By Don Murphy, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@DonThePredictor)
AEW Rampage (Episode 118)
Oakland, California at the Oakland Arena
Aired live November 10, 2023 on TNT
The Rampage opening aired and pyro shot off from the stage. Tony Schiavone, and Nigel McGuinness were on commentary…
1. Ricky Starks vs. Preston Vance (w/Jose). Big Bill joined the commentary team for the match. Vance started out aggressively by attacking Starks in the corner. Starks retaliated with a series of chops. Vance delivered a pump kick which knocked Starks to the floor.
Vance rammed Starks into both ringside barricades before Starks reversed an Irish whip and rammed Vance into the ring post. Starks put on a headset and congratulated Bill for doing a great job on commentary and said that everyone loved them. Starks rammed Vance into the ringside barricade twice and hit a snap suplex on the ramp. The show went to its first picture-in-picture break. [C]
Starks hit a leg drop on Vance on the ring apron. Vance retaliated with a back elbow and a shoulder block from the second rope. Vance hit a series of lariat clotheslines including one in the corner. Vance continued the momentum with a spine buster. Starks reversed another clothesline and hit a tornado DDT for a near fall. Vance reversed a piledriver into a backdrop. Vance hit a Death Valley Driver for a near fall.
Vance went for a full nelson, but Starks rolled him up for a two count. Vance hit another Death Valley Driver and went for the full nelson again. Big Bill left the commentary desk and jumped up on the apron. Vance took a swing at him, and Bill jumped down. This allowed Starks to hit a spear for the win.
Ricky Starks defeated Preston Vance in about 7:00.
After the match, Big Bill and Starks continued the attack until Rush and Dralistico ran in for the save.
Don’s Take: A fun opener and I continue to enjoy Starks and Bill together. Bill noted that they’ve only been together for a short time and while that is the case, they have some good chemistry together that can only get better with time. Given the issues with some of the other tag teams in the division, this is likely leading to a multi-team match at Full Gear, which I’m never a fan of from a story building standpoint even if the match is good. It should be noted that Starks was limping a bit as he walked away from the ring.
Renee Paquette was backstage with Chris Jericho. Renee asked him about his upcoming match with Konosuke Takeshita at DDT Pro’s Ultimate Party this Sunday and how Takeshita is on a roll and has the hometown advantage. Jericho said that Takeshita is one of the best wrestlers in the world today but Jericho is one of the best wrestlers in the history of the business.
Jericho spoke about how Takeshita attacked him with chairs and how he would get his revenge in front of Takeshita’s family and friends. He added that he’s wrestled in Japan over 60 times, winning titles and headlining arenas. He said that as good as Takeshita is, he is better and that Takeshita will find out what it’s like to face an angry, pissed off Chris Jericho…
Lexy Nair was with Don Callis and Prince Nana. Nair asked Callis who the fourth member of the Don Callis Family would be in the “Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name” Street Fight. Before he could answer, she asked Nana what he was doing there. Nana said when you look into the universe and reach deep into your pockets, what happens? Callis added that he has secured the services of Brian Cage to be the fourth member of the team…
Don’s Take: Given AEW’s last video game integration match, I’m cringing already.
After the break, Lethal, Sonjay Dutt, and Satnam Singh. Nair asked Lethal when he would be meeting Eddie Kingston for the ROH Title. Jarrett interjected and said that it was none of Nair’s business but when the match did happen, he guaranteed that Lethal would be the new champion. Lethal added that on paper he outclasses Kingston in every way.
Ortiz entered and asked Lethal to repeat to his face what he said about him last week. Karen Jarrett said that Ortiz needed to be careful as there was five of them and one of him. Ortiz said that this was the difference between him and Lethal in that even when outnumbered they fight anyway. With that, Ortiz punched Lethal and Jarrett until Singh grabbed him in a choke against one of the backstage crates. This was eventually broken up by referees and security…
2. Ruby Soho vs. Red Velvet. Saraya joined Soho on the stage and then headed to the back. The two exchanged takedowns. Soho hit a shoulder block before being taken down with a leg lariat. Velvet continued the attack in the corner before being rammed into the second turnbuckle. Velvet tried to rally but was clotheslined on the top rope. The show went to a picture-in-picture break. [C]
After the break, Velvet rallied with a couple of lariats, followed by a bulldog and a knee against the ropes. Velvet hit a standing moonsault for a two count. Soho retaliated with a takedown and a series of kicks, including a kick to the head while Velvet was draped over the top rope for a near fall. Soho hit two backdrop drivers before moving Velvet to the corner. Soho missed a charge into the corner but hit a back elbow and rammed Velvet into the second turnbuckle.
A ringside attendant delivered flowers to Soho, which distracted her and allowed Velvet to get a near fall. Of note, Velvet had Soho down for several seconds before the referee started the count. The two exchanged blows until Velvet hit a spinning kick for the win.
Red Velvet defeated Ruby Soho in about 9:00.
After the match, Velvet celebrated while Soho looked at her flowers in confusion.
Don’s Take On the one hand, with Velvet returning, it’s nice to see her pick up a win as the division can use some credible babyfaces. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of Soho steadily moving down the card and seemingly being put into a lower card comedy storyline with Angelo Parker, who I assume will be revealed as the one who sent the flowers.
Schiavone and McGuinness recapped the angle at the end of Dynamite with MJF, the Bullet Club, the masked men, the Acclaimed, the Devil and Samoa Joe.
Roderick Strong and the Kingdom came out. Strong screamed Dasha and told her to shut up. He was wearing the new “Adaaamm!” t-shirt which has been promptly added to my Christmas list. He said “No Neck November” was in full effect. He said that looking around, it makes sense why the Raiders left because Oakland sucks. He then dedicated the upcoming match to his best friend, Adam Cole…
3. “The Kingdom” Matt Taven and Mike Bennett (w/Roderick Strong) vs. “Los Suavecitos” Danny Rose and Ricky Gee. This was a complete squash for the Kingdom who hit one of “Los Suavecitos” with the “Neck Check” neck breaker for the win.
“The Kingdom” Matt Taven and Mike Bennett defeated “Los Suavecitos” Danny Rose and Ricky Gee in roughly 1:00.
After the match, Strong got out of his wheelchair, took off his neck brace and hit his back breaker finisher before jumping back into the chair and putting the brace back on…
Don’s Take: More fun here as this is easily some of the best work of Strong’s career.
Lexy Nair was backstage with Daniel Garcia, Matt Menard and Angelo Parker. Garcia had asked for the time and challenged Andrade El Idolo to a match on Collision. Saraya and Ruby Soho entered. Saraya argued with Menard while Soho and Parker flirted. Saraya and Menard pulled them apart with both of them proclaiming that they have problems… [C]
After the commercial, Lexy Nair was with Roderick Strong and the Kingdom. Nair congratulated them on their earlier victory. Darius Martin and Action Andretti entered and challenged the Kingdom to a match, noting that they had beaten them previously. Matt Taven denied knowing them while Strong said that Darius would be his first victim.
4. “FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler vs. Komander and El Hijo del Vikingo (w/Alex Abrahantes). Harwood started out against Komander. Harwood started on the attack before Komander hit several take downs with speed moves. Vikingo took over with a series of kicks on Wheeler before sending him to the outside and diving onto him on the floor. Wheeler moved and Vikingo crashed into the side of the announce table. The show went to its final picture-in-picture break. [C]
Vikingo dove onto Wheeler on the floor while Komander dove onto Harwood in the ring. Harwood reversed the momentum of the dive for a near fall. Vikingo dropkicked Harwood from the top rope allowing Komander to get another near fall. Vikingo kicked Harwood into a roll-up by Komander for another near fall.
Eventually, Harwood knocked Vikingo off the top rope and went for a superplex that was reversed into a near fall. Vikingo and Komander hit stereo 450 splashes for another near fall.
Wheeler hit the “Gory Special” on Komander but was kicked out of the ring by Vikingo. Harwood hit a tombstone piledriver on Vikingo for a near fall. Harwood missed a top rope dive and ended up in a roll-up for another near fall.
This continued on for another several minutes with an exchange of moves and a series of near falls until Komander missed a top rope dive and walked into the “Shatter Machine” for an FTR win.
“FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler defeated Komander and El Hijo del Vikingo in about 12:00.
After the match, the four participants shook hands in the ring. The lights went out and the House of Black was shown applauding on the screen as the show went off the air…
Don’s Take A very good main event as FTR can make any team look good. Their upcoming program with the House of Black should be fun. And as I’ve said before, AEW should really try to put some stories behind the luchadors to make them relevant. Right now, they’re relegated to these spot fest matches that pop the crowd but don’t add any substance beyond that.
With the show being live, it felt a bit more relevant than it is when taped. I’m wondering if we’ll see the reverse effect on Collision, as that show was taped tonight. Speaking of Collision, I’ll be standing in for Jason Powell on Saturday night and I look forward to checking in with you again. Until tomorrow night!