By Don Murphy, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@DonThePredictor)
AEW Rampage (Episode 109)
Taped September 6 in Indianapolis, Indiana at Indiana Farmers Coliseum
Aired September 8, 2023 on TNT
The Rampage opening aired and pyro shot off from the stage… Excalibur, Tony Schiavone and Chris Jericho were on commentary…
1. Penta El Zero Miedo (w/Alex Abrahantes) vs. Jay Lethal (w/Jeff Jarrett, Karen Jarrett, Sonjay Dutt, Satnam Singh) in a Grand Slam World Title Eliminator Quarterfinal Match. The match got off to a slower-paced start than the usual Penta matches. Both men exchanged a series of chain wrestling holds followed by a back and forth sequence of chops. At one point, Jarrett attempted to grab Penta’s leg which resulted in Penta stomping on Jarrett’s hand. As Penta had the advantage, Jarrett distracted the referee, allowing Singh to catch Penta in a dive over the top rope and ram him back first into the ring post. Jarrett continued to distract the referee while Karen and Dutt tied Penta’s mask to the bottom rope while Lethal put the boots to him. This eventually caught the eye of referee Stephon Smith who ejected the Jarretts, Singh and Dutt from ringside as the show went to commercial. [C]
Lethal maintained the advantage while Excalibur hyped tomorrow night’s Collison. Penta regained the advantage via a series of sling blades. After a few minutes of back and forth wrestling, Lethal removed Penta’s mask and went to grab Jarrett’s guitar which had been left at ringside. Abrahantes prevented Lethal from grabbing the guitar while Penta put his mask back on, blocked a “Lethal Injection and hit a backstabber. After wrenching Lethal’s arm, Penta hit his “Fear Factor” double underhook piledriver for the win.
Penta El Zero Miedo defeated Jay Lethal in a Grand Slam World Title Eliminator Quarterfinal Match.
Don’s Take: The expected outcome in what was a solid match. Jarrett’s mid-card faction seems to consistently make its presence felt on AEW television and is fine for the role it serves in helping to generate heat and elevate the babyfaces. On the other hand, AEW could get more out of Penta as a singles star or as part of a tag team with his brother Ray Fenix. The crowd loves him and his style of wrestling and it’s been a long time since he’s been part of a real story. Hopefully, Tony Khan and team can figure things out so that Penta’s not continually spinning his wheels.
The announce team threw to a video package of Sammy Guevara and Chris Jericho’s issues on this past Wednesday’s Dynamite…
Coming out of the video package, Guevara approached Jericho at the announce table. Jericho stood up and stood across from Guevara. Guevara said that Jericho was pissing him off but acknowledged that he was pissing Jericho off. Jericho agreed. Guevara said Jericho was pissing him off so much he wanted to punch him in the face. Jericho said he felt the same way about Guevara. After Guevara said that he wanted to punch Jericho right now,
Jericho noted that they were getting on each other’s nerves and that this was OK as they were brothers who have been together for four years since day one of AEW. He noted that they had a good win on Wednesday against Aussie Open and are on their way to winning the AEW World Tag Team Titles. But despite this, they can’t seem to get over the animosity they have between them. Jericho suggested that they settle this and get it out of their systems. Guevara agreed.
Jericho compared their issues to two friends at a bar who punch each other a few times and laugh it off. Jericho suggested they have a match against each other so that they can figure out who the better man is and move on. Guevara agreed and asked when and where the match would happen. Jericho said that it would take place in New York City at Grand Slam on Wednesday, September 20th. Guevara accepted and the two embraced as Jericho returned to commentary.
Don’s Take: A nice addition to what is already shaping up to be a great card in my hometown. On a side note, while it looks good on TV, Arthur Ashe Stadium is not designed for wrestling. The majority of the parking is over at Citi Field where the Mets play and it’s a good walk to get to the Stadium. In addition, there’s only one entrance to get in, so you can imagine what that looks like with the Dynamite crowd. As a result, yours truly will be watching from the comfort of my couch.
A video package aired recapping the MJF-Samoa Joe segment from Wednesday’s Dynamite.
2. Hikaru Shida, Skye Blue and Dr. Britt Baker vs. Taya Valkyrie, Anna Jay and The Bunny in a Women’s Division Trios Match. Valkyrie is still sporting the orange hair. Blue started off by getting some moves in on The Bunny and Valyrie. Valkyrie gained the advantage as the show went to the picture-in picture break. [C]
Blue made the hot tag to Shida who cleaned house on the heels. After the heels regained the advantage on Shida for a bit, Baker tagged herself in and superkicked the Bunny. Baker went for the “Lock Jaw” but hit a double underhook suplex instead. Shida missed with a double stomp. Baker went for the “Rip Cord” elbow strike on The Bunny who blocked it and shoved Baker into Shida. The Bunny followed up with a knee lift for a two count. Baker immediately rolled The Bunny into the “Lock Jaw” for the submission.
Hikaru Shida, Skye Blue, and Dr. Britt Baker defeated Taya Valkyrie, Anna Jay, and The Bunny
After the match, Baker tried to explain the miscue to Shida who walked away and out of the ring while the announcers hyped the Grand Slam Women’s Championship Four-Way Eliminator match this coming Wednesday.
Don’s Take: Similar to other matches in the women’s division, this felt like a match that was put together for the sake of having a women’s match on the show. As I’ve said in the past, Valkyrie could be a standout heel, while Baker and Shida were there purely to elevate the match’s star power while reminding viewers of their issues with each other heading into Wednesday’s match.
A video package aired on Hook regaining the FTW Championship. Hook ended the segment by saying it will be good having the title back where it belongs in New York City.
3. “The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson vs. Matt Menard and Angelo Parker (w/Jake Hager). Though the Jericho Appreciation Society is no more, Jericho tended to favor Menard and Parker on commentary. The match was one-sided in the Young Bucks favor until Hager tripped up Matt Jackson. The fans chanted “Where’s your hat?” at Hager which resulted in Hager giving a dejected look.
Matt eventually hot tagged Nick Jackson who cleaned house on Menard and Parker. The Bucks hit superkicks on both as well as Hager who was on the apron. The Bucks then hit their “BTE Trigger” finisher on Parker for the win.
“The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson defeated Matt Menard and Angelo Parker.
Don’s Take: The usual Young Bucks spot fest. I thought dissolving the “Jericho Appreciation Society” was the right move, but now it seems like the faction is living on – just without Chris Jericho. That’s unfortunate because I do think there’s a lot of individual talent among the other members. Daniel Garcia could be a more serious performer in the mid-card, while Menard and Parker would a credible addition to the tag team division if they evolved beyond the comedy. I even think Hager has some value in a singles role. He managed to get the hat gimmick over so I’m hoping he can evolve beyond a sidekick.
The second part of the Mike Santana promo aired. He talked about the forks in the road of his career journey and he could either take the road that led to mediocrity or he could take the road that led to challenges that allowed him to grow. He said the one thing he learned through this process is that you can’t depend on anyone else to have the same passion or drive. You also can’t depend on anyone else to have your back the same way you would have his. That being said, he said the world has been asking a lot of questions and he is now prepared to deliver all the answers.
Santana said that the road he has chosen to take is a road he must take on his own without any crutches or crew. He added that all he’s done his entire life is bet on himself and that he’s not in AEW to be another guy in the game. He’s here to be “the” guy and he knows he’s going to piss a lot of people off but doesn’t give a damn. He noted that he’s not here to make friends, he’s here to make money. And for those that aren’t down, they’ll be run down. He concluded by saying that the nastiest is yet to come.
Don’s Take: I really like where this is going as we’ve seen solid promo work for the second week in a row. My only hope is that they stay the course and not give up early. Interestingly, although he returned with Ortiz for “Blood and Guts,” it seems that they are reintroducing him as a singles act.
Excalibur ran down the cards for Collision, Dynamite, and Grand Slam…
Mark Henry hyped the main event…
4. Samoa Joe vs. Jeff Hardy in a Grand Slam World Title Eliminator Quarterfinal Match. Matt Hardy came out with Jeff but quickly returned to the back. Hardy used speed and some high-flying moves for the early advantage. Joe raked the eyes to regain the lead as the show went to picture-in-picture. [C]
Both men were down after Hardy hit a jawbreaker on Joe. Joe immediately regained the momentum, dropkicking Hardy to the floor. Joe caught an elbow by Hardy charging into the corner while Hardy hit “Whisper in the Wind.” Hardy continued on the offensive and eventually gained a near fall. Hardy went for the Twist of Fate on Joe, but Joe blocked it and put Hardy in the Coquina Clutch for the win.
Samoa Joe defeated Jeff Hardy in a Grand Slam World Title Eliminator Quarterfinal Match.
Don’s Take: With this win, Joe will face Penta El Zero Miedo on tomorrow night’s Collision. And say what you will about AEW overusing tournaments, I like this one a bit better because there are a couple of candidates to challenge MJF based on the storyline. After this past Wednesday on Dynamite, Joe could be considered the favorite; however, Roderick Strong is also a candidate given his ongoing storyline with both MJF and Adam Cole. There was no mystery to the outcome of this match, which is fine but as others have said, AEW could get more out of Jeff Hardy by giving him wins now and then so that defeating him means something.