work as the arrogant ROH Pure Champion and having him in a similar role on the main roster would be great. I suspect that the TV match will lead to the title change at either All In or All Out. Finally, QTV just doesn’t work. It’s time to end.
Ian Riccaboni voiced over a brief history of the ROH World Tag Team Championship…
3. ROH Tag Team Champions “Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis vs. “The Outrunners” Turbo Floyd and Truth Magnum in a non-title match. This was a complete squash match for the champions who finished their opponents with a double lariat and their “Coriolis” finisher.
ROH Tag Team Champions “Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis defeated “The Outrunners” Turbo Floyd and Truth Magnum in a non-title match.
After the match, Aussie Open cut a promo about MJF and Adam Cole and predicted that MJF would turn on Cole. They then accepted Cole’s and MJF’s challenge for an ROH Tag Team Championship match during the Zero Hour pre-show at All In…
Don’s Take: A good showcase match to build up the champions for their showdown at All In against MJF and Adam Cole. I think it devalues Aussie Open by putting the match on the pre-show, but their body of work speaks for itself. If AEW is serious about expanding the depth of the tag team division, these would be the guys to move to the main roster. ROH needs credible champions, but when only 15,000 people are watching per week (per Tony Khan’s last subscriber count update), you have to serve the greater good.
Jeff Jarrett hyped AEW’s partnership with the Texas Chain Saw Massacre video game by announcing himself vs. Jeff Hardy in a “Texas Chain Saw Massacre Death Match” for next week’s Dynamite.
After the commercial, Mark Henry hyped the main event while Excalibur announced the following matches for Collision: House of Black vs. CM Punk and FTR for the AEW Trios Championship, a Ricky Starks promo, Willow Nightingale and Kris Statlander vs Mercedes Martinez and Diamante, a Powerhouse Hobbs promo and the Acclaimed in action…
For next week’s Dynamite which will be a “Fight for the Fallen” show in support of those effected by the Maui fires, the Orange Cassidy vs. Wheeler Yuta match was made official. Other matches and segments include an MJF/Adam Cole promo, the aforementioned “Texas Chain Saw Massacre Death Match” between Jarrett and Hardy, a sit-down interview with Jim Ross and Kenny Omega, Britt Baker vs. The Bunny, and Darby Allin and Nick Wayne vs. the Gates of Agony. He concluded by running down the card-to-date for All In…
4. Saraya (w/Ruby Soho, Toni Storm) vs. Skye Blue in a qualifier for the four-way for the AEW Women’s Championship at All In. Solid back and forth action to start as the two exchanged near falls. Eventually, Storm and Soho helped Saraya gain the advantage. Saraya worked over Blue who slowly mounted a comeback.
The finish came when Blue hit her “Code Blue” finisher on Saraya with Storm and Soho distracting the referee from making the count. Blue turned to confront Soho and was met in the eyes with the traditional Outcast spray paint. This allowed Saraya to hit her “Night Cap” finisher for the win.
Saraya defeated Skye Blue to earn a spot in the four-way for the AEW Women’s Championship at All In.
After the match, the heels continued to beat down Blue while Excalibur mentioned the “bitter disappointment” for the babyface as the show went off the air…
Don’s Take: The expected outcome with the predictable finish. With Saraya positioned for the hometown babyface pop at Wembley Stadium, the company is likely positioning her to win the title, which will create friction with stablemate Toni Storm. This can’t come soon enough, as this another faction that just isn’t working. Overall, a better than usual show with several small storyline advancements and builds to future shows.