By Don Murphy, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@DonThePredictor)
AEW Rampage (Episode 112)
Taped September 27, 2023 in Broomfield, Colorado at 1stBank Center
Aired September 29, 2023 on TNT
The Rampage opening aired and pyro shot off from the stage. Excalibur and Taz were on commentary…
1. Billy Gunn and “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens vs. Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, and “Brother Zay” Isaiah Kassidy for the AEW Trios Titles. Max Caster’s rap included references to “Coach Prime” Deion Sanders and the University of Colorado Buffaloes college football team. Kassidy started out against Bowens. Both started out with a series of chain wrestling moves for the first several minutes of the match. The Acclaimed and the Hardys exchanged several of the their signature tag team moves before Gunn tagged in to face off with Matt Hardy.
Excalibur noted that the Hardys’ recent loss to the Righteous has motivated and inspired them to return to form. Gunn and Hardy had a battle of the “Suck It” crotch chop and the “Delete” throat slash. Hardy got the advantage and rammed Gunn’s head into the top, middle and bottom turnbuckles. Prior to the picture-in-picture break, all six men were in the ring, with the Acclaimed and Gunn hitting “Scissor Me Timbers” on Kassidy. [C]
Caster hit Kassidy with a dropkick and tagged out to Gunn who kept up the offense. Gunn missed a splash in the corner and Kassidy hit an enzguri before making the hot tag to Jeff Hardy. Excalibur announced that the winner of this match would face TMDK (Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls and Bad Dude Tito) from New Japan Pro Wrestling for the AEW Trios Titles during the WrestleDream Zero Hour this coming Sunday night. Hardy cleaned house on all three opponents for a bit, hitting a moonsault on both members of the Acclaimed.
Gunn went for the Fameasser on Jeff Hardy, but Hardy blocked it and ducked a clothesline. Gunn ran into Matt Hardy who hit him with a Twist of Fate. Jeff Hardy hit the Swanton Bomb on Gunn for a near fall that was broken up by Bowens. The Acclaimed took over on Matt Hardy and left hm Gunn who was the legal man. Gunn tagged out to Bowens and Hardy tagged out to Kassidy. The fans chanted “This is Awesome!” Kassidy got in some offense for a bit before Caster and Bowens took over. The Acclaimed hit their Mic Drop finisher on Kassidy for the win.
Billy Gunn and “The Acclaimed” Max Caster and Anthony Bowens defeated Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, and “Brother Zay” Isaiah Kassidy to retain the AEW Trios Titles in roughly 10:00 minutes .
Don’s Take: This was an entertaining match which served to set up the match during WrestleDream Zero Hour. Again, the Hardys should be given wins once in a while so that their matches mean more than they do. The fans buying into this match is a positive example that they still have something left to offer. At this stage, Kassidy is just a tag-along and I’m interested to see what happens when Marq Quen returns.
Eddie Kingston cut a backstage promo on his upcoming match against Rocky Romero. He was interrupted by Sonjay Dutt, Jeff Jarrett, Jay Lethal, Karen Jarrett and Satnam Singh. Lethal said that Kingston holding two championships deserved respect and that while he didn’t care about the New Japan Strong Openweight Title, he was a former ROH World Champion and resented Eddie holding it as he was not a pure athlete. Kingston smiled and said “I got you” before leaving for his match with Romero… [C]
After the commercial, Lexy Nair interviewed Andrade El Idolo after last week’s match with Jay White on Collision. Nair asked him about losing to White due to outside interference from Juice Robinson. Andrade asked Robinson if he had a problem with him and promised to see him at Collision from Seattle…
2. Eddie Kingston vs. Rocky Romero for the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship. Both exchanged wristlocks to start before Romero hit a dropkick. The announcers pointed out that Romero took the match to test Eddie and to report back to Katsuyori Shibata who meets Kingston at WrestledDream on Sunday. The announcers continued to play up Romero’s experience as he hit three tope suicida dives onto Kingston on the floor. On the third one, Eddie caught him and hit a vertical suplex.
Coming out of the break, Romero maintained the offense. Kingston motioned to Romero to “bring it.” The two exchanged slaps and Romero hit a guillotine dropkick for a two count. Kingston hit a clothesline in the corner and a series of chops. Romero hit Sliced Bread off the second rope for a near fall. Romero hit two running clotheslines in the corner and went for a third one but was met with two spinning backhands from Kingston. Eddie put Romero in his Stretch Plum finisher for the submission win. After the match, Kingston and Romero embraced. Shibata came out and stared down Kingston. The two shook hands to end the segment.
Eddie Kingston defeated Rocky Romero to retain the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship in about 9:00 minutes.
Don’s Take: I was looking forward to this match when I saw it on the lineup. It was fine for what it was but felt like it could have benefitted from another 5-10 minutes as it never reached a level of intensity that we know these two can deliver.
“Aussie Open” Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher cut a backstage promo and spoke about FTR. They said that it took them a year to get over the loss to FTR and promised to end FTR’s legacy and take the AEW Tag Team Championship at WrestleDream…
3. “The Righteous” Vincent and Dutch vs. Caleb Crush and Gunnar. This was a complete squash match with Dutch hitting “Sidewalk Slams” on both opponents and Vincent hitting his bulldog finisher for the win.
“The Righteous” Vincent and Butch defeated Caleb Crush and Gunnar in about 1:00.
Don’s Take: As one would expect, this was a showcase for the Righteous who face MJF for the ROH Tag Team Championship at WrestleDream. It was fine for what it was, but it this stage, the Righteous are still presented as lower card act. There’s some talent there with both Vincent and Dutch so if AEW can tweak the act a bit, they may be able to evolve into stronger players on the card.
A brief video package highlighted the history between Mike Santana and Ortiz… [C]
Another brief video package hyped Christian Cage vs. Darby Allin for the TNT Championship at WrestleDream while promoting the “Countdown” show that aired after Rampage.
Nick Wayne cut a promo and said even though Darby Allin asked him not to be at ringside, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be at ringside because he knew what both were capable of. He said he had a debt to pay to Luchasaurus after Wayne was chokeslammed at All In. A graphic showed Wayne vs. Luchasaurus for the WrestleDream Zero Hour.
Excalibur announced the following matches for Collision: an All-Star Eight Man Tag Team Match featuring Bryan Danielson, Wheeler Yuta and FTR against Aussie Open, Big Bill and Ricky Starks with Zack Sabre Jr. on commentary, The Gates of Agony vs. Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho, Julia Hart in action, and Juice Robinson vs. Andrade El Idolo. Excalibur then ran down the WrestleDream card…
Renee Paquette interviewed Zack Sabre Jr. Paquette asked him if jet lag would play into his match with Bryan Danielson as he had travelled over from Tokyo. Zabre said he was “fresh as a daisy” and said that at WrestleDream, he would retire Danielson for a second and final time.
4. Ruby Soho vs. Hikaru Shida for a shot at the AEW Women’s Championship. Saraya came out with Soho but returned to the back. Shida had the early offense but Soho shifted the momentum with a hair pull. Shida quickly recovered and hit a series of ten punches in the corner followed by a second rope dropkick as the show went to its final commercial.
Coming out of the break, the two exchanged blows. Shida hit a jumping knee and a brainbuster for a near fall. Soho rolled to the outside. Shida hit a dropkick off the ring steps. Both women fought up the ramp and were almost counted out. Back in the ring, Soho went for the kendo stick but was stopped by referee Paul Turner. When he turned his head, Soho grabbed the spray paint can. Shida blocked the spray paint and the two fought for it. Turner tried to intervene but was sprayed for his efforts.
Soho hit her Destination Unknown finisher on Shida but there was no referee to count. Soho attempted to hit Shida with the kendo stick but Shida blocked it and returned the favor. Shida hit her Katana kick finisher and went for the cover. Aubrey Edwards ran out and made the count but Soho kicked out at the last minute. Shida missed a move from the top rope and Soho met her with a takedown. Soho missed with a top rope senton and Shida hit a Falcon Arrow for another near fall. Soho rebounded with a kick but Shida hit a second Katana for the win. After the match, Saraya taunted Shida from the ramp as the show went off the air.
Hikaru Shida defeated Ruby Soho to earn a shot at the AEW Women’s Championship in about 11:00 minutes.
Don’s Take: Shida will get her match against Saraya on Tuesday, October 10 on Dynamite (TBS will have coverage of the MLB playoffs and TNT will have NHL hockey on the usual Wednesday night for Dynamite). The show will go head-to-head with NXT so you can expect both shows will be loaded. While I’m really tired of anything involving spray paint, I really enjoyed this match, particularly down the stretch. Shida is arguably the best wrestler in the women’s division and while I don’t think she’s going to take the title from Saraya, I could see a nice run in her future with the TBS title if AEW wanted to go that route.
This was a fine episode that served to hype several WrestleDream matches and also promoted the Countdown show a couple of times, which was a nice touch. Of note, last week, AEW had teased a tag team match with Johnny TV and QT Marshall, which never happened. As long as this wasn’t replaced with another QTV segment, I’m not complaining. Until next week!